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Climate Change Rate To Turn Southern Spain To Desert By 2100, Report Warns (theguardian.com) 282

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned. Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said. The study, published in the journal Science, modeled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other. Temperatures would rise nearly 5C globally under the worst case scenario by 2100, causing deserts to expand northwards across southern Spain and Sicily, and Mediterranean vegetation to replace deciduous forests. Even if emissions are held to the level of pledges put forward ahead of the Paris deal, southern Europe would experience a "substantial" expansion of deserts. The level of change would be beyond anything the region's ecosystems had experienced during the holocene, the geological epoch that started more than 10,000 years ago. The real impact on Mediterranean ecosystems, which are considered a hotspot of biodiversity, could be worse because the study did not look at other human impacts, such as forests being turned over to grow food. The researchers fed a model with 10,000 years of pollen records to build a picture of vegetation in the region, and used that to infer previous temperatures in the Mediterranean. They then ran the model to see what would happen to the vegetation in the future, using four different scenarios of warming, three of them taken from the UN's climate science panel, the IPCC. Only the most stringent cut in emissions -- which is roughly equivalent to meeting the Paris aspiration of holding warming to 1.5C -- would see ecosystems remain within the limits they experienced in the Holocene.
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Climate Change Rate To Turn Southern Spain To Desert By 2100, Report Warns

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  • by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Thursday October 27, 2016 @11:37PM (#53166247)

    Much of the US too: http://web.archive.org/web/200... [archive.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've lived on Miami Beach for 30+ years. In the last 6 years or so, when there is heavy rain, the water comes up over the sidewalk and completely floods the streets - **every time**. This never used to happen, and now it's totally predictable. So yeah, shit is happening, and you can observe it yourself if you choose to.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        and there are no other changes in that time, for instance, another million lazy overfed stupid people moved to Miami and overloaded the drainage system?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've inherited some farmland in southern Georgia that is about 16 feet above sea level. Not worth a whole lot. Would love for it to be ocean front property. I burn extra carbon every chance I get.

        Screw the rabbits, they can swim for it.

        • Oceanfront property is overrated. Hurricanes keep knocking down the house and washing out the roads.

          Rabbit stew, on the other hand...

      • I've lived on Miami Beach for 30+ years. In the last 6 years or so, when there is heavy rain, the water comes up over the sidewalk and completely floods the streets - **every time**. This never used to happen, and now it's totally predictable. So yeah, shit is happening, and you can observe it yourself if you choose to.

        Oh boy - there's some dingdong I've had a row with who is gonna be pissed at you! He claims that there is absolutely no water rise issues in Miami, all is well, and all of the data claiming water rise is a conspiracy, all of the reports are a conspiracy, and there is no such thing as sea level rise.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 )

      It's important to note that this is a worst-case scenario, which typically means its somewhat improbable. Of course, the worst-case scenario also just so happens to make the best headlines.

      I'm not arguing that the climate isn't changing, or that's it's not worthwhile to curb pollutants and emissions. But I fear this constant fear-mongering is damaging climate science credibility as much as it's helping to push forward good environmental policies. This is highly reminiscent of the now laughable doomsday p [aei.org]

      • The area was a desert at the temperature we'll see in 2050. Why do you call that the worst case scenario?

        • Because that's what it said in the summary?

          • I don't see "worst case" in the Times article about Mark Lynas.

            • In The Guardian link:

              The study, published in the journal Science, modelled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other.

              Temperatures would rise nearly 5C globally under the worst case scenario by 2100, causing deserts to expand northwards across southern Spain and Sicily, and Mediterranean vegetation to replace deciduous forests.

              They ran four different projections, with the worst-case of these projections representing the 5C temperature increase and southern Spain ending up a desert. Unfortunately, the paper is paywalled, so we just have to rely on the summaries.

              • Those four scenarios were the four IPCC RCPs. The "worst case" is RCP8.5. We're trending slightly above RCP8.5. The other three include "negative emissions technology" and/or emissions reductions so steep that they would collapse the world economy.

                • So, you agree it's a "worst case" projection, at least in the context of the study, right? Not sure where the disagreement is then. Is my contention that "worst-case" projections are typically not the most likely?

                  RCP8.5 is, I believe, a somewhat improbable model used to generate these scenarios. For instance, it assumes population growth at the very high end of current projections, rather than the more current and reasonable productions of 8.7 billion peak at the middle of this century. It assumes massi

                  • There's currently no indication that the world is deviating from RCP8.5+. Some countries plan to reduce their fossil fuel burning (it's questionable how much will be possible - see Germany) while developing countries pick up every ton of coal they can find. The population curve still looks very alarming to me. 11 billion before the end of the century? Interesting.

