By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. - A historic deal has been struck in Paris to reduce carbon emissions and reduce global warming, with a ceiling of 2 degrees centigrade and a goal of 1.5C. 2015 has been the hottest year on record.
From the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency... (Interactive Presentation)(Actual Report PDF) Actual global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached a new record of 34.5 billion tonnes in 2012. Yet, the increase in global CO2 emissions in that year slowed down to 1.1% , which was less than half the average annual increase of 2.9% over the last decade. This is remarkable, as the global economy grew by 3.5%. This development signals a shift towards less fossil-fuel-intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving. Increases in fossil-fuel consumption in 2012 were 2.2% for natural gas, 0.9% for oil products, and 0.6% for coal.
The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped. [more inside]
Scripps Institute of Oceanography projects that next month its monitoring station will for the first time measure CO2 at 400 parts per million. Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. 400 ppm is an arbitrary milestone that we'll blow right past on our way to 450 ppm within a few decades. This is an unprecedentedly fast rate of increase and it's getting faster. Not all measuring stations are exactly the same: A NOAA station in the Arctic measured CO2 at 400 ppm last year. [more inside]
The prospects of keeping climate change below that (2-degree goal) are fading away. Scientists track carbon pollution both by monitoring what comes out of factories and what winds up in the atmosphere. Both are rising at rates faster than worst-case scenarios that climate scientists used in their most recent international projections.
While the 2007 IPCC report showed Arctic sea-ice still present in 2100, it is now an unfolding "global disaster" according to Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams. Climate Code Red summarizes the science, saying the sea-ice is "in a 'death spiral' and likely to be gone in summer within a few years" ... "The sea-ice volume is now down to just one-fifth of what it was in 1979", and paints a newly emerging, rapidly worsening climate picture, urging climate scientists to sound the alarm on new data showing a world on the brink of dramatic tipping points, far sooner than anyone anticipated
"Climate change will take on a life of it's own and spiral out of control. Something like half the earth's currently-inhabited land would become too hot to survive on. I don't mean it's difficult to grow beans, or your air-conditioning bills are inconveniently high. I mean, if you go outside you die of hotness. Places that were an average of 80F will now be an average of 170, 180F. Will there still be human civilization under those circumstances?" - a TEDx talk on The Brutal Logic of Climate Change, by David Roberts of grist.org
In the fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook, released today at the Rio+20 conference, the United Nations warns that the earth's environmental systems "are being pushed towards their biophysical limits" and that sudden, irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes are looming. [more inside]
Carbon dioxide emissions increased by the largest amount on record in 2010, exceeding the worst case scenario outlined by the IPCC four years ago.
With the climate bill dead and blame portioned, Ezra Klein asks what happens when congress fails? He concludes that "regulations to reduce carbon emissions are alive and well. The Environmental Protection Agency can attack carbon as a pollutant, and the Obama administration's announcement that efforts to hamstring the EPA will be vetoed suggests that they mean to do exactly that." [more inside]
80 percent of Americans say global warming is real and poses a threat to humanity. Which is good because if the global temperature raises by 4 degrees we're all dead. However only 44 percent would be willing to face any financial hardship in the name of a solution.
Sucking CO2 out of the air has long been a holy grail for solving global warming; Richard Branson has promised $25m to anyone who succeeds. Of course it's already been done, but the amount of energy required doesn't make it net carbon positive. Now a team in Arizona, led by Klaus Lacknet under the company of Global Research Technologies, says it has made a significant breakthrough that massively reduces the amount of energy required - the "project has reached the stage where it is quite clear we can do it." The planned prototype, which will be finished in two years, will cost $200,000 USD, be smaller than a shipping container and be capable of eliminating around 1 ton of CO2. Even if it works many hurdles remain but it portends a cooler future for air-capture technology.
Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies have found that 2007 tied with 1998 for Earth's second warmest year in a century (2005 being the hottest). More here. of course, others disagree.
Will algae defeat global warming? "Fed a generous helping of CO2-laden emissions, courtesy of the power plant's exhaust stack, the algae grow quickly... The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward, but with 40 percent less CO2... The algae is harvested daily and a combustible vegetable oil is squeezed out: biodiesel".