Sea level rise could hit 2 metres by 2100 – much worse than feared

Sea level rise could hit 2 metres by 2100 – much worse than feared

SOURCE: New Scientist, Inside Climate News, and PNAS DATE: May 20, 2019 SNIP: The world’s coastal cities have been warned to prepare for the possibility of a sea level rise exceeding 2 metres by the end of the century, with “profound consequences for humanity.” As coastal communities prepare for the impacts of climate change, a new report warns that ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland could cause far more sea level rise than previously thought, and it says planners should not ignore that peril. A new assessment found runaway carbon emissions and melting ice sheets could result in such a worst case scenario, potentially double the upper limit outlined by the UN climate science panel’s last major report. Such big sea level rises so soon would lead to nightmarish impacts, says Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol. “If we see something like that in the next 80 years we are looking at social breakdown on scales that are pretty unimaginable.” Around 1.79 million square kilometres of land could be lost and up to 187 million people displaced. “Many small island states, particularly those in the Pacific, will effectively be pretty much inhabitable. We are talking about an existential threat to nation states,” says Bamber. In Antarctica, recent detailed satellite data analyses suggest that warming ocean water is influencing East Antarctic glaciers more than in the past and that they have been losing ice faster over the past decade. In West Antarctica, research published last week found nearly a quarter of that region’s ice is now thinning and the largest glaciers, Pine Island and Thwaites, are losing ice five...
‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up

‘Earthworm Dilemma’ Has Climate Scientists Racing to Keep Up

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: May 20, 2019 SNIP: Native earthworms disappeared from most of northern North America 10,000 years ago, during the ice age. Now invasive earthworm species from southern Europe — survivors of that frozen epoch, and introduced to this continent by European settlers centuries ago — are making their way through northern forests, their spread hastened by roads, timber and petroleum activity, tire treads, boats, anglers and even gardeners. As the worms feed, they release into the atmosphere much of the carbon stored in the forest floor. Climate scientists are worried. “Earthworms are yet another factor that can affect the carbon balance,” Werner Kurz, a researcher with the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria, British Columbia, wrote in an email. His fear is that the growing incursion of earthworms — not just in North America, but also in northern Europe and Russia — could convert the boreal forest, now a powerful global carbon sponge, into a carbon spout. Moreover, the threat is still so new to boreal forests that scientists don’t yet know how to calculate what the earthworms’ carbon effect will be, or when it will appear. “It is a significant change to the carbon dynamic and how we understand it works,” Cindy Shaw, a carbon-research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, said. “We don’t truly understand the rate or the magnitude of that change.” The relationship between carbon and earthworms is complex. Earthworms are beloved by gardeners because they break down organic material in soil, freeing up nutrients. This helps plants and trees grow faster, which locks carbon into living tissue. Some types of invasive...
Olive production leads to bird killings on ‘catastrophic scale’

Olive production leads to bird killings on ‘catastrophic scale’

SOURCE: MSN DATE: May 17, 2019 SNIP: Hundreds of thousands of legally-protected birds are killed in southern Europe every year after being sucked out of trees and into machines which are harvesting olives. During the winter months from October to January, millions of birds from northern Europe, including the UK, flock to Mediterranean countries to escape the cold weather. It is thought around 96,000 birds die every year in Portugal alone as a result of harvesting for olive oil production during the night-time. France and Italy also carry out the practice, but specific numbers are not known. The Andalusian government in Spain, where an estimated 2.6 million birds used to be vacuumed up annually, has now stopped the practice. Other big olive-producing countries should follow their lead, say researchers. The problem of birds being vacuumed from the bushes is on a “catastrophic scale”, according to the findings reported in the journal Nature. Birds such as robins, goldfinches, greenfinches, warblers and wagtails are among those that suffer the biggest casualties. It is believed there are around 100 dead birds in each harvest trailer during a night-time operation. The trees are stripped of the fruits at night because cooler temperatures help to preserve the olives’ aromatic flavours. But in the dark there is less chance of the birds spotting the machines because they are sleeping. However, if the harvesting happened during the day they could see them and then escape. Martin Harper from the RSPB told Sky News: “We do know that sustainably managed olive grows are not only possible but very beneficial to wildlife and we need to encourage those.”...
‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica

‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: May 16, 2019 SNIP: Ice losses are rapidly spreading deep into the interior of the Antarctic, new analysis of satellite data shows. The warming of the Southern Ocean is resulting in glaciers sliding into the sea increasingly rapidly, with ice now being lost five times faster than in the 1990s. The West Antarctic ice sheet was stable in 1992 but up to a quarter of its expanse is now thinning. More than 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost in the worst-hit places. A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about five metres, drowning coastal cities around the world. The current losses are doubling every decade, the scientists said, and sea level rise are now running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago. “From a standing start in the 1990s, thinning has spread inland progressively over the past 25 years – that is rapid in glaciological terms,” said Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University in the UK, who led the study. “The speed of drawing down ice from an ice sheet used to be spoken of in geological timescales, but that has now been replaced by people’s...
Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

SOURCE: The Economic Collapse Blog [Take with a grain of salt, but the numbers are from the Department of Agriculture and are quite clearly problematic.] DATE: May 15, 2019 SNIP: 2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry. Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground. I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it. But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate. And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly. In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield. Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year. It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground. Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to...
Single-use plastics a serious climate change hazard

Single-use plastics a serious climate change hazard

SOURCE: The Guardian and Center for International Environmental Law DATE: May 15, 2019 SNIP: The proliferation of single-use plastic around the world is accelerating climate change and should be urgently halted, a report warns. Plastic production is expanding worldwide, fuelled in part by the fracking boom in the US. The report says plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product. This plastic binge threatens attempts to meet the Paris climate agreement. It means that by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants – says the research published on Thursday. While plastic pollution in the oceans has become a high-profile concern, the effect on climate change of the ubiquitous use of plastic has not been a focus. “After the extraction of fossil fuels to produce plastic, the carbon footprint of a material which has become ubiquitous across the globe continues through the refining process, and on well past its useful life as a drinks bottle or plastic bag, through the way it is disposed of and the plastic afterlife,” the report says. “With the petrochemical and plastic industries planning a massive expansion in production, the problem is on track to get much worse.” The key actions which the authors say are required are: • Immediately end the production and use of single-use, disposable plastic. • Stop development of new oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure. • Foster the transition to zero-waste communities. • Implement a system where...