Archive for the ‘Hurricane’ Category
Re-engineering our societies to prosper on green alternatives is only option
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 4 2013 (IPS)
Around the world, 2012 was the year of extreme weather, when we unequivocally learned that the fossil fuel energy that powers our societies is destroying them. Accepting this reality is the biggest challenge of the brand new year.
Re-engineering our societies and lifestyles to prosper on green alternatives is the penultimate challenge of this decade.There is no more important task for all of us to engage in because climate change affects everything from food to water availability.
A number of scientific analyses have demonstrated we already have the technology to re-engineer our society to thrive on green alternative energy. The newest of these was published Wednesday in the prestigious journal Nature. It plainly states that politics is the real barrier, not technology nor cost. (It is far cheaper to act than not.)
Keeping global warming to less than two degrees C is mainly dependent on “when countries will begin to take serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, according to the study “Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation”.
Climate change has already pushed global temperatures up 0.8 degrees C, with significant consequences. No climate scientist thinks two degrees C will be “safe”. Many countries, especially least-developed countries and small island states, want the global target to be less than 1.5C of heating. Even then large portions of the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt raising sea levels, albeit at a slower rate.
Delay in making the shift to non-fossil fuel energy sources will be very costly. Waiting until 2020 to curb global emissions will cost twice as much compared with peaking emissions by 2015, the Nature analysis shows.
Serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions means 65 percent of current coal power plants will have to be shut down in the next decade or two, a previous Nature study reported by IPS shows.
To be absolutely clear: I am not “targeting” New York City or anywhere else. I am pushed and pulled by temperature and pressure differences. My winds are powered by warm water and moisture. And there is enough heat and moisture for my winds to make 12-foot high waves over a 3 million sq km area – one third the size of the US.
Read full post at Hurricane Sandy Speaks (crosspost)
By Stephen Leahy
CAIRNS, Australia, Apr 3, 2012 (Tierramérica)
Extreme weather is fast becoming the new normal. Canada and much of the United States experienced summer temperatures during winter this year, confirming the findings of a new report on extreme weather.
For two weeks this March most of North America baked under extraordinarily warm temperatures that melted all the snow and ice and broke 150-year-old temperature records by large margins.
Climate disruption shrinking areas where people can live.
Mexico faces $10 billion in storm/flood damage to roads, schools, clinics, etc every year
By Stephen Leahy
OSLO, Jun 9, 2011 (IPS)
Mass migration will inevitably be part of human adaptation to climate change, experts agree, since parts of the world will become uninhabitable in the coming decades.
Last year, 38 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters such as the flooding in Pakistan and China.
“Human displacement due to climate change is happening now. There is no need to debate it,” Jonas Gahr Støre, Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, told over 200 delegates attending the Nansen Conference on Climate Change and Displacement in the 21st Century in Oslo Jun. 6-7.
Governments and the humanitarian community need to understand this fact – and that it will get much worse in the coming decades, Støre said.
Without major emissions reductions, climate change could get far worse than anyone is prepared to think about.
“It may be more realistic to consider four degrees C of warming rather than two degrees C,” suggested Harald Dovland, former head of the Norwegian Delegation to the United Nations climate change negotiations.
The world has already warmed 0.8C and will rise to least 1.6 C even if all emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases ended today, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the conference.
A four-degree C warmer world is a very different planet and risks runaway climate change. Even two degrees C is not safe, Hansen said.
“The last time the planet was two degrees C warmer was during the Pliocene (five to 2.4 million years ago) and sea levels were 25 metres higher,” he said. “If we burn all the fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) we’re creating conditions that future generations will be unable to cope with.”
Even though a four-degree C warmer world “is choosing the suicidal path”, experts must avoid fuelling xenophobia with predictions of mass migrations and conflicts, says Francois Gemenne, research fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations in Paris.
“This also feeds into a security agenda of panic and paranoia,” Gemenne said.
At least 20 percent of humanity will be at high risk of severe flooding due to sea level rise and extreme rainfall events in the coming decades.
“Too many people live in low-lying deltas and other parts of the world that are becoming too dangerous to live in,” said Gemenne. They will be forced to move and often this movement will be permanent.
Rather than building walls and barriers, countries and the international community need to encourage people to move to safer ground. “Lift the barriers so that people can use migration to adapt to climate change,” he urged delegates. Read the rest of this entry »
Landfall Feb 14 Valentine’s Day
[Update 17 Feb: Cyclone Bingiza to Worsen Mozambique, Madagascar Floods, UN Says see here for South African flooding NASA sat pix]
This is a big Cat 3 cyclone expected to affect 100,000′s of people. Sustained wind speeds of 160 kilometres per hour with gusts of up to 220 kilometres per hour, have been reported
NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of Bingiza at 10:00 a.m. local time on Feb. 13, 2011. In the image, Bingiza’s eye approaches northern Madagascar, and a spiral arm grazes Antananarivo.
This is what climate change looks like
[Update 24:00 EST Feb 2. Can it be true? No one has been killed or seriously injured? If that holds up over the next few days it will be absolutely stunning. Kudos to Australian govt and Australians.
[Update 17:30 EST Feb 2. Yasi has moved well inland leaving devastated coastal towns and landscape behind - houses flattened, 90% of trees broken, not a leaf left on bushes. Pix here
[Update 10:30 EST Feb 2 LANDFALL: South of Cairns at the beautiful town of Mission Beach as Cat 5. This is where Cyclone Larry came ashore in 2006, the worst cyclone in 100 yrs, and destroyed much of the area. The last 1500 endangered cassowaries -- large flightless bird -- live in the jungles there.
