Marin supervisors receive harrowing report on climate change, sea-level rise

Marin supervisors receive harrowing report on climate change, sea-level rise

SOURCE: Marin Independent Journal DATE: April 17, 2019 SNIP: Climate change is already negatively affecting the health of Marin residents and within 15 years attendant sea-level rise could threaten the county’s shoreline buildings, roads and original utility systems. This was the sobering message Marin supervisors received after Supervisor Kate Sears requested an update on the local health impacts of climate change and efforts to prepare for sea- level rise. “The important question to ask right now is when will climate change begin to affect the health of our community,” Kathy Koblick, a director in Marin County’s division of public health, told supervisors. “The answer is: it is now.” In her report Tuesday, she noted that over the last five years the county health department has issued at least seven health advisories due to conditions aggravated by climate change. The advisories ranged from alerts about air polluted by smoke to the presence of infectious diseases such as West Nile and Zika virus. Koblick said many of the health impacts are the consequences of the extreme weather – floods, drought, and extreme heat – caused by climate change. The fallout can result in increased displacement from homes, injury, indoor mold, vector-borne and infectious disease, food insecurity due to lower crop yields and disruptions in food supplies, water contamination, and mental health impacts. A vulnerability assessment released by the county in June 2017 showed that in just 15 years flooding due to sea-level rise could inundate some 700 buildings across 5,000 acres in Marin, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of...
A World Without Clouds

A World Without Clouds

SOURCE: Nature and Quanta Magazine DATE: February 25, 2019 SNIP: … A picture emerged of a brief, cataclysmic hot spell 56 million years ago, now known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). After heat-trapping carbon leaked into the sky from an unknown source, the planet, which was already several degrees Celsius hotter than it is today, gained an additional 6 degrees. The ocean turned jacuzzi-hot near the equator and experienced mass extinctions worldwide. On land, primitive monkeys, horses and other early mammals marched northward, following vegetation to higher latitudes. The mammals also miniaturized over generations, as leaves became less nutritious in the carbonaceous air. Violent storms ravaged the planet; the geologic record indicates flash floods and protracted droughts. As Kennett put it, “Earth was triggered, and all hell broke loose.” The PETM doesn’t only provide a past example of CO2-driven climate change; scientists say it also points to an unknown factor that has an outsize influence on Earth’s climate. When the planet got hot, it got really hot. Ancient warming episodes like the PETM were always far more extreme than theoretical models of the climate suggest they should have been. Even after accounting for differences in geography, ocean currents and vegetation during these past episodes, paleoclimatologists find that something big appears to be missing from their models — an X-factor whose wild swings leave no trace in the fossil record. Evidence is mounting in favor of the answer that experts have long suspected but have only recently been capable of exploring in detail. “It’s quite clear at this point that the answer is clouds,” said Matt Huber, a paleoclimate...
Evidence for man-made global warming hits ‘gold standard’

Evidence for man-made global warming hits ‘gold standard’

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: February 25, 2019 SNIP: Evidence for man-made global warming has reached a “gold standard” level of certainty, adding pressure for cuts in greenhouse gases to limit rising temperatures, scientists said on Monday. “Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” the U.S.-led team wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change of satellite measurements of rising temperatures over the past 40 years. They said confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a “five-sigma” level, a statistical gauge meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance that the signal would appear if there was no...
U.S. Intelligence Officials Warn Climate Change Is a Worldwide Threat

U.S. Intelligence Officials Warn Climate Change Is a Worldwide Threat

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: January 30, 2019 SNIP: The nation’s intelligence community warned in its annual assessment of worldwide threats that climate change and other kinds of environmental degradation pose risks to global stability because they are “likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond.” Released Tuesday, the Worldwide Threat Assessmentprepared by the Director of National Intelligence added to a swelling chorus of scientific and national security voices in pointing out the ways climate change fuels widespread insecurity and erodes America’s ability to respond to it. “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security,” said the report, which represents the consensus view among top intelligence officials. “Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution.” The United Nations Security Council also held a discussion on Friday devoted to understanding and responding to how climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” in countries where governance is already fragile and resources are sparse. “Climate change exacerbates vulnerabilities and inequalities, especially in situations of armed conflict, where countries, communities and populations are the least prepared and the least able to protect themselves and adapt,” Robert Mardini, the permanent observer to the UN from the International Committee of the Red Cross, told the Security Council, according to his published remarks. “Conflicts harm the structures and systems that are necessary to facilitate adaptation to climate...
Are we headed toward the worst-case climate change scenario?

Are we headed toward the worst-case climate change scenario?

SOURCE: Pacific Standard and New York Times DATE: January 25, 2019 SNIP: This week, researchers warned that Greenland’s ice sheet has reached a tipping point. Looking at more than a decade’s worth of ice loss, an international team of scientists found that the rate of Greenland’s ice loss in early 2013 was four times higher than in 2003. [I]n this new study, Michael Bevis, a professor at Ohio State University, and his colleagues were surprised to see that most of the ice loss occurred in the southwest corner of Greenland, a region with very few glaciers. In other words, most of the ice loss was in the form of meltwater runoff, draining from land-based ice sheets into the sea. What Bevis and his colleagues found was that the melting was being controlled by something called the North Atlantic Oscillation—an irregular fluctuation in atmospheric pressure over the Atlantic Ocean that influences the weather on several continents. “Global warming brought summertime temperatures just shy of the critical temperature at which massive melting would occur, and the NAO pushed it over this critical threshold,” he says. It means that the ice sheet is now sensitive to small fluctuations in summer temperatures, and if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted, soon Greenland’s summers will be warm enough to cause massive melting regardless of the NAO’s phase. The new research dovetails with other recent papers on the accelerating melting. Last month a team of researchers published a paper in Nature that used satellite observations, analysis of ice cores and models to show that losses from the Greenland ice sheet have reached their fastest...