With Global Warming Now Spinning Out Of Control, Caused Mainly by World’s Continuing and Growing Reliance on Energy Derived from Burning Earth’s Ancient Stores of Fossil Fuel
Fossil fuel comes in many form and has many, many uses. The biggest problem impacting the climate occurs when it (coal, natural gas and oil or refined petroleum/petroleum products) in heating plants, homes and businesses, and in commercial and recreational transportation (cars, trucks, buses, airplanes and jets, trains and ships) as well as in road building, excavation and other means of development, including pipeline construction for moving water, oil, and other liquids; and expanding conducting trade with distant countries.
The residuals from these activities – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, other invisible gases – which are “freely” discharged or emitted to the atmosphere, are now known to be accumulating or building up in the atmosphere and oceans to scientifically unquestionable dangerous levels, so much so that calling it a worldwide problem of epic proportions, or a threat to humankind’s existence comparable to a worldwide nuclear catastrophe, has become to many people as no exaggeration anymore.
Every passing day results in a new record volume of the greenhouse “heat-trapping” gases, all of which are continuing to accumulate to higher volume levels (concentrfations), way much faster than nature can transform back into fossil fuels.
Seven things every human ought know (and not forget!) about how we are causing the climate to change and what it means for Earth’s future.
Famine Caused by Climate Change Everybody’s Problem, Not Just the Problem of the Suffering Countries
The above map shows where food supplies are most at risk from climate change. The most vulnerable nations – mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia – are also those currently experiencing the highest levels of hunger.
Famine has been formally declared in parts of South Sudan, the United Nations said Monday, 20 February, warning that some 100,000 people are facing starvation there, and 1 million people are classified as being on the brink of famine.
Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and its widespread, unprecedented impacts disproportionately burden the poorest and most vulnerable. Urgent action to combat climate change and minimize its disruptions is integral to the successful implementation of sustainable development goals, according to the United Nations.
“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised,” said Serge Tissot, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in South Sudan, in a news release issued jointly with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
“Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” he stated, explaining that these people are predominantly farmers who have lost their livestock, even their farming tools.
Climate change and weather-related disasters have increased the vulnerability of food supplies across the world, resulting in rising levels of hunger. Millions of lives are at risk due to climate related disasters and, as the World Food Programme notes, it is those living in the developing world who are most vulnerable. Assisting 80 million people in around 80 countries each year, the World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
A formal famine declaration means people have already started dying of hunger.Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan.The three UN agencies warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger.
Like it or not, ALL people living on this planet today, regardless of their location, share a mutual responsibility for alleviating this situation – either in the form of financial or personal assistance; or in assuring their individual, family, business, community, region, state and nation’s greatly curtail their reduction of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming,the tremendous injustices of climate change and rising sea levels, stronger storms, longer droughts, and more severe and longer lasting heat wave with more humidity, which can only be impacted by their burning of greatly fewer quantities of fossil fuels than they are now causing to be burned in travel (automobiles, truck, jet travel, others); heating, lighting, air conditioning, using electricity generated by fuel burning; purchasing of products depended on heavy use of fossil fuel burning, either in production or in transport. or creating costly byproducts requiring further injustices in time.
Global Warming is a Local, State, National and International Emergency that Will Only Worsen in Time, Not Get Better
Unfortunately, as the volumes of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases that are being released to the atmosphere on a daily basis as a result of human activity (mainly from burning coal, natural gas, oil and jet fuel) continue to accumulate there; and Earth’s remaining green space (forests, prairies and other carbon dioxide (CO2) consuming (sequestering) vegetation) is reduced; and Earth’s oceans, seas, the Great Lakes and numerous other water bodies become evermore warmer and saturated with carbon dioxide (CO2), making them more acidic; the prospect of Earth being as hospitable as for life as it has been in the recent millennia in which humans have inhabited this planet is getting slimmer and slimmer.
