NOAA: Climate Change Largely Irreversible

A new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that we’ve already locked in more than 1,000 years of climate change, even if we completely stop emitting CO2 immediately. Note that while the study below indicates that we have already guaranteed from 1.3 – 3.2 feet of sea level rise over the next 1,000 years, that small but significant amount does not even take into account any melting from glaciers.

New Study Shows Climate Change Largely Irreversible

So, after reading that article, consider this as a companion article discussing sea level rise from glacial melt water. Instead of talking about 1.3 – 3.2 feet, this study shows up to 4 meters by the end of the century, not 1,000 years, but merely 100 years. Your grandchildren may live to see that. Note that this is over 13 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century for those who need to think in feet.

Sea levels could rise 4m this century: climate expert

Need a visual for this? Zoom in to various places around the world on this link. It’s preset for most of the world and a 4 meter rise, to show the effects of this prediction.

Map of Sea Level Rise

I should point out that there is one significant point I would make about this. Even if this is correct and we are locked into a millennium of warming, the magnitude of that warming will still be affected by the actions we take. We must do everything in our power to combat climate change with extreme urgency to stave off the worst of the effects. We must also take action to mitigate the damage that will be caused by the climate change that is already locked in.

This post is NOT intended to cause inaction through hopelessness. Rather, it is intended to show the extreme urgency of our situation and to inform people of the worsening projections of the scientific community.

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4 Responses to NOAA: Climate Change Largely Irreversible

  1. Mr Gilly says:

    Not everyone understands what this climate change is all about, nor the implications and ramifications.
    First of all climate change has been around a very long time, if you understand the written observations of paleontologists. This planet has in its life time cycled between being a total snow ball to an almost total jungle more than twice. It is difficult for the human mind to conceive and comprehend the time scale in this scenario. Much of the change in our lifetime has been subtle and hard to identify. But lets take a few examples.
    Since the discovery of the Athabasca Icefields in 1898, that tongue of moving frozen river has been shrinking back up the Continental Divide.
    http://www.columbiaicefield.com/history.asp
    It originally extended well beyond what is now the Banff Jasper Highway. More recently the decline of the ice caps in the Rocky Mountains is more obvious. Glacier National Park/Waterton Lakes now has some 23 fewer glaciers than when originally explored. Else where on this 3rd rock from the Sun there are only 6 of the African Glaciers out of 14 left, and Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice cone is half what it once was. While we now can measure glacier thickness using Satellites, the orbiting radar sat measured a shrinkage of 23″ in average thickness of the Greenland “refrigerator” in the Summer of 2006. All of that is water in the ocean now. These are just a few of the verifiable changes that are now beginning to accelerate.
    Add to this the fact that in the 300 years since James Watt assembled his first steam engine, Homo Sap. has been cutting down trees, more trees than he replants, so that at this juncture the planet has lost 50% of its natural forest cover as identified again by satellite scanning. Just Google these 3 words: ‘World Deforestation History’ for the confirming articles.
    It is not inconsequential that in this same period of time, human population numbers have increased from a major fraction of a billion to now over 7 billion and is projected to reach 14 billion by about 2050 or so.
    Besides that fact that a World with 14 billion will not be a better place to live, it is the major driving force behind climate change due to greenhouse gases. The problems of waste disposal will alone be monumental, and an increasing source of both methane and CO2}. One researcher mentions that currently the greater volume of cattle being raised for food creates a serious amount of bovine flatulence which can be measurable in the current total atmospheric burden. Just imagine what that will be from 14 billion human farters!

  2. Mr. Gilly,

    Excellent post. I think there are some distinctions that should be noted about the current climate change, however.

    One is that the rate of change far exceeds anything we see in the geological records available, even for periods of great change. There may be periods for which we are not sure in the far distant past.

    Another point though is that periods of severe planetary warmth are associated with far less life on the planet. The Permian/Triassic extinction of 250 million years ago is the worst extinction this planet has ever seen. And, it was caused by global warming, albeit obviously not human caused warming.

    Even after the comet hit Chixulub 65.3 million years ago, it was another 10 million years before life began to proliferate again. What happened 10 million years after the impact was that the planet began to cool.

    So, cool periods (though not necessarily iceball earth periods) are the ones with the greatest diversity of life. Warm periods are associated with extinction. Large, warm-blooded, species fare very poorly during mass extinctions. We are large and warm-blooded.

  3. bobbo says:

    hahaha–Scott==you nailed it: “This post is NOT intended to cause inaction through hopelessness.”—but thats exactly what you have done.

    Well–once sea level rise is taken seriously, I think there are some very dramatic steps that can be taken to sequester carbon? Show on TV said the easiest, cheapest, off the shelf is to turn biomass into charcoal and bury it. I’m sure if it was seen as an emergency, that other ideas would come along quickly as well.

    We’ll still get our feet wet.

  4. bobbo,

    You’re right. We’ll get lots of new ideas. Unfortunately, we can’t even commit to the existing proven methods. We knew this was a problem for a long time, since about 1987 or even earlier. The energy issue alone was known about and planned for by Jimmy Carter.

    We’ve ignored all the warnings at times when we could have become responsible gradually and for low cost and with greater effect. Now we have a full fledged emergency on our hands. We’ll see if we can do anything about it.

    We must try as if our lives and the survival of our species depends on it … because it does.

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