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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

 
Massive heat wave in the Middle East: Is it an emergency yet?

by Gaius Publius



Global warming from 1850–2016. Notice the rapid outward spiral near the end (source).



This is a brief follow-up to this piece about the recent acceleration in atmospheric CO2:


There I wrote:
[I]f atmospheric CO2 growth suddenly zooms to +4 ppm/year starting with this year's 406 ppm, we're at 450 ppm in 11 years.

Eleven years from now is 2027, and 450 ppm is a game-over scenario. Partly because global warming will have shot well past +2°C, producing enough social, political, economic and military chaos to make a global solution impossible; and partly because if we haven't stopped Exxon et al before then, we never will, and the process will go to termination. That is, we won't stop until we're once more pre-industrial, or worse.
I take 2027 as an early "game-over" date (meaning "game-over" could happen sooner), since this analysis doesn't factor in any of the other ways climate could change suddenly — via unexpected ice sheet collapse, for example.

Here's what the current acceleration looks like on the ground.

"Stepping outside is like walking into a fire"

The Washington Post (my emphasis):
An epic Middle East heat wave could be global warming’s hellish curtain-raiser

BAGHDAD — Record-shattering temperatures this summer have scorched countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and beyond, as climate experts warn that the severe weather could be a harbinger of worse to come.

In coming decades, U.N. officials and climate scientists predict that the mushrooming populations of the Middle East and North Africa will face extreme water scarcity, temperatures almost too hot for human survival and other consequences of global warming.

If that happens, conflicts and refugee crises far greater than those now underway are probable, said Adel Abdellatif, a senior adviser at the U.N. Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Arab States who has worked on studies about the effect of climate change on the region.

“This incredible weather shows that climate change is already taking a toll now and that it is — by far — one of the biggest challenges ever faced by this region,” he said.
Consider the flood of economic and conflict-zone refugees now entering Europe, then imagine that flood swollen further by an endless stream of climate refugees. The world is changing before our eyes, the physical world and the human world, the world of human society. Climate change, global warming, will drive this change until we stop it.

More from the Post, with some stunning numbers:
These countries have grappled with remarkably warm summers in recent years, but this year has been particularly brutal.

Parts of the United Arab Emirates and Iran experienced a heat index — a measurement that factors in humidity as well as temperature — that soared to 140 degrees in July, and Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, recorded an all-time high temperature of nearly 126 degrees. Southern Morocco’s relatively cooler climate suddenly sizzled last month, with temperatures surging to highs between 109 and 116 degrees. In May, record-breaking temperatures in Israel led to a surge in ­heat-related illnesses.

Temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq startled observers. On July 22, the mercury climbed to 129 degrees in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. A day earlier, it reached 129.2 in Mitribah, Kuwait. If confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, the two temperatures would be the hottest ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The bad news isn’t over, either. Iraq’s heat wave is expected to continue this week.

Stepping outside is like “walking into a fire,” said Zainab Guman, a 26-year-old university student who lives in Basra. “It’s like everything on your body — your skin, your eyes, your nose — starts to burn,” she said.
A taste of things to come. Soon this will be Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Southern California, including the breadbasket Central Valley ... and Mexico, even further south, with yet another reason for an increased north-moving wave of refugee migration.

A World War II-style mobilization is the only answer

Are we in an emergency yet? If you think so, say so.

That's genuinely important, and it's also useful, whether your personal reach is great or small. The more "normalized" the need for a World War II-style mobilization becomes — the more that people agree that we need it — the faster we'll get one. We really do have to give fire back to Prometheus. There's time to avoid the worst as I see it, but not much. We could be essentially carbon-free in ten years with a strong and enforced emergency mobilization. We could also be over the hill in the next ten years and picking up speed at an alarming rate.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP
 


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