"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Archive for August, 2016|Monthly archive page

Humanity Just Burned Through The Planet’s Annual Resource Budget Faster Than Ever, And It’s Only August

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2016 at 12:35 pm

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Humanity’s annual demand on the natural world has exceeded what the Earth can renew in a year since the 1970s. This “ecological overshoot” has continued to grow over the years, reaching a 50 per cent deficit in 2008. This means that it takes 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources that people use, and absorb the CO2 waste they produce, in that same year.  How can this be possible when there is only one Earth? Just as it is possible to withdraw money from a bank account faster than to wait for the interest this money generates, renewable resources can be harvested faster than they can be re-grown. But just like overdrawing from a bank account, eventually the resource will be depleted. At present, people are often able to shift their sourcing when this happens; however at current consumption rates, these sources will eventually run out of resources too – and some ecosystems will collapse even before the resource is completely gone. The consequences of excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are also already being seen, like climate change and ocean acidification. These place additional stresses on biodiversity and ecosystems. The decline in biocapacity per capita is primarily due to an increase in global population. More people have to share the Earth’s resources. The increase in the Earth’s productivity is not enough to compensate for the demands of this growing population.” –World Wildlife Foundation, 2014

“Ah yes, the big ungainly elephant in the room. Overshoot. Rarely discussed in polite society.  And the rate of ecological overshoot is INCREASING EVERY YEAR. When you view the  high-tech “solutions” like carbon capture and storage and “divesting from fossil fuels, and  “green economy” fantasies for “fighting climate change” presented to us in this context, you realize that it’s all just a bunch of hot air. Pun intended. None of these things address fundamental problems with industrial civilization. Things like infinite growth, hyperconsumption, environmental destruction, and overpopulation. They’re part of a civilization level “extend and pretend” fantasy. The reality is, there are only a finite amount of essential resources on earth. In a little over 50 years, we’ve managed to go from consuming  less than 100 percent of the world resources yearly, to consuming 160% of the worlds yearly resources in 8 months. Our rapacious greed and largely disposable civilization, has created untold toxic waste and consumed incalculable resources that cannot be replaced or recycled. The sociopathic system we live in, globalized industrial civilization, requires that the status quo be maintained. Profit is paramount. More and more profit is required for optimal functioning. Though now, We’ve begun to see signs of systems failure all around the world. And the system is killing the world. This overdrawing of Earth’s resources can only continue  for so much longer before the resources required for this madness are expended completely. Then what?” -OSJ

Written By Nadia Prupis @ Common Dreams:

Earth Overshoot Day—the day on which people worldwide have officially used up more natural resources like air, food, and water than the planet can regenerate in a year—has come early.

The 2016 threshold was hit on Monday, making it the fastest pace yet, according to a new report by the Global Footprint Network, which measures the dubious milestone every year.

That’s five days earlier than last year, about five weeks earlier than in 2003, and months earlier than it was in 1987, when it fell on December 19. In 1961, the global population didn’t even use up 100 percent of the world’s natural resources, according to the network. But the next decade propelled the planet into an era of overconsumption, the group said.

“This is possible because we emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than our oceans and forests can absorb, and we deplete fisheries and harvest forests more quickly than they can reproduce and regrow,” Global Footprint Network said in a statement.

To figure out the annual date, the group analyzes United Nations statistics on thousands of economic areas like fisheries, forests, and energy production, among others. The group’s co-founder Mathis Wackernagel told Deutsche Welle on Monday that there is a clear climate villain in the midst—fossil fuels.

“Currently the carbon footprint makes up more than 60 percent of humanity’s ecological footprint. Our economy is built very heavily on fossil fuels, and that’s the challenge we face. We have agreed that moving over 2 degrees Celsius is an unacceptable target for humanity. That translates into very clear physical constraints,” he said.

“That means we cannot have more than 20 years at current emissions levels. That means, in a very short time frame, we will have to move out of fossil fuel use,” he explained.

