Climate change issues, prevention, adaptation 4
This is a continuation of the topic Climate change issues, prevention, adaptation 3.
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‘Like a Terror Movie’: How Climate Change Will Cause More Simultaneous Disasters
John Schwartz | Nov. 19, 2018
...by the end of this century some parts of the world could face as many as six climate-related crises at the same time...including heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise, hurricanes, flooding, drought and shortages of clean water.
...already coming in combination...
New York can expect to be hit by four climate crises at a time by 2100 if carbon emissions continue at their current pace, the study says, but if emissions are cut significantly that number could be reduced to one. The troubled regions of the coastal tropics could see their number of concurrent hazards reduced from six to three.
The paper explores the ways that climate change intensifies hazards and describes the interconnected nature of such crises...
In a scientific world marked by specialization and siloed research, this multidisciplinary effort by 23 authors reviewed more than 3,000 papers on various effects of climate change. The authors determined 467 ways in which those changes in climate affect human physical and mental health, food security, water availability, infrastructure and other facets of life on Earth.
..haves and have-nots...“The largest losses of human life during extreme climatic events occurred in developing nations, whereas developed nations commonly face a high economic burden of damages and requirements for adaptation.”
...paper includes an interactive map of the various hazards under different emissions scenarios for any location in the world
...A co-author of the new paper, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hailed its interdisciplinary approach. “There’s more than one kind of risk out there,” he said, but scientists tend to focus on their area of research. “Nations, societies in general, have to deal with multiple hazards, and it’s important to put the whole picture together.”
...(lead author, Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii at Manoa) said he had considered writing a book or a movie that would reflect the frightening results of the research. His working title, which describes how dire the situation is for humanity, is unprintable here. His alternate title, he said, is “We Told You So.”
Climate change is going to make life on Earth a whole lot worse, report predicts
“The evidence was absolutely mind-blowing to me," said the lead researcher.
Maggie Fox | Nov. 19, 2018
...People can die from heat stress, drown during hurricanes, starve during droughts and suffocate in fires. Disease patterns can change as the insects that carry disease proliferate and spread yellow fever, malaria and dengue. The destruction of forests spreads disease, also, the team said.
...“For instance, forest fragmentation increased the density of ticks near people, triggering outbreaks of Lyme disease and encephalitis, fires drove fruit bats closer to towns, causing outbreaks of the Hendra and Nipah viruses, drought mobilized livestock near cities, causing outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever, and melting ice due to warming caused voles to find shelter in homes, increasing hantavirus infections,” they wrote.
Changes in ocean chemistry help cause deadly red tides and can favor the spread of cholera, they added. “Drought forced the use of unsafe drinking water, resulting in outbreaks of diarrhea, cholera and dysentery,” they added.
And climate hazards have already affected mental health. “For instance, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were reported after storms in the United States, floods in the United Kingdom and heat waves in France,” they wrote. Loss of sea ice has led to depression among Inuit people who have increasing trouble hunting and fishing.
“Every single aspect of human life was impacted — the food and water you eat and drink, the air. It’s making people more vulnerable to violence and forcing people out of their homes. How much of a horror movie do you want?” Mora said.
“This is what we are doing to ourselves by being so careless with the release of greenhouse gases. That, to me, is the definition of stupidity: doing something that you know will hurt you.”...
Camilo Mora et al. 2018. Broad threat to humanity from cumulative climate hazards intensified by greenhouse gas emissions. Nature Climate Change (Nov 19, 2018). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0315-6
The ongoing emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is triggering changes in many climate hazards that can impact humanity. We found traceable evidence for 467 pathways by which human health, water, food, economy, infrastructure and security have been recently impacted by climate hazards such as warming, heatwaves, precipitation, drought, floods, fires, storms, sea-level rise and changes in natural land cover and ocean chemistry. By 2100, the world’s population will be exposed concurrently to the equivalent of the largest magnitude in one of these hazards if emmisions are aggressively reduced, or three if they are not, with some tropical coastal areas facing up to six simultaneous hazards. These findings highlight the fact that GHG emissions pose a broad threat to humanity by intensifying multiple hazards to which humanity is vulnerable.
"We here make no judgment about the desirability of SAI (Stratospheric Aerosol Injections). We simply show that a hypothetical deployment program commencing 15 years hence, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would indeed be technically possible from an engineering perspective. It would also be remarkably inexpensive."
Wake Smith and Gernot Wagner. 2018. Stratospheric aerosol injection tactics and costs in the first 15 years of deployment, Environmental Research Letters Environmental Research Letters, Volume 13, Number 12 (23 November 2018). DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aae98d http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aae98d/meta
We review the capabilities and costs of various lofting methods intended to deliver sulfates into the lower stratosphere. We lay out a future solar geoengineering deployment scenario of halving the increase in anthropogenic radiative forcing beginning 15 years hence, by deploying material to altitudes as high as ~20 km. After surveying an exhaustive list of potential deployment techniques, we settle upon an aircraft-based delivery system. Unlike the one prior comprehensive study on the topic (McClellan et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 034019), we conclude that no existing aircraft design—even with extensive modifications—can reasonably fulfill this mission. However, we also conclude that developing a new, purpose-built high-altitude tanker with substantial payload capabilities would neither be technologically difficult nor prohibitively expensive. We calculate early-year costs of ~$1500 ton−1 of material deployed, resulting in average costs of ~$2.25 billion yr−1 over the first 15 years of deployment. We further calculate the number of flights at ~4000 in year one, linearly increasing by ~4000 yr−1. We conclude by arguing that, while cheap, such an aircraft-based program would unlikely be a secret, given the need for thousands of flights annually by airliner-sized aircraft operating from an international array of bases.
...6. Further discussion
...While there might be a long list of contractors who would eagerly bid to vend hardware, supplies, and services to an SAI endeavor, and there might even be a role for patents along that supply chain (Reynolds et al 2017, 2018), we believe strongly that commercial profits must not be a motivating factor in any decisions about whether, when, where, and how to implement SAI. Any entity that intends to engineer the climate of the entire globe must act—and be seen to act—purely out of humanitarian and environmental considerations unclouded by aspirations of direct financial gain.
Could an anti-global warming atmospheric spraying program really work?
November 22, 2018, Institute of Physics
A program to reduce Earth's heat capture by injecting aerosols into the atmosphere from high-altitude aircraft is possible, but unreasonably costly with current technology, and would be unlikely to remain secret.
The researchers examined the costs and practicalities of a large scale, hypothetical 'solar geoengineering' project beginning 15 years from now. Its aim would be to halve the increase in anthropogenic radiative forcing, by deploying material to altitudes of around 20 kilometres.
...Dr. Gernot Wagner, from Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences..."While we don't make any judgement about the desirability of SAI, we do show that a hypothetical deployment program starting 15 years from now, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would be technically possible strictly from an engineering perspective. It would also be remarkably inexpensive, at an average of around $2 to 2.5 billion per year over the first 15 years."
Wake Smith, a co-author of the study, is a lecturer at Yale College and held former positions as CEO of Pemco World Air Services (a leading aircraft modification company), COO of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (a global cargo airline), and President of the flight training division of Boeing...said: "I became intrigued by the engineering questions around SAI and the many studies that purport to show that modified existing planes could do the job. Turns out that is not so. It would indeed take an entirely new plane design to do SAI under reasonable albeit entirely hypothetical parameters. No existing aircraft has the combination of altitude and payload capabilities required...It's equivalent in weight to a large narrow body passenger aircraft. But to sustain level flight at 20 kms, it needs roughly double the wing area of an equivalently sized airliner, and double the thrust, with four engines instead of two...its fuselage would be stubby and narrow, sized to accommodate a heavy but dense mass of molten sulphur rather than the large volume of space and air required for passengers."
The team estimated the total development costs at less than $2 billion for the airframe, and a further $350 million for modifying existing low-bypass engines.
The new planes would comprise a fleet of eight in the first year, rising to a fleet of just under 100 within 15 years. The fleet would fly just over 4,000 missions a year in year one, rising to just over 60,000 per year by year 15.
Dr. Wagner said: "Given the potential benefits of halving average projected increases in radiative forcing from a particular date onward, these numbers invoke the 'incredible economics' of solar geoengineering. Dozens of countries could fund such a program, and the required technology is not particularly exotic."
However, in the authors' view, this should not reinforce the often-invoked fear that a rogue country or operator might launch a clandestine SAI program upon an unsuspecting world.
Mr Smith said: "No global SAI program of the scale and nature discussed here could reasonably expect to maintain secrecy. Even our hypothesized Year one deployment program entails 4000 flights at unusually high altitudes by airliner-sized aircraft in multiple flight corridors in both hemispheres. This is far too much aviation activity to remain undetected, and once detected, such a program could be deterred."
Authors see a way to support 9.7 billion people in 2050, sustainably... Hope their vision wins.
Heather M Tallis et al. 2018. An attainable global vision for conservation and human well‐being. (Ecological Society of America) Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Research communication. 16 October 2018. https://doi.org/10.1002/fee.1965 https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/fee.1965
A hopeful vision of the future is a world in which both people and nature thrive, but there is little evidence to support the feasibility of such a vision. We used a global, spatially explicit, systems modeling approach to explore the possibility of meeting the demands of increased populations and economic growth in 2050 while simultaneously advancing multiple conservation goals. Our results demonstrate that if, instead of “business as usual” practices, the world changes how and where food and energy are produced, this could help to meet projected increases in food (54%) and energy (56%) demand while achieving habitat protection (>50% of natural habitat remains unconverted in most biomes globally; 17% area of each ecoregion protected in each country), reducing atmospheric greenhouse‐gas emissions consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement (≤1.6°C warming by 2100), ending overfishing, and reducing water stress and particulate air pollution. Achieving this hopeful vision for people and nature is attainable with existing technology and consumption patterns. However, success will require major shifts in production methods and an ability to overcome substantial economic, social, and political challenges.
Living the best of both worlds
Can conservation and human prosperity really co-exist?
Hai Lin Wang | Nov 21 2018
...Option one is a bit gloomy
There are two options, according to Heather Tallis and her research group. Continuing on our current trajectory of consumption for the next three decades and maintaining our existing/degraded environmental conditions affirms what we fear most – more people, more pollution and more degradation. Under these conditions, we can expect an average temperature increase of 3.2℃ in 80 years, far exceeding the limits outlined in the Paris Agreement.
...we can expect a 54 percent increase in global food demand and 56 percent increase in energy demand/The Nature Conservancy
...nearly a quarter of the population will lack access to clean drinking water; poor air quality will affect nearly half of all people on the planet. The loss of these natural systems – and their associated ecosystem services – will ultimately mean a decrease in their air-purifying functions, rendering them incapable of helping us mitigate our own anthropogenic effects on the environment.
But there could be an alternate future for these 9.7 billion people. Tallis and her team explored how meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals could impact the effectiveness of these sustainability policies. And given these goals include capping the global average temperature increase to 1.6℃, increasing the use of renewable energies use to reduce greenhouse gases and working towards a ‘no net loss’ approach to natural habitat, meeting the UN SDG’s can play a sizable impact in creating a brighter future.
...air pollution would affect less than 10 percent of the population via more renewable energy use in developing countries and an increase in protected natural areas. Hunger could be reduced with a 100 percent sustainable fishing industry and sustainable agricultural practices that provide more food generated from less land. Human welfare increases. And in tandem, natural ecosystems and biodiversity thrive, too.
Unfortunately, Trump and others subscribe to Malcolm Forbes' mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins.” With climate change, however, they can't put a gate around their gains... Change will come one way or another, and the earlier the more benign, I suspect.
Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 drafted by the Group of independent scientists
Invited background document on economic transformation, to chapter:
Transformation: The Economy (8 p)
of the UN Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which will be released in 2019.
Paavo Järvensivu et al. | August 14, 2018
Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism's Imminent Demise
Nafeez Ahmed | Aug 27 2018, 11:40am
A climate change-fueled switch away from fossil fuels means the worldwide economy will fundamentally need to change.
...“More expensive energy doesn’t necessarily lead to economic collapse,” (lead author, Dr. Paavo Järvensivu, a “biophysical economist”) told me. “Of course, people won’t have the same consumption opportunities, there’s not enough cheap energy available for that, but they are not automatically led to unemployment and misery either.”
...Overall, the paper claims that we have moved into a new, unpredictable and unprecedented space in which the conventional economic toolbox has no answers. As slow economic growth simmers along, central banks have resorted to negative interest rates and buying up huge quantities of public debt to keep our economies rolling. But what happens after these measures are exhausted? Governments and bankers are running out of options.
“It can be safely said that no widely applicable economic models have been developed specifically for the upcoming era,” write the Finnish scientists.
Having identified the gap, they lay out the opportunities for transition.
In this low EROI (Energy Return on Investment) future, we simply have to accept the hard fact that we will not be able to sustain current levels of economic growth. “Meeting current or growing levels of energy need in the next few decades with low-carbon solutions will be extremely difficult, if not impossible,” the paper finds. The economic transition must involve efforts “to lower total energy use.”
Key areas to achieve this include transport, food, and construction. City planning needs to adapt to the promotion of walking and biking, a shift toward public transport, as well as the electrification of transport. Homes and workplaces will become more connected and localised. Meanwhile, international freight transport and aviation cannot continue to grow at current rates.
As with transport, the global food system will need to be overhauled. Climate change and oil-intensive agriculture have unearthed the dangers of countries becoming dependent on food imports from a few main production areas. A shift toward food self-sufficiency across both poorer and richer countries will be essential. And ultimately, dairy and meat should make way for largely plant-based diets.
The construction industry’s focus on energy-intensive manufacturing, dominated by concrete and steel, should be replaced by alternative materials. The BIOS paper recommends a return to the use of long-lasting wood buildings, which can help to store carbon, but other options such as biochar might be effective too.
But capitalist markets will not be capable of facilitating the required changes – governments will need to step up, and institutions will need to actively shape markets to fit the goals of human survival. Right now, the prospects for this look slim. But the new paper argues that either way, change is coming.
Whether or not the system that emerges still comprises a form of capitalism is ultimately a semantic question. It depends on how you define capitalism.
“Capitalism, in that situation, is not like ours now,” said Järvensivu. “Economic activity is driven by meaning—maintaining equal possibilities for the good life while lowering emissions dramatically—rather than profit, and the meaning is politically, collectively constructed. Well, I think this is the best conceivable case in terms of modern state and market institutions. It can’t happen without considerable reframing of economic-political thinking, however.”
While we were distracted by turkey and shopping, our government released its
FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States
The National Climate Assessment (NCA) assesses the science of climate change and variability and its impacts across the United States, now and throughout this century.
(Excerpts from summary)
Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.
Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.
3. Interconnected Impacts
Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.
4. Actions to Reduce Risks
Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.
The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.
7. Indigenous Peoples
Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.
8. Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services
Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.
Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.
Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
11. Oceans & Coasts
Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.
12. Tourism and Recreation
Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.
Climate Change Is Already Hurting U.S. Communities, Federal Report Says
Rebecca Hersher | November 23, 20182:02 PM ET
...The new report, mandated by Congress and published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is the latest and most detailed confirmation that humans are driving climate change and that Americans are already adapting to and suffering from its effects. Climate change is "an immediate threat, not a far-off possibility," it says.
...While the new report does not make policy recommendations, it is designed to be a scientific resource for leaders at all levels of government.
"We're putting a cost on inaction," explains Ekwurzel, referring to future global inaction to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. "There's some really heavy duty news in here. I mean, we're talking billions of dollars as the cost of inaction each year. I think a lot of people in the U.S. will be surprised by that."...
What’s New in the Latest U.S. Climate Assessment
Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain | Nov. 23, 2018
...Volume Two of the latest National Climate Assessment, a 1,656-page report issued on Friday that explores both the current and future impacts of climate change. The scientific report, which comes out every four years as mandated by Congress, was produced by 13 federal agencies and released by the Trump administration.
This year’s report contains many of the same findings cited in the previous National Climate Assessment, published in 2014. Temperatures are still going up, and the odds of dangers such as wildfires in the West continue to increase. But reflecting some of the impacts that have been felt across the country in the past four years, some of the report’s emphasis has changed.
