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Warmest Oceans Ever -- via El Nino and GHG

Trends, Indicators and Warnings are key to early crisis management. Ocean temperatures are giving us those climate change decision making tipping points.

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I attended a conference yesterday with several California and US House of Representatives speakers.  They spoke to the coming bill: Waxley-Markey House Bill 2454, named the Energy Independence and Security Act.  The bill hasn't made its way all the way to the President's desk yet...but the speakers recapped how climate change needs early intervention.  Why?  Because TRENDS, INDICATORS and WARNINGS are seen that something significant is happening.  And the earlier we take action to curb known problems, the less the long term costs and effort will be when the crisis hits.  The alternative is unthinkable.

This came across my desk today...

The world's oceans were warmer in July than at any time in the 130 years of record-keeping, averaging 62.6 degrees F (17 C), according to the U.S. National Climate Data Center.

July's temperature was 1.1 degrees F warmer than the 20th century average.

Scientists say the high ocean temperatures are primarily the result of global warming and an El Nino climate cycle in the Pacific, which boosts ocean temperatures.

Unusually warm sea temperatures were recorded from the

  • Gulf of Mexico temperatures hovered near 90 degrees F -- to the
  • Arctic ocean temperatures as much as 10 degrees F above normal were measured in some places
  • Mediterranean Sea was roughly 3 degrees warmer than normal
  • Indian Ocean also experienced higher than normal temperatures
  • Usually frigid waters off the state of Maine rose to 72 degrees in some locale

Scientists are concerned that rising ocean temperatures will hasten the bleaching and destruction of coral. They also warn that, although it takes longer for the ocean to heat up than the air, once the ocean absorbs heat, it radiates it back into the atmosphere for a long time, further exacerbating global warming.


The solution?  Immediate action to curb greenhouse gas production, energy efficiency  to reduce necessary energy use, and conversion to renewable energy sources.   And committment to "turn it off' when not in use!

Part of every crisis management situation is behavior change.  Individual responsibility. 

First comes the skill to manage crises -- such as the military uses with its "trends, indicators and warnings" decision making approach.  They find that the earlier good decision making is employed that weighs the cost of early action vs. the potential danger of doing nothing -- the lower the casualties.

We could learn from that.   First, let's strengthen our management approach:

  • Trends
  • Indicators
  • Warnings
... and don't wait for 100% certitude before evasive action or solutions are implemented.

We have the know-how.  Now we need the will to take early action.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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