UN report finds 90 per cent of disasters are weather-related – ‘The world is paying a high price in lives lost’0 comments Posted by Jim at Wednesday, November 25, 2015
23 November 2015 – A new report issued today by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) shows that over the last 20 years, 90 per cent of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events.
The report, titled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, finds that the five countries hit by the highest number of disasters are the United States, China, India, Philippines, and Indonesia.
“Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost,” said Ms. Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR, in a press release.
“Economic losses are a major development challenge for many least developed countries battling climate change and poverty,” she continued.
The report and analysis compiled by UNISDR and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) demonstrates that since the first UN climate change conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.
The report also highlights data gaps, noting that economic losses from weather-related disasters are much higher than the recorded figure of $1.891 trillion, which accounts for 71 per cent of all losses attributed to natural hazards over the twenty-year period. Only 35 per cent of records include information about economic losses. UNISDR estimates that the true figure on disaster losses – including earthquakes and tsunamis – is between $250 billion and $300 billion annually.
“In the long term, an agreement in Paris at COP21 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be a significant contribution to reducing damage and loss from disasters which are partly driven by a warming globe and rising sea levels,” Ms. Wahlström explained.
“For now, there is a need to reduce existing levels of risk and avoid creating new risk by ensuring that public and private investments are risk-informed and do not increase the exposure of people and economic assets to natural hazards on flood plains, vulnerable low-lying coastlines or other locations unsuited for human settlement.”
Ms. Wahlström recalled that the development year started last March with the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year package endorsed by the UN General Assembly, which sets out clear targets for a substantial reduction in disaster losses, including mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure including schools and hospitals.
Meanwhile, Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir, the head of CRED, said climate change, climate variability and weather events are a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ overall target of eliminating poverty.
“We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle other risk drivers such as unplanned urban development, environmental degradation and gaps in early warnings,” she said. “This all requires ensuring people are risk informed and strengthening institutions which manage disaster risk.”
According to the report, Asia accounts for the “lion’s share of disaster impacts” including 332,000 deaths and 3.7 billion people affected. The death toll in Asia included 138,000 deaths caused by Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar in 2008.
In total, an average of 335 weather-related disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14 per cent from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.
The extent of the toll taken by disasters on society is revealed by other statistics from CRED’s Emergency Events Data Base, or EM-DAT, which shows that 87 million homes were damaged or destroyed over the period of the survey.
The analysis also highlights that floods accounted for 47 percent of all weather-related disasters from 1995-2015, affecting 2.3 billion people and killing 157,000. Storms were the deadliest type of weather-related disaster, accounting for 242,000 deaths or 40 percent of the global weather-related deaths, with 89 per cent of these deaths occurring in lower-income countries.
Overall, heatwaves accounted for 148,000 of the 164,000 lives lost due to extreme temperatures, with 92 per cent of deaths occurring in high-income countries.
Finally, drought reportedly affects Africa more than any other continent, with EM-DAT recoding 136 events there between 1995 and 2015, including 77 droughts in East Africa alone. The report also recommends that there needs to be improved data collection on indirect deaths from drought. [more]
GENEVA, 23 November 2015 (UNISDR) – A new report issued today by the UN, The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, shows that over the last twenty years, 90% of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events.
The five countries hit by the highest number of disasters are the United States (472), China (441), India (288), Philippines (274), and Indonesia, (163).
The report and analysis compiled by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) demonstrates that since the first Climate Change Conference (COP1) in 1995, 606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.
The report also highlights data gaps, noting that economic losses from weather-related disasters are much higher than the recorded figure of US$1.891 trillion, which accounts for 71% of all losses attributed to natural hazards over the twenty-year period. Only 35% of records include information about economic losses. UNISDR estimates that the true figure on disaster losses – including earthquakes and tsunamis – is between US$250 billion and US$300 billion annually.
Introducing the report, Ms. Margareta Wahlström, head of UNISDR, said: “Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost. Economic losses are a major development challenge for many least developed countries battling climate change and poverty.
“In the long term, an agreement in Paris at COP21 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be a significant contribution to reducing damage and loss from disasters which are partly driven by a warming globe and rising sea levels. For now, there is a need to reduce existing levels of risk and avoid creating new risk by ensuring that public and private investments are risk-informed and do not increase the exposure of people and economic assets to natural hazards on flood plains, vulnerable low-lying coastlines or other locations unsuited for human settlement.”
Ms. Wahlström said that the development year had started this March with the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year package endorsed by the UN General Assembly, which sets out clear targets for a substantial reduction in disaster losses, including mortality, numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure including schools and hospitals.
Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir, head of CRED, said: “Climate change, climate variability and weather events are a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ overall target of eliminating poverty. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle other risk drivers such as unplanned urban development, environmental degradation and gaps in early warnings. This all requires ensuring people are risk informed and strengthening institutions which manage disaster risk.”
