Global Warming

Carbon Emission Red Alert

Leading climate scientists warn that the promised moves to greener technologies to supply the world’s energy needs will not happen fast enough to stave off the climate catastrophes predicted if the world warms more than 2 degrees Celsius.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says nations must cut their carbon emissions in half within the next 10 years to keep global heating within the 1.5-degree “safe” threshold. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called the warning a red alert for our planet, adding that “it shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change.”

Antarctic Calving

An iceberg more than 20 times the size of Manhattan and nearly 500 feet thick has broken off from Antarctica’s Brunt Ice Shelf. The British Antarctic Survey said it was the largest calving there since 1917 but cannot be directly linked to climate change.

Warning signs of the split began last November when a chasm in the ice appeared and ripped toward another major crack 21 miles away. In January, the chasm began to expand in that direction at about a half-mile a day until the separation occurredrcWhile it is a huge chunk of ice, scientists say it is dwarfed by Iceberg A68a, which broke off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in 2017 and recently threatened to collide.

Greenhouse gas emissions around the world exceed pre-pandemic lockdown levels

After declining sharply last spring, global emissions of greenhouse gases ended 2020 by exceeding pre-pandemic levels, according to International Energy Agency (IEA).

With a screeching halt of the movement of people last spring, as many countries imposed strict restrictions on travel, socializing and commuting to slow the spread of the coronavirus, emissions in April during the peak period of the lockdown were down 17 percent from a year ago, the report noted.

Overall, global carbon emissions from energy use dropped 8 percent in 2020. Yale School of the Environment says that’s a decline equal to two-and-a-half years of energy sector emissions.

However, by the end of the year, emissions spiked. This week, the IEA, a Paris-based intergovernmental agency, released a new report that shows emissions from the production and use of oil, gas and coal were 2 percent higher in December 2020 than a year earlier.

Global Warming

Net Zero Emissions

California scientists say the goal of reaching zero net emissions of carbon dioxide from industry and energy production in the U.S. can be accomplished by 2050 by shifting energy infrastructure to operate mainly on renewable energy.

The team says the transition would cost about $1 per day for each U.S. resident, but it is crucial to averting the worst effects of climate change. “It means that by 2050 we need to build many gigawatts of wind and solar power plants, new transmission lines, a fleet of electric cars and light trucks, millions of heat pumps to replace conventional furnaces and water heaters, and more energy-efficient buildings,” said lead researcher Margaret Torn.

Global Warming

Carbon Capture

Researchers are urging governments and industry to develop systems to collect carbon dioxide pollution at power plants and factories, condense it and then pump it into deep wells to prevent the greenhouse gas from worsening climate change.

They say it needs to be a priority to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord.

“Carbon capture and storage is going to be the only effective way we have in the short term to prevent our steel industry, cement manufacture and many other processes from continuing to pour emissions into the atmosphere,” said Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University. Research is also underway to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, but the process is expensive and would require an enormous investment to curb global heating.

Global Warming

Greenhouse Earth

Scientists predict that Earth’s atmosphere will soon contain the same high level of carbon dioxide that existed at the peak of the Pliocene Epoch warmth 3 million years ago. That’s when temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and sea levels were 65 feet higher.

Global Warming

Recalculated Heat

The world may have less time than expected to curb carbon emissions and avert a life-threatening climate catastrophe after it was discovered that manmade greenhouse gases may have already warmed the planet by 18% more than predicted.

“Climate change hasn’t suddenly got worse. It’s just our estimate of how much warming has taken place has improved,” says Tim Osborn of Britain’s University of East Anglia.

The findings come as 2020 appears to be vying with 2019 as the second-warmest year on record.

The British Met Office predicts 2021 is still likely to at least be among the six warmest years on record, chilled a bit by the ongoing moderate La Niña ocean-cooling in the Pacific.

Global Warming

Warming Greenland ice sheet passes point of no return

Nearly 40 years of satellite data from Greenland shows that glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking.

The finding, published today, Aug. 13, in the journal Nature Communications Earth and Environment, means that Greenland’s glaciers have passed a tipping point of sorts, where the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.

Climate change, not hunters, may have killed off woolly rhinos

Rather than getting wiped out by Ice Age hunters, woolly rhinos charged to extinction in Siberia around 14,000 years ago when the climate turned warm and wet, a study of ancient DNA suggests.

