Guest Nicole -
Guest Nicole -
By Guest Nicole
Global warming is said to be bringing temperatures last seen during an interglacial era, when sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today
A coal-fired power station. ‘Massive CO2 extraction’ costing trillions is needed in order to avoid runaway temperature rises, says a new paper. Photograph: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images
The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention.
A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.
This rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen in the Eemian period, an interglacial era ending 115,000 years ago when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.
In order to meet targets set at last year’s Paris climate accord to avoid runaway climate change, “massive CO2 extraction” costing an eye-watering $104tn to $570tn will be required over the coming century with “large risks and uncertain feasibility” as to its success, the paper states.
“There’s a misconception that we’ve begun to address the climate problem,” said Hansen, who brought climate change into the public arena through his testimony to the US congress in the 1980s. “This misapprehension is based on the Paris climate deal where governments clapped themselves on the back but when you look at the science it doesn’t compute, it’s not true.
“Even with optimistic assumptions (future emissions reduction) will cost hundreds of trillions of dollars. It’s potentially putting young people in charge of a situation that is beyond their control. It’s not clear they will be able to take such actions.”
The paper, submitted as a discussion paper to the Earth System Dynamics journal, is a departure from the usual scientific process as it has yet to be peer reviewed and has been launched to support a legal case waged by a group of young people against the US government.
Last year, 21 youths aged between 8 and 19 years old filed a constitutional lawsuit against the Obama administration for failing to do enough to slow climate change. Hansen and his granddaughter are parties to legal challenge, which was filed in Oregon and asserts that the government has violated young people’s rights to life, liberty and property.
Hansen, who has become increasingly outspoken on climate change since retiring from Nasa in 2013, said he recognized some scientists might object to publicizing the paper so soon but that “we are running out of time on this climate issue.”
The courts need to step in to force governments to act on climate change because they are largely free of the corrupting influence of special interests, Hansen said. He repeated his call for a global tax to be placed upon carbon emissions and said that fossil fuel companies should be forced to pay for emissions extraction in the same way the tobacco industry has been sued over the health impact of cigarettes.
“The science is crystal clear, we have to phase out emissions over the next few decades,” Hansen said. “That won’t happen without substantial actions by Congress and the executive branch and that’s not happening so we need the courts to apply pressure, as they did with civil rights.”
Several recent studies have cast doubt over whether the world will stay with an aspirational target set in Paris of a 1.5C limit on the average global temperature rise. This guardrail, and even the 2C limit agreed by 195 nations, appears dependent on as-yet undeveloped technology that would remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Under this scenario, huge emissions cuts would be supplemented by a widespread conversion to biofuels that would be burned for energy. The emissions from this energy would then be buried underground. Some sort of futuristic technology that sucks CO2 directly from the atmosphere may also be required.
Hansen said this is a “dubious” proposition because it requires a vast change in land use at a time where a growing global population will require more food. There are also major doubts whether technology to capture CO2 and lock it underground, often touted as a panacea by the fossil fuel industry, will be developed in time to help avoid the dangerous sea level rise, drought, heatwaves and disease spurred by warming temperatures.
Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that carbon dioxide levels will not drop below the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) mark in our lifetimes – the highest concentration of CO2 since the Pliocene era 3m years ago.
The environment of this time, where sea levels were around 65ft higher than today and trees were able to grow near the north pole due to a lack of ice, is a “bellwether for what future climate might be like,” according to Bruce Bauer, a scientist with NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.
Michael Mann, a prominent climatologist at Penn State University, agreed that CO2 removal will be required if the world was to avoid 1.5C warming although the 2C limit “could likely be achieved without negative emissions, but it would require urgent action, as I have argued myself is necessary.”.
Mann added that Hansen’s paper is “interesting” but tackles a huge range of topics and is unconventional in its use as a tool to support a legal case.
“Along with the paper being publicized prior to peer review, this will certainly raise eyebrows about whether or not this breaches the firewall many feel should exist wherein policy agenda should not influence the way that science is done,” Mann told the Guardian via email.
By Jack Ryan
Those who don't have electric cars are genocidal "killers" of other areas of the planet.
via .ORGWorld News
By Guest Nicole
We went to Antarctica to understand how changes to its vast ice sheet might affect the world. Flowing lineson these maps show how the ice is moving.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/18/climate/antarctica-ice-melt-climate-change.html?emc=edit_ta_20170518&nl=top-stories&nlid=54907543&ref=cta&_r=0
By Guest Nicole
President Barack Obama signed a letter to the United Nations in 2016 accepting the Paris climate
Last week, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is Nov. 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump’s current term, and it could still try to influence the climate talks during that span.