KEY DETAILS FROM THE REPORT
Asia accounts for the lion’s share of disaster impacts including 332,000 deaths and 3.7 billion people affected. The death toll in Asia included 138,000 deaths caused by Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar in 2008.
In total, an average of 335 weather-related disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14% from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.
The extent of the toll taken by disasters on society is revealed by other statistics from CRED’s Emergency Events Data Base, or EM-DAT: 87 million homes were damaged or destroyed over the period of the survey.
Floods accounted for 47% of all weather-related disasters from 1995-2015, affecting 2.3 billion people and killing 157,000. Storms were the deadliest type of weather-related disaster, accounting for 242,000 deaths or 40% of the global weather-related deaths, with 89% of these deaths occurring in lower-income countries.
Overall, heatwaves accounted for 148,000 of the 164,000 lives lost due to extreme temperatures. 92% of heatwave deaths occurred in high-income countries, with Europe accounting for 90%.
Drought affects Africa more than any other continent, with EM-DAT recoding 136 events there between 1995 and 2015, including 77 droughts in East Africa alone. The report recommends that there needs to be improved data collection on indirect deaths from drought.
Study: Dispersants did not help oil degrade in BP spill – ‘The oil with no dispersant degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants’0 comments Posted by Jim at Wednesday, November 25, 2015
By Seth Borenstein
9 November 2015
(PhysOrg) – The chemical sprayed on the 2010 BP oil spill may not have helped crucial petroleum-munching microbes get rid of the slick, a new study suggests.
And that leads to more questions about where much of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill went. If the new results are true, up to half the oil can't be accounted for, said the author of a new study on the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
After the 172 million gallon (650 million liter) spill, the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 was applied by airplane on the slick to help it go away and help natural microbes in the water eat the oil faster. The oil appeared to dissipate, but scientists and government officials didn't really monitor the microbes and chemicals, said University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye.
So Joye and colleagues recreated the application in a lab, with the dispersant, BP oil and water from the gulf, and found that it didn't help the microbes at all and even hurt one key oil-munching bug, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface," Joye said. "What you see is the dispersants didn't ramp up biodegradation."
In fact, she found the oil with no dispersant "degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants," Joye said.
Joye's team chronicled nearly 50,000 species of bacteria in the Gulf and what they did to the water with oil, and water with oil and dispersant.
One of the main groups of oil munchers are fat little sausage-shaped bacteria called marinobacters, Joye said. They eat oil all the time and comprise about 3 percent of the bacteria in normal water. But when there's oil, they eat and multiply like crazy until they are as much as 42 percent of the bacteria, Joye said.
But when the dispersant was applied, they didn't grow. They stayed around 3 percent, Joye said.
Instead, a different family of bugs called colwellia multiplied more, and they don't do nearly as good a job at munching the oil, Joye said. She theorized that for some reason the dispersant and marinobacters just don't work together. [more]
ABSTRACT: During the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the application of 7 million liters of chemical dispersants aimed to stimulate microbial crude oil degradation by increasing the bioavailability of oil compounds. However, the effects of dispersants on oil biodegradation rates are debated. In laboratory experiments, we simulated environmental conditions comparable to the hydrocarbon-rich, 1,100 m deep plume that formed during the Deepwater Horizon discharge. The presence of dispersant significantly altered the microbial community composition through selection for potential dispersant-degrading Colwellia, which also bloomed in situ in Gulf deep waters during the discharge. In contrast, oil addition to deepwater samples in the absence of dispersant stimulated growth of natural hydrocarbon-degrading Marinobacter. In these deepwater microcosm experiments, dispersants did not enhance heterotrophic microbial activity or hydrocarbon oxidation rates. An experiment with surface seawater from an anthropogenically derived oil slick corroborated the deepwater microcosm results as inhibition of hydrocarbon turnover was observed in the presence of dispersants, suggesting that the microcosm findings are broadly applicable across marine habitats. Extrapolating this comprehensive dataset to real world scenarios questions whether dispersants stimulate microbial oil degradation in deep ocean waters and instead highlights that dispersants can exert a negative effect on microbial hydrocarbon degradation rates.
23 November 2015 (NBC News) – Serbia and Macedonia, which lie on the main migrant route to northern Europe, have begun restricting the entry of refugees to just those from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. [more]
CEOs of 78 companies and more than 2,000 academics sign letters calling on world heads to do more to limit global warming0 comments Posted by Jim at Monday, November 23, 2015
By Emma Howard
23 November 2015
(The Guardian) – More than 2,000 academics from over 80 countries – including linguist Noam Chomsky, climate scientist Michael E Mann, philosopher Peter Singer, and historian Naomi Oreskes – have called on world leaders to do more to limit global warming to a 1.5C rise.
