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Earth Science

UN Report: Climate Changes Overwhelming 987

iONiUM (530420) writes "'The impacts of global warming are likely to be "severe, pervasive and irreversible", a major report by the UN has warned.' A document was released by the IPCC outlining the current affects on climate change, and they are not good. For specific effects on humans: 'Food security is highlighted as an area of significant concern. Crop yields for maize, rice and wheat are all hit in the period up to 2050, with around a tenth of projections showing losses over 25%.'"
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UN Report: Climate Changes Overwhelming

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  • Projections (Score:2, Insightful)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) *
    The observed temperatures are currently below the error bars of the most optimistic projection. What does this mean?
    • Citation...?

      • [] Or you can get the link from the summary
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're that dick on Wikipedia who reverted my edits!

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by symbolset ( 646467 ) *
        Pages 38 and 39 of the second link in the fine summary.
        • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

          It looks like the observed temperatures are at the low end of the error bars of the most optimistic projection. But it's kind of hard to tell because of the thickness of the line.

          • Re:Projections (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @05:10PM (#46625455)

            Just say it like you mean it. "Let's hope they're wrong, they must be wrong, I don't wanna stop driving my SUV."

    • Re:Projections (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 31, 2014 @03:32PM (#46624315)

      The observed temperatures are currently below the error bars of the most optimistic projection. What does this mean?

      It means you are reading BS that does not reflect *reality*. []

      The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for February 2014 tied with 2001 as the 21st highest for February on record, at 0.41C (0.74F) above the 20th century average of 12.1C (53.9F).

      The global land surface temperature was 0.31C (0.56F) above the 20th century average of 3.2C (37.8F), tying with 1943 as the 44th highest for February on record. For the ocean, the February global sea surface temperature was 0.45C (0.81F) above the 20th century average of 15.9C (60.6F), making it the seventh highest for February on record.

      The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the Decemberâ"February period was 0.57C (1.03F) above the 20th century average of 12.1C (53.8F), making it the eighth warmest such period on record.

    • by durrr ( 1316311 )

      That the verbose description is hyped up when the data of the report is cooled down.

      GDP losses was downgraded from 2-5%, to 0.2-2%. Meaning that predicted changes in GDP now too can disappear in the error bars and otherwise disappear entirely due to "unexpected growth."

    • by sstamps ( 39313 )

      The key word in your assertion is "currently". There is little evidence to suggest that global T is in a long-term levelling-off trend, and plenty of evidence that it will rise significantly in the near term, just like it has repeatedly in previous periods.

      To simply look at a very small window of data and infer long-term trends (or the lack thereof) from it is the epitome of cherry-picking, hence:

      The Escalator []

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

      Really? And where is your research indicating that there has been a statistically significant climate deviation from the projections? Last I checked the last 30 years have shown a very prominent warming trend.

      When you can show 30 years of flat or cooling temperatures, and you can actually back that up by some reviewed science, then you'll have a something. Comparing a single year, five years, or ten years for a climatic trend is nothing but garbage. There is way too much short term variance to make any sign

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One would think that agricultural lobbies worldwide, which are often quite politically powerful, would be screaming their heads off about climate change affecting crop yields. Have I simply failed to notice or have they been silent on the issue?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      agricultural lobbies

      Higher temperatures in the historical record have been associated with a higher total biomass on the planet. Melt some of the Antarctic, get some more clouds in the atmosphere, grow wheat in the Sahara and grapes in Greenland - I'm guessing the Ag lobbies aren't too worried (though they should be angling for some subsidies to "help them survive" by now).

      • Our food crops are all massively bio-engineered. If it wasn't gene-tinkered, it was bred selectively for thousands of years.

        They are all optimized for colder temperatures. We will may end up with greater biomass, but with less food.

        As for why the agri-business isn't complaining is that it hasn't started affecting them yet. They have never been very good at long-term thinking.

        • Our food crops are all massively bio-engineered. [...] They are all optimized for colder temperatures. We will may end up with greater biomass, but with less food.

          So you're saying that food crops, when grown in conditions a few degrees warmer and with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, will be less productive? I think operators of greenhouses would disagree with you.

          • Warmer temperatures mean more desertification and changes in rain belts. Try to imagine large parts of the American grain belt suddenly becoming a lot more difficult to irrigate. The US midwest agricultural system is built on borrowed water and borrowed time.

    • by OFnow ( 1098151 )
      In 2013 (I think) a Fortune magazine article (I recollect) discussed the serious weather changes in the US midwest with farmers there. The farmers know the climate there is changing and are preparing for continuing changes, but the farmers deny it is "climate change."
    • Are you suggesting that agricultural lobby groups should be displeased by higher food prices? If you want to know here these groups focus their "mitigation efforts" try looking at government drought relief packages for commercial farmers.
  • we're all effed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @03:33PM (#46624317)

    we're all effed. even if we do an aggressive CO2 reduction in emissions, we won't get emissions down to sustainable levels by 2050. Then, it will take decades for the CO2 air concentration to reach sustainable levels. and this assumes we don't get an explosion in emissions from developing countries.

    So we have 80 years of unmitigated climate change ahead of us. pretty much everybody reading this will die before there's a possibility of things improving. sorry to be a debbie downer, but these are no longer dire warnings of what might happen unless we take action, they're explanations of what will happen due to past inaction. hide yo wife, hide yo kids, hide yo husbands, cuz things are gonna start changing.

