Stockholm’s Mayor is a True Leader for the People

GR:  Reduced air pollution, less noise, increased health, clear skies, and more jobs. All cities could follow Karin. Is there any movement stirring in your city? Read the interview and get ideas for your home town. Oh, for another benefit, there’s saving the planet and all its wonderful plants and animals from the greed of oily politicians and their owners.

“Karin Wanngård, the mayor of Stockholm, rides an electric bike to work each morning — at least when it is not snowing too heavily.

“She also wears second-hand clothing — a trendy move in Stockholm, she says — and eats less meat than she used to. It is all part of her contribution to meeting an ambitious goal she set for her city: eliminating all use of coal, oil and other fossil fuels by 2040.

Karin Wanngård, the mayor of Stockholm, with a bicycle she rides to work most mornings. Credit: Liselotte van der Meijs/REUTERS

“Leadership is really important when you want to make things happen,” said the 41-year-old, who has run Sweden’s capital city since 2014. “You can always have politicians making nice speeches but when it comes to action you need to have leadership.”

“Around the world, cities are increasingly at the forefront of action to curb climate change. Some, like Stockholm, have set ambitious emissions reduction goals, while others have pushed ahead with climate policies despite national policy reversals, such as under President Donald Trump in the United States.

“Increasingly, many of the cities leading on climate change — Paris, Washington, Sydney, Cape Town — are run by women.

Stockholm, Sweden. Credit: vapi photographie/flickr

“In two years, the number of women leading large cities that are at the forefront of climate action has risen from four to 16, according to the C40 Cities network of more than 80 cities committed to addressing climate change, which is organising a conference for women leaders in New York this month.” Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation (Continue reading:  Stockholm’s Mayor is Taking on Climate Change | Climate Central).

Stockholm, Sweden waterfront. Credit: Jordi Escuer/flickr

Massive Permafrost Thaw Documented in Canada, Portends Huge Carbon Release | InsideClimate News

GR:  Permafrost melt is accelerating as climatologists have predicted. However, there is yet no sign of a truly catastrophic release of methane.

“Study shows 52,000 square miles in rapid decline, with sediment and carbon threatening the surrounding environment and potentially accelerating global warming.

“Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama.

“According to researchers with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, the permafrost collapse is intensifying and causing landslides into rivers and lakes that can choke off life downstream, all the way to where the rivers discharge into the Pacific Ocean.

“Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geology in early February. The study didn’t address the issue of greenhouse gas releases from thawing permafrost. But its findings will help quantify the immense global scale of the thawing, which will contribute to more accurate estimates of carbon emissions.

“Permafrost is land that has been frozen stretching back to the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, the long-frozen soils thaw and decompose, releasing the trapped greenhouse gases into the air. Scientists estimate that the world’s permafrost holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere.

“The new study was aimed at measuring the geographical scope of thawing permafrost in northwest Canada. Using satellite images and other data, the team studied the edge of the former Laurentide Ice Sheet, a vast expanse of ice that covered two-thirds of North America during the last ice age. The disintegration of the permafrost was visible in 40- to 60-mile wide swaths of terrain, showing that, “extensive landscapes remain poised for major climate-driven change.” –Bob Berwyn (Continue Reading:  Massive Permafrost Thaw Documented in Canada, Portends Huge Carbon Release | InsideClimate News.)

The Winter of Blazing Discontent Continues in the Arctic

GR:  Climate change in action. We are losing the polar ice cap and that is changing Earth’s climate right now. Nothing good will come of it.

“Weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented. These are some of the words that describe what’s been happening in the Arctic over the past year as surge after surge of warm air have stalled, and at times reversed, sea ice pack growth. And the unfortunate string of superlatives is set to continue this week.

The animation shows projected polar temperature anomalies through Feb. 13, 2017.

“Arctic sea ice is already sitting at a record low for this time of year and a powerful North Atlantic storm is expected to open the flood gates and send more warmth pouring into the region from the lower latitudes. By Thursday, it could reach up to 50°F above normal. In absolute temperature, that’s near the freezing point and could further spur a decline in sea ice.

