Archive for the ‘Global warming’ Category

Study: Melting Greenland ice sheet is rapidly slowing the Gulf Stream

May 18, 2015

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Gulfstream

Map of the Gulf Stream current and sea surface temperature anomalies on March 24, 2015.
The Northern Hemisphere winter of 2014-15 was the warmest on record globally, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But if you look closely at global temperature maps, it becomes clear that one area of the North Atlantic conspicuously bucked the trend, as it has during many years since 1970.

That region was, in fact, the coldest it has been since the dawn of instrument records, at up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit colder than average. According to a new study, this cold pool may be an indicator of a dramatic slowdown in the Gulf Stream, which transports vast amounts of heat north from the equator to the pole, passing off the East Coast of the U.S. and into the North Atlantic.

If true, this is vindication for those who think global warming is likely to trigger so-called “tipping points” in the climate system, which, once set into motion, cannot be stopped. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had judged that there is up to a 10% likelihood of a Gulf Stream shutdown before year 2100, though many climate scientists estimate this likelihood is even higher.

“Evidence is mounting that the long-feared circulation decline is already well underway,”

“Evidence is mounting that the long-feared circulation decline is already well underway,”says co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, in a blog post forRealClimate.The slowdown in this current, the study finds, is unprecedented in hundreds to perhaps as long as 1,000 years, and is most likely related to another tipping point, which is the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The influx of freshwater from the ice sheet is one of the main sources of freshwater inflow into the North Atlantic Ocean.

Land and Ocean Temperatures

Land and ocean temperature departures from average during December through February 2015. This shows the cold spot south of Greenland.

IMAGE: NOAA/NCDC

As it pours into the Atlantic, the freshwater is lighter and colder than heavier, salty water that typically occupies that area. It therefore tends to sit on top of the water column, accumulating over the years and interfering with the formation and sinking of dense, cold and salt-enriched waters. This chokes off the northward flowing Gulf Stream, slowing it down, and affecting ocean circulation downstream as well.

No new ice age, at least not yet…

While it’s not anywhere close to the apocalypse that a rapid Gulf Stream shutdown was shown to be in the 2004 blockbuster disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, a rapid slowdown in this current would boost sea level rise rates along the highly populated Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts of the U.S. It could also bring much cooler conditions than is currently the norm to parts of northern Europe.

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The study also calls into question many of the assumptions made by climate modelers in designing state of the art computer models, since the study shows that these models may be underestimating the speed and magnitude of ocean current trends in the North Atlantic. Most models show a progressive weakening of the Gulf Stream as global warming continues, but few have suggested it would be so significant, so soon.

Michael Mann, a coauthor of the study and director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University, told Mashable in an email:

Once again, we are learning that the climate model projections may be too conservative. In this case, the fact that the Greenland Ice Sheet is loosing mass and contributing to freshwater runoff into the North Atlantic decades ahead of schedule may be the reason that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is weakening decades ahead of schedule as well.

“[This is] Another reminder that uncertainty is not our friend when it comes to human-caused climate change. It appears to be cutting against us, rather than in our favor, once again,” Mann said.

The Gulf Stream is one part of a vast global undersea infrastructure known as the thermohaline circulation, also referred to as the “Global Conveyor Belt.” This circulation, which extends from pole to pole and throughout every ocean, is powered by density differences in ocean waters in different areas of the world.

If you disturb any part of this circulation, the entire thing is liable to have a major hiccup

If you disturb any part of this circulation, the entire thing is liable to have a major hiccup, like an escalator with something stuck in its gears.The study makes a strong case that we have already stuck that wrench in the ocean circulation’s gears by melting more polar land ice, although it provides for the possibility that natural variability or other factors are also to blame for the post-1970 slowdown in the AMOC of which the Gulf Stream is a crucial part.

Greenland Ice Sheet Mass Balance

Changing mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, showing a sharp increase in runoff into the ocean (blue line).

IMAGE: BOX AND COLGAN VIA MELTFACTOR.ORG

It is the sinking motion of North Atlantic bottom water that powers the Gulf Stream current by pulling warmer, less dense water northward from the tropics, like a group of weight lifters involved in a tug-of-war against a weaker team. Freshwater from the melting ice sheet may be leading to less bottom water formation, the study finds.

“Greenland ice takes on a new role in the climate change story, not just indicating change and contributing to sea level rise, but possibly playing an important role in destabilizing regional if not global ocean circulation that naturally exchanges heat north-south,” said Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, and a study co-author, in an email toMashable.

A new index and proxy data

There is no reliable observational evidence of the strength of the Gulf Stream over time, since even modern measurements are relatively scarce. To get around this problem, the study’s authors created an index based on sea surface temperatures to infer the strength of the current over time. Specifically, they took into account the temperature difference between the area most influenced by changes in the strength of the circulation, which is that telltale cold patch in the North Atlantic, and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

The study also uses so-called “proxy” measurements, including data gleaned from coral reefs and tree rings, to extend large-scale surface climate conditions back to 900 AD.

The study found that it’s likely that the weakening trend observed since the mid-1970s is unique in that entire period.

The study found that it’s likely that the weakening trend observed since the mid-1970s is unique in that entire period.Furthermore, the study found that the index they devised to track the current’s strength over time closely matched modeled trends, which lends some confidence to the findings.

“Of course there is uncertainty as to how well our temperature-based index captures real AMOC variations,” study co-author Rahmstorf toldMashable in an email. “The problem here is that nobody knows what the true AMOC variations were. In the paper we present quite a bit of corroborating evidence that we are indeed looking at AMOC variations with that index. Other temperature-based methods… have come to similar results.”

Many uncertainties remain about what is going on with the Gulf Stream, and any changes in the broader Global Conveyer Belt as a whole. Direct measurements will help reduce these mysteries, and efforts are underway to fill some data gaps in the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean. These are the two most important regions where salty, dense bottom water forms, powering ocean currents thousands of miles up and downstream.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Mother Earth Day 2015: Regenerating the Soil and Reversing Global Warming

May 9, 2015

“The elimination of fossil fuels for all but the most limited and essential purposes is necessary but not sufficient to allow our descendants a fair chance for a healthy and prosperous future. Enhancing carbon biosequestration in terrestrial ecosystems is also essential.”  Wayne A. White,Biosequestration and Ecological Diversity p.118 (CRC Press 2013)

The standard gloom and doom discourse surrounding global warming and climate change has infected the body politic with a severe case of depression and disempowerment. So starting today April 22, embracing what the United Nations has designated as the “Year of the Soil,” let’s look at our planetary crisis from an entirely different, and more hopeful perspective.

