Climate Change Faster than Expected

ARE WE HEADED TOWARD THE WORST-CASE CLIMATE CHANGE SCENARIO?

It’s starting to look like it. CO2 emissions this year (2019) are expected to be the highest yet. Even if we achieve AOC’s 2035 end to fossil fuels, we may not avoid the tipping points..
“A series of recent studies and reports suggest that, without immediate and drastic action, the worst-case climate scenario will become the rule rather than the exception”–Kate Wheeling.

Trump’s Wall Treats Symptoms and Causes Problems

Not to Wall

View of the border fence between the US states of Texas and New Mexico, left, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, right, on Jan. 25, 2017.

GR:  Instead of building a wall on our southern border, we should look closely at the causes of emigration from the south. Is there anything we can do in Central and South America to help reduce immigrant numbers? Worldwide, the growing human population is destroying wildlife habitat and polluting the Earth’s surface. Rather than solving our emigration problem, a wall merely treats a symptom of over population and climate change. And it causes problems for wildlife.

Drought-prone places like Arizona, Syria, and the dry west coast of Central America are facing increasing emigration pressure as surface and subsurface supplies of water decline. We should be analyzing potential steps to take to mitigate drought effects in the Central American Dry Corridor (CADC). Drought is increasing in the tropical dry forest region on the Pacific side of Central America that stretches from the Pacific Coast of Chiapas, Mexico, to the western part of Costa Rica. The drought is impacting portions of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Is there an environmental solution to the decline in productivity or is population reduction through emigration and birth control the only answer?

Severe drought has continued for several years. Here’s a map that shows locations.

How Trump’s Wall Would Alter Our Biological Identity Forever

“Besides the 600 miles installed, there may be 1,953 miles of border wall yet to come. In one generation, humans will have successfully disintegrated an extraordinary biodiversity web that evolved over millions of years. It is a legacy of which we should not be proud. Building the border wall sacrifices the ancient biodiversity of North America for the momentary political gain of one president. Our biodiversity is less flexible, requiring millions of years to evolve to its intricate state of ecological intactness. Further construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall will undoubtedly lead to the death of countless species in the process—adding to the 10 million species marching towards extinction worldwide as a result of the broader human footprint” –Jennifer R. B. Miller.

Two million risk hunger after drought in Central America – U.N.

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – “Poor harvests caused by drought in parts of Central America could leave more than two million people hungry, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday, warning climate change was creating drier conditions in the region” –Anastasia Moloney.

2556 scientists have endorsed a study that shows just how devastating Trump’s wall will be for wildlife.

Nature Divided, Scientists United: US–Mexico Border Wall Threatens Biodiversity and Binational Conservation

 

Habitat loss threatens all our futures, world leaders warned

GR: I suppose that we all know what’s causing habitat loss. The human population has grown without limits and like bacteria in a petri dish, we are using up the Earth’s resources. The outcome was predicted long ago. Couple those predictions with the unexpected rapid intensification of climate change and you can see why our ultra rich citizens are hoping to find water on Mars and other planets. They hope to soon be saying, “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Of course, the rest of us can’t wait for the day that they all fly away in an Elon Musk version of the Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B.

“As a UN conference convenes to work out a new deal for protecting the planet’s biodiversity, the focus falls on the nations that are not attending.

“Amid the worst loss of life on Earth since the demise of the dinosaurs, the agenda at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh could hardly be more important, but the spirit of international collaboration appears to be as much at risk of extinction as the world’s endangered wildlife. The United States has never signed up and Brazil is among a growing group of countries where new nationalist leaders are shifting away from global cooperation.

“The two-week meeting of the CBD is its first in two years. It has always been the neglected sibling of its twin, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two organisations were conceived amid great hope at the Rio Earth summit in 1992 but while the energy transition has attracted heads of state interested in billion-dollar renewable projects, the effort to save the natural world has been left to weak environment ministries, conservation NGOs and underfunded scientists” –Jonathan Watts. Habitat loss threatens all our futures, world leaders warned | World news | The Guardian

CO2 Emissions Must be Cut Now

It’s Time to Cut CO2 Emissions

Yesterday at my house we received 2.25″ of rain (with hail) in less than an hour. In arid regions, that’s a lot. The gutters clogged with hail, spilled over, and contributed to ponding in the yard that came within 1/4 inch of flowing over the patio door sills. I have a flood wall planned, and hope there’s still time to get it built before another intense storm comes along.

We can expect increasing storm size and intensity because of the amount of CO2 we have already released into the atmosphere. If we could limit emissions and subsequent temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius, the storms would continue to grow, but away from the coasts, little flood walls and rooftop solar panels would probably let most of us survive. However, limiting the storms by limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius is impossible now. We might still limit the increase to 2 degrees, but we have to act fast.

The graph below shows the best scientific estimates of the cumulative effect of delays. If emissions begin to fall now, we can stay below 2 degrees of rise if we reach zero by 2040. If emissions do not begin falling until 2025, we must reach zero by 2033 to stay below 2 degrees. Eight years? Having had a strong taste of the coming catastrophe by then, we might try. But the effort itself would be so costly, we probably wouldn’t make it. Dropping to zero in 21 years if we begin now will be incredibly difficult. It will require a global switch to wartime economies dedicated to building renewable energy and making emission cuts. Emissions are still rising as we approach 2020, and reaching zero in 21 years seems unlikely.

All we can count on for sure is that nature will force human emissions to begin falling in about 20 years due to massive loss of life as heatwaves and wildfires increase, and as farms, water delivery, power delivery, and transportation fail. That’s when positive feedbacks, including the ice-free arctic, melting permafrost, soil erosion, and other sources of CO2 will begin growing without our contribution. At that point, our species could begin spiraling down toward extinction.

Christiana Figueres and colleagues published the graph below last year. I blogged about it last December. You can find a link to the original article there.

To keep all this positive, glass half full and so on, I will close by saying that the world’s scientists could be wrong about climate and we will all win the lottery next week.