 

“There is really only one word for this parade of shattered climate records: grim.” NOAA State Of The Planet Report 2015 – ‘Earth’s Fever Is Rising’

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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In this July 20, 2015 file photo, a boat floats through light reflected from the illuminated Ada Bridge over the Sava river in Belgrade, Serbia. Earth’s fever got worse last year, breaking dozens of climate records, 450 international scientists diagnosed in a massive report nicknamed the annual physical for the planet. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

Oldspeak: “From the Department of Holy SHIT It’s Hot!!!!, (feels like 106 in Brooklyn today) we have a massive report written by 450 scientists detailing the obivious: Earth’s fever got worse last year, breaking dozens of climate records. That hellish trend has continued unabated, with climate records continuing to be shattered through the first 6 months of 2016. As massive wildfires burn worldwide, Earth’s lungs, The Amazon start to fail, bleeding CO2 and methane into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it, we have to wonder how hot this greenhouse will get. And with heat mitigating ecosystems like forests, oceans and ice caps failing, how fast. Meanwhile, Top 5 trending topics on Yahoo right now?

 

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick… ” -OSJ

Written By Seth Borenstein @ The Associated Press:

Earth’s fever got worse last year, breaking dozens of climate records, scientists said in a massive report nicknamed the annual physical for the planet.

Soon after 2015 ended, it was proclaimed the hottest on record . The new report shows the broad extent of other records and near-records on the planet’s climatic health. Those include record heat energy absorbed by the oceans and lowest groundwater storage levels globally, according to Tuesday’s report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I think the time to call the doctor was years ago,” NOAA climate monitoring chief Deke Arndt, co-editor of the report, said in an email. “We are awash in multiple symptoms.”

The 2015 State of the Climate report examined 50 different aspects of climate , including dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice and glaciers worldwide. A dozen different nations set hottest year records, including Russia and China. South Africa had the hottest temperature ever recorded in the month of October: 119.1 degrees Fahrenheit (48.4 degrees Celsius).

Even though it was a relatively quiet hurricane year in the Atlantic, there were 36 major tropical cyclones worldwide — 15 more than average, said NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden, co-editor of the report published Tuesday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

And at the heart of the records is that all three major heat-trapping greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — hit record highs in 2015, Blunden said.

“There is really only one word for this parade of shattered climate records: grim,” said Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb, who wasn’t part of the report, but called it “exhaustive and thorough.”

But it’s more than just numbers on a graph. Scientists said the turbo-charged climate affected walrus and penguin populations and played a role in dangerous algae blooms, such as one off the Pacific Northwest coast. And there were brutal heat waves all over the world, with ones in Indian and Pakistan killing thousands of people. One-third of Earth’s land mass had some kind of drought last year.

Much of the intense record-breaking and record-flirting weather was because of a combination of a natural El Nino — the periodic warming of parts of the Pacific that changes weather globally — and ever increasing man-made global warming.

“This impacts people. This is real life,” Blunden said.

Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado said in an email that the report, which he wasn’t part of, illustrates the combined power of nature and humans on Earth’s climate: “It was like injecting an already amped-up climate system with a dose of (natural) steroids.”

About 450 scientists from around the world helped write the report and in it NOAA highlighted one of the lesser-known measurements, ocean heat content. About 93 percent of the heat energy trapped by greenhouse gases — such as carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas — goes directly into the ocean, the report said. And ocean heat content hit record levels both near the surface and deep.

NOAA oceanographer Gregory C. Johnson, a study co-author, said the oceans are storing more heat energy because of man-made climate change with an extra El Nino spike.

Johnson summed up Earth’s climate in a haiku, published deep inside the report:

“El Niño waxes,

warm waters shoal, flow eastward,

Earth’s fever rises.”

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Online:

Report: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/bams/2015

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Follow Seth Borenstein at http://twitter.com/borenbears and his work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/seth-borenstein

 

 

Grim Climate Reality: Every Second, One Person Is Displaced By Natural Disaster

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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Land degradation – Sustainable land management: do nothing and you will be poorer. Credit: UNEP

Oldspeak:”On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second…by far exceeding the total of all the unfortunate and unjustifiable victims of all terrorist attacks combined. However, the unstoppable climate crisis receives just a tiny fraction of mainstream media attention.

