One of East Africa’s (EA) most important sources of water is drying up due to the impact of climate change on Mt Kilimanjaro, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) warned on Wednesday.
The Hillary Clinton Environmental Scorecard The former Secretary of State could inherit a number of ambitious eco-commitments established by President Obama. Here’s where she stands on each one. Outside By: Juliet Eilperin Oct 17, 2016 “…….
Climate Change and Renewable Energy
In contrast to Obama, who barely mentioned the issue when he was running for reelection in 2012, Clinton has made tackling climate change a major theme in her campaign. She’s mentioned it during both the primary and general election debates, mocking Trump during the first debate by saying, “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.” Trump replied, “I did not. I did not. I do not say that.” (He actually did tweet that, and he has also questioned whether global warming is even underway.)
Clinton has vowed to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and 80 percent by mid-century. She’s also pledged to cut U.S. oil consumption by a third, ensure that half a billion solar panels will be installed by 2020, and carry out a ten-fold increase in renewable energy production on public lands. On top of that, she aims to provide $60 billion to state and city officials through a “clean energy challenge fund” so they can reduce their carbon output and enhance their resilience to climate impacts, along with another $30 billion to struggling coal communities.
Such ideas make Clinton attractive to environmentalists. “It’s probably fair to say that, by the time his term is over, President Obama will be regarded as the most environmental president we’ve ever seen, and yet we’re confident Secretary Clinton will build on this record, and even do more,” says League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, whose group is pouring $10 million into the presidential race this cycle.
Clinton’s 2020 overall emissions target is more aggressive than what Obama has pledged under the Paris climate agreement. Her solar plan, for example, suggests that the U.S. will have 140 gigawatts of installed solar by the end of 2020, compared to the 100 gigawatts that’s now projected. But the question of whether she can deliver on her promises remains—especially since she has yet to embrace the idea of imposing a sweeping carbon tax, and it’s unlikely that Congress would hand over tens of billions of dollars to her administration if she’s elected. While Clinton has vowed to defend federal regulations limiting the carbon output of existing power plants, which are currently being challenged in court, she will have to do much more than that in order to meet her professed goals. …….http://www.outsideonline.com/2125806/hillary-clinton-environmental-scorecard
EurekAlert, 13 Oct 16 Extreme Antarctica ice melt provides glimpse of ecosystem response to global climate change
PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY New research led by Portland State University glacier scientist Andrew Fountain reveals how a single warming event in Antarctica may be an indication of future ecosystem changes.
In the scientific paper, “The Impact of a Large-scale Climate Event on Antarctic Ecosystem Processes,” published in a special section Thursday in Bioscience, Fountain and his team detail the climate event and summarize the cascading ecological consequences over the last 15 years caused by a single season of intense melting in Antarctica between 2001 and 2002……..https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/psu-cfa101216.php
Indigenous land rights fundamental to climate safety – Lord Stern Climate Home 10/10/2016,
Forests and grasslands would store more carbon if communities’ rights were protected, according to research from the leading climate economist By Karl Mathiesen
Honouring the land rights of indigenous peoples would lead to a safer climate for everybody, according to leading economist Lord Nicholas Stern.
The world must become “zero net carbon” by 2070-80 if it wants to stay within the 2C limit set by the Paris climate agreement, said Stern, or “much earlier for 1.5C”. But some industries – including aviation – are expected to continue emitting carbon late into the century.
“If there are going to be some that are [carbon] positive,” Stern told an audience at a World Resources Institute (WRI) event in Washington, DC, “there have got to be some that are negative and it’s the forests and the grasslands that are the big potential source there.”
Stern was speaking on Friday at the launch of a WRI study that found that securing indigenous land tenure in Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia could avoid the release of an estimated 42.8–59.7 Mt CO2 per year through avoided deforestation. This is equivalent to taking between 9 and 12.6m cars off the road………. The argument went beyond the economy and the environment, Stern added. Indigenous peoples in the Amazon and across the world are being dispossessed by development. In some cases, their rights are being considered. A massive dam project in the Brazilian Amazon was suspended in April over concerns about the impact on local tribes.