The good news is that the global grassroots, farmers and consumers united, can reverse our suicidal “business as usual” food, farming, energy, and land use practices. Harnessing the awesome power of Regenerative Organic Agriculture and reforestation, we can literally suck down enough excess (50-100 ppm of CO2) heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and naturally sequester it in our plants, trees and soils.  Regenerative Agriculture and Earth Repair practices can not only mitigate, but also, in combination with drastic reductions (80-90 percent) of fossil fuel emissions in our food and farming, transportation, housing, utilities, and industrial sectors, actually reverseglobal warming.

Regenerative Agriculture and Forestry

If you’ve never heard about the amazing potential of regenerative agriculture and land use practices to naturally sequester a critical mass of CO2 in the soil and forests, you’re not alone. One of the best-kept secrets in the world today is that the solution to global warming and the climate crisis (as well as poverty and deteriorating public health) lies right under our feet, and at the end of our knives and forks. Changing our food and farming systems, along with changing our “business as usual” political system and energy policies, is the key to our survival and well-being.

Transforming and regenerating our planet’s 28 billion acres of cropland, grassland and forests, as well as urban areas of the planet, is the challenge—not only for Mother Earth Day 2015, but for the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Global Organic Regeneration and Earth Repair is the key to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our current unsustainable food, farming and deforestation practices (which now produce the majority of greenhouse gas emissions).

Regenerative Earth Repair is the absolute prerequisite for ramping up plant and forest photosynthesis and sequestering in the soil several hundred billion tons of excess atmospheric CO2 over the next two decades.

A global campaign of Earth Repair and Regeneration can buy us the precious time we need to move away from fossil fuels to a global economy based upon renewable energy. Global Regeneration will dramatically improve soil fertility, crop yields, soil water retention, crop resilience, and food quality, thereby helping to mitigate and reverse global poverty, malnutrition and deteriorating public health.

Before we look how we can sequester up to 200 percent of current human greenhouse gas emissions through regenerating the planet’s croplands (four billion acres), pastures and rangelands (14 billion acres), and forests (10 billion acres), let’s look at what Michael Pollan, the U.S.’s most influential writer on food and farming, has to sayabout plant photosynthesis, regenerative grazing, and carbon sequestration:

Consider what happens when the sun shines on a grass plant rooted in the earth. Using that light as a catalyst, the plant takes atmospheric CO2, splits off and releases the oxygen, and synthesizes liquid carbon–sugars, basically. Some of these sugars go to feed and build the aerial portions of the plant we can see, but a large percentage of this liquid carbon—somewhere between 20 and 40 percent—travels underground, leaking out of the roots and into the soil. The roots are feeding these sugars to the soil microbes—the bacteria and fungi that inhabit the rhizosphere—in exchange for which those microbes provide various services to the plant: defense, trace minerals, access to nutrients the roots can’t reach on their own. That liquid carbon has now entered the microbial ecosystem, becoming the bodies of bacteria and fungi that will in turn be eaten by other microbes in the soil food web. Now, what had been atmospheric carbon (a problem) has become soil carbon, a solution—and not just to a single problem, but to a great many problems.

Besides taking large amounts of carbon out of the air—tons of it per acre when grasslands are properly managed… that process at the same time adds to the land’s fertility and its capacity to hold water. Which means more and better food for us…

This process of returning atmospheric carbon to the soil works even better when ruminants are added to the mix. Every time a calf or lamb shears a blade of grass, that plant, seeking to rebalance its “root-shoot ratio,” sheds some of its roots. These are then eaten by the worms, nematodes, and microbes—digested by the soil,in effect, and so added to its bank of carbon. This is how soil is created: from the bottom up.

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

A recent article in the Guardian summarizes Regenerative Agriculture:

Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, remineralises soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertiliser runoff.

With these basic concepts of photosynthesis and Regenerative Agriculture in mind, what do we need to do?

(1) Regenerate croplands, eliminate GMOs, pesticides, monocultures, chemical fertilizers, and tillage. If we can mobilize the global grassroots to promote and adopt regenerative organic agricultural practices (“organic and beyond”) on the Earth’s four billion acres of cultivated farmland, we can drastically reduce our use of fossil fuel inputs and slash greenhouse gas emissions; produce healthier, climate-resistant crops and nutrient-dense food; and meanwhile sequester large amounts of carbon in our degraded, de-carbonized soils. Our agricultural soils have lost25-75 percent of the soil carbon they once had before the onslaught of unsustainable agricultural practices.

As the must-read 2014 Rodale Institute White Paper explains:

In practical terms, regenerative organic agriculture is foremost an organic system refraining from the use of synthetic pesticides and inputs, which disrupt soil life, and fossil-fuel dependent nitrogen fertilizer, which is responsible for the majority of anthropogenic N2O emissions. It is a system designed to build soil health.

Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including (at a minimum): cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. Conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration.

As the Rodale research indicates, and is echoed by numerous other field trials across the globe, Regenerative Organic practices on cultivated farmlands across the world can, over the next few decades sequester 40 percent of current human greenhouse gas emissions.

(2) Regenerate grasslands and pasture lands, eliminate factory farms. Even more encouraging, as Rodale and others, including Quivira Coalition and the Savory Institute, point out, by adopting regenerative grazing practices on the earth’s seriously degraded 14 billion acres of pastureland and grassland (there is 3.5 times as much pasture land and rangeland on the Earth as there is cultivated farmland), we can eventually sequester an additional 71 percent of all current greenhouse gas emissions.

In other words by eliminating inhumane, unhealthy and heavily polluting factory farms or CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), which now produce 2/3 of all global meat and animal products, and by putting billions of the Earth’s 70 billion farm animals back on the land, we can regenerate, through planned rotational “mob” grazing, and the production of grass fed beef and dairy, and pasture-based pork and poultry, the 14 billion acres of rangeland and pastureland that are our most strategic “sink” or depository for excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

Last year Dr. Richard Teague of Texas A&M explained the principles of planned rotational (“mob”) grazing to a House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources (June 25, 2014):

The key to sustaining and regenerating ecosystem function in rangelands is actively managing for reduction of bare ground, promoting the most beneficial and productive plants by grazing moderately over the whole landscape, and providing adequate recovery to grazed plants…

Regenerative grazing and pasturing on a global scale will require the dismantling of the entire factory farm system, freeing billions of farm animals from their animal prisons or CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and putting them back out onto the land to graze and forage where they belong. Once CAFO and GMO crop subsidies are reduced and removed, and once the pent-up market demand for healthier, more humanely produced meat, dairy and eggs can be harnessed, the factory farm/GMO industrial food and farming system will begin to collapse.

