David Shepherd

About David Shepherd

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far David Shepherd has created 44 blog entries.

Ocean treaty agreed in momentous success after 10 years negotiation

By |2023-03-06T17:52:30+00:00March 6th, 2023|

After ten years of discussions, nations have secured a historic agreement to safeguard the world’s seas. The High Seas Treaty intends to conserve and restore marine life by designating 30% of the oceans as protected areas by 2030.

After 38 continuous hours of talks and 10 years of negotiations, the deal was struck on Saturday evening at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The talks had been stalled for years due to conflicts over finance and fishing rights. The latest international accord on ocean conservation, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, was signed 40 years ago in 1982. This agreement established the high seas – international waters in which all countries have the right to fish, ship, and conduct research – however just 1.2% of these waters are protected. Sea species living beyond these protected regions have been under risk from climate change, overfishing and maritime traffic. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s most recent estimate of worldwide marine species, approximately 10% are at risk of extinction (IUCN).

These new protected zones, established by the treaty, will limit the amount of fishing allowed, the routes of shipping channels, and exploratory operations such as deep sea mining, which involves extracting minerals from a sea bottom 200m or deeper below the surface.

Environmental organisations have been concerned that mining methods might damage animal mating areas, produce noise pollution and be harmful for marine life. The International Seabed Authority that handles licencing have stated that “any future activity on the deep seabed would be subject to severe environmental laws and oversight to ensure that they are carried out sustainably and responsibly”.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s most recent estimate of worldwide marine species, approximately 10% are at risk of extinction (IUCN). These new protected zones, established by the treaty, will limit the amount of fishing allowed, the routes of shipping channels, and exploratory operations such as deep sea mining, which involves extracting minerals from a sea bottom 200m or deeper below the surface.

Environmental organisations have been concerned that mining methods might damage animal mating areas, produce noise pollution and be harmful for marine life.

According to the International Seabed Authority, which controls licencing, “any future activity in the deep seabed will be subject to strict environmental regulations and oversight to ensure that they are carried out sustainably and responsibly”.

Rena Lee, UN Ambassador for Oceans, dropped the gavel after two weeks of tense discussions, with the primary point of contention being the exchange of marine genetic resources. Marine genetic resources are biological materials derived from plants and animals found in the ocean that may be used to benefit civilization in the form of medications, industrial operations, and food.

Richer countries now have the resources and financing to explore the deep ocean, but poorer countries wanted to ensure that any advantages discovered are distributed evenly.

This is a watershed moment in conservation, demonstrating that in a divided world, conserving environment and people can win over geopolitics. Governments will, however, need to gather again to formally accept the accord, and there will be more work to be done before the treaty can be implemented.

Time’s up for the mismanagement of the UK’s most precious resource – our rivers and coastal waters

By |2023-03-02T13:58:40+00:00March 2nd, 2023|

For years, the UK’s management of its rivers and coastal waters has been deteriorating at a greater pace than we have seen since the Industrial Revolution and has never been fit for purpose. With the pace of deterioration of our water quality accelerating at a truly alarming pace, we need an urgent, coordinated and comprehensive national review, driving prompt action including law changes to force improvements by our water companies, business and agriculture.

In this new series, Save the Planet lays down its manifesto for change – a “carrot and stick” approach of strengthening regulations with punitive penalties for failure, yet actively promoting and rewarding sustainable initiatives for a better future.

There are several pragmatic and effective measures that the UK could take to fix the high levels of contamination and pollution of its rivers and inland coastal waters. These include:

Strengthening regulations: To reduce pollution levels in rivers and inland coastal waters, the UK government must strengthen existing regulations or enact new ones. Setting even stricter limits on pollutant discharge from industrial and agricultural activities, for example.

Increasing monitoring: The government must conduct more extensive monitoring of water quality in rivers and inland coastal waters in order to identify pollution hotspots and take action to address them, including the use of new technologies such as sensors to monitor water quality in real time.

Promoting sustainable agriculture: Agricultural activities are a major source of pollution in rivers and inland coastal waters. The government should increase its promotion of sustainable agriculture practices that reduce fertiliser and pesticide use, as well as encourage farmers to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

Encouraging public participation: The government must encourage the public to participate in efforts to reduce pollution in rivers and inland coastal waters. This will include campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to report pollution incidents.

Investing in infrastructure: To improve the quality of water in rivers and inland coastal waters, the government must expand infrastructure such as water treatment plants. This will include upgrading existing infrastructure or constructing new facilities in underserved areas.

Collaborating with stakeholders: The government must collaborate with stakeholders such as industry, agriculture, and environmental groups to develop solutions to reduce pollution in rivers and inland coastal waters – working together to develop and implement best practices for reducing pollution.

Overall, a comprehensive approach that combines legislative measures, increased monitoring, sustainable practices, public participation, infrastructure investments, and stakeholder collaboration is needed to fix the high levels of contamination and pollution in Britain’s rivers and inland coastal waters.

Arun waters amongst the most E. Coli-infested in the UK

By |2023-02-28T17:49:18+00:00February 28th, 2023|

According to research, the coastal waters in and surrounding Arun District are among the most E. coli-infested in the UK, with Chichester having some of the worst cases.

The numbers, gathered by SEO experts Reboot Online, collate and compare data on water quality around the UK to provide residents with a thorough understanding of the condition of our coastal waters.

West Wittering coastal water contaminated by e.coli

West Wittering coastal water contaminated by e.coli

They demonstrate that Chichester has suffered more than other areas since E. coli rates there have reportedly climbed by 568.56%. Rates of intestinal enterococci, a sign of potential faecal matter contamination of water bodies, increased by a comparable amount: 498.18%.

With a score of 97 out of 100, Chichester was one of the regions with the worst water quality degradation. Nonetheless, the numbers show that Chichester has not fared as poorly as some other regions of the country, with a “relatively modest” 25,705 hours of sewage discharge documented, despite widespread worries about sewage discharges.

In most ways, Arun District performed marginally better than Chichester itself, though not significantly. The scenario is somewhat mild compared to what Dorset residents had to deal with, when approximately 32,900 hours’ worth of sewage was discharged over the course of the past year. Even so, the situation regarding the deterioration of Arun’s water quality is significantly less rosy with some of the UK’s most degraded and E. coli-infested coastal waterways.

Water quality in the area received a score of 85.05 out of 100, and the proportion of E. coli increased by 85.83 over the previous year. The percentage of intestinal enterococci has also significantly increased during the past year, rising to 250.52%.

Welsh Coastal Areas Named Among UK’s Most Polluted Due to Sewage Contamination

By |2023-02-25T14:12:36+00:00February 25th, 2023|

Two Welsh coastal areas have been identified as some of the most highly-polluted spots in the UK due to sewage contamination.

The latest figures illustrate the dismal state of many bodies of water due to contamination from water firms.

Two north Welsh locations have made it into the top ten – Rhyl and Morfa Nefyn – while the Menai Strait has also secured a spot in the top twenty. The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales have revealed that sewage was pumped into waterways for 3.4 million hours in only one year, which can be translated to 388 years.

This issue has been brought to light by highlighting that the River Severn, which divides England and Wales, was suffering from severe pollution due to the 28,000 hours of sewage pumped into it by Severn Trent Water over 2,656 times.

Other rivers listed in the top 20 include River Teifi, River Usk, River Wye, River Tawe and and River Taf. Gwent river pollution by sewage

Welsh Water, also known as Dŵr Cymru, said it was “unsurprising” that Wales had greater numbers of spills than other countries, going on to blame storm overflows and rainfall.

“Welsh Water has monitors on 99% of our storm overflows, more than any other water company, and given Wales also receives more rainfall than England this results in these storm overflows operating more often.

“It is therefore unsurprising that we currently record larger numbers of spills than others.”

Storm overflows act as safety valves, releasing extra sewage into rivers, lakes or the ocean when weather conditions cause excess rainfall. This stops properties from becoming flooded and saves them from sewage backing up into their streets and homes during extreme weather events.

The water company concluded to state that it was continuing to “protect the environment” and “assess the impact of storm overflows” to work to improve the problem.

“We are investing over £900m to protect the environment between 2020 and 2025. With 44% of Welsh rivers achieving good ecological status, compared to 16% in England, we are playing our part by investing to prevent any water body in Wales failing good ecological status by 2030 as a result of our wastewater treatment works.”

Undertones singer and fisherman Feargal Sharkey had something to say about the figures outlined on ‘Top of the Poops’ – tweeting:“What on earth is going on in Wales, Welsh Water with an utterly despicable record of six of the most polluted rivers. Get a grip.”

In a statement, Natural Resources Wales explained it was “concerned about the impact of storm discharges on our water quality”, and added a taskforce has since been set up to help reduce the impact.

“The taskforce brings together Welsh Government, NRW, Ofwat, Dŵr Cymru and Hafren Dyfrdwy, with independent advice from Afonydd Cymru and the Consumer Council for Water. Collaboratively, the Taskforce has published a series of action plans to gather greater evidence on the impact of storm overflows on our rivers and the sea to reduce the impacts they cause, to improve regulation and to educate the public on sewer misuse.”

