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Flagship UN study shows accelerating climate change on land, sea and in the atmosphere

by UN News


Highlights

A wide-ranging United Nations climate report shows that climate change is having a major effect on all aspects of the environment, as well as on the health and wellbeing of the global population.

  • The report, The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019, which is led by the UN weather agency WMO, contains data from an extensive network of partners.
  • It documents physical signs of climate change – such as increasing land and ocean heat, accelerating sea-level rise and melting ice and the effects on socio-economic development, human health, migration and displacement, food security, and land and marine ecosystems.
  • UN chief António Guterres warned that the world is currently “way off track meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for
  • the report confirms that 2019 was the second warmest year on record, and 2010-2019 was the warmest decade on record. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
  • WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said that there are good signs that we have started moving in the right direction. Last year emissions dropped in developed countries, despite the growing economy, so we have been to show that you can detach economic growth from emission growth. The bad news is that, in the rest of the world, emissions grew last year.
  • Climate impacts outlined in the report:
    • Heat: 2020 has seen the warmest January recorded so far, with many heat and fire records broken around the world
    • Dwindling ice: This winter there has been massive ice loss in the Arctic, Antarctica, and Greenland. Glaciers shrunk yet again, for the 32nd consecutive year.
    • Ocean climate impacts have included ocean heat, rising sea levels, the altering of ocean currents, melting floating ice shelves, and dramatic changes in marine ecosystems. The ocean has seen increased acidification and deoxygenation, with negative impacts on marine life, and the wellbeing of people who depend on ocean ecosystems. 
    • Unprecedented floods and droughts, leading to economic damages (for example, in the US, total economic losses from flooding were estimated at around $20 billion) and rising world hunger with over 820 million people were affected by hunger in 2018. 
    • Millions displaced by climate impacts: Worldwide, some 6.7 million people were displaced from their homes due to natural hazards 
  • Emissions goals: The UN chief called on all countries to demonstrate that emission cuts of 45 percent from 2010 levels are possible this decade, and that net-zero emissions will be achieved by the middle of the century.
  • Four priorities for COP26 were outlined by UN chief António Guterres:
    1. More ambitious national climate plans that will keep global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels
    2. Strategies to reach net-zero emissions by 2050
    3. A comprehensive program of support for climate adaptation and resilience
    4. Financing for a sustainable, green economy

The Climate Center’s Rapid Decarbonization Campaign sets a goal that by 2025, California will have enacted the bold, accelerated policies required by science to double emissions reductions, accelerate drawdown, and secure resilient communities by 2030.


Read more: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059061

Slump D is a massive retrogressive thaw slump on Herschel island, by Boris Radosavljevic found at https://flickr.com/photos/139918543@N06/24531601650

The Arctic’s thawing ground is releasing a shocking amount of dangerous gases

by Craig Welch, National Geographic


Highlights:

Abrupt thaw, the accelerated melting of permafrost, is releasing GHGs in the arctic:

  • New studies on abrupt thaw suggest that permafrost will play a more significant role in GHG emissions than previously believed . However, it’s affects are small compared to the burning of fossil fuels throughout the world
  • The warming of ice and arctic grounds will cause changes in landscape which can result in more moisture being released, more water bodies forming, and ultimately, the release of methane previously trapped in the land 
  • Previous IPCC assessments haven’t incorporated permafrost emissions in their reports; accelerating the need to meet emissions targets at a faster rate

Because of the alarming climate impacts we are experiencing much earlier than expected, The Climate Center supports carbon neutrality by 2030 and net negative emissions by 2035. Find more information on accelerating timelines for rapid decarbonization here.


Read more: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/02/arctic-thawing-ground-releasing-shocking-amount-dangerous-gases/

The sun sets on the Building 29 High Bay. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Michael Weiss

NASA has broken down all the disturbing ways 2019 smashed records

by Carly Cassella, Science Alert, January 21, 2020


Highlights:

  • According to data from more than 20,000 weather stations and Antarctic research stations, 2019 was the second-hottest year ever recorded, beaten only by 2016
  • The earth has continually warmed since the 1960’s
  • Since 1750, the global annual mean CO2 level has gone up by 46 percent

Rapid decarbonization is imperative to prevent continually breaking these records.


Read more: https://www.sciencealert.com/nasa-breaks-down-all-the-terrifying-ways-2019-smashed-records

No Planet B Protest

Survey: 58% of Americans are now alarmed or concerned about climate change

by Matthew Goldberg, Abel Gustafson, Seth Rosenthal, John Kotcher, Edward Maibach, and Anthony Leiserowitz, Climate Change Communications, January 16, 2020


Highlights:

  • A study was performed to collect data on Americans’ belief in global warming
  • ‘Nearly six in ten (58%) Americans are now either “Alarmed” or “Concerned” about global warming
  • From 2014 to 2019, the proportion of “Alarmed” nearly tripled
  • Prior research has categorized Americans into six groups – Global Warming’s Six Americas – based on their climate change beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. The “Alarmed” are the most worried about global warming and the most supportive of strong action to reduce carbon pollution. In contrast, the “Dismissive” do not think global warming is happening or human-caused and strongly oppose climate action. 

This study shows the potential for a groundswell of public support for climate action. See The Climate Center’s Theory of Change for how public support could help with rapid decarbonization.


Read more: https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/for-the-first-time-the-alarmed-are-now-the-largest-of-global-warmings-six-americas/

Report: A path to eliminate waste, revitalize soil and tackle global warming

by U.S. PIRG Education Fund

America throws out immense amounts or trash, most of which is dumped into landfills or burned in trash incinerators. This is a costly system that damages the environment and harms our health. Luckily, communities across the country are turning toward a common-sense and beneficial solution: composting. Composting programs divert organic material – such as food scraps, leaves, branches, grass clippings and other biodegradable material – away from landfills and incinerators and turn it into a valuable product. Compost can replenish and stabilize soil, helping to boost and sustain food production in the future. It can also help pull carbon out of the atmosphere, helping to tackle global warming, and replace polluting chemical fertilizers, protecting public health.

Americans landfilled or incinerated over 50 million tons of compostable waste in 2015. That is enough to fill a line of fully-loaded 18-wheelers, stretching from New York City to Los Angeles ten times.

Read more: https://uspirg.org/reports/usp/composting-america

Report: Global warming could melt at least a third of Himalayan glaciers

by Danielle Preiss, NPR

The forecast is dire for the glaciers of the Himalayas.

According to a report released Monday, a third or more of them could be gone by 2100 — melted because of earth’s warming climate. And that could have disastrous effects on the water resources of some 240 million people.

Representing five years of work by more than 350 researchers and policy makers from 22 different countries, the Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment analyzes studies from across the region. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), a Nepal-based intergovernmental organization, pulled together the 210 scientists who authored the report in the hopes that better coordination between scientists and national governments can make the evidence more clear and lead to solutions.

Read more: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/02/05/691578203/report-global-warming-could-melt-at-least-a-third-of-himalayan-glaciers