Photograph by Maartje Geels, Hollandse Hoogte/Redux
Published October 9, 2013
In seven years, inhabitants of New Guinea could be living in an unfamiliar world, one with a wholly different climate. A new analysis published today in the journal Nature finds that by 2020, New Guinea's climate will permanently enter a state never seen before, outside of the bounds of historical variability and short-term extremes.
To put it simply: The coldest year in New Guinea after 2020 will be warmer than the hottest year anyone there has ever experienced.
The global analysis also predicts that if greenhouse gases continue to be emitted at a "business as usual" rate, New York City and Washington, D.C., will experience radically altered climates in 2047 (plus or minus about five years for a margin of error). So in about 35 years, even the coldest monthly dips in temperature on the eastern seaboard will be warmer than any time in the past 150 years.
"We're providing a new metric on when ongoing climate change will lead to environments like we have never seen before," lead researcher Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii told reporters, "when the coldest year of the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past."
The study's authors refer to this new metric as a "climate departure."
By combining data from 39 different climate models, Mora and his team built a timetable of these climate departures for any given location on Earth. Along with their study, Mora and his colleagues published an interactive map that allows users to find the year of climate departure anywhere on the globe.
Identifying the Date of Climate Departure
The index uses temperature records from 1860 to 2005 to set the historical bounds of climate variability, then crunches projections from the 39 climate models to identify a year, specific to any point on a global map, when the temperatures will shift outside of those historical bounds for good.
The study actually makes two projections: one "optimistic" scenario that, in Mora's words, "reflects a strong and concerted reduction in carbon dioxide emissions"; and one "business as usual" scenario in which emissions rise unimpeded by international climate agreements or strong domestic policies in the developed world. (The dates given so far all refer to this "business as usual" scenario.)
The average date of climate departure globally is 2047, according to the more pessimistic model (putting New York City and Washington, D.C.—as well as Ankara, Turkey, and Kampala, Uganda—right at the global mean). If greenhouse gases are stabilized at what Mora refers to as an "optimistic" level (538 parts-per-million of atmospheric carbon dioxide), the global average pushes back to 2069, but inhabitants of New Guinea still would experience the climate departure in 2025.
Either way, say the study's authors, climate departure at some point in the relatively near future is inevitable. "We hope that this analysis will bring home the clear message that change is on its way, and that it will occur soon," said co-author Abby Frazier.
(Read "Rising Seas" in National Geographic magazine.)
Oceans Already Departed
In addition to the temperature records, the scientists generated climate departure timetables for other variables, including surface evaporation, precipitation, ocean surface temperature, and the acidity of the sea surface.
The calculations for ocean pH were stunning. Mora and his team found that ocean acidity in 2008 (give or take three years) already exceeded historic bounds. (A separate study, conducted by researchers based at Oxford University, recently reported that the oceans' rate of acidification is the fastest in 300 million years.)
Lower Latitudes First to Leave the Norm
Climate scientists often refer to the polar regions as the "canary in the coal mine" for climate change, as the physical changes in the upper latitudes are most dramatic and the temperature spikes the greatest.
But according to Mora, this focus on the startling absolute changes at the poles paints an incomplete picture. "In fact," said Mora, "our study shows that the tropics, not the poles, will be experiencing unprecedented climates first." Why is this? Mora explained that tropical regions have relatively little variability from year to year, whereas the Arctic and Antarctic are subject to much broader ranges of extremes.
Mora referred to this as a sort of "double jeopardy" of climate change. "The largest absolute changes are happening at higher latitudes," he said, but those dramatic temperature increases don't fully break out of the range of historical extremes. "Unprecedented climate is happening more rapidly at the tropics."
On average, tropical locations will reach their climate departures 15 years earlier than the rest of the world. All of the locations where the impacts will occur earliest—for instance, under the baseline scenario, New Guinea in 2020, Jamaica in 2023, Equatorial Guinea in 2024—sit at lower latitudes.
