Global Warming is Now

Global Warming Positions

At this point debate about climate change is good but at this stage it will take more than debate to change the minds of government leaders. In most countries, government positions on global warming are already established. They assume global warming is real, but that it will have only a relatively minor impact in the next 100 years, no more than can be handled by adaptation strategies costing less than 1% of GDP on average. Many already have staff devoted to climate change and already have plans, strategies and in some cases have taken preliminary action.

Global Warming Summary

Global warming is a conclusion that most climate scientists and scientists in related fields predict based on direct and indirect measurements of CO2, temperature, and sea level rise among other variables. The scientists have predicted that with increasing release of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, the temperature of the earth will rise in proportion to the addition of the gasses. They further predict that as a consequence of the rise in temperature, there will be both sea and land ice melting that will be of sufficient volume to raise the level of the sea over time. The rise of CO2, temperature, and sea level all have direct and indirect impacts on the physical and biological characteristics of the planet, some of which will be benign, some adverse, some not easily predicted, and some unknown. The end result depends on how much CO2 is ultimately released, but the extreme is probably something like 300 million years ago when the world was much warmer than humanity has ever experienced, had much higher CO2 levels than humanity has ever experienced, had no ice caps, and the sea level was about 70 meters higher than today. This was a period of tropical gigantism. It was followed some 40 million years later by an extremely dry period in which only reptiles and aquatic animals flourished.

The time frame to allow this extreme to be reached is many centuries or even thousands of years into the future, and assumes that the human population makes no concerted effort to abate dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. If no effort is made soon, the scientific prediction is that the momentum of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses increase will continue to create something close to the extreme, no matter what reductions are implemented later. In the medium term (say 100 years) the effects are much more limited, a few degrees Celsius rise in average temperature, perhaps 1 to 3 meters rise in sea level. The costs to adapt to those effects have been calculated in various ways, but in the main come in at a surprisingly low number of less than 2% of the entire GDP of the planet by 2100 AD. In the very short term, the effects are minimally noticeable for almost everybody on the planet. A few hundred thousand people are affected right now by loss of shoreline and in a few very low-lying places people have begun to migrate back from the ocean’s edge.

Reaction to Global Warming

People’s reactions vary according to their knowledge, ideology, experience, and general understanding of the scientific methods and vocabulary. Perhaps the most significant variable seems to be where people live. For example the top five countries reporting that global warming is due to people (all more than 80%) are: 1) South Korea, 2) Japan, 3) Costa Rica, 4) Greece, and 5) Taiwan. Places where fewest people think global warming is real and related to human activities are where the general level of education is lowest. The bottom five (all less than 30%) are: 1) Tajikistan, 2) Uzbekistan, 3) Pakistan, 4) Botswana, and 5) Senegal.

For reference in North America, some 61% report thinking that global warming is caused by people, and in the US, 49% think it is caused by people. In Bangladesh which with even a moderate sea level rise will suffer immensely, only 62% of people think the sea level rise is caused by people. See the Gallup Poll website for more information.

So while most scientists are convinced global warming is caused by people, and that the attendant impacts are real and taking place right now, most of the rest of the world either is unconvinced or does not believe that people are the main cause of global warming. Scientists can look at graphs and read exponential equations to extrapolate to a mental image of the result that is just as real to them as the image we have when we look out the window. Most non-scientists cannot read graphs or exponential equations and so want to see something tangible before they are convinced. Resistance to acceptance of indirect evidence is probably also rooted in a hope that all is right with the world and that it is big enough for everyone. For some people, global warming due to anthropogenic addition of CO2 is a real and tangible threat to their ability to accumulate wealth, especially those who work with fossil fuels, because the implication is that the use of fossil fuels should be phased out. Finally, some ideologies disallow or discourage scientific thought and processes as a valid way of looking at the world.

Global Warming Deniers

Let’s leave aside any speculation about why people deny that global warming is real and occurring now. For now I just want to set out their rationales. Global warming (climate change) deniers seem to have one of four basic positions in their denial of the global warming.
1) It’s all a hoax and 97% of scientists are in on a massive hoax. There is no climate effect.
2) It’s not a hoax but 97% scientists have made gross fundamental errors in calculations and there will be no climate effect.
3) Global warming is real, but it is not Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Instead, 97% of scientists have been too eager and too early to link greenhouse gas to global warming as cause and effect. The climate will re-stabilize and return to today’s climate norms pretty soon.
4) Global warming is real, but it is not AGW. It is all the result of natural changes. So be it, bring it on, we’ll adapt.

