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Forestation programs won’t solve, need emission reductions

Shani Rohatyn, 9-22, 22, Science, Limited climate change mitigation potential through forestation of the vast dryland regions,

Forestation of the global drylands has been suggested to be a way to decrease global warming, but how much promise does it actually have? Rohatyn et al. found that the climatic benefits are minor. Although drylands have considerable carbon sequestration potential, which could be used to lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thereby slow warming, the reduction of albedo caused by forestation would counteract most of that effect. So, although forestation is clearly important, it cannot substitute for reducing emissions. —HJS


Forestation of the vast global drylands has been considered a promising climate change mitigation strategy. However, its actual climatic benefits are uncertain because the forests’ reduced albedo can produce large warming effects. Using high-resolution spatial analysis of global drylands, we found 448 million hectares suitable for afforestation. This area’s carbon sequestration potential until 2100 is 32.3 billion tons of carbon (Gt C), but 22.6 Gt C of that is required to balance albedo effects. The net carbon equivalent would offset ~1% of projected medium-emissions and business-as-usual scenarios over the same period. Focusing forestation only on areas with net cooling effects would use half the area and double the emissions offset. Although such smart forestation is clearly important, its limited climatic benefits reinforce the need to reduce emissions rapidly.

Leveraging the ability of forests to sequester carbon is considered a promising approach to mitigating global climate change (1–3). Forestation (including afforestation to create new forests and reforestation to restore depleted forests) is also known to cool the local climate by increasing evaporation and inducing increased cloud formation (4, 5). A rich body of scientific research supports tree planting as an effective approach to mitigating global warming. Griscom et al. (2) calculate that reforestation of ~700 Mha in temperate and tropical zones would result in sequestration of almost three billion tons of carbon per year (Gt C year−1). Bastin et al. (3) refer to tree restoration as “among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation.” They estimate that reforesting 1700 Mha could potentially sequester 205.7 Gt C (133.2 to 276.2 Gt C) over the lifetime of the forests (6).

Trees sequester atmospheric CO2, and thus planting has a cooling effect by lowering its atmospheric concentration (7). Forestation also reduces the reflectance of shortwave radiation (albedo) more than most other forms of land coverage and thus increases net radiation and sensible heat flux, creating local and, potentially, global warming effects (8). These contrasting effects have long been recognized (9–11). However, this warming effect is largely confined to boreal regions. Recognition of this phenomenon is evident in recent publications supporting reforestation as a climate mitigation tool (2, 12), wherein the albedo effect was avoided by excluding the boreal biome from the analysis to obtain maximal climatic benefits. However, there are recent indications that albedo warming effects are also substantial in temperate zones and hot drylands (13, 14). In some dryland regions, the albedo warming effect of afforestation may strongly outweigh the cooling effect of carbon sequestration owing to the change from bright desert land to darker dense forest cover (15).


Previous estimates of the potential to mitigate climatic warming through large-scale forest restoration projects predicted a mitigation effect much larger than the results of this study. Using the restoration opportunities map of Potapov et al. (20), Griscom et al. (2) estimated that over an 80-year forest lifetime, the global reforestation of 700 Mha globally (~30% in drylands) could mitigate climatic warming to a maximum of 200 Gt C, which is nearly twice the value we obtained. This translates to a forestation sequestration potential per unit area of ∼300 t C ha−1 over that period. Similarly, Bastin et al. (3) estimated a potential carbon stock density of ∼200 t C ha−1 for the restoration of deserts, xeric shrublands, and Mediterranean forests. Both estimates are considerably higher than those of the present study. These differences likely arise from the additional consideration in the present study of two main factors: (i) the potential sequestration of current vegetation cover before reforestation; and (ii) the warming effect arising from the reduced albedo of forested drylands.

Our results demonstrate the importance of assessments of climatic warming mitigation plans including the warming effect arising from the reduced albedo of global dryland forestation. Accounting for albedo and avoiding foresting drylands where forestation would have a net warming effect (NESC < 0, Table 1) almost doubles the overall expected effect on climate. In contrast, forestation actions over negative-NESC areas would risk exacerbating, rather than ameliorating, global warming. Our analysis does not include additional effects that can further complicate a climate mitigation assessment of forestation, such as climate change–related effects on atmospheric temperature, clouds, or the extent of radiative cooling (from upwelling of long-wave radiation). Such effects influence both productivity and albedo and can move the aridity of some land areas to values outside the forestation suitability range considered here (0.2 < AI ≤ 0.65) [e.g., (33)]. A detailed climate change impact analysis is well beyond the scope of this Report, but for a first approximation, we performed a cross-analysis by superimposing maps of the expected AI in 2100, considering a BAU scenario [+4°C (33)] over our forestation map. We found that ~3% of the potential forestation land (~10 Mha) will shift to a drier aridity value, below our minimum AI threshold of 0.2, by 2100. This analysis indicates that future climate change has only minor effects on our estimates of the land available for forestation and does not alter our conclusions.

Here we demonstrate, therefore, that it is critical that forestation opportunities be assessed with respect to their potential to mitigate climatic warming, and that doing so can greatly improve the cooling effect of forestation opportunities (both per-hectare and in terms of total land area used) of forestation opportunities. Forestation efforts, focusing on the limited areas with the potential for net climatic cooling, could benefit from high-resolution (1-km) maps, such as those developed in the present study. Overall, we estimate the total contribution toward offsetting CO2 emissions obtainable from all dryland forestation actions to be limited, emphasizing the need to reduce emissions rapidly to meet climate targets.

Warming and CO2 emissions are increasing, immediate action needed to avoid tipping points

UN Environmental Program, 9-21, 22,, Multi-agency Climate Science Report Warns About “Tipping Points”

A group of global partner organizations, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), under the direction of the UN Secretary-General, issued a report compiling the most recent science related to climate change impacts and responses. The publication highlights “the huge gap between aspirations and reality,” and calls for “much more ambitious action” to thwart the increasingly devastating physical and socioeconomic impacts of global warming. Titled, ‘United in Science,’ the report features contributions by WMO, the Global Carbon Project (GCP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Met Office (UK), the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), which is jointly sponsored by WMO, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO), and the International Science Council (ISC). The report warns that “urgent action is needed to mitigate emissions and adapt to our changing climate.” It also notes that climate-related disasters “set back progress towards achieving the [SDGs] and exacerbate existing poverty and inequality.” The report provides unified scientific information on some of the current and projected climate change impacts to inform decision makers. The chapters of the report, each drafted by a contributing organization or organizations, address greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, global GHG emissions and budgets, the state of the global climate in 2018-2022, global climate predictions for 2022-2026, the emissions gap, tipping points in the climate system, climate change in cities, extreme weather events and socioeconomic impacts, and supporting adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) through early warning systems. The report highlights five key messages: Atmospheric GHG concentrations continue to rise. Fossil fuel emissions have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to COVID-19-related lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. In recent years, global temperatures and ocean heat have reached record highs. Looking ahead, “there is a 48% chance that, during at least one year in the next five years, annual mean temperature will temporarily be 1.5°C higher than in 1850-1900.” Mitigation pledges are insufficient to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change. More ambitious action is needed to prevent the continued warming that is increasing the likelihood of “tipping points,” or irreversible changes in the climate system. Climate change impacts affect billions of people around the world. Cities are responsible for as much as 70% of human-caused emissions. Urban populations will face increasing socioeconomic impacts, and the world’s most vulnerable will suffer most. Adaptation is essential to reduce the risks of climate impacts. Early warning systems can save lives, reduce losses and damages, contribute to DRR, and support climate change adaptation.

Individual action will not solve climate change, need government policies

HAL HARVEY AND JUSTIN GILLIS, 9-18, 22, LA Times, Op-Ed: Climate change is a big problem. Citizens must demand many small solutions,

The world is on fire. The flames are hard to see, because we hide them so well. But you can hear them — in the whine of jet engines as planes streak across the sky, in the rumble of power plants as they send electricity surging over power lines, in the purr of your car engine as you drive to work. Every person living in a well-off country contributes to the conflagration. When you and your neighbors turn on your lights at night, a coal- or gas-burning power plant somewhere will most likely increase its fuel use — just a smidgen — to supply the electricity. We are starting to feel the consequences of these actions in climate change: heat waves worse than any in recorded history, rising seas, a runaway increase in wildfires. Many people are trying to help, in their own ways — perhaps by buying a Prius or an electric car, recycling diligently, installing smart thermostats, eating less meat, maybe contributing money to an environmental group. These actions are important, but by themselves they are not enough. The world will not be saved by conscientious “green consumers” who decide, one family at a time, to drive less or install solar panels on the roof. The problem is just too big for that. Instead, we all need to become “green citizens.” We need to focus, together, on a relatively small number of public policies that can, over time, bring about sweeping change. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 passed by Congress will help by using tax subsidies to make clean energy more affordable, which should speed the construction of wind and solar farms, hasten the switch to electric cars and much more. But Congress did not clear away many of the obstacles that are slowing change. And a lot of those issues are under the control of state and local governments. This means much of the work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will need to be done by local leaders, spurred on by their citizens. A prime example is the need to improve our building codes. \\ For teens, the end of summer often brings a mix of emotions. Returning to the routine and structure of school can be comforting, and it’s exciting to see school friends again and start new classes. However, going back to school is a source of… Buildings are one of the nation’s largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions. It will be impossible to meaningfully slow global climate change without cleaning up America’s buildings, and the way to do it is to subject them to new rules. The tasks ahead of us are, in principle, straightforward: tighten the shells of our buildings, old and new, and electrify everything that uses energy in those buildings, so that emissions fall as the electric grid gets cleaner. In many regions of the country, natural gas is the customary fuel for space heating and the hot water that flows from faucets. In some regions, homes are still heated with fuel oil or propane gas stored in tanks. When you count these fossil fuels along with electricity use, buildings are the source of one-third of our national carbon emissions. More than 50 cities in California and a handful of other states have adopted or proposed rules to ban or limit new gas hookups. The gas industry is fighting back, running advertisements with gauzy pictures of blue flames to make gas look nostalgic and inviting, instead of like the huge climate problem that it is. To resist expanding fossil fuel use, citizens must use their influence to counter this malign industry campaign. Tightening the shells of structures is also crucial because even in places where energy efficiency has been a mantra for decades, enormous amounts of energy are still being wasted in poorly constructed buildings. It’s not that hard to do better. Our buildings need better insulation and proper sealing of air gaps, which solves much of the energy problem before the building is occupied. They need better windows, situated properly. With different coatings, windows can absorb solar energy, which you would want in chilly Minneapolis, or reflect it, for a place like Los Angeles. Roof overhangs and window orientation make a world of difference as well, creating free heating and cooling for the life of the building. California already has statewide building standards that are among the toughest in the country, but they need to get tougher. And cities are allowed to go beyond the state code, imposing stronger requirements for energy efficiency. This is what citizens everywhere need to demand. How can motivated green citizens make sure these basic design principles are followed in their communities? Across much of the world, building codes are updated on a three-year cycle, with new, tighter energy requirements each time. But too many American states and cities are slow to adopt changes. Your local city council needs a nudge from constituents. That means citizens need to dig in and learn a little bit of detail about when the votes are coming up, and then speak up. When your town decides how strict the local building code will be — and how much energy new buildings will be allowed to waste — you can bet many local builders will ply their influence to try to get the weakest code they can. You, as a citizen, can ply your influence, too. The incremental costs of making a new building energy-efficient are trivial, typically adding just a few percent increase to the total cost. And that upfront investment will be paid back many times in energy savings over the life of the building. Building codes are just one example. How fast we can switch to electric cars depends in large part on how fast we build car chargers, and state and county governments can have a huge influence on that. Millions of American families put their children on dirty, smoke-belching diesel school buses every morning, even though clean electric buses are becoming available. Why aren’t we marching down to the local school board to demand them? When new wind and solar farms are proposed, naysayers turn out to fight them. Where are the voices of citizens who understand that we need to build clean energy as fast as possible? Too many Americans feel paralyzed by the climate crisis. It is a daunting problem, but the idea that we as citizens can do little about it reflects a poverty of imagination. If you’re tired of feeling helpless with a sense of impending doom, put on your marching shoes and make some political demands.

Climate change threatens human health (practical impact)

Time Reed, 9-17, 22, 1. The climate-driven health crisis,

The world is facing a climate change-fueled health crisis — from increased emergency department visits due to heatstroke, exacerbated asthma and even heart attacks to injuries and illness linked to severe storms.
Why it matters: The growing threats to human health only promise to get more complex and expensive, and health systems have to make major changes to how they prepare for those threats, experts say. They’re already estimated to exceed $800 billion a year in increased health costs. “It’s challenging because this is happening fast,” Beth Schenk, executive director of environmental stewardship for Washington state-based Providence health system, tells Axios. Last summer, the health system found itself in the center of a “shocking” heat wave in the Pacific Northwest at the same time that its workforce was already stretched thin due to COVID surges. The extreme heat stressed its buildings’ cooling systems and forced the health system to reduce services in some cases even as its emergency rooms were filling due to heat-related illnesses, she said. “The requirements for your hospitals are to be appropriate for your climatic conditions. Well, our climatic conditions when we built those hospitals were not for 116 degrees,” she said. “That has certainly colored how we’re planning now in our hazard vulnerability assessments, in our resiliency building, to be prepared for that again. It seems inevitable,” she said. Zoom in: During California’s record-breaking heat event earlier this month, Kaiser Permanente switched to generators for power at its individual facilities to help reduce the stress on the state’s electric grid, said Ramé Hemstreet, Kaiser Permanente’s chief sustainable resources officer. The goal was to ensure that more individuals in the community kept their power, including their cooling units. “It highlights the fact we need to think about resiliency more broadly,” said Hemstreet. The health system already generates about 28% of its energy onsite but is investing in more microgrid and solar fuel cells moving forward, Hemstreet said. Climate change has also been linked to increased risks for kidney disease, obesity and diabetes, injuries, the transmission of infectious diseases, some cancers and poorer mental health. What they’re saying: “We are learning more and more that the combustion of fossil fuels is contributing to a massive epidemic of chronic disease around the world that dwarfs AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,” said Gary Cohen, president and founder of Health Care Without Harm, a group that focuses on reducing health care’s carbon footprint. There’s a growing recognition among U.S. health systems that the threats from climate change will have a major impact on their operations. “A lot of health care systems have started to grapple with the direct physical risks to their own facilities,” said Brodie Boland, a leader in McKinsey’s work on climate risk in the real estate and infrastructure sectors.

Climate change will not hurt the economy

Negrea & Buchan, 9-16, 22, Dan Negrea served at the US State Department as a member of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff and as the Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs; Sam Buchan is the Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the America First Policy Institute.  He served as the Director for International Economic Policy at the National Economic Council and as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, On Energy Policy, All-of-the-Above Is the Only Sensible Choice,

Many critics will claim that dramatic changes in the climate warrant an equally dramatic makeover of the global economy. Instead of bending to specious arguments, the emerging field of climate economics provides a badly needed context to climate discussions, using facts and figures instead of adjectives to create more accurate frames of reference. Practitioners of climate economics have developed models showing that climate change is not the urgent threat to humanity’s future some make it out to be. There is no need for drastic changes in America’s economy, and there is time to develop technological solutions.

To wit: last year, two of us published an article reviewing several climate economics studies that estimated the impact of climate change on the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States and of the world in 2050 and in 2100. The general message of these studies was that the impact of climate change on future GDP levels appears to be manageable.

This year, a white paper produced by Biden’s own Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) points in the same direction. It notes that the president’s fiscal year 2023 budget states that the American GDP twenty-five years from now will be 4.5 percent lower because of the effects of climate change than it would have been without climate change effects. But the level of the GDP will still be higher than it is today. The white paper concludes that Americans would be 1.71 times richer in twenty-five years without climate change effects but only 1.66 times richer when reflecting climate change damages. This scenario is based on research by the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), an international collaboration comprised of more than 100 central banks and financial regulators.

The Biden white paper also addresses the impact of several climate change policies on the global GDP for the year 2100, again using research from the NGFS. The harshest GDP impact is under the scenario that assumes the continuation of current policies, in which case the global GDP at that time will be 13 percent lower because of climate change.

What does this mean? A 2021 UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study projects that without the impact of climate change, global GDP will be $529 trillion in the year 2100. A 13 percent loss reduces it to $460 trillion. If we compare these two numbers with a 2021 global GDP of $96.1 trillion, we find that the world would be 5.5 times richer in 2100 without the impact of climate change, compared to 4.8 times richer under the most severe climate change scenario. A study published in July 2020 by Danish climate scientist Bjorn Lomborg has comparable findings: “Scenarios set out under the UN Climate Panel (IPCC) show human welfare will likely increase to 450% of today’s welfare over the 21st century. Climate damages will reduce this welfare increase to 434%.”

Climate change triggers massive disease outbreaks

Emma Eagan, 9-10, 22, Climate change may make pandemics like COVID-19 much more common,

The likelihood of an extreme epidemic, or one similar to COVID-19, will increase threefold in the coming decades, according to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers used data from epidemics from the past 400 years, specifically death rates, length of previous epidemics and the rate of new infectious diseases. Their calculation is a sophisticated prediction based on known risks and can be a useful guide for policy makers and public health officials. They also found that the probability of a person experiencing a pandemic like COVID-19 in one’s lifetime is around 38%. The researchers said this could double in years to come. The probability of another pandemic is “going to probably increase because of all of the environmental changes that are occurring,” Willian Pan, an associate professor of Global Environmental Health at Duke University and one of the study’s authors, told ABC News. Scientists are looking closely at the relationship between climate changes and zoonotic diseases, like COVID-19. Climate change and zoonotic diseases Zoonotic diseases are caused by germs that spread between animals and people. Animals can carry viruses and bacteria that humans can encounter directly, through contact, or indirectly, through things like soil or water supply, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “As you make that interface between humans and the natural world smaller, we just come in more contact with those things and climate enhances the ability for viruses to infect us more easily,” said Pan. He said our risk for any zoonotic or emerging viral infections is going to rise over time. An example of this is the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. “There’s evidence that there is loss of forests in West Africa for palm oil. There’s a whole story around the palm oil industry, destroying forest tropics to plant palm oil trees,” said Dr. Aaron Bernstein, director of the Climate MD program at the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health. “In this case, there are bats that live in those forests but they can’t live in palm oil plantations. And so those bats moved to a part of West Africa where they infected people with Ebola,” said Bernstein. Zoonotic diseases now account for 60% of all diseases and 75% of emerging diseases, according to the CDC. “More animals come into contact with more people but they also, in many cases, have resulted in animals bumping into other animals,” said Bernstein. “What we’ve observed is that animals and even plants are racing to the poles to get out of the heat. And as they do that, they may run into creatures that they’ve never run into before. And that creates an opportunity for spillover to happen.” Currently, scientists are playing catch up with viral outbreaks by racing to create vaccines, sometimes after an outbreak is already out of control. “We can’t deal with pandemics with Band-Aids. Meaning after waiting until diseases show up, and then trying to figure out how to solve them,” said Bernstein. Added Pan: “Globally, if we want to prevent another major pandemic from completely disrupting our society, we need to start investing heavily and sharing information across countries on surveillance of different viral infections. There’s some places in the world where we don’t even have the basic capacity to evaluate or test strains, viral fevers coming into hospitals. And so a lot of those things go unchecked until it’s too late.” Preventing these diseases not only requires global collaboration, but attention to the source of the problem. “We need to address spillover. And that means we need to protect habitats. We need to tackle climate change. We need to address the risk of large-scale livestock production because a lot of the pathogens move from wild animals into livestock and then into people,” said Bernstein. Global spending on COVID vaccines is projected to reach $157 billion, according to Reuters. Annual spending on forest conservation is much less. “We’re about to throw a whole lot of money at solutions that only address a fraction of the problem. We get very little back relative to what we could get back for $1 spent on post spillover intervention versus root cause prevention,” said Bernstein.

No international cooperation on climate now

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade,

Among other global challenges, climate change has arguably received the most international attention, and rightly so—yet there is little to show for it. Unless the world makes rapid progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions during this decade, it will be much more difficult to preserve and protect life as we know it on this planet. But diplomatic efforts have come up short and show no sign of improving. Individual countries determine their own climate goals, and there is no price for setting them low or not meeting them. Generating post-pandemic economic growth and locking in energy supplies—a concern heightened by the war in Ukraine and the disruptions it has yielded in the energy sector—have increased countries’ focus on energy security at the expense of climate considerations. Once again, a traditional geopolitical concern has collided with a new problem, making it harder to contend with either one.

Promoting the LIO undermines global cooperation on key issues, democracy vs the world fails [should focus on climate change]

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade,

There is another reason for prioritizing the promotion of order over the promotion of democracy—one that has nothing to do directly with Russia and China. Efforts to build international order, be it for the purpose of resisting aggression and proliferation or combating climate change and infectious disease, have broad support among nondemocracies. A world order premised on respect for borders and common efforts on global challenges is preferable to a liberal world order premised on neither. That so many countries have not participated in sanctioning Russia is revealing. Framing the crisis in Ukraine as one of democracy versus authoritarianism has, not surprisingly, fallen flat among many illiberal leaders. The same logic applies to the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, which the Biden administration is belatedly working to repair: a preference for democracy and human rights is one thing, but a foreign policy based on such a preference in a world defined by geopolitics and global challenges is unwise and unsustainable.

A similarly clear-eyed view should determine how Washington approaches cooperation on global challenges. Multilateralism is far preferable to unilateralism, but narrow multilateralism is far more promising than universal or broad forms of collective action that rarely succeed; witness, for example, the course of climate-change diplomacy and trade. Better to pursue realistic partnerships of the like-minded, which can bring a degree of order to the world, including specific domains of limited order, if not quite world order. Here, too, realism must trump idealism.

This observation has direct implications for dealing with climate change. Climate change poses an existential threat, and although a global response would be best, geopolitics will continue to make such collaboration difficult. The United States and its partners should emphasize narrower diplomatic approaches, but progress on mitigation is more likely to stem from technological breakthroughs than from diplomacy. That owes not to a lack of possible policy tools but rather to a lack of political support in the United States and other countries for those measures or for trade pacts that could encourage mitigation by imposing taxes or tariffs on goods derived from fossil fuels or manufactured through energy-inefficient processes. As a result, the goal of adapting to climate change should receive more attention and resources, as should exploration of the technological possibility of reversing it.

No international cooperation on climate now

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade,

Among other global challenges, climate change has arguably received the most international attention, and rightly so—yet there is little to show for it. Unless the world makes rapid progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions during this decade, it will be much more difficult to preserve and protect life as we know it on this planet. But diplomatic efforts have come up short and show no sign of improving. Individual countries determine their own climate goals, and there is no price for setting them low or not meeting them. Generating post-pandemic economic growth and locking in energy supplies—a concern heightened by the war in Ukraine and the disruptions it has yielded in the energy sector—have increased countries’ focus on energy security at the expense of climate considerations. Once again, a traditional geopolitical concern has collided with a new problem, making it harder to contend with either one.

Can’t solve sea level rise

Rachel Ramirez, 8-29, 92, CNN, Greenland ice losses set to raise global sea levels by nearly a foot, new research shows,

Widespread ice losses from Greenland have locked in nearly a foot of global sea level rise that’s set to come in the near future — and new research suggests there is no way to stop it, even if the world stopped releasing planet-heating emissions today. The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the overall ice loss from Greenland’s ice sheet will trigger at least 10 inches of sea level rise, no matter the climate warming scenarios. That’s generally the same amount that global seas have already risen over the last century from Greenland, Antarctica and thermal expansion (when ocean water expands as it warms) combined. Researchers from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland observed changes in ice-sheet volume in and around Greenland and saw that meltwater runoff has been the primary driver. Using “well-established theory,” the scientists were able to determine that around 3.3% of the Greenland ice sheet — equivalent to 110 trillion tons of ice — will inevitably melt as the ice sheet reacts to the changes that have already occurred. The research was solely to estimate a minimum, or “a very conservative lower bound,” of sea level rise from melting in Greenland, “and in the virtually-certain event that climate continues warming, the sea level commitment only grows,” Box said.

China overwhelms US emissions

Paul J. Saunders, 8-27, 22President of the Energy Innovation Reform Project. He was previously Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest (CFTNI). He remains a member of the center’s Board of Directors and a senior fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at CFTNI, Is America Ready for Great Power Energy Competition?,, Is America Ready for Great Power Energy Competition?

As U.S. competition with China deepens, China’s emissions are likely to become only more problematic as a political and practical issue. According to data presented by the World Bank, China’s total greenhouse gas emissions nearly tripled between 1997 and 2018, from 4.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2E) to 12.3 billion tons. Relative to the United States, China’s emissions rose from about two-thirds of U.S. emissions in 1997 (6.7 billion tons CO2E) to over double America’s emissions in 2018 (down to 6.0 billion tons CO2E). In 2019, one report stated that China’s greenhouse gas emissions exceeded not only those of the United States, but the combined total of the developed world, defined as the sum of the emissions of all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU). Using World Bank data, one can calculate that by 2018, China’s cumulative greenhouse gas emissions since 1980 had overtaken total U.S. emissions during the same period. At current levels, every year of new emissions pushes China’s lead two years further into the past. From a political perspective, the stark reality of China’s share of not only current emissions but also total atmospheric CO2 concentration is likely to undermine Beijing’s claim to “differentiated responsibility” and to further complicate both U.S. climate debates and international diplomacy. Energy and energy technology are already elements of U.S. competition with both China and Russia. Competing effectively will require both new U.S. policies as well as more determined efforts to align America’s approaches with those of its closest friends. Climate advocates have hoped that a U.S.-China deal on substantial emissions cuts could facilitate an ambitious international agreement to reduce emissions. This view has long been misplaced. First, the United States has yet to develop and implement domestic policies that would allow U.S. leaders to make such commitments to China or anyone else. Republican opponents have not been solely to blame for this: Democrats controlled the White House and Congress in 2009–2010 and gave priority to other issues, such as immigration reform. In a similar position today, Congressional Democrats have been unable to enact emissions limits and have instead relied almost wholly on federal spending, especially through tax credits. No less important, however, is that Beijing doesn’t appear prepared to do more either. China’s leaders earned an impressive public diplomacy boost from President Xi Jinping’s surprise announcement that the country would aim for carbon neutrality by 2060. After that, however, China has seemed to have little left to give. Xi and other senior leaders skipped the Glasgow climate summit. Since then, China’s economy has reeled from repeated COVID-19 lockdowns and its planned coal-power construction has soared relative to 2021. Moreover, intense geopolitical competition hinders diplomacy. In China’s case, what were once distant American anxieties about Beijing’s possible forcible integration of Taiwan in 1997 became much more immediate by 2022. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February is merely the most prominent example of increased tensions with Moscow. In these circumstances, even some who see climate change as an existential danger could reasonably consider its greatest risks to be distant in comparison with the prospect of war with a technologically advanced, nuclear-armed adversary. Likewise, because China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, slashing emissions requires extensive and expensive projects to modernize China’s energy sector. In a period of heightened geopolitical tension, intense economic and technological competition, and potential military conflict, the United States is less willing to support its adversary’s economic growth, energy efficiency, and overall competitiveness. Congress is particularly skeptical of Chinese energy and technology firms seeking markets in the United States; for example, many pending bills target China’s solar panels.

