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Taking a chance with civilization


You have to applaud how packed this chart is with information. But doesn’t  it scare you to death? To think, that the goal of all the nations is to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees Centigrade by 2050.  There seems to be a lot of gloominess about whether that is achievable given the political climate.

What would happen if human civilization became dysfunctional with as much as a 1 degree Centigrade increase?

On a positive note, though, humanity is better able to adapt to temperature variations now than they were 500 years ago. Or perhaps not. Sure, we can build more efficient air conditioners and grow crops more efficiently, but these are two activities that further require carbon, amplifying the problem even further. Increased population also places limits on the ability of technology improvements to offset  our per capita carbon impact.

John Hondren wrote:

We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.

Joe Romm offers more detail:

Here’s another chart on ice mass. image

Chris Mooney describes what PIOMAS is:

There is no long-term record of the total volume of ice because we have only patchy data; ICESat was launched in 2003 and failed earlier this year. The nearest thing we have are estimates from PIOMAS, developed by Jinlun Zhang and his colleagues at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center in Seattle. Actual satellite measurements of sea ice concentration since 1978 are fed into a computer model of the growth, melting and motion of sea ice to produce an estimate of ice volume. PIOMAS’s results correspond well with independent measurements by submarines and by ICESat.

According to PIOMAS estimates supplied to New Scientist by Zhang, the average volume of Arctic ice between July and September has fallen from 21,000 cubic kilometres in 1979 to 8000 cubic kilometres in 2009. That is a 55 per cent fall compared with the 1979 to 2000 average. "The loss of ice volume is faster than the loss of ice extent," says Zhang. His model suggests that not only has the total volume of Arctic ice continued to decline since 2007, but that the rate of loss is accelerating (see "Going, going…").


(From Robert: extent refers to sea ice surface area)

Finally, I’m going to summarize with a list of Texas Resources about climate change impact:

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • JB 10/30/2011, 1:31 pm

    This assumes an old earth age and macroevolution.

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