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Discussion in 'Political Discourse' started by Michael Scally MD, Oct 21, 2010.
Historic heat! 45.9 ° C in Gallargues-le-Montueux (Gard) June 28, 2019, a new absolute national record in France, all months combined. 13 stations exceeded the old record (44.1 ° C on August 12, 2003), including 3 crossing the 45 ° C, unheard of!
The vast expanse of sea ice around Antarctica has suffered a “precipitous” fall since 2014, satellite data shows, and fell at a faster rate than seen in the Arctic.
The plunge in the average annual extent means Antarctica lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34 years. The cause of the sharp Antarctic losses is as yet unknown and only time will tell whether the ice recovers or continues to decline.
But researchers said it showed ice could disappear much more rapidly than previously thought. Unlike the melting of ice sheets on land, sea ice melting does not raise sea level. But losing bright white sea ice means the sun’s heat is instead absorbed by dark ocean waters, leading to a vicious circle of heating.
We now have to ask a much harder societal question: How do we begin forcing major and expensive portions of existing energy infrastructure to shut down years, if not decades, before the end of its useful economic life?
In 2010, scientists warned we’d already built enough carbon-dioxide-spewing infrastructure to push global temperatures up 1.3 ˚C, and stressed that the fossil-fuel system would only continue to expand unless “extraordinary efforts are undertaken to develop alternatives.”
Spoiler: They weren’t.
In a sequel to that paper published in Nature today, researchers found we’re now likely to sail well past 1.5 ˚C of warming, the aspirational limit set by the Paris climate accords, even if we don’t build a single additional power plant, factory, vehicle, or home appliance. Moreover, if these components of the existing energy system operate for as long as they have historically, and we build all the new power facilities already planned, they’ll emit about two thirds of the carbon dioxide necessary to crank up global temperatures by 2 ˚C.
If fractions of a degree don’t sound that dramatic, consider that 1.5 ˚C of warming could already be enough to expose 14% of the global population to bouts of severe heat, melt nearly 2 million square miles (5 million square kilometers) of Arctic permafrost, and destroy more than 70% of the world’s coral reefs. The hop from there to 2 ˚C may subject nearly three times as many people to heat waves, thaw nearly 40% more permafrost, and all but wipe out coral reefs, among other devastating effects, research finds.
Tong D, Zhang Q, Zheng Y, et al. Committed emissions from existing energy infrastructure jeopardize 1.5 °C climate target. Nature 2019. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1364-3 / Committed emissions from existing energy infrastructure jeopardize 1.5â€‰Â°C climate target | Nature
Net anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must approach zero by mid-century (2050) to stabilize global mean temperature at the levels targeted by international efforts. Yet continued expansion of fossil-fuel energy infrastructure implies already ‘committed’ future CO2 emissions.
Here we use detailed datasets of current fossil-fuel-burning energy infrastructure in 2018 to estimate regional and sectoral patterns of ‘committed’ CO2 emissions, the sensitivity of such emissions to assumed operating lifetimes and schedules, and the economic value of associated infrastructure.
We estimate that, if operated as historically, existing infrastructure will emit about 658 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 (ranging from 226 to 1,479 Gt CO2 depending on assumed lifetimes and utilization rates). More than half of these emissions are projected to come from the electricity sector, and infrastructure in China, the USA and the EU28 countries represent approximately 41 per cent, 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the total, respectively.
If built, proposed power plants (planned, permitted or under construction) would emit approximately an additional 188 (range 37–427) Gt CO2. Committed emissions from existing and proposed energy infrastructure (about 846 Gt CO2) thus represent more than the entire remaining carbon budget if mean warming is to be limited to 1.5 °C with a probability of 50–66 per cent (420–580 Gt CO2)5, and perhaps two-thirds of the remaining carbon budget if mean warming is to be limited to below 2 °C (1,170–1,500 Gt CO2).
The remaining carbon budget estimates are varied and nuanced, depending on the climate target and the availability of large-scale negative emissions. Nevertheless, our emission estimates suggest that little or no additional CO2-emitting infrastructure can be commissioned, and that infrastructure retirements that are earlier than historical ones (or retrofits with carbon capture and storage technology) may be necessary, in order to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals.
On the basis of the asset value per ton of committed emissions, we estimate that the most cost-effective premature infrastructure retirements will be in the electricity and industry sectors, if non-emitting alternative technologies are available and affordable.
People settle in the world’s northernmost town, Longyearbyen, for many reasons. Some are captivated by the otherworldly wilderness of the Svalbard archipelago, a snowscape that exceeds even the most fantastical images of Narnia, Hoth and the lands north of the wall in Game Of Thrones.