Convinced about Global Warming:

1) Don’t care which it is, we recognize it is real and will adapt as we see effects.
2) AGW and natural changes, we recognize it is real and will adapt as we see effects.
3) AGW is primarily responsible and we will work to change attitudes so that the world acts to control or reverse climate effect by reducing green house gasses, meanwhile we recognize it is real and will adapt as we see effects.

Current governmental strategies:

I searched the governmental websites for plans or strategies on climate change adaptation. Governments that have a plan or a strategy, or even those that have actually begun to take action do not necessarily take a position on whether the observed or predicted global warming is caused by people, the governments just aren’t taking any chances. As a general rule the governmental plans, strategies, and tactics just now reflect by their actions as opposed to their words that they adhere to a convinced group that for planning purposes doesn’t try to decide whether the warming and sea level rises predicted are anthropogenic or not. They basically accept the effect as real and will adapt as they see effects or can predict near-term effects.

Australia

Australia’s government has taken an active role in planning for short-term effects. They have already drafted and enacted permit changes for building location and designs in coastal areas. They are already making plans for shoreline protection and migration for people in low-lying areas.

Canada

Canada’s position at the federal level is not very progressive just now. There is no federal planning, although there is talk, but just talk. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy has presented the results of a study (True North)that makes many local and regional recommendations. These are largely passive and reactive, not proactive. The fundamental approach recommended is to migrate away from the coastal areas as needed rather than attempting to protect existing infrastructure, which for the most part (except a few places on the west coast) is not extensive or expensive. On effects that are inland, forestry is seen as a loss to invasive insects, but farming is forecast to experience a net neutral or even potentially a minor benefit effect. In all the projection is for a minor increase ($2 billion) to the GDP of Canada on a per year basis by 2050, and $5 billion per year by 2100. In both cases the percent of GDP is probably going to be less than 1% of GDP.

A Report on climate change in Canada which has the most comprehensive strategic approaches ends with an inconclusive statement that offers no plan: “Canada’s climate is changing, and projections show that it will continue to change in the future. In addition to gradual shifts in average temperature and precipitation, changes in temperature and precipitation extremes, sea level, storm surges, sea ice and other climate and climate-related parameters have been both observed and projected. These changes will continue to occur across a backdrop of social and economic changes, which will greatly influence net impacts.”

The United Kingdom

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs makes the following statement: The climate is changing. This means we are likely to experience more flooding, faster coastal erosion, more heat-waves, droughts and extreme weather events. We need to take action now to prepare for these changes.

The UK Government has published the Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), the first assessment of its kind for the UK and the first in a 5 year cycle. The reports provide an evidence base which will help us better understand the risks, and will inform development of a National Adaptation Programme.

At this stage the UK is still in the planning stage but at least has made a statement that recognizes change and has begun to put money into the process. The UK government also has extended an invitation to businesses to work with the government to effect the needed changes. The plan has no action as yet, and the threats and risks defined are relatively minor.

The United States of America

The United States has been a hot-bed of controversy over the topic of climate change. The current roster of presidential candidates in the Republican party all essentially reject climate change as a real threat, or in some cases even a real phenomenon. Gallup polls indicate that fewer than 50% of Americans believe that climate change is real or caused by people. So the political climate for action is very poor. Nonetheless, the US federal government and many state governments have firm action plans on coping with the short-term predicted effects. The federal Climate Change Adaptation Task Force makes the following statement: “Across the United States and the world, climate change is already affecting communities, livelihoods, and the environment. In 2009, the Obama Administration convened the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, co-chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and including representatives from more than 20 Federal agencies. On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the Task Force to develop a report with recommendations for how the Federal Government can strengthen policies and programs to better prepare the Nation to adapt to the impacts of climate change. A 2011 progress report outlines the steps already taken. The executive order implementing instructions are available for public scrutiny, as is the supporting documentation.

