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View Diary: Global Warming - Creating the Conditions for a Cronkite Moment - Part 2: This is solvable (91 comments)

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  •  But agriculture... (0+ / 0-)

    ...(for example) my get better in some places.

    What if changing weather patterns make the Sahara desert fertile, or lengthen the growing season in Siberia and Canada?

    I am not saying this is likely. I'm just saying that nobody knows what the outcome will be.

    •  On the contrary, the basic outlines are clear (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Wells, ozsea1, FishOutofWater

      The principal effects of warming (other than things getting warmer) is that dry areas all get drier, all areas experience more extreme rainfall, and water for agriculture disappears from areas that depend on snowmelt to keep rivers flowing through the end of the growing season.

      Existing deserts will expand. Dry but presently farmable expanses like the American plains will desertify. Where crops can still be grown, they will be more often wiped out by floods.

      The finest level details may vary, but that's the picture all the climate models show.  Under a business as usual scenario, food insecurity becomes massive well before the century is out.

      Acidification, meanwhile, will likely bring on a vast reduction in biomass in the oceans. Sea level rise is a long range threat. Collapse of fisheries will begin happening in fairly short order.

      Elimination of 40 to 60 percent of all species by the end of the century is also predictable, on the current path. Trust the ecologists on this: there's no way that is a net benefit.

      Oh, and small increases in CO2 can result, given identical temperatures and H2O availability, in more rapid crop growth. But those things won't be identical, and the growth benefits tail off fairly rapidly as concentrations increase.

      There's a lot scientists don't know; there always will be. But we're well past the point where on-the-other-hand-ism has any rational basis. There's a reason why national scientific societies from every major nation have told us action is imperative.

      •  I don't think... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that we have the science to model specific geographic effects.

        Also the fishery collapses and mass extinctions are happening anyhow -- we are doing this without climate change.

        As for snow melt, I've even heard of models that predict increased snowfall. The warmer air can carry more moisture north -- hence more snow.

        If we start predicting specific outcomes, i.e., "The great plains will become deserts", we'll just lose credibility. Everyone knows we don't have a model that can predict anything that specific.

    •  It will lengthen growing seasons up north (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, mightymouse, James Wells

      The current limit of agriculture is not determined by climate, but by soil.  There are a few clay belts in Ontario and Alberta that may be able to diversify from canola and barley and maybe there are a few other pockets of rich soil in the Northwest Territories, Labrador and Siberia.  In exchange, we lose half the US breadbasket, most of Australia's, China's wheat belt and India's breadbaskets.  

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 11:03:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is what my undergrad prof said - in 1986 (0+ / 0-)

        Yes 1986.

        In my undergrad Geography of North America class, professor Conrad Moore of Western Kentucky explained (paraphrase):

        You would think that global warming would open up all these new agricultural lands up here (N Canada).  But those lands don't have the soil which has developed over thoudsands of years in our midwest.  So you'll have the right climate and wrong soil up here, and the right soil and the wrong climate down here.

        He also made what I think is a really big point about the huge cost of moving humans and their constructs to match the new climate.  Even if the new climate was nominally "just as good", the effort to move to adapt to the new climate will vastly exceed the resourcing available to many millions of people.

        We shall not participate in our own destruction.

        by James Wells on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 08:15:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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