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The canary in the climate change coal mine has died

By Staff | Feb 14, 2020

Part 3

There are canaries that are warning that climate change is fast becoming a real threat. They are dying all over the world. The Australian fires are the worst of a global wildfire proliferation. Those fires doubled the GHG emissions of that country equal to all of the airplanes in the world. That makes things such as avoiding air travel to reduce GHG emissions look pretty futile. Oceans, that are trying to soak up the surging CO2, are heating quickly. Coral is dying. Greenland is melting. The Northern Passage is opening. Countries are competing for control of the Arctic. The U.S. Navy is planning how to save and relocate naval bases as sea levels rise. Insurance actuaries are reevaluating their risks for natural disasters for climate change. There were fourteen $1 billion weather related disasters in the U.S. last year. That made it the fifth consecutive year with 10 or more such events. In the insurance business if they are wrong, they go broke. Warren Buffet is worried. There are four times as many world-wide extreme weather events occurring today as back in 1980 in a steady climb. Unusually hot summers affected 15 percent of the northern hemisphere land surface compared to 0.2 percent before 1980.

The initial target was to limit global warming to 2C by 2100 and now they are resetting their sights to 3C. That is much worse than it sounds with profound ramifications for the earth and its inhabitants. The range of possibilities could be higher. Satellites now give scientists a perspective view of the earth that was previously missing. Climate scientists now say that those satellites have allowed them to identify signals of human-induced climate change somewhere in the world every single day. They picked out the year 2012 when they gained the perspective to see day to day change. They believe that they have learned to separate the signals from the noise. What used to be normal is not what is normal today or what will be normal tomorrow. Oceans absorb up to 90 percent of the heat trapped in the atmosphere so when surface temps set historical records, ocean temperatures would be expected to follow and they are. Arctic ice sheets are three million square miles smaller than they were in 1980. The Russian navy has discovered five new islands. Municipalities in southern Florida are going to have more trouble selling their bonds. Germany decided to end use of coal for power generation by 2038.

Many climate models are in error but not in the good way. Australia set a temperature record after 33 days hotter than 95 last year. That was five times hotter than their climate forecasters predicted. Australian insurance, tourism and health care industries are being dramatically impacted. Ice melt, ocean temps and just about every other measurement forecasted are exceeding predictions. Some worry about tipping points such as permafrost melting opening that carbon sink and the Atlantic Gulf steam ocean current slowing. A new study found that it has slowest to its slowest rate in 1600 years leaving the warmth in the tropics.

Climate scientists predicted that global warming would manifest in heat waves, ice sheet melt, accelerating sea level rise, more wildfires, stronger storms, and flood induced downpours. You can pretty much check off all those boxes. We have added terminology such as arctic vortexes and cyclone bombs to our weather vocabulary in recent years. Climate scientists forecast that North America would heat up on the coasts and cool in the heartland. Five-inch rain events in the Midwest have become common. All of this is consistent with climate forecasts.

What I have just written is the glass half-emptying perspective to climate change. With recognition and acceptance, then comes adaptation and human ingenuity. I will switch gears to focus on that in a future report. I do not believe that we are helpless and that it is all doom and gloom. The world’s population was forecast as going to starve in 1980 and that didn’t happen. Climate change however is the larger risk. Right now, we have just reached the majority recognition stage and the minority is still in charge. So far climate change has improved corn yields in the Western Corn Belt and increased farmland values here. DJT (Donald J. Trump) may not be the right guy to lead us out of the deepening valley of climate change risk of disaster. He is old and a billionaire. Both of those things cloud what climate change means to him. Most climate risk is beyond his actuarial and he can afford to adapt to most extremes. Climate activist Greta Thunberg gets under his skin. At 17 and as someone who sees black and white, her future is very much in the crosshairs of climate change. She is our conscience over our climate and a conscience can be annoying. Our President has never had use for one. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, didn’t win, and Trump has always wanted one.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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