Canada’s forests actually emit more carbon than they absorb

Canada’s forests actually emit more carbon than they absorb

SOURCE: CBC News DATE: February 12, 2019 SNIP: You might have heard that Canada’s forests are an immense carbon sink, sucking up all sorts of CO2 — more than we produce — so we don’t have to worry about our greenhouse gas emissions. This would be convenient for our country, if it were real. Hitting our emissions-reduction targets would be a breeze. But, like most things that sound too good to be true, this one is false. That’s because trees don’t just absorb carbon when they grow, they emit it when they die and decompose, or burn. When you add up both the absorption and emission, Canada’s forests haven’t been a net carbon sink since 2001. Due largely to forest fires and insect infestations, the trees have actually added to our country’s greenhouse gas emissions for each of the past 15 years on record. Canada emits roughly 700 megatonnes of CO2 each year. This does not include any impacts from forests or other parts of our landscape, such as wetlands and farmland. Canada has historically excluded land-use-related emissions and absorptions in its official accounting, and with good reason, if the goal is to reduce emissions on paper. That’s because our trees, in particular, have actually hurt our bottom line. For the past 15 years, they’ve been “more of a source than a sink,” said Dominique Blain, a director in the science and technology branch of Environment and Climate Change...
Carbon dioxide emissions from global fisheries larger than previously thought

Carbon dioxide emissions from global fisheries larger than previously thought

SOURCE: EurekAlert! at AAAS DATE: January 30, 2019 SNIP: Carbon dioxide emissions from fuel burnt by fishing boats are 30 per cent higher than previously reported. In a study published in Marine Policy, the scientists show that 207-million tonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere by marine fishing vessels in 2016 alone. This is almost the same amount of CO2 emitted by 51 coal-fired power plants in the same timeframe. “The marine fishing industry relies heavily on the use of fossil fuel and its role in global greenhouse gas emissions has been largely ignored from a policy or management perspective,” said Krista Greer, lead author of the study and a researcher with the Sea Around Us at UBC. “Until now, the most comprehensive study of carbon dioxide emissions from fishing suggested that in 2011, fisheries released 112-million tonnes of CO2 per year from the combustion of fuel during fishing.” [I]ndustrial fisheries also need to do their part by reducing their fishing effort, which is currently three to four times what it should be in order to be sustainable. This would not only allow for a reduction in CO2 emissions by industrial fleets but would foster the recovery of declining fish...
Vegetation may not be able to continue abating the effects of emissions from human activities

Vegetation may not be able to continue abating the effects of emissions from human activities

SOURCE: Columbia University DATE: January 23, 2019 SNIP: A Columbia Engineering study, published today in Nature, confirms the urgency to tackle climate change. While it’s known that extreme weather events can affect the year-to-year variability in carbon uptake, and some researchers have suggested that there may be longer-term effects, this new study is the first to actually quantify the effects through the 21st century and demonstrates that wetter-than-normal years do not compensate for losses in carbon uptake during dryer-than-normal years, caused by events such as droughts or heatwaves. Currently, the ocean and terrestrial biosphere (forests, savannas, etc.) are absorbing about 50% of CO2 releases. “It is unclear, however, whether the land can continue to uptake anthropogenic emissions at the current rates,” says Pierre Gentine, associate professor of earth and environmental engineering and affiliated with the Earth Institute, who led the study. “Should the land reach a maximum carbon uptake rate, global warming could accelerate, with important consequences for people and the environment. This means that we all really need to act now to avoid greater consequences of climate change.” “If soil moisture continues to reduce net biome productivity (NBP) at the current rate, and the rate of carbon uptake by the land starts to decrease by the middle of this century—as we found in the models—we could potentially see a large increase in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and a corresponding rise in the effects of global warming and climate change.” Gentine and Green note that soil-moisture variability notably reduces the present land carbon sink, and their results show that both variability and drying trends reduce it in the...
The price of fast fashion

The price of fast fashion

SOURCE: Nature Climate Change DATE: January 2, 2018 SNIP: Fashion is one area in which consumerism has rapidly grown in recent years. Fast fashion has become more prevalent; clothing is produced on shorter timeframes with new designs appearing every few weeks to satisfy demand for the latest trends, but with this comes increased consumption and more waste. It has been estimated that there are 20 new garments manufactured per person each year and we are buying 60% more than we were in 2000. Each garment is worn less before being disposed of and this shorter lifespan means higher relative manufacturing emissions. Textile production is one of the most polluting industries, producing 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year, which is more emissions than international flights and maritime shipping. Over 60% of textiles are used in the clothing industry and a large proportions of clothing manufacturing occurs in China and India, countries which rely on coal-fuelled power plants, increasing the footprint of each garment. It has been stated that around 5% of total global emissions come from the fashion industry. Polyester is now the most commonly used fabric in clothing, having overtaken cotton early in the twenty-first century. For polyester and other synthetic materials, the emissions for production are much higher as they are produced from fossil fuels such as crude oil. In 2015, production of polyester for textiles use results in more than 706 billion kg of CO2e (ref. 4). The authors of ref. 4 estimate a single polyester t-shirt has emissions of 5.5 kg CO2e, compared with 2.1 kg CO2e for one made from cotton. However...
China Is Starting to Grasp the Cost of Climate Change

China Is Starting to Grasp the Cost of Climate Change

SOURCE: TruthDig DATE: January 2, 2019 SNIP: China’s cities now have a better idea of what global warming is going to cost. New research warns that for every rise of one degree Celsius in global average temperatures, average electricity demand will rise by 9%. And that’s the average demand. For the same shift in the thermometer reading, peak electricity demand in the Yangtze Valley delta could go up by 36%. And the global average rise of 1°C so far during the last century is just a start. By 2099, mean surface temperatures on planet Earth could be somewhere between 2°C and 5° hotter. That means that average household electricity use – assuming today’s consumption patterns don’t change – could rise by between 18% and 55%. And peak demand could rise by at least 72%. [Researchers] found that for every daily degree of temperature rise above 25°C, electricity use shot up by 14.5%. Compared with demand during the household comfort zone of around 20°C, on those days when temperatures reached 32°C, daily electricity consumption rose by 174%. The implication is that more investment in air conditioning is going to drive even more global warming: other research teams have already identified the potential costs of heat waves and repeatedly warned that demand for air conditioning will warm the world even further. In the US, there are already signs that power grids may not be able to keep up with demand in long spells of extreme heat. Shanghai is a bustling commercial powerhouse of a city: other parts of China have yet to catch up. The study found that higher-income households reached...