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2013 Likely To Be One Of The Hottest Years Ever As Warming Trend Continues, WMO Says

2013 Likely To Be One Of The Hottest Years Ever As Warming Trend Continues, WMO Says

By Alister Doyle and Michael SzaboWARSAW, Nov 13 (Reuters) – This year is the seventh warmest since records began in 1850 with a trend to weather extremes and the impact of storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines aggravated by rising sea levels, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday.A build-up of manmade greenhouse gases in the atmosphere meant a warmer future was now inevitable, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks among almost 200 nations in Warsaw.The WMO, giving a provisional overview, said the first nine months of the year tied with the same period of 2003 as seventh warmest, with average global land and ocean surface temperatures 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961-1990 average.”This year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend,” towards higher temperatures caused by global warming, Jarraud said. The WMO said it was likely to end among the top 10 warmest years since records began in 1850.

Among extremes have been super typhoon Haiyan, one of the most intense storms in history that smashed into the Philippines last Friday.

President Benigno Aquino said local officials had overstated the loss of life, which was closer to 2,000 or 2,500 than the 10,000 previously estimated. His comments, however, drew scepticism from some aid workers.

AUSTRALIA HEATWAVE

Other extremes this year have included record heatwaves in Australia and floods from Sudan to Europe, the WMO said. Japan had its warmest summer on record.

Apparently bucking a warming trend, sea ice around Antarctica expanded to a record extent. But the WMO said: “Wind patterns and ocean currents tend to isolate Antarctica from global weather patterns, keeping it cold.”

In September, The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) raised the probability that mankind was the main cause of warming since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90 in a previous assessment in 2007.

It predicted impacts including more heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels.

“2010 was the warmest year on record, ahead of 2005 and 1998,” the WMO said.

The IPCC said the pace of temperature rises at the Earth’s surface has slowed slightly in recent years in what the panel called a “hiatus” that may be linked to big natural variations and factors such as the ocean absorbing more heat.

The WMO said that individual tropical cyclones, such as Haiyan, could not be directly attributed to the effects of climate change.

But “higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. We saw this with tragic consequences in the Philippines,” Jarraud said. Seas have risen by about 20 cms (8 inches) in the past century.

As of early November 2013, there had been 86 tropical cyclones, from typhoons to Atlantic hurricanes, closing in on the 1981-2010 average of 89 storms, the WMO said. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; editing by Ralph Boulton)

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

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  • Sweet Snorkeling Pics

    As humans increase atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, oceans absorb some of the CO2. The resulting drop in ocean pH, known as ocean acidification, has been called climate change’s “equally evil twin” by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco. Coral reefs, which are an invaluable part of marine ecosystems and tourism economies, are threatened by ocean warming and acidification. At the 2012 International Coral Reef Symposium in Cairns, Australia, 2,600 scientists signed a petition calling for international action to preserve global coral reefs, reported the BBC. Noting that 25 to 30 percent of the world’s reefs are already “severely degraded,” the statement asserts that “climate-related stressors [represent] an unprecedented challenge for the future of coral reefs and to the services they provide to people.” A recent report from the World Resources Institute found that the Coral Triangle, an important area from central Southeast Asia to the edge of the western Pacific with many reefs, is threatened at a rate far greater than the global average.

  • Wine Tasting Parties

    Winegrowers in France’s Champagne region and scientists have already seen changes in the past 25 years, reported The New York Times last year. They have “noted major changes in their vineyards, including an increased sugar content in the grapes from which they make their wine, with a consequent decrease in acidity, and a harvest time that regularly comes two weeks earlier than it once did.” Last year, the Telegraph reported that Bordeaux, one of the world’s most famous wine-producing regions, may be “unsuitable for wine-growing by 2050.” Yale Environment 360 explains that many European wines are tied to a specific geographical area, creating a problem for regions which may soon find themselves most suited to a new kind of grape. In the U.S., researchers at Stanford University found that climate change could mean “50% less land suitable for cultivating premium wine grapes in high-value areas of Northern California.” A 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “up to 81 percent” of “premium-wine-grape production area” could decline in the U.S. by the end of this century, reported Wired. Without any adaptation measures, wine-grape production could disappear from “many areas” of the country. Wired notes, “By the law of supply and demand, that suggests the best wines of tomorrow will cost even more than the ridiculous amounts they fetch today.”

  • Winnie The Pooh’s Key Plot Point

    <a href=”http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/Hone/Hone-03-30-2012.pdf&#8221; target=”_hplink”>According to the USDA, bee populations are dropping nationwide</a>. Wetter winters and rainy summers make it harder for bees to get out and about to collect, leaving them to starve or become malnourished and more prone to other diseases. This doesn’t just mean a decline in honey. We rely on bees to pollinate crops. When bees disappear, many food crops could also die off.

  • Spring Break, Wohoo!

    As global temperatures rise this century, sea levels are also expected to increase. South Florida may be hit particularly hard. If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, global sea levels could rise over three feet by 2100, with a six foot rise possible. The U.S. Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming notes:

    This threatens to submerge Florida’s coastal communities and economies since roughly 9 percent of the state is within 5 feet of the existing sea level. Rising sea level also threatens the beaches, wetlands, and mangrove forests that surround the state.