It added that water companies have a “responsibility to the environment” and need to start taking the issue “seriously”: “We will continue to challenge the water companies to make sure storm overflows are properly controlled. We will investigate any cases of non-compliance and where appropriate take the required enforcement action.”

English Water Companies Oversaw Shocking Levels of Pollution in 2022

By |2023-02-20T17:10:40+00:00February 20th, 2023|

According to the UK government’s Environmental Performance Report for 2021, English water companies oversaw shocking levels of pollution in a year where there were 1,677 sewerage incidents, where untreated effluent was released into rivers and coastal waters.

UK effluent discharge into rivers by national water companies

Effluent discharge into a river in the UKThere are nine water and sewerage companies operating in England that provide clean drinking water and waste water services, and the government regulates and works in partnership with them to ensure they meet environmental standards. However, there have been instances of water companies deliberately releasing sewage into rivers and inland waters during heavy rain, which can have a significant impact on the environment. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of water companies contaminating rivers and inland waters in this way, leading to fines and legal action.

For example, in 2019, Southern Water was fined a record £126 million for deliberately releasing billions of litres of sewage into the environment over a period of years, resulting in serious harm to the environment and public health. Similarly, in 2021, Thames Water was fined £4 million after pleading guilty to illegally discharging sewage into a river in Buckinghamshire, causing serious harm to the environment.

Evidence from River Action UK indicates that the unprecedented growth of poultry farms in the headwaters of the Wye River is contributing to the river’s deterioration. The organisation reports that there are currently 500 farms in the counties of Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Powys, which are impacting the river’s health and causing harm to wildlife.

According to the River Action UK report, poultry farms have a significant impact on river water quality due to their high nutrient output, which increases the growth of algae and depletes oxygen levels, leading to the death of aquatic animals. The report states that the excess nutrients from poultry farms enter the Wye River via run-off from fields and can cause significant harm to both wildlife and people. The organisation is campaigning to raise awareness of the issue and encourage regulators to take action to prevent further harm to the river.

20 most polluted rivers in England and Wales and responsible water companies

River Severn – Severn Trent Water

River Calder – Yorkshire Water

River Aire – Yorkshire Water

Unknown – South West Water

River Derwent – Severn Trent Water

River Ouse – Yorkshire Water

River Tamar – South West Water

River Trent – Severn Trent Water

River Teifi – Dwr Cymru

River Eden – United Utilities

River Erewash – Severn Trent Water

River Usk – Dwr Cymru

River Irwell – United Utilities

River Wye – Dwr Cymru

River Don – Yorkshire Water

River Wharfe – Yorkshire Water

River Tawe – Dwr Cymru

Menai Strait – Dwr Cymru

River Rother – Southern Water

River Taf – Dwr Cymru

The Environment Agency (EA) has called for water company bosses to be jailed for serious pollution, as it revealed that English water companies oversaw shocking levels of pollution in the last year. A recent poll, cited by eastdevonwatch.org found that a majority of UK voters want water company bosses whose firms pollute rivers to be threatened with criminal prosecution.

Will Steffen: The dilemma of pioneer climate scientists

By |2023-02-20T17:15:48+00:00February 12th, 2023|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

The name of Will Lee Steffen will stand tall as a pioneer Earth systems and climate change scientist at our critical time when the life support systems of our planet are increasingly threatened. Along with other pioneer climate scientists over the last ~40 years or so, such as Wallace Broecker, James Hansen, Ralph Keeling, Paul Crutzen, Richard Alley, Stefan Rahmstorf, John Schellenberg, William Ruddiman, John Kutzbach, Guy Calendar, Michael Mann, Kevin Anderson, Andrew Weaver, Eric Rignot, Gavin Schmidt, Katrin Meissner, Kevin Trenberth and other, trying to communicate the scientific message of the greatest peril the planet is facing since at least 55 million years ago.

Will Lee Steffen: 25 June 1947 – 29 January 2023

There cannot be a more painful position for scientists than to find themselves compelled to issue severe warnings of the demise of the natural world, civilization, society, family and future generations due to the sharp rise in greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures originating from emissions from human industry. Yet this is precisely what climate scientists have been called to do, Cassandra-like, based on the physical and observed evidence for the rapid elevation in atmospheric, land and marine temperatures since the end of the 18th century at a rate exceeding geological mass extinction events.

Not all scientists have risen-up to the challenge. A small number have become climate change denial advocates, often supported by oil and gas corporations. Many in companies, government, institutions and in some instances even in universities had to subdue or moderate their warnings. Personal attitudes and politics became evident where, in some instances, scientists regarded as “optimists” were favoured by the authorities while other, labelled as “alarmists”, were penalized for their views. Nowadays the so-called “alarmists” are vindicated as extreme weather events are taking over large parts of the world.

Will Steffen avoided these pitfalls, sticking to the authentic scientific evidence and the manifest consequences of global warming around the world, yet disappointed by the refusal of many in authority to understand the implications of climate science for future generations, as reported in his communications (The Guardian 6/10/2018):

“I think the dominant linear, deterministic framework for assessing climate change is flawed, especially at higher levels of temperature rise. So, yes, model projections using models that don’t include these processes indeed become less useful at higher temperature levels. Or, as my co-author John Schellnhuber says, we are making a big mistake when we think we can “park” the Earth System at any given temperature rise – say 2C – and expect it to stay there … Even at the current level of warming of about 1C above pre-industrial, we may have already crossed a tipping point for one of the feedback processes (Arctic summer sea ice), and we see instabilities in others – permafrost melting, Amazon forest dieback, boreal forest dieback and weakening of land and ocean physiological carbon sinks. And we emphasise that these processes are not linear and often have built-in feedback processes that generate tipping point behaviour. For example, for melting permafrost, the chemical process that decomposes the peat generates heat itself, which leads to further melting and so on.”

Will Steffen wrote to me in our correspondence (27/03/2022):

“For all practical purposes i.e., timescales that humans can relate to, the levels of climate change we are driving towards now will be with us for thousands of years at least. The PETM (Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum) might be an appropriate analogue – a rapid spike in CO₂ concentration and temperature followed by the drawdown of CO₂ over 100,000 to 200,000 years. For all practical purposes, that time for recovery is so long (in human time scales) that it could be considered irreversible. Of course, extinctions are irreversible. So when the twin pressures of climate change and direct human degradation are applied to the biosphere, the resulting mass extinction event, that we have already entered, is of course irreversible.”

Will was one of a kind. While he would not let his presentations, expressed in scientifically objective and accurate terms, to be too coloured by optimism or pessimism, the congenial nature of his personality and gentle delivery could not hide the severe implications of his message. Rising above the fray, even his detractors found it difficult to refer to him in terms they commonly use toward other climate scientists. Nowadays in many forums climate scientists are replaced by economists, vested interests, marketing agents, sociologists and politicians, with only a vague idea of the basic laws of physics and the atmosphere.

Young generations, represented by Greta Thunberg, will see Will as one of last defenders of their future.

A/Professor Andrew Y Glikson
Earth and climate scientist
The University of New South Wales.
11 February 2023

Dire situation gets even more dire

By |2023-02-04T07:39:16+00:00February 4th, 2023|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

Sea ice extent is very low at both poles at the moment, and the outlook is that the situation is getting even worse.

Around Antarctica, sea ice extent was 2.23 million km² on February 2, 2023. Later in February this year, extent looks set to go below the 1.924 million km² all-time record low reached on February 25, 2022.

Arctic sea ice extent was 13.676 km² on February 1 , 2023, the second-lowest extent on record for the time of year, as illustrated by the image below.

As the above image indicates, over the next few days Arctic sea ice extent looks set to reach an all-time record low for the time of year.

Conditions are dire
This means that Antarctic sea ice could reach an all-time record low extent later this month, while at the same time Arctic sea ice could be at a record low extent for the time of year.
Furthermore, emissions keep rising, ocean heat and greenhouse gas levels keep rising and extreme weather events are getting ever more extreme. Keep in mind that carbon dioxide reaches its maximum warming some 10 years after emission, so we haven’t yet been hit by the full wrath of carbon dixode pollution.  
Furthermore, an earlier analysis concludes that we have already exceeded the 2°C threshold set at the Paris Agreement in 2015. 
These dire conditions spell bad news regarding the temperature rise over the coming years. On top of these dire conditions, there are a number of circumstances, feedbacks and further developments that make the outlook even more dire.
Circumstances that make the situation even more dire

Firstly, as illustrated by the image on the right, adapted from NOAA, we’re moving into an El Niño.

It looks like it’s going to be a very strong El Niño, given that we’ve been in a La Niña for such a long time. 

Moving from the bottom of a La Niña to the peak of a strong El Niño could make a difference of more than half a degree Celsius, as illustrated by the image below.
[ from earlier post, adapted from NOAA ]
Secondly, sunspots look set to reach a very high maximum by July 2025, as illustrated by the next two images on the right, adapted from NOAA.

Observed values for January 2023 are already well above the maximum values that NOAA predicted to be reached in July 2025. If this trend continues, the rise in sunspots forcing from May 2020 to July 2025 may well make a difference of more than 0.25°C, a recent analysis found.

Thirdly, the 2022 Tonga submarine volcano eruption did add a huge amount of water vapor to the atmosphere. 
Since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas, this is further contributing to speed up the temperature rise. 
2023 study calculates that the submarine volcano eruption near Tonga in January 2022, as also discussed at facebook, will have a warming effect of 0.12 Watts/m² over the next few years.
Feedbacks and developments making things worse
Then, there are a multitude of feedbacks and further developments that could strongly deteriorate the situation even further.
On top of the water vapor added by the Tonga eruption, there are several feedbacks causing more water vapor to get added to the atmosphere, as discussed at Moistening Atmosphere.  

Further feedbacks include additional greenhouse gas release such as methane from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean and methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from rapidly thawing permafrost on land.

Some developments could make things even worse. As discussed in earlier posts such as this one and this one, the upcoming temperature rise on land on the Northern Hemisphere could be so high that it will cause much traffic, transport and industrial activity to grind to a halt, resulting in a reduction in cooling aerosols that are currently masking the full wrath of global warming.

Falling away of this aerosol masking effect could cause a huge temperature rise, while there could be an additional temperature rise due to an increase in warming aerosols and gases as a result of more biomass and waste burning and forest fires.

A huge temperature rise could therefore unfold soon, causing the clouds tipping point to be crossed that on its own could result in further rise of 8°C. Meanwhile, humans are likely to go extinct with a rise of 3°C, as illustrated by the image below, from an analysis discussed in an earlier post.

The dire situation we’re in looks set to get even more dire, calling for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• NSIDC – Chartic interactive sea ice graph

• Climate Reanalyzer – sea ice based on NSIDC index V3

• Extinction

• Pre-industrial

• NOAA – Solar cycle progression
• Sunspots

• Tonga eruption increases chance of temporary surface temperature anomaly above 1.5 °C – by Stuart Jenkins et al.

• Moistening Atmosphere
• Methane keeps rising
• A huge temperature rise threatens to unfold soon

• The Clouds Feedback and the Clouds Tipping Point

The global climate change suicide pact

By |2023-01-29T10:32:41+00:00January 29th, 2023|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

 by Andrew Glikson

Despite of deceptively-claimed mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in parts of the world, ongoing burning of domestic and exported fossil fuels world-wide continues to change the composition of the atmosphere, enriching it in greenhouse gases by yet another ~2 ppm CO₂ (2022: 418.95 ppm; CH₄: 1915 ppb; N₂0: 337 ppb), reaching levels commensurate with those of the Miocene (23.03 to 5.333 Ma) at rise rates exceeding any in the geological record of the last 66 million years (Glikson, 2020) (Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Global 1880-2021 annual average temperatures (adapted by UCAR from ClimateCentral).

Since 1880 mean global temperatures rose at a rate of 0.08°C per decade, from 1981 by 0.18°C per decade and more when emitted aerosols are accounted for (Hansen et al., in Berwyn, 2022). According to Will Steffen, Australia’s leading climate scientist “there was already a chance we have triggered a global tipping cascade that would take us to a less habitable Hothouse Earth climate, regardless of whether we reduced emissions” (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Global mean temperature profile since 200 AD projected to beyond 2000 AD (Will Steffen)

Over a brief span of less than two centuries (Figure 1) anthropogenic reversal of the carbon cycle induced the emission of some 1.5 10¹² tonnes of CO₂ and an increased release of 150% more CH₄ from the crust, accumulated in sediments for hundreds of million years through photosynthesis and calcification, as well as from permafrost and oceans. Permeation of the atmosphere and the hydrosphere with the toxic residues of ancient plants and organisms, poisoning the biosphere, is leading to the Sixth mass extinction of species in the history of nature.

Following failed attempts to deny climate science, vested business and political interests are proceeding, with the support of many governments, to mine coal, sink oil wells and frack hydrocarbon gas, regardless of the consequences in term of global heating, sea level rise, inundation of islands and coastal zones, collapse of the permafrost, heat waves, floods, ocean acidification, migration of climate zones and dissemination of plastic particles, rendering the future of much of the biosphere uninhabitable.

Figure 3. Europe: Maximum extreme temperatures, July 17-23, 2002.

The progression of global warming is unlikely to be linear as the flow of cold ice melt water from Greenland and Antarctica glaciers would cool parts of the ocean and in part the continents (Figure 4), leading toward a stadial-type phenomenon, the classic case of which is symbolized by the Younger dryas cool period 12,900 to 11,700 years ago.

Figure 4. Projected transient stadial cooling events (Hansen et al., 2016)

National and international legal systems appear unable to restrict the saturation of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, as governments preside over the worst calamity in natural history since the demise of the dinosaurs. Facing heatwaves (Figure 3), fires, floods and sea level rise, those responsible may in part remain oblivious to the magnitude of the consequences, waking up when it is too late.

There was a time when leaders fell on their sword when defeated in battle or lose their core beliefs, nowadays most not even resign their privileged positions to resist the existential danger posed to advanced life, including human civilization, preoccupied as nations are with preparations for nuclear wars.

It is long past time to declare a global climate and nuclear emergency.
Andrew Glikson

A/Prof. Andrew Glikson

Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia

The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction

A huge temperature rise threatens to unfold soon

By |2023-01-03T08:28:19+00:00January 3rd, 2023|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

A huge temperature rise threatens to unfold, as the already dire situation threatens to turn catastrophic due to the combined impact of a number of developments and feedbacks. 

The upcoming El Niño

Temperatures are currently suppressed as we’re in the depth of a persistent La Niña event. It is rare for a La Niña event to last as long as the current one does, as illustrated by the NASA image below and discussed in this NASA post.  

The above image also indicates that a strong El Niño has become more common over the years. The above image was created using data up to September 2022. La Niña has since continued, as illustrated by the NOAA image on the right. NOAA adds that the dashed black line indicates that La Niña is expected to transition to ENSO-neutral during January-March 2023.

Chances are that we’ll move into the next El Niño in the course of 2023. Moving from the bottom of a La Niña to the peak of a strong El Niño could make a difference of more than half a degree Celsius, as illustrated by the image below.
[ image adapted from NOAA, from earlier post ]

The upcoming El Niño looks set to coincide with a high number of sunspots. The number of sunspots is forecast to reach a peak in July 2025 and recent numbers are higher than expected, as illustrated by the image on the right, from NOAA.


An analysis in an earlier post concludes that the rise in sunspots from May 2020 to July 2025 could make a difference of some 0.15°C. Recent numbers of sunspots have been high. This confirms the study mentioned in the earlier post that warns that the peak of this cycle could rival the top few since records began, which would further increase the difference.

Joint impact of El Niño and sunspots

In conclusion, the joint impact of a strong El Niño and high sunspots could make a difference of more than 0.65°C. This rise could trigger further developments and feedbacks that altogether could cause a temperature to rise from pre-industrial of as much as 18.44°C by 2026.

Further developments and feedbacks

A combination of further developments and feedbacks could cause a huge temperature rise. 
An example of this is the decline of the cryosphere, i.e. the global snow and ice cover.
Antarctic sea ice extent is currently at a record low for the time of year, as illustrated by the image on the right. Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record low on February 25, 2022, and Antarctic sea ice extent looks set to get even lower this year. 
Global sea ice extent is also at a record low for the time of year, as illustrated by the image below, which shows that global sea ice extent was 4.6 million km² on January 2, 2023. 

The image below is from tropicaltidbits.com and shows a forecast for September 2023 of the 2-meter temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius and based on 1984-2009 model climatology. The anomalies are forecast to be very high for the Arctic Ocean, as well as for the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, which spells bad news for sea ice at both hemispheres. 
Loss of sea ice results in loss of albedo and loss of the latent heat buffer that – when present – consumes ocean heat as the sea ice melts. These combined losses could result in a large additional temperature rise, while there are further contributors to the temperature rise, such as thawing of terrestrial permafrost and associated changes such as deformation of the Jet Stream and additional ocean heat moving into the Arctic from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

There are many further developments and feedbacks that could additionally speed up the temperature rise, such as the (currently accelerating) rise of greenhouse gas emissions, falling away of the aerosol masking effect, more biomass being burned for energy and an increase in forest and waste fires. 

As said, these developments and feedbacks could jointly cause a temperature rise from pre-industrial of as much as 18.44°C by 2026, as discussed at the Extinction page. Keep in mind that humans are likely to go extinct with a rise of 3°C, as illustrated by the image below, from an analysis discussed in an earlier post.

The situation is dire and threatens to turn catastrophic soon. The right thing to do now is to help avoid or delay the worst from happening, through action as described in the Climate Plan.