We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue. We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.”

“The other day I was watching some inane political pablum on one of the major infotainment streams with a friend and she wondered aloud “Are we being distracted? I feel like we’re being distracted from something….” The answer of course is yes, we’re most certainly being distracted. From grim reality like that described below. The ranks of climate victims worldwide continues to grow, as uncontrollable wildfires blaze, biblical rains flood, famine spreads, droughts drag on, glaciers melt away and sea levels rise, literally every second. As our attention is focused on grisly police shootings, sociopathic politicians and corporate sponsored Olympic games, Our planet seems to be changing into a place less and less hospitable to life with each passing second. Yet if you pay attention on any mainstream infotainment networks, Trump calling for Hillary’s assassination is the biggest news of the day. SIGH. “Ignorance Is Strength.” -OSJ

Written Bahel Kamal @ Inter Press Service:

ROME, Jul 27 2016 (IPS) – Climate change and related extreme weather events have devastated the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of most vulnerable people worldwide– by far exceeding the total of all the unfortunate and unjustifiable victims of all terrorist attacks combined. However, the unstoppable climate crisis receives just a tiny fraction of mainstream media attention. See these dramatic facts.

“Every second, one person is displaced by disaster,” the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports. “In 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. “Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”

As climate change continues, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.

“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second.”

“Climate change is our generation’s greatest challenge,” says Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which counts with over 5,000 humanitarian workers across more than 25 countries.

The climate refugees and migrants add to the on-going humanitarian emergency. “Not since World War II have more people needed our help,” warned the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland, who held the post of UN undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief (2003-2006).

Egeland –who was one of the most active, outspoken participants in the World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul May 23-24)– also stressed that the humanitarian sector is failing to protect civilians.

“I hope that world leaders can ask themselves if they can at least stop giving arms, giving money to those armed groups that are systematically violating the humanitarian law, and bombing hospitals and schools, abusing women and children,” he said to IPS during the World Humanitarian Summit.

For its part, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

On this, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that coastal populations are at particular risk as a global rise in temperature of between 1.1 and 3.1 degrees C would increase the mean sea level by 0.36 to 0.73 meters by 2100, adversely impacting low-lying areas with submergence, flooding, erosion, and saltwater intrusion.

An estimated 83,100 people remain displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance in Wau, South Sudan. Credit: OIM

In a recent interview with IPS Nairobi correspondent Manipadma Jena, the director general of the International Organisation for Migration, William Lacy Swing, said that coastal migration is starting already but it is very hard to be exact as there is no good data to be able to forecast accurately.

“We do not know. But it is clearly going to figure heavily in the future. And it’s going to happen both in the low-lying islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean, and in those countries where people build houses very close to the shore and have floods every year as in Bangladesh.”

“It is quite clear that we will have more and more conflicts over shortages of food and water that are going to be exacerbated by climate change,” Lacy Swing warned.

Political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today, he said to IPS in the interview.

Lacy Swing confirmed the fact that climate victims now add to record 60 million people who are fleeing war and persecution.

“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue. We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.”

On 25 July, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution approving an agreement to make the International Organisation for Migration part of the UN system.

Founded in the wake of the World War II to resettle refugees from Europe, OIM celebrates its 65th anniversary in December of this year.

AFAO and UNHCR prepared a handbook that will help mitigate the impact of displaced people on forest resources. The handbook aims to help displaced people access fuel for cooking food while reducing environmental damage and conflicts with local communities. Credit: FAO/UNHCR

“Migration is at the heart of the new global political landscape and its social and economic dynamics. At a time of growing levels of migration within and across borders, a closer legal and working relationship between the United Nations and IOM is needed more than ever,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement welcoming the Assembly’s decision.

IOM, which assisted an estimated 20 million migrants in 2015, is an intergovernmental organisation with more than 9,500 staff and 450 offices worldwide

“We are living in a time of much tragedy and uncertainty. This agreement shows Member States’ commitment to more humane and orderly migration that benefits all, where we celebrate the human beings behind the numbers,” IOM Director General William Lacy said.