    University of Florida professor Jack Putz said in 2008, “People have a hard time accepting that this is happening here,” reported the Tampa Bay Times. Seeing dead palm trees and other impacts “brings a global problem right into our own back yard,” he added. Click here to see a map showing what different levels of sea level rise would look like for Florida and other states.

  • Cute Baby Polar Bear Videos

    A November 2011 study found that polar bear litters are getting smaller as climate change causes sea ice decline. <a href=”http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/media/press/2011/WWFPresitem19837.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>According to World Wildlife Fund</a>, the study “found that if spring sea ice break-up occurs one month earlier than usual, 40-73 percent of pregnant females could fail to bring cubs to term.” The National Snow and Ice Data Center found that in 2010, <a href=”http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=49132&src=share&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Arctic sea ice</a> was at its lowest January level in 30 years. With decreased sea ice, polar bears may have greater trouble finding food sources. This could lead to cannibalism, which has already been observed by photographers. Environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross <a href=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16081214&#8243; target=”_hplink”>told BBC News</a> in 2011, “There are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change.”

  • PB&Js

    Thanks to a failing peanut crop due to last summer’s scorching hot weather, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/10/peanut-butter-price-jump_n_1003732.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>there was a shortage of peanuts in supply</a> at the end of 2011. If temperatures continue to rise, a jump in peanut butter prices is just the prelude to what could be in store for the beloved spread.

  • Chocolate Cravings

    <a href=”http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/Newsroom/Documents/ghana_ivory_coast_climate_change_and_cocoa.pdf&#8221; target=”_hplink”>A report released by the International Center For Tropical Agriculture </a>warns chocolate could become a luxury item if farmers don’t adapt to rising temperatures in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where a majority of the world’s cocoa is grown. The October 2011 report, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “calls for increased research into heat and drought resistant crops, and to help transition cocoa farming to new regions that will be suitable for production in the future,” <a href=”http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/09/30/332951/chocolate-climate-change-cocoa-industry-study/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported ThinkProgress</a>.

  • ‘Friday Night Lights’ & ‘Varsity Blues’

    As average temperatures rise over the course of this century, states in the Southern U.S. are expected to see a greater number of days with temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit each year. Hotter temperatures will mean that football players in the South will face a greater risk of hyperthermia, explains GE’s TXCHNOLOGIST blog. ThinkProgress suggests, “Indeed, it is the conservative southern U.S., especially the South central and South east, who have led the way in blocking serious climate action, as it were, making yesterday’s worst-case scenario into today’s likely outcome.”

  • Not Sneezing

    Bad news for allergy sufferers — climate change, and specifically warmer temperatures, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/31/seasonal-allergies-rising_n_913650.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>may bring more pollen and ragweed</a>, according to a <a href=”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21259264&#8243; target=”_hplink”>2011 study</a> from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Along with allergies, a changing climate may be tied to more infectious diseases. <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/17/flu-pandemic-climate-pattern-la-nina_n_1211480.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>According to one study</a>, climate change could affect wild bird migratory patterns, increasing the chances for human flu pandemics. Illnesses like <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/global-warming-lyme-disease-west-nile_n_1400692.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Lyme disease could also become more prominent</a>.

  • Keg Stands

    Famed for producing some of the world’s best beer, <a href=”http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080502/full/news.2008.799.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Germany could suffer from a drop in production due to climate change-induced water shortages</a>. Barley and hops can only be grown with water, and using cheaper alternatives like corn isn’t possible in Germany because of <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinheitsgebot&#8221; target=”_hplink”>strict regulations</a> about what you can make beer with. Research published earlier this year in the journal <a href=”http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n7/full/nclimate1491.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”><em>Nature Climate Change</em></a> found that “unless farmers develop more heat-tolerant corn varieties or gradually move corn production from the United States into Canada, frequent heat waves will cause sharp price spikes,” <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/23/business/climate-change-effect-seen-for-corn-prices.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported <em>The New York Times</em></a>. Price spikes for U.S. corn could affect prices of <a href=”http://beeradvocate.com/beer/style/38/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>American macrobrews</a> made with an <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjuncts&#8221; target=”_hplink”>adjunct ingredient like corn</a>.

  • Valentine’s Day Cliches

    With higher temperatures expected in northern latitudes in coming decades, the U.K. has begun a program to develop strawberries that will survive in higher temperatures with less water. Since chocolate also may be threatened, could sexy chocolate-covered strawberries, a Valentine’s Day staple, be endangered? <a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8603607/Climate-change-resistant-strawberries.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>According to <em>The Telegraph</em></a>, Dr. David Simpson, a scientist with England’s East Malling Research, said last year, “Consumer demand for fresh strawberries in the UK has been growing year on year since the early 1990s. The British growers have done a great job of increasing their productivity to satisfy this demand between April and October. The future will be challenging due to the impacts of climate change and the withdrawal of many pesticides but the breeding programme at EMR is using the latest scientific approaches to develop a range of varieties that will meet the needs of our growers for the future.”

  • Coffeehouse Snobs

    Coffee lovers may want to get that caffeine fix before the treasured drink becomes a rare export. Starbucks raised the issue last year when the company’s director of sustainability told <em>The Guardian</em> that <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/16/starbucks-climate-change_n_1011222.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>climate change is threatening the supply chain</a> for the Arabica coffee bean. Starbucks Sustainability Director <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/13/starbucks-coffee-climate-change-threat?newsfeed=true&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Jim Hanna told the paper</a>, “What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean.”