        • Because by then Sergio Leone won't be around to film there!

      • That, and it seems like every time you read something written by people who are clinically depressed, they always talk about how people are getting poorer and poorer.

        https://ourworldindata.org/gra... [ourworldindata.org]

        • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @01:47AM (#53166639)

          I'd imagine many of those same people also still believe the world overpopulation doomsday predictions of the 70's [wikipedia.org], even though population is demonstrably trending toward peaking at around a very manageable 8.7 billion by 2055, according to recent analysis and predictions. I still encounter people (some here on slashdot) who are seriously worried about the world's population "problem", and pointing them at current trends and predictions seems to do nothing to dissuade them that it's really a non-issue.

          • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

            It's pretty logical why people over history want to believe the world/society/civilization is ending - it makes a superb excuse for extremely localized personal choices and values.

            • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday October 28, 2016 @08:58AM (#53167817) Homepage Journal

              It's pretty logical why people over history want to believe the world/society/civilization is ending - it makes a superb excuse for extremely localized personal choices and values.

              Societies and civilizations always end. That's what they do.

              Nobody said the world is ending. The claim is that it's about to get extremely inconvenient for humans.

              It's pretty logical why people move the goalposts — so they don't have to actually do anything to change.

              • Nobody said the world is ending. The claim is that it's about to get extremely inconvenient for humans.

                Stop making sense. This is a Slashdot global warming thread. We're all supposed to say science is full of shit.

          • I think the overpopulation thing is people being smug jerks to those who have children, or those who want to look down on other cultures. The fear that Africa and India are going to overtake Europe and the US on the world stage by breeding is a common thought in some right wing conspiracy circles, and it gives them a reason to feel superior. Like the movie Idiocracy with racism. It has more than enough logic to it to convince your uncle who is sure Obama is Kenyan.
            • News flash, they already have us outnumbered.
              Population of Africa: 1.22 billion
              Population of India: 1.25 billion
              Population of Europe: 0.74 billion
              Population of North America: 0.53 billion
              Population of South America: 0.42 billion

              The fundamental problem with overpopulation is the fact that the planet is finite - we're already consuming considerably more resources than the Earth's ecosystem can replace. The Earth is a lot bigger than us, so its not obvious, but in financial terms we're spending the capital ra

      • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @02:32AM (#53166743)

        It's important to note that this is a worst-case scenario
        No. The worst case scenario they considered is "Business as usual".

          which typically means its somewhat improbable

        Unfortunately not. It's the most likely scenario. The only positive note is that there doesn't appear to be a concerted effort to increase emissions so it's reasonably to reject scenarios with CO2e increasing faster than BaU (unless you think positive feedbacks for CO2 and CH4 emissions are starting to significantly kick in now)

        • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @08:06AM (#53167633)
          The 'scenario' is based on a simple yet unproven assumption that a warmer globe means a drier climate in specific localized regions. Yet there is no proof of this or a validated model for this. With our inability to understand the feedback mechanisms in a warmer world that we've not yet witnessed, we might find that precipitation actually increases in some of these regions.

          We can be serious about addressing CO2 issues without assuming everything must get worse everywhere as a result. I call general bullshit on the predictions that always say dry areas get dryer, wet areas get wetter, stormy regions get stormier. Its too simple an assumption in a complex system.
          • The 'scenario' is based on a simple yet unproven assumption that a warmer globe means a drier climate in specific localized regions. Yet there is no proof of this or a validated model for this.

            We know what weather patterns form deserts, and what produces those weather patterns. Are you saying that we can't take a good guess at what will happen if we simply pour more energy into the existing weather patterns? I suspect that's something we're fairly good at.

            With our inability to understand the feedback mechanisms in a warmer world that we've not yet witnessed, we might find that precipitation actually increases in some of these regions.

            Yes, we might. But probably not. We've already had the opportunity to observe significant global warming, so our ability to make declarative statements about it is improving over time, and you're pretending that it itsn't.

            I call general bullshit on the predictions that always say dry areas get dryer, wet areas get wetter, stormy regions get stormier. Its too simple an assumption in a complex system.

            That's not the predicti

            • We know what weather patterns form deserts, and what produces those weather patterns. Are you saying that we can't take a good guess at what will happen if we simply pour more energy into the existing weather patterns? I suspect that's something we're fairly good at.

              I am saying we can't predict what those weather patterns will be after a large shift in global temperatures. I don't know why you would suspect we are good at it, we can't predict rainfall or drought seasonally. There is no validated model that shows we can. You can assume we can, that's fine if you like.

              Yes, we might. But probably not. We've already had the opportunity to observe significant global warming, so our ability to make declarative statements about it is improving over time, and you're pretending that it itsn't.

