Climate scientists agree the Earth will be hotter by the end of the century, but their simulations don’t agree on how much. Now a new study suggests the gloomier predictions may be closer to the mark.
“Warming is likely to be on the high side of the projections,” said John Fasullo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the report, which was based on satellite measurements of the atmosphere.
That means the world could be in for a devastating increase of some eight degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.
Let me remind you what the CSIS/CNAS report “The Age of Consequences” (2007, PDF) had to say about such extreme warning.
In the case of severe climate change, corresponding to an average increase in global temperature of 2.6°C by 2040, massive nonlinear events in the global environment give rise to massive nonlinear societal events. In this scenario, addressed in Chapter IV, nations around the world will be overwhelmed by the scale of change and pernicious challenges, such as pandemic disease. The internal cohesion of nations will be under great stress, including in the United States, both as a result of a dramatic rise in migration and changes in agricultural patterns and water availability. The flooding of coastal communities around the world, especially in the Netherlands, the United States, South Asia, and China, has the potential to challenge regional and even national identities. Armed conflict between nations over resources, such as the Nile and its tributaries, is likely and nuclear war is possible. The social consequences range from increased religious fervor to outright chaos. In this scenario, climate change provokes a permanent shift in the relationship of humankind to nature.
• The catastrophic scenario, with average global temperatures increasing by 5.6°C by 2100, finds strong and surprising intersections between the two great security threats of the day— global climate change and international terrorism waged by Islamist extremists. This catastrophic scenario would pose almost inconceivable challenges as human society struggled to adapt.
……Global temperature increases of more than 3°C and sea level rises measured in meters (a potential future examined in scenario three) pose such a dramatically new global paradigm that it is virtually impossible to contemplate all the aspects of national and international life that would be inevitably affected. As one participant noted, “unchecked climate change equals the world depicted by Mad Max, only hotter, with no beaches, and perhaps with even more chaos.” While such a characterization may seem extreme, a careful and thorough examination of all the many potential consequences associated with global climate change is profoundly disquieting. The collapse and chaos associated with extreme climate change futures would destabilize virtually every aspect of modern life. The only comparable experience for many in the group was considering what the aftermath of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear exchange might have entailed during the height of the Cold War.
So what’s actually doable in an Obama second term to help head off this national security disaster? Not a lot and all of it too late, if any of it even happens at all. That we’re not all freaking out about this, and instead freaking out about the mislabelled “fiscal cliff” will be the reason future generations curse us, but the American people are apathetic about the issue, the Senate and President are squishy, and the Congress openly in denial. Moving forward…
Bonus Read: Dean Baker | The Guardian – “We’ll be able to tell our children and grandchildren that they don’t have to pay interest on government bonds (they also won’t be receiving interest on government bonds, but let’s not complicate matters with logic) as they evacuate their homes ahead of flood waters.”