The last Climate clippings was on July 2. Time to get back on the bike. Unfortunately this edition is not full of good news, apart from the prospect of eating the carcasses and droppings of bacteria feeding on hydrogen (see # 5). Next time I’ll try to catch up with some climate action.
1. Global Temperature in 2017
How warm is it now? The simple answer is that it is warmer than the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C told us, and it’s looking a bit like a fix. The Arctic News post IPCC keeps feeding the addiction tells how the baseline point for measuring warming has been cherry-picked and altered. And queries why they stopped at 2015, when the 2016 and 2017 temperatures were known.
Here’s the graph from Hansen et al in Global Temperature in 2017:
The IPCC takes the average of the 1850 –1900 period as the baseline, then takes current warming as the observed global mean
surface temperature (GMST) for the decade 2006 – 2015. On this basis current warming is 0.87°C.
Hansen et al use the 1880 – 1920 period as a starting point, mainly because comprehensive global measurements are not available before 1880.
They use a linear trend line from 1970, when temperatures seriously started heading north. This gives them warming of +1.07°C at the end of 2017. The year 2017 itself was +1.17°C, the second highest ever with NASA GISS, with the last three years above the trendline. The 2017 result caused concern, because it followed two strong El Niño years and would normally be expected to fall below trend. So the trend may be quickening, time will tell.
The IPCC data gives the impression that there is significant head-room, or burnable carbon.
The last 17 of the 18 warmest years on the 136-year NASA record have occurred since 2001. We should monitor the temperature, by all means, but head back to 350ppm as soon as possible. We’ve already gone too far.
NASA GISS even show a 0.9°C gain since 1951-80:
2. Carbon Brief climate update
Carbon Brief’s quarterly State of the climate report highlights a new record for ocean heat content and a growing El Niño. First here’s their temperature graph showing all the main series:
2018 is shaping to be the fourth warmest after the previous three years (2015-2017) despite a moderate cooling La Niña event during the first half of the year. However:
- A growing El Niño event in the tropical Pacific, which is discussed in detail in the following section of the article, will likely contributing to slightly warmer temperature anomalies for the remaining three months of the year.
Upwards of 90% of the heat trapped by human-emitted greenhouse gases goes into the oceans, so this is one of the graphs that must flatten if we are going to have any luck in containing global warming:
Unfortunately no evidence of progress yet.
The paper Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition adds to an earlier paper Revision of global carbon fluxes based on a reassessment of oceanic and riverine carbon transport.
Seems the carbon isn’t where they thought it was, and there is more of it and more heat in the ocean than they thought.
I imagine this will have implications for climate models and climate sensitivity, if other scientists take the results on board.
I’m waiting for more learned and informed comment. I think the authors are saying whatever the world thought it would have to do to fix the climate, now they will have to do 25% more.
Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.
The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.
“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF.
The Guardian article carries a picture of cattle grazing where the Amazon rainforest once grew:
5. Food from bacteria grazing on hydrogen
George Monbiot has a suggestion as to how to feed ourselves and fix the planet at the same time. Firstly, we could all become vegetarians. That would require 76% less farmland.
Sorry George, we tried and it didn’t work for us.
Then he tells of a bright idea being developed by the Finns. Using electricity (renewable, of course) and water to make hydrogen, they then set loose a mob of bacteria to graze:
- This sounds like science fiction, but it is already approaching commercialisation. For the past year, a group of Finnish researchers has been producing food without either animals or plants. Their only ingredients are hydrogen-oxidising bacteria, electricity from solar panels, a small amount of water, carbon dioxide drawn from the air, nitrogen and trace quantities of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and zinc. The food they have produced is 50% to 60% protein; the rest is carbohydrate and fat. They have started a company (Solar Foods) that seeks to open its first factory in 2021. This week it was selected as an incubation project by the European Space Agency.
I gather that what you get is a kind of meal likely to be used as a bulk ingredient in processed food, but it requires 20,000 times less land than growing soya, and Monbiot says, watch this space, this is only the beginning.
Bill McKibben tells us the Trump administration:
- provided the rationale for scrapping President Obama’s automobile mileage standards: because Trump’s crew now officially expects the planet to warm by 4C . In the environmental impact statement they say it wouldn’t make much difference to the destruction of the planet if we all keep driving SUVs.
7. Climate change will displace millions
A World Bank study (download here) of three regions – Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America – could see just over 143 million people forced to move within their own countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change. Those regions comprise 55% of all development world population.
This map shows population density on the planet:
Here we have broad fertility rates and population forecasts:
The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has forecast a 60% chance that the entire Great Barrier Reef will reach alert level one, which signals extreme heat stress and bleaching are likely.
That means the whole reef, including parts that were spared in 2016 and 2017.
According to the Climate Council the GBR could be hit with repeat coral bleaching events every two years by 2034. Such a short period between bleaching events is not sustainable as the development of coral assemblages takes at least a decade.
In the future bleaching will occur in La Niña years as well as in El Niño years.
You will recall that the recent IPCC report said:
- Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C.