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Planet News !2021-04-29T16:37:17+01:00

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Carbon dioxide reaches another record high

NOAA data show a carbon dioxide level of 421.13 parts per million (ppm) for the week starting May 8, 2022, a new record high since measurements started at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. As the image below also shows, very high daily levels were reached recently, as high as 422.04 ppm. Greenhouse gas levels are even higher further north. Very high carbon dioxide levels were recorded recently at Barrow, Alaska, approaching 430 ppm. Furthermore, very high methane levels were recorded recently at Barrow, Alaska, including many at levels well over 2000 parts per billion (ppb).The trigger: El Niño and sunspotsEl Niños typically occur every 3 to 5 years, according to NOAA and as illustrated by the NOAA image below, so the upcoming El Niños can be expected to occur within the next few years. As also illustrated by the NOAA image on the right, we are currently in the depths of a persistent La Niña and this suppresses current temperatures.A huge temperature rise in the Arctic looks set to unfold soon, triggered by the combined impact of an upcoming El Niño and a peak in sunspots. Sunspots are currently well above expected levels, as illustrated by the image below on the right.Huge temperature rise in ArcticAdditionally, greenhouse gas levels are very high over the Arctic, while the ocean heat that enters the Arctic Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean keeps rising.  As a result, several tipping points threaten to be crossed in the Arctic soon, as described in an earlier post, including the latent heat tipping point and a Blue Ocean Event, starting when Arctic sea ice extent will fall below 1 million km². As temperatures keep rising in the Arctic, changes to the Jet Stream look set to intensify, while loss of terrestrial albedo in the Arctic could equal the albedo loss resulting from sea ice decline.[ from the Extinction page ]Further feedbacks include permafrost degradation, both terrestrial and on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, which looks set to cause huge releases of greenhouse gases (particularly CO₂, CH₄ and N₂O).Global temperature riseThis would in turn also cause more water vapor to enter the atmosphere, further speeding up the temperature rise, especially in the Arctic, where vast amounts of methane are contained in sediments at the seafloor and where there is very little hydroxyl in the air to break down the methane.Temperatures looks set to rise further due to the falling away of sulfate aerosols, while there could be a further temperature rise due to releases of other aerosols that have a net warming impact, such as black and brown carbon, which can increase dramatically as more wood burning and forest fires take place.As the temperature keeps rising, further self-reinforcing feedbacks will kick in with more ferocity such as an increase in water vapor globally combined with a decrease in lower clouds decks, further increasing the temperature, as described at the clouds feedback page.Altogether, the global temperature could rise by more than 18°C above pre-industrial, as illustrated by the image on the right from the Extinction page.ConclusionIn conclusion, temperatures could rise strongly by 2026, resulting in humans going extinct, making it in many respects rather futile to speculate about what will happen beyond 2026. At the same time, the right thing to do is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.Links• NOAA - Global Monitoring Laboratory, Recent Daily Average CO₂ at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, U.S.• NOAA - Global Monitoring Laboratory, at Barrow, Alaska, U.S.• Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Points• NOAA - El Niño,every%203%20to%205%20years.• NOAA - Monthly Temperature Anomalies Versus El Niño• Sunspots• NOAA - sunspots• Latent heat• Blue Ocean Event• Feedbacks• Aerosols• Clouds feedback and tipping point• Jet Stream• The Importance of Methane• When Will We Die?• Climate Plan

Carbon dioxide crosses 422 ppm

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) reached an average daily concentration of 422.06 ppm on April 26, 2022, at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.Furthermore, very high methane levels were recorded recently at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, with surface flask readings appearing to be as high as 1955 ppb.  This daily average CO₂ concentration of 422.06 ppm together with a methane level of 1955 ppb (which at a GWP of 200 corresponds with 391 ppm CO₂e), adds up to a joint CO₂e of 813.06 ppm, i.e. less than 387 ppm away from the clouds tipping point that on its own could raise the global temperature by 8°C.Such a 387 ppm CO₂e could be added almost immediately by a burst of seafloor methane less than the size of the methane that is currently in the atmosphere (about 5 Gt). There is plenty of potential for such an abrupt release, given the rising ocean heat and the vast amounts of methane present in vulnerable sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, as discussed in posts such as this one. [ images and joint CO₂e earlier discussed at this post, click on images to enlarge ]The 1200 ppm CO₂e clouds tipping point could be crossed even without such an abrupt methane release. Carbon dioxide and methane levels are rising rapidly. The above combination image illustrates how, by the year 2029, carbon dioxide could reach 450 ppm and methane could reach 3840 ppb, which would yield a joint CO₂e of 1218 ppm and thus raise the global temperature by 8°C due to the clouds feedback alone, in addition to the rise caused by nitrous oxide and the many further forcers, as discussed at the Extinction page. The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan. Links • NOAA - Global Monitoring Laboratory, Recent Daily Average CO₂ at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, U.S.• NOAA - Global Monitoring Laboratory, Methane (surface flasks) at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, U.S.• The Importance of Methane• Clouds feedback• NOAA - Globally averaged marine surface annual mean methane data• NOAA - Mauna Loa CO2 weekly mean and historical comparisons• Methane rise is accelerating• Extinction• Shortcomings of IPCC AR6 WGIII - Mitigation of Climate Change • Climate Plan

