So the truth is that tornadoes probably will not terrorize downtown Los Angeles 'the day after tomorrow,' nor will the northern Atlantic freeze solid, like the blockbuster Hollywood scare movie suggests. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned about the long-term consequences our energy consumption will have on mother Earth. To illustrate the dangers of various rising-temperature scenarios, Results for America, a Campaign of the Civil Society Institute, has unveiled the 'Global Warming Probability Wheel.' After all, without foresight all we can do is spin the wheel and hope for the best outcome as we continue burning our fossil fuels with little regard for tomorrow.
Even a smaller rise in global temperatures would be devastating. According to the probability wheel, 'A 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit temperature increase will likely bring regional shifts in climate and greater risk of floods, storms, and droughts. For example, Australia and Africa could suffer more frequent and extreme water shortages, while increased flooding might occur in Southeast Asia and along the Mississippi river... Even at this relatively low level of warming, there could be a widespread increase in the risk of malaria and certain other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.'
Whereas the scariest scenario on the wheel could spell drama reminiscent of a Hollywood movie: 'A temperature increase of greater than 10 degrees Fahrenheit could bring widespread and catastrophic changes. The droughts, floods, and heat waves likely to occur in any global warming scenario would be especially intense. Ecosystems and human populations would have difficulty adapting to such a large and rapid temperature change -- ecosystems could be damaged by fire and insects, and the food supply would be reduced by heat stress and diminished agricultural output. Over 10 million people could lose their homes in Bangladesh alone due to a 3-foot rise in sea level.'
By the way, this writer was twice as likely to spin a
temperature increase of greater than 10 degrees Fahrenheit than one
of between 2 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
-- Jacob Wheeler
Go there>>Global Warming Probability Wheel
- Results for America
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Global Warming
- Global Warming: Early Warning Signs
- U.S. National Climate Data Center
- National Resources Defense Council
Related Links from the Utne Archive:
- The Pentagon Sounds the Alarm on Global Warming
- The Environmental Issue From Hell($$)
- Climate Change and Global Warming a Reality
- Global Warming May Trigger an Ice Age Soon
Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor
Like this? Want more?Subscribe to Utne magazine