  • Water Out West

    According to a 2011 U.S. Interior Department report, “annual flows in three prominent river basins – the Colorado, Rio Grande and San Joaquin – could decline by as much [as] 8 percent to 14 percent over the next four decades,” reported the Associated Press. Expected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to alter river flows “with increased flooding possible in the winter due to early snowmelt and water shortages in the summer due to reductions in spring and summer runoffs.” Mike Connor, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said, “Impacts to water are on the leading edge of global climate change.” Earlier this year, the Bureau of Reclamation asked the public to suggest ideas for meeting future water demand around the Colorado River basin.

  • Rudolph (And Donner And Blitzen)

    Reindeer, also known as “caribou” in North America, could face a difficult future in a warmer climate. <a href=”http://www.usnews.com/news/energy/slideshows/10-animals-threatened-by-global-warming&#8221; target=”_hplink”>According to U.S. News & World Report</a>, “Russell Graham, associate professor of geosciences and director of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum at Penn State University, says global warming will most harm the animals adapted to the coldest environments, primarily those accustomed to life in the Arctic.” A 2008 study found that caribou in West Greenland are “now arriving after peak foraging time, fewer calves are being born and more calves are dying,” <a href=”http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/341435/title/Animals_on_the_Move&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported ScienceNews</a>.

  • Yummy Pancake Breakfasts

    It may be a bit harder to drown your pancakes in maple syrup in the future, <a href=”http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/effects-global-warming-maple-syrup-production-20078.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>studies suggest</a>. According to <a href=”http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Nov10/SyrupClimate.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>a 2010 Cornell University study</a>, “maple syrup production in the Northeast is expected to slightly decline by 2100, and the window for tapping trees will move earlier by about a month.” Additionally, most maple syrup production south of Pennsylvania “will likely be lost by 2100 due to lack of freezing.” <a href=”http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/01/no-maple-syrup-2100&#8243; target=”_hplink”>Click here to watch one farmer’s fight to save New Hampshire’s sugar maples.</a>

  • Gone Fishin’

    According to a <a href=”http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/ntrout.asp&#8221; target=”_hplink”>2002 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife</a>, a warming planet does not bode well for species that thrive in cold streams. The study found that “global warming is likely to spur the disappearance of trout and salmon from as much as 18 to 38 percent of their current habitat by the year 2090.” A 2011 study published in the <em>Proceedings of the National Academies of Science</em> produced “models [which] forecast significant declines in trout habitat across the interior western United States in the 21st century,” <a href=”http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/trout-fishing-in-a-climate-changed-america/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported <em>The New York Times</em></a>. The study claims, “The decline will have significant socioeconomic consequences as recreational trout fisheries are valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States alone.”

  • NYC’s Waterfront Real Estate

    According to a 2012 report from New Jersey-based nonprofit <a href=”http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Climate Central</a>, thousands of New York City residents may be at risk for severe <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/15/rising-sea-levels-threate_n_1347333.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>coastal flooding as a result of climate change</a>. <a href=”http://slr.s3.amazonaws.com/factsheets/New_York.pdf&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Climate Central explains</a>, “the NY metro area hosts the nation’s highest-density populations vulnerable to sea level rise.” They argue, “the funnel shape of New York Harbor has the potential to magnify storm surges already supplemented by sea level rise, threatening widespread areas of New York City.”

  • The Best Part Of July 4th

    With droughts and wildfires hitting many parts of the U.S., municipalities from <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/colorado-wildfires-2012-f_n_1647571.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Colorado</a> to <a href=”http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2012/07/03/climate-change-is-totally-ruining-your-4th-of-july&#8221; target=”_hplink”>Tennessee</a> canceled July 4th public fireworks displays or banned personal fireworks this year, citing the fire hazards they posed. In June, a <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/climate-change-wildfires_n_1588741.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>study published in the journal <em>Ecosphere</em></a> found that almost all of North America will see more wildfires by 2100, reported Reuters. The study’s lead author, Max Moritz, said, “In the long run, we found what most fear – increasing fire activity across large areas of the planet.”

  • The Non-.com Amazon

    Along with deforestation, climate change also poses a serious threat to South America’s Amazon rainforest. A 2009 study from the U.K. Met Office found that a global temperature rise of four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would cause 85 percent of the Amazon to die off in the next 100 years. Even a two degree Celsius rise would kill 20 to 40 percent of the rainforest, reported the Guardian. In May, The Club of Rome think tank predicted a global average temperatures rise of “2 degrees Celsius by 2052 and a 2.8 degree rise by 2080,” reported Reuters. Jorgen Randers, author of the club’s report, said, “It is unlikely that governments will pass necessary regulation to force the markets to allocate more money into climate-friendly solutions, and (we) must not assume that markets will work for the benefit of humankind.” He added, “We are emitting twice as much greenhouse gases every year as are absorbed by the world’s forests and oceans. This overshoot will worsen and will peak in 2030.”

  • Island Getaways

    As global sea levels rise during the 21st century, low-lying island nations like the Maldives could see their very existence threatened. With a three to six foot sea level rise predicted by 2100, nations like the Maldives could become uninhabitable, explained The New York Times. Maldives’ former president, Mohamed Nasheed, has been a tireless campaigner for the urgent need for countries to take action against climate change, arguing “You can’t pick and choose on science.”

  • Ski Bums

    Although seasonal fluctuations occur and El Nino/La Nina weather patterns affect snowfall, global temperature rise may impact conditions for skiers and boarders. “The long-term trend is less snow and earlier snowmelt. This means more frustration for snow sport enthusiasts and a negative impact on the snow sports industry,” writes the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Theo Spencer. In May, a snow-less ski race was held in Aspen, Colorado to “highlight the effect climate change has on the outdoor recreation industry,” reported the Associated Press.

  • Thanksgiving Dinner Food Comas

    A 2010 paper in the journal <em>Food Research International</em> found that climate change may one day affect the cost and quality of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, <a href=”http://news.discovery.com/earth/thanksgiving-climate-change.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported Discovery News</a>. Future temperature rises could impact the quality of turkey meat. Additionally, foods like “pumpkins, sweet potatoes, potatoes, grains [and] green beans … will be sensitive to water shortages should they arise,” study author Neville Gregory told Discovery News. In fact, common Thanksgiving foods were <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/21/thanksgiving-dinner-battles-weather_n_1099899.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>impacted by weather events in 2011</a>, with shortages and price spikes hitting over the holidays.

  • The Views On Your Alaska Vacation

    Earlier this year, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service confirmed that climate warming is killing southeast Alaska’s mighty yellow cedars. The study, published in the journal Bioscience, found that with decreasing snow cover, the trees’ shallow roots are more vulnerable to freezing, reported AP. Paul Schaberg, a U.S. Forest Service plant pathologist, said, “As time goes on and climates change even more, other species, other locations, are likely to experience similar kinds of progressions, so you might do well to understand this one so you can address those future things.”

  • “Lady & The Tramp”-Like Scenes

    Scientists at the British Met Office warn that Italy may soon be forced to<a href=”http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/climate-threat-to-italys-pasta/story-e6frg6so-1225797946930&#8243; target=”_hplink”> import the basic ingredients to make pasta because climate change will make it impossible to grow durum wheat domestically</a>. The crop could almost disappear from the country later this century, scientists say.

  • Home Sweet Home (For Kiribatians)

    Along with the Maldives and other island nations, Kiribati is also threatened by climate change. Earlier this year, the president’s cabinet endorsed a plan to spend about $9.6 million for 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, reported AP. President Anote Tong told AP, “We would hope not to put everyone on one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it.” He added, “It wouldn’t be for me, personally, but would apply more to a younger generation. For them, moving won’t be a matter of choice. It’s basically going to be a matter of survival.”

  • Super Duper Fast Wi-Fi Connection

    A 2011 report from the U.K.’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that climate change could affect certain infrastructure, like wireless internet. <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/may/09/climate-change-wi-fi-connections&#8221; target=”_hplink”>The <em>Guardian</em> reports</a>, “higher temperatures can reduce the range of wireless communications, rainstorms can impact the reliability of the signal, and drier summers and wetter winters may cause greater subsidence, damaging masts and underground cables,” according to secretary of state for the environment. The <em>Guardian</em> notes, “The government acknowledges that the impact of climate change on telecommunications is not well understood, but the report raises a series of potential risks.”

  • The Great Smoky Mountains’ Smoke

    The Great Smoky Mountains have the most annual rainfall in the southeastern U.S., which mostly falls as a light, misty rain, <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/28/great-smoky-mountains-climate-change_n_1461482.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>explains OurAmazingPlanet</a>. A study by a team from NASA’s Precipitation Measurement Missions found that “light rainfall is the dominant form of precipitation in the region, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of a year’s total, governing the regional water cycle.” <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/28/great-smoky-mountains-climate-change_n_1461482.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>OurAmazingPlanet</a> notes: <blockquote>The results suggest the area may be more susceptible to climate change than thought; as temperatures rise, more of the fine droplets from light rain will evaporate in the air and fail to reach the ground. Lower elevations will have to contend with not only higher temperatures, but less cloud cover.</blockquote>

  • California Beach Bums

    Along the California coast, beach communities are finding that it may be impossible to stop coastal erosion as global sea levels rise. According to AP, David Revell, a senior coastal scientist at ESA PWA, acknowledged the relentless power of the sea, saying, “I like to think of it as getting out of the way gracefully.” A report released in June by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that West Coast ocean levels will rise several inches in the next few decades. Sea levels along the California coast are expected to be six inches higher by 2030 and three feet higher by the end of the century. Despite the risks, another recent NRDC study found that California is one of several states with the best plans to deal with the effects of climate change.

  • Repeats Of The Titanic

    2012 could be a record year for the extent of Arctic sea ice at its yearly summer minimum. Walt Meier, a research scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, said that with recent satellite observations, “It definitely portends a low-ice year, whether it means it will go below 2007 (the record minimum in September), it is too early to tell,” <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/arctic-sea-ice-levels_n_1605441.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported LiveScience</a>. As sea ice declines in the Arctic, countries are anticipating a <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/16/arctic-climate-change-military-activity_n_1427565.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>competition for control of shipping lanes and mineral extraction</a> in the region. In Antarctica, research from the United States’ Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula has found that “87 percent of the peninsula’s land-bound glaciers are in retreat,” <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/environmental-threats-antarctica_n_1669023.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>reported OurAmazingPlanet</a>. Decreasing sea ice levels were also addressed in <a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/shell-arctic-ready-hoax-greenpeace_n_1684222.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>a recent spoof of Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer</a>.