1. Predicted impacts have materialized
...(for example) the 2014 assessment forecast that coastal cities would see more flooding in the coming years as sea levels rose. That’s no longer theoretical...
2. It’s all tied together
....(for example) recent droughts in California and elsewhere that, in combination with population changes, affect demand for water and energy. The report also cites Superstorm Sandy, six years ago, which caused cascading impacts on interconnected systems in the New York area, some of which had not been anticipated. Flooding of subway and highway tunnels, for example, made it more difficult to repair the electrical system, which suffered widespread damage.
3. Beyond borders
The United States military has long taken climate change seriously, both for its potential impacts on troops and infrastructure around the world and for its potential to cause political instability in other countries.
...Climate change is already affecting American companies’ overseas operations and supply chains...
...additional burdens on the United States for humanitarian assistance and disaster aid.
4. Adaptation, adaptation, adaptation
...more communities are taking measures such as preserving wetlands along the coasts to act as buffers against storms.
...outside of a few places in Louisiana and Alaska, few coastal communities are rethinking their development patterns in order to avoid the impacts from rising seas and severe weather that the report says are surely coming.
...the country is particularly unprepared for the upheavals that will come as rising sea levels swamp coastal cities: “The potential need for millions of people and billions of dollars of coastal infrastructure to be relocated in the future creates challenging legal, financial, and equity issues that have not yet been addressed.”
5. A focus on air quality
...“high confidence” that climate change will increase ozone levels, as rising temperatures and changes in atmospheric circulation affect local weather conditions. But the increases will not be uniform. By near the end of the century, the worst ozone levels will be found across a wide expanse of the Midwest and Northern Great Plains, while levels are expected to improve, at least somewhat, in parts of the Southeast.
...warmer springs, longer dry seasons in the summer and other impacts are lengthening the fire season. The smoke from fires affects not only health (respiratory problems and lead to premature death), the report says, but visibility.
Another El Niño is nearly upon us. What does that mean?
Eric Holthaus | Nov 21, 2018
A new El Niño (the warm phase of a normal three to five year global weather cycle)
...the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said that water temperatures have now crossed El Niño thresholds, and a full-scale El Niño is likely to start sometime in December. U.S. forecasters place a 90 percent chance of El Niño to form by January.
...isn’t expected to be as severe as 2015’s, but will likely have serious consequences nonetheless.
...U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report listing several countries at high risk of food shortages. Food crises could worsen or erupt in Pakistan, Kenya, Guatemala*, Honduras*, Venezuela*, Mozambique, and the Philippines, according to the report. In the U.S., El Niño often brings torrential rains to California. It can also boost East Coast snowstorms, which, in an era of sea-level rise, now routinely cause serious flooding.
...it’s possible that 2019 could beat 2016 as the warmest year on record.
...global warming...more extreme El Niños...making weather worse; it’s doing it at an ever-faster rate.
* more misery for those countries, more migration and all that entails...
First tariffs and now this--the soybean farmer's lament:
Federal climate change report paints grim picture for Midwest
Tony Briscoe | Nov 23, 2018
...Midwest farmers will be increasingly challenged by warmer, wetter and more humid conditions from climate change, which also will lead to greater incidence of crop disease and more pests and will diminish the quality of stored grain. During the growing season, temperatures are projected to climb more in the Midwest than in any other region of the U.S., the report says.
Without technological advances in agriculture, the onslaught of high-rainfall events and higher temperatures could reduce the Midwest agricultural economy to levels last seen during the economic downturn for farmers in the 1980s.
Overall, yields from major U.S crops are expected to fall, the reports says. To adapt to the rising temperatures, substantial investments will be required, which will in turn will hurt farmers’ bottom lines.
...Illinois, a leading producer of soybeans and hogs, ranks third among the states in exported agricultural commodities, with $8.2 billion worth of goods shipped to other countries. The state has become 1.2 degrees warmer and 10 to 15 percent wetter in the past century. (Jim Angel, Illinois’ state climatologist) said farmers are trying to adapt by increasing drainage and planting cover crops that will protect against heavier rainfall and runoff that can cause soil erosion..."The question is can they adapt fast enough”...
...“We are working to advance the ... drought forecasting,” (William Hohenstein, director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s climate change program) said. “USDA is also partnering with seed companies to develop new cultivars of crops that are more resilient to drought. To help improve soil health and conserve water, we are providing guidance through our Midwest Regional Climate Hub on conservation practices.”
...Warmer air also can hold more moisture, leading to more frequent and severe storms, which would overwhelm aging stormwater systems across the region. Scientists estimate the annual cost of retrofitting urban stormwater systems will exceed $500 million for the Midwest by the end of the century.
Higher temperatures also are expected to lead to diminished air quality. Without policymakers taking steps to mitigate the issue, hotter weather, which is more conducive to smog creation, could result in as many as 550 premature deaths per year by 2050, according to the report...
Extinction meltdown...taking co-extinctions into consideration (not just physiological tolerances of individual species) vastly increases the predicted impact of global warming--"ecological dependencies amplify the direct effects of environmental change on the collapse of planetary diversity by up to ten times." (Global warming is an especially bad scenario because "plants tend to drop out faster in the warming trajectory, thus leading to many more extinctions up the food web from herbivores to carnivores".) "...difficult to be optimistic about the future of species diversity in the ongoing trajectory of global change, let alone in the case of additional external, planetary-scale catastrophes"... (See the graph in either article.)
Global warming causes the worst kind of extinction domino effect
Corey J. A. Bradshaw | Nov 25, 2018
...Co-extinctions — the phenomenon of species going extinct because the species on which they depend go extinct first — mean that defaulting to physiological tolerances alone would severely underestimate extinction rates. But by how much?
... (we) built a vast stochastic network model to create ‘virtual Earths’ that mimicked observed species’ interactions and trophic hierarchies ("food webs"). The models started out fairly simple, but quickly morphed into complex-systems beasts as we added successively more complex ecological function and structure. For example, we built trophic networks by selecting species within today’s observed trophic levels for plants, ectotherms ("warm-blooded"), and endotherms ("cold-blooded"), randomly applied functional traits to each species to modify the interactions, including dispersal of ‘invasive’ species and the probability of displacing ‘native’ ones, trophic rewiring following primary extinctions, and various adaptation algorithms. And we did all this within a ‘spatial’ distribution mimicking latitudinal variation in climate conditions
...While this beast of a model is probably one of the most ecologically realistic, global-scale networks yet built, it is still of course a gross simplification of how life interacts on the planet. That said, the structure allowed us to address the very question posed to us in the rejection letter of our first comment — how much do co-extinctions play a role in global extinction rates?
...we didn’t really think the global warming scenario would be so bad; but extinction rates including co-extinctions were up to over ten times higher than those based only on exceeding heat tolerances. In the planetary cooling trajectory, however, the median bias was ‘only’ about twice as high. This difference arose because plants tend to drop out faster in the warming trajectory, thus leading to many more extinctions up the food web from herbivores to carnivores.
...what was really shocking was...we took the worst-case scenario of extinctions by lopping off the ecologically most important (i.e., best connected) species first in each network, followed by the second-most important species, and so on in order right down to the least-important. This of course resulted in the fastest overall annihilation of all species, but it was nearly identical to the extinction curve resulting from the planetary heating trajectory.
This basically means that global warming is the worst possible mechanism driving extinctions, and why we have most likely vastly underestimated extinctions arising from projected climate change in the near future. Shit.
I need a drink.
Giovanni Strona & Corey J. A. Bradshaw. 2018. Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change. Nature.
Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 16724 (Nov 13, 2018) | https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35068-1
Climate change and human activity are dooming species at an unprecedented rate via a plethora of direct and indirect, often synergic, mechanisms. Among these, primary extinctions driven by environmental change could be just the tip of an enormous extinction iceberg. As our understanding of the importance of ecological interactions in shaping ecosystem identity advances, it is becoming clearer how the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources — a process known as ‘co-extinction’ — is more likely the major driver of biodiversity loss. Although the general relevance of co-extinctions is supported by a sound and robust theoretical background, the challenges in obtaining empirical information about ongoing (and past) co-extinction events complicate the assessment of their relative contributions to the rapid decline of species diversity even in well-known systems, let alone at the global scale. By subjecting a large set of virtual Earths to different trajectories of extreme environmental change (global heating and cooling), and by tracking species loss up to the complete annihilation of all life either accounting or not for co-extinction processes, we show how ecological dependencies amplify the direct effects of environmental change on the collapse of planetary diversity by up to ten times.
Being in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, it is fitting to quantify the relative contribution of different mechanisms driving catastrophic biodiversity loss. Drivers directly related to anthropogenic modifications of the biosphere are apparent and well-described: habitat destruction, over-exploitation, and biotic invasions. Similarly, the effects of environmental change (e.g., temperature rise, increased droughts, ocean acidification, et cetera) can be easily interpreted — when the environmental conditions of a certain locality become incompatible with the tolerance limits of inhabiting species, in many cases these will go locally extinct, just like fish in an aquarium with a broken thermostat (even if there are counter examples of species that have been capable of rapid adaptation to novel environmental conditions). Yet, there are other, more complicated mechanisms that can exacerbate species loss. In particular, it is becoming increasingly evident how biotic interactions, in addition to permitting the emergence and maintenance of diversity, also build up complex networks through which the loss of one species can make more species disappear (a process known as ‘co-extinction’), and possibly bring entire systems to an unexpected, sudden regime shift, or even total collapse.
In a simplified view, the idea of co-extinction reduces to the obvious conclusion that a consumer cannot survive without its resources. Because resource and consumer interactions in natural systems (e.g., food webs) are organized in various hierarchical levels of complexity (e.g., trophic levels), it follows that the removal of resources could result in the cascading (bottom-up) extinction of several higher-level consumers. Several studies based on either simulated or real-world data suggest that we should expect most events of species loss to cause co-extinctions, as corroborated by the worrisome, unnatural rate at which populations and species are now disappearing, and which goes far beyond what one expects as a simple consequence of human endeavour. In fact, even the most resilient species will inevitably fall victim to the synergies among extinction drivers as extreme stresses drive biological communities to collapse. Furthermore, co-extinctions are often triggered well before the complete loss of an entire species, so that even oscillations in the population size of a species could result in the local disappearance of other species depending on the first.
This makes it difficult to be optimistic about the future of species diversity in the ongoing trajectory of global change, let alone in the case of additional external, planetary-scale catastrophes. A previous study contended this idea by using the remarkable tolerance of tardigrades to extreme temperature, pressure, and radiation as a reference to calculate the likelihood of global sterilization on an Earth-like planet following different, dramatic astrophysical events. The stunning conclusion of that study is that life on our planet has the potential to survive asteroid impacts, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts. This ostensibly reassuring news highlights how some scientists still tend to disregard the role of co-extinctions within collapsing communities in driving global biodiversity loss, while focusing on individual species’ tolerance limits as the only criteria relevant to species survival in a changing world. Ecologists know the optimism is not supported quantitatively, but can we estimate the magnitude of the bias?
Here we attempt to do this by combining real-world ecological and environmental data to generate several virtual Earths populated by interconnected species-interaction networks where we allow species to move and adapt, that we then subjected to extreme, global environmental change. By comparing scenarios of extinctions based only on species’ environmental tolerances with others accounting also for co-extinctions, we show that neglecting to consider the cascading effect of biodiversity loss leads to a large overestimation of the robustness of planetary life to global change...
Most species are already contending with anthropogenic stressors, such as anthropogenic habitat destruction, over-exploitation, and biotic invasions.
External stress, such as collision with an asteroid is usually included in these models as an extreme, but not unprecedented, stress.
Virtual Earth — Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change
Flinders University | Published on Nov 19, 2018 (1:27)
New research reveals the extinction of plant or animal species from extreme environmental change increases the risk of an “extinction domino effect” that could annihilate all life on Earth.
Is Warming Bringing a Wave of New Diseases to Arctic Wildlife?
Ed Struzik • November 6, 2018
Rapid warming and vanishing sea ice in the Arctic has enabled new species, from humpback whales to white-tailed deer, to spread northward. Scientists are increasingly concerned that some of these new arrivals may be bringing dangerous pathogens that could disrupt the region’s fragile ecosystems.
...In recent years, a plethora of deadly and debilitating diseases have struck reindeer in Scandinavia and Russia, muskoxen on Banks and Victoria islands in Arctic Canada, polar bears and seals off the coast of Alaska, and eider ducks in northern Hudson Bay and the Bering Sea.
...Another possibility being investigated by scientists is that bacteria such as anthrax — an outbreak of which resulted in the culling of 250,000 reindeer in western Siberia in 2016 and 2017 — are being liberated by rapidly thawing permafrost.
...(may be that) bacteria may have already been there, and that ecosystem stresses brought on by climate change — especially rising temperatures — may have made the animals more vulnerable to infection.
...Because most Arctic animals have been isolated for so long, scientists say, many of them have no immunity to diseases such as phocine distemper, which was first identified in the Arctic in 1988 and resulted in a massive die-off of harbor and gray seals in northwestern Europe.
...Toxoplasma gondii (a parasitic pathogen normally associated with house cats)— which can infect virtually all warm-blooded animals — has also entered the beluga whale population of western Canada. The concern is not so much for the whales, which so far appear to be unaffected, but for the Inuit who eat the blubber of the animal, since the parasite can be transmitted to humans if the blubber or meat is uncooked.
...An unprecedented outbreak of avian cholera in (eider ducks in) northern Hudson Bay... is yet another example of how multiple stresses in a warming Arctic may be laying the groundwork for the spread of diseases and parasites...By the time it was over, five weeks later, a third of the nesting females had died...In addition, polar bears were beginning to exploit eider eggs because of the absence of the springtime sea ice on which the bears hunt seals. In 2018, polar bears ate every egg that was hatched at the East Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the main site of the avian cholera outbreak.
...University of Alberta polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher...chemicals such as mercury, DDT, PCBs, and hundreds of pollutants...(mostly) stored in the fat, where they do little harm. But as bears are increasingly forced to fast as their traditional hunting platform, sea ice, declines, they are using up more of these fat stores, meaning that more of the pollution in their fat cells is moving into their bloodstreams. “That’s where it’s biologically active,” said Derocher. “And that’s when you may see some serious effects on the health of an animal.” These include causing brain damage, weakening animals’ immune systems, and adversely affecting reproduction...
Drilling on US public lands causes 24 percent of the nation’s CO2 emissions
Last week, the US Geological Survey (USGS) released a report concluding that fossil fuels extracted from public lands account for 23.7 percent of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions. Those numbers include carbon dioxide that's released during the drilling and coal mining process, as well as carbon dioxide that's released when the oil, gas, or coal that comes from public lands is processed and burned.
The USGS report also quantified how much carbon dioxide federal lands sequester. That is, plants and soil can store some CO2, and protecting federal lands means protecting the ecosystems that hold some amount of CO2 in storage.
The USGS report notes that federally owned ecosystems like forests, grasslands, and shrublands sequestered an average of 195 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year between 2005 and 2014, "offsetting approximately 15 percent of the CO2 emissions resulting from the extraction of fossil fuels on Federal lands and their end-use combustion."
Sure hope whoever succeeds this guy is ready to hit the ground with robust measures to curb global warming...
Also hope transition happens ASAP...
Trump on climate change: ‘People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers.’
Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney | November 27, 2018
...Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, said in an email Tuesday that the president’s comments risk leaving the nation vulnerable to the ever-growing impacts of a warming planet. “Facts aren’t something we need to believe to make them true — we treat them as optional at our peril,” Hayhoe said. “And if we’re the president of the United States, we do so at the peril of not just ourselves but the hundreds of millions of people we’re responsible for.”
Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, struggled to find a response to the president’s comments. “How can one possibly respond to this?” Dessler said when reached by email, calling the president’s comments “idiotic” and saying Trump’s main motivation seemed to be attacking the environmental policies of the Obama administration and criticizing political adversaries...
White House Doubles Down on Dismissal of Climate Report: ‘Not Based on Facts’
Alex Formuzis | November 27, 2018
...“We’d like to see something that is more data driven,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in Tuesday’s press briefing, dismissing the findings of the 1,600-page report from more than 300 top scientists and 13 federal agencies...
