Think 2020’s natural disasters are wild? Experts expect a lot worse in future

Think 2020’s natural disasters are wild? Experts expect a lot worse in future

SOURCE: KTLA DATE: September 9, 2020 SNIP: A record amount of California is burning, spurred by a nearly 20-year mega-drought. To the north, parts of Oregon that don’t usually catch fire are in flames. Meanwhile, the Atlantic’s 16th and 17th named tropical storms are swirling, a record number for this time of year. Powerful Typhoon Haishen lashed Japan and the Korean Peninsula this week. Last month it hit 130 degrees in Death Valley, the hottest Earth has been in nearly a century. Phoenix keeps setting triple-digit heat records, while Colorado went through a weather whiplash of 90-degree heat to snow this week. Siberia, famous for its icy climate, hit 100 degrees earlier this year, accompanied by wildfires. Before that Australia and the Amazon were in flames. Amid all that, Iowa’s derecho — bizarre straight-line winds that got as powerful as a major hurricane, causing billions of dollars in damages — barely went noticed. Freak natural disasters — most with what scientists say likely have a climate change connection — seem to be everywhere in the crazy year 2020. But experts say we’ll probably look back and say those were the good old days, when disasters weren’t so wild. “It’s going to get A LOT worse,” Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said Wednesday. “I say that with emphasis because it does challenge the imagination. And that’s the scary thing to know as a climate scientist in 2020.” Colorado University environmental sciences chief Waleed Abdalati, NASA’s former chief scientist, said the trajectory of worsening disasters and climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas is clear, and basic...
“Worst case” CO2 emissions scenario is best match for assessing climate risk, impact by 2050

“Worst case” CO2 emissions scenario is best match for assessing climate risk, impact by 2050

SOURCE: Woods Hole Research Center DATE: August 3, 2020 SNIP: The RCP 8.5 CO2 emissions pathway, long considered a “worst case scenario” by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was authored by Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) Risk Program Director Dr. Christopher Schwalm, Dr. Spencer Glendon, a Senior Fellow at WHRC and founder of Probable Futures, and by WHRC President Dr. Philip Duffy. Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions. “Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100,” the authors wrote. The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that “we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations.” “Given the agreement of 2005-2020 historical and RCP8.5 total CO2 emissions and the congruence between current policies and RCP8.5 emission levels to mid-century,...
Latest climate study predicts disaster for oceans, coastlines and life as we know it

Latest climate study predicts disaster for oceans, coastlines and life as we know it

SOURCE: MSN and AGU DATE: July 25, 2020 SNIP: A disturbing new climate change study predicts global temperature increases of up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit as atmospheric carbon concentrations double: [I]t now appears extremely unlikely that the climate sensitivity could be low enough to avoid substantial climate change (well in excess of 2°C warming) under a high‐emissions future scenario. We remain unable to rule out that the sensitivity could be above 4.5°C per doubling of carbon dioxide levels, although this is not likely. Humanity, it’s clear, is close to missing the chance to avoid the worst ravages of fossil fuel pollution. That level of warming would spell disaster for our oceans and coastal communities. Coral reefs would die; marine biodiversity would plummet. Flooding and extreme storms would pummel coastal residents. And ocean acidification and hypoxia would change the basic building blocks of marine life in dangerous, unpredictable ways. This study is just the latest alarm going off to demand climate action now. We can’t wait any longer to stop drilling and mining for fossil fuels in our public lands and waters. Such public-lands extraction causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. The new four-year study, published in the journal Review of Geophysics by an international team of 25 top experts, indicates average global temperatures are now very likely to increase 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s at the high end of the range consistently predicted by major climate studies going back to 1979. The study indicates a 95 percent certainty that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations – which we’re on target to hit in the...
The Great Climate Migration

The Great Climate Migration

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: July 23, 2020 SNIP: For most of human history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, that band is suddenly shifting north. According to a pathbreaking recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1 percent of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing one of every three people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years. Many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger and political chaos, but others will be forced to move on. A 2017 study in Science Advances found that by 2100, temperatures could rise to the point that just going outside for a few hours in some places, including parts of India and Eastern China, “will result in death even for the fittest of humans.” People are already beginning to flee. In Southeast Asia, where increasingly unpredictable monsoon rainfall and drought have made farming more difficult, the World Bank points to more than eight million people who have moved toward the Middle East, Europe and North America. In the African Sahel, millions of rural people have been streaming toward the coasts and the cities amid drought and widespread crop failures. Should the flight away from hot...
Russia’s Permafrost Is Melting and Its Farmers Are Cashing In

Russia’s Permafrost Is Melting and Its Farmers Are Cashing In

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: July 23, 2020 SNIP: Just below the Arctic tundra, in the vast plains that blanket much of northern Russia, a once-unthinkable business is taking hold: soybean farming. It’s the result of years of rising global temperatures, which are thawing the permafrost and turning the land into fertile soil, and now Agronomist Gennady Bochkovsky is helping to take the crop to the next frontier, testing whether the beans can handle the upper areas of the Moscow region. So far, he says, the results are promising. Soybeans in Russia embody a trend that’s sweeping the globe: warming weather is pushing crops further toward the poles than they’ve ever grown before. In the U.S., North Dakota has transformed into a major corn grower, and the U.K. has seen a rapid expansion in wine grapes. While Russian soybean farmers are seeing some benefits from warming weather, climate change has been wreaking havoc on global food production. Drought has hampered crop output this year in parts of Uruguay, New Zealand, Europe and Vietnam. Even Russia and the rest of the Black Sea region has seen the ill-effects of changing weather patterns in recent years, with drier conditions threatening the region’s wheat crop. The United Nations has said that climate change is one of the factors that’s exacerbated food insecurity. In Russia, farmers have embraced the opportunity to grow profitable soybeans. The oilseed is processed into animal feed, and demand has been strong amid a boom for livestock production. In fact, the nation still relies on imports of about 1 million metric tons of soy, so there’s more scope for domestic harvests...