Global Warming

CO2 Surge in US Emissions

A three-year decline in the amount of carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere by the United States ended in 2018 with a surge that saw emissions rise by 3.4 percent.

Data collected by an independent economic research firm found it was the largest rise in carbon emissions in the country in eight years.

A report by the Rhodium Group said the spike occurred even though a record number of U.S. coal-fired power plants closed last year.

But prolonged cold spells in many areas and a hot summer increased demand for air conditioning and heating, fueling the surge.

Wildfires

Wildfires – CO2 Emissions

Wildfires in California in 2018 released the rough equivalent of about 68 million tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide — about the same amount of carbon emissions as are produced in a year to provide electricity to the state.

The carbon dioxide figure — based on data analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey — is more than 15 percent of all emissions produced by California in a year.

Wildfires – Australia

A central Queensland man has died and 10 people including seven children who were caught up in the state’s bushfires have had to be airlifted to safety, as authorities urged residents in the path of the Deepwater bushfire to leave the area immediately.

As two men were arrested for starting fires in central Queensland, more than 100 fires continued to burn across the state. Heatwave conditions were expected to continue over the weekend and the prospect of an incoming cyclone threatened to complicate things further.

Global Warming

Weaker Ocean Currents

A new study has found evidence that the ocean circulation in the North Atlantic has become the weakest of the past 1,500 years, mainly as a result of a warming climate.

Many climate models predict a weakening, or even a collapse, of this branch of the ocean circulation under global warming — partly due to a surge of fresh water from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong write in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has far-reaching impacts on the climate from North America to Europe, and can influence the monsoon rainfall in South Asia and Africa.

CO2 Emissions Surge

Global emissions of the most prevalent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rose to a new historic high last year, according to a U.N. report that warns the time for action to avoid disastrous climate change is running out.

It adds that emissions began rising again during 2017 for the first time in four years. Levels of accumulated atmospheric CO2 reached a global average of 405.5 parts per million during 2017, almost 50 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution.

“The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 F) warmer and sea level was 10 to 20 meters (33 to 66 feet) higher,” said World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

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Global Warming

CO2 Emissions Play Havoc with Ocean Life

The devastating impact of global warming on ocean life has been laid bare in a shocking new scientific report.

Coral reefs across the globe are being killed off by a combination of increasing temperatures and ocean acidification caused by rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.

Researchers found blooms of algae are blanketing the seabed in areas of high CO2 concentration, choking corals and lowering marine diversity.

If CO2 levels continue to rise at their current rate, the consequences will be ‘catastrophic’, scientists have warned.

Teams of British, Italian and Japanese researchers, including from the University of Plymouth, found a worrying lack of corals in areas of the Pacific where CO2 levels met present-day averages.

In contrast, marine areas with pre-industrial levels of CO2 flourished with corals and other species and sea-life.

Experts discovered the stark contrast by analysing volcanic CO2 seeps off Shikine Island, in Japan, where ocean currents cause CO2 levels to mimic those before the industrial revolution.

In areas with pre-Industrial levels of CO2 the coast has an impressive amount of calcified organisms such as corals and oysters.

But in areas with present-day average levels of surface seawater CO2 they found far fewer corals and other calcified life, and so there was less biodiversity.

It shows the extensive damage caused by humans due to CO2 emissions over the past 300 years and unless we can get a grip on reducing CO2 emissions we will undoubtedly see major degradation of coastal systems worldwide.

Proliferation of algae in areas with high CO2:

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Global Warming

US judge throws out climate change lawsuits against big oil

A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that received widespread attention ruled Monday that Congress and the president were best suited to address the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming, throwing out lawsuits that sought to hold big oil companies liable for the Earth’s changing environment.

Noting that the world has also benefited significantly from oil and other fossil fuel, Judge William Alsup said questions about how to balance the “worldwide positives of the energy” against its role in global warming “demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate.”

However, in Monday’s ruling, the judge said he accepted the “vast scientific consensus” that the combustion of fossil fuels has contributed to global warming and rising sea levels.

Fracking Not a Solution to Climate Change

A new, comprehensive study of methane leaks in the oil and gas industry is the final piece of evidence that natural gas is not part of the climate solution. Fracking and consequent natural gas production have been seen as a solution to climate change.