Through the agreement, the UN recognises IOM as an “indispensable actor in the field of human mobility.” IOM added that this includes protection of migrants and displaced people in migration-affected communities, as well as in areas of refugee resettlement and voluntary returns, and incorporates migration in country development plans.

The agreement paves the way for the agreement to be signed by Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Swing at the UN Summit for refugees and migrants on 19 September, which will bring together UN member states to address large movements of refugees and migrants for more humane and coordinated approach.

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Earth Is Perilously Close To Breaking 1.5C Limit For Global Warming, Only 8 Months After Target Was Set.

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2016 at 10:32 am

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A tropical coral reef off Fiji. Photograph: Alamy

Oldspeak: Yeah. No shit. The 1.5c limit set at the farcical Paris climate circle jerk, was never achievable. It was aspirational and quite a fantasy of an aspiration at that. It was kinda like the “Platforms” presented at the Democratic and Republican conventions recently. Nothing more than words on paper, ZERO POSSIBILITY of practical application in the real world. We are in what you call an intractable predicament my friends. What with ““world leaders making serious commitments to tackle climate change currently few and far between.”, China building coal-fired plants at a pace not seen in a decade, consumption of Earth’s resources having TRIPLED in 40 years,  “approximately 57 percent of warming that should have already occurred has come from optical aerosols or global cooling sulfates, mostly emitted from burning coal“, and the mother of all kickers, “today we are operating on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from the 1970s. In the last 29 years we have emitted as many greenhouse gases as we emitted in the previous 236 years. Because of the great cooling effect of the oceans, we have not yet begun to see the warming that this recent doubling of greenhouse gases will bring…it should be clear as a bell, that we are fucked no matter what we choose to do at this point. If we keep burning fossil fuels, we’re fucked. Stop burning fossil fuels and their attendant global cooling sulfates and aerosol, fall out of the atmosphere, planetary warming skyrockets, and we’re fucked. So go ahead scientists. Fly to Geneva (generating more emissions) have your talks and start to outline ways to implement climate goals. It’s pretty fucking pointless if you ask me. Talking about averting global calamity, looooooong past the time (40 years ago) when it was possible to do so is just silly and the height of denial.” -OSJ

Written By Robin McKie @ The Guardian U.K.:

Leading climate scientists have warned that the Earth is perilously close to breaking through a 1.5C upper limit for global warming, only eight months after the target was set.

The decision to try to limit warming to 1.5C, measured in relation to pre-industrial temperatures, was the headline outcome of the Paris climate negotiations last December. The talks were hailed as a major success by scientists and campaigners, who claimed that, by setting the target, desertification, heatwaves, widespread flooding and other global warming impacts could be avoided.

However, figures – based on Met Office data – prepared by meteorologist Ed Hawkins of Reading University show that average global temperatures were already more than 1C above pre-industrial levels for every month except one over the past year and peaked at +1.38C in February and March. Keeping within the 1.5C limit will be extremely difficult, say scientists, given these rises.

These alarming figures will form the backdrop to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change talks in Geneva this month, when scientists will start to outline ways to implement the climate goals set in Paris. Dates for abandoning all coal-burning power stations and halting the use of combustion engines across the globe – possibly within 15 years – are likely to be set.

Atmospheric heating has been partly triggered by a major El Niño event in the Pacific, with 2016 expected to be the hottest year on record. Temperatures above 50C have afflicted Iraq; India is experiencing one of the most intense monsoons on record; and drought-stricken California has been ravaged by wildfires.

Stanford University’s Professor Chris Field, co-chair of the IPCC working group on adaptation to climate change, told the Observer: “From the perspective of my research I would say the 1.5C goal now looks impossible or at the very least, a very, very difficult task. We should be under no illusions about the task we face.”

The Paris summit first agreed to limit global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels and then decided to try to keep it below 1.5C. This latter limit was set because it offered the planet a better chance of staving off catastrophes such as the melting of polar ice, which would no longer be able to deflect solar radiation and allow even greater global warming. Similarly, coral reef destruction and extreme sea level rises might be avoided if the 1.5C limit is achieved.

