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This week, in the midst of the global pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued its 2019 annual report assessing a range of so-called global climate indicators such as land temperatures, ocean temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, sea-level rise and melting ice. Unfortunately, the planet has a fever and it is rising — the WMO stated that for the most part, these key indicators are getting worse and we are not doing enough to control global warming.
Why This Matters: Every day that goes by we are losing precious time to both keep our warming under control and to prepare for the impacts of the warming that is now inevitable. Just like our delayed initial response to coronavirus has made the spread of the disease worse, our delayed response to climate change will also have devastating impacts. In particular, the report notes that greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise last year, and it appears now that in 2019 global carbon dioxide emissions likely increased by 0.6 percent. We can’t keep increasing the temperature and expect everything else to remain static. If we continue this way, we will not contain global temperature increases within 2 degrees Celsius, much less 1.5 degrees. This is not new news — but it continues to be alarming and lost in the shuffle of the crisis of the day. We will pay later.
Temperature: “The global mean temperature for 2019 was 1.1±0.1 °C above pre-industrial levels. The year 2019 is likely to have been the second warmest in instrumental records. The past five years are the five warmest on record, and the past decade, 2010–2019, is also the warmest on record.”
Gas Concentrations: Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gasses “reached record levels in 2018 with carbon dioxide (CO2 ) at 407.8±0.1 parts per million (ppm), methane (CH4 ) at 1869±2 parts per billion (ppb) and nitrous oxide (N2 O) at 331.1±0.1 ppb. These values constitute, respectively, 147%, 259% and 123% of pre-industrial levels. Early indications show that the rise in all three – CO2, CH4 and N2 O – continued in 2019.”
Ocean Heat Content: “The ocean absorbs around 90% of the heat that is trapped in the Earth system by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. Ocean heat content, which is a measure of this heat accumulation, reached record-high levels again in 2019.”
Global Sea Level: “Sea level has increased throughout the altimeter record, but recently sea level has risen at a higher rate due partly to increased melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. In 2019, the global mean sea level reached its highest value since the beginning of the high-precision altimetry record (January 1993).”
Ocean Acidification: “CO2 absorbed in seawater decreases its pH, a process called ocean acidification. Observations from open ocean sources over the last 20 to 30 years show a clear decrease in average pH at a rate of 0.017–0.027 pH units per decade since the late 1980s.”
Sea-ice Extent and the Mass Balance of Glaciers and Ice Sheets: “The year 2019 saw low sea-ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. The daily Arctic sea-ice extent minimum in September 2019 was the second-lowest in the satellite record.”
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer World leaders from the Group of 7 countries wrapped up their first post-pandemic in-person summit on Sunday, and the climate crisis was one of the primary agenda items. The heads of state from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and Japan (as well as the European Union) Agreed […]
The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, has reached record lows (at only 36% full) in the face of a severe drought sweeping the western U.S. The reservoir supplies drinking water for 25 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and more.
For generations, Native Alaskans have stored their food year-round in icy cellars that have been dug deep underground, but recently many of these cellars are either becoming too warm so that the food spoils or failing completely due to flooding or collapse Civil Eats’ Kayla Frost reported from Alaska. The cellars, known as siġluaqs, are usually about 10 to 20 feet below the surface and consist of a small room that used to be consistently about 10 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Why This Matters: The loss of these natural freezers could be devastating to Native Alaskans.
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