Two Years Before Global Warming Exceeds 2 Degrees Warming
Unless there is a significant change in emissions there is a strong likelihood that the two degrees temperature ceiling will be exceeded. A UK research programme, named AVOID, has shown that limiting global warming to just under 2 degrees Celsius (globally) above historical levels is possible, yet scientifically and technologically challenging. It is strongly probable that warming will continue to lead to a rise in global temperatures by 4 Celsius degrees by 2100 if nothing is done very soon. A recent discussion I went to shows that the we (the global community) need to reduce the emissions pathways drastically over the next two years to prevent global temperatures rising by more that 2 degrees Celsius. A two degree warming threshold is going to impact many natural environments around the world including the Amazon rain forest and other tropical environments (where methane emissions are going to lead to further feedback events). If the temperature increase is 4 degrees then there will be “these will be irreversible changes” to natural environments (see Avoid’s web site).
A two degree increase in global temperatures will be challenging: 4 degrees of global temperature rises will be very disruptive: wheat production will fall, ocean acidity will increase, cooling requirements will mean a greater demand for energy and coastal flooding will affect over one billion people.
The findings are based upon a number of emission pathway studies and assessments from world-leading scientists.
Main South West Railway Washed Out
In February the main railway was destroyed at Dawlish in Devon, South West England. This was a spectacular failure of the sea wall where the only railway to the south west passes: two railway lines were left suspended over the breach. As a result of Plymouth, Torbay and Cornwall being isolated there is now political pressure to revive an alternative route. Five options have been put forward by Network Rail (see this PDF).
The mainline was submerged in Somerset (the Bristol to Taunton route) and near Crewkerne, Somerset where a landslip closed the only viable route to Exeter. This is the second time in months where resilience of public transport routes have been compromised. The weather has been extreme, but infrastructure needs to be upgraded to cope with more frequent rainfall and extreme storm events that are consistent with Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD). We need to invest now in resilience measures before waiting: if we wait the cost will be several times more expensive just when there are even more competing demands for investment.
The washout in Dawlish is not the first one: soon after the line opened there was a major breach of the line in 1853. This is now bridged near a tunnel, Parson’s Tunnel, between Dawlish and Teignmouth.
Update: the railway from Taunton to Bridgwater has re-opened after over a month’s closure from 7 February to 10 March 2014. The main road to Glastonbury remains under water after being flooded in January. Flooding is now a political issue in the South West of the UK.
Ukraine: A Geopolitical Wrangle?
The on-going dispute over Ukraine is a classical geopolitical wrangle with mixed messages and misinformation from both sides. The Russian invasions and incursions are justified by President Putin who is not recognising the new Ukraine Government. There are offers of big sums of money to help the country which is strategically important from an eastern and western perspective. The US are promising aid, as are Europe and Russia. There is a risk of instability across the region if the continuing situation persists: time for diplomatic decisions to be made and agreed for the benefit of all. It is a complex situation on political, economic and social lines with all of these being discussed in context of propaganda from all sides. Where the truth lies is increasingly blurred.
With the annexation of the Crimea, or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as it has declared itself from March 11 2014, is now split away from Ukraine. Russian military forces have built up in the border here and there is to be a vote on the future of the region that was until very recently part of Ukraine. This split of the region that has many natural resources is also going to add a further layer of complexity to the situation that is gradually, but far from clearly, emerging.