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Washington Post Warns Worsening Climate Change

2016-04-21

The first three months of 2016 have been the hottest ever recorded, and by a large margin. Greenland’s massive ice sheet melted more this spring than researchers have ever seen. Warming seas are turning once-majestic coral reefs into ghostly underwater graveyards. And scientists are warning that sea levels could rise far faster than anyone expected by the end of the century, with severe impacts for coastal communities around the globe.

That grim drumbeat of news will loom over the United Nations on Friday — Earth Day — when officials from more than 150 countries gather to sign a landmark agreement aimed at slashing global greenhouse gas emissions and slowing the warming of the planet.

This is the lead paragraph of the Washington Post’s story about climate change and it is very scary.  I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything so ominous printed, especially in this newspaper.

What has happened is merely a confirmation of the projections that were made in the global climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and an indication of worse to come.

In fact, the report from Mauna Loa of a 3 parts per million increase in carbon dioxide levels over a year ago is just one more confirmation that the worst projections can be expected to pan out.  Mean carbon dioxide levels have increased from a pre-industrial 280 ppm to a recent record of 400 ppm last year.  We can expect further increases until the causes are clearly defined and ameliorated.

It is also possible that crash of industrial civilization and failure of oil production could result in less pressure on carbon dioxide levels.  Unfortunately, gasoline is easy to produce from crude oil, albeit with heavy production of toxic byproducts, so the gasoline engine is not likely to disappear unless civilization completely collapses.

In any case, the current global warming from increased carbon dioxide is “baked in” for the next hundred years.  Melting of global ice reserves is likely to continue for some time even if we stop producing carbon dioxide now.

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