  • Crazy Sugar Highs

    Climate change has already impacted sugarcane production in Indonesia. In late 2011, the <a href=”http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/11/09/sugar-association-blames-climate-change-production-drop.html http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/11/09/sugar-association-blames-climate-change-production-drop.html&#8221; target=”_hplink”>chairman of the Indonesian Sugarcane Farmers Association said</a>, “sugarcane production decreased by up to 30 percent in 2011 due to climate change that has occurred since 2009.”

  • Warning Joe: Coffee Extinct in The Future?

    Climate changes and insect invasions threaten the future supply of morning joe.

Climate and Denial: I Can’t Believe this is Happening | JP Green House

Climate and Denial: I Can’t Believe this is Happening | JP Green House.

It’s a good day to write about climate science and climate denial. A typhoon of historically unprecedented strength hit the Philippines last weekend, with reports of 10-12 thousand dead. Homes and lives are devastated, corpses hang from trees and litter the rubble of houses and buildings. At the UN Climate Talks being held in Poland right now, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, Nederev Sano, has announced he will fast for the duration of the conference, “until a meaningful outcome is in sight”–a direct challenge to the negotiators to do more than talk.

The typhoon Haiyan was caused by climate change. The superstorm Sandy was caused by climate change. If we don’t stop climate change, we can expect these “100 year storms” to become an annual or semi-annual occurrence.

Imagine you are next, because you are.

Climate Science

Here’s the science in a nutshell: As I write this the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just released it’s fifth report. Comprised of 2000 of the world’s top climatologists, it’s the most thoroughly researched, compiled and peer-reviewed scientific document of all time. Their consensus tells us that the Earth is warming at a rate unseen at any time in human history, and that this is due to human activity of burning fossil fuels and releasing unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have raised the surface temperature of the Earth by 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4F), and we have raised the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from 270 parts per million to 400ppm. While the Earth has warmed before, and in some cases quite rapidly, each such drastic warming was accompanied by a mass extinction event.

This human-forced warming is causing storms of unprecedented strength (Sandy). It’s causing drought and therefore wildfires. It’s causing flooding (warm air holds more moisture). The ocean is not only warming but acidifying due to increased CO2, causing shelled creatures to dissolve (at the bottom of the food chain, therefore affecting all level of ocean life). Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, and those who depend on their fresh water will soon be facing famine.

Meanwhile, despite amazing technological process in the technology and feasibility of renewable energy (solar and wind), the amount of fossil fuels burnt continues to rise at a rate of 2-3% each year.

It seems we are not facing this. We are in denial.

Bigtime Climate Deniers

The fight against true climate deniers gets ugly quick. I stay out of it unless I’m directly challenged, and in that case I pull out my debater’s knowledge of types of false logic and try to precisely name what I’m hearing. But the sort of people who turn up in the comments section of every “green article” in the news aren’t going to be dissuaded by logic, and aren’t worth much of an activist’s time. Learn to recognize a few of their tricks, point them out, and be done with them:

  1. The Appeal to Hypocrisy: Climate deniers love to accuse believers and activists of being part of the problem. “How did you get to that protest?”, they sneer, “did you walk?” Their point is that unless you have cleansed your life of all fossil fuels you are part of the problem, and therefore nor qualified to criticize it.
  2. The Argument from Irrelevant Authority: There are a few scientists out there who still deny climate change is human-caused, deny that it is happening, or otherwise trivialize it. I think there are 3, maybe 5. Most of them are not climatologists and many of them are in the employ of fossil fuel companies. A simple fact is that 97% of climatologists now agree that climate change is happening, is caused by us, and is powerfully destructive.
  3.  The Ad Hominem Attack: This will be a character assassination or an attack on your intelligence or common sense, or some other form of personal critique irrelevant to the topic. Just call it out and walk away from the argument. That’s abuse.

Workaday Deniers (That’s Us)

The denial that concerns me more is present in liberals and centrists, is subtle, is nobody’s fault. Much of it comes from the construct of our minds, and the rest from some very deliberate cultural manipulation.

As humans we often believe that we are special: Beloved of God, or privileged by our superior mental and creative capacities. Do we think that our capacity to innovate technology can always outpace our inadvertent destruction of the natural world? Do we believe that nature is self-healing and hugely tolerant of our presence? It’s useful to contemplate these questions without answering them too quickly or reactively.

Climate change is happening in real time now. All dress rehearsals are over. Not a week goes by without the occurrence of an unprecedented event. This Fall Colorado was hit d by wildfires and floods simultaneously. Arctic ice-cover hit an all-time low last summer (2012) that left scientists saying we will definitely see an ice-free summer Arctic in our lifetimes. Temperature records are broken every day in some part of the world. The monarch butterfly was scarcely seen in New England this past summer at all. Honeybee populations are devastated nationwide, and we face the loss of our main crop pollinator–a fact that alone threatens famine.

To not see this is a major failure of attention. It’s not deliberate, but it’s also not accidental. It may be a symptom of the gradual disengagement from the natural world that has been a feature of western life over the last century (in children they’re starting to call this “nature deficit disorder”). It may very well be encouraged and even staged by the corporate world, which wants us for its own purposes. (I do mean that to sound impersonal–I don’t believe there is truly a corporate conspiracy guided by any human hands; but just a vast web of inattention to certain consequences of deifying acquisition.)

