Where’s That Water Coming From?
Call him Noah.
You know – the guy who warned about a disastrous climatological event about to take place. That was a few years ago – make that a few thousand years ago – and Noah’s naysayers ended up getting soaked as Noah proved prescient.
The flooding predicted by the biblical character is about to occur again, a new Noah says. Well, maybe not so catastrophically, but enough to make many of the world’s coastal cities disappear, says James E. Hansen, a retired NASA climate scientist. He led new research by a group of 18 leading climate scientists that found continued warming at the pace previously thought to be somewhat tolerable would actually be intolerable.
Years ago, nations agreed to shoot for a cap on warming of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial level. A couple of problems with that, the group says. First, warming has already reached half that amount, with ice melting and oceans rising. But even if that limit holds, the new research shows the result would be killer storms and melting of large parts of the polar ice sheets sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the century’s end.
James E. Hansen
“That would mean loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s large cities and all their history,” Hansen says.
There’s a parallel between what’s happening now and what occurred 120,000 years ago, when the temperature climbed to only a little higher than today’s. The sea level rose 20 to 30 feet as much of the polar ice disintegrated, scientists have established. They have agreed that the current global warming will produce at least as much of a rise, but thought it would occur over centuries. The new research indicates it will happen far faster.
Not all scientists agree with the Hansen bunch’s conclusions, and they worry that his political activism on the issue might have tainted his objectivity. Hansen is not dismayed, saying humanity is faced with such a grave peril that he feels compelled to sound a warning. Noah of the 21st century.
So what are we doing about it? Not much, I dare say. Walk into just about any public building, and it’s so cold you need a sweater to stay warm. Where is the concern over the greenhouse gases produced by such wastefulness? The managers of such buildings don’t even seem to care that they’re needlessly raising the cost of operating them. Think of how much the production of these gases could be reduced if a law were enacted requiring all public buildings be air-conditioned to no lower than, say, 78 degrees. The effect would be enormous.
Is that ever going to happen? Not as long as politicians proclaim that man-made climate change is a myth. I don’t have to tell you which political party in the United States takes that position.
Besides the flooding …
Maybe the effects of man-made global warming announced by a second official report will get people’s attention. That report, issued last week by the
“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” researcher Hansen warned. But hey, look on the bright side: It’ll be great for the cruise industry.