In an open letter, they write that leaders meeting in Paris at a crunch UN climate summit next week should “be mustering planet-wide mobilisation, at all societal levels” and call for citizens around the world to hold their leaders to account on the issue.
The world has already warmed by 1C above pre-industrial levels. Holding warming to 1.5C would be a far greater challenge than the 2C that leaders at previous climate talks have agreed to limit rises to. Current emissions pledges tabled ahead of the Paris summit would see warming of around 2.7-3C.
They say that such a rise is: “profoundly shocking, given that any sacrifice involved in making those reductions is far overshadowed by the catastrophes we are likely to face if we do not.”
Separately, the CEOs from 78 companies collectively worth over $2tn – among them Nestlé, Accenture, HSBC, Lloyd’s, Microsoft, BT Group, PepsiCo, Siemens, SOHO China, UniLever, PwC, Marks & Spencer and the Mahindra Group – have pledged their support to governments to implement ambitious targets. [more]
(globalclimatechangeweek.com) – Some issues are of such ethical magnitude that being on the correct side of history becomes a signifier of moral character for generations to come. Global warming is such an issue. Indigenous peoples and the developing world are least responsible for climate change, least able to adapt to it, and most vulnerable to its impacts. As the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris approaches, the leaders of the industrialized world shoulder a grave responsibility for the consequences of our current and past carbon emissions.
Yet it looks unlikely that the international community will mandate even the greenhouse gas reductions necessary to give us a two thirds chance of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. At the moment, even if countries meet their current non-binding pledges to reduce carbon emissions, we will still be on course to reach 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. This is profoundly shocking, given that any sacrifice involved in making those reductions is far overshadowed by the catastrophes we are likely to face if we do not: more extinctions of species and loss of ecosystems; increasing vulnerability to storm surges; more heatwaves; more intense precipitation; more climate related deaths and disease; more climate refugees; slower poverty reduction; less food security; and more conflicts worsened by these factors. Given such high stakes, our leaders ought to be mustering planet-wide mobilization, at all societal levels, to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
We undersigned concerned academics, researchers, and scientists from around the world recognize the seriousness of our environmental situation and the special responsibility we owe our communities, future generations, and our fellow species. We will strive to meet that responsibility in our educational and communicative endeavors. We call upon our leaders to do what is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. With just as much urgency, we call upon our fellow citizens to hold their leaders responsible for vigorously addressing global warming. [more]
23 November 2015 (World Economic Forum) – We are CEOs from 78 companies and 20 economic sectors. With operations in over 150 countries and territories, together we generated over $2.1 trillion of revenue in 2014.
In the spirit of the World Economic Forum to foster public-private cooperation, we affirm that the private sector has a responsibility to engage actively in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to help the world move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.
We call upon governments to take bold action at the Paris climate conference (COP 21) in December 2015 to secure a more prosperous world for all of us. We are already taking action, and we stand ready to work together with the international community to help deliver practical climate solutions.
Below is a statement we prepared that outlines our vision:
Climate change is one of the biggest global challenges that will shape the way we do business now and in the coming decades.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties 21 (COP21), to be held in Paris in December 2015, aims to deliver a new climate change agreement that will put the world on track to a low-carbon, sustainable future while keeping the rise in global temperature to under 2 degrees Celsius.
This coalition, comprising CEOs from 78 companies with operations in over 150 countries and territories, and facilitated by the World Economic Forum, believes the private sector has a responsibility to actively engage in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and to help lead the global transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. This coalition further seeks to catalyze and aggregate action and initiatives from companies from all industry sectors — towards delivering concrete climate solutions and innovations in their practices, operations and policies.
The undersigned, as CEO climate leaders, urge the world’s leaders to reach an ambitious climate deal at COP21, aligned with the UN Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We extend an open offer to national governments to meet and co-design tangible actions as well as ambitious, effective targets that are appropriate for their different jurisdictions.
- The companies we represent are taking voluntary actions to reduce environmental and carbon footprints, setting targets to reduce our own GHG gas emissions and/or energy consumption while also collaborating in supply chains and at sectoral levels. Technological innovations will be an important element.
- We agree on the need for inspirational and meaningful global action and aligned messaging. We will act as ambassadors for climate action, focusing on solutions and economic opportunities and using “the science debate is over: climate change is real and addressable”* as one of the common themes to raise public awareness.
- We will actively manage climate risks and incorporate them in decision making — not least to realize growth opportunities. We will take steps to implement effective strategies to strengthen not only our companies’ but also societal resilience.
