World’s Oceans Being Significantly Harmed

This report comes as some major fishing countries have agreed to halt their commercial fishing activities in the Arctic Ocean for 16 years. It will be shameful for humanity if there is more plastic than fish in the ocean in several decades.

There’s a lot humans can learn from animals too. Radar for example was developed through studying bats. It’s therefore terrible that climate change is destroying so many ecosystems that there is a lot to gain from keeping around.

While renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough warned the world’s oceans are “under threat now as never before in human history,” green groups on Tuesday said a United Nations resolution to end plastic pollution in the world’s oceans does not go nearly far enough to combat the problem, and stressed that more urgent action is needed to eradicate the damage before it’s too late.

Attenborough’s new BBC documentary series finale airing this weekend will highlight the crisis, drawing attention to the huge amount of plastic that’s dumped into oceans and seas every year, as well as the impact of climate change, overfishing, and noise pollution on underwater wildlife.

The final episode of Blue Planet 2 will focus entirely on the damage being done, arguing that humans’ actions are the only thing capable of reversing the effects.

“For years we thought the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them. But now we know that was wrong,” said Attenborough, who narrates the show, in a preview of the episode in the Guardian. “It is now clear our actions are having a significant impact on the world’s oceans…Many people believe the oceans have reached a crisis point.”

“The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us,” added Attenborough.

[…]

In addition to the damage done by plastics, Blue Planet 2 will detail the bleaching of coral reefs, which have served as ecosystems for fish and other ocean life, brought on by the warming of oceans; the damage done to water when carbon dioxide dissolves in oceans; and the harm done by noise from shipping, tourism, and fossil fuel drilling.

“There is a whole language underwater that we are only just getting a handle on,” Steve Simpson, a coral reef researcher at the University of Exeter in England, told the Guardian, explaining that high levels of noise prevent sea animals from communicating with one another.

Another researcher featured in the program concludes that it is “beyond question” that the damage to the oceans is manmade. “The shells and the reefs really, truly are dissolving. The reefs could be gone by the end of the century,” said Professor Chris Langdon of the University of Miami.

Consumers buy about one million plastic bottles per minute, according to a Guardian report earlier this year, and Attenborough stressed that a reduction in plastic use is a step people around the world can take immediately to help combat plastic’s impact on the oceans.

Arctic Has Warmed Over 5 Times the Global Average

New research also reveals that the supposed “pause” in climate change was due to missing data.

It’s the hiatus that never happened: an apparent ‘slowdown’ in rising surface temperatures between 1998 and 2012, which encouraged climate change deniers to label global warming a made-up conspiracy. Even a hoax.

To be clear, thanks to the efforts of scientists, this ‘pause’ in global warming has been thoroughly debunked, but new research highlights another reason we made the mistake in the first place: missing data.

[…]

“Compared with the newly estimated global warming rate of 0.130°C per decade, the Arctic has warmed more than five times the global average.”

Positively Transforming Greenhouse Gases — Catalyst to Recycle Carbon Dioxide and Methane for Valuable Chemicals Developed

This new research looks to be quite important, as it could provide an added incentive to address the immense threat of climate change. Methane may be only about 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, but it traps about 85 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide does, so it too is definitely part of the environmental threat.

The University of Surrey has developed a new and cost-effective catalyst to recycle two of the main causes behind climate change — carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

In a study published by the Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, scientists have described how they created an advanced nickel-based catalyst strengthened with tin and ceria, and used it to transform CO2 and CH4 into a synthesis gas that can be used to produce fuels and a range of valuable chemicals.

The project is part of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Global Research Project, which is looking into ways to lessen the impact of global warming in Latin America. The study has led the University of Surrey to file a patent for a family of new “supercatalysts” for chemical CO2 recycling.

According to the Global Carbon Project, global CO2 emissions are set to rise in 2017 for the first time in four years — with carbon output growing on average three per cent every year since 2006.

While carbon capture technology is common, it can be expensive and, in most cases, requires extreme and precise conditions for the process to be successful. It is hoped the new catalyst will help make the technology more widely available across industry, and both easier and cheaper for it to be extracted from the atmosphere.

Dr Tomas R. Reina from the University of Surrey said: “This is an extremely exciting project and we believe we have achieved something here that can make a real impact on CO2 emissions.

“The goal we’re all chasing as climate scientists is a way of reversing the impacts of harmful gases on our atmosphere — this technology, which could see those harmful gases not only removed but converted into renewable fuels for use in poorer countries is the Holy Grail of climate science.”

Professor Harvey Arellano-Garcia, Head of Research in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Surrey, said: “Utilising CO2 in this way is a viable alternative to traditional carbon capture methods, which could make a sizable impact to the health of our planet.

“We’re now seeking the right partners from industry to take this technology and turn it into a world-changing process.”

More Than 15,000 Scientists from Over 180 Countries Issue a ‘Second Notice’ to Humanity

It would be wise to listen to what they’re saying about the environmental catastrophe.

Yikes.

Over 15,000 scientists hailing from more than 180 countries just issued a dire warning to humanity:

“Time is running out” to stop business as usual, as threats from rising greenhouse gases to biodiversity loss are pushing the biosphere to the brink.

