Revised -- April 2007
Global Warming is one of those longer term events which tend to slowly change our world in irredeemable ways and simultaneously escape our normal crisis intervention mentality of dealing with problems.
But the really big scale event is worldwide. And unlike the rat cage (or by another name Los Angeles), there is no escape from the world environment. Worse yet, the time scale of when global warming is now expected to impact the world in a very substantial way is now a matter of only ten to twenty years!
For more information, see the Halexandria Forums.
Global warming is, in fact, according to the Chief Scientist of England: "the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism." Sir David King has gone on to note that "without immediate action flooding, drought, hunger and debilitating diseases such as malaria would hit millions of people around the world." 
In the United States, the Pentagon (Department of Defense) chimed in with its own dire warnings that provided, "An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge the United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately.'" "The report, which has since been taken off line, did not purport to be a forecast, but rather to identify a plausible scenario in which global warming could disrupt ocean currents that help moderate climate in North America and Europe, causing a five degree Fahrenheit drop in parts of North America by 2020 and a six degree drop in Northern Europe. It says, among other things, that global warming "should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U. S. national security concern.''
The report specifically states that "the result [of global warming] could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth's environment." This includes "drops in some regions of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit in a single decade." Similar climatic pattern changes can last for as much as a century as occurred 8,200 years ago, and as much as a thousand years (during the Younger Dryas era which began 12,700 years ago). 
The latter date is intriguing in that according to Sumerian and Biblical sources, during the time of Noah (whose very name means "respite") there was an excruciatingly long drought as the geographic poles -- as opposed to those people living in Poland -- gathered in his frozen ice packs most of fresh water and thus denied it to the normal hydrological cycle of evaporation, rain, runoff, evaportation.
Meanwhile, the future according to the Guardian is more likely to consist of "rioting and nuclear war" as the world struggles for very limited resources -- a scenario which the Pentagon Report's Executive Summary specifically notes that "Unlikely alliances could be formed as defense priorities shift and the goal is resources for survival rather than religion, ideology, or national honor." [emphasis added] The Guardian goes on to say that:
What is being done about it? In the United States the Bush Administration is ignoring the warnings from its own Department of Defense. Furthermore, the Bushites are more prone to diligently work to suppress any and all science which does not agree with its own theology or corporate interests. Meanwhile, "according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated."
Kate Ravilious has noted  that "viruses hidden for thousands of years may thaw and escape and we will have no resistance to them." This problem, in addition to everything else, comes about because fungi, bacteria, and viruses were likely incorporated in the freezing process when ice sheets were formed -- the same ice sheets now melting.
More recently, it has become apparent that global warming is not merely about dire threats and accusations of who did what. It is now, in the parlance of the time, all about mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation is an attempt to reduce the problem -- even potentially reduce the problem. But all such mitigation attempts assume mankind having the primary role in the problem. If solar cycles and the like are having the greatest impact, then the mitigation scenarios can do little but buy time.
Such time purchases, on the other hand, may be absolutely vital to the second prong of the global warming defense scheme -- that of adaptation. Time Magazine in their March 29, 2007 issue, includes an article entitled, "On the Front Lines of Climate Change". The article notes the actions of many governments who are already believers in the inevitability of global warming and are taking actions. The article stresses:
Such forewarnings need to be taken seriously.
An excellent report on global warming has been prepared by Drunvalo Melchizedek, which explains in the clearest possible language the extent of the problem. "Dry / Ice: Global Warming Revealed" is must reading. And once that has been digested, find and download the Schwartz/Randall Report. After that you can meditate on the link between global warming and hurricane Katrina and its associated flooding.
As is becoming increasingly apparent, The Party's Over.
 http://www.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3381425.stm [This link has since been removed.]
 Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security," Pentagon Report, October 2003.
 Kate Ravilious, "Global Warming: Death in the Deep-Freeze," http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0928-02.htm.