Runaway temperature rise by 2026?

March 2022 temperature anomalyThe NASA image below shows the March 2021 temperature anomaly. The Arctic is heating up strongly. The above image shows a temperature rise for March 2022 of 1.06°C, which is the rise from 1951-1980. The image below shows a temperature rise from 1900 for March 2022 of 1.36°C. The box on above image shows that, when including further adjustment, the temperature rise from pre-industrial to March 2022 could be as much as 2.35°C. Details of the adjustment are described at the pre-industrial page. A 2.35°C rise is only 0.65°C away from a 3°C rise and, as described before, a 3°C rise will likely drive humans (and many other species) into extinction. Note that the March 2022 temperature is suppressed, as we're currently in the depth of a persistent La Niña, as illustrated by the NOAA image on the right. The above NOAA image shows that the difference between the top of El Niño and the bottom of La Niña could be more than half a degree Celsius. The next El Niño may well go hand in hand with a high number of sunspots (NOAA image right). The image below features two trends. The black trend is based on adjusted 1880-March 2022 NASA data and shows how 3°C could be crossed by 2029. The blue trend is based on adjusted 2012-March 2022 NASA data and better reflects short-term variables such as sunspots and El Niño. The blue trend shows how 3°C could be crossed by 2027, triggered by an emerging El Niño and high sunspots. Not only could the combination of strong a strong El Niño with high sunspots suffice to cause the temperature rise to cross 3°C by 2025, it could trigger a runaway temperature rise by 2026. Runaway temperature riseThe potential temperature rise is illustrated by the bar on the right.As temperatures rise, loss of Arctic sea ice and of its latent heat buffer will cause more heating of the atmosphere, while changes to the Jet Stream will cause more extreme weather. As humans go extinct, transport and industrial activities will stop that currently co-emit sulfur that masks the full extent of the temperature rise. In addition, as also discussed at the aerosols page, worldwide forest fires and trash fires could cause huge amounts of black carbon to be emitted. Rising temperatures will result in more water vapor in the atmosphere (7% more water vapor for every 1°C warming), further amplifying the temperature rise, since water vapor is a potent greenhouse gas. As the IPCC warns (see above image), for each additional 1°C of warming, the global volume of perennially frozen ground to 3 m below the surface is projected to decrease by about 25% relative to the present volume, and the IPCC adds that these decreases may be underestimates. As permafrost declines, huge amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide get released. As the ocean heats up, a huge temperature rise could be caused by releases of seafloor methane, further contributing to the clouds tipping point (at 1200 ppm CO₂e) to get crossed, causing a further rise of 8°C. Altogether, the temperature rise could exceed 18°C.The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.Links• NASA Gistemp• Pre-industrial• When Will We Die?• NOAA - Monthly Temperature Anomalies Versus El Niño• NOAA - ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions• NOAA - Solar cycle sunspots progression• Sunspots• Extinction• Aerosols• IPCC - FAQ on water vapor• IPCC - AR6 WG1 TS on permafrost• Clouds feedback• Climate Plan