Climate change causing mass fish die-offs, threatening the global food supply

University of Arkansas, 8-26, 22, Climate change is increasing frequency of fish mass die-offs,

As the planet’s climate has gotten warmer, so has the prevalence of fish die-offs, or mass mortality events. These die-offs can have severe impacts on the function of ecosystems, imperil existing fish populations and reduce the global food supply. And the frequency of these events appears to be accelerating, with potentially dire consequences for the world if global carbon emissions are not substantially reduced over the 21st century. Those are the findings of a recent paper co-authored by two members of the University of Arkansas Department of Biological Sciences: doctoral student Simon Tye and associate professor Adam Siepielski, along with several of their colleagues. The paper, “Climate warming amplifies the frequency of fish mass mortality events across the north temperate lakes,” compiled 526 documented cases of fish die-offs that occurred across Minnesota and Wisconsin lakes between 2003 and 2013. The researchers determined there were three main drivers of these events: infectious diseases, summerkills and winterkills. The researchers then narrowed their focus to summerkills — fish mortalities associated with warm temperatures. They found a strong relationship between local air and water temperatures and the occurrence of these events, meaning they increased in frequency as temperature increased. Moreover, their models that used either air or water temperature provided similar results, which is important because air temperature data is more widely available than water temperature data across the world. Finally, with a historical baseline established, the team used air and water temperature-based models to predict frequencies of future summerkills. The results were sobering. Based on local water temperature projections, the models predicted an approximate six-fold increase in the frequency of fish mortality events by 2100, while local air temperature projections predicted a 34-fold increase. Importantly, these predictions were based on temperature projections from the most severe climate change scenario, which was the only scenario with the necessary data for these analyses. As Tye explained, “If there are eight summerkills per year now, the models suggest we could have about 41 per year based on water temperature estimates or about 182 per year based on air temperature estimates.” “We think predictions from the water temperature model are more realistic, whereas predictions from the air temperature model indicate we need to better understand how and why regional air and water temperature estimates differ over time to predict how many mortality events may occur.” Nevertheless, their models reveal strong associations between rising temperatures and frequencies of ecological catastrophes. Though the study used data related to temperate northern lakes, Tye said the study is pertinent to Arkansas. “One of the findings of the paper is that similar deviations in temperature affect all types of fish, such that a regional heatwave could lead to mortalities of both cold- and warm-water fish,” he said. “Specifically, climate change is more than gradually increasing temperatures because it also increases temperature variation, such as we experienced much of this summer,” he explained “In turn, our findings suggest these rapid changes in temperature affect a wide range of fish regardless of their thermal tolerance.” Siepielski added, “This work is important because it demonstrates the feasibility of using readily obtainable data to anticipate fish die offs. “As with many examples of how climate warming is negatively affecting wild animal populations, this work reveals that temperature extremes can be particularly detrimental.” “The large scale of the project, using thousands of lakes and over a million air and temperature data points, is particularly impressive,” Siepielski added. “Lakes outside the study area, including those in Arkansas and surrounding areas, are not likely to be immune to these events increasing in frequency.” Siepielski encouraged citizens of Arkansas to help document these events when they find evidence of them, even on their own property, by contacting the relevant authorities. The paper was published in Limnology and Oceanography Letters. Tye and Siepielski are joined by co-authors Andrew Bray, Andrew L. Rypel, Nicholas B.D. Phelps and Samuel B. Fey.

Climate change destroys native communities

AP, 8-19, 22, US Reaching out to Native Americans on Climate Change, Voice of America,

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has developed a new strategy to better engage with hundreds of Native American tribes as they face climate change-related disasters, the agency announced Thursday. FEMA will include the 574 federally recognized tribal nations in discussions about possible future dangers from climate change. It has earmarked $50 million in grants for tribes pursuing ways to ease burdens related to extreme weather. Tribal governments will be offered more training on how to navigate applying for FEMA funds. The new plan calls for tribal liaisons to give a yearly report to FEMA leaders on how prepared tribes are. “We are seeing communities across the country that are facing increased threats as a result of climate change,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a conference call with media. “What we want to do in this strategy is make sure that we can reach out to tribal nations and help them understand what the potential future threats are going to be.” In recent years, tribal and Indigenous communities have faced upheaval dealing with changing sea levels as well as an increase in floods and wildfires. Tribal citizens have lost homes or live in homes that need to be relocated because of coastal erosion. Some cannot preserve cultural traditions like hunting and fishing because of climate-related drought. Lynda Zambrano, executive director of the Snohomish, Washington-based National Tribal Emergency Management Council, said tribes historically had to make do with nobody to guide them. For example, over 200 Native villages in Alaska have had to share one FEMA tribal liaison. Or different tribes were told different things. So, nonprofits like the council tried to fill in gaps with their own training, she said.

Even if the US went to net zero immediately for the rest of the century it would reduce climate change by .3F

Marc Thiessen, 8-23, 22, Washington Post, Opinion  The Inflation Reduction Act won’t reduce inflation. Or climate change.,

This is not surprising. The real purpose of the bill is not to reduce inflation but to reduce climate change. Fully 85 percent of the law’s spending goes toward climate and clean energy. So, what will the bill’s effect be on the climate? Answer: Statistically indistinguishable from zero. Bjorn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of the book “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet,” did a little digging to see how much Biden’s law will affect global temperatures. He took the energy and climate analytics firm Rhodium Group’s estimate of how much the law will reduce average greenhouse-gas emissions, compared it with the reduction in emissions under current U.S. policy — and found that the act will reduce emissions by an additional 1.7 billion tons by 2030. Sound like a lot? Not really. According to the United Nation’s climate model, Lomborg says, that will reduce the rise in global temperature by a grand total of … 0.0009 degrees. That’s next to nothing. Of course, this is the most pessimistic estimate. It assumes that the law produces no more emissions reductions after 2030, when its funding expires. But what if we take the most optimistic view and assume that the emissions reductions from the law continue every year for the next 70-plus years, until the end of the century? Then, Lomborg says, the total reduction in emissions would be 37.5 billion tons, which would reduce the growth in global temperatures by 2100 by a whopping … 0.028 degrees. In other words, the law’s impact on global temperatures — just like its impact on inflation — will be virtually nonexistent. Here’s the deep, dark secret: The costs of climate policies often vastly outweigh their benefits. Even if Democrats had passed the left’s entire Green New Deal — with World War II levels of government climate spending — it still would not put a dent in global temperatures. “Most people don’t appreciate how enormous cuts are needed to make substantial temperature reductions,” Lomborg tells me. “Even if the U.S. went entirely net-zero today and for the rest of the century — an almost unfathomably costly policy — it would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by just 0.3°F.”

Popular support for climate change underestimated

Princeton University, 8-23, 22, Fighting climate change is wildly popular, but most Americans don’t know that,

Just after the U.S. Congress passed the nation’s most substantial legislation aimed at battling climate change, a new study shows that the average American badly underestimates how much their fellow citizens support substantive climate policy. While 66-80% of Americans support climate action, the average American believes that number is 37-43%, the study found. “It’s stunning how universal and shared that idea is, among every demographic,” said Gregg Sparkman, the paper’s first author who did this work as a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton and is now an assistant professor at Boston College. The research, co-authored by Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and professor of psychology and the School of Public and International Affairs, was published in Nature Communications today. The study found that conservatives underestimated national support for climate policies to the greatest degree but, liberals also believed that a minority of Americans support climate action. The misperception was the norm in every state, across policies, and among every demographic tested, including political affiliation, race, media consumption habits, and rural vs. suburban. The actions that the researchers surveyed were major climate policies that could play a role in the United States mitigating climate change, including a carbon tax, siting renewable energy projects on public lands, sourcing electricity from 100% renewable resources by 2035, and the Green New Deal. The trend of Americans largely underestimating such support held true for every single policy. The study showed a link between consuming conservative media and high levels of misperception, even when controlling for personal politics. The researchers also found that living in a red state, and having less exposure to climate marches or protests was linked to a greater discrepancy between estimates of popularity and actual popularity of climate policies. According to the paper, supporters of climate action outnumber opponents two to one, but Americans falsely perceive nearly the opposite to be true. Sparkman said that this underestimation of support is problematic because people tend to conform to what they think others believe, which would weaken actual support for such policies. “They fall into a trap of: I support this but I think other people don’t, so in a democratic society, that means there’s nothing else to be done, beyond maybe convincing your peers,” said Sparkman. Sparkman added that this research could provide a morale boost for climate advocates or even for Americans who are experiencing soaring levels of anxiety related to climate change. It could also help focus the agenda for climate activists who think they are facing an uphill battle with fellow Americans. “They might feel alone in support because of this false social reality,” said Weber. Co-author Nathaniel Geiger, assistant professor of communication science at Indiana University, said that these misperceptions of public opinion can also stifle constructive public discussion on the topic. “My previous research showed that people concerned about climate change are more likely to discuss the topic when they are aware that others share their opinions,” he said. In turn, Geiger says that these conversations are a key way that societies come together to reach solutions on social issues. People also might assume that climate policies fail to pass because they are unpopular. Sparkman said this misperception can make people reluctant to organize in support of green regulations. One way to fight this, Sparkman said, is to display signs in favor of climate action or talk about it among friends, family or local community groups to help make the invisible visible, and maybe even get the message to elected officials. According to the authors, the work may also suggest a new approach to organizing that focuses on educating people about the already high levels of support for major climate policies. “Spending a lot of time trying to convince opponents of climate policy may ironically suggest that there are more people in those camps than there really are,” said Weber. The researchers said there may also be a role for media organizations to play in correcting these misperceptions. They said that major media outlets should give more coverage to public support for climate policies and should be careful not to overrepresent the opposition. “It’s important to remember that ‘being fair and balanced’ means accurately showing how popular something is, not pretending it’s fifty-fifty,” said Sparkman. The authors said in their next work they want to explore the source of the misperception. While there are some indicators of the cause, they do not fully account for the ubiquity of this misperception. After understanding the source, the researchers hope to develop interventions to help Americans understand the true popularity of climate policies. “I think Americans need to be emboldened to move in the direction we all want to go,” said Weber.

Climate change beyond 1.5 degrees destroys 90% of marine species

Zack Budryck, 8-22, 22, The Hill, Nearly all marine species face extinction if greenhouse emissions don’t drop: study,

Maintaining the status quo for greenhouse gas emissions could risk the extinction of up to 90 percent of marine species, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers, led by ecologist Daniel Boyce of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, looked at some 25,000 species, including animals, plants, protozoans and bacteria. Under a high-emission scenario, they determined that nearly 90 percent of those species will be at high-to-critical risk across 85 percent of their distribution. This scenario involves an increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius in global ocean temperatures by the end of the century. About 10 percent of the ocean overall features ecosystems that are considered high-risk based on a combination of endemism, climate risk and the threat of local species’ extinction, according to the study. In addition to the threat this poses to biodiversity around the planet, the results of the study present a major threat to people in the global south, with the biggest danger to species native to low-income countries that rely heavily on fisheries in the tropics and subtropics, according to Boyce and his colleagues. Meanwhile, reduced emissions — those consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals of keeping warming below 2 degrees — would cut the risk for about 98.2 percent of the analyzed species, according to the study. The analysis is based on a combination 12 climate risk factors. Boyce and his team grouped them under the broader categories of sensitivity, exposure and adaptivity. “Our findings show a reduced climate risk for virtually all species and ecosystems under the low emissions scenario,” Boyce wrote in a blog post for Carbon Brief. “Thus, sticking to the goals of the Paris Agreement would have substantial benefits for marine life, with the disproportionate climate risk for ecosystem structure, biodiversity hotspots, fisheries and low-income nations being greatly reduced or eliminated.”

Fisheries/Oceans impact –

Schwaab, 6-26, 22, Eric Schwaab served as head of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and is currently Senior Vice President, Oceans with The Environmental Defense Fund.

COVID-19 driven impacts to the seafood trade have been nothing short of catastrophic for many fishing communities. In the United States, where consumers rely on restaurants for much of their seafood, fishermen have scrambled to reconnect to consumers through new pathways. Overseas, export markets have been disrupted, leaving many fishing dependent economies without needed export pathways. With increasing global population, growing climate impacts to oceans and fisheries and millions already facing food insecurity around the world, the pandemic is a good reminder of our need to look to the ocean for food security solutions. The world’s population will reach nearly 10 billion by 2050 — just 30 years from now. Sustainably meeting food needs has profound implications for human health, nutrition, economic well-being and global security. How we manage food systems of the future is also critical for environmental sustainability. Food choices will even help determine carbon emissions and future atmospheric carbon levels. The fact is, food from the sea already feeds much of the world. Fish today are an important source of protein for more than 3 billion people and a vital source of the essential micronutrients that help children’s brains develop and stave off disease and malnourishment for nearly 1.4 billion people. For seafood to be a sustainable part of the solution, we must make progress in sustainable fisheries, enhance our management systems to address shifting ocean conditions caused by climate change and ensure sustainable marine and coastal aquaculture. In many parts of the world, we are off to a good start. As a former government official who has managed fishery resources for the U.S., I have seen what it takes to succeed. Thanks to improvements in science and management, and collaborations among fishing interests and governments across U.S. waters, many once-badly-depleted fish stocks are recovering. Yet problems remain. Overfishing and climate change are the twin “swords of Damocles” hanging over the recovery and sustainable use of our fish stocks around the world. Climate change is shifting distributions and productivities of critical species, scrambling the rules and putting successful management efforts at risk. We are stuck in outdated systems for sharing the fish, which ignores the climate driven shifts already underway; the mackerel that once swam in Europe’s waters have moved north to Iceland, and the cod that gave Cape Cod its name are steadily shifting to Canadian waters. Moreover, climate change impacts are far more dramatic — and inequitable — in the tropics. The powerful fishing fleets from the hungry North and East are plying the waters off Africa and the small island states of the Pacific. Now, as ocean productivity declines due to climate change and as distributions of fish in the tropics shift toward the poles in search of cooler water, they leave the world’s most fish-dependent and vulnerable people with even less of the catch. This story does not have to end badly. Recent studies have shown that with limits to future climate-warming emissions, we can maintain our current wild fish harvests and even improve them in some places if we make a few important changes. We must continue to get basic sustainable management systems in place around the world. But that is no longer sufficient. We also must fully integrate growing marine aquaculture opportunities in a global budget of food from the sea. For wild caught fisheries, knowing that “past performance is not an indication of future results,” we cannot maintain catch limits based on how fish used to behave, before the water heated.

Climate change threatens poor and indigenous populations

Earth Justice, 8-22, 22, The Social, Cultural and Economic Implications of Climate Change,

Indigenous and other communities of colour also tend to exist in more rural, low-income areas with fewer resources to help them survive when disaster strikes. These areas are more often affected by climate change, such as poorer air quality due to pollution. Because of the lack of medical infrastructure, these communities are also at higher risk of developing health issues that can be exacerbated by climate change.   2. Impacts of Climate Change on the World’s Poor and Developing Countries Further adding to the notion that where and how someone lives can make them more vulnerable, the world’s poor and poorer countries are also more heavily affected by climate change. Understandably, people who live in poverty and impoverished countries will have a harder time coping with the changes that are occurring due to climate change. The governments in developing countries do not have the finances and the resources to help their people and mitigate environmental disasters the way other cultures do. As such, the people that live in those areas suffer greatly from pollution and lack of natural resources and food, and they are at greater risk of developing illnesses and contracting diseases. Young people and the elderly are also more vulnerable than anyone else because their immune systems and other bodily functions are not as strong and, therefore, cannot handle more extreme living situations. 3. Impacts of Climate Change on Urban Infrastructure Urban development and infrastructure are crucial for the growth of any city and the well-being of its residents. So when the systems that make up the infrastructure are impacted by climate change, it can significantly impact development and the way people live their lives. The more populated and dense a city is, the worse it gets. For example, extreme heatwaves can halt city-wide operations, lead to power losses, and put more pressure on aging infrastructure like sewer systems, city roads, and transportation systems. When this occurs, it costs the city money, can affect the cost of energy, air, and water, and can impact the overall wellbeing, comfort, and health of the people living in that area.

  1. Impacts of Climate Change on Developed Economies and the Supply Chain Economies around the world, but especially those that rely heavily on the supply and demand of goods and services, such as developed economies, are also being impacted by climate change. Cities that rely heavily on tourism services, for example, to support the local economy are seeing a drastic decrease in the number of visitors. Take Colorado, for instance. Shorter winters and reduced snowfall means not as many people will travel there to participate in winter sports activities as they used to, which means less money coming into the state and certain cities. You might also like: The Uncertain Future of the Olympic Winter Games Areas that are built around agricultural production are also starting to see an economic decline, such as California’s wine country, which relies on the production of grapes and maple syrup production in the Northeast. The more crops are affected in these areas, the more it will hurt the local economy. As a whole, numerous industries are being impacted by climate change with supply shortages that slow down their production and impact their earnings. Though many companies and warehouses are making sustainable changes to compensate, there is still not much they can do if their primary product or materials to make their product is unavailable.
  2. Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health

Worst of all is the detriment to human health. Minority cultures and poor populations are most at risk, but everyone everywhere is starting to feel the impacts of climate change on their health. Greenhouse gases are polluting the air, meaning everyone is breathing in more toxins. Microplastics and other kinds of waste and toxins are polluting our water. Crops and livestock are being affected, which results in food shortages. And rising temperatures and heatwaves make us more vulnerable to certain health conditions, such as heatstrokes and skin cancer.

Final Thoughts With so much of our world and our culture being impacted by climate change, the question remains, can anything be done about it?  As terrible and devastating as the effects of climate change are and will continue to be, it is not impossible to reverse some of these effects and mitigate further damage. Doing so, however, will take immense effort. Climate activism and sustainability can no longer be viewed as just a problem for some and not for others.

Offsets and trees won’t solve climate change

Adrian Horton, 8-22, 22, The Guardian, John Oliver on corporate ‘net zero’ proposals: ‘We cannot offset our way out of climate change’,

Carbon offsets are a popular route for reaching “net zero” – Oliver cited one study which found that two-thirds of companies in heavily polluting industries relied on offsets instead of emissions reductions to reach carbon neutrality. And if the idea that you can invest money and make your carbon footprint disappear sounds too good to be true, “that’s because it is”, he said. “Study after study has indicated that most offsets available on the market don’t reliably reduce emissions, and yet offsets are now the backbone of the environmental policies of many of the biggest polluters on the planet.” The idea of a carbon offset is that, in theory, a company emitting fossil fuels can build mechanisms to absorb the same amount of emissions in the future that you release now. “Offsets allow businesses that can’t immediately reduce their emissions to balance things out by buying emissions reductions somewhere else,” Oliver explained. But “on some level, you probably know that carbon offsets are bullshit, both because you’re a reasonably intelligent person and because you know exactly what show you are watching right now. I don’t open my beak to squawk out good news.” “But exactly how offsets are bullshit is really interesting,” he continued, “because it’s easy to say that you are reducing carbon emissions but it is much harder to prove it. And the truth is, there aren’t many checks and balances in place to prevent abuse.” Oliver turned to the qualifying concept of additionality – the idea that an offset should provide an extra reduction of carbon that wouldn’t have happened any other way, like planting a tree that wouldn’t otherwise have been planted. A lot of cases for additionality are what Oliver called “shaky at best”, such as JP Morgan’s claim that it reached carbon neutrality in 2020. Doing so included buying $1m worth of offsets claiming to protect an area in Pennsylvania called Hawk Mountain preserve that wasn’t actually under threat of deforestation. “That probably should’ve been obvious from the fact that it was a preserve and not called the Hawk Mountain Chop Zone and Tree Murder Playground,” Oliver explained. Experts have warned that the system used to certify carbon offsets to major airlines – you can now spend $2 at the airport in Austin, Texas, to “offset” 1,000 miles of air travel – is not “fit for use”. “The problem with carbon offsets is everyone wants to believe in them,” said Oliver. “Buyers want a cheap way to make a big claim, and sellers want money for doing as little as possible. And ideally, there’d be an entity in the middle charged with keeping both sides honest.” Those entities are called carbon offset registries, which are supposed to be neutral third parties who sign off on the efficacy of potential offsets. “But those registries aren’t really accountable to anyone,” Oliver said. “Technically, you or I could start a carbon registry. And given that they are paid by the companies selling the offsets, it will not surprise you to learn that many experts say their standards are far too low.” “Basically, getting a sign-off from a carbon registry is like winning a Kids Choice Award,” he added. “It doesn’t really mean much, but it will help you temporarily look a little bit cleaner.” It’s theoretically possible to truly offset carbon emissions – say, if a wind turbine farm that had no chance of construction replaces a fossil fuel plant. “But real world examples of that are incredibly hard to find,” said Oliver, and moreover “when you buy an offset so you can pollute more and that offset is bullshit, you’re now actively making things worse. “It seems at best the benefits of carbon offsets are wildly overstated, while the harm that they can do is very real,” he added. “And while there are ongoing efforts to at least improve the standards of registries, the truth is, the offsets aren’t the answer here. Fundamentally, we cannot offset our way out of climate change.” On a practical level, there literally isn’t enough space to plant the trees for companies to meet their net-zero pitches. One estimate found that there’s only 500m hectares of land left to be dedicated to new forests for carbon capture; Shell alone has proposed planting a tenth of that amount. “The bottom line is: we have an offset system that places profits over science, and the rules regulating it are just far too lax,” Oliver concluded. To prove the point, as one might predict, Oliver established his own carbon registry, Oliver’s Offsets, an organization that’s “making big claims while doing very little, which honestly is entirely reflective of the system that we currently have”.

Perm solves – all alternatives are needed to solve climate change

Houser, 8-21, 22, Houser is a professor of English at the University of Texas and writes about the environment and culture, Austin American Statesman, Opinion: Climate change talk must turn to action and justice,

I’ve written about and taught environmental issues for over 10 years. My cranky tendency has been to roll my eyes on the phone with these friends and family. “Where have you been?! So many have been talking about this for so long” is what I think to myself. But this exasperated response misses the point: Now is the time to listen, to fuel the conversation, to galvanize that intimate public that feels the stakes of climate crisis and wants to get out of impasses. Voting definitely matters. As Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, his Democratic comrade in obstructionism, have taught us, party affiliation does not dictate a politician’s votes. When we choose party candidates at voting time, we need to learn our officials’ priorities and whether they’ll stick to them. With inflation and recession worries understandably polling as Americans’ top concerns, climate crisis risks slipping out of mind in November when 100-degree temperatures, hurricanes and wildfires, possibly, abate. Rain on Aug. 18 ended a 51-day streak of dry conditions in Austin. The climate crisis risks slipping out of mind in November when 100-degree temperatures, hurricanes and wildfires, possibly, abate, Heather House writes. Many Republicans and some Democrats will sideline climate action in favor of economic stabilization and development. This is a false choice. As economists and entrepreneurs have explained, “decarbonizing” the economy — that is, transitioning to renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by other means — generates jobs and spurs innovation while reducing damages to the economy from disasters in the long term. We need to elect those who see the synergies. For example, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, signed by President Joe Biden, creates jobs and reduces pollution that harms health and consequently the economy. It has real problems such as opening up oil and gas leases in the Gulf and Arctic where climate impacts are already devastating, but it shows that we and our representatives can vote with both our money and climate action top of mind. All the climate talk this summer should also amount to actions beyond voting. No one action is a silver bullet and no one action fits all lives, but there’s a menu from which to choose. Some will start community conversations that identify local impacts and devise community-led adaptation and mitigation measures that benefit all. Some will march outside state capitols when legislators debate bills that promote the fossil fuel industry and punish those who don’t. Some will turn to nonviolent civil disobedience, inspired by indigenous land and water protectors’ recent pipeline blockades and the history of Black activists forcing change through sit-ins. Some will take climate writer and podcaster Mary Annaïse Heglar’s advice to “do what you’re good at, and do your best” for the planet. All this talk needs to turn into action, whether at the polls or the pipeline. But, either way, it must bend toward justice. It must undo the economic, political and social forces that put front-line populations, primarily the elderly, disabled, and Black and brown residents, at most risk of climate impacts and create alternatives that regenerate communities and ecosystems. As the shock of climate crisis hits more people, more of us should gather with neighbors and other affinity groups to learn more and envision better. Let’s resist NIMBYism and advocate for local and global climate justice.

Warming undermines sleep and kills

Melillo, 8-18,  22, The Hill, Climate change can alter sleep, increase susceptibility to disease: study,

Coming on the heels of new research that suggests warmer nights could lead to a 60 percent increase in global mortality, a new review published in the journal Temperature outlines how climate change can impact sleep patterns, making humans more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Previous studies have shown changes in people’s thermoregulation and ambient temperature increases can disrupt sleep, wrote author Michael R. Irwin, professor of psychiatry and biobehavorial sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles: “By priming the innate immune response, sleep prepares the body for injury or infection which might occur the following day.” Disrupted sleep can lead to increased inflammatory markers and interfere with immune system balance. “Under these conditions, sleep disturbance has additional potent effects to decrease adaptive immune response, impair vaccine responses, and increase vulnerability to infectious disease,” Irwin wrote. America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news. The association points to questions surrounding timely events as the world continues to suffer the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of a recent global health emergency declared for monkeypox. For the first time in years, evidence of rising polio cases has also been detected. This summer, the United States has already experienced record-breaking heat and projections estimate that by the middle of the century, more than 100 million Americans will face extreme temperatures. Implications of poor sleep resulting from higher temperatures could also take a disproportionate toll on underserved populations who may not have access to air conditioning and are at an increased risk of heat-related adverse health effects. A survey of 765,000 individuals included in the review showed increased nighttime temperatures exacerbated rates of self-reported poor sleep— a finding that was particularly strong among the elderly and lower-income communities. Data assessed also revealed the eldery and those with existing inflammatory disorders might be at an increased risk of heat-related poor sleep outcomes. Some of these populations, like individuals with cardiovascular disease or depression are also at a heightened risk of insomnia. In one study, those who were partially deprived of sleep for four nights showed a 50 percent reduction in antibody amounts from a flu vaccine compared with those who got normal sleep. Further infectious disease models have proved longer sleep duration can decrease bacterial load and improve survival. More research should investigate these and any additional effects of warming temperatures on sleep patterns and resulting immune function, Irwin said. “Just like the pandemic is impacting socioeconomically disadvantaged and ethnic groups disproportionately with more morbid outcomes, it might be that increases in ambient temperature we’re seeing are further exaggerating those risk profiles.”

Every new degree of warming increases the risk of a mega storm 

Caroline Vakil, 8-13, 22, Climate change doubles likelihood of ‘megastorms,’ extreme flooding in California: study,

The likelihood of a “megastorm” occurring in California has doubled due to climate change, according to a new study published on Friday. The study, published in the Science Advances journal, found an increased likelihood of runoff water occurring from harsher storms, creating the threat of debris flows and landslides later, according to a press release from the University of California, Los Angeles. With every degree that the Earth gets warmer, the likelihood for a “megastorm” increases, too, the study found. ADVERTISING Researchers looked at two different scenarios using present climate models and high-resolution weather modeling. One scenario involved a long series of storms taking place during what scientists predicted climate conditions would be like between 2081 and 2100. The other scenario predicted what it would be like if those storms took place in the current climate, according to the release. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, storms that took place toward the end of the century would see between 200 percent and 400 percent more runoff because of higher precipitation. “There are localized spots that get over 100 liquid-equivalent inches of water in the month,” UCLA climate scientist and co-author of the research David Swain said in a statement regarding the end-of-the-century scenario. “On 10,000-foot peaks, which are still somewhat below freezing even with warming, you get 20-foot-plus snow accumulations. But once you get down to South Lake Tahoe level and lower in elevation, it’s all rain. There would be much more runoff.” The researchers also noted that the state risks a $1 trillion disaster. In addition, parts of major cities like Los Angeles and Sacramento would be underwater if the state endured the kind of flooding that took place during the Great Flood of 1862 in the current climate. “Modeling extreme weather behavior is crucial to helping all communities understand flood risk even during periods of drought like the one we’re experiencing right now,” Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said in a statement. “The department will use this report to identify the risks, seek resources, support the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, and help educate all Californians so we can understand the risk of flooding in our communities and be prepared.” The department contributed some funding toward the study.

Arctic warming faster than previously thought

Rebecca Hersher, 8-11, 22, The Arctic is heating up nearly four times faster than the whole planet, study finds,

The Arctic is heating up nearly four times faster than the Earth as a whole, according to new research. The findings are a reminder that the people, plants and animals in polar regions are experiencing rapid, and disastrous, climate change. Scientists previously estimated that the Arctic is heating up about twice as fast as the globe overall. The new study finds that is a significant underestimate of recent warming. In the last 43 years, the region has warmed 3.8 times faster than the planet as a whole, the authors find. The study focuses on the period between 1979, when reliable satellite measurements of global temperatures began, and 2021. “The Arctic is more sensitive to global warming than previously thought,” says Mika Rantanen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, who is one of the authors of the study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. There have been hints in recent years that the Arctic is heating up even more quickly than computer models predicted. Heat waves in the far North have driven wildfires and jaw-dropping ice melt in the circumpolar region that includes Alaska, Arctic Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Siberia. Sponsor Message “This will probably be a bit of a surprise, but also kind of extra motivation perhaps,” says Richard Davy, a climate scientist at Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway, who was not involved in the new study. “Things are moving faster than we could have expected from the model projections.” There are many reasons why the Arctic is heating up more quickly than other parts of the Earth. Changes in the amount of air pollution coming from Europe and natural multi-decade climate variations likely play a role. But human-caused global warming is the underlying reason that the Arctic, and the planet as a whole, are heating up. Loss of sea ice is one of the clearest drivers of Arctic warming. The Arctic Circle is mostly ocean, which used to be frozen for most or all of the year. But permanent sea ice is steadily shrinking, and seasonal ice is melting earlier in the year and re-forming later. That means more open water. But while ice is bright and reflects heat from the sun, water is darker and absorbs it. That heat helps melt more ice, which means more water to trap more heat – the loop feeds on itself, accelerating warming in the Arctic. NASA YouTube “That’s why the temperature trends are the highest [in] those areas where the sea ice has declined most,” explains Rantanen. There are hotspots in the Bering Sea over Northern Europe and Siberia, which are heating up about seven times faster than the global average, the study estimates. Rapid Arctic warming affects people living far from the Arctic circle. For example, there is evidence that weather patterns are shifting across the U.S. and Europe as sea ice melts, and many marine species migrate between the tropics and the Arctic each year. “What happens in the Arctic doesn’t just stay in the Arctic,” says Davy. The new research also finds that the advanced computer models that scientists use to understand how the global climate is changing now, and will change in the future, struggle to capture the relative speed of Arctic warming. That suggests that future models may need to be adjusted to better capture the realities of global warming in polar regions, although this study did not tease apart what exactly is missing from current models. “The paper’s finding that climate models tend to underestimate the warming ratio [between the Arctic and the Earth as a whole] is really interesting,” says Kyle Armour, a climate scientist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the new study. Previous studies have found that computer models actually do a good job estimating how much the Arctic has heated up, but that they tend to overestimate how much hotter the whole planet is, Armour explains. That means the models’ comparison between Arctic warming and overall warming ends up being incorrect. “We have more work to do to figure out the source of this model bias,” says Armour. And that work is increasingly important, because world leaders use climate models to understand what the future holds and how to avoid even more catastrophic warming.