Many good hearted people fall into something like bargaining with Death. They try to purify their own lives, to “go green” in a variety of ways from changing their light bulbs to buying a Prius to insulating their homes to biking to work to putting up solar panels to going “off grid”. There’s a lot of wisdom and good in these actions, but because of their personal and isolated nature, they won’t solve climate change, which is caused largely by a systemic reliance on an unsustainable and ruinous source of energy (fossil fuels). The biggest polluters probably rejoice in our sense of personal guilt. It keeps us busy and off their doorsteps.

The math doesn’t work. Voluntary measures to reduce consumption are not going to solve the problem of climate change. They do nothing to persuade industry polluters to change their ways, and this is the key to turning back the death march of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.  I am concerned, as well, that we have been encouraged to take too much “personal responsibility” for climate change by those very polluters. It is convenient for them to have us blame ourselves, and spend all our energy atoning for our carbon sins through personal measures.

The sense of overwhelm can lead to quite a bit of denial. We may want to react with some anger, saying it’s not my problem. This is just too big for me to cope with. I can’t do anything. It’s up to the scientists/the politicians to deal with this.

Actually the scientists are doing their job, which is to gather the evidence, formulate the theories and publish them. The politicians are not doing their job, which is to take the work of the scientists and translate it into relevant policy. That’s where activism comes in; we need to do our jobs.

We may convince ourselves it can’t be that bad–if it were we would be hearing more about it. It is that bad. We’re starting to hear more about it. Don’t forget that journalists and editors and publishers are also people who struggle with denial. Add to that the reality that most major news-outlets are corporate-owned now, and often directly or indirectly tied to the fossil-fuel industries. It’s that bad, but there are news outlets you can trust for the truth on climate change. I read the Guardian, National Geographic, Nature, the New York Times (somewhat variable).

What are your options when you’ve realized you need to take action to stop climate change? And what will you do with your fear and your grief as you seek the courage to work on this? Those are issues I’ve faced over and over again, and I can speak to them not with authority, perhaps, but from a good deal of humble experience. My next two posts will be about Climate Grief and Climate Courage.

 

Andrée

 

Supertyphoon Haiyan Leaves Over 1,200 Dead: The “Massive Destruction” In Photos And Videos | Zero Hedge

Supertyphoon Haiyan Leaves Over 1,200 Dead: The “Massive Destruction” In Photos And Videos | Zero Hedge.

As reported yesterday, Typhoon Haiyan – potentially the strongest storm to ever make landfall, and stronger than Katrina and Sandy combined – has come and left the Philippines (currently heading for Vietnam), and now the time has come to evaluate the damage and count the dead. Sadly, as Reuters reports, the devastation is absolutely massive and especially in the hardest hit city of Tacloban in the central Leyte province, may match the aftermath of the Fukushima tsunami: “This is destruction on a massive scale. There are cars thrown like tumbleweed and the streets are strewn with debris.” Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four metres (13 ft) in the airport. “It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”

And it’s not over yet: the following clip from The Weather Channel summarizes the current position and heading of the Typhoon:

But while the worst may be yet to come, for the Philippines it is bad enough as Reuters explains:

A day after Typhoon Haiyan churned through the Philippine archipelago in a straight line from east to west, rescue teams struggled to reach far-flung regions, hampered by washed out roads, many choked with debris and fallen trees.

The death toll is expected to rise sharply from the fast-moving storm, whose circumference eclipsed the whole country and which late on Saturday was heading for Vietnam.

Among the hardest hit was coastal Tacloban in central Leyte province, where preliminary estimates suggest more than 1,000 people were killed, said Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, as water surges rushed through the city.

“An estimated more than 1,000 bodies were seen floating in Tacloban as reported by our Red Cross teams,” she told Reuters. “In Samar, about 200 deaths. Validation is ongoing.”

She expected a more exact number to emerge after a more precise counting of bodies on the ground in those regions.

Witnesses said bodies covered in plastic were lying on the streets. Television footage shows cars piled atop each other.

The Philippines has yet to restore communications with officials in Tacloban, a city of about 220,000. A government official estimated at least 100 were killed and more than 100 wounded, but conceded the toll would likely rise sharply.

The airport was nearly destroyed as raging seawaters swept through the city, shattering the glass of the airport tower, levelling the terminal and overturning nearby vehicles.

“Almost all houses were destroyed, many are totally damaged. Only a few are left standing,” said Major Rey Balido, a spokesman for the national disaster agency.

Local television network ABS-CBN showed images of looting in one of the city’s biggest malls, with residents carting away everything from appliances to suitcases and grocery items.

Airport manager Efren Nagrama, 47, said water levels rose up to four metres (13 ft) in the airport.

“It was like a tsunami. We escaped through the windows and I held on to a pole for about an hour as rain, seawater and wind swept through the airport. Some of my staff survived by clinging to trees. I prayed hard all throughout until the water subsided.”

Across the country, about a million people took shelter in 37 provinces after President Benigno Aquino appealed to those in the typhoon’s path to leave vulnerable areas.

“For casualties, we think it will be substantially more,” Aquino told reporters.

* * *

Photos of the damage via the Weather Channel:

Finally, here is video evidence of what the stronger typhoon in history looks like on the ground:

 

“World’s Strongest Cyclone Ever” Slams Philippines With 200 MPH Winds | Zero Hedge

“World’s Strongest Cyclone Ever” Slams Philippines With 200 MPH Winds | Zero Hedge.

