By BJ Bjornson
This really isn�t much a surprise to anyone paying attention, but it deserves repeating all the same.
The bad news just got worse: A new study finds that reining in greenhouse gas emissions in time to avert serious changes to Earth's climate will be at best extremely difficult. Current goals for reducing emissions fall far short of what would be needed to keep warming below dangerous levels, the study suggests. To succeed, we would most likely have to reverse the rise in emissions immediately and follow through with steep reductions through the century. Starting later would be far more expensive and require unproven technology.
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"The alarming thing is very few scenarios give the kind of future we want," says climate scientist Neil Edwards of The Open University in Milton Keynes, U.K. Both he and Rogelj emphasize the uncertainties inherent in the modeling, especially on the social and technological side, but the message seems clear to Edwards: "What we need is at the cutting edge. We need to be as innovative as we can be in every way." And even then, success is far from guaranteed.
At this point, I don�t see any real prospect of our avoiding a future where the world is different, and maybe far different, place climatically. This is in no small part due to the fact that opposition to climate change (or to the belief that climate change is human-caused, or to the belief that any and all proposals to do so something about it are the wrong way to deal with it, see my previous post), has become a matter of faith and litmus test with one of the two major parties in the U.S. which continues to wield sufficient power to at least block any progress on that front. And said party and the fossil fuel industries that support it have numerous allies elsewhere.
Add to that things like the energy trap, which ensures that any action we take will be immediately more painful than doing nothing and you�ve set yourself up for a future where the dramatic action needed will simply never come until it is far too late.
The sad part of that being, what comes of putting those hard decisions off is going to be a lot more painful in the long run.
The rising sea will wash across great swaths of South Florida. Salt water will contaminate the well fields. Roads and farmland and low-lying neighborhoods will be inundated. The soil will no longer absorb the kind of heavy rainfalls that drenched South Florida last weekend. Septic tanks will fail. Drainage canals won�t drain. Sewers will back up. Intense storms will pummel the beachfront. Mighty rainfalls, in between droughts, will bring more floods.
The economic losses and the mitigation costs associated with the effects of global warming over the next few decades will be overwhelming. It will cost a medium-sized town like Pompano Beach hundreds of millions just to salvage its water and sewage systems.
Think adaptation, in the personal rather than evolutionary sense, because we�re heading for a changed climate whether you like it or not.