Global warming

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jun 19 07:44:19 MDT 2001

o Arctic sea ice is melting at a rapid pace-it is 40 percent thinner than
it was forty years ago. (This will not raise the sea level by itself for
the same reason that melting an ice cube in a drink doesn't raise the level
of liquid in a glass. The projected rise in sea level of at least a foot
would result mostly from the thermal expansion of hotter water.)

o All major non-polar glacial systems are in rapid retreat-as a paper
published last month made clear, the snows of Kilimanjaro may well
disappear by 2015.

o Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, ice forms on lakes about a week later
in the winter than it did a century ago, and it melts about a week earlier.

o The timing of egg-laying and flowering for animals and plants has shifted
perceptibly as climates warm.

o Precipitation has increased across our hemisphere-especially the rate of
destructive deluges, which by some measures are 20 percent more common,
precisely what one would expect from the greater amount of water vapor that
warm air holds.

o El Niño events-the huge and sometimes disastrous effects caused by ocean
warming in the tropical Pacific Ocean-have become more frequent,
persistent, and intense since the mid-1970s.

o A series of dramatic floods and storms have raised insurance payouts
enormously. Instead of paying about $2 billion annually, which was the
global average in the 1980s, between 1990 and 1995 the industry averaged
$30 billion a year in reimbursements, which have continued to grow (and
which have resulted in the insurance industry becoming the most outspoken
part of the business community on these issues).

In other words, the world as human beings have always known it is quickly
changing, and we are the agents of that change.

The scientific method has worked spectacularly. In ten years it has taken a
physics and chemistry problem of enormous dimensions, used every tool of
the modern scientist, especially the supercomputer, and reduced it to a set
of maxims agreed upon by virtually everyone working in the field.

The IPCC documents have been circulated to every government on
earth-indeed, those governments have been involved in the process
throughout. Their results have been reported in the world's press. If there
were any lingering doubts about the IPCC's accuracy, they should have been
dispelled in early June when the National Academy of Sciences, reviewing
the IPCC report at the request of President Bush, confirmed its findings.
In other words, as of the spring of 2001 we cannot say that we have not
been warned.

>From a review of studies on global warming by Bill McKibben in the New York
Review of Books:

Louis Proyect
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