The findings confirm if a coal-fired plant is replaced with a gas-fired plant there is no net climate benefit for at least two decades. Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4), a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. A very small leakage rate of methane from the natural gas supply chain (production to delivery to combustion) can have a large climate impact  —  enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas for a long, long time.

In November, another study found the methane emissions escaping from just New Mexico’s gas and oil industry are “equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.” In January, NASA found that most of the huge rise in global methane emissions in the past decade was in fact from the fossil fuel industry — and that this rise was “substantially larger” than previously thought.

It’s time to acknowledge that fracking is truly part of the climate problem, and likely to become a bigger problem over time as natural gas competes more and more with renewable energy sources.

Global Warming

Earth’s atmosphere just crossed another troubling climate change threshold

For the first time since humans have been monitoring, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have exceeded 410 parts per million averaged across an entire month, a threshold that pushes the planet ever closer to warming beyond levels that scientists and the international community have deemed “safe.”

The reading from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii finds that concentrations of the climate-warming gas averaged above 410 parts per million throughout April. The first time readings crossed 410 at all occurred on April 18, 2017, or just about a year ago.

Carbon dioxide concentrations — whose “greenhouse gas effect” traps heat and drives climate change — were around 280 parts per million circa 1880, at the dawn of the industrial revolution. They’re now 46 percent higher.

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Global Warming

World shipping industry agrees to halve carbon emissions by 2050

Members of the UN International Maritime Organization on Friday struck a deal to halve carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by 2050 in a deal that will force the industry to redesign fleets.

“The initial strategy envisages for the first time a reduction in total GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008,” the IMO said in a statement.

Major shipping nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United States had objected to earlier drafts in two weeks of discussion at the 173-member organization based in London.

Some countries such as the Marshall Islands, which are at risk of rising seas but are also a major flag state, had wanted a stronger commitment and the EU wanted a 70 to 100 percent cut. But the agreement was widely hailed by stakeholders.

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Global Warming

Global Carbon Pollution Rises

Global carbon pollution rose this year after three straight years when levels of the heat-trapping gas didn’t go up at all, scientists reported Monday.

Preliminary figures project that worldwide carbon dioxide emissions are up about 2 percent this year, according to an international team of scientists. Most of the increase came from China.

The report by the Global Carbon Project team dashed hopes that emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas had peaked.

Estimates for 2017 put it at about 40.8 billion tons (37 billion metric tons). Sixty years ago, the world spewed only 9.2 billion tons (8.3 billion metric tons).

Global Warming

UN Warns on Climate Change

Greenhouse gas emissions are on course to be about 30 percent above the 2030 global target, but there are signs of a move away from fossil fuels that not even U.S. President Donald Trump can stop, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

An annual U.N. audit of progress towards that goal showed emissions are likely to be 53.0-55.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030, far above the 42 billion tonne threshold for averting the 2 degree rise.

But U.N. Environment chief Erik Solheim hailed signs of progress, with an apparent three-year plateau in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, cement production and other industrial processes, largely due to slower growth in coal use in China and the United States.

“We are at a watershed moment where we have stopped the rise in CO2 emissions, there is every reason to believe we can bring them down, and we see great news coming from all over the world every day,” Solheim said.

Global Warming

Record surge in atmospheric CO2 seen in 2016

Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year’s increase was 50% higher than the average of the past 10 years.

Researchers say a combination of human activities and the El Niño weather phenomenon drove CO2 to a level not seen in 800,000 years. Scientists say this risks making global temperature targets largely unattainable.

This year’s greenhouse gas bulletin produced by the WMO, is based on measurements taken in 51 countries. Research stations dotted around the globe measure concentrations of warming gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

The figures published by the WMO are what’s left in the atmosphere after significant amounts are absorbed by the Earth’s “sinks”, which include the oceans and the biosphere. 2016 saw average concentrations of CO2 hit 403.3 parts per million, up from 400ppm in 2015.

“It is the largest increase we have ever seen in the 30 years we have had this network,” Dr Oksana Tarasova, chief of WMO’s global atmosphere watch programme.

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Global Warming

Carbon Emissions Pause

The world’s carbon dioxide emissions remain stalled for a third consecutive year, with both the United States and Russia decreasing their output by 2 percent in 2016. Japan cut its CO2 emissions by 1 percent, while those produced by Europe and China held steady. India’s emissions increased by 5 percent.