Global Warming and the Fermi Paradox

by Andrew GliksonEnrico Fermi, Physicist, 1901-1953According to the Fermi’s Paradox, the failure to date to achieve radio communication between Earth and extraterrestrial civilizations can be attributed to their inevitable short-term self-destruction, a consequence of uncontrolled dispersion of toxic substances, contamination of air, water and land, and construction of deadly weapons. On Earth this includes saturation of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases and production of nuclear weapons.  The most extensive mass extinction event in the history of Earth, represented by the Permian-Triassic boundary 251 million years-ago, involved warming, acidification and oxygen depletion of the oceans, with consequent emanations of toxic H₂S and CH₄, leading to a loss of some 57% of biological families, 83% of genera and 81% of marine species. If the history of the 21st century is ever written it would report that, while large parts of the planet were becoming uninhabitable, the extreme rate and scale of global warming and the migration of climate zones (~100 km per decade), the extent of polar ice melting, ocean warming and acidification, and methane release from permafrost, threatened to develop into one of the most extensive mass extinction events in the geological history of planet Earth.As concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases exceed 500 ppm CO₂-equivalents, consistent with global warming of more than >4°C (image above right), driving temperatures to well above 4°C (image below) and threatening to rise at a higher rate than those of the great mass extinctions. The accelerating destruction of the liveable Earth atmosphere and oceans (after Wil Steffen, 2012)Climate scientists have been either silenced or replaced by an army of economists and politicians mostly ignorant of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, but quantifying the cost-benefit economies of mitigation like corner shop grocers. James Hansen giving testimonybefore the U.S. Congress (1988)Proposed mitigation action were mostly focused on reduction of emissions, neglecting the amplifying feedbacks and tipping points projected by leading climate scientists such as James Hansen (image right). But climate change was not the only threat hanging over the head of humanity and nature. As nations kept proliferating atomic weapons, with time the probability of a nuclear war increased exponentially. At the root of the MAD (mutual assured destruction) policy, or omnicide, resides the deep tribalism and herd mentality of the species, hinging on race, religion, ideology, territorial claims and the concept of an “enemy” perpetrated by demagogues and warmongers, leading to an Orwellian 1984 world where “Oceania has always been at war with East-Asia”, as in the current “forever wars“. Prior to World War I two social forces collided, fascism and socialism. While the former has changed appearances, the latter weakened. At the core of superpower conflict between the Anglo-Saxon world and the Slavic or Chinese worlds are claims of moral superiority, but in reality naked grabs for power. At the centre of human conscience is its mythological nature, a mindset closely related to the mastery of fire where, for longer than one million years, Homo erectus, perched at campfire, watching the flickering flames, has grown its insights and imagination, developing a fear of death, dreaming of omniscience and omnipotence, aspiring for eternal life. As civilization developed in the Neolithic these sentiments drove humans to construct pyramids to enshrine immortality, undertake human sacrifice, to perpetrate death to appease the gods, expressed in modern times through world wars, as stated by Albert Einstein: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything bar man’s way of thinking and thus we drift into unparalleled catastrophes”. For an intelligent species to be able to explore the solar system planets but fail to protect its own home planet defies explanation. For a species to magnify its entropic effect on nature by orders of magnitude, developing cerebral powers which allow it to become the intelligent eyes through which the Universe explores itself, hints at yet unknown natural laws which underlie life, consciousness and complexity. We have entered the age of consequences, masked by the 24 hours news cycle that can only portray transient events but rarely exposes the Orwellian misconceptions which underlie the complicity of the powers-that-be. For, just as individuals can be plagued by insanity, so can groups of people, as in the Jonestown massacre, or in Nazi Germany, where a nation or a species slide blindly into mass suicide, creating systems that saturate the atmosphere with carbon gases and proliferate nuclear weapons in a terrestrial confirmation of Fermi’s Paradox. Andrew GliksonA/Prof. Andrew GliksonEarth and Paleo-climate scientistSchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of New South Wales,Kensington NSW 2052 AustraliaBooks:The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction

