Skip to main content

Uncharted Territory

March 21, 2017 - Statements issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) yesterday are so alarming, they must be shared. What follows is not good news, so if you'd rather not know - and that is a legitimate response, though I hate to admit it - stop reading. No matter what, never forget: never give up, never give up, never give up.

The WMO reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles, and - perhaps most worrisome - surging sea-level rise. No longer are climate change's effects being felt in various places at various times. It's crazy hot everywhere. This year continues a trend begun in 2016: temperature records are being broken everywhere. Last month was off the charts here in the United States. In Australia, extreme heat has been a fact of life in many states for months. I hope you saw what I wrote about fires in the US yesterday.

In fact, scientific research reveals that the last time our planet was this warm occurred about 115,000 years ago. Carbon dioxide levels, which continue to escalate, have not been this high in 4 million years. If you have read about the work done by Lonnie Thompson at Ohio State University, then you know where these numbers come from. "Earth is a planet in upheaval, due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere," according to Jeff Kargel, a glaciologist at Univeristy of Arizona. "In general, drastically changing conditions do not help civilization, which thrives on stability."

Global (there's that word again) sea-level rise surged between November of 2014 and February of last year. With the help of an El Nino event, the oceans rose by 15mm. Rates of rise prior  to 2014 would have caused this much increase in five years, rather than 1 1/4 years. This dramatic rise is caused not only by melting ice at the poles and in Greenland, but by expansion of the ocean's water volume , as well. "Arctic ice conditions have been tracking at record low conditions since October, persisting for six consecutive months, something not seen before in the [four-decade] satellite data record," said Dr. Julienne Stroeve of University College in London.

David Carlson, director of the WMO's world climate research program, put it best when he said " … we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory." It broke my heart last week when I heard a child call in to a radio science program to ask when sea levels might go back down. He sounded scared.



With my thanks to the guardian.com and Democracy Now!


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The SunShot Initiative

In 2007, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. was 1.1 gigawatts (GW). As of 2017, that amount has increased to 47.1 GW. Enough to power 9.1 million average American homes. If you're thinking "we've still got a long way to go," you'd be right. On the other hand, increasing installed power by 4300% deserves some attention.  How'd we do it?

The Department of Energy played an important role. In 2011, they initiated a program called The SunShot Initiative. They set targets for the years 2020 and 2030, by which times generating solar power would have become more affordable. More affordable on a utility scale, more affordable on a commercial scale, and more affordable on a residential scale. Thus far, they've succeeded in hitting the 2020 goal for utility-scale generation. Needless to mention, they reached that goal three years early. The goals, it should be mentioned, don't take subsidies into account. It's the technology, in the case of util…

A Carbon-Free Grid

March 3, 2018 - Scientists at the University Of California, Irvine; the California Institute of Technology; and the Carnegie Institution of Science recently published an article stating that the United States could meet 80 percent of its electricity needs with solar and wind power. To sweeten the deal, the price of solar and wind have been dropping rapidly. The remaining 20 percent could be provided by alternate sources of energy such as hydropower, geothermal, and biomass. These sources currently meet 8.5 percent of electrical demand, and can be expanded. The remaining deficit would be met by managing demand.

The larger grid required for transmission of solar and wind power would have to be continental in scale, or 12 hours' worth of the energy would have to be stored in new facilities. This degree of expansion would require hundreds of billions of dollars in investment. Storing the electricity with today's cheapest batteries would cost a trillion dollars, although the price …