GM, Ford knew about climate change 50 years ago
Scientists at two of America’s biggest automakers knew as early as the 1960s that car emissions caused climate change an extensive investigation by a team of investigative reporters has found.
The discoveries by General Motors and Ford Motor Co. preceded decades of political lobbying by the two car giants that undermined global attempts to reduce emissions while stalling U.S. efforts to make vehicles cleaner.
Researchers at both automakers found strong evidence in the 1960s and ’70s that human activity was warming the Earth. A primary culprit was the burning of fossil fuels, which released large quantities of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide that could trigger melting of polar ice sheets and other dire consequences.
A GM scientist presented her findings to at least three high-level executives at the company, including a former chairman and CEO. It’s unclear whether similar warnings reached the top brass at Ford.
But in the following decades, both manufacturers largely failed to act on the knowledge that their products were heating the planet. Instead of shifting their business models away from fossil fuels, the companies invested heavily in gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. At the same time, the two carmakers privately donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups that cast doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming.
More than 50 years after the automakers learned about climate change, the transportation sector is the leading source of planet-warming pollution in the United States. Cars and trucks account for the bulk of those emissions.
Alaska’s new climate threat: tsunamis
In Alaska and other high, cold places around the world, new research shows that mountains are collapsing as the permafrost that holds them together melts, threatening tsunamis if they fall into the sea.
Scientists are warning that populated areas and major tourist attractions are at risk.
In 2015, a landslide on a slope that had also crept for decades, created a tsunami that sheared off forests 193 meters up the slopes of Alaska’s Taan Fiord.
Global Warming Blamed for Bee Deaths – Turkey
Millions of bees died due to drought triggered by global warming in southern Turkey’s Mersin, which caused about a 70%-80% decrease in honey production in the province, a beekeepers association head said.
The above-seasonal temperature and abrupt changes have adversely affected beekeeping in Mersin this year. Drought caused not only the deaths of many bees but also became the main reason for a decrease in the number of plants from which bees can receive nutrition to produce honey
Massive Ozone Hole
The ozone hole in the stratosphere above Antarctica reached its annual peak on Oct. 1, which scientists say was the largest and deepest in 15 years.
This was in contrast to an unusually small and short-lived ozone hole in 2019 caused by unusual weather conditions. “There is much variability in how far ozone hole events develop each year,” said Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. He added that it’s proof nations need to continue enforcing the Montreal Protocol, which bans emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals.
Great Barrier Reef corals have more than halved
Corals on the Great Barrier Reef have more than halved over the past 25 years, according to a study that prompted scientists to again warn the world-famous landmark will become unrecognisable without a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers from the Townsville-based ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies assessed coral communities and size between 1995 and 2017 and found the number of small, medium and large corals had fallen more than 50%.
Arctic Ocean is Dying
Researchers on the world’s biggest mission to the North Pole will return to dock on Monday, bringing home devastating proof of a dying Arctic Ocean and warnings of ice-free summers in just decades.
The German Alfred Wegener Institute’s Polarstern ship is set to return to the port of Bremerhaven after 389 days spent drifting through the Arctic trapped in ice, allowing scientists to gather vital information on the effects of global warming in the region.
The team of several hundred scientists from 20 countries have seen for themselves the dramatic effects of global warming on ice in the region, considered “the epicentre of climate change”, according to mission leader Markus Rex.
“We witnessed how the Arctic ocean is dying,” Rex told AFP. “We saw this process right outside our windows, or when we walked on the brittle ice.” Underlining how much of the sea ice has melted away, Rex said the mission was able to sail through large patches of open water, “sometimes stretching as far as the horizon”. “At the North Pole itself, we found badly eroded, melted, thin and brittle ice.”
Warmer winters brought on by the deepening climate crisis are bringing more ice-free years to lakes around the Northern Hemisphere, according to a new study.
Researchers writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters say that beyond the ecological changes this causes, communities around some of those lakes are suffering because they depend on frozen festivals and winter recreation. The lack of ice also makes the lakes more prone to toxic algal blooms, which could harm fish and make swimming more dangerous. “This isn’t just happening in one lake in the northern United States. It’s happening in thousands of lakes around the world,” said lead author Alessandro Filazzola.
Flowers Are Changing Colour To Save Pollen From Global Warming, Ozone Depletion
Just like the animal kingdom, plants adapt to the changing climate of the Earth. A new research shows the latest way in which they do so – by altering ultraviolet (UV) pigments in their petals. This means that the plants are essentially changing their colours in response to the climate change.
The researchers found that over the past 75 years, flowers have evolved to alter the ultraviolet (UV) pigments in their petals in response to the rising temperatures as well as the declining ozone layer of the Earth.
