Thursday, June 12, 2014

Climate Change THE Issue of our Era

Climate Change The Issue of Our Times

Stimulated by a comment by Flickr friend Dave Linscheid
Sorry to read of your heat intolerance, but I wonder how many people can thrive outside in the kind of heat you endure (a humid 95 degree day in Austin)? I certainly could not. (Dave lives in southern Minnesota.)

Dave, you are right "not many".  Climate change research went into high gear after Katrina, and those studies (hundreds at the worlds top scientific universities, half in the US) are now pouring into the journals for peer review before publication.  Typical of scientific revolutions, most of our accepted ideas of the 20th century turn out to be false, and in some cases dangerously misleading.  Surprisingly, these rigorous studies from all around the globe AGREE on most major conclusions.  The biggest surprise is that major climate changes can and often do happen fast, often in a mere decade, contrary to prior conventional belief that several thousand years was the norm.  Our species adaptation, while often extremely clever, is slow on a cultural level, and many entire societies have perished because they were not able to change fast enough. Our species is unchanged biologically over long periods of rapid climactic change, and our ancestors were just as smart as we are.  Therefore any "modern arrogance" will actually impair our ability to adapt to these changes, since false superiority leads to complacency.  Everyone should be addressing this issue, which rarely even makes the front page.  There is only one issue that threatens our survival as a species: climate change.

To quote William C. Calvin, a neurologist and frontrunner in this arena since it began:  "One of the most shocking scientific realizations of all time has slowly been dawning on us: the earth's climate does flip-flops every few thousand years, and with breathtaking speed."  "A Brain for All Seasons" , 2002.  It is a delight to read as his writing style is fresh and continues to surprise.  Some solid knowledge of general knowledge is helpful, but this book was written to inform the general public.

Here are a few of the conclusions by world wide scientific research groups, all done after his book was written.

1) extreme heat is the new norm
2) summer heat waves will increase
3) very recent studies indicate that the American Southwest will have long   periods of extreme drought lasting 100-200 years.  this has been vaidated be scientists in other fields, archeology, and anthropology who have verified that a Native American tribe named the Ashkenazi, perished during the last mega drought from 600 to 800 AD, which occur with an almost perfect sine wave frequency of 1000 years.  The last period of super drought, survived by the Hopi and Navajo, who apparently knew something about water that the Ashkenazi didn't, was 1400 years ago.  Statistically, that means that we are now almost certainly at the beginning of a 100-200 year drought, the likes of which are unknown to not only the living Europeans or their ancestors.  Even primitive record keeping, only began around 1000 AD.  But the climate models which have proven to be startling accurate include the Middle Ages.
4) for those living today and their ancestors for several generations should consider that we are now in a "permanent drought" for all practical purposes.

This summary only hits the highlights; and already it would take a 2000 page book just to thoroughly review CURRENT progress, and by the time it would published, it would be sadly out of date.  Every current study reveals a half dozen factors that need extensive study.  The rate of growth of solid information in climatology is exponential.  This is the major reason there are so few up to date books written about the subject.  They are out of date even before the manuscripts are finished, much less published.  This is very frustrating to those rightfully interested in the subject, but the web at least makes following the advances in the subject POSSIBLE, it just requires more work than walking into a major bookstore and purchasing a "New in Hardback-Non Fiction." and going home confident that this one volume will make you a pseudo-authority on climate change.

This mini essay has already gone way past my intentions in length, so I'll pause for now; but expect updates.

A Gentleman and a Scholar
June 13, 2014 
Austin, Texas