Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The rapidly disintegrating climate

As North Pole Melts in November, Wildfires Rage Across US Well Into Winter
Dahr Jamail

13 December, 2016

This is the first anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) dispatch to be written since the election, which heralded the arrival of a president-elect who will become the only western leader who is an ACD denier.

While President Obama remained clearly in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, with his unwillingness to take the radical actions necessary to mitigate (if even nominally) the already-dire impacts of ACD, he was, at least, willing to admit we live in a crisis never seen before.
As if underscoring the specter of Trump -- and Obama's failure to take appropriate measures, as the proverbial Titanic gurgles ever downward -- the Arctic has been especially warm over the last few weeks. During the second half of November, temperatures at the North Pole were a shocking 36 degrees warmer than normal.
During a time when winter usually sets in and the Arctic sea ice freezes up, ice has been melting instead of freezing. Temperatures in late November were akin to what they normally are at the end of August.
It was Gaia sending yet another unmistakable message, and it was profound enough that Bob Henson with the WeatherUnderground said, "There are weather and climate records, and then there are truly exceptional events that leave all others in the dust. Such has been the case across Earth's high latitudes during this last quarter of 2016."
For perspective, add 36 degrees to whatever your weather is right now, wherever you are. How normal is that? Think about how plants and animals in your area would or wouldn't adapt to that. What would happen to your food and water supply?
To give you another idea of how dramatically things have already changed in the Arctic as the region is in the midst of an ecological disintegration, Captain Cook's records of the region from 1778 reveal a literally different world. His expedition was stopped from sailing north of the Bering Strait by "ice which was as compact as a Wall and seemed to be ten or twelve feet high at least," according to the captain's journal.
In continued attempts to sail further north, Cook's ships followed this ice edge all the way to Siberia, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, longtime climate scientists are emphasizing that we're currently seeing an unprecedented situation. Two days after it was revealed that temperatures at the North Pole were 36 degrees above normal, Walt Meier, a research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who has tracked sea ice data going back to 1979, announced, "It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels."
According to a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization, Earth is now on track to hit 1.2 degrees Celsius hotter than preindustrial temperatures before the end of this year.
According to the recently released annual "Emissions Gap Report" from the UN's Environmental Program (UNEP), current Paris Climate Agreement emissions cuts will still result in 3.5C of planetary warming by 2100. "Current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster," two UNEP leaders warned in the report's introduction.
Recently published research in a prestigious scientific journal shows that ACD is likely already progressing so rapidly that scientists are warning it could well already be "game over." Because the research shows that Earth's climate could be far more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously believed, they are warning of a temperature rise that is on the "apocalyptic side of bad:" more than 7C within one lifetime from now.
Less importantly, but still shocking and useful to consider (especially since plenty of people seem to believe economics are more important than a habitable planet):Another recent report estimates that the world economy will lose $12 trillion due to ACD damages alone.
recent report in Bloomberg News lays out the fact that Americans around the US (Florida, Louisiana, East Coast island areas, Alaska, etc.) are already being forced to move due to ACD impacts like storms, erosion and rising seas.
Meanwhile, the global immigration crisis caused by ACD continues apace. A recent report shows that global military leaders have warned of an "unimaginable" global refugee crisis if business as usual persists, and, of course, there is no real sign of it abating.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, a member of the US Department of State's foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project, said, "We're already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal."
An example of this within the US comes in the form of record-setting wildfires that have been burning across vast swaths of the southeast well into November. You'll find more on this below in the "Fire" section, but it's crucial to note that one of the wildfires scorching Tennessee is the largest in a century, and perhaps in the history of record-keeping. At least a dozen people have died across the southeast from the November wildfires, which are continuing to burn at the time of this writing.
The overview of the oceans continues to grow ever more bleak. A recent reportindicates that ocean life is literally suffocating from low oxygen levels caused by ACD. The report shows that oceans, coastal seas, estuaries, and many rivers and lakes are experiencing dramatic declines in dissolved oxygen levels, and this phenomenon is occurring at a global level now.
As a whole, 2016 has been bleak news for anyone interested in the future of the planet. The World Meteorological Organization recently announced that this year is already "very likely" to be the world's warmest ever. 2015 was the previous hottest year on record, and at that time it was the hottest year since record-keeping began

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