So the next four years will be a busy time for climate policy. Mr. Trump’s aides plan to keep working to dismantle domestic climate programs like the Clean Power Plan. And the world’s nations will meet regularly to hash out details of the Paris agreement, even as the United States’ exit looms. Here is what comes next.
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/07/climate/trump-paris-climate-timeline.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0
By Guest Nicole
“It is time for states and governors to lead,” Gov. David Ige said.
Hawaiian Gov David Ige (D) signed two new climate bills into law on Tuesday that adhere to the Paris Agreement.
Hawaii has become the first American state to pass environmental measures that adhere to the Paris climate agreement, just days after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the international pact.
“Truly, in this day and age, it is time for states and governors to lead,” Hawaiian Gov. David Ige (D) said at a press conference on Tuesday, ahead of signing the two bills into law.
Senate Bill 559 and House Bill 1578 commit to expanding methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state. They also target agricultural practices with the goals of improving soil health and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“Hawaii’s natural environment is under threat,” Ige said. “Climate change is real, regardless of what others say. Hawaii is seeing the impacts, first hand.”
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hawaii-joins-paris-accord_us_5938096de4b01fc18d3f5f64?d2f&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009
By Guest Nicole
Here are the brands speaking out on the president’s plan to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
BY ELIZA BROOKE JUN 2, 2017, 12:57PM EDT
Yesterday, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, a pact signed in 2015 by 195 countries rallying to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Under President Obama, the US pledged to reduce its own emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and give $3 billion to a climate fund benefiting poorer nations.
It’s the current president’s view that adhering to the agreement would result in sweeping industrial job losses, though economists and executives at companies like Apple and Unilever contend that investing in the renewable energy sector would, in fact, create jobs. Indeed, it didn’t take long for business leaders, politicians, and brands to start speaking out against Trump’s plan and reaffirm their commitment to the goals set out in the Paris agreement.
Read more: https://www.racked.com/2017/6/2/15730376/business-response-trump-climate-policy
By Guest Nicole
People sleep in a park during hot weather in Dhaka, Bangladesh. CreditAbir Abdullah/European Pressphoto Agency
Global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases is having clear effects in the physical world: more heat waves, heavier rainstorms and higher sea levels, to cite a few.
In recent years, though, social scientists have been wrestling with a murkier question: What will climate change mean for human welfare?
Forecasts in this realm are tricky, necessarily based on a long chain of assumptions. Scientific papers have predicted effects as varied as a greater spread of tropical diseases, fewer deaths from cold weather and more from hot weather, and even bumpier rides on airplanes.
Now comes another entry in this literature: a prediction that in a hotter world, people will get less sleep.
By Guest Nicole
The changes are already visible in the region, which has had largely ice-free summers since 2011
The Arctic is undergoing an astonishingly rapid transition as climate change overwhelms the region.
New research sheds light on the latest example of the changes afoot, showing that parts of the Arctic Ocean are becoming more like the Atlantic. Warm waters are streaming into the ocean north of Scandinavia and Russia, altering ocean productivity and chemistry. That’s making sea ice recede and kickstarting a feedback loop that could make summer ice a thing of the past.
“2015 was a really anomalous year when we had problems finding a suitable ice flow to launch our drifting buoys,”Igor Polyakov, an oceanographer at the University of Alaska who led the new study, said. “(There was) nothing like that in the past, and it became a motivation to our analysis: why was ice in 2015 so rotten? What drives this huge change?”
The findings, published in Science on Thursday, show that while warming air has a role to play, processes are playing out in the ocean itself that are fundamentally altering the region.
Those changes will have impacts on the people, plants and animals that call the Arctic home. They could also create more geopolitical tension as resources previously locked under ice become available and shipping lanes open up.
In the east Arctic Ocean, the shift is manifesting itself in changing the layers of the ocean. There’s a cap of cold, less salty water that covers the eastern portion of the Arctic Ocean. Underneath it sits a pool of warm, salty Atlantic water that until recently hasn’t been able to find a way to surface. That stratification of layers has kept ice relatively safe from its warm grip.
The ocean has become gradually less stratified since the 1970s. Using data from buoys and satellites, Polyakov and his colleagues have found a more marked shift over the past decade and a half. Since 2002, the difference in water temperatures between the layers has dropped by about 2°F.