Scientific studies have been showing for decades, and now with more and more clarity, that modern day living – particularly by residents in the developed countries of the world, who rely so heavily on burning fossil fuels in their daily living – for energy warmth in winter, and electricity generation and transmission, year-round, for shipping goods and trading, and, moreover, for personal or work related travel, the construction, pavement and land alterations that are done which not only allow for that activity, but promote it, that that kind of living by so many millions and even billions of people, will ultimately lead to grave consequences for our planet.
And with our human population continuing to grow geometrically, coupled with the outright refusal of much of the population, their political leaders, and even the recently elected president of our United States of America, Donald J. Trump, continuing to advocate for the highly resource consumptive “business as usual” lifestyle — many human and other lives have already been lost, and people all over the world have suffered, and many more people and animals living in the future will suffer, or be lost, and many trillions of dollars will be lost as well as a result of climate change related “natural” disasters, and rising sea level, a situation which now is not only unprecedented but becoming increasingly dire and predictable.
It’s not like you can just turn the water faucet off and global warming will stop. As stated in Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe’s comprehensive textbook: “Climate Change – Picture the Science” (2008), it could take centuries and even millennia to reverse it. “even if we act to keep atmospheric concentrations at the same level they are now [atmospheric CO2 concentrations 400 parts per million], the global mean temperature will continue to increase for a few decades as a result of past greenhouse gas emissions [GHGs] and the thermal inertia of the oceans [Water holds heat and releases it much slower than hard surfaces such as cement and asphalt.]”
All we can do now is to slow the pace of global warming by conserving energy obtained either directly or indirectly from burning fossil fuels. Moreover, changing to energy alternatives that don’t add to the rising concentrations of GHGs takes more time and money [but creates more long term jobs], and finding ways to adapt to the changes in the climate and the effects brought about by those changes will also cost money and will hurt the poor and the very young and the more elderly individuals [very young have less body mass to buffer individuals to higher heat; older persons are more susceptible to heat stroke].
“In short, there are no shortcuts to addressing a challenge that is global, pervasive, profound, and long term. Global citizens must grasp the challenge, master its intricacies, and take responsibility, for our own generation, and those to come”.[Jeffrey D. Sachs, New York, 6/16/2008]
The following is from Lee Bergquist of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 22, 2017:
In a shift from the practice of two other state agencies, Wisconsin emergency management officials have released new information on climate change and its implications for the state.
In a report that it posted online last week, the state Division of Emergency Management devoted extensive attention to climate change and how a warming planet could spur natural disasters such as floods, drought and forest fires.
The report contrasts with the Department of Natural Resources and the state Public Service Commission, which scrubbed mentions of climate change and human-generated greenhouse gases from their websites.
As recently as December, DNR officials removed language from a web page devoted to the Great Lakes that had earlier acknowledged the role humans play in global warming. Officials inserted new wording saying climate change is a matter of scientific debate [Not – true! Truthful scientists will tell you the scientific debate ended years ago. MTN]
The PSC, which regulates electric utilities, eliminated its web page on climate change at some point before May 1, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found recently. The scrubbed information included a link to former Gov. Jim Doyle’s task force report on global warming. The Democratic governor’s report in 2008 recommended that Wisconsin reduce the use of fossil fuels and rely more on renewable sources of power. The measures were never enacted.
In the cases of the DNR and the PSC, the information can still be found on the Wayback Machine, an online archive.
In a new five-year disaster preparedness plan, the Division of Emergency Management cites research such as from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. It shows global warming is likely to produce more extreme weather. Examples: more days of 90-degree-plus temperatures and more intense rain events.
Bursts of rainfall, the report said, could lead to natural calamities such as flooding, collapse of dams, sinkholes and lake bluff failures.
While other agencies have removed references to the role of human activities in global warming, officials at the Division of Emergency Management included such a statement.
“Although it is widely accepted by the scientific community that the observed changes in global temperatures are the result of human actions, there is considerable uncertainty about the impacts these changes will ultimately have,” the agency wrote.
The document also acknowledges “some debate about the cause of climate change,” but added that statewide temperatures have increased 1.1 degrees in the past 50 years and that more extreme weather events are likely.
