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The Next Great Famine

January 18, 2016

“…One of the most important insights of recent studies is that, when the climate changes, it can do so swiftly and relentlessly. It is possible, in a human lifetime, to see sea levels rise and ice shelves break away, and, when they do, nothing about what happens next can be taken for granted. The climate record is full of sudden disasters. Studies have also clarified some of the mechanisms of the relationship between climate and shorter-term weather; a 2010 report on the M.W.P., published in the journal Climate Dynamics, looked at the connections between the rain in Europe, the temperature of the Indo-Pacific warm pool, and the flood levels of the Nile. The Great Famine looks like a fourteenth-century example of what we now call extreme weather. We are also learning how, in our own time, changing ocean temperatures can cause shifts in El Niño, the name given to a collection of weather patterns that originate in the Pacific and stretch across the globe; a “Godzilla El Niño” is credited for the oddly warm weather in the Northeast this winter. We have built cities and economies on assumptions about the seasons that may prove unstable….” (more)

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The long and short of climate instability.


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