Proving that the in-your-face reality of unfettered climate change is not about to recede in the new year, a national disaster is unfolding only days into 2013 in Australia, where rampaging wildfires are burning huge swaths of the country. Australians are used to the annual “bushfire season,” but the recent string of massive fires that have charred millions of acres and killed dozens of people are unprecedented and only getting worse thanks to climate change. Now the nation faces a fire “catastrophe”; not just a lurid term of description, it is an official designation of the most destructive and serious level of wildfire. This year’s violent eruption of blazes are fueled by temperatures quite literally never seen before in Australia, with all-time record heat baking the country.
Holding nearly 100 percent of the world’s glacier ice, Greenland and Antarctica are the “air conditioners” of Earth and also a ticking time bomb of potential devastation. This is because of climate change and the rapid polar warming now being recorded that has surpassed many previous estimates of what was possible. With temperatures rising faster and instances of massive ice melt already experiences this past year, scientists now say that global sea level rise from ice loss in these two regions has been “seriously underestimated.” The total melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice would boost global sea levels by over 200 feet. While no one expects that apocalyptic catastrophe, experts now confirm a sea level rise of several more feet than previously anticipated is likely by 2100, causing immeasurable damage and disruption across the world.
(All via Principled Progressive)
Of course where the picture comes from (CBS News online), the Australian weather change is referred to “milder”. Obviously that’s an understatement as we can see here.
Of course here in New England, in the middle of January, the one layer of snow fall we’ve had is already melting down to reveal soft, unfrozen earth underneath and we’re expecting higher spring-like temperatures this weekend:
Yes, there are idiots who will chime in, “Well I’m just enjoying the good weather!” apparently completely oblivious to the natural life cycle up here that depends on freezing ground, snow cover and long term cold in order to prepare for a good spring and summer season following. It seems that the average American has begun to think that the earth and seas are as solid and dead as a slab of concrete or asphalt, but they aren’t.
Not only could (or does) climate change radically change environments by killing off species of animal or insect life, it also dramatically changes agricultural production and existing plant-life because of the lack of the old “killing frost”, as biologists said in an abstract for an article available here, “The main effect of temperature in temperate regions is to influence winter survival; at more northerly latitudes, higher temperatures extend the summer season, increasing the available thermal budget for growth and reproduction.”
The intro to a World Bank sponsored report on climate change and its effects on world agricultural production are telling and this was written in 2003:
“Climate change is widely agreed to be already a reality, and its adverse impacts on the vulnerability of poor communities are superimposed on existing vulnerabilities. Climate change will further reduce access to drinking water, negatively affect the health of poor people, and will pose a real threat to food security in many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. consequently, the World Bank is moving towards mainstreaming climate risk in all its work, and integrating climate-change adaptation, where appropriate, in projects, strategies and policies. We believe this is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our investments in poverty eradication and sustainable development.”
This report ironically was written in America by mostly Yale academics; America, where we still consume nearly the majority of the world’s resources and participate in the global financial machinery that runs the consumptive engine that drives global warming.
Here in New Hampshire, as reported often, but not often enough for people to listen, such projects as the Northern Pass electrical line project and the proposal to sit windmills on the western mountains do not feed existing need. They exist to provide the forecast infrastructure that will arise out of increased global warming. Yes, that’s right. The power lines and the windmills all will exist to provide for anticipated increased demand in electrical service. (Read here for extensive information and research documentation or our past article on Northern Pass) Increased demand specifically anticipated for the “cooling season” when people will be baking under the increasingly heated earth.
What happened to the idea that capital will make us all safe and sound? Where’s the invisible hand to sweep in and save us from burning up slowly, starving to death, watching our towns drown in the sea or scrambling with thousands of fleeing refugees? At what point will capital come in and bring some sense to the shareholders who sit at the boards of these corporations who decide that their dividend share means more to them than the public welfare?
While the majority of the world lives on a small fraction of what the developed world lives on and while we know that most of what we use and consume we really don’t need, we continue on our path. We have been sold a bill of goods; that mindless consumption feeds our economy and that our economy feeds the economy of other countries because we put people to work. But the facts tell a different story; that our needless consumption in piles of plastic throw-away goods, needless travel in individual gas-powered vehicles and the northeast’s stubborn refusal to give up fossil fuel based heating are killing billions of people and the planet.
But of course the money pumped by capitalists to provide disinformation campaigns serves to obscufate and confuse the issue and the people who will suffer the effects of global warming if nothing is done to change the current trajectory. The bleating of the combined efforts of the oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy consortiums usually go something like this headline and tagline from a article out of the Spectator on 1/04/12:
“Wind farms vs wildlife: The shocking environmental cost of renewable energy