At least 10 feet of sea level rise is now guaranteed worldwide; it's all but inevitable, a done deal. An ice sheet two miles thick has collapsed in West Antarctica—glaciologists have been dreading this moment for decades, though in recent years, it was more of a question of when than if—and there is nothing that can stop it from melting now.
Severe storms that began last week in Texas and Oklahoma have killed at least 23 people, and the damage is so extensive that Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared nearly 40 counties disaster areas. In Houston, many highways turned into waterways, and more than a thousand cars were submerged under water. President Obama has pledged federal assistance to help the state recover, but cleanup efforts were stalled Thursday as thunderstorms continued. The historic floods in Texas come as the state is just ending an extreme drought.
In the third week of May, it was warmer in Fairbanks, Alaska, than in Washington, D.C. The small town of Eagle, Alaska, was hotter on May 23 than it has been on any day in Houston or Dallas this year. In what has become a frequent occurrence in the past few years, temperature profiles in North America appeared to be upside down.
Humanity is probably in for some awful shit, or so I argued in my previous post. Specifically, it appears unlikely we'll be able to limit global average temperature rise to 2° Celsius over pre-industrial levels, the target threshold agreed to, at least notionally, by all 141 countries engaged in the Copenhagen climate accord.
We confront an existential risk without historic precedent: human environmental pressures have reached such a pace and intensity that they may cross tipping points, irreversibly altering the state of the Earth system. As the human enterprise becomes more encompassing and interdependent, the prospect of achieving human well-being within the dominant development paradigm grows dim. However, an alternative sustainable development paradigm that pursues social, environmental, and economic goals separately would likewise prove inadequate.
We may be witnessing the start of the long-awaited jump in global temperatures. There is “a vast and growing body of research,” as Climate Central explained in February. “Humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.”
When we think about the Arctic in a warming world, we tend to think about sharp declines in sea ice and — that powerful symbol — the polar bear. But that’s far from the only problem that a melting Arctic brings.
Marlin and sailfish are the oceans’ perfect athletes. A marlin can outweigh a polar bear, leap through the air, and traverse the sea from Delaware to Madagascar. Sailfish can outrace nearly every fish in the sea. Marlin can hunt in waters a half mile down, and sailfish often head to deep waters too.