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...
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