“We are talking about justice here, we ought to be very clear about that… If you haven’t got those rights, you’re much more vulnerable to outsiders… If you’re vulnerable to outsiders it’s theft. Its solid rights that protect you against that.”http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/10/10/indigenous-land-rights-fundamental-to-climate-safety-lord-stern/
On Melting Ice: Inuit Struggle Against Oil and Gas in the Arctic Tuesday, 11 October 2016 By Chris Williams, Truthout | News Analysis The Inuit in the Canadian Arctic are engaged in a centuries-old fight to retain their culture and reestablish self-determination and genuine sovereignty. In particular, Inuit in the autonomous territory of Nunavut are resisting what American Indian studies scholar Daniel R. Wildcat has described as a “fourth removal attempt” of Indigenous people, coming on the heels of failed efforts at spatial, social and psycho-cultural deletion.
The common discourse on climate change focuses on the physical world: inexorably rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and the impact on sea-ice extent; melting glaciers; and roiling, unpredictable perturbations in weather patterns. But these are but the physical manifestations of political decisions made in the social world. The questions behind them include: Who produced all that extra CO2? For what purposes? And which sets of people are paying the most immediate price?
In both realms, the Arctic, one of the regions least responsible for causing climate change, is bearing the most immediate brunt; though as Inuit activist, Nobel Prize nominee and author Sheila Watt-Cloutier warns in her book, The Right to Be Cold, “whatever happens in the poles will eventually happen everywhere else.”
To frame climate change in the Arctic as simply a story of liquefying dihydrogen monoxide is deceptive. The ice-filled north is first and foremost a human story, a story about home and the struggle to preserve it against outside forces. It is about a culture that quite literally rests on knowledge of ice, ocean and the animals that live on top and underneath it.
James Qillaq, mayor of Clyde River in Nunavut, explained, “That connection to the land, that’s our life … that’s the reason why we stand: our connection to the land and water, of something that is ours, that’s it. That’s it and nothing else. That’s our everything — our connection to the land.”…….
Climate Change and Arctic Amplification The most recent displacement attempt against Inuit is related to the fact that the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of lower latitudes. Over the last five decades, sea ice has vanished from an area twice the size of Alaska. The remaining ice is 50 percent thinner. The last nine years have all had the lowest sea-ice extents measured, with February 2015 showing the lowest in 37 years of satellite data. Over 50 percent of the gigantic ice sheet that blankets Greenland was melting during the summer of 2015, contributing to the 36th consecutive year of global glacier loss.
Going further back in time, recent research based on a compendium of historical data shows, “there is no point in the past 150 years where sea ice extent is as small as it has been in recent years,” ……… http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37921-on-melting-ice-inuit-struggle-against-oil-and-gas-in-the-arctic
WILL CLIMATE CHANGE SINK THE MEKONG DELTA?, Mongabay News, 3 October 2016 / David Brown
No delta region in the world is more threatened by climate change. Will Vietnam act in time to save it?
- Scientists say the 1-meter sea level rise expected by century’s end will displace 3.5-5 million Mekong Delta residents. A 2-meter sea level rise could force three times that to higher ground.
- Shifting rainfall and flooding patterns are also threatening one of the most highly productive agricultural environments in the world.
- The onus is now on Vietnam’s government in Hanoi to approve a comprehensive adaptation and mitigation plan.
- This is the first article of an in-depth, four-part series exploring threats facing the Mekong Delta and how they might be addressed. Read the second installment here.
IIt’s a sad fact that several decades of talk about climate change have hardly anywhere yet led to serious efforts to adapt to phenomena that are virtually unavoidable. Neuroscientists say that’s because we’re humans. We aren’t wired to respond to large, complex, slow-moving threats. Our instinctive response is apathy, not action.
That paradox was much on my mind during a recent visit back to Vietnam’s fabulously fertile Mekong Delta, a soggy plain the size of Switzerland. Here the livelihood of 20 percent of Vietnam’s 92 million people is gravely threatened by climate change and by a manmade catastrophe, the seemingly unstoppable damming of the upper reaches of the Mekong River.
Samuel Johnson famously said that “nothing concentrates the mind so well as the prospect of imminent hanging.” It’s been nine years since a World Bank study singled out the Mekong Delta as one of the places on our planet that is most gravely threatened by sea level rise. There if anywhere, I imagined, I’d find a sense of urgency. I’d find adaptive measures well advanced.