University of Cincinnati geographers analyze 24 years of satellite data:
New UC map shows why people flee
The map illustrates how 22 percent of the Earth’s habitable surface has been altered in measurable ways, primarily from forest to agriculture, between 1992 and 2015.
The map tells a new story everywhere you look, from wetlands losses in the American Southeast to the devastation of the Aral Sea to deforestation in the tropics and temperate rainforests.
The map shows that the Sahara Desert in North Africa is growing.
“This is the transition area called the Sahel. And if you notice, you see grassland losses because of climate change — more desertification,” Stepinski said.
The map of the United States shows huge losses of wetlands in the Southeast along with growing urbanization outside cities.
The map illustrates the dramatic disappearance of the Aral Sea, which dried up in the 1990s after farmers in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan diverted its tributaries for cotton fields.
“It was a total disaster. This was a big saltwater lake fed by two rivers. They diverted water for cotton and the sea dried up into grassland,” Stepinski said. “Today, you see huge boats sitting in the middle of fields.”
The Dead Sea is dying. A $1.5 billion plan aims to resurrect it.
The Dead Sea is dying rapidly. The biblical body of water lying between Israel and Jordan is retreating by more than three feet a year, creating sinkholes that swallow up buildings and roads, and forcing the rich seaside landscape on which the tourism industry relies to fade into memory.
It is the saltiest sea on earth. Some experts believe it will be gone by 2050, while others say it will never fully disappear but survive at a fraction of its current size.
But after two decades of discussions about how to resurrect the Dead Sea, there is a glimmer of hope but with a huge price tag: a $1.5-billion project to build a desalination facility in Jordan to transform Red Sea water into drinking water, while pumping the remaining salty brine into the Dead Sea.
>12 2wonderY: How about a large siphon pipeline from the ocean to the Dead Sea?
Whale songs and war: the less talked-about climate impacts
Seth Borenstein The Associated Press | Dec. 1, 2018
Near Antarctica, (baleen) whales are singing in deeper tones to cut through the noise of melting icebergs. In California, a big college football rivalry game was postponed until Saturday because of smoky air from wildfires. And Alaskan shellfish were struck by an outbreak of warm water (Vibrio) bacteria...plants bloom too early in the spring...oceans becoming more acidic and eating away at clam shells and coral reefs...once-tropical, disease-carrying mosquitoes arriving in Canada...warmer climate (linked) to a rise in winter crimes in the United States
...Richard Alley, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University...“Climate change didn’t cause the Syrian civil war” but in a place that’s unhappy, a drought arrives, farmers move to an overcrowded city and problems multiply and lead to war, “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
...University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Renee McPherson...thousands of Nigerians “killed in conflicts between farmers and cattle herders who are competing for diminishing water supplies and fertile lands,”
...University of Hawaii geographer Camilo Mora...scoured scientific literature to see how often global warming influenced some of society’s ills and came up with 467 examples. Australian underground electrical transmission wires...short-circuited because of heat...planes were grounded in Arizona because hotter air is thinner, making take-offs and landings more difficult.
...“mismatches”...In Europe, for instance, oak trees now leaf earlier. Caterpillars hatch and eat leaves earlier. But birds migrate based on hours of daylight while insects emerge according to temperature...So the birds show up late for dinner and may have little to eat.
And in maple trees, the “whiplash” between cold and hot weather is “screwing up the sap flow” ...
My son and I were out and about Saturday and we both overheard someone talking loudly and say the word, "...fire..." It made both of us jump and realize that maybe it should be against the law to say the word loudly like it is to shout the word in a movie theater. Californians are very nervous about the topic these days and I doubt we have seen the last of these conflagrations.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 2:56 PM - 4 Dec 2018
I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world. I want clean air and clean water and have been making great strides in improving America’s environment. But American taxpayers – and American workers – shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.
‘We are in trouble.’ Global carbon emissions reached a new record high in 2018.
Chris Mooney | December 5, 2018
...Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.
The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.
..The biggest emissions story in 2018, though, appears to be China, the world’s single largest emitting country, which grew its output of planet-warming gases by nearly half a billion tons, researchers estimate. (The United States is the globe’s second-largest emitter).
...“Under pressure of the current economic downturn, some local governments might have loosened supervision on air pollution and carbon emissions,” said Yang Fuqiang, an energy adviser to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental organization.
China’s top planning agency said Wednesday that three areas — Liaoning in the northeast Rust Belt and the big coal-producing regions of Ningxia and Xinjiang in the northwest — had failed to meet their targets to curb energy consumption growth and improve efficiency last year.
But Yang said that these areas were not representative of the whole country, and that China was generally on the right track. “There is still a long way ahead in terms of pollution control and emissions reduction, but we expect to see more ambitions in central government’s plans and actions,” he said.
Such changes — in all large-emitting nations — have to happen fast.
Scientists have said that annual carbon dioxide emissions need to plunge almost by half by the year 2030 if the world wants to hit the most stringent — and safest — climate change target. That would be either keeping the Earth’s warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius — when it is already at 1 degrees — or only briefly “overshooting” that temperature.
But emissions are far too high to limit warming to such an extent. And instead of falling dramatically, they’re still rising.
...“We’re not seeing declines in wealthy countries that outpace the increases in other parts of the world,” said Rob Jackson, a researcher at Stanford University who contributed to the research as part of the Global Carbon Project.
The problem of cutting emissions is that it leads to difficult choices in the real world. A growing global economy inevitably stokes more energy demand. And different countries are growing their emissions — or failing to shrink them — for different reasons.
“India is providing electricity and energy to hundreds of millions of people who don’t have it yet,” said Jackson. “That’s very different than in China, where they are ramping up coal use again in part because their economic growth has been slowing. They’re greenlighting coal based projects that have been on hold.”
The continuing growth in global emissions is happening, researchers noted, even though renewable energy sources are growing. It’s just that they’re still far too small as energy sources...
WHO: Health benefits far outweigh the costs of meeting climate change goals
5 December 2018 News Release
Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone. The latest estimates from leading experts also indicate that the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies at global level, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is even higher in countries such as China and India.
A WHO report launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland highlights why health considerations are critical to the advancement of climate action and outlines key recommendations for policy makers.
Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated US$ 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally. In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP. Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1% of global GDP.
“The Paris Agreement is potentially the strongest health agreement of this century,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “The evidence is clear that climate change is already having a serious impact on human lives and health. It threatens the basic elements we all need for good health - clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter - and will undermine decades of progress in global health. We can’t afford to delay action any further.”
The same human activities that are destabilizing the Earth’s climate also contribute directly to poor health. The main driver of climate change is fossil fuel combustion which is also a major contributor to air pollution.
“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”
Switching to low-carbon energy sources will not only improve air quality but provide additional opportunities for immediate health benefits. For example, introducing active transport options such as cycling will help increase physical activity that can help prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
WHO’s COP-24 Special Report: health and climate change provides recommendations for governments on how to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change and avoid the worst health impacts of this global challenge.
It describes how countries around the world are now taking action to protect lives from the impacts of climate change – but that the scale of support remains woefully inadequate, particularly for the small island developing states, and least developed countries. Only approximately 0.5% of multilateral climate funds dispersed for climate change adaptation have been allocated to health projects.
Pacific Island countries contribute 0.03% of greenhouse gas emissions, but they are among the most profoundly affected by its impacts. For the Pacific Island countries, urgent action to address climate change — including the outcome of COP24 this week — is crucial to the health of their people and their very existence.
“We now have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to protect health from climate change – from more resilient and sustainable healthcare facilities, to improved warning systems for extreme weather and infectious disease outbreaks. But the lack of investment is leaving the most vulnerable behind,” said Dr Joy St John, Assistant Director-General for Climate and Other Determinants of Health.
The report calls for countries to account for health in all cost-benefit analyses of climate change mitigation. It also recommends that countries use fiscal incentives such as carbon pricing and energy subsidies to incentivize sectors to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. It further encourages Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to remove existing barriers to supporting climate-resilient health systems...
US Naval Academy develops plans to handle sea-level rise, increased flooding
BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press
The sea level in Annapolis is predicted to rise between 0.6 and 3.6 feet (.18 to 1.1 meters) by 2050
...Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the academy's superintendent, said the academy will need to be prepared to respond to rising waters in multiple ways.
"What we have to be prepared for is: There's going to be some amount of sea-level rise," he said.
Carter said projections on sea-level rise already have affected plans to raise a seawall, which is now 5.4 feet (1.6 meters) above sea level. Work on the Farragut Seawall, which is expected to begin in 2020, will raise it more than 2.6 feet (0.8 meters) with plans to raise it again at the appropriate time. He described it as "the first of many projects" in which the academy will need to take future sea-level rise into account.
Carter said the academy basically has three options in contending with rising sea levels: Block the water from entering the campus, create pumps or dikes to move the water out, or abandon parts of the campus. He pointed out that the expense of flood mitigation projects will be a factor going forward.
"We won't be able to build a wall around the whole place..."
Luke D. Trusel et al. 2018. Nonlinear rise in Greenland runoff in response to post-industrial Arctic warming
Nature volume 564, pages104–108 (Dec 5 2018) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0752-4
Greenland's Melting Ice Sheet Has 'Gone Into Overdrive', New Evidence Reveals
PETER DOCKRILL | 5 DEC 2018
...increases in melting intensity began shortly after the onset of industrial-era Arctic warming in the mid-1800s, but it's during a much more recent timeframe that things got really wet.
Results from two of the cores "show a pronounced 250 percent to 575 percent increase in melt intensity over the last 20 years, relative to a pre-industrial baseline period," the authors write in their paper.
"Furthermore, the most recent decade contained in the cores (2004–2013) experienced a more sustained and greater magnitude of melt than any other 10-year period in the ice-core records."
In other words, the melting is increasing dramatically. But it's not just picking up speed in a straight line – the analysis shows the melting is accelerating in a non-linear curve.
"The chart of runoff looks like a hockey stick," (Luke Trusel. Rowan University, NJ) says.
"Melting has not just increased, it's accelerating in response to a warming atmosphere. This means warming is more impactful today than it was even 50 years ago."
According to Trusel, the most concerning part of this anomalous acceleration is we haven't seen the worst yet. Far from it...
While acids from dissolved CO2 will be detrimental to exoskeletons of zooplankton at the base of aquatic food chains, hypoxia (depletion of dissolved oxygen) in warming waters could result in decline of aquatic animals, particularly so in higher latitudes. Makes one wonder if the"blob" in the N Pacific is behind the decline of some populations of Chinook Salmon in British Columbia (and states to the south) with predictable harm to the pods of Killer Whales that prey on them?
Volcanic eruptions that depleted ocean oxygen may have set off the Great Dying
Asphyxiation killed off a lot of marine species 252 million years ago
Carolyn Gramling | December 6, 2018
A massive series of volcanic eruptions in Earth’s distant past left ocean creatures gasping for breath. Greenhouse gases emitted by the volcanoes dramatically lowered oxygen levels in the oceans, a deadly scenario that may have been the main culprit in the Great Dying, researchers report.
...hypoxia — a lack of sufficient oxygen for species’ metabolic needs — could have been the primary culprit behind the die-off.
...In the Great Dying, as many as 90 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial vertebrate species died off. Massive volcanic eruptions, discharging in pulses that began about 300,000 years before the onset of the extinction event, were almost certainly the trigger for the Great Dying (SN: 9/19/15, p. 10).
...Oceans took the largest hit. Ocean temperatures increased at least 10 degrees Celsius at the tropics, and ocean acidification or hypoxia might have struck a killing blow for many creatures.
...The tropics suffered, the researchers found, but many species there have adaptations that enable them to survive warming waters and lower-oxygen conditions. The worst of the death toll from lack of oxygen would have happened at high latitudes, where creatures have no such adaptations, and have nowhere to go.
...acidification, it turns out, would have had the biggest impact at the tropics, not the poles.
...the apparently higher risk of death at the high latitudes appeared in many different types of species, from vertebrates such as fish to shelled creatures such as mollusks.
...hypoxia...primary culprit, although...volcanic gases probably made the oceans toxic to oxygen-breathers in other ways as well, including by adding hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide to the water....
J.L. Penn et al. Temperature-dependent hypoxia explains biogeography and severity of end-Permian marine mass extinction. Science. Vol. 362, December 7, 2018, p. 1130. doi:10.1026/aat1327. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/eaat1327
(CONCLUSION. Ocean warming and O2 loss simulated in an Earth System Model of end-Permian climate change imply widespread loss of aerobic habitat among animal types with diverse thermal and hypoxia tolerances. The resulting extinctions are predicted to select most strongly against higher-latitude species, whose biogeographic niche disappears globally. The combined physiological stresses of ocean warming and O2 loss largely account for the spatial pattern and magnitude of extinction observed in the fossil record of the “Great Dying.” These results highlight the future extinction risk arising from a depletion of the ocean’s aerobic capacity that is already under way.)
L. Kump. Climate change and marine mass extinction. Science. Vol. 362, December 7, 2018, p. 1113. doi:10.1126/science.aav7479. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/1113
(Summary. Voluminous emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, rapid global warming, and a decline in biodiversity—the storyline is modern, but the setting is ancient: The end of the Permian Period, some 252 million years ago. For the end-Permian, the result was catastrophic: the greatest loss of plant and animal life in Earth history (1). Understanding the details of how this mass extinction played out is thus crucial to its use as an analog for our future. On page 1130 of this issue, Penn et al. (2) add an intriguing clue: The extinction was most severe at high latitudes. Using a state-of-the-art climate model that was interpreted in terms of physiological stress, the authors further identify the killer as hypoxia, which was brought on by warm temperatures and ocean deoxygenation.)...
NASA Animation Shows Arctic Ice Rapidly Depleting 1:27
December 6, 2018
11:32 AM EST
This NASA animation shows how Arctic ice has depleted from 1991 to 2016.
From The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)
When a mass extinction occurs, it takes out the weak and also lays low the strong. V-shaped graptolites were everywhere, and then they were nowhere. Ammonites swam around for hundreds of millions of years, and then they were gone. The anthropologist Richard Leakey has warned that "Homo sapiens might not only be the agent of the sixth extinction, but also risks being one of its victims." A sign in the Hall of Biodiversity offers a quote from the Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich: IN PUSHING OTHER SPECIES TO EXTINCTION, HUMANITY IS BUSY SAWING OFF THE LIMB ON WHICH IT PERCHES.
NOAA's Arctic Report Card 2018 (4:48)
Published on Dec 11, 2018
Arctic Report Card: Update for 2018 - Tracking recent environmental changes, with 14 essays prepared by an international team of 81 scientists from 12 different countries and an independent peer-review organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council.
Surface air temperatures in the Arctic continued to warm at twice the rate relative to the rest of the globe. Arctic air temperatures for the past five years (2014-18) have exceeded all previous records since 1900.
In the terrestrial system, atmospheric warming continued to drive broad, long-term trends in declining terrestrial snow cover, melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and lake ice, increasing summertime Arctic river discharge, and the expansion and greening of Arctic tundra vegetation.
Despite increase of vegetation available for grazing, herd populations of caribou and wild reindeer across the Arctic tundra have declined by nearly 50% over the last two decades.
In 2018 Arctic sea ice remained younger, thinner, and covered less area than in the past. The 12 lowest extents in the satellite record have occurred in the last 12 years.
Pan-Arctic observations suggest a long-term decline in coastal landfast sea ice since measurements began in the 1970s, affecting this important platform for hunting, traveling, and coastal protection for local communities.
Spatial patterns of late summer sea surface temperatures are linked to regional variability in sea-ice retreat, regional air temperature, and advection of waters from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
In the Bering Sea region, ocean primary productivity levels in 2018 were sometimes 500% higher than normal levels and linked to a record low sea ice extent in the region for virtually the entire 2017/18 ice season.
Warming Arctic Ocean conditions are also coinciding with an expansion of harmful toxic algal blooms in the Arctic Ocean and threatening food sources.
Microplastic contamination is on the rise in the Arctic, posing a threat to seabirds and marine life that can ingest debris.
KATOWICE, Poland : A truly stupid statement:
“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.
Does he hear what he's saying?
That was awkward — at world’s biggest climate conference, U.S. promotes fossil fuels
Mocking laughter echoed through the conference room.
