Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Current effects of climate change

A couple of recent news items reported on some slow but relentless current effects of climate change - let alone future outcomes.

New Scientist mentioned a report released by the Global Humanitarian Forum (led by ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan). Inter alia, it concluded that climate change is already causing 300,000 deaths annually. This is due to "gradual environmental degradation", including droughts, floods, and crop failure.

And the Sydney Morning Herald showed that it's not only those situated in low-lying coastal areas that will see their land disappear. The article is illustrated with a picture of someone whose coastal home is perhaps eight metres above sea level, but which is already being eroded. Both rising seas and more extreme weather will hasten that process.

My home is possibly four metres above sea level, and about 1000 metres inland. I would have thought I would be buffered by the intervening hectares of infrastructure that would need protection first, but current government policy suggests socialising the cost of protection would be far too costly, and future governments may opt for slow strategic retreat. I take cold comfort in the thought that the Sydney Opera House is more precariously positioned than me, right now.

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