The World Bank yesterday released a report, "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4C Warmer World Must Be Avoided".
The foreword, penned by the president of the World Bank, opens with, "I hope this report shocks us into action."
Neither the foreward nor the body of the report itself pulls any punches in describing the consequences of a warmer earth for coastal regions, food production, human health, water availability, tropical cyclones, and biodiversity. The authors describe undoing years of work in sustainable development and the severe social disruption that could result.
If you can't spare the time to read the entire 106-page report, at least read the executive summary.
It's dreary reading for Thanksgiving weekend. Read it anyway.
- Author: Derek Nixon
The New York Times ran a feature article today on polluted tapwater in California's Tulare Basin and Salinas Valley based on a study by UC Davis faculty (including several CCWAS trainers) for the California State Water Resources Control Board released in May. The New York Times reports that an estimated 20% of small public water systems in Tulare County are unable to meet acceptable levels of Nitrate in drinking water. Key findings of the UC Davis study include:
- Drinking water supply actions, such as water treatment and finding alternative water supplies, are most cost-effective. However, well supplies will become less available as nitrate pollution continues to spread.
- While many options exist to provide safe drinking water, there is no single or ideal solution for every community affected.
- Agricultural fertilizers and animal manure applied to cropland are the two largest regional sources of nitrate leached to groundwater — representing more than 90 percent of the total.
- Reducing nitrate in the groundwater is possible, with methods such as improved fertilizer management and water treatment. Costs range from modest to quite expensive.
- Directly removing nitrate from large groundwater basins is extremely costly and not technically feasible.
Nicholas Kristof wrote a provocative column in today's New York Times. In addition to summarizing the scientific discussion about Atlantic storms and climate change (see also Tuesday's CCWAS blog), he suggested,
"There are no easy solutions, but we may need to ... above all, rethink how we can reduce the toll of a changing climate. For example, we may not want to rebuild in some coastal areas that have been hammered by Sandy."
Computer models suggest that California's future climate will include more precipitation falling as rain and less as snow. In the face of increasing demand for water, perhaps the citizens in the Golden State also should look to the future and think seriously about how we might reduce the toll of climate change.
Want to learn a little about climate science and hurricanes? Do an internet search using "Hurricane Sandy" and "climate change". A quick search at 4pm on October 30th revealed half a dozen major news sources posting very readable articles that explain some of the science underlying climate forecasts of storm severity.
Here's a selection:
- New York Times: Did global warming contribute to Hurricane Sandy's devastation?
- Washington Post: Yes, Hurricane Sandy is a good reason to worry about climate change
- boingboing.net: Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy?
- Huffington Post: Hey Pols, Hurricane Sandy is climate change
- The Guardian: Was Hurricane Sandy supersized by climate change?
- NPR: The science behind Hurricane Sandy: climate change or freak storm?
For a collection of some pretty amazing satellite images: see this NASA web site.
Climate change skeptics for years counted UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller in their ranks. Muller, a former McArthur award recipient, criticized the "hockey stick" graph of atmospheric CO2 versus time as a mathematical artifact (Muller 2004) and created a research institute, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, to examine the data more closely.
Based on his work, Muller now writes,
Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
These findings are stronger than those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group that defines the scientific and diplomatic consensus on global warming.