• NASA – La Niña Times Three

• NOAA Climate Prediction Center – ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

• Sunspots


• Cataclysmic Alignment

• NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Monthly Global Climate Report for October 2022, retrieved November 16, 2022

• Tropicaltidbits.comhttps://www.tropicaltidbits.com

• Jet Stream

• Cold freshwater lid on North Atlantic

2023 could mark a turning point for the Amazon rainforest

By |2023-01-01T17:22:05+00:00January 1st, 2023|

New political leaders in Brazil and Colombia have promised to protect the rainforest, raising hopes of saving the ecosystem from becoming savannah

From the New Scientist, 31 December 2022

By Luke Taylor


The Potaro river running through the Amazon rainforest in Guyana

After four years of runaway deforestation in the Amazon under Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who takes office on 1 January, could be a decisive turning point.

Lula has pledged to aim for net-zero deforestation – the first Brazilian president to do so. “A standing tree is worth more than thousands of logs,” he said in his victory speech on 31 October. “That is why we will resume the surveillance of the entire Amazon and any illegal activity.”

As well as the restoration of monitoring and surveillance efforts, Lula is proposing several ambitious projects, such as a national climate authority and a sustainable farming scheme. But without a majority in Brazil’s Congress, it is unclear whether he will be able to deliver on these pledges. It will also take time to dislodge the illegal industries that have taken hold in the Amazon, such as gold mining.

Despite the challenges ahead, Lula’s win has made researchers and conservationists more optimistic that the Amazon could be saved, even as there are signs it is hitting a tipping point that would see it transform into savannah. “The election of Lula is a great reason for hope,” says Mark Plotkin, an ethnobotanist and co-founder of non-profit organisation the Amazon Conservation Team.

The impact of Lula’s environmental policy should be magnified by the recent election of eco-conscious governments elsewhere in South America that have campaigned to protect the rainforest.

In Colombia, which is home to some of the Amazon’s most biodiverse regions, President Gustavo Petro is also positioning himself as a regional steward of the rainforest, after taking office in August 2022. Petro is pushing for high-income countries to support South America’s defence of the rainforest and he is also overseeing a total rethink of Colombia’s conservation strategy.

After decades of criminalising farmers who clear the forest for agriculture, the Colombian government now plans to offer them financial support to transition to more sustainable practices, such as harvesting Amazonian fruits from the trees.

The country’s environment minister also proposes diverting all carbon tax revenue directly to conservation schemes and forging an “Amazon Bloc” with other South American nations, so that they will have more leverage to secure international funds.

With Petro, Lula and US president Joe Biden all having been elected after campaigning to protect the Amazon, researchers say they have the political and public support to move forward with plans to conserve and restore the rainforest.

There may also be more opportunities for collaboration between different countries and groups. Bolsonaro blocked conservation in the wider region, not just Brazil, says Martín von Hildebrand, founder of the non-profit organisation Gaia Amazonas. Alliances between NGOs, scientists and Indigenous peoples can now be strengthened and their plans enacted, he says.

Restoring the forest

This could be the year that decades of damage begin to be reversed, says von Hildebrand. The anthropologist is working with researchers and Indigenous communities to draw up a reforestation project that would create a wildlife corridor stretching from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. “We’ve been waiting for a long time for political will to implement change and I think we are finally going to get it,” he says.

Carlos Nobre at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, believes that conservationists can capitalise on political support and the growing urgency of climate change to spur efforts towards reforestation.

At the COP27 climate summit in November 2022, Nobre presented a project to restore more than 1 million square kilometres of rainforest that would, he says, “store 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year for decades to come and prevent the Amazon from reaching a tipping point”.

Though the Amazon’s future remains uncertain, the importance of its conservation for climate change will only become more obvious in 2023, says von Hildebrand.

“It’s not only a carbon sink and a haven of biodiversity, but with its flying rivers [currents of water vapour], it’s a water pump for the entire Amazon, the Andes and beyond,” he says. “The forest is absolutely necessary. If we lose the forest, we simply won’t have water in this part of the world.”

Sign up to our free Fix the Planet newsletter to get a dose of climate optimism delivered straight to your inbox, every Thursday

Wild Winter Weather

By |2022-12-23T06:32:47+00:00December 23rd, 2022|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

[ posted earlier at facebook ]

The image on the right shows a forecast of very low temperatures over North America with a temperature of -40 °C / °F highlighted (green circle at center) for December 23, 2022 14:00 UTC. 

As the image shows, temperatures over large parts of North America are forecast to be even lower than the temperature at the North Pole.  
The combination image below illustrates this further, showing temperatures as low as -50.3°C or -58.6°F in Alaska on December 22, 2022 at 17:00 UTC, while at the same time the temperature at the North Pole was -13.6°C or 7.4°F. 
The Jet Stream

The image below shows the Jet Stream (250 hPa) on December 13, 2022, stretched out vertically and reaching the North Pole as well as the South Pole, while sea surface temperature anomalies are as high as 11°C or 19.7°F from 1981-2011 at the green circle. 
The Jet Stream used to circumnavigate the globe within a narrow band from West to East (due to the Coriolis Force), and it used to travel at relatively high speed, fuelled by the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles.
[ posted earlier at facebook ]
As the above image shows, the Pacific Ocean is currently cooler at the tropics and warmer further to the north (compared to 1981-2011), which narrows this temperature difference and in turn makes the Jet Stream wavier. Accordingly, the Jet Stream is going up high into the Arctic before descending deep down over North America. 
The image on the right shows air pressure at sea level on December 22, 2022. High sea surface temperatures make air rise, lowering air pressure at the surface to levels as low as 973 hPa over the Pacific. Conversely, a more wavy Jet Stream enables cooler air to flow from the Arctic to North America, raising air pressure at the surface to levels as high as 1056 hPa.
On December 22, 2022, the Jet Stream reached very high speeds over the Pacific, fuelled by high sea surface temperature anomalies. The image on the right shows the Jet Stream moving over the North Pacific at speeds as high as 437 km/h or 271 mph (with a Wind Power Density of 349.2 kW/m², at the green circle). 
The Jet Stream then collides with higher air pressure and moves up into the Arctic, and subsequently descends deep down over North America, carrying along cold air from the Arctic. Distortion of the Jet Stream also results in the formation of circular wind patterns that further accelerate the speed of the Jet Stream. 
The image on the right shows the Jet Stream moving over North America at speeds as high as 366 km/h or 227 mph (green circle). The image also shows high waves in the North Pacific. 
La Niña / El Niño
The low sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean are in line with the current La Niña. 
The fact that such extreme weather events occur while we’re in the depth of a persistent La Niña is worrying. The next El Niño could push up temperatures further, which would hit the Arctic most strongly. This would further narrow the difference between temperatures at the Equator and the North Pole, thus making the Jet Stream more wavy, which also enables warm air to move into the Arctic, further accelerating feedbacks in the Arctic.
The image below, from NOAA, indicates that the next El Niño is likely to emerge soon. 


The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan


• nullschool
• Jet Stream
• Coriolis Force
• Wind Power Density

• Extreme Weather

• Feedbacks in the Arctic

• NOAA – Multivariate ENSO Index Version 2 (MEI.v2)

The short lifespan of technological civilizations and the future of Homo sapiens

By |2022-12-17T06:33:26+00:00December 17th, 2022|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

by Andrew Glikson

In his book ‘Collapse’ (2011) Jared Diamond portrays the fate of societies which Choose to Fail or Succeed. On a larger scale the Fermi’s paradox suggests that advanced technological civilizations may constitute ephemeral entities in the galaxy, destined to collapse over short periods. Such an interpretation of Fermi’s paradox, corroborated by recent terrestrial history, implies that the apparent absence of radio signals from Milky Way planets and beyond may be attributed to an inherently self-destructive nature of civilizations which reached the ability to propagate radio waves, consistent with Carl Sagan’s views. It can be expected therefore that the number of advanced technological societies in the universe will be proportional to their average lifetime, perhaps lasting no more than a few centuries. Inexplicably, the behavior of Homo “sapiens” reveals the reality of Fermi’s paradox, unless humans can wake up in time.

Since the onset of the Neolithic about ~10,000 years ago open-ended combustion of wood, coal, oil, methane and gas for production of steam power and electricity (Figure 1), and of uranium to generate nuclear power, constrain the life expectancy of industrial civilizations through proliferation of greenhouse gases, alteration of the chemistry of the atmosphere and proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, testifying to the relevance of Fermi’s paradox in the 20-21 centuries.

Geological and astronomical studies establish Earth is unique among the terrestrial planets in harboring advanced life forms, including colonial life since as early as ~3.5 billion years ago. Should the fate of Homo sapiens be recorded, history would tell that, while the atmosphere was overheating, oceans acidifying and radioactivity rising, humans never ceased to saturate the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, mine uranium, unleash fatal wars and fire rockets at the planets. All the time indulging in sports games and inundating the airwaves with gratuitous words, false promises, misconstrued assumptions and simple lies ─ betraying their future generations and a multitude of species on the only haven of life known in the solar system.