From something of an historical perspective, an older but still excellent status on Global Warming was provided in APRIL 2001, by M. D. Lemonick in his article entitled, “Life in the Greenhouse.” This article is given below as received (via e-mail):
“There is no such thing as normal weather. The average daytime high temperature for New York City this week should be 57 oF, but on any given day the mercury will almost certainly fall short of that mark or overshoot it, perhaps by a lot. Manhattan thermometers can reach 65 oF, in January every so often and plunge to 50 oF, in July. And seasons are rarely normal. Winter snowfall and summer heat waves beat the average some years and fail to reach it in others. It’s tough to pick out over-all changes in climate in the face of these natural fluctuations. An unusually warm year, for example, or even three in a row don't necessarily signal a general trend.
Yet the earth’s climate does change. Ice ages have frosted the planet for tens of thousands of years at a stretch, and periods of warmth have pushed the tropics well into what is now the temperate zone. But given the normal year-to-year variations, the only reliable signal that such changes may be in the works is a long-term shift in worldwide temperature.
And that is precisely what’s happening. A decade ago, the idea that the planet was warming up as a result of human activity was largely theoretical. We knew that since the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, factories and power plants and automobiles and farms have been loading the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide and methane. But evidence that the climate was actually getting hotter was still murky.
Not anymore. As an authoritative report issued a few weeks ago by the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes plain, the trend toward a warmer world has unquestionably begun. Worldwide temperatures have climbed more than 1 oF, over the past century, and the 1990s were the hottest decade on record. After analyzing data going back at least two decades on everything from air and ocean temperatures to the spread and retreat of wildlife, the IPCC asserts that this slow but steady warming has had an impact on no fewer than 420 physical processes and animal and plant species on all continents.
Glaciers, including the legendary snows of Kilimanjaro, are disappearing from mountaintops around the globe. Coral reefs are dying off as the seas get too warm for comfort. Drought is the norm in parts of Asia and Africa. El Nino events, which trigger devastating weather in the eastern Pacific, are more frequent. The Arctic permafrost is starting to melt. Lakes and rivers in colder climates are freezing later and thawing earlier each year. Plants and animals are shifting their ranges poleward and to higher altitudes, and migration patterns for animals as diverse as polar bears, butterflies and beluga whales are being disrupted.
Faced with these hard facts, scientists no longer doubt that global warming is happening, and almost nobody questions the fact that humans are at least partly responsible. Nor are the changes over. Already, humans have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide the most abundant heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, to 30% above pre-industrial levels--and each year the rate of increase gets faster. The obvious conclusion: temperatures will keep going up.
Unfortunately, they may be rising faster and heading higher than anyone expected. By 2100, says the IPCC, average temperatures will increase between 2.5 oF, and 10.4 oF, --more than 50% higher than predictions of just a half-decade ago. That may not seem like much, but consider that it took only a 9 oF, shift to end the last ice age. Even at the low end, the changes could be problematic enough, with storms getting more frequent and intense, droughts more pronounced, coastal areas ever more severely eroded by rising seas, rainfall scarcer on agricultural land and ecosystems thrown out of balance.
But if the rise is significantly larger, the result could be disastrous. With seas rising as much as 3 ft., enormous areas of densely populated land -- coastal Florida, much of Louisiana, the Nile Delta, the Maldives, Bangladesh -- would become uninhabitable. Entire climatic zones might shift dramatically, making central Canada look more like central Illinois, Georgia more like Guatemala. Agriculture would be thrown into turmoil. Hundreds of millions of people would have to migrate out of unlivable regions.
Public health could suffer. Rising seas would contaminate water supplies with salt. Higher levels of urban ozone, the result of stronger sunlight and warmer temperatures, could worsen respiratory illnesses. More frequent hot spells could lead to a rise in heat-related deaths. Warmer temperatures could widen the range of disease-carrying rodents and bugs, such as mosquitoes and ticks, increasing the incidence of dengue fever, malaria, encephalitis, Lyme disease and other afflictions. Worst of all, this increase in temperatures is happening at a pace that outstrips anything the earth has seen in the past 100 million years. Humans will have a hard enough time adjusting, especially in poorer countries, but for wildlife, the changes could be devastating.
