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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Climate change: So many consequences, so little time

In a modest effort to supplement the tweets I've been doing with another platform, I've set up a group on Facebook to serve as an archive of sorts for the articles tweeted. The group is called Climate Change-Global Warming Info, and you can join it here. (It's set up to be an archive, rather than a discussion, so if you prefer to discuss, there are other excellent discussion groups, in particular Global Warming Fact of the Day and Climate Change: Science, Mitigation and Adaptation, which will be more suitable.)

Climate Change-Global Warming Info is organized into "topical threads," which are collections of news articles about 1) various impacts of climate disruption and 2) actions to take, or that are being taken, to combat it. As I've been assembling it and adding to it, I've been struck by the range and number of impacts that are occurring or predicted. It's quite a laundry list. You can get similar information, I'd guess, from a number of more authoritative sources, such as the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports or the (U.S.) National Climate Assessment, but it definitely has a stronger impression for me to see the impacts in real time, as they come up and are repeated around the world.

The list includes:

Sea level rise, a heading that covers melting glaciers and ice sheets, flooding in coastal cities, and such less-publicized but equally serious effects as intrusion of salty seawater into coastal aquifers from which fresh groundwater is being depleted due to drought;

Heavy rainfall events (more cropping up regularly, due to the fact that our warming atmosphere holds more water), like those recently in South Carolina, Japan and Texas-Oklahoma;

Drought (California is of course the main event for media, but Central Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, India, and South Africa are among other areas suffering in recent months);

Oceanic dead zones and algae blooms resulting from water heated to extraordinary levels;

Wildfires and bushfires (the U.S. is currently experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, and fires fanned by drought and high temperatures are exhibiting new, explosive behavior);

Food crop damage caused by drought, flooding, and other weather extremes;

Health impacts ranging from lung damage due to wildfires to the spread of infectious diseases through contaminated food and water and even an increase in the number of low-birth-weight babies (as a result of more heat waves); and many more.

It's remarkable that a relatively modest fluctuation in global climate has such far-reaching effects, and I have to say I find them sobering to contemplate.


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