But, there are two buckets of trouble here. First is the nearly endless troubles from melting ice on human and natural environments. Mass ice melt causes sea level rise, which destroys coastlines, habitat, deltas, mangroves, coral reefs, and of course cities and tourism.
Melting glaciers will also disrupt the flow of rivers, aquifer recharge, and electricity (hydropower and nuclear power). Many rivers around the world get their water from glaciers, and the same holds for aquifers, which fuel drinking water and irrigation supplies to billions around the world.
Take the glaciers in the Andes mountains for one example. Several have already disappeared, completely melting away. They’re melting faster than scientists predicted, and Peru has asked the United States for emergency funds to build damns to contain the water produced from the last remaining glaciers. The damns, in other words, would store the water rather than glaciers. There are too many to list here, but the effects are enormous.
The second problem is much simpler, but deeply embarrassing: 4 degree Celsius. Americans do not understand Celsius, they understand (sort of) temperature in terms of Fahrenheit.
Nearly all climate change reporting focuses on 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. We hear it so often from the UN, IPCC, even the US National Climate Assessment quotes Celsius. The problem is that it is not true!
The projected rise in temperatures will vary across the globe. Temperatures in New England are expected to rise by nearly 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of 2100. But this isn’t the case for the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures are expected to rise by as little as 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, not only is reporting one common number (2 degrees Celsius) confusing for Americans, it’s not even a relevant number. As comical and embarrassing as those facts are, there’s no escaping American Ignorance.
This is a major communications problem that scientists just do not grasp. American’s think in terms of their own communities and regions. New England will not feel the same types of impacts as the Southwest, and the folks in each of these regions think very little of the temperatures elsewhere. (I know, there are a few exceptions).
Why did I bring this Celsius vs Fahrenheit issue up? The United States is the most powerful country in the world (despite our education and health deficiencies). The rest of the world, including the World Bank, which put out the above report on climate, requires U.S. support. Climate change solutions require American support. And if scientists refuse to speak the native language, no one is going to listen…