The Sky Is Falling

The Sky Is Falling!
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For instance, imagine you're driving at miles per hour and there is a hazard in front of you, he said. Even if you slam on the brakes you will likely hit the hazard, but it's much better to hit it a 20 miles per hour rather than Earth is similarly hurtling towards a hazard, a time when many of today's most populous cities—places like New York, London, Singapore and Cairo—will become unbearably hot.

His study , published in Nature, The Projected Timing of Climate Departure from Recent Variability , predicts the first of these apocalyptic changes will be seen in Indonesia as soon as , and unprecedented temperature shifts will spread to other regions soon after. We can expect a heavy toll on humans and many species as extreme weather accelerates beyond anything we have experienced. Even Mora was shocked by the results of his study because, rather than using standard deviation, he based his study on the largest extremes he could find in historical records dating back years. Despite this conservative approach, he discovered that climate will move outside those bounds by One of the areas Mora is most concerned about is species extinction and although 20, species are disappearing every year, neither he nor any other scientist can predict which will vanish next.

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Can you accurately predict, given the height of the fall, whether you're going to be injured or precisely what your injuries will be? If you're lucky, perhaps you will limp away — but you might never walk again. Likewise, scientists cannot predict all the fallout from climate change, but humanity can minimize the impact by using its experience and knowledge.

Mora was also lead author in a study published in the journal PLOS Biology that looked at the disruptive impact of climate change on the oceans. Eighty percent of the animal protein consumed in the world comes from fish but he calculates by , roughly 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen or lack of biological productivity. This will threaten up to million of the world's poorest — those who rely on the ocean for food and jobs. Mora, who studies how biodiversity is impacted by overexploitation, habitat loss and climate change, advises we are losing six million hectares of forest a year, three million hectares of mangroves, square kilometres of seagrasses, and we have already said goodbye to 90 per cent of the top predators since He believes people who don't care about driving species down to extinction display a shockingly selfish view and lack of foresight.

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The good news is, our knowledge of climate is improving, as is our capacity to analyze what we learn, thanks to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC that is gathering data from 39 models in 21 different locations. The bad news is, readings are disturbing.

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By , the panel predicts the available fresh water per capita in India will be two-thirds what it is today. Some places are already heavily water-stressed, warned past panel chair Rajendra Pachauri, when I interviewed him, prior to the most recent IPCC report being released. He anticipated a global scarcity of food, which is particularly alarming as the panel predicts crop yields will likely decrease by up to two percent each decade, while the world's population rockets to nine billion by Rapidly melting Himalayan glaciers will affect million people in South Asia and about million people in China and the Tibetan Plateau.

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Pachauri said any suggestion that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would lead to massive reductions in economic output is incorrect. And there are many attractive, positive benefits. The sooner we act the cheaper it will be. While climate change deniers have attacked the IPCC in the past, it is interesting to note that thousands of leading experts around the globe have sought to contribute to the assessments and comprehensive reports. That high number shows the panel's strong backing by the scientific community, said Pachauri, who was re-elected by acclamation in and stepped down in The past chairman's message is just as powerful today as it was when we spoke.

Earth's climate is changing and the data shows how it is happening. We know the results of inaction will be extremely serious, particularly in the most vulnerable regions of the world.

The panel's predictions of increasing frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and heat waves were echoed in a report , Turn Down the Heat , commissioned in by the World Bank. If we fail to act it forecasted a potentially devastating four-degree rise in temperatures by the end of this century. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim forecasted the inundation of coastal cities and increasing risks for food production as dry regions become dryer, wet regions wetter.

Close to a quarter of the world's coral reefs have already vanished and another third are threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, over fishing, increasing ocean temperatures and acidification.


Coral bleaching has devastated parts of the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Australia and now the problem has spread to Kimberley in the northwest. Reporting across the Pacific shows the extensive nature of the problem and the dramatic impact of temperature changes on reefs. Experts say the effect on marine life could be catastrophic. He offers a frightening example of the devastation happening around the world when he talks about the Irish Sea, a body of water between Ireland and England.

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Reports from the s and s described an abundance of huge fish here including cod, conger eels, ling, halibut and giant skates measuring meters across. But problems began when sailing trawlers moved into the area and started dragging nets across the seabed, pulling up seaweeds, sponges, sea fans, corals and more. Fish stocks declined and the seabed habitat was degraded. By the late 19th century trawlers with steam engines were towing much bigger nets, going deeper, farther offshore and fishing round the clock.

The abundance of fish was knocked down even more, while impacts on the seabed broadened as diesel engines intensified trawling and new technologies such as better fish finders were developed. As fish became less plentiful people turned to harvesting scallops and prawns, using fine mesh nets and heavy dredges to scour the seabed. The result? I only saw five things that were alive and one was dying: two scallops, two sea urchins and a smashed clam perforated by a dredge spike.

The oceanographer explains this kind of harvesting is bad for all the ecological processes that go on in the sea, including sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and locking it away in sediments, a process greatly reduced by the removal of filter feeders on the seabed.

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In the United States , the most common name for the story is "Chicken Little", as attested by illustrated books for children dating from the early 19th century. By clicking 'Got It' you're accepting these terms. In reality, in comparison to the life experience of most people throughout history, and a lot of people alive today, our version of tragedy is an acorn on the noggin. In this version of the story, all of the barnyard fowl blame the larks for breaking up the sky and causing it to fall—which is why Hen Pen, Duck Luck, Goose Loose, and the rest turn to Fox Lox well known as a foe of larks for help. Walt Disney Pictures has made two animated versions of the story. Benjamin Thorpe's translation of Thiele's Danish story was published in and given the title "The Little Chicken Kluk and his companions". It's from that one time the sky fell in the midth century.

We are witnessing an increase in harmful algae blooms that are toxic to plankton and he predicts a time when people will not want to holiday at the seaside because it will be too dangerous and unpleasant. For example, intensive pig farming in France releases huge amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous into the sea, producing masses of slimy seaweed that wash up along the coast in Brittany. Rotting in vast heaps, it produces lethal hydrogen sulfide gas and has resulted in the deaths of people and animals exposed to the slurry. Some argue that dredging the seabed is no worse than plowing the land, but there is a fundamental difference: In the oceans we can't use chemicals to manipulate the environment.

We have to rely on the sea's ability to repair itself. Roberts worries about the loss of biodiversity in the ocean because when we convert it from the richness and complexity of two centuries ago to the monocultures of prawns and scallops of today, we lose a great deal of the ecosystem's resilience and stability. Already there is an increasing frequency of disease affecting prawns, crabs and other crustaceans. If we continue on this course many of the iconic species people know and love—albatrosses, penguins, leatherback sea turtles that have been around for million years—could become extinct.

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