Monday, October 02, 2006

Climate change news

The practical implications of global warming for our everyday life are being increasingly emphasized. John Quiggin discusses effects on Australian water supply planning of lower rainfall as a possible consequence of warming (a broader perspective on Australia's future weather is here) while, the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre focuses on enhanced risks of bushfires (here). As I have remarked in an earlier post, we need to undertake policies to try to both reduce warming and to deal with the consequences of warming on the assumption that preventative policies have failed and will continue to fail to some degree.

In my environmental economics classes I mention the possibility of sustained releases of methane from vast sub-Arctic forests and bogs as a potential catastrophic event that could rapidly cause global warming problems to gallop out of control. The current issue of New Scientist summarizes studies suggesting that warming is concentrated in tundra areas with some parts of Alaska having warmed by 2 degrees C since 1950. Further warming of about 1 degree C, it is claimed, could initiate the feedbacks. Serious stuff.

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