presidential tweet scorning climate change, namely "We could do with
some of that climate change here," after severe blizzards hit the U.S.
east coast, could not have been more inopportune!
Figures published last Thursday (January 16) by the world's three main organizations monitoring global temperatures (NASA, NOAA and the UK Met Office) show 2017 to be the warmest on record for a year in which temperatures were not boosted by El Ni ñ o, it was still one of the top three hottest years recorded.
Looking at the graph of global temperatures from pre-industrial times on, an inexorable upward trend accelerating from 1975 is obvious, even to any naive observer. Why is it not obvious to Mr. Trump? The answer to that question might lie in electioneering, politics, constituencies, supporters -- both voters and financial contributors -- and a host or reasons that have nothing to do with science.
While a warming globe does not actually cause weather events, it does certainly amplify them. Parched forests and record-breaking wild fires in Australia and California. Last year hurricanes of surprising intensity devastating Houston or Puerto Rico -- how much has Trump done for the latter? This week a battered Netherlands with hurricane force storms toppling shipping containers, ripping off roofs, blowing pedestrians across roads, dislodged flying roof tiles closing airport terminals, sweeping a bus off the road into a canal, stopping train services -- the latter also in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany.
The closest epoch when average concentrations of CO2 ranged from 380 to 450 ppm -- we are now above 407 ppm -- was the middle Pliocene around 3.6 million years ago. The area around the North Pole was much warmer, as much as 19 degrees Celsius higher than the present. The surrounding land area was forested and ungulates roamed free. It is not going to happen tomorrow but over hundreds and thousands of years that is the future. What happens to the ice melt? That is the problem for coastlines and low-lying islands.
If 2017 was a non-El Ni ñ o year and still a record-breaker, the onus is on manmade causes. What will future generations think of us if we do nothing and their habitats are washed away into the oceans?
Meanwhile, ahead of Davos, now in progress , a survey of 1000 experts from government, business and academia has reported the risk of war in 2018 has risen sharply.