Shortcomings of IPCC AR6 WGIII – Mitigation of Climate Change

In the video below, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres comments on the launch of the IPCC AR6 WGIII SPM Mitigation report. U.N. Secretary-General António GuterresThe report has severe shortcomings, including: The IPCC makes it look as if the temperature rise could be restricted to 1.5°C above pre-industrial and insists there was a carbon budget left, to be divided by using monetary analysis. This narrative results in a failure to highlight in the SPM some key drivers of change (such as heat pumps in buildings and air taxis in transport) and in inappropriately referring to such key drivers of change as 'options', while failing to mention the best policies to achieve the necessary changes, i.e. through local feebates.The image below, from the report's SPM, shows options by sector with the length of each bar indicating their potential for emissions reduction by 2030, while the color inside the bar gives a cost estimate. [ from IPCC AR6 WGIII SPM, click images to enlarge ]These are not genuinely options, since the dire situation leaves little choice and instead makes it imperative to act most urgently, comprehensively and effectively on climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement does instruct the IPCC to describe the best pathways to achieve this and the IPCC has until now refused to do so. As Arctic-news blog has pointed out for more than a decade, mitigation is most effectively achieved by offering people a range of options, preferably through local feebates, which will also make such policies more popular, as a 2019 analysis (above) concludes.[ from earlier post ]Options are more appropriately included in feebates, as they can offer a range of options, with the more polluting options attracting fees and with the revenues used to fund rebates on the cleaner options. An example of a wider set of local feebates is depicted in the above analysis of EV policy, which could include not only fees on fuel and fuel-powered vehicles, but also on facilities that sell or process fuel, vehicle registration, parking, toll roads, etc.It's important to act comprehensively, along several lines of action, e.g. to redesign cities and plan for air taxis. Given the urgency to act, such lines of action are all best implemented as soon as possible, yet at the same time many lines of action are best kept separate, as illustrated by the above image. The image on the right illustrates the difference between using a Gobal Warming Potential (GWP) for methane of 171 over a few years, vs the IPCC's use of a GWP of 28 over 100 years.  Fees on sales of livestock products can raise revenue for pyrolysis of biowaste, with the resulting biochar added to the soil.  That would also support the transition toward a vegan-organic diet more strongly, in line with the conclusion of an earlier IPCC report that a vegan diet ranks highest regarding mitigation (image right, from an earlier post). The Climate Plan prefers local feebates. Where necessary, fees can be set high enough to effectively ban specific alternatives. [ Image from the 2014 post Biochar Builds Real Assets ]Furthermore, instead of using money, local councils could add extra fees to rates for land where soil carbon falls, while using all the revenues for rebates on rates for land where soil carbon rises.That way, biochar effectively becomes a tool to lower rates, while it will also help improve the soil's fertility, its ability to retain water and to support more vegetation. That way, real assets are built.The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.Links• Secretary-General Warns of Climate Emergency, Calling Intergovernmental Panel’s Report ‘a File of Shame’, While Saying Leaders ‘Are Lying’, Fuelling Flames• Mitigation of Climate Change Report 2022: "Litany of broken climate promises" - UN Chief• IPCC Climate Change 2022 - Mitigation of Climate Change - Summary for Policymakers• IPCC special report Climate Change and Land• IPCC Report Climate Change and Land• Confirm Methane's Importance• Climate Plan

