IEA Bombshell: Global Warming May Lead To ‘Miami Beach In Boston’ Situation Unless Urgent Action Is Taken

The International Energy Agency was, until recently, a conservative and staid body. When I was at the U.S. Department of Energy in the 1990s, we ignored most IEA reports, because, like the vast majority of energy forecasters, they inevitably projected that the future would simply continue the trends of the recent past.

But now, of course, if we stay on current trends, we are going to utterly destroy a livable climate and ruin the lives of billions of people. Even so, attention must be paid when a major international body is so uncharacteristically blunt, when they actually lead their website with this bombshell headline from their own news release!

Anyone who follows the IEA or Climate Progress knows that they and many others have been issuing this warning for the last year or two (see “Yes, Deniers And Confusionists, The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 If We Keep Listening To You“).

And because the world just keeps blithely dumping more and more carbon pollution into the air, the leadership of the IEA has been increasingly blunt. Their chief economist, Fatih Birol, said late last year that the world is on pace for 11°F warming, and “Even School Children Know This Will Have Catastrophic Implications for All of Us.” If only school children ran the world!

The IEA news release is about the recent remarks of Deputy Executive Director Richard H. Jones:

Ambassador Richard H. Jones warned that if energy policies do not adapt, enough carbon dioxide will be being emitted to reach 1,000 parts per million in the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that equates to 6º Celsius increase in temperature by the end of this century. “That’s basically Miami Beach in Boston,” he said.

Of course, 1000 ppm is also the Atlantic Ocean all over Miami Beach, so Miami beach has to go somewhere.

Kudos to the IEA for telling it like it is. Is anyone listening?

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17 Responses to IEA Bombshell: Global Warming May Lead To ‘Miami Beach In Boston’ Situation Unless Urgent Action Is Taken

  1. Wes says:

    He didn’t apparently mention how much of Massachusetts will be under water, too.
    We need to find better metaphors to get the public’s attention. “Miami Beach” does not convey the horror of 1000ppm! What’s a good visual for the apocalyptic destruction of civilization as we know it? More like a world wide nuclear war with all the destruction and without the fallout. Scarce food, scarce drinking water, and millions on the move battling each other for survival. Does that sound like Miami Beach to you?

  2. I suspect something is lost in translation. Lots of Bostonians watched “Miami Vice” and would welcome the transformation.

  3. BillD says:

    Good to have the IEA on board. Note that Florida is on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, not the Pacific, as seems to be suggested.

    In teaching to non-science major college students in Indiana, I found the moving climate zones concept to be quite effective. Rather than saying that the climate will warm by a few degrees, it’s much more effective to say that northern Indiana and southern Michigan will be moving to the seasonal temperatures of Alabama. I also mentioned this to my right wing Congressmen who owns a farm in northern Indiana, Marlin Stutzman. I pointed out that the farm that his son’s will inherit will experience a climate quite different than the one that he experienced. Stutzman is good at answering his mail–I certainly hope that I get a personal letter, rather than a form letter telling me that scientist are not sure about whether climate change is real (the last letter).

  4. BillD says:

    Yes, it would be better to move Boston to Alabama or south Texas, rather than the vacation land of south Florida.

  5. Leif says:

    Don’t forget the gators!

  6. Joan Savage says:

    It is less glamorous to imagine Boston declining into something disorganized like Matamoros, Mexico, which is at the same latitude at Miami. Matamoros is already disrupted by northern migration, associated lawlessness and stress on its water supply.

  7. David F. says:

    Bill, I actually took a look at this the other day. This year has obviously been extremely warm, but I don’t think some people realize just how warm. Many locations in the Midwest have recorded temperatures that would be near or above the 1961-1990 normals for locations hundreds of miles south. Indianapolis has a mean temperature of 58.7F, through the end of July. The 1961-1990 normal for that period for the city was 51.4F. More startling, the 1961-1990 normal for Oklahoma City for the same period was 59.2F, just 0.5F warmer than Indianapolis in 2012.

    It’s no coincidence that much of the country is mired in drought with numbers like that. And this is just an appetizer for what Mother Nature has in store for us. On our current emissions path, these temperatures will be considered normal by mid century.

  8. Artful Dodger says:

    … more like Atlantis in Boston, if Greenland continues to double it’s melt rate every 10 years.

  9. Spike says:

    I suspect if we had 6C of warming the transformation would be much more drastic than that given the ice age was 5-6C cooler than today.

