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Thursday, January 31, 2013

ISCOWP Update January 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How High Could the Tide Go?

"In previous research, scientists have determined that when the earth warms by only a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, enough polar ice melts, over time, to raise the global sea level by about 25 to 30 feet. But in the coming century, the earth is expected to warm more than that, perhaps four or five degrees, because of human emissions of greenhouse gases.
Experts say the emissions that may make a huge increase of sea level inevitable are expected to occur in just the next few decades. They fear that because the world’s coasts are so densely settled, the rising oceans will lead to a humanitarian crisis lasting many hundreds of years.

Scientists say it has been difficult to get people to understand or focus on the importance, for future generations, of today’s decisions about greenhouse gases. Their evidence that the gases represent a problem is based not just on computerized forecasts of the future, as is commonly believed, but on what they describe as a growing body of evidence about what occurred in the past.

To add to that body of knowledge, Dr. Raymo is studying geologic history going back several million years. The earth has warmed up many times, for purely natural reasons, and those episodes often featured huge shifts of climate, partial collapse of the polar ice sheets and substantial increases in sea level.

I wish I could take people that question the significance of sea level rise out in the field with me,” Dr. Raymo said. “Because you just walk them up 30 or 40 feet in elevation above today’s sea level and show them a fossil beach, with shells the size of a fist eroding out, and they can look at it with their own eyes and say, ‘Wow, you didn’t just make that up.’"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Obama's Climate Challenge

"I think the president understands the climate crisis intellectually, but he has not had the 'holy shit' moment you arrive at when you think about this deeply enough," says a leading climate advocate who has had private conversations with Obama about global warming. Instead of talking about the risks of climate change during the campaign, Obama touted an "all of the above" energy plan that was a soft-porn version of "drill, baby, drill." Under Obama, in fact, oil and gas production have soared: Last year, U.S. oil production grew by 766,000 barrels a day, the largest jump ever, and domestic oil production is at its highest level in 15 years.

Obama, who prides himself on his pragmatism and willingness to compromise, may also be ill-suited to address such an urgent and unyielding crisis – especially because it would mean taking on the climate-denying Republican majority in the House. "Climate is the toughest issue to get any cooperation from Republicans on," says Podesta. In fact, House Republicans see climate change as a wedge issue, the atmospheric equivalent to abortion, which allows them to collect mountains of cash from oil-industry magnates like the Koch brothers while painting themselves as defenders of free enterprise.

"You can't continue with business as usual and pretend you are dealing with the problem," says former Sen. Tim Wirth, who now heads the United Nations Foundation. "It requires a fundamental realignment of how you think about everything, from national security to agriculture to economic investment. Climate change is not one of those issues you can deal with in a few tactical moves."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Photographing Climate Change

Click here to view the blog/slideshow from our friend Rachelle Klapheke at The New Yorker

Climate change is not only a major issue for scientists and politicians but for artists as well. Here are ten examples of photographers and other visual artists who are challenging viewers to consider the dangers of inaction by capturing the effects of extreme weather and a warming world.