Global Warming: Causes, Effects, A Call for Action

נשלח 17 בפבר׳ 2014, 14:14 על ידי Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 9 במרץ 2014, 13:32 ]
by Eran Shchori, 17 February 2014
Final Project for The World Bank's course "Turn Down The Heat: Why a 40C Warmer World Should be Avoided".

"Every year the world fails to act brings us closer to the tipping point when scientists fear that climate change may become irreversible." Kofi Annan, Washington Post, 24 January 2014

A. What are the Causes of Global Warming?
Global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, which is caused by greenhouse emissions, especially CO2 and Methane. In May 2013, a record of 400 ppm CO2 was recorded.
The Greenhouse Effect

CO2 is emitted when fossil fuels are burnt to produce energy, to drive our cars, etc. Producing beef for the table has a surprising environmental cost: it releases prodigious amounts of heat-trapping greenhouse gases as well.

There are record levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Starting in 1958, scientists at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii have tracked the general concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, far from power plant smokestacks or carbon-emitting traffic. This past May, for the first time in human history, they saw carbon dioxide levels surpass 400 parts per million (ppm).





B. Temperatures are rising

This visualization (by NASA) shows how global temperatures have risen from 1950 through the end of 2013:



Global warming may have appeared to slow down, but it’s an illusion. Over the past few years, average land surface temperatures have increased more slowly than in the past—prompting climate change deniers to seize upon this data as evidence that climate change is a hoax. But climate scientists agree that there are a number of explanations for the apparent slowdown.
Click to enlarge. Image via IPCC AR5 Report

According to the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The year 2013 ties with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.62°C above the 20th century average of 13.9°C. This marks the 37th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010, which was 0.66°C above average. Including 2013, 9 of the 10 warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century. Only one year during the 20th century—1998—was warmer than 2013. The 2013 global average ocean temperature was 0.48°C above the 20th century average of 16.1°C and tied with 2006 as the eighth highest annual temperature on record and the highest since 2010.



C. How hot will it be?
The UN has published the most exhaustive examination of climate change science to date, predicting dangerous temperature rises. How hot will it get in your lifetime? (source: theguardian.com)



D. What are the Effects of Global Warming?
There are many effects to global warming: Destruction of ecosystems; Loss of biodiversity, conflicts and war, economic consequences, Disease, Drought, storms and floods, heat waves, shrinking glaciers, and rising sea level.

Coral bleaching is only a tangible aspect of global warming's effect on ecosystems.
Coral bleaching is only a tangible aspect of global warming's effect on ecosystems.
Image Credit: Timothy G. Laman/National Geographic/Getty Images


The conflict in Darfur has been partly blamed on stresses caused by global warming.
The conflict in Darfur has been partly blamed on stresses caused by global warming.
Image Credit: Jacob Silberberg/Getty Images


In addition to the loss of life caused by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and Louisiana have faced the economic consequences of billions of dollars in damage.
In addition to the loss of life caused by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and Louisiana have faced the economic consequences of billions of dollars in damage.
Image Credit: Tyrone Turner/National Geographic/Getty Images


A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus pictured in California.
A field sample of mosquitoes that could carry West Nile virus pictured in California.
Image Credit: David McNew/Getty Images


Worldwide droughts, like that in a village northeast of Nairobi, expose rural communities to food shortages.
Worldwide droughts, like that in a village northeast of Nairobi, expose rural communities to food shortages.
Image Credit: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images


Warmer waters increase the likelihood of violent storms. Hurricane Dolly swept over the Texas-Mexico border in July 2008.
Warmer waters increase the likelihood of violent storms. Hurricane Dolly swept over the Texas-Mexico border in July 2008.
Image Credit: NOAA via Getty Images


Heat waves not only make it seem difficult to function, they can be deadly as well. This man tried to cool himself with a water bottle during a 2008 heat wave in New York City.
Heat waves not only make it seem difficult to function, they can be deadly as well. This man tried to cool himself with a water bottle during a 2008 heat wave in New York City.
Image Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images


Montana's Glacier National Park will lose some of its majestic beauty as surface temperatures continue to rise.
Montana's Glacier National Park will lose some of its majestic beauty as surface temperatures continue to rise.
Image Credit: Dave Porter/Photographer's Choice RR/Getty Images


You can't have as much fun in the sun when the beach is underwater. Miami, along with many other areas around the world, is threatened by rising oceans.
You can't have as much fun in the sun when the beach is underwater. Miami, along with many other areas around the world, is threatened by rising oceans.
Image Credit: Lester Lefkowitz/The Image Bank/Getty Images


Extreme weather events all over the globe are part of a growing pattern.