Fig. 1. A combined night lights image of Earth signifying global civilization. NASA

In a new paper titled ‘Global warming in the pipeline’, Hansen et al. (2022) state: “glacial-to-interglacial global temperature change implies that fast-feedback equilibrium climate sensitivity is at least ~4°C for doubled CO₂ with likely range 3.5-5.5°C. Greenhouse gas (GHG) climate forcing is 4.1 W/m² larger in 2021 than in 1750, equivalent to 2xCO₂ forcing. Global warming in the pipeline is greater than prior estimates. Eventual global warming due to today’s GHG forcing alone — after slow feedbacks operate — is about 10°C. Human-made aerosols are a major climate forcing, mainly via their effect on clouds … A hinge-point in global warming occurred in 1970 as increased GHG warming outpaced aerosol cooling, leading to global warming of 0.18°C per decade.

The inevitable consequence is a shift in the position of the Earth’s climate zones, a decline in the Earth’s albedo (a climatologically significant ~0.5 W/m² decrease over two decades), a rise in greenhouse gases at a geologically unprecedented rate of 2-3 ppm/year), acidification of the oceans (by about 26 percent), receding ice sheets, rising sea levels (~20 cm since 1900), changes in vegetation, forests and soils, a shift in state of the climate and mass extinction, with humans are driving around one million species to extinction.

For longer than 50 years few were aware that a rise in atmospheric CO₂ on the scale of ~100 ppm CO₂ at the annual rate of 2 – 3 ppm per year, could lead to the unhabitability of large parts of Earth (The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells) (Figure 2A). Now we find ourselves surrounded by the consequences ─ hydrocarbon saturation of air and water, runaway global heating, acidification, dissemination of micro-plastics, habitat destruction, radioactive overload, proliferation of chemical weapons ─ In confirmation of the reality of Fermi’s Paradox.


But just at the time the world was increasingly overwhelmed by extreme weather events, severe fires and floods, climate scientists were increasingly ignored, replaced by politicians, bureaucrats, economists, strategists and vested interests ignorant of the basic laws of physics and of the principles which control the atmosphere-ocean system. Policies and promises guided by the science have been betrayed and meaningful mitigation and adaptation negated by the opening of new coal mines and gas fields. Cold war strategies violating the United Nation charter were depleting the resources required for mitigation of the looming climate catastrophe. Within a blink of geological eye, at a rate unprecedented since the extinction of the dinosaurs, large regions of Earth were becoming increasingly uninhabitable for a multitude of species, surpassing 350 ppm CO₂ and approaching Miocene (5.3 – 23.0 Ma)-like conditions (Figure 2B). All along humans continued busily developing a veritable doomsday machine near 1300 nuclear warheads-strong threatening release within seconds.
Fig. 2. (A) Upper Holocene temperatures. (B). The Middle Miocene long-term continental (brown) and marine (blue) temperature change. Red arrow points to the present (2022) average global temperature of 13.9°C NOAA.
That humans are capable of committing the most horrendous crimes upon each other, on other species and on nature, including mass exterminations, has been demonstrated during the 20th century by the Nazi concentration camps and by genocidal conflicts such as in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, Rwanda, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Ukraine ─ the list goes on … 

Fig. 3. Tsar Bomba, exploded above Novaya Zemlya
The ultimate step toward the Fermi’s paradox has been reached following nuclear experiments in New Mexico, Novaya Zemlya (Figure 3), the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the rising prospects of a nuclear war, with consequent firestorms, radiation from fallout, a nuclear winter, and electromagnetic pulses looming ever greater. According to a paper by Robock and Toon (2012) ‘Self-assured destruction: The climate impacts of nuclear war’, a thermonuclear war could lead to the end of modern civilization, due to a long-lasting nuclear winter and the destruction of crops. In one model the average temperature of Earth during a nuclear winter, where black smoke from cities and industries rise into the upper stratosphere, lowers global temperatures by 7 – 8° Celsius for several years.

As stated by Hansen et al. (2012): “Burning all fossil fuels would create a different planet than the one that humanity knows. The paleoclimate record and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate system would be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes, including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, extermination of a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastating regional climate extremes”.

A nuclear war in the background of carbon saturated atmosphere can only lead to extreme damage to the life support systems of the planet. The propensity of “sapiens” to genocide and ecocide, are hardly masked by the prevailing Orwellian language of politicians in the absence of meaningful action to avert the demise of the biosphere as we know it. Whereas the ultimate consequences of global heating are likely to occur within a century, including temperature polarities including heat waves and regional cooling of ocean regions by ice melt flow from Antarctica and Greenland ice sheets (Gikson 2019), a nuclear war on the scale of the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) can erupt on a time scale of minutes …

On July 16, 1945, witnessing the atomic test at the Trinity site, New Mexico, Robert Oppenheimer, the chief nuclear scientist (Figure 4), cited the Hindu scripture of Shiva from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. Then, as stated by Albert Einstein: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything, except for man’s way of thinking, and thus we drift into unparalleled catastrophes”.

Andrew Glikson

A/Professor Andrew Glikson

Earth and Paleo-climate scientist
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
The University of New South Wales,
Kensington NSW 2052 Australia

16 December 2022

The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution
The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth
Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene
The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth
Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon
From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence
Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia
The Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe
The Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction

Antarctic sea ice in rapid decline

By |2022-12-16T05:34:19+00:00December 16th, 2022|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

Earlier this year, on February 25, Antarctic sea ice extent was at an all-time record low of 1.924 million km², as the above image shows. Throughout the year, Antarctic sea ice extent has been low. On December 14, 2022, Antarctic sea ice was merely 9.864 million km² in extent. Only in 2016 was Antarctic sea ice extent lower at that time of year, and – importantly – 2016 was a strong El Niño year.

The NOAA image on the right indicates that, while we’re still in the depths of a persistent La Niña, the next El Niño looks set to strike soon.

Meanwhile, ocean heat content keeps rising due to high levels of greenhouse gases, as illustrated by the image on the right. 

Rising ocean heat causes sea ice to melt from below, resulting in less sea ice, which in turn means that less sunlight gets reflected back into space and more sunlight gets absorbed as heat in the ocean, making it a self-reinforcing feedback loop that further speeds up sea ice loss. 

The currently very rapid decline in sea ice concentration around Antarctica is illustrated by the animation of Climate Reanalyzer images on the right, showing Antarctic sea ice on November 16, November 29 and December 15, 2022.

In 2012, a research team led by Jemma Wadham studied Antarctica, concluding that an amount of 21,000 Gt or billion tonnes or petagram (1Pg equals 10¹⁵g) of organic carbon is buried beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet, as discussed in an earlier post

The potential amount of methane hydrate and free methane gas beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet could be up to 400 billion tonnes. 
The predicted shallow depth of these potential reserves also makes them more susceptible to climate forcing than other methane hydrate reserves on Earth, describes the news release.

“We are sleepwalking into a catastrophe for humanity. We need to take notice right now. It is already happening. This is not a wait-and-see situation anymore,” Jemma Wadham said more recently.

Ominously, high concentrations of methane have been recorded over Antarctica recently. The image below shows methane as recorded by the Metop-B satellite on November 28, 2022 pm at 399 mb. 

The situation is dire and the right thing to do now is to help avoid or delay the worst from happening, through action as described in the Climate Plan.


• NSIDC – Interactive sea ice graph

• NOAA – ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

• NOAA – ocean heat content

• Climate Reanalyzer sea ice concentration

• Potential methane reservoirs beneath Antarctica – Press release University of Bristol (2012)

• Potential methane reservoirs beneath Antarctica – by Jemma Wadham et al. (2012)

• A new frontier in climate change science: connections between ice sheets, carbon and food webs

• Metop-B satellite readings

• Climate Plan

Politicians for sale

By |2022-12-12T03:45:22+00:00December 12th, 2022|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

Are politicians for sale? 

How can it be measured whether politicians are for sale and to what extent this occurs? 

One measure of how much looters and polluters are buying politicians could be this: How fast is methane accelerating? 

Rise in methane and rise in temperature
The rise in methane is vitally important, given methane’s potential to rapidly push up temperatures. 

Arguably the most important metric related to climate change is surface temperature on land, as illustrated by the image below from an earlier post. The image was created with a July 16, 2022 screenshot from NASA customized analysis plots and shows that the February 2016 (land only) anomaly from 1886-1915 was 2.94°C or 5.292°F.


Land-only anomalies are important. After all, most people live on land, where temperatures are rising even faster than they are rising globally, and humans will likely go extinct with a rise of 3°C above pre-industrial, as illustrated by the image below, from an analysis in earlier post.

Note that in the above plot, anomalies are measured versus 1886-1915, which isn’t pre-industrial. The image raises questions as to what the temperature rise would look like when using a much earlier base, and how much temperatures could rise over the next few years.

What can be done about it?

The next question is: What can be done about it? To avoid politicians getting bought by looters and polluters, action on climate change is best implemented locally, with Local People’s Courts ensuring that implementation is science-based.

The situation is dire and the right thing to do now is to help avoid or delay the worst from happening, through action as described in the Climate Plan and posts at Arctic-news.blogspot.com
• Human Extinction by 2025? 
• NASA customized analysis plots 

• When will we die? 

