worst case scenario

The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday.

Such a rise – which would be much higher nearer the poles – would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilisation.

Professor Le Quéré, of the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey, said that Copenhagen was the last chance of coming to a global agreement that would curb carbon-dioxide emissions on a time-course that would hopefully stabilise temperature rises to within the danger threshold.

“The Copenhagen conference next month is in my opinion the last chance to stabilise climate at C above pre-industrial levels in a smooth and organised way,” she said.

Independent, 18 Nov 2009

see also – just plain scary

climatic apocalypse

Thousands of deaths each year from heat stress. Hundreds of plant and animal species extinguished. An inland migration to escape rising sea levels and severe storms. And the end of agriculture in most of the Murray-Darling Basin.

This is the climatic apocalypse facing Australia by 2100, Ross Garnaut warns.

The Murray-Darling region, covering a million square kilometres of south-eastern Australia, has produced not only food but much of the very character of the nation.

It was from these once-fertile and now struggling areas that Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson came.

The increased frequency of drought, combined with decreased median rainfall and a nearly complete absence of run-off in the Murray-Darling Basin, is likely to have ended irrigated agriculture for this region, and depopulation will be under way, the report says.

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jul 2008

see also – just plain scary

rewriting history

Global warming could wipe out more than half the world’s animal and plant species, according to a study that links rising temperatures with mass extinctions of the past 520 million years.

By comparing fossil data with temperature estimates, British researchers have found that four of the five mass extinction events were linked to warm “greenhouse” phases.

The scientists, from the universities of York and Leeds, say their work shows for the first time a close association between Earth’s climate and extinctions in the past 520 million years.

Lead author Dr Peter Mayhew said: “If our results hold for current warming … they suggest that extinctions will increase.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Oct 2007

see also – just plain scary

extinction crisis

The world is facing an animal extinction crisis, with Australia a key culprit, the largest assessment of biodiversity ever undertaken shows.

One in five Australian mammal species is in danger of dying out, the highest proportion of any developed country, the global survey of more than 44,000 animal and plant species found.

“Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live,” the organisation’s director general, Julia Marton-Lefevre said.

“Loss of habitat, over-population, hunting and poaching, as well as the effects of climate change, are all placing pressure on the world’s animals,” WWF Australia’s director of conservation, Dr Ray Nias said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Oct 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – just plain scary

stand down

Most advanced countries spend at least 2% of GDP on standing armies, navies and air forces even though the chance of having to repel an invasion is extremely remote.

Destroyers, submarines, fighter aircraft, bombers, tanks and artillery are useless against terrorism and low-level threats and as aids to peacekeeping missions.

In Australia’s case, the chances of needing a sophisticated standing defence force to repel an invasion over the next 50 years would be no greater than one in 100.

The consequences of defeat in total war may be slavery, which is preferable to the annihilation of civilisation and most of the species on the planet – the possible consequence of going beyond the climate change tipping point.

Kenneth Davidson, senior columnist, The Age, 24 Jul 2008 – screen copy held by this website

see also – just plain scary

pending collapse

The United Nations’ Global Environment Outlook-4 report, released in New York, reveals a scale of unprecedented ecological damage, with more than 2 million people possibly dying prematurely of air pollution and close to 2 billion likely to suffer absolute water scarcity by 2025.

Put bluntly, the report warns that the 6.75 billion world population, “has reached a stage where the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available”.

And it says climate change, the collapse of fish stocks and the extinction of species “may threaten humanity’s very survival”.

Launching the report, the head of the UN’s Environment Program, Achim Steiner, warned that, “without an accelerated effort to reform the way we collectively do business on planet earth, we will shortly be in trouble, if indeed we are not already”.

Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Oct 2007

see also – just plain scary

flesh eaters!

Scientists are working on an improved treatment for a debilitating flesh-eating disease which appears to be on the rise due to global warming.

Should global warming continue to ravage our planet at current rates, the numbers of people suffering Leishmaniasis, a flesh-eating and sometimes fatal disease will increase dramatically, experts warn.

