Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Climate Crisis Generations

Publication of this study by the University of Hawaii has prompted me to add some more or less recent book reviews to the collection of pieces here on the climate crisis.  This study, using existing data and models, attempts to figure out when the permanent change in the world's climate will happen: that is, when the coldest years will begin being hotter than the hottest years of the past.

Their conclusion is that for most of the world it will be by the mid-21st century.  The first tropical countries to pass the tipping point may do so in 2020 to 2025--just seven years from the date of the study.  North American cities like New York and Washington will pass it in 2047.

These estimates (with a plus or minus 5 year range of error) are predicated on carbon pollution continuing as projected--the "business as usual" scenario.  But their second scenario, positing reduction in carbon pollution, doesn't offer an "out," or even much of a postponement for this tipping point.  The 2047 date becomes 2069.

This study just came out, and so far there's a remarkable lack of response, especially from climate activists.  They may be as shocked at the nearness of the change as anyone else.  It's very hard to take in, to admit into consciousness.  But there it is.

That the world now inevitably will shift into a hotter climate has been admitted for a few years now, and these books that I have reviewed in this period are really about this.  So I present them in order of their publication, to suggest how this story is evolving.  I begin with the first one I read that  acknowledged this new context, and in some ways it remains for me the most eloquent: David Orr's Down to the Wire.

These aren't the only books on the topic I've reviewed, either for the North Coast Journal or only on Books in Heat.  Here are links to some of those:

Sixty Days and Counting
Books on the 35th anniversary of Earth Day in 2005
Conservation Refugees
Earth Day Classics (occasion of 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010)
Climate Refugees
Atlas of the Oceans
The Fate of Greenland
The Man Who Planted Trees
Small, Gritty & Green; Earthmasters; Birthright; The Incidental Steward