From a Miocene-like CO2 level of ~420 ppm to irreversible climate change

by Andrew GliksonAs terrestrial adversaries keep pushing the Earth and its inhabitants to within seconds of a nuclear catastrophe, looming through heat waves, extreme fires and flood events is the huge calamity of irreversible global warming.[ from earlier post ]Carbon dioxide (CO₂) reached levels well above 420 parts per million (ppm) at Mauna Lao, Hawaii, on February 13 and 14, 2022, as illustrated by the image, from an earlier post. The image below, adapted from NOAA, shows CO₂ and other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) rising from 280 ppm CO₂e in 1700 to 504 ppm CO₂e in 2021. This figure of 504 ppm CO₂e could be much higher when applying a short horizon to calculate methane's Global Warming Potential. CO₂ levels have been rising from ~315 ppm in 1950 to ~419 ppm in 2022, at an average growth rate of some 1.44 ppm/year accelerating to about 2.5 ppm/year recently. The rate of this CO₂ rise is unprecedented in the Cenozoic (since 65 Ma) record, with perhaps the closest parallel being the aftermath of the K-T dinosaur mass extinction event, when the temperature rose by as much as ~7.5°C. According to Beerling et al. (2002) CO₂ level rose from 350–500 ppm to at least 2,300 ppm within 10,000 years following the K-T impact, at an average rate of ~0.2 ppm/year, significantly less than today's rate. Above image shows CO₂ on track to reach 575 ppm by 2061, a level commensurate with atmospheric conditions during parts of the Miocene, when the temperatures in central Europe was 20°C higher than today, as also illustrated by the image below, adapted from a 2020 study by Methner et al. The image below further illustrates that to find CO₂ levels as high as 575 ppm, we have to go back in time millions of year, into the Miocene.  What makes current conditions even more dire is that it's not just carbon dioxide that is rising at a speed unprecedented in history, methane is rising at an even faster pace, as illustrated by the image below, from an earlier post.  Can the current climate trend be arrested, or even reversed? The current global greenhouse gas trend is leading to one of the largest mass extinctions of species in the geological record, one of the victims being human civilization. The current focus on emission reduction overlooks a major factor, namely the amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans (Steffen et al., 2018). There is a desperate need, in addition to emission reduction, for urgent large-scale sequestration of atmospheric greenhouse gases, and for further action to combat the temperature rise.The role of amplifying GHG feedbacks from land and oceans, leading to enhanced heating, appears to be neglected in climate negotiations. Amplifying feedbacks include: an increase in evaporation, raising atmospheric water vapor levels, which enhances the greenhouse gas effect; a decline in the polar albedo (reflection) due to large-scale lateral and vertical melting of ice; release of methane from degrading permafrost and from polar sediments; reduced CO₂ intake by warming oceans. Currently the oceans absorb between 35-42% of all CO₂ and around 90% of the excess heat; warming, desiccation, deforestation and fires over land areas. Numerous species have been unable to survive the accelerated global heating following the K-T impact event, nor are many species likely to survive the even higher rate of the of the Anthropocene catastrophe. A connection between climate change and human wars is evident from the accelerated global warming in the wake of the industrial-scale world wars I and II and subsequent industrial developments. It is possible that climate change could have been arrested in the 1960s had global efforts been directed at the time for abrupt cuts in emissions, transformation of agricultural and land clearing practices, and effort at CO₂ drawdown/sequestration. By the onset of the 21st century however, such efforts have hardly been undertaken and could yet turn out to be too late. The repetitions of humanity’s old warlike habits, investing resources in industries of death, genocidal wars associated with intensive carbon emissions, forecasted in “The Fate of the Earth”, yield little promise for a change of direction.Andrew GliksonA/Prof. Andrew GliksonEarth and Paleo-climate scientistSchool of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of New South Wales,Kensington NSW 2052 AustraliaBooks:The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolution Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earth, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocene Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizon Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligence Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australia Event Horizon: Homo Prometheus and the Climate Catastrophe Fatal Species: From Warlike Primates to Planetary Mass Extinction

Signs of the rise to come

Following the record low Antarctic sea ice extent reached last month, Arctic sea ice extent now looks to be beyond its maximum for the year and looks set to keep falling rapidly over the next few months. Ocean heat is at record levels, as illustrated by the image below and as discussed in an earlier post. The image below shows the temperature at the North Pole reaching 0.7°C or 33.3°F (at 1000 hPa, at the green circle) on March 16, 2022, with ocean currents depicted at the background.How could the temperature at the North Pole get this high, in March? As said, ocean heat is at record levels. This is heating up the air over the Atlantic Ocean. At times, huge amounts of heat are getting pushed into the Arctic due to a distorted Jet Stream. The image on the right shows the Jet Stream on the Northern Hemisphere on March 16, 2022, with strong winds at 250 hPa pushing heat from the Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic. Furthermore, the Gulf Stream is pushing huge amounts of ocean heat toward the Arctic. The image below shows that sea surface temperatures were as much as 14.1°C or 25.3°F higher than 1981-2011 off the North American coast (green circle) on March 5, 2022. The image below shows that, on March 16, 2022, the temperature in the Arctic was 3.5°C higher than 1979-2000. The above events could be seen as signs of the strength and the speed of the rise to come.  The rise to comeThe image below indicates that the global temperature difference between the top of an El Niño and the bottom of a La Niña period could be more than half a degree Celsius. Temperature anomalies of up to 4.1°C (versus 1951-1980) show up over the years at the highest latitudes north, as illustrated by the image on the right, created with a NASA image. These high anomalies show up in particular during El Niño periods.  We're currently in the depth of a persistent La Niña, as the next image on the right shows. This will keep suppressing the temperature, until the start of the next El Niño.  The next El Niño could push temperatures up even more strongly than the average El Niño, for a number of reasons. As the temperature keeps rising, ever more frequent strong El Niño events are likely to occur, as discussed in an earlier post. A 2019 study analyzes how tipping the ENSO into a permanent El Niño can trigger state transitions in global terrestrial ecosystems.Currently, the temperature rise is additionally suppressed by low sunspots. Within a few years time, sunspots can be expected to reach the peak of their current cycle and observed sunspots are looking stronger than predicted, as described at the sunspots page. Furthermore, temperatures look set to rise as sulfate aerosols are falling away, while there could be a further rise in temperature as a result of releases of other aerosols with a net warming impact, such as black and brown carbon, which can increase dramatically as more wood burning and forest fires take place. As the temperature of the atmosphere rises, this could increase water vapor while reducing lower clouds decks and further increase the temperature, as described at the clouds feedback page. What could further push up temperatures a lot over the next few years is the compound impact of feedbacks in the Arctic, including decline of the snow and ice cover, releases of greenhouse gases from degrading subsea and terrestrial permafrost, and further distortion of the Jet Stream causing more extreme weather events. ConclusionThe situation is dire and calls for the most comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan.Links• Albedo loss in Antarctica• NSIDC - Charctic interactive Sea Ice Graph• Accelerating loss of global snow and ice cover • NASA Temperature Analysis • NOAA - ENSO: Recent Evolution, Current Status and Predictions • Sunspots• Aerosols• Clouds feedback• Feedbacks in the Arctic• Climate Plan

