A new book spells out the hard facts caused by climate change
In the fall of 2015, Donald Trump tweeted : “It's really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” Donald Trump was using a very common strategy of climate change deniers : oppose the perception of climate on one specific day to the findings of climate scientists on global climate evolutions. The stupidity of the comparison goes without saying. But let's say we accepted to dumb ourselves down to be able to discuss climate change with Trump, we would still have to say that his stance is idiotic and criminal because all the evidence of global warming is right under our nose ! Dean Goodwin must have been thinking of the GOP would-be candidate when he wrote his book “Climate Change for Beginners”, a full description of the measurable changes that have already begun and their disastrous effects on biodiversity and humans. He would have sent a copy to Donald Trump but it's slightly longer than 180 characters. Shame.
Global warming is already making the climate hotter[edit | edit source]
While one swallow doesn't make a summer, when a whole flock of swallows flies by, you should start looking for your bathing suit. And that's exactly what's happening right now. Taking one day or one season as a counter example, like climate deniers always do, is the opposite of science. However, analysing the recurrence of record hot years is quite another thing. And Dean Goodwin points out in his book that in the last decades we have lived the hottest years in recorded history. More exactly, 13 of the 15 hottest years ever recorded have taken place since 2000, which means that 4 out of 5 years since 2000 have been record years for heat ! This really underscores the gall of politician like Donald Trump that cynically complain every time the weather happens to be slightly colder than expected in order to question the science on climate change. And as the years go by, we keep breaking heat records ! 2005 used to be the hottest year ever, but then it was surpassed by 2010, 2014 and finally 2015, it truly seems than almost every year the climate gets hotter than the year before. Even if we look away from these record years, the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible. There has been an insane streak of 38 years when the global temperature has been above the recorded average. And this global warming is not just a statistical reality, it's a physical reality that is killing people by the thousands. In 2003, the heat waves in Europe killed tens of thousands of people, especially elderly people. In 2015, a witheringly hot summer in Pakistan and India led to the deaths of 3,200 people. Hard facts recognized by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and that require that we act quickly and decisively to mitigate global warming to avoid more deaths. And the rise of temperature also has other consequences, more indirect, but no less dangerous to mankind and our environment.
The global meltdown of ice and snow cover[edit | edit source]
If climate skeptics still doubt the reality of the figure of global warming, they should still be able to infer its speed and strength from the meltdown of ice and snow, in both the North and the South hemisphere. This phenomenon can be seen in many parts of the world. Dean Goodwin points out that the meltdown concerns locations as diverse as the ice caves in Cascades National Park in the state of Washington, the Meili Snow Mountain in China, the Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or glaciers in the Himalayas, Iceland, Switzerland or Canada. This process will be incredibly disruptive for human populations. As the meltdown disturbs the natural cycle of water that proceeds from the snowmelt in mountains, the water flowing down to the plains with high human density will become more irregular and will enhance water shortage issues that many areas experience already today. For instance, the Los Angeles area is already suffering from the water crisis and it will only get worse if global warming continues to disrupt the water flow from the Rockies. The same goes for Northern India, where 550 million people rely on water that comes from the Himalayan mountains. In a country where there are already 77 million people without access to water, it will only make matters worse and increase the number of people with extremely poor living conditions. Besides, global warming is also affecting the Arctic ice sea that is shrinking every year. And this could have lethal consequences because the ice cap has been shielding huge methane deposits at the bottom of the Arctic ocean from the heat and sunlight. If the ice recedes too much, the heat will trigger a release of astronomic amounts of methane, probably around 50 gigatons, which is 10 times the amount of methane currently in the atmosphere ! When one thinks that methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, one realises that this release would strongly accelerate global warming, probably beyond any chance of stopping it. So as we can see, the impact of global warming on the snow and ice cover in the world is very real and its consequences are going to be disastrous if it isn’t stopped. That should already be enough to get any sensible (herein lies the issue of course…) person to do everything he or she can to stop this process. But actually, there’s more.
A calamitous rise of sea levels[edit | edit source]
Global warming has already begun to cause a rise in sea levels that threatens millions of people throughout the world. The IPCC has recognized as a fact that since the beginning of the 20th century, the seas have already risen 0.2 meters and that they are continuing to rise at a rate over 3 millimeters every year. Indeed the melting of glaciers and the ice in Greenland and Antarctica adds up to the amount of water in the oceans and is increasing their volume. In other words, the hotter the atmosphere gets, the faster the snow and ice in the world is going to melt and the higher the oceans are going to rise ! The research has established that if the ice of Greenland were to melt entirely, it would lead to a 7 meter rise of sea levels ! In July 2015, a group of scientists among which James Hansen, who has been at the forefront of the science of climate change, published a paper predicting that the seas might rise as much as 10 feet in the next 50 years, and even more after that time. Why exactly would this kind of sea level rise be a catastrophe ? Because half on mankind lives in coastal areas and that is where the biggest cities are located. Some cities will be able to adapt but it will cost insane amounts of money to do that. Some won’t and their inhabitants will have no choice but to run away. If we don’t stop this process there will be more and more of these climate refugees. If you thought welcoming the people fleeing the war in Syria is a challenge, wait until we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people that need a new home because the seas swallowed their old one. The threatened areas include the coasts of the United States, especially states like Florida, Texas, or Louisiana, the Netherlands that has a big part lying under the sea level, the shores of Poland or Bangladesh and islands in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans like the Maldives or the Carteret Islands. A sea level rise comparable to what James Hansen and his colleagues fear would transform the world map completely, leading to deep political, economic and social shifts that could cause instability and war. It would be the end of the world that we know, and that’s why we can’t let that come to pass.
To sum up, Dean Goodwin’s new book, “Climate Change for Beginners”, is a great tool to remind us that global warming is not only a very real danger for our future, it is already going on and we can already measure its effects. And by doing that we truly understand how urgent it is to address this issue and therefore fight all those who, to protect their own private interests, would spread lies and misinformation to slow down the policies that can help us mitigate this threat.