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        The release of the next International Panel on Climate Change report is imminent, this Sunday March 30, 2014. (3-31-14 in Japan). Already there have been snippets of information coming out suggesting this one is going to have a change of focus. It's no longer about whether or not it's happening; this one is going to be looking at real events in the near future - if not already.

        More below the Orange Omnilepticon

          Not to beat around the bush or anything, but there's a serious shift in emphasis in this report. Mark Fischetti at Scientific American sums it up.

...Despite increasingly dire warnings it has issued for 24 years, various polls show that as many as half of Americans still are not sure that the science is certain. So the hundreds of scientists from around the world who are involved in this report will present the ongoing findings in terms of risks, rather than data and error bars. The spread ranges from risks that are highly likely but may have modest implications, to those that may be unlikely but have severe consequences, such as runaway melting of Greenland, which could raise sea levels dramatically.

The report will also present a variety of possible solutions, such as better disaster planning, the breeding of drought-resistant crops and technologies that can save energy.

Talking about risk and how to lessen it is also a strong attempt by the IPCC to put climate-change denial to rest. The IPCC is no longer focusing on defending the science; it is moving on, trying to advise cities, states and countries about the regional risks that will confront them, and what can be done.

      The reason for the urgency is simple - time is running out to avoid major effects - and they may arrive a lot sooner than has been appreciated. HoundDog has a summary of what's leaked from the IPCC so far; FishOutofWater has written up one huge climate bomb about to go off.

       The New York Times has several articles that highlight the consequences from just one element: rising sea levels. Millions of people live in Bangladesh - and it's not going to take much to submerge large parts of the country.

Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.

The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.

        Elsewhere, things are also looking bleak for locales not too far above current sea levels, from Pacific island nations to the coast of Florida.
A study by the Florida Department of Transportation concluded that over the next 35 years, rising sea levels will damage smaller roads in the Miami area, and that after 2050, major coastal highways will also experience significant flooding and deteriorate as the limestone beneath them becomes saturated and crumbles.
     And inland, above the tideline? Around the world shifting climate patterns will have a serious impact. They'll fall hardest on those with the least resources to deal with them.
According to the report [Christian Aid's "Taken By Storm: responding to the impacts of climate change"], which took into account climate science from the IPCC and elsewhere, Africa, Asia and Latin America are currently facing the greatest threats from climate change, both to their people and to local environments.

In Africa, it states, prolonged drought in some areas and floods in others are exacerbating food insecurity, while in Asia, coastal flooding, sea-level rise and storm surges are threatening coastal areas and small island states, increasing the risk of economic loss and widespread migration.

In Latin America, the report notes, melting glaciers in the Andes will decrease long-term water availability in parts of South America, negatively affecting food production and boosting the likelihood of massive flooding and severe weather events.

But across those three regions, it's the agricultural communities that are having the hardest time adapting to climate change, according to Doig.

      The White House is beginning to take steps that don't need to wait on Congress to act; such as this latest on Methane emissions.
Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.

      The striking thing shown in this poll from Scientific American is that ordinary Americans, Democrats and Republicans, aren't that far apart on global warming on a number of questions. The one item that is really skewed is the number who think it is important to them personally. So far, few do. Change that perception, and action becomes much more likely.

        Indeed, the United States needs to lead or be left behind; the international community is moving already.  The European Union is considering steep cuts in carbon emissions. New Scientist has an interview with the U.N.'s climate chief Christiana Figueres on what needs to be done. Here's the kicker at the end (but read the whole thing.)

Some say tackling climate change is utopian.
It's not. Would you have said "utopian speech" to Martin Luther King? When you have a vision of where you need to go, it sounds utopian. But when you get to the tipping point, your understanding switches. We're going to get to the point where we ask how the hell we put up with high carbon for so many years. You thank your lucky stars, because you are seeing this transformation in your lifetime. You are going to tell your children and your grandchildren you saw this whole thing in front of your eyes.
      Ecologist Simon Levin comes at the problem from a slightly different direction. His studies of slime molds and other organisms have been used to develop mathematical models to better understand the interactions in complex systems. What he's learned from ecological communities turns out to apply to aspects of socioeconomic communities as well.
What do slime molds tell us?

Slime molds are cooperative because individual amoebae at particular stages aggregate into assemblages, which lead to sporulation and the next generation. This involves some individuals giving up their own reproductive fitness to help the collective. Why do they do this? How do they do this? And what can we learn from this process about getting cooperation in our own societies?

Can international agreements ever achieve the level of cooperation of slime molds?

You have nothing to lose by being optimistic.

       If we can get enough people to act together at least as well as slime molds, we may have a shot at turning  things around yet. But it had better be Real Soon Now.

        The good news is we're getting better all the time at gathering the data we need to monitor what we're doing to our planet. There will still be some surprises (there always are), but we know enough now to have a good idea of what we need to do. And that in turn is also good news, because we do have answers we can turn to - if we choose. (Just a few examples here, here, and here.)  

        The biggest problem we now face is hearts and minds, as in winning them. The IPCC shift to identifying issues and answers is part of the process. The Scientific American poll shows that the American people are prepared to do something - once we can show them why it really matters to them. We need to take Climate Change and break the frame the deniers, profiteers, and demagogues have built around it.

      It's a simple choice. We can choose to ignore all of the warning signs popping up everywhere we look. We can cling to a world that is increasingly unworkable, expensive, and unjust. We can pursue the failed ideology longing for a world that never was. We can let a corrupt status quo sacrifice us to preserve its grip on power and money till it all comes crashing down.


     We can take what we've learned, stop whining about about how hard it is to change, face up to the very real challenges facing our generation, and get down to the hard but rewarding work of building a better world for everyone. (And you don't even have to believe in climate change to want that.) We need to directly challenge the opposition on this with the classic choice: Lead, Follow, OR (as John Galt famously said) Get the HELL out of our way!  Message, message, message! And to make it easier, here's a slogan.

     USA - BTC

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