Consequences

Category archives for Consequences

Worrying about the near term

Much is being made of a new paper in Nature Geoscience in which the authors recalculate “Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 °C.” Whether the authors are justified in their marginally optimistic conclusions — and there’s plenty of debate about that — there really isn’t much in the way of policy…

The data gap problem

“The monitoring of the atmosphere, of the surface of the Earth, of what’s going on in the ocean and under the ice — all of that is overwhelmingly funded by the federal government.” — Former Obama science adviser John Holdren The other day a friend of mine who works in Beijing as a foreign correspondent…

The limits of adaptation

The release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels is, conceiveably, the most important environmental issue in the world today. — “Costs and benefits of carbon dioxide,” Nature, May 3, 1979 Actually, the scientific understanding of the dangers posed by rising CO2 levels date back much further — at least…

The number of people who still aren’t worried about climate change — or the number of voters willing to elect someone who feels that way, which is pretty much the same thing — is still depressingly high. But many others have long since moved on to the practical issues of how to respond to the consequent…

In what New York Magazine is calling the most-read article in the publication’s history,  David Wallace-Wells writes about what will happen if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels soon. In a nutshell: the climate “will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us.” This has made more than a few climatologists rather…

Among those who spend their working lives and/or spare time worrying about climate change, there are many subjects that still provoke heated debates, so to speak. Chief among them is the wisdom or folly of turning to natural gas as a “bridge” between the carbon-intensive oil- and coal-dominated present and the clean renewable future that…

The Barry Bonds of storms

The other day I found myself looking for reading material in a clinic waiting room and for the first time ever I picked up a copy of Bloomberg Businessweek. It’s not that I never used to care about business. I just found business publications and business journalists rarely demonstrated a decent level of understanding of…

Frankenstorm predicted

OK, no one can predict a specific weather event months in advance. But what we can do is anticipate expected frequency of events. Back in February of this year, Nature Climate Change published a paper, Physically based assessment of hurricane surge threat under climate change, (PDF bypasses Nature’s paywall) that predicted more frequent storm surges…

Are the winds shifting?

Maybe it’s just me, desperately searching for optimistic signals in the noise that dominates the mainstream coverage of climate change, but could there be something happening out there, something attesting to a new, more mature interpretation of the challenge facing society at large? Item 1: The Economist publishes an impassioned lament. This from a magazine…

The thing about the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action,” is that it simultaneously manages to both exceed expectations and demolish any remaining hope for real action. In effect, it tells us everything we need to know about geopolitics of climate change.