Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hot Spots

Climate change will not affect everyone equally.  A close-up look at seven regions poised to really feel the pain--and what they're  doing about it.

Hot Spots Map (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The evidence for the onset of climate change is compelling.  But who and where is it hitting the hardest? How fast will it come to Africa, or the U.S.?  What will be its impact on tropical cities, forests or farming?  On the poor, or the old?  When it comes to details, much is uncertain. 

Mapping the world’s climate “hot spots” and identifying where the impacts will be the greatest is increasingly important for governments, advocacy groups, and others who need to prioritize resources, set goals and adapt to a warming world.
For Wolfgang Cramer, scientific director of the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology in Aix-en-Provence, France, climate change impacts are already visible not only in the vicinity of Murcia, but across much of the Mediterranean basin.  If pledges to cut emissions are not met, catastrophe looms.

He and colleague Joel Guiot, a paleoclimatologist, last year studied pollen locked in layers of sediment over the past 10,000 years and compared them with projections about climate and vegetation from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

If warming is allowed to rise to 2 °C (3.6 °F), the scientists concluded, much of southern Spain and the Mediterranean basin could become desert.

Their paper, published in Science, was shocking because it showed that even a small temperature increase could be enough to create ecological havoc in a very heavily populated region with relatively wealthy countries.

They warned that North African countries would see increased temperatures and drought that would drive the southern deserts further north; that deserts would expand in the Middle East, pushing temperate forests higher into the mountains; and that ecosystems not seen in the Mediterranean basin in over 10,000 years could develop.
Meanwhile, water stress, heat waves and an extended drought linked to climate change in the eastern Mediterranean has been widely implicated in the long Syrian war and an underlying driver of conflict in Middle East and North African countries.
New York state may seem an unlikely climate hot spot, but research confirms its status in the top league of potential change.  Drawing on the U.S. National Climate Assessment and research by leading federal agencies and academics, it calculates that temperatures statewide have risen about 1.3 °C (2.4 °F) since 1970, spring begins a week sooner than it did just a few decades ago, there is less winter snow, and more intense downpours.  Meanwhile, sea levels are rising at nearly twice the global rate and birds and fish populations are all moving north.

Even more dramatically, the latest scientific projections suggest trouble ahead.  By the 2050s, says the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, sea levels could rise nearly 30 inches (2.5 feet), storm surges and flooding will be more common in coastal areas, and West Nile virus and many other diseases could be prevalent.

But, says Carl Pope, former director of the Sierra Club and climate advisor to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, if climate change is to be addressed, it must be led by big cities like New York, which release nearly 70 percent of the global emissions but also have the capacity to create solutions.

Read more at Hot Spots

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