Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

We already knew this, but it's disturbing

Gillis and Fountain in the NYT discuss the fate of the boreal forest. That is the vast coniferous regime that wraps the earth south of the tundra, across Siberia, Alaska and Canada. Something like 1,000 square miles of it just burned in Alberta, which made the news, but it's burning more and more everywhere. You already know why: hotter temperatures, earlier snowmelt, pine bark beetles.

You may also ask why there was a city of 80,000 people by the banks of the black-fly infested Athabasca river in the desolate arctic forest -- you know, the one the people just had to flea before the conflagration. It's because they were occupied in mining tar sands, ultimately to pump the C02 into the atmosphere which was responsible for destroying 10% of their city. There's worse news, which is that if the forest keeps burning like this it will cease to be a carbon sink and will become a net emitter of carbon.

Joe Romm makes it crystal clear. We can't afford even the 2 degree warming target. We can't delay action, wait for a technological fix or afford ourselves the luxury of time. The time is now.

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