With billions of animals released from intensive confinement (including freeing herbivores from unnatural, unhealthy GMO grain diets), marketplace pressure will encourage farmers and ranchers to adopt herd management strategies that replicate natural or wild herd habits. This involves herbivores rotationally grazing only the top grasses of small pastures, for short periods of time, defecating and urinating and forcing the stubble into the topsoil. After the grasses recover, then the herd or flocks are returned for a few days to harvest the most nutritious grasses again. With omnivores (pigs and chickens), free range or pasturing practices will similarly restore animal and soil health as well.

The current factory farm system takes the naturally grazing cattle off pasture to enormous feedlots to fatten them up with corn, soybeans, cotton seed cake, cotton gin trash, sludge-fertilized hay, and waste industrial products. Cows, sheep, and other herbivores are not grain, GMO, or garbage eaters by choice. Their preferred foods are mixed grasses.

Regenerative grazing is not something new, but rather a rediscovery of the beneficial animal welfare and environmental practices that were “normal” (buffalo and elk on the grasslands of the US, wildebeest herds in Africa, communal grazing practices worldwide) before the advent of industrial farming and CAFOs.

One very important benefit of grass-fed beef, sheep, goats and dairy, and pastured poultry and pigs—a benefit which is already starting to drive consumers away from factory farmed foods—is that grass-fed or pastured animal products are qualitatively healthier than CAFO products, higher in Omega 3 and “good” fats, and lower in animal drug residues and harmful fats that clog arteries, destroy gut health and cause cancer.

(3) Regenerate forests and wetlands, end deforestation. By halting unsustainable land use and deforestation of the planet’s remaining 10 billion acres of forest (deforestation is now responsible for a full 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions), by re-planting species-appropriate trees on five billion deforested rural and urban acres, by incorporating sustainable forest management practices on existing forests, and by integrating agro-forestry practices on existing farms and ranches (and restoring wetlands), we can drastically reduce carbon emissions while sequestering billions of tons of excess carbon in our forest lands and in reforested rural and urban environments.

As permaculture author Michal Pilarski explains in his “Carbon Sequestration Proposal for the World,” we can reverse global warming by:

I.    Reforestation/Afforestation of 5 billion acres worldwide = 150 billion tons of carbon sequestration.

II.    Earth repair and improved ecosystem management of existing forests and all other terrestrial ecosystems = 100 billion tons of carbon sequestration.

Earth repair and reforestation of our cities, forests, marshes, savannas, grasslands, steppes, and deserts could eventually add up to a total of 250 billion tons of carbon sequestered. This translates into removing over 100 ppm of excess CO2 from the atmosphere and putting it into the soil and forests. This level of carbon sequestration would bring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels down to where they were in the early 1800s, if carried out in combination with slashing human-caused carbon emissions.

According to biosequestration expert, Wayne White, if we could just stop all tropical deforestation, and maintain the health of our forests, the increased photosynthesis of this massive forest growth would sequester a full 69 percent of all human greenhouse gas emissions. (Biosequestration and Ecological Diversity p. 93)

Too many forests have been degraded, or clear-cut, or over-grazed and even over-fertilized with nitrogen. Too much land has been developed, exploited, and then abandoned. The solutions to our forest crisis are similar to organic farming solutions. We need to practice sustainable forestry management strategies that restore the mycorrhizal and other forest fungi, and replant clear-cut areas with high-density, species-appropriate plantings. We need to manage this reforestation, including thinning and pest control. We need to avoid the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers because they damage fungi and other microorganisms, which are the foundations of a successful reforestation program. With reforestation and restoration of the forest floor microorganisms, our forests will be able to sequester billions of tons of carbon.

Critics of the Earth Repair strategy

A number of critics of our Earth Repair strategy have told me and other regeneration activists that we should not talk about natural sequestration of CO2 in the soil, nor the enormous Regenerative potential of organic food, farming,and forestry, because this “positive talk” will distract people from the main task at hand, drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions and taking down King Coal and Big Oil.

Of course we need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels, extractivism and overconsumption into conservation, sustainable living and renewable energy. We must all become climate hawks and radical conservationists. But we must also become advocates of Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Forest/Land Use.

Unite the Food, Forest, and Climate Movements

The large and growing anti-GMO, organic food, and natural health movement in the U.S., for example, of which I am a part, must begin to think of ourselves as climate and food activists, not just advocates for natural health, small farmers/ranchers, animals and food justice. Given that the GMO, factory farm and industrial food and farming system seen as a whole (production, chemical crop inputs, processing, transportation, waste, emissions, deforestation, biofuel/ethanol production) is the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing even the transportation, utilities, housing and industry sectors, climate activists need to start thinking of ourselves as food activists as well.

There will be no organic food, nor food whatsoever, on a burnt planet. Nor will there ever be a 90-percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution without a transformation of our food and farming and land use practices, both in North America and globally.

We must begin to connect the dots between fossil fuels, global warming and related issues, including world hunger, poverty, unemployment, toxic food and farming, extractivism, land grabbing, biodiversity, ocean destruction, deforestation, resource wars, and deteriorating public health. As we regenerate the soil and forests, and make organic and grass-fed food and fiber the norm, rather than just the alternative, we will simultaneously develop our collective capacity to address all of the globe’s interrelated problems.

Breaking through the silos of single-issue campaigning and limited constituency organizing (“my issue is more important than your issue”), we will be able to expand our global grassroots Movement to include everyone who cares about climate, health, justice, jobs, sustainability, peace and democracy.

Some pessimists argue that the Global South (China, India, Africa, Asia, Latin America), where most of the world’s population lives, is too preoccupied with moving beyond poverty and creating jobs, to put a priority on reversing global warming, reducing emissions, and natural sequestration.

