Wikipedia: Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. According to the 2007 Fourt Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global surface temperature increased 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 20th century. Most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century was caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gasses which results from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and defestoration. Global dimming, a result of increasing concentrations of atmospheric aerosols that block sunlight from reaching the surface, has partially countered the effects of greenhouse gas induced warming.
“What will climate change do to our planet?
This is our future – famous cities are submerged, a third of the world is desert, the rest struggling for food and fresh water. Richard Girling investigates the reality behind the science of climate change.”
BETWEEN TWO AND THREE DEGREES OF WARMING
Up to this point, assuming that governments have planned carefully and farmers have converted to more appropriate crops, not too many people outside subtropical Africa need have starved. Beyond two degrees, however, preventing mass starvation will be as easy as halting the cycles of the moon. “First millions, then billions, of people will face an increasingly tough battle to survive,” says Lynas.
To find anything comparable we have to go back to the Pliocene – last epoch of the Tertiary period, 3m years ago. There were no continental glaciers in the northern hemisphere (trees grew in the Arctic), and sea levels were 25 metres higher than today’s. In this kind of heat, the death of the Amazon is as inevitable as the melting of Greenland. The paper spelling it out is the very one whose apocalyptic ?message so shocked Lynas in 2000. Scientists at the Hadley centre feared that earlier climate models, which showed global warming as a straightforward linear progression, were too simplistic in their assumption that land and the oceans would remain inert as their temperatures rose. Correctly as it would turn out, they predicted positive feedback.
“Warmer seas,” explains Lynas, “absorb carbon dioxide, leaving more to accumulate in the atmosphere and intensify global warming. On land, matters would be even worse. Huge amounts of carbon are stored in the soil, the half-rotted remains of dead vegetation. The generally accepted estimate is that the soil carbon reservoir contains some 1600 gigatonnes, more than double the entire carbon content of the atmosphere. As soil warms, bacteria accelerate the breakdown of this stored carbon, releasing it into the atmosphere.”
The Hadley team factored this new feedback into their climate model, with results that fully explain Lynas’s black-comic note to himself: The end of the world is nigh. A three-degree increase in global temperature – possible as early as 2050 – would throw the carbon cycle into reverse. “Instead of absorbing carbon dioxide,” says Lynas, “vegetation and soils start to release it. So much carbon pours into the atmosphere that it pumps up atmospheric concentrations by 250 parts per million by 2100, boosting global warming by another 1.5C. In other words, the Hadley team had discovered that carbon-cycle feedbacks could tip the planet into runaway global warming by the middle of this century – much earlier than anyone had expected.”
Confirmation came from the land itself. Climate models are routinely tested against historical data. In this case, scientists checked 25 years’ worth of soil samples from 6,000 sites across the UK. The result was another black joke. “As temperatures gradually rose,” says Lynas, “the scientists found that huge amounts of carbon had been released naturally from the soils. They totted it all up and discovered – irony of ironies – that the 13m tonnes of carbon British soils were emitting annually was enough to wipe out all the country’s efforts to comply with the Kyoto Protocol.” All soils will be affected by the rising heat, but none as badly as the Amazon’s. “Catastrophe” is almost too small a word for the loss of the rainforest. Its 7m square kilometres produce 10% of the world’s entire photosynthetic output from plants. Drought and heat will cripple it; fire will finish it off. In human terms, the effect on the planet will be like cutting off oxygen during an asthma attack.
In the US and Australia, people will curse the climate-denying governments of Bush and Howard. No matter what later administrations may do, it will not be enough to keep the mercury down. With new “super-hurricanes” growing from the warming sea, Houston could be destroyed by 2045, and Australia will be a death trap. “Farming and food production will tip into irreversible decline. Salt water will creep up the stricken rivers, poisoning ground water. Higher temperatures mean greater evaporation, further drying out vegetation and soils, and causing huge losses from reservoirs.” In state capitals, heat every year is likely to kill between 8,000 and 15,000 mainly elderly people.