Flowers’ UV pigments are invisible to the human eye, but they attract pollinators and serve as a kind of sunscreen for plants. Just as UV radiation is harmful to humans, it also poses a threat to a flower’s pollen. Thus, plants tend to use UV-absorbing pigment in the petals to reduce the harmful radiation from reaching its sensitive cells.
Warming Oceans More ‘Stable’ And That’s Bad, Scientists Warn
Global warming is making the oceans more stable, increasing surface temperatures and reducing the carbon they can absorb, according to research published Monday by climate scientists who warned that the findings have “profound and troubling” implications.
Man-made climate change has increased surface temperatures across the planet, leading to atmospheric instability and amplifying extreme weather events, such as storms.
But in the oceans, higher temperatures have a different effect, slowing the mixing between the warming surface and the cooler, oxygen-rich waters below, researchers said.
This ocean “stratification” means less deep water is rising towards the surface carrying oxygen and nutrients, while the water at the surface absorbs less atmospheric carbon dioxide to bury at depth.
Most of this stabilisation occurred towards the surface and was attributed largely to temperature rises.
They said this process is also exacerbated by the melting of sea ice, meaning that more freshwater – which is lighter than saltwater – also accumulates on the surface of the ocean.
This seemingly technical finding has profound and troubling implications. These include potentially driving more “intense, destructive hurricanes” as ocean surfaces warm. A reduction in the amount of CO2 absorbed, which could mean that carbon pollution builds up faster than expected in the atmosphere.
With warmer upper waters receiving less oxygen, there are also severe adverse implications for marine life.
Scientists have calculated that this June, July and August were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century average, making the season the hottest Northern Hemisphere summer on record. During the same period, the Southern Hemisphere experienced its third-warmest winter yet. NOAA predicts this abnormal warmth could lead to 2020 being one of the five hottest years on record.
Arctic sea ice melted to its second-smallest expanse on record on Sept. 15, covering only 1.44 million square miles around the North Pole, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center. Only during the summer of 2012 did the polar ice cap shrink farther. And since the unprecedented drops in sea ice extent in 2007 and 2012, there have been fewer areas with thick, multiyear ice that has accumulated over countless winters. Experts believe this and global heating will keep the ice from recovering, and will soon lead to ice-free summers across the Arctic.
New York Metronome Clock Displays Global Warming Deadline
The New York City Metronome digital clock in Manhattan has been reprogrammed to show the critical window within which global warming must be stopped. The display, called The Climate Clock, now indicates that the world has to stop global warming in about 7 years — otherwise, the impacts would be irreversible. The artists behind the project say that they have based their timing on calculations by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin.
The Arctic Is Shifting to a New Climate
The effects of global warming in the Arctic are so severe that the region is shifting to a different climate, one characterized less by ice and snow and more by open water and rain, scientists said Monday.
Already, they said, sea ice in the Arctic has declined so much that even an extremely cold year would not result in as much ice as was typical decades ago. Two other characteristics of the region’s climate, seasonal air temperatures and the number of days of rain instead of snow, are shifting in the same way, the researchers said.
Arctic communities are already suffering from the changes. Eroding coastlines are forcing some Alaska Native villages to consider relocating. Other changes are affecting the food supply. Warmer storms that bring rain on existing snow, for example, can lead to starvation of the animals Indigenous groups rely on.
Who are the world’s greatest emitters of carbon?
Deep channels link ocean to Antarctic glacier
Newly discovered deep seabed channels beneath Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica may be the pathway for warm ocean water to melt the underside of the ice. Data from two research missions, using aircraft and ship, are helping scientists to understand the contribution this huge and remote glacier is likely to make to future global sea level rise. Over the past 30 years, the overall rate of ice loss from Thwaites and its neighbouring glaciers has increased more than 5-fold. Already, ice draining from Thwaites into the Amundsen Sea accounts for about four percent of global sea-level rise. A run-away collapse of the glacier could lead to a significant increase in sea levels of around 65 cm (25 inches) and scientists want to find out how quickly this could happen.
‘Unprecedented’ ice loss as Greenland breaks record
Scientists say the loss of ice in Greenland lurched forward again last year, breaking the previous record by 15%.
A new analysis says that the scale of the melt was “unprecedented” in records dating back to 1948. High pressure systems that became blocked over Greenland last Summer were the immediate cause of the huge losses.
Using data from the Grace and Grace-FO satellites, as well as climate models, the authors conclude that across the full year Greenland lost 532 gigatonnes of ice – a significant increase on 2012.
The researchers say the loss is the equivalent of adding 1.5mm to global mean sea levels, approximately 40% of the average rise in one year.