But the extraordinary thing about de-industrializing food and farming, restoring grasslands and reversing deforestation—moving several hundred billion tons of carbon back from the atmosphere into our soils, plants and forests—is that this Organic Regeneration will not only reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate, but will also stimulate hundreds of millions of rural (and urban) jobs, while qualitatively increasing soil fertility, water retention, farm yields and food quality.

Earth Repair holds the potential not only to restore forests and grasslands, recharge aquifers, restore and normalize rainfall, but also to address and eliminate rural malnutrition, poverty, unemployment and hunger. Regenerative agriculture and land use—which will require both enormous political struggle and unprecedented marketplace pressure—will lead to healthy soils, healthy forests, healthy climate, healthy food, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy societies.

As 350.org and other climate campaigners point out, we’ve got to force the fossil fuel corporados and Wall Street banksters to leave 2/3 or more of the remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground. We can basically burn 825 billion tons more of fossil fuels out of the 2.785 trillion remaining, but no more, according to scientific consensus, before we reach the point of no return, whereby climate change morphs into climate catastrophe.

To stay within our carbon budget, we’ve got to stop the fracking, the tar sands, the pipelines, the bomb trains, King Coal, and nuclear madness.

But we’ve got to do more than just protest, resist and divest. We must shut down King Coal and Big Oil’s greenhouse gas pollution, yes; but we must also suck down and naturally sequester over the next 20 years, several hundred billion tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases through the qualitatively enhanced photosynthesis of regenerative farming, ranching and land use.

We must make peace with the living Earth and restore our biotic community.

According to scientific consensus, soon to be formally ratified by the nations of the world at the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015, fossil fuel emissions—now spewing out 8.5 billion tons of carbon annually (i.e. 32.3 billion tons of CO2 in 2013 and again in 2014) into the atmosphere and the oceans—must peak and go to zero by 2050. Unfortunately, even if every country moves to zero emissions by 2050, we will still find ourselves way past the danger zone at 480 ppm or higher of CO2.  Only a mass global campaign of Regenerative Agriculture and land use, combined with dismantling the Fossil Fuel Empire, will suffice.

So who will actually carry out this global campaign of Earth Repair and Organic Regeneration? Of course we must continue, and, in fact vastly increase, our pressure on governments and corporations to change public policies and marketplace practices. But in order to overturn “business as usual” we’re going to have to inspire and mobilize a vastly larger climate change coalition than the one we have now. Food climate and economic justice advocates must unite our forces so we can educate and mobilize a massive grassroots army of Earth Regenerators: three billion small farmers and rural villagers, ranchers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, urban agriculturalists, and indigenous communities—aided and abetted by several billion conscious consumers and urban activists.

We don’t have the time or space here for a full Earth Repair strategy, but here are five things we can start to do immediately on this Mother Earth Day 2015:

(1)    Educate yourself, your friends, and your family on the basic principles of Earth Repair      and Regenerative Organic Agriculture. Here’s an annotated bibliography to help you get started.

(2)    Join an activist organization dealing with food and farming, forest preservation or climate. If you’re already an activist, get your group to connect the dots between fossil fuel emissions reduction and natural carbon sequestration.

(3)    Boycott all GMO, chemical-intensive and CAFO foods. Purchase organic and 100-percent grass-fed or pastured products. Push the organic community top go beyond the minimum standards of “USDA Organic” to food and farming practices that are climate-friendly, re-localized and regenerative, as well as organic.

(4)    Support the organizations that are educating and agitating for regenerative agriculture and land use. These groups include:

Organic Consumers Organization, The Carbon Underground, IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), NavdanyaInstitute  for Agriculture and Trade Policy, The Rodale Institute, Quivira Coalition, The Savory Institute, and others.

(5)    Change the climate conversation from gloom and doom to one of positive solutions. We’ve got 20 years left to turn things around, but we need to start our Regeneration International campaign now, Mother Earth Day 2015.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico sister organization,Via Organica.

 

Climate Economists: Global warming will create “an environment so hostile…

April 22, 2015

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Climate Economists: Good and Bad

Excerpt from David Ray Griffin, Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis? (Clarity Press, 2015)
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Since the 1970s, when he essentially founded the economics of climate change, William Nordhaus had been considered its preeminent authority. According to a fellow economist, the optimal economic policy had for decades been simply “what Bill Nordhaus said.” This view had been unquestioned, said a 2013 article, “until 2006, when the British government published a new review of climate change, led by Sir Nicholas H. Stern.”

Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics, had served as the Chief Economist of the World Bank. The review that he led was published as The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review, usually called simply the Stern Review. This publication , which gave the world a radically different view of the economics of climate change, led to a new era in the field — a transition from the Nordhaus era to the Stern era.

“In the era before the Stern Review,” say Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth Stanton, “economic models of climate change were typically framed as cost-benefit analyses.” This framing has been preeminently exemplified by Nordhaus. Although he called global warming “the major environmental challenge of the modern age,” he did not express a sense of urgency about it. In his 2008 book, he said: “Neither extreme – either do nothing or stop global warming in its tracks – is a sensible course of action.” The central question, Nordhaus said, was: “How to balance costs and benefits.”

One especially startling statement came in a discussion about the sea-level rise that would be caused by the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets: “Although it is difficult to envision the ecological and societal consequences of the melting of these ice sheets,” Nordhaus said , “this situation is clearly highly undesirable and should be avoided unless prevention is ruinously expensive.” It is startling to suggest that, if we find avoiding the melting of these ice sheets “ruinously expensive,” we should just let them melt.

 

Nordhaus’s 2013 book expressed a somewhat greater sense of urgency. Nevertheless, he continued to focus on cost-benefit balance, saying that “good policies must lie somewhere between wrecking the economy and wrecking the world.”

According to the Stern Review, by contrast, climate change “demands an urgent global response,” because “what we do in the next 10 or 20 years can have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next.” The Review, however, did not reject the cost-effective approach. It simply said, in one of its most quoted statements: “The [economic] benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs.”

The analyses of climate change by economists, say Ackerman and Stanton, have “rarely portray[ed] the most recent advances in climate science.” Instead, they tend to be “out of date by several years, if not decades.” With Nordhaus primarily in mind, they said in an article with Ramón Bueno, “there is no reason to cling to outdated, unduly rosy estimates, rather than following the best, most recent findings of climate scientists.”

Fortunately, say Ackerman and Stanton, “the Stern Review broke new ground by synthesizing the current knowledge in climate science and setting a new standard for good climate-economics analysis, using up-to-date inputs from climate science.”

