Global Warming...New Report...and it ain't happy news

Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 31 Mar, 2024 05:23 am
Former UN climate chief warns of global impact of a possible regression in US green policies

Election of Donald Trump ‘could put world’s climate goals at risk’
Victory for Donald Trump in the US presidential election this year could put the world’s climate goals at risk, a former UN climate chief has warned.

The chances of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels are already slim, but Trump’s antipathy to climate action would have a major impact on the US, the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and biggest oil and gas exporter, according to Patricia Espinosa, who served as the UN’s top official on the climate from 2016 to 2022.

“I worry [about the potential election of Trump] because it would have very strong consequences, if we see a regression regarding climate policies in the US,” Espinosa said. Although Trump’s policy plans are not clear, conversations with his circle have created a worrying picture that could include the cancellation of Joe Biden’s groundbreaking climate legislation, withdrawal from the Paris agreement, and a push for more drilling for oil and gas.

“We are not yet aligned to 1.5C. That’s the reality. So if we see a situation where we would see regression on those efforts, then [the likelihood of staying within 1.5C] is very limited. It would certainly be a much bigger risk,” said Espinosa.

“We could see a slowdown, an even bigger slowdown [in action to reduce emissions] which would unfortunately probably take us to an even more terrible scenario, unless we see strong leadership coming from other places, [such as] Europe.”

She said other countries must continue with climate action, even if the US were to renege on its goals under Trump, but the absence of the US would be a significant blow. “What happens in the US has a very big impact in so many places around the world.”

It is not all gloom, however. Espinosa was the executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, parent treaty to the 2015 Paris agreement, in 2016 when Trump was elected president. She said that if other countries put up a united front in favour of strong climate action, it could help to counteract the absence of the US. “When President Trump announced that they would withdraw from the Paris agreement, there was a certain fear that others would follow, and that there would be a setback in the pace of the climate change process. Not only did that not happen, but some countries that had not yet adhered to the Paris agreement did so,” she said.

If Trump took the US out of Paris in a fresh term, she did not believe others would follow suit: “As of now, I don’t see countries really going back. I think that the process will continue.”

On the contentious issue – particularly for the US – of climate finance, Espinosa said Biden was now facing difficulty in getting climate finance commitments through a hostile Republican Congress.

“We are seeing a lack of leadership, including in the big countries that can make contributions,” she said. “[In the US], I think there is a willingness, but there are also limitations. In the EU, there has been a long period where they have been discussing the internal frameworks [for climate finance]. At the same time, we have been seeing a reduction of funds going in general to the Global south, and very little is going to climate change. It’s really a question of giving it priority.”

She was also concerned that too much of the focus of climate finance and efforts to reduce emissions so far had been on shifting from a reliance on fossil fuels to renewables. “We are now realising that nature will make or break net zero – decarbonising the energy sector will not be enough,” Espinosa said, calling for more emphasis on the role of nature, to halt deforestation and transform food production, which accounts for about a third of global emissions. “The 1.5C economy can only be achieved by ending deforestation and accelerating the transition to sustainable agriculture and food systems this decade.”

In 2024, most of the world’s population will go to the polls for important elections, in the US, Europe, Russia, India, the UK and scores of other countries. Climate action will be a contentious issue in many of these elections, as some parties are arguing for stronger policies based on stark scientific warnings, while others oppose such action.

Espinosa warned of the opposition to climate action that is being orchestrated around the world. “In the US, we see a very well organised and very strong campaign intending to reduce the perception of the critical nature of action that needs to be taken.”

To combat this, she called for businesses to play a greater role in pushing for a low-carbon economy. “We need to work closely with the private sector, make them aware of the important opportunities that the new [low-carbon] economy provides. There are profitable investments that protect nature and innovate technologies.”
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 4 Apr, 2024 09:40 am
An early forecast from one set of experts sees an above-average hurricane season that may rival the busiest years on record.

‘Alarming’ Ocean Temperatures Suggest This Hurricane Season Will Be a Daunting One
A key area of the Atlantic Ocean where hurricanes form is already abnormally warm, much warmer than an ideal swimming pool temperature of about 80 degrees and on the cusp of feeling more like warm bathtub water.

These conditions were described by Benjamin Kirtman, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami, as “unprecedented,” “alarming” and an “out-of-bounds anomaly.” Combined with the rapidly subsiding El Niño weather pattern, it is leading to mounting confidence among forecasting experts that there will be an exceptionally high number of storms this hurricane season.

One such expert, Phil Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University, said in his team’s annual forecast on Thursday that they expected a remarkably busy season of 23 named storms, including 11 hurricanes — five of them potentially reaching major status, meaning Category 3 or higher. In a typical season, there are 14 named storms with seven hurricanes and three of them major.

