Global emissions are higher in 2018.

It seems that we are not going in the right direction in curbing carbon emissions as they will be higher in 2018. This means that the hope that carbon dioxide emissions would level out before going down have been dashed.

The culprits for the increase this year is due to more cars on the road as well as an increase in coal usage worldwide, despite the damages that it does to the environment. The authors of a new report on carbon emissions say that if by 2020 cuts are made then we could still escape the most dire predictions.

It seems that the estimates for carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 will rise by 2.7%, more than the rise from 2014-16 and more than the rise of 2016 which was 1.6%. All countries are contributing to the rise but India leads the way with 6.3% followed by China at 4.7% and the United States at 2.5%, The EU’s emissions are flat following a decade of decline. As the economies of China and India grow, more coal and oil is being needed and being produced.

The current Paris accords was to limit nations to a global warming of 3 degrees Celsius but even a rise of 1.5 degrees would be disastrous for most people.

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Health and climate change.

A new report on climate change and how it will affect the health of humans has been produced and the results are not good. Among the threats are heat stress which can kill people indirectly as well as diminish the ability of people to work, especially in agriculture.

More extreme rainfall could also overwhelm the water and sewer systems and contribute to a shortage of drinking water. Higher temperatures could also bring more viruses such as dengue, Zika, yellow fever and chikungunya.

The report lists a number of problems that could have a domino effect on the health of people. For example, extreme heat would affect more people. In England and Wales over a 15 day period in 2017 there were 700 more deaths as compared to previous times.

Most vulnerable people would be in Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region as more older people live in the cities. In both regions more than 40% of people over the age of 65 were thought to be at risk.

Warmer conditions will have an effect on the risk of diseases spread by mosquitoes. As the habitat warms up the Zika virus might expand its range in the United States. Since the 1950’s the cholera bacteria has expanded it range into the Baltic coastline and malaria has spread to higher altitudes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Food production could also be adversely affected as rising temperatures and extreme weather events could affect how much is produced. Even the quality of some foods is expected to decline because as carbon dioxide rises it will reduce the presence of key nutrients such as iron, zinc and proteins in crops and seafood.

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Clean energy is gaining ground.

That was one aspect of a new report on renewable resources. Yes, they are gaining ground against fossil fuels, but not quite fast enough. The next twenty years will see a huge transformation of the world’s energy system, but coal will still be present and oil demand will be flat.

Even if countries are turning towards green energy they are simply not changing fast enough and we are still pumping too much fossil fuels into the atmosphere. Governments need to put more forceful measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The major themes of this new report on the energy outlook to 2040 is that wind and solar are making gains. These two green energies could produce 40% of the wold’s electricity by 2040, up 25% from today. Coal will still be used but it will eventually plateau as China turns more towards green energy. By 2040 coal will be less used in China than green energy. As for oil, global use of oil will peak by the mid-2020’s. Only a quarter of the oil is used for cars and this means that the other usage of oil will still continue. Ships and airplanes still use oil as well as the plastics industry. Global oil demand will still rise through 2040.

It is clear that despite gains made in renewable resources we are still not on the right path. Global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.6% last year and will climb again this year. The report projects that emissions will keep rising until 2040. Because carbon-free sources like wind and sun are not growing fast enough to accommodate demand especially in places such as India and Southeast Asia, this means that fossil fuels will still be needed to fill the gap.

To change this countries will have to invest more in renewable resources as well as diminish methane leaks from existing wells and develop technology to capture carbon and sequester it. Governments are key as they invest worldwide 2 trillion dollars annually in energy infrastructure of which 70% are state-directed.

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Climate change and hurricanes.

According to the most recent research climate change is making hurricanes more destructive, with rainfall increasing by 10%. However, as global warming continues then rainfall could increase by a third and wind speeds could be boosted by 25 knots. All this would happen if the world warmed up by 3 degrees Celsius to 4 degrees Celsius.

This new research used climate models to project how factors such as air and ocean temperatures could influence hurricanes. They then projected these results into the future based on various scenarios of warming.

The results of these simulations are alarming. For example, Hurricane Katrina would have been far worse with 25% more rainfall. Cyclone Yasi which hit Australia in 2011 would have had a third more rain while Gafilo which struck Madagascar would have been 40% more intense. Gafilo killed 300 people. And all this with a world that was 3 degrees Celsius more warm than on average.

More research on this subject has found that storms are now more intense than they were 30 years ago. If storms carry five or 10% more rain that could be enough to exceed the carrying capacity of storm water systems in a city and could cause widespread damage. Once again, poorer countries would bear the brunt of too much rain.

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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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