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The climate science behind this year’s wildfires and powerful storms

by Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes


Highlights

  • In 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen discovered that man made climate change would lead to a global rise in temperatures by the year 2020
  • “Career fires” or fire events that firefighters would likely only see once in their career, can typically burn up to 50,000 acres and are happening yearly in California
  • Though Hansen predicted climate changes three decades ago, he hoped that governments would have taken action:

“Well, if we don’t change anything, then we’re going to continue to see more and more of these extreme regional events because the physics is quite simple. As you add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, you increase the heating of the surface. So, at the times and places where it’s dry you get more extreme droughts. The fire seasons become longer. The fires burn hotter. But at the times and places where it’s wet, you get more evaporation of the water. And you get warmer, moist air, which provides greater rainfall. And it’s the fuel for storms.”

  • Many serious climate change effects such as mega-drought and melting ice sheets are occurring at a faster rate than what scientists previously predicted 
  • Hanson believes the best way to stop climate change would be to reduce all emissions to zero in order to allow the ocean and forests to sequester excess carbon
  • Another method Hanson suggests is taxing fossil fuels in order to make clean alternatives more cost-effective

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/western-wilfires-record-temperatures-california-60-minutes-2020-10-04/

Timothy M. Lenton et al. (2008): Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. February 2008, doi:10.1073/pnas.0705414105

Nine ‘tipping points’ that could be triggered by climate change

by Carbonbrief.org


Highlights

  • While climate records are being routinely broken, the cumulative impact of these changes could also cause fundamental parts of the Earth system to change dramatically and irreversibly. These “tipping points” are thresholds where a tiny change could push a system into a completely new state.
  • In some cases, there is evidence that once the system has jumped to a different state, then if you remove the climate forcing, the climate system doesn’t just jump back to the original state – it stays in its changed state for some considerable time, or possibly even permanently.
  • The nine tipping points discussed include: 1. Shutdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation
    2. West Antarctic ice sheet disintegration
    3. Amazon rainforest dieback
    4. West African monsoon shift
    5. Permafrost and methane hydrates
    6. Coral reef die-off
    7. Indian monsoon shift
    8. Greenland ice sheet disintegration
    9. Boreal forest shift
  • This is not an exhaustive list – there are other parts of the Earth system that have the potential to display tipping point behavior.
  • Human society may also have “tipping points” that favor climate action.

The Climate Center’s rapid decarbonization campaign uses a timeline based on the latest scientific findings and supports achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.


Read more: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-nine-tipping-points-that-could-be-triggered-by-climate-change

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talks

  • Deeper and faster cuts are now required
  • Global greenhouse gas emissions have grown by 1.5 percent every year over the last decade. To stay within relatively safe limits, emissions must decline sharply, by 7.6 percent every year, between 2020 and 2030.
  • Even if every country fulfills its current pledges under the Paris Agreement — and many, including the United States, Brazil and Australia, are currently not on track to do so — the Emissions Gap Report found average temperatures are on track to rise by 3.2 degrees Celsius from the baseline average temperature at the start of the industrial age.
  • The International Energy Agency recently singled out the proliferation of sport utility vehicles, noting that the surge of S.U.V.s, which consume more gasoline than conventional cars, could wipe out much of the oil savings from a nascent electric-car boom.

By Semini Sengupta Read full NYTimes article here

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away….

….Separately, the World Meteorological Organization reported on Monday that emissions of three major greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — have all swelled in the atmosphere since the mid-18th century.

“We are sleepwalking toward a climate catastrophe and need to wake up and take urgent action,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, on a phone call with reporters Tuesday after the publication of the report….

….There are many ways to reduce emissions: quitting the combustion of fossil fuels, especially coal, the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel; switching to renewable energy like solar and wind power; moving away from gas- and diesel-guzzling cars; and halting deforestation….

….A number of countries around the world, including Canada and Norway, have made plans to reduce emissions at home while expanding fossil-fuel production for sale abroad, that report noted….