“There are two layers of U.S. action in Poland,” said Paul Bledsoe, an energy fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute and former Clinton White House climate adviser.
One is the public support of fossil fuels, which Bledsoe said is “primarily aimed at the president’s domestic political base, doubling down on his strategy of energizing them by thumbing his nose at international norms.”
The quieter half is the work of career State Department officials who continue to offer constructive contributions to the Paris climate agreement that President Trump loves to loathe.
The Race to Understand Antarctica’s Most Terrifying Glacier
Jon Gertner | Dec 12, 2018
...Few places in Antarctica are more difficult to reach than Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized hunk of frozen water that meets the Amundsen Sea about 800 miles west of McMurdo. Until a decade ago, barely any scientists had ever set foot there, and the glacier’s remoteness, along with its reputation for bad weather, ensured that it remained poorly understood. Yet within the small community of people who study ice for a living, Thwaites has long been the subject of dark speculation. If this mysterious glacier were to “go bad”—glaciologist-speak for the process by which a glacier breaks down into icebergs and eventually collapses into the ocean—it might be more than a scientific curiosity. Indeed, it might be the kind of event that changes the course of civilization.
...All glaciers flow, but satellites and airborne radar missions had revealed (2008) that something worrisome was happening on Thwaites: The glacier was destabilizing, dumping ever more ice into the sea. On color-coded maps of the region, its flow rate went from stable blue to raise-the-alarms red. As (Penn State scientist named Sridhar) Anandakrishnan puts it, “Thwaites started to pop.”
...In 2014, Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA, concluded that Thwaites was entering a state of “unstoppable” collapse. Even worse, scientists were starting to think that its demise could trigger a larger catastrophe in West Antarctica, the way a rotting support beam might lead to the toppling not only of a wall but of an entire house. Already, Thwaites’ losses were responsible for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise every year. When the entire glacier went, the seas would likely rise by a few feet; when the glaciers around it did, too, the seas might rise by more than a dozen feet. And when that happened, well, goodbye, Miami; goodbye, Boston.
...Thwaites’ unusual characteristics—it is shaped like a wedge, with the thin front end facing the ocean—left it vulnerable to losing vast quantities of ice quickly. What’s more, its size was something to reckon with. Many glaciers resemble narrow rivers that thread through mountain valleys and move small icebergs leisurely into the sea, like a chute or slide. Thwaites, if it went bad, would behave nothing like that. “Thwaites is a terrifying glacier,” Anandakrishnan says simply. Its front end measures about 100 miles across, and its glacial basin—the thick part of the wedge, extending deep into the West Antarctic interior—runs anywhere from 3,000 to more than 4,000 feet deep...
...the situation was urgent. “The question is, what’s going to happen next?” Ted Scambos, the American project coordinator of the Thwaites Collaboration, told me. “Is it going to be 50 years or 200 years before we see a truly large increase in the rate of ice being unloaded into the ocean from that glacier?” As a practical consideration, the world need(s) to know.
...“You have to think in terms of maybe 3 feet, but maybe 10 or 15,” (Penn State Richard) Alley* said. Maybe 15 feet. In that scenario, the Jefferson Memorial and Fenway Park would be underwater, and the Googleplex would become an archipelago. Outside the US, the damage would be incalculable. Shanghai, Lagos, Mumbai, Jakarta—all would flood or drown...
* (Alley showed reporter)...video detailed a catastrophe in Norway in the late 1970s ((21:16) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q-qfNlEP4A) . In the agricultural town of Rissa, the land, an unstable soil known as quick clay, suddenly liquefied during a construction project. Within a few hours, 82 acres fell into a lake. One person died, and the man filming the incident barely escaped with his life.
“It’s not ice,” Alley cautioned me as we watched. “But it’s an analogy for what can happen when things can break, when the cliff is too high and nothing piles up at the bottom.” Alley’s point was that this could be the situation for Thwaites. As a glacier breaks down, larger cross sections of the wedge become exposed to the elements. The process creates an ice cliff, which gets so tall that it can no longer sustain itself. In engineering terms, the ice suffers a material failure. In models, it breaks, and it breaks fast. The resulting icebergs are likely to float away, carried by swells and tides, rather than create a pileup that slows things down.
“So the question,” Alley said, “is where is the threshold for triggering that in an irreversible or nearly irreversible way?”...
Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world's biggest investors
Damian Carrington | 9 Dec 2018
Global investors managing $32tn issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday, demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning. Without these, the world faces a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 crisis, they said.
The investors include some of the world’s biggest pension funds, insurers and asset managers and marks the largest such intervention to date. They say fossil fuel subsidies must end and substantial taxes on carbon be introduced...
...“The long-term nature of the challenge has, in our view, met a zombie-like response by many,” said Chris Newton, of IFM Investors which manages $80bn and is one of the 415 groups that has signed the Global Investor Statement. “This is a recipe for disaster as the impacts of climate change can be sudden, severe and catastrophic.”
...”finance is the critical enabler of increasing ambition,” said Niranjali Amerasinghe, of the World Resources Institute.
UN climate summits are frequently dogged by disputes over the $100bn a year that rich nations have promised to poorer ones by 2020 to tackle climate change. Direct government funding and private company finance were needed, Amerasinghe said: “It is really great when private sector is out there saying we are going to invest in climate-friendly activities.”
A top science story for 2018:
The Arctic Is Breaking Climate Records, Altering Weather Worldwide
Jennifer A. Francis | April 1, 2018
The Arctic climate is changing rapidly, breaking at least a dozen major records in the past three years.
Sea ice is disappearing, air temperatures are soaring, permafrost is thawing and glaciers are melting.
The swift warming is altering the jet stream and polar vortex, prolonging heat waves, droughts, deep freezes and heavy rains worldwide...
Tweet below refers to bonus figures (after slide #77): http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2018.shtml
Stefan Rahmstorf @rahmstorf (physicist, U Potsdam)| 8:30 AM - 6 Dec 2018:
See how easily we could have solved the climate crisis if we had started in 2000!
Only 4% reduction per year. Now we need 18% per year.
You can thank climate deniers, lobby groups and cowardly politicians for this delay.
From Global Carbon Project, http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2018.shtml …
Maybe this falls under "climate change adaptation". Houseplant with added rabbit DNA could reduce air pollution, study shows
A quote from the article "While it has been inserted into plants before, including poplar trees, ", I was not aware of that. If not mistaken I think poplar trees like growing beside streams and soak up a lot of pollution that way.
Aha, looked up poplar tree as a pollution fighter and this search has scads of research info:
I read somewhere that cattle with kangaroo microbiome produced less methane.
Nothing since--wonder if rejiggered animals put on less much weight?
>31 margd: Cows not fattening up would put a stop to that I bet! When you crunch the numbers, cows making less methane even by a small amount would be significant when multiplied by the number of cows no doubt. Turning the USA "great plains" back to original prairie grasses & more buffalo would be the best bet on that front IMOHO. A lot of ranchers hate Ted Turner for trying to bring back the prairie I hear.
2019 New Year's global resolution:
Christiana Figueres and colleagues' (2017) six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.
Christiana Figueres et al. 2017. Three years to safeguard our climate. Nature 546, 593–595 (29 June 2017) doi:10.1038/546593a
...By 2020, here’s where the world needs to be:
Energy. Renewables make up at least 30% of the world’s electricity supply — up from 23.7% in 2015. No coal-fired power plants are approved beyond 2020, and all existing ones are being retired.
Infrastructure. Cities and states have initiated action plans to fully decarbonize buildings and infrastructures by 2050, with funding of $300 billion annually. Cities are upgrading at least 3% of their building stock to zero- or near-zero emissions structures each year.
Transport. Electric vehicles make up at least 15% of new car sales globally, a major increase from the almost 1% market share that battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles now claim. Also required are commitments for a doubling of mass-transit utilization in cities, a 20% increase in fuel efficiencies for heavy-duty vehicles and a 20% decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation per kilometre travelled.
Land. Land-use policies are enacted that reduce forest destruction and shift to reforestation and afforestation efforts. Current net emissions from deforestation and land-use changes form about 12% of the global total. If these can be cut to zero next decade, and afforestation and reforestation can instead be used to create a carbon sink by 2030, it will help to push total net global emissions to zero, while supporting water supplies and other benefits. Sustainable agricultural practices can reduce emissions and increase CO2 sequestration in healthy, well-managed soils.
Industry. Heavy industry is developing and publishing plans for increasing efficiencies and cutting emissions, with a goal of halving emissions well before 2050. Carbon-intensive industries — such as iron and steel, cement, chemicals, and oil and gas — currently emit more than one-fifth of the world’s CO2, excluding their electricity and heat demands.
Finance. The financial sector has rethought how it deploys capital and is mobilizing at least $1 trillion a year for climate action. Most will come from the private sector. Governments, private banks and lenders such as the World Bank need to issue many more ‘green bonds’ to finance climate-mitigation efforts. This would create an annual market that, by 2020, processes more than 10 times the $81 billion of bonds issued in 2016.
Further, faster, together
If we delay, the conditions for human prosperity will be severely curtailed. There are three pressing and practical steps to avoid this.
First, use science to guide decisions and set targets. Policies and actions must be based on robust evidence. Uncensored and transparent communication of peer-reviewed science to global decision-makers is crucial. Academic journal articles are not easily read or digested by non-experts, so we need a new kind of communication in which Nature meets Harvard Business Review. Science associations should provide more media training to young scientists and hold communication boot camps on how to make climate science relevant to corporate boards and investors.
Those in power must also stand up for science. French President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again campaign is a compelling example. He has spoken out to a global audience in support of climate scientists, and invited researchers to move to France to help accelerate action and deliver on the Paris agreement. To encourage others to speak, scientists should forge connections with leaders from policy, business and civil society. The Arctic Basecamp at Davos in January, for instance, brought scientists into high-level discussions on global risk at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Switzerland.
Second, existing solutions must be scaled up rapidly. With no time to wait, all countries should adopt plans for achieving 100% renewable electricity production, while ensuring that markets can be designed to enable renewable-energy expansion.
Third, encourage optimism. Recent political events have thrown the future of our world into sharp focus. But as before Paris, we must remember that impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude. It is crucial that success stories are shared. Demonstrating where countries and businesses have over-achieved on their targets will raise the bar for others. More-ambitious targets become easier to set...
>31 margd: If they did try to put this product in the supermarket they couldn't use the cute little GMO label on it.
A Perspective explores the risk of crossing a planetary climate threshold that might lead to "Hothouse Earth," in which global average temperatures exceed the temperatures of any interglacial period of the past 1.2 million years: "The Anthropocene represents the beginning of a very rapid human-driven trajectory of the Earth System away from the glacial–interglacial limit cycle toward new, hotter climatic conditions and a profoundly different biosphere."
Will Steffen et al. 2018. Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.
PNAS August 14, 2018 115 (33) 8252-8259; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810141115
We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.
(See Figure 2: "planetary threshold at ∼2 °C...beyond which the system follows an essentially irreversible pathway driven by intrinsic biogeophysical feedback"...)
Melting Arctic Ice Adds 14,000 Tons of Water Per Second to Rising Sea Levels, Study* Says
Kevin Kelleher | December 27, 2018
...“The present loss rate of Arctic ice is equivalent with 200 times the flow of the Thames river or nearly that of the Mississippi river.”
Nearly half of the ice loss has occurred in Greenland, followed by Alaska and Northern Canada.
* Jason E Box et al. 2018. Global sea-level contribution from Arctic land ice: 1971–2017. Environ. Res. Lett. 13 125012. 12 p.
NASA Releases Time-Lapse Of the Disappearing Arctic Polar Ice Cap (2:35)
Wednesday 5, 2018
NASA posted this video to YouTube with this description:
“Arctic sea ice has not only been shrinking in surface area in recent years, it’s becoming younger and thinner as well. In this animation, where the ice cover almost looks gelatinous as it pulses through the seasons, cryospheric scientist Dr. Walt Meier of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center describes how the sea ice has undergone fundamental changes during the era of satellite measurements.”
Sounds like the time is right for a Republican to provide some leadership on this issue? Soon, I hope!
More Republicans Than You Think Support Action on Climate Change
Arlie Hochschild and David Hochschild | Dec. 29, 2018
New polls suggest Republicans’ views on global warming may be at a tipping point.
Disappointed scientists: damn, kangaroos fart methane
Jeppe Wojcik | May 6, 2012 - 06:42
Scientists have long nurtured the hope that kangaroo stomachs could help limit the emissions of man-made greenhouse gases.
However, a recent study can now put an end to that hope.
Up until now, it has been believed that kangaroos, unlike cows, produced little or no methane gas, even though the two animals have very similar diets.
Earth’s many millions of cows produce considerable quantities of methane which is primarily released into the atmosphere in the form of burps.
The original idea was to transfer the methane-free stomach culture of the kangaroo to cows.
But according to the study, such a procedure would be futile, as kangaroos do in fact produce methane gases. The gases simply come out the other end – in other words as farts.
ETA I think cattle BURP methane produced in the rumen, but do check out photo for a climate giggle (one of few).
This Is How You Turn Cow Fart Gas Into Energy
Teodora Zareva |13 May, 2014
Collapsing glaciers threaten Asia’s water supplies (COMMENT)
Jing Gao et al. | 02 January 2019
Tracking moisture, snow and meltwater across the ‘third pole’ will help communities to plan for climate change, argue Jing Gao and colleagues.
The ‘third pole’ is the planet’s largest reservoir of ice and snow after the Arctic and Antarctic. It encompasses the Himalaya–Hindu Kush mountain ranges and the Tibetan Plateau. The region hosts the world’s 14 highest mountains and about 100,000 square kilometres of glaciers (an area the size of Iceland). Meltwater feeds ten great rivers, including the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Yellow and Yangtze, on which almost one-fifth of the world’s population depends.
Climate change threatens this vast frozen reservoir (see ‘Third pole warming’). For the past 50 years, glaciers in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau have been shrinking. Those in the Tian Shan mountains to the north have lost one-quarter of their mass, and might lose as much as half by mid-century. Their meltwater is expanding lakes. River flows at the start of summer peak earlier than they did 30 years ago5. And weather patterns are shifting. A weaker Indian monsoon is reducing precipitation in the Himalayas6 and southern Tibetan Plateau; snow and rain are increasing in the northwestern Tibetan Plateau and Pamir Mountains...
Permafrost: a climate time bomb? December 5, 2018
December 5, 2018
Permafrost is found mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, where it covers about a quarter of exposed land and is generally thousands of years old
The Earth's vast tracts of permafrost hold billions of tonnes of planet-heating greenhouse gases that scientists warn will be released by global warming, along with diseases long locked into the ice.
...A quarter of the north
...Tonnes of locked-in carbon
...Vicious circle of warming
...Risks to roads, pipelines
...could be a boon for the oil and mining industries, providing access to previously difficult-to-reach reserves....
How we can combat climate change
Post Opinions Staff | January 2, 2019
The world has until 2030 to drastically cut our emissions. Where do we begin?
...11 policy ideas to protect the planet
Set local emissions goals
Be smart about your air conditioner
Encourage electric vehicles
Be smart about nuclear power
Make it easier to live without cars
Prevent wasted food — the right way
Incentivize carbon farming
Curb the effects of meat and dairy
Adopt a carbon tax
Open electric markets to competition
Pass a Green New Deal...
Methane beneath Greenland’s ice sheet is being released
Lauren C. Andrews | 02 January 2019
Methane produced in sediments beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet is released to the atmosphere by meltwater in the summer. This suggests that glacial melt could be an important global source of this greenhouse gas.
...Writing in Nature, Lamarche-Gagnon et al.1 present direct measurements of dissolved methane in water discharged from a land-terminating glacier of the Greenland Ice Sheet during the summer. This water, which is known as proglacial discharge, was supersaturated with methane, and the amount of methane released to the atmosphere from this discharge rivals that from other terrestrial rivers.
...Lamarche-Gagnon et al. posit that the formation and growth of subglacial channels permits the rapid evacuation of stored methane-rich meltwater, limiting the amount of time that it is exposed to the oxygen-rich subglacial hydrological system in which bacterial oxidation occurs.