Planting trees can’t solve fast enough

GIDEON LICHFIELDBUSINESSAUG 9, 2022, What Could Keep Climate Change From Becoming Catastrophic?,

Or take a slightly older CCS technology: trees. Planting more of them would definitely help, but it takes new trees decades or centuries to get as good at absorbing carbon as the rapidly disappearing old-growth forests. You might be able to genetically modify trees and other plants to suck up carbon faster, but spreading GM trees all over the world without knowing the long-term effects makes people (rightly) nervous. On the other hand, breeding more carbon-hungry trees the non-GM way might take too long. Then there are biofuels. But switching over has knock-on effects, like requiring more fertilizer to grow biofuel crops, which also produces emissions. Or low-carbon beef—but it’s still much higher-carbon than other meat, so marketing it as low-carbon could paradoxically encourage people to eat more of it and produce higher net emissions. Or growing special crops to burn as fuel while capturing and storing the emissions from that; but then again, you need more fertilizer and farming infrastructure.

Overall, we’re not lacking in ingenuity. The technologies exist, including some that aren’t as controversial as the ones above. If properly applied, they could keep the world under 2 degrees of warming. What’s missing? Mainly financing, and the political will to get countries to stick to their promises. The climate bill that passed in the US Senate on Sunday is a promising start.

Climate Change triggers massive disease spread

Mora, 8-8, 22, Camilo Mora, Tristan McKenzie, Isabella M. Gaw, Jacqueline M. Dean, Hannah von Hammerstein, Tabatha A. Knudson, Renee O. Setter, Charlotte Z. Smith, Kira M. Webster, Jonathan A. Patz & Erik C. Franklin, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Nature Climate Change, Over half of known human pathogenic diseases can be aggravated by climate change,

Abstract It is relatively well accepted that climate change can affect human pathogenic diseases; however, the full extent of this risk remains poorly quantified. Here we carried out a systematic search for empirical examples about the impacts of ten climatic hazards sensitive to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on each known human pathogenic disease. We found that 58% (that is, 218 out of 375) of infectious diseases confronted by humanity worldwide have been at some point aggravated by climatic hazards; 16% were at times diminished. Empirical cases revealed 1,006 unique pathways in which climatic hazards, via different transmission types, led to pathogenic diseases. The human pathogenic diseases and transmission pathways aggravated by climatic hazards are too numerous for comprehensive societal adaptations, highlighting the urgent need to work at the source of the problem: reducing GHG emissions. Main The ongoing emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is intensifying numerous climatic hazards of the Earth’s climate system, which in turn can exacerbate human pathogenic diseases1. The societal disruption caused by pathogenic diseases, as clearly revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, provides worrisome glimpses into the potential consequences of looming health crises driven by climate change2,3,4,5,6. While the conclusion that climate change can affect pathogenic diseases is relatively well accepted2,3,4,5,6, the extent of human vulnerability to pathogenic diseases affected by climate change is not yet fully quantified. On one hand, it is increasingly recognized that the emission of GHGs has consequences on a multitude of climatic hazards of the Earth’s system (for example, warming, heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, extreme precipitation, floods, sea level rise and so on; Fig. 1)4,7. On the other hand, there is a broad taxonomic diversity of human pathogenic diseases (for example, bacteria, viruses, animals, plants, fungi, protozoa and so on), and transmission types (for example, vector-borne, airborne, direct contact and so on; glossary in Text Box 1) that can be affected by those hazards. The combination of numerous climatic hazards by the numerous pathogens reveals the potentially large number of interactions in which climatic hazards could aggravate human pathogenic diseases; with the set of ‘viable’ interactions, or interactions for which empirical data exists, approximating the full extent of human vulnerability to climate change as it relates to pathogenic diseases. Yet, with few exceptions2,8, past studies about the impact of climatic hazards on human pathogenic diseases have commonly focused on specific groups of pathogens (for example, bacteria9, viruses10), hazards (for example, warming11, precipitation12, floods13) or transmission types (for example, vector-14,15, food-16, waterborne16,17). This failure to integrate available information prevents the quantification of the full threat to humanity posed by climate change as it relates to pathogenic diseases. In this paper, we attempt to fill this gap by applying a systematic approach to screen the literature for the set of interactions in which climatic hazards have been linked to human pathogenic diseases. We considered the following ten climate hazards. GHGs mediate the balance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation; thus, (1) their excess in the atmosphere causes warming. Compounded with an increased capacity of the air to hold water, warming accelerates soil water evaporation, leading to (2) drought in places that are commonly dry; excess drought can lead to (3) heatwaves when heat transfer from water evaporation ceases. Drought and heatwaves ripen the conditions for (4) wildfires. In moist places, the quick replenishment of evaporation strengthens (5) precipitation, which is prone to cause (6) floods as rain falls on moist places/saturated soils. Warming of the oceans enhances evaporation and wind speeds, intensifying downpours and the strength of (7) storms, whose surges can be aggravated by (8) sea level rise, which in turn can aggravate the impacts of floods. Uptake of CO2 in the oceans causes ocean acidification, whereas changes in ocean circulation and warming reduces oxygen concentration in seawater; these combined ocean physical–chemical changes are referred to as (9) ocean climate change in this paper. We included (10) changes in natural land cover as one of the hazards because it can be a direct emitter of GHGs via deforestation and respiration, modify temperature via albedo and evapotranspiration and because it can be a direct modifier in the transmission of pathogenic diseases59,84. This figure is intended as a justification for the hazards used and not as a full array of interactions between GHGs and hazards and feedback loops among hazards. …We found 3,213 empirical case examples in which climatic hazards were implicated in pathogenic diseases. All empirical case examples were related to 286 unique pathogenic diseases (Supplementary Table 1), of which 277 were aggravated (glossary in Text Box 1) by at least one climatic hazard (Fig. 3). Although 63 diseases were diminished (glossary in Text Box 1) by some climatic hazards, 54 of them were at times also aggravated by other climatic hazards; only nine pathogenic diseases were exclusively diminished by climatic hazards (Fig. 4a and Supplementary Table 1). Hereafter, we report diseases that were aggravated by climatic hazards, unless otherwise indicated. The compilation of pathogenic diseases aggravated by climatic hazards represent 58% of all infectious diseases reported to have impacted humanity worldwide (that is, out of an authoritative list of 375 infectious diseases documented to have impacted humanity (Methods), 218 were found to be aggravated by climatic hazards; Fig. 4b and Supplementary Table 1). We found 1,006 unique pathways in which climatic hazards, via different transmission types, resulted in cases of pathogenic diseases (an interactive display of the diseases is available at Warming (160 unique diseases), precipitation (122), floods (121), drought (81), storms (71), land cover change (61), ocean climate change (43), fires (21), heatwaves (20) and sea level (10) were all found to influence diseases triggered by viruses (76), bacteria (69), animals (45), fungi (24), protozoans (23), plants (12) and chromists (9). Pathogenic diseases were primarily transmitted by vectors (103 unique diseases), although case examples were also found for transmission pathways involving waterborne (78), airborne (60), direct contact (56) and foodborne (50 unique diseases) (Fig. 3). Among all case examples of pathogenic diseases impacted negatively by climatic hazards, there were 19 general disease names (for example, gastrointestinal infections) that lacked information on the causal pathogen (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Table 1); for 116 diseases, there was no information provided on the transmission pathway (caveats in Supplementary Information 1). Pathogenic diseases affected by climatic hazards While numerous biological, ecological, environmental and social factors contribute to the successful emergence of a human pathogenic disease23, at the most basic level, it depends on a pathogen and a person coming into contact, and the extent to which peoples’ resistance is diminished, or the pathogen is strengthened, by a climatic hazard. We outline empirical case examples to reveal how climatic hazards can affect these aspects in the emergence of pathogenic diseases. Case examples were grouped under given subheadings for the purpose of better presenting our results and not as an attempt to outline a contextual model about the emergence of diseases. We caution that while empirical cases indicate an effect of climatic hazards on the emergence of pathogenic disease, their relative contribution was not quantified in this study (caveats in Supplementary Information 1). The complete list of cases, transmission pathways and associated papers can be explored in detail at At this website, users can navigate an interactive Sankey plot displaying how climatic hazards lead to pathogenic diseases via given transmission modes and click on any disease named in this paper to see the case example, citation and a copy of the paper. For the purpose of transparency, the web tool and background data are public. We also provide a supplement listing the papers from which case examples were obtained (Supplementary Table 2). Climatic hazards bringing pathogens closer to people Shifts in the geographical range of species are one of the most common ecological indications of climate change24. Warming25 and precipitation changes25, for instance, were associated with range expansion of vectors such as mosquitoes25, ticks26, fleas27, birds28 and several mammals29 implicated in outbreaks by viruses25, bacteria25, animals25 and protozoans25, including dengue25, chikungunya25, plague29, Lyme disease25, West Nile virus28, Zika25, trypanosomiasis30, echinococcosis31 and malaria25 to name a few. Climate-driven expansions were also observed in aquatic systems, including cases of Vibrio species (for example, cholera32), anisakiasis33 and envenomizations by jellyfish34. Warming at higher latitudes allowed vectors and pathogens to survive winter, aggravating outbreaks by several viruses (for example, Zika, dengue)35. Habitat disruptions caused by warming, drought, heatwaves, wildfires, storms, floods and land cover change were also associated with bringing pathogens closer to people. Spillovers from viruses (for example, Nipah virus36 and Ebola37), for instance, were associated with wildlife (for example, bats38, rodents39 and primates38) moving over larger areas foraging for limited food resources caused by drought or finding new habitats following wildfires. Likewise, reductions in snow cover caused by warming forced voles to find shelter in human inhabitations, triggering hantavirus outbreaks40. Drought also caused the congregation of mosquitoes and birds around remaining water sources facilitating the transmission of West Nile virus41. Floods and storms were commonly associated with wastewater overflow, leading to the direct and foodborne transmission of noroviruses16, hantavirus42, hepatitis43 and Cryptosporidium44. Warming was also related to melting ice and thawing permafrost exposing once-frozen pathogens45. For instance, genetic analyses of an anthrax outbreak in the Arctic circle suggest that the bacterial strain may have been ancient and emerged from an unearthed animal corpse as the frozen ground thawed46. The successful emergence of pathogens frozen in time could be regarded as a ‘Pandora’s box’, given the potentially large pool of pathogens accumulated over time and the extent to which these pathogens may be new to people45. Climatic hazards bringing people closer to pathogens Climatic hazards also facilitated the contact between people and pathogens by moving people closer to pathogens. Heatwaves, for instance, by increasing recreational water-related activities, have been associated with rising cases of several waterborne diseases such as Vibrio-associated infections47, primary amoebic meningoencephalitis48 and gastroenteritis49. Storms, floods and sea level rise caused human displacements implicated in cases of leptospirosis50, cryptosporidiosis51, Lassa fever52, giardiasis53, gastroenteritis54, Legionnaires’ diseases53, cholera55, salmonellosis56, shigellosis56, pneumonia57, typhoid58, hepatitis58, respiratory disease50 and skin diseases50 among others. Land use changes facilitated human encroachment into wild areas and created new ecotones that brought people into closer proximity to vectors and pathogens59, leading to numerous disease outbreaks such as Ebola60, scrub typhus61, Queensland tick typhus61, Lyme disease62, malaria63 and so on. Drought and heavy precipitation were involved in the movement of livestock to suitable areas, which in turn led to pathogen exposure and disease outbreaks (for example, anthrax64, haemorrhagic fever29). Changes in precipitation and temperature were also noted to affect human social gatherings and the transmissibility of viruses such as influenza65 and COVID-1966. Kappor et al66. suggested that heavy rainfall could exogenously induce social isolation, helping to explain lower COVID-19 cases after heavy rainfall; however, increased cases of COVID-19 were associated with increases in precipitation in Indonesia67, perhaps reflecting different behavioural responses to extreme rain. Higher temperatures have been associated with increased COVID-19 cases in some instances67, and although a mechanism was not outlined, it is possible that extreme heat forces people indoors, which can increase the risk of virus transmission, especially when combined with poor or reduced ventilation; in a related mechanism, increased transmission of coronaviruses during cool spells may be related to increased social gatherings, among other factors68. Pathogens strengthened by climatic hazards In addition to facilitating contacts between people and pathogens, climatic hazards also enhanced specific aspects of pathogens, including improved climate suitability for reproduction, acceleration of the life cycle, increasing seasons/length of likely exposure, enhancing pathogen vector interactions (for example, by shortening incubations) and increased virulence. Warming, for instance, had positive effects on mosquito population development, survival, biting rates and viral replication, increasing the transmission efficiency of West Nile virus69. Ocean warming accelerated the growth of harmful algal blooms and diseases caused by Pseudonitzschia sp70., blue–green cyanobacteria70 and dinoflagellates70. Ocean warming and heavy precipitation, which reduces coastal water salinity, appear to provide fertile conditions for Vibrio vulnificus32 and Vibrio cholerae71, this being a leading explanation for Vibriosis outbreaks in areas where this disease is rare72. In other cases, warming and intense precipitation increased food and habitat resources, which caused surges in rodent populations associated with cases of plague73 and hantaviruses74. Storms, heavy rainfall and floods created stagnant water, increasing breeding and growing grounds for mosquitoes and the array of pathogens that they transmit (for example, leishmaniasis75, malaria75, Rift Valley fever73, yellow fever15, St. Louis encephalitis54, dengue75 and West Nile fever76). Climatic hazards were also implicated in the increasing capacity of pathogens to cause more severe illness (that is, virulence). Heat, for instance, was related to upregulated gene expression of proteins affecting transmission, adhesion, penetration, survival and host injury by Vibrio spp77,78. Heatwaves were also suggested as a natural selective pressure towards ‘heat-resistant’ viruses, whose spillover into human populations results in increased virulence as viruses can better cope with the human body’s main defence (that is, fever)79,80. Food shortages due to drought were implicated in reduced bat autoimmune defence, which increased virus shedding, favouring outbreaks by Hendra virus81,82. People impaired by climatic hazards Climatic hazards have also diminished human capacity to cope with pathogens by altering body condition; adding stress from exposure to hazardous conditions; forcing people into unsafe conditions; damaging infrastructure, forcing exposure to pathogens and/or reducing access to medical care. Body malnutrition and condition, for instance, affect immunocompetence to disease83. As such, the broad effects of climatic hazards on land84 and marine85 food supply4,86, and the reduced concentration of nutrients in crops under high CO287, can directly cause human malnutrition, helping to explain the increased risk of food-deprived populations to disease outbreaks (for example, Cryptosporidium88, measles89 and cholera90). Cases of reduced resistance to various diseases were also found in relation to rapid weather variability known to be aggravated by GHG emissions65. For instance, failure of the human immune system to adjust to large changes in temperature was suggested as a likely mechanism to explain outbreaks of influenza65. Likewise, stress, via changes in cortisol and down-regulation of inflammatory response, can reduce the body’s capacity to cope with diseases91. Exposure to life-threatening conditions such as floods and hurricanes, extraneous conditions during heatwaves and depression from lost livelihood due to drought4 are a few examples in which climatic hazards are inducive to stress and cortisol variations and a likely mechanism by which climatic hazards reduce the body’s capacity to deal with pathogens. Climatic hazards also forced people into unsafe situations that facilitated the risk of disease outbreaks. In some instances, drought, by reducing water availability, forced the use of unsafe drinking water, causing outbreaks of diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery92. Reduced water resources were also conducive to poor sanitation responsible for cases of trachoma42, chlamydia42, cholera93, conjunctivitis42, Cryptosporidium26, diarrhoeal diseases42, dysentery94, Escherichia coli93, Giardia95, Salmonella93, scabies42 and typhoid fever94. Climatic hazards also affected the risk of disease by damaging critical infrastructure. For instance, floods, heavy rain and storms were related to damages in sewage systems and disrupted potable water involved in outbreaks of cholera96, diarrhoea96, hepatitis A96, hepatitis E96, leptospirosis96, acanthamoebiasis96, cryptosporidiosis96, cyclosporiasis96, giardiasis96, rotavirus96, shigellosis96 and typhoid fever96. By reducing access to medical health, basic supplies or reducing income, these hazards were associated with outbreaks of gonorrhoea97 and other venereal diseases98. Diseases diminished by climatic hazards Whereas the great majority of diseases were found to be aggravated by climatic hazards, some were found to be diminished (63 out of 286 diseases; Fig. 4a). Warming, for instance, appears to have reduced the spread of viral diseases probably related to unsuitable conditions for the virus or because of a stronger immune system in warmer conditions (for example, influenza65, SARS99, COVID-19100, rotaviral and noroviral enteritis101). However, we also found that most diseases that were diminished by at least one hazard were at times aggravated by another and sometimes even the same hazard. For instance, in some cases, schistosomiasis infections were reduced by floods, limiting habitat suitability of the snail host102. However, in other cases, floods increased human exposure and broadened the dispersal of the host103. Droughts also reduced the prevalence of malaria and chikungunya via reduction of breeding grounds104, but in others, drought led to increased mosquito density in reduced water pools74,105. Concluding remarks The global distress caused by the emergence of COVID-19 clearly revealed the considerable human vulnerability to pathogenic diseases. Such types of disease have the capacity to not only cause illness and death in large numbers of people but can also trigger broader socioeconomic consequences (for example, the cumulative financial costs of the COVID-19 pandemic could mount to US$16 trillion for the United States alone106). It should be noted that this was not an isolated event; the burden of diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus, Zika, malaria, dengue, chikungunya, influenza, Ebola, MERS and SARS cause millions of deaths each year107 and an inexplicable amount of human suffering. As demonstrated in this review, 277 human pathogenic diseases can be aggravated by the broad array of climatic hazards triggered by our ongoing emission of GHGs and include 58% of all infectious diseases known to have impacted humanity in recorded history. Furthermore, we found over 1,000 different pathways in which the array of climatic hazards, via different transmission types, resulted in disease outbreaks by a taxonomic diversity of pathogens. The sheer number of pathogenic diseases and transmission pathways aggravated by climatic hazards reveals the magnitude of the human health threat posed by climate change and the urgent need for aggressive actions to mitigate GHG emissions.

Climate change caused by humans

Eliza Keefe, 8-2, 22, ‘Unequivocal’ Evidence that Humans Cause Climate Change, Contrary to Posts of Old Video,

There is “unequivocal” evidence that humans are causing global warming, the U.N. climate change panel has said. But viral posts revive a 2014 video of Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman falsely claiming “climate change is not happening.” The channel, which supports the scientific consensus that climate change is real, had distanced itself from Coleman. A vast and growing body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring and is largely caused by human activity, as we’ve written on multiple occasions In 2007, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that the “evidence is now ‘unequivocal’ that humans are causing global warming,” the U.N. said in a press release at the time. The U.N. panel has repeated that finding ever since, most recently in an April report. “Widespread and rapid changes” have occurred as a result of climate change and “many changes … are irreversible” for at least centuries, the U.N. climate panel said in another report issued in 2021. “Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming,” the 2021 report said. “They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, heavy precipitation, and, in some regions, agricultural and ecological droughts; an increase in the proportion of intense tropical cyclones; and reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.” As the effects of climate change become increasingly evident, the issue is also becoming increasingly political. Just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June to restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, President Joe Biden said he would take “strong executive action” to “tackle the climate crisis” if the Senate failed to act. But social media posts continue to question the existence of global warming by reviving a 2014 interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with climate change skeptic and Weather Channel co-founder John Coleman. One Instagram post has the headline, “Weather Channel Founder Goes Savage on CNN for Network’s Climate Change Fake News.” A caption on the video clip says, “The climate change activist and movement is a fraud!” The post has been viewed more than 18,000 times. A post on Twitter attached a slightly longer portion of the same Coleman interview with the caption, “Founder of The Weather Channel tells Brian Stelter climate change is a hoax.” The post has over 66,000 likes and more than 28,000 retweets. In the video shared in these posts, Coleman said: “Climate change is not happening. There is no significant man-made global warming now, there hasn’t been any in the past, and there’s no reason to expect any in the future.” Coleman’s claims are false, and so is the implication in the social media posts that he was an expert in climate science. Coleman, who died in 2018, worked as a weather anchor for over 60 years, including on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” But he did not hold a degree in any scientific discipline. The CNN clip was one of many instances in which Coleman perpetuated climate change falsehoods. In the CNN report, anchor Brian Stelter subsequently spoke with the Weather Channel’s then-CEO David Kenny. In that exchange, which the social media posts leave out, Kenny distanced the Weather Channel from Coleman’s claims and asked viewers to focus on the science. “What I want people to know is that the science is pretty clear about climate change,” Kenny said. “We’re grateful that [Coleman] got [the Weather Channel] started 32 years ago, but he hasn’t been with us in 31 years. So he’s not really speaking for the Weather Channel in any way today.” Kenny continued, “Our position is really clear, it’s scientifically based, and we’ve been unwavering on it for quite some time now.” The Weather Channel had posted its statement on climate change a few days prior to Kenny’s CNN interview. In its statement, which was updated in 2017, the organization accurately said that “the majority of the warming over the past century is a result of human activities.” Extensive scientific evidence gathered over many years corroborates the Weather Channel’s conclusion that, contrary to Coleman’s claims, human-caused warming exists. As we’ve written, the theory of the greenhouse effect — that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere — has been repeatedly proven since it was first proposed in 1824. The American Association for the Advancement of Science notes that about 97% of climate scientists believe human-caused warming is occurring. Similarly, NASA calls the fact that “Earth’s climate is warming” a matter of “scientific consensus.” The Annual 2021 Global Climate Report, prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, found that the global annual temperature increased an average rate of 0.14 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1880 but “over twice that rate” since 1981. “The years 2013–2021 all rank among the ten warmest years on record. The year 2021 was also the 45th consecutive year (since 1977) with global temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average,” the report added. The year 2021 marked the sixth warmest year recorded, despite the cooling effect of La Niña climate pattern in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA charted the global average surface temperature since 1880. (See chart.) “That extra heat is driving regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reducing snow cover and sea ice, intensifying heavy rainfall, and changing habitat ranges for plants and animals,” NOAA explains on The NCEI annual report concludes that only the “human emissions of heat-trapping gases” can explain this increase in global temperature. The IPCC, a U.N. body of 278 climate experts from 65 countries, in a report released in April attributed climate change to “more than a century of … unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, lifestyle and patterns of consumption and production.” The panel warned that “without urgent, effective and equitable mitigation actions,” climate change will continue to threaten biodiversity, global health and economic growth. “[C]limate change poses a serious threat to development and wellbeing in both rich and poor countries,” the report said, citing such climate impacts as premature deaths, food insecurity and loss of land and infrastructure.

Human extinction

Ben Taub, 8-2, 22, Climate Change Could Eliminate Humanity And We’re Totally Unprepared, Scientists Argue,

The possibility that climate change could wipe us out has not been given enough attention and requires urgent consideration if we are to avoid a worst-case scenario, according to a new report. As a first step towards salvation, the authors urge the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to stop looking on the bright side and conduct a “special report on catastrophic climate change.” “Could anthropogenic climate change result in worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction?” ask researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “At present, this is a dangerously underexplored topic. Yet there are ample reasons to suspect that climate change could result in a global catastrophe.” Decapitated Egyptian Mummy Head Found In Attic Investigated By Scientists Building on this worrying sentiment, study author Dr Luke Kemp explained in a statement that “climate change has played a role in every mass extinction event. It has helped fell empires and shaped history. Even the modern world seems adapted to a particular climate niche.” In spite of these terrifying precedents, though, the researchers point out that “the IPCC has yet to give focused attention to catastrophic climate change. Fourteen special reports have been published. None covered extreme or catastrophic climate change.” This tendency to ignore our impending downfall, they say, may reflect “the culture of climate science to ‘err on the side of least drama,’ to not to be alarmists.” As a consequence, the fall-out from a global temperature rise exceeding 3°C (5.4°F) above pre-industrial levels remains largely underexamined, despite the fact that many climate change models predict such an increase. Bucking this trend, the researchers call for a “climate endgame” research agenda to examine what they call the “four horsemen” of climate change. These are listed as famine and undernutrition, extreme weather events, conflict, and vector-borne diseases. For instance, they explain that when a rise of more than 2°C (3.6°F) is considered, then the chances of significant decreases in maize production worldwide jump from 7 percent to 86 percent. The resulting “breadbasket failures” are likely to be exacerbated by what the authors call “warm wars”, as technologically enhanced superpowers squabble over dwindling carbon budgets and other climate impacts. “Paths to disaster are not limited to the direct impacts of high temperatures, such as extreme weather events,” says Kemp. “Knock-on effects such as financial crises, conflict, and new disease outbreaks could trigger other calamities, and impede recovery from potential disasters such as nuclear war.” To illustrate this point, the researchers reveal that current models suggest that within half a century, around 2 billion people could live in areas affected by “extreme temperatures”. “By 2070, these temperatures and the social and political consequences will directly affect two nuclear powers, and seven maximum containment laboratories housing the most dangerous pathogens,” explained study author Chi Xu. “There is serious potential for disastrous knock-on effects.” Summing up, the researchers state that “further research funding of catastrophic and worst-case climate change is critical,” and that “facing a future of accelerating climate change while blind to worst-case scenarios is naïve risk management at best and fatally foolish at worst.” “A special report on catastrophic climate change could help trigger further research,” they say, adding that such a project could “help bring into focus how much is at stake in a worst-case scenario.”

Climate change turns every impact and causes extinction

Fred Lewsey, 8-1, 22, Climate Endgame Potential for global heating to end humanity ‘dangerously underexplored’,

Modelling done by the team shows areas of extreme heat (an annual average temperature of over 29 °C), could cover two billion people by 2070. These areas not only some of the most densely populated, but also some of the most politically fragile. “Average annual temperatures of 29 degrees currently affect around 30 million people in the Sahara and Gulf Coast,” said co-author Chi Xu of Nanjing University. “By 2070, these temperatures and the social and political consequences will directly affect two nuclear powers, and seven maximum containment laboratories housing the most dangerous pathogens. There is serious potential for disastrous knock-on effects,” he said. Last year’s IPCC report suggested that if atmospheric CO2 doubles from pre-industrial levels – something the planet is halfway towards – then there is an roughly 18% chance temperatures will rise beyond 4.5°C. However, Kemp co-authored a “text mining” study of IPCC reports, published earlier this year, which found that IPCC assessments have shifted away from high-end warming to increasingly focus on lower temperature rises. This builds on previous work he contributed to showing that extreme temperature scenarios are “underexplored relative to their likelihood”. “We know least about the scenarios that matter most,” Kemp said. The team behind the PNAS paper propose a research agenda that includes what they call the “four horsemen” of the climate endgame: famine and malnutrition, extreme weather, conflict, and vector-borne diseases Rising temperatures pose a major threat to global food supply, they say, with increasing probabilities of “breadbasket failures” as the world’s most agriculturally productive areas suffer collective meltdowns. Hotter and more extreme weather could also create conditions for new disease outbreaks as habitats for both people and wildlife shift and shrink. The authors caution that climate breakdown would likely exacerbate other “interacting threats”: from rising inequality and misinformation to democratic collapse and even new forms of destructive AI weaponry. One possible future highlighted in the paper involves “warm wars” in which technologically enhanced superpowers fight over both dwindling carbon space and giant experiments to deflect sunlight and reduce global temperatures. Nuclear bomb test, Nevada, 1957. Kemp argues that climate change could impede recovery from disasters such as nuclear war, but awareness of climate catastrophe could help spur public action, similar to the nuclear debate. More focus should go on identifying all potential tipping points within “Hothouse Earth” say researchers: from methane released by permafrost melts to the loss of forests that act as “carbon sinks”, and even potential for vanishing cloud cover. “The more we learn about how our planet functions, the greater the reason for concern,” said co-author Prof Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We increasingly understand that our planet is a more sophisticated and fragile organism. We must do the math of disaster in order to avoid it,” he said. Co-author Prof Kristie Ebi from the University of Washington said: “We need an interdisciplinary endeavour to understand how climate change could trigger human mass morbidity and mortality.” Added Kemp: “A greater appreciation of catastrophic climate scenarios can help compel public action. Understanding nuclear winter performed a similar function for debates over nuclear disarmament.” “We know that temperature rise has a ‘fat tail’, which means a wide range of lower probability but potentially extreme outcomes,” he said. “Facing a future of accelerating climate change while remaining blind to worst-case scenarios is naive risk-management at best and fatally foolish at worst.”

