Global Warming

"Climate Change" is a euphemism sidestepping the fact that we've trashed the planet. I prefer to call it Global Warming which is what's really happening. Overpopulation is the root cause, everyone wants a car, everyone wants to stay warm in the winter and run air conditioners in the summer. 50 or 100 years ago nobody foresaw this as one of the consequences of having big families. But who am I to tell someone in China or India that they can't have a car? I can say it's a bad idea, that I don't drive mine anymore, that we shouldn't have used so many of them, but that probably won't convince them. There was a PBS Nova episode roughly 10 years ago which stated that of all the petroleum that's ever been burned on the planet, half has been used in the last 10 years. That's cause for concern.

The thing is, by plodding complacently along burning up petroleum products at this alarming rate we're not only heating up the environment but we're running out of oil. That's why there's fracking, offshore drilling, massive cross-country pipelines, a need to look under national parks, not to mention high oil prices. These are our reserves, our savings against the future.

Petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel are pretty much unparalleled in being able to store a lot of energy in a small space and weight. You can't make a solar or wood powered jet plane, those aren't even practical in cars and trucks. There's little excuse for squandering oil for stationary purposes like heating.

Hydrogen (solar/wind -> electricity -> electrolysis -> hydrogen) is one possible alternative to natural gas. The only byproduct of burning it is water (no cabon). It may be possible to make some synthetic liquid fuels but they won't be cheap. We aren't putting R&D money into this, we're spending it on squeezing every last drop out of our already empty pockets of oil reserves. Where will Big Oil be when there's no more oil to be found? The money gained will be invested or in Swiss bank accounts and the shysters responsible will have retired or found new ways to bilk the public. Did these people once sell tobacco, cocaine, heroin?

You don't need a V8 to go to the corner store, especially for cigarettes and lottery tickets that are a waste of money in the first place. We shouldn't be quibbling over fracking and high oil prices, we should be investing R&D money in alternatives to oil. Big Oil is a dinosaur thrashing dangerously on its deathbed. Pay attention to who's funding the candidates you vote for.

I intended to have this page be about how to slow down Global Warming but other than common sense I don't have much to base it on. I did find a related PDF Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation but that mostly deals with how to not be inconvenienced, lose money, lose your life. It doesn't talk about how to reverse it. It's 594 pages, 33 megabytes, written by scientists from all over the world, and it's hosted on the United Nations website. It isn't light reading. Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth is a good introduction.

These are a few highlights excerpted from Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, I won't claim to have read the whole thing yet.

Metrics to Quantify Social Impacts and the Management of Extremes
Metrics to quantify social and economic impacts (thus used to define extreme impacts) may include, among others (Below et al., 2009):

2.5.2. Social Dimensions
The social dimension is multi-faceted and cross-cutting. It focuses primarily on aspects of societal organization and collective aspects rather than individuals. However, some assessments also use the 'individual' descriptor to clarify issues of scale and units of analysis (Adger and Kelly, 1999; K. O'Brien et al., 2008). Notions of the individual are also useful when considering psychological trauma in and after disasters (e.g., Few, 2007), including that related to family breakdown and loss. The social dimension includes demography, migration, and displacement, social groups, education, health and well-being, culture, institutions, and governance aspects.

2.5.2.1. Demography
Certain population groups may be more vulnerable than others to climate variability and extremes. For example, the very young and old are more vulnerable to heat extremes than other population groups (Staffogia et al., 2006; Gosling et al., 2009). A rapidly aging population at the community to country scale bears implications for health, social isolation, economic growth, family composition, and mobility, all of which are social determinants of vulnerability. However, as discussed further below (Social Groups section), static checklists of vulnerable groups do not reflect the diversity or dynamics of people's changing conditions.

2.5.2.1.1. Migration and displacement
Trends in migration, as a component of changing population dynamics, have the potential to rise because of alterations in extreme climate event frequency. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre have estimated that around 20 million people were displaced or evacuated in 2008 because of rapid onset climate-related disasters (OCHA/IDMC, 2009). Further, over the last 30 years, twice as many people have been affected by droughts (slow onset events not included in the previous point) as by storms (1.6 billion compared with approximately 718 million) (IOM, 2009). However, because of the multi- causal nature of migration, the relationship between climatic variability and change in migration is contested (Black, 2001) as are the terms environmental and climate refugees (Myers, 1993; Castles 2002; IOM, 2009). Despite an increase in the number of hydrometeorological disasters between 1990 and 2009, the International Organization on Migration reports no major impact on international migratory flows because displacement is temporary and often confined within a region, and displaced individuals do not possess the financial resources to migrate (IOM, 2009).