... any increase in subglacial methane mobilization could be mitigated if water flow is slow or if subglacial basins are large, thus allowing more-complete bacterial oxidation of methane to occur...
Melting Permafrost Could Damage Infrastructure for 3.6 Million People
E360 Digest | December 11, 2018
...The study*, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that nearly 70 percent of infrastructure in the Arctic — including homes, hospitals, roads, railways, and industrial sites — is built on permafrost that is at risk of thawing by mid-century. Three-quarters of the population living in the Arctic permafrost region, about 3.6 million people, will be affected by this damage in the next 30 years.
In addition, nearly half of the oil and gas drilling sites in the Russian Arctic are in regions where “thaw-related ground instability can cause severe damage to the built environment,” the study’s authors write. Roughly 20 percent of Russia’s population and its GDP comes from north of the Arctic Circle, Earther reports. “So they will have some big bills coming up,” David Titley, the head of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, told the environmental news site...
* Jan Hjort et al. 11 December 2018. Degrading permafrost puts Arctic infrastructure at risk by mid-century. Nature Communications volume 9, Article number: 5147 (2018) | https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07557-4
Degradation of near-surface permafrost can pose a serious threat to the utilization of natural resources, and to the sustainable development of Arctic communities. Here we identify at unprecedentedly high spatial resolution infrastructure hazard areas in the Northern Hemisphere’s permafrost regions under projected climatic changes and quantify fundamental engineering structures at risk by 2050. We show that nearly four million people and 70% of current infrastructure in the permafrost domain are in areas with high potential for thaw of near-surface permafrost. Our results demonstrate that one-third of pan-Arctic infrastructure and 45% of the hydrocarbon extraction fields in the Russian Arctic are in regions where thaw-related ground instability can cause severe damage to the built environment. Alarmingly, these figures are not reduced substantially even if the climate change targets of the Paris Agreement are reached.
Climate Change and National Security, Part II: How Big a Threat is the Climate?
Michelle Melton | January 7, 2019
...Within the next few decades, the most likely scenario involves manageable, but costly, consequences on infrastructure, food security and natural disasters, which will be borne primarily by the world’s most impoverished citizens and the members of the military who provide them with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. But while the head-turning national security impacts of climate change are probably several decades away, the nature of the threat is such that waiting until these changes manifest is not a viable option. By the time the climate consequences are severe enough to compel action, there is likely to be little that can be done on human timescales to undo the changes to environmental systems and the human societies dependent upon them.
Wildfire soot darkening glaciers could speed up melt rate, scientists fear
Allison Dempster | Jan 06, 2019
Soot and smoke contribute to melting of glaciers, as darkening ice absorbs more sunlight
...John Pomeroy, the director of the Centre for Hydrology and Coldwater Laboratory in Canmore, shows off an instrument called a pyranometer. He and his students mount them over the ice to measure solar radiation. ...Typically in the summer, when the snow has melted away, glaciers absorb roughly 60 per cent of the sun's rays, Pomeroy said. "The last two summers have been a shock. Last summer we saw a 70 per cent of the solar radiation was being absorbed on the glacier surfaces. This summer we've seen 80 per cent absorbed," he said.
...One complicating factor is all the smoke. "There were days last August when the ice was almost certainly melting more slowly than it would have without the fires because of the smoky sky, but the ash will last much longer than the smoke has. And so we're putting this into our models now to estimate the net effect on this."
...University of Calgary glaciologist Shawn Marshall..."If you're getting a bad fire season, it's already hot and dry. It's already a tough summer for the glaciers. So, if we're actually getting these darker glaciers, it's just like a kick when you're down a little bit — it's even worse."...
Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds
Kendra Pierre-Louis | Jan. 10, 2019
Scientists say the warming of the world’s oceans is accelerating more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases ends up stored in oceans.
A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science*, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years...
*Lijing Cheng et al. 2019. How fast are the oceans warming? Science 11 Jan 2019:Vol. 363, Issue 6423, pp. 128-129
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav7619 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6423/128.summary
Climate change from human activities mainly results from the energy imbalance in Earth's climate system caused by rising concentrations of heat-trapping gases. About 93% of the energy imbalance accumulates in the ocean as increased ocean heat content (OHC). The ocean record of this imbalance is much less affected by internal variability and is thus better suited for detecting and attributing human influences (1) than more commonly used surface temperature records. Recent observation-based estimates show rapid warming of Earth's oceans over the past few decades (see the figure) (1, 2). This warming has contributed to increases in rainfall intensity, rising sea levels, the destruction of coral reefs, declining ocean oxygen levels, and declines in ice sheets; glaciers; and ice caps in the polar regions (3, 4). Recent estimates of observed warming resemble those seen in models, indicating that models reliably project changes in OHC.
Already, food chains are being disrupted. Pollution and invasives and dams contribute to the damage, as well as warming waters. In the Great Lakes, glacial relict Diporeia (a freshwater shrimp with high oil content and thus an important fish food) is in decline. Below, diatoms are hurting in Gulf of Maine and Russia's large/deep freshwater Lake Baikal:
Africa's lakes (not least their diatoms) are likewise suffering, e.g., :
Andrew S. Cohen et al. 2016. Climate warming reduces fish production and benthic habitat in Lake Tanganyika, one of the most biodiverse freshwater ecosystems
PNAS August 23, 2016 113 (34) 9563-9568; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1603237113. https://www.pnas.org/content/113/34/9563
Meanwhile jellyfish populations are on the rise...https://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2019/01/08/jellyfish-Queensland-Australia-beaches-stings-climate-change/stories/201901080165. I've eaten jellyfish, but far prefer teleosts... Hopefully, jellyfish are an acquired taste!
Trump China policies have created another blow to combating global warming - by slowing the retooling of nuke energy.
Bill Gates's Experimental Nuclear Power Plant Halts Construction in China
Sen. Marco Rubio warns Trump a border emergency could embolden a future Dem president on climate change
Berkeley Lovelace Jr. | 9 Jan 2019
...The Florida Republican contended that Trump was elected on the promise of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the president has to "keep that promise." But "we have to be careful about endorsing broad uses of executive power," he added. "I'm not prepared to endorse that right now."
Such a declaration would set a precedent, Rubio said. "If today, the national emergency is border security ... tomorrow the national emergency might be climate change."...
I think case for climate-change emergency would win against evidence for southern-border emergency any day!
Already, though, Rs (Rubio) are framing even the possibility of a future president declaring such an emergency as "partisan".
They'll go to their Venus-Mars future waving Constitution, though, chanting: "City on a hill! Exceptional!"
Far easier to resurrect our Constitution than to turn a Mother Earth out of control...
A $3 billion problem: Miami-Dade’s septic tanks are already failing due to sea rise
Alex Harris | January 10, 2019
...As sea level rise encroaches on South Florida, the Miami-Dade County study shows that thousands more residents may be at risk — and soon. By 2040, 64 percent of county septic tanks (more than 67,000) could have issues every year, affecting not only the people who rely on them for sewage treatment, but the region’s water supply and the health of anyone who wades through floodwaters....
Antarctica is losing ice 6 times faster today than in 1980s
SETH BORENSTEIN | Jan 14, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — Antarctica is melting more than six times faster than it did in the 1980s, a new study shows.
Scientists used aerial photographs, satellite measurements and computer models to track how fast the southern-most continent has been melting since 1979 in 176 individual basins. They found the ice loss to be accelerating dramatically — a key indicator of human-caused climate change.
Since 2009, Antarctica has lost almost 278 billion tons (252 billion metric tons) of ice per year, the new study found. In the 1980s, it was losing 44 billion tons (40 billion metric tons) a year.
The recent melting rate is 15 percent higher than what a study found last year...
The Green New Deal Rises Again
Thomas L. Friedman | Jan. 8, 2019
...To keep it simple, my goals would be what energy innovator Hal Harvey has dubbed “the four zeros.”
1. Zero-net energy buildings: buildings that can produce as much energy as they consume.
2. Zero-waste manufacturing: stimulating manufacturers to design and build products that use fewer raw materials and that are easily disassembled and recycled.
3. A zero-carbon grid: If we can combine renewable power generation at a utility scale with some consumers putting up their own solar panels and windmills that are integrated with the grid, and with large-scale storage batteries, we really could, one day, electrify everything carbon-free.
4. Zero-emissions transportation: a result of combining electric vehicles and electric public transportation with a zero-carbon grid.
That’s my Green New Deal circa 2019. It basically says: Forget the Space Race. We don’t need a man, or woman, on Mars. We need an Earth Race — a free-market competition to ensure that mankind can continue to thrive on Earth. A Green New Deal is the strategy for that. It can make America healthier, wealthier, more innovative, more energy secure, more respected — and weaken petro-dictators across the globe.
I am eager to see what other people propose, but we don’t have another decade to waste. This may well be our last chance to build the technologies we need at the scale of the challenge we face in the time we still have to — as scientists say — manage the unavoidable aspects of climate change and avoid the unmanageable ones...
What Would An Effective Solution To Climate Change Look Like?
Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D. Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on Quora | Jan 7, 2019
What do the most viable climate solutions look like, and how should they be implemented?
We need climate solutions that will:
Generate energy from clean sources that don’t produce carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases - because fossil fuel extraction and combustion is the number one cause of climate change, responsible for about two-thirds of the problem (see figure below).
Reduce heat-trapping gas emissions from other important sectors, like agriculture, land use change, industrial processes, wastewater treatment and more - because these are responsible for the remaining third of the problem.
Help us use our resources more efficiently - because did you know that the average US household wastes $165 per year for a total of $19B on “vampire” power, and one-third of all the food grown world-wide is wasted?
Suck some of the carbon dioxide we’ve produced back out of the atmosphere and put it into the soil, where it helps restore the land, or turn it into fuel, or stone, or other useful products.
There’s no one silver bullet that will fix it for us: but there is a lot of silver buckshot.
And the very best type of buckshot are solutions that fix other things at the same time: like increasing clean energy use, which grows the local economy, reduces air pollution, and increases energy security; reducing food waste, which also tackles hunger; and my personal favorite, educating women and girls, which reduces infant mortality, increases economic security, and allows them the freedom to choose how many children they have.
For a truly inspirational list of viable, practical, and beneficial climate solutions, please check out Project Drawdown.
And as for how to implement these solutions, the answer is simply: at all levels.
Simple solutions we implement in our own lives, our homes, our communities and our organizations...
Regional solutions implemented across a business, an industry, a city, a state or a province...
And yes, national and international solutions as well, such as the country of Ireland, that’s chosen to divest itself of its fossil fuel investments; Canada, that’s put a price on carbon; India, that’s replacing more than three quarters of a billion light bulbs with LEDs; Bhutan, that’s maintained and expanded its forests (including setting the record for the most trees planted in one hour, 50,000) such that they absorb three times more carbon than its population emits; and of course the Paris Agreement, where countries commit to the reductions we need to make sure that we are able to prepare for and adapt to the impacts that will occur.
When it comes to fixing climate change, we need all options on the table and all hands on deck.
Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study
Damian Carrington | 15 Jan 2019
Scientists say it may still technically be possible to limit warming to 1.5C if drastic action is taken now
Climate change could be kept in check if a phaseout of all fossil fuel infrastructure were to begin immediately, according to research.
It shows that meeting the internationally agreed aspiration of keeping global warming to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is still possible. The scientists say it is therefore the choices being made by global society, not physics, which is the obstacle to meeting the goal.
The study found that if all fossil fuel infrastructure – power plants, factories, vehicles, ships and planes – from now on are replaced by zero-carbon alternatives at the end of their useful lives, there is a 64% chance of staying under 1.5C...
Christopher J. Smith et al. 2019. Current fossil fuel infrastructure does not yet commit us to 1.5 °C warming.
Nature Communicationsvolume 10, Article number: 101 (2019) | https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07999-w
Committed warming describes how much future warming can be expected from historical emissions due to inertia in the climate system. It is usually defined in terms of the level of warming above the present for an abrupt halt of emissions. Owing to socioeconomic constraints, this situation is unlikely, so we focus on the committed warming from present-day fossil fuel assets. Here we show that if carbon-intensive infrastructure is phased out at the end of its design lifetime from the end of 2018, there is a 64% chance that peak global mean temperature rise remains below 1.5 °C. Delaying mitigation until 2030 considerably reduces the likelihood that 1.5 °C would be attainable even if the rate of fossil fuel retirement was accelerated. Although the challenges laid out by the Paris Agreement are daunting, we indicate 1.5 °C remains possible and is attainable with ambitious and immediate emission reduction across all sectors.
How one heatwave killed 'a third' of a bat species in Australia
Frances Mao | 15 January 2019
Over two days in November, record-breaking heat in Australia's north wiped out almost one-third of the nation's spectacled flying foxes, according to researchers.
The animals, also known as spectacled fruit bats, were unable to survive in temperatures which exceeded 42C.
...Last week, researchers from Western Sydney University finalised their conclusion that about 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died in the event on 26 and 27 November.
...deaths could be even higher - as many as 30,000 - because some settlements had not been counted.
Australia had only an estimated 75,000 spectacled flying foxes before November
...can also be found in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands. In Australia, the species is only found in a small rainforest region of northern Queensland, where it helps to pollinate native trees.
...about 10,000 bats of another species - black flying foxes - succumbed to the heat during the same two-day period.
Flying foxes are no more sensitive to extreme heat than some other species, experts say.
But because they often gather in urban areas in large numbers, their deaths can be more conspicuous, and easily documented.
...Even prior to November's heatwave, conservationists were lobbying the Australian government to upgrade its classification of the species from "vulnerable" to "endangered" - a move which would strengthen efforts to help it.
Globally, the species is listed as of "least concern" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List...
Greenland’s Melting Ice Nears a ‘Tipping Point,’ Scientists Say
John Schwartz | Jan. 21, 2019
Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a “tipping point,” and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday.
The Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet, and the new research adds to the evidence that the ice loss in Greenland, which lies mainly above the Arctic Circle, is speeding up as the warming increases. The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed.
...Luke D. Trusel, a glaciologist at Rowan University and an author of last month’s Nature paper on Greenland, said the new research by Dr. Bevis and his colleagues “provides clear and further illustration of how sensitive Greenland now is” to global warming.
“What’s happening today is well beyond the range of what could be expected naturally,” he said. “The human fingerprint on Greenland melting today is unequivocal.”
Still, he said, most estimates of a tipping point for Greenland ice loss cite higher average temperatures than are currently occurring, more along the lines of 1.5 or two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Global average temperatures have already increased by about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
A co-author of the Nature paper, Sarah B. Das, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, agreed that Dr. Bevis’s study reinforced her own team’s conclusions and showed “how quickly Greenland is disappearing.” The common finding, she said, is that climate change has brought Greenland to a state in which “a little bit of a nudge is going to have an outsized impact,” causing enormous melting.
But, she said, “I take issue with using ‘tipping point’ to describe the accelerating mass loss Greenland is experiencing,” because “it makes it appear as if we have passed, or soon will pass, the point of no return.” She said she saw reasons for hope.
Dr. Trusel agreed that talk of tipping points could discount the humans’ ability to mitigate global warming. “We may be able to control how rapidly the ice sheet changes in the future,” he said.
“By limiting greenhouse gas emissions we limit warming, and thus also limit how rapidly and intensely Greenland affects our livelihoods through sea-level rise,” he added. “That, it seems, is our call to make.”
Heat Waves Are Causing Mass Fish Deaths in Australia
Bianca Nogrady, Nature magazine on January 17, 2019
Drought conditions and poor water management have contributed to the events
Hundreds of thousands of native fish in Australia’s Darling River have died following a major outbreak of blue–green algae and some severe weather. Two mass die-offs have been reported near Menindee in western New South Wales—the first was late last year, and the second last week.
Outbreaks of blue–green algae (cyanobacteria), which thrive in warm water, are not uncommon during droughts. The algae did not directly cause the mass die-off; rapid cooling and intense rainfall might have disrupted the bloom and depleted the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, killing the fish...
But low water levels in the river have compounded the die-offs, which have greatly affected native species such as bony herring (Nematalosa erebi), golden and silver perch (Macquaria ambigua and Bidyanus bidyanus, respectively) and the vulnerable Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) . “Unfortunately, the main causes of this distressing event are the lack of water flowing into the northern rivers, and the impact of 100 years of over-allocation of precious water resources throughout the entire basin,” says the Murray–Darling Basin Authority, a statutory agency that oversees the basin through which the river flows.