Despite the overall pause in the growth of the world’s most pervasive greenhouse gas pollution, emissions of methane and nitrous oxide continued to increase. Methane can trap 30 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2, while nitrous oxide traps 300 times more.

Global Warming

Carbon Released by Warming Soils

As soil warms up, it leaks carbon, and a new study suggests higher temperatures could release more carbon than we thought, potentially creating a dangerous feedback loop that would cause the planet to get hotter and hotter.

That’s based on experiments stretching back 26 years in a hardwood forest in Massachusetts, where researchers have been artificially heating certain sections of soil to see the effects.

The team from the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of New Hampshire, says rising temperatures cause a two-stage cycle where carbon output increases for several years then levels off – probably due to soil microbes adjusting to the warmer conditions.

After that readjustment, carbon release levels start rising again. The worry is that warmer soil would cause a warmer atmosphere, in turn heating up the ground and perpetuating temperature rise we have no control over.

Every year we pump about 10 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, mostly through burning fossil fuels. About 3,500 billion tonnes are thought to be stored in the world’s soil. Not only does having carbon locked away in soil mean it’s kept out of the atmosphere, it also helps soil stay healthy by holding water and helping plants to grow.

Global Warming

CO2 Emissions

Offering a much-needed sign that human actions can be effective against climate change, new data published by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) shows that global CO2 emissions largely remained static in 2016.

All major emitters worldwide, except India, stayed stagnant or fell in their CO2 emissions, due to increased use of renewables and decreased coal use; the US and Russia saw about a two percent decrease, while China, European Union states, and other G20 member emissions remained static. Other nations, mainly developing countries, still have rising CO2 emissions levels.

However, even static emission levels mean that massive amounts of CO2 are being dumped into the atmosphere annually; more than 35 billion tons were released in 2016 alone. This CO2 is responsible for warmer ocean and air temperatures, plus more extreme, damaging weather, from droughts to hurricanes. Moreover, other greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere—particularly methane, from agriculture and the oil and gas industries—rose by 1 percent in 2016. According to the report, total greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase by about 0.5% globally.

This flattening of CO2 emissions in 2016 is proof that humans can make a difference when it comes to climate change. It also offers evidence that if we do not take steps to reduce emissions, they will continue to increase; they only stopped rising after a groundswell of public opinion pushed for change.

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Global Warming

Russia says it halted global warming for one year

Russia has reduced the quantity of emitted greenhouse gases by almost 50% since 1990, which has slowed down the global warming for one year, CEO of the Center for Energy Efficiency Igor Bashmakov said on Friday at the Climate Forum of the Russian Cities.

“We have considerably reduced the volume of emissions, almost by one half, and then held on to this level,” Bashmakov said. “If we in Russia preserved the level of the 1990 emissions, we would have emitted by 41 bln tonnes of equivalent more by this time, which is close to what all global sources emit. That is, Russia has actually suspended the global warming for a whole year on its own, and it has a considerable result.”

In October 2004, Russia undertook the obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Russia also signed the Paris climate accord in 2016.

Environment

New CO2 record

The atmosphere’s carbon concentration now exceeds 1960 levels by about a third, and rises faster each decade.

The concentration of carbon dioxide rose by 3 parts per million (ppm) for the second year in a row in 2016, bringing the average concentration to a record-setting 405 ppm, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Pre-industrial concentrations rarely exceeded 280 ppm, and some estimates suggest we would need to keep the carbon concentration between 405 and 450 ppm to limit warming to the internationally set target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). But while that concentration rose by less than one part per million annually in the 1960s, the current annual increase of 3 ppm would put Earth in the danger zone by the early 2030s.

Massive Thirsty Mangroves Dieback Due To Extreme Weather Condition

A James Cook University researcher has found why there was an uncommon dieback of mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria in mid-2016 – the plants died of thirst.

The researchers used aeronautical observations and satellite mapping information of the area going back to 1972, joined with climate and weather records. Dr. Duke said they discovered three factors met up to create the extraordinary dieback of 7400 hectares of mangroves, which extended for 1000 kilometres along the Gulf coast.

“From 2011 the coastline had experienced beyond normal rainfalls, and the 2015/16 dry season was especially serious. Secondly, the temperatures in the zone were at record levels and thirdly a few mangroves were left high and dry as the ocean or sea level dropped around 20cm during a particularly extreme El Nino.”

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