I was wrong. Vietnamese government ministries, provincial administrations, experts from Vietnamese universities and thinktanks, experts deployed by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and foreign governments: all have been pushing plans and policies. The problem has been to sort out the best ideas, make appropriate decisions and find the resources needed to implement them in a timely, coherent way.
Things may be coming together at last, I concluded after talking with dozens of local officials, professors, journalists and farmers in mid-June. None denied the reality of the problem. Many connected the question of what to do about climate change to older arguments over the best ways to grow more and better crops………
- No delta area, not the mouths of the Ganges, the Nile or the Mississippi, is more vulnerable than the Mekong estuary to the predictable impacts of climate change. The 1-meter sea level rise expected by the end of the 21st century, all else being equal, will displace 3.5-5 million people. If the sea instead rose by 2 meters, lacking effective countermeasures, some 75 percent of the Delta’s 18 million inhabitants would be forced to move to higher ground.
Already, said Professor Ni, there’s been a significant decrease in rainfall in the first part of the annual rainy season, and more rain toward the end. The Mekong’s annual flood peak has fallen by a third since 2000. The waters from upstream carry less silt to replenish the Delta floodplain. Also, the volume of fresh water is falling while the sea level rises. This allows salt-laden tidal water to penetrate further and further into Delta estuaries and swampy coastal areas during the dry season.
Modeling of current trends suggest that average temperatures in the Mekong Delta will rise by more than 3 degrees Celsius toward the end of the century. Annual rainfall will decrease during the first half of the century, and then rise well above the 20th century average. The area that’s flooded each autumn won’t change substantially, but the floods won’t last as long.
- All things being equal, rice yields will plummet as temperatures rise. Lighter rains in the early months of the wet season will challenge farmers’ ingenuity. Rising seas and reduced river flows will severely test the system of sea dikes. Riverbanks and the Delta coast are already crumbling; this will accelerate. Farmers who are unable to cope will head north to seek industrial and construction jobs.
That’s not all. At slide 70 (of 86) of the DRAGON presentation, attention shifts to upstream dam construction on Delta water regimes.For China, Laos and Thailand, the hydroelectric potential of the upper Mekong is a seemingly irresistable development opportunity. It may be that not all the dams they plan will be built across the Mekong mainstream. Whether a few or many, their impact on agriculture in Vietnam and Cambodia will be profoundly negative, Professor Ni, his colleagues at Can Tho University, and experts at other institutes in southern Vietnam have pounded the alarm gongs for years. The dam cascade is a nearer and more present danger, and apparently just as unstoppable as climate change.
DRAGON Institute’s slideshow concludes with a call to action. The future is bleak but not hopelessly so if appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies are launched. What the Delta needs is revealed: sustainable development based on a triply effective foundation of water source security, food security and social security. https://news.mongabay.com/2016/10/will-climate-change-sink-the-mekong-delta/
We Have Money to Fight Climate Change. It’s Just That We’re Spending It on Defense, Reader Supported News , By Kenneth Pennington, Guardian UK,08 October 16
Stopping one fighter plane program would save enough to build wind farms to power 320,000 homes. We need to drastically reassess our priorities
One year ago this week, I was sitting in a cramped hotel room with 15 other staffers in Las Vegas for Bernie Sanders’ first debate for the presidential nomination. The question came from CNN: “What is the greatest national security threat?” Pundits criticized and mocked him for weeks after he answered “climate change”. But he was right.
And it’s not just Sanders pointing out the imminent threat posed by climate change to global and national security. CIA analysts and our nation’s military strategists are rightfully naming it as a contributor to refugee flows, the spread of disease, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water.
In 2014, 17.5 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters. Those numbers will continue to rise dramatically in the coming decades, according to climate displacement program manager Alice Thomas of Refugees International.
Our nation’s defense officials know global warming’s destructive forces could undermine fragile governments in unstable regions of the world where extremist ideologies can take root. Yet mainstream Republican avoidance of reality on the science of climate change impedes the necessary reassignment of resources to meet the challenges posed.
Now a new report from the Institute of Policy Studies provides the most accurate calculation of government spending on climate security to date. The picture isn’t pretty. We’re spending 28 times as much on military security than climate security. A public sector investment of $55bn per year is required to meet the challenge, according to the study. With $21bn in the 2017 budget, a shortfall of $34bn is left.