Climate crisis rhetoric necessary to avoid the catastrophic impacts

Luke Kemp, 8-1, 22, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge, Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios,

Prudent risk management requires consideration of bad-to-worst-case scenarios. Yet, for climate change, such potential futures are poorly understood. Could anthropogenic climate change result in worldwide societal collapse or even eventual human extinction? At present, this is a dangerously underexplored topic. Yet there are ample reasons to suspect that climate change could result in a global catastrophe. Analyzing the mechanisms for these extreme consequences could help galvanize action, improve resilience, and inform policy, including emergency responses. We outline current knowledge about the likelihood of extreme climate change, discuss why understanding bad-to-worst cases is vital, articulate reasons for concern about catastrophic outcomes, define key terms, and put forward a research agenda. The proposed agenda covers four main questions: 1) What is the potential for climate change to drive mass extinction events? 2) What are the mechanisms that could result in human mass mortality and morbidity? 3) What are human societies’ vulnerabilities to climate-triggered risk cascades, such as from conflict, political instability, and systemic financial risk? 4) How can these multiple strands of evidence—together with other global dangers—be usefully synthesized into an “integrated catastrophe assessment”? It is time for the scientific community to grapple with the challenge of better understanding catastrophic climate change. How bad could climate change get? As early as 1988, the landmark Toronto Conference declaration described the ultimate consequences of climate change as potentially “second only to a global nuclear war.” Despite such proclamations decades ago, climate catastrophe is relatively under-studied and poorly understood. The potential for catastrophic impacts depends on the magnitude and rate of climate change, the damage inflicted on Earth and human systems, and the vulnerability and response of those affected systems. The extremes of these areas, such as high temperature rise and cascading impacts, are underexamined. As noted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there have been few quantitative estimates of global aggregate impacts from warming of 3 °C or above (1). Text mining of IPCC reports similarly found that coverage of temperature rises of 3 °C or higher is underrepresented relative to their likelihood (2). Text-mining analysis also suggests that over time the coverage of IPCC reports has shifted towards temperature rise of 2 °C and below Research has focused on the impacts of 1.5 °C and 2 °C, and studies of how climate impacts could cascade or trigger larger crises are sparse. A thorough risk assessment would need to consider how risks spread, interact, amplify, and are aggravated by human responses (3), but even simpler “compound hazard” analyses of interacting climate hazards and drivers are underused. Yet this is how risk unfolds in the real world. For example, a cyclone destroys electrical infrastructure, leaving a population vulnerable to an ensuing deadly heat wave (4). Recently, we have seen compound hazards emerge between climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic (5). As the IPCC notes, climate risks are becoming more complex and difficult to manage, and are cascading across regions and sectors (6). Why the focus on lower-end warming and simple risk analyses? One reason is the benchmark of the international targets: the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to well below 2 °C, with an aspiration of 1.5 °C. Another reason is the culture of climate science to “err on the side of least drama” (7), to not to be alarmists, which can be compounded by the consensus processes of the IPCC (8). Complex risk assessments, while more realistic, are also more difficult to do. This caution is understandable, yet it is mismatched to the risks and potential damages posed by climate change. We know that temperature rise has “fat tails”: low-probability, high-impact extreme outcomes (9). Climate damages are likely to be nonlinear and result in an even larger tail (10). Too much is at stake to refrain from examining high-impact low-likelihood scenarios. The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need to consider and prepare for infrequent, high-impact global risks, and the systemic dangers they can spark. Prudent risk management demands that we thoroughly assess worst-case scenarios. Our proposed “Climate Endgame” research agenda aims to direct exploration of the worst risks associated with anthropogenic climate change. To introduce it, we summarize existing evidence on the likelihood of extreme climate change, outline why exploring bad-to-worst cases is vital, suggest reasons for catastrophic concern, define key terms, and then explain the four key aspects of the research agenda. Worst-Case Climate Change Despite 30 y of efforts and some progress under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to increase. Even without considering worst-case climate responses, the current trajectory puts the world on track for a temperature rise between 2.1 °C and 3.9 °C by 2100 (11). If all 2030 nationally determined contributions are fully implemented, warming of 2.4 °C (1.9 °C to 3.0 °C) is expected by 2100. Meeting all long-term pledges and targets could reduce this to 2.1 °C (1.7 °C to 2.6 °C) (12). Even these optimistic assumptions lead to dangerous Earth system trajectories. Temperatures of more than 2 °C above preindustrial values have not been sustained on Earth’s surface since before the Pleistocene Epoch (or more than 2.6 million years ago) (13). Even if anthropogenic GHG emissions start to decline soon, this does not rule out high future GHG concentrations or extreme climate change, particularly beyond 2100. There are feedbacks in the carbon cycle and potential tipping points that could generate high GHG concentrations (14) that are often missing from models. Examples include Arctic permafrost thawing that releases methane and CO2 (15), carbon loss due to intense droughts and fires in the Amazon (16), and the apparent slowing of dampening feedbacks such as natural carbon sink capacity (17, 18). These are likely to not be proportional to warming, as is sometimes assumed. Instead, abrupt and/or irreversible changes may be triggered at a temperature threshold. Such changes are evident in Earth’s geological record, and their impacts cascaded across the coupled climate–ecological–social system (19). Particularly worrying is a “tipping cascade” in which multiple tipping elements interact in such a way that tipping one threshold increases the likelihood of tipping another (20). Temperature rise is crucially dependent on the overall dynamics of the Earth system, not just the anthropogenic emissions trajectory. The potential for tipping points and higher concentrations despite lower anthropogenic emissions is evident in existing models. Variability among the latest Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) climate models results in overlap in different scenarios. For example, the top (75th) quartile outcome of the “middle-of-the-road” scenario (Shared Socioeconomic Pathway 3-7.0, or SSP3-7.0) is substantially hotter than the bottom (25th) quartile of the highest emissions (SSP5-8.5) scenario. Regional temperature differences between models can exceed 5 °C to 6 °C, particularly in polar areas where various tipping points can occur (SI Appendix). There are even more uncertain feedbacks, which, in a very worst case, might amplify to an irreversible transition into a “Hothouse Earth” state (21) (although there may be negative feedbacks that help buffer the Earth system). In particular, poorly understood cloud feedbacks might trigger sudden and irreversible global warming (22). Such effects remain underexplored and largely speculative “unknown unknowns” that are still being discovered. For instance, recent simulations suggest that stratocumulus cloud decks might abruptly be lost at CO2 concentrations that could be approached by the end of the century, causing an additional ∼8 °C global warming (23). Large uncertainties about dangerous surprises are reasons to prioritize rather than neglect them. Recent findings on equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) (14, 24) underline that the magnitude of climate change is uncertain even if we knew future GHG concentrations. According to the IPCC, our best estimate for ECS is a 3 °C temperature rise per doubling of CO2, with a “likely” range of (66 to 100% likelihood) of 2.5 °C to 4 °C. While an ECS below 1.5 °C was essentially ruled out, there remains an 18% probability that ECS could be greater than 4.5 °C (14). The distribution of ECS is “heavy tailed,” with a higher probability of very high values of ECS than of very low values. There is significant uncertainty over future anthropogenic GHG emissions as well. Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5, now SSP5-8.5), the highest emissions pathway used in IPCC scenarios, most closely matches cumulative emissions to date (25). This may not be the case going forward, because of falling prices of renewable energy and policy responses (26). Yet, there remain reasons for caution. For instance, there is significant uncertainty over key variables such as energy demand and economic growth. Plausibly higher economic growth rates could make RCP8.5 35% more likely (27). Why Explore Climate Catastrophe? Why do we need to know about the plausible worst cases? First, risk management and robust decision-making under uncertainty requires knowledge of extremes. For example, the minimax criterion ranks policies by their worst outcomes (28). Such an approach is particularly appropriate for areas characterized by high uncertainties and tail risks. Emissions trajectories, future concentrations, future warming, and future impacts are all characterized by uncertainty. That is, we can’t objectively prescribe probabilities to different outcomes (29). Climate damages lie within the realm of “deep uncertainty”: We don’t know the probabilities attached to different outcomes, the exact chain of cause and effect that will lead to outcomes, or even the range, timing, or desirability of outcomes (, 30). Uncertainty, deep or not, should motivate precaution and vigilance, not complacency. Catastrophic impacts, even if unlikely, have major implications for economic analysis, modeling, and society’s responses (31, 32). For example, extreme warming and the consequent damages can significantly increase the projected social cost of carbon (31). Understanding the vulnerability and responses of human societies can inform policy making and decision-making to prevent systemic crises. Indicators of key variables can provide early warning signals (33). Knowing the worst cases can compel action, as the idea of “nuclear winter” in 1983 galvanized public concern and nuclear disarmament efforts. Exploring severe risks and higher-temperature scenarios could cement a recommitment to the 1.5 °C to 2 °C guardrail as the “least unattractive” option (34). Understanding catastrophic climate scenarios can also inform policy interventions, including last-resort emergency measures like solar radiation management (SRM), the injection of aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight (35). Whether to resort to such measures depends on the risk profiles of both climate change and SRM scenarios. One recent analysis of the potential catastrophic risk of stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) found that the direct and systemic impacts are under-studied (36). The largest danger appears to come from “termination shock”: abrupt and rapid warming if the SAI system is disrupted. Hence, SAI shifts the risk distribution: The median outcome may be better than the climate change it is offsetting, but the tail risk could be worse than warming (36). There are other interventions that a better understanding of catastrophic climate change could facilitate. For example, at the international level, there is the potential for a “tail risk treaty”: an agreement or protocol that activates stronger commitments and mechanisms when early-warning indicators of potential abrupt change are triggered. The Potential for Climate Catastrophe There are four key reasons to be concerned over the potential of a global climate catastrophe. First, there are warnings from history. Climate change (either regional or global) has played a role in the collapse or transformation of numerous previous societies (37) and in each of the five mass extinction events in Phanerozoic Earth history (38). The current carbon pulse is occurring at an unprecedented geological speed and, by the end of the century, may surpass thresholds that triggered previous mass extinctions (39, 40). The worst-case scenarios in the IPCC report project temperatures by the 22nd century that last prevailed in the Early Eocene, reversing 50 million years of cooler climates in the space of two centuries (41). This is particularly alarming, as human societies are locally adapted to a specific climatic niche. The rise of large-scale, urbanized agrarian societies began with the shift to the stable climate of the Holocene ∼12,000 y ago (42). Since then, human population density peaked within a narrow climatic envelope with a mean annual average temperature of ∼13 °C. Even today, the most economically productive centers of human activity are concentrated in those areas (43). The cumulative impacts of warming may overwhelm societal adaptive capacity. Second, climate change could directly trigger other catastrophic risks, such as international conflict, or exacerbate infectious disease spread, and spillover risk. These could be potent extreme threat multipliers. Third, climate change could exacerbate vulnerabilities and cause multiple, indirect stresses (such as economic damage, loss of land, and water and food insecurity) that coalesce into system-wide synchronous failures. This is the path of systemic risk. Global crises tend to occur through such reinforcing “synchronous failures” that spread across countries and systems, as with the 2007–2008 global financial crisis (44). It is plausible that a sudden shift in climate could trigger systems failures that unravel societies across the globe. The potential of systemic climate risk is marked: The most vulnerable states and communities will continue to be the hardest hit in a warming world, exacerbating inequities. Fig. 1 shows how projected population density intersects with extreme >29 °C mean annual temperature (MAT) (such temperatures are currently restricted to only 0.8% of Earth’s land surface area). Using the medium-high scenario of emissions and population growth (SSP3-7.0 emissions, and SSP3 population growth), by 2070, around 2 billion people are expected to live in these extremely hot areas. Currently, only 30 million people live in hot places, primarily in the Sahara Desert and Gulf Coast (43). Overlap between future population distribution and extreme heat. CMIP6 model data [from nine GCM models available from the WorldClim database (45)] were used to calculate MAT under SSP3-7.0 during around 2070 (2060–2080) alongside Shared SSP3 demographic projections to ∼2070 (46). The shaded areas depict regions where MAT exceeds 29 °C, while the colored topography details the spread of population density. Extreme temperatures combined with high humidity can negatively affect outdoor worker productivity and yields of major cereal crops. These deadly heat conditions could significantly affect populated areas in South and southwest Asia(47). Fig. 2 takes a political lens on extreme heat, overlapping SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5 projections of >29 °C MAT circa 2070, with the Fragile States Index (a measurement of the instability of states). There is a striking overlap between currently vulnerable states and future areas of extreme warming. If current political fragility does not improve significantly in the coming decades, then a belt of instability with potentially serious ramifications could occur. Fragile heat: the overlap between state fragility, extreme heat, and nuclear and biological catastrophic hazards. GCM model data [from the WorldClim database (45)] was used to calculate mean annual warming rates under SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5. This results in a temperature rise of 2.8 °C in ∼2070 (48) for SSP3-7.0, and 3.2 °C for SSP5-8.5. The shaded areas depict regions where MAT exceeds 29 °C. These projections are overlapped with the 2021 Fragile State Index (FSI) (49). This is a necessarily rough proxy because FSI only estimates current fragility levels. While such measurements of fragility and stability are contested and have limitations, the FSI provides one of the more robust indices. This Figure also identifies the capitals of states with nuclear weapons, and the location of maximum containment Biosafety Level 4 (BS4) laboratories which handle the most dangerous pathogens in the world. These are provided as one rough proxy for nuclear and biological catastrophc hazards. Finally, climate change could irrevocably undermine humanity’s ability to recover from another cataclysm, such as nuclear war. That is, it could create significant latent risks (Table 1): Impacts that may be manageable during times of stability become dire when responding to and recovering from catastrophe. These different causes for catastrophic concern are interrelated and must be examined together. Although bad-to-worst case scenarios remain underexplored in the scientific literature, statements labeling climate change as catastrophic are not uncommon. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called climate change an “existential threat.” Academic studies have warned that warming above 5 °C is likely to be “beyond catastrophic” (50), and above 6 °C constitutes “an indisputable global catastrophe” (9). Current discussions over climate catastrophe are undermined by unclear terminology. The term “catastrophic climate change” has not been conclusively defined. An existential risk is usually defined as a risk that cause an enduring and significant loss of long-term human potential (51, 52). This existing definition is deeply ambiguous and requires societal discussion and specification of long-term human values (52). While a democratic exploration of values is welcome, it is not required to understand pathways to human catastrophe or extinction (52). For now, the existing definition is not a solid foundation for a scientific inquiry. We offer clarified working definitions of such terms in Table 1. This is an initial step toward creating a lexicon for global calamity. Some of the terms, such as what constitutes a “plausible” risk or a “significant contributor,” are necessarily ambiguous. Others, such as thresholding at 10% or 25% of global population, are partly arbitrary (10% is intended as a marker for a precedented loss, and 25% is intended as an unprecedented decrease; see SI Appendix for further discussion). Further research is needed to sharpen these definitions. The thresholds for global catastrophic and decimation risks are intended as general heuristics and not concrete numerical boundaries. Other factors such as morbidity, and cultural and economic loss, need to be considered. We define risk as the probability that exposure to climate change impacts and responses will result in adverse consequences for human or ecological systems. For the Climate Endgame agenda, we are particularly interested in catastrophic consequences. Any risk is composed of four determinants: hazard, exposure, vulnerability, and response (3). We have set global warming of 3 °C or more by the end of the century as a marker for extreme climate change. This threshold is chosen for four reasons: Such a temperature rise well exceeds internationally agreed targets, all the IPCC “reasons for concern” in climate impacts are either “high” or “very high” risk between 2 °C and 3 °C, there are substantially heightened risks of self-amplifying changes that would make it impossible to limit warming to 3 °C, and these levels relate to far greater uncertainty in impacts.

Too late to stop climate change, trying to ignores the proper focus on adaptation

Business Insider, July 31, 2022, Climate scientist says total climate breakdown is now inevitable: ‘It is already a different world out there, soon it will be unrecognizable to every one of us’,

Record-breaking heatwaves, lethal flooding, and extreme weather events are just the beginning of the climate crisis, according to a leading UK climate scientist. In his new book published Thursday, “Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant’s Guide,” Bill McGuire argues that, after years of ignoring warnings from scientists, it is too late to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change. The University College London Earth sciences professor pointed to a record-breaking heatwave across the UK this month and dangerous wildfires that destroyed 16 homes in East London as evidence of the rapidly changing climate. McGuire says weather will begin to regularly surpass current extremes, despite government goals to lower carbon emissions. “And as we head further into 2022, it is already a different world out there,” McGuire told The Guardian. “Soon it will be unrecognizable to every one of us.” His perspective — that severe climate change is now inevitable and irreversible — is more extreme than many scientists who believe that, with lowered emissions, the most severe potential impacts can still be avoided. McGuire did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Many climate scientists, McGuire said, are much more scared about the future than they are willing to admit in public. He calls their reluctance to acknowledge the futility of current climate action “climate appeasement” and says it only makes things worse. Instead of focusing on net-zero emission goals, which McGuire says won’t reverse the current course of climate change, he argues we need to adapt to the “hothouse world” that lies ahead and start taking action to try to stop material conditions from deteriorating further. “This is a call to arms,” McGuire told The Guardian: “So if you feel the need to glue yourself to a motorway or blockade an oil refinery, do it.” This week, Senate Democrats agreed to a potential bill that would be the most significant action ever taken by the US to address climate change. The bill includes cutting carbon emissions 40% by 2030, with $369 billion to go toward energy and climate programs.

Earth warming, humans responsible

Poast, 7-29, 22, World Politics Review, Climate Diplomacy Might Be a Dead End,

Scorching heat throughout Europe and North America in the past few weeks has once again raised concerns over an impending climate crisis. Record-high temperatures are now a regular occurrence. For example, the 10 hottest years on record in the United Kingdom have occurred since 2002. The implications for the future are foreboding, from increased droughts and wildfires to global food insecurity. As made clear by the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in March, scientists widely agree that the extreme temperatures are caused by human activity, namely the production of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, by various industrial processes. These gases, in turn, trap heat on the earth’s surface. The record of global average temperatures over the past 2,000 years, gathered in part based on ice cores that can trap and store indicators of global temperatures, shows that, after ebbing and flowing within a general range for most of that time, temperatures markedly increased starting around 1800 with the onset of the industrial revolution. Climate science, gathered in the succession of IPCC reports over the past decade, has progressively determined that, in this case, correlation does equal causation.

3 barriers to multilateral/global cooperation on climate change

Poast, 7-29, 22, World Politics Review, Climate Diplomacy Might Be a Dead End,

Can anything be done? It surely does not help when prominent political figures like Trump question the scientific consensus that global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity. But even if all key leaders recognized the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis, it is still unlikely that a solution would be reached. First, there is no good model for achieving the kind of cooperation required to address the problem. The agreement that is often held out as a potential template for achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, is unlikely to be duplicated. That treaty implemented a cooperative phase out of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in industrial processes and consumer products, such as aerosol hairspray. It was pursued after it was determined that CFCs were responsible for an emerging hole in the earth’s ozone layer, which protects humans from the most harmful aspects of the sun’s radiation. Initially signed by a core group of industrialized producers and consumers of CFCs, the protocol eventually became almost universally adopted. While arguably the most successful global-scale cooperative effort in history, the Montreal Protocol was arrived at thanks to a unique confluence of factors. In fact, according to the international relations scholar M.J. Peterson, it was “a relatively ‘easy case’ for global environmental cooperation.” One key factor was that the culprit was a single identifiable product, CFCs, that by the late 1980s had readily available substitutes. In contrast, addressing global warming would require large-scale changes in operations across many modern economies. Another unique factor that contributed to the success of the Montreal Protocol was that then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan took particular interest in the issue due to his and his wife’s experiences with skin cancer. This placed the U.S. in a position to lead the effort. Even if all key leaders recognized the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis, it is still unlikely that a solution would be reached. Second, while global warming produces losers, and in the long run that will include everyone, it also produces winners in the short term. For instance, the Arctic will become less “Arctic-like,” with the resulting newly opened sea lanes creating opportunities for faster global trade. The Arctic powers of Canada, the United States, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and particularly Russia all stand to benefit. Accordingly, each is developing an Arctic policy to ensure that they control those sea lanes. There will also be shifts in growing seasons, with some previously inhospitable lands becoming newly fertile. Similarly, new mineral and fossil fuel resources will become available. Many of these benefits will accrue to major powers. Meanwhile, the nations most immediately and negatively impacted by climate change, some existentially, are primarily poorer countries, which are already facing natural disasters like droughts and flooding, and smaller island nations in danger of rising sea levels. Wealthier nations will also face consequences from these changes, but they have the resources to adapt to them, rather than trying to stop or mitigate them. Third, men are going to be a problem. New research by Sarah Bush of Yale University and Amanda Clayton of Vanderbilt University shows that men in wealthy countries simply don’t care about climate change. Not all men, of course. But the “gender gap” in concern over the climate crisis widens in wealthier nations, with men systematically less alarmed by the issue than women. Of course, their lack of concern is motivated by a countervailing economic preoccupation. Men commonly express the conviction that mitigation efforts will burden them with what amounts to a “tax.” This apathetic view of men toward the climate matters, because they comprise half the world’s population and still dominate leadership positions globally.

Tech won’t solve climate change

Poast, 7-29, 22, World Politics Review, Climate Diplomacy Might Be a Dead End,

As for new technologies, even if they could eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, it might not be enough. Consider, for instance, that we already have such a technology: nuclear energy. But rather than embrace it, most states are moving in the opposite direction. For example, in response to the current energy crisis due to the fallout from war in Ukraine, Germany is reconstituting coal-fired power plants, rather than bringing nuclear power plants back online. While many nations use nuclear power for part of their energy mix—France depends on it to generate most of its electricity—only 10 percent of global energy is produced from nuclear power. To be sure, nuclear power is not cheap. But it is within reach for many of the industrialized nations that also produce the most greenhouse gases. But stigma against its use—notably due to fears of reactor meltdowns like those at Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011—feed into popular aversion to such facilities, even as coal-powered plants continue to operate in close proximity to residential areas.

As with nuclear power, there’s no reason to believe that any other technological solution will come free from trade-offs. So while technological innovation will surely be part of the solution to climate change, it will not be the whole solution. Humanity can’t simply “tech its way” out of the problem. Instead, a sustainable and more realistic solution will require global cooperation. But that is difficult to achieve even under the best of circumstances. And unfortunately, cooperation on climate change does not face the best of circumstances.

Failure to arrest climate change triggers societal collapse, resilience and adaptation won’t solve

Masters, 7-28, 22, Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a safer passion – earning a 1997 Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology from the University of Michigan, Yale Climate Connection, The future of global catastrophic risk events from climate change,

