Posts Tagged ‘Global Warming’

Climate Risk 02From the Office of the Director of of National Intelligence of the United States of America comes a new Worldwide Threat Assessment by the US intelligence community.

Worldwide Threat Assessments represent the collective insights of the bulk of the US intelligence community on matters that threaten USA lives and interests around the world.

This most recent Worldwide Threat Assessment points out in several places that climate change is a growing national security threat. One way that global climate change poses a threat to US national security is because of how it influences and encourages infectious diseases. The reports finds that the US and world will likely remain vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as the flu and other pandemics. Such outbreaks will cause increases in “death and disability, severely impact the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.” It also finds that the work that has been done to control infectious diseases has very much improved the situation, but that these improvements may still be inadequate for addressing more frequent outbreaks of diseases due to rapid and unplanned urbanization, prolonged humanitarian crises, human intrusion into unsettled lands, expansion of international trade and travel, and climate change.

Climate Risk 01

A second way that global climate change poses a threat to US national security is because of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise, etc. One particular area highlighted in the report is the worsening effects of sea level rise on urban areas of Southeast Asia. These effects take the form of damage to infrastructure that is likely to impact military bases, inflict economic costs, and lead to human displacement and loss of life. Another area highlighted in the report are the increasing food insecurities around the world, social injustice, human migration, and interstate tensions in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Jordan that all result from increasing droughts, heat waves, and floods caused by climate change.


Climate change is real. It is having effects on the entire world now. Many of those effects are dramatically impacting the way humans around the world live, and those impacts are being felt by US citizens now and will only get more drastic as time goes on.

Read Full Post »

Managed retreat is a term that I have been encountering more and more frequently in the course of my work over the last few years. It is the idea that in response to sea-level rise, humans will be forced to move away from coastlines, and this can happen in a chaotic way, or a managed way, but it will happen.

Imperial Beach, CA (Photo by JC Monge).

As the atmosphere and oceans warm, sea-level will rise. This is happening now, with a rise of about a half-an-inch each decade, and this number will likely increase over time. Globally, sea-level is predicted to rise by 1.6 to 6.5 feet in the next 100 years. This does not sound like much to a lot of people. What people forget to think about is that the sea does not stay still. Storm surges and king tides account for a large portion of the damage that seas cause to cities. These surges and tides will be much more severe if the sea they are starting from is one to 6 feet higher than it is right now. Imagine some of the footage we have all seen from hurricanes as they sweep across Florida or Texas or Puerto Rice. In those clips reporters are clad in rain gear with trees bending wildly behind them as the wind and rain hammers away. Now add a extra 6 vertical feet of water! The effects then will be much more disastrous than the effects now, and now they are bad enough.

And these effects will be felt all around the world. A large percentage of people around the globe live near coasts. So raising seas will effect a huge number of people. This has the potential to cause social chaos as people struggle to move inland in disorderly and inefficient ways.

To address this impending threat, some communities, cities, and even states are beginning to consider how to move away from the sea.

It is a herculean problem. How can we move a whole city even a short distance? Even a small city is just not portable. However, they are going to have to be, and the more we as a society can think about how to accomplish these moves, the better off we will all be when they have to happen. And that is where managed retreat comes in.

The High Country News published an article on how the small city of Imperial Beach in southern California is starting to think about managed retreat. Even for this small city to move a few blocks away from the ocean will be a huge undertaking. The article is a sobering read, but well worth it since it is something that is gong to effect every person on earth who is alive in 2050 or 2100.

Read Full Post »


Image result for Venta Maersk

The Venta Maersk in South Korea

A cargo ship named the Venta Maersk is making history this week as it takes its maiden voyage and becomes the first container ship to bring a load of goods (in this case fish from Russia and electronics from South Korea) from Vladivostok, past the northern coast of Russia in the Arctic Ocean, and in to port in Norway. The ship began its voyage on the 23rd of August, 2018, and is on schedule to pass through the Bering Straight around the 1st of September 2018. A few other commercial vessels have made this trip, but the Venta Maersk will be the first container ship. 

To make the voyage, the Venta Maersk, an ice-class vessel, has been specifically designed to withstand collisions with ice, and it can use specific fuel mixtures to allow it to run more efficiently at temperatures down to -25 degrees fahrenheit.

Image result for Venta Maersk

The Northern Sea Route

The Northern Sea Route is the name that has been given to the passage that runs from the Bering Straight, over the north coast of Russia, and then to Europe. It is a water route that has been historically impassable due to the fact that the Arctic Ocean used to be completely frozen almost all year long. Now, however, the situation is changing. Over the last couple of decades, human induced climate change has been causing the sea ice to melt more and more. Now the north coast of Russia is ice-free for at least three or four months of the year, and this amount of time is expanding.

The distance from Russia to Europe via the Northern Sea Route is shorter than the current shortest route which is passage through the Suez Canal. More and more international shipping companies are setting plans in motion to use this new shipping route in the future. The Venta Maersk voyage will be a useful test run to see how practically and economically feasible the route is now. Russia intends to charge a passage fee for ships using the Northern Sea Route, so they are hoping it proves feasible, and both Russia and China have plans to develop infrastructure such as roads, towns, ports, etc. to take advantage of the opening of this northern transportation route.

Image result for Venta Maersk

The Venta Maersk departing from Vladivostok on 8/23/2018.

The fact that companies and nations are taking actions to position themselves so that they are competitive in this new northern arena is additional, and dramatic, evidence that global climate is changing, and that one of these changes is a melting the polar icecaps that climate scientists have been predicting for at least the last three decades. It seems like it is getting more and more difficult to take the stance that global climate change is not happening.

The community of researchers who are studying climate change is pretty huge, and growing. These scientists have been developing more and more accurate hypotheses about the global climate of earth for decades. And the predictions from these hypotheses have been coming true over and over again. Given the hypotheses, their predictions, and then how closely those predictions have matched with reality, it seem reasonable that that the current hypotheses about what will happen in the future should be taken pretty seriously. I certainly hope they will be.




Read Full Post »