Climate change in Taipei
I told you so!
Since my first letter to the Taipei Times (Letters, June 13, 2011, page 8), I have warned of the dangers of climate change in several letters, for which I have been called a “fraud” and an “eco-fascist.”
Now we have a new record temperature for Taipei (“Taipei bakes on hottest day in 117 years,” Aug. 9, page 1). If the proof is in the pudding, then the pudding is the melting asphalt of Taipei’s streets.
Since my last letter on climate change (Letter, April 14, page 8), the case has only become stronger.
There are now measurements published by the scientific journal Nature that the methane time bomb frozen in the soils of the Arctic tundra is about to go off. These huge amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide, will cause a positive feedback loop with unforeseeable consequences for the climate and economy.
Estimates of future climate damage go as high as US$60 trillion, according to Gail Whiteman at the Rotterdam School of Management. Food prices and other living costs will inevitably go up — lower and middle class, are you listening?
The equally prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published two articles, one showing that hurricanes will become more frequent, stronger and wetter, and another one that Boston, New York and Miami are threatened by rising sea-levels. For Taiwan this means typhoons flooding Greater Kaohsiung, Taitung and Taipei.
Due to all that climate change, polar bears have been found starved, but also some of Taiwan’s forests are starting to dry out. A recent expedition to the northeastern coastline by a team from National Taiwan University showed that subtropical forest trees are already dying of drought.
Climate change has even been linked to violent behavior — Egypt, Syria, Yemen, the death of Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), anyone?
However, climate change can also be seen as the opportunity of a lifetime, if you listen to US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. A carbon tax could spark business innovation, grow jobs and strengthen the economy. Is anybody listening in President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government?
Anyway, here is my daring prediction: Within the next five years, the 40oC mark will be broken. Who dares to take on this bet? Because I will win for sure.