Dr. Klotzbach said there was a “well above-average probability” that at least one major hurricane would make landfall along the United States and in the Caribbean.

It’s the Colorado State researchers’ biggest April prediction ever, by a healthy margin, said Dr. Klotzbach. While things could still play out differently, he said he was more confident than he normally would be this early in the year. All the conditions that he and other researchers look at to forecast the season, such as weather patterns, sea surface temperatures and computer model data, are pointing in one direction.

“Normally, I wouldn’t go nearly this high,” he said, but with the data he’s seeing, “Why hedge?”

If anything, he said, his numbers are on the conservative side, and there are computer models that indicate even more storms on the way.

The United States was lucky in 2023.
Last year was unusual. Though only one hurricane, Idalia, made landfall in the United States, 20 storms formed, a number far above average and the fourth most since record keeping began.

Typically, the El Niño pattern that was in force would have suppressed hurricanes and reduced the number of storms in a season. But in 2023, the warm ocean temperatures in the Atlantic blunted El Niño’s effect to thwart storms.

That left Idalia as the one impactful storm of the season in the Atlantic, with 12 deaths attributed to it and over $1 billion in damage. It hit in the big bend of Florida, where few people live, and the prevailing thought among hurricane researchers is that the East Coast got lucky, Dr. Klotzbach said.

That luck may change this year.

The El Niño pattern is dwindling now, and the likelihood of a La Niña pattern emerging during the hurricane season could also cause a shift in the steering pattern over the Atlantic. During an El Niño weather pattern, the area of high pressure over the Atlantic tends to weaken, which allows for storms to curve north and then east away from land. That’s what kept most of the storms last year away from land.

A La Niña weather pattern would already have forecasters looking toward an above-average year. The possibility of a La Niña, combined with record sea surface temperatures this hurricane season, could create a robust environment for storms to form and intensify this year.

Just because there are strong signals during an El Niño year that one thing will occur, it doesn’t mean the opposite happens during a La Niña year, Dr. Kirtman said. But if the high pressure strengthens and shifts west, it would mean more hurricanes making landfall.

The region where storms are most likely to form is often called the “tropical Atlantic,” stretching from West Africa to Central America and between Cuba and South America. During a La Niña year, Dr. Klotzbach said, there’s a slight increase in hurricanes forming in the western side of this main development zone — closer to the Caribbean than to Africa. When a storm forms there, it is more likely to make landfall because it’s closer to land.

And while it is difficult to predict specific landfalls this far ahead of the season, the sheer odds of more storms increases the expected risk to coastal areas.

Sea surface temperatures also affect the hurricane season. Over the past century, those temperatures have increased gradually. But last year, with an intensity that unnerved climate scientists, the warming ratcheted up more rapidly. And in the main area where hurricanes form, 2024 is already the warmest in a decade.

“Crazy” is how Dr. Kirtman described it. “The main development region is, right now, warmer than it’s historically been,” he said. “So it’s an out-of-bounds anomaly.”

There is little doubt in his mind that we are seeing some profound climate change impacts, but scientists don’t know exactly why it is occurring so quickly all of a sudden.

But it is happening, and it is likely to affect the season.

“The chances of a big, big hurricane that has a large impact making landfall is definitely increased,” he said.

Early forecasts aren’t always right.
It’s reasonable to take this forecast with a grain of sea salt; the seasonal forecast in April hasn’t always been the most accurate.

Colorado State University’s April forecast for the 2023 hurricane season called for a slightly below-average season with 13 named storms. Instead, there were 20. Even Dr. Klotzbach admits the April forecast isn’t always the best prediction, but its accuracy is improving.

The weather can be fickle, and much can change before the season officially begins on June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will issue its own forecast in late May.

But for now, Colorado State and a few other forecasting groups have all called for one of the busiest seasons on record.

By year’s end, Dr. Klotzbach said, he’ll be writing a scientific paper on one of two things: the incredibly active hurricane season of 2024, or one of the biggest head fakes in Atlantic hurricane season history. But he’s pretty confident it will be the former. “If it turns out to be two hurricanes,” he said, “then I should just quit and do something else.”
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 4 Apr, 2024 01:34 pm
The region around Toulouse in the south of France has suffered from severe drought in recent summers. Now the city council is responding: 850,000 people will have to dig deeper into their pockets for water during the hot season.

In order to encourage the population to use drinking water more sparingly in the summer, the price will be increased by 42 per cent between June and October compared to the previous tariff, French media reported today (Thursday) following a corresponding decision by the Greater Toulouse region. From November to May, the water tariff will be reduced by 30 per cent. The decision applies to the city of Toulouse and the surrounding municipalities with a total of around 850,000 inhabitants.