That may seem like an insurmountable hill to climb. It’s not! As the IPS report points out, plenty of money lies untouched in the nation’s bloated military budget……….
Republicans should take heed of former GOP President Dwight Eisenhower’s words of wisdom:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
Let’s steward our resources wisely. Let’s choose climate over combat. http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/39569-we-have-money-to-fight-climate-change-its-just-that-were-spending-it-on-defense
Reykjavík: the geothermal city that aims to go carbon neutral
Icelandic capital plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040 by reversing urban sprawl and promoting walking, cycling and public transport, Guardian, Senay Boztas, 3 Oct 16, Reykjavík used to be marketed as a place of “pure energy”, run on geothermal power – and now Iceland’s capital is trying to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.
It wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from 2.8 tonnes per person in 2013 to zero – largely by changing the shape of the city to reverse urban sprawl and encouraging Icelanders out of their beloved cars to walk, cycle or use public transport.
The city already has a head-start thanks to its reliance on geothermal energy. The US, for example, has a greenhouse gas footprint of 16.5 tonnes per person………https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/oct/03/reykjavik-geothermal-city-carbon-neutral-climate
Oxfam called on countries to target 35% of funding by 2020, and 50% by 2025. “The share is not only too low, it is also declining. It was 21% in 2013. No share or specific amount has been agreed for vulnerable countries in the Paris agreement,” the spokeswoman said
Poor countries urge fast action on Paris deal to stop catastrophic warming As the climate agreement is ratified, developing nations warn that money pledged is still nowhere near enough to adapt to expected sea level rises, Guardian, John Vidal, 7 Oct 16, UN back-slapping for the record speed at which the Paris agreement on climate change has been ratified this week has been tempered by the reality that the new treaty will not stop catastrophic warming as it stands, and that the money so far pledged by rich countries is nowhere near enough to allow developing countries to adapt to expected sea level rises and more extreme weather.
The agreement, which will come into force on 4 November, is hoped to hold temperatures to a maximum 2C rise, and for the first time commits both rich and poor countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A UN report calculated that the cost for all developing countries to adapt to climate change could go as high as $500bn a year by 2050 – four to five times higher than previous estimates.
Where the money is going to come from is uncertain. Rich countries have agreed to “mobilise” $100bn a year from 2020 onwards but the details are still vague. Much of the money is expected to be channelled through the Green Climate Fund, which has been set up and has attracted nearly $10bn, but is said by developing countries to be bureaucratic, slow and inaccessible.………
Oxfam called on countries to target 35% of funding by 2020, and 50% by 2025. “The share is not only too low, it is also declining. It was 21% in 2013. No share or specific amount has been agreed for vulnerable countries in the Paris agreement,” the spokeswoman said. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/oct/07/poor-countries-urge-fast-action-paris-climate-deal-to-stop-catastrophic-warming
Dahr Jamail | Record Heating of Earth’s Oceans Is Driving Uptick in Hurricanes http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37877-record-heating-of-earth-s-oceans-is-driving-uptick-in-hurricanes Thursday, 06 October 2016 By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report As Hurricane Matthew impacts the East Coast of the US this week, it is important to consider how rising ocean temperatures are contributing to the intensification of storms worldwide.
Earlier this year, a scientific study titled “Industrial-era global ocean heat uptake doubles in recent decades” was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study showed that half of the total global ocean heating increase that has happened since 1865 has occurred in just the last 20 years.
Given that oceans absorb more than 90 percent of Earth’s excess heat generated by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), the fact that the oceans are warming at a non-linear pace is, while not surprising, extraordinarily troubling.
This ongoing trend is showing no signs of changing for the better.
This July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)monthly global analysis report showed that the worldwide ocean surface temperature for that month was .79 degrees Celsius (1.42 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 20th century average, which, according to NOAA, was “the highest global ocean temperature for July in the 137-year record.” The previous record had been set just the year before. Moreover, this July was the 40th consecutive July that saw global ocean temperatures above the 20th century average. NOAA reported, “The 13 highest monthly global ocean temperature departures have all occurred in the past 13 months.” July saw record-high sea surface temperatures across portions of the western, southwestern, central and southeastern Pacific, the southern and western Atlantic, and the northeastern Indian Ocean, according to NOAA.
n August, which is at the time of this writing the most current month of NOAA’s global analysis report, oceanic surface temperatures were nearly as high as July’s, and were the second highest August temperatures on record — only .04 degrees Fahrenheit less than 2015’s record. As in July, large areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans’ all saw record warm temperatures persisting.
