Wednesday, March 21, 2018

This Should Shock You. It Won't.

It seems like every week there are two or three new studies that we ought to find jarring - but we don't. 

A report by the European Academies' Science Advisory Council (Easac) finds that global floods and heavy rain events have increased 50 per cent over just the past decade and are four times more prevalent than they were in 1980.

The paper is based on data from the major German re-insurer, MunichRe.

Other extreme climatological events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves have increased by more than a third this decade and are being recorded twice as frequently as in 1980, the paper by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (Easac) says.
The paper, based partly on figures compiled by the German insurance company Munich Re, also shows that climate-related loss and damage events have risen by 92% since 2010.

Prof Michael Norton, Easac’s environmental programme director, said that greenhouse gas emissions were “fundamentally responsible for driving these changes”. 
“Trends towards extremes are continuing,” he said. “People have experienced extreme weather already - big switches [between] warm and cold winters - but the frequency of these shifts may be changing.” 
“Some of the underlying drivers of extreme weather which were speculative four years ago are now looking less speculative and [more like] credible hypotheses. That is the weakening of the Gulf Stream and the meandering behaviour of the jet stream.”
Now you should find that disturbing, enough that you should demand action on climate change - real action - from our federal government. But I'll bet the farm that there'll be no mass outcry, no demand for Ottawa to act.

Then there's climate migration.  A new study from the World Bank in conjunction with the Potsdam Institute and other groups foresees climate change-driven migration in the order of 140-million refugees by 2050.

World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said the new research provides a wake-up call to countries and development institutions.

"We have a small window now, before the effects of climate change deepen, to prepare the ground for this new reality," Georgieva said. "Steps cities take to cope with the upward trend of arrivals from rural areas and to improve opportunities for education, training and jobs will pay long-term dividends. It's also important to help people make good decisions about whether to stay where they are or move to new locations where they are less vulnerable."

The research team, led by World Bank Lead Environmental Specialist Kanta Kumari Rigaud and including researchers and modelers from CIESIN Columbia University, CUNY Institute of Demographic Research, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research - applied a multi-dimensional modeling approach to estimate the potential scale of internal climate migration across the three regions.

They looked at three potential climate change and development scenarios, comparing the most "pessimistic" (high greenhouse gas emissions and unequal development paths), to "climate friendly" and "more inclusive development" scenarios in which climate and national development action increases in line with the challenge. Across each scenario, they applied demographic, socioeconomic and climate impact data at a 14-square kilometer grid-cell level to model likely shifts in population within countries.

This approach identified major "hotspots" of climate in- and out-migration - areas from which people are expected to move and urban, peri-urban and rural areas to which people will try to move to build new lives and livelihoods.
That got your attention? I didn't think so. They're talking of something in the range of 17-million migrating out of Latin America but that'll be for the Americans to sort out as they militarize their southern borders, eh?

How about this one? More killer heat waves coming your way soon. Man-made climate change is going to bring you more and hotter heat waves starting early in the 2020s.
A study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that the impacts of humanity's carbon footprint may help drive more extreme summer heat as soon as the 2020s. 
"These are the years that the human contributions to climate change will become as important as natural variability in causing heat waves," said lead author and NOAA meteorologist Hosmay Lopez. "Without human influence, half of the extreme heat waves projected to occur during this century wouldn't happen."

The study points out that heat waves are the top cause of weather-related death in the United States, and they've already become more frequent and intense in recent decades. 
The research used climate models to look at four U.S. regions and assess when we can likely say that climate change will become the leading driver of heat waves over the natural variability of the climate. In other words, when we will be able to say "humans caused this heat wave" and have a better than fifty percent chance of that being an accurate statement. 
For much of California, Nevada and the arid parts of Oregon, Utah, Arizona and Idaho, that will be the case in just a few years, according to the study. The same could be true for the Great Lakes region in the 2030s, while the Great Plains have 30-50 years before they're hit as hard with human-caused heat.
This report seems to dovetail neatly with research dating back several years conducted by the University of Hawaii's Camilo Mora.

Mora foresees a major climate shift that he calls "climate departure" sweeping the globe starting in the early 2020s through 2047. It's a process eerily akin to flipping a light switch. There is a 'before' and there is a very different climate 'after.' Once that switch is flipped every year will be hotter than the hottest year before the switch flipped. It will start in equatorial areas and then spread over the following quarter century into what we now consider temperate areas.

The 2047 date for the whole world is based on continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of coal, oil and natural gases. If the world manages to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, that would be pushed to as late as 2069, according to Mora. 
But for now, Mora said, the world is rushing toward the 2047 date.
"One can think of this year as a kind of threshold into a hot new world from which one never goes back," said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Chris Field, who was not part of the study. "This is really dramatic." 
Mora forecasts that the unprecedented heat starts in 2020 with Manokwari, Indonesia. Then Kingston, Jamaica. Within the next two decades, 59 cities will be living in what is essentially a new climate, including Singapore, Havana, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City.

This map illustrates the region that will be first affected.  Here's a 2013 summary from HuffPost.

I contacted Dr. Mora to see if there's any update to his now five year old report. He said his group has a backlog of subjects awaiting study and there's simply no money for another multi-year study on climate departure.

This stuff should shock you but it won't. All the warnings calling for decisive action now to avert the worst probably won't cut much ice with a guy who would rather build pipelines to flood the world markets with hazmat bitumen. At least that'd be my guess.


Toby said...

Just what can we do to get Justin's attention? There are serious protestors in Burnaby and they get arrested and really nothing changes. Anyone who sends anything that the powers that be don't want to hear simply gets filed away under nut cases or whatever. Those of us who have our eyes open will have to wait until it all gets really bad.

The Mound of Sound said...

Toby I've seen no indication from the Trudeau government or its predecessors that they have a realistic grasp of the urgency of these threats. The current regime seem to believe we have until 2030, 2040, even 2050 to decarbonize and, in the meantime, let's extract and export every barrel of bitumen possible.

Does that fall into the realm of cognitive dissonance? What else could it be? Nobody, Liberal zealots excepted, seems to be buying this nonsense about bitumen being the key to a green future for Canada. Trudeau simply says that, over and over, without ever offering some plausible explanation of the connection. There's no suggestion they'll set aside the government's share of royalties for some grand climate change initiatives. Nothing of the sort. The two concepts are counter-intuitive and there's nothing in Trudeau's bafflegab to change that.

Toby said...

. . . or in most of the opposition either, for that matter. The only one trying to speak up is Liz May and she has to try to not sound shrill or they'll dump on her more than ever. McKenna spouts stuff that might have made some sort of sense 50 years ago but seems like la la land now.