              I never said we won't have warming over time. You must have read something I didn't say.

              That's not the prediction. This is a prediction about one specific dry area. You know what's more suspicious than a prediction that a dry area will get dryer? Refusing to accept such a plausible prediction. They're making a quite believable claim (adding energy to a system will increase its extremes) and you are making the exceptional counterclaim. It is you with the responsibility of providing exceptional evidence.

              I understand the prediction is one specific area. That is my point, We don't have that ability. I didn't refuse to acc

      • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @04:16AM (#53167019)

        Indeed. I once met an environmentalist who worked advising on carbon credits. I asked, what if CO2 isn't a real problem and meanwhile other pollutants are worse? The person replied, "it doesn't matter if CO2 isn't a problem, because by forcing a reduction in CO2, you're forcing a reduction in production, and a reduction in consumption," and then they added with emphasis, "it's about reducing greed."

        The whole climate change movement has unfortunately mixed together ethics and science. And used "science" as the "reason" to accept the ethics. You "MUST" cut CO2 and do it in the societal-changing ways we believe in.

        So I really am of the opinion that, by using science to push forward a particular ethics, they are damaging science's credibility as a source of OBJECTIVE truths.

        Ethics ARE indeed essential, and essential in a different domain: ethics are INTERSUBJECTIVE values. People get together and think about how they want to treat each other. It is subjective (you cannot "prove" that survival of the fittest is a better way to live than trying to help everyone be equal.) Ethical questions are things we reason out as a group, as a society, and so on. So it is inter-subjective whilst science focusses on objective truths.

        But the moment you wrap your particular ethical beliefs inside science hypothesis, models, and observations, then anyone who ends up disagreeing with that set of science hypotheses, models, and observations, ends up on the wrong side of the ETHICS, which is why "denialist" is used to mean that that person is NASTY horrible uncaring and funded by some evil interest group.

        I personally am all for a progressive humanity and humanism and more ethical living. It is morally ghastly that a human being born today might die in a war zone starving to death, or live a prosperous life, simply by accident of where they happened to be born on this rock. It is morally wrong also, that we don't seem to be able to organise around developing good abundant cleaner sources of energy (not windfarms, I said abundant) and instead are mired in decade-long politics and market crazy games. And, crucially, these are questions about ETHICS. They are not science.

        Kennedy even said in his Moon speech that technology has no ethics. We should be able to debate ETHICAL questions as a society and lay them clearly on the table as ETHICAL problems. We should not be trying to wrap ethical questions into "science" and claim the science theory happens to DEMAND the particular ethical view which you or some interest group holds. This whole "we HAVE to act" mantra and that you're a "denialist" if you happen to question their view, is absolute rubbish. And it is damaging the public's view of science.

        Separate ethics from science, and allow each to do their own job, by their own methods.

        • Very well said, thank you.

          I've met similar environmentalists who went as far as to say, in so many words: "We don't want solutions that don't force a reduction in greed". That was a while ago though, and thankfully that attitude has changed for the better with mainstream environmentalists. Nowadays, their line is that reduction of one type of pollution is good even if that kind of pollution turns out to be not much of a problem: reductions are often achieved by cleaner engines, improved efficiency and
        • "it's about reducing greed."
          The whole climate change movement has unfortunately mixed together ethics and science. And used "science" as the "reason" to accept the ethics. You "MUST" cut CO2 and do it in the societal-changing ways we believe in.

          Here's the problem. You think they're objecting to greed on some whimsical basis. They aren't. They're objecting to it on the basis of physics. If we continue to live extractively, we are going to continue to force global warming. The biosphere cannot sustain our greed.

          I personally am all for a progressive humanity and humanism and more ethical living.

          Well then shut the fuck up and stop working against it, idiot.

      • Civilization Will End Within 15 Or 30 Years

        Yeah, this point is exactly like TFA :
        also paraphraseable as "if nothing ever changes and absolutely everything keeps as it is now, we will be doomed".
        Except that things change anyway, no matter what people want.

        (And same with today's prediction. By 2100, there are probably going to be tons of other factors changing.
        Maybe people's energy requirement will be lower simply because it's cheaper overall.
        (lower consumption electric/electronic gizmos == cheaper electricity bill)
        Maybe electric car will get more pop

      • by idji ( 984038 )
        You note these positive outcomes which were about protecting natural resources. The next one we need to do is reduce C02 in the atmosphere. If we don't have this positive outcome then the doomsday scenarios are real, We are already over 400 ppm and it's going up fast. We now live in the Anthropocene - our generation has changed the planet forever - no previous generations did that. The future will not be like the past - our actions will continue to change the planet. and it seems to me that the switch to so
        • Taking matters into our own hands is a nice thought, but solar+battery are not happening on any meaningful scale. Such installations rely heavily on subsidies and absent far better battery technology than we have, will always depend on the grid. However, the grid can't support more than a small fraction of solar, as California is learning [euanmearns.com] now.