Science Daily, 16 Aug 2007

see also – just plain scary

more infections!

Climate change is the latest threat to the world’s growing HIV epidemic, say Australian experts who warn of the “grim” outlook in the fight against the infectious disease.

A leading professor of health and human rights, Daniel Tarantola, has cautioned that global warming will indirectly make citizens of developing countries even more vulnerable to death and severe ill health from HIV/AIDS.

It was clear soon after the emergence of the HIV epidemic that discrimination, gender inequality and lack of access to essential services have made some populations more vulnerable than others, said Prof Tarantola, of the University of NSW.

Climate change will trigger a chain of events which is likely to increase the stress on society and result in higher vulnerability to diseases including HIV, said Prof Tarantola, who is due to address an HIV forum in Sydney.

The Age, 29 Apr 2008

see also – just plain scary

bushfire alert

Unless action is taken now to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Australia will be unable to manage future catastrophic bushfires, leading climate scientists have warned.

The co-director of the University of NSW’s climate change research centre, Andy Pitman, says there will be a 100 to 200 per cent increase in bushfire risk by 2100 if Australia continues on its path of high emissions.

But if Australia was able to meet the low emission guidelines set by the inter-governmental panel on climate change, the increase in bushfire risk would be just 20 to 30 per cent by 2100, he said.

The Age, 31 May 2007

see also – just plain scary

pestilence

According to several leading climate scientists and public health researchers, global warming will lead to higher incidence and more intense versions of disease.

The direct or indirect effects of global warming might intensify the prevalence of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, dengue and Lyme disease, they said, but the threat of increased health risks is likely to futher motivate the public to combat global warming.

“The environmental changes wrought by global warming will undoubtedly result in major ecologic changes that will alter patterns and intensity of some infectious diseases,” said Gerald Friedland, professor of medicine and epidemiology and public health at the Yale School of Medicine.

Yale News, 11 Apr 2012

see also – just plain scary

runaway warming process

Many scientists concede that without drastic emissions reductions by 2020, we are on the path toward a 4C rise as early as mid-century, with catastrophic consequences, including the loss of the world’s coral reefs; the disappearance of major mountain glaciers; the total loss of the Arctic summer sea-ice, most of the Greenland ice-sheet and the break-up of West Antarctica; acidification and overheating of the oceans; the collapse of the Amazon rainforest; and the loss of Arctic permafrost; to name just a few.

Each of these ecosystem collapses could trigger an out-of-control runaway warming process. Worse, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley now project that we are actually on course to reach global temperatures of up to 8C within 90 years.

CounterCurrents.org, 23 Sep 2010

see also – just plain scary

getting physical

Climate change will probably trigger more human conflict, according to an article in the journal Science.

An examination of 60 separate studies, including one stretching back to 10,000 B.C., found that individuals, groups and nations are “substantially” more likely to become involved in physical conflict in hot weather and heavy rain.

Climate change is expected to drive up temperatures in many regions, which will “systematically increase the risk of many types of conflict” ranging from barroom brawls and rape to civil wars and international disputes, according to the article.

“The strongest evidence is that high temperatures really matter,” said Solomon Hsiang, one of the study’s authors. “A few degrees warmer is always worse.”

Bloomberg Business, 2 Aug 2013

Hell on Earth

Presently our use of fossil fuels is leading to a temperature rise of at least 4C (from a pre-industrial global mean that has been relatively stable for around 10, 000 years, the Holocene).

This unprecedented rapid warming so threatens species and ecosystems, agriculture and industry, Third World countries and rich Western post-nation state economies that only one person in ten is predicted to survive.

Seven to ten billion people are at risk of premature death in this hell on Earth we are creating with the unintended side effects of our present use of an extremely beneficial source of energy.

CounterCurrents.org, 6 Feb 2012

waiting with bated breath

Now a new study, published Tuesday and coinciding with the UN climate talks in Paris, adds to the grim tableau: the risk that warming at the far end of the scale could rob our planet of oxygen.

We have identified another possible consequence of … global warming that can potentially be more dangerous than all others, say a pair of scientists from Britain’s University of Leicester.