In 2014, US government climate scientists stated that the warming of oceans due to ACD was unstoppable. At that time scientists warned that the impacts of the warming ocean temperatures would be felt for centuries to come, even if there were immediate and dramatic efforts to cut CO2 emissions globally.
Needless to say, nothing like those types of cuts have occurred. Emissions have continued to slowly increase or stay at roughly the same levels that have caused the crisis we are in, and dramatic impacts from rising oceanic water temperatures are on the rise.
Record-Breaking Storms and Rainfall
Warmer-than-normal tropical waters are one of the key factors in the formation ofHurricane Matthew, which is now easily one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in the last decade. At the time of this writing, the massive storm had lashed Haiti with 145 mph winds, driving rains and claimed at least 17 lives.
Record-Breaking Storms and Rainfall
Warmer-than-normal tropical waters are one of the key factors in the formation ofHurricane Matthew, which is now easily one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in the last decade. At the time of this writing, the massive storm had lashed Haiti with 145 mph winds, driving rains and claimed at least 17 lives.
Current models show the hurricane on track to scour much of the eastern seaboard of the US, with the storm still being a Category 3 hurricane by the time it reaches Florida on Friday.
Across the Pacific, Typhoon Megi, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane, became the third tropical cyclone of the season to pummel Taiwan, knocking out power to 3 million people across the country while dumping an incredible three feet of rain over parts of the island.
Meanwhile, major flooding events in the US have been coming in quick succession. August saw record floods across much of Louisiana, in what became the worst flooding since Hurricane Sandy, according to the Red Cross. That is only one example of many, as at least 18 major flooding events have struck Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas since March 2015, according to The Weather Chanel.
Marine Life Impacted
The impacts of warming ocean waters on marine life are far too numerous and vast to detail here. However, some broad-brushstrokes include, according to a National Environmental Education Foundation report from earlier this year:
- More than 80 percent of Earth’s marine life is migrating to different places and changing their breeding and feeding patterns due to warming waters.
- Ocean species are migrating in response to climate change 10-times faster than land species.
- Some marine species have migrated as much as 600 miles from where they were abundant just a few decades ago.
Warming waters cause certain nutrients to be more or less available, which causes redistributions of global marine species, which then opens the migrating species to new diseases, new predators and other issues.
A recent example of this is evident in a study, released in September, that showed that baby lobsters are struggling to survive when they are reared in water 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the temperatures that are currently typical of the western Gulf of Maine. “The UN’s [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)] expects the Gulf of Maine’s temperature to warm by [5 degrees Fahrenheit] by the year 2100,” Truthout recently reported. “Keep in mind, too, that thus far, the IPCC’s temperature predictions have consistently been too low.”
The entire food web of the oceans is being disrupted, and many global fisheries are undergoing dramatic, deleterious changes.
As we watch the weather worsen, we must not forget the links between weather and climate — and how warming oceans affect us all.
Safety fears as Hurricane Matthew hits TWO nuclear reactors: Storm also sweeps past heads Cape Canaveral and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort Hurricane Matthew started hitting Florida early this morning with heavy rain and strong winds
The St Lucie nuclear reactor was right in the storm’s path while Turkey Point in southern Florida was also affected by high winds.
The Department of Energy said: ‘Some reactors were shut as a precaution to protect equipment from the storm; others were forced to shut down or reduce power output due to damage to plant facilities or transmission infrastructure serving the plant.’………
The strongest winds of 120 mph were just offshore, but Matthew’s wrath still menaced more than 500 miles of coastline and 26 million Americans.
Government officials declared a state of emergency in several states in an effort to plan ahead since the deadly Category Three storm is expected to wreak havoc with its 120mph winds.