“If the world puts all its resources into finding ways to generate power without burning fossil fuels, and if there were international agreements that action must happen instantly, and if carbon emissions were brought down to zero before 2050, then a rise of no more than 1.5C might just be achieved,” said Dr Ben Sanderson of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “That is a tall order, however.”

The problem was made particularly severe because moving too quickly to cut emissions could be also be harmful, added Field. “If we shut down fossil fuel plants tomorrow – before we have established renewable alternatives – we can limit emissions and global warming, but people would suffer. There would be insufficient power for the planet. There is an upper limit to the rate at which we can move to a carbon-free future.”

The Paris agreement is vague about the exact rate at which the world’s carbon emissions should be curtailed if we are to achieve its 1.5C target. It merely indicates they should reach zero by the second half of the 21st century, a goal that was accepted as being ambitious but possible – until global temperatures increased dramatically this year.

“It means that by 2025 we will have to have closed down all coal-fired power stations across the planet,” said John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “And by 2030 you will have to get rid of the combustion engine entirely. That decarbonisation will not guarantee a rise of no more than 1.5C but it will give us a chance. But even that is a tremendous task.”

Many scientists now believe the most realistic strategy is to overshoot the 1.5C target by as little as possible and then, once carbon emissions have been brought to zero, carbon dioxide could be extracted from the atmosphere to start to cool the planet back down to the 1.5C target. In other words, humanity will have to move from merely curtailing emissions to actively extracting carbon dioxide from the air, a process known as negative emissions.

“Some negative emission technology will inevitably have to be part of the picture if you are going to keep 1.5C as your limit,” said Professor Jim Skea, a member of the UK government’s committee on climate change. “There will always be some human activities that put carbon into the atmosphere and they will have to be compensated for by negative emission technology.”

But what form that technology takes is unclear. Several techniques have been proposed. One includes spreading crushed silicate rocks, which absorb carbon dioxide, over vast tracts of land. Another involves seeding oceans with iron to increase their uptake of carbon dioxide. Most are considered unworkable at present – with the exception of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. Under this scheme, vast plantations of trees and bushes would be created, their wood burned for energy while the carbon dioxide emitted was liquefied and stored underground.

“It could do the trick,” said Cambridge University climate expert Professor Peter Wadhams. “The trouble is that you would need to cover so much land with plants for combustion you would not have enough space to grow food or provide homes for Earth’s wildlife. In the end, I think we just have to hope that some kind of extraction technology, as yet unimagined by scientists, is developed in the next couple of decades. If not, we are in real trouble.”

Consumption Junktion: Human Consumption Of Earth’s Resources Has TRIPLED In Last 40 Years

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm
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Landscape deeply scarred by an open cut coal mine in Hunter Valley, Australia. Max Phillips / Flickr

Oldspeak: As evidence mounts that 1st world Humans hyperconsumption addiction has  spiraled out of control, we find this sobering news. The very same humans who are driving this mad resource extraction dash have known for quite some time the irreversibly ecology damaging and depleting effects of their economic practices and still tripled extraction rates. Expending ever greater amounts of energy. Transitioning from more efficient means of extraction to less efficient ones as time as passes. Paying no mind to reality that these ways of being “will probably increase the acidification of the world’s waters, the eutrophication of its soils and waters, worsen soil erosion and lead to greater amounts of waste and pollution.” Generating more and more wants and desires for shit we don’t need. Of course, this is unsustainable. The finite resource planet we call home will sooner rather than later, put an end to the rapacious greed and hyperconsumption of Humans’ “market-based” and “infinite growth” models of being. There are only so many mountains to blow up, rivers to deplete, oceans to acidify, fresh water to contaminate, land to degrade, air to pollute before the bill comes due. And believe you me, it will be a whopper of bill, like extinction level event big.” –OSJ

Written By Alex Kirby @ Eco Watch:

Humans’ appetite for gnawing away at the fabric of the Earth itself is growing prodigiously. According to a new UN report, the amount of the planet’s natural resources extracted for human use has tripled in 40 years.

A report produced by the International Resource Panel (IRP), part of the UN Environment Programme, says rising consumption driven by a growing middle class has seen resources extraction increase from 22 billion tons in 1970 to 70 billon tons in 2010.

