Sat, Mar 30, 2013 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTER ]

‘Global weirding’ on the rise

Can a cold spell across Europe in March be evidence for global warming? Of course it can.

“Global warming” is actually a misnomer, as Pulitzer-winning author Thomas Friedman pointed out in his book Hot, Flat, and Crowded — it should really be called “global weirding.”

All climate change modelers have predicted that, while average global temperatures will increase, variation will also increase, which means that both hot and cold spells, as well as flood and drought frequency, will increase. Therefore, weird weather events like cold spells in March do not contradict, but support climate-change modeling.

A recent report in the world’s premier science journal Nature showed that climate models have been spot-on for the past 15 years. Confidence in model predictions is increasing with every refinement and there is little doubt that forecasts of dangerous temperature increases of two or more degrees Celsius by the middle of the century will come true if nothing changes in our energy production, agricultural practices and biodiversity protection.

This is well-known, but still people, including two whose letters have been published previously in the Taipei Times, continue to regurgitate denialist arguments about climate change which have been dismissed by literally hundreds of the world’s premier scientists.

Such scientific misinformation is becoming more dangerous for future generations.

Expecting a baby soon, it is becoming more incomprehensible to me that people would endanger our future generations in such irresponsible ways.

Taiwan is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The nation’s government should take note of a report recently published by the US Geological Survey entitled Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities. This report details the growing impact of climate change on coastal communities, especially low-lying areas, which will be impacted by sea-level rise, erosion, storms and floods.

Financial risks, such as the US$100 billion that Hurricane Sandy cost, will also increase.

Storm surge flooding and sea-level rise will pose significant threats to public and private infrastructure, which provide energy, sewage treatment, clean water and transportation of people and goods.

With the majority of Taiwan’s population and infrastructure located in low-lying coastal areas, it is almost criminal negligence that the nation’s government does not take climate change mitigation and adaptation more seriously.

Given the growing resistance to nuclear energy, a great expansion of renewable energy and higher energy efficiency are the only reasonable solutions, and could also spawn competitive export industries for the coming zero-carbon economy.

As the frequency of weird weather increases in the next decade, the nation will also have to invest billions of New Taiwan dollars in flood, drought and storm defenses, or suffer the consequences of being unprepared.

It really is time to wake up from the slumber and take “global weirding” seriously.

Flora Faun

Taipei

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