Two million people across the Southeast have been warned to flee inland as tens of millions along 500 miles of coastline battened down the hatches. ……..http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3826653/Safety-fears-Hurricane-Matthew-heads-TWO-nuclear-reactors-Storm-set-hit-Cape-Canaveral-Trump-s-Mar-Lago-resort.html
What if Hurricane Matthew Hits Florida’s Nuclear Reactors?, Clean Energy Footprints, October 5th, 2016 Hurricane Matthew has already caused devastation in Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Tracking this dangerous storm’s path, which Bloomberg reported as a “$15 billion threat,” as it moves towards Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and potentially up the Eastern seaboard is proving difficult. But despite unclear predictions, communities are wisely mobilizing and calling for evacuations (or are already in the process of doing so) and/or declaring states of emergency.
Extreme weather events have widespread ramifications on our electricity systems. A Department of Energy review of responses to Hurricanes Irene and Sandy from nuclear reactors in the Northeast highlighted a number of strategies to protect the reactors. According to the Department of Energy, “Some reactors were shut as a precaution to protect equipment from the storm; others were forced to shut down or reduce power output due to damage to plant facilities or transmission infrastructure serving the plant; and still others were forced to reduce power output due to reduced power demand caused by widespread utility customer outages.”
Two nuclear power plants exist on Florida’s eastern coast: the St. Lucie and Turkey Point facilities. Based on the current National Hurricane Center projections, it appears that Hurricane Matthew will come closest to the St. Lucie nuclear facility early Friday morning. Storm surge near the St. Lucie nuclear reactors may reach 2-5 feet, and with hurricane force winds of 130 miles per hour. Meanwhile, a significant water quality problem in the Southeast is the ongoing pollution at Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) Turkey Point cooling canal system. It’s unclear what effects high winds and storm surge could have on Turkey Point’s open air industrial sewer.
After flooding caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan, the Miami News Times published an article, “Five reasons Turkey Point could be the next nuclear disaster.” The article noted: “Just like in Japan, Turkey Point is susceptible to a meltdown caused by a natural disaster. A hurricane-spurred tidal surge from Turkey Point’s neighboring Biscayne Bay could create catastrophic conditions identical to those in Japan. With power down, the plant would be forced to rely on emergency diesel generators to pump water to cool the reactors….those generators would ‘certainly’ become inundated with water from the tidal surge, causing them to drown and fail.” (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Tropical Audubon with Friends of the Everglades filed a lawsuit this summer to resolve the pollution problem caused by Turkey Point.)……….http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2016/10/05/nuclearhurricanematthew/
Looming megadroughts in western US would make current drought look minor. Warming temperatures and uncertain rainfall mean if more isn’t done to slow climate change, droughts lasting 35 years could blight western states, study says, Guardian, Oliver Milman, 8 Oct 16, The harsh drought currently gripping California may appear trivial in the future as new research shows that the south-west US faces the looming threat of “megadroughts” that last for decades.
California is in its sixth year of drought, which was barely dented by rains brought by the El Niño climate event and sparked a range of water restrictions in the state. But warming temperatures and uncertain rainfall mean that if more isn’t done to slow climate change, droughts lasting 35 years are likely to blight western states by the end of the century, according to the study, published in Science Advances.
Such a megadrought would impose “unprecedented stress on the limited water resources” of the parched US south-west, researchers found, bringing conditions similar to the 1930s dustbowl to California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah – but over a lengthier period.
Using a combination of temperature and precipitation models, the study predicts a 70% chance of a megadrought by the end of the century, should rainfall levels remain the same, with a 90% chance of an elongated drought should rainfall decrease, as most climate models forecast.
“We can’t rule out there could be a 99.9% chance of a megadrought, which makes it virtually certain,” said Toby Ault, a scientist at Cornell University and lead author of the study………
The new report does proffer a crumb of hope – if greenhouse gas emissions are radically cut then the risk of megadrought will reduce by half, giving a roughly 50:50 chance that a multi-decade stretch of below-average rainfall would occur this century.
But the research found that the emissions cuts would have to be far steeper than those agreed to by nations in Paris last year, where a 2C limit on warming was pledged……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/05/climate-change-megadrought-california-global-warming
How the Earth will pay us back for our carbon emissions with … more carbon emissions, WP,The really scary thing about climate change is not that humans will fail to get their emissions under control. The really scary thing is that at some point, the Earth will take over and start adding even more emissions on its own.