Methane rise is accelerating

NOAA's globally averaged marine surface monthly mean methane reading for November 2021 of 1909.3 parts per billion (ppb) is 17.6 ppb higher than the reading for November 2020. By comparison, NOAA's annual global mean methane increase of 15.57 ppb for 2020 was at the time the highest on record. Keep in mind that this 1909.3 ppb reading is for November 2021; it now is March 2022. Furthermore, NOAA's data are for marine surface measurements; more methane tends to accumulate at higher altitudes.The image below shows that the MetOp-B satellite recorded a mean methane level of 1936 ppb at 321 mb on March 7, 2022 pm. Carbon dioxide levels are currently very high over the Arctic, as illustrated by the image below that shows carbon dioxide levels approaching 430 parts per million (ppm) recently at Barrow, Alaska. The danger is that high greenhouse gas levels could combine to push the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) level over the 1200 ppm clouds tipping point in one spot, causing low-altitude clouds in various neighboring areas to break up, propagating break-up of clouds in further areas, as discussed at the clouds feedback page.The MetOp-B satellite recorded a mean methane level of 1958 ppb on October 25, 2021 am at 295 mb. When using a 1-year GWP of 200, this translates into 391.6 ppm CO₂e. Together with a global mean CO₂ level of 420 ppm, that's 811.6 ppm CO₂e, i.e. only 388.4 ppm CO₂e away from the 1200 ppm CO₂e clouds tipping point. An additional 5 Gt of methane from an abrupt eruption of the seafloor could raise the global mean methane concentration by almost 2000 ppb which, at a 1-year GWP of 200, would translate into an extra 400 ppm CO₂e, thus pushing the joint impact of just two greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) above the 1200 ppm CO₂e clouds tipping point. The situation is dire and calls for the most comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan. Links• NOAA - globally averaged marine surface monthly mean methane data• NOAA - globally averaged marine surface annual mean methane growth rates• NOAA - Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) Sounding Products (MetOp-B)• NOAA - Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide• NOAA - Carbon Cycle Gases, Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, United States• NOAA - Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Mauna Loa, Hawaii• Clouds feedback page• Human Extinction by 2022?• Terrifying Arctic methane levels• Terrifying Arctic methane levels continue• Climate Plan

