Blogging the Stern Review: The Science of Climate Change (chapter one)

The 692-page Stern Review begins with a look at the science of climate change, for good reason, but this material will not be new to any frequent visitor to this site, so I will highlight only striking statements.

The first of these comes early in the "key messages" prologue to chapter one:

A warming of 5C on a global scale would be far outside the experience of human civilization and comparable to the different between temperatures in the last ice age and today. Several new studies suggest up to a 20% chance that warming could be greater than 5C. (pp3)

An interesting footnote about the well-known skeptic (and Exxonian) Richard Lindzen: It has been suggested that water vapor could act as a negative feedback on warming, on the basis that the upper atmosphere would dryout as it warms (Lindzen 2005). Re-analysis of satellite measurements published last year indicated that in fact the opposite is happening (Soden et al 2005). Over the past two decades, the air in the upper troposphere has become wetter, not drier, countering Lindzen’s theory and confirming that water vapor is having a positive feedback effect on global warming. This positive feedback is a major driver of the indirect warming effects of greenhouse gases. (pp9)

The risk of heat waves is expected to increase. For example, new modeling work by the Hadley Center shows that he summer of 2003 was Europe’s hottest for 500 years and that human-induced climate change has already more than doubled the chance of a summer as hot as 2003 in Europe occurring (Stott et al 2004). By 2050 under a relatively high emissions scenario, the temperatures experienced during the heatwave of 2003 could be an average summer. The rise in heatwave frequency will be felt most severely in cities, where temperatures are further amplified by the urban heat island effect. (pp17)

That last statement–that the heatwave of 2050 could be routine in my children’s lifetime–shocks. If that is routine, what then would be a heatwave? 120 degrees? 130?

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

4 thoughts on “Blogging the Stern Review: The Science of Climate Change (chapter one)

  1. Kit,
    Since your blog was the first to post about my idea of polar cities, here is some new artwork to share with readers, showing images of what these polar cities MIGHT look like inside. It’s just a start.

    At this blogsite, you can see some early artwork depicting what polar
    cities might look like, interior views. Art was created by Taiwanese
    artist Deng Cheng-hong

    http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

    Like

  2. Yes, Kit, those images are striking. I gave a very simple sketch to the artist here in Taiwan, and he said he could try to make something on his computer, he runs a small ad agency here, like a one man operation, and he took 8 weeks, and finally, voila, quite amazing visuals, I agree! Of course, these are just early images, more artwork will come later, maybe by real architects and urban planners. But also lots of questeions are popping up, against the entire polar cities concept, and that is okay: my intent as you know, is just to foster discussion.

    One climate expert in Oz wrote to me today:

    ”Hi Dan,

    Thank you for informing me of your “Polar Cities”. Blog and images. Here’s my response:

    It is not unusual for science fiction notions to substitute for reality. A few questions:

    1. Where will the inhabitants of “polar cities” obtain food from? The
    agricultural systems which support 6 billion people will be severely eroded,
    if not completely destroyed, by climate change.

    2. More likely, such polar refuges will host members of the privileged powerful
    elite, which got the world into the mess it is in.

    3. Its all too reminiscent of the “survivalist movement”, based on the belief a
    few can survive the rest. Others believe the survivors will envy the dead.

    4. Wouldn’t it be better direct energy to attempt to mitigate the ongoing
    climate crisis, rather than give people false hopes?

    Andrew
    Australia”

    Good questions. I don’t have answers.

    PS: A major mainstream media outlet has contacted me about these images, and they will appear on a worldwide viewing platform in the next few weeks, the first time the MSM has taken this idea seriously, or had the time to take it seriously. Hopefully, many more people will hear about and SEE what polar cities MIGHT look like, and all this will foster alot of good discussion, both pro and con.

    Like

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