Mora said that this is particularly troubling for a couple of reasons. First, the tropics are "home to the greatest diversity of species on the planet," he said. "These species are adapted to a stable climate, and thus it's very easy for these small changes to exceed what a species can tolerate." Past studies have already shown that tropical species like coral are pushing up against their environmental limits.
Second, because the world's population is disproportionately concentrated in the tropics, unprecedented climate conditions will impact a larger percentage of the world's population.
Study co-author Ryan Longman, also at the University of Hawaii, pointed out that "countries first impacted by unprecedented climates are the ones with the least economic capacity to respond." Added Longman, "Ironically, these are the countries that are least responsible for climate change in the first place."
Let's look at another example of Goldes' offerings in "revolutionary new technology:"
Most Ludicrous Scamvention: Mark Goldes' "POWERGENIE"
One of the most laughable of Mark Goldes' many invention scams is his "POWERGENIE" horn-powered generator. The brilliant idea of this revolutionary breakthrough is to blow a horn at a magnetized tuning rod, designed to resonate at the frequency of the horn, and then collect the electromotive energy produced by the vibrations of the rod.
I'm not making this up.
POWERGENIE tuning rod engine explained - from the patent:
[The device incorporates] "an energy transfer and multiplier element being constructed of a ferromagnetic substance... having a natural resonance, due to a physical structure whose dimensions are directly proportional to the wavelength of the resonance frequency..."
"In this resonant condition, the rod material functions as a tuned waveguide, or longitudinal resonator, for acoustic energy."
"Ferrite rod 800 is driven to acoustic resonance at the second harmonic of its fundamental resonant frequency by acoustic horn 811, resulting in acoustic wave 816 within the rod having two nodal points... Bias magnet 801 produces magnetic flux 802 extending axially through both nodal points developed within rod 800... The sum electromotive force of coils 820 and 821 develops electrical current and power in resistive load 830."
- But the patent doesn't tell us who is going to volunteer to blow the horn at the rod all day. Perhaps it will come with an elephant.
Goldes claimed in 2008 that this wonderful triumph of human genius would bring his company, Magnetic Power Inc, one billion dollars in annual revenue by 2012. Magnetic Power Inc is now defunct, having never produced any "Magnetic Power Modules" - just as his company called "Room Temperature Superconductors Inc" is also now defunct, having never produced any "room temperature superconductors."
Mark Goldes' proofless claims regarding his make-believe ambient-heat-powered engine do not represent any new technology, or even a new pretense - they merely represent a rather old pretense.
"Before the establishment of the Second Law, many people who were interested in inventing a perpetual motion machine had tried to circumvent the restrictions of First Law of Thermodynamics by extracting the massive internal energy of the environment as the power of the machine. Such a machine is called a "perpetual motion machine of the second kind". The second law declared the impossibility of such machines."
"A perpetual motion machine of the second kind is a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work. When the thermal energy is equivalent to the work done, this does not violate the law of conservation of energy. However it does violate the more subtle second law of thermodynamics (see also entropy). The signature of a perpetual motion machine of the second kind is that there is only one heat reservoir involved, which is being spontaneously cooled without involving a transfer of heat to a cooler reservoir. This conversion of heat into useful work, without any side effect, is impossible, according to the second law of thermodynamics."
Goldes' make-believe ambient-heat-powered engine would be a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, as defined above. Goldes is not developing any such engine; he is merely developing a pretense - as usual.
Goldes' ambient-heat-powered engine would not merely "circumvent" the Second Law of Thermodynamics - it would actually DISPROVE the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
An engine that uses ambient heat would need to be able to DECREASE the entropy of the universe. The Second Law tells us that we can never decrease the entropy of the universe, or of an isolated system.
As a consequence of this law:
"It is impossible for any device operating on a cycle to produce net work from a single temperature reservoir; the production of net work requires flow of heat from a hotter reservoir to a colder reservoir."
In the make-believe ambient-heat-powered engine there are not two heat reservoirs at different temperatures; no reservoir would be available at any temperature other than the ambient temperature. No matter what cycle we design with this constraint, we will find that the cycle would have to be able to decrease the entropy of the universe in order to do any work.
The formulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics as a constraint on entropy change is one of the most beautifully simple, and well-established, laws of physics.
The Second Law tells us that we can never build an engine that does some work with heat taken from a heat reservoir, without also transferring some heat to another reservoir at a lower temperature.
An equivalent statement is that we can't decrease the total entropy of an isolated system.
The entropy change differential due to heat transfer to or from a reservoir is inversely related to the temperature at which the transfer occurs. The consequence is that transferring heat INTO a cold reservoir produces a larger GAIN in entropy, than the LOSS of entropy that occurs due to transfer of the same amount of heat FROM a hot reservoir. This noteworthy and remarkable inequality enables a heat engine to use some heat to do some work without violating the Second Law - as long as it can make use of two different heat reservoirs, at different temperatures. The ambient-heat-powered engine only involves a single reservoir, at a single temperature (at any given moment). When it reduces the entropy of the reservoir by using some of the heat to do work, it has no way to compensate by increasing the entropy anywhere else. Therefore we know for certain that the engine will disappoint us. It will never be able to do any work.
In Mark Goldes' patent application for his "POWERGENIE" horn-powered tuning-rod engine, he described the tuning-rod as "an energy transfer and multiplier element."
But of course, for the tuning-rod to "multiply" energy, it would need to disprove the law of conservation of energy. (Obviously the Patent Office should never have allowed such a description.)
Goldes' use of the term "energy multiplier element" reflects his pretense that the "revolutionary breakthrough" of the amazing "POWERGENIE" could disprove the law of conservation of energy, by presenting the world with a working "energy multiplier."
Goldes even claimed in 2008 that the POWERGENIE had been demonstrated already in an electric car, driven 4800 miles by his energy-multiplying horn-powered tuning-rod.
But it seems that most people, for some reason, had difficulty accepting the notion that the law of conservation of energy could be proven false.
And Goldes no doubt noticed that the Second Law of Thermodynamics - that "the entropy of an isolated system tends to increase with time and can never decrease" - is much less clear to most people than the conservation of energy.
So now, after leaving aside the pretense that he could somehow "multiply energy" with a magnetized tuning-rod, Goldes has chosen to focus, instead, on the pretense that he can disprove the Second Law with an engine powered by ambient heat.
There is no "new science" in any of Goldes' "revolutionary breakthroughs." There is only pseudoscience and pretense - and nothing new, at all.
An engine that needs no fuel is being prototyped.
It can be thought of as a refrigerator that generates
electricity. These engines are expected to scale to any size.
After validation, as mass production is achieved, each one will incrementally help to attack Global Warming.
Learn more about THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COOLS on the AESOP Institute website.
Skeptics may find CIRCUMVENTING SECOND LAW on that site of unusual interest.
Once validated by independent labs, mass production can take place worldwide.
Initially, 3D tabletop fabrication can be utilized.
This may prove to be a surprising, cost-competitive, alternative to fossil and radioactive fuels.
Which seems to disturb a couple of angry scientists. A successful desktop prototype will make their ill-grounded attempts to prevent completion of a prototype light up as pathological skepticism.
Great. It's like feeling the rumble of an oncoming freight train and I'm chained to the tracks. Help? Anyone? Help?
I am very new to this media as a forum to express and discuss issues at hand so maybe I don't understand, but I have just perused the 10 post prior to mine, expecting to find other intelligent people expressing their thoughts on the above article. Unfortunately only one other person even bothered to relate their thoughts regarding "Climate Departure", while everyone used their voice to complain. I don't see what any of that has to do with the article published by NatGeo. What are your thoughts on that subject?
"when the coldest year of the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past."
I hate to even speculate as to the kind of world we are leaving our grandchildren. I wonder would we be willing to leave our cars in the driveway, to use public or alternative transportation...I won't object to a horse...but seriously this is scary. What's even more disturbing is the damage is done for the most part and our puny efforts to scale back now won't even amount to a drop of water in the ocean. How could we have been so selfish?