Like any other area of science, the case for human-induced global warming has uncertainties -- and like many pro-business lobbyists, President Bush has proclaimed those uncertainties a reason to study the problem further rather than act. But while the evidence is circumstantial, it is powerful, thanks to the IPCC’s painstaking research. The U.N. sponsored group was organized in the late 1980s. Its mission: to sift through climate-related studies from a dozen different fields and integrate them into a coherent picture. “It isn't just the work of a few green people,” says Sir John Houghton, one of the early leaders who at the time ran the British Meteorological Office. “The IPCC scientists come from a wide range of backgrounds and countries.”
Measuring the warming that has already taken place is relatively simple; the trick is unraveling the causes and projecting what will happen over the next century. To do that, IPCC scientists fed a wide range of scenarios involving varying estimates of population and economic growth, changes in technology and other factors into computers. That process gave them about 35 estimates, ranging from 6 billion to 35 billion tons, of how much excess carbon dioxide will enter the atmosphere.
Then they loaded those estimates into the even larger, more powerful computer programs that attempt to model the planet's climate. Because no one climate model is considered definitive, they used seven different versions, which yielded 235 independent predictions of global temperature increase. That's where the range of 2.5 oF, to 10.4 oF, (1.4 oC to 5.8 oC) comes from.
The computer models were criticized in the past largely because the climate is so complex that the limited hardware and software of even a half-decade ago couldn't do an adequate simulation. Today’s climate models, however, are able to take into account the heat-trapping effects not just of CO2 but also of other greenhouse gases, including methane. They can also factor in natural variations in the sun's energy and the effect of substances like dust from volcanic eruptions and particulate matter spewed from smokestacks.
That is one reason the latest IPCC predictions for temperature increase are higher than they were five years ago. Back in the mid-1990s, climate models didn’t include the effects of the El Chichon and Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruptions, which threw enough dust into the air to block out some sunlight and slow down the rate of warming. That effect has dissipated, and the heating should start to accelerate. Moreover, the IPCC noted, many countries have begun to reduce their emissions of sulfur dioxide in order to fight acid rain. But sulfur dioxide particles, too, reflect sunlight; without this shield, temperatures should go up even faster.
The models still aren’t perfect. One major flaw, agree critics and champions alike, is that they don't adequately account for clouds. In a warmer world, more water will evaporate from the oceans and presumably form more clouds. If they are billowy cumulus clouds, they will tend to shade the planet and slow down warming; if they are high, feathery cirrus clouds, they will trap even more heat.
Research by M.I.T. atmospheric scientist Richard Lindzen suggests that warming will tend to make cirrus clouds go away. Another critic, John Christy of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says that while the models reproduce the current climate in a general way, they fail to get right the amount of warming at different levels in the atmosphere. Neither Lindzen nor Christy (both IPCC authors) doubts, however, that humans are influencing the climate. But they question how much -- and how high temperatures will go. Both scientists are distressed that only the most extreme scenarios, based on huge population growth and the maximum use of dirty fuels like coal, have made headlines.
It won't take the greatest extremes of warming to make life uncomfortable for large numbers of people. Even slightly higher temperatures in regions that are already drought- or flood-prone would exacerbate those conditions. In temperate zones, warmth and increased CO2 would make some crops flourish -- at first. But beyond 3 oF of warming, says Bill Easterling, a professor of geography and agronomy at Penn State and a lead author of the IPCC report, “there would be a dramatic turning point. U.S. crop yields would start to decline rapidly.” In the tropics, where crops are already at the limit of their temperature range, the decrease would start right away.
Even if temperatures rise only moderately, some scientists fear, the climate would reach a “tipping point” -- a point at which even a tiny additional increase would throw the system into violent change. If peat bogs and Arctic permafrost warm enough to start releasing the methane stored within them, for example, that potent greenhouse gas would suddenly accelerate the heat-trapping process.
By contrast, if melting ice caps dilute the salt content of the sea, major ocean currents like the Gulf Stream could slow or even stop, and so would their warming effects on northern regions. More snowfall reflecting more sunlight back into space could actually cause a net cooling. Global warming could, paradoxically, throw the planet into another ice age.
