The tip of the iceberg

A lot was made by global warming skeptics of the apparent slow down in the rate of atmospheric warming over the past 15 years. The skeptics said it had stopped warming, but not so. More recent analysis shows that even the apparent slow down was an artifact of changing methods of temperature measurement over the years.

However, the atmospheric warming we are finding is only the tip of the iceberg – an apt metaphor.

World’s oceans facing biggest coral die-off in history

Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever.

But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016.

The question of the century

Maybe bankers have some use after all. At last short-sighted views are being superseded.

Carney warns of risks from climate change ‘tragedy of the horizon’

“The challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come,” Carney said. “The far-sighted amongst you are anticipating broader global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security. So why isn’t more being done to address it?”

Ultimate climate change

Hopefully this will not come to pass.

Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet

The Antarctic Ice Sheet stores water equivalent to 58 m in global sea-level rise. We show in simulations using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model that burning the currently attainable fossil fuel resources is sufficient to eliminate the ice sheet. With cumulative fossil fuel emissions of 10,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC), Antarctica is projected to become almost ice-free with an average contribution to sea-level rise exceeding 3 m per century during the first millennium. Consistent with recent observations and simulations, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet becomes unstable with 600 to 800 GtC of additional carbon emissions. Beyond this additional carbon release, the destabilization of ice basins in both West and East Antarctica results in a threshold increase in global sea level. Unabated carbon emissions thus threaten the Antarctic Ice Sheet in its entirety with associated sea-level rise that far exceeds that of all other possible sources.

Goodbye – London, New York, Tokyo and many other big coastal cities.

Positive economics

We cannot get away from economic arguments, but at least this is on the right side.

Climate-smart cities could save the world $22tn

This sum is an estimated cumulative saving up to 2050, so it averages about $100 per person per year.

Yes, we can do a lot better than that. This is about “Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management”. There is possibly solar PV on buildings being factored into this.

Changing climate

So often climate change is referred to as something that will become noticeable at a future time. No, it is significant now. And, just in case you thought that more CO2 helped with our food production check the letter in Nature.

Global sea levels have risen 8cm since 1992

“Significant changes are taking place today on ice sheets,” said Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California in Irvine. “It would take centuries to reverse the trend of ice retreat.”

Bushfires, heatwaves and early deaths: the climate is changing before our eyes

Perhaps the most surprising health impact of climate change was revealed by a study published in Nature. It documented how increasing atmospheric CO2 was degrading the nutritional value of crops, especially in Asia. Zinc, iron and protein levels are all falling in wheat and rice, and at least two billion people depend on rice for their iron and zinc.

Increasing CO2 threatens human nutrition

Solar energy works

Indian airport becomes world’s first to run entirely on solar energy

It follows the Indian government’s announcement that it intends to produce as much as 100GW of solar power by 2022, up from the 4GW (gigawatts) it currently produces. It is hoped that the innovation will not only contribute to India’s spiralling need for power, but also fuel new investments.

Just what we need in the UK – new investments – in the future.

Here is a longer article on power generation in India, with the downside of increasing coal use.
Why India is captured by carbon

Any ‘pause’ is over

If you mistakenly believed there was such.

Climate change: July was the hottest month recorded on Earth – and 2015 could set a new global temperature record

NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch said: “It just reaffirms what we already know: that the Earth is warming.”

“The warming is accelerating and we’re really seeing it this year.”

Records on global temperatures kept by the NOAA go back to 1880 – but nine of the ten hottest months have occurred since 2005.

Report summary:

Global Summary Information – July 2015

Deficit – this is it

Earth Overshoot Day: Humanity consumes 100% of planet’s resources in eight months

Never mind – let’s continue the party (for a small minority)!

We are finding so many planets let’s slash and burn, then move on. The Force will be with us, so what’s a few light years between friends.

Apple computer will come up with something for us to buy to save us.

Ideally the solution will come in 140 characters.

The Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group

Yesterday evening at our monthly meeting, just as we were thinking nothing much was going to come up we had a surprise visitor, Nicola Swan, who was a founder member of The Goring and Streatley Sustainability Group.

We got some fascinating insights into the bureaucracy of trying to get their Hydro Power Project implemented. It has taken 10 years to clear changing requirements of the Environment Agency. She then introduced us to a farm biodigester project near Reading that we will investigate further.