Jerry commented that even if we were at 0% carbon emissions today, sea levels would continue to rise, due to a kind of delayed reaction to the carbon already in the atmosphere.
People smarter than I am, (here and here) say a global temperature rise of at least 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F) is inevitable, and that unless we do something right now, temperatures (and by inference sea levels) are likely to keep rising.
Mark Lynas in his book Six degrees: Our future on a hotter planet (Published 19 March 2007 by Fourth Estate, HarperCollins) gives a blow by blow account of the possible effects each degree of warming would have on the planet and on us. I recommend this book, although it has scared the pants off me! It is written so that the general public can make sense of the myriad scientific studies into climate change, with out their brains turning to mush.
We should reduce our personal emissions as much as it is in our power to do, right now, as well as lobby for stricter carbon emissions policies. Hello, Kevin? 5%, not good enough, mate.
People, like my family, who are looking at buying property, should consider future global warming impacts when deciding where to buy. We need to seriously consider that 2 degrees will happen in my lifetime and my grandchildren may face worse.
For example, sub tropical and tropical areas, (all of QLD) while experiencing long periods of drought, will experience periods of extreme storm activity. Cyclones may travel as far south as Sydney. The inland and southern parts of Australia will be subjected to increasing desertification. All coastal areas will be subjected to rising sea levels. See here and here for maps that show areas that may be inundated by rising sea levels.
That really doesn't leave much inhabitable land in Australia. I won't tell you where we have decided to buy, otherwise everyone will want to move there, driving land values out of our reach! ;)
Global warming may affect decisions on where to live in other ways, for example:
- Increased spread of diseases, like malaria, dengue fever, cholera and so on. A lot of diseases need certain conditions to survive, such as warmth, humidity, overcrowding and poor sanitation infrastructure.
- Food shortages. Global warming will change where crops can be grown, the amount of area available for growing crops, as well as the growing seasons, the types of crops able to be grown and the way important food crops are distributed.
- Water shortages. Increased severity and occurrences of drought will affect availability of water. Areas affected by floods and cyclones will experience problems with the quality of water, due to salinity, or compromised sanitation and sewerage systems.
- Civil unrest/Terrorism/War. Governments will not be able cope with a lot of the problems caused and/or exacerbated by global warming, this could lead to civil unrest, riots and even war. Social and economic problems will most likely increase worldwide, contributing to increased terrorist and criminal activity. Consider anecdotes about the behaviour of civilians and officials after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, to realise what an increase in natural disasters could lead to, even in supposedly "developed" nations.
I am not trying to be excessively morbid here. I would just like to explain some of the reasons I feel that caring for the planet is so important.
In order to avoid these outcomes we need to reduce our impact on the planet as much as we possibly can:
- By reducing our personal dinosaur juice addiction,
- by not succumbing to excessive consumption, and
- by being as self reliant as possible. (By self reliance, I don't mean rely only on yourself, we will always need family, friends and community. I mean don't rely on the government/mega corporations/science to fix, or change anything. Rely on your own instincts, judgement and skills, don't be an environmental lemming.)