In winter from 2013-2015, the cap separating the deep water and surface water disappeared completely in some locations, allowing the warm Atlantic waters to reach the surface and cut further into sea ice pack. At the same time, warm air has further reduced sea ice, which is allowing still more mixing of the ocean layers.
The result is a feedback loop that is essentially turning roughly a third of the eastern Arctic Ocean into something resembling the ice-free Atlantic Ocean.
“Rapid changes in the eastern Arctic Ocean, which allow more heat from the ocean interior to reach the bottom of sea ice, are making it more sensitive to climate changes,” Polyakov said. “This is a big step toward the Arctic with seasonal sea-ice cover.”
The changes are already apparent in the region, which has largely been ice-free during the summer since 2011. The sea ice winter maximum, which has set a record low for three years running, has been largely driven by a lack of ice in the eastern Arctic.
Polyakov said he’s seen the rapid changes in ice firsthand. When they first put buoys in the eastern Arctic in 2002, researchers had to reach the sites on heavy icebreakers.
“Now we can reach them using an ice class ship,” he said. Ice class ships are not necessarily as reinforced as icebreakers.
The sea ice changes are having profound impacts outside of researchers’ ability to access more remote sites. Other research published earlier this week in Science Advances shows that thinning sea ice is allowing phytoplankton to bloom across the region.
Phytoplankton are tiny plants, and like your average potted plant, they need sunlight to bloom. Sea ice has been thick enough to prevent that from happening until very recently. The new findings show that over the past decade, up to 30 percent of the Arctic has become primed for summer blooms.
“Both of our results show the Arctic becoming a very different place than it has been in the past,” Christopher Hovart, an oceanographer at Harvard who led the plankton study, said. “Water pathways are changing, the ecology is changing, all driven by the declining sea ice field.”
This article is reproduced with permission from Climate Central. The article was first published on April 6, 2017.
Footage shows severe coral bleaching in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for the second year in a row...By TheWorldNewsOrg
via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
By Guest Nicole
After a mild winter across much of the United States, February brought abnormally high temperatures, especially east of the Rockies. Spring weather arrived more than three weeks earlier than usual in some places, and new research released Wednesday shows a strong link to climate change.
By the 2017 calendar, the first day of spring is March 20. But spring leaves arrived in mid-January in some parts of the South, and spread northward like a wave. The map above plots the date of “first leaf,” a temperature-based calculation of when vegetation that has been dormant starts to show signs of life. This year, with the exception of a few small areas, the wave has arrived much earlier than the 30-year average.
An early spring means more than just earlier blooms of fruit trees and decorative shrubs like azaleas. It can wreak havoc on schedules that farmers follow for planting and that tourism officials follow for events that are tied to a natural activity like trees blooming. Some plant species that bud early may be susceptible to a snap frost later, and early growth of grasses and other vegetation can disrupt some animals’ usual cycles of spring feeding and growth.
First leaf can vary greatly from year to year and location to location, but the general long-term trend is toward earlier springs.
By Guest Nicole
Residents of Shishmaref, Alaska, voted in August 2016 to relocate because of climate change. The coast is thawing and eroding, toppling a home into the sea and forcing others back from the edge.
By Guest Nicole
UPDATE: Dec. 22, 2016, 11:54 a.m. EST
A buoy located within about 100 miles of the North Pole recorded a temperature of 0.4 degrees Celsius, or 32.7 degrees Fahrenheit, on Dec. 22, 2016. This confirms the computer model projections for unusually high temperatures on Thursday.
It's happening again: The temperature at the North Pole is projected to spike to around the melting point, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, on Wednesday into Thursday, despite the complete lack of sunshine that far north in December.
Such temperatures would be about 50 degrees above average for this time of year, exceeding the color scale on some weather maps. (Typically, air temperatures at the pole don’t start periodically rising above freezing until at least May.)
By Guest Nicole
(CNN) We're all doomed. Unless we can figure out how to get the heck off this planet.
Don't believe it? Then ask noted theoretical scientist and astronomer Stephen Hawking. He says humanity won't survive another 1,000 years on Earth because of, you know, the usual suspects -- climate change, nukes, robots.
Hawking, speaking earlier this week at Oxford University Union, says our best chance for survival as a species is to leave the only home we've ever known and establish colonies on other planets.
"Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years," Hawking said in the speech, according to the Christian Science Monitor. "By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race."
And the pace of space exploration seems to be ramping up. NASA is busy searching for "goldilocks" -- exoplanets that might be able sustain human life. Meanwhile, Space X CEO Elon Musk has already laid out his plans to colonize Marswithin the next century.
Despite all of his gloom and doom, Hawking did end with some positive notes, according to British newspaper The Independent.
"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, wonder about what makes the universe exist," he said. "Be curious. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."
By Guest Nicole
A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, published in the journalBiological Conservation, found that fewer than one-third of global snow leopards' habitats will be safe from the consequences of climate change by 2070.
As habitats in the Himalaya and Hengduan mountains in Asia become warmer, and less inhabitable, snow leopards and other species are at risk. This threatens not only to the longevity of these species, most of which live in and around China, but also to the health of the ecosystem.
"Getting ahead of and addressing these challenges now is imperative for snow leopards, their landscape, and all the unique wildlife those landscapes support," saidJuan Li, a postdoctoral fellow in conservation biology professor Steven Beissinger's lab, in a statement.
Snow leopards are native to "the roof of the world", a high-elevation area nearby the Tibetan Plateau, which is heating up twice as quickly as the Northern Hemisphere on average. The study refers to this as the "alpine zone”, the area between snow line and tree line, which contracts and expands with the temperature during glacier-interglacier cycles.
Moreover, as "apex predators", which are at the top of the food chain, snow leopards play a vital role in the ecosystem's equilibrium. Getting rid of them would disrupt the balance.
To carry out the study, researchers analyzed the impacts of climate change on the snow leopards' habitat from the "last glacial maximum", or ice age 21,000 years ago, until the late 21st century. Using occurrence records of snow leopards between 1983 and 2015, and a "maximum entropy algorithm," they built a model of the snow leopard habitat, projecting it into 2070.
"Analysis of snow leopard habitat map from LGM [last glacial maximum] to 2070 indicates that three large patches of stable habitat have persisted from the LGM to present in the Altai, Qilian, and Tian Shan-Pamir-Hindu Kush-Karakoram mountain ranges," according to the study.
These areas should function as refuges from climate change, both in regard to extreme heat and cold, the study said. But rapid global warming in the 21st century will take a toll on snow leopards’ ability to adapt to climate change, and further fragment habitats. In one climate change scenario, researchers predicted that 82 percent of snow leopard population in Nepal and 85 percent in Bhutan could be lost.
While the researchers are optimistic about the results of the study, said Li, snow leopard climate refuges need to be protected from human interference.
By Guest Nicole
This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed historic legislation Thursday, establishing one of the most ambitious carbon reduction goals in the world. The bill, SB 32, has enormous implications for the state’s economy and for its efforts to combat climate change. It requires that California reduce its carbon pollution to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
“This is big, and I hope it sends a message across the country,” Brown said at the bill-signing in Los Angeles, according to the Sacramento Bee. “The bills today, they really are far reaching, and they keep California on the move to clean up the environment, to encourage vast innovation and to make sure we have the environmental resilience that the Californians really want and expect.” (Brown also signed into law AB 197, a measure that creates additional legislative oversight of the California Air Resources Board, the regulatory agency that had led the efforts to cut emissions.)
California has already made progress in cutting its carbon dioxide emissions, following a landmark 2006 law that called for the state to reduce carbon pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. A report from the California Environmental Protection Agency last June showed that the state was on track to meet those goals, and California has one of the lowest carbon dioxide emission rates per capita. SB 32 would require California to reduce its emissions levels even more drastically. It also ensures that the state’s climate change efforts will continue for at least another 10 years.
Opponents of the legislation argued that making such significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions would hurt the economy. But supporters counter that that hasn’t been the case: California’s GDP has continued to grow while emissions have decreased, according to data from the California Air Resources Board.* California also didn’t lose manufacturing jobs, as opponents predicted it would, and continued to add jobs, according to the same group.
The bill’s goals will not be easy to accomplish, especially since it doesn’t specify what will happen to California’s cap-and-trade program, which sets a price and a limit on carbon emissions. The policy has been billed as a low-cost, revenue-generating way of cutting carbon pollution but has struggled in recent years. Without an effective cap-and-trade system, the state would have to find another way to meet its targets. The challenge facing California is a daunting one; here’s one possible scenario, as laid out by Vox:
We’re talking about a world where California gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2030 (up from 25 percent today), where zero-emissions vehicles are 25 percent of the fleet by 2035 (up from about 1 percent today), where high-speed rail is displacing car travel, where biofuels have replaced a significant chunk of diesel in heavy-duty trucks, where pastures are getting converted to forests, where electricity replaces natural gas in heating, and on and on.