Our vision supporting a climate deal
- We believe that effective climate policies have to include explicit or implicit prices on carbon achieved via market mechanisms or coherent legislative measures according to national preferences, which will trigger low-carbon investment and transform current emission patterns at a significant scale. We support global mitigation approaches that promote cost effective incentives for cutting emissions, while respecting level playing fields and preventing carbon leakage.
- We urge a strategic action agenda — supported by clear and consistent policies and robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) — that will complement business efforts to stimulate innovation as well as collaborative actions across value chains, and to develop and scale up alternative and renewable energy sources, promote energy efficiency, end deforestation and accelerate other low-carbon options and technologies such as ICT.
- We welcome transparency and disclosure regarding financial investments and policies in relation to all energy-related activities — including fossil-based and alternative. We support assessments of resilience to climate risks and call for new financial instruments to stimulate alternative energy and efficiency projects as well as green bonds. This will enable climate action to be integrated with financial reporting and instruments.
- We encourage governments to set science-based global and national targets for the reduction of GHG emissions and the development of alternative energy sources.
Hastening the shift to a low-carbon economy in an economically sustainable manner will generate growth and jobs in both the developing and developed world. Delaying action is not an option — it will be costly and will damage growth prospects in the years to come. The CEO climate leaders call on government leaders and policy makers to align on global measures, to be consistent in policy-making and to develop helpful innovation frameworks.
A comprehensive, inclusive and ambitious climate deal in Paris on mitigation, adaptation and finance — in combination with a strong set of clear policy signals from the world’s leaders — is key to accelerating this transition. This opportunity should not be missed.
* We will build on the data presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UN, NASA, and the New Climate Economy Report (“Seizing the Global Opportunity”) of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
Ulrich Spiesshofer, CEO, ABB ª *
Pierre Nanterme, Chairman and CEO, Accenture ª *
José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Chairman and CEO, Acciona ª * ^
Ton Büchner, CEO, AkzoNobel ª
Philippe Camus, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Alcatel-Lucent
Oliver Bäte, Chairman of the Board of Management (CEO), Allianz SE ª
Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup Group ª
Johan C. Aurik, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney ª
Carlos Fadigas, CEO, Braskem
Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT Group ª * ^
Paulo Roberto de Souza, CEO, Copersucar *
Niels B. Christiansen, President and CEO, Danfoss ª
Frank Appel, CEO, Deutsche Post DHL Group ª *
Timotheus Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom
Nigel Knowles, Global Co-Chairman, DLA Piper ª
Henrik Poulsen, CEO, DONG Energy ª
Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager, Enel SpA ª
Gérard Mestrallet, Chairman and CEO, Engie ª *
Hans E. Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson ª
Marcelo Strufaldi Castelli, CEO, Fibria Celulose *
Bernardo Gradin, CEO, GranBio Investimentos ª
Dong Mingzhu, Chairperson and President of Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai ª
Kasper Rorsted, CEO, Henkel AG & Co ª *
Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Construction Company ª
Stuart Gulliver, Group CEO, HSBC Holdings ª
Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman and CEO, Iberdrola ª
Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA Group ª *
Vishal Sikka, CEO, Infosys ª *
Ralph Hamers, CEO, ING Group ª
Ravi Uppal, Group MD & CEO, Jindal Steel & Power ª
Alex Molinaroli, Chairman, President and CEO, Johnson Controls ª
Sajjan Jindal, Chairman, JSW Steel ª
Fabio Schvartsman, CEO, Klabin
Sandra Wu Wen-Hsiu, Chairperson and CEO, Kokusai Kogyo Co. ª
Eric Olsen, CEO, LafargeHolcim ª *
Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyd’s ª
Anand G. Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group ª
Jonas Prising, CEO, ManpowerGroup ª
Marc Bolland, CEO, Marks and Spencer ª
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft ª
Nikolaus von Bomhard, Chairman of the Board of Management, Munich Re ª
Paul Bulcke, CEO, Nestlé ª *
Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Inc ª *
Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO, PensionDanmark ª
Eric Rondolat, CEO, Philips Lighting ª
Dennis Nally, Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers International *
Feike Sijbesma, CEO and Chairman of the Managing Board, Royal DSM ª * ^
Eelco Blok, CEO, Royal KPN
Frans van Houten, President and CEO, Royal Philips ª * ^
Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO, Schneider Electric ª *
Eric Luo, CEO, Shunfeng International Clean Energy Limited ª
Joe Kaeser, President and CEO, Siemens ª *
Franky Oesman Widjaja, Chairman and CEO, Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food ª
Zhang Xin (CEO) and Pan Shiyi (Chairman), Co-Founders, SOHO China ª
Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO, Solvay ª *
Christian Rynning-Tønnesen, President and CEO, Statkraft ª *
Jean-Louis Chaussade, CEO, Suez ª *
Takeshi Niinami, President and CEO, Suntory Holdings ª
Walter Schalka, CEO, Suzano Pulp and Paper ª *
Tulsi Tanti, Chairman, Suzlon Energy ª
Michel M. Liès, Group CEO, Swiss Re ª
Cyrus P. Mistry, Chairman, Tata Sons ª *
Michel Giannuzzi, CEO, Tarkett ª
