Energy and Climate: Confluence of Disasters (A Quick Post)


The Oil Drum has an excellent post covering the recently released findings over the major drop (30%) in the temperature of the the Gulf Stream, the warm currents that from the N. America flow east to warm Europe. (Note that this report was curiously timed against current discussion in Montreal on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol.)

Immediate Implication

What are the obviously implications if the Gulf Stream deteriorates further?

1) Emphasizes the growing need for a stable energy supply to warm a chilling Europe, while the oil peak grows ever nearer and UK is already facing a potential energy crisis this winter.

2) As best said by Oil Drum’s Stuart Staniford:

That’s the warm water that didn’t go to Europe, and is now coming back into the tropics. Where’s it going again?

Smack into the region where North Atlantic hurricanes form, that’s where it’s going.

So if this result holds up and these trends continue, I think we can expect to see plenty more of this in the future: [Staniford shows a picture of wrecked oil rig in the Gulf Coast]

Broader Implications

The changes in the Gulf Steam is a microcosm for the broader implication of climate change:

1. There will be more extreme weather – very cold and very dry/hot. Both will lead to the increase use of heaters on one side and the use of air conditioners on the other. All energy hogs.

2. Extreme weather (like hurricanes) will make it more difficult and *expensive* to extract hydrocarbons (oil, natural gas etc) and difficult to transport.

Closing Remarks
In the distant land of Sudan (distant for the West, that is), a prolonged and extreme drought is partly to blame for the genocide, as conflict for water and land between herders and peasants gave with to a more ethnic conflict between Arabs (mostly herders) and Furs (mostly peasants).

While the role of climate change is little mentioned in the ongoing Darfur Genocide, with the climate change now bearing its weight to Europe we should expect to here more on this. While I doubt Europe will descend so easily to genocide, Sudan represents the extreme changes in human behavior to government policy that are possible and caused partly by climate changes.




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