...further die-offs are likely over the next few months, with heatwaves forecast across south-eastern Australia this week and dry conditions set to continue.
Global Warming Concerns Rise Among Americans in New Poll
John Schwartz | Jan. 22, 2019
“I’ve never seen jumps in some of the key indicators like this,” the lead researcher said.
A record number of Americans understand that climate change is real, according to a new survey, and they are increasingly worried about its effects in their lives today.
Some 73 percent of Americans polled late last year said that global warming was happening, the report found, a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015 and three points since last March.
The rise in the number of Americans who say global warming is personally important to them was even sharper, jumping nine percentage points since March to 72 percent, another record over the past decade...
New study reveals local drivers of amplified Arctic warming
Joo Hyeon Heo | January 21, 2019
The Arctic experienced an extreme heat wave during February 2018. The temperature at the North Pole soared to the melting point of ice, which is about 30 to 35 degrees (17-19 Celsius) above normal. Recent studies indicate the mass of Arctic glaciers has declined significantly since the 1980's by more than 70%. These sudden climatic changes affected not just the Arctic regions, but also the water, food and energy security nexus throughout the globe. This is why climate scientists around the world are paying increasing attention to this accelerated warming pattern, commonly referred to as "Arctic amplification."
...To determine whether tropical warming, atmospheric wind and ocean current changes contribute to future Arctic amplification, the team designed a series of computer model simulations...
In the tropics, air fueled by high temperature and moisture can easily move up to high altitudes, meaning the atmosphere is unstable. In contrast, the Arctic atmosphere is much more stable with respect to vertical air movement. This condition enhances the CO2-induced warming in the Arctic near the surface. Due to the unstable atmosphere in the tropics, CO2 mostly warms the upper atmosphere and energy is easily lost to space. This is opposite to what happens in the Arctic: Less outgoing infrared radiation escapes the atmosphere, which further amplifies the surface-trapped warming.
"Our computer simulations show that these changes in the vertical atmospheric temperature profile in the Arctic region outweigh other regional feedback factors, such as the often-cited ice-albedo feedback," says Malte Stuecker. (margd: Ice-albedo--ice reflects heat from sun. When water is ice-free, as Great Lakes increasingly tend to be, the dark, exposed water is heated by radiation from the sun.)
The findings of this study highlight the importance of Arctic processes in controlling the pace at which sea ice will retreat in the Arctic Ocean. The results are also important to understand how sensitive polar ecosystems, Arctic permafrost and the Greenland ice sheet will respond to global warming.
Malte F. Stuecker et al. 2018. Polar amplification dominated by local forcing and feedbacks. Nature Climate Change volume 8, pages 1076–1081 (2018) | DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0339-y https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0339-y
The surface temperature response to greenhouse gas forcing displays a characteristic pattern of polar-amplified warming, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the causes of this polar amplification are still debated. Some studies highlight the importance of surface-albedo feedback, while others find larger contributions from longwave feedbacks, with changes in atmospheric and oceanic heat transport also thought to play a role. Here, we determine the causes of polar amplification using climate model simulations in which CO2 forcing is prescribed in distinct geographical regions, with the linear sum of climate responses to regional forcings replicating the response to global forcing. The degree of polar amplification depends strongly on the location of CO2 forcing. In particular, polar amplification is found to be dominated by forcing in the polar regions, specifically through positive local lapse-rate feedback, with ice-albedo and Planck feedbacks playing subsidiary roles. Extra-polar forcing is further shown to be conducive to polar warming, but given that it induces a largely uniform warming pattern through enhanced poleward heat transport, it contributes little to polar amplification. Therefore, understanding polar amplification requires primarily a better insight into local forcing and feedbacks rather than extra-polar processes.
Then and now, corporations plan for climate change:
Big Oil Knew: The Confusion Memo (3:40)
War On Our Future | about a week ago ·
An internal oil industry memo has surfaced, revealing a secret plan to wage a misinformation campaign on the American public. #YEARSproject
Corporate America Is Getting Ready to Monetize Climate Change
Christopher Flavelle | January 22, 2019
...As the Trump administration rolls back rules meant to curb global warming, new disclosures show that the country’s largest companies are already bracing for its effects. The documents reveal how widely climate change is expected to cascade through the economy -- disrupting supply chains, disabling operations and driving away customers, but also offering new ways to make money.
...Of the 25 companies whose submissions were reviewed by Bloomberg, 21 said they had identified “inherent climate-related risks with the potential to have a substantial financial or strategic impact” on their business.
...Intel...semiconductor manufacturing process relies on access to water...water availability for the Coca-Cola system’s bottling operations.
More frequent hurricanes and wildfires could force AT&T to spend more money on repair...as well as “proactively relocating equipment or additional network hardening.”
Rising temperatures are already affecting “the comfort and health and well being of customers” in its theme parks, Disney wrote....
Bank of America reported that 4 percent of its U.S. real estate-secured loans are in flood zones, almost all of them residential...defaulting on their mortgage payments if, for example, flood insurance premiums become unaffordable...Clients may also find themselves in a negative equity situation due to housing values being impacted when insurance costs rise.
Visa Inc.... global pandemics and armed conflict...fewer people to travel.
...“As the climate changes, there will be expanded markets for products for tropical and weather related diseases including waterborne illness,” wrote Merck & Co.
More disasters will make iPhones even more vital to people’s lives, Apple predicted.
...“Preparation for and response to climate-change induced natural disasters result in greater construction, conservation and other business activities,” Wells Fargo and Co wrote, adding that it “has the opportunity to provide financing to support these efforts.”
More disasters will mean increased sales for Home Depot...people are going to need more air conditioners...ceiling fans
Alphabet Inc.’s Google...“Fluctuating socio-economic conditions due to climate change” could reduce demand for online advertising, the company reported. Yet more people might use Google Earth...
Air travel is surging. That’s a huge problem for the climate.
Umair Irfan | Jan 13, 2019
US airlines have an abysmal carbon footprint.
The Rhodium Group recently released preliminary estimates showing carbon dioxide emissions overall surged 3.4 percent in 2018, with the transportation sector leading the way as the largest source of emissions for the third year in a row.
Interestingly, the bump in transportation emissions didn’t come from cars. Car travel increased compared to 2017, but gasoline consumption decreased. That’s in part because overall fuel economy in passenger cars is improving as engines become more efficient and electric cars become more popular.
Instead, emissions from trucking and air travel helped contribute to the overall increase: Demand for both diesel and jet fuel increased about 3 percent in 2018.
On the one hand, this shows just how hard it is to bring down greenhouse gas emissions when the US economy is growing — growth was 3 percent in 2018. With that came more manufacturing, more power use, more travel, and, yes, more greenhouse gases.
But it’s also a clear sign of just how difficult it is to decarbonize the airline industry, for which surprisingly few low-carbon technologies or fuels have been developed so far. That said, there are steps airlines can take to modestly reduce their impact on the environment. And on this front, a recent report from the German nonprofit atmosfair shows that US-based airlines have fared poorly compared to air carriers in other countries, failing to take climate change as seriously as some of their competitors abroad.
...The overall highest-ranked airline, according to atmosfair, was United Kingdom-based TUI Airways because of their efficient aircraft and high occupancy rates.
The highest-rated US-based airline was Alaska Airlines, coming in at 22. The highest-ranked US legacy carrier is United Airlines, ranking 50th. All US air carriers slipped in the rankings compared to the year before, except for American Airlines, which ranked 58, rising from 66 in 2017. For country home to some of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, this is a dismal showing.
American Airlines’ fleet includes a combination of newer aircraft like the Boeing 737-800 and older, less efficient aircraft like the MD-80. The company has average to below-average occupancy on their shorter flights. “American Airlines still earns points compared to the previous year due to high occupancy on long-haul flights in combination with more efficient aircrafts,” according to the report...
Not just Alaskan coasts and glaciers in the Alps, we are losing our cultural heritage throughout the world:
Warming Planet, Vanishing Heritage
A New York Times series exploring how climate change is erasing cultural identity around the world
Easter Island is Eroding
Climate Change is Killing the Cedars of Lebanon
Saving Scotland's Heritage from the Rising Seas :-(
Your Children's Yellowstone Will be Radically Different
As Seas Warm Galapagos Islands Face a Giant Evolutionary Test
Here’s How Climate Change Hurts Coffee
Climate Central | January 16th, 2019
...About half the world’s coffee-producing land will be unsuitable by 2050...Warming will especially damage the higher-quality Arabica bean, which grows best between 64°F and 70°F. Arabica accounts for about two thirds of global coffee production but is limited to subtropical highlands in Brazil, Central America, and East Africa. The low-grade Robusta bean is more heat-resistant, though less tolerant of major swings in temperature and precipitation. And both species suffer from pests like the coffee berry borer, which causes over $500 million in annual damages and is spreading in a warming world.
Extremes in 2014 point to a concerning future. Drought...high heat...heavy rainfall ...a near-doubling of Arabica bean prices in just one year.
Cutting our greenhouse gas emissions could reduce (loss of coffee-producing land)...
(Adaptation)...limit land loss with shading strategies, more resilient bean varieties, and more natural biological control of pests.
Ancient Plants Reveal Arctic Summers Haven't Been This Hot in 115,000 Years
Brian Kahn | 1/26/2019
The latest sign of just how screwed the Arctic is: moss that hasn’t seen the light of day in at least 40,000 years is tumbling out of ice caps on Canada’s Baffin Island thanks to increasingly balmy summers. Based on that and other lines of evidence, research published in Nature Communications on Friday suggests that Canadian Arctic summers haven’t been this warm in 115,000 years or more.
...(Simon Pendleton of the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research) collected samples from around 30 ice caps (Baffin Island) and conducted radiocarbon dating to determine their age. The findings show the mosses are at least 40,000 years old (and on a wild side note, some of the mosses have been taken back to labs and brought back to life as Arctic zombie plants).
But here’s the thing: 40,000 years is close to the edge of history you can probe with from radiocarbon dating. It also happens to be smack in the middle of a glacial period. That led Pendleton and his colleagues to scour other records, including nearby ice measurements from Greenland. By cross-referencing with the plants, they show that the area has been covered by ice a lot longer than 40,000 years and that summers of our new climate are likely more blistering than anything in roughly 115,000-120,000 years...
By one account, it took the Denier-in-Chief three hours to doubt global warming on the basis of cold weather over North America this week...
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 6:28 PM - 28 Jan 2019:
In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!
Here's The Real Connection Between The Brutal Polar Vortex And Global Warming
JENNIFER FRANCIS, THE CONVERSATION | 30 JAN 2019
...Because of rapid Arctic warming, the north/south temperature difference has diminished. This reduces pressure differences between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, weakening jet stream winds. And just as slow-moving rivers typically take a winding route, a slower-flowing jet stream tends to meander.
Large north/south undulations in the jet stream generate wave energy in the atmosphere. If they are wavy and persistent enough, the energy can travel upward and disrupt the stratospheric polar vortex.
Sometimes this upper vortex becomes so distorted that it splits into two or more swirling eddies.
These "daughter" vortices tend to wander southward, bringing their very cold air with them and leaving behind a warmer-than-normal Arctic. One of these eddies will sit over North America this week, delivering bone-chilling temperatures to much of the nation...
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Freezing Temperatures Leave Trump Confused About Global Warming
Highlight1/30/2019 (starts at 5:45)
President Trump demonstrates his minimal understanding of global warming as temperatures plunge below freezing in the U.S., and Ronny Chieng tries to explain climate change.
The New Language of Climate Change
BRYAN BENDER | January 27, 2019
Leading climate scientists and meteorologists are banking on a new strategy for talking about climate change: Take the politics out of it.
That means avoiding the phrase “climate change,” so loaded with partisan connotations as it is. Stop talking about who or what is most responsible. And focus instead on what is happening and how unusual it is—and what it is costing communities.
...The hope is to persuade the small but powerful minority that stands in the way of new policies to mitigate climate change’s worst long-term effects—as well as the people who vote for them—that something needs to be done or their own livelihoods and health will be at stake.
The new language taking root is meant to instill this sense of urgency about what is happening in ways to which everyday citizens can relate—without directly blaming it on human activity: The spring blossoms keep coming earlier; seasonal allergies are worsening and lasting longer; extreme heat is upending the kids’ summer camp schedule; crops are drying up or washing away at alarming rates.
And wherever possible, climate specialists told me, they are trying to explain the more frequent and deadly weather events in purely historical terms: These storms, these droughts, these dramatic fluctuations in temperature have previously taken place—once a century, or even once a millennium. But they keep coming.
...“Will they be able to farm here 30 to 40 years from now?”
Another line of argument he has found to appeal to conservatives’ personal connection to nature.
“Many are hunters and fishermen. They are really tied to the environment,” Simpson said. He finds he can reach them by trying to tap into their belief that “we’ve been given stewardship” of the Earth.
...some 600 broadcast meteorologists, out of an estimated 2,200 in the United States, are working with Climate Matters to craft new ways to tell their viewers about climate change...I try to show them how it is changing and then I go into why it is changing...I share the raw data with them
....People don’t want to be lectured to. That doesn’t accomplish anything...explain...related weather events in the context of how much more often they are occurring than in the past.
...once doubters see climate change as the dire threat it is, it will be easier for them to get on board with the only solutions believed to be able to rein it in: phasing out fossil fuels and scaling back our carbon footprint.
... climate change “is happening whether they like it or not. If they ignore it, it is still going to happen.”
Scientists Have Detected an Enormous Cavity Growing Beneath Antarctica
Peter Dockrill | January 31, 2019
...While researchers are still learning new things about the complex ways ice melts at the Thwaite Glacier, at its most basic, the giant cavity represents a simple (if unfortunate) scientific actuality.
"The size of a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting," (first author of the new paper, JPL radar scientist Pietro Milillo) says.
"As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster."
...Thwaites currently accounts for about 4 percent of global sea level rise.
If it were to disappear entirely, the ice held in the glacier could lift the ocean by an estimated 65 centimetres (about 2 ft). But that's not even the worst-case scenario.
The Thwaites Glacier actually holds in neighbouring glaciers and ice masses further inland. If its buttressing force disappeared, the consequences could be unthinkable, which is why it's considered such a pivotal natural structure in the Antarctic landscape.
...scientists are right now embarking on a major expedition to learn more about Thwaites...inarguably among the most important scientific research being conducted in the world right now...
P. Milillo et al. 2019. Heterogeneous retreat and ice melt of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica. Science Advances 30 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau3433 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau3433
The glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica, have undergone acceleration and grounding line retreat over the past few decades that may yield an irreversible mass loss. Using a constellation of satellites, we detect the evolution of ice velocity, ice thinning, and grounding line retreat of Thwaites Glacier from 1992 to 2017. The results reveal a complex pattern of retreat and ice melt, with sectors retreating at 0.8 km/year and floating ice melting at 200 m/year, while others retreat at 0.3 km/year with ice melting 10 times slower. We interpret the results in terms of buoyancy/slope-driven seawater intrusion along preferential channels at tidal frequencies leading to more efficient melt in newly formed cavities. Such complexities in ice-ocean interaction are not currently represented in coupled ice sheet/ocean models.
If we don't get our act together, reduction of human population, if it results in re-wilding of agricultural lands, will pull enough CO2 out of atmosphere to tame global warming--in time, at least... :( I'd rather convert to renewable energy and go veg, myself...
America colonisation ‘cooled Earth's climate’
Jonathan Amos | 31 January 2019
Colonisation of the Americas at the end of the 15th Century killed so many people, it disturbed Earth's climate.
...The team says the disruption that followed European settlement led to a huge swathe of abandoned agricultural land being reclaimed by fast-growing trees and other vegetation.
This pulled down enough carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere to eventually chill the planet.
It's a cooling period often referred to in the history books as the "Little Ice Age" - a time when winters in Europe would see the Thames in London regularly freeze over.
"The Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas led to the abandonment of enough cleared land that the resulting terrestrial carbon uptake had a detectable impact on both atmospheric CO₂ and global surface air temperatures," Alexander Koch and colleagues write in their paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews....
