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Climate Change Impact on Weather Underestimated

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An article by PSI’s Jeff Kargel recently published in GlacierHub told of how his earlier views on the impact of climate change on our weather underestimated the reality we are now seeing.

“The world is unprepared for the turmoil of further climate change and extreme weather,” Kargel writes in “Climate Confession: I Was Wrong” that can be found at

“I was not thinking about abruptly changing behaviors of the gigantic currents of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. In 2005, I thought that climate change was gradual and readily manageable. I was wrong,” Kargel wrote. “I didn’t consider nonlinear effects—the tipping points—that climate change would have on individual components of the Earth system."

In followup comments, Kargel said “Alarmingly, politicians are demanding to operate Planet Earth on naïve whims, ignoring expert guidance. With controlled emissions, climate near Eugene, Oregon, for instance, may stabilize like today’s Georgia. Lacking controls, it will become subtropical by 2100 and approach the climate of today’s Panama by 2150, as exemplified by Eocene fossils of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon (

If combustion of fossil fuels grows without restraint, much of the world, including the the Middle East and some warm regions of the U.S. will become uninhabitable. 42 million years ago greenhouse gases were as abundant as projected by 2100 with no emissions control; despite that, a natural ‘hothouse Earth’ ( had resplendent life up to ice-free poles (

Life is resilient. Will constrained adaptation time allow a successful transition for civilization? As PSI’s David Grinspoon wrote in Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future, “Today we stand at a pivotal juncture, and the answer will depend on the choices we make.” (

Grinspoon concludes: “Nobody knows the odds of our being able to navigate the evolutionary obstacles before us, but there is real hope, and it is this: that our evolving technological capabilities can allow us to maximize our innate social prowess, equipping us to meet the novel threats we have accidentally created, and to become something new in the process.”

Today we face a global pandemic. All pandemics end. We will prevail in this immediate crisis. When our attention returns to climate change, I am hopeful that we will make correct choices.

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March 29, 2020
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