RE: Breaking News: World is 10 deg chillier

From: Barbara Lamar (
Date: Wed Jan 24 2001 - 13:49:56 MST

At 03:15 PM 01/23/2001, Denis Bider wrote:

>Question for Barbara: the article you forwarded says "Sea levels were likely
>to rise between nine and 88 cm (3.54 and 34.64 inches) [by 2100]". Even if
>it were 88cm, this doesn't seem much for a 6 degree warmup - I've heard much
>wilder figures than that.

I don't know how the authors of the article reached their conclusions--I'd
guess they're looking at the large portion of the world population living
on low-lying lands near coasts. I didn't forward the article because I
thought it was the last word on global warming. I posted it in response to
Mike Lorrey's post to provide a different opinion. There are many different
opinions about the weather, and no one seems to have a very accurate method
of predicting global weather patterns. Models that work well for a couple
of years will suddenly make all the wrong predictions for the third year.

One of the most interesting popular science books I've read on social
effects of global weather patterns is *Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El
Nino and the Fate of Civilizations by Brian M. Fagan. Here's a review from
*Scientific American*:

"The aberrant and often devastating weather patterns brought on by El Niņo
are by now familiar. According to Fagan, they have had a less recognized
effect. "There is a strong correlation between unusual climatic shifts and
unusual historical events." He cites the fall of the Old Kingdom in ancient
Egypt, the Moche society of Peru and the Maya of lowland Central America as
examples. Other societies--the Anasazi of the American Southwest and
today's San foragers of southern Africa's Kalahari Desert--have survived
the impact of severe climatic stress. ...Those that fail are less adaptable
because their thinking is too rigid for the circumstances. Fagan describes
the mechanisms and effects of El Niņos, La Niņas and other far-reaching
meteorological events and then discusses how several societies have coped
with them..."

Based on what I've read and what I've experienced first hand (having just
lived through a period of drought worse than any on record [approx 120
years] which was partially relieved by a flood worse than any on record),
I'd think that the most challenging effects of global warming would be the
increased volatility of the weather as the interconnected elements that
determine global patterns"try" to adjust to a new situation. Shifts in
population centers caused by increasing sea levels would add more stress,
but I don't think this would be the main effect (although it would seem
like a major effect to people whose land lost its value or whose families
were wiped out by floods).

BTW, my opinion about the source of weather change is that people are NOT
the primary cause (although we certainly play our part, as do all
populations of living creatures). I think in some respects we've tended to
replace "God" with "humankind" in trying to explain that which we can't
adequately explain otherwise.


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