Barbados Programme Of Action

Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean. It was the site of an early recognition and conference of climate change effects held in 1994. At that meeting “The United Nations Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, also known as the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA), was created at the first Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which was held in Barbados. The BPOA developed specific actions and measures in support of the SIDS’ sustainable development. These actions were deigned to be implemented at the national, regional and international levels. The methods for action created by the BPOA were designed to be undertaken by SIDS with the cooperation and assistance of the international community.” [Climate Lab]

Many small islands are a part of this over all action plan. The measures range from evacuating entire nations, to Indonesia “renting” islands to nation states fleeing drowned islands to the relatively limited action proposed by Barbados itself:

“The director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit explained that the government of Barbados focuses most of its adaption work on land preservation and protection. The Coastal Zone Management Unit uses three methodologies for doing so.

It applies the methodology of ‘do nothing’ in underdeveloped locatons on the east coast of the country. According to the presentation the approach “allows for the natural buffer action of the backshore areas to absorb much energy waves experienced on open coastal sections.”

It uses ‘maintain’ or ‘hard options’, including building of revetments and sea walls, in highly developed coastal areas. The success of the various hard options in Barbados have varied.

It also utilizes ‘control ‘ or ‘soft options’. These options include: “vegetation or revegetation of areas; vegetative matting on bluff faces to aid in bluff face stabilization; and enforcement of coastal related legislation specifically for the protection of some vegetation species and building setbacks, and the prevention beach sand mining.”.

The Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands represent both a small island developing country but also one of the least developed countries. It has therefore extremely limited internal capacity to deal with the impending challenges. Like many other smaller countries and islands, they are asking for support from international agencies such as the GEF and World Bank. You can download the document that the Minister responsible for climate change has prepared, but it is largely a plan to make a plan.

Locally Managed Marine Areas

The following quotation is from the Climate Lab: “Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) represent a community-based adaptation strategy established in the Republic of Fiji to support the survival of local communities and protect marine resources within the context of a changing climate. The first LMMA network was set up following a workshop Fish for the Future, which was held in Fiji in the early 1990s and introduced the idea of LMMAs. Over the past decade, more than two hundred communities in Fiji have adopted a locally based adaptation model in response to sea level rise, warming temperatures, and erratic weather patterns. The LMMA network approach to environmental management involves representatives from communities, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and businesses.

LMMA Strategies

The LMMA model supports Fijian communities as they seek solutions to emerging climate-related problems through the revival of traditional knowledge combined with modern tools. One of the key LMMA strategies is the establishment of marine areas known as tabu: seasonal closures for breeding fish and marine populations while banning the use of destructive fishing methods. Tabu areas are designed to improve the yield of marine resources (i.e. fisheries) and restore important marine species such as giant clams, turtles and fish. This strategy aims to provide food security for local populations who are dependent upon fish stocks and other marine resources for their livelihoods and employment. Another common LMMA strategy is the replanting of mangroves and coastal trees in order to reduce coastal and river-side erosion. Severe storms and coastal flooding which cause erosion can have disastrous consequences for agricultural production, human settlements, and ecosystems. Thus, erosion prevention is critical to the social and ecological sustainability of Fijian communities.

Community Engagement Process

Drama is a key, community-based strategy, as many elders who are decision-makers in local villages are illiterate. Drama provides an interactive and innovative means to translate complex concepts– such as the science of climate change–to a level understandable to the public. Its colorful depictions of the real-life implications of climate change educate Fijian communities about the need to make informed decisions about resilience building and disaster risk reduction programs. The LMMA community participation process begins with a workshop where members engage in dialogue with the aim to ensure that the LMMA network goals are in harmony with community goals. This is followed by a strategy session where community members work together in order to design a marine resource management plan.

A management plan might include the following elements:

The declaration of a tabu area, together with other traditional management practices.
Reduction in the number of fishing licenses.
Banning of the use of destructive fishing practices.
Restoration of economically important marine species, such as clams.
Reduction of marine pollution.
Alternative livelihood options.

After adopting the action plan, the community begins to monitor changes in their local environment, analyzing the impacts of climate change on marine resources while developing strategies to minimize climate risks. Meetings are held on a regular basis to review progress and identify whether or not changes in the action plan are needed. Over the years, the LMMA network has grown, with active members in Palau, Indonesia, Papau New Guinea, the Phillipines, Micronesia, and the Soloman Islands. It continues to be an important natural resource protection model for small island nations, developing effective responses to a warming world.”