Donald R. Lindsay, President & CEO, Teck Resources ª
Andrew N. Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical
Company ª *
David W. Kenny, Chairman and CEO, The Weather Company ª
Masashi Muromachi, Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation ª *
Gao Jifan, Chairman and CEO, Trina Solar ª
Sergio Ermotti, CEO, UBS Group ª
Oleg Deripaska, President, UC Rusal ª
Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever ª * ^
Antoine Frérot, Chairman and CEO, Veolia ª *
Anders Runevad, Group President and CEO, Vestas Wind Systems ª
Anthony Pratt, Executive Chairman, Visy Industries ª
João Carvalho de Miranda, CEO, Votorantim Industrial *
Vineet Mittal, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Welspun Energy ª
Kuok Khoon Hong, Chairman and CEO, Wilmar International ª
T.K. Kurien, CEO, Wipro Limited ª
ª Members of the World Economic Forum
*Member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
^Member of the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change
On climate science, U.S. Republican candidates get failing grades – ‘That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president’0 comments Posted by Jim at Monday, November 23, 2015
By Seth Borenstein
23 November 2015
WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – When it comes to climate science, two of the three Democratic presidential candidates are 'A' students, while most of the Republican contenders are flunking, according to a panel of scientists who reviewed candidates' comments.
At the request of The Associated Press, eight climate and biological scientists graded for scientific accuracy what a dozen top candidates said in debates, interviews and tweets, using a 0 to 100 scale.
To try to eliminate possible bias, the candidates' comments were stripped of names and given randomly generated numbers, so the professors would not know who made each statement they were grading. Also, the scientists who did the grading were chosen by professional scientific societies. […]
"This individual understands less about science (and climate change) than the average kindergartner," Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor, wrote of Cruz's statements. "That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president." […]
For the Republicans, climate change came up more in interviews than in their four debates. But Rubio did confront the issue in the 16 September 2015 debate in a way that earned him bad grades from some scientists.
"We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing, to change our climate, to change our weather, because America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely," Rubio said. "But America is not a planet. And we are not even the largest carbon producer anymore. China is. And they're drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get ahold of."
Scientists dispute Rubio's argument that because China is now the top emitter, the U.S. can do little to change the future climate. The U.S. spews about 17 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, "so big cuts here would still make a big difference globally," said geochemist Louisa Bradtmiller at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Rubio's inference that China is not doing much about global warming "is out of date. The Chinese are implementing a cap-and-trade system in their country to reduce emissions," said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.
At an August event In California's Orange County, Cruz told an interviewer, "If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there's been zero warming. … The satellite says it ain't happening."
Florida State University's James Elsner said ground data show every decade has been warmer than the last since the middle of the 20th century and satellite data-based observations "show continued warming over the past several decades." […]
"What We Know" on climate science by the American Association for the Advancement of Science on climate science: http://bit.ly/ZxACVI
Half of tree species in the Amazon at risk of extinction, say scientists – ‘It’s a battle we’re going to see play out in our lifetimes’1 comments Posted by Jim at Friday, November 20, 2015
By Damian Carrington
20 November 2015
(The Guardian) – More than half the myriad tree species in the Amazon could be heading for extinction, according to a study that makes the first comprehensive estimate of threatened species in the world’s largest rainforest. Among the species expected to suffer significant falls in numbers are the Brazil nut, and wild cacao and açai trees, all important food sources.
The world’s most diverse forest has endured decades of deforestation, with loggers, farmers, and miners responsible for the removal of 12% of its area. If that continues in the decades ahead, 57% of the 15,000 tree species will be in danger, according to the researchers.
However, if existing protected areas and indigenous territories across the vast area suffer no further damage, the number of species at risk would be restricted to a third of the total.
“Forests in the Amazon have been declining since the 1950s, but [until now] there was a poor understanding of how this has affected populations of individual species,” said Prof Carlos Peres, at the University of East Anglia, one of the 158 scientists from 21 countries who worked together on the study.
“Protected areas and indigenous territories now cover over half of the Amazon basin. But forests and reserves still face a barrage of threats, from dam construction and mining, to wildfires and droughts intensified by global warming.”
Brazil, which holds 60% of the Amazon forest, has sharply cut its rates of deforestation in the last decade. But elsewhere the felling continues unchecked, and it is increasing in Bolivia and Peru. Overall, an area the size of about 4,500 football pitches is still being lost every day.