Numbers of breeding woolly rhinos stayed relatively constant for tens of thousands of years until at least about 18,500 years ago, more than 13,000 years after people first reached northeastern Siberia, scientists report online August 13 in Current Biology. Yet only a few thousand years later, woolly rhinos died out, probably because temperatures had risen enough to reshape arctic habitats. A shift to warm, rainy conditions, which occurred between roughly 14,600 and 12,800 years ago, likely played a large role in the rapid decline of this cold-adapted species.

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Tropical Soil Leaks CO2

Tropical forest soil warmed in experiments to levels consistent with end-of-century temperature projections released 55 percent more CO2 than control plots, exposing a previously underestimated source of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported Wednesday.

Before humanity began loading the atmosphere with carbon pollution by burning fossil fuels, the input and outflow of CO2 into soil – one key element in Earth’s complex carbon cycle – remained roughly in balance.

Gases emitted by deadwood and decaying leaves, in other words, were cancelled out by microorganisms that feed on such matter. But climate change has begun to upset that balance, according to a new study, published in Nature.

In experiments, researchers placed heating rods in a one-hectare plot of undisturbed primary forest on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. They warmed the soil to a depth of just over one metre (three feet) by 4C over a period of two years. The findings shows an increase in in the release of CO2 of 55 per cent above the basal rates.

Global Warming

Six Month Deadline

The Paris-based International Energy Agency has warned that world leaders have only six months to take measures to control carbon emissions, before a post-lockdown recovery brings a surge in the greenhouse gases that may be impossible to curb. The organization cautions that without immediate action, reaching the targets to address global warming will not be possible.

“This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. He told The Guardian governments must design economic recovery packages that promote shifts away from carbon-based fuels.

Global Warming

Carbon Comeback

While overall global CO2 emissions have been expected to fall by about 7% this year due to the pandemic, scientists fear that the man-made pollution will rebound as the world’s population returns to work and industrial production surges.

Daily global emissions of the greenhouse gas fell by 17% at the height of the COVID-19 shutdown. But levels of transportation and economic activity are able to return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-June, researchers estimate the annual fall in CO2 emissions this year will be only 4%.

Global Warming

Global Sea Level Rise

Global sea levels have risen 0.55 inches since 2003 due to ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland driven by climate change, according to new data measurements from several NASA satellites.

Scientists found that Greenland’s ice sheet lost an average of 200 gigatons of ice per year and Antarctica’s ice sheet lost an average of 118 gigatons of ice per year. One gigaton of ice can fill 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Carbon Emissions Drop

The United Nations weather agency said that while global carbon emissions are likely to see the biggest yearly fall since World War II due to the COVID-19 crisis, governments should still use some of the new stimulus packages to encourage a move to a greener economy.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) cautioned that past economic recoveries have been accompanied by higher emission growth than before the downturns. “We need to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Global Warming

Global warming is shrinking the rainforest’s role as climate protector

The amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide that can be sucked up from the atmosphere and stored by tropical forests is falling as the global climate heats up, researchers said on Wednesday. They warned in a study that rainforests could tip from absorbing carbon to becoming a source of emissions.

The 30-year study, led by the University of Leeds and involving almost 100 institutions, showed that the intake of carbon by “intact tropical forests” peaked in the 1990s and had dropped by a third by the 2010s.

Intact forests are large areas of continuous forest with no signs of intensive human activity like agriculture or logging. They form part of the world’s roughly 5.5 billion hectares of forest.

Trees suck carbon dioxide from the air, the main greenhouse gas heating up the Earth’s climate, and store carbon, which they release when they are cut down and are burned, or rot.

Tropical forests are huge reservoirs of carbon, storing 250 billion tonnes in their trees alone – an amount equivalent to 90 years of global fossil-fuel emissions at current levels.

Researchers, who tracked the growth and death of 300,000 trees in Africa and the Amazon, found that undisturbed tropical forests had started the process of switching from a carbon sink to a source, largely due to carbon losses from trees dying.

In the 1990s, intact tropical forests removed about 46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, declining to an estimated 25 billion tonnes in the 2010s, the study said.

