Many of us share some dim apprehension that the world is flying out of control, that the centre cannot hold. Raging wildfires, once-in-1,000-year storms, and lethal heat waves have become fixtures of the evening news—and all this after the planet has warmed by less than 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. But here’s where it gets really scary.
Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.
I have blogged about this in the past with mentions back to a report I read in the mid-80s from the WHO. Despite trying to track this down (for my own sake more than anything), it’s very clear that we are beyond this point. In fact, this year’s Living Planet Report from the WWF states:
Our global footprint now exceeds the world’s capacity to regenerate by about 30 per cent.
There is an interesting video over at Vimeo by Leo Murray in the UK that talks about environmental tipping points and the fact that we COULD be headed for a much hotter world and widespread civil war as people fight for habitable land, water and other scarce resources.
Most leading climate experts don’t agree with Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. In fact, he has taken a lot of blows for proposing that solar activity and cosmic rays are instrumental in determining the warming (and cooling) of Earth. His studies show that cosmic rays trigger cloud formation, suggesting that a high level of solar activity—which suppresses the flow of cosmic rays striking the atmosphere—could result in fewer clouds and a warmer planet.
The reason why temperatures shot up during the PETM are unclear; but carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere appear to have been extremely high, about a thousand times higher than currently. And then today, we get another news story that US scientists think that a good way to deal with the build up of CO2 is to capture it any bury it at the bottom of the ocean. Surely this is asking for trouble?