Buckled Roads, Broken Buoys, and Doomed Satellites

Two related things came across my desk this morning that should concern anyone who sees climate change as an important issue.

In Germany, the roads are buckling and breaking because of excessive heat, and there seems to be inadequate funding to re-engineer them. Here's a photograph from Spiegel Online of what happens when the rubber meets the road (where the rubber is global warming):

"Crack on the A93 at Abensberg: Here the pad burst through the intense heat, a motorcyclist built so a fatal accident." (google translated) "Crack on the A93 at Abensberg: Here the pad burst through the intense heat, a motorcyclist built so a fatal accident." (google translated)

Meanwhile, over at The Guardian, John Abraham has a post describing the decline in numbers of critically important instruments measuring climate data. This includes sea moorings that collect temperature data and satellites that collect all sorts of data. Funding to maintain these and other types of equipment is lacking, and we can expect that over just a few years from now large amounts of important data will be unavailable unless this situation is reversed.

John tells us that these data collection programs...

...require adequate funding for equipment and personnel. Presently, many systems – in particular satellite platforms – are headed for declines in coverage. This means we will be operating blindly, in an information deficit. If we are to make good decisions about how to react to greenhouse gas increases, we need good information. When the economic costs of climate change are compared with the very modest costs of measurement, it seems that maintaining a robust measurement capacity is a no-brainer.

Egg Earth Photo Credit: AZRainman via Compfight cc

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I was in Arkansas (USA) one summer about 12 years and every night after leaving work the road was buckled from heat in various places (on blacktop paved roads), different each night. There seemed to be a road grader standing by to grade them down each night and they were fine the next morning. Somebody at the plant I worked in told me they only started buckling after they were stopped from using oil/gravel type paving (see the movie "Cool Hand Luke") for environmental concerns and were only allowed to use blacktop.

Yeah, and the House has just recommended cutting $1 billion from NASA's budget, while explicitly preserving planetary science. That doesn't sound *too* unreasonable until you realize what the Bad Astronomer pointed out: if you order that a billion dollars comes out of the budget but you aren't allowed to cut planetary science, it's going to come out of Earth science. They have to know that. They're politicians, but they're not stupid. They just have priorities, and monitoring climate change clearly isn't one of them.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 20 Jun 2013 #permalink