Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Making Global Warming Official

There has been a lot of reluctance to link global warming to the spate of severe weather events our world has experienced in recent years.   Nobody wants to tie specific weather events to climate change because, well because they're weather events, not climate events.   That may be about to change.

The UN's IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, is working its way through a "phonebook size" draft of its next report that is said to conclude "that man-made climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity of heat waves, wildfires, floods and cyclones and that such disasters are likely to increase in the future.

"The document being discussed by the world's Nobel-winning panel of climate scientists says the severity of the impacts vary, and some regions are more vulnerable than others

"...AFP obtained a copy of the draft report's 20-page Summary for Policymakers, which is subject to revision by governments before release on November 18.

"Its publication coincides with a series of natural catastrophes around the world that have boosted the need to determine whether such events are freaks of the weather or part of a long-term shift in climate.

"In 2010, record temperatures fuelled devastating forest fires across Siberia, while parts of Pakistan and India reeled from unprecedented flooding.

"This year, the United States has suffered from a record number of billion-dollar disasters ranging from flooding in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Hurricane Irene to the ongoing Texas drought.

Large swathes of China are suffering from intense drought as well, even as central America and Thailand count their dead from recent diluvian rains.

"Most of these events match predicted impacts of manmade global warming, which has raised temperatures, increased the amount of water in the atmosphere and warmed ocean surface temperatures -- all drivers of extreme weather.

"But teasing apart the role of natural fluctuations in the weather and rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has proven devilishly difficult for scientists."

The report breaks down its findings according to degree of scientific certainty.  For example, the finding that temperature extremes will continue to increase through this century is given a 99-100% "virtual certainty."   The prediction of ongoing heat events of increasing duration, intensity and frequency is rated a 90-100% "very likely" conclusion.

The IPCC research confirms that, for at least the balance of this century, mankind faces what The Guardian terms "global weirding."  Some regions will be extraordinarily dry and hot.  Other regions face extraordinary flooding.   Most of the planet will get hotter but some parts will see colder conditions.

It promises to be fascinating watching what efforts will be made to derail this report.  It's sure to get a rough ride from denialist governments including Canada's.


Beijing York said...

Is it just me, or are there some opportunists out there building the foundations for a new industry: climate change ADAPTATION? There's not nearly enough money to be made with controlling emissions even with carbon credits and some minor investment in renewable energy. It seems that some would rather put any efforts on curtailing global warming on permanent hold and figure out profitable ways to deal with forthcoming disasters.

The Mound of Sound said...

Oh absolutely, BY. This is tailor made for Disaster Capitalists. The World Water Council is a prime example. Huge multinationals such as Nestle, Vivendi, Coca-Cola using their economic strength to wrestle domination of the for-profit water industry in water-distressed (inevitably poor) countries. They claim they're only selling the cleaning and distribution of water but, in reality, they're transforming water into a market commodity with most of the indicia of ownership.

And that's just one example. There are so very many more.

Anonymous said...

Definitely climate change adaptation. The Environment Minister said as much, and the quote made it into Maclean's, back in October I think.