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New Scientist Special Report: 7 Reasons Climate Change Is ‘Even Worse Than We Thought’

2012/11/27

As world leaders began the latest United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) talks in Doha, Qatar (a city with the highest carbon footprint per capita in the world!), the weekly magazine New Scientist has put out a dedicated issue to scaring the be-jeezus out of everybody.

New Scientist cover.  Image: Climate Progress.

New Scientist cover. Image: Climate Progress.

Inside the issue are seven stories that address seven reasons why climate change is worse than scientists had predicted only a few years ago. (You must pay to have access to the magazine and its articles.  So below are the links to the New Scientist articles as well as links to posts on the same subject from Climate Progress.)

1. The thick sea ice in the Arctic Ocean was not expected to melt until the end of the century. If current trends continue, summer ice could be gone in a decade or two. Read more on the New Scientist website (or see “Death Spiral Watch: Experts Warn ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue“ on Climate Progress).

Arctic sea ice minimum in 2012.  Image: National Geographic.

Arctic sea ice minimum in 2012. Image: National Geographic.

 

2. We knew global warming was going to make the weather more extreme. But it’s becoming even more extreme than anyone predicted.  Read more(or see “NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather“).

Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy.

 

3. Global warming was expected to boost food production. Instead, food prices are soaring as the effects of extreme weather kick inRead more (or see “Oxfam Warns Climate Change And Extreme Weather Will Cause Food Prices To Soar”).

Drought conditions in the US.

Drought conditions in the US.

 

4. Greenland’s rapid loss of ice mean we’re in for a rise of at least 1 metre by 2100, and possibly much more.  Read more (or see “Greenland Ice Sheet Melt Nearing Critical ‘Tipping Point’”).

97% of Greenland melting in 2012.  Image: CBC.

97% of Greenland melting in 2012. Image: CBC.

 

5. The planet currently absorbs half our CO2emissions. All the signs are it won’t for much longer.  Read more (or see “Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100” and “Drying Peatlands and Intensifying Wildfires Boost Carbon Release Ninefold“).

Vegetation loss in the Amazon (2011).

Vegetation loss in the Amazon (2011).

 

6. If we stopped emitting CO2 tomorrow, we might be able to avoid climate disaster. In fact we are still increasing emissions.   Read more (or see “The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 on current emissions path”)

Image: MIT.

Image: MIT.

 

7. If the worst climate predictions are realised, vast swathes of the globe could become too hot for humans to survive.  Read more (or see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts“)

I didn't know what other image could represent #7...

I didn’t know what other image could represent #7…

 

In the magazine’s editorial, a simple conclusion is given by the New Scientist editor:

What’s needed is very clear: emissions cuts, and soon. The best way to do that is to change our economic systems to reflect the true long-term cost of fossil fuels. That means ending the $1 trillion of annual subsidies for fossil fuels and imposing carbon taxes instead.

I hope the world leaders in Qatar have a subscription to the magazine!

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