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Environmental concerns and climate change

Part 2: 2013/2014: Canada loses its seasons.
316 N. American cities will be partly under water.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2013-MAR: "Canada losing its seasons:"

Canadians used to say that "Canada is not a country, its winter." Others suggest that Canada has two seasons: Winter and road construction. However, winters are now significantly warmer and shorter than they were in the early 1980's. This means a lengthening of the growing season, which is causing the northern boundary at which species of plants can grow to have moved more than 700 kilometers (440 miles) northward. 1

Ranga Myneni of the Department of Earth and Environment, at Boston University 2 is a co-author of the paper" "Temperature and vegetation seasonality diminishment over northern lands." 3 It claims that by 2091, the north will have seasons, temperatures and possibly vegetation comparable to those found today 20 to 25 degrees of latitude further south. He said:

"If we don’t curb carbon emissions, Arctic Sweden might be more like the south of France by the end of the century. ... We are changing seasonality…. The north is becoming like the south, losing its sharp contrasts ... [among] the four seasons."

He predicts that seasons and temperatures in Alaska and Canada’s Baffin Island by 2099 may be similar to those found currently in Oregon and southern Ontario. Plant species that could grow only up to 57º north in the early 1980's can now grow at 64º north.

Co-author of the report, Terry Callaghan of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the University of Sheffield, UK. said that the change is:

"... easily visible on the ground as an increasing abundance of tall shrubs and tree incursions in several locations all over the circumpolar Arctic."

Scott Goetz, deputy director and senior scientist, at Woods Hole Research Center, in Falmouth, MA, said:

"The way of life of many organisms on Earth is tightly linked to seasonal changes in temperature and availability of food, and all food on land comes first from plants. ... Think of migration of birds to the Arctic in the summer and hibernation of bears in the winter: Any significant alterations to temperature and vegetation seasonality are likely to impact life not only in the north but elsewhere in ways that we do not yet know."

Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, notes that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean does not normally begin to break up until at least April. However, satellite images taken in 2013-FEB showed large fractures in the sea ice.

A paper titled "Superstorm Sandy: A Series of Unfortunate Events?" published in the Journal of Oceanography for 2013-MAR showed that because the loss of summertime Arctic sea ice affects the jet stream, the latter "... helped Hurricane Sandy take a powerful turn west instead of steering northeast and out to sea like most October hurricanes. Loss of sea ice is not simply an interesting statistic; in the case of Hurricane Sandy, it cost $65 billion over a few days and was the most serious natural disaster in the world during 2012. 4.5.7

Researchers from the Netherlands and the United States wrote in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that if the climate change continues:

"We believe that the mass loss [of sea ice] is irreversible in the foreseeable future.". 1

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2013-JUL: Study warns that rising sea levels will seal the fate of 316 U.S. cities:

A study released by the National Academy of Science in late 2013-JUL has concluded that a rise in ocean levels has:

"... already sealed the fate of at least 316 American cities, including Miami and Jacksonville, but if global warming keeps up its current rate through 2100, the number of towns and cities doomed by water could easily go up to 1,400. [Prior greenhouse gas emissions] have already locked in four feet of future sea-level rise that will submerge parts of 316 municipalities." 5

Benjamin Strauss, a scientist at Climate Central, a non-profit research group based in Princeton, NJ, and author of the paper described it as an "invisible threat" whose timing isn't clear and could take centuries. He wrote:

"“It is much easier to know that a pile of ice in a warm room will melt than to know exactly how fast it will melt."

The following interactive graphic is supplied by ClimateCentral.org:

  6

There is a near consensus among atmospheric scientists that the main cause of the warming is greenhouse gas emissions which in turn is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. It increases ocean levels in two ways:

  • It melts glaciers covering Greenland, Antarctic, and other land areas, which pours water into the oceans.

  • The increase in temperatures across the globe causes oceans to heat up and expand in volume.

Many people believe that if we could drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the future that temperatures and sea levels would quickly return to normal. Unfortunately, this is not true because the existing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will take centuries to dissipate.

Jason Thistlethwaite, the director of University of Waterloo’s Climate Change Adaptation Project, commented:

"I was shocked by how much sea-level rise is already predicted to occur. ... Even if we do a good job fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we are looking at seven to 10 feet (of) sea-level rise by the end of century. ... There’s a pattern of evidence that we have been seeing for the past few years. ... When big cities have significant damage, there is spillover effect for the economy."

"Tobs" posted a simple explanation of global warming/climate change to the article in the Toronto Star from which the above information came. She/he wrote:

"Radiation from the sun arrives at the earth in various wavelengths. Some of it hits the earth and is reflected back. When it is, it’s reflected back as infrared radiation.
 
Carbon dioxide, CO2, has the property of being able to absorb infrared radiation, which in turn warms it. In fact, this phenomenon is a natural one, and if it didn’t exist the average global temperature on earth would be about -15 degrees Celsius [+5º F].  
 
But it follows that the more CO2 there is in the atmosphere the more the temperature will rise. That’s what is taking place today.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Stephen Leahy, "Canada losing its seasons," Inter Press Service, 2013-MAR-11, at: http://www.ipsnews.net/
  2. "Climate and vegetation research group," Boston University, at: http://cybele.bu.edu
  3. "Temperature and vegetation seasonality diminishment over northern lands," Nature Publishing Group, 2013-MAR-10, at: http://www.nature.com/
  4. Blaine Friedlander, "Arctic ice loss amplified Superstorm Sandy violence," ChronicleOnline, Cornell University, 2012-MAR-04, at: http://www.news.cornell.edu/
  5. Raveena Aulakh, "Rising sea levels will seal fate of 316 U.S. cities, study warns," Toronto Star, 2013-JUL-31, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  6. "Cities below future seas," Climate Central, 2013-JUL-29, at: http://www.climatecentral.org/
  7. Charles H. Greene, et al., "Superstorm Sandy: A Series of Unfortunate Events?," Oceanography journal, 2013-MAR.
  8. John Cook, et. al, "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature," Environmental Research Letters, Volume 8, #2, 2013-MAY-15, at: http://iopscience.iop.org/

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Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-MAR-15
Latest update: 2014-SEP-27
Author: B.A. Robinson


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