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

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 25, 2019   •   278

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)

Climate change protesters disrupt London rail services

Robie de Guzman   •   October 17, 2019

British journalist, George Monbiot speaks to supporters before being arrested during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London, Britain, 16 October 2019. Global climate movement Extinction Rebellion announced climate change protests and blockades worldwide for two weeks starting 07 October. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Climate change activists disrupted rail services in the east of London early on Thursday morning (September 17), sparking a physical confrontation between angry commuters and a protester who had climbed onto the roof of a London Underground train, video on social media showed.

“I’m doing this primarily for my grandchildren because I’ve learned that what we’re heading towards at the moment is an increase in temperature of over three degrees centigrade. Suffering and death on an enormous scale. Loss of food supplies,” said Phil Kingston, an 83-year old campaigner.

“I’m also here because the poorest people in the world who live in the tropics and they are experiencing the worst impacts of climate breakdown and environmental breakdown,” he added.

British Transport Police said they had responded to incidents at Shadwell, Stratford and Canning Town, near to London’s Canary Wharf financial district.

Footage showed protesters unfurling an Extinction Rebellion protest group banner on top of a stationary London Underground train at Canning Town before one was pelted with food and physically dragged off by commuters.

“Arrests have already been made and officers are working to quickly resume services,” the police said in a statement.

Extinction Rebellion launched a wave of civil disobedience on October 7 to highlight the risks posed by climate change and the accelerating loss of plant and animal species.

Police in London said on Wednesday they had arrested 1,642 people since the protests started. (Reuters)

(Production: Tara Oakes)

Climate change protester dressed as broccoli arrested in UK

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019

A climate change protester dressed as a broccoli was arrested by police in London on Sunday (October 13), shouting “give peas (peace) a chance” and holding up a floret of broccoli.

The demonstrator who was wearing a large green broccoli headpiece and green face makeup was detained in London’s Oxford Street.

In April, the same protester who is a member of Animal Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, was involved in a protest at the House of Commons, in which protesters removed items of their clothing and pressed their buttocks against the security glass in the chamber.

The demonstrator was released later on Sunday.

Extinction Rebellion, which uses civil disobedience to highlight the risks posed by climate change and the accelerating loss of plant and animal species, is midway through a new two-week wave of actions in cities around the world. (Reuters)

(Production: Andrew Marshall, Natalia Oriol, Parniyan Zemaryalai)

Italian town makes plans for impending glacier collapse

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2019

Dozens of people living close to a glacier in Mont Blanc massif, which is threatening to collapse, attended a meeting on Wednesday (September 25) to discuss possible situations of the collapse.

The town meeting was organized by the mayor of nearby town Courmayeur and regional and scientific authorities.

During the meeting, authorities monitoring the Planpincieux glacier detailed the three potential scenarios: a collapse of the glacier and its 250,000 cubic meters of ice in one go, a collapse bit by bit over time, or it staying put; if temperatures get cold enough again.

However, this scenario is not expected to happen before November or December.

Experts believe a section of this Planpincieux glacier, estimated to contain up to 250,000 cubic meters of ice could fall down the mountain.

The mayor of Courmayeur has ordered the closure of two roads and the evacuation of huts on the mountain, which is 4,800 meters (5,250 yards) high, after scientists said the glacier was sliding at an increased speed, threatening part of the Ferret Valley.

Experts have been monitoring the glacier closely since 2013 to detect the speed at which the ice is melting, but they are unable to predict when the ice would break away.

Between the end of August and the beginning of September the lower part of the glacier was sliding at a speed of 50-60 cm (20 -24 inches) per day.

Some owners of bars, hotels and restaurant, whose buildings are located along the closed road, said it’s fortunate it’s the end of the season and understood the need for preventive measures.

Others expressed concerns over the fast changing environment of the mountain, with temperatures increasing.

“It is everyone’s problem, it is not only Courmayeur’s or Chamonix’s, this is everyone’s problem. We need to have other policies in place, greener policies, and we need to change, we need to change. For sure, something has to change. This is the role of politicians, and we hope they will do so, they need to change”, said Guido Riente, who owns a restaurant only accessible by Val Ferret road, which is now closed.

Laurent Cosson , a mountain guide and refugee keeper who has been working on the mountain for twenty years, said routes once travelled by hikers could not be taken anymore, due to the dangers from potential collapse.

Nicole Passino, whose family owns a bar located on the closed road, said she understood the risk of living near a mountain.

“This is part of the mountain, we have to live with this risk and to accept it. During winter, there may be avalanches, snow, we never know if we will be able to go back home in ten or 15 minutes, or half an hour. We live in the mountain, so, we know that”, she said.

The closed roads could be partially re-opened at the end of the week to allow hikers and bikers to pass through.

Across the Alps there is concern that warmer temperatures are increasing the danger of melting permafrost and disappearing glaciers. (Reuters)

(Production: Marina Depetris)


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