Are you disappointed? I was surprised. The high altitude ozone layer in the planetary atmosphere has been damaged by the release of human-made chemicals, we all knew that. But it is perhaps surprising that it will take another 50 years to return to normal. I will be long gone by then.
How about global warming. that's all better, right? since we have not heard much on that topic this year, it must be no longer a problem. :). We might assume that GW is over simply because, unlike the year 2012, the USA did NOT set a new annual record, and the arctic ice did NOT set a new record for summer minimum ( yeah, both those things happened last year). But actually 2013 was the 4th warmest year on record, globally. The month of November was the warmest November ever recorded, globally. The petroleum companies continue to look forward to an ice free arctic sea in the summer- nobody knows the exact date for that, but Exxon and Yukos know it is on the way, and they are looking forward to mo' money. and of course that additional oil and methane, when burned, will emit more CO2, driving more warming. despite the odd rage displayed by denialists, we do not live in the World Government scenario that they fear. No, we live in a world in which the rich can figure out how to make $ from global warming, by buying up the resources that will be needed for survival. Those resources will be sold off in coming decades to the highest bidders.
Human populations continued to grow in 2013. We are now over 7.2 billion, and it is a challenge to feed that many humans. Current growth rate is a little over 1% per year- which may not sound like much, but 1% of 7.2 bill is still 72 million humans, ouch. Expect to reach 8 billion in a little over ten years. some people will tell you not to worry about it- and will even tell you to worry about the birth rate "collapse" in Japan, western Europe, and the USA- but such complacency is laughable. The reduction in birth rates in the advanced industrial nations in no way cancels out the high birth rates in poor nations such as Pakistan and most of Africa. is the Northern Human population willing to give all their food to the Southern human population? it was a joke, but you do not have to laugh. China backed away from the one-child policy- perhaps as part of a transition to the creation of a domestic consumer market? from a human rights standpoint, okay- but from a global environmental standpoint, we do not need China, which can no longer feed itself, to have a population increase.
Natural disasters? quiet hurricane season for the Carribbean, but on the other side of the world a massive typhoon season tormented the Phillipines, culminating in the landfall of Haiyan. the Phillipines President Aquino blandly assured us all that only 2000 died, but the actuall body count has reached 3 times that and another 2000 are missing and assumed dead, for a total around 8000. tornado season in the USA was bad, with an odd late season episode of high intensity.
Anyways, climate scientists see 2013 as a slow year for overt symptoms of GW, but are seeing nothing to indicate that the long term trend is over. To the favorite refrain of the denialists- where is all the warming?- they merely chuckle and point to the world ocean. You can try this at home- fill your bathtub with cold water, then turn up the heat in your bathroom. Eventually the water will warm up- until it cannot absorb any more heat.
Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year! Because after all, the worst stuff is not going to happen until you are gone.