Time for an AGW update. Earlier this week a summary report of “Climate Change Impacts in the United States” (once again the “global warming” terminology has been avoided). The report covered many things that have been covered before. More drought, more floods, more extreme weather, rising oceans, etc. (see AGW list below). What was useful about the report is more detailed graphics and maps showing local regions and how they might be affected – such as which roads might be submerged along the Gulf Coast. Even if you don’t put much stock in the AGW predictions, it is at least good to know what areas are vulnerable and what it would cost to implement adaptations. As far as rising sea levels goes, ancient societies also had to adapt to extreme changes in sea level. They fared pretty well. The ocean has been rising almost continuously since the last ice age (nearly 300 feet). So what has changed that makes a little more sea level rise such a concern. Human society has changed. The ancients (in the article linked above) built houses on stilts or moved inland when the sea rose. Unfortunately, our industrial and information based societies have been built very near the coast. Many expensive assets such as manufacturing facilities, skyscrapers, power plants, and million dollar mansions have been built as close to the coast as possible.
Another impact is increased scarcity of fresh water supplies in the western U.S. I have covered this in the blog before. Compounding (and probably dominating) the problem is the dramatically increased population in the western U.S. Not only has a large proportion of the U.S. population migrated to the Sun Belt and California, agriculture has sprung up in areas that would otherwise not be able to support it – were it not for massive irrigation. Hear is another report about rivers out West (and other areas of the world) losing water. The report blames the loss on AGW, but then goes on to note the large populations that have recently developed along these waterways. More people use more water. How do we combat the overuse of water supplies? Increase the price. That is the simplest way. When your water bill is greater than other energy bills, you tend to conserve.
In a bit of bad timing, it also appears that most of the agriculture and cities sprung up out West during a short period of time with above normal precipitation. I reported on a study a couple years ago which found through tree ring analysis (including Wyoming) that the 20th century was unusually wet in the western U.S. Prior to the 20th century, drought conditions were much more prevalent, sometimes lasting a couple decades. If we are now returning to that more normal state, then it could mean much more trouble for folks out West. I couldn’t find the original study, but here is one that found at least 8 droughts as severe as the 1950s drought prior to 1903.
Now an updated AGW list. Below are the newest additions. I haven’t found anything to cross off the list but some of the things are contradictory. A recent report from the UK claimed that every human health condition will get worse because of AGW. Somehow I doubt we will see increased cases of hypothermia. Also, a while back James Lovelock predicted that at least 6 billion people will die before 2100. This would seem to contradict the Australian study that predicted increased obesity. I can’t imagine there will be much obesity if billions are dying of starvation.
So here is the complete list, kept since November of 2007:
(China’s silk road valley will suffer from increased flooding, Monsoon areas will shift, African farmers will need heat-resistant crops, shellfish will die, bigger sand dunes, Mediterranean sea to rise 2 feet, the Amazon rain forest will be more susceptible to fires, sea level rise to be worse in New York City, the Maldives will flood, woody weeds will expand in Australia, the Gulf Stream could shut down, major rivers will lose more water, every aspect of human health will get worse, pinon pines trees will die, seals will be contaminated with mercury, ice-dependent life will disappear from the Antarctic peninsula, wildfire hotspots will shift around the world, cicadas are coming out earlier, tropical lizards will die, pets will suffer, Lyme disease could get worse,the earth’s magnetic poles will shift, Bluetongue virus spreading and moving out of the tropics, the 2007-09 California drought, agriculture will cease in the state of California, Northern and southern Europe will get hotter, all earth’s seasons are arriving 2 days earlier, cocoa production could decline, too many males in some fish and reptile species, Reindeer could become endangered, bigger waves along the Oregon coast, crabgrass will take over your lawn, migratory fish populations will decline, jumbo squid will move slower and starve, ski areas will go out of business, an increase in tick-borne disease epidemics, soil will become less fertile, global forests (including cool weather trees) will be devastated, tiger attacks on humans will increase, tropical and mountain animal species will go extinct, a dirty dozen of diseases will spread, less bright Fall foliage, the weather will be harder to predict, large animal species could go extinct, power blackouts, more flooded subways, Mountain snowmelt will occur up to 2 months earlier, more bee colony collapse disorder and other multiple infectious disease outbreaks, 1 in 8 bird species could go extinct – including long distance migratory song birds, some birds will have to migrate further, eucalyptus leaves will become less nutritious and Koala bears will die, the 2008 tropical storm disaster in Myanmar, Tropical bugs will not reproduce, toxic chemicals will pour out of glaciers, more deadly algae blooms, more poverty, a massive increase in volcanic activity, new disease outbreaks from previously frozen corpses, irreversible water circulation alteration in Lake Tahoe, dramatically decreased rice production, fewer flowers in the Rocky Mountains, transportation systems will be ruined, air pollution related deaths will increase, tropical fish could go deaf, more “ocean deserts”, more tundra wildfires, collapsing oceanic food webs, sharks devastating Antarctic sea life as well as general devastation of Antarctic sea life due to other predators and disruptions, the drying up of Lake Mead by 2021, plant-devouring insect invasions, poor food quality, increased human mortality, more solastalgia/mental illness, more wars, the past 1993 conflict in Somalia, more intense heat waves, more heat deaths, more hurricanes, less hurricanes, more intense and bigger hurricanes, a longer hurricane season, more stormy and severe weather – especially near the poles, rising oceans, more acidic oceans, California wildfires, more droughts, more floods, future disastrous declines in food production, coral reefs (hard and soft) bleaching, dissolving and dying, all the world’s coral could die, 100 million people will be displaced because of problems with coral, enormous extinctions of plant and animal species (including – Kangaroos, Caribou, Polar bears, Narwhals, Butterfly fish, Lemmings, Isle Royale Moose, Walruses, Penguins, King Penguins, Adélie Land King Penguins, Australian Bats), massive loss of fish in the Bering Sea, the earth literally being torn apart, Amazon deforestation, a bigger ozone hole, a smaller ozone hole, a slower recovery of ozone, ozone recovery will be uneven, less fresh water, all aspects of human health will get worse, more obesity, more hunger, more asthma, more allergies, more infectious disease, more kidney stones…more to come)
Lastly a look at the current drought conditions in Wisconsin. Click here for the full U.S. Drought Report. As you can see, no change in the drought conditions over the last week. Hopefully we will experience some heavier rain in the northwestern part of the viewing area this afternoon, tonight, and Friday. We do have a chance of thunderstorms, but at this point the heaviest would seem to be aiming for the southern half of the area. The weekend is still looking good with high temps around 80 on Saturday and in the low 80s for Sunday. High temps should remain in the low to mid 80s for most of next week. It looks like Summer is finally here to stay.
Have a nice Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.