Most of my writing on climate change has shown some level of despondence. So far. But now I’m beginning to see a gleam on the horizon. Despite what has happened this summer. The ungainly ships of state are beginning to turn around. Here are some examples.
The United Kingdom
The UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has been walking back some of his government’s promises on climate. For example, he has been pushing back several green targets from 2030 to 2035, including a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars; relaxing the phaseout of new gas boilers; and cessation of drilling for oil in the North Sea. His reason is that he doesn’t want to unduly burden citizens with the costs associated with these changes.
Continue reading A gleam on the horizon for the climate
At the end of what is generally the hottest month of the year in the northern hemisphere, I suppose it’s time to do a climate check for August 2023. Here’s list of some of what has happened, in no particular order.
- Hurricane Hilary turned from a Category 4 Pacific hurricane into a tropical storm as it threatened Southern California for the first time in 84 years. There was at least one fatality and almost 3,000 people were displaced by it.
- Typhoon Doksuri struck northern China, causing the most rain to fall in Beijing since records were first kept in 1883. It also caused a severe risk to one of Xi Jinping’s pet projects: Xiong’an New Area.
- Hurricane, then Tropical Storm Idalia devastated sections of northern Florida. Hundreds of thousands of people were without power and rescuers pulled dozens of people from flooded homes.
- Franklin will go down as the first major hurricane 2023 season: a category three with winds of 115 mph 120 mph. This one is not a threat to land.
- NOAA forecasters predict an “above normal” hurricane season as a result of record warm sea-surface temperatures.
- NOAA forecasters predict excessive heat across the south-central US.
- Climate change continues with an annual temperature increase of 0.14F (0.078C)
- The 10 warmest years in the historical record have all occurred since 2010.
- Heat domes seem now to be an annual phenomenon in the US and Europe as the jet stream reconfigures itself.
- Canadian wildfire emissions are 6 times higher than average this year. A forest fire in Greece is the largest ever recorded by the European Union.
The temperature trend is up everywhere. Global warming continues apace, with little substantive prospect of a change in its rate. Governments and industry worldwide may be described as inactive at best, regressing at worst, with little prospect for change in the near future. They all are kicking the can down the road; maintaining their promises for 2030 or 2050 but failing to make significant progress toward their announced goals. The UK seems to be the leader in that trend, with Rishi Sunak waffling on, or even negating previous decisions on drilling for oil in the North Sea.
I suppose that I should apologize for being impatient but I’ve been putting up with this foot-dragging for more than a half century now. I’m tired of it. If you’re with me, keep yelling at the climate perpetrators to make real, positive changes. Otherwise it will steadily continue to get worse.
Heat is altering the future on this planet. If you haven’t yet personally experienced the effects of global warming, you surely must have heard about them. July, like June, has produced record-breaking temperatures world wide. If that’s not bad enough, the future will clearly get worse every year, according to almost all scientists who study the phenomena.
Unless we, collectively, do something about it. The sooner we act, the quicker this trend will slow down. By acting I mean stopping putting carbon into the atmosphere. Stopping, not reducing. Every additional atom of carbon dioxide or methane in the atmosphere makes thing a bit worse. Regardless of its source.
For example, Phoenix, Arizona, has had 31 straight days in June-July with the temperature at or exceeding 110F (43.3C). For reference on the human impact of this temperature, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has a handy chart showing the relationship between temperature, humidity and human survival. Note that 110F with only 36% humidity makes sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely and heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure and.or physical activity. Even at 10% humidity those problems are possible. But for 31 straight days? Next year it might 40 straight days.
Of course Phoenix is a desert city and its humidity tends to be low in summer but the point is that the annual number of really hot days is increasing faster than seems possible just a few years ago. Kim Stanley Robinson’s prophetic book “The Ministry of the Future” begins with a story about a (fictional) city in India that suffers a devastating heat wave that kills most of its population. Review that NOAA chart for your own location.
All of this is because we continue to pump more carbon into the atmosphere, day after day. That has to stop if we are to survive long term. If we are to stop the boiling.
My blog in May, written by Lucy Reed, focused on what you personally can do to relieve climate stress. I’m focusing here on the broader picture of what must be done to stop climate change. There are three main objects of needed effort: government; polluting industry and us.