Although Nordhaus has not been guilty of science denial – indeed, he has publically debated with deniers – his analysis, Stanton, Ackerman, and Ramón Bueno, have written, “could be called risk denial — accepting a (very optimistic) picture of the most likely climate outcomes, but paying little or no attention to worst-case risks.” This risk denial is dangerous, they said, because “[w]hen climate economists — and the policy makers they advise — fail to understand the well-established findings of climate science, the result is likely to be too little emission reduction, too late.”

 

In spite of the growing scientific consensus over the decade that sea-level rise will be catastrophic for people and agriculture, Nordhaus continued to exude optimism, saying that “human societies can adapt to [sea-level rise] without catastrophic losses.” Because most poor countries will in the future be much richer, he advised, they “will be able to protect themselves against climatic extremes just as Miami and Rotterdam do today.” When that is impractical, people can simply migrate.

Stern’s 2013 writings expressed a very different picture of what climate economists should be doing. Although the Review had already said that the “economics of risk” should be made central, his new writings put even more focus on it, saying that economists must present climate change as “a problem of risk management on an immense scale,” which most economists had not done.

Stern’s approach to climate economics is a return to that pioneered by William R. Cline, who in 1992 published the first American book on the subject – The Economics of Global Warming — which favored “an aggressive course of abatement.” Aggressive abatement, he said, was “justifiable on economic grounds alone.” He differed with Nordhaus on this point, he said, mainly because of the latter’s “excessive total discount rate.”

Employing a 6% discount rate as an example of one that is much too high, Stern pointed out that in 100 years, a unit of benefit would be valued 339 times lower, meaning we would care 339 times less about people alive 100 years now than we care for the present generation. This comes close to saying, Stern said, “forget about issues concerning 100 years or more from now.”

The primary basis for advocating high discount rates, said Stern, is “the unwarranted assumption that future incomes will almost certainly be much higher than now.” This assumption “is simply not credible.” Economic modelers such as Nordhaus, he said, need to factor in the possibility that global warming will create “an environment so hostile that physical, social, and organizational capital are destroyed.”

David Ray Griffin is emeritus professor of philosophy of religion at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University. He has written 30 books. His most recent book is Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis? (Clarity (more…)

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Murders of Earth’s Defenders: The Deadly Trend Continues

April 21, 2015
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‘The world is standing idle whilst people on the frontline of the struggle to protect the environment are getting killed’

The “overarching theme” of the killings last year, which averaged more than two a week, involved disputes over control and use of land, but they also included incidents involving pollution, wildlife conservation, and illegal fishing. (Photo: Global Witness)

“How many more people will die before the world takes notice?”

That’s a question posed by the organization Global Witness, whose new report, How Many More?, exposes what it calls a “hidden crisis” of murders of those who defend the earth from environmental destruction.

The “overarching theme” of the killings last year, which averaged more than two a week, involved disputes over control and use of land, but they also included incidents involving pollution, wildlife conservation, and illegal fishing. This year’s report also found a spike in the deaths of those protesting hydroelectric dams.

The organization, which campaigns for transparency of global resource extraction, states that in 2014, 116 environmental and land defenders were killed—40 percent of whom were Indigenous. The report states that lack of accessible information makes that a likely conservative figure.

As one member of the Panamá community from the Bajo Aguán valley in Honduras states, according to the report: “Here the police, the military, prosecutors, judges, all of them are ready to defend the owners of the big farms, while we are the ones who are dying.”

“Environmental defenders are fighting to protect our climate against ever-increasing odds.”
—Billy Kyte, Global Witness
The report reflects the continuation of a deadly trend, as last year’s figures reflect a 20 percent increase from those documented in 2013.

The report documents killings in 17 countries, though roughly three-quarters of them took place in Central and South America. The country with highest number of killings was Brazil with 29, followed by Colombia with 25, and the Philippines with 15.

Honduras has the dubious distinction of being the country with the most such killings per capita. The Central American county is home to one of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winners, Berta Cáceres, who’s been involved in a years-long campaign to stop a dam that threatens to displace her Indigenous community off their ancestral land. “They follow me. They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me, they threaten my family. That is what we face,” Cáceres is quoted as saying in the report.

Among the deadly incidents noted in report:

On 24 October 2014, Henry Alameda, an indigenous Lumad leader from the Southern Philippines, was dragged from his house, taken to a forested area and shot dead by a paramilitary group. Alameda was an active council member of MAPASU, an organization strongly protesting against mining operations and plantations in Caraga region.”

Global Witness emphasizes the challenges of finding the perpetrators of these crimes, though in some cases it has been able to point to paramilitary groups or private security guards. Yet, the report states, “The true authors of these crimes—a powerful nexus of corporate and state interests—are escaping unpunished.”

Unless real action is taken to protect these often invisible eco-defenders, agreements at the UN climate talks (COP21) taking place in Paris later this year “will ultimately ring hollow,” Global Witness declares.

It’s time, the report states, for governments to take action—and for civil society to exert pressure on governments to protect these land defenders.

“Environmental defenders are fighting to protect our climate against ever-increasing odds,” Billy Kyte, a campaigner at Global Witness, said in a media statement.

“Now more than ever we need to start holding governments and companies to account for the rising death toll on our environmental frontiers,” Kyte continued. “The secrecy around how natural resource deals are made fuels violence and must end. It’s time for the international community to stand up and take notice.”

The report adds: “The world is standing idle whilst people on the frontline of the struggle to protect the environment are getting killed. The time for action on these killings is now.”

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Randy Hayes: The 9 Boundaries That Ensure a Healthy Planet

April 15, 2015

Harvey Wasserman. (photo: rosencomet.com)
Harvey Wasserman. (photo: rosencomet.com)

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

14 April 15

 

andy Hayes is a great green lifer.

Decades ago he founded the Rainforest Action Network, still one of the major players in the save-the-Earth infrastructure. Now he runs Foundation Earth.

Never one to comprise, Randy has gone beyond his fair share of assorted jail stints and come out more dedicated than ever.

“We need to double the world’s forests,” he told me last week over smoothies in the nation’s capital. “It’s a major part of solving the climate crisis.”

The world’s biggest industry, he added, is industrial agriculture. No one does more damage, nowhere is there more potential for constructive change.