The lost sink capacity was 21 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – the same as a decade of fossil-fuel emissions from Britain, Germany, France and Canada combined

Intact tropical forests removed 17% of human-made carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s but that fell to 6% in the 2010s.

The decline was because those forests, whose area shrank by 19%, absorbed a third less carbon, while global carbon emissions soared by 46%, the study said.

The tropics lost 12 million hectares of tree cover in 2018, including 3.6 million hectares of old-growth rainforest, an area the size of Belgium, much due to fires, land-clearing for farms and mining, according to monitoring service Global Forest Watch.

Global Warming

Carbon Pollution

Smoke from the massive Australia bushfires of recent months will contribute to an anticipated record annual rise in atmospheric carbon emissions this year, according to Britain’s Met Office.

The CO2 concentration is predicted to peak above 417 parts per million (ppm) in May, while the 2020 average should be around 414 ppm. That would be nearly 3 ppm above the 2019 average, according to the agency.

Smoke from the protracted bushfire crisis will contribute up to one-fifth of the CO2 increase caused by global warming’s altered weather patterns and the resulting effects on the landscape, the British experts say.

As our planet gets greener, plants are slowing global warming

In a new study, published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, the researchers report that climate-altering carbon emissions and intensive land use have inadvertently greened half of the Earth’s vegetated lands.

Green leaves convert sunlight to sugars while replacing carbon dioxide in the air with water vapor, which cools the Earth’s surface. The reasons for greening vary around the world, but often involve intensive use of land for farming, large-scale planting of trees, a warmer and wetter climate in northern regions, natural reforestation of abandoned lands, and recovery from past disturbances.

And the chief cause of global greening we’re experiencing? It seems to be that rising carbon dioxide emissions are providing more and more fertilizer for plants, the researchers say. As a result, the boom of global greening since the early 1980s may have slowed the rate of global warming, the researchers say, possibly by as much as 0.2 to 0.25 degrees Celsius.

Global Warming

Human CO2 Emissions Greatly Outstrip Natural Sources

Human activity churns out up to 100 times more planet-warming carbon each year as all the volcanoes on Earth, says a decade-long study released on Tuesday.

The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO), a 500-strong international team of scientists, released a series of papers outlining how carbon is stored, emitted and reabsorbed by natural and manmade processes.

They found that manmade carbon dioxide emissions drastically outstrip the contribution of volcanoes – which belch out gas and are often fingered as a major climate change contributor – to current warming rates.

The findings, published in the journal Elements, showed just two-tenths of 1% of Earth’s total carbon – around 43 500 gigatonnes – is above the surface in oceans, the land, and in our atmosphere.

The rest – a staggering 1.85 billion gigatonnes – is stored in our planet’s crust, mantle and core, providing scientists with clues as to how Earth formed billions of years ago. One gigatonne is equivalent to around 3 million Boeing 747s.

Global Warming

Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018

Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased, mainly in Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday (March 26).

Energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 per cent to 33.1 billion tonnes from the previous year, the highest rate of growth since 2013, with the power sector accounting for almost two-thirds of this growth.

The United States’ CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 per cent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China’s emissions rose by 2.5 per cent and India’s by 4.5 per cent. Europe’s emissions fell by 1.3 per cent and Japan’s fell for the fifth year running.

Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of global average temperature rise which countries are seeking to curb to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

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Global Warming

Planting Trees Not Enough

There is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that solely planting trees won’t be enough to save humans from global warming, a study has revealed.

It was recently found that young trees can absorb carbon dioxide better than established tropical rainforests, which seemed to be a dose of good news.

But research has found there just isn’t enough space on earth to plant the amount of trees that would be required to make a real dent in our carbon emissions.

It has been calculated that if we planted 1.7 billion acres of trees, we could remove 3 billion tons of atmospheric carbon a year, according to Business Insider.

That’s about 10 percent of what humans emit every year, which can total up to 40 billion tons.

Scientists have looked at trees as a potential solution because they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, using it to form carbohydrates that are used in plant structure and function. Trees also release oxygen back into the atmosphere as a byproduct.

But 1.7 billion acres of trees would be equivalent to the entire contiguous US.

And planting that many trees would cover half the land that is used to farm crops worldwide, plus land we would need to eventually farm as populations continue to grow.

Thus, studies have found that this solution could actually lead to starvation of the human population.

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