Right now, “A massive storm is swirling toward Europe. It’s a weather maker in itself, churning up waves as high as 46 feet and pressure dropping as low as is typical for a Category 4 hurricane as of Monday. The storm is to the southeast of Greenland and its massive comma shape has made for stunning satellite imagery. The storm is expected to weaken as it approaches Europe, but it will conspire with a high pressure system over the continent to send a stream of warm air into the Arctic through the Greenland Sea.

“Temperatures are forecast to reach the melting point in Svalbard, Norway, an island between the Greenland and Karas Seas. The North Pole could also approach the melting point on Thursday.

“It’s just the latest signal that the Arctic is in the middle of a profound change. Sea ice extent has dropped precipitously as has the amount of old ice, which is less prone to breakup. Beyond sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet is also melting away and pushing sea levels higher, large fires are much more common and intense in boreal forests and other ecosystem changes are causing the earth to hyperventilate.

“Together, these all indicate that the Arctic is in crisis. It’s the most dramatic example of how carbon pollution is reshaping the planet and scientists are racing to understand what comes next.” –Brian Kahn (More:  The Winter of Blazing Discontent Continues in the Arctic | Climate Central.)

The risks of climate change, in a single graph

Destructive Climate Change Has Begun. What Comes Next?

GR:  Global average temperature has risen a little more than .8 degrees Celsius since the late 1800’s. Most countries have agreed to hold temperature rise below two degrees. However, the current scientific consensus is that the CO2 and other greenhouse gasses already in the atmosphere will take the global average above 2 degrees. Climate scientists believe that without immediate major cutbacks, global average temperature will rise by 4 degrees, creating what some are calling “hell on earth.” They further warn that with the proposed gradual cutbacks agreed to by most countries, global average temperature will rise by at least 6 degrees this century. No longer just hell on earth, by 2100, 83 years from now, much of the planet will simply be uninhabitable. Between now and then, extreme heatwaves, increased sea level, and massive storms will force hundreds of millions of people to flee their homes. Half of all wildlife species will disappear. Wars over food and water will spread around the world. The first symptoms of what’s coming have already begun appearing.

We can hope that climate scientists are wrong, but what if they aren’t. They base their projections on evidence from weather-station records, annual growth rings in trees, layering in ice cores, and more. Even if the predicted climate changes sound extreme, the predictions are from such reputable sources that prudence requires that we take them seriously. We must take steps to insure we never see hell on earth. We need to make immediate drastic cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions.

Explaining Climate Change Risks

How best to explain climate change. This story will give you ideas on how to use the chart.

“The risks of climate change are not easy to communicate clearly. Since the atmosphere affects everything, everything will be affected by its warming — there’s no single risk, but a wide and varied array of risks, of different severities and scales, affecting different systems, unfolding on different timelines. It’s difficult to convey to a layperson, at least without droning on and on.

“One of the better-known and more controversial attempts to address this problem is a graphic from the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The so-called “burning embers” graph attempts to render the various risks of climate change — “reasons for concern,” or RFCs — in an easy-to-grasp visual form.

In short, panic

“There’s a lot to glean from this graph, but here’s the takeaway: We’ve already crossed over into moderate risk on the first three RFCS. Pushing temperatures up 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels — the target at which the world claims to want to stop warming — puts us at high risk on the first three and moderate risk on the last two. That is the best-case scenario.

“Three degrees over preindustrial levels, where we are very likely headed this century, puts us at high risk across the board, very high for those uniquely threatened systems. Five degrees, which is entirely possible, puts basically every human and ecological system at high to very high risk.

“We are already in danger, there’s more danger to come, and the best we can hope for is to slow and stop the process before the dangers are catastrophic. That’s the shape of things.” –David Roberts (Continue reading:  All the risks of climate change, in a single graph – Vox.)