We met in the presence of the great Brent Blackwelder, long-time president of Friends of the Earth, as gracious a human being as you’ll ever meet. And a bona fide giant in the campaign to save our planet. His accomplishments could more than fill the rest of this article, and then some.

In the course of our strategizing, Randy mentioned a new piece of his tireless work: “Nine Planetary Ecological Boundaries” employed to establish guidelines for investments in agriculture. As many of us campaign to divest major capital funds from their Earth-killing investments in King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas), Randy is working to do much the same in the corporate reaches of growing mass quantities of edibles (not all of it actually qualifies as food, which is part of the problem).

Luckily, Randy was ready to join me on my Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show this week. Listen here:

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/5578830?url=http%3A%2F%2Fgreenpowerwellnessshow.podbean.com%2Fe%2Fsolartopia-green-power-and-wellness-hour-040715%2F

And here are his nine great Planetary Boundaries. If we work hard enough, they just might help us survive …

Basic Conditions for Life

The planet supports all life via the earth’s natural systems. These systems are self-organizing and self-repairing within limits. When these limits are exceeded, the natural biophysical system starts to disintegrate making existence harder for the entire web of life and certainly us humans. In 2009, a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified a set of planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come alongside these natural systems. Scientists are clear on one reality: crossing certain boundaries will generate abrupt or irreversible biophysical changes and reduce the planet’s ability to support life. We have no definitive idea how many important dimensions there are to the global life-support system. While imperfect, this framework is important and helpful.

These nine boundaries are as follows: freshwater use, land-system change, biosphere integrity (diversity), chemical dispersion, climate change, ocean acidification, biochemical flows (nitrogen and phosphorus cycles), stratospheric ozone depletion, novel entities (modified organisms) and atmospheric aerosol loading (air pollution).

All the boundaries are closely linked. Scientists have techniques to quantify the health of most of the boundaries, while others require more research. It is an important indicator and feedback system to ensure a healthy planet and hence a healthy human context.

Smart Bankers & Investors

Smart bankers and investors need to have their investments respect these boundaries and help maintain global ecological stability and livability. This is a key to all economic stability. To achieve this, bankers and investors need loan seekers to disclose ecological impacts or potential impacts to the planetary systems. Bankers and investors also need internal analysis of the data and adjustments to the economic activities they want to fund.

The nine planetary boundaries are:

    1. Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: The stratospheric ozone layer in the atmosphere filters out ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. If this barrier thins, ultraviolet radiation will reach the ground and damage terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, causing increased occurrences of skin cancer in humans. The reduction of the Antarctic ozone hole was proof that thinning can and will occur if we do not remain on the path set by the Montreal Protocol Treaty.
    1. Biosphere Integrity: The rate of biodiversity loss (terrestrial and marine) has escalated in the past 50 years, driven primarily by land use change for industrial agricultural use. This has resulted in ecosystem damage and species extinction. When a species goes extinct, its function in the web of life is lost. If, for example, the extinct species is a key crop pollinator, you can imagine the damage done to farmers and the ability to feed people. Research is underway to gather data and understand variables that will help shape a boundary.
    1. Chemical Dispersion and the release of novel entities: Emissions of toxic and long-lived substances such as synthetic organic pollutants, heavy metal compounds and radioactive materials represent some of the key human-driven changes to the planet. These compounds can have potentially irreversible effects on living organisms and on the physical environment (by affecting atmospheric processes and climate). Even when the uptake and bioaccumulation of chemical pollution is at sub-lethal levels for organisms, the effects of reduced fertility and the potential of permanent genetic damage can have severe effects on ecosystems far removed from the source of the pollution. Persistent organic compounds have caused dramatic reductions in bird populations and impaired reproduction and development in marine mammals. Further research is needed.
    1. Climate Change: This planetary boundary has likely already been transgressed, as evidenced by the loss of summer polar ice. Continued pressure through deforestation techniques (especially tropical rainforests) will push Earth’s systems past the tipping point. A precautionary approach would be to not continue on this path to avoid potentially cataclysmic consequences.
    1. Ocean Acidification: Oceans absorb a quarter of human CO2 emissions, transforming them into carbonic acid and altering ocean chemistry and water pH. This process is devastating to coral and plankton populations, which are critical to a balanced, functioning ocean. Upsetting the bottom of the food chain can pull the rug out from under the entire food pyramid. While all the boundaries are closely linked, ocean acidification is directly associated with and a result of climate change.
    1. Freshwater Use: Human consumption is directly responsible for the loss of freshwater supplies. It is estimated that by 2050, approximately half a billion people will suffer from lack of access to freshwater. A boundary has been proposed to help manage local, regional, and continental needs.
    1. Land-system Change: The global population continues to grow by the billions. Agricultural development to feed this population has caused the destruction of forests, wetlands, prairies, and other vegetation systems. This alters water flows and the natural cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in soil. In developing a boundary, the function, quality, and spatial distribution of a tract of land must be considered.
    1. Biochemical Flows (Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycling): Human industry and agricultural practices have altered natural cycles of these two elements, both of which are essential to plant growth. Human activity converts exorbitant amounts of atmospheric nitrogen into reactive nitrogen, which pollutes waterways and coastal zones. Over application of phosphorus fertilizers can have huge regional impacts; such as killing off shrimp populations in the Gulf of Mexico or creating dead zones in the oceans.
  1. Atmospheric Aerosol Loading: This boundary is proposed to combat the effects of aerosols on Earth’s climate system. Aerosols interact with water vapor and affect cloud formation and global and regional atmospheric circulation. Each year, an estimated 800,000 people die from consistently breathing aerosol-polluted air. However, interactions between aerosols and the atmosphere are complex, and this has hindered the clear characterization of this boundary.

In summary, we depend daily on biophysical processes for the food on our plate and the air we breathe. We are embedded in and connected to life support systems like biodiversity and eight others. Increasingly, bankers and investors get this connection. An injury to another species is an injury to humanity. The market must stop investing in industries destructive to the planetary boundaries if we are to support continued existence!


Harvey Wasserman’s “Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, AD 2030″ is atwww.solartopia.org. He is senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, and writes regularly for www.freepress.org. He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including “Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election?,” “As Goes Ohio: Election Theft Since 2004,” “How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008,” and “What Happened in Ohio.”

