Solid--and vivid--description of existing crisis in Australia, and looming problems for much of the world as climate change increases. Essential reading for anyone who expects the planet to be habitable in, say, 20 years.
Two years ago, Science (subs. req’d) published research that “predicted a permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest” — levels of aridity comparable to the 1930s Dust Bowl would stretch from Kansas to California. The UK’s Hadley Center warned in November 2006 that their research predicted multiple permanent Dust Bowls around the planet on our current emissions path:
Extreme drought is likely to increase from under 3% of the globe today to 30% by 2100 — areas affected by severe drought could see a five-fold increase from 8% to 40%.
xtreme drought means desertification, especially if it lasts for hundreds of years, as the recent NOAA-led study found (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe). The regions that NOAA identifies as facing permanent Dust Bowls:
* U.S. Southwest
* Southeast Asia
* Eastern South America
* Southern Europe
* Southern Africa
* Northern Africa
* Western Australia
When you throw a brutal heat wave on top of the desertification, then all hell breaks loose:
Ministers are blaming the heat — which follows a record drought — on global warming. Experts worry that Australia, which emits more carbon dioxide per head than any nation on earth, may also be the first to implode under the impact of climate change.
Of course, if we really turn one third of the planet into permanent desert by century’s end — and raise global temperatures an average of 10°F, with sea levels 5 feet higher and rising 10 inches a decade, I wonder just how much interest will remain in such “nonessential” activities like professional sports.