Global warming: Checking the changes

Now that Summer has arrived in the Northern hemisphere it’s time to check the changes in global warming since COP26. It seems that the answer is: very little change, most of it negative. The promises I wrote about in April last year are still mostly promises. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to steadily rise. One new factor has altered the future for the worse: the war in Ukraine.

What follows is a sorry summary of recent events, their consequences and some opportunities.


As Covid-19 infections have eased in regions with high rates of vaccination, travel via fossil-fuel-burning vehicles has rebounded, although not quite to the pre-Covid level. Air travel is taxing the airlines to keep up with demand; many are struggling. Car travel has increased as well, with more people dining out, vacationing away from home, and some even returning to their downtown offices at least a day or two weekly. More travel generally means more CO2 in the air.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the subsequent sanctions and embargo against Russia, has produced large increases in greenhouse gas production. Oil prices have risen, but not to the point where they are seriously affecting fossil fuel demand worldwide. Because of diminished oil and gas supply from Russia many European countries are considering reopening coal mines to make up the losses [even more CO2]. President Biden caused the release of some US petroleum reserves as a measure to reduce gas prices in the US. So fossil fuel demand is still much as it was pre-Covid.

A decision by the US Supreme Court on 30 June 2022 significantly reduces the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to limit greenhouse gas production. This promises to cripple US efforts to reduce global warming.

China continues to build coal-fired power plants. African countries are also increasing their use of fossil fuels as their populations — and economies — continue to grow. Brazil continues to decimate large areas of the Amazon rain forest, to the point where parts of it are now producers, rather than absorbers, of CO2.

In short, fossil fuel-wise, the world is exhaling CO2 pretty much at the same rate as, or higher than, it was two years ago.

Meanwhile the nations of the world are generally still dithering about actually doing something about all this. Many meetings, little action. Political stiction still holds sway. For example, the UK government is one of many accused of total inertia in its climate change efforts. The petroleum industry reports record profits and projects even more drilling in the future despite divestment advice by large hedge funds. In general, progress is going in the wrong direction. Keep in mind the chart in my earlier post about the interest rate.


In general there’s little change except the world is hotter, earlier, than it was a year ago. Heat waves and droughts have already struck Europe, parts of North America, Africa and India weeks before they “normally” appear. Greenland has actually had rain, instead of snow, over its midland plateau. Polar ice sheets are diminishing in extent and thickness apace. Although hurricane season has just started, weather forecasters expect more, and more intense, such events later this year.

The clear lack of progress toward actual reduction of atmospheric temperature has intensified pressure on most national governments to quit talking and actually do something about reducing methane and CO2 in our air. The Environmental Protection Agency is recovering from Trump’s decimation of key staff and is reenergized (if the Supreme Court doesn’t trim the EPA’s power). Research on alternatives to global warming is accelerating in part because of the lack of public policy advances.

But it’s still growing warmer every day.


All of which increases the number of opportunities for action in both the public and private sectors. We need better technology solutions. We need better — and sooner— political solutions. There is plenty of room for innovation in both areas. Greater focus on increasing sustainability should be the watchword on both sides as mid-term elections approach. Let’s face it: we all are interested in developing a future where we have a cleaner, safer and healthier environment. That is a clearly nonpartisan objective.

Vote YES on improving the environment. COP 27, where we’re supposed to check on progress made so far, runs in Egypt from November 7th through the 18th.

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