It’s spring in Sydney right now and the forecast today is for 39 degrees Celsius. That ought to tell you something.
The release of a new report on the likely impacts of climate change could not be better timed for engaging Australians who are sweltering in the Sydney basin.
The University of Hawaii’s MoraLab studies the interrelationships between biodiversity patterns, threats, impacts and social ecological systems and released this new report yesterday. The report “connects the dots between climate models and impacts to biodiversity in a stunningly fresh way, and it has sobering ramifications for species and people.”.
Now although some skeptics might think I’m a climate alarmist, I don’t consider myself that at all. I just think you would have to be a moron if you thought that pumping trillions of mega tonnes of stuff into a fragile ecosystem wasn’t going to have a pretty big impact. The vast majority of scientists agree and even if they are all wrong and we make dramatic changes to reduce our global impact that’s going to be a good thing anyway. So lets just get on with it.
The data in the report titled “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability,” came from 39 Earth System Models developed independently by 21 climate centers in 12 different countries. The models have been effective at reproducing current climate conditions and varied in their projected departure times by no more than five years. The study suggests that any progress to slow ongoing climate change will require a larger commitment from developed countries to reduce emissions, but also more extensive funding of social and conservation programs in developing countries to minimize climate change impacts. The longer we wait, the more difficult remediation will be.
There are several snapshots from the report that are particularly compelling, largely because that material climate change is closer than we might otherwise have thought.
In terms of locations, it outlines the expected year that each of 267 cities around the world will depart from normal (recent historical) climate behavior assuming “business as usual” and “a concerted effort” to address climate change. Not unsurprisingly, the top 10 affected locations are either small Island nations, of cities located in locations that make them more vulnerable to climate change. the top 25 are described in the graph below, taken from the report.
For what it’s worth, under the business as usual scenario, the West Papua city of Manokwari is predicted to see these impacts in less than 7 years – by 2020 and rounding out the top 10, moving to the township of Yaounde in Camaroon will only get you an extra 5 years.
Australia gets a mention too with most capital cities covered including Sydney which is expected to be impacted by 2038. This might seem like a long way away but in my world that simply means my youngest boy will be 30 years old; probably trying to make an honest living and bring up a family while feeding his aging old man prunes and bringing me the daily papers. It’ll be here before we know it and his family will be dealing with the very real consequences of our generations commitment to act or not, today.
This next generation, who are alive today are the ones who are going to deal with it.
As if to rub salt into the wounds of my youngest lad, the worlds most affected flora and fauna are also analysed in Biodiversity Hotspots. My young lad has an intrinsic passion for anything that moves, crawls hops or fly’s to the point where we are constantly releasing creatures back into the wild that he has somehow captured and brought into the house. His world of marine eco-systems will start radically changing before his 30th birthday; mangroves, reefs and aquatic creatures earlier than most. the wondrous world of mammals, amphibians and birds could be in trouble only a few years later.
Man, he’s really gunna be mad at me if we don’t fix this.
I am not advocating we get alarmist, but we better bloody well get on with it if we want to avoid making a radical change to the lives of our sons and daughters and we have a whole lot more to gain than to lose.