 

Why Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Only Tells Half the Story

March 23, 2015

Polar bear in the Arctic (photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins/Corbis)
Polar bear in the Arctic (photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins/Corbis)

By Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor

22 March 15

 

New studies on both of Earth’s polar regions reveal record-setting levels of ice melt, but scientists are most concerned about the Antarctic melt and its effect on sea-level rise.

series of new studies from scientists around the world have revealed just how threatened the Earth’s polar regions are to warming ocean waters.

Over the past week, new studies have shown that ice melt in the Arctic and Antarctica is proceeding at a record pace, with potentially disastrous consequences for global sea level rise and its attendant threats, which could include stronger storm surges and extreme weather events around the world.

While headlines have focused on the Arctic sea ice reaching a record low this winter, of the two polar regions, climate scientists are most concerned about melting ice sheets in Antarctica. Unlike sea ice in the Arctic – which melts and freezes seasonally, having a minor effect on global sea levels – melting ice sheets in Antarctica have the potential to melt enough fresh water to raise global sea levels by more than 10 feet.

A study released on Tuesday has challenged a central assumption about Antarctic ice sheet melt: Namely, whether the famously fragile western edge of the continent is in fact the most most vulnerable to warming waters. The new study, published by the International Collaboration for Exploration of the Cryosphere Through Aerogeophysical Profiling (ICECAP) research team in the journal Nature Geoscience, contends that the continent’s eastern ice sheets are actually in much more danger than previously believed.

Antarctic researchers have long been aware that warm-water currents in the region are eroding the continent’s western ice sheets, with the Southern Ocean’s high salinity allowing warm water to sink uncharacteristically below cold water. According to the ICECAP team, those same warm-water currents are also gaining access under the east side of the Totten Glacier through two “gateways” into a large cavity in the ice shelf.

The Totten Glacier covers an area of 90 miles by 22 miles, but more important is the “catchment” of inland ice the frozen glacier holds back from the surrounding ocean. That catchment is estimated at 538,000 square kilometers, or three-quarters the size of Texas. There is enough ice in the catchment area behind the glacier to raise sea levels by 11 feet, according to the ICECAP team.

“And that’s a conservative lower limit,” said Jamin Greenbaum, an ICECAP geophysicist and lead author of the study, according to The Atlantic.

“It would take [melting] all of the glaciers in West Antarctica that drain its interior basin to raise sea levels by that much,” Greenbaum added.

Ice sheet melt in West Antarctica, in contrast, could raise sea levels four feet – with NASA recently declaring that the eventual loss of a major section of West Antarctica’s ice sheet “appears unstoppable.”

The ripple effects of Antarctic ice melt are hard for scientists to predict, but their overall concerns are that the potential contributions of the ice melt to global sea level rise could severely exacerbate storm surges and extreme weather events around the world.

The ICECAP team have said they will now use their new findings to develop a better predictive model for mapping out the future behavior of the glacier.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Snow & Ice Data Center found that this year’s Arctic sea ice hit a record low this winter.

According to the report, Arctic sea ice covered 5.61 million square miles at its maximum extent this year – the lowest since satellite record keeping began in 1979. The report also found that Arctic sea ice reached this maximum extent earlier than expected, on Feb. 25, 15 days earlier than the March 12 average calculated from 1981 to 2010. This year’s ice cover was also 50,200 square miles less than the previous low-record set in 2011.

Another recent study, published last month, found that Arctic sea ice had thinned by 65 percent between 1975 and 2012.

NSIDC scientists wrote in the report that further increases in sea ice cover “are still possible” over the next two to three weeks, but added that “it now appears unlikely that there could be sufficient growth to surpass the extent reached on February 25.”

 

Arctic sea ice hits record low winter peak

March 23, 2015

According to the NSIDC, Arctic sea ice extent has declined by an average of 4.52 percent per decade

TOPICS: ARCTIC, CLIMATE CHANGE,

Arctic sea ice hits record low winter peak(Credit: Reuters)
This piece originally appeared on Climate Central.

It’s official: When the sea ice that blankets the Arctic Ocean hit its yearly peak on Feb. 25, the maximum area was a record low.

Other stories recommended for you

Warm temperatures in parts of the polar regions kept sea ice levels depressed, and also contributed to the winter peak occurring much earlier than usual, the National Snow & Ice Data Center announced Thursday. The maximum normally isn’t reached until early March, but was recorded about a week early this year, the NSIDC said. That low occurred on the backdrop of overall dwindling sea ice levels, fueled by global warming.

The extent of Arctic sea ice is monitored by satellites throughout the year. Scientists keep a close eye on sea ice area because it is so crucial to the polar habitat and has considerable economic potential. Animals like polar bears and walruses depend on it to reach their food, and diminished ice makes the search for sustenance more difficult. Humans are interested in the opportunities afforded by ice melt in terms of new shipping lanes and oil drilling, much more controversial topics.

Changes in sea ice area have also been linked to changes in weather patterns over North America, Europe and Asia, though the connection is still tenuous.

The amount of the polar ocean covered by sea ice waxes and wanes with the seasons, reaching its lowest point at the end of summer and its peak at the end of winter. But this natural cycle has been affected by the rapid warming of the Arctic, which is happening at a much faster than the world as a whole.

As the Earth warms and ice melts, more areas of open ocean are created. The dark waters readily absorb the sun’s rays, whereas bright, white sea ice would reflect them. The heat absorbed by those waters melts more ice, creating a self-perpetuating cycle.

On average, Arctic sea ice extent has declined by 4.52 percent per decade, according to the NSIDC. The summer minimum has seen an even steeper drop of 13.7 percent per decade.

Obama to Seek 40 Percent Cut in Federal Greenhouse Gases

March 20, 2015

Pres. Obama in front of solar panels. (photo: whitehouse.gov)
Pres. Obama in front of solar panels. (photo: whitehouse.gov)

By Timothy Cama, The Hill

19 March 15

 

resident Obama signed an executive order Thursday to cut the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent over the next decade.

The effort will save taxpayers as much as $18 billion due to energy savings, the White House said.

“Today, America is going to be once again leading by example,” Obama said in brief remarks Thursday during a Department of Energy roundtable event with leaders from the federal contractors and suppliers.

“These are ambitious goals, but we know that they’re achievable goals,” he continued.