    • Re:we're all effed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Monday March 31, 2014 @04:25PM (#46624971)

      Unfortunately, it's a lot more extreme that you are considering. The heat that has been stored in the oceans will take a long time to be lost.

      OTOH, it's quite plausible that it's only our current civilization that is doomed, and that may well take 50 years or so. This may be long enough for a realtively reasonable transition to whatever will follow. The real problem is that there is as yet not even a acceptance that we're going to need radical change, much less an agreement of "change into what?" So we do lots of play-acting pretense that we say will let us keep things the same, or at least not much different.

      Actions we have already taken have committed us to a drastic change. They haven't determined what form that change will take. Every year that we let pass without acknowledging that some change will be necessary removes some options. Every technological advance offers options, some of which may open new possibilities. I don't know where the best balance is. If we wait too long, the only option will be collapse into a new stone age civilization, with over a 90% die-off of the population in the process...and likely over 99%. We could also get into a war with a mix of advanced technologies and kill off considerably more, perhaps 99.99% or 99.999%. Then the survivors need to stabilize the remaining population, this will probably lead to a further decline over the succeeding 50 years. Then any surviving population may being to grow.

      But this coulld be avoided by proper action, if we only knew what proper action was. We don't. We do know that what we're doing is only satisfying short term goals, and that in the long term it's disasterous. But the short term is where we live, so we tend to overly discount both long term gains and losses.

  • Climate Denial (Score:3, Interesting)

    by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @03:42PM (#46624431)
    Wow, the climate deniers are out in force on Slashdot today. Out of curiousity, are you paid? Do you all get instant alerts whenever the subject of climate is posted on Slashdot, like the Digg Patriots? []
  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @03:50PM (#46624499)

    I have always found it interesting that a lot of folks would prefer that such problems didn't exist when even simple logic seems to point to the fact that it is human caused. Common sense tells you that if a billion of us start to burn things it might have some negative effects. Heck, I remember as a kid we use to dig holes in a riverbank for fun and over time with a few sticks we managed to amazingly reshape the entire riverbank. Granted maybe I shouldn't be so hard on folks who refuse to believe in it. After all if it doesn't directly affect me and I can't do anything about it, it doesn't exist right?

    The real problem is what to do about it. It probably isn't all gloom and doom. The UN is making a huge deal of it because let's face it there's a LOT of third world and poor countries out there where even a small shift in climate would kill millions. The UN represents ALL countries. For us richer nations it will probably be uncomfortable, maybe an inconvenience at worst so long as serious world war doesn't break out. Still I wonder how morally bad we would feel if we knew that say saving a little now could save millions in another country. Sadly I suspect in the end greed will win out and we'll likely take the difficult road in life. It seems to sadly be what we do best. Wait until things get bad or someone dies, then try to fix it if we can.

  • I wonder how many corporations are already looking to make a ton of money if the environment does collapse. Look for billionaires investing in water reservoirs, fishing farms, algae growing technology. They are counting on the deaths of hundreds of millions. Where there's death, there's profit!

  • by Amigan ( 25469 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @04:04PM (#46624709) Homepage
    Assuming the projections are correct, wouldn't it make sense to eliminate using maize (corn in the US) as an additive to gasoline? When 30%+ of the corn currently being planted in the US is done so to get the Ethanol subsidy, it removes quite a bit from the food supply. I do not claim that all would be planted for food (corn price would plummet), but arable land is being used to for this 'not green' fuel additive. I say 'not green' because even the UN [] has acknowledged that the use is counterproductive.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday March 31, 2014 @05:41PM (#46625739)

    First of all, I didn't read the summary or anything. I don't care what evidence points to what or whether A or B claim, demand or deny something. I can't help to look at it from a risk manager's point of view and, frankly, I wonder what the goal of the discussion is. Currently it feels like a political debate between two positions claiming that they're right, but no longer because they think they have the better position but only because they don't wanna relent and WANNA be right, no matter whether that has anything to do with reality or not.

    At the same time, I can't help but not care who is right in the end. Because from the risk management point of view, it simply does not matter. As a risk manager, I would HAVE TO assume that global warming happens and that I have to prepare for it and formulate a plan to mitigate its effects. Why? Because of risk * cost / reward. In this case (and I get to that in a minute), cost and reward even take a back seat because risk itself outshines both.

    Risk is determined by effect (what happens when the incident strikes) and chance (how likely is it that it happens). The risk is in this case paramount due to the insanely high effect and a nonzero chance of incidence. In risk management terms, an incident would threaten the continuation of operation (in this case, our life), costing at the very least millions if not billions of lives, followed by famine and very likely war for the remaining resources for the rest of the planet. Now, this would not matter yet if there is a zero chance of incidence. That is nothing I could assume for certain.

    The mere fact that there is a nonzero chance of it to happen, coupled with the insanely severe effects in case of incidence, would make me recommend to prepare for the incident and at least conduct studies how it could be avoided.

    The key issue here is that the incident cannot be mitigated sensibly once it happened. We can't react to it appropriately, we can only prepare for it. To pull a drastic example, once you have lung cancer, stopping smoking won't change much anymore. And I'm pretty sure you don't give a shit then whether smoking gave you cancer or whether you got it any other way.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger