Big Picture Science – The Heat is On

by Gary Niederhoff on November 17, 2013

Big Picture Science – The Heat is On

After the winds and water of Typhoon Haiyan abated, grief and hunger swept though the Philippines, along with the outbreak of disease. Are monster storms the new normal in a warmer world? Some scientists say yes, and if so, climate change is already producing real effects on human life and health.

A hotter planet will serve up casualties from natural disasters, but also higher rates of asthma, allergies and an increase in mosquito-borne diseases. It is, according to one researcher, the greatest challenge of our time, straining health care efforts worldwide. But could a “medical Marshall Plan” save us?

Also, why the conservative estimates from the U.N.‘s climate change group don’t help people prepare for worst-case scenarios. And, a controversial approach to saving our overburdened planet: a serious limit on population growth.

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Jeff Masters on Typhoon Haiyan
Part 2: Linda Marsa on disease and our warming planet
Part 3: Fred Pearce on the IPCC
Part 4: Alan Weisman on population problems and solutions

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Adrian Morgan November 23, 2013 at 12:46 am

Thanks for the episode, but the final section, on limiting population growth, struck me as out of touch with the facts. As a global average, there are already no more than two children born per woman, or to put it another way, the number of children in the world is no longer increasing. This has been true since about the turn of the millennium, but did not come across in the segment. See Hans Rosling for details.

avatar Richard November 25, 2013 at 1:15 am

I didn’t bother to listen to any but the first part of the episode. There is no evidence that the effects of man made CO2 can overwhelm natural climate fluctuations. Natural climate fluctuations is a phenomena that we are abysmally ignorant about. We do not know what caused the many warm periods during the present Holocene, including the present one since the little ice age. Greenland’s ice sheet was smaller for 1,500 years from 3-5,000 years ago. We have o idea why, except that it was not man made.

There is absolutely no evidence that we can control the climate, temperatures, droughts, cyclones etc. It is the height of ignorance and arrogance to presume we can legislate our climate.

Global averages tell us nothing about the effects of population growth. The western developed nations, Europe, Japan and Northern America have already controlled their populations, others have not.

avatar Bjorn December 1, 2013 at 4:48 am

How strange that CO2 emissions could’ve caused a typhoon, since temperatures haven’t increased for about 15 years now. Does the slowly increasing 0.04% concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere somehow directly cause typhoons, without any warming?

The sensationalist twists of this blog are entertaining. But it does need to stay in touch with science in order to remain interesting and separate itself from the astrology UFO stuff.

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