Four times since 1900, human civilization has suffered global catastrophes with extreme impacts: World War I (40 million killed), the 1918-19 influenza pandemic (40-50 million killed), World War II (40-50 million killed), and the COVID-19 pandemic (an economic impact in the trillions, and a 2020-21 death toll of 14.9 million, according to the World Health Organization). These are the only events since the beginning of the 20th century that meet the United Nations’s definition of global catastrophic risk (GCR): a catastrophe global in impact that kills over 10 million people or causes over $10 trillion (2022 USD) in damage. But human activity is “creating greater and more dangerous risk” and increasing the odds of global catastrophic risk events, by increasingly pushing humans beyond nine “planetary boundaries” of environmental limits within which humanity can safely operate, warns a recent United Nations report, “Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction – Our World at Risk: Transforming Governance for a Resilient Future” (GAR2022) and its companion paper, “Global catastrophic risk and planetary boundaries: The relationship to global targets and disaster risk reduction” (see July post, “Recklessness defined: breaking 6 of 9 planetary boundaries of safety“). These reports, endorsed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, make the case that the combined effects of disasters, economic vulnerabilities, and overtaxing of ecosystems are creating “a dangerous tendency for the world to tend toward the Global Collapse scenario. This scenario presents a world where planetary boundaries have been extensively crossed, and if GCR events have not already occurred or are in the process of occurring, then their likelihood of doing so in the future is extreme … and total societal collapse is a possibility.” Global catastrophic risk (GCR) events Human civilization has evolved during the Holocene Era, the stability of which is now threatened by human-caused climate change. As a result, global catastrophic risk events from climate change are growing increasingly likely, the U.N. May 2022 reports conclude. There are many other potential global catastrophic risk events, both natural and human-caused (Figure 2), posing serious risks and warranting humanity’s careful consideration. But the report cautions of “large uncertainty both for the likelihood of such events occurring and for their wider impact.” (Note that there is at least one other type of Global Catastrophic Risk event the report omits: an intense geomagnetic storm. A repeat of the massive 1859 Carrington Event geomagentic storm, which might crash the electrical grid for 130 million people in the U.S. for multiple years, could well be a global catastrophic risk event.) Five types of GCR events with increasing likelihood in a warmer climate 1) Drought The most serious immediate global catastrophic risk event associated with climate change might well be a food-system shock caused by extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major global grain-producing “breadbaskets” simultaneously. Such an event could lead to significant food prices spikes and result in mass starvation, war, and a severe global economic recession. This prospect exists in 2022-23, exacerbated by war and the COVID-19 pandemic. The odds of such a food crisis will steadily increase as the climate warms. The author of this post presented one such scenario in an op-ed published in The Hill last year, and insurance giant Lloyds of London detailed another such scenario in a “food system shock” report issued in 2015. Lloyds gave uncomfortably high odds of such an event’s occurring—well over 0.5% per year, or more than a 14% chance over a 30-year period. 2) War In his frightening book Food or War, published in October 2019, science writer Julian Cribb documents 25 food conflicts that have led to famine, war, and the deaths of more than a million people – mostly caused by drought. For example, China’s drought and famine of 1630-31 led to a revolt that resulted in the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. Another drought in China in the mid-nineteenth century led to the Taiping rebellion, which claimed 20-30 million lives. Since 1960, Cribb says, 40-60% of armed conflicts have been linked to resource scarcity, and 80% of major armed conflicts occurred in vulnerable dry ecosystems. Hungry people are not peaceful people, Cribb argues, and ranks South Asia – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka – as being at the most risk of future food/water availability conflicts. In particular, nuclear powers India and Pakistan have a long history of conflict, so climate change can be expected to increase the risk of nuclear war between them. A “limited” nuclear war between India and Pakistan, 100 bombs dropped on cities. would be capable of triggering a global “nuclear winter” with a death toll up to two billion, Helfand (2013) estimated. 3) Sea-level rise, combined with land subsidence During the coming decades, it will be very difficult to avoid a global catastrophic risk event from sea-level rise, when combined with coastal subsidence from groundwater pumping, loss of river sedimentation from flood-control structures, and other human-caused effects: A moderate global warming scenario (RCP 4.5) will put $7.9-12.7 trillion dollars of global coastal assets at risk of flooding by 2100, according to a 2020 study by Kirezci et al., “Projections of global-scale extreme sea levels and resulting episodic coastal flooding over the 21st Century.” While this study did not take into account assets that inevitably will be protected by new coastal defenses to be erected, neither did it consider the indirect costs of sea-level rise from increased storm surge damage, mass migration away from the coast, salinification of fresh water supplies, and many other factors. A 2019 report by the Global Commission on Adaptation estimated that sea level rise will lead to damages of more than $1 trillion per year by 2050. Furthermore, sea-level rise, combined with other stressors, might bring about megacity collapse – a frightening possibility with infrastructure destruction, salinification of fresh water resources, and a real estate collapse potentially combining to create a mass exodus of people, reducing the tax base of the city to the point that it can no longer provide basic services. The collapse of even one megacity might have severe impacts on the global economy, creating increased chances of a cascade of global catastrophic risk events. One megacity potentially at risk of this fate is the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, with a population of 10 million). Land subsidence (up to two inches per year) and sea-level rise (about 1/8 inch per year) are so high in Jakarta that Indonesia currently is constructing a new capital city in Borneo. Plans call for moving 8,000 civil servants there in 2024, and eventually move 1.5 million workers from Jakarta to the new capital by 2045. 4) Pandemics As Earth’s climate warms, wild animals will be forced to relocate their habitats and increasingly enter regions with large human populations. This development will dramatically increase the risk of a jump of viruses from animals to humans that could lead to a pandemic, according to a 2022 paper by Carlson et al. in Nature, “Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk.” Bats are the type of animal of most concern Note that in the case of the 1918-19 influenza GCR event, a separate GCR event helped trigger it: WWI, because of the mass movement of troops that spread the disease. The U.N. reports emphasize that one GCR event can trigger other GCR events, with climate change acting as a threat multiplie 5) Ocean current changes Increased precipitation and glacial meltwater from global warming could flood the North Atlantic with enough fresh water to slow down or even halt the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), the ocean current system that transports warm, salty water from the tropics to the North Atlantic and sends cold water to the south along the ocean floor. If the AMOC were to shut down, the Gulf Stream would no longer pump warm, tropical water to the North Atlantic. Average temperatures would cool in Europe by three degrees Celsius (5.4°F) or more in just a few years – not enough to trigger a full-fledged ice age, but enough cooling to bring snows in June and killing frosts in July and August, as occurred in the famed 1816 “year without a summer” caused by the eruption of Mt. Tambora. In addition, shifts in the jet stream pattern might bring about a more La Niña-like climate, causing an increase in drought to much of the Northern Hemisphere, greatly straining global food and water supplies. A study published in August 2021 looked at eight independent measures of the AMOC, and found that all eight showed early warning signs that the ocean current system may be nearing collapse. “The AMOC may have evolved from relatively stable conditions to a point close to a critical transition,” the authors wrote. Ocean acidification process Figure 4. A pteropod shell is shown dissolving over time in seawater with a lower pH. When carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean from the atmosphere, the chemistry of the seawater is changed. (image credit: NOAA) 6) Ocean acidification The increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is partially absorbed by the oceans, making them more acidic. Since pre-industrial times, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units, to 8.1 – approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity. Increased acidity is harmful to a wide variety of marine life, and acidic oceans have been linked to several of Earth’s five major extinction events through geologic time. Under a business-as-usual emission scenario, continued emissions of carbon dioxide could make ocean pH around 7.8 by 2100. The last time the ocean pH was this low was during the middle Miocene, 14-17 million years ago. The Earth was several degrees warmer and a major extinction event was occurring. 7) A punishing surprise In 2004, Harvard climate scientists Paul Epstein and James McCarthy conclude in a paper titled “Assessing Climate Stability” that: “We are already observing signs of instability within the climate system. There is no assurance that the rate of greenhouse gas buildup will not force the system to oscillate erratically and yield significant and punishing surprises.” Hurricane Sandy of 2012 was an example of such a punishing surprise, and climate change will increasingly bring low-probability, high impact weather events – “black swan” events – that no one anticipated. As the late climate scientist Wally Broecker once said, “Climate is an angry beast, and we are poking at it with sticks.” Climate change can also be expected to reduce the likelihood of one type of global catastrophic risk event: the impacts of a massive volcanic eruption. A magnitude-seven “super-colossal” eruption with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of seven (VEI 7) occurred in 1815, when the Indonesian volcano Tambora erupted. (The Volcanic Explosivity Index is a logarithmic scale like the Richter scale used to rate earthquakes, so a magnitude 7 eruption would eject ten times more material than a magnitude 6 eruptions like that of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.) The sulfur pumped by Tambora’s eruption into the stratosphere dimmed sunlight so extensively that Northern Hemisphere temperatures fell by about 0.4-0.7 degree Celsius (0.7-1.0°F) for 1-2 years afterward. The result: the famed Year Without a Summer in 1816. Killing frosts and snow storms in May and June 1816 in Eastern Canada and New England caused widespread crop failures, and lake and river ice were observed as far south as Pennsylvania in July and August. Famine and food shortages rocked the world. Verosub (2011) estimated that future eruptions capable of causing “volcanic winter” effects severe enough to depress global temperatures and trigger widespread crop failures for one to two years afterwards should occur about once every 200-300 years, which translates to a 10-14% chance over a 30-year period. An eruption today like the Tambora event of 1815 would challenge global food supplies already stretched thin by rising population, decreased water availability, and conversion of cropland to grow biofuels. However, society’s vulnerability to major volcanic eruptions is less than it was, since the globe has warmed significantly in the past 200 years. The famines from the eruption of 1815 occurred during the Little Ice Age, when global temperatures were about 0.9 degree Celsius (1.6°F) cooler than today, so crop failures from a Tambora-scale eruption would be less widespread than is the case with current global temperatures. Fifty years from now, when global temperatures may be another 0.5 degree Celsius warmer, a magnitude seven eruption should be able to cool the climate only to 1980s levels. However, severe impacts to food supplies still would result, since major volcanic eruptions cause significant drought. (To illustrate, in the wake of the 1991 climate-cooling VEI 6 eruption of the Philippines’ Mt. Pinatubo, land areas of the globe in 1992 experienced their highest levels of drought for any year of the 1950-2000 period.) Unfortunately, the future risk of a volcanic global catastrophic risk event may be increasing from causes unrelated to climate change, because of the increasing amount of critical infrastructure being located next to seven known volcanic hot spots, argued Mani et al. in a 2021 paper, “Global catastrophic risk from lower magnitude volcanic eruptions.” For example, a future VEI 6 eruption of Washington’s Mount Rainier could cost more than $7 trillion over a 5-year period because of air traffic disruptions; similarly, a VEI 6 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Merapi could cost more than $2.5 trillion. Commentary Complex systems like human cultures are resilient, but are also chaotic and unstable, and vulnerable to sudden collapse when multiple shocks occur. Jared Diamond’s provocative 2005 book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, described flourishing civilizations or cultures that eventually collapsed, like the Greenland Norse, Maya, Anasazi, and Easter Islanders. Environmental problems like deforestation, soil problems, and water availability were shown to be a key factor in many of these collapses. “One of the main lessons to be learned from the collapses of the Maya, Anasazi, Easter Islanders, and those other past societies,” Diamond wrote, “is that a society’s steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the society reaches its peak numbers, wealth, and power. … The reason is simple: maximum population, wealth, resource consumption, and waste production mean maximum environmental impact, approaching the limit where impact outstrips resources.” Some of Diamond’s conclusions, however, have been challenged by anthropologists. For example, the 2010 book, Questioning Collapse: Human Resilience, Ecological Vulnerability, and the Aftermath of Empire, argued that societies are resilient and have a long history of adapting to, and recovering from, climate change-induced collapses. But a 2021 paper by Beard et al., “Assessing Climate Change’s Contribution to Global Catastrophic Risk,” argued, pointed to “reasons to be skeptical that such resilience can be easily extrapolated into the future. First, the relatively stable context of the Holocene, with well-functioning, resilient ecosystems, has greatly assisted recovery, while anthropogenic climate change is more rapid, pervasive, global, and severe.” To paraphrase, one can think of the nine planetary boundaries as credit cards, six of those nine credit cards charged to the hilt to develop civilization as it now exists. But Mother Nature is an unforgiving lender, and there is precious little credit available to help avoid a cascade of interconnected global catastrophic risk events that might send human society into total collapse, if society unwisely continues its business-as-usual approach. Avoiding climate change-induced global catastrophic risk events is of urgent importance, and the UN report is filled with promising approaches that can help. For example, it explains how systemic risk in food systems from rainfall variability in the Middle East can be reduced using traditional and indigenous dryland management practices involving rotational grazing and access to reserves in the dry season. More generally, the encouraging clean energy revolution now under way globally needs to be accelerated. And humanity must do its utmost to pay back the loans taken from the Bank of Gaia, stop burning fossil fuels and polluting the environment, and restoring degraded ecosystems. If we do not, the planet that sustains us will no longer be able to.

Climate change will collapse the biosphere, no recovery

Bercker, 7-23, 22, William S. Becker is a former U.S. Department of Energy central regional director who administered energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies programs, and he also served as special assistant to the department’s assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Becker is also executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, a nonpartisan initiative founded in 2007 that works with national thought leaders to develop recommendations for the White House as well as House and Senate committees on climate and energy policies. The project is not affiliated with the White House, The Hill, Climate change: The global Jenga game,
It has been 34 years, an entire generation, since the U.S. government’s top climate scientist warned Congress the planet was warming with potentially dire consequences. “It is already happening now,” Dr. James Hansen testified in 1988. “It is time to stop waffling.” Scientists have struggled ever since to communicate this to the public and government officials. Scientists and their translators have explained the pollution from burning fossil fuels is collecting above the Earth, where it acts like the glass in a greenhouse and holds the sun’s heat close to the planet’s surface — the “greenhouse effect.” Or they have described the gases as an invisible blanket covering the Earth and getting thicker with every ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) civilization emits. But before metaphors and analogies can explain climate change, audiences must be open to hearing about it. Unfortunately, the message is not good news. Many people with the power to do something about global warming have not listened because it’s easier to deny a harsh reality than it is to fix it. Those of us who try to break through the communications barrier about climate change get fixated on that crisis and fail to point out an even harsher reality: Climate change is only one manifestation of adverse human impacts on nature. What’s really at risk is the biosphere — the atmosphere, the hydrosphere (oceans), and the lithosphere (the Earth’s solid surface). These are where all life on the planet exists, working together like the organs in our bodies. The best metaphor for this is the popular game Jenga. Players build a tower out of blocks, then take turns removing them one at a time. The loser is the person who removes the block that topples the tower. ADVERTISING With industrialization and population growth, civilization has been pulling blocks out of the Jenga tower for centuries, including many vital to the structure’s integrity. The disturbing reality that many people don’t want to accept, or even hear about, is that the hospitable Earth we have known for the last 10,000 to 12,000 years is on the verge of collapse. Some years ago, the Stockholm Resilience Center at Stockholm University convened 28 renowned scientists to identify the planet’s “safe operating spaces” and the boundaries humankind can’t cross without creating large-scale, abrupt, irreversible changes in the biosphere. The team came up with nine critical spaces. Only one is climate change. Others include ocean acidification, ozone depletion, land-use changes and freshwater losses. Geologists believe the human impact on the biosphere is so extensive that it has created a new era in the planet’s 4.5-billion-year history. They have proposed calling it the Anthropocene, a term signifying that humankind is now the most influential and destructive force on Earth. The evidence, which ranges from plastic pollution to the fallout of nuclear weapons testing, reads like an indictment of modern civilization because that’s what it is. Humanity is on trial, with little time left to fix things before the verdict is in and the planet imposes its most severe penalty. We must answer some questions if we are generous enough to care about the future. What happens if we remove the biodiversity block, the freshwater block or the block representing fertile soils? What if we remove the blocks representing the Earth’s carbon and water cycles or the oceans’ chemistry? For that matter, how many blocks do we dare add to the tower’s top to represent the human population’s growth? If the U.S. Congress, other world leaders and the general population had heeded Hansen’s warning about climate change 34 years ago, we could have made the necessary corrections with much less expense and disruption. Instead, the use of fossil fuels over the last three decades has made the blanket thicker, while urbanization, agriculture, deforestation and pollution have moved us closer to the planet’s boundaries. The Jenga tower is teetering while we blithely remove its blocks. Its loss of stability is too gradual to shock us awake. But all life will suffer when it collapses. Here the Jenga analogy falls apart because, unlike the game, we will not be able to rebuild the structure and start over. This is not a message that political leaders, policymakers or friends and neighbors want to hear. It’s the ultimate inconvenient truth. And yet, pulling civilization back from collapse would be the present generation’s most precious gift to our progeny, the biosphere and the incredibly beautiful web of life.

Can’t solve other big emitters

AP News, July 19, 2022,

Among the 10 biggest carbon emitters, only the European Union has enacted polices close to or consistent with international goals of limiting warming to just a few more tenths of a degrees, according to scientists and experts who track climate action in countries. But Europe, which is broiling through a record-smashing heat wave and hosting climate talks this week, also faces a short-term winter energy crunch, which could cause the continent to backtrack a tad and push other nations into longer, dirtier energy deals, experts said. “Even if Europe meets all of its climate goals and the rest of us don’t, we all lose,” said Kate Larsen, head of international energy and climate for the research firm Rhodium Group. Emissions of heat-trapping gases don’t stop at national borders, nor does the extreme weather that’s being felt throughout the Northern Hemisphere. “It’s a grim outlook. There’s no getting away from it, I’m afraid,” said climate scientist Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics. His group joined with the New Climate Institute to create the Climate Action Tracker, which analyzes nations’ climate targets and policies compared to the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The tracker describes as “insufficient” the policies and actions of the world’s top two carbon polluters, China and the U.S., as well as Japan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It calls Russia and South Korea’s polices “highly insufficient,” and Iran comes in as “critically insufficient.” Hare says No. 3 emitter India “remains an enigma.”

An increase in the earth’s average temperature is triggering heat waves that kill and undermine the economy. Larger temperature increases trigger hunger, disease, and migration.

Washington Post Editorial Board, July 16, 2022, The global heat waves should be a warning for the future,

In Yosemite National Park’s famed Mariposa Grove, giant sequoias have grown for millennia. As some of the largest and oldest living things in the world, their preservation — which was first given legal protection under Abraham Lincoln — predates the National Park Service. This month, they were threatened by a nearby wildfire that was exacerbated by dry, hot conditions. That is just one of many dramatic weather events taking place around the country and world. In Texas, record-breaking temperatures forced the state’s power grid operator to warn residents to cut back on energy use or face the risk of blackouts. Around 35 million Americans were placed under heat advisories or excessive heat warnings. Western Europe is also experiencing extreme heat waves — Spain is experiencing its second in less than a month, while the United Kingdom issued its first-ever “extreme heat” warning. Italy has faced prolonged heat and drought, and a glacier collapse officials attributed to climate change resulted in the deaths of 11 people earlier this month. In China, at least 86 cities released heat alerts; in the city of Nanjing, officials opened air-raid shelters for locals to escape the heat. These cases should not be viewed in isolation. While links between individual weather events and global warming cannot be determined immediately, studies have found that concurrent heat waves affecting parts of North America, Europe and Asia have become more intense and frequent over the past few decades. An analysis by World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists who analyze whether extreme events are connected to climate change, found that last year’s devastating heat wave in the Pacific Northwest was “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.” Such patterns have disastrous, far-reaching effects. Heat waves pose a particular threat to global food supplies, already under pressure from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They are linked with a range of health problems and correlate with higher rates of crime, anxiety and depression. A 2021 analysis from the Atlantic Council estimated that the drop in worker productivity due to extreme heat costs the U.S. economy $100 billion annually — a figure that could double by 2030. As President Biden and congressional Democrats struggle to find enough support for their climate agenda, the ongoing heat waves offer a small window into what the future could look like if global warming continues unabated. Even if we keep the global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius — the threshold scientists believe should not be exceeded — the number of extreme weather events a person will experience would nearly quadruple, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A greater rise in temperature would be even more calamitous, with unthinkable consequences for global hunger, disease, migration, productivity and standards of living. Slashing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a greener economy at the scale and pace needed would require creativity, innovation and political courage. But the cost if we fail is far more daunting: a future in which climate disasters, and all the damage and instability that come with them, become the new normal everywhere.

US climate leadership collapsing due to a lack of policy action. We are currently at 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Bradley Dennis, July 15, 2022, Washington Post, U.S. climate promises hang in the balance as Manchin upends talks,

As President Biden’s climate ambitions appeared to collapse in Congress on Friday, advocates around the world expressed alarm about how an absence of U.S. leadership could undermine the push to avoid catastrophic warming of Earth’s atmosphere. Mohamed Adow woke up in Nairobi to the news that Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) remains unwilling to support new climate spending, a stance that would all but torpedo Biden’s push to rapidly cut the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution. The frustration and disappointment Adow felt at the congressional gridlock had little to do with the president, and everything to do with the implications for the planet if the world’s second-largest emitter does not change course. “People say this is a blow for Biden’s climate plan,” Adow, head of Power Shift Africa, a think tank that lobbies for clean energy, said in a text message. “But it’s actually a blow for the whole world, for people on the front line of the climate crisis, and it’s a blow for the American people who will not escape the impacts of extreme heat, floods, sea level rise and storms.” Several experts warn that without new legislation, Biden will be unable to achieve one of the core promises of his presidency: cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade, compared with 2005 levels. A report released Thursday by the independent research firm Rhodium Group found that the United States is on track to reduce emissions 24 percent to 35 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 — significantly short of Biden’s goal of 50 to 52 percent. “Those reductions are not sufficient under current policy to meet the U.S. stated climate target,” Ben King, an associate director at Rhodium and co-author of the analysis, said in an interview. “So there’s still a big gap to make up.” Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said in an interview that the administration must now take “executive actions that it has been holding pending” the end of the legislative process. “That’s ended,” Markey said, adding that Biden officials can adopt policies ranging from limiting federal oil and gas leasing to imposing stricter tailpipe emissions on cars and trucks. On Friday afternoon, Biden promised to exercise whatever authority he has to forge ahead. “Let me be clear: if the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment,” he said in a statement. “I will not back down: the opportunity to create jobs and build a clean energy future is too important to relent.” Even so, the president’s failure so far to secure more concrete action and funding from Capitol Hill has wounded U.S. credibility abroad. “U.S. climate envoy John Kerry speaks well about what needs to be done by all countries, but loses credibility whenever the U.S. is unable to deliver even the most modest actions that the U.S. government has promised,” Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, said in a text message. Huq said the nation’s inability to take action will “definitely hamper” any trust other countries might have in U.S. promises when the world gathers for another climate summit this fall in Egypt. “The United States of America is the single country that is most responsible for accumulated global emissions that are now causing loss and damage around the world,” he added. “The fact that Sen. Manchin can block the U.S. from even taking the bare minimum of actions speaks very poorly for America.” As leaders gather for crucial climate summit, high expectations collide with uncertain reality Biden, who rejoined the Paris climate accord after President Donald Trump became the only leader to withdraw from the global pact, took office touting the historic investments he would seek in clean energy, and the jobs to be gained from shifting away from fossil fuels. The 2015 agreement aims to limit Earth’s warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels. Already, the planet has warmed roughly 1.1 Celsius, and scientists say each additional fraction of warming will bring only more climate-fueled catastrophes in the years to come. The world currently is on a trajectory to blow past its climate targets without rapid and far-reaching changes. At a key U.N. summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last fall, Biden stood before other world leaders and vowed that the United States — still the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China — would lead “by the power of our example.” In the months since, Biden has seen blow after blow to that vision. The war in Ukraine has helped to fuel a global spike in oil and gas prices. The U.S. Supreme Court last month curtailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit carbon emissions of existing power plants. Unless Manchin ultimately embraces a budget-reconciliation package that includes new spending on climate initiatives, his opposition would almost certainly put Biden’s commitments only further out of reach. No Republican is willing to vote for a major climate package, which has left Democrats reliant on the West Virginian’s vote. National climate pledges are too weak to avoid catastrophic warming. Most countries are on track to miss them anyway. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) bemoaned her party’s predicament in an interview Friday. “We are at a moment when we need strong action to cut emissions, and one senator should not have the power to stop us from doing that,” Smith said. “We had the opportunity in this moment to meet the challenge of the climate crisis, to reduce carbon emissions, and to do so in a way that lowers energy prices, contributes to energy independence, cleans up our air and allows us to save the planet.” A climate change protester holds figures depicting Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and President Biden on Capitol Hill on Oct. 20, 2021. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) On Friday, Manchin claimed that his comments to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) had been misinterpreted. The centrist senator told a West Virginia radio show that he hadn’t ruled out new climate spending — he just wanted to wait to see whether the proposals would add to inflationary pressures. “I said, ‘Chuck, until we see the July inflation figures … then let’s wait until that comes out, so we know that we’re going down a path that won’t be inflammatory and add more to inflation,” Manchin said, adding, “I want climate; I want energy policy.” Inflation soared in June, continuing to climb at the fastest pace in 40 years across many sectors of the economy. But supporters of the climate package argue it would actually lower costs for American consumers, such as by making it cheaper to purchase an electric vehicle or make energy-efficient home improvements. From Africa to Europe to Asia, the latest indication that the United States could fail to live up to its climate promises spurred reactions ranging from sadness to outright disdain. Several analysts pointed out that if the United States fails to make the substantial investments in clean energy Biden supports, it risks losing the economic benefits that will come as other nations shift away from fossil fuels. “This will dismay American allies and diminish further U.S. influence over what happens in the energy economy across the rest of the world,” Joss Garman, a director of the European Climate Foundation, said in an email, adding that with oil and gas prices rising compared with clean energy, “the transition is sure to continue apace, albeit now with China and Europe more likely to seize the jobs and industrial benefits of this across key markets.” Luca Bergamaschi, executive director of the Italian climate think tank ECCO, said European nations are facing many of the same short-term economic challenges as the United States, but have continued to pursue long-term climate policies that will pay off over time. “Countries like Italy and Germany face similar inflation rates and high costs of living but are increasing their climate spending to lower the dependency on fossil fuels, which is a root cause of all these crises,” he said in an email. For all the attention on Manchin and what he ultimately will or won’t support, Adow said the Biden administration should also be doing more to pull every lever it can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid locking in new fossil fuel infrastructure. Biden’s administration opened the door Friday to more offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters “The truth is Biden can, and should, be doing a lot more. He’s been handing out drilling rights for fossil fuels in New Mexico and has laid the groundwork for drilling in Alaska,” he said. “The world needs the U.S. to show leadership on this issue. … We have other countries around the world working to reduce their emissions, and we need America to join the fight, not work against us.” This week’s apparent setback, which comes despite seemingly promising negotiations recently between Schumer and Manchin over a broad economic package that would incentivize renewable energy and put more electric vehicles on the road, underscores the crossroads that the nation faces on climate policy. That still unresolved choice could have huge implications, both for the nation’s financial future and for the world’s ability to slow the warming that fuels climate disasters. “While Europe and China vie to lead the global clean-energy economy, the U.S. Congress is threatening to abandon the race,” said Nat Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “These climate and clean-energy investments are not just crucial to meeting our nation’s climate goals. They are vital to America’s economic future,” he said. “Voters understand that, and express overwhelming support for clean energy. Businesses understand that as well, and are calling on Congress to invest. The Senate should heed those calls. Our nation’s future prosperity is in the balance.” Biden also seemed to recognize what lay in the balance last fall, when he spoke of the “profound questions” that face every world leader when it comes to climate change. “It’s simple: Will we act? Will we do what is necessary? Will we seize the enormous opportunity before us? Or will we condemn future generations to suffer?” he said then. “This is the decade that will determine the answer.”

China change undermining agriculture – higher temperatures, nutrition (from increased CO2), yields (quantifiable)

Fateh Veer Singh Guaram, July 15, 2022, Eco Business, Climate change drives down yields and nutrition of Indian crops,

As temperatures rise, the yields of food and cash crops in South Asia are expected to decline, putting pressure on food security in the region. India, home to 1.4 billion people, is ranked 101 out of 116 countries in the Global Hunger Index, indicating a serious problem. Scientists and researchers project that a 2.5 to 4.9 degrees Celsius increase in temperature across the country could lead to a decrease of 41 per cent-52 per cent in the wheat yield, and 32 per cent-40 per cent in rice. It is important to start thinking about crop diversification and focusing on diversified rice-based systems. Ranjitha Puskur, country representative for India, International Rice Research Institute Arun Joshi, the Asia representative at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) explained that climate change, while pushing up temperatures, also affects the availability of water through a decrease in seasonal rainfall and an increase in extreme rainfall events. “This is bound to affect crops like maize, too, which is sensitive to temperature and moisture,” he says, cautioning that global maize yields are expected to decline by as much as 24 per cent by 2030. The yields of crops like sugar cane and rice are also expected to decline. “The sudden increase in temperatures in March led to the sugar cane crop withering in many places. While we are expecting a decrease in yields of up to 30 per cent, we are also expecting a decrease in sugar content because of rising temperatures,” says VM Singh, a farmer and community leader from Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. India is among the largest producers of sugar cane in the world, with the industry impacting the livelihood of nearly 50 million farmers across the country. Rice presents a unique challenge. While rice yields are expected to decline due to rising temperatures, rice paddies are also among the biggest emitters of methane, a greenhouse gas. Several strategies are being adopted to limit methane emissions from rice paddies, as well as the amount of water used in cultivation. “A major source of methane emissions is the decomposition of fertilisers and crop residues in flooded rice cultivation. Inefficient application of nitrogen fertilisers promotes the release of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere,” says Ranjitha Puskur, the country representative for India at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). To combat this, IRRI developed the Rice Crop Manager. “This tool recommends just the right amount of fertiliser, which helps reduce emissions, saves costs for smallholder farmers and ensures soil health,” Puskur says. Stressing the importance of rice in the diet of millions across the globe, Puskur believes rice should be part of the solution, rather than being eliminated from cropping systems. “It is important to start thinking about crop diversification and focusing on diversified rice-based systems.” Declining nutrition Data is sparse on the effect that global warming and erratic rainfall might have on the nutritional quality of grains. However, experts agree that an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere will have an adverse effect, since elevated CO2 levels interfere with processes that are important for the synthesis of protein in plants. A decline in the nutritional quality of grains could exacerbate “hidden hunger”, a form of undernutrition where a person’s energy intake may be high enough, but their intake of nutrients like iron and zinc is so low that it affects their health and development negatively. Experiments in the United States, Japan and Australia revealed that concentrations of iron, zinc and protein decreased in wheat, rice, maize, peas and soya beans when they were exposed to elevated CO2 levels. Studies also indicate that, by 2050, nearly 140 million people across the world could be suffering from a zinc deficiency, while nearly 150 million could experience a protein deficiency. Puskur advocates the use of rice varieties high in zinc and iron. “We must also make the food plate more diverse to ensure nutrition security,” she says. Madhura Swaminathan, who chairs the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, concurs on the need for a more diverse diet which includes fruits and vegetables, but points out that “the fight against climate change, from a nutritional perspective, will be different in the west and in India”. “In the west, people are calling for meat consumption to reduce. However, in India, where per capita meat consumption is minuscule, we cannot have people foregoing the consumption of meat and eggs, since these are extremely important sources of nutrients.”

Agriculture production zones will shift to places crops can’t be grown and volatility in changing agriculture production will increase prices

Marina Leiva, July 15, 2022, Marina Leiva is a senior reporter at Investment Monitor, where she specialises in the agribusiness sector. Previously, she reported on institutional investments in the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal for MandateWire at the Financial Times. She started her career in Spain, covering international affairs for, Climate change and extreme weather events hang heavy over global breadbasket countries,

The compounded effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic have brought to light the vulnerabilities of global food supply chains, particularly in countries known as global ‘breadbaskets’. Joana Colussi, an academic researcher at the University of Illinois and collaborator on Farmdoc, a crop data programme designed by the university, adds that major agricultural producers are also having to contend with the effects of climate change, with extreme weather events such as La Niña in Brazil becoming more and more frequent. La Niña is a weather phenomenon that cools off the surface ocean water along the tropical west coast of South America and contributes to extreme weather events. “Meteorologists are forecasting a third consecutive year of La Niña,” she says. “The occurrence of two successive La Niña winters in the Northern Hemisphere is common; however, having three in a row is relatively rare. A triple La Niña has happened only twice since 1950. The last time La Nina was in place for three years in a row was from 1999 to 2001. “La Niña events [tend to bring] increased rainfall across northern Brazil and decreased rainfall in southern Brazil. This has been the case this year, with southern Brazil going deep into drought.” In the Brazilian 2021/22 crop season, which finished in June, soybean production reached 124 million tonnes, a decrease of 10% compared with the previous season, according to the National Supply Company, an agency within the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. “In the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul, the yields were 42% lower than last season,” says Colussi. “These three southern states represent 38% of national soybean production. On the plus side, Mato Grosso – the largest Brazilian soybean producer – and other states from the Brazilian mid-west, north and north-east had a record-breaking 2021–22 harvest.” Climate change having big impact on global breadbaskets Extreme weather events such as La Niña, and shifting climate patterns across the world, will likely translate into changes to global production yields and breadbaskets as growing conditions are affected. These changes will be advantageous to some countries while others will see their food production levels suffer, according to Alan Matthews, professor emeritus of European agricultural policy at Trinity College Dublin. “Because of global warming, a comparative advantage will shift from countries in the mid-latitudes where higher temperatures will have a larger adverse impact on yields, to higher latitudes where higher temperatures may favour food production; for example, Canada and Russia,” he says. However, Matthews stresses that “there is still great uncertainty about the magnitude of these impacts for different countries and crops across the different models [known as global gridded crop models] used to estimate these impacts”. In the case of the most grown cereal crop in the world, maize, Dr Florian Schierhorn, research associate at the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies, explains that its latest research shows that it is very likely maize yields will be under increasing pressure worldwide as a result of climate change. Maize yields are very likely to decrease “without adaption or big steps in technology”, he says. The three largest exporters of maize are located on the US continent – the US, Argentina and Brazil – followed by Ukraine. Schierhorn explains that in the case of wheat there are only a few breadbaskets that could – or are very likely – to benefit from higher temperatures. These would be in higher-altitude regions such as northern Canada, northern parts of the US or Russia, as well as some parts of the southern hemisphere such as Argentina. However, Schierhorn adds that vast tracts of these regions are not really croplands, “they are forests or unproductive agricultural lands and pastures”. This translates into a trade-off, as these areas might have suitable climate conditions, but if the forests are converted into cropland, this could in turn increase greenhouse gas emissions, as forests are better at capturing carbon. The consensus seems to be that as climate change advances, the world will have larger and more often extreme weather events, according to Nicholas Paulson, associate head of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois. From an agricultural perspective, what that brings into play is “just more risk, more uncertainty, which again, will manifest itself into more commodity price volatility”, he adds, explaining that this will lead to “periods of very high prices when we have natural disasters and poor growing conditions, and then periods of lower prices when we have good growing conditions and markets respond by producing large crops”. “We have seen that play out in markets, with the increased level of volatility for commodities such as corn, soybeans and wheat in the past few years,” says Paulson. “Obviously, part of that [volatility stems from the situation in Ukraine], but I think we are going to see more volatility moving forward due to climate change.”