June 2013: Aerial view of the flooded Danube River in Deggendorf, Germany on Friday, June 7, 2013. A historic $22 billion dollar flood disaster killed 25 people in Central Europe after flooding unprecedented since the Middle Ages hit major rivers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia in late May and early June. The Danube River in Passau, Germany hit the highest level since 1501, and the Saale River in Halle, Germany was the highest in its 400-year period of record. This was Earth's most expensive weather disaster of 2013. AP Photo/Armin Wegel.



August 2013: Typhoon Utor approaches the Philippines in this 375 meter-resolution IR image taken by the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi satellite at 04:34 UTC August 11, 2013. At the time, Utor was a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds. Utor killed 86 people in China and did $2.6 billion in damage, and also did $33 million in damage in the Philippines. Image credit: Dan Lindsey, NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research, Fort Collins.


February 2014: The sea rages as it thrashes the coast at Porthleven, Cornwall. Some of the largest waves in the world have smashed into the West Country coast today. Photograph: Bernie Pettersen/SWNS.com

November 2012: Superstorm Sandy. (Photograph by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen/U.S. Air Force).


E. What are the Costs incurred by Global Warming?

These Weather disasters come with a price. Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41 events. (source: wunderground.com):
Germany, June flooding, $16 billion. Previous record: $15 billion in damage from the August 2002 Elbe River floods.
Philippines, Super Typhoon Haiyan, $13 billion. Previous record: $2.2 billion, August 2013 floods near Manila.
Austria, June flooding, $4 billion. Previous record: $3.1 billion in damage from the August 2002 floods.
Czech Republic, June flooding, $1.5 billion. Previous record: $0.3 billion in damage from the August 2002 floods.
New Zealand, Jan - May Drought, $1.6 billion. Previous record: $0.3 billion, January 2001 heat wave.
Cambodia, Oct - Nov floods, $1 billion. Previous record: $0.5 billion, August 2011 flood.



When all U.S federal spending on 2012's year’s droughts, storms, floods, and forest fires are added up, the U.S. Climate Disruption Budget was nearly $100 billion, equivalent to 16% of total non-defense discretionary spending in the federal budget—larger than any official spending category. (source: thinkprogress.com).



From 1980 to 2012, disaster related losses amounted to US$ 3,800 billion worldwide. Some 87% of these reported disasters (18,200 events), 74% of losses (US$ 2,800 billion), and 61% of lives lost (1.4 million) were caused by weather extremes (Munich Re 2013).


F. A Call for Action
At the COP18 climate talks at Doha (December 2012), the Filipino delegate broke down as he appealed to the world: 'no more delays, no more excuses'. When a senior diplomat at global talks breaks down in public, it is a signal that other countries must pay attention. It happens rarely, but it can have a dramatic effect.

Naderev Saño, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation, got halfway through his prepared statement and then stopped (video).

He wanted to relate the tortured negotiations to the tragedy unfolding in his own country when typhoon Bopha slammed into the island of Mindanao, killing hundreds of people and making thousands homeless. It was, he said, like hurricane Sandy which hit New York, Haiti and Cuba last month, a clear sign of climate change. No typhoon had ever come so far south, it was more intense than ever and one had not hit this region in many decades. Saño told the plenary session:

  • "As we sit here in these negotiations, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising. There is massive and widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered without homes. And the ordeal is far from over, as typhoon Bopha has regained some strength as it approaches another populated area in the western part of the Philippines.

"Madam chair, we have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century. And heartbreaking tragedies like this are not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities.

"Madam chair, I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eeking out a living working here in Qatar. And I am making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino …"

At this point he broke down

"I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
 
"I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?"
 
"Thank you madam chair."

The hall rose and applauded.




Final Projects submitted by other students of the course:
List of projects how2changetheworld.net (account was suspended due to spam)
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