SOURCE: Deutsche Welle

DATE: Dec 10, 2016

SNIP: With Trump poised to dismantle US climate action, is this a sign of public burnout on the climate topic?

Although European voters have indicated they see climate change as a more important factor in their voting than Americans, a similar trend is present: less importance attached to the climate change issue in the face of more short-term fears – such as terrorism, immigration and perhaps imminent geopolitical conflict.

But even as climate change recedes from the spotlight, recent evidence shows that the situation is perhaps even more dire than originally thought: Two alarming new studies released over the past month have scientists worried.

This week, the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed that both the Arctic and Antarctic experienced record lows in sea ice extent in November – astonishing scientists who say it is unprecedented for sea ice to retreat at a time when the Arctic enters the coldest, darkest part of the year.

The news has policymakers worried as well. “This news from the Arctic might be the start of a tipping point that we must avoid, because this would mean that we as human beings are losing control,” said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch Liberal member of the European Parliament, at an event this week.

Last week, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies revealed alarming new research showing that the long-theorized “feedback loop” of climate change and soil carbon loss is indeed a real phenomenon – meaning that the rate of global temperature could rise much faster than expected.

Thomas Crowther, who conducted the research, told DW that higher temperatures across the globe lead to microbes in the soil releasing more carbon into the atmosphere. That, in turn drives more climate change – which makes the planet hotter, continuing the cycle.

The unanticipated feedback loop could result in release of emissions amounting to that of the entire United States, research showed. This would blast the planet well past the 2 degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) limit, beyond which scientists say climate change could become catastrophic.