ChrisBrierley et al, 2018. Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492. Quaternary Science Reviews
Volume 207, 1 March 2019, Pages 13-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.12.004 . https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379118307261
• Combines multiple methods estimating pre-Columbian population numbers.
• Estimates European arrival in 1492 lead to 56 million deaths by 1600.
• Large population reduction led to reforestation of 55.8 Mha and 7.4 Pg C uptake.
• 1610 atmospheric CO2 drop partly caused by indigenous depopulation of the Americas.
• Humans contributed to Earth System changes before the Industrial Revolution.
Human impacts prior to the Industrial Revolution are not well constrained. We investigate whether the decline in global atmospheric CO2 concentration by 7–10 ppm in the late 1500s and early 1600s which globally lowered surface air temperatures by 0.15∘C, were generated by natural forcing or were a result of the large-scale depopulation of the Americas after European arrival, subsequent land use change and secondary succession. We quantitatively review the evidence for (i) the pre-Columbian population size, (ii) their per capita land use, (iii) the post-1492 population loss, (iv) the resulting carbon uptake of the abandoned anthropogenic landscapes, and then compare these to potential natural drivers of global carbon declines of 7–10 ppm. From 119 published regional population estimates we calculate a pre-1492 CE population of 60.5 million (interquartile range, IQR 44.8–78.2 million), utilizing 1.04 ha land per capita (IQR 0.98–1.11). European epidemics removed 90% (IQR 87–92%) of the indigenous population over the next century. This resulted in secondary succession of 55.8 Mha (IQR 39.0–78.4 Mha) of abandoned land, sequestering 7.4 Pg C (IQR 4.9–10.8 Pg C), equivalent to a decline in atmospheric CO2 of 3.5 ppm (IQR 2.3–5.1 ppm CO2). Accounting for carbon cycle feedbacks plus LUC outside the Americas gives a total 5 ppm CO2 additional uptake into the land surface in the 1500s compared to the 1400s, 47–67% of the atmospheric CO2 decline. Furthermore, we show that the global carbon budget of the 1500s cannot be balanced until large-scale vegetation regeneration in the Americas is included. The Great Dying of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas resulted in a human-driven global impact on the Earth System in the two centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution.
Climate Change May Hurt Babies' Hearts
Yasemin Saplakoglu | January 31, 2019
...Congenital heart defects, or heart abnormalities that infants are born with, affect around 40,000 newborns every year in the U.S.
...Between 2025 and 2035, (researchers) found that climate-change-driven heat events might spur an additional 7,000 cases of congenital heart defects, according to the statement. They found that most of these cases would be in the Midwest, followed by the Northeast and the South.
"Although this study is preliminary, it would be prudent for women in the early weeks of pregnancy to avoid heat extremes similar to the advice given to persons with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease during heart spells," senior author Dr. Shao Lin, an associate director of environmental health services with the University at Albany, State University of New York, said in the statement.
It's especially important for those planning to become pregnant or those who are three to eight weeks pregnant to avoid extreme heat, she said...
Wangjian Zhang et al. 2019. Projected Changes in Maternal Heat Exposure During Early Pregnancy and the Associated Congenital Heart Defect Burden in the United States. 30 Jan 2019 Journal of the American Heart Association. 2019;8. https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.118.010995 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.118.010995
Video clip of water-frozen methane bubbles in an Alberta lake by Lennart Pagel Photography:
>75 margd: Cutting out a block of the ice and putting it on display would make a neat exhibit. Expensive to do no doubt.
>73 margd: I think I have seen articles about a huge increase in the buffalo herds around the same time- after the decimation of native North Americans by European derived diseases.
NASA's AIRS Captures Polar Vortex Moving in Over US (video clip)
Esprit Smith | January 31, 2019
...NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite captured the polar vortex as it moved southward from central Canada into the U.S. Midwest from Jan. 20 through Jan. 29. The lowest temperatures are shown in purple and blue and range from -40 degrees Fahrenheit (also -40 degrees Celsius) to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius). As the data series progresses, you can see how the coldest purple areas of the air mass scoop down into the U.S....
Why the Midwest’s deep freeze may be a consequence of climate change
Jan 30, 2019 6:40 PM EST
...Amna Nawaz talks to Dr. Jennifer Francis (senior scientist) of the Woods Hole Research Center for an explanation of this counterintuitive weather relationship.
Yes, so the polar vortex is a new word in the lexicon of Americans, just starting a few years ago, and it gets used wrongly often.
What the polar vortex truly is, is way up in the atmosphere over the North Pole, about 30 miles up, is a ring of winds blowing in the counterclockwise direction that keep the cold air bottled up over the Arctic, way high up in the atmosphere. So this is called the stratospheric polar vortex.
That's the real one. And what it often gets used wrongly for is to the talk about the jet stream, which is much lower in the atmosphere. It is really what creates all of our weather that we feel down here on the surface. It is also a river of wind that flows around the Northern Hemisphere, but at a much lower level.
So there are these two spinning rivers of wind up over the Northern Hemisphere that control our weather. And right now, the true polar vortex has actually split into two, which doesn't happen very often. And one of those lobes of cold air that is normally is bottled up over the North Pole has drifted down over North America and brought all that cold air with it.
And that's why this particular cold front or cold air mass is just so severe.
So, that's high we are dealing with it right now, but you mentioned it split into two. Explain that to me. Why did that happen?
What we think is happening that connects back to climate change is that, back in the summer, we lost a lot of ice in a region just north of Western Alaska in the Arctic Ocean.
That allowed a lot of extra heat to get absorbed in the water there, and, in fact, the ice still hasn't grown back. And that heat then gets reemitted back to the atmosphere during the fall and winter, when the cold air comes back, and it makes kind of a bulge in the atmosphere.
And if that bulge gets big enough, it can actually make the jet stream take a northward swing right there. And if that northward swing is big enough, it will send wave energy up into the stratosphere, where the polar vortex is, and it can kind of knock it off its rocker, if you will.
If you can think of like a top spinning up there, it can bump into this top and get it to wobble, and sometimes it wobbles so much, that it actually creates this split in the polar vortex.
So, just to summarize, you think that heat there, as a result of climate change, is basically causing a disruption in the polar vortex that already exists; that's what is causing it to shape-shift and move, and that's why we are experiencing it?
Now, that's the link between client change and this weather phenomenon; is that right?
That's what we think is going on. It is a very new topic of research. It is certainly not settled. There are only a handful of papers that have come out so far that are supporting this hypothesis.
But it certainly looks like it. This year is a classic example. Last year was too, and we think that this is a robust connection.
Well, so let me ask you about that, though, because if you don't know, if this is what we believe is actually happening, then are people right to be casting doubt on this?
Well, you know, that is how science works.
Somebody has a hypothesis or an idea of how something is connected, they do a bunch of experiments, they look at the real world, and analyze the real atmosphere, and look at how things are connected to the real atmosphere, and then sometimes they use numerical climate models or sort of like our weather forecast models to try and simulate those connections.
And, by doing that, that gains credibility and gives us some confidence that these sorts of connections exist. But the problem is, the atmosphere is a very complex beast, so there is still a lot of research to do. But I think this concept has gained a lot of traction in the last few years. And there is really — there is really no alternative explanation, other than this has just happened by random chance.
Dr. Francis, I would like you to ask your help in making another distinction, if you can for us, between weather and climate, the difference between the events that we're seeing and talking about and this overall trend of climate change.
So, more generally, climate is just the long-term average of the weather conditions that happen in a given area. So, for example, where I am right now in Florida, typically, it is a warmer climate than it is up in Boston, where I usually live. So that would be climate.
But weather is the day-to-day variations. Some days, it is colder than normal, some days, it is warmer than normal, some days, it rains harder than others. So those day-to-day fluctuations are the weather.
Sometimes, they are referred to as the difference between your personality, which is kind of how you are most of the time, and your mood on any given day. So, it is that kind of a relationship.
But, as we know, the climate is gradually changing. Actually, it is changing rapidly, compared to changes in the past. But that's a gradual change that we're observing happening. And we know why. It's all because of human activities increasing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that trap a lot more heat down by the surface...
Changing climate challenges (Michigan) potato growers, chip makers
Eric Freedman | 2/4/2019
Michigan is the nation’s largest grower of potatoes for chips
...a $554 million statewide impact from sales and jobs in 2014. Chips consume 70 percent of the state’s potato crop
...About 25-30 percent of the U.S. chip stock is grown in Michigan.
Michigan has irrigation to grow potatoes and is close to Eastern and Midwestern population centers, so that helps reduce shipping costs...Its cold climate facilitates the storage necessary for a steady supply of potatoes to processing plants, the study said.
By mid-century the period of “reliably cold storage temperatures during winter” may shrink by 11-17 days in the northern area and by 14-20 days in the southern area. By late in the century, growers could need to provide ventilation or refrigeration for 15-29 days more than the present in the northern area and 31-25 days in the southern area, the study said.
...breeders are working on newer varieties that can be stored longer...
Even radical climate change action won’t save glaciers, endangering 2 billion people
Damian Carrington | Mon 4 Feb 2019
At least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain are doomed to melt due to climate change, according to a landmark report*, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people.
Even if carbon emissions are dramatically and rapidly cut and succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5C, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range will have gone by 2100. If emissions are not cut, the loss soars to two-thirds, the report found.
The glaciers are a critical water store for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, and 1.65 billion people rely on the great rivers that flow from the peaks into India, Pakistan, China and other nations.
...The (HKH)melting glaciers will increase river flows through to 2050 to 2060, he said, pushing up the risk of high-altitude lakes bursting their banks and engulfing communities. But from the 2060s, river flows will go into decline. The Indus and central Asian rivers will be most affected...
Lower flows will cut the power from the hydrodams that generate much of the region’s electricity. But the most serious impact will be on farmers in the foothills and downstream. They rely on predictable water supplies to grow the crops that feed the nations in the mountains’ shadows.
But the changes to spring melting already appear to be causing the pre-monsoon river flow to fall just when farmers are planting their crops. Worse, said Wester, the monsoon is also becoming more erratic and prone to extreme downpours. “One-in-100 year floods are starting to happen every 50 years,” he said...
* The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment
Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People
Philippus WesterArabinda MishraAditi MukherjiArun Bhakta Shrestha (editors)
16 chapters. open access.
Montana's forests once helped blunt climate change. Now they contribute to it.
The state has warmed 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950, considerably more than the United States as a whole.
That heat is contributing to both droughts that dries out forests and to outbreaks of bark beetles. The beetles devour and kill trees, creating even more kindling for fires. During the winter, there are fewer frigid days that would kill off insect larvae, scientists say.
The result — according to an analysis by David Cleaves, former climate change adviser to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service — is that overall Montana's trees have flipped in the past decade or so from being a carbon “sink” to a carbon emitter. The same is true of the forests in Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, the analysis found.
It’s Official: 2018 Was the Fourth-Warmest Year on Record
JOHN SCHWARTZ and NADJA POPOVICH | FEB. 6, 2019
NASA scientists announced Wednesday that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend.
The data means that the five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five, and that 18 of the 19 warmest years ever recorded have occurred since 2001. The quickly rising temperatures over the past two decades cap a much longer warming trend documented by researchers and correspond with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity...
2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe
NOAA | Feb 6, 2019
...Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year in NOAA’s 139-year climate record. The year ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest).
...In 2018, the U.S. experienced 14 weather and climate disasters, each with losses exceeding $1 billion and all totaling around $91 billion in damages...
Climate change: UK CO2 emissions fall again
Roger Harrabin | 5 February 2019
he mass closure of coal-fired power stations has helped reduce UK greenhouse gases whilst global emissions (GHG) are rising.
The finalised official statistics show Britain’s GHG in 2017 were 2.7%lower than in 2016 - and 42.1%lower than in 1990.
Coal use for electricity fell 27% to a record low following the closure of two major plants.
But critics point out that huge challenges remain to reduce emissions.
These sources include transport, farming, homes and parts of industry.
Overall, the UK has a target of cutting CO2 emissions 80% by 2050. Ministers are on track to meet their short-term goals, but the advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says they are still short of policies to achieve long-term targets...
The glaring hole in Trump’s State of the Union address: Climate change
Ishaan Tharoor | February 6, 2019
...For Trump, (less than a century) may be a timeline of no consequence to his political career. But his inaction and indifference is already part of a broader political legacy likely to be remembered in decades to come.
The Human Element (2019) | Official Trailer HD (02:13)
The Orchard Movies
Published on Dec 12, 2019
With rare compassion and heart, THE HUMAN ELEMENT follows environmental photographer James Balog on his quest to highlight Americans on the frontlines of climate change, inspiring us to re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world.
A scientific debate on how glaciers will melt:
Collapsing ice cliffs may not contribute to sea level rise
A new study questions a controversial hypothesis suggesting such rapid crumbling could occur
Carolyn Gramling | February 6, 2019
...Some scientists fear that melting could speed up dramatically sometime in the future, thanks to a possible feedback loop known as marine ice-cliff instability, or MICI...ice cliffs at the edges of glaciers that jut into the sea are a dramatically underestimated source of future sea level rise... very tall cliffs, extending 100 meters or more above the water surface (unsupported by floating ice shelf buttresses), will begin to produce stresses in the ice that can exceed its strength....the ice breaks, or calves, and giant blocks of ice tumble into the sea. The collapse of such cliffs would then create new cliffs behind them that would tumble as well, in a kind of domino effect.
...the likelihood that sea level rise during warm episodes might have been linked to ice-cliff collapse in Antarctica. The researchers focused on the mid-Pliocene warm period that lasted from about 3.3 million to 3 million years ago, the last interglacial period 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, and the years from 1992 to 2017, which span the time for which satellite data of the rate of ice mass loss exist...computer simulations of ice-cliff collapse...10,000 different iterations...The MICI hypothesis, the researchers found, wasn’t needed to reproduce any of the past sea level changes during those three time periods.
DeConto...Pollard and other colleagues presented an updated computer simulation...By 2200, they say, the picture is far less rosy: If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current track, MICI could help bump up sea level up to as much as 4 meters higher than they were in 2000.
T. Edwards et al. Revisiting Antarctic ice loss due to marine ice-cliff instability. Nature. Vol. 566, February 7, 2018, p. 58. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-0901-4.epdf
R. DeConto and D. Pollard. Contribution of Antarctica to past and future sea-level rise. Nature. Vol. 531, March 31, 2016, p. 591. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature17145.epdf
R. DeConto et al. Climatic thresholds for widespread ice shelf hydrofracturing and ice cliff calving in Antarctica: Implications for future sea level rise. American Geophysical Union meeting, Washington, D.C., December 10, 2018. https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm18/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/458431
Democrats launch 10-year 'Green New Deal' for clean energy
Valerie Volcovici | Feb 7, 2019
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rising Democratic star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Senator Ed Markey on Thursday laid out the goals of a Green New Deal to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, setting a high bar for Democrats who plan to make climate change a central issue in the 2020 presidential race.
...The non-binding resolution outlines several goals for the United States to meet in 10 years, including meeting 100 percent of power demand from zero-emissions energy sources.
It also calls for new projects to modernize U.S. transportation infrastructure, de-carbonize the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, make buildings and homes more energy efficient and increase land preservation.
The Green New Deal also aims to create an economic safety net for “frontline” communities that will be affected by a radical shift away from fossil fuel use.
“We ... need to be sure that workers currently employed in fossil fuel industries have higher-wage and better jobs available to them to be able to make this transition, and a federal jobs guarantee ensures that no worker is left behind,” according to a summary of the plan.
...At least a half dozen Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls have said they would adopt Green New Deal policies, without offering specifics.
A spot of good news:
Scientists "Thrilled" to Report Hawaii’s Coral Reefs Have Made a Miraculous Comeback
Elias Marat | Jan 27, 20191
...in 2014 and 2015, when two scorching heat waves led to the worst coral bleaching in Hawaii’s recorded history...
However, four years later...new survey data released by The Nature Conservancy, healthy new reefs located further away from human influence are thriving while even those corals in West Hawaii that faced 60 percent to 90 percent bleaching in 2015 are showing signs of recovery.