What the IPCC impacts report is hiding

[ click on images to enlarge ]Above image is adapted from content by IPCC AR6 WGII and Peter Carter, expert IPCC reviewer and director of the Climate Emergency Institute. The IPCC keeps hiding how much the temperature could already have risen and could rise over the next few years, the associated dangers, and the policies that could most effectively improve the situation. 1. Hiding the potential rise that has already unfolded One of the first issues that springs to mind is the IPCC's use of 1850-1900 as a baseline, which isn't pre-industrial as the Paris Agreement called for. Above image, adapted from a NASA image, shows a January 2022 temperature rise of 1.31°C versus 1885-1915. As the box underneath indicates, a further 0.1°C could be added for ocean air temperatures and another 0.1° for higher polar anomalies. When calculating the temperature rise from pre-industrial, a further 0.79°C could be added for the period from 3480 BC to 1900, resulting in a total temperature rise from pre-industrial to January 2022 of 2.3°C. 2. Hiding the potential rise to comeWhile a huge temperature rise has already unfolded, the rise is accelerating, as discussed at earlier posts such as this one and as illustrated by the image below, an example from an earlier post.  In other words, an even larger temperature rise threatens to unfold soon, i.e. this could happen over the course of at few years, as illustrated by the stacked bar next to the cartoon above and as discussed at the extinction page.3. Hiding the largest dangersThe rise that has already unfolded, i.e. the rise from pre-industrial to 2020, could be as much as 2.3°C, as discussed above and at the pre-industrial page. Furthermore, the temperature rise is accelerating. In other words, Earth is already in the danger zone and the question remains what the implications are of a 3°C, 4°C and 5°C rise.  What would be the impact of a 3°C, a 4°C, or a 5°C rise?  At a 3°C rise, humans will likely go extinct, as habitat for humans (and many other species) will disappear. Such a rise will cause a rapid decline of the snow and ice cover around the globe, in turn making that less sunlight gets reflected back into space. Associated changes are discussed in more detail at this page and this page, and include that the jet stream will further get out of shape, resulting in more extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves and firestorms. Changes to the jet stream will also contribute to a further strengthening of storms, which threatens to at times push large amounts of hot, salty water into the Arctic Ocean, triggering eruptions of more and more seafloor methane, as discussed in an earlier post. [ from an earlier post  ] From a 4°C rise, Earth will experience a moist-greenhouse scenario. As the temperature rise gains further momentum, runaway heating may well turn Earth into a lifeless planet, a danger that was discussed in this 2013 post, warning that, without anything stopping the rise, it will continue to eventually destroy the ozone layer and the ice caps, while the oceans would be evaporating into the atmosphere's upper stratosphere and eventually disappear into space. At 5°C rise, most life on Earth will have gone extinct. A 2018 study by Strona & Bradshaw indicates that most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise (see box on the right). As the temperature keeps rising, chances are that all life on Earth will go extinct, as Earth would be left with no ozone layer to protect life from deadly UV-radiation. Furthermore, Earth would no longer have water, an essential building block of life. Soil moisture, groundwater and water in oceans would evaporate and eventually disappear into space, as discussed in an earlier post. Much of the above was discussed earlier at Most Important Message Ever. [ from the post When will we die? ] A rise of more than 5°C could happen within a decade, possibly by 2026. Humans will likely go extinct with a 3°C rise and most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise. In the light of this, we should act with integrity. 4. Hiding the very policies that can most effectively improve the situation The IPCC creates a perception that pollution can continue for decades to come. The IPCC does so by downplaying the size of the temperature rise and the threat of a huge rise within years. The IPCC promotes the idea that there was a “carbon budget” to be divided among polluters that would enable polluters to keep polluting for decades to come. Most importantly, the IPCC has once more failed to do what the Paris Agreement calls for, i.e. for the IPCC to specify the pathways that can best improve the situation, specifically the policies that are needed to facilitate a better future.  The speed at which a huge temperature rise can unfold makes that many adaption efforts could be wasted or even counter-productive. A 2021 report by Neta Crawford estimates the budgetary costs and future obligations of the post-9/11 wars at about $8 trillion in 2021 dollars. Much of that money was spent on securing the supply and transport of fossil fuel. Governments spend $1.8tn a year on subsidies that harm the environment, a study by Doug Koplow et al. finds.Perverse subsidies are even higher when also including money that now goes into constructing transport infrastructure such as roads, highways, tunnels, bridges, railways, airports, etc. Redirecting such funding could enable more people to work from home with time to spare and gardens to grow their own food, instead of commuting to work by car over roads.[ from earlier post ]Electric VTOL air taxis can replace a huge part of the traffic that now demands expensive infrastructure such as roads, railways including service stations, parking buildings and strips, bridges, tunnels, etc. Air taxis can facilitate a dramatic reduction in the need for traffic infrastructure, which also includes space now used for garages and parking. If much of this traffic instead takes place by air taxis, then urban design can have more space for outdoor dining, parks, markets, tree-lined footpaths, bike-tracks, etc.  Furthermore, drones could be used for transport and delivery of cargo, pharmaceuticals, etc. In many places, cities can become more compact and buildings can be put closer together, thus reducing overall cost and enabling people to reach destinations quicker, either by walking or cycling. Air taxis can bring people to many destinations fast, while people can also using online facilities to further reduce the need for transport and travel infrastructure. In other places, the space now used for roads and parking could instead be used to create urban forests, to extend gardens and to create community gardens and markets where people can get locally-produced vegan-organic foo such as fruit and vegetables. Much additional infrastructure can also change, such as traffic lights and road signs, streetlights and the electricity grid. Supply of natural gas could be replaced by electric devices such as heat-pumps, induction-cookers and electric water-heaters. Organic waste can be pyrolysed with the resulting biochar added to the soil. For more on the Urban Heat Island effect, see: For more on electric water heaters, see: For more on biochar and pyrolysis, see: Conclusion The situation is dire and calls for the most comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan. Links • IPCC AR6 WGII - Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability • Is the IPCC creating false perceptions, again? • Human Extinction by 2022? • NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (v4) • Pre-industrial • Extinction • Aerosols • Clouds feedback • When Will We Die? • Accelerating Methane Rise • Protecting Nature by Reforming Environmentally Harmful Subsidies: The Role of Business Prepared - by Doug Koplow and Ronald Steenblik (2022) • The U.S. Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars - by Neta Crawford (2021) • Which policy can help EVs most? • Climate Plan

