Oceans are warming up more quickly!

A new study has just concluded that the oceans are warming up at a faster rate than even the estimates done recently on the subject. The new study has found that between 1991 and 2016 the oceans have warmed up an average of 60% more per year than previous studies had seemed to show.

In October a panel of scientists had said we had until 2040 before the increase in
greenhouses gases would result in coastal flooding, food shortages and massive die-offs of coral reefs. If the new ocean temperatures are accurate that would mean that the climate change of the past decades was far worse than previously thought and it seems that we are on the worst trajectory possible for climate change.

A new method was used to get the new readings, involving calculating the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere. As these gases dissolve in the oceans the temperature in the oceans is important. As the oceans are getting warmer they are pushing out oxygen and carbon dioxide. The higher the temperature the more theses gases are released.

The world’s oceans absorb 90% of the excess heat trapped on Earth by human greenhouse emissions. The October report used a lower estimate of that rate at which the oceans can capture the carbon dioxide. It now seems that the upper estimate was more likely to happen.

It is clear that if the methodology of the new method is correct, we are therefore much closer to the limit, and that the limit may not be 2040 but much earlier than previously thought. In other words, we might have far less time to turn around from the brink

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Are we on the road to extinction?

The world wildlife fund has issued a devastating report on man’s stewardship of nature, and the results are too awful to ignore; humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970.

Because of our insatiable desires for the consumption of food and resources we are destroying the web of life that sustains us and has been doing so for billion of years. We are basically going to fall of a cliff and we won’t even notice it until it is too late.

Other recent reports have found that in fact, we have destroyed 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the beginning of civilization. Even if the destruction were to end now it would take millions of years for the natural world to recover.

Nature is important as it contributes to our well-being as well as producing our food, clean air and water. It regulates the Earth’s climate as well as pollution, pollination and floods. At the rate we are destroying the environment we are endangering future generations as well as our own.

The creation of farmland is the biggest cause of wildlife losses as natural habitats are destroyed. Killing animals for food is the second cause. Oceans are being over fished to such an extent that more than half are being industrially fished. As the felling of vast areas of wildlife-rich forest increases South and Central America have seen a 89% drop in vertebrate population.

Rivers and lakes have suffered the greatest damages, with wildlife populations dropping by 83% due to agricultural activities as well as a large number of dams. There is a direct link between the food system and the depletion of wildlife. One way to reduce this loss is by eating less meat as producing meat takes enormous amounts of water.

Our last real chance to reverse this trend of destruction will be in 2020 at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

New commitments to protect Nature can be made there but it could be our last chance, especially at the rate that we are harming Nature.

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Sweeping ban on plastics in Europe!

The European parliament has backed a plan to ban single-use plastics in order to tackle the problem of pollution in the seas and other waterways. Some precise plastics such as plates and straws would be banned by 2021 while 90% of plastic bottles would be recycled by 2025.

What is interesting is that even the members of the U.K voted in favor of it and also proposed that once Brexit happens the U.K parliament should abide by those rules as well.

Most of the plastics dumped in the oceans will take centuries to degrade and single-use items because of their lightness compound the problem by being carried by ocean currents far from their dumping ground, absorbing toxins along the way and damage marine flora and fauna.

With this proposal the European parliament takes a leadership role in the fight against plastics. The law could be approved by the end of the year by the member states. Let us hope that other countries such as Canada follow in these footsteps. Unfortunately we all know what the response from the United States will be, no. Too much regulation…

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Petrochemical industries and climate change.

A new report seems to indicate that climate reductions in other sectors could be nullified by the greenhouse emissions form the petrochemical industry, This industry is by far the driver of global oil demand. Right now, this industry is the third-largest industrial emitter of greenhouse gases. According to the report these emissions will increase 20% by 2030 and 30% by 2050.