I used to worry about things like climate change, actually since the 1960's when I read Rachel Carsons, The Sea Around Us, but it's a fruitless exercise. Either the scientists are correct and the world will become a less livable place or the deniers are right not to worry. If the climate change doesn't get you then the population bomb will and if that doesn't do it, simple stupidity and greed will eventually crush us. Human existance on earth hasn't always been here and likely won't always continue as it is now.
So on to the question of why people become such jerks when commenting anonymously. A better question is why do we continue to read and reply to those unfriendly comments.
I genuinely have a problem. I continue to read the comments posted on all sorts of websites despite the overwhelmingly deplorable behavior. I would love to read some studies regarding people's behavior when allowed to be anonymous...or almost anyway, and find out what's at the root (I can guess, but I'd rather look at a genuine study). There are always intelligent comments made from all points, but it so quickly degrades into spelling and grammatical correcting and sarcasm and name calling that the information is truly lost in the barrage. It feels like what's wrong with the country's leadership. So many seem to think that if someone doesn't accept your point of view, you simply get louder and less civil. I don't understand. Why do so many people want to alienate those that they also wish to educate?
Come on sceptics it is a simple question and no one seems to have a rebutal. Who has more incentive to lie, scientists or the energy industry?
These climate "scientists" are more strident in their alarm with every passing month. Given little or no warming for over 15 years it reeks of desperation.
What I see reading between the lines, "We better see some real warming soon or the jig is up".
All you have to do is look at corn production and wheat production statistics and the variance of crops grown in USA over the last 30 years to determine that we have tended warmer - any farmer in his 60s knows it, and you wouldn't even have to Google it or be mad at National Geographic. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-15/corn-belt-shifts-north-with-climate-as-kansas-crop-dies.html
Humans are the first animal to influence our environment as much as we do. Some say the first to create our own. Glaciers cry for awhile then calve. Extreme weather events are more frequent. Temperature records are set every year. No, not record lows. Nature has no option. It just is. No doubt at all, we do influence our climate. We have options. Keep it simple. You are either anti-science or not.
National Geographic, You should be ashamed!! I used to think you were a science magazine, but now you print this tripe. Why must you go political ??
Please return to science only.
By the way, when I woke up this morning it was 62 degrees, eight hours later it was up to 70 degrees. I have shown by hard scientific data that at one degree per hour, in two more days it is going to be 48 degrees warmer. It will then be 118 degrees and it will be just like death valley here in San Diego. So you see, my science is just as accurate as theirs.
When I was a child I remember a friends older brother saying that NJ would some day be like florida. That the climate would shift. I am an environmentalist through and through. So many things to say.
I always loved the depiction but feared the fruition of Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence. It's so sad that we could've prevented or at least significantly slowed down the plight of the environment. We knew this was going to happen. Reagan stripping the EPA budgets, the Death of the electric car, Bush not signing Kyoto. If only Gore was allowed to keep his elected status.
I'm sick to my stomach. You cant eat money or drink oil unfortunately.
Who shall we believe? 97 percent of the world's climate scientists or the shills and lobbyists for big oil, big coal, big carbon, and the politicians whose pockets are stuffed with their cash? Scientists began warning us of man-made global warming over 40 years ago, and the rate of climate change has been accelerating more rapidly than most of them predicted. To explain it all away as some liberal hoax after all this time is lunacy. And refuting the tsunami of data that confirms dire consequences by pointing to a few anomolies that are mere drops in the atmospheric bucket takes a luddite leap of logic. The capacity of humans to deny reality in the face of overwhelming evidence is astounding and tragic for our society and our planet.
@Leigh Gikas Another thought - is the predicted year of the CD just a result of the math? And not a real measurement of the severity of the climate change? The tropical climate and coastal cities have the least temperature swing, (I just returned from a week in Jamaica and as always when visiting the tropics I am amazed at the minimal temperature swing) and the inland areas have the most temperature swing, so the year of the CD occurs much sooner in the tropics when it doesn't have to change as much. The inland areas naturally have a higher range to begin with, so temperature increases take longer to reach that extreme. I performed a lot of energy/weather related research at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and one reason we were awarded the grants is because Lincoln has a very wide range of temperature extremes over the year.
