In Beth Daley’s article in The Boston Globe today, “US lags on plans for climate change” that just by it’s very title indicates that it’s time to think about adapting. We must be in what Al Gore calls, “A time of consequences.” The thousands of scientists who comprise the international last word on climate change (a.k.a. the IPCC) is about to confirm this:
By the end of this century, the IPCC projects global temperatures will rise 3.2 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit and oceans will rise 7 to 23 inches and possibly more, depending on how much carbon dioxide and other manmade greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. As a result, weather will become more erratic and severe.
This is NOT hyperbole.
Even the last few (3?) remaining skeptical holdouts can easily observe:
New England is already experiencing sustained warming and a changing climate that scientists say is consistent with a warming world. Winter temperatures have increased an average of 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 30 years, according to national climatic data, leading to less snow on the ground and ice on lakes. The growing season has extended by more than 10 days in some places, and rainstorms are becoming fiercer.
And of course again, we’re embarassingly out of step with the rest of the world:
Other countries have done far more to get ready for the effects of global warming than the United States. Britain’s far-reaching Climate Impacts Program includes strategies to ensure that construction projects address future climate change and gives communities and businesses specific suggestions to adapt, such as changing building codes. Denmark is designing ways to funnel floodwater away from populated areas during storms. To deal with warming temperatures, Manitoba, Canada, over the last five years has moved more than 300 miles of a winter road system that used to traverse frozen waterways, bogs, and swamps to permanent land.
So now as we enter this period of consequences, we no longer have the luxury of balancing the public’s reaction to simultaneously traveling down the paths of mitigation AND adaptation. We must now do both.
**For clarity’s sake (thanks to comment from joelpatterson) the graphic at the top of the post is also from The Globe. The details indicate that it’s actually a midpoint prediction of sea-level rise, not the worst case, although it does present a very bad weather case with a Cat 2 storm and Boston’s predicted sinking of 6 inches, both of which are likely over the next 100 or so years.
In each case, it was assumed that global warming would cause a sea level rise of 15 inches. That rise was chosen because it is midway between the 7 to 23 inches that scientists project oceans will rise by the end of this century.