A new study underscores this risk by looking closely at Indonesia, which has a unique quality — some 70 billion of tons of carbon that have built up in peatlands over millennia. In this, Indonesia is much like the Arctic, where even larger quantities of ancient carbon are stored in permafrost, and are also vulnerable.
In each case, if that carbon gets out of the land and into the atmosphere, then global warming will get worse. But global warming could itself up the odds of such massive carbon release. That’s a dangerous position to be in as the world continues to warm.
In the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of researchers led by Yi Yin of the French Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement look at the potential of peat bogs in equatorial Asia — a region that includes Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and several other smaller countries but is dominated by Indonesia and its largest islands, Borneo and Sumatra — to worsen our climate problems. It’s timely, considering that last year amid El Niño-induced drought conditions Indonesian blazes emitted over 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere. That’s more than the annual emissions of Japan (or, needless to say, of Indonesia’s fossil fuel burning).
And the research finds that over the course of this century, that could keep happening. “The strong nonlinear relationship found between fire emissions and cumulative water deficit suggests a high future risk of peat carbon loss due to fire given that future climate projections indicate a twofold increase in the frequency of extreme El Niño,” the researchers write.
The situation arises because of the unique qualities of peat: In peat bogs, wetlands accumulate large amounts of organic matter — dead plant life — over many, many years. If those bogs are then drained, and fires are allowed to burn on them and deep into them, then it is possible to light up huge stores of ancient carbon and to put it back in the atmosphere much more rapidly than the speed at which it accumulated originally……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/10/03/there-are-our-carbon-emissions-and-then-there-are-the-ones-the-earth-will-punish-us-with/?utm_term=.b93ac1c3bb66
Fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions far higher than thought https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/05/fossil-fuel-industrys-methane-emissions-far-higher-than-thought
Emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas from coal, oil and gas are up to 60% greater than previously estimated, meaning current climate prediction models should be revised, research shows, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 6 Oct 16, The fossil fuel industry’s emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas are dramatically higher than previously thought.
Researchers who pulled together the biggest database yet of worldwide methane emissions found that, after natural sources were discounted, emissions from gas, oil and coal production were 20-60% greater than existing estimates.
Methane makes up just 16% of global greenhouse gases and is shorter-lived than the CO2 which accounts for three quarters, but has a much more powerful warming effect.
The extra methane estimated by the study is 300 times larger than the amount leaked in California’s Aliso Canyon last year, which was the worst gas leak in US history. While bad news for efforts to tackle climate change, the new study published in Nature also found that methane emissions had fallen as a fraction of industry’s production.
Lead author Stefan Schwietzke, of the University of Colorado and US science agency Noaa, said that methane from fossil fuels had played a significant role in global warming, but the gas’s short lifetime meant acting on it now could pay quick dividends.
“The good news is that reducing methane emissions now will reduce climate forcing in only a few years – it takes much longer for CO2. And since fossil fuel methane emissions are higher than previously thought, the potential to reduce climate forcing from this specific source is also greater,” he told the Guardian.
Experts said the study meant scientists should reconsider their climate models. “Emissions scenarios currently used for climate prediction need to be reassessed taking into account revised values for anthropogenic methane emissions,” wrote Dr Grant Allen of the University of Manchester in a commentary in Nature.
Other studies have suggested the huge growth in the US shale gas industry is to blame for a spike in methane emissions since the mid-noughties. But the new work found methane emissions from natural gas production had declined as a fraction of production from 8% in the mid-1980s to around 2% in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
“There has been anecdotal evidence for a while that the oil and gas industry improved their efficiency. Our data confirms this anecdotal evidence on a global scale,” said Schwietzke.
Methane emissions have been rising since the industrial revolution but paused between 1996 and 2006 – believed by some to be because of decreased fossil fuel emissions in former Soviet Union countries – before marching upwards again. Most is from natural sources, such as wetlands and geological seepage, but humanity’s share is estimated to account for 30-45% of the total.
The study published on Wednesday examined the isotopic “fingerprints” of methane sources, compiling thousands of measurements from public sources and peer-reviewed papers. Allen said it was the largest database of its kind.
Schwietzke said that such models on methane were very sensitive to the data that informed them. “A key message is that the number and comprehensiveness of measurements matter.”
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