I am questioning the utility of the CD measurement to show relative climate change, it all depends on where you start. It's like improving the insulation in your house or your car's MPG. If you start at 5 MPG, it's easy to reach 10 MPG, but if you start at 50 MPG, it's a lot harder to reach 100 MPG.
I think the real result in severe weather from global temperature rise may be the opposite from the CD indicator. The temperature and severe weather may be more dramatic in inland areas as weather is more volatile to begin with, which we are already experiencing in Colorado. Whereas the relatively stable temperature ranges in coastal areas will be less affected. What do you think?
@Leigh Gikas Leigh, I couldn't agree more, I would really appreciate a serious discussion on Climate Departure. I have been following climate change since the late 1970's. I reviewed the MoraLab website data on cities:
and copied the list into a spreadsheet and sorted it by CD year. Do I understand, in general, the two biggest factors for CD are (1) tropical climates and (2) coastal cities? These will be affected sooner and more severely than areas inland, and non--tropical climate areas?
I'm in Denver and noticed we are 2048 - 2079 on the list, the worst for the U.S. non-coastal cities but we have significant air inversions and pollution issues - and of course serious fire and flood issues.
Is local climate/pollution the third biggest factor affecting CD? Also interesting that the Pacific Northwest is least affected, particularly Alaska with the most optimistic CD. The central U.S. down through Texas seems to be affected the least in the U.S.
It would be very interesting to get NOAA's comments to this study. As NOAA is close by - in Boulder - maybe I'll wander over and see what they say. :-) Also I plan on being at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Doomsday Clock) annual meeting in November - it will be interesting to see their comments on this report.
@Leigh Gikas How could we have known? Regarding selfishness, there was also a lot of progress, and millions of lives saved associated with that progress.
@Bill Kellett While you are ranting about others' stupidity, you might check your spelling. And aren't you being a bit hypocritical referring to others' "unfriendly" comments?
That's because that the true nature of people. Providing our names automatically makes us act in a way to appease others, for example you wouldn't want a potential employer to see all the rude stuff you post on the web or all the nasty stuff you do at home. While being anonymous gives us the freedom to be ourselves. Hmm, maybe :-)
BTW, this has nothing to do with our country's leadership and such comments are the reason why people get pissed off. The problem is that you try to mix two topics in one and blame issue on another. While for example you don't know anything about German culture or leadership and have no idea how nasty and ugly are the comments on their forums. It is so easy to be ignorant and then complain that someone else pokes fun at you, right? :-)
@Andy Crapp Those that can spell have an incentive to lie. Seriously, if you see issues only in black and white, then I can understand why you think one side is right and the other wrong. Or that there are only two sides.
Exxon will be fine with or without global warming. However, funding for climate science would be severely curtailed if the admission were made that our CO2 emissions have had little or no impact.
You sound like a young person who is concerned about our environment - that's great. Habitat encroachment and destruction, hunting / poaching, invasive species and poor land use practices are just a few issues that would benefit from your enthusiasm.
@Andy Crapp Scientists have almost NO incentive to lie. There's plenty of funding to tear down old models and preconceived notions. Bad science eventually goes the way of the dodo, even when egos sometimes prevent people in the short-term from seeing the reality of evolution, quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, etc.
It would also be extremely hard for scientists to maintain such a lie, given that everyone is largely spending their time trying to understand, tear down, and improve upon the work of others'. A lie can't really maintain itself in science.
@Guy Holder True. Some indications spell catastrophe, but it certainly has leveled off. Don't know whether to believe the ocean thing.
Are you a "scientist" or a Phd. of some kind? What is your profession? I'd like to take your lifes work and boil it down to twelve words.