The new planning document was approved in December by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Lori Getter, spokeswoman for the state Division of Emergency Management.
Wisconsin was one of the first states to complete a new plan. As part of the process, FEMA required states to consider potential climate effects, she said.
Losses and Costs Climate Change Continue Growing in 2016 Near Record Levels of Warmth Again Recorded
A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that 2016 ranked as the second warmest on record for the United States, finishing the year with an average temperature 2.9 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.
According to the annual report, 2016 came just short of beating 2012, the current record-holder of warmest year in measures that go back 122 years.
With steamy nights, sticky days and torrential downpours, last year also went down as one of the warmest and wildest weather years on record in the United States.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that 2016 was the second hottest year in the U.S. as Alaska warmed dramatically and nighttime temperatures set a record.
The U.S. also notched its second highest number of weather disasters that cost at least $1 billion in damage: 15 separate ones together caused $46 billion in damage and 138 deaths.
Later this month, global temperatures will be calculated, giving climate scientists more information as they monitor the planet’s warming.
The regular tally of the nation’s weather year shows that even on a smaller scale — the U.S. is only 2 percent of the Earth’s area — climate change is becoming more noticeable even amid the natural variations that play such a large role in day to day weather.
The average temperature last year in the Lower 48 states was 54.9 degrees (12.7 Celsius), nearly 3 degrees above the 20th Century average of 52 (11.1 Celsius). It’s the 20th consecutive year that the United States was warmer than normal.
Only 2012’s 55.3 (12.9 Celsius) degrees was warmer in the 122 years of U.S. record keeping.
“It is certainly a data point on a trend that we’ve seen: a general warming,” said Deke Arndt, climate monitoring chief at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina.. “All five of the warmest years on record have been since 1998 in the U.S.”
While 2016 didn’t quite break the overall heat record, Alaska had its hottest year by far, beating 2014’s old record by 1.6 degrees. Also, the nation’s nighttime low temperature was the hottest on record, a key issue because it hurts agriculture, costs more in air conditioning and makes it harder for people’s bodies to recover from the summer heat, Arndt said.
NOAA also found that it was the fourth consecutive wetter than normal year in the nation, even as droughts remained nasty in some places. “We are seeing bigger doses of rain in smaller amounts of time,” Arndt said.
That led to four different inland floods that cost $1 billion or more, including heavy sudden flooding in Houston, West Virginia and twice in Louisiana. That’s the most NOAA has seen, twice as many as the previous high for inland flooding.
Hotter summer nights, warming farther north and concentrated bursts of heavy rain amid drought are all signs of man-made climate change long predicted by scientists, Arndt said.
“The fact that the U.S. has seen the two warmest years (2012 and 2016) within the past five years cannot be explained by chance. It bears the fingerprint of human-caused climate change,” Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said in an email.
Last year’s 15 billion-dollar weather disasters count is second to 2011, when there were 16 in the United States. NOAA’s billion-dollar disaster calculations — which are adjusted for inflation — goes back to 1980. In addition to flooding, other billion dollar disasters included Hurricane Matthew, wildfires, drought, tornadoes and hail storms.
Other records in 2016: Georgia and the U.S. Southeast as a whole had their warmest years, and the Upper Midwest had its wettest year.
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP SCIENCE WRITER WASHINGTON — Jan 9, 2017
Georgia and the southeastern U.S. not only experienced extreme warm weather, wildfires spread across 82 square miles located in Northeastern Georgia and North Carolina, while 13 people died from a fired that swept into Gatlinburg in the neighboring state of Tennessee.
Dan Chapman, a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the area’s extreme dry weather and recent fires “leave little doubt that Georgia’s “exceptional” drought — the third in a decade — is taking a heavy toll. Many climatologists and meteorologists say get used to it: A warming climate translates into higher Southern temperatures and less rain.”
In 2015, there were 1,345,500 fires reported in the United States. These fires caused 3,280 civilian deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries, and $14.3 billion in property damage.