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Seven reasons why climate change is ‘even worse than we thought’

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Climate Progress

The NY Times isn’t the only major publication going apocalyptic on climate change. New Scientist has a new dedicated issue that makes the Times’ stories seem down-right Pollyannish.

Nearly 3 years ago, the late William R. Freudenburg discussed in a AAAS presentation how new scientific findings since the 2007 IPCC report are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is “worse than previously expected,” rather than “not as bad as previously expected.” As he said at the time:

Reporters need to learn that, if they wish to discuss ‘both sides’ of the climate issue, the scientifically legitimate ‘other side’ is that, if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested in scientific consensus estimates to date.

So it’s good to see New Scientist make just that point in its special issue on climate change:

Five years ago, the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change painted a gloomy picture of our planet’s future. As climate scientists gather evidence for the next report, due in 2014, Michael Le Page gives seven reasons why things are looking even grimmer

The 7 reasons are below, with links to their respective articles. Since they are all behind a paywall, I’ll provide links to Climate Progress articles on the same subject:

  1. The thick sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century. If current trends continue, summer ice could be gone in a decade or two. Read more (or see “Death Spiral Watch: Experts Warn ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue“).
  2. We knew global warming was going to make the weather more extreme. But it’s becoming even more extreme than anyone predicted. Read more (or see “NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather“).
  3. Global warming was expected to boost food production. Instead, food prices are soaring as the effects of extreme weather kick inRead more (or see “Oxfam Warns Climate Change And Extreme Weather Will Cause Food Prices To Soar” and links therein).
  4. Greenland’s rapid loss of ice mean we’re in for a rise of at least 1 metre by 2100, and possibly much more. Read more (or see “Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’” and links therein).
  5. The planet currently absorbs half our CO2emissions. All the signs are it won’t for much longer. Read more (or see “Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100” and “Drying Peatlands and Intensifying Wildfires Boost Carbon Release Ninefold“).
  6. If we stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we might be able to avoid climate disaster. In fact we are still increasing emissionsRead more (or see “The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 on current emissions path”)
  7. If the worst climate predictions are realised, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive. Read more (or see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts“)

And people say Climate Progress has too much gloom and doom! Still, if we didn’t add that all of the above impacts will be happening simultaneously and largely irreversible for 1000 years, then we wouldn’t be true to our name, would we? [Note to self: Look up “progress” in dictionary.]

It’s too bad the articles are behind a paywall, but at least the accompanying editorial plea, “Obama should fulfil his 2008 climate promises,” isn’t. The editors’ bottom line is inarguable:

What’s needed is very clear: emissions cuts, and soon. The best way to do that is to change our economic systems to reflect the true long-term cost of fossil fuels. That means ending the $1 trillion of annual subsidies for fossil fuels and imposing carbon taxes instead.

This article was originally published on Climate Progress. Reproduced with permission.

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  • Chris Squire

    ‘inarguable’ should be ‘unarguable’.

    • FM

      They both mean the same thing. In- is preferred for words of latin origin and un- for those of Germanic origin