In the past couple of weeks there have been several research studies projecting environmental consequences to rising global temperatures. It is an interesting mix of good and bad. Let's start with the good.
Climate change studies of the southern and eastern parts of Africa show a short benefit with increasing yields of staple food crops. These areas project increased rainfall through the 2030s leading to bumper crops of corn, rice and wheat, and as long as temperatures do not exceed plant tolerance levels should see better harvests.
But what one continent receives another loses. The same studies project that much of southeastern Latin America will face increasingly drier conditions requiring major investments in irrigation by the 2030s.
And both inevitably will be impacted negatively by atmospheric warming throughout the latter part of the century with temperatures exceeding the heat tolerance limit of current staple crops. So by 2090 without the development of new heat tolerant crop strains both regions of the planet will witness dramatic drops in yields.
The two global maps shown below illustrate the near-term (2030) and longer-term (2090) projections and the degree of confidence the research provides based on the data studied. It is interesting to note that climate change negative impacts remain significant in the American and Canadian corn and wheat belts throughout the century. In contrast eastern parts of North America and much of Eastern Europe through Russia will be beneficiaries of rising atmospheric temperatures. From the the 2030s through the 2090s the study projects a trend towards increasing water scarcity reaching severe levels in much of the American Southwest, Spain Iraq, Iran, Southeastern Australia, India and Pakistan, and the Yellow River basin of Northern and Central China.
Another good news climate change item reported in the last week is the dramatic recovery of an isolated coral reef that suffered bleaching back in the 1990s. Based on an Australian study over 15 years of Scott Reef located in the Indian Ocean the researchers happily reported the reef's full recovery. The massive bleaching was attributed to a number of environmental insults including rising ocean temperatures, disturbances to water quality and overfishing. Scott Reef may be an anomaly but it does speak to the resilience of life even in the presence of profound environmental disturbances. Let's hope that Scott Reef is not "the isolated case."
Now for the bad news. It seems that rising atmospheric temperatures will impact airfares. The reason, rising atmospheric turbulence will mean more wear and tear on jet planes traveling ocean routes. As reported in Nature Climate Change this week, it won't be just the storms that will make air travel less comfortable. Researchers predict increasing incidents of clear-air turbulence resulting from global warming. Clear-air turbulence is impossible to detect until an airplane enters the airspace where it is occurring. It often produces some pretty rough rides leading to damaged aircraft and injured passengers. The North Atlantic, the busiest air corridor today on the planet, will see "a 10 - 40% increase in the median strength of turbulence and a 40 - 170% increase in the frequency of occurrence of moderate-or-greater turbulence." So for the airlines it means higher operational costs and for passengers higher airfares and bumpier flights, a consequence of global climate change.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
KEEP UP WITH WFS NEWS & UPCOMING EVENTS
November 27, 2015 - This sounds like science fiction at its spookiest but a Los Angeles-based artificial intelligence company called Humai, short for Human Resurrection Through Artificial Intelligence, is working on reinventing afterlife.
November 26, 2015 - Genome editing tools are about to make an enormous impact on the environment. Just in the last few days the Food and Drug Administration in the United States made a decision that a genetically modified salmon was approved as safe to eat.
November 25, 2015 - Yesterday in Van Horn, Texas, Blue Origin launched and recovered its New Shepard launch vehicle.
November 25, 2015 - Yesterday while walking my dog I entered into a conversation with a neighbour on the subject of climate change. He began by stating, "Do you really believe it's real?" I began by listing the enormous amount of scientific evidence accumulated over the last four decades.
November 24, 2015 - When Costa Rica submitted its
November 24, 2015 - The most recent mind sharing from Peter Diamandis is truly about the mind and how technology interacts with it today and what's coming down the pipe. It's, how we say, mind boggling. Let me know through comments what's on your mind.
November 22, 2015 - Vancouver's D-Wave continues to be the quantum computing pioneer. Among its early adopters are Google, NASA and Lockheed-Martin. Each D-Wave quantum computer has cost these companies a cool $15 million U.S.