It refers to natural resources as primary materials and includes under this heading biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and non-metallic minerals.

The increase in their use, the report warns, will ultimately deplete the availability of natural resources—causing serious shortages of critical materials and risking conflict.

Growing primary material consumption will affect climate change mainly because of the large amounts of energy involved in extraction, use, transport and disposal.

Irreversibly Depleted

“The alarming rate at which materials are now being extracted is already having a severe impact on human health and people’s quality of life,” said the IRP’s co-chair, Alicia Bárcena Ibarra.

“We urgently need to address this problem before we have irreversibly depleted the resources that power our economies and lift people out of poverty. This deeply complex problem, one of humanity’s biggest tests yet, calls for a rethink of the governance of natural resource extraction.”

The IRP says the information contained in the new report supports the monitoring of the progress countries are making towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It also shows the uneven way in which the materials exploited are shared.

The richest countries consume on average 10 times as much of the available resources as the poorest and twice as much as the world average.

This total—almost three times today’s amount—will probably increase the acidification of the world’s waters, the eutrophication of its soils and waters, worsen soil erosion and lead to greater amounts of waste and pollution.

The report also ranks countries by the size of their per capita material footprints—the amount of material required in a country, an indicator that sheds light on its true impact on the global natural resource base. It is also a good way to judge a country’s material standard of living.

Europe and North America, which had annual per capita material footprints of 20 and 25 tons in 2010, are at the top of the table. China’s footprint was 14 tons and Brazil’s 13. The annual per-capita material footprint for Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and West Asia was 9-10 tons, and Africa’s was below 3 tons.

Unprecedented Amounts

Global material use has rapidly accelerated since 2000, the report says, as emerging economies such as China undergo industrial and urban transformation that requires unprecedented amounts of iron, steel, cement, energy and building materials.

Compounding the problems, there has been little improvement in global material efficiency since 1990. The global economy now needs more material per unit of GDP than it did at the turn of the century, the IRP says, because production has moved from material-efficient economies such as Japan, South Korea and Europe to far less materially-efficient countries such as China, India and some in south-east Asia.

The report says uncoupling the increasing material use from economic growth is the “imperative of modern environmental policy and essential for the prosperity of human society and a healthy natural environment.”

This will require investment in research and development, combined with better public policy and financing, creating opportunities for sustained economic growth and job creation.

The IRP also recommends putting a price on primary materials at extraction to reflect the social and environmental costs of resource extraction and use, while reducing consumption. The extra funds generated, it says, could then be invested in R&D in resource-intensive sectors of the economy.

It is concerned that the expanding demand for materials that low-income countries are likely to experience could contribute to local conflicts such as those seen in areas where mining competes with agriculture and urban development.

New Research: Climate May Be More Sensitive To Human Activity & Climate Crisis More Dire

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm
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This NOAA/NASA image shows Earth using near-infrared and shortwave infrared energy instead of the standard red, green, and blue light that the human eye has evolved to detect. By using infrared energy rather than visible light, the colors indicate differences in temperature rather than what they look like. For example, instead of appearing just white, clouds are shades of yellow, orange, and red depending on their elevation. Photograph: HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images

Oldspeak: As has become an increasingly unsettling trend, more inaccurate climate modeling research has been identified. New climate research has indicated that previous climate research was flawed and underestimated the rate and severity of climate change. In this instance, it’s been observed that the sensitivity of Earth climate to human activity is significantly higher than previously thought. In short, it is being suggested that “changes in global air temperature are actually 24% larger” than previously reported. This make sense in light of recent reports indicating that  scientists have been alarmed by massive and unanticipated rates of warming. Basically the giant life incinerator that is Industrial Civilization is burning hotter and faster than we thought and we have less time before we’ll experience the worst effects of anthropogenic global warming.  Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…..” -OSJ

Written By Dana Nuccitelli @ The Guardian UK:

Scientists use a variety of approaches to estimate the Earth’s climate sensitivity – how much the planet will warm as a result of humans increasing greenhouse effect. For decades, the different methods were all in good general agreement that if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Earth’s surface temperatures will immediately warm by about 1–3°C (this is known as the ‘transient climate response’). Because it would take decades to centuries for the Earth to reach a new energy balance, climate scientists have estimated an eventual 2–4.5°C warming from doubled atmospheric carbon (this is ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’).