Continue reading Heat: Altering the future
Although much of the focus in talks about global warming is on carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) may be even more important in the near term. The reason methane is important is because it is much more effective than CO2 at increasing warming. Even though it doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere. So while atmospheric CO2 may be around for hundreds of years, methane is a powerful factor now. Here are some facts and suggested steps to combating global warming by reducing methane production.
Continue reading Steps to combatting global warming: Methane
Months ago I wrote a piece about the seemingly agonizing pace at which we’re combatting climate change. It still seems agonizing. Here is an explanation of why and how fast we need to change, as well as some positive steps we call all take to reduce global warming.
My main message is: procrastination hurts. The more we delay taking active measures against global warming, the more it will cost us when we finally start. There are two reasons for this. First, as long as we do nothing, or not enough, the level of CO2 will keep increasing and the atmosphere will continue warming. Second, since we’re working against a climate change deadline, the rate at which we need to stop emitting CO2 must increase. The recent heatwaves in the Western US and Northern Europe, as well as the recent hurricane Ida, are clear examples of why these estimates may be too conservative.
Continue reading The price of procrastination
It’s that time of year again. Time to review progress in 2019. At least as it relates to either telework and/or the environment. As with most things there is good news and bad news.
For telework/telecommuting it is mostly good news: more and more workers around the world — and their employers/clients — are accepting and adopting the idea of location independence. The number of bloggers about telework is also growing, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. As natural and unnatural disasters occur so, too, does the number of teleworkers if only temporarily.
Continue reading Progress in 2019
Climate change has a recurring problem called stiction. You’re probably familiar with the effect, although the term itself is mostly used in physics or engineering contexts. For example, when you’re trying to move an object that’s been sitting on the table or the floor for a while it may resist the move until suddenly it breaks loose and heads in the direction you’re pushing it. That initial resistance force is called stiction.
Many of us are pushing hard to combat climate change but nothing seems to be happening, as I commented in June. We’re all hoping that suddenly matters will begin to improve but so far they’re not. The global climate has a stiction problem. On 26 November 2019 the United Nations released a report on the Emissions Gap; the difference between the global rate of emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs) and the rate required to keep global warming below 1.5°C?. Not only are we not closing that gap, we’re enlarging it.
Continue reading Climate change suffers from stiction
In my blog titled: Climate change: thoughts on the options, almost a year ago, I wrote about the implications of climate change for our future. That blog was based on the 2018 release of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report. Well, according to the latest IPCC report, the future is coming faster than we thought – at least in the sense that our time to make changes is shrinking.
Continue reading The future is coming . . . faster
The road to rescue from climate change is rocky and devious. All sorts of promises are being made by all sorts of groups, from individuals to major country groups. But real progress? Not so much.
For example, according to the Financial Times, on 20 June 2019 a meeting of leaders of the European Union gathered to adopt a plan to get net global emissions of greenhouse gases down to zero by 2050. Except the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland all refused to join. They all have industries that are major greenhouse gas emitters and they wanted to know up front exactly how much they were going to be paid to refrain from producing those emissions. Never mind the fact that, as global warming increases, we’re all going to be affected. They don’t want to pay the bill too soon. They may think that they have plenty of time to decide.
Continue reading Climate Change: Many promises, little real progress
Today I had an iMessage exchange with my astute grand-niece about climate change, ending up with thoughts about change dynamics. This was triggered by her comment that she was confined to the house because of the miserable air quality in Seattle. Now Seattle is not one of the places that frequently comes up in discussions of air quality. Yet, for the second time this week, Seattle’s air quality was comparable to Beijing’s (112 vs. 151 today; a few days ago Seattle was more polluted than Beijing).
The reason for this? Forest fires in British Columbia and smoke therefrom drifting down to Seattle. Advice to all, but especially to women of childbearing age: Stay indoors!! This is what was annoying my grand-niece. It is also what is annoying many women around the world as global warming aids in the ignition of forest fires. The west coast of North America has had a disastrous fire season so far this year, attributable to climate change.
As an illustration, here’s part of our conversation, revolving around the possibility that fruits and vegetables may not in the future be what they used to be. Continue reading Climate change; thoughts on the dynamics