Our planet just set a scary new carbon dioxide record

Our planet just set a scary new carbon dioxide record

SOURCE: Grist DATE: March 6, 2019 SNIP: Our planet’s level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a new, jarring record last month. Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced on Tuesday that February’s average carbon dioxide measurement was 411.66 parts per million as measured in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Since humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions were at an all-time high last year, a new record was expected. What was shocking was that it occurred so early in the year: Earth’s carbon dioxide levels typically peak in May, when the vast northern forests of North America and Asia are just beginning to green up. Setting a new record in February is “rare,” according to Scripps. “In most years, the previous maximum is surpassed in March or April. The February record breaking is a measure of just how fast CO2 has been rising in the past months,” said Scripps CO2 Group Director Ralph Keeling. This year’s carbon dioxide level is expected to peak around 415 parts per million in...
Mauna Loa carbon dioxide forecast for 2019

Mauna Loa carbon dioxide forecast for 2019

SOURCE: UK Met Office DATE: January 26, 2019 SNIP: The mean atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration will continue to rise in 2019 due to emissions from fossil fuel burning, land use change and cement production, with this year’s annual rise potentially being larger than those of the previous two years due to a temporary weakening of the land carbon sink caused by climate...
A Climate Change Wake-Up Call From Germany

A Climate Change Wake-Up Call From Germany

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: August 14, 2018 SNIP: It’s sinking in that Germany’s 500 billion-euro ($580 billion) push to promote renewable energy isn’t enough to meet its ambitious climate goals. A look at key targets Germany wants to reach by 2020 by William Wilkes, Hayley Warren and Brian Parkin suggests shortfalls on all fronts, including reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. That’s also a setback for Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government developed a subsidy system for wind and solar farms that sparked a global boom in renewable technology. The upshot: to keep the lights on, Germany may have to extend the life of the most polluting fossil-fuel plants and scale back future climate pledges. Merkel’s political bet on renewables and her still-controversial decision to phase out German nuclear plants put her on the hook, particularly after President Donald Trump took the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Rising global temperatures, including this summer’s heat and drought in Germany, are adding to the pressure. If Europe’s biggest economy, and a pioneer in the field, can’t make it, it’s a warning sign for heavy-industry countries such as China — and the world. “Germany’s miss has bigger implications,” said Myles Allen, a climate change expert at Imperial College London. “The only thing that matters now is what we’re going to do on carbon capture. Without it, we won’t meet climate...
CO2 Levels Break Another Record, Exceeding 411 Parts Per Million

CO2 Levels Break Another Record, Exceeding 411 Parts Per Million

SOURCE: Yale Environment 360 DATE: June 7, 2018 SNIP: Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 411 parts per million (ppm) in May, the highest monthly average ever recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, home to the world’s longest continuous CO2 record. In addition, scientists found that the rate of CO2 increase is accelerating, from an average 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s and 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s to 2.2 ppm per year during the last decade. “Many of us had hoped to see the rise of CO2 slowing by now, but sadly that isn’t the case,” said Ralph Keeling, director of the University of California San Diego’s Scripps CO2 Program, which maintains the Mauna Loa record with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. From 2016 to 2017, the global CO2 average increased by 2.3 ppm — the sixth consecutive year-over-year increase greater than 2 ppm, according to Scripps researchers. “CO2 levels are continuing to grow at an all-time record rate because emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas are also at record high levels,” Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said in a statement. “Today’s emissions will still be trapping heat in the atmosphere thousands of years from...
We’re about to kill a massive, accidental experiment in reducing global warming

We’re about to kill a massive, accidental experiment in reducing global warming

SOURCE: MIT Technology Review DATE: January 22, 2018 SNIP: Studies have found that ships have a net cooling effect on the planet, despite belching out nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s almost entirely because they also emit sulfur, which can scatter sunlight in the atmosphere and form or thicken clouds that reflect it away. In effect, the shipping industry has been carrying out an unintentional experiment in climate engineering for more than a century. Global mean temperatures could be as much as 0.25 ˚C lower than they would otherwise have been, based on the mean “forcing effect” calculated by a 2009 study that pulled together other findings. For a world struggling to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 ˚C, that’s a big helping hand. And we’re about to take it away. In 2016, the UN’s International Maritime Organization announced that by 2020, international shipping vessels will have to significantly cut sulfur pollution. There are very good reasons to cut sulfur: it contributes to both ozone depletion and acid rain, and it can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems. But as a 2009 paper in Environmental Science & Technology noted, limiting sulfur emissions is a double-edged sword. “Given these reductions, shipping will, relative to present-day impacts, impart a ‘double warming’ effect: one from [carbon dioxide], and one from the reduction of [sulfur dioxide],” wrote the authors. “Therefore, after some decades the net climate effect of shipping will shift from cooling to...