          The problem we face is that most "greens" have lost sight of the goal, which should be maximizing reduction of emissions. Instead, they are busy waging a war on nuc

      • It's important to note that this is a worst-case scenario, .

        Further clarification. Its a worst case scenario based on an unproven model.

      • Most of these predictions have had band-aids applied to them over the last 45 years to mitigate the impacts, policies and programs that have done a ton of work.

        All of those things are still major problems currently, ALL of them.

        So what's the problem really, that scientists make predictions or that people can't get their head around the fact that things change over a 50 year period?

      • But I fear this constant fear-mongering is damaging climate science credibility as much as it's helping to push forward good environmental policies.

        I fear that people who jam everyone into the most radical fringes of any thought process do a fair bit of damage as well.

        Because life just doesn't work that way. Not everyone is fringe.

        If there is an apocalypse that is based on AGW, it will possibly be based on humanity destroying most of itself through the time honored standard ways, such as warfare. As countries find a changing climate they might become desperate and invade other countries.

        Because as the climate and resulting weather patters shift

      • Doom's day preachers have been at it since time immemorial. Go and read the Illiad - the world's oldest book - it also talks about past golden times and future doom and gloom and that was in about 850 BC. There is nothing new under the sun really.
      • by NetNed ( 955141 )
        Environmental awareness is fine. Climate change doesn't help this as it sucks money away from truly good efforts to clean areas up and protect lands. Clean waters, stopping pollution, etc, have all lost funds to the succubus of climate change. It's might raise awareness but if funding is robbed from these other causes it hurts them more than helps.
      • On the other hand, the worst-case projections for human carbon emissions have consistently been exceeded since we first realized that we were going to have a problem over a half-century ago, so there's reason to be concerned as well.

  • Worth mentioning that climate models are not reliable at anything less than continental scale (according to IPCC), and even then, there is [nature.com] some [yimg.com] doubt [dailycaller.com] about their accuracy at any scale.
    • So the reality could be far worse than these predictions?
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @12:19AM (#53166381)
    The Rain in Spain stays mainly out-of-the Plain...
  • Big deal (Score:3, Funny)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday October 28, 2016 @12:20AM (#53166387)
    In billions of years the sun is going to encompass the Earth, right? Global warming is in our future.
    • In billions of years I will be a brain in a jar attached to a robot on a portable mini-planet circling a different star.

  • They can film them there and create a renewed film industry.

  • Doubt it got greener since then.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 28, 2016 @01:34AM (#53166617)

    Southern spain is desert by most peoples definitions already.
    every place where people are not actively agriculturing has been desolated by farming already.. like a fucking 1000 years ago by now?

    basically, this leads to believe that they haven't actually been to spain. or even looked at google maps. just compare italy to spain. hell, if you looked at pictures of spanish civil war prior to WW2(!!!!) it's already like that.

    https://www.google.co.th/maps/place/Spain/@39.8596584,-12.7036393,2880738m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0xc42e3783261bc8b:0xa6ec2c940768a3ec!8m2!3d40.463667!4d-3.74922

    it's not desert only in places that have human agriculture, so fuck this study - give a better one.

  • Well, I'm about to turn 51. As one of the tech people who have been in tech since the early 1980s, I'd mention that my generation protested, worked as activists, and put ourselves out there not only for tech issues- but also for environmental ones.

    My generation (the boomers), of which I'm in the youngest portion of, can't help you younger folks with this. Sure we vote. But increasingly we are retired, or worse sick.

    You young kids need to pick up the pace. We're not able to anymore. We did our best: you need

  • I bet by 2100 most of the Southwestern United States will be a desert, too! Oh, the humanity!

  • Have any of you actually been to southern Spain. It already looks like New Mexico or Nevada. It seems pretty dry already.

    The palm trees were also a bit of a shock. I was not expecting to see those in Europe.

    • Have any of you actually been to southern Spain. It already looks like New Mexico or Nevada. It seems pretty dry already.

      It used to be all forests before the Spanish chopped down all the trees to build houses and fleets.

      But, of course, instead of the Spanish taking responsibility for destroying their own environment, it's now "climate change".

  • Wouldn't it be a hoot if we start accepting very detailed climate models just as the sun, perhaps as predicted by new solar dynamics models and historically low sunspot activity enters a cooling phase that is unmodeled as a reduction int the energy input to the earth?

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