As Americans sweltered through the record temperatures, and as the wildfires sent plumes of smoke across the continent, and as utilities tried to patch up the storm-damaged grid, a new specter started stalking the nation. As usual, the money guys noticed first: the price of corn spiked 12 percent in two days right at the end of June, as fear began to build that the heat was damaging crops across the Midwest. And not just the heat — the same high pressure that was letting temperatures soar also blocked storms from watering the country’s midsection. (July, it would turn out, saw the lowest number of tornadoes in history, which was about the only good news.)
In the past week the Arctic sea ice cover reached an all-time low, several weeks before previous records, several weeks before the end of the melting season. The long-term decline of Arctic sea ice has been incredibly fast, and at this point a sudden reversal of events doesn’t seem likely. The question no longer seems to be “will we see an ice-free Arctic?” but “how soon will we see it?”. By running the Arctic Sea Ice blog for the past three years I’ve learned much about the importance of Arctic sea ice. With the help of Kevin McKinney I’ve written the piece below, which is a summary of all the potential consequences of disappearing Arctic sea ice.
The USA has yet to experience such an extreme heat event, but some experts believe that with climate change it’s only a matter of time.
In aspiring toward sustainable growth, then, the Rio participants carried an irreconcilable contradiction with them into the conference. Its failure was assured — not because of the commonly cited reason that it is impossible to gather 50,000 bureaucrats for a week and get anything done. Well, OK, because of that, yes, but the contradictions run deeper. Given the way that growth is defined in our current system, sustainable growth is impossible.
Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed The Environmental Point Of No Return? By Madhusree Mukerjee
Although there is an urban legend that the world will end this year based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, some researchers think a 40-year-old computer program that predicts a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human population in this century may be on target
If climate change continues on its current course, the number of heat-related deaths will rise as temperatures climb during the summer, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy group.
A new report from the University of Michigan starts off its press release with a not so optimistic phrase: “It’s a message no one wants to hear.”
Just what message is this? That it would take an extreme economic downturn to slow the effects of global warming.
We’ve tapped underground water sources pretty heavily as well. The water level in the Ogallala Aquifer in the Midwestern U.S. has dropped more than 150 feet in some places, leaving many farmers’ wells bone dry. As water is sucked out of aquifers, the overlying soil and rock can compact or collapse into the dewatered void, causing tall buildings to teeter in Mexico City, automobiles to tumble into sinkholes in Florida, or swallowing tourists on the fringes of the shriveling Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan. With so many rivers, lakes and aquifers going dry, we have to ask: Are we running out of water?