The data shows that while scientists were right to worry about irreparable damage to the state’s reefs as a result of the bleaching events, recovery remained possible.
...The survey illustrated a large gap in the health of those corals most exposed to the ecological effects of human economic activities, which were generally the hardest-hit by the bleaching event, versus those corals in remote areas where human shoreline access was limited.
...“Interestingly, the number of stressors affecting an area, not the severity of a single one, was the most important factor … Reefs that are fighting the impacts of several stressors are more susceptible to temperature stress, making them more likely to bleach and less able to recover if they do.”
While frequent and severe bleaching remains likely in the coming years, the survey points to the possibility that Hawaii will be able to reduce the stressors that render corals more vulnerable to dying off. But this will mean that protection from commercial fishing, land pollution, and runoff is needed.
The Feds are spending $48 million to move his village (20 families). But he doesn't want to go.
Bill Weir and Rachel Clarke, CNN
...land, settled by Native Americans when they were forced from their ancestral areas onto the Trail of Tears nearly two centuries ago, is disappearing.
Rising seas, subsidence and erosion have seen 98% of the surface of Isle de Jean Charles smothered by water since 1950. And it's not stopping.
So Brunet made his decision and plans to move 40 miles north and inland along with perhaps 20 other families to the new settlement paid for by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
...Isle de Jean Charles is likely to be submerged within the lifetimes of the children now scampering around it. Their move may be followed by the villagers of Shishmaref in Alaska, who have voted twice to relocate their community inland before it is swamped by rising seas, though they have no way to make that happen.
But one day, it won't be villages thinking of relocation, it will be cities, says Tor Tornqvist, chair of Earth and Environmental Science at Tulane University...New Orleans...Miami
..."All these cities are going to face dramatic changes, and we're going to see large migrations of their inhabitants, probably later this century."
And that's when some of the effects of rising seas could be felt in places hundreds of miles from any ocean, says Mark Davis, Tornqvist's Tulane colleague and director of the university's Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy
"If I'm in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and I'm thinking, this isn't such a bad place to be in a changing world, they may be right. But if your goods can't get to market because there's no New Orleans to send your goods to, or if you're depending upon fertilizers and fuels that come from here, and those plants are located here, ... then you are going to be affected by what happens in places like this, whether you're thinking about it or not."
..."Anyone who thinks we're going to live through the next 50 to 100 years without dramatic change, you know, is not paying attention."
Startling Interactive Map* Shows What Climate Change Will Do to Your City by 2080
PETER DOCKRILL | 13 FEB 2019
...Basically, unless we do something about this right now, North American cities – and cities everywhere – are going hot places they really don't want to be going.
Some of these places you can drive to in your car today. Some don't exist yet.
But your hometown is definitely transforming, make no mistake about that...
Matthew C. Fitzpatrick & Robert R. Dunn . 2019. Contemporary climatic analogs for 540 North American urban areas in the late 21st century.
Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 614 (Feb 12, 2019). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08540-3
A major challenge in articulating human dimensions of climate change lies in translating global climate forecasts into impact assessments that are intuitive to the public. Climate-analog mapping involves matching the expected future climate at a location (e.g., a person’s city of residence) with current climate of another, potentially familiar, location - thereby providing a more relatable, place-based assessment of climate change. For 540 North American urban areas, we used climate-analog mapping to identify the location that has a contemporary climate most similar to each urban area’s expected 2080’s climate. We show that climate of most urban areas will shift considerably and become either more akin to contemporary climates hundreds of kilometers away and mainly to the south or will have no modern equivalent. Combined with an interactive web application, we provide an intuitive means of raising public awareness of the implications of climate change for 250 million urban residents.
Young People Really, Really Want a Green New Deal
Sean McElwee and John Ray | February 7, 2019
...Even with a potentially large set of costs in mind, millennials continue to support rather than oppose the Green New Deal by nearly a 30-point margin, though Green New Deal proponents have their work cut out for them with other generations. (Following Pew Research, we define millennials as ages 18–37, Generation X as 38–53, baby boomers as 54–72, and Silent as 72 or older.)
Our research shows that age strongly predicts support for the Green New Deal, even controlling for several variables like party, ideology, and race. One wonders if this is because young people, unlike older generations, must contemplate living through the worst effects of climate change a few decades down the line...
As opposed to the Brown Old Deal :(
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 2:03 PM - 11 Feb 2019:
Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!
An American energy plan straight from coal country
December 8, 2017
Energy Secretary Rick Perry had been in office less than four weeks when he took a meeting from a coal magnate who had an urgent request.
Robert E. Murray, founder of Murray Energy and a major Trump supporter, presented a four-page "action plan" to rescue the coal industry. The plan said that commissioners at three independent regulatory agencies "must be replaced," Environmental Protection Agency staff slashed, and safety and pollution rules "overturned"...
...Eight months later, Perry is pushing a plan that would deliver new subsidies to a handful of coal and nuclear companies and keep open decrepit half-century old plants just as Murray had hoped — all in the name of improving the reliability and security of the electrical grid.
...But the Perry plan has roused overwhelming bipartisan opposition because it would help a small number of firms at the expense of millions of consumers.
"You can wrap this Christmas present in whatever paper you want, but it's still cash for cronies," Nora Brownell, a consultant and former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member appointed by President George W. Bush...
Not sure this qualifies as a climate change story, but it certainly talks about weird extremes in weather patterns and their costs.
Queensland floods: 500,000 cattle survived years-long drought only to die in the rain
The CEO of rural production advocate Agforce Queensland, Michael Guerin, described the flooding as a "humanitarian crisis" and "a disaster of unprecedented proportion."
"The speed and intensity of the unfolding tragedy makes it hard to believe that it's just a week since farmers' elation at receiving the first decent rains in five years turned to horror at the devastating and unprecedented flood that quickly followed," he said.
Another weird story: snow in Maui!
>90 margd: Yeah, no doubt. I am trying to do a bucket list thing and snorkel there in the coming months before the big "C" takes me out for good. Hope I don't have to break the ice to snorkel the reefs ;-)
Beyond Drought: 7 States Rebalance Their Colorado River Use as Global Warming Dries the Region
Bob Berwyn | Feb 1, 2019
As major reservoirs shrink with the changing climate, seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, along with Native American tribes and Mexico) seek a sustainable future for the critical regional water source.
...The term "drought" may not be useful anymore because it implies a short-term condition with an end in sight, said (study author Brad) Udall, who works for the Colorado River Research Group. He calls it aridification instead, and says the negotiating over sharing the water is a dry run for the future of water use in the Southwest under climate change.
Ominously, some studies have already suggested the region is at the beginning of a megadrought, based in part on reliable projections that global warming will drive an expansion of subtropical dry areas, which means the deserts of the Southwest could encroach on what are now the water producing-areas of the Colorado River Basin, he added.
The lower end of the river basin, in Southern California and Southern Arizona, is already one of the hottest parts of the country. The 2018 National Climate Assessment shows places like Phoenix and Las Vegas will have more frequent heat waves with extreme life-threatening temperatures in the decades ahead. Those extremes will also affect agriculture in the lower basin, but these types of impacts haven't even been considered in the current Colorado River talks, Udall said.
State Contingency Plans
The Drought Contingency Plans are designed to keep Lake Mead's water level above a threshold that would trigger disruptive mandatory cutbacks in water use. Upper Basin states have agreed to keep enough water flowing to the desert lowlands. And the lower basin states, now including Arizona, have agreed to divert less for farms and cities in order to bolster Lake Mead.
...Water engineers, planners and scientists understand how global warming threatens water supplies and are generally averse to risk, (Jonathan Overpeck, a climate researcher at the University of Michigan) said. That's not always the case in politics.
"The polarization that exists on climate policy in the U.S. has prevented a lot of conservative politicians from doing something," he said. "And the decisions that are being made now, or the lack of decisions being made now, are going to condemn the Colorado to additional flow reductions."...
If Not the Green New Deal, Then What?
Emily Atkin | February 13, 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposal has countless critics. We asked two of them to share their good-faith alternatives for reversing climate change.
...To prevent the planet from warming by 2 degrees Celsius, which many scientists consider the tipping point, the world must become carbon neutral by 2070. How can it meet that goal without the kind of massive government intervention that the Green New Deal proposes? I put that question to the plan’s critics.
The Green New Deal is based on the idea that the only way to solve a problem as enormous as climate change is to change the way society works: to reform American capitalism itself. That’s why, in addition to transitioning the country to 100 percent renewable energy and installing a high-speed rail system to reduce our reliance on cars, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s resolution calls for universal health care, a federal job guarantee program, and affordable housing for all. It also says the public should have “an appropriate ownership stake” in the achievements of the Green New Deal.
...Joseph Majkut, the director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center, a think tank that describes itself as a group of “globalists” who support “economic and social inequality” but also a “belief in the wealth creating power of free markets.” ...argue that a federal climate plan should stick to climate-specific policies. He advocates for a nationwide carbon tax; investment in “advanced research and development” for reducing carbon emissions from industry and agriculture; more government subsidies for low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar; and stricter efficiency rules on buildings.
...Ramez Naam, who lectures on energy and environment at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University...argue(s) that significant research investments in zero-carbon agriculture and zero-carbon manufacturing—along with government incentives for the technology that emerges—would be enough to achieve decarbonization. “We can figure out how to take agriculture, which is currently 25 percent of our emissions, and do it in a zero carbon way,” he told me. “Then government policy can shape the market and encourage deployment of this new technologies.”
...The Green New Deal seems less risky by contrast, since it would mandate the transition to low-carbon energy sources that already exist. There are a lot of questions surrounding the Green New Deal—first and foremost whether it could ever become law—but at least it doesn’t rely on miracle cures. It’s an almost impossible solution to an almost impossible problem.
...even the Green New Deal may not be enough. “We can’t just seek to decarbonize America,” Naam said. “The ultimate climate policy is policy that makes it easier for other countries to decarbonize.” ...Vox’s Matthew Yglesias...called not for a Green New Deal, but a Green Marshall Plan. That frame isn’t exactly right, Naam said: “We shouldn’t be going to countries and building their infrastructure for them.” But it’s the seed, at least, of a potential alternative to the Green New Deal.
China and India are making the planet greener, NASA says
Emily Dixon | February 13, 2019
...Since the turn of the new millennium, the planet's green leaf area has increased by 5%, or over two million square miles. That's an area equivalent to the sum total of the Amazon rainforests, NASA says. But researchers stressed that the new greenery does not neutralize deforestation and its negative impacts on ecosystems elsewhere.
A third of the leaf increase is attributable to China and India, due to the implementation of major tree planting projects alongside a vast increase in agriculture.
...Thomas Pugh, an associate professor at the University of Birmingham's School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, said the NASA report expands scientists' understanding of the causes behind global greening. Previously, Pugh told CNN, the increase in green vegetation over the past two decades was attributed to higher levels of atmospheric CO2.
Global greening is a "tangible sign of how the biosphere is responding to human activities, whether through climate change or how we use the land," he said. "It generally implies an increase in vegetation coverage or productivity of that vegetation, or both, although neither of those relationships are unambiguous and universally consistent."
Pugh cautioned that a direct line cannot be drawn between an increase in global greening and a decrease in adverse impacts of climate change. "In some ecosystems, such as forests, greening may imply more net carbon removal from the atmosphere, but the relationship isn't direct," he explained. "In croplands the relation of greening to carbon storage is even less clear. Then there is the effect on the reflectivity of the Earth, which again can go in both warming and cooling directions depending on the local context."
"What green surfaces do less ambiguously is increase the fraction of energy that goes into evaporating water, rather than heating the surface, so they tend to cool the surrounding area, which can offset some of the impacts of climate change."
Chi Chen et al. 2019. China and India lead in greening of the world through land-use management. NATURE SUSTAINABILITY | VOL 2 | FEBRUARY 2019 | 122–129. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-019-0220-7.epdf
Satellite data show increasing leaf area of vegetation due to direct factors (human land-use management) and indirect factors
(such as climate change, CO2 fertilization, nitrogen deposition and recovery from natural disturbances). Among these, climate
change and CO2 fertilization effects seem to be the dominant drivers. However, recent satellite data (2000–2017) reveal a
greening pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with croplands world-wide. China alone accounts
for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area with only 6.6% of global vegetated area. The greening in China is from forests
(42%) and croplands (32%), but in India is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contribution from forests (4.4%). China is
engineering ambitious programmes to conserve and expand forests with the goal of mitigating land degradation, air pollution
and climate change. Food production in China and India has increased by over 35% since 2000 mostly owing to an increase in
harvested area through multiple cropping facilitated by fertilizer use and surface- and/or groundwater irrigation. Our results
indicate that the direct factor is a key driver of the ‘Greening Earth’, accounting for over a third, and probably more, of the
observed net increase in green leaf area. They highlight the need for a realistic representation of human land-use practices in
Earth system models.
Global climate targets will be missed as deforestation rises, study says
Rob Picheta | February 18, 2019
Leaders urged to do better on climate change
International targets to cut emissions and limit climate change will be missed due to rises in deforestation and delays in changing how humans use land, a new study warns.
Nearly 100 countries pledged to make their use of land less damaging to the climate, mainly by limiting deforestation rates and boosting forest restocking, when they signed the Paris Agreement in 2015.
...Brazil increased deforestation by 29% between 2015 and 2016 despite reductions in the decade before the Paris Agreement was signed, the study says, essentially making the country's emission promises impossible to meet.
Palm oil cultivation in Indonesia and Peru has also scuppered deforestation efforts and led to increased emissions rates, it says.
..."Ongoing destruction of tropical forests in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia is particularly concerning, because these forests store huge quantities of carbon, as well as containing high levels of biodiversity," added co-author Mark Rounsevell, a professor of land use change at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. "Attempts to protect these forests have had limited success, and laws against felling have recently been rolled back,"
...The agreement, once seen as a landmark eleventh-hour attempt at stemming the catastrophic impact of climate change, has also been denounced by a number of leaders elected since it was signed, including US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
"Richer countries have not been leading the way, either in reducing their own emissions or in reducing the pressure on developing nations," (Peter Alexander, a lecturer in global food security at the University of Edinburgh) said. "We need to find rapid but realistic ways of changing human land use if we are to meet our climate change targets."...
Calum Brown et al. 2019. Achievement of Paris climate goals unlikely due to time lags in the land system (Perspective). Nature Climate Change (Feb 18, 2019) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0400-5
Achieving the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting average global temperature increases to 1.5 °C requires substantial changes in
the land system. However, individual countries’ plans to accomplish these changes remain vague, almost certainly insufficient
and unlikely to be implemented in full. These shortcomings are partially the result of avoidable ‘blind spots’ relating to time
lags inherent in the implementation of land-based mitigation strategies. Key blind spots include inconsistencies between differ-
ent land-system policies, spatial and temporal lags in land-system change, and detrimental consequences of some mitigation
options. We suggest that improved recognition of these processes is necessary to identify achievable mitigation actions, avoid-
ing excessively optimistic assumptions and consequent policy failures.
The results are in, and January was one of the warmest in all of recorded history
Eric Holthaus | Feb 19, 2019
January 2019 was the third-warmest January in the history of global weather record-keeping, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The only warmer global Januarys in the instrumental record, which dates back to the 1880s, were 2016 and 2017, and there’s evidence that the planet hasn’t been this warm in a very long time. The last time January global temperatures were below average was in 1976 — before millennials were even a thing.
...Only a few specks of land were even slightly cooler than average: far northern Canada, parts of northern Finland, a bit of central India, and a small corner of western China. Even the eastern United States, which was hit with blizzards and cooler temperatures when the polar vortex roared at full force for days, officially ended the month “near average.” It was one of the coolest spots on the planet and its January was only 1.8 degrees F cooler than normal.
In contrast, some parts of the planet were simply blazing with heat. During the peak of the southern hemisphere’s summer, it was the warmest January for land areas in history — more than 7.2 degrees F outside the bounds of historical norms. Parts of southern Africa, much of Brazil, and nearly all of Australia endured a record-breaking month.
With an official El Niño now underway, January’s oddness only boosts the odds that this year is going to keep on being blazing hot. In fact, NOAA estimates that 2019 is squarely on pace for one of the warmest years in history, with a 99.9 percent chance for another top 10 year...
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