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Friday, August 5, 2011

Meanwhile, as the world burns . . .

A Dust Bowl storm approaches Stratford, Texas ...Image via Wikipedia(Tip of the hat to Sam Smith for this.)
Climate change update

Dahr Jamail, Aljazeera - The rate of ice loss in two of Greenland's largest glaciers has increased so much in the last 10 years that the amount of melted water would be enough to completely fill Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes in North America.

West Texas is currently undergoing its worst drought since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, leaving wheat and cotton crops in the state in an extremely dire situation due to lack of soil moisture, as wildfires continue to burn.

Central China recently experienced its worst drought in more than 50 years. Regional authorities have declared more than 1,300 lakes "dead", meaning they are out of use for both irrigation and drinking water supply.

Floods have struck Eastern and Southern China, killing at least 52 and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, followed by severe flooding that again hit Eastern China, displacing or otherwise affecting five million people.

Meanwhile in Europe, crops in the northwest are suffering the driest weather in decades….

Professor Cindy Parker co-directs the Programme on Global Environmental Sustainability and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health . . .

"Everything that affects our environment affects our health," Parker said, "As fancy as our technology is, we still cannot live without clean water, air, and food, and we rely on our environment for these.". . .

"People think technology is going to save us from climate change, but there is no technology on the horizon that will allow us to adapt ourselves out of this mess," Parker said, "We can physiologically adapt to higher temperatures, but all that adaptation is not going to save us unless we also get the climate stabilized."

"If this continues unabated this planet will not be habitable by the species that are on it, including humans," she concluded, "It will be a very different planet. One that is not very conducive to human life."

The world's population is growing by roughly 80 million people per year, and at the current rates of birth and death, the world's population is on a trajectory to double in 49 years.

William Ryerson is the president of the Population Institute, a non-profit organisation that works to educate policymakers and the public about population, and the need to achieve a world population that is in balance with a healthy global environment and resource base. . .

"We have 225,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren't there last night, so to maintain our current population we're already over-pumping underground aquifers," [said]Ryerson, "India is over-pumping, and we have over 100 million people in India dependent on over-pumping, so this can't be sustained. “

Unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency recently revealed that greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year to the highest carbon output in history, despite the most serious economic recession in 80 years.

This means that the aim of holding global temperatures to safe levels are now all but out of reach. The goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius, which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" is now most likely just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, a chief economist of the IEA.

"Population is the multiplier of everything else," explained Ryerson, who believes climate change cannot adequately be addressed until the overpopulation problem is solved.

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