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Posts Tagged ‘flooding’

Smoke rises behind a destroyed apartment complex after the Thomas fire ripped through Ventura, California. It was the worst fire in the state in 2017, burning 440 sq miles. Photograph: Noah Berger/AP

Last weekend the Guardian published a powerful piece by David Wallace-Wells on the subject of climate change. I think his book, The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story Of The Future (Allen Lane, £20), is soon going to find its place near the top of my multi-story stack of unread books. Below is a short extract: for the full article see link.

I was wilfully deluded until I began covering global warming, says David Wallace-Wells. But extreme heat could transform the planet by 2100

have never been an environmentalist. I don’t even think of myself as a nature person. I’ve lived my whole life in cities, enjoying gadgets built by industrial supply chains I hardly think twice about. I’ve never gone camping, not willingly anyway, and while I always thought it was basically a good idea to keep streams clean and air clear, I also accepted the proposition that there was a trade-off between economic growth and cost to nature – and figured, well, in most cases I’d go for growth. I’m not about to personally slaughter a cow to eat a hamburger, but I’m also not about to go vegan. In these ways – many of them, at least – I am like every other American who has spent their life fatally complacent, and wilfully deluded, about climate change, which is not just the biggest threat human life on the planet has ever faced, but a threat of an entirely different category and scale. That is, the scale of human life itself.

A few years ago, I began collecting stories of climate change, many of them terrifying, gripping, uncanny narratives, with even the most small-scale sagas playing like fables: a group of Arctic scientists trapped when melting ice isolated their research centre on an island also populated by a group of polar bears; a Russian boy killed by anthrax released from a thawing reindeer carcass that had been trapped in permafrost for many decades. At first, it seemed the news was inventing a new genre of allegory. But of course climate change is not an allegory. Beginning in 2011, about a million Syrian refugees were unleashed on Europe by a civil war inflamed by climate change and drought; in a very real sense, much of the “populist moment” the west is passing through now is the result of panic produced by the shock of those migrants. The likely flooding of Bangladesh threatens to create 10 times as many, or more, received by a world that will be even further destabilised by climate chaos – and, one suspects, less receptive the browner those in need. And then there will be the refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the rest of south Asia – 140 million by 2050, the World Bank estimates, more than 10 times the Syrian crisis.

My file of stories grew daily, but very few of the clips, even those drawn from new research published in the most pedigreed scientific journals, seemed to appear in the coverage about climate change we watched on television and read in newspapers. Climate change was reported, of course, and even with some tinge of alarm. But the discussion of possible effects was misleadingly narrow, limited almost invariably to the matter of sea level rise. Just as worrisome, the coverage was sanguine, all things considered.

As recently as the 1997 signing of the landmark Kyoto Protocol, 2C of global warming was considered the threshold of catastrophe: flooded cities, crippling droughts and heatwaves, a planet battered daily by hurricanes and monsoons we used to call “natural disasters” but will soon normalise as simply “bad weather”. More recently, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific offered another name for that level of warming: “genocide”.

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melting-ice-caps

Global warming is a real danger. More and more of us realise this. Will enough of us stop our rising levels of consumption to make a difference? It’s our choice. I missed this piece by David Langness on the Bahá’í Teachings website when it came out at the end of last month, so I’m making up for lost time now thanks to the alert of an FB friend. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.

The sea of materialism is at flood tide and all the nations of the world are immersed in it. – Abdu’l-BahaDivine Philosophy, p. 138.

At the bottom of our planet, down there where the penguins live in Antarctica, the ice is melting. Fast.

In Greenland, at the top of the planet, it’s melting even faster.

If Antarctica’s ice melts, along with Greenland’s, it will flood the world, submerging most of humanity’s great coastal cities under the waves.

Why? Well, the ice is mighty deep in Antarctica—more than a mile deep in most places. About seventy percent—yes, that’s right, seven-zero percent, 70%–of the world’s fresh water is locked up in Antarctica’s frozen mass of ice.

Here’s how it all works: the Earth has two “ice sheets”—huge continental-sized glaciers that cover entire landmasses. The world’s smaller ice sheet covers most of Greenland (1.7 million square kilometers, or 660,000 square miles). The biggest planetary ice sheet covers Antarctica (14 million square kilometers, or 5.4 million square miles—about the size of the United States and Mexico, combined). Together, they hold the vast majority—more than 95%–of the world’s fresh water, frozen in that deep blue ice.

If it all melts—Antarctica and Greenland both—sea levels will rise 216 feet, or almost 70 meters.

That would create a true global catastrophe. It would displace much of the world’s population, since about half of all humans now live within 37 miles (60 kilometers) of the sea. All low-lying, ocean-adjacent areas of the world would be inundated. Three-quarters of the world’s major cities sit on the coastlines of an ocean; so goodbye New York, Sydney, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, London, Kolkata, Bangkok, Tokyo, Miami, etc., etc. Want to see what a post-ice sheet world would look like? National Geographic has an interactive map.

Why do I raise this frightening issue?

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