We’ve all had friends scuffaw* at the term “global warming,” thinking that they would enjoy a bit less snow and a bit more piña-colada time.
Of course, the repercussions of climate change extend far beyond the temperature we experience on a given day. At the CERES conference, we recently heard former Vice President Al Gore forcefully lay out some of these repercussions.
Gore details his arguments in the upcoming film An Inconvenient Truth. We present them here in capsule form.
Now, before we get all depressed and start the day off gloomy, recall that many of these scenarios happen only under catastrophic circumstances. And climate planners haven’t accounted for the fact that pretty soon TerraPasses will be even hipper than recycling.
Here we go:
- Global flooding: Melting ice from Greenland and west Antarctica ice sheet could raise sea levels over 20 feet and inundate major world cities like NY, Beijing, Washington DC and substantial portions of Bangladesh.
- Mass migration: Resultant flooding damage could displace millions of people from their homes.
- Conveyer belt disturbance: the massive inrush of lighter fresh water may trigger a thermohaline collapse and lead to cooling in areas warmed by the gulf stream.
- Extreme temperatures: While average temperatures move only a few degrees, there is higher likelihood of extreme temperatures, like the European heat wave of 2003.
- Ecosystem impacts: Warming may cause migration and where not possible species impacts.
- Global drought: Changing water patterns may alter rainfall, bring both floods and severe drought, especially in Africa.
- Food production losses: The combination of drought and increased pests may offset any gains from CO2-based increases to plant productivity.
- Disease spreading: As temperature increases, tropical diseases spread both to higher latitudes and higher elevations in tropical countries.
- Hurricane intensity: With increased temperature comes increased intensity of hurricanes like Katrina.
So next time a friend shoots back with visions of tropical drinks, ask him or her about dengue in Georgia.
* Scuffaw = scoff + guffah. Not a word, but should be.