Climate change will trigger gender violence

Adam Barnes, July 14, 2022, The Hill, How climate change could drive violence against women and minorities

Extreme weather events resulting from climate change can lead to an increase in gender-based violence, according to a recent study. “The review is quite consistent with what we know about disasters,” said Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards Vulnerability and Resilience Institute at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, who was not involved in the study. “Any kind of disaster, whether it is climate-related or not, disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable.” These weather events can erode critical infrastructure while exacerbating economic hardships, which can lead to violent and criminal behavior, the researchers said. The research focused on a final sample of 41 studies from 10 databases that focused on gender-based violence and their relation to natural disasters. Researchers found that extreme weather events were linked to various forms of domestic abuse ranging from physical and sexual assault to trafficking and forced marriage. The team, led by Kim van Daalen, who studies global public health at the University of Cambridge, cited 21st century disasters like Hurricane Katrina to highlight backlash against the LGBTQ+ community. “Sexual and gender minorities face specific and increased risks of gender-based violence, which are important to consider in gender-based violence policies, interventions and services,” van Daalen said. Van Daalen added that this review differed from previous studies because it included people from sexual and gender minorities who “are often neglected within research on gender-based violence.” Researchers acknowledged that the study carried an English language bias, but they said it is still important as it moved away from previous research that focused on social unrest brought on by weather disasters. “This review focuses on what happens at the micro-level. As gender violence affects millions of women and gender minorities around the world, it is really crucial to talk about violence at a smaller scale,” said Tobias Ide, who studies politics and international relations at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. “The causes for each of these problems differ greatly, and each one needs specific interventions,” he said.

Climate change causes blackouts

Anna Garrison, July 14, 2022, Green Matters, Climate Change and Power Blackouts Are Related — Here’s What You Need to Know,

Perhaps you are already familiar with the ways climate change is creating extreme weather conditions and supply chain shortages, but did you know that power blackouts are related to climate change as well? Here’s what you need to know about climate change, blackouts, and how we can work to prevent more blackouts in the future. How are blackouts related to climate change? According to a Department of Energy report on electrical grid reliability, 90 percent of power outages in the U.S. are due to failures in electrical distribution systems, typically due to weather damage to poles or wires. The most common way that electrical poles or wires are downed is due to extreme weather events, such as heat waves, blizzards, thunderstorms, and hurricanes. The growing number of extreme weather events due to climate change only further jeopardizes the current electrical systems in place. The Department of Energy says these extreme weather events have been “principal contributors” to blackouts. According to Climate Nexus, power grid issues dating back to 2011 show that fossil fuels, which frequently run power grids, are not immune to extreme weather. To no one’s surprise, fossil fuels are also part of the issue. A 2018 National Climate Assessment report suggests that “Flooding from heavy rainfall, storm surge, and rising high tides is expected to compound existing issues with aging infrastructure in the Northeast. Increased drought risk will threaten oil and gas drilling and refining, as well as electricity generation from power plants that rely on surface water for cooling.” The fossil fuel industry has started to spread misinformation related to power blackouts, insisting that failed renewable energy resources are the cause. However, this has been proven not to be the case, especially in events such as the Texas power grid failure in 2021 and rolling blackouts in California in 2020. How do we stop blackouts caused by climate change? The best way to stop blackouts from becoming more frequent is to take climate action. A 2021 report by Dartmouth Engineering suggests that renewable energy sources actually boost the resilience of power grids, also indicating it is possible to create power grids without the use of fossil fuels. Investing in renewable energy to support power grids and prevent blackout damage has already been realized in several states. For example, in February 2021, VICE reported that an investigation by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) discovered that “every energy source powering Texas’ grid, with the exception of solar power, underperformed compared to the capacity ERCOT expected it to be able to handle.” In short, relying more on solar power could lessen the damage if Texas’ power grid fails again. Another report from Utility Dive in 2021 suggested that, following the 2020 blackouts in California, the state’s energy authorities invested more heavily in renewable energy projects such as solar power to combat blackouts. NBC News also reported that nationally, the number of households purchasing solar panels and solar batteries was growing steadily due to the reliability of solar power during blackouts.

US military emissions mean no CO2 solvency

Martinson, July 14, 2022, Sue Ann Martinson is a member of WAMM’s End Military Madness Against the Earth action group and an associate member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27. She edits and publishes an online alternative news and news analysis source, Rise Up Times: Media for Justice and Peace (, Ignoring How Militarism Fuels Climate Change Will Be the Death of Us,

U.S. Military CO2 emissions make the U.S. #1 polluter worldwide. [Costs of War / Banner by Bruce Berry, Veterans for Peace] There’s a Pentagon-sized hole in President Biden’s plans to cut government CO2, carbon, and greenhouse gas emissions. Biden signed an executive order in January 2022 directing the government to reach 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050 in line with COP26 goals. It also calls for eliminating climate pollution from federal buildings and vehicles. As E&E News reports: “But the executive order exempts anything related to national security, intelligence, or military combat and training. That means Biden’s order covers only a fraction of federal emissions. While military leaders insist they share the president’s decarbonization goal there is no plan for them to meet it.” The military has actually done very little to decrease CO2 emissions and other pollutants, greenwashing their actions to end climate change. “Since 2001, the military has accounted for 77 to 80 percent of federal energy use, according to the Costs of War 2019 study released by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.” Costs of War Screen Shot 2022-06-10 at 6.00.38 PM.png In the April 2022 webinar “The Ecology of War,” Prof. Neta Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute and Prof. Alan Robock, co-director of the Rutgers Impact Studies of Climate Intervention (RISC) lab, discuss the role of the military in the climate crisis. Crawford says most technological innovations the military produce are only useful for military purposes: “I wouldn’t want the military leading us to the green transition that we need. Commercial, that is civilian technology, would be much better suited to making a rapid transition.” Prof. Robock elaborates: “There’s enough wind and sun on the earth to power the whole earth with solar panels and windmills, and we just need a little bit better storage and ways to transmit it. So we don’t need them to help, we need them to get out of the way and stop emitting CO2.” Neta Crawford goes on to say that “the climate crisis will kill people: it already is.” The solution to global warming is to leave the fossil fuels in the ground and switch as quickly as we can to renewable sources: “We are up against two massive power centers though, the fossil fuel industry and the military-industrial complex. They make lots of money and have armies of lobbyists going to Congress telling them other things and giving them money so that they can run for re-election. It’s very frustrating fighting against that, but that’s what we’re up against.” Addressing the climate crisis requires holding the military-industrial-congressional complex accountable and dismantling that complex, as well as holding President Biden accountable for exempting the military from cutting federal emissions. Michael T. Klare, a founder of the Committee for a Sane U.S.-China Policy whose latest book is “All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change,” offers a bleak view in TomDispatch of what will happen if we follow the warfare state instead of choosing to save the planet—a track the leaders of state are now pursuing instead of cooperating around the climate crisis. While Biden frames perpetual war as being about freedom and democracy, others see it as raw imperialism—as U.S. corporate wars of hegemony and empire—and continued oppression by the ruling elites to maintain their own power and profits at great expense to the poorer countries on earth in the Global South.

Global fragmentation kills science diplomacy

Tommy Shih, July 14, 2022, It’s getting harder for scientists to collaborate across borders, complicating climate change battle,

However, in the past few years, growing tensions among superpowers, increasing nationalism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have contributed to nations’ behaving in more distrustful and insular ways overall. One result is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for researchers to collaborate with scholars in other nations. The near-global cessation of collaboration with Russian scholars following the invasion of Ukraine—in everything from humanities research to climate science in the Arctic—is one example of science being a victim of—and used as a tool for—international politics. Scientific collaboration between China and the U.S. is also breaking down in fields like microelectronics and quantum computing because of national security concerns on both sides. I am a policy expert who studies international research collaboration as it relates to global problems and geopolitical polarization. I understand the need for democratic countries to respond to the the growing strength of authoritarian countries such as China and acute crises like the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But reducing or stopping international research comes with its own risks. It slows down the production of knowledge needed to address long-term global problems and reduces the potential for future scientific collaboration. Western concern of a rising China Generally speaking, there are three global superpowers competing for scientific and technological leadership today: the U.S., China and the European Union. The U.S. government and the European Union frame the loss of scientific and technological leadership as not only about diminished economic opportunities, but also as a threat to fundamental values of democracy, free market competition and rule of law. In May 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “China is the only country with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it. Beijing’s vision would move us away from the universal values that have sustained so much of the world’s progress over the past 75 years.” China’s rise in science and technology has been met with stern responses from the West. Australia passed legislation in 2020 that gave the federal government veto power over foreign agreements in research. In the U.S., the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 was designed to reduce dependence on China for emerging and foundational technologies…. Science as a tool of politics Given this framing of research as a part of international competition between China and the West, it is not surprising that science is increasingly being used as a political tool. The U.S. government has taken significant steps to try to limit China’s scientific progress and international influence. In 2018, the U.S. launched a large-scale anti-espionage effort called the China Initiative. Under this initiative, the FBI broadly investigated U.S.-Chinese links within the corporate and academic sectors. The China Initiative failed to find any Chinese spies. But three U.S.-based scholars were convicted for failing to disclose Chinese ties. The China Initiative has faced heavy criticism from researchers, university leaders and civil rights organizations because of claims of ethnic profiling. The Biden administration officially canceled the initiative in February 2022. But efforts to curtail China’s science and technology industries through trade sanctions on companies like Huawei restrict American companies from doing business with Chinese tech firms. The China Initiative and sanctions have also made researchers on both sides wary of collaboration. The European Union has taken a similar stance. It calls China simultaneously a partner, competitor and systemic rival. The EU has outlined goals of increasing European scientific and technological autonomy to reduce reliance on other countries, especially China, and started to implement the strategy in 2021. China is also using science, technology and scholarly research generally to serve national interests. The government has explicitly pushed the idea that research shall primarily serve national needs, and Chinese scholars are increasingly under political control. In 2021 there were 18 research centers devoted to studying and promoting Xi Jinping’s ideas on matters such as rule of law, economics and green development. Global consequences Many researchers in the U.S., Europe and China have voiced concerns that geopolitical rivalries are curtailing international research collaboration at a time when the world needs it the most. There is a major risk that the impediments to international scientific collaboration will further increase, further harming data sharing, the quality of research and the ability to disseminate results that contributing to solving problems. I often hear researchers, university leaders and funding agencies in Europe, the U.S. and China vent their frustration with the current situation. Many in the research community would like to see a more open and global science landscape. It is possible to work toward a future where science is more separate—but not naively isolated—from changing power dynamics. As issues like climate change increase in severity, it will become only more important that researchers build international relationships that are responsible, reciprocal, transparent and equitable.

There isn’t enough copper for a renewable energy transition

Maxime Joselow, July 14, 2022, Washington Post, Climate goals face major headwinds, two reports say,

Meanwhile, the S&P Global study highlights that global net-zero goals are heavily dependent on the supply of copper, which is essential to electric vehicle batteries, offshore wind turbines, solar cells and other green technologies. The report looks at two scenarios: a “rocky road” scenario in which current trends continue, and a “high ambition” scenario in which copper mines increase their output and countries ramp up their recycling of copper from discarded equipment. Under the “rocky road” scenario, the study predicts annual copper shortfalls of nearly 10 million metric tons in 2035. Even under the “high ambition” scenario, it projects a deficit of nearly 1.6 million metric tons in 2035. “People talk a lot about lithium and cobalt, but copper is the metal of electrification,” Dan Yergin, vice chairman of S&P Global and a co-author of the study, told The Climate 202. “And even under an optimistic scenario, we see a significant shortfall.” The looming copper shortage imperils not only governments’ climate pledges, but also automakers’ commitments to selling more electric vehicles, the study says. The average EV uses roughly 2½ times more copper than an existing internal combustion engine car, according to the analysis. “EVs are definitely the big drivers of the copper demand increase in the clean-energy transition,” Olivier Beaufils, director of energy transition consulting for S&P Global Commodity Insights and another co-author of the study, told The Climate 202.

Climate change causes war [Quantification: 400,000 additional deaths]

Malavika Vyawahare, July 13, 2022, Monaga Bay, limate change amplifies the risk of conflict, study from Africa shows

New research shows that climate change can amplify the risk of conflict by as much as four to five times in a 550-kilometer (340-mile) radius, with rising temperatures and extreme rainfall acting as triggers. Many countries most vulnerable to climate impacts are beset by armed conflicts, such as Somalia, which is grappling with widespread drought amid a decades-long civil war; the research suggests the country is trapped in a vicious cycle of worsening climatic disasters and conflict. Both too little rain and too much rain are triggers for conflict, the research finds: persistent rainfall failures increase instability over a broader geographic region while extreme rainfall increases the likelihood of confrontations over a smaller area and for a shorter time, the analysis suggests. The research underscores the importance of tackling climate change impacts and conflict mitigation together because misguided climate adaptation strategies can intensify existing tensions. In October 2021, the city of Guriel in Somalia’s Galguduud region became the epicenter of fierce fighting between the national army and a paramilitary group that left more than 100 people dead and displaced another 100,000. In November, the government declared a national emergency as drought intensified over 80% of the country, including in Galguduud. “You can run away from fighting, but you can’t escape from the drought,” Deeko Adan Warsame, head of the women’s council of Guriel, told an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official. New research from Africa shows that fighting may, in fact, follow droughts. This year, rains failed again in Somalia, the fourth time in two years. If drought conditions persist for three years, it significantly increases the risk of violent confrontations, a study in the journal Economía Política estimated. Climate change can amplify the risk of conflict by as much as four to five times in a 550-kilometer (340-mile) radius. Somalia, a coastal nation in the Horn of Africa, is one of the most vulnerable to climate impacts. In 2019, it was ranked 181st out of 182 countries on the University of Notre Dame’s ND-GAIN index, which ranks climate adaptation readiness. Of the 25 countries most at risk from climate change, most are already dealing with violent conflicts, according to the ICRC, which operates in conflict-wracked regions. There’s growing evidence that climatic change shapes the political landscape, but social scientists are still piecing together how. Researchers from Spain’s INGENIO Institute, the University of Rome III and the University of Urbino Carlo Bo in Italy dug into data from Africa from 1990 to 2016 in search of answers. They mapped how far the impact of climate change on conflict reached and how the risk is spread over time. Rainfall failures tend to impact a broader geographic area. Drier conditions cause widespread water and food shortages and sometimes force people to move. Somalia is particularly drought-prone, but severe droughts are now occurring with unrelenting frequency. In the past 15 years alone, the country was struck by three major droughts. In 2010-2011, the country witnessed its worst drought in 50 years. Then again, in 2016-17. At the same time, climate scientists expect Somalia to receive abundant annual rainfall in the coming years, occurring in short bursts of heavy showers. This year, too, downpours dumped rain that was lost as runoff without replenishing water sources or nourishing pastures. Instead, such intense rain spells often erode the soil. Excessive rainfall, especially during the growing season, can destroy local economies. However, the analysis found that the effects of flooding are more limited. It increases the susceptibility to conflict for a shorter time and over a smaller area. Climatic changes weigh heavily on human lives, but they aren’t often at the root of discord. Rather, they deepen existing tensions. Some pockets of the Sahel, the dry arid zone on the southern fringe of the Sahara Desert, are particularly volatile because the harsh, dry conditions can quickly become unbearable. Confrontations between pastoralists and settled farmers have erupted frequently because of competition for resources like land and water. Pastoral herding practices are molded by the availability of water and fodder. However, centuries-old traditions can falter in the face of significant shifts, like more frequent droughts and extreme, erratic rainfall. Herding routes are woven from past knowledge about water and pasture availability. When rains fail and known pasturelands wither, pastoralists are forced to venture farther from their traditional orbits. This displacement can bring them in contact with other nomadic groups with whom they don’t have long-standing ties. There are also many areas where herders and farmers live side by side. Where land rights are ill-defined, confrontations often break out. In Nigeria, tensions between Fulani herders, mostly Muslim, and predominantly Christian farmers aren’t rooted in environmental crises. However, shrinking land available for farming and grazing is exacerbating age-old frictions. The likelihood of conflicts is higher in areas where pastoralists and farmers live in close proximity, a report from 2020 found. A temperature rise of 1° Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) can lead to a 54% increase in the risk of conflict between farmers and herders. In areas where the two groups don’t cohabit, the risk falls to 17%. Pastoralists in Somalia Confrontations between pastoralists and settled farmers have erupted frequently because of competition for resources like land and water. Image via Rawpixel. In a vicious cycle, conflicts almost always reduce communities’ ability to cope with climate shocks. Armed conflicts inflict lasting damage, for example by destroying institutions and infrastructure that supply basic needs like water and health care. In the October attacks, Guriel’s main hospital was damaged and its second-biggest hospital destroyed. According to the ICRC, a borehole that provided water for thousands of people was left unusable. The new research shows that climate change’s toll is heavier than conventional estimates suggest. An increase in the conflict risk for sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 could lead to 393,000 additional deaths, a 2009 study reckoned. It also underscores the importance of tackling climate change and conflict mitigation together. Some strategies to ease climate-related pressures can feed social conflicts, for example when climate finance is directed to some groups and not others, or when NGOs provide alternatives to some communities and omit others.

Moral imperative to fight climate change

Juno Arocho Esteves, July 13, 2022, Catholic News Service, Humanity has ‘moral obligation’ to fight climate change, pope says,

The care of the environment and the fight against climate change is not a lofty goal for humanity but a moral imperative, Pope Francis said. The worsening climate crisis can no longer be ignored, and it is up to all human beings, who were entrusted by God as “stewards of his gift of his creation,” to act, the pope said in a message July 13 to participants at a Vatican conference on climate change. “Care for our common home, even apart from considerations of the effects of climate change, is not simply a utilitarian endeavor but a moral obligation for all men and women as children of God,” the pope said. “With this in mind, each of us must ask: ‘What kind of world do we want for ourselves and for those who will come after us?’” The July 13-14 conference, titled “Resilience of People and Ecosystems under Climate Stress,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. According to the academy’s website, the conference aimed to “bring researchers, policymakers and faith leaders together to understand the scientific and societal challenges of climate change and develop solutions for enabling resilient people and resilient ecosystems.” In his message, the pope said climate change has reached a state of emergency that not only reshapes “industrial and agricultural systems” but also negatively affects “the global human family, especially the poor and those living on the economic peripheries of our world.” “Nowadays we are facing two challenges: lessening climate risks by reducing emissions and assisting and enabling people to adapt to progressively worsening changes to the climate,” he said. “These challenges call us to think of a multi-dimensional approach to protecting both individuals and our planet.” Citing his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” the pope said addressing the climate crisis requires an “ecological conversion” marked by a “change of mentality and a commitment to work for the resilience of people and the ecosystems in which they live.” This conversion, he added, “has three important spiritual elements.” “The first entails gratitude for God’s loving and generous gift of creation. The second calls for acknowledging that we are joined in a universal communion with one another and with the rest of the world’s creatures. The third involves addressing environmental problems not as isolated individuals but in solidarity as a community,” the pope wrote. Religious, political, social and cultural leaders, he said, must work together to form “courageous, cooperative and farsighted efforts” to address the current crisis, including reducing emissions and providing technological assistance to poorer nations. Leaders also must ensure “access to clean energy and drinkable water,” commit to sustainable development and promote “sober lifestyles aimed at preserving the world’s natural resources and the provision of education and health care to the poorest and most vulnerable of the global population.” The pope also expressed concerns that the loss of biodiversity as well as wars in various countries around the world will “bring with them harmful consequences for human survival and well-being, including problems of food security and increasing pollution.” “These crises, along with that of the earth’s climate, show that ‘everything is connected’ and that promoting the long-term common good of our planet is essential to genuine ecological conversion,” he said. Pope Francis also said the Vatican’s recent accession to the Paris Agreement was approved in the hope that “humanity at the dawn of the 21st century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.” “In working together, men and women of good will can address the scale and complexity of the issues that lie before us, protect the human family and God’s gift of creation from climate extremes and foster the goods of justice and peace,” the pope said.

US CO2 production has caused hundreds of billions of damages in the developing world

Science, July 12, 2022, Climate change caused by wealthy nations creates harm for poorer, study says,

In calculations designed to help nations hurt by climate change get compensation for decades of carbon pollution from rich, high-emitting nations, researchers have calculated just how much losses and benefits each country has caused to others.

The new figures quantify what scientists, officials and activists have long called the inequity in national climate histories with the rich nations benefiting and the poor ones hurting from the production of greenhouse gas emissions. The two Dartmouth scientists behind the study published in Tuesday’s journal Climatic Change say it can be used in courtrooms and in long-contentious and unresolved international climate negotiations about payments from rich nations, that caused the problem with burning of coal, oil and gas, to poor ones, where the biggest damages are

For example, the data shows that the top carbon emitter over time, the United States, has caused more than $1.9 trillion in climate damage to other countries from 1990 to 2014, including $310 billion in damage to Brazil, $257 billion in damage to India, $124 billion to Indonesia, $104 billion to Venezuela and $74 billion to Nigeria. But at the same time, the United States’ own carbon pollution has benefited the U.S. by more than $183 billion, while Canada, Germany and Russia have profited even more from American emissions. “Do all countries look to the United States for restitution? Maybe,” said study co-author Justin Mankin, a Dartmouth College climate scientist. “The U.S. has caused a huge amount of economic harm by its emissions, and that’s something that we have the data to show.” Developing nations have convinced rich nations to promise to financially help them decarbonize for the future, but haven’t been able to get restitution for damage already caused, a term called “loss and damage” in global climate talks. In those negotiations, the biggest carbon emitters, like the United States and China have had a “veil of deniability” that their actions caused specific damages, said study lead author Christopher Callahan, a climate impacts researcher at Dartmouth. This lifts that veil, he said. “Scientific studies such as this groundbreaking piece show that high emitters no longer have a leg to stand on in avoiding their obligations to address loss and damage,” said Bahamian climate scientist Adelle Thomas of Climate Analytics, who wasn’t part of the study. She said recent studies “increasingly and overwhelmingly show that loss and damage is already crippling developing countries. While carbon emissions have been tracked for decades on the national levels and damages have been calculated, Callahan and Mankin said this is the first study to connect all the dots from the countries producing the emissions to countries affected by it. The studies also tallies benefits, which are mainly seen in northern countries like Canada and Russia, and rich nations like the U.S. and Germany. “It’s the countries that have emitted the least that are also the ones that tend to be harmed by increases in global warming. So that double inequity to me is kind of a central finding that I want to emphasize,” Callahan said. To do the study, first Callahan looked at how much carbon each nation emitted and what it means for global temperatures, using large climate models and simulating a world with that country’s carbon emissions, a version of the scientifically accepted attribution technique used for extreme weather events. He then connected that to economic studies that looked at the relationship between temperature rise and damage in each country. “We can actually fingerprint U.S. culpability on Angola’s economic outcomes,” Mankin said. After the U.S. the countries that caused most damage since 1990 — a date researchers chose because that’s when they say a scientific consensus formed and nations no longer had an excuse to say they didn’t know about global warming — are China ($1.8 trillion), Russia ($986 billion), India ($809 billion) and Brazil ($528 billion), study authors figured. Just the United States and China together caused about one-third of the world’s climate damage. The five nations that were hit the most in overall dollars were Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia, but that’s because they had the biggest economies of nations in the most vulnerable hot zone. But the countries that took the biggest hit based on GDP are the UAE, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Mali, Callahan said. Brazil and India are also among the countries that produce the most emissions and damage and haven’t filed lawsuits to try to get repaid for climate damages. The question of fairness over which countries make sacrifices and how to prepare for and repair climate impacts as the global community tries to slow warming has become more significant in recent international climate talks. Some nations, local communities and climate activists have called for the largest historical carbon emitters to pay ” climate reparations ” for the damage their economic gain has caused countries and communities that have already been negatively affected by systems of oppression, like colonialism and slavery. This study adds momentum to this idea, some in the climate in the community told The Associated Press. “In this sense, the study reinforces arguments regarding loss and damage that are gaining traction” in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Nikki Reisch, director of the climate and energy program for the Center for International Environmental Law, told the AP. There has been push back at the international level from high-emissions countries about paying for loss and damages who worry that poor countries are not going to use climate finance as intended. Still, Mankin said he hopes the study empowers “the powerless and in the face of global climate change.” But others in the climate community who have read the study said that more than information is needed to ensure that those most affected by climate change are compensated for their losses. The information and data in the study are valuable, they said, but it will take pressuring those responsible for shaping climate policy to actually get the richer nations to pay for the damage they’ve caused poorer nations.

Climate change destroys Africa’s biodiversity 

Sustainable Planet, July 12, 2022, Climate change: A threat to Africa’s biodiversity,

A research team, including PhD student Carola Martens, from Senckenberg and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, has investigated how climate change could pose a threat to Africa’s biodiversity. In this study, scientists demonstrate where these environmental impacts may coincide with population growth and land-use changes. According to their simulations, biodiversity in almost all protected areas will be threatened by at least one of these factors by the end of the 21st century. This study was recently published in the journal Conservation Biology. The importance of protecting Africa’s biodiversity African elephants, white rhinoceros, leopards, Cape buffalos, and lions – also known as the ‘big five’ – are symbolic of Africa’s unique wildlife. “Africa’s protected areas harbour far greater biodiversity than just these five iconic animals. They are the last strongholds of the continent’s unique biodiversity,” explained Carola Martens, from Senckenberg’s Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and Goethe University, Frankfurt. “However, this diversity is threatened by climate change, population growth, and future land-use changes.” Martens and her colleagues Professor Dr Thomas Hickler from Senckenberg’s Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F), Dr Simon Scheiter SBiK-F, and Professor Dr Guy F. Midgley from Stellenbosch University have studied the threat to Africa’s biodiversity, including future impacts of climate change in Africa’s protected areas, incorporating population density and land utilisation, for two scenarios up to the end of the 21st century. Their modelling study intends to demonstrate where the three factors will be important in the coming decades and where they may interact, which researchers expect will support meaningful conservation planning. “Climate change is increasingly threatening biodiversity as vegetation zones and habitats change for many species. In addition, the growing world population combined with globally rising living standards requires more and more land for food production, to meet the rising demand for meat, and for bioenergy. We can only halt biodiversity loss if we understand the interactions between climate change, population growth, and land use,” noted Martens. The simulations were conducted utilising the adaptive dynamic global vegetation model (ADGVM) for two scenarios: The ‘middle-of-the-road’ scenario, where in which current societal developments continue and some climate change mitigation measures are adopted, and the ‘fossil-fuelled development’ scenario. In the latter scenario, social and economic development is based on the increased exploitation of fossil fuel resources with a high coal content and an energy-intensive lifestyle worldwide. Additionally, the researchers analysed global scenarios for the development of the human population and of land utilisation. “The results demonstrate that in both scenarios, tree cover generally increases in today’s grasslands and savannas in Africa. For protected areas in West Africa, our analyses revealed climate-induced vegetation change combined with high future population and land-use pressures,” said Martens. “Only for North Africa, we expect that a large share of protected areas to be without vegetation changes in combination with decreased pressure from population and land use – generally, the pressure on protected areas is therefore increasing.” According to the study, the ‘fossil-fuelled development’ scenario resulted in greater climate-induced changes in tree cover and higher land-use pressure at the continental scale, while the ‘middle-of-the-road’ scenario was characterised by higher future population pressure. 