Japan

Japanese citizens are the most convinced of any other people that global warming is real and caused by people. Japan is also a world leader to develop and use climate-friendly technologies. Japan like many other countries signed the Kyuoto accord, but unlike most other countries, they took their treaty obligations seriously. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi introduced the Cool Biz campaign aimed at reducing air condition in government offices. The governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, has introduced legislation, which passed in 2008, to reduce CO2 emissions in approximately 1,300 large offices and factories by about 15% to 20%. The law has a stiff penalty for business that do not meet their targets. Japan is probably the first country to institute a law to enforce CO2 emissions control.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The UN accepts the inevitability of climate change and understands that both mitigation and adaptation are necessary. The UN predicts that while the average impact on the GDP of countries will be less than 1%, for poor and underdeveloped countries, the impact will be much greater, up to 9-10%, or in some cases such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, it could be total elimination of their current island nations. Instead of calling the plans “adaptation” or “mitigation” the UN has chosen to place their planning in a positive semantics and labelled it planning to develop “resilience” to climate change in these countries.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The UNFCCC is a framework for handling and funding a very large set of projects. The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) are managed by the multilateral development banks (MDBs) under the UN. There are two funds under the CIFs; the Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and the Strategic Climate Fund (SCF). CIF stakeholders include the Multilateral Development Banks, UN and UN agencies, Global Environment Facility (GEF), the signatories of the UNFCCC, Adaptation Fund, Bilateral Development Agencies, representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations, representatives of indigenous technical experts.

The goal of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience is to help relatively poor countries to become more capable of handling the effects of climate change. Currently nine countries and two regions have been invited to participate in the PPCR: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Tajikistan, Yemen and Zambia, and the Pacific and Caribbean regions. Funds have come from the governments of the UK, USA, Japan Norway, Germany, Denmark, Canada and Australia.

What Does the Military Make of Global Warming?

Military leaders around the world have unequivocally made up their collective minds; the debate over global warming is over, the world is getting warmer, and the Arctic is getting warmer faster than the rest of the world. The military strategists understand that the opening of the Arctic Ocean (predicted for 2030) will mean much greater traffic in the North. Because vast reserves of oil and gas lie untapped under the Arctic Ocean, there will be very competitive, possibly hostile, activities in the North to tap that reserve.

Maneuvers and strategy meetings are now seriously addressing the warmer future. Norway completed a 14 country Exercise Cold Response with over 16,000 troops involved. The US, Canada and Denmark completed similar Arctic maneuvers. In May 2012, Canada, the US, Russia, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden will meet at a Canadian base.

These strategic activities speak louder than words. The military is getting ready for warmer climates and the fallout for security risks around the world as people maneuver to take advantage of the warmer climates or to deal with the disasters and increased war efforts that will come when many people must leave their homes or businesses and migrate to a new location peacefully or by force.

Summary

Most government leaders assume global warming is real, but that it will have only a relatively minor impact in the next 100 years, no more than can be handled by adaptation strategies costing less than 1% of GDP on average. Public reaction to the concept of global warming ranges from outright rejection to zealous demands for immediate elimination of all greenhouse gasses from production. The contentious debate over these two extremes has polarized and isolated the deniers from those who accept global warming. That polarization has been fed by large industrial corporations that fund fake think-tanks and online bloggers and critics.

Governments have already taken the position on global warming that it is real but minor. They have initiated modest plans, strategies, and in some cases actual tactics. It is likely that it will take a dramatic change in a combination of scientific predictions and a dramatic change in the immediately observable impacts before the government positions will change on adaptation. Given that even the worst predictions are not catastrophic even out to 100 years, the current hesitation on adopting mitigation measures is likely to continue on the part of countries that would need to spend or sacrifice huge amounts of money, far in excess of the amounts predicted in the near-, medium-, or even far-term futures to combat climate change impacts. If no mitigation of greenhouse gas emission is implemented before 2100, the future of the planet as a human-habitable environment is not certain.

In the short-term (10 to 30 years), the military leaders are already gearing up for the coming challenges and opportunities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>