Over at Only in it for the Gold, Michael Tobis has been joining the dots about recent climate disruption in Russia and Pakistan, and asking some hard questions. I think it’s probably too early to treat this as a symptom that we’ve entered a new climate regime, but it it does help to clarify a few things. Like the fact that a few degrees average temperature rise isn’t really the thing we should worry about – a change in the global average temperature is just a symptom of the real problem. The real problem is the disruption to existing climates in unpredictable ways at unpredictable times caused by a massive injection of extra energy in the Earth’s systems. Sure, this leads to a measurable rise in the global average temperature, but it’s all that extra energy slopping around, disrupting existing climate regimes that should scare us witless.

Look at this pattern of temperature anomalies for July, and consider the locations of both Moscow and the headwaters of the rivers of Pakistan (from NASA). The world’s climate system has developed a new pattern. This specific pattern is probably temporary, but the likelihood of more weird patterns in different parts of the world will only grow:

Color bar for Global Temperature Anomalies, July 2010

As I said, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

Which means that for much of this year, the North American media has been telling the wrong story. They were obsessed with an oil spill in the gulf, and the environmental damage it caused. Only one brave media outlet realised this wasn’t the real story – the real story is the much bigger environmental disaster that occurs when the oil doesn’t spill but makes it safely to port. Trust the Onion to tell it like it is.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Climate Disruption | Serendipity -- Topsy.com

  2. I think one of the biggest issues in educating people on this crisis is the notion that the climate is a non-linear system. It’s not like a 2 degree increase means the winter is 2 degrees warmer. It means we don’t know what will happen. But these ideas are hard to understand, because high school science doesn’t cover non-linearity much, if at all.

    Maybe a good topic for Inflo to look at.

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