Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Home SCIENCE To understand the scale of the climate emergency, look at hurricanes |...

To understand the scale of the climate emergency, look at hurricanes | Peter Kalmus

me became a climate activist 16 years ago. Back then, not many people cared about climate change. The blank eyes were audible. Media coverage was sparse, and what little there was flippantly included “both sides.” It was frustrating and tragic to see a danger so clear and present and to know that it was still largely avoidable, but ignored by society.

I assumed that increasingly intense and direct weather disasters would serve as a kind of backup to finally force action. He even hoped that humanity would listen to the scientists and begin to act before things got so bad. I didn’t think this was too much to expect; after all, the scientific basics are pretty easy to understand.

But things have turned out worse than I ever dreamed possible. I underestimated the depth and intransigence of society’s collective climate denial. Even though climate breakdown will be much more intense by 2022 than I thought it would be, somehow it all feels like a decade or two ahead of schedule, the world still isn’t treating global warming like the emergency that it is. .

To understand what emergency we are in now, the scale and variety of climate damage we have already incurred, you only need to look at some of the most recent disasters. Hurricane Ian just hit Cuba and Florida. The full extent of the disaster will only be revealed in the coming days and weeks, although first appearances are shocking. But we know for a fact that Ian was supercharged by global warming through several well-understood fundamental physical pathways.

First, hurricanes are heat engines, driven by large expanses of warm ocean. The ocean is absorbing more than 90% of the excess energy trapped in the Earth system by human buildup of greenhouse gases, and this means more energy is available for more intense storms. Second, a warmer atmosphere may contain more water vapor, which (along with warmer ocean water and stronger winds) translates to more rain. Third, higher sea levels due to accelerating melting of land ice and thermal expansion of the ocean mean more supercharging of storm surge relative to established coastlines and lowlands. All of these overfeeding mechanisms will continue to worsen as global warming itself worsens.

Or consider the record of extreme heat, fires and droughts that have hit arid subtropical regions like California, Spain, China and elsewhere this summer. The planet has been heated by about 1.3C on average since burning fossil fuels began in earnest 150 years ago, and is now increasing by 0.1C every five years. These mean values ​​are roughly doubled over the planet’s land surfaces. That extra heat also fuels heat waves. In addition, global heat is expanding the Hadley cell circulation and displacing subtropical storms poleward, causing a permanent increase in subtropical aridification. All of this tends to dry out the soil, kill trees, and make wildfires worse.

Or consider the biblical flood in Pakistan for a few weeks. Or the “end of the world glacier” in Antarctica that promises “big changes on small time scales”. either burn melted of the Greenland ice sheet. Or the mad and deadly disintegration of glaciers in Europe.

In short, it has been a summer of climatic madness. But even so, this will be, on average, the coolest summer with the least weather chaos. for the rest of your life. That is the nature of trends. It should be scary.

The rise in global heat is causing all the chaos. About 80% and 15% of global warming is due to the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries, respectively. As long as these global industries exist, the planet will continue to warm and climate chaos will continue to worsen. It is that simple, and that inexorable.

And climate impacts are essentially irreversible due to the long residence times of greenhouse gas molecules in the atmosphere. Once those molecules leave our cars, airplanes, and power plants, they won’t be back anytime soon. Think of fossil fuels as a kind of thermal ratchet that permanently throws our climate into chaos.

Since the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries are permanently degrading the Earth’s habitability, and every aspect of human life and civilization obviously depends on that habitability, any elementary school student could tell you that we need to end those industries quickly. . And yet, we are not doing this. Instead, world leaders have been doing everything they can to expand fossil fuels. Also, there is no argument to talk about the end of animal agriculture. Even the new heated bill has massive provisions designed to expand the fossil fuel industry.

The desperation I feel over this clear failure by world leaders to take the obvious and necessary actions to stop the Earth from collapsing and potentially save billions of lives led me to engage in civil disobedience earlier this year, an action which resulted in my arrest.

Where should we go from here, and what can you do? These two questions are connected. Our leaders’ loyalty to wealthy fossil fuel executives, who pays them, is even stronger than his fear of the climate-conscious electorate. Once the grassroots climate movement becomes stronger than the fossil fuel industry, real climate action suddenly becomes possible.

Stopping climate breakdown will require broad and deep global buy-in built through climate reparations and economic protections for the working class as the transition proceeds. It will require the nationalization of utilities and the energy industry, and a general reduction in energy use, in addition to the construction of renewable energy.

In other words, we need society to switch to climate emergency mode. And the key to making that happen is that you demand it loudly and rudely, as if your life depended on it.


RELATED ARTICLES

Alzheimer’s drug slows mental decline on trial, but is it a breakthrough?

Some researchers are celebrating this week's announcement that an Alzheimer's drug candidate reduced the rate of cognitive decline in people in a clinical trial...

Firefly Aerospace reaches orbit with new Alpha rocket

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A new aerospace company took to orbit with its second rocket launch and deployed multiple small...

An earthquake may have discovered 30 new dinosaur footprints in Alaska

A powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Alaska in July 2021. Scientists believe the quake may have yielded more than 30 new dinosaur tracks from...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Alzheimer’s drug slows mental decline on trial, but is it a breakthrough?

Some researchers are celebrating this week's announcement that an Alzheimer's drug candidate reduced the rate of cognitive decline in people in a clinical trial...

Firefly Aerospace reaches orbit with new Alpha rocket

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) — A new aerospace company took to orbit with its second rocket launch and deployed multiple small...

An earthquake may have discovered 30 new dinosaur footprints in Alaska

A powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck southern Alaska in July 2021. Scientists believe the quake may have yielded more than 30 new dinosaur tracks from...

Spatial thinkers get their due | Sciences

An Insider's Guide to Visual Reasoning celebrates those who think in images and patterns.