If last year it was the East Coast’s turn to suffer a freak super storm, this year it is the already battered Philippines, which suffered a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last month, turn as Super Typhoon Haiyan, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, slammed into the Philippines today after forcing thousands of people to evacuate. With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Haiyan was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history. “If it maintains its strength, there has never been a storm this strong making landfall anywhere in the world,” said Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “This is off the charts.” Not taking chances, the local government has ordered over 125,000 people from 22 provinces to evacuate.

But while luckily human lives will be saved, little else may be. As Bloomberg reports, “Haiyan may inundate rivers, create mudflows and cause storm surges as high as 6 meters (20 feet), Aquino said. Three air force cargo planes, 2 navy ships, helicopters and relief boats are on standby, the president said. About 78,000 families were evacuated in Albay province, Governor Joey Salceda said on his Facebook account. Masters said Tacloban, the capital of the Philippine province of Leyte, would take a direct hit and winds of at least 130 mph may sweep as far as 100 miles inland. “There isn’t much built on the Philippines that can withstand winds like that,” Masters said.

Moments ago Bloomberg just blasted that up to half of the island chain’s sugar cane may be destroyed as a result of the Typhoon, which will wreak havoc on logistic and supply chains globally across numerous commodities. However, it is the human damange that is the biggest threat.

Heavy rains from storms usually cause the highest death tolls on the Philippines, Masters said. Flooding may not be the worst threat this time because Haiyan is moving fairly fast. The high winds and storm surge have the potential to cause catastrophic damage, he said.

“We’re swamped with calls for help,” Southern Leyte Governor Roger Mercado said in an interview over DZMM radio. Strong wings uprooted trees in the province, he said.

About 2,000 passengers, 50 vessels and 557 rolling cargoes are now stranded in various seaports, the disaster agency said today. Cebu Air Inc. (CEB), the nation’s largest budget carrier, canceled 122 domestic flights and 4 international flights from today to Nov. 9, it said yesterday. Philippine Airlines Inc., in its Facebook account, said 26 local flights and three international flights have been canceled today.

Putting the size of the storm in perspective: “Haiyan was so large in diameter that at one point, its clouds were affecting two-thirds of the country, which stretches more than 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles). Tropical-storm-force winds extended 240 kilometers from the typhoon’s center.

The wide angle shot below by EUMETSAT shows just how massive the typhoon truly is:

In short a record superstorm:

 The true power of Haiyan isn’t known because reconnaissance planes haven’t flown into it, Masters said. The strongest tropical cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Nancy in 1961 with top winds of 215 mph. He said many believe the estimated wind speeds of storms between the 1940s to 1960s was too high.

Since 1969, only three storms have been as powerful as Haiyan, Masters wrote on his blog. They were Super Typhoon Tip in 1979 in the Pacific and Atlantic hurricanes Camille in 1969 and Allen in 1980.

The strongest storm to hit land was Camille, which went ashore in Mississippi with winds near 195 mph, Master said. While there are some estimates that Camille’s winds were closer to 200 mph, the exact speed is unknown because the instruments were destroyed, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

This is just the beginning. After it is done with the Philippines, Haiyan is expected to strike Vietnam in several days, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.  “It is going to be a huge problem for Vietnam and Laos,”Masters said. As much as a foot of rain may fall there, he said.

If there is a silver lining to all the imminent destruction and tragedy, it is that Q4 GDP in the region will be off the charts. Just as Krugman.

Below is CNN with a video summary on the ground. 

Super typhoon Haiyan slams into central Philippines – World – CBC News

Super typhoon Haiyan slams into central Philippines – World – CBC News.

The strongest typhoon this year slammed into the Philippines on Friday, setting off landslides, knocking out power in several province and cutting communications in the country’s central region of island provinces. Four people died.

Telephone lines appeared down as it was difficult to get through to the landfall site 650 kilometres southeast of Manila where Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the southern tip of Samar island before barrelling on to Leyte Island.

Two people were electrocuted in storm-related accidents, one person was killed by a fallen tree and another was struck by lightning, official reports said.

Nearly 720,000 people evacuated

Close to 720,000 people had been evacuated from towns and villages in the typhoon’s path across the central Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Among them were thousands of residents of Bohol who had been camped in tents and other makeshift shelters after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the island province last month.

Philippines TyphoonPhilippine President Benigno Aquino III speaks in a nationally televised address at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday. Thousands of people were removed from villages in the central Philippines before the typhoon struck. (The Associated Press)

Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado said 31,000 people were evacuated in his landslide-prone mountainous province before the super typhoon struck, knocking out power, setting off small landslides that blocked roads in rural areas, uprooting trees and ripping roofs off houses around his residence.

The dense clouds and heavy rains made the day seem almost as dark as night, he said.

“When you’re faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray,” Mercado told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that his town mayors have not called in to report any major damage.

“I hope that means they were spared and not the other way around,” he said. “My worst fear is there will be many massive loss of lives and property.”

Television images from Tacloban city on Leyte Island showed a street under knee-deep floodwater carrying debris that had been blown down by the fierce winds. Tin roofing sheets ripped from buildings were flying above the street.

Visibility was so poor that only the silhouette of a local reporter could be seen through the driving rain.

‘Catastrophic damage’ feared

Weather officials said that Haiyan had sustained winds at 235 kilometres per hour, with gusts of 275 km/h when it made landfall. That makes it the strongest typhoon this year, said Aldczar Aurelio of the government’s weather bureau.