It is all too easy to visualise what will happen in Africa. In Central America, too, tens of ?millions will have little to put on their tables. Even a moderate drought there in 2001 meant hundreds of thousands had to rely on food aid. This won’t be an option when world supplies ?are stretched to breaking point (grain yields decline by 10% for every degree of heat above 30C, and at 40C they are zero). Nobody need look to the US, which will have problems of its own. As the mountains lose their snow, so cities and farms in the west will lose their water and dried-out forests and grasslands will perish at the first spark.
The Indian subcontinent meanwhile will be choking on dust. “All of human history,” says Lynas, “shows that, given the choice between starving in situ and moving, people move. In the latter part of the century tens of millions of Pakistani citizens may be facing this choice. Pakistan may find itself joining the growing list of failed states, as civil administration collapses and armed gangs seize what little food is left.”
As the land burns, so the sea will go on rising. Even by the most optimistic calculation, 80% of Arctic sea ice by now will be gone, and the rest will soon follow. New York will flood; the catastrophe that struck eastern England in 1953 will become an unremarkable regular event; and the map of the Netherlands will be torn up by the North Sea. Everywhere, starving people will be on the move – from Central America into Mexico and the US, and from Africa into Europe, where resurgent fascist parties will win votes by promising to keep them out.
Chance of avoiding three degrees of global warming: poor if the rise reaches two degrees and triggers carbon-cycle feedbacks from soils and plants.
Some people seem to think that it’s not their problem. IT’S OUR PROBLEM! Look into alternative energy sources. Stop using 5 bottles of hair spray in your hair, it’s not the 80’s anyways. Hydro cars all the way! If I could afford one, I’d be driving it right now. Use solar energy and energy saving lightbulbs. Don’t you think they should put more money into developing cost efficient hydro cars. Hybrids and electronic cars are crap because the carbon print is actually worse for the environment, and the batteries die in 7 years. SO they are not economic or cost efficient. I had a landlord who had bio-diesel fuel that he used to power his old Mercedes. With gas prices soaring, it was actually cheaper than regular gas, and better for the environment. So why does Samsung need all this government money? I think the TV and cell phone is small enough. We should be powering our house from energy from the earth and driving cost efficient cars powered from water. Watch the book of Eli (Denzel Washington), then ask yourself what’s really important to you, and what do you take for granted? We need more money aimed at alternative energy sources. We should get tax deductions for going green. How would I change things? I think they should make it a law to outdo aerosol products that don’t require aerosol, ie. hairspray. They should outright ban all high energy using lightbulbs and only allow manufacturing of energy saving light bulbs. Since they have been spending so much money on new busses, why don’t they make the busses have alternative energy sources because they are a huge part of the problem. Stop manufacturing of all gas cars and switch over to alternative sources. I’m also someone simple who doesn’t like heavy chemicals to wash my clothes. I also like to use natural unscented detergents and gentle dish soaps and not harsh chemicals to clean.
As a fashion major we are educated in the green textiles. Some of the misconceptions are that cotton, and bamboo are all natural “green” fibers. Cotton actually takes more resources to crop and manufacture and the pesticides used are horrible for the environment. To clean cotton we use more water and electricity. Whereas synthetic fibers are cheaper to maintain. The chemical processes used to complete the bamboo and cotton textiles are also bad for the environment. So although bamboo is from a natural source, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an eco-friendly “green” product. You have to look into it the complete farming and manufacturing process to see if the product is actually “organic.”
A lot of China companies are dumping their waste into the ocean. When doing our clothing lines, (manufacturing), sourcing, (choosing fabrics), it may cost more, but by using a US company you are helping save the environment, and also by keeping money in the US, you are saving the economy. I read somewhere that China has laws limiting how much goods can be imported. They are a huge export country so they are hording all the money. If all the money is coming in, and no money is coming out, that can be very bad for the United Sates economy.
Do your part and GO GREEN