@Mike Hosley The other reason the corn crop is shifting north i.e. Nebraska, is that 35 years ago, the Nebraska Natural Resources District implemented a ground and surface water state-wide program to ensure the Ogallala Aquifer and other water resources were protected for future generations. The drought last year was just as bad in Nebraska as anywhere else, however water resources are stable and even being replenished. In surrounding states, particularly Kansas and Colorado, there is little if any state wide control, and water resources are being depleted at a vary rapid rate - 10 - 20 years left. My family has had Nebraska farm ground since 1876, and water rights that date back to 1891. We had bumper corn crops last year, record market prices, and land values that have tripled in the last 6 years - they aren't making any more land, particularly with a good supply of water.
@Mike Hosley that is total BS, Mexico is far south of Kansas and produces huge quantities of Corn. It is a question of which crop is more profitable and the cost of growing.
@Mike Hosley yes mike it has been warmer over the past thirty years, before that it was colder, and before that it was warmer, before that.... get it?
@jimmy gaudin I don't think a scientist would agree with your black and white view of things. And science is only a discipline - it's not infallible.
Two data points is not enough of a sample to make accurate predictions. Are you sure you know what "science" is.
"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means"
@Eugene Schmid Your post is simplistic and laughable. Kyoto was a disaster - why would you have wanted to be part of that mess? If you're sick to your stomach, it should be because of China's relentless destruction of the climate.
@Eugene Schmid You think you're sick to your stomach? Well now you're all grown up aren't you? Are you? is NJ like florida? Can you grow grapefruits in your back yard? Oh if only Gore was allowed to keep his elected status. How many myths do you subscribe to? Grow up Mr. Science!
Actually, having been born in Palm Beach County Fl, I regret that your brother's statement is not accurate. Florida has instead become New Jersey, much to my disappointment and why I no longer can live there! .................................
@D C You have no idea what the hockey stick means.
@CC Babcock The "97%" number is often misquoted by laymen. Read about the study and you'll change your mind. Suffice it to say "the vast majority of climate scientists...." and there won't be a problem. Secondly, skepticism is part of science, especially when politicians get involved.
@CC Babcock Much of "big oil" recognizes the reality of climate change. The world's largest carbon sequestration project is run by "big oil."
We need to move away from such polarized rhetoric and start speaking as educated human beings with common goals.
Watch the documentary "Switched" for a balanced view on our energy future.
@CC Babcock Your percentages are slipping every day that goes by. I don't believe we have 97% of the worlds 'climate scientists'.
On the anonymity issue, I use the tactic as a means of avoiding pejorative spam in my personal inbox. (Yes, it happens, over a difference of political or social opinion...).
On the decorum issue, who knows? The lack of civility seems to be the norm, its hard to say where blame lies. All I can think to do is to try to inspire some restraint and establish a bit of gentility in my own postings.
All true and well said. More to the point, mixing topics doesn't help.
It is curious though that one is offered, not forced, to comment and yet it so quickly becomes arguing and defending one's comments. Why bother in the first place if no one knows who you are and you won't necessarily be agreed with and/or you might even be attacked. If one is truly confident in what they feel they know, why be defensive?
@A J @Andy Crapp As a scientist that has produced papers for the government (DARPA), I promise you that there was incentive to take one side, regardless of evidence. There was heavy pressure to win the follow-on study. I wasn't happy, but bent to the pressure, in order to ensure a good review that year. It's life.
*If science is wrong about one thing then must be wrong about everything. I guess I can start pouring my old antifreeze and motor oil down the storm drain, because the "environment" is just a myth.*
@Christopher Sheley @Adam Stocki
The world is a tough place and our egos take a beating.We try and protect them by means of prickly personalities.Eventually these toxic personalities completely surround our egos like a barrier.At that point we have effectively cut ourselves off from our true self which lies outside the ego.So the result of this construct is we don't even know who we are anymore - being anonymous can feel like a true depiction of the person who doesn't know who he or she is.
In the insular world of dogsled racing, the Yukon Quest is considered the world's most difficult event.
A cache of medieval Arab gold coins may already be the largest in the eastern Mediterranean, and there's probably more to come.
Neglect, fear of Islamic State radicals, and conflicts born of ancient animosities are conspiring against a deteriorating synagogue and the tomb of Nahum.
The Future of Food
How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?
We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.