Others are drawn to the tight-knit community of 2,300 people, who must support one another, because temperatures often plunge below -30C and it is the biggest town for 500 miles. Many say they fall in love with the Arctic light, which, even in the depths of a sunless winter, surprises with pale shades, soft glimmers and celestial glints.
Nowhere on the planet is heating faster. This was the message of a report commissioned by the Norwegian Environment Agency, unveiled in February to a stunned audience in Longyearbyen, the archipelago’s de facto capital. https://www.miljodirektoratet.no/globalassets/publikasjoner/M1242/M1242.pdf
People knew things were bad, but it was only when they heard the forecast that they realised how bad. A local reporter described how people at the meeting fell silent when they heard the statistics, which sounded like the “gloomy horror scenario of a bad thriller”.
Since 1971, temperatures here have risen by 4C, five times faster than the global average. In the winter, when the changes are more marked, it has gone up by an astonishing 7C. These are increases that the rest of the world is not expected to experience until the 22nd century.
They are far ahead of most computer simulations. Yet there is still more to come. On current trends, Svalbard will hit 10C of warming by 2100.
For Ma Junxiao (pictured below), an ethnic Hui Muslim farmer from remote western China, the daily climb up sheer mountain slopes to look for a tiny fungus is vital to his family's subsistence.
Each spring, Ma travels more than 600 kilometres (370 miles) by road from his impoverished village in Gansu to a jumbled knot of nameless peaks in neighbouring Qinghai province.
But the cordyceps harvest has waned in Qinghai, the biggest producing region in China. In the last two years, Ma's cordyceps income has more than halved to 7,000-8,000 yuan ($1,018-$1,164) per season as the fungus grew more scarce.
One reason: higher temperatures, less seasonal snow, and receding glaciers have led to warmer mountains, making it less hospitable for the fungus, which thrives in soils that are cold but not frozen, about 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit).
"The glaciers are gone, and so are the cordyceps," said Ma, 49, who has been picking cordyceps in Qinghai for the past 14 years.
So William Nordhaus’s Nobel Prize in Economics“for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis” is safe. But the world isn’t. When future generations look back to try to determine why humanity delayed taking action against climate change for so long, Nordhaus’s Dynamic Integrated model of Climate and the Economy (DICE) model will be regarded as one of the prime suspects. http://www.econ.yale.edu/~nordhaus/homepage/homepage/documents/DICE_Manual_100413r1.pdf
I don’t make this claim lightly. I have attacked mainstream economists in the past for making absurd assumptions in their models, but Nordhaus’s transgressions are in a different, and lower, league altogether. His assertion that his “damage function” – a key component of his model – is consistent with the research of climate scientists, is incorrect, and he calibrates this function using data that has nothing to do with climate change itself.
And these errors are not merely of academic interest because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses his model (and very similar models used by other economists following his approach) to advise governments about the economic impact of global warming.
By provably ignoring the dangers of abrupt climate change, and by trivialising the impact of the higher temperatures that climate change will cause, Nordhaus (and his fellow mainstream climate economists) have seriously delayed action to avert severe damage from climate change.
The pivotal problem with his research is not the one often mentioned by critics — that he applies a high discount rate to future damages from climate change. Instead, the problem is the function he uses to estimate damages attributable to global warming in the first place: his so-called “damage function”.
It is a simple quadratic: he asserts that an increase in the average global temperature over pre-industrial levels of, for example, 4°C, will reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by a constant, multiplied by 16 (the square of the temperature increase), compared to what GDP would have been in the complete absence of global warming.
Nordhaus’s damage function doesn’t have a discontinuity, but what climate scientists are saying is that there is a discontinuity ahead. In this sense, Nordhaus’s function is like describing a canoe trip along a river with a waterfall by the statement that height above sea level falls seven metres for every kilometre paddled. That could describe the river section of the journey very well, but it would be cold comfort once you went over the waterfall.
For me, Nordhaus’s interventions on climate change have trivialised the dangers, and thereby helped delay critical action to prevent climate change. He and his fellow economists should be thrown out of the IPCC, and replaced by scientists who have a far better understanding of the dangers of unleashing that much more energy on our sensitive biosphere.
Rather than “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis”, as his Nobel citation puts it, Nordhaus has led humanity up the garden path towards a possible slaughterhouse. He will take his Nobel Prize to the grave, but we should leave his death march, now. Hopefully, before it’s too late. Climate scientists themselves are calling for the approach economists take to the mitigation of climate change to be abandoned. It is time their call was heeded.
It’s hardly surprising that researchers who spend their lives exploring the dire effects of climate change might experience emotional consequences from their work. Yet, increasingly, Cobb, Shukla, and others in the field have begun publicly discussing the psychological impact of contending with data pointing to a looming catastrophe, dealing with denialism and attacks on science, and observing government inaction in the face of climate change.
