Hurricane Irma, global warming and the bomb: comparing energy giants

Hurricane Irma, global warming and the bomb: comparing energy giants

SOURCE: National Observer DATE: October 11, 2017 SNIP: [H]ow does the ferocious energy of Hurricane Irma measure up to the energy that global warming is adding to our climate? Global warming is pumping energy into our climate at the rate of: * 4 atomic bombs a second * 36 Hurricane Irmas​ blasting non-stop * 13 times all global energy use However you slice it, it’s a crazy-huge amount of...
Australian cities to have 50C summer days by 2040, study says

Australian cities to have 50C summer days by 2040, study says

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 3, 2017 SNIP: Even if the Paris agreement to limit the global temperature rise to below 2C is met, summer heatwaves in major Australian cities are likely to reach highs of 50C by 2040, a study published on Wednesday warns. The lead author of the study, the climate scientist Dr Sophie Lewis, said Sydney and Melbourne could expect unprecedented summer temperatures of 50C under two degrees of global warming. Governments needed to start thinking about how the public transport system would cope during peak hour in extreme temperatures, how emergency departments would respond to increased demand from elderly people and others vulnerable to heatstroke, and how energy requirements would be met during peak temperatures, she said. “I don’t think we have any plans in place that would be adequate to withstand days of 50 degrees and it is another urgent warning to our leaders and all levels of government that we need a strong plan to cut commissions and deal with climate...
Small Pests, Big Problems: The Global Spread of Bark Beetles

Small Pests, Big Problems: The Global Spread of Bark Beetles

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: September 21, 2017 SNIP: “The amount of conifer mortality that we’re seeing both here and in Europe is unprecedented historically,” says Jesse Morris, a geographer with the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Morris and other scientists are trying to determine the potential impacts, such as more intense wildfires, disrupted watersheds, destroyed habitats, and reduced carbon storage, as climate change spurs increasingly widespread and severe beetle outbreaks. Bark beetles are a natural part of the conifer forest life cycle, regularly flaring and fading like fireworks. But the scope and intensity in the past two decades is anything but normal, scientists say, in large part because rising temperatures are preventing the widespread winter die-off of beetle larvae, while also enhancing the beetles’ killing power. When beetles burrow into their bark, trees release a sap rich with volatile toxic chemicals to flush the insects and prevent them from sending pheromone signals mustering other beetles. But increasingly long and intense droughts of recent years have weakened the trees’ defenses. Without sufficient water, trees can’t produce enough sap. Hot temperatures cause further moisture loss. Trees weaken and become easier to...
The Window Is Closing to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming

The Window Is Closing to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming

SOURCE: Scientific American and San Diego Tribune (video) DATE: September 15, 2017 SNIP: Deadly climate change could threaten most of the world’s human population by the end of this century without efforts well beyond those captured in the Paris Agreement. That’s the finding of a pair of related reports released yesterday by an international group of climate science and policy luminaries who warned that the window is closing to avert dangerous warming. They say carbon dioxide might have to be removed from the atmosphere. Scientists Yangyang Xu and Veerabhadran Ramanathan found in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that there already exists a 1 in 20 chance that the 2.2 trillion tons of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere could cause an existential warming threat. This “fat tail” scenario would mean the world experiences “existential/unknown” warming by 2100 — defined in the report as more than 5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The report also found a 50 percent chance that temperatures would rise to 4 C under a business-as-usual scenario, a less extreme but still highly dangerous level. The long-term goal of the Paris accord was to maintain warming well below 2...
New Climate Risk Classification Created to Account for Potential “Existential” Threats

New Climate Risk Classification Created to Account for Potential “Existential” Threats

SOURCE: Scripps Institution of Oceanography and PNAS DATE: September 14, 2017 SNIP: Researchers identify a one-in-20 chance of temperature increase causing catastrophic damage or worse by 2050. A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity. The risk assessment stems from the objective stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement regarding climate change that society keep average global temperatures “well below” a 2°C (3.6°F) increase from what they were before the Industrial Revolution. Even if that objective is met, a global temperature increase of 1.5°C (2.7°F) is still categorized as “dangerous,” meaning it could create substantial damage to human and natural systems. A temperature increase greater than 3°C (5.4°F) could lead to what the researchers term “catastrophic” effects, and an increase greater than 5°C (9°F) could lead to “unknown” consequences which they describe as beyond catastrophic including potentially existential...