Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is This Is Just The Beginning?

I'm pretty happy to see the MSM covering the changing climate this week the way it should have been covered these last few years. I'm afraid the so-called tipping points are long past but there's always hope. It might be a lot more difficult to be glib or optimistic if I were in Moscow where toxic smoke has now enveloped a rain-soaked Moscow and doctors have warned that this summer's heat wave could drive more people to alcohol and suicide. Or in Pakistan where the scale of Pakistan's floods are considered to be worse than the 2004 tsunami, Haiti and Kashmir quakes combined.

As former US Army Chief of Staff, General Gordon Sullivan says, we can argue about the metrics of climate change (exact consequences , when where, how, etc) but the trends and indicators all point to it happening now. In his estimation it also points to likely wars for oil, food water and mass migrations of a kind and on a scale heretofore unseen in modern history. This is pretty dire stuff - the kind of thing that usually results in people being called alarmists. The people in the re-posted video below are not the kind prone to being alarmists. They are men who rose to the very top of their profession in a very conservative organization: the US Military.

Sadly, there's not much hope for this spate of recent disasters moving the powers that be to take the action necessary to change the current dynamics. Let's hope they're wrong.

So while the MSM sorts out how they're going to report on all these natural catastrophes and their possible causes, I thought it might be a good time to look at sea level rise, what's predicted and what it might mean in the near and long term future.

Starting with this report from October of 2009, where researchers reporting in the journal Geology, found that 20th-century sea-level rise to be three times higher than the rate of sea-level rise during the last 500 years. Then in December of the same year, a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences warned that sea levels could rise much faster than previously expected, and by the year 2100, global sea level could rise between 75 and 190 centimetres (30 to 74 inches).

In April of this year research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, made what is the first assessment of how quickly floating ice is being lost today. This is causing sea levels to rise -- by a mere hair's breadth today, but possibly much more if melting trends continue.

And the most recent research predicts sea levels rising by as much as one metre before the end of this century. Melting glaciers, it is now believed,  may contribute more to the rise in sea levels than scientists have previously realised.

Melting glaciers and the melting ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctic will account for 75% of the rise in sea levels, while expansion of the water as it warms will account for 25 %," said Director Jan-Gunnar Winther of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

1 comment:

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