If Brazil can restrict its deforestation to current levels and other countries improve to match that, protected areas could remain largely untouched. But Rafael Salomão, of Emílio Goeldi Museum in Belem, Brazil, and a member of the research team, said: “The vast majority of protected areas in the Amazon have no management plan or budget and few resident qualified personnel.”
Furthermore, demand for beef, soy and palm oil, which drives much deforestation, is likely to rise rapidly as the global population grows, increasing the pressure to clear more forest. “It’s a battle we’re going to see play out in our lifetimes,” said William Laurance, of James Cook University in Australia, who was also part of the study. [more]
ABSTRACT: Estimates of extinction risk for Amazonian plant and animal species are rare and not often incorporated into land-use policy and conservation planning. We overlay spatial distribution models with historical and projected deforestation to show that at least 36% and up to 57% of all Amazonian tree species are likely to qualify as globally threatened under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. If confirmed, these results would increase the number of threatened plant species on Earth by 22%. We show that the trends observed in Amazonia apply to trees throughout the tropics, and we predict that most of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened. A gap analysis suggests that existing Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories will protect viable populations of most threatened species if these areas suffer no further degradation, highlighting the key roles that protected areas, indigenous peoples, and improved governance can play in preventing large-scale extinctions in the tropics in this century.
20 November 2015 (Desdemona Despair) – During the opening session of the 2015 Global Security Forum, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), CIA director John Brennan made some interesting comments:
When CIA analysts look for deeper causes of this rising instability, they find nationalistic, sectarian, and technological factors that are eroding the structure of the international system. They also see socioeconomic trends, the impact of climate change, and other elements that are cause for concern. And so let me touch upon a few of those this morning. […]
Across the globe, in both authoritarian and democratic societies, governments are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the demands, realistic or not, of their skeptical and restive populaces. The so-called Arab Spring revolutions were not fought for democracy per se as much as they were fought for relief from regimes that had failed to meet basic standards of governance and civil society. And as we have seen, when people become disillusioned with the powers that be, social media enable them to more quickly and easily form associations that defy the status quo. And in part, that is why the global landscape has been changing at a faster and much more disruptive pace. […]
At the same time, the principle of democratic governance is under siege. For the ninth consecutive year, Freedom House in 2014 reported more declines than gains in the quality of democracy worldwide. Worsening ethno-sectarian and socioeconomic strains are eroding democracy, as is the rise of a more sophisticated form of authoritarianism that forgoes brute force and heavy-handed propaganda in favor of media manipulation, ubiquitous surveillance, criminalization of dissent and controlled elections. […]
Mankind’s relationship with the natural world is aggravating these problems and is a potential source of crisis itself. Last year was the warmest on record, and this year is on track to be even warmer. Extreme weather, along with public policies affecting food and water supplies, can worsen or create humanitarian crises. Of the most immediate concern, sharply reduced crop yields in multiple places simultaneously could trigger a shock in food prices with devastating effect, especially in already-fragile regions such as Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Compromised access to food and water greatly increases the prospect for famine and deadly epidemics.
By Rong-Gong Lin II and Rosanna Xia
17 November 2015
(Los Angeles Times) – Temperatures in a key location of the Pacific Ocean are now hotter than they ever were in the record 1997 El Niño.
Some scientists say the readings show that this year’s El Niño could be among the most powerful on record -- and even topple the 1997 El Niño from its pedestal.
“This thing is still growing and it’s definitely warmer than it was in 1997,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. As far as the temperature readings go, "it’s now bypassed the previous champ of the modern satellite era -- the 1997 El Niño has just been toppled by 2015.”
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at Stanford University, called the temperature reading significant. It is the highest such weekly temperature above the average in 25 years of modern record keeping in this key region of the Pacific Ocean west of Peru.
“This is a very impressive number,” Swain said, adding that data suggest that this El Niño is still warming up. “It does look like it’s possible that there’s still additional warming” to come.
“We’re definitely in the top tier of El Niño events,” Swain said.
Temperatures in this key area of the Pacific Ocean rose to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the week of Nov. 11. That exceeds the highest comparable reading for the most powerful El Niño on record, when temperatures rose 5 degrees Fahrenheit above the average the week of Thanksgiving in 1997.
The 5.4 degree Fahrenheit recording above the average temperature is the highest such number since 1990 in this area of the Pacific Ocean, according to the National Weather Service. […]
The 1997 El Niño has been considered the strongest such event since the 1950s. The modern era of El Niño tracking came after the 1982-83 event, which came as a surprise and is considered the second strongest on record.
