Climate Letter #1084

A new warning about the danger in store from river flooding.  The authors of this study are all affiliated with the highly respected Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.  They talk about what needs to be done, and where, and attribution, but not the cost.  Two main points need to be reckoned with—one, “An increase in river flood risks over the next 2-3 decades will be driven by the amount of greenhouse-gases already emitted into the atmosphere, hence it does not depend on whether or not we limit global warming.”  Second, “However, it is clear that without limiting human-caused warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, river flood risks in our century will increase in many regions to a level that we cannot adapt to.”  That sounds eerily familiar to the warnings we often hear about sea level rise.
–Here is a link to the full study (open access), where mapping of the biggest danger zones can be found:
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Stephen Hawking weighs in on Earth’s future.  His views revive the old “Venus syndrome” that James Hansen and others once described but then gave up as too extreme.  Hawking goes on to express his fascination with the need to move humanity to another planet somewhere, which he calls “our only hope.”  This idea generates more excitement among many scientists of the non-climate type than merely fixing the situation we now have.  Once push comes to shove it’s more likely that humanity will do just enough to survive where we are, but it won’t be as nice a place as it has been.
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From Joe Romm, a story about the extraordinary drop in the cost of producing renewable electricity on a grid-size scale, with battery storage included, here in the US.
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Surprisingly large demand for medium and heavy-duty electric trucks.  Orders for the big new Tesla model are opening everyone’s eyes.  Other manufacturers are rushing to bring their own new models to market.  Buyers expect to reap huge savings on operating costs.  Communities will benefit from reduced air pollution.  Bad for the oil business.
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A different kind of revolution is heading toward agricultural fields.  This relatively unpublicized development, quite breathtaking in scope, is covered effectively in this story from Bloomberg Businessweek.  The prospect of success is no less comprehensible than the prospect of streets and highways filled with driverless vehicles, which are now almost sure to be right around the corner.
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From the pages of history, “The Great Snow of winter 1614/1615 in England.”  A detailed picture of one of the greatest extreme weather events on record.
Carl
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