25 November 2017   Leave a comment

Climate change is difficult to assess since the effects, although global, will only be experienced locally.  But researchers have come up with a way to represent visually the changes about which we should be concerned.  David Roberts assesses the attempt by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to demonstrate the risks  (“Reasons for Concern”, RFC) of climate change graphically.  Roberts explains the graph:

“The thermometer on the right shows temperatures relative to preindustrial levels; the thermometer on the left shows them relative to 1986-2005. The distance between the two blue lines is warming that occurred through 2005. (As that note on the right indicates, warming is up a bit 2003-2012.)”

“Following the IPCC, risks are divided into five buckets or RFCs:

  1. Risks to unique and threatened systems. These are ecological or human systems that are geographically constrained and have a high degree of “endemism” — they are uniquely adapted to a particular geography and climate. The authors cite as examples “tropical glacier systems, coral reefs, mangrove ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, and unique indigenous communities.”
  2. Risks associated with extreme weather events. This is what it says, i.e., “risk to human health, livelihoods, assets, and ecosystems from extremes such as heat waves, heavy rain, drought and associated wildfires, and coastal flooding.”
  3. Risks associated with the distribution of impacts. This reflects the fact that some groups will be hit earlier and harder than others. Distribution of impacts can be uneven with respect to “geographic location, income and wealth, gender, age, or other physical and socioeconomic characteristics.”
  4. Risks associated with global aggregate impacts. This refers to “impacts to socio-ecological systems that can be aggregated globally according to a single metric such as lives affected, monetary damage, number of species at risk of extinction, or degradation and loss of a number of ecosystems at a global scale.”
  5. Risks associated with large-scale singular events. These are the much-discussed “tipping points,” whereby a series of incremental changes pushes some system over a threshold, at which point it shifts into a period of rapid, discontinuous, and sometimes irreversible change. The iconic example here is “disintegration of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets leading to a large and rapid sea-level rise.”

There is too much information to grasp quickly, but the graph is worth careful study.



Pakistan has been rocked by protesters throughout the country, led primarily by a political party that believes that the government is not enforcing the anti-blasphemy laws effectively.  Specifically, the party, Tehreek-e-Labaik, took serious exception to a purported change in the oath of office elected officials are expected to take when inaugurated.  Reuters describes the dispute in this way:

Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the law minister, Zahid Hamid, for wording in an electoral law that changed a religious oath proclaiming Mohammad the last prophet of Islam to the words “I believe”, a change the party says amounts to blasphemy.

“The government put the issue down to a clerical error and swiftly changed the language back.”

Pakistan has ordered the army to put down the protests which have occurred in a large number of cities: Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.

Posted November 25, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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