The 1997 El Niño was considered so strong and that scientists have been impressed that this El Niño could top that event. […]
“It’s not as if we’re waiting for El Niño to actually manifest itself -- it has in many ways already,” Patzert said. “There is no doubt: It’s coming.” [more]
By Emily Becker
12 November 2015
(climate.gov) – The peak of our current El Niño is expected to occur in the next month or so … but what does that mean? We measure El Niño events by how much warmer the surface waters in a specific region of the equatorial Pacific are, compared to their long-term average. The difference from average is known as the “anomaly,” and we use the average anomaly in the Niño3.4 region as our primary index for El Niño. When the index in this region is at its highest, we have our peak El Niño.
However, El Niño-related impacts have been occurring around the globe for months already, and will continue for several months after the warmest temperatures occur in the tropical Pacific Ocean. For example, during the 1997-98 El Niño, the Niño3.4 Index peaked at 2.33°C in November (using ERSSTv4 data, the official dataset for measuring El Niño), and the most substantial U.S. effects occurred through the early spring of 1998. A bit later in this post, we’ll take a look at what’s been going on so far this year.
The atmospheric response to the warmer waters is going strong. The Walker Circulation (tropical near-surface winds blowing from east to west, and upper-level winds blowing from west to east) is substantially weakened, as we expect during a strong El Niño.
In case you’re unimpressed by a 2°C (3.6°F) change, let’s do a little math. The area covered by the Niño3.4 region is a little more than 6 million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles). One cubic meter of water weighs 1,000 kg. So the top two meters (6.6 feet) of the Niño3.4 region contains about 12 quadrillion kilograms (about 13.6 trillion tons) of water.
The energy required to raise one kilogram of water one degree Celsius (the “specific heat”) is 4.19 kilojoules. A 2°C increase in just the top two meters of the Niño3.4 region adds up to an extra 100 quadrillion kilojoules (95 quadrillion BTUs), about equal to the annual energy consumption of the U.S.!
Who’s feeling the effects?
In the U.S., the season of strongest El Niño impacts is December through March. While we’re waiting to see what the strong 2015-16 El Niño brings us, we’ll look around a few other corners of the world to see what’s happened so far.
El Niño has substantial impacts in two regions of Africa. I checked in with the Climate Prediction Center’s International Desk to see what’s been going on. In East Africa, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda, the primary impact season is October–December, when El Niño tends to enhance the ”short rains” rainy season (the “long rains” season, which is much less ENSO-sensitive, is March-May), leading to wetter conditions. Over the last month, rain has begun to increase across much of the area, and some flooding has been seen in Somalia. Short-term forecasts suggest the wetter conditions should continue through the next few weeks, at least.
Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and the southern half of Mozambique, tends to see a drier December–February during an El Niño. Areas of this region, especially South Africa, are very dry right now, after a failed monsoon last year. Another dry year would place more stress on water availability. You can check out recent rainfall conditions in Africa here, and see climate model forecasts for the continent here.
In a couple of short sentences, here are some huge impacts: El Niño-related dry conditions in Indonesia have set the stage for devastating fires, and the region is experiencing the greatest number of forest fires since 1997. Also, all the extra warm waters associated with this El Niño are placing heat stress on sea life, and an intense coral bleaching event is underway.
El Niños tend to enhance the hurricane season in the Pacific, and depress the Atlantic hurricane season. Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University had this to say about the wild Pacific hurricane season: “So far this year, there have been a total of 21 Category 4 and 5 storms in the North Pacific, shattering the old record of 17, set in 1997. The North Central Pacific region (140-180W) has shattered records for most named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes tracking through the 140-180W region.”
According to Lindsey Long of the Climate Prediction Center, the Atlantic season has been fairly quiet, although the number of named storms has been close to average, at 11 storms so far (including Kate, which formed on Monday). The average is about 12 … but the overall activity of this storm season (the combined strength and duration of all storms, measured as the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) has been less than 60% of average, and we’ve had 3 hurricanes, half the average number of 6.
We won’t know until next spring what exact impact this El Niño will have on the U.S., but it is already making its presence felt around the world.
(1) Note that CPC subtracts past 30-year “normals” from the current sea surface value to obtain the Nino-3.4 anomaly values, and the “normals” are updated every five years. Therefore, the long-term trends are removed. These monthly values are averaged together to obtain our Oceanic Niño Index [ONI].
5 November 2015 (NOAA) – Human activities, such as greenhouse gas emissions and land use, influenced specific extreme weather and climate events in 2014, including tropical cyclones in the central Pacific, heavy rainfall in Europe, drought in East Africa, and stifling heat waves in Australia, Asia, and South America, according to a new report released today. The report, Explaining Extreme Events of 2014 from a Climate Perspective, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, addresses the natural and human causes of individual extreme events from around the world in 2014, including Antarctica. NOAA scientists served as three of the five lead editors on the report.