Plastics will be the main driver in the increase of greenhouses gases as every year 300 million metric tons of plastics are produced. Plastics are part of modern life and campaigns are now under way to diminish the impact of plastics in the environment, especially as it concerns the oceans.

As the population increases over the years more farming will occur and so more fertilizers will have to be used. Developing countries with a larger increase in population will use more of these. Most fertilizers are produced from natural gas so that by 2030 7% of the increased demand in natural gas will come from petrochemical companies.

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New warnings on climate change.

A new report from the scientific panel of the United Nations on climate change warns that a massive change is needed so that our economies can be more green. Without a big push in more green energies the world will suffer on a massive scale from climate change. Furthermore a higher price on carbon is needed.

If nothing is done by 2040 one could see massive die-offs of corral reefs, worsening food shortages as well as wildfires. If emissions continue at the current rate the atmosphere will warm up by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial rates by 2040.

The big shock of this report is that severe damage to the world will occur well below the worst scenarios that had been imagined. A half degree of extra warming would see enormous damages done.

Just avoiding the most severe damages could mean that the world economy would have to change in order to avoid damages of up to 54 trillion dollars. To avoid severe damages the price on carbon dioxide emissions might have to go to 27,000 dollars per ton by 2100. Carbon pricing mechanisms are now enacted in some countries but not at a rate that is enough.

In the absence of aggressive action many effects once thought to occur at a higher temperature will now happen much lower, arriving by 2040. One thing is clear in the report, coal has got to go. One cannot exploit coal and try to reduce carbon emissions.

What is more worrisome is that the Paris agreement will not be enough to reverse climate change, even if everyone was on board. But with the United States out and other countries thinking of leaving, like Brazil, the future looks dim.

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Preventing fishing in Arctic seas.

A new international agreement will ban commercial fishing across much of the Arctic. This new agreement will close down vast areas of the sea that had opened up due to climate change. The agreement will safeguard an area the size of the Mediterranean for at least 16 years.

Sea ice in the Arctic is still diminishing, with this year and two other years as the lowest amounts of sea ice. There is a clear trend to less ice and lower thickness of that ice in Arctic seas and all of this is due to climate change.

There is no fishing taking place in the Arctic right now but that was bound to change. With climate change causing major fish stocks such as cod and halibut moving into northern waters in search of colder waters and over fishing in the traditional areas, it was a question of time before the Arctic seas would have seen commercial fishing arrive.

One effect of the ban will be preventing pollution from fishing vessels that accompany these fishing fleets. Furthermore, the agreement also stipulates a programme for scientific monitoring of the area to be renewed every five years.

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Preventing melting from glaciers.

Climate change has brought a flood of novel ideas to mitigate the possible damages caused by the increase of temperatures on the planet. One of these ideas involves building walls to prevent undersea glaciers from sliding and so holding back sea levels from rising.

This solution of erecting barriers of rock and sand would simply buy us time as climate changes takes hold on the planet. Still, it would be a massive undertaking.

These structures would not only hold back melting glaciers but also prevent warmer water from reaching the bases of the undersea glaciers. It is now believed that warmer waters in the oceans may be the leading cause of underwater melting these glaciers.

Scientists looked at the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica, one of the widest glaciers at 80 to 100km wide. According to this study it would take as much material to create structures on the sea floor as was required for the construction of the Palm Islands of Dubai or of the Suez canal. This structure would have a 30% probability of preventing a collapse of the Antarctica ice sheet.

If a more complex design is used, a small underwater wall could have a 70% chance of blocking half of the warm water from reaching the ice shelf.

Undersea melting is a real problem as many glaciers in Antarctica extend far under the sea. If more melting occurs at the poles it will discharge vast amounts of fresh water and sea levels will rise faster than they have in the past. The single biggest source of future sea level rises could be the Thwaites glacier as it could raise global sea levels by three metres.

Clearly reducing carbon emissions is a must as the less is emitted the more the various ice sheets will survive in the long term close to their present volume.

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