If you are one of the doubters of climate change, or you are not certain what it is, here are some pointers:
“The Arctic is a huge heat sink, it helps keep the planet cool, and it also drives our circulation because the heat graded between the poles and the equator is what drives our atmospheric, our ocean circulation. And what we’re doing is we’re changing the heat in the Arctic, and it’s warming up.’
The Siberian permafrost is melting, resulting in the release of huge quantities of methane (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere resulting in a
“ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming”
This global climate shift is causing world wide drought conditions., more then doubling the amount of land affected since the 1970’s.
“We conclude that global data indicate a 30-year trend toward more frequent and intense hurricanes”
“We do salmon surveys every spring and summer,” he said. “Normally, we catch several hundred salmon in the spring. This year we caught eight. And we usually get several thousand fish in the summer. This year, it was 80.”
This isn’t limited to the west coast however, the Gulf Stream which warms western Europe has weakened to less then 1/4 of its former strength.
“Such a change could have a severe impact on Britain, which lies on the same latitude as Siberia and ought to be much colder. The Gulf Stream transports 27,000 times more heat to British shores than all the nation’s power supplies could provide, warming Britain by 5-8C.”
This has also caused the North polar ice thickness to shrink by 46%. The Greenland ice sheet is also rapidly melting, dumping fresh water into the Atlantic, which will also affect the thermohaline. As the sea ice around the world collapses, including in the Antarctic, ocean currents and methane gasses (Siberia permafrost) and methane-hydrates are also released, increasing world wide warming.
What is now occurring has become self-perpetuating cycle. Amazingly, these evidences were recently denied by many scientists, but the now collapsing west Antarctic ice sheet is making many into believers.
Better and more accurate data is showing that the world wide evidences of climate changes are interlinked and are not isolated events. There is now a grave concern that global climate change could flip in as little as three years.
“available evidence suggests that abrupt climate changes are not only possible but likely in the future, potentially with large impacts on ecosystems and societies.”
One of the greatest difficulties in piecing all of these evidences together is predicting how global climate change will affect the worlds human population. It’s possible that some areas will warm up, while others will freeze. What is certain, is that global climate change is a fact and that humans are going to be severely affected by the outcome. We will all probably starve to death before we have to worry about freezing.
There is however, a very terrifying scenario that bears mentioning. There are 400 gigatons of methane locked up in the frozen arctic tundra (yeah, that tundra, the stuff that is now thawing out). Once enough of this tundra thaws and releases it’s methane into the atmosphere, a chain-reaction begins, causing even more methane to be released due to increasing temperatures. This “burb” as it is unaffectionally known, has happened at least twice before with devastating results to the entire planet. Over 94% of all marine life died, and required 20 – 30 million years to recover.
This methane-burp can be triggered by as little as a 10 degree temperature rise, something we are already well on our way to “accomplishing”.
So forget rising sea levels, melting ice caps, more intense storms, more floods, destruction of habitats and the extinction of polar bears. Forget warnings that global warming might turn some of the world’s major agricultural areas into deserts and increase the range of tropical diseases, even though this is the stuff we’re pretty sure will happen.
There is no doubt with the preponderance of evidence now available, the world is undergoing very dramatic changes with serious impacts upon human life. Continued ignorance and belligerence as particularly shown by the United States will only increase the very real risk of further catastrophic changes and impacts. Human caused global warming, or human contributed global warming (if you prefer) is a scientific fact. Much could be done to mitigate these factors, but the Bush Administration seems to be in total denial.