SPUR planner cites 5M sea level rise
Today I began researching news about runaway climate change on the Web – and the bad news is, there is no news.
A search on the term “runaway climate change” for the last 24 hours, using Google News, yielded no results. None. Zip. Nada.
This is sad. Runaway climate change means that human-generated warming has set off new processes in nature. These processes, if the “runaway” assertion is true, have their own momentum. Warming from these processes will continue, whether human-generated warming continues or not. The Earth will warm by at least several more degrees, with huge consequences for humanity, no matter what. (Slowing or stopping human-generated warming would still slow warming in the coming years, greatly easing sustainability crises, and perhaps limiting the ultimate extent of warming that occurs.)
The question as to whether this is happening or not is of huge importance to humanity. I liken it to finding out that a swarm of meteors is heading straight toward Earth. Finding out just which meteors would hit, or miss, the planet, when they would hit, and what damage they would do, would be the most important task imaginable. Climate change is like that meteor shower; finding out whether it’s runaway – and, if so, the details – is the most important question we face.
So no news is not good news.
Checking the sources in the blogroll next to this post, I did find some relevant news – just not from the last 24 hours, and not dealing with runaway climate change directly. Highlights:
- China carbon emissions could peak by 2025-2030. Projections are that China may have outfitted most of its people with “first world” basics like cars, refrigerators, air conditioning and larger homes in 15 to 20 years, and green power’s growth will start to cut into the use of fossil fuels, according to US researchers. At this time, emissions might be about double current US emissions – a huge addition to current global emissions, but less than the four-fold increase that population comparisons alone might indicate. India is also due to add its own emissions, of perhaps roughly the same magnitude as China’s, as it develops economically. However, any lessening in future emissions projections is a welcome contribution.
- A group of scientists critical of mainstream climate change projections, backed by the Koch brothers, did their own study – and ended up agreeing with the mainstream results. This eliminates a major support for climate change skepticism.
- The US will only act on climate change when some kind of disaster occurs, says Harvard economist Robert Stavins. While I happen to agree that this is likely, any such statement can only be speculation, until the US does in fact wake up.
- Leading climate change blog Climate Progress points out that tornado forecasting saved many lives this week – but that the budgets that fund this work are being cut. I see this as a small parallel to the need to energetically investigate runaway climate change so as to save many, many lives using the results.
- Gabriel Metcalf of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) wants lower planning requirements for planning in SF development – but also points out that a 5-meter increase in sea levels is on the way, and we haven’t started plans for protecting some places and “withdrawing from the places we don’t armor”. I would only add that we don’t know that it will stop at 5 meters, without sorely needed research.
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