Thursday, September 25, 2008

Climate Crisis Update: Do Not Assume that Climate Change will Occur Slowly and Allow for Time to Adapt

Variations of the Earth's surface temperature: year 1000 to year 2100, IPCC

Climate Crisis Update: Do Not Assume that Climate Change will Occur Slowly and Allow for Time to Adapt

By Richard Power

At the moment, it is difficult to look beyond the meltdown of the nation's financial institutions, but the climate crisis is not going away, although the time of opportunity to deal with it is already past, and the time of necessity to deal with it is running out.

Among those who do accept the reality of climate change, there is an unfortunate and dangerous assumption that it is a slow developing crisis, i.e., that desertification will creep and that the sea levels will rise slowly. This is a false assumption.

There is disturbing evidence that climate change is happening faster than projected, and there is a distinct possibility that abrupt and radical transitions could occur sooner than later.

Here are two related stories, one reports on US government research on abrupt climate change, and the other reports on Al Gore's call for civil disobedience to thwart the building of new coal-burning power plants.

Through its Climate Change Prediction Program, the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER) recently launched IMPACTS - Investigation of the Magnitudes and Probabilities of Abrupt Climate Transitions ...
Most people think of climate change as something that occurs only gradually ...
But climate change has occurred with frightening rapidity in the past and will almost certainly do so again. ...
Because civilizations hadn't yet emerged, complex human societies escaped this particular roller-coaster ride. Nevertheless, some form of abrupt climate change is highly likely in the future, with wide-ranging economic and social effects. ...
The IMPACTS team will initially focus on four types of ACC:
+ instability among marine ice sheets, particularly the West Antarctic ice sheet;
+ positive feedback mechanisms in subarctic forests and arctic ecosystems, leading to rapid methane release or large-scale changes in the surface energy balance;
+ destabilization of methane hydrates (vast deposits of methane gas caged in water ice), particularly in the Arctic Ocean; and
+ feedback between biosphere and atmosphere that could lead to megadroughts in North America.
Only half joking, [lead researcher] Collins refers to these as "the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
Terra Daily (SPX), 9-23-08

Former vice president Al Gore urged young environmental activists to engage in "civil disobedience" to halt the construction of coal plants that do not mitigate their carbon emissions.
Gore, who won a Nobel Prize for his environmental activism, was speaking to a gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative, created by the former president he served with, Reuters reports.
"If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore told the Clinton Global Initiative gathering to loud applause.
"I believe for a carbon company to spend money convincing the stock-buying public that the risk from the global climate crisis is not that great represents a form of stock fraud because they are misrepresenting a material fact," he said. "I hope these state attorney generals around the country will take some action on that."
Gore and other environmentalists say coal plants are among the biggest emitters of carbon pollution, which contributes to global warming.
Raw Story, 9-25-08

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

Click here for access to great promotional tools available on The Eleventh Hour action page.

To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

For analysis of the US mainstream news media's failure to treat global warming and climate change with accuracy or appropriae urgency, click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

Want to join over one million people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

Center for American Progress Action Fund's Mic Check Radio has released a witty and compelling compilation on the Top 100 Effects of Global Warming, organized into sections like "Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun" (e.g., "Goodbye to Pinot Noir," "Goodbye to Baseball," "Goodbye to Salmon Dinners," "Goodbye to Ski Vacations," etc.), "Global Warming Kills the Animals" (e.g., "Death March of the Penguins," "Dying Grey Whales," "Farewell to Frogs," etc.) and yes, "Global Warming Threatens Our National Security" (e.g., "Famine," "Drought," "Large-Scale Migrations," "The World's Checkbook," etc.) I urge you to utilize Top 100 Effects of Global Warming in your dialogues with friends, family and colleagues.

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