Their study, based in the peer-reviewed journal the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, is based on a computer model of phytoplankton, the microscopic sea plants which produce about two-thirds of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

“The message from this study is that there may be another disaster approaching us as a consequence of global warming, and it may be much worse than all other consequences identified previously,” co-author Sergei Petrovskii told AFP.

“There may be very little warning signs before the disaster actually happens… but once the critical threshold is passed (as estimated at 6 C), then the catastrophe will develop fast,” he explained by email.

Phys Org, 1 Dec 2015

bad for your health

Climate change is already having an extraordinary impact on human health worldwide — affecting the spread of infectious diseases, exposing millions to air pollution and heat waves and dramatically reducing labor productivity, according to  a report released Monday.

The human symptoms of climate change are unequivocal and potentially irreversible, the report by the British medical journal The Lancet says, and the situation is so serious that significant gains by modern medicine and technology are being undercut.

The delayed response to climate change over the past 25 years has jeopardized human life and livelihoods, the report says.

“Preventing illnesses and injuries is more humane, more effective and more economical than treating people once they’ve become sick,” said Howard Frumkin of the University of Washington School of Public Health, one of the study authors.

“That’s plain common sense,” he added. “What this report makes clear is that fighting climate change is disease prevention.”

USA Today, 30 Oct 2017

thanks to David Hanig

couldn’t be worse

The latest report on climate change by the economics professor Ross Garnaut is the most disheartening government report I’ve read.

Garnaut quotes an authoritative American study of the consequences if nothing is done to fight climate change and average temperatures rise by 5 or 6 degrees by the end of this century. Such a change would be “catastrophic”, posing “almost inconceivable challenges as human society struggled to adapt”.

“The collapse and chaos associated with extreme climate change futures would destabilise virtually every aspect of modern life,” the study concluded.

Among the destruction would be the extinction of more than half the world’s species. The Great Barrier Reef and other coral formations would almost certainly be killed and much Australian farmland rendered useless.

Worse, the Greenland ice sheet and parts of Antarctica would be highly likely to melt, greatly raising the sea level and inundating coastal areas in Australia and many other countries.

These changes would be irreversible.

Sydney Morning Herald, 10 sept 2008

food shortage

Millions may face protein deficiency as a result of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions.

If CO2 levels continue to rise as projected, the populations of 18 countries may lose more than 5% of their dietary protein by 2050 due to a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat, and other staple crops, according to new findings from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers estimate that roughly an additional 150 million people may be placed at risk of protein deficiency because of elevated levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Eureka Alert, 2 Aug 2017

thanks to David Hanig

Europe feels the heat

By the end of the century, two out of three people living in Europe will be affected by heat waves, coastal floods and other weather-related disasters, largely due to global warming and climate change, according to a study published Friday in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

That’s 350 million people in 31 countries subjected to an increased risk of death and health hazards. Overall, weather-related disasters are expected to cause 152,000 deaths a year in Europe between 2071 and 2100, jumping from 3,000 weather disaster-related deaths a year between 1981 and 2010.

CNN, 4 Aug 2017

thanks to David Hanig

end of everything

Climate change means, quite plausibly, the end of everything we now understand to constitute our humanity. If action isn’t taken soon, the Amazon rainforest will eventually burn down, the seas will fester into sludge that submerges the world’s great cities, the Antarctic Ice Sheet will fragment and wash away, acres of abundant green land will be taken over by arid desert.

The Baffler, Sept 2017

thanks to snowman

cases climb

As reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease climb in the United States — there have been three major outbreaks in the news this summer — researchers say the increase could be partly a result of climate change.

More than three times as many cases of legionellosis, of which Legionnaires’ disease is one form, were reported in 2009 than 2000 — 3,522 up from 1,110, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. David N. Fisman, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said in an email that he doubted the increase was the result solely of improved testing. The rise is linear and across all regions of the United States, he said.

