“The rise in sea level is accelerating”, expert warns ahead of IPCC oceans report

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 25, 2019   •   527

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) glaciologist Matthias Huss measures the ice of the glacier prior a commemoration for the dying glacier of Pizol mountain, in Mels, Switzerland, 22 September 2019. Various organizations gathered to shine a light on climate change and melting glaciers. EPA-EFE/GIAN EHRENZELLER

Scientists behind a landmark study of the links between oceans, glaciers, ice caps and the climate delivered a stark warning to the world on Wednesday (September 25): slash emissions or watch cities vanish under rising seas, rivers run dry and marine life collapse.

Days after millions of young people demanded an end to the fossil fuel era at protests around the globe, a new report by a U.N.-backed panel of experts found that radical action may yet avert some of the worst possible outcomes of global warming.

But the study was clear that allowing carbon emissions to continue their upward path would upset the balance of the great geophysical systems governing oceans and the frozen regions of the Earth so profoundly that nobody would escape untouched.

The report projects that sea levels could rise by one meter (3.3 ft) by 2100 — ten times the rate in the 20th century — if emissions keep climbing. Looking further forward, the rise could exceed five meters by 2300.

In the Himalayas, glaciers feeding ten rivers, including the Ganges and Yangtze, could shrink dramatically if emissions do not fall, hitting water supplies across a swathe of Asia.

Thawing permafrost in places such as Alaska and Siberia could release vast quantities of greenhouse gases, potentially unleashing feedback loops driving faster warming.

Carbon emissions, which hit a record high last year, are projected to inflict a devastating toll on oceans, which have so far buffered almost all the manmade warming generated by burning coal, oil and gas.

As the oceans get hotter, what are known as “marine heatwaves” are becoming more intense, turning coral reefs boneyard white — including much of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

As more carbon dioxide dissolves in the water, the oceans are also becoming more acidic, damaging ecosystems.

The rising temperatures are in turn starving the upper layers of the water of oxygen, suffocating marine life, creating growing dead zones, and disrupting the circulation of ocean currents, which then unleashes more disruptive weather on land.

The authors say that long lag times at work in oceans mean that some of these changes will inevitably intensify over centuries — even if the world stopped emitting all its greenhouses gases tomorrow.

But if emissions are allowed to continue rising then the impacts are likely to start accelerating so rapidly that they will overwhelm societies’ capacity to cope, with the poorest and most vulnerable communities and countries succumbing first. (REUTERS)

(Production: Antony Paone, Michaela Cabrera)

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

UN warns of 3.2C temperature rise despite Paris Agreement

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2019

Geneva – The average global temperature will rise 3.2C by the end of the century even if countries fulfill their commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change, which sought to limit the increase to under 1.5C above preindustrial levels, according to the United Nations on Tuesday.

“The summary of the findings are bleak,” the UN Environment Programme said in the introduction to its annual Emission Gap Report, which analyses current climate change policies and how they diverge from the kind of measures that need to be adopted to curb global warming.

According to the report, there must be a collective effort to reduce emissions by 7.6 percent a year between 2020 and 2030 to keep global temperatures under 1.5C above preindustrial levels, a fivefold increase in the efforts initially set out by the Paris Agreement.

UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Anderson, said: “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 percent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade.”

“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”

According to the report, if current unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions are fully implemented, there was still only a 66 percent chance that warming would be limited to 3.2C by the end of the century.

It concluded that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases increased 1.5 percent annually in the last decade and reached historical levels of 55.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2018.

China was responsible for 13 of those gigatons but the Asian giant, the world’s second-largest economy, is not yet obliged to reduce its emissions in absolute terms as per the Paris Agreement due to its status as a developing country.

Second in regards to emissions was the United States with six gigatons. President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement in 2017.

Emissions must be curbed by 15 gigatons by 2030 to achieve the 2C goal or 32 gigatons to hit the 1.5C target, the report said.

UNEP said that if current trends continued, then global temperatures could rise by 3.9C, although pledges to reduce emissions, such as the European Union’s target to curb them by 40 percent by 2030, could limit it to 3.2C, which is still insufficient.

The UN’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution.”

Recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special reports said there would be dire consequences of inaction if the global temperature rises are not held below the 1.5C target.

The UNEP report on the emissions gap will be used as a template for discussions at the upcoming COP25 meeting in Madrid, conducted under the presidency this year of Chile. EFE-EPA

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UN: Greenhouse gases hit another record high in 2018

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019

GENEVA – Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2018 despite international pledges to tackle the causes of climate change, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report Monday.

In its annual report published just before the COP25 summit in Madrid, the United Nations agency said the Carbon Dioxide levels reached 407.8 parts per million, up from 405.5ppm the previous years, which represents a 0.56 percent jump.

These figures show that CO2 emissions stood at 147 percent more than the preindustrial level in 1975.

“This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems,” it warned.

The report said there were “multiple indications” that the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere was linked to the burning of fossil fuel.

“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

“We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.

“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3C warmer, sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now.”

According to the statement, the increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere between 2017-18 was similar to that recorded between 2016-17 and just above the average for the last 10 years.

The report said that concentrations of other greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide have surged in the last decade, according to the Global Atmosphere Watch, which has stations from the Arctic to the Topics.

It said that atmospheric methane levels had reached a record high of 1869 parts per billion last year, 259 percent of the preindustrial level.

Some 40 percent of methane emissions come from natural sources while the remaining 60 percent comes from human activity like farming.

The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Inger Anderson, said: “The findings of WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin and UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report point us in a clear direction – in this critical period, the world must deliver concrete, stepped-up action on emissions.

“We face a stark choice: set in motion the radical transformations we need now, or face the consequences of a planet radically altered by climate change.”

The report comes just a week before the UN Climate Change Conference, which this year will be presided over by Chile but will be held in the Spanish capital Madrid due to unrest in the South American country. EFE-EPA

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