Toulouse, première ville à instaurer le tarif saisonnier de l'eau

Reply Thu 4 Apr, 2024 07:55 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Drain the Canal Du Midi?
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 5 Apr, 2024 09:42 am
Of 93 Austrian glaciers analysed, 92 have recently lost mass. Researchers draw a bitter balance on the state of the glaciers in Austria: "Nothing works here anymore."

According to researchers, Austria's glaciers will have practically disappeared in just a few decades. "In 40 to 45 years, Austria will be largely ice-free," said Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer from the Institute of Geography and Spatial Research at the University of Graz on Friday.

Of 93 glaciers observed, all but one would have lost length between 2022 and 2023. The decline in the Pasterze at the foot of the Großglockner is particularly significant: a loss of 203.5 metres was measured here, as shown in the latest glacier report from the Austrian Alpine Association (ÖAV), which was presented in Salzburg. The 203 metres represent a loss of 14.03 million cubic metres of ice.

On average, the 93 glaciers retreated by 23.9 metres in the past year of observation, which is the third-highest value in the 133-year history of the Alpine Association's measurements. The retreat was even greater in 2021/22 at 28.7 metres and in 2016/17 at 25.2 metres. This means that all three record highs were recorded in just seven years.

Swiss glaciers are also shrinking. In autumn 2023, the Swiss Commission for Cryosphere Observation (SKK) of the Swiss Academy of Sciences reported on 2022 and 2023: Glaciers in Switzerland have shrunk by ten per cent in just two years - which is as much as in the three decades from 1960 to 1990 combined.

Climate change is also leaving its mark in other parts of the world - for instance, experts reported in March that New Zealand's glaciers are shrinking much faster than long assumed. New Zealand's breathtaking landscape is in the process of changing fundamentally.

Source: Data sheet and report by the Austrian Alpine Club; report @ Der Spiegel
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 6 Apr, 2024 06:00 am
How do people get to work in the morning, by bike, train or car? Scientists have collated data from almost 800 cities in 61 countries.
The results are particularly diverse in Europe.

The ABC of mobility (Full length article)

The use of cars in cities has many negative impacts, including pollution, noise and the use of space. Yet, detecting factors that reduce the use of cars is a serious challenge, particularly across different regions. Here, we model the use of various modes of transport in a city by aggregating Active mobility (A), Public Transport (B) and Cars (C), expressing the modal share of a city by its ABC triplet. Data for nearly 800 cities across 61 countries is used to model car use and its relationship with city size and income. Our findings suggest that with longer distances and the congestion experienced in large cities, Active mobility and journeys by Car are less frequent, but Public Transport is more prominent. Further, income is strongly related to the use of cars. Results show that a city with twice the income has 37% more journeys by Car. Yet, there are significant differences across regions. For cities in Asia, Public Transport contributes to a substantial share of their journeys. For cities in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, most of their mobility depends on Cars, regardless of city size. In Europe, there are vast heterogeneities in their modal share, from cities with mostly Active mobility (like Utrecht) to cities where Public Transport is crucial (like Paris or London) and cities where more than two out of three of their journeys are by Car (like Rome and Manchester).

0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 9 Apr, 2024 12:15 am
Not since weather data has been collected has March been this warm. This was reported by the European Union's Climate Change Service. Compared to pre-industrial times, the temperature was now 1.68 C degrees higher.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 9 Apr, 2024 11:37 am
A ‘Historic’ European Court of Human Rights ruling backs Swiss women in climate change case, but two similar climate cases - brought by six Portuguese youth, and a former French mayor - were thrown out by the judges.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has today ruled that climate change violates the right to respect for one’s private and family life.
Two other climate cases - brought by a former French mayor, and six Portuguese youth - were found to be inadmissible, however.

Grand Chamber rulings in the climate change cases
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 17 Apr, 2024 11:03 am
The oceans are heating up and mass extinctions are occurring again and again due to heat waves.
But climate change is also increasingly causing sudden drops in temperature - with equally dramatic consequences.

Climate change-driven cooling can kill marine megafauna at their distributional limits

The impacts on marine species from secular warming and heatwaves are well demonstrated; however, the impacts of extreme cold events are poorly understood. Here we link the death of organisms from 81 species to an intense cold upwelling event in the Agulhas Current, and show trends of increasing frequency and intensification of upwelling in the Agulhas Current and East Australian Current. Using electronic tagging, we illustrate the potential impacts of upwelling events on the movement behaviour of bull sharks Carcharhinus leucas, including alterations of migratory patterns and maintenance of shallower dive profiles when transiting through upwelling cells. Increasing upwelling could result in ‘bait and switch’ situations, where climate change expands subtropical species’ distribution, while simultaneously exposing climate migrants to an increased risk of cold-mortality events at poleward distributional limits. This shows the potential impacts of increased cold events, an understudied aspect of climate change research, and highlights the complexities of climate change effects on marine ecosystems.
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