Even if such a tipping point doesn’t materialize, the more drastic effects of global warming might be only postponed rather than avoided. The IPCC’s calculations end with the year 2100, but the warming won’t. World Bank chief scientist, Robert Watson, currently serving as IPCC chair, points out that the CO2 entering the atmosphere today will be there for a century. Says Watson: “If we stabilize [CO2 emissions] now, the concentration will continue to go up for hundreds of years. Temperatures will rise over that time.”
That could be truly catastrophic. The ongoing disruption of ecosystems and weather patterns would be bad enough. But if temperatures reach the IPCC's worst-case levels and stay there for as long as 1,000 years, says Michael Oppenheimer, chief scientist at Environmental Defense, vast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could melt, raising sea level more than 30 ft. Florida would be history, and every city on the U.S. Eastern seaboard would be inundated.
In the short run, there's not much chance of halting global warming, not even if every nation in the world ratifies the Kyoto Protocol tomorrow. The treaty doesn’t require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions until 2008. By that time, a great deal of damage will already have been done. But we can slow things down. If action today can keep the climate from eventually reaching an unstable tipping point or can finally begin to reverse the warming trend a century from now, the effort would hardly be futile. Humanity embarked unknowingly on the dangerous experiment of tinkering with the climate of our planet. Now that we know what we're doing, it would be utterly foolish to continue.
Making the Case That Our climate Is Changing
From melting glaciers to rising oceans, the signs are everywhere. Global warming can’t be blamed for any particular heat wave, drought or Deluge, but scientists say a hotter world will make such extreme weather more frequent -- and deadly. Exhibits include:
ANTARCTICA, home to these Adelie penguins, is heating up. The annual melt season has increased up to three weeks in 20 years.
MOUNT KILIMANJARO has lost 75% of its ice cap since 1912. The ice on Africa's tallest peak could vanish entirely within 15 years.
LAKE BAIKAL in eastern Siberia now freezes for the winter 11 days later than it did a century ago.
MONTANA will lose all the glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2070 if their retreat continues at the current rate.
VENEZUELAN mountaintops had six glaciers in 1972. Today only two remain.
Temperatures sizzled from Kansas to New England last May, surprising residents with an unusually early heat wave.
Crops withered and Dallas temperatures topped 100 oF for 29 days straight in a Texas hot spell that struck during the summer of 1998.
India's worst heat shock in 50 years killed more than 2,500 people in May 1998.
Cherry blossoms in Washington bloom seven days earlier in the spring than they did in 1970.
Heavy rains in England and Wales made last fall Britain's wettest three-month period on record.
Fires due to dry conditions and record-breaking heat consumed 20% of Samos Island, Greece, last July.
Floods along the Ohio River in March 1997 caused 30 deaths and at least $500 million in property damage.
Hurricane Floyd brought flooding rains and 130-m.p.h. winds through the Atlantic seaboard in September 1999, killing 77 people and leaving thousands homeless.
Pacific salmon populations fell sharply in 1997 and 1998, when local ocean temperatures rose 6 oF.
Polar bears in Hudson Bay are having fewer cubs, possibly as a result of earlier spring ice breakup.
Coral reefs suffer from the loss of algae that color and nourish them. The process, called bleaching, is caused by warmer oceans.
Diseases like dengue fever are expanding their reach northward in the U.S.
Butterflies are relocating to higher latitudes. The Edith's Checkerspot butterfly of western North America has moved almost 60 miles north in 100 years.
Rising Sea Levels
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was 1,500 ft. from the North Carolina shoreline when it was built in 1870. By the late 1980s the ocean had crept to within 160 ft., and the lighthouse had to be moved to avoid collapse.
Japanese fortifications were built on Kosrae Island in the southwest Pacific Ocean during World War II to guard against U.S. Marines' invading the beach. Today the fortifications are awash at high tide.
Florida farmland up to 1,000 ft. inland from Biscayne Bay is being infiltrated by salt water, rendering the land too toxic for crops. Salt water is also nibbling at the edges of farms on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Brazilian shoreline in the region of Recife receded more than 6 ft. a year from 1915 to 1950 and more than 8 ft. a year from 1985 to 1995.
For more information, see the Halexandria Forums.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]