Monday, March 26, 2012

It's gonna get hot!

The newest bad news is that in a report published the other day (25 March 2012) in Nature Geosciences, Daniel Rowlands and colleagues develop a more-sophisticated climate model than has been used in the past and suggest that a 1.4-3 °C increase in temperature is likely under a 'mid-range forcing model' by 2050 (there's a lot of press on this, e.g., USA Today).  That's not too far away and that is an amount of temperature increase that is more consistent with the 'no mitigation' scenario developed by the IPCC. In other words, whatever we're doing now isn't going to have much of a future impact and it's getting hotter faster than we thought it was.

In a line, this is a real problem.

A 3°C hotter world is much hotter world that will be characterized by more poverty, more suffering, and more conflict.  Want to know that that might look like?  Look no further than a mega-city in a third world country (Karachi, Pakistan, for instance...).  Do you want your future (or the future of much more of the earth) be like Karachi?  I don't.

A 3°C hotter world is also a world that isn't going to just cool down and 're-set itself' if we do sort out our carbon addiction.  It's going to continue to get warmer for hundreds or thousands of years.  The time lags built into the climatic system are genuinely scary and have convinced me that now is the time to act.  Everything we do now matters.  A lot.  It's simply not right for us to guarantee future generations a future filled with suffering and conflict.

A 3°C world will be drastically different, less biodiverse, and less compatible with our current lifestyles.  And lifestyles are at the crux of the problem of reducing the likelihood of this happening.  We all want to maintain our current lifestyles. So, got concerns about not changing your lifestyle?  Well, a 3°C hotter world will change it for you!

Thus, I read this report with extreme sadness. Indeed, I've not been writing much recently because I've been kinda depressed about the scale of the problems we have to solve and how most of the indictors I've been reading suggest we're not even trying to do so.  We simply have to work together to create the momentum to reduce or eliminate carbon consumption--and fast. We simply have to work together to create a more sustainable future that is driven by solar power (as I've written before, solar is genuinely renewable and should not have as many negative effects when we scale up, like wind or other forms of renewable energy). 

The irony:  a lot of people will get really wealthy creating and distributing the technology that's needed to re-set our lives and lifestyles.  Jobs will be created.  Lifestyles will be supported.  So why don't we all agree that this is both the right and a productive thing to work towards?

Discussion topic
What are the impediments you see towards convincing others that climate change is a moral issue that requires us to act now?

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