Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Bleak Future
        An international team of climate scientists submitting to the scientific journal Earth System Dynamics analyzing the implications of a planet warming two degrees Celsius rather than one and a half degree Celsius. That difference might sound small, but the effects--reduced crop yields, increased coral bleaching, the emergence of increasingly divergent climate systems, etc.--could snowball further and make already ballooning climate-related issues and crises compound further.
        Rain is a big part of our planet’s ecological evolution over the coming decades. Overall, precipitation will increase overall, but in an uneven fashion. A majority of the world’s land mass experience no change in short-term dry spells, but around forty percent will experience an increase in short-term droughts; these include the Mediterranean region, Central America, the Amazon, and Southern Africa, the last one being particularly worrying given South Africa’s current water crises. These will run with a great decline in water availability in those regions, as well as in the southern part of South America. All of this talk of declining rainfall means serious business for agriculture.
        The study gives estimates of yield reductions for the crops of soy, wheat, maize, and rice. They hold constant most of the separate and social functions of their production, so they assume no change in management structure. They also hold constant the amount of land cultivated, since they’re not going to get into the business of projecting fantastic potentialities. These are the main staple products of many global diets, and the theoretical map surveyed by the study is complex. Wheat’s projections are somewhat linear. At the lower warning level, global reductions are estimated at six percent; the higher level hits eight percent. Although, these are regional segregated, with regions like West Africa standing to lose as much as thirteen percent of yields. But those losses pale in comparison to maize (or corn) in North America, specifically in the American Midwest where some of the most efficient agricultural systems exist, with the lower level at nearly sixteen percent losses while the higher-level hits thirty-seven percent yield reductions. Soy is an odder story, with some hope for increasing yields rather than reductions. At the lower warning level, there could be seven percent yield increases, at the higher level this evaporates. Rice is a similar story, but even more dramatic, with high degrees of variability, but somewhat tilting toward increasing yields during both warming levels.
        Sea level rise is another big concern for a climate-changed future. Under one and a half degrees warming, sea levels could rise as much as sixteen inches; with two degrees Celsius it could be as much as twenty inches. Coral reefs would be the most harmed. Now, most coral reefs are at risk for temperature-induced bleaching, effectively killing a vital source of sustenance for fish and nautical life, but that’s expected to change to a degree, dropping to less than eighty percent by 2100. That’s not much, but it is something. With two degrees warming, that number stays in the nineties in 2100, doing that much more damage to waterborne life.
        Overall, it spells out a pretty bad future if warming continues on track for two degrees Celsius by 2050, and climate research is clear that the further we go, the worst it's going to.
Posted by "Chorryi Chin"


  1. Its really eye-opening to think and really how drastically our way of life can be affected and changed by an increase of two degrees. There are so many factors that you've covered that would change due to this temperature rise and all of those factors would have a direct effect on the population. Are there any preventatives being studied? I see that you've discussed the harms associated with the increase in temperature but are there any back-up plans or ideas that would slow the increase that could be done now? I agree that this topic is very pertinent in our lives today and more people need to become aware of this impending doom if nothing is changed.

    -Maddie Powers

  2. Climate change is such a relevant topic of discussion nowadays. It is incredibly important to discuss such changes as they have such a large impact on our future. I am curious as to what sparked the interest in research on what that extra half percent change would do. Is there data to suggest the actual value may be closer to 2% than previously thought? Are there ways to counteract such changes?

    Alexandra McGuire

  3. That is craziness. I wonder how temperature increase would bleach the coral, seeing as they only exist in the tropics. If it gets that hot in the water, I guess the Bahamas will become the next Sahara if they're still above water which they should be because 18 inches doesn't seem like a lot.

    Posted by Takoda Nordoff

  4. Sea levels rising is a huge concern for the future since it could block or flood several different parts of the world. Some areas would be inaccessible by land travel. If this where to happen then society would most likely adapt to a more water and ship based society to traverse a large amount of water if excessive flooding occurs.
    Posted by "Edwin Montecinos"