“Scientists are talking about an intense mix of emotions right now,” says Christine Arena, executive producer of the docuseries Let Science Speak, which featured climate researchers speaking out against efforts to silence or ignore science. “There’s deep grief and anxiety for what’s being lost, followed by rage at continued political inaction, and finally hope that we can indeed solve this challenge.
There are definitely tears and trembling voices. They know this deep truth: They are on the front lines of contending with the fear, anger, and perhaps even panic the rest of us will have to deal with.”
While Americans feel “an increasing alarm” about climate change, according to a survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, scientists have been coping with this troubling data for decades—and the grinding emotional effects from that research are another cost of global warming that the public has yet to fully confront. Before you ask, there is no scientific consensus regarding the impact of climate research on the scientists performing it. It hasn’t been studied in a systematic way.
Are scientists, then, canaries in a psychological coal mine? Is understanding their grief important because their anxiety could become more widespread within the general population? “That’s why,” Head explains, “I chose them as a research sample.”
Put another way, climate scientists often resemble Sarah Connor of the Terminator franchise, who knows of a looming catastrophe but must struggle to function in a world that does not comprehend what is coming and, worse, largely ignores the warnings of those who do.
[M]any people are suffering from what could be called "climate despair," a sense that climate change is an unstoppable force that will render humanity extinct and renders life in the meantime futile.
As David Wallace-Wells noted in his 2019 bestseller The Uninhabitable Earth, "For most who perceive an already unfolding climate crisis and intuit a more complete metamorphosis of the world to come, the vision is a bleak one, often pieced together from perennial eschatological imagery inherited from existing apocalyptic texts like the Book of Revelation, the inescapable sourcebook for Western anxiety about the end of the world."
"Climate despair" has been a phrase used at least as far back as Eric Pooley's 2010 book, The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth, but it's been in wide circulation for perhaps as little as two years. In more progressive Sweden, the term klimatångest has been popular since at least 2011 (the year a Wikipedia article with that name was created).
In The Uninhabitable Earth, Wallace-Wells notes that the philosopher Wendy Lynne Lee calls this phenomenon "eco-nihilism," the Canadian politician and activist Stuart Parker prefers "climate nihilism," and others have tried out terms like "human futilitarianism."
Whatever you call it, this is undeniably a real condition, if not one with a set of formal diagnostic criteria. ...
But climate despair goes far beyond a reasonable concern that a warming planet will make life more difficult and force humanity to make hard choices. Instead of rallying us, climate despair asks us to give up.
In a 2009 study in the UK by researchers Saffron O'Neill and Sophie Nicholson-Cole, climate-related data visualizations were presented to test subjects who were urged, in fear-based terms, to take action or else.
Most of the time these appeals produced "denial, apathy, avoidance, and negative associations." Ultimately, the researchers concluded, "climate change images can evoke powerful feelings of issue salience but these do not necessarily make participants feel able to do anything about it; in fact, it may do the reverse."
In other words, if you tell people something must be done or we're all gonna die, they tend to take door number two, however irrational that impulse may seem.
Experts say now is precisely the wrong time to greet doom with open arms. …
Earth just had its hottest June on record, on track for warmest July
Boosted by a historic heat wave in Europe and unusually warm conditions across the Arctic and Eurasia, the average temperature of the planet soared to its highest level ever recorded in June.
According to data released Monday by NASA, the global average temperature was 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit (0.93 Celsius) above the June norm (based on a 1951-to-1980 baseline), easily breaking the previous June record of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit (0.82 Celsius), set in 2016, above the average.
July is picking up right where June left off. Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist based in Berkeley, Calif., tweeted that the month so far ranks as the hottest on record narrowly ahead of 2017, the previous record holder.
“If this July turns out to be the warmest July (it has a good shot at it), it will be the warmest month we have measured on Earth!” tweeted Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.
Time to sound the alarm... The problem here?
These two pictures were taken only 10 days apart... It was taken earlier on June 28th, the second one was shared by Paul Todhunter.
Only 10 days of extreme heat were enough to collapse, melt and form a lake at the base of the Dent du Géant and the Aiguilles Marbrées
That I know, this is the first time anything like that as ever happened. Southern Europe and the Alps have been struck by a massive heatwave with temperature ranging from 40 to 50 degrees, the below 0 freezing altitude was as high as 4,700m (15,400ft) and during the day temperatures as high as 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) were felt on top of Mont Blanc 4,810m (15,780ft)...
This is truly alarming glaciers all over the world are melting at an exponential speed...