"For each of the past four years, this report has demonstrated that individual events, like temperature extremes, have often been shown to be linked to additional atmospheric greenhouse gases caused by human activities, while other extremes, such as those that are precipitation related, are less likely to be convincingly linked to human activities,” said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “As the science of event attribution continues to advance, so too will our ability to detect and distinguish the effects of long-term climate change and natural variability on individual extreme events. Until this is fully realized, communities would be well-served to look beyond the range of past extreme events to guide future resiliency efforts."
In this year’s report, 32 groups of scientists from around the world investigate 28 individual extreme events in 2014 and break out various factors that led to the extreme events, including the degree to which natural variability and human-induced climate change played a role. When human influence for an event cannot be conclusively identified with the scientific tools available today, this means that if there is a human contribution, it cannot be distinguished from natural climate variability.
The report this year added analysis on new types of events including wildfires and Antarctic sea ice extent, and in one case looked at how land use patterns may influence the impacts and severity from precipitation.
Key findings for each of the assessed events include:
- Overall probability of California wildfires has increased due to human-induced climate change, however, no specific link could be made for the 2014 fire event.
- Though cold winters still occur in the upper Midwest, they are less likely due to climate change.
- Cold temperatures along the eastern U.S. were not influenced by climate change, and eastern U.S. winter temperatures are becoming less variable.
- Tropical cyclones that hit Hawaii were substantially more likely because of human-induced climate change.
- Extreme 2013-14 winter storm season over much of North America was driven mainly by natural variability and not human caused climate change.
- Human-induced climate change and land-use both played a role in the flooding that occurred in the southeastern Canadian Prairies.
- The Argentinean heat wave of December 2013 was made five times more likely because of human-induced climate change.
- Water shortages in Southeast Brazil were not found to be largely influenced by climate change, but increasing population and water consumption raised vulnerability.
- All-time record number of storms over the British Isles in winter 2013-14 cannot be linked directly to human-induced warming of the tropical west Pacific.
- Extreme rainfall in the United Kingdom during the winter of 2013-2014 was not linked to human-caused climate change.
- Hurricane Gonzolo was within historical range of strength for hurricanes transitioning to extratropical storms over Europe.
- Extreme rainfall in the Cévennes Mountains in southern France was three times more likely than in 1950 due to climate change.
- Human influence increased the probability of record annual mean warmth over Europe, NE Pacific, and NW Atlantic.
Middle East and Africa
- Two studies showed that the drought in East Africa was made more severe because of climate change.
- The role of climate change in the Middle East drought of 2014 remains unclear. One study showed a role in the southern Levant region of Syria, while another study, which looked more broadly at the Middle East, did not find a climate change influence.
- Extreme heat events in Korea and China were linked to human-caused climate change.
- Drought in northeastern Asia, China and Singapore could not conclusively be linked to climate change.
- The high west Pacific tropical cyclone activity in 2014 was largely driven by natural variability.
- Devastating 2014 floods in Jakarta are becoming more likely due to climate change and other human influences.
- Meteorological drivers that led to the extreme Himalayan snowstorm of 2014 have increased in likelihood due to climate change.
- Human influence increased the probability of regional high sea surface temperature extremes over the western tropical and northeast Pacific Ocean during 2014.
- Four independent studies all pointed toward human influence causing a substantial increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves across Australia in 2014.
- It is likely that human influences on climate increased the odds of the extreme high pressure anomalies south of Australia in August 2014 that were associated with frosts, lowland snowfalls and reduced rainfall.
- The risk of an extreme five-day July rainfall event over Northland, New Zealand, such as was observed in early July 2014, has likely increased due to human influences on climate.
- All-time maximum of Antarctic sea ice in 2014 resulted chiefly from anomalous winds that transported cold air masses away from the Antarctic continent, enhancing thermodynamic sea ice production far offshore. This type of event is becoming less likely because of climate change.
“Understanding our influence on specific extreme weather events is ground-breaking science that will help us adapt to climate change,” said Stephanie C. Herring, Ph.D., lead editor for the report at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “As the field of climate attribution science grows, resource managers, the insurance industry, and many others can use the information more effectively for improved decision making and to help communities better prepare for future extreme events.”
The report was edited by Herring, along with Martin P. Hoerling, NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory; James Kossin, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information; Thomas Peterson, World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology and formerly with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information; and Peter A. Stott, UK Met Office Hadley Centre. The report includes a global authorship from 21 countries. View the full report online.
"AMS is pleased to collaborate with NOAA on providing the public with an accessible, peer-reviewed basis for understanding our changing world," said AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter. "Between the State of the Climate report earlier this year and now this annual Explaining Extremes collection, an ever clearer picture emerges of our advancing scientific capabilities to identify how climate change is affecting us."
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