Gener Quitlong, another weather forecaster, said the typhoon was not losing much of its strength because there is no large land mass to slow it down since the region is comprised of islands with no tall mountains.

The typhoon — the 24th serious storm to hit the Philippines this year — is forecast to blow toward the South China Sea on Saturday, heading toward Vietnam.

Philippines TyphoonFilipino workers bring down a giant billboard along a busy highway as they prepare for the possible effects of powerful Typhoon Haiyan in suburban Makati, south of Manila, Philippines, on Thursday. (The Associated Press)

Jeff Masters, a former hurricane meteorologist who is meteorology director at the private firm Weather Underground, said the storm had been poised to be the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded at landfall. He warned of “catastrophic damage.”

But he said the Philippines might get a small break because the storm is so fast moving that flooding from heavy rains — usually the cause of most deaths from typhoons in the Philippines — may not be as bad.

As it approached the Philippines, the storm was one of the strongest on record.

The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said shortly before the typhoon made landfall that its maximum sustained winds were 314 km/h, with gusts up to 379 km/h. Those measurements are different than local weather data because the U.S. Navy centre measures the average wind speed for 1 minute while local forecasters measure average for 10 minutes.

Hurricane Camille, a 1969 storm, had wind speeds that reached 305 km/h at landfall in the United States, Masters said.

Officials in Cebu province have shut down electric service to the northern part of the province to avoid electrocutions in case power pylons are toppled, said assistant regional civil defence chief Flor Gaviola.

President Benigno Aquino III assured the public of war-like preparations, with three C-130 air force cargo planes and 32 military helicopters and planes on standby, along with 20 navy ships.

With files from The Associated Press

 

 

 

Philippines typhoon Haiyan forces thousands to flee – World – CBC News

Philippines typhoon Haiyan forces thousands to flee – World – CBC News. (source)

Government forecasters said Thursday that Typhoon Haiyan, shown via a satellite image, was packing sustained winds of 215 kilometres per hour and ferocious gusts of 250 km/h.Government forecasters said Thursday that Typhoon Haiyan, shown via a satellite image, was packing sustained winds of 215 kilometres per hour and ferocious gusts of 250 km/h. (US Naval Research Lab/The Associated Press)

Thousands of people were removed from villages in the central Philippines on Thursday before one of the year’s strongest typhoons strikes the region, including a province devastated by an earthquake last month.

Typhoon Haiyan has sustained winds of 215 kilometres per hour and ferocious gusts of 250 km/h and could strengthen over the Pacific Ocean before slamming the eastern province of Samar early Friday, government forecasters said.

The U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii said it was the strongest tropical cyclone in the world this year, although Cyclone Phailin, which hit eastern India on Oct. 12, packed winds of up to 222 km/h and stronger gusts.

Philippines TyphoonFilipino workers bring down a giant billboard along a busy highway as they prepare for the possible effects of powerful Typhoon Haiyan in suburban Makati, south of Manila, Philippines, on Thursday. (The Associated Press)

Facing another possible disaster, President Benigno Aquino III warned people to leave high-risk areas, including 100 coastal communities where forecasters said the storm surge could reach up to seven metres. He urged seafarers to stay away from choppy seas.

Aquino urged people to stay calm and avoid panic-buying of basic goods and assured the public of war-like preparations: Three C-130 air force cargo planes and 32 military helicopters and planes were on standby, along with 20 navy ships.

“No typhoon can bring Filipinos to their knees if we’ll be united,” he said in a nationally televised address.

Homes abandoned

Governors and mayors were supervising the evacuation of landslide- and flood-prone communities in several provinces where the typhoon is expected to pass, said Eduardo del Rosario, head of the government’s main disaster-response agency.

Philippines TyphoonPhilippine President Benigno Aquino III speaks in a nationally televised address at the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday. Thousands of people were removed from villages in the central Philippines Thursday before one of the year’s strongest typhoons strikes the region. (The Associated Press)

Even in southern Misamis Oriental province located farther from the typhoon’s expected track, more than 12,000 people abandoned their homes in six coastal towns and a mountain municipality that have been hit by past landslides, said Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Emano, who also suspended school classes.

Aquino ordered officials to aim for zero casualties, a goal often not met in an archipelago lashed by about 20 storms each year, most of them deadly and destructive. Haiyan is the 24th such storm to hit the Philippines this year.

Edgardo Chatto, the governor of Bohol island province in the central Philippines, where an earthquake in October killed more than 200 people, said that soldiers, police and rescue units were helping displaced residents, including thousands still in small tents, move to shelters.

Rescue helicopters on standby

Bohol is not forecast to get a direct hit but is expected to be battered by strong wind and rain, government forecaster Jori Loiz said.

Army troops were helping transport food packs and other relief goods in hard-to-reach communities and rescue helicopters are on stand-by, the military said.

“My worst fear is that the eye of this typhoon will hit us. I hope we will be spared,” Chatto told The Associated Press by telephone.

Haiyan was forecast to barrel through the country’s central region Friday and Saturday before it blows toward the South China Sea over the weekend, heading toward Vietnam.

It was not expected to directly hit the densely populated capital of Manila farther north, but residents in the flood-prone city were jittery, with one suburb suspending classes and authorities ordering giant tarpaulin billboard ads to be removed along the main highway.

 

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