Climate Change: Part 6. Deadly serious now.
WHATS IN THIS BLOG:
• Wildfires in California.
• Greenhouse gases reach new high.
• New US government report – what does President Trump think?
There is a reason for Part 6 in this series on Climate Change. I am concerned that the world is on the cusp of a pretty big crisis. And I sense that events of the past couple months are moving USA opinions to a tipping point.
Part 5 and Part 6 here present information to support this tipping point. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts – please use the Comment box at the bottom of the blog.
If you’re interested in reading previous Parts 1-5 you can do a search on Climate Change in the SEARCH box on the main page of my blog article.
WILDFIRES IN CALIFORNIA.
The Californian town of Paradise has been devastated by the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. When gale-force winds drove flames from the Camp Fire through dried-out scrub and trees into Paradise on 8 November 2018, its people fled for their lives. In the space of a day, the flames had engulfed much of the town – home to 27,000 residents.
• 81 dead.
• 15,200 buildings destroyed. Including nearly12,000 homes. The previous high was 5,300 buildings in 2003.
• In one expert’s opinion, the post-fire clean-up will be the biggest in California since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
What’s the connection between wildfires and global warming?
• I summarized a peer-reviewed study (see HERE) that showed that bigger fires are caused by higher temperatures in an area such as the northern Rocky Mountains. Higher temperatures in spring and summer cause earlier snowmelt, longer summers, drier forests, etc.
• The recent warming — of less than 0.9°C — caused the wildfires in western USA observed in spring and summer during recent decades. This is less than 1 C degree.
• Virtually all climate-model projections indicate that warmer springs and summers will occur over the western USA in coming decades.
• So it’s clear — more wildfires are coming! No, wait… it’s already happening, as the town of Paradise attests.
GREENHOUSE GAS CONCENTRATIONS REACH NEW HIGH IN 2017.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced in November 2018 that greenhouse gas concentrations measured in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2017. These are the gases that are driving up global warming. Here are just a few pointers from an insightful summary:
• Carbon dioxide levels reached 405 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, a level not seen in 3-5 million years.
• 2017 continues the rise in concentration of carbon dioxide which is now 46% greater than the levels in the atmosphere before the industrial revolution.
• Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas, and level in the atmosphere is now 257% of what it was before the industrial revolution.
• Nitrous oxide comes from natural and human sources including fertilizer use and industry. It’s now about 122% above pre-industrial levels.
NEW US GOVERNMENT REPORT.
As reviewed by the BBC (click HERE), the Fourth USA National Climate Assessment, out on Thanksgiving Friday, says climate change is “presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth”:
• Global warming is here in the US, they say – now. It is already deadly serious and without urgent, dramatic change, it will be catastrophic.
• The report gives many specific examples – overwhelmed dams in South Carolina; failing crops in the parched Great Plains; a rise in insect-borne disease in Florida.
• And it majors on the economic impact, in effect challenging the White House’s insistence on prioritizing economic growth over environmental regulation.
• With warnings about the effects on crumbling infrastructure, falling crop yields and decreasing labor productivity, the report sounds an alarm that climate change will soon cascade into every corner of American life.
• “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century.”
• “Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”
Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists and one of the report’s authors, said the report made it clear that climate change was not “some problem in the distant future”.
COMMENTS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP ON THE USA REPORT:
The White House said the report – compiled with help from numerous US government agencies and departments – was inaccurate.
Last month, President Trump accused climate change scientists of having a “political agenda”, telling Fox News he was unconvinced that humans were responsible for the earth’s rising temperatures.
After taking office he announced the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement, which commits another 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels.
TAKEAWAY: “The new IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C shows that deep and rapid reductions of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will be needed in all sectors of society and the economy,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. [IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.]
APPENDIX: DATA THAT SUPPORTS GLOBAL WARMING IS MAN-MADE. The graph below shows a close correlation between carbon dioxide levels (the primary greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere and average global temperatures in recent years.
The years of the graph, 1880-2015, include the Second Industrial Revolution and during this time CO2 concentration has increased by 38%, which is a lot.
Rapid economic growth began to occur after 1870, springing from a new group of innovations in what has been called the Second Industrial Revolution. These new innovations included new steel making processes, the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the use of increasingly advanced machinery in steam-powered factories. [GN: steel-making and steam-power relied on burning coal which is a huge emitter of carbon dioxide.]
The graph strongly suggests cause-and-effect: that made-made greenhouse gases have caused the heating of our planet.
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