• Pre-industrial 

Arctic Ocean overheating

By |2022-12-05T10:37:38+00:00December 5th, 2022|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

Arctic sea ice extent was 10.31 million km² on December 4, 2022. At this time of year, extent was smaller only in two years, i.e. in 2016 and 2020, both strong El Niño years. With the next El Niño, Arctic sea ice extent looks set to reach record lows. 

The NOAA image on the right indicates that, while we’re still in the depths of a persistent La Niña, the next El Niño looks set to strike soon.

The image below shows high sea surface temperature anomalies near the Bering Strait on December 2, 2022, with a “hot blob” in the North Pacific Ocean where sea surface temperature anomalies are reaching as high as 7°C or 12.6°F from 1981-2011. The Jet Stream is stretched out vertically from pole to pole, enabling hot air to enter the Arctic from the Pacific Ocean and from the Atlantic Ocean.

The image below shows a forecast for December 5, 2022, of 2m temperature anomalies versus 1979-2000, with anomalies over the Arctic Ocean near the top end of the scale.

The situation is dire and the right thing to do now is to help avoid or delay the worst from happening, through action as described in the Climate Plan.


• Vishop sea ice extent

• NOAA ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions

• nullschool.net

• Climate Reanalyzizer

• Climate Plan

There is no Carbon Budget

By |2022-11-12T14:27:43+00:00November 12th, 2022|

Originally published on

by at Arctic News

In the above image, the atmosphere is presented as a “bucket” filling with greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel use from 1870 to 2020. The image depicts the idea that there is some carbon budget left, before 1.5°C above pre-industrial will be reached. The Global Carbon Project has just issued an update of what it refers to as the Global Carbon Budget

The Global Carbon Project insists that there still is some carbon budget left, even as global fossil fuel C₂O emissions in 2021 were higher than 2020, and are projected to be higher again in 2022 than 2021, as illustrated by the image on the right.

Arctic-news has long said that the suggestion of a carbon budget is part of a narrative that polluters seek to spread, i.e. that there was some budget left to be divided among polluters, as if polluters could safely continue to pollute for years to come before thresholds would be reached that could make life uncomfortable, such as a rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial. 

For starters, an earlier analysis warns that the 1.5°C threshold may have already been crossed long ago. The situation looks set to soon become even more catastrophic. The upcoming El Niño could make a difference of more than 0.5°C over the next few years. Additionally, there will be a growing impact of sunspots, forecast to peak in July 2025. 

Arctic-news has long warned about rising temperatures, not only due to high greenhouse gas levels, but also due to a number of events and developments including a rise of up to 1.6°C due to loss of Arctic sea ice and permafrost, and associated changes, a rise of up to 1.9°C due to a decrease in cooling aerosols, and a rise of up to 0.6°C due to an increase in warming aerosols and gases as a result of more biomass and waste burning and forest fires.
More recent posts also warn that the rise could cause the clouds tipping point at 1200 ppm CO₂e to be crossed. Accordingly, the total temperature rise could be as high as 18.44°C from pre-industrial by 2026. Keep in mind that humans are likely to go extinct with a rise of 3°C, as discussed in an earlier post.

[ image from quotes, text from 2013 post ]

So, there is no carbon budget left. There is just a huge amount of carbon to be removed from the atmosphere and oceans, a “debt” that polluters would rather be forgotten or passed on to future generations.

This “debt” has been growing since well before the industrial revolution started. Long ago, people should have started to reduce emissions and remove greenhouse gases, as well as take further action to improve the situation, and Arctic-news has long said that comprehensive and effective action must be taken without delay.

The situation is dire and the right thing to do now is to help avoid or delay the worst from happening, through action as described in the Climate Plan and at the recent post Transforming Society.


• Global Carbon Project – Global Carbon Budget 2022

• The upcoming El Nino and further events and developments

• Arctic Methane Monster

• The Clouds Feedback and the Clouds Tipping Point

Methane levels threaten to skyrocket

• Transforming Society

US rejoins coalition to achieve 1.5C goal at UN climate talks

By |2021-11-02T13:20:51+00:00November 2nd, 2021|

From The Guardian, 2nd November 2021:

The US has rejoined the High Ambition Coalition at the UN climate talks, the group of developed and developing countries that ensured the 1.5C goal was a key plank of the Paris agreement.

The decision by the world’s biggest economy and second biggest emitter, after China, to return to the High Ambition Coalition group of countries marks a significant boost to attempts to focus the Cop26 summit on limiting temperature rises to 1.5C, the tougher of the two goals of the Paris agreement.

A firefighter extinguishes a forest fire near the town of Manavgat, east of the resort city of Antalya, Turkey

A firefighter extinguishes a forest fire near the town of Manavgat, east of the resort city of Antalya, Turkey

The coalition, which numbered scores of countries at the 2015 Paris talks, will on Tuesday call on governments to step up their efforts on greenhouse gas emissions and phasing out coal, consistent with a 1.5C limit, and urge rich nations to double the amount of climate finance they make available for poor countries to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis. They also want to bring an end to subsidies for fossil fuels.

A senior US official said: “The High Ambition Coalition was instrumental in Paris in making sure that high ambition was written into the Paris agreementand will be instrumental in Glasgow in making sure it’s delivered.”

Tina Stege, the climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, said: “The High Ambition Coalition has set the bar for what needs to happen at this Cop: getting on track to limiting temperature rise to 1.5C with enhanced [nationally determined contributions] and with real, actual actions, like phasing out coal; a sea-change on adaptation, with at least a doubling of current levels of adaptation financing; and making sure that we all have the resources we need to face this crisis, including the loss and damage we’re already experiencing today.

“These heads of state have given their marching orders for ambition.”

Nature’s truly brilliant camouflage

By |2021-11-02T13:10:08+00:00November 2nd, 2021|

The beautiful Spiny Flower Mantis

Margaret Neville was amazed by a beautiful creature that she saw during a stroll on her farm in South Africa. It is most remarkable for appearing to be covered in lots of tiny flowers, coloured green and white. Also, it complements these with a number of white or lilac protrusions to make them blend in with surrounding plants – a truly brilliant camouflage. They are small, being approximately 1.5 to 2 inches long and when threatened, will stand upright and spread their wings which reveal two “eyes” to scare off predators.

Celebrating Earth Day 2021 !

By |2021-04-23T14:27:06+01:00April 21st, 2021|

The theme for Earth Day 2021 is ‘Restore Our Earth’, urging everyone to focus on how we can both reduce our impact on the planet and actively repair ecosystems.

EARTHDAY.ORG™ works in countries around the world to drive meaningful action for our planet across:

  • Food & Environment: Simply put, the event’s organisers want you to combat climate change by changing your diet – better known as reducing your “foodprint.” While we should all be working to reduce our foodprints, there are several factors to consider, such as access, availability, health, and sustainability.

  • Climate Literacy: Climate and environmental awareness, when combined with civic education, is expected to create jobs, develop a green consumer market, and enable people to meaningfully engage with their governments in the fight against climate change, according to Earth Day organisers. They believe that climate and environmental education should be mandatory, measured, and include a strong civic participation aspect in every school around the world.
  • The Canopy Project: By planting trees all over the world, this initiative aims to enhance our common climate. Since 2010, Earth Day organisers have worked with global partners to plant tens of millions of trees with The Canopy Project, reforesting areas in desperate need of rehabilitation.

  • The Great Global Clean Up: Did you know that unregulated burning of household waste causes 270,000 premature deaths per year, and that 2 billion people lack access to waste collection services? It’s also reported that 79 percent of all plastics ever made have ended up in landfills or the natural environment.

  • Global Earth Challenge: Begun in April 2020 and aims to involve millions of people by incorporating billions of data points from new and ongoing citizen science initiatives. Essentially, the Global Earth Challenge aims to become the world’s largest organised citizen science initiative by creating a new mobile app that allows public volunteers to contribute to scientific research.

This year’s focus is on assisting local communities, with a particular emphasis on areas that are disproportionately impacted by environmental concerns. Many who live on the front lines of environmental disasters don’t always have the money to repair the damage.



Nine-year-old is first UK person to have air pollution listed on death certificate

By |2021-04-21T21:41:01+01:00April 21st, 2021|

The Government has been urged to set much tougher legally binding pollution targets by the coroner in an inquest into a nine-year-old girl who died of a fatal asthma attack after being exposed to toxic air.

Philip Barlow, assistant coroner for Inner South London, ruled in a landmark second inquest last year that air pollution contributed to the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah from an asthma attack.

In a report to prevent future deaths, he said legally binding targets for particulate matter in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines would reduce the number of deaths from air pollution in the UK and the Government should take action to address the issue.

The WHO limit is 10 micrograms of tiny “particulate” matter per cubic metre – and if the UK were to introduce such a limit about 15 million people would be living in areas with illegally high levels of pollution.The current UK – and EU – limit is 25 micrograms per cubic metre, which far exceeds the level of air pollution any part of the country, yet air pollution is responsible for an estimated 36,000 early deaths a year.