[Update: 18:00 EST Feb 1- Yasi landfall expected at high tide bringing storm surge of 3-
4 9! metres propelled by 280-300 kph winds. City of Cairns in direct path. "Catastrophic" storm says Premier]
Following the recent record-breaking flooding, Queensland, Australia’s is facing yet another extreme weather event as super cyclone Yasi bears down on them. Yasi
is expected to reach has reached dangerous Category 4 5 strength, generating winds of up to 280 300 kph when it hits the Queensland state coast early on Thursday (2pm Wednesday, GMT). Yasi is a huge storm as the satellite image above shows – it is about 600-700 km diameter making it an extremely large cyclone (cover half the USA). (Latest Met service satellite imagery)
For comparison Hurricane Katrina was also very large but only about a Cat 1 or 2 on landfall based on final data from NOAA that went largely unreported. Katrina’s storm surge caused most of the damage which could be the case with Yasi. One major difference is that Queensland does not have a major city on the coast (or even a small one protected by poorly designed levees). Shockingly even a year after Katrina more than 500,000 people remained displaced.
Large areas of Queensland are still underwater or mud-covered from flooding just 2 weeks ago that caused billions of dollars in damage. It was so bad that Australians now have to pay a temporary flood damage tax to help cover the costs… And now Yasi.
Australia may need a permanent climate change disaster tax.
This is what climate change looks like – record-breaking extreme weather events. The Queensland floods nor Yasi are the direct result of climate change. However because burning fossil fuels traps more of the sun’s heat in the atmosphere the odds and strength of extreme events increase as climate science has stated for two decades now. Here is my latest article on this The Yin and Yang of Climate Extremes We Will See More of.
Climate change loads the dice in favour of extreme events. Queensland has been very unlucky lately. Help them out if you can. — Stephen
Record warm Atlantic sea surface temperatures have spawned three simultaneous hurricanes this Thurs and Friday: Hurricanes Igor, Julia, and Karl. Although this is not the first time other records continue to fall according to weather expert Jeff Master. Julia was the strongest hurricane on record so far east, Karl was the strongest hurricane so far south in the Gulf of Mexico, and Earl was the 4th strongest Atlantic hurricane so far north.
Master said Friday: “we are now ahead of the pace of the terrible hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 for number of major hurricanes so early in the year”.
[ Climate change has already resulted in trillions of dollars of losses due to extreme weather events over the past two decades. While no single hurricane, flood or drought can be directly attributed to global warming, one of the most solid findings of climate science is that extreme weather events will increase dramatically as a result of more heat being trapped in our atmosphere.
Countries like Honduras, Haiti and others are already struggling to recover from one extreme event after another in recent years. Without substantial global reductions in emissions the number of extreme weather events will continue to rise turning these countries into permanent disaster zones. This story only documents the easy-to-measure impacts not no less devestating impacts like crop failures from droughts etc. -- Steve]
By Stephen Leahy*
Honduras has been hit harder by extreme weather events than almost any other country over the last 18 years, says a study of weather-related losses, released here as the climate summit continues this week.
Around the world, storms, floods and heat waves have resulted in 1.7 trillion dollars in losses and 600,000 deaths, the Global Climate Risk Index 2010(pdf) reported.
On the same day, the World Meteorological Organisation announced in Copenhagen that the decade 2000-2009 is very likely to be the warmest since records began in 1850.
India, northern China and Australia saw extreme heat waves this year. Warm weather was also more frequent and intense in southern South America in 2009, according to the WMO report.
“Our analyses show that, in particular, poor countries are severely affected” by extreme weather events, said Sven Harmeling, author of the Index at Germanwatch, a non-governmental organisation based in Germany that has promoted global equity and the preservation of livelihoods since 1991. Read the rest of this entry »
In just two years from now 40 percent of the current weather and science satellites will be out of service. NASA budget cuts means few if any replacements are on the way. Billions of dollars will go into manned space efforts instead.
“The [George W.] Bush administration has decided going to Mars and the International Space Station is more important,” said Judith Curry, chair of climate and remote sensing at Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
“Earth sciences has taken a huge hit at NASA. That’s not a good thing for those of us living on Planet Earth,” Curry said.
“This is a very serious issue.”
For more see:
“I’m afraid it is going to take a major catastrophe in the developed world…”
GIJON, Spain, Jun 4 (IPS) – Warming seawater, melting sea ice and glaciers, sea level rise, storm intensification, changes in ocean currents, growing “dead zones”, and ocean acidification are just some of the signs that the oceans that cover 71 percent of our watery planet are changing.
Changes in the oceans also means major impacts on the land and the atmosphere. “Policy makers and the public do not realize that the oceans are the drivers of the climate system,” says Chris Reid, recently retired professor of oceanography at the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science in Plymouth, England.
Reid will be producing a report this summer on the impacts the altered oceans are having and will have on the global climate.
IPS environment correspondent Stephen Leahy spoke to Reid at an international scientific symposium held late last month in Gijon, Spain on the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans.
CR: The oceans have absorbed 30 percent of all human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) since the start of the industrial age. There is now good evidence that the oceans are absorbing less carbon as a result of climate change. The warming of surface waters, glacial and sea ice meltwater, acidification and so on are inhibiting or slowing a number of the oceans’ mechanisms for absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and safely storing them in the deep ocean.
IPS: How will that affect us?
CR: It means the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will rise much faster than has been previously projected by climate scientists. Human carbon emissions are already on pace for the worst case scenario as envisioned by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). These changes in the oceans means the rate of warming will increase, bringing even more severe hurricanes and cyclones, flooding events and so on.
IPS: Cyclones like the one that recently devastated Burma?
CR: Yes. Research presented at this meeting shows that South Korea and Japan are experiencing more powerful cyclones. While a single event can’t be precisely connected to climate change, the Burma cyclone fits what is expected with climate change. Read the rest of this entry »