2017-06-15

Apocalypting conservatively


I am aware that many of those who read my posts think that I overstate the severity of the global warming and that it doesn't look all that bad. Let's just pretend for one hour or so that you were right. Listen to the good professor in the embedded video who delivers a textbook speech on the ramifications of the IPCC / Paris Agreement scenario. There is no rogue mentality visible here, no revolutionary mind at work, no panic attack spilling over, yet the outlook, based on the – irresponsibly conservative – figures from the IPCC models, is devastating.

David S. Battisti's Edinburgh lecture in short: The interior of the continents would heat up twice as much as the global average, leading to a 4°C rise in most grains-producing regions until mid-century.. This would result in massive losses in food production, 10% on average for every degree added. Due to plant physiology, higher temperature, and greater weather swings the mid-latitudes – the US and Europe, among others – would lose between 10% (in good years) and 100% of crops as compared to today. As carbon dioxide in the atmosphere skyrockets, massive ocean acidification will impact the marine food web in unpredictable manners.
With population rising to 9+ billion heads by mid-century, the loss of 1% of arable lands per year due to erosion etc., and the loss of crops due to climate change agricultural production has to double within the next 35 years. This is obviously not going to happen because there is not that much suitable land and that much water available, and, after three decades of research, genetic engineering still cannot provide suitable seeds.

One of the outstanding features of this lecture is the non-issue of mass starvation, population collapse, and the social, economic, and political turmoil this scenario will inescapably bring about. I find it incredible how learned folks tend to isolate items of interest and completely neglect their consequences. What exactly is the use of going through the exercise of modeling future developments and not inquiring into what they mean for our lives?
Consequently the students attending the talk seem to take the message with good humour, and so may you do. But think of it: this is the ultra-conservative outlook on a future that you and I, and certainly our children, would see. Take into account that the temperature has risen by roughly 1.5°C since the beginning of industrialization, and how that already impacts our weather. With an open ear you will hear phrases like “faster than expected”, “worse than foreseen” and “with unprecedented speed” all over the place when it comes to climate change. Is it really a good idea to disregard the more alarming voices among scientists who have reason to believe an abrupt multi-degree temperature rise is probable in less than a decade?

See also:
  • 2°C to Midnight; an essay on the inaccuracy of the IPCC's climate models and the futility of the 2015 Paris agreement.
  • Deep into the Spiral: an outlook on the near future, based on more accurate figures than the IPCC's.

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