Mr Barlow also said greater public awareness of air pollution information would help individuals reduce their personal exposure.

And he warned the adverse effects of pollutants were not being sufficiently communicated to patients and their carers by medical staff

Responding to the report, Ella’s mother Rosamund Kissi-Debrah called on the Government to act on the recommendations in the coroner’s report, warning “children are dying unnecessarily because the Government is not doing enough to combat air pollution”.

Ella was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate, following the inquest ruling by Mr Barlow last December.

She lived 25 metres from the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London – one of the capital’s busiest roads.

Ella Kissi-Debra named as the first person to die of air pollution in the UK

Ella Kissi-Debrah

She died in February 2013, having endured numerous seizures and made almost 30 hospital visits over the previous three years.

A previous inquest ruling from 2014, which concluded Ella died of acute respiratory failure, was quashed by the High Court following new evidence about the dangerous levels of air pollution close to her home.

In his report following the second inquest, published this morning, Mr Barlow said national limits for particulate matter – a dangerous form of air pollutant – were set far higher than WHO guidelines.

“The evidence at the inquest was that there is no safe level for particulate matter and that the WHO guidelines should be seen as minimum requirements.

“Legally binding targets based on WHO guidelines would reduce the number of deaths from air pollution in the UK,” the report said.

He said Government departments for environment, health and transport should address the issue, while local and national governments should address the lack of public awareness about pollution information.

Health bodies and professional organisations needed to tackle the failure by doctors and nurses to communicate the adverse effects of air pollution on health to patients, he said.

Ms Kissi-Debrah said she would be contacting Environment Secretary George Eustice to urge him to put the WHO pollution guidelines into law in the Environment Bill and achieve them in the shortest possible time.

She also said there needed to be improved public information about the levels of pollution that people are exposed to and the health risks.

“As the parent of a child suffering from severe asthma, I should have been given this information but this did not happen.

“Because of a lack of information I did not take the steps to reduce Ella’s exposure to air pollution that might have saved her life. I will always live with this regret.

“But it is not too late for other children.”

And she said: “I invite the Government to act now to reduce air pollution. Immediately. Not in eighteen months, not in five years – that’s not fast enough.

“People are dying from air pollution each year. Action needs to be taken now or more people will simply continue to die.”

A Government spokesman said: “Our thoughts continue to be with Ella’s family and friends.”

The spokesman added that the Government is delivering a £3.8bn plan to clean up transport and tackle nitrogen pollution, and going further in protecting communities from air pollution, particularly particulate matter known as PM2.5.

“Through our landmark Environment Bill, we are also setting ambitious new air quality targets, with a focus on reducing public health impacts.

“We will carefully consider the recommendations in the report and respond in due course.”

As reported by By Tom Bawden, Science & Environment Correspondent, inews.co.uk

April 21, 2021 11:24 am

Super-enzyme breaks down plastic bottles in ‘a matter of days’

By |2021-04-23T14:32:49+01:00September 29th, 2020|

From BBC Science Focus Magazine:

Professor John McGeehan, director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at the University of Portsmouth

Professor John McGeehan at work

The enhanced protein is made up of two enzymes produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles.

A so-called “super-enzyme” that eats plastic could be “a significant leap forward” in finding solutions to tackle the pollution crisis, scientists hope.

The enhanced protein is made up of two enzymes produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles, known as Ideonella sakaiensis.

Professor John McGeehan, director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at the University of Portsmouth, said that unlike natural degradation, which can take hundreds of years, the super-enzyme is able to convert the plastic back to its original materials, or building blocks, in just a few days.

“Currently, we get those building blocks from fossil resources such as oil and gas, which is really unsustainable,” he said. “But if we can add enzymes to the waste plastic, we can start to break it down in a matter of days.”

He said the process would also allow plastics to be “made and reused endlessly, reducing our reliance on fossil resources”.

In 2018, Prof McGeehan and his team accidentally discovered that an engineered version of one of the enzymes, known as PETase, was able to break down plastic in a matter of days.

As part of their current study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team mixed PETase with the second enzyme, called MHETase, and found “the digestion of the plastic bottles literally doubled”. The researchers then connected the two enzymes together in the lab, like “two Pac-men joined by a piece of string”, using genetic engineering.

The super enzyme, which is two proteins joined together © Aaron McGeehan/Knott et al

“This allowed us to create a super-enzyme six times faster than the original PETase enzyme alone. This is quite a significant leap forward because the plastic that ends up in our oceans today is going to take hundreds of years to break down naturally,” Prof McGeehan said.

“[Eventually] through sunlight and wave action, it will start to break down into smaller and smaller pieces – and we will end up with microplastics, which is a serious problem for the organisms that live in the environment.”

Tests showed that this super-enzyme was able to break down a type of plastic used in soft drinks and fruit juice packaging, known as PET (polyethylene terephthalate). Although it is said to be highly recyclable, discarded PET persists for hundreds of years in the environment before it degrades.

Aside from PET, the super-enzyme also works on PEF (polyethylene furanoate), a sugar-based bioplastic used in beer bottles. However, Prof McGeehan said it is unable to break down other types of plastic.

Working with US colleagues, Prof McGeehan used intense X-ray beams at the Diamond Light Source synchrotron facility in Harwell, Oxfordshire, to map 3D structures of the enzymes. These molecular blueprints allowed the researchers to create the super-enzyme with an enhanced ability to attack plastic.

As part of the next steps, the researchers are looking at ways to even further speed up the break-down process, so the technology can be used for commercial purposes.

“The faster we can make the enzymes, the quicker we can break down the plastic, and the more commercially viable it will be,” Prof McGeehan said. “Oil is very cheap so we need to compete with that by having a very cheap recycling process.”

Reader Q&A: Why are some plastics recyclable and others are not?

Most of the plastics we use are either thermoplastic or thermosetting.

Thermoplastics include acrylics, nylon and polyethylene (polythene). As you heat them up they get soft, so they can be shaped into any form you like, which also makes them easy to recycle. Milk containers can be melted and reformed into furniture, plastic water bottles become fleece jackets, and hard bottle tops can get a new lease of life as storage boxes.

Thermosetting plastics, like Bakelite or polyurethane, are different because they harden as you heat them. Once they have set, you can’t melt them. This makes thermosetting plastics almost impossible to recycle.

Global climate goals ‘virtually impossible’ without carbon capture – IEA

By |2021-04-23T14:39:07+01:00September 28th, 2020|

capturing CO2 cartoon

Up to $160 billion needs to be invested in the technology by 2030, a ten-fold increase from the previous decade, it added. “Without it, our energy and climate goals will become virtually impossible to reach,” the IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement.

A sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology is needed globally if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets designed to slow climate change, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.A growing number of countries and companies are targeting net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around the middle of the century in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

To reach that, the amount of CO2 captured must rocket to 800 million tonnes in 2030 from around 40 million tonnes today, the IEA, which advises industrialised nations on energy policies, said in a report.

Up to $160 billion needs to be invested in the technology by 2030, a ten-fold increase from the previous decade, it added.

“Without it, our energy and climate goals will become virtually impossible to reach,” the IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement.

The global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic risks delaying or cancelling projects dependent on public support, the IEA said.

An oil price slide had also reduced revenues for existing CCUS facilities selling CO2 for so-called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). However, the IEA added: “Economic recovery packages are a unique window of opportunity for governments to support CCUS alongside other clean energy technologies.”

Referring to a major investment to build two carbon capture plants and an offshore CO2 storage facility, Birol said: “Norway showed its leadership in Europe by making a major funding commitment to the Longship project.” Nonetheless, the story of CCUS has largely been “one of unmet expectations”, marred by lack of commercial incentives, large capital costs and public opposition to storage, especially onshore, the IEA said.

In 2009, the IEA called for 100 large-scale CCUS projects to be built by 2020 to store around 300 million tonnes of CO2 per year. To date, just 20 commercial projects are in operation, capturing around 40 million tonnes per year.

Greenpeace petitions UK Government to ban supertrawlers catching 7,000 tons of fish

By |2020-08-28T15:37:27+01:00August 28th, 2020|

A YouGov poll, commissioned by Greenpeace, has shown that more than 4 in 5 members of the British public believe supertrawlers, factory trawlers over 100m long, should be banned from fishing in the UK’s Marine Protected Areas. 81% said supertrawlers should be banned from fishing in protected areas, with just 4% saying they should be permitted to fish in them.

This comes after an investigation revealed that supertrawlers spent almost 3000 hours fishing in UK Marine Protected Areas in 2019, more than double the number of hours they spent fishing in UK protected areas in 2018. Marine Protected Areas exist to protect vulnerable ecosystems and marine life, like porpoises and reefs.