Possible? Sure. Easy? Hardly. The level of effort is just orders of magnitude different from anything California has done so far.
For more on Brown’s efforts to fight climate change, read our feature detailing the history of California’s energy policies.
By Guest Nicole
After the Brexit vote, climate hawks voiced concern that a new British government could be less aggressive in fighting climate change. Looks like they may have been right: New British Prime Minister Theresa May hasn’t even unpacked her bags at 10 Downing Street and she’s already got green groups very worried.
May announced Thursday that she would axe the Department for Energy and Climate Change and replace it with the newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Climate experts and politicians called the move “plain stupid,” “terrible,” and “beyond daft.”
“The decision to shut down DECC is a deeply worrying move from Theresa May,” said Green Party Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas. “Climate change is the biggest challenge we face, and it must not be an afterthought for the Government.”
Also troubling, May appointed Andrea Leadsom as the new environment secretary, a woman who has regularly opposed climate action. One of the first questions Leadsom asked officials when she became energy minister last year was, “Is climate change real?” Leadsom also supported selling off British forests in 2011, a thwarted proposal that proved to be deeply unpopular with British citizens.
By Guest Nicole
British citizens have voted to leave the European Union by 52–48 percent. Environmentalists and climate hawks are worried about what that might mean.
Many green leaders had called on voters to oppose a British exit from the EU — or Brexit — arguing that the EU has raised environmental standards in the U.K. and the rest of Europe. They noted that environmental problems are international in nature, so international cooperation is necessary to fight them effectively.
Outgoing United Nations climate head Christiana Figueres also warned against Brexit, saying earlier this week that the U.K. increased the ambition of European climate negotiators before and during the Paris climate talks last December.
So now what happens?
With respect to the climate, the short-term effects of Britain’s decision could potentially be positive. Economists have predicted a Brexit-driven, economy-wide slowdown, which almost certainly implies a drop in Britain’s carbon emissions. During the 2008 recession, for example, global emissions fell by about 1.5 percent. Already today the British pound fell to its lowest level since 1985, and global financial markets have taken a big tumble.
It’s unclear how Brexit will affect energy markets. Oil prices plummeted on Friday. Businesses and investors planning new energy developments in the U.K. — renewable energy projects and fracking projects alike — may postpone them, Politico notes. In the EU emissions trading system (ETS), carbon prices have already fallen more than 15 percent.
Another big unknown is how this will affect the Paris climate agreement. Britain’s climate-action pledge was included in the EU’s pledge. “From the point of view of the Paris agreement, the U.K. is part of the EU and has put in its effort as part of the EU, so anything that would change that would require then a recalibration,” said Figueres. As it sorts out what to do without the U.K., the EU will likely see a slowdown in its ratification process.
Climate hawks are also concerned that a new government in Britain could be less committed to climate action. Prime Minister David Cameron pushed for the Paris Agreement, but he won’t be around for much longer. He had led the failed “Remain” campaign, and on Friday morning, after the results of the referendum came in, he announced his intention to resign in October. At that point, another member of the Conservative Party will become prime minister. Many of the conservatives who had campaigned for Brexit are also climate deniers, and they will likely have more power in a new government.
The impact could go beyond the climate. Farming minister George Eustice, a notable Brexiteer, previously announced his desire to get rid of EU environmental directives that protect birds and habitats. He and other campaigners have advocated for a new, more flexible approach to environmental protection, but opponents of the Vote Leave campaign are skeptical that such an approach will be equally effective.
“Don’t tell me that a new Brexit-led British government is going to put environmental regulations at top of its pile on June 24,” Stanley Johnson, co-chair of Environmentalists for Europe, told the Guardian late last month. “It is not going to happen.”
Other energy experts, though, point to Britain’s leadership on clean energy and climate action and argue that the vote will ultimately be good news for the climate. Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, calledthe referendum a “historic opportunity to loosen the ties that bind” Britain to Europe’s “anti-innovation bias.”
Britain’s exit from the EU won’t be immediate; first comes a two-year exit negotiation process. As the U.K. cuts and restitches ties to Europe, the world will be watching to see if the nation emerges as a climate leader.
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