Climate change is often talked about in terms of averages, like the goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit the Earth’s temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius. What such numbers fail to convey is that climate change will not only increase the world’s average temperature, it will also intensify extreme heat waves that even now are causing harm. A recent review paper describes the potential impacts of these worsening events on people and wildlife. http://bit.ly/2XUw9wa
When deadly heat waves hit on land, we hear about them. But the oceans can have heat waves, too. They are now happening far more frequently than they did last century and are harming marine life, according to a new study.
The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked at the impact of marine heat waves on the diversity of life in the ocean. From coral reefs to kelp forests to sea grass beds, researchers found that these heat waves were destroying the framework of many ocean ecosystems.
Marine heat waves are said to occur when sea temperatures are much warmer than normal for at least five consecutive days.
Scientists estimate that the oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by excess greenhouse gases since midcentury. Humans have added these gases to the atmosphere largely by burning fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, for energy. https://nyti.ms/2SKEmz6
In a working paper published last month, Professor Gerhard Hanappi argued that since the 2008 financial crash, the global economy has moved away from “integrated” capitalism into a “disintegrating” shift marked by the same sorts of trends which preceded previous world wars.
Professor Hanappi is Jean Monnet Chair for Political Economy of European Integration — an European Commission appointment — at the Institute for Mathematical Models in Economics at the Vienna University of Technology. He also sits on the management committee of the Systemic Risks expert group in the EU-funded European Cooperation in Science and Technology research network.
In his new paper, Hanappi concludes that global conditions bear unnerving parallels with trends before the outbreak of the first and second world wars.
Key red flags that the world is on a slippery slope to a global war, he finds, include:
•the inexorable growth of military spending; democracies transitioning into increasingly authoritarian police states;
•heightening geopolitical tensions between great powers;
•the resurgence of populism across the left and right;
•the breakdown and weakening of established global institutions that govern transnational capitalism;
•and the relentless widening of global inequalities.
Earth may be 140 years away from reaching carbon levels not seen in 56 million years
Total human carbon dioxide emissions could match those of Earth’s last major greenhouse warming event in fewer than five generations, new research finds.
A new study finds humans are pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate nine to 10 times higher than the greenhouse gas was emitted during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a global warming event that occurred roughly 56 million years ago.
The results suggest if carbon emissions continue to rise, the total amount of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere since humans started burning fossil fuels could equal the amount released during the PETM as soon as 2159.
“You and I won’t be here in 2159, but that’s only about four generations away,” said Philip Gingerich, a paleoclimate researcher at the University of Michigan and author of the new study in the AGU journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. “When you start to think about your children and your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren, you’re about there.”
Scientists often use the PETM as a benchmark against which to compare modern climate change. But the new study shows we’re on track to meet this benchmark much sooner than previously thought, as the pace of today’s warming far outstrips any climate event that has happened since the extinction of the dinosaurs.
“Given a business-as-usual assumption for the future, the rates of carbon release that are happening today are really unprecedented, even in the context of an event like the PETM,” said Gabriel Bowen, a geophysicist at the University of Utah who was not connected to the new study. “We don’t have much in the way of geologic examples to draw from in understanding how the world responds to that kind of perturbation.” Read More
Opinion | Time to Panic
The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.
We are living today in a world that has warmed by just one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, when records began on a global scale. We are adding planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than at any point in human history since the beginning of industrialization.
In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its “Doomsday” report — “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” as one United Nations official described it — detailing climate effects at 1.5 and two degrees Celsius of warming (2.7 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). At the opening of a major United Nations conference two months later, David Attenborough, the mellifluous voice of the BBC’s “Planet Earth” and now an environmental conscience for the English-speaking world, put it even more bleakly: “If we don’t take action,” he said, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Scientists have felt this way for a while. But they have not often talked like it. For decades, there were few things with a worse reputation than “alarmism” among those studying climate change. Read More
The peaks and valleys of the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain ranges are some of the most inaccessible, remote regions in the world today—but even the most isolated valleys have been touched by climate change, say the authors of a comprehensive new report about the vast region. The changes have already complicated life for the 240 million people who live amongst its crags and peaks, the authors say, and the effects are likely to snowball in the future.
Noam Chomsky: ‘In a couple of generations, organized human society may not survive.’
The elegant simplicity of his campus office — a small round table with several straight-backed chairs, a laptop on an uncluttered desk — contrasts with his reputation as one of the world’s leading public intellectuals. Now aged 90, Noam Chomsky continues to write, and is co-teaching a course on politics and global crises at the University of Arizona.
Apart from his paradigm-creating work in linguistics, Chomsky has been an outspoken and cogent critic of American foreign policy and its connection with human rights violations and military aggression around the world. With his colleague, the late Ed Herman, Chomsky developed a “propaganda model” of the corporate mass media to help explain the economic and political elite’s ability to maintain ideological legitimacy. A range of “filters” — corporate ownership, advertising dependence, establishment-oriented sourcing practices, flak from right-wing critics, and ideological anti-Communism — cause news media to function as a propaganda system reinforcing elite power.
Noam Chomsky: ‘In a couple of generations, organized human society may not survive. That has to be drilled into people’s heads constantly.’
In recent years, Chomsky has turned his prodigious mind to the existential threat of global warming, a “threat to the perpetuation of organized human life,” on par with nuclear war. Now, in an exclusive interview with National Observer on Jan. 22, Chomsky directly addresses the specific relationship between media and the climate crisis. Read More