However, a 2013 paper led by Alexander Otto disrupted the agreement between the various different approaches. Using a combination of recent climate measurements and a relatively simple climate model, the ‘energy budget’ approach used in Otto’s study yielded a best estimate for the immediate (transient) warming of 1.3°C and equilibrium warming of 2.0°C; within the agreed range, but less than climate model best estimates of 1.8°C and 3.2°C, respectively.

This new energy budget approach, which was replicated by several subsequent studies, seemed to indicate the Earth’s climate is a bit less sensitive to carbon pollution than previously thought. As a result, the IPCC adjusted its estimated range for equilibrium climate sensitivity from 2–4.5°C in its 2007 report to 1.5–4.5°C in its 2014 report. This suggested perhaps a slightly less dire climate situation.

New finding: disagreement due to apples-to-oranges comparison

Later in 2013, Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way published a paper finding that climate scientists had been underestimating global surface warming, largely because of a lack of measurements in the rapidly-warming Arctic. Additionally, while climate models simulate surface air temperatures (the temperature of the air a few meters above the Earth’s surface), over the oceans, climate scientists measure sea surface temperatures. It turns out that the water surface isn’t warming quite as fast as the air above it. Thus looking at modeled surface air temperatures versus measured global land-ocean surface temperatures is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

A new study in Nature Climate Change led by Mark Richardson in collaboration with Kevin Cowtan, Ed Hawkins, and Martin Stolpe accounts for these differences to make an apples-to-apples comparison. They find that the use of sea surface temperatures biases the Otto result low by about 9%, and the lack of Arctic observations by another 15%. When observations are adjusted to estimate surface air temperatures (red bars in the figure below), or when models are adjusted to estimate land-ocean surface temperatures (blue bars), the estimated transient climate response from climate models and the Otto approach are in close agreement.

Like-with-like comparisons of transient climate response estimates between models and observations. In the upper two bars, the observed estimates are adjusted to match the method used for the models. In the lower three bars the model outputs are treated in the same way as the observations.
Like-with-like comparisons of transient climate response estimates between models and observations. In the upper two bars, the observed estimates are adjusted to match the method used for the models. In the lower three bars the model outputs are treated in the same way as the observations. Illustration: Richardson et al. (2016); Nature Climate Change.

Climate sensitivity may be higher yet

Previous studies have identified other flaws in the energy budget model approach. Several papers, most recently led by Kate Marvel at NASA, found that Otto’s and similar studies have not accounted for the different efficiencies of various factors that cause global energy imbalances. Other papers have noted that the energy balance model approach assumes that feedbacks amplifying or dampening global warming will stay constant over time, while in reality, some feedbacks kick in later than others. This suggests that energy budget climate sensitivity estimates, based only on today’s feedbacks, will be biased low.

The new Nature Climate Change paper didn’t address how much combining these various corrections would change our estimates of the Earth’s climate sensitivity. As the authors noted:

A recent study, Marvel et al 2015 and prior works suggest that cooling effect of non-CO2 pollution may have been underestimated. This also suggests that climate sensitivity is underestimated (since the net direct impact of human activity would be reduced, requiring a greater sensitivity to achieve the observed temperature change).

The results of Marvel et al are independent of [our] work. If both studies are correct, climate sensitivity from the historical record could be higher than climate sensitivity from the models. However we are not in a position to comment on that paper, and so draw the weaker conclusion that the historical record offers no reason to doubt the estimates of climate sensitivity from climate models.

According to lead author Mark Richardson:

The work that’s out there now, if anything, favours hotter models in general. Now it’s clear there’s no evidence from this energy-budget approach for a cooler-than-models future. But there are lots of things where the numbers haven’t been fully calculated yet. We don’t know precisely how Marvel’s results apply to the real world yet and other factors could matter, such as recent hints from CERN laboratory results on how clouds form. This helps explain why we have such a large range of possible transient climate response values (1.0–3.3°C is a pretty big range!), but even so, our results say that we’re more than 99.9% confident that most recent global warming is human-caused.