The new warning was published Monday in the international journal BioScience, and marks an update to the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” issued by nearly 1,700 leading scientists 25 years ago.

The 1992 plea, which said Earth was on track to be “irretrievably mutilated” baring “fundamental change,” however, was largely unheeded.

“Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist,” said William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, and lead author of the new warning. “Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences. Those who signed this second warning aren’t just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path.”

The new statement—a “Second Notice” to humanity—does acknowledge that there have been some positive steps forward, such as the drop in ozone depleters and advancements in reducing hunger since the 1992 warning. But, by and large, humanity has done a horrible job of making progress. In fact, key environmental threats that demanded urgent attention a quarter of a century ago are even worse now.

Among the “especially troubling” trends, they write, are rising greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, agricultural production, and the sixth mass extinction event underway.

Taking a numerical look at how some of the threats have grown since 1992, the scientists note that there’s been a 26.1 percent loss in fresh water available per capita; a 75.3 percent increase in the number of “dead zones”;  a 62.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions per year; and 35.5 percent rise in the human population.

“By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere,” they write.

Among the steps that could be taken to prevent catastrophe are promoting plant-based diets; reducing wealth inequality, stopping conversions of forests and grasslands; government interventions to rein in biodiversity loss via poaching and illicit trade; and “massively adopting renewable energy sources” while phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Taking such actions, they conclude, are necessary to avert “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss.”

“Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. “

The goal of the paper, said Ripple, is to “ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate.”

Global Fossil Fuel Burning to Set Record Highs in 2017

Yet another important warning sign that civilization needs to convert to clean, renewable energy sources, such as those from solar and wind. Pollution is also a leading cause of death anyway, much of it from fossil fuels. And a lot more people should actively understand that what’s profitable to the fossil fuel industry is harmful to the world’s general human populations.

The burning of fossil fuels around the world is set to hit a record high in 2017, climate scientists have warned, following three years of flat growth that raised hopes that a peak in global emissions had been reached.

The expected jump in the carbon emissions that drive global warming is a “giant leap backwards for humankind”, according to some scientists. However, other experts said they were not alarmed, saying fluctuations in emissions are to be expected and that big polluters such as China are acting to cut emissions.

Global emissions need to reach their peak by 2020 and then start falling quickly in order to have a realistic chance of keeping global warming below the 2C danger limit, according to leading scientists. Whether the anticipated increase in CO2 emissions in 2017 is just a blip that is followed by a falling trend, or is the start of a worrying upward trend, remains to be seen.

[…]

The new analysis is based on the available energy use data for 2017 and projections for the latter part of the year. It estimates that 37bn tonnes of CO2 will be emitted from burning fossil fuels, the highest total ever.

The main reason for the rise is an expected 3.5% increase in emissions in China, the world’s biggest polluter, where low rains have reduced low-carbon hydroelectric output and industrial activity has increased. India’s rise in emissions was modest compared to previous years at 2%, while the US and EU are both on track for small falls.

2017 is likely to be the hottest year ever recorded in which there was no El Niño event, a natural global cycle that temporarily nudges up global temperature. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere also saw a record jump in 2016, and other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture and industry are also rising.

Study: Fully Clean and Renewable Energy Generation is Entirely Feasible Economically

A useful study that can be referenced done by a German nonprofit and a university from Finland shows that conversion of the world to clean energy today is definitely possible. It’s also a necessary initiative to limit the effects of climate change in the coming years.

A transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050—or even sooner—is not only possible, but would also cost less and create millions of new jobs, according to new research presented in Bonn, Germany on Thursday.

The German non-profit Energy Watch Group (EWG) teamed up with Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology to present a study at the COP23 climate summit.

The results of the study, according to a forward written by EWG’s president Hans-Josef Fell, show “that a 100% renewable electricity system is an effective and urgently needed climate protection measure. A global zero emission power system is feasible and more cost-effective than the existing system based on nuclear and fossil fuel energy.”

To achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the warming of the earth to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the report argued that “we need a two-fold strategy: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions down to zero and to remove surplus carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A key aspect of this strategy should be a transition to an emission-free global economy, based on 100 percent renewable energy.”

Moving to this system through the use of solar and wind power, combined with establishing energy storage systems, would bring the total cost of energy from more than 80 dollars to about 60 dollars per MWh.

Thirty-six million jobs would also be created by 2050 through the transition, compared with 19 million energy jobs in the current economy, according to the research.

Global Carbon Dioxide Levels at Record Highs

Another reminder of the threat that climate change poses to society. It’s unclear whether there will be technology in the future that will provide big reductions in the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and it’s a risky bet to rely on. And even if that technology is created, there will undoubtedly be areas effected by worsening climate change until then.

Ahead of the COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany next week, an annual bulletin released on Monday revealed that last year, the average global concentration of carbon dioxide surged at a record-breaking pace to the highest level in approximately 3 million years, renewing scientists’ concerns that more action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

[…]

“The numbers don’t lie,” said Erik Solheim, head of U.N. Environment. “We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed. The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy, but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive.”

“We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge,” Solheim concluded. “What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.”

Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate discusses many of these environmental details in depth. I plan on reviewing it on this site myself eventually.