The Dutch-owned Annelies Ilena supertrawler in UK waters

The Dutch-owned Annelies Ilena supertrawler in UK waters

A Greenpeace petition calls on the government to ban supertrawlers from protected areas, and has already gathered 125,000 signatures, including those of Sir Michael Palin, Joanna Lumley, Gillian Anderson Green MP Caroline Lucas, Alison Steadman and the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Philip Evans, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said “This polling makes absolutely clear that the public is united behind our call for a ban on supertrawlers fishing in protected areas. After a decade of political division, our call cutting across the political divide should send a firm message to the government that enough is enough. Supertrawlers must be banned from our protected areas.

“Britain’s departure from the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is the perfect opportunity to do this. Our government should listen to its constituents, and commit to banning supertrawlers from protected areas as a first step towards designating a network of fully or highly protected MPAs off-limits to all destructive activity across 30% of the UK’s waters.”Britain’s departure from the Common Fisheries Policy will allow the UK government to implement stronger fishing regulations in offshore waters, those beyond 12 nautical miles from the coast. Currently few restrictions are in place in offshore MPAs, which is why supertrawler operations in offshore protected areas are currently legal.

Supertrawler activity in UK waters has increased since 2017. Greenpeace data shows that the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone was the worst affected by EU supertrawler activity of any on earth in 2018 and 2019, and that the time supertrawlers spent fishing in UK Marine Protected Areas had more than doubled from 1388 hours in 2018 to 2963 hours in 2019.

A Defra spokesman said the UK is a global leader in the fight to protect British seas with the Blue Belt of protected waters that are nearly twice the size of England.

The drive to plant one trillion trees by 2030

By |2020-08-27T17:17:15+01:00August 27th, 2020|

From TIME Magazine, an announcement by Jane Goodall and Howard Benioff (excerpt):

“By far the most cost-effective of all the big solutions to climate change is to protect and restore forests. Forests extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere and produce the oxygen we breathe. But these complex ecosystems have been systematically destroyed. We have already lost nearly half the world’s trees, most within the last 100 years. And most of the remaining trees—about 3 trillion—are still under threat, even though they are a critical tool in the fight against climate change.

At this moment in time, massive fires have yet again erupted around the world, from California to the Congo Basin to the Amazon. Far too many of these fires are intentionally set because agricultural profits have been prioritized over the health of our planet. A call to stop deforestation is more important than ever before.”

View of the Congo river, Odzala national park

View of the Congo river, Odzala National Park Republic of Congo

A new World Economic Forum (WEF) initiative, the Trillion Tree challenge (1T.org), has been launched in an effort to bring together old and new partners to add momentum to the regreening of our planet and plant 1 trillion trees around the world by 2030. Companies joined by NGOs and youth movements as well as a number of governments, such as the U.S., have pledged their support for this solution. Those involved will be able to share best practices, with a major goal of maintaining biodiversity standards.

“This effort could capture an estimated 200 gigatonnes of carbon over the coming decades, an amount equal to two-thirds of the pollution produced since the Industrial Revolution. But it will take time for young trees to capture the same amount of CO2 as mature forests.

Planting 1 trillion trees won’t be easy, but each one of us can make a difference in this fight. We can plant trees in backyards and neighborhoods, or donate to one of the many responsible programs that have long been restoring and protecting forests and woodlands in almost every country around the world.

Our challenge is clear. We can protect and restore our forests while also investing in jobs and global economies. But our success will depend on one another; together we can create the kind of change needed to heal our planet.”

Scottish officials raised concerns that Shell’s £5m tree-planting scheme would be seen as “greenwashing”

By |2020-07-31T15:26:12+01:00July 31st, 2020|

Glen-Garry-in-Lochaber-ScotlandAs a result of UK Freedom of Information requests, internal emails seen by The Ferret investigative blog have revealed that, in the run-up to an announcement by Shell last October that it was funding a new £5m tree-planting initiative, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) officials raised a number of concerns.

In August 2019, Jo Ellis, FLS head of planning and environment, noted “I do think we need to be cautious about how we communicate this…I don’t want us to come across as falling for the greenwashing. The fact remains that mitigation work such as tree planting will not be sufficient to offset carbon emissions for the long term (we need to be reducing the use of fossil fuels).”

“The tiny amount Shell is putting into green initiatives is dwarfed by what it is still spending on investigating new oil and gas reserves, and in blocking initiatives to set legally binding emissions reductions targets.” she added.

“What we should actually be doing is reducing emissions – e.g. stop using petrol, which Shell is not planning to do. But until such time as technology moves us to a low emissions, projects that sequester carbon such as this one will buy us time.”

Ellis continued: “Personally I would have a problem with them saying anything that implies that this is going to make what they do environmentally friendly. This is all about reducing the harm that they do, not about them doing good.”

FLS director of land management, Trefor Owen, supported her concerns: “What Shell are offering us is relatively small beer for them, but it gets a shiny new organisation (us) to add to the list of green organisations supporting their offsetting ambitions.”

Over the next five years, as the first phase of this initiative, Shell UK is funding the co-operation to preserve and extend native woodland at Glen Garry in Lochaber, including a scheme to plant more than 200,000 trees in the first two years. As reported in the Guardian, “the fund sounds big, and it is – until you compare it with Shell’s annual income of $24bn”.

Why does earth smell so wonderful after rain ?

By |2020-07-22T16:07:06+01:00July 22nd, 2020|

rain falling on grass in sunlightThat wonderful smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather is called Petrichor – a heady mixture of plant oils, bacterial spores and ozone.

In 1964, two Australian scientists, Isabel Joy Bear and R. G. Thomas, determined that one of the main causes of this distinctive smell is a blend of oils secreted by some plants during arid periods. When a rainstorm comes after a drought, compounds from the oils—which accumulate over time in dry rocks and soil—are mixed and released into the air.

In moist, forested areas in particular, a common substance is geosmin, a chemical produced by a soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes. The bacteria secrete the compound when they produce spores, then the force of rain landing on the ground sends these spores up into the air and the moist air conveys the chemical into our noses.

Actinomycetes image showing their beautiful filaments

Actinomycetes can be found almost everywhere and are often called “Nature’s pharmacists”. They are remarkable filamentous organisms responsible for producing an estimated 70% of the antibiotics used in human therapy (making them the most robust natural source of antibiotics). They have key role in composting, in that their filaments stretch through the soil and work together to control harmful or unwanted soil bacteria.
And the final, important ingredient in our heady Petrichor fragrance is Ozone. Ozone – the molecule made up of three oxygen atoms bonded together—also plays a role in the smell, especially after thunderstorms. A lightning bolt’s electrical charge can split oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, and they often recombine into nitric oxide (NO), which then interacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere to produce ozone. Sometimes, you can even smell ozone in the air (it has a sharp scent reminiscent of chlorine) before a storm arrives because it can be carried over long distances from high altitudes.

Who knew that something so complex lay behind our enjoyment of a freshly cut lawn after a downpour ? There is a deeper question of why we enjoy it so much and scientists have speculated that it’s a product of our evolution.

Pulling carbon dioxide from the air by farming

By |2020-07-20T16:18:26+01:00July 20th, 2020|

Basalt columns along the Snake River Gorge, Twin Falls, Idaho, USAExciting news as ‘rock weathering’ experiment pulls carbon dioxide from the air and boosts crop production by 12%.

The Working Lands Innovation Center (WLIC) has been partnering with farmers, ranchers, government, the mining industry and Native American tribes in California on some 50 acres of cropland soil amendment trials and their experiments have yielded results that may be another important step in fighting climate change.

Rock chemistry

Many processes weather rocks on Earth’s surface, influenced by chemistry, biology, climate, and plate tectonics. The dominant form of chemical weathering occurs when carbon dioxide combines with water in the soil and the ocean to make carbonic acid.

About 95% of Earth’s crust and mantle – the thick layer between the planet’s crust and its core – is made of silicate minerals, which are compounds of silicon and oxygen.

When carbonic acid comes in contact with certain silicate minerals, it triggers a chemical process known as the ‘Urey reaction’. This reaction pulls gaseous carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and combines it with water and calcium or magnesium silicates, producing two bicarbonate ions. Once the carbon dioxide is trapped in these soil carbonates, or ultimately washed into the ocean, it no longer warms the climate

Now, emerging science – including at the California Collaborative for Climate Change Solutions’ (C4) WLIC – shows that it is possible to accelerate rock weathering rates.

Enhanced rock weathering could both slow global warming and improve soil health, making it possible to grow crops more efficiently and bolster food security.

Farming with rocks

One compelling aspect of enhanced weathering is that, in controlled-environment studies involving basalt amendments of soil, cereal grain yields are improved by roughly 12%.

As basalt weathers, it increases vital plant nutrients that can boost production and increase crops yields. Mineral nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium create healthier soils. Farmers have been amending soil with rock minerals for centuries, so the concept is nothing new.

Why negative emissions matter

Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, nations have pledged to limit global warming to less then 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. This will require massive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Pulling carbon dioxide from the air – also known as negative emissions – is also necessary to avoid the worst climate change outcomes, because atmospheric carbon dioxide has an average lifespan of more than 100 years. Every molecule of carbon dioxide that is released to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion or land clearing will remain there for many decades trapping heat and warming Earth’s surface.

Load More Posts