Bad news for the “skeptic” case

In a recent court case, the world’s largest private sector coal company made its best case against the need to take action on climate change. Their witness testimony relied upon two primary claims – that climate models are wrong and Earth’s climate sensitivity is low, which led them to conclude that carbon pollution is lovely.

This new research shows that their arguments are on even weaker footing than previously thought. When comparing apples to apples, climate models accurately simulate global surface temperature changes, and the evidence for lower climate sensitivity failed to withstand scientific scrutiny and the test of time. The coal company lost its case, and we’re now at the point where we have no excuse to continue delaying action on climate change.

We’re also left with the question, when evaluating dangerous global warming, should we consider measured land-ocean temperatures, or faster-warming air temperatures? As Ed Hawkins notes, if we decide climate targets refer to the latter, it puts us about 24% closer to dangerous thresholds. Thus the climate situation may be even more, not less urgent than previously believed.

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“What we’ve seen…is really quite alarming…We don’t have as much time as we thought.”: Earth On Track For Hottest Year Ever As Warming Speeds Up

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2016 at 12:52 pm
A man walks through a dried-up Sarkhej lake on a hot summer day in Ahmedabad

A man walks through a dried-up Sarkhej lake on a hot summer day in Ahmedabad, India, April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

Oldspeak: “Statements of alarm about Earths ever more rapidly shifting climate grow louder from the scientific community. When scientists start seeing rates of change that they’re describing as “alarming” and “massive” and “unanticipated” and are quoted as saying “we don’t have as much time as we thought”; not a good sign. Earth is currently undergoing a regime shift with a speed and intensity greater than any other in Earth’s history. This ever evolving reality will become increasingly intolerable for all life that has evolved and flourished in the previous climate regime. All of this is taking place while “world leaders making serious commitments to tackle climate change are currently few and far between.” Not that “tackling” climate change is even possible or palliative at this time. But the fact that little to nothing is being done to change the current set of omnicidal living arrangements all but ensures life on earth will experience the worst effects of this human generated extinction event.” -OSJ

Written By Stephanie Nebehay @ Reuters:

The earth is on track for its hottest year on record and warming at a faster rate than expected, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Thursday.

Temperatures recorded mainly in the northern hemisphere in the first six months of the year, coupled with an early and fast Arctic sea ice melt and “new highs” in heat-trapping carbon dioxide levels, point to quickening climate change, it said.

June marked the 14th straight month of record heat, the United Nations agency said. It called for speedy implementation of a global pact reached in Paris last December to limit climate change by shifting from fossil fuels to green energy by 2100.

“What we’ve seen so far for the first six months of 2016 is really quite alarming,” David Carlson, director of the WMO’s Climate Research Program, told a news briefing.

“This year suggests that the planet can warm up faster than we expected in a much shorter time… We don’t have as much time as we thought.”

The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3° Celsius (2.4° Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-industrial era of the late 19th Century, according to space agency NASA.

Under the Paris Agreement, nearly 200 governments agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, while “pursuing efforts” for a ceiling of 1.5°C – a lower limit already close to being reached.

The last month with global temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

EXTRAORDINARY YEAR

“There’s almost no plausible scenario at this point that is going to get us anything other than an extraordinary year in terms of ice (melt), CO2, temperature – all the things that we track,” Carlson said.

“If we got this much surprise this year, how many more surprises are ahead of us?”

A strong El Nino weather event from 2015/2016 in the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon associated with extreme droughts, storms and floods, contributed to the record temperatures in the first half of 2016 before disappearing in May, WMO said.

“Climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not (disappear). This means we face more heatwaves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Repeated extremes, such as heatwaves, downpours or droughts, could encourage more action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

“Research shows that for the general public extremes make climate change more tangible, more understandable,” said Joeri Rogelj, a climate expert at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna.

“It could help to motivate people to engage in climate action, and do something.”

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(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and John Stonestreet)

 

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