Space Bubbles climate counterplan

Joshua Hawkins, July 9, 2022, MIT scientists think they’ve discovered how to fully reverse climate change,

Scientists at MIT think they may have finally found a way to reverse climate change. Or, at the least, help ease it some. The idea revolves heavily around the creation and deployment of several thin film-like silicon bubbles. The “space bubbles” as they refer to them, would be joined together like a raft. Once expanded in space it would be around the same size as Brazil. The bubbles would then provide an extra buffer against the harmful solar radiation that comes from the Sun. The goal with these new “space bubbles” would be to ease up or even reverse climate change. The Earth has seen rising temperatures over the past several centuries. In fact, NASA previously released a gif detailing how the global temperature has changed over the years. Now, we’re seeing massive “mouths to hell” opening in the permafrost. There’s also the fact that scientists just discovered yet another hole in the Earth’s ozone layer. As such, finding ways to ease or reverse climate change continues to be a high priority for many. This new plan is based on a concept first proposed by astronomer Roger Angel. Angel originally suggested using a “cloud” of small spacecraft to shield the Earth from the Sun’s radiation. Researchers at MIT have taken that same basic concept and improved it, though, by changing out inflatable silicon bubbles for the spacecraft that Angel originally proposed. Being able to reverse climate change would be a huge step in the right direction. Shielding the Earth from the Sun’s radiation would only be one part of it, though. We’d still need to cut down on other things, too. But how exactly what a “raft” of space bubbles shield Earth from the Sun’s radiation? Well, the basic idea requires sending the bubbles to the L1 Lagrangian Point. This is the location directly between the Earth and the Sun where gravity from both our star and our planet cancels out. As such, the space bubbles would theoretically be able to just float without much pull from either body. The researchers say we’d probably still need to put some kind of spacecraft out there to help keep things on track. But, it could give us a good chance at reversing climate change, or at least slowing down the changes. It is important to note that MIT does not view this as an alternative solution to our current adapt and mitigate efforts. Instead, it’s a backup solution meant to help if things spin out of control.

NASA did not say climate change is caused by changes in the Earth’s orbit

Josh Kelety, July 7, 2022, AP, NASA did not attribute climate change to the Earth’s orbit,

CLAIM: NASA admitted that climate change is due to the Earth’s orbit around the sun, not greenhouse gas emissions. AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. NASA has not made such a determination, a spokesperson for the agency told The Associated Press. The agency agrees with the scientific consensus that climate change is driven by greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. THE FACTS: A blog post falsely claiming that NASA has acknowledged in the past that climate change is being caused by the Earth’s “solar orbit,” not human activity like consuming fossil fuels, has spread widely on social media in recent days. The blog post, which is dated August 2019, claims that NASA has known for decades that changes to “planetary weather patterns are completely natural and normal.” The post stated that, in 1958, NASA “first observed” that changes in the “solar orbit of the earth, along with alterations to the earth’s axial tilt, are both responsible for what climate scientists today have dubbed as ‘warming’.” The AP has previously debunked similar claims made in 2019. The false claims from the blog post reemerged on social media this week. “NASA admits climate change occurs because of changes in Earth’s solar orbit, not because of SUVs and fossil fuels,” stated one tweet shared over 15,000 times. NASA has reached no such conclusion, Tylar Greene, a spokesperson for the agency, confirmed. “I am not aware of any official NASA statement or announcement making that claim or determination,” Greene wrote in an email to the AP. “The information in this post isn’t accurate.” “Scientists are confident Earth’s recent warming is primarily due to human activities — specifically, the direct input of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere from burning fossil fuels or other anthropogenic activities,” Greene added. The past eight years are the warmest years since modern record keeping began in 1880, he noted. The 2019 blog post asserted that climate change is explained by a theory promoted by the Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch about how changes in the Earth’s solar orbit affect the planet’s climate in the long-term. But Greene wrote that “Milankovitch cycles,” which include the angle of the Earth’s axis, the direction that Earth’s spin axis is pointed, and the shape of the Earth’s orbit, don’t account for climate change.

World heading for 2.7 degree climate change

Feffer, June 29, 2022, John Feffer, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands and the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. Frostlands, a Dispatch Books original, is volume two of his Splinterlands series, and the final novel in the trilogy, Songlands, has only recently been published. He has also written Right Across the World: The Global Networking of the Far-Right and the Left Response, CHINA WILL DECIDE THE OUTCOME OF RUSSIA VERSUS THE WEST,

In another three years, carbon emissions must hit their peak and, in the next eight years, countries must cut their carbon emissions by half if there’s any hope of meeting the goals of the Paris climate accord by 2050. Even before the current war, the most comprehensive estimate put the rise in global temperature at a potentially disastrous 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century (nearly twice the 1.5 degree goal of that agreement).

Can’t solve – Ukraine war, China, Russia, Europe

Feffer, June 29, 2022, John Feffer, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of the dystopian novel Splinterlands and the director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. Frostlands, a Dispatch Books original, is volume two of his Splinterlands series, and the final novel in the trilogy, Songlands, has only recently been published. He has also written Right Across the World: The Global Networking of the Far-Right and the Left Response, CHINA WILL DECIDE THE OUTCOME OF RUSSIA VERSUS THE WEST,

The war in Ukraine is propelling the world full tilt in the opposite direction. China and India are, in fact, increasing their use of coal, the worst possible fossil fuel in terms of carbon emissions. Europe is desperate to replace Russian oil and natural gas and countries like Greece are now considering increasing their own production of dirty energy. In a similar fashion, the United States is once again boosting oil and gas production, releasing supplies from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and hoping to persuade oil-producing nations to pump yet more of their product into global markets. With its invasion, in other words, Russia has helped to derail the world’s already faltering effort at decarbonization. Although last fall Putin committed his country to a net-zero carbon policy by 2060, phasing out fossil fuels now would be economic suicide given that he’s done so little to diversify the economy. And despite international sanctions, Russia has been making a killing with fossil-fuel sales, raking in a record $97 billion in the first 100 days of battle. All of this could suggest, of course, that Vladimir Putin represents the last gasp of the failed petropolitics of the twentieth century. But don’t count him out yet. He might also be the harbinger of a future in which technologically sophisticated politicians continue to pursue their narrow political and regional aims, making it ever less possible for the world to survive climate change.

Climate change destroys kids’ health

Tara Law, June 17, 2022, Time, How Climate Change and Air Pollution Affect Kids’ Health,

Climate change affects everyone, but especially children. Their small bodies—and the fact that they grow so rapidly, starting from the time they’re in utero—make them more vulnerable to toxins, pollution, and other climate-change fallout. Over their lifetimes, kids also face greater exposure to the damage of climate change than adults.

A new scientific review article published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows just how dangerous climate-related threats are to children’s health. The researchers analyzed data about the specific effects of a rapidly warming planet and found that climate change, driven in large part by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, harms children’s mental and physical health from the time they are in the womb through childhood—with potentially lifelong effects. These dangers threaten many aspects of children’s health, from the development of their lungs, to their intellectual ability, to their mental health. Socially and economically disadvantaged children are especially affected, but all children are at risk. “It’s not just polar bears on melting icebergs,” says study co-author Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. “There is direct harm, now, to children’s health—and certainly their future is being jeopardized in a major way.”

Policies that shift countries away from fossil fuels to renewable, more efficient sources of energy are likely to improve kids’ health, the study authors say. Health professionals should also acknowledge and learn about the health risks of climate change to better help their young patients. “We know how to do it; we know alternatives, and they’re working in different countries,” Perera says. “We just have to speed the process up…and put into effect the solutions we know work.”

Here are three big threats that stem from climate change and threaten all children around the world, according to the new research.

Polluted air

Air pollution affects children’s health in many ways. Through exposure to polluted air, children breathe in fine particulate matter created when cars, factories, and other sources burn fossil fuels. Air-pollution exposure to the fetus during a mother’s pregnancy has also been linked to low birth weight, premature births and stillbirths; scientists hypothesize that may be because air pollution can result in inflammation that makes it hard for nutrition to get to the fetus, says Dr. Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician and interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (who was not involved in the new study). “Particulate pollution is a source of infant death, including stillbirth and death in infancy,” says Bernstein. Air pollution can also harm children’s lung growth and functioning, and put them at higher risk for conditions like respiratory infections, bronchitis and asthma.

Other research suggests that air pollution can adversely affect children’s minds starting in utero. An expecting mother’s exposure to air pollution particles “can be directly toxic to the developing brain” of her fetus, says Perera. “They are able to traverse the placenta.” One research review published in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology in 2020 includes numerous studies that link exposure to air pollution to lower cognitive function in children. Other research has found associations between exposure to pollution and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Pollutants also contribute to climate change—which, in turn, increases air pollution by fueling many of the conditions that cause wildfires, including heat and drought. And higher temperatures are thought to contribute to the development of ozone, a pollutant that harms the lungs and worsens conditions like asthma.

Less nutritious food

Climate change is undermining one of the central building blocks for growing children: healthy food. Extreme weather events that destroy food crops, including drought, flooding, and higher temperatures, are becoming more common. These can drive up the price of food and make it scarcer. Even when children have enough food, they still may not have adequate nutrients; emerging research shows that high carbon dioxide levels may make food less nutritious.

Getting enough calories and essential nutrients is central to ensuring kids grow up healthy. If kids are under-nourished, “their brains don’t develop normally,” says Bernstein. “It affects every organ.”

Global hunger is already very common and experts predict it will get worse. In 2021, about 193 million people were acutely food insecure—which the United Nations defines as food inadequacy that endangers lives or livelihoods—and about 26 million children were suffering from wasting, a condition in which kids don’t have enough weight for their height, according to the World Food Programme.

More trauma

A world altered by climate change is more dangerous for children. Famines, drought, and extreme weather events are becoming more common as a result of climate change, as are the violent interpersonal conflicts that such disasters tend to generate; for instance, climate change-driven drought is thought to have contributed to the outbreak of the 2011 war in Syria. On a hotter planet, children are more likely to be exposed to trauma, including displacement; globally, about 2.4 million children were displaced by natural disasters alone in 2021, according to UNICEF.

Living through major trauma as a child is thought to increase risk for both mental illnesses like depression as well as physical conditions such as cancer, asthma, and stroke. Stress in expecting mothers can also harm their fetus’ cognitive development.

“If your house gets burned down or flooded by a hurricane, if you’re impoverished because your family’s livelihood has been destroyed by drought—these are adverse childhood events,” says Bernstein, “and they can accumulate and exact harms across the lifespan.”

Current global climate commitments are a farce

Zelikow, July/August 22, PHILIP ZELIKOW is Professor of History at the University of Virginia. A former U.S. diplomat and Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, he has worked for five presidential administrations., The Hollow Order: Rebuilding an International System That Works,

In the 30 years since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the problem of how countries can source, supply, and pay for energy has become a defining planetary challenge. The main international response has been a wide commitment to decarbonization, expressed in international pledges. But these pledges are a façade. As the International Energy Agency recently pointed out, most of them are not underpinned by substantive policies, and if they were, they would still not be nearly enough to stop climate change. (Even Europe, the loudest voice for a green transition, has spent the last decade becoming more dependent on fossil fuels, particularly from Russia.) The world’s response to climate change, then, has been the geopolitical equivalent of a masque: a form of sixteenth-century aristocratic court entertainment, a dramatic performance featuring poetry and dumb allegorical shows, usually culminating in a ceremonial dance joined by the spectators.

Green tech mineral needs shift energy dependence to China

Zelikow, July/August 22, PHILIP ZELIKOW is Professor of History at the University of Virginia. A former U.S. diplomat and Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, he has worked for five presidential administrations., The Hollow Order: Rebuilding an International System That Works,

Even the energy transition will not, by itself, stabilize the planet. It will shift dependence from fossil fuels to an even more pronounced reliance on certain metals used in green technology. In the relevant geology, mining, and mineral processing, China and Russia are in paramount positions. In the absence of any concerted action, the world is therefore trending toward addiction, and financial flows, to those new sources—China above all—in its carbon-free dreams. The architects of this system have done little to prevent such addiction.

US needs to work with allies to meet mineral needs and transition away from fossil fuels

Zelikow, July/August 22, PHILIP ZELIKOW is Professor of History at the University of Virginia. A former U.S. diplomat and Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, he has worked for five presidential administrations., The Hollow Order: Rebuilding an International System That Works,

The invasion of Ukraine has also highlighted the need for more decisive, concerted action on the world’s transition to clean energy. More than any other event since the Iranian revolution of 1979, the war spotlights the danger of relying too much on particular supplies of fossil fuels. Europe should end its dependence on Russian oil, gas, and coal as quickly as it can. At the global level, policymakers will need to boost fossil fuel supplies from more dependable sources in the short term, but they should treat these sources as “transition assets” (to quote the energy experts Jason Bordoff and Meghan O’Sullivan) that will be quickly wound down as governments embrace the transition. The switch to greener sources will need to include a renewed commitment to advanced forms of nuclear energy. The energy transition will require much more concerted work to find, extract, and process diverse and secure supplies of the minerals needed for renewable sources. Both the United States and Europe know that they cannot let vital supply chains such as these operate according to market forces alone, since these markets have been distorted by vast Chinese state projects that operate with limited regard for the environment and for workers. Countries that regard each other as secure sources—and that accept the cost burdens of sustainable production—must form their own supply network with its own commercial system and pricing. Such a plan requires strong international participation. No country alone can source and process the metals needed for the transition to carbon-free energy. Such trading among partners, or “friend shoring,” as U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen put it, is far preferable to the “Buy American” public procurement requirements that Washington has put in place to placate protectionists. Indeed, the United States is not self-sufficient with regard to almost any major global commodity. In this time of crisis, Americans may be tempted by the idea of a “Fortress America”—in which they bring all production onshore—but that is an illusion. The United States needs and benefits from production chains that run through other countries, whether for mineral resources or medical supplies. It needs to rebuild export markets shriveling from past trade war rhetoric and present interest-rate policies that boost an overvalued dollar. The best way to cope with deglobalization is to reglobalize among friends. As major firms operating around the world rethink their business models, the free world should create structures to help these companies see new opportunities.

Climate change causes severe weather changes

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

Both climate change and biodiversity loss are already causing severe impacts for people. Average global temperatures have risen by 1.2C since the start of the industrial era, while CO2 in the atmosphere is at its highest level in at least two million years, according to the world’s climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This has caused an increase in weather and climate extremes in every world region, the IPCC says. Just under half of the world’s population – 3.6 billion people – already live in settings “highly vulnerable to climate change”. Human-caused climate change is already influencing the severity of extreme events, such as heatwaves, floods and wildfires. For example, the deadly heat sweeping India and Pakistan in 2022 was made 30 times more likely by climate change. In addition, extreme flooding in western Europe in 2021, which killed 220 people in Germany and Belgium, was made up to nine times more likely by climate change.

Food for 1.5 billion will be lost if temperatures hit 1.5C

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

Depending on what actions humanity takes to tackle climate change, 50-75% of the global population could face “life-threatening” extreme heat by the end of the century, the IPCC says. Tropical coral reefs, which provide food or income to half a billion people, are projected to disappear if temperatures exceed 1.5C, the aspiration of the Paris Agreement.

The world’s most marginalised communities are suffering disproportionately from the impacts of climate change. This is despite the fact that most emissions come from a wealthy few. Carbon Brief analysis shows the US and Europe have together produced nearly half of all the CO2 that has been released into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial era.

Climate change the leading driver of biodiversity loss

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

While climate change is already having a far-reaching impact on biodiversity, this effect is expected to become far larger as temperatures continue to rise. Research published in 2018 estimated that climate change will overtake human land use to become the greatest pressure on biodiversity by 2070. According to the IPCC, it is likely that the proportion of all species at very high risk of extinction (categorised as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List) will reach 9% (maximum 14%) at 1.5C, 10% (18%) at 2C, 12% (29%) at 3C, 13% (39%) at 4C and 15% (48%) at 5C, the report says. The large uncertainty in the proportion of species facing extinction at different levels of warming reflects the fact that scientists are only just beginning to understand the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, says Dr Alex Pigot, a research fellow at UCL’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research. He tells Carbon Brief: “Overexploitation, hunting and land-use change have been happening for millennia. There’s no doubt that those are the biggest drivers of biodiversity loss currently. And they will continue to be major problems unless we have policy that is properly implemented to curb those. “The thing about climate change is we’re really only just starting to see the impacts emerging. The question is now, as we add another one or two degrees of warming, how do we expect losses or risks to biodiversity to increase from climate change? Are we just going to see a steady linear increase? Or are we going to see tipping points where, beyond a certain level of warming, we start to see this rapid escalation of risk?” In addition to driving species extinction, future climate change risks causing abrupt changes to entire ecosystems, says Pigot – noting that this is already occurring in some habitats, such as the Great Barrier Reef. He tells Carbon Brief: “What’s really scary is how quickly climate change can drive these systems into different states. That’s not something that’s going to be captured well by looking at extinction risk assessments now, partly because these are only one aspect of the problem. But also, I think we just don’t have a very good handle on the kind of the different limits that species and ecosystems might have and how quickly we can potentially exceed this.” Research published by Pigot in 2020 projected that, under a very high emissions scenario, tropical ocean ecosystems could be exposed to potentially catastrophic temperature rise by 2030, with tropical forests facing the same by 2050. By comparison, taking action this decade in order to limit global warming to below 2C by 2100 could delay the date of exposure by up to six decades, according to the research.

Afforestation and carbon capture programs threaten biodiversity

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

As well as demonstrating how some measures could effectively tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss, the diagram (above) also illustrates how some efforts to tackle warming could pose a risk to nature. Both large-scale tree-planting (afforestation) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) are land-based climate mitigation techniques that could pose risks to biodiversity. Afforestation differs from natural ecosystem restoration because it focuses on rapid tree growth over native habitat recovery, with some afforestation programmes relying on monoculture plantations made up of a fast-growing tree species. BECCS is a still-emerging technique involving growing crops, burning them in a power plant to generate energy and then capturing the resulting CO2 before it is released into the air. All scenarios for how the world can limit global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels rely to some degree on afforestation or BECCS. However, scientists have raised concerns that both techniques, if poorly implemented, could risk worsening biodiversity loss further by taking up large areas of land. For example, a study published in 2018 found that rolling out BECCS on a scale large enough to keep temperatures at 2C could pose such a large risk to land species that any benefit from reducing climate change would be cancelled out. Both large-scale tree-planting and BECCS could pose a serious threat to biodiversity – but this could be mitigated if they are used cautiously, says Smith: “You can do things for climate change that aren’t necessarily good for biodiversity – such as if you did a massive expansion of forestry the size of Brazil, for example, which has been suggested by some people – then you’re going to start to push up against some of those constraints. “BECCS is another example. At very large scales, BECC could be compromising biodiversity, but at small scales even that can be [beneficial] for biodiversity. You just have to make sure we make smart decisions about the way we implement these things.” For large-scale tree-planting, there is a danger that future climate change could threaten their ability to absorb CO2, adds Pigot: “No one who is sensible would argue that tree-planting is a sufficient mitigation method. It could certainly be part of the kind of package of approaches. I think that the issue is actually whether all the trees we are planting are going to be able to survive the coming decades where we need them to be storing this carbon. And I think that’s where we need to do a lot more research to try to identify which species are going to be resilient to future climate change.”

Large scale renewable development threatens biodiversity

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

The diagram also illustrates how hydropower and other forms of low-carbon energy could come with risks for biodiversity. Smith explains: “Using more hydroelectric means that we need to flood areas and create dams. And that can be bad for biodiversity. So there are some negative impacts which need to be traded off. But, by and large, if we’re smart, we can design systems that deliver co-benefits for biodiversity and climate.” There are also fears that rapid rollout of renewable power needed for the world to limit global warming to 1.5C could also pose a risk to biodiversity. One reason for this is, if deployed on a very large scale, wind and solar power would take up vast areas of land. And research suggests that, globally, there is overlap between biodiverse regions and areas with high wind and solar potential.

Biodiversity key to human survival

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

The loss of biodiversity across the world is also having a major impact on people. While many people associate the term “biodiversity” with iconic species and tropical forests, it actually covers much more than this, explains Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, a senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology. She tells Carbon Brief: “Biodiversity is everything that defines our living world. It’s not only species – it’s ecosystems, it’s habitats, it’s the genetic make-up of individuals. It’s how communities assemble to be something bigger than the sum of their parts.” The variety of living things found on Earth is crucial to human survival, explains Dr Charlie Outhwaite, a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London. She tells Carbon Brief: “It’s not just nice to have biodiversity on the planet, it also provides a lot of important things. Thinking about the food system, biodiversity is important for the pollination of crops, for maintaining nutrients in the soil and for maintaining water quality that we need to water crops. If we lose biodiversity, we lose a lot of the stuff we rely on as people.”

Biodiversity loss destroys the economy

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

This biodiversity loss has consequences for people. An estimated $44tn – roughly half the world’s annual economic output – is currently being put at risk by the depletion of natural resources, according to the UNCCD. The loss of pollinator species specifically threatens global crops worth $577bn, IPBES says.

Biodiversity loss destroys indigenous people

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

In addition, marginalised groups today play a disproportionate role in protecting the world’s biodiversity. For example, Indigenous peoples represent around 6% of the global population, yet act as stewards over 40% of intact ecosystems and protected areas.

Climate-induced biodiversity loss is causing species migration and new zoontic diseases

Daisy Dunne, June 16, 2022, Explainer: Can climate change and biodiversity loss be tackled together?,

The IPCC’s most recent assessment of the impacts of climate change concluded that warming has already caused “substantial damages and increasing irreversible losses to land ecosystems across every region of the world”. Hayhoe tells Carbon Brief: “The climate is changing faster now than any time in the history of humans on this planet. And it’s changing faster than all plant and animal species that currently exist have ever experienced as well. So climate change is a threat multiplier for biodiversity.” As temperatures increase and rainfall changes, some species are being forced to seek out new areas with climate conditions they are able to tolerate. (Species that are not able to move could face extinction.) A scientific review of 40,000 species across the world published in 2008 found that around half are already on the move as a result of changing climate conditions. In general, species are seeking cooler temperatures by moving towards Earth’s poles. Land animals are moving polewards at an average rate of 10 miles per decade, whereas marine species are moving at a rate of 45 miles per decade, according to the review. This global movement of species in response to warming will have far-reaching consequences for ecosystems, explains Prof Hans-Otto Poertner, head of biosciences at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and co-chair of the IPCC’s climate impacts assessment. He tells Carbon Brief: “It’s habitat modification – by the warming climate making species move to higher altitudes, higher latitudes or deeper waters. This does not happen to the same extent for all species. So we’re getting new ecosystems. The projection is that this leads to a decline in species numbers, abundance and overall biomass.” The reshuffling of ecosystems could be creating new risks, including increased opportunities for animals to spread their viruses, according to recent research. Increased virus sharing between animals could in turn boost the chances of a “zoonotic spillover” – the passing of harmful pathogens from animals to humans.

No transition to renewable energy now

Matt McGrath, June 15, 2022, Climate change: Green energy ‘stagnates’ as fossil fuels dominate,

A new study says that the world is using more fossil fuels than ever as the transition to green energy stalls. The Renewables 2022 Global Status Report says the share of wind and solar in the global energy mix has risen minimally in the last decade. While renewables boomed in the electricity sector last year, they didn’t meet the overall rise in demand. In transport, which accounts for a third of energy, renewables provided less than 4%. Their 17th annual status report draws on over 600 experts to produce a snapshot of what is really happening in terms of renewable energy. The study says that the transition to renewables, in essence, has stalled. The use of coal, oil and gas continues to dominate total energy consumption. “And since the energy demand is rising, this actually means that we are consuming more fossil fuels than ever.” As the world rebounded from Covid-19 in 2021, there was a significant rise in overall energy use, most of which was met by fossil fuels. This resulted in a major rise in carbon emissions, which increased globally by around 2 billion tonnes. Since then, as supplies have struggled to keep up with demand, the prices of oil, gas and coal have risen sharply. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added to the uncertainty and seen governments scampering to find alternative sources. As energy prices have risen for consumers, some countries, including the UK, have imposed new taxes on the profits made by oil and gas producers. However, many nations have also enacted new subsidies for fossil fuels. “We’re spending globally $11m per minute on subsidising fossil fuel. In 2020, this was 7% of the global GDP,” said Rana Adib. “This obviously creates a system which is unbalanced, because even though renewable energy is an economic alternative to fossil fuels, it’s not playing in a fair market.” While renewable energy had reached 10% of global electricity production in 2021, the problems lie in challenging areas such as transport. Cars, lorries, ships and airplanes account for 32% of total final energy consumption, but green energy only had a 3.7% share last year. According to Rana Adib, the slow progress underlines the critical importance of policies in moving markets and attitudes. “The reality is with a ban of the internal combustion engine, there’s a regulatory obligation to move away from this, so we see a trend in electric mobility, which is ramping up in quite an exponential way, and I think this is quite encouraging.” There’s also been a lack of progress on the political promises made at COP26, the big international climate conference last year. Growing crops in the shade of solar panels is termed agrivoltaics While 135 countries had net zero emissions targets for 2050 in the run up to the meeting in Glasgow, only 84 had economy-wide targets for renewables. But that was before the world changing events of the past six months. The surging prices of energy mean governments are now reaching for every tool to ease the burden on their citizens. And that could possibly see a big rise in spending on greener sources, as they are not just much cheaper than fossil fuels, they are more attractive for other reasons as well. “The energy transition is our lifeline,” said Teresa Ribera, a vice president in Spain’s government. “It will enable innovative business models and forms of organisation, transform value chains, redistribute economic power and shape governance in new, more people-centred ways. “With the right investments in technology, renewables are the only energy sources offering every country in the world a chance for greater energy autonomy and security.”

Climate change disproportionately impacts the disadvantaged and racial minorities

Gunn-Wright, June 14, 2022, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, 32, is one of the architects of the Green New Deal and the director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank, Washington Post, How climate change and environmental justice are inextricably linked,

Climate justice is essentially about recognizing the fact that the climate crisis disproportionately affects people who are low-income, especially Black, Brown and Indigenous folks. They are also the folks who are going to have the fewest resources to cope with the changes that the climate crisis brings — whether that means not having the means to relocate if they are in a place that is heavily impacted, not having the money to install solar panels on a home, not having the means to pay for increased heating or cooling costs

Environmental justice is about the ways that the built environment has been created and carved up in ways that expose Black, Brown and Indigenous folks to more pollution, more toxic sites, more chemicals in water supplies. Putting them close to abandoned mines or where oil drilling happens. The way that the built environment has been created to sort of cluster those harms that are all consequences of fossil fuel industries. Fossil fuels are poisonous. And that has to go somewhere. Legacies of systemic racism and residential segregation have been exploited to create those environments.

The interesting thing about air pollution, in particular, is you can’t even say low-income people of color because the fact is that even middle-income Black folks are exposed to more pollution than lower-income White folks. Income and class are not even mitigating factors the way that you’d think it would be. So environmental justice is very much about racism.

Is there some assumption that these communities are not aware of this, if even middle-income Black communities are close to toxic areas?

Some of it is about awareness, particularly if the pollution is coming from just the way the built environment is — you’re next to a highway or you’re next to a transit depot, or you live on a major street where there are lots of trucks. They’re attached to pollution, but it’s not as though it’s screamed from the rooftops.

The thing they take more advantage of is the histories of residential segregation and housing discrimination. Middle-income Black folks are more likely to live in neighborhoods with higher poverty levels because of racial segregation. And those areas are more likely to be zoned for industrial use. So you have legacies of red lining that have crowded people of color into one area, and then that area is more likely to be zoned industrial, so it’s cheaper to locate these facilities there. Or you’re next to a highway, so the home values are lower, so it’s harder to move out of these places. All of these things make these areas more vulnerable.

These are the things that have to happen in an economy that is reliant on fossil fuels. The factories have to be built. The oil refineries have to be somewhere. The trucks have to run somewhere. The highways have to be somewhere. All of which has a negative impact on public health. All of which on some level is poisonous. And so who is going to be listened to the least when they are poisoned? Who can be harmed without consequence? Who is least likely to be believed when they say, “My kid has asthma” or “My daughter has mysterious breast cancer”? Whose lives are socially treated as less valuable? People of color.

And “power” seems like an important word.

One hundred percent.

Many predominantly White communities have often been effective at protecting their neighborhoods.

