Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists

GR:  The top two threats to species are habitat loss due to human farming and construction and the spread of invasive plants and animals. We have expected climate to catch up, and here is clear evidence that this is so. What can we do? Simple, stop destroying habitat, ignoring invasive species, and burning coal, oil, and gas. Simple to say, that is, but probably impossible to do.

“The impact of climate change on threatened and endangered wildlife has been dramatically underreported, with scientists calling on policymakers to act urgently to slow its effects before entire species are lost for good.

“New analysis has found that nearly half (47%) of the mammals and nearly a quarter (24.4%) of the birds on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species are negatively impacted by climate change – a total of about 700 species. Previous assessments had said only 7% of listed mammals and 4% of birds were impacted.

“Many experts have got these climate assessments wrong – in some cases, massively so,” said Dr James Watson of the University of Queensland, who co-authored the paper with scientists in the UK, Italy and the US.

“Published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the analysis of 130 studies reported between 1990 and 2015 painted a grim picture of the impact of the changing climate on birds and mammals already under threat.” –Elle Hunt (More:  Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists | Environment | The Guardian.)

Faster than Expected – Nature Bats Last

GR: Here are the arguments for near-term-extinction of humanity and most complex life on Earth. Personally, I can’t believe that we will all be dead in 10 years. I think it’s a mental block of some kind. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to read the arguments. Things are going to get bad, but I know that without a catastrophic methane release, it may be centuries, before the last shreds of our civilization disappear. It’s probably too late to prevent our extinction, but understanding the arguments lets us see how grave our predicament and it might help us support the right attempts to dampen the rate of climate change.

Almost lifeless Earth.

Almost lifeless Earth.

“As I’ve pointed out previously, I doubt there will be a human on Earth by mid-2026. Indeed, I doubt there will be complex life on this planet by then. It’ll be a small world, as was the case in the wake of each of the five prior Mass Extinction events on Earth. Bacteria, fungi, and microbes will dominate.

“As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, humans will lose habitat on Earth before the last human dies. The final human probably will die after running out of canned food in a bunker. And he or she will not know human extinction has occurred.

“According to the Pentagon’s JASON Group, the situation for life on Earth will be far worse than I have ever described. A well-informed insider there wrote on 19 December 2016: “THE JASON GROUP at the Pentagon is getting new data (upon my constant requests) that the effect of over 450 reactors melting down will most likely destroy the Ozone layers. Rather than going Venus Earth will end up more like Mars. Very dead with almost no chance to regenerate an atmosphere. Report to be published in 2017.”

“The ice-free Arctic predicted by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 2016, + 3 years, seems likely in 2017. Arctic ice is very fragile. Regardless when it arrives, the near-term ice-free Arctic will be experienced by humans for the first time. Ever. This event might trigger the 50-Gt burst of methane forecast by Shakhova and colleagues at the European Geophysical Union annual meeting in 2008 (“we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time”). I reasonably use the ice-free Arctic as a proxy for this first burst of atmospheric methane. After all, it’s been “highly possible for abrupt release at any time” for nearly a decade. In May 2015, Shakhova lied about the research group’s earlier statement about an abrupt release of methane — when she could have easily retracted the statement — saying, “We never stated that 50 gigatonnes is likely to be released in near or distant future.”

“The first 50-gigatonne burst of methane described by Shakhova et al. translates to a global temperature rise of 1.3 C, which causes civilization to collapse because grains cannot be grown at scale. Industrial civilization, as with its predecessors, requires grain production and storage. This abrupt rise in temperature would be felt within a few weeks in the Northern Hemisphere — where nearly all civilization-supporting grains are grown — and within a year throughout the world. It would take Earth’s global-average temperature well beyond the point that has supported humans in the past. Ever.Lack of global dimming adds another ~3 C. Earth is then ~6 C above the 1750 baseline by the following spring (2018?). About 2/3 of the temperature rise comes within a few months. I doubt there’s habitat for humans or many other animals at that point. After all, the slow rise in global-average temperature documented so far outstrips the ability of vertebrates to adapt by more than 10,000 times.” –Guy McPherson (More:  Faster than Expected – Nature Bats Last).

Yearly Coral Bleaching Will Not End

GR:  Again, let me say: climate change is happening now, and it will get worse.

“Despite La Nina, Ocean surfaces have not cooled enough to end the worst global coral bleaching event on record. What this means is that many reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, are again under a rising risk of bleaching and mortality for the coming months. This is unheard of. Never before has a mass coral bleaching event lasted for so long or extended through the period of natural variability related ocean surface cooling called La Nina. Perhaps more ominously, the global coral bleaching and die off that began in 2014 may now be a practically permanent ocean feature of the presently destabilized world climate system.

“Cool La Nina is Over. According to NOAA, the periodic cooling of ocean surfaces in the Pacific called La Nina is now over. And since La Nina brings with it a variable related low point of broader Earth surface temperatures, after a few months lag, we can expect the globe to start to warm up again.

The above map shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean on February 9 of 2017. Presently SSTs over the entire Pacific range from about -1.5 C below average to +5 C above average. And as you can see, the Ocean is considerably warmer than normal, despite La Nina. Over the next 1-2 years, this is likely the coolest the Pacific will get. In just one decade’s time, under human-forced warming, it will take a very strong La Nina and a strongly negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation to produce similar sea surface temperatures. Image source: Earth Nullschool.

“Problem is, the Earth is still ridiculously warm, despite La Nina. Temperatures, driven inexorably higher by fossil fuel burning, have probably bottomed out at about 1 degrees Celsius hotter than 1880s averages during December, January and February of 2016-2017.

“What this means is that the likely range for annual global temperatures over the next 5 years will be about 1 to 1.3 C above 1880s averages. These readings are so high (the warmest in 115,000 years) and have risen so much, in such a geologically short span of time, that many of the world’s more sensitive species are now being pushed out of their habitats and are undergoing considerable heat-related mortality events.

According to NOAA:

Multiple coral reef regions are already experiencing Alert Level 1 bleaching stress (associated with significant coral bleaching). Alert Level 2 bleaching stress (associated with widespread coral bleaching and significant mortality) is expected in the Northern Cook Islands, Southern Cook Islands, the Samoas, Wallis & Futuna, Northern Tonga, Southern Tonga, the Society Archipelago, and the Austral Islands in the next 1-4 weeks. Alert Level 1 bleaching conditions are also expected in the Tuamotu Archipelago in the next 1-4 weeks and in Tuvalu in the next 5-8 weeks.

–Robertscribbler (More: The Permanent Global Coral Bleaching Event | robertscribbler.)