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Further Fulminations on Environment - In the Shadow of Leaves
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Further Fulminations on Environment

Grappling With Climate Change
by Mark Anderson
02:00 AM Mar, 15, 2006

The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that unchecked growth in fossil fuel use throughout the next half-century will produce a global climate catastrophe.

To get a handle on the crisis -- and our options -- Wired News spoke with the authors of three new, comprehensive books on global climate change
Tim Flannery, director of the South Australian Museum and biologist at the University of Adelaide. His new book, The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth
Lester R. Brown, an environmentalist who in January published the second edition of his acclaimed 2003 planetary prescription, Plan B
Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Field Notes From a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change
Flannery: All the projections suggests that we're hitting it. Again, it just gives the added urgency of dealing with the issue today. Every step we take this year will be like the equivalent of five next year or 50 in five years' time -- because it's so relatively inexpensive right now to make the adjustments we need to make.

Just play a little thought game: We're 10 years out now; it's 2016. Sea levels have started to rise quickly. And governments around the world are spending even more money than they are now in defending their low-lying areas. How much is the U.S. spending right now in New Orleans? Imagine that cost replicated right around the southern and eastern coast of the U.S. And partly on the West Coast, too.

Imagine oil prices twice or three times what they are today. Imagine the increased problems of hurricanes and insurance losses at the same time. And imagine the problems of water availability as well, because we're getting a lot of extreme weather. That all adds up to a society under enormous stress. Is that society going to have the resources to invest in the new energy infrastructure that we need to build in order to eventually diminish those problems? Because changing energy infrastructure won't help sea-level rise for half a century. It won't help defend your city against this immediately rising ocean.

That's why I say acting now while we have the luxury of relatively inexpensive means of making these changes is all-important. In 10 years' time, we may not have the luxury of money and time to think about these things. And to act.

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"Tim Flannery, for instance, has stated that should the ice caps melt, sea levels would rise by 80 metres. This theory can be easily debunked with an experiment in your own bathtub"

Please tell us what bathtub experiment you are thinking of.

The Antarctic ice sheet is 14,425,000 km² and an average of 3 km deep (That's about twice the area of Australia), the Greenland ice sheet is 1,755,637 km², avg 1-2 km deep

I'm not sure of the size of permanent ice areas on the continents of North America and Eurasia -- look for things like Global Snow Cover at visibleearth.nasa.gov. Obviously all of these completely melting would be close to the worst-case scenario, rather than what we hope is more likely. If the 80 metre rise figure is quoted accurately, I assume this is where it's from. But what is your point? Are you saying that Dr Flannery is predicting this is likely to happen? That's obviously not what I heard.

Even without extra water flowing from these into the oceans, the actual bulk of the existing water would be greater if the average overall global temperature rises, because water expands as it heats. Of course as more energy is being retained in the local systems, what tends to happen is the hot gets hotter, the cold gets colder, the dry drier, wet wetter, winds & storms stronger & more frequent, while the areas each of these apply to shift. Remembering Chaos Theory, demanding exact reliable small-scale predictions is disingenuously malevolent; frequently a sign either of the astroturf shill using Standard Operating Procedure, or ideologues defending the ideology that they hope will supply them with enough money to insulate themselves from any disasters, or ... I truly don't understand why.

Moodiness: awake awake

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