The Changing Planet and Kyoto

Gareth Davies

The Changing Planet and Kyoto

global warming | climate change | preparedness

One may argue 'till the cows come home whether the human race is responsible for global warming and the subsequent climate change, or, if it is responsible, to what degree.

Does it matter?

The Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The report, the work of 113 of the top scientists from around the world, states unequivocally that governments and people cannot prevent the planet from warming, but that steps can be taken to stem the projected increases.

So the real message behind the report is not to tell us what we all know already, that the globe is warming up and that the climate is changing, but to start right now in taking steps to adapt to a changing planet.

Now, instead of shooting for impossible greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, at least spend a portion of the money involved in that endeavour in pursuing "Preparedness".

That is not to say that we should abandon curbing our emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants. Heavens no! But let's not put all our efforts in one direction to the detriment of such a vital aspect of climate change as preparedness, being able to adapt to the inevitable changes and surviving well.

Confusing terminolgy to some

One other thing, it is easy to confuse the terminology, global warming and climate change. That does not mean that the world is going to get hotter everywhere, so that when unusual winter storms occur it is taken as some kind of amelioration of global warming. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Global warming means that there is more energy for the atmosphere, which is reflected in atmospheric behaviours we call climate. Winter storms can be more severe and reflective of global warming. Droughts may occur, again evidence of global warming.

No real eco change for 100 years

According to the report, it does seem that major eco changes will not occur for at least a hundred years, so nothing is going to happen tomorrow. But that only concerns the macro. What about the micro (relatively speaking)?

I am here talking about river systems bursting their banks and filling the flood plains of old. Remember Winnipeg and the Red River a few years ago? The great flooding of Chilliwack shortly after the war?

Sea rise

According to the report the ocean level is expected to rise from 11-31 inches by the end of the century due to expansion of the warmer oceans, and also taking into account rise due to ice-melt.

Let's say the rise will be 3 feet, then double it, in order to obtain a worst case scenario. So the oceans rise by a metre.

Given time and skillful engineering a great deal can be done to prevent a monstrous disaster involving the drowning deaths of millions around the world. For island states like Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas), the Seychelles, the Maldives and particularly coastal marshy lowlands, like Bangladesh, parts of Nigeria and so on, it may already be too late.

But for the huge coastal cities, London, New York, Beijing and so on, they can be saved, but only if the effort is commenced right now. The same goes for river estuaries like the Fraser Valley (including the US side of the border).

Global warming and climate change

There is definitely a change in the formation of depressions that lead to hurricane strength winds. The obvious is Katrina, but there are hurricanes without names, like the ones, all 14 of them, that struck BC's West Coast and Vancouver Island in the late fall and early winter, 2006. Damage is in the billions and on a personal level, many lost homes and vehicles. Forests were destroyed and giant trees hundreds of years old were uprooted.

I don't need the help of scientists to know that the globe is warming and that the climate is changing. That is not to say that I ignore scientific evidence, but I have my eyes to tell me the obvious. Glaciers vanishing, ice melting in the Arctic and Antarctic, except, it seems, eastern Antarctica where the ice is growing some 8% per year! An anomoly I profess I do not understand.

Nevertheless, only an ignorant or wantonly michevious person would deny global warming and climate change.

Reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution

As for reducing greenhouse gases, that can only be a good thing in any event. Clean air to breath, toxic pollution bannished, health restored to millions, of course it is a good thing, but let's not forget that the tides are rising and the winds are blowing and no doubt, fertile lands will become deserts and deserts may well become fertile lands.

Green Party policy dictates a healthy or healthier lifestyle. That means breathing clean air, drinking clean water and eating organic foods. Reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution will go a long way, a very long way indeed, to realizing our policy on healthy living as a means of reducing health care problems.

The planet is changing and unless we change with it, we shall be, as someone once said, no more!

Here are some appropriate excerpts for recent publications, MS-NBC, the Sunday Times of London, and the Chicago Tribune.


Warming ‘very likely’ due to man, report says.

Top climate scientists: More than 90 percent certain humans are to blame: MS-NBC,

    The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, called [the Report] a “very impressive document that goes several steps beyond previous research.”

    The report said no matter how much civilization slows or reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and sea level rise will continue on for centuries.

    On sea levels, the report projects rises of 7-23 inches by the end of the century. An additional 3.9-7.8 inches are possible if recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues.


An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change

Nigel Calder, former editor of New Scientist, says the orthodoxy must be challenged

From The Sunday Times, February 11, 2007

    Enthusiasm for the global-warming scare also ensures that heatwaves make headlines, while contrary symptoms, such as this winter’s billion-dollar loss of Californian crops to unusual frost, are relegated to the business pages. The early arrival of migrant birds in spring provides colourful evidence for a recent warming of the northern lands. But did anyone tell you that in east Antarctica the Adélie penguins and Cape petrels are turning up at their spring nesting sites around nine days later than they did 50 years ago? While sea-ice has diminished in the Arctic since 1978, it has grown by 8% in the Southern Ocean.

    So one awkward question you can ask, when you’re forking out those extra taxes for climate change, is “Why is east Antarctica getting colder?” It makes no sense at all if carbon dioxide is driving global warming. While you’re at it, you might inquire whether Gordon Brown will give you a refund if it’s confirmed that global warming has stopped. The best measurements of global air temperatures come from American weather satellites, and they show wobbles but no overall change since 1999.

    Where does all that leave the impact of greenhouse gases? Their effects are likely to be a good deal less than advertised, but nobody can really say until the implications of the new theory of climate change are more fully worked out.

    The reappraisal starts with Antarctica, where those contradictory temperature trends are directly predicted by Svensmark’s scenario, because the snow there is whiter than the cloud-tops. Meanwhile humility in face of Nature’s marvels seems more appropriate than arrogant assertions that we can forecast and even control a climate ruled by the sun and the stars.


UN report predicts global warming effects in U.S.

By William Neikirk, [Chicago] Tribune senior correspondent, Published February 2, 2007, 8:01 PM CST,0,7250...

    The scientists from 113 countries said they are now 90 percent confident that global warming is caused by mankind, in contrast with a 2001 report in which they said they were 60 to 90 percent confident.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program, said the focus should shift from the cause of global warming "to what on Earth are we going to do about it. The public should not sit back and say, `There's nothing we can do.'"

"Warming of the planet is unequivocal," the 21-page report concluded, "as is now evident from observations of global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level."

In effect, the panel said governments and people cannot prevent the planet from warming but that steps can be taken to stem the projected increases.

    But Michaels said the report was not as alarming as portrayed. He cited a prediction by the panel that sea levels would rise by a modest 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century and noted that this was slightly less than the panel reported in 2001.

"What this report does is place this very small but very widely quoted group of alarmists—who are talking about 20 feet of sea-rise—far, far beyond the fringes [of environmental science]," he said.