Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Life after Durban

It was always a certainty that the COP 17 talks in Durban would reach some sort of agreement so that the government representives and other delegates could claim some sort of success. That is how politics works, no one wanted to be seen as failing.

But in reality and as expected the agreement was just an agreement to agree something at an agreed later date - 2020 in this case. Certainly better than nowt, ' But the intervening years could set the world on track for more than 3 °C of global warming'.

So with this the best that seems to be on offer to the world, what, according to the science does a world with 3 °C of warming look like?

For that the book 'Six Degrees' by Mark Lynas seems a fair source. I read this book awhile back and as the title suggests it lays out in chapters what to expect for each degree of warming and references the science to make those conclusions. My copy of this book is on loan so I can't summarise the three degree chapter as I would like but in a Guardian article Mark Lynas summarised it as this;

Three degrees alone would see increasing areas of the planet being rendered essentially uninhabitable by drought and heat. In southern Africa, a huge expanse centred on Botswana could see a remobilisation of old sand dunes, much as is projected to happen earlier in the US west. This would wipe out agriculture and drive tens of millions of climate refugees out of the area. The same situation could also occur in Australia, where most of the continent will now fall outside the belts of regular rainfall.

With extreme weather continuing to bite - hurricanes may increase in power by half a category above today's top-level Category Five - world food supplies will be critically endangered. This could mean hundreds of millions - or even billions - of refugees moving out from areas of famine and drought in the sub-tropics towards the mid-latitudes. In Pakistan, for example, food supplies will crash as the waters of the Indus decline to a trickle because of the melting of the Karakoram glaciers that form the river's source. Conflicts may erupt with neighbouring India over water use from dams on Indus tributaries that cross the border.

In northern Europe and the UK, summer drought will alternate with extreme winter flooding as torrential rainstorms sweep in from the Atlantic - perhaps bringing storm surge flooding to vulnerable low-lying coastlines as sea levels continue to rise. Those areas still able to grow crops and feed themselves, however, may become some of the most valuable real estate on the planet, besieged by millions of climate refugees from the south.

Even though this book is now several years old, it's conclusions of the science at that time are still sound and subsequent research over the interveening years either confirm them of show them to be conservative.

Another source that predicts what a world a few degrees warmer looks is from National Geographic (including a short statement from Mark Lynas) and has no better news.

Welcome to the world of our tomorrows.

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