“Given that we know climate change is going to make for hotter, stormier summers (and already is doing so) it doesn’t seem like a huge leap to suggest that the ongoing rise in legionellosis in the US could be at least partly due to climate change,” he wrote.

NBC New York, 30 Jul 2015

destruction by thirds

Global warming presents the gravest threat to life on Earth in all of human history.

The planet is warming to a degree beyond what many species can handle, altering or eliminating habitat, reducing food sources, causing drought and other species-harming severe weather events, and even directly killing species that simply can’t stand the heat.

In fact, scientists predict that if we keep going along our current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, climate change will cause more than a third of the Earth’s animal and plant species to face extinction by 2050 — and up to 70 percent by the end of the century.

Center for Biological Diversity, 20 Dec 2008

tsunami to hit Britain!

It was not just the warming of the sea that was the problem, added Professor Mark Maslin of UCL.

As the ice around Greenland and Antarctica melted, sediments would pour off land masses and cliffs would crumble, triggering underwater landslides that would break open more hydrate reserves on the sea-bed. Again there would be a jump in global warming.

“These are key issues that we will have to investigate over the next few years,” he said.

There is also a danger of earthquakes, triggered by disintegrating glaciers, causing tsunamis off Chile, New Zealand and Newfoundland in Canada, Nasa scientist Tony Song will tell the conference.

The last on this list could even send a tsunami across the Atlantic, one that might reach British shores.

The Guardian, 6 Sep 2009

see also – just plain scary

global catastrophe!

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies.

The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is ‘plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately’, they conclude.

As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2004

window closing

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose wording was agreed in Brussels only yesterday after all-night disputes between scientists and governments and last-minute objections from the US, China and Saudi Arabia over wording and graphics, bluntly says: “Unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt.”

In a sobering assessment, the report finds this warming would mean “approximately 20 per cent to 30 per cent of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction”.

It also warns of malnutrition, water shortages, disease and injury from predicted increases in heatwaves, droughts, storms and other severe weather events. Professor Terry Hughes, of James Cook University, who contributed to the report, said time was running out for coral reefs.

“We have a narrow window of opportunity – no more than 20 years to achieve decisive cuts in greenhouse gases – to protect coral reefs from massive degradation,” he said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Apr 2007

industrial civilisaton to collapse!

New scientific models supported by the British government’s Foreign Office show that if we don’t change course, in less than three decades industrial civilisation will essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability.

The new models are being developed at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), through a project called the ‘Global Resource Observatory’ (GRO).

Last year, Dr. Graham Turner updated his CSIRO research at the University of Melbourne, concluding that:

“… the general onset of collapse first appears at about 2015 when per capita industrial output begins a sharp decline. Given this imminent timing, a further issue this paper raises is whether the current economic difficulties of the global financial crisis are potentially related to mechanisms of breakdown in the Limits to Growth BAU [business-as-usual] scenario.”

Clean Technica, 25 Jun 2015

thousand year run

The Australian of the Year, the scientist Tim Flannery, said the highest temperature forecasts could spell disaster for many species.

“[It] lays out a sort of middle-of-the road trajectory, which is alarming enough, I can tell you, for this century,” Professor Flannery said. “Three degrees will be a disaster for all life on Earth. We will lose somewhere between two out of every 10 and six out of every 10 species living on the planet at that level of warming.”

“It will set in train a series of climate consequences that will run for a thousand years.”

Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Feb 2007

look for the signs

Australians will begin to see the stark impacts of climate change within the next few years, not the coming decades, a leading Australian scientist warned yesterday after releasing a new report presenting evidence that global warming has dramatically increased in the past 12 months.

Dr Graeme Pearman, the former head of CSIRO’s atmospheric research unit, said: “if you think climate change is on the agenda just wait another couple of years.”

“Every day the media are going to be reporting people seeing changes as a result of things we have already done and the implications of these all over the world: like the breeding patterns and migration paterns of birds and animals, the flowering times, the production capacity of farms and the impact of coastal erosion. We are going to get more of them, not in the next few decades but the next few years.”

The Age (Australia), 15 Nov 2007 – screen copy held by this website