Although there is also a lack of clear evidence for a systematic trend in extreme climate events and migration, there are clear instances of the impact of extreme hydrometeorological events on displacement. For example, floods in Mozambique displaced 200,000 people in 2001, 163,000 people in 2007, and 102,000 more in 2008 (INGC, 2009; IOM, 2009); in Niger, large internal movements of people are due to pervasive changes related to drought and desertification trends (Afifi, 2011); in the Mekong River Delta region, changing flood patterns appear to be associated with migratory movements (White, 2002; IOM, 2009); and Hurricane Katrina, for which social vulnerability, race, and class played an important role in outward and returning migration (Elliott and Pais, 2006; Landry et al., 2007; Myers et al., 2008), resulted in the displacement of over one million people. As well as the displacement effect, there is evidence for increased vulnerability to extreme events among migrant groups because of an inability to understand extreme event-related information due to language problems, prioritization of finding employment and housing, and distrust of authorities (Enarson and Morrow, 2000; Donner and Rodriguez, 2008).

Migration can be both a condition of, and a response to, vulnerability ­ especially political vulnerability created through conflict, which can drive people from their homelands. Increasingly it relates to economically and environmentally displaced persons but can also refer to those who do not cross international borders but become internally displaced persons as a result of extreme events in both developed and developing countries (e.g., Myers et al., 2008).

Although data on climate change-forced displacement is incomplete, it is clear that the many outcomes of climate change processes will be seen and felt as disasters by the affected populations (Oliver-Smith, 2009). For people affected by disasters, subsequent displacement and resettlement often constitute a second disaster in their lives. As part of the Impoverishment Risks and Reconstruction approach, Cernea (1996) outlines the eight basic risks to which people are subjected by displacement: landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalization, food insecurity, increased morbidity, loss of access to common property resources, and social disarticulation. When people are forced from their known environments, they become separated from the material and cultural resource base upon which they have depended for life as individuals and as communities (Altman and Low, 1992). The material losses most often associated with displacement and resettlement are losses of access to customary housing and resources. Displaced people are often distanced from their sources of livelihood, whether land, common property (water, forests, etc.), or urban markets and clientele (Koenig, 2009). Disasters and displacement may sever the identification with an environment that may once have been one of the principle features of cultural identity (Oliver-Smith, 2006). Displacement for any group can be distressing, but for indigenous peoples it can result in particularly severe impacts. The environment and ties to land are considered to be essential elements in the survival of indigenous societies and distinctive cultural identities (Colchester, 2000). The displacement and resettlement process has been consistently shown to disrupt and destroy those networks of social relationships on which the poor depend for resource access, particularly in times of stress (Cernea, 1996; Scudder, 2005).

Migration is an ancient coping mechanism in response to environmental and other) change and does not inevitably result in negative outcomes, either for the migrants themselves or for receiving communities (Barnett and Webber, 2009). Climate variability will result in some movement of stressed people but there is low confidence in ability to assign direct causality to climatic impacts or to the numbers of people affected.

Refugees, internally displaced people, and those driven into marginal areas as a result of violence can be dramatic examples of people vulnerable to the negative effects of weather and climate events, cut off from coping mechanisms and support networks (Handmer and Dovers, 2007). Reasons for the increase in vulnerability associated with warfare include destruction or abandonment of infrastructure (e.g., transport, communications, health, and education) and shelter, redirection of resources from social to military purposes, collapse of trade and commerce, abandonment of subsistence farmlands, lawlessness, and disruption of social networks (Levy and Sidel, 2000; Collier et al., 2003). The proliferation of weapons and minefields, the absence of basic health and education, and collapse of livelihoods can ensure that the effects of war on vulnerability to disasters are long lasting, although some also benefit (Korf, 2004). These areas are also characterized by an exodus of trained people and an absence of inward investment.

Turning specifically to displaced persons as a cascading impact, estimates of the numbers of current and future migrants due not only to disasters but generally to environmental change are divergent and controversial (Myers, 2001; Christian Aid, 2007). A middle-range estimate puts the figure at 200 million by 2050 (Brown, 2008). Looking only at extreme weather as a cause of migration, a recent report estimates that over 20 million people were displaced due to sudden- onset climate-related disasters in 2008 (OCHA/IDMC, 2009). This report and others, however, acknowledge the difficulty of disentangling the drivers of migration, including climate change risks, rising poverty, spread of infectious diseases, and conflict (Castles, 2002; Myers, 2005; Thomalla et al., 2006; Barnett and Adger 2007; CIENS, 2007; Dun and Gemenne, 2008; Guzmán, 2009; Morrissey, 2009).

As opposed to abrupt displacement due to extreme weather events, mobility and migration can also be an adaptation strategy to gradual climatic change (Barnett and Webber, 2009), which normally leads to slower migration shifts. However, the very poor and vulnerable will in many cases be unable to move (Tacoli, 2009). To the extent that weather extremes contribute to migration, it can result in a huge burden to the destination areas (Barnett and Adger, 2007; Heltberg et al., 2008; Morrissey, 2009; Tacoli, 2009; Warner et al., 2009a). As part of this burden, the conflict potential of migration depends to a significant degree on how the government and people in the transit, destination, or place of return respond. Governance, the degree of political stability, the economy, and whether there is a history of violence are generally important factors (Kolmannskog, 2008).

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