Albedo loss in Antarctica

Antarctic sea ice extent on February 20, 2022, was only 1.983 million km². On February 20, 2008, it was 3.783 million km². That's a difference of 1.8 million km², or some 0.36% of the total surface of Earth (which is 510,072,000 km²). As illustrated by above image, adapted from IPCC AR5, incoming solar radiation at Top Of Atmosphere (TOA) is 340.4 W/m². This 340.4 W/m² is an average. The value varies depending on the seasons, i.e. the more the surface of Earth is facing the Sun, the higher this value will be. Another variable is how many clouds and aerosols are in the sky. Much of this radiation can be reflected or absorbed by the atmosphere and some of the radiation that reaches the surface can also be reflected. Yet, on a cloud-free day, where the sky is clear from aerosols, much of the incoming solar radiation will reach the surface. It further depends on the albedo of the surface, how much will in the end be absorbed or reflected at the surface. Albedo refers to the reflectivity of the surface. Earth average albedo is 0.3 or 30%. The albedo of sea ice can be as high as 0.9 (i.e. 90% when covered with fresh snow). Currently, albedo of the sea ice is about 0.6 (the sea ice is partly covered with melt pools). Open water has an albedo of 0.1. So, disappearance of the sea ice makes an albedo difference of about 0.5.  So, when taking half of 340 W/m² and multiplying this by 0.36% (i.e. the part of Earth's surface), that gives a radiative forcing of 0.612 W/m². That would mean that some 0.612 W/m² that was was previously reflected (Feb 20, 2008) is now instead absorbed by the ocean (on Feb.20, 2022). If Antarctic sea ice would disappear altogether, that would correspond to another loss of some 0.612 W/m², and together with the difference between 2008 and 2022, that would add up to a total radiative forcing of 1,224 W/m². That's almost half as much as all human-caused global warming in 2019 (radiative forcing was 2.72 W/m² in 2019 relative to 1750, according to IPCC AR6). If anyone can add to or improve the above calculation, please add a comment (see box below). The situation is dire and calls for the most comprehensive and effective action, as described at the Climate Plan. Links • NSIDC - Charctic interactive Sea Ice Graph• Wikipedia - Earth • IPCC - Figure 2.11 (AR5/WG1/Chapter 2) • The global energy balance from a surface perspective - by Martin Wild et al. (2012)• NASA - Earth albedo• IPCC AR6 WG1 SPM• Climate Plan

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

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 […]

Nature’s truly brilliant camouflage

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.

The Anglophone Dilemma in the Environmental Humanities

By Dan Finch-Race and Katie Ritson Transnational discussions of the climate crisis generally use English as a primary language so as to facilitate direct communication among a high number of stakeholders. Translations into other languages tend to be limited, if available at all. We believe that multilingualism should be an important feature of research into interactions between the human and the more-than-human.

Why Ecocriticism Needs the Social Sciences (and Vice Versa)

By Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Alexa Weik von Mossner, W.P. Malecki, and Frank Hakemulder it. This is the situation we find ourselves in today. Most environmental scholars, thinkers, and activists agree that to respond to the existential socio-ecological challenges we currently face, we need new narratives of who we are, how we are entangled with the rest of the natural world, and how we might think, feel, and act to preserve a stable biosphere and a livable future. But what kinds of stories should we tell? To which audiences? Are some stories more impactful than others? Might some even be counterproductive?

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