  10. Leif says:

    Show the GOP/Wall Street crowd what “Shock and Awe” is all about Joe.

    Capitalism must be held accountable for the ecocide destruction of commons that it has inflicted upon humanity in its “below the belt” quest for bigger profits going to an ever smaller segment of the population.

    Humanity deserves nothing less.

    If Government cannot, or refuse to, work for the good of the whole, does democracy mean anything?

  11. M Tucker says:

    It is good that IEA is attempting to be frank about the problem but, with business as usual, by the end of the century it will be much worse than having a tropical climate in Massachusetts. I will bring drought and dustbowification to the US breadbasket. It will mean radically reduced yields in all major grains. It will mean loss of all major seaports due to sea level rise and major disruption if not altogether collapse of international trade in grains. Their will be major water shortages, power shortages, and disruption if not collapse to the transport of fossil fuels, if we are still using them. It will be much more serious than worrying where to move. As Joan Savage said it will bring desperate immigrants moving into regions where they are not wanted and cannot be supported by local resources. It will bring conflict, wars, and disease. If mankind waits until the end of this century to finally address this problem their will be suffering and death never before seen on a global scale. If we wait until mid-century perhaps the serious suffering can be limited to a few continents like Africa, Asia, and the Southern American nations south of the US. If we wait until about 2030, when we have added another billion or so folks to the roster, we will still see suffering and death but we might be able to salvage something of civilization as we know it.

  12. john atcheson says:

    Another example of how scientists and policy makers are bad at messaging. To Bostonians, and many others, Miami Beach would be a good thing …

    Something like Bagdad in Boston — or if that’s too hot, Dubai in Boston would bring the horror home a little better.

  13. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Without the fallout? Don’t you have a lot of nukes and waste dumps just waiting for a little accident or disaster? The safety of these things depends on high levels of control which is incompatible with the break down of law and order, ME

  14. squidboy6 says:

    In the 1980s the Corps of Engineers dredged up acres of sand offshore from Miami and dumped it on the beach in front of the hotels to replenish the beaches which were disappearing fast.

    They said at the time that the beaches would “last forever or until the next hurricane came through” and Global Warming was just being proposed. This action cost millions of dollars and was a temporary solution of course.

    I was working with a polychaete worm at the time that cemented sand together to make a home and the cement induced more worms to settle out and become adults. Whole reefs could be built by this organism and when storms destroyed their “castles” the sand would wind up on the beach and the worms would spawn when this happened. There’s a species of this worm in Florida so no exotic species need to be introduced.

    We spend millions on temporary fixes which don’t work and have consequences that aren’t in the original costs. This was a relatively cheap fix which involved a natural process, but one which the public doesn’t understand, even so we modify our environment all the time and this one was similar to farming but there would be no harvest except for beach stabilization.

    We need to get over trying to make Miami or similar places “pristine” – they never will be with millions living nearby and pumping sewage into the ocean or worse, and clinging to expensive and temporary solutions like dredging. We need to use nature in our favor. Miami is probably going to disappear. I won’t miss it, nor will I miss Los Angeles. I do miss what Santa Barbara used to be but it’s long gone as well. Now it’s just a tourist trap full of British tourists who think it’s like the TV show “Dallas”.

  15. squidboy6 says:

    and the jet skis! the most dangerous things on the ocean is a jet skis!

  16. Aussie John says:

    Sorry to have to break the news to you – but you don’t have a proper functioning democracy in the US.
    The democratic process has been systematically undermined, and corrupted by insatiable socially irresponsible capitalist corporations.
    Thank the Murdoch type media barons and their hired (very talented) immoral media spruikers for sedating and misinforming “Joe Public” sufficiently to render your national government impotent to apply measures that may help save your nation (and our world) from a chaotic catastrophe.

    Sadly, our democracy in Australia is similarly affected, but thankfully not yet to the same extent – but the corporates chosen operatives (Murdoch + Media again, with the help of the “power at any cost” Lib/Nat Opposition) are diligently working to effect control.

  17. We need a few gurus like Joe to give us a decent idea as to how we can get the oil, gas, and coal companies’ hands off the wheel. They’re the ones steering us toward the fire burg after all. What’s the solution to single industry dominance of government? Honestly, that’s what’s most transparent here. Clear and present danger together with the giant fist of industry forcing business as usual.