Obama will also push federal agencies to get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar energy. Several major federal contractors and suppliers are announcing emissions reduction goals of their own. “Since the federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the nation, federal emissions reductions and progress across the supply chain will have broad impacts,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

Brian Deese, a top adviser to Obama, said the executive order shows that the administration is “on offense” on climate even as congressional Republicans attack some of the president’s landmark environmental efforts.

Months ahead of a planned United Nations agreement to cut emissions globally, the federal efforts should show world leaders and other nations that the United States is serious about cutting emissions, Deese said.

“Certainly our hope is that we are laying forth a template that other countries could also learn from and look at as well,” he told reporters.

Taken together, the actions will be the equivalent of taking 5.5 million average cars off the road for a year, saving 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in carbon dioxide-equivalent terms, according to the administration. The reduction goal is based on a 2008 starting point.

As the top energy consumer in the nation, the federal government’s actions can make a huge dent. They can also represent a major part of Obama’s goal of reducing the United States’s total greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

“With a footprint that includes 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles and $445 billion spent annually on goods and services, the federal government’s actions to reduce pollution, support renewable energy and operate more efficiently can make a significant impact on national emissions,” the White House said.

Some of the specific measures in the executive order will include goals over the next decade of getting 25 percent of the government’s electric and thermal energy from clean sources, reducing federal buildings’ energy use 2.5 percent over the next decade and slashing federal vehicle emissions by 30 percent.

Thursday’s announcement moves the goalposts from a 2010 order Obama signed on federal agencies’ emissions. That mandated a 28 percent cut from the same 2008 starting point, and the government has already reduced greenhouse gases 17.2 percent since then.

Obama will participate in a roundtable discussion later Thursday at the Energy Department where major federal contractors such as IBM and Northrup Grumman will announce their own emissions goals.

 

By 2050 Some US Cities Will Be Hotter Every Year Than Their Current Records

March 14, 2015

Phoenix skyline. (photo: Deirdre Hamill)
Phoenix skyline. (photo: Deirdre Hamill)

By Maggie Severns, Guardian UK

13 March 15

 

ithin 35 years, even a cold year will be warmer than the hottest year on record, according to research published in Nature on Wednesday. The study, which used 39 climate models to make a single temperature index for places all over the world, estimates when major US cities’ average temperatures will never again dip below that of the hottest year in the past century and a half. As the chart below shows, that’s as early as 2043 for Phoenix and Honolulu, 2049 for San Francisco, and 2071 for Anchorage, Alaska.

The study found that the tropics will reach the point when even a cold year is hot based on past temperatures, referred to by the researchers as “climate departure,” sooner than areas to the north. Climate departure will happen in 2025 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and 2034 in Mumbai, India, for example, compared to a global average year of 2047. In coral reefs, both pH and temperatures are climbing. “Our paper’s showing that pH is already well beyond the historical threshold,” co-author Abby Frazier said on Tuesday.

Hottest years in US cities. (photo: Mother Jones/Climate Desk )

Hottest years in US cities. (photo: Mother Jones/Climate Desk )

These estimates assumed that there will be no major push to curb carbon emissions in the coming years. The study also predicted a second set of temperatures for an alternate future, in which there’s what Camilo Mora, lead researcher, calls a “strong and concerted” effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That scenario would result in there being 538 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in the atmosphere in 2100, which is significantly lower than the 936 ppm that the researchers estimate will be in the atmosphere without that effort.

But this substantive action to curb carbon emissions would only buy us about 20 years. “The most striking thing for us is that we used a very conservative scenario,” Mora told Mother Jones. “Many people are already thinking that that just isn’t going to happen, considering the amount of effort that it requires to reach that. Even under those conditions, which are unlikely, we’re still going to face an unprecedented climate, just 20 years into the future. To me, that was pretty shocking.”

Those are two scenarios that Mora and his colleagues consider realistic. Even 538 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere in 2100, the scenario in which we curb carbon emissions in Mora’s study, is a significantly higher level of carbon than many experts consider safe for the planet. Since the late 1980s, scientists and advocates such as Bill McKibben have pushed 350 ppm as a safe upper limit for CO2. We’re already past that level: earlier this year, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere passed the “grim milestone” of 400 ppm for the first time in human history.

The potential result of 936 ppm? As Mora puts it: “The coldest year in the future is going to be hottest year of the past.”

 

Pacific Dying

February 23, 2015

I am sorry to tell you this, I know that you don’t want to believe that this is happening, but it is.  I am sorry.

Scientists study massive krill die-off on Northern California coast

July 25, 2013  San Jose Mercury News

Scientists say the strandings were reported from Newport, Ore., to McKinleyville in northern Humboldt County in mid-June, making it the geographically largest krill die-off on record.An examination of 10 krill found all were female and most carried sperm packets, suggesting they may have perished just after mating, Tyburczy said.

..

West Coast sardine crash could radiate throughout ecosystem

January 05, 2014 Los Angeles Times

To blame is the biggest sardine crash in generations, which has made schools of the small, silvery fish a rarity on the West Coast. The decline has prompted steep cuts in the amount fishermen are allowed to catch, and scientists say the effects are probably radiating throughout the ecosystem, starving brown pelicans, sea lions and other predators that rely on the oily, energy-rich fish for food.If sardines don’t recover soon, experts warn, the West Coast’s marine mammals, seabirds and fishermen could suffer for years.

..

Mass Death of Seabirds in Western U.S. Is ‘Unprecedented’

January 23, 2015  National Geographic

“This is just massive, massive, unprecedented,”

said Julia Parrish, a University of Washington seabird ecologist who oversees the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that has tracked West Coast seabird deaths for almost 20 years. “We may be talking about 50,000 to 100,000 deaths. So far.”

..

‘Prepare for the worst': Struggling to save starving sea lions on California shores

January 15, 2015  Orange County Register

“This year could be a perfect storm,” Nollens said. “An El Niño climate event affecting the females and yearlings and something still unexplained affecting the skinny pups.”. . .

Later this month, she will go out again.

“We’ve told the centers to prepare for the worst,” she said.

..

This is NOT an El Nino year.  This is a third year of unprecedented West Coast offshore sea surface temperature warming that is the HALLMARK of global warming.

Do you still think that global warming is a hoax, you arrogant, misanthropic, sociopathic, fascist bastards???

.

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO NEW MINAS ON SAT FEB 14, 2015 AT 07:33 PM PST.

ALSO REPUBLISHED BY CLIMATE ACTION HUB AND CLIMATE CHANGE SOS.

 


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