Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Climate Change 3: So Long Dixie

             A Few Notes on Climate Change, 3:
             So Long Dixie

             Whatever the facts are, and whichever the lies are, it’s a great show in any case. The latest plot twist was brought to me by “New Scientist” magazine, which reports, in their October 23-29, 2012 issue, about the danger of heat stress. It seems that prolonged exposure to “wet-bulb” (100% humidity) temperatures of 35 degrees C is fatal to human beings. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity, and it really can get you. First the elderly go, then the young and the sick, and then even the healthy die if they cannot get to shelter artificially cooled. Fortunately such weather is rare in our present climate.

             But turn up the global thermostat, and it’s a different story; or so New Scientist reports. It says that for every 1 degree C that global temperature rises, maximum wet-bulb temperature increases by 0.75 C; and if global temperatures go up 12 C, then the following lands become uninhabitable without cooling systems: most of Brazil, most of West Africa, most of Australia, Egypt through Jordan, parts of Spain and China, most of the USA’s South, most of the USA’s Eastern Seaboard, and (gulp) almost all of India.

             12 C is a long way to go, and New Scientist, ever alarmist, wonders out loud if that’ll happen by century’s end. And of course they bang the AGW drum. But let’s suppose that it’s all the sun’s fault; and let’s suppose further that only 4 C per century is the rate. Even then, that’s only 300 years until the above-mentioned lands become hostile to human life. Does India decamp? Where to? Do they put solar-powered AC in every hovel for a billion villagers? Do they build a geodesic dome over New Delhi?

             And over Dakar? And Cairo? And Tel Aviv? And Shanghai? And Bejing? And Perth? And Madrid? And Memphis, Jackson, Montgomery, Atlanta, Salem, Richmond, Louisville and Nashville?

             I suppose that’s possible, given time and money, but I’m sure you’ll agree that these are non-trivial technical challenges. I see a science-fiction story in this!

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