Front-line communities, disadvantaged communities, those that are the most affected by environmental justice, it’s not as though they aren’t doing anything. A lot of these communities are highly organized; these folks are having to fight for decades, find partners, get outside funding to run campaigns, partner with local universities, all sorts of things. I saw it firsthand living in Detroit. The scale of what it required for them to say, “We don’t want this here. Stop it,” is just leagues above areas where residents have more power. Not even comparable. But for them to be heard, it takes megaphones on top of megaphones. What it means to be highly motivated in these situations is just so different. You’re talking about running a campaign vs. getting everyone to sign a petition.

You talk about how you can’t really understand environmental justice without understanding racism and its impact — these issues that you are dealing with are the manifestation of racism.

Yes! Yes!

So then, this is how it shows up. Racism doesn’t necessarily show up as someone calling you the n-word. It shows up in how a district is zoned or what they are willing to put in your neighborhood. This is the evidence.

One hundred percent. It’s the evidence. It’s the manifestation. This is the form that it takes.

So, thinking about the urgency around environmental issues: Conflating environmental issues and racism, does that help or hurt the environmental issues, in general?

Yeah, that’s a question I got a lot with the Green New Deal. People would ask me, “Why are you talking about race so much? Why does that matter?” Some people might disagree, but I truly believe, when describing the fossil fuel industry — and I think that all the evidence shows — it is not possible to burn fossil fuels at the rate that we have without limit, if there is not racism involved, because you have to have people who you can poison almost without consequence.

And so, with that in mind, you cannot address climate change if you are not also going to address environmental justice and climate justice. Because otherwise you are just leaving in place essentially the landscape that can again be exploited. You’ll have this happen again. You are still leaving the tracks for the next crisis to come.

Climate change undermining the US economy and causing inflation

Edward Helmore, June 11, 2022, Climate crisis is ‘battering our economy’ and driving inflation, new book says, The Guardian,

According to Keefe, citing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) figures, climate-related weather disasters cost the US economy more than $145bn in 2021 – a nearly 50% increase from last year. Over the last five years, they have cost $750bn. Since 1980 323 weather and climate disasters have cost $1bn or more, the total cost of these events exceeds $2.195tn.

Moreover, according to a report from the reinsurance firm Swiss Re last year, climate disasters could cost the US economy 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) – the broadest measure of economic health – by 2050. Globally, that figure rises to 18%. A 2018 National Climate Assessment (NCA) projects that rising temperatures and extreme heat are projected to decrease worker productivity by $221bn a year by 2090, and climate-related weather disasters are projected to cost the US $500bn a year.

Another study published in Environmental Research Letters in July last year, found long-term warming contributed $27bn to the losses covered by the US crop insurance program from 1991 to 2017, or just over 19% of the total. In 2012, the single costliest year, rising temperatures contributed nearly half of losses valued at $18.6bn.

While each of those relate to GDP and productivity, none specifically refer to inflation and inflationary pressure – prices rising over time – and are not factored into official government statistics released by the Bureau of Labor’s Consumer Price Index, which measures the changing prices of a basket of goods and services.

Yellen and the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, have faced criticism for initially describing inflation as a “transitory” problem that would resolve itself. Yellen has admitted that her initial evaluation of the economy was “wrong” and that she and Powell “could have used a better term than transitory”. She said that the “bulk of inflation” was related to imbalances in supply and demand.

But that, too, has climate component, says David Super, professor of law and economics at Georgetown University, who argues that climate change is largely ignored as an inflationary driver, in part because it is manifesting as a global problem in overt and covert ways that makes the direct inflationary impact hard to assess.


“Its impact is broad and systemic, so there’s no one item in the CPI that you can say reflects climate change. We can say that grain and gas-oil costs reflect the Ukraine war but you can’t do that with climate change because it affects so many things,” says Super.

Loss of timber and homes due to wildfires in the west might show up in housing construction costs, or the cost of retrofitting homes to guard against coastal erosion and flooding. “Right there you have several things that are either increasing demand or undermining supply,” Super points out. “And that’s just one small part of it.”

Similarly, supply chain issues frequently cited as inflationary may not simply be issues around China Covid lockdowns affecting manufacturing, but a range of issues from roads washing out or loss of crops due to extreme weather events and shifting weather patterns.

The CPI is focused on results, not causes. The responsibility to assess causes rests with the White House council of economic advisers or national cconomic council. Bodies that have attempted to come out with estimates that have been met with challenges to their data by climate deniers, resulting in paralysis.

Climate change disproportionately impacts the disadvantag

Climate change not responsible for Middle East conflict and repression

Daoudy, March/April, 2022, Foreign Affairs, Scorched Earth Climate and Conflict in the Middle East,

In the past decade, discussions about the Middle East in Western media, academia, and policy circles have frequently revolved around the idea that climate change is driving much of the conflict in the region. Although environmental shifts are affecting the region in crucial ways, this emerging narrative mischaracterizes—or misunderstands—the way that political choices shape how vulnerable populations interact with their environment.

Consider Syria: when that country spiraled into civil war in 2011, some observers pointed to climate change as the instigating cause. Rising temperatures, the theory went, caused a major drought in Syria from 2006 to 2010, which triggered agricultural failure. This, in turn, spurred migration and discontent; the uprisings were a natural consequence. In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama put forward something akin to this argument. Climate change, he said, “helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war.”

This interpretation doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. After all, previous droughts had been severe and did not lead to violent protests. And struggling farmers and migrants fleeing the drought were not the instigators of the 2011 uprisings: the earliest protests were against political repression.

Climate change did not instigate the civil war in Syria.

Politics shaped the environmental challenges preceding the Syrian crisis. After Bashar al-Assad took power in 2000, the regime ramped up its commitment to neoliberal policies at the behest of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and domestic elites who stood to profit from such structural adjustments. These developments came with drastic consequences for rural populations. The uneven transition from Baathist socialism to what the regime dubbed a “social market economy” made Syria’s rural poor even poorer. The discriminatory decisions the government took in building infrastructure—such as the construction of the Tabqa dam, on the Euphrates River, in the 1970s, which displaced thousands of residents—also left the country vulnerable, 40 years later, to the rapid advance of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), which capitalized on the lack of local control over energy and water to take over wide swaths of rural Syria. Since the escalation of the crisis in Syria into an all-out war, large groups of displaced people moving from the country to Europe have joined the massive cohort of vulnerable populations fleeing conflict-stricken areas. They have faced coercive border practices and extremely precarious living conditions in refugee camps. And yet their number pales in comparison to the number of internally displaced people in Syria.

There is no clear evidence, however, that climate change alone triggered these and similar new migration trends. Multiple social, economic, and political factors lead people to migrate, and it is difficult to isolate the environment from those other drivers. It is dangerous, moreover, to point to climate change as the root of the region’s ills, because that supposition risks promoting deceptively simple conflict-resolution measures and limiting the ability of policymakers to lay the groundwork for real change.

One of the top priorities when it comes to improving conditions for the people most at risk in countries such as Syria is recognizing the intersections between the environment and armed conflict and the ways in which various parties have weaponized the region’s vulnerability to climate-driven scarcity. Governments and nonstate actors have repeatedly targeted key infrastructure, depriving people of vital goods and services. During the war in Yemen, for example, Saudi forces have cut off local populations’ access to clean water and sanitation, placing citizens at high risk for communicable illnesses. As a result, Save the Children classified Yemen’s 2016 cholera epidemic as a “man-made crisis.”

In Syria, the government and nonstate actors alike have deliberately damaged water resources and vital infrastructure as a wartime strategy. In 2013 and 2014, battles between regime forces and ISIS destroyed water plants and sewage pipelines. At one point, approximately 35 percent of Syria’s water treatment plants no longer functioned. Meanwhile, ISIS’s capture of the Tabqa dam in 2013 represented a significant victory for the group: ISIS threatened to cut off electricity delivery to Damascus, and it released 11 million cubic meters of water to flood the surrounding farmland, forcing local populations into submission and the central government into a no-strike agreement. Turkey also weaponized water during the conflict: to squelch the rise of Kurdish autonomy in northeastern Syria, which threatened to further radicalize Turkey’s own Kurdish population, Turkish troops shut off water to 460,000 people in the Syrian province of Hasakah and in three different refugee camps at a time when COVID-19 was running rampant.

The targeting of other infrastructure has also put civilians at risk: when the Syrian government, in conjunction with Russia, damaged oil refiners in the northeastern part of the country, the leaks contaminated surrounding groundwater—a risk factor for gastrointestinal illness, damage to the nervous and reproductive systems, and chronic diseases such as cancer. The Syrians and the Russians aren’t alone in wreaking havoc: water shutoffs by Turkey, combined with low rainfall, led the Khabur River to dry up; the river became a landfill and an open sewage site, spreading disease to neighboring villages.


Although the United States and European countries seem to be preparing to pivot away from the Middle East, they and international organizations must work harder to foster international norms that protect natural resources and infrastructure even in the midst of conflict. Washington has a limited appetite for confronting such partners as Saudi Arabia on human rights violations, but applying pressure on U.S. partners in the Middle East, including Ridayh, to adopt a common set of standards on this issue could help protect civilians around the globe. After all, there are no long-term winners when infrastructure is destroyed. In addition to the devastating effects it has on civilians, obliterating basic services creates complications that foreign actors would prefer to avoid.

In Syria and Yemen, the destruction of infrastructure has helped foster lucrative war economies, with both pro- and anti-regime elites carrying out smuggling and extortion rackets in exchange for food, water, and fuel. This dynamic doesn’t work to the benefit of even the most cynical international actors operating in the region: when civilians can no longer look to the state to provide necessities such as potable water, there is room for nonstate actors such as ISIS to make inroads. In the end, the most vulnerable populations, such as refugees, pay the ultimate price.

In Yemen, people’s already insecure access to food supplies has been exacerbated by the Saudi-led blockade of two major ports, Hodeidah and Salif, where 80 percent of food imports enter the country. All the parties to the conflict there have used the food supply as a shortsighted weapon. This includes the Houthis, the Shiite sect that is fighting the country’s Saudi-backed central government, who have expropriated food aid provided by the World Food Program for extortion rackets to fund their wartime operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the crisis by disrupting vital supply chains and limiting the purchasing power of local populations.

No one should downplay the importance of climate change in today’s Middle East or in the region’s future. But policymakers must also understand that the worst outcomes related to environmental stress and scarcity in the region are caused not by long-term shifts in the climate, which are difficult to control, but by short-term choices made and actions taken by powerful people and institutions, which are far easier to influence. Grasping that fundamental truth is the first step to both protecting the most vulnerable people in the region and helping governments transition to more sustainable practices. The cost of those tasks will be high—but the gains to human security and prosperity far greater

We need to act now to limit climate change to 1.5C or there will be catastrophic impacts

National Public Radio, April 4, 2022, It’s not too late to stave off the climate crisis, U.N. report finds. Here’s how,

The world still has time to avoid the most extreme dangers of climate change, but only if nations cut greenhouse gas pollution much faster from nearly every aspect of human activity, according to a landmark international climate science report. The technology and solutions are available to rein in emissions, but the world is rapidly running out of time to deploy them, the report notes. “It’s now or never,” says Jim Skea, professor of sustainable energy at Imperial College London and one of the co-chairs overseeing the report. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible. ” The report issued on Monday is the latest by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body that brings together the world’s researchers to assess the prevailing science on planetary warming. The new report looks at worldwide efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and recommends next steps to keep global average temperatures from rising to catastrophic levels. Nations and industries need to make faster, deeper cuts to heat-trapping pollution. Average annual greenhouse gasses in the last decade were the highest in human history, which means the world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the report says. With warming beyond that level, the planet will see increasingly dangerous heat waves, floods and storms that would affect millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. As a crucial near-term step, “substantial reduction” in the use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas would need to happen, the report finds. By 2050, low-carbon energy like solar and wind power will need to supply the majority of the world’s energy. Experts say this report, part of a scientific assessment done roughly every seven years by the IPCC, is likely the last to be published while the key goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible. The report’s final summary was adopted after marathon negotiations among the 195 member countries of the IPCC. Some countries wanted to see more support for fossil fuel use in developing countries, as well as larger demands on developed nations to reduce emissions. Industrialized nations are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, with the United States being the largest polluter over time. The report builds on the dire warnings of two others also released in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report. The first documented how heat-trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels were the “unequivocal” cause of rising temperatures. The second, released in late February, showed how billions of people around the globe are at risk of more extreme disasters. This latest report comes amidst a renewed push for oil and gas drilling, as the war in Ukraine drives a spike in oil prices. Carbon emissions already roared back to their highest levels ever in 2021, rebounding after a decline during the pandemic. “The truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a speech. “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness.”

Climate change lowers crop productivity and causes food shocks. “CO2 good” arguments ignore the total harm to ecosystems and how plants perform in a warmer world

Georgian Gustin, March 27, 2022, Complex Models Now Gauge the Impact of Climate Change on Global Food Production. The Results Are ‘Alarming’,

And while famine and malnutrition are complicated problems, in the decades since these models began to examine the projected impact of global warming on food production, it’s become increasingly clear that climate change is a “threat multiplier,” making hunger emergencies worse. In some cases it could be the primary cause. Nearly 1 billion people went hungry or were malnourished last year and that number is projected to rise this year. Prompted in part by Rosenzweig’s work, a growing cadre of researchers started looking at combinations of other variables—including rain, soil quality, fertilizers, pests, carbon dioxide levels, crop varieties. The data improved. The models got more sophisticated. And, eventually, these scientists began to collaborate. In 2008, at a conference in Florida on water use in farming, Rosenzweig began to round up fellow scientists for what would eventually become the world’s biggest and most ambitious joint modeling effort to understand how climate change jeopardizes the agricultural systems that humans depend on for survival. About four years later, AgMIP researchers produced their first major paper. The research said that the models “agreed” that the detrimental effects from climate change—mostly in developing countries around the planet’s midsection where more extreme weather events could batter crops—would be worse than previous research had suggested. It also emphasized some of the results were highly uncertain. But now, after six more years of work, AgMIP researchers have bolstered those findings. Their latest major paper, which rests on improved models and updated climate data, projects a more alarming picture—one that will appear even sooner. “More crops are predicted to react negatively,” said Jonas Jägermeyr, the lead author of the paper, which was published late last year in Nature Food. Jägermeyr, a crop modeler and climate scientist, also at GISS, noted that the projected yields of corn dropped by more than 20 percent globally compared to current production levels. “That’s a completely new realm,” he said. “Across the world and in many bread basket regions, this is going to occur in the next couple years. The main message here is: This is right around the corner.” Food Shock bug The most recent major report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in February, found that climate change has already lowered crop productivity in vulnerable regions in the tropics. It also relied on the recent AgMIP research to say that more food security crises were likely to happen, sooner and more frequently. “Without these models it’s almost impossible to conclude anything,” said Toshihiro Hasegawa, who co-authored the IPCC report’s chapter on food security. Noting that the AgMIP modelers looked at roughly 8,000 simulations, Hasegawa said, “that gives us a better confidence.” But even though researchers are increasingly confident that crop yields will falter, they say there’s a lot of work to be done in the modeling discipline. The world’s population will hit 10 billion people in 2050 when hotter temperatures and increased flooding will make feeding them more challenging. Knowing when and where the declines will happen—getting a full view of the risks—will be critical to preventing famine and malnutrition. “Modeling is essentially a way of creating transparency. In essence it gives us a view of something that we wouldn’t be able to see and couldn’t quantify without models,” said Molly Jahn, a plant geneticist, then a deputy secretary at the USDA, now at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). “These models are not necessarily the right kind of models to do risk modeling.” Food insecurity is an incredibly complex problem, not just the result of drops in the yields of major crops, but of politics, governance and economics. Climate change makes it only more complicated and urgent. The current models don’t account for all these factors yet. Joshua Elliott, a program manager at DARPA who specializes in complex models, is one of dozens of researchers working on a new crop modeling system that goes beyond crop yield projections and weighs other factors, including political conflict and population flows. “Our goal is to be able to improve the models,” Elliott said. “There’s just a massive amount of uncertainty. These are incredibly complex problems.” In January, the United Nations said that last year 283 million people in 80 countries went hungry or were at high risk of going hungry—a record number—and more than 800 million were malnourished. Humanitarian aid groups have warned that the number of hunger emergencies in 2022 will very likely rise. The models can’t yet say where or how much. If there’s a point at which the relatively esoteric science of crop modeling left the confines of its discipline, it was in the early 1970s, decades before AgMIP, when the Soviet Union made a huge deal to buy billions of dollars of U.S. wheat at prices that were cheap because of government subsidies. U.S. negotiators at the time hadn’t realized that the Soviet Union’s wheat crops had failed and the deal took them by surprise, causing wheat shortages and a global price spike. After the “Great Grain Robbery,” as it was dubbed, the U.S. government started getting more serious about crop research and modeling in particular. Up to that point, most of the projections were made on statistical or mathematical models that looked at historical yields. But after the Russian grain purchase, the government developed models based on remote satellite sensing that could make strategic forecasts about crop yields. Over the next two decades, interest in crop modeling grew. “The heyday was in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said David Fleisher, an agricultural engineer with the USDA who helps develop crop models. “There was tremendous development.” Jerry Hatfield, a longtime USDA researcher and original AgMIP co-founder, remembers a moment in 1990 when the first global report on climate change was published by the IPCC. “The IPCC originally came out and focused on rising CO2 levels and crop productivity and made a statement that all crops love CO2 so there won’t be a problem,” Hatfield said. “A lot of us sat around thinking: Let’s look at this system a little more holistically.” Agricultural modeling needed a global approach—like the one the IPCC was taking for climate change writ large, the group of researchers concluded. In order to understand how climate change could shift or reduce the planet’s food supply, they needed to compare all the various models out there and, ultimately, improve them to get a clearer picture of the future. “The results were too helter-skelter,” Rosenzweig said. “Different groups and scientists were saying, ‘We’re doing this scenario and we’re doing this baseline and we’re doing these projections and this model and that model.’ The IPCC was having a very hard time assessing the results of all those findings.” The idea behind AgMIP was to put all the models into a harmonized “ensemble” and then feed them the same inputs (or data points) and parameters. “We found there wasn’t any single model that could help us predict what was happening in terms of productivity,” Hatfield said. “But if you took an ensemble of models—about 10 at a time—and you take the averages, they start to tell you something.” Like the IPCC climate models, these crop models “talk” to each other. “AgMIP was conceived to do for agriculture modeling” what these climate models did, said Sonali McDermid, a professor of environmental studies at New York University and an AgMIP researcher “The big IPCC reports that come out every four years—the science in those are informed by the [climate modeling] project that brings together all the world’s climate models, developed independently, and compares them.” AgMIP layers in these climate models, using their projections, to do roughly the same thing for agriculture. And in the study published last November, the AgMIP researchers found, with greater certainty, that most major crops would see reduced yields, though wheat yields could improve in northern latitudes in the short term. In some regions, the yield declines could happen more frequently within a decade, largely because increased heat will damage harvests. “Once you execute all these models, you get a prediction, and this prediction is alarming,” said Bruno Basso, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Michigan State University who specializes in crop and modeling research. “The threat is immense.” But the AgMIP research, at least so far, doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t yet account for steps farmers could take to adapt to changing climates, nor does it factor in economic incentives that could help push farmers to change their farming practices. (That research is forthcoming, the researchers note.) “The thing about AgMIP that was transformative is, we were looking at models in the same way that a meteorologist would look at the path of a hurricane. You have a line,” said Lew Ziska, a former USDA plant physiologist, now a professor at Columbia University. “But when you put these models together, you get a much better forecast. That’s exactly what AgMIP does with respect to climate and food. That’s the good side of the coin.” But, Ziska added, “the areas that need further elucidation are: What’s going to happen to food nutrition, what’s going to happen in terms of contamination of food, how might climate change affect pathogens. We have very strong evidence that climate change is going to adversely affect pesticides. It’s a good first step, but it isn’t a full description of all the challenges that need to be met.” Some critics have also suggested that smaller-scale, statistical models—those based on historical crop yield, rather than projections made via simulations and supercomputing—are more useful because they produce results faster and are cheaper. Others say that the type of global models used by AgMIP don’t fully capture the impact of climate change on wheat and rice. Even the AgMIP research found that yields of rice and soybeans drop in some regions, but that the models don’t “agree” on the overall global impact. Rosenzweig is aware of the limitations. “The ‘I’ is for improvement,” she jokes, referring to the AgMIP acronym. There are important next-steps ahead. “What we really need at this point is to link the people out in the field, who know what’s going on in their region and the location realities, with the somewhat disconnected global climate communities and modeling community,” Jägermeyr, lead author of AgMIP’s latest paper, said. Other researchers agree. “It’s no good just running models and publishing results, or even communicating results to policy/society/industry,” Andrew Challinor, a professor at the University of Leeds and crop modeler, wrote in an email. “The stakeholders need to be involved right from the start.” One major worry in the research community is about climate-induced “food shocks”—a sudden loss of a harvest that brings on a food shortage—that are more difficult to predict than the more gradual decline in crop yields that AgMIP has so far focused on. “In addition to the challenge of producing enough food on a global scale in 2050, we’re also going to be looking at a climate where we have much more year-to-year variability and we’re going to face a lot more agricultural production shocks in a lot of countries,” said Chris Funk, director of the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We used to have one crisis a year. Now we’re having three or four serious crises at the same time.”

Climate change won’t cause human extinction

Rick Newman, January 6, 2022, Let’s stop making this climate change mistake,

The Earth is ablaze, apparently. The New York Times recently published “Postcards from a world on fire,” a detailed accounting of climate change disruptions in each of 193 countries. Atop the multimedia version of the feature, a spinning globe spews flame and smoke, like the Twin Towers before they collapsed on 9-11. Climate change reportage routinely declares we are destroying the planet, wrecking the Earth and imperiling the world, as if the entire geologic mass is about to go poof. The countdown is on for the number of years—50? 30? 10?—we have to save the planet. Stay ahead of the market These characterizations are not quite right—and overstating the consequences of a warming climate may already be undermining efforts to take needed action. A warming climate is undoubtedly changing the planet in ways dangerous to humans and other living things. But the Earth isn’t on fire, and the planet itself is not endangered. What we’re damaging is our own habitat, and those of other species. The planet will carry on one way or another. “We’re riding this planet right now,” says Bob Bunting, CEO of the Climate Adaptation Center in Sarasota and former lead forecaster for the government weather agency NOAA. “It remains to be seen how permanent we are. The planet will evolve with or without us. The planet doesn’t care whether we’re part of it or not.” We tend to anthropomorphize Earth—“Mother Nature”—yet humans have only been part of the planet for a tiny portion of its existence. And the Earth has been as warm as it is now at least three times during the last 400,000 years, according to data from Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Species have come and gone, but a warming climate has never threatened the Earth itself. What’s different now is record levels of carbon in the atmosphere, suggesting temperatures will eventually hit unprecedented levels. Whether humans will survive that is the real question. It might seem like innocent hyperbole or dramatic license to say we’re wrecking the planet when we’re really damaging just a specific part of it that happens to be vital to us. After all, if we go extinct, the planet will cease to exist, for humans. At that point, who cares if it continues to circle the sun without us. Yet existential alarmism is counterproductive when public support is crucial to addressing a problem as vast as climate change. Most people, if told the planet is on fire, can look around and plainly see that it’s not. Others may feel a sense of dread and think it’s pointless to do anything, if we’re really doomed. Even people who know climate change is making floods, fires, droughts and storms worse can rightfully ask how urgent the problem really is and how much climate activists exaggerate. For all the people killed and displaced by freakish weather, there are many more who still don’t feel any direct impact from a warming planet—and might even think a shorter winter in northern climes would be welcome. Most Americans recognize that climate change is a serious problem and many consider it a crisis. But that’s not the same as resolving to take action. Economists almost universally agree that one of the most effective ways to trigger a green-energy transformation would be to enact a carbon tax that makes fossil fuels increasingly expensive, and renewables ever cheaper by comparison. Yet that has proven politically impossible. President Biden is pushing for a huge green-energy transformation, but his plan doesn’t include a carbon tax, because you simply can’t win elections by promising to raise the cost of fueling cars and heating homes. In Washington state, one of the most liberal and environmentally aware, voters nixed carbon tax initiatives in 2016 and 2018. People hold cardboard signs cut in shapes of burning trees and homes and flames, symbolizing the present day impacts of climate change, during a &#39;non-violent resistance&#39; climate change protest organized by Extinction Rebellion in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs People hold cardboard signs cut in shapes of burning trees and homes and flames, symbolizing the present day impacts of climate change, during a ‘non-violent resistance’ climate change protest organized by Extinction Rebellion in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., September 17, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs Some voters say they’re willing to sacrifice to help deal with a warming planet, but that hasn’t yet translated into political action. Biden’s Build Back Better legislation includes several hundred billion dollars in green-energy investments, but that hasn’t passed yet, and may never. Aside from that, U.S. efforts to address climate change have been modest at best: tax incentives for electric vehicles, a bit of infrastructure funding, on-off-and-on-again increases in fuel-efficiency standards. Not much, given the scale of the problem. Keeping global temperatures at manageable levels is going to be really expensive. The International Energy Agency says it will take $5 trillion in global energy investment per year by 2030. The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates a total need for $131 trillion in global energy investment by 2050. If the U.S. contributed according to its proportion of global GDP, that would be $21 trillion during the next 30 years or so, or $700 billion every year above what we’re spending now. Some of that would be private investment, but it would require policy changes likely to increase the return on renewables while lowering the return on carbon. Hence the political barriers. It would also require some amount of taxpayer funding way higher than anybody is seriously talking about now.

Coral reef bleaching won’t destroy food supplies

Sky News, January 6, 2022, Climate change: Hope for millions as study finds damaged coral reefs can still provide seafood,

Bleached and damaged coral reefs are still able to supply nutritious seafood, a study has found. Scientists led by Lancaster University used more than 20 years of data from the Seychelles, where tropical reefs were damaged by a large coral bleaching event in 1998. The bleaching, caused by rising sea temperatures, killed 90% of the corals found on the islands. Bleaching turns the corals white, and leaves them under stress and at risk of death. Scientists were unsure how climate change could affect the nutrients available from reef fisheries. But the new findings reveal they may be more resilient than previously thought. Campaigners say the global oil demand is already met by oil and gas exploration to date Oil and gas companies operating in North Sea to cash in ‘near record’ income as energy prices skyrocket Colourful houses in Hotwells in the city of Bristol seen from above during the first mass ascent, where balloons from all over the world gather at Ashton Court, Bristol, to take part in the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Climate change: Find out the energy efficiency of homes in your area – as most important factor revealed The research, published in One Earth, finds damaged reef fisheries remain rich sources of micronutrients, even increasing in nutritional value for some minerals. This will bring hope to more than six million people who work in the small-scale fisheries and rely on tropical reefs. The fish they catch are vital to the health of millions of people in the tropics, which suffer from high levels of malnourishment. Bleached coral reef that is now dominated by seaweed (Lancaster University / Professor Nick Graham) Global warming means coral bleaching events are becoming more frequent and more severe, placing these vulnerable ecosystems under greater stress. Dr James Robinson, who led the study, said the findings “underline the continuing importance of these fisheries for vulnerable coastal communities, and the need to protect against overfishing to ensure long-term sustainability of reef fisheries”. “We found that some micronutrient-rich reef species become more abundant after coral bleaching, enabling fisheries to supply nutritious food despite climate change impacts,” he added, and called for the protection of these systems to be made a “priority”. The scientists, who came from the Seychelles, Australia, Canada, and Mozambique, calculated that reef fish are important sources of selenium and zinc, and contain levels of calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids comparable to foods like chicken and pork. Iron and zinc were found to be more concentrated in fish caught on reefs dominated by microalgae and seaweeds. Co-author Professor Christina Hicks said the study “suggests reef fisheries will continue to play a crucial role, even in the face of climate change, and highlights the vital importance of investing in sustainable fisheries management”. The researchers believe the results underline the need for more of the catches to be retained for locals and promotion of traditional fish-based diets. They used a combination of experimental fishing, nutrient analysis, and visual surveys of fish communities to inform the study.

Temp has increased 1.1 degrees, most limit to 1.5 to avoid impacts

Lisa Friedman, January 4, 2022, The New York Times, Biden ‘Over-Promised and Under-Delivered’ on Climate. Now, Trouble Looms in 2022.,

“If they can’t pull this off, then we failed; the country has failed the climate test,” said John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. Mr. Podesta praised the Biden administration for making global warming a priority, creating a White House office of domestic climate policy, appointing an international climate envoy to reassert U.S. leadership on the global stage, moving forward a handful of regulations and proposing major investments in clean energy. But he also noted that the physics of climate change is unforgiving. The planet has already warmed an average of about 1.1 degrees Celsius compared with temperatures before the Industrial Revolution. If temperatures continue to rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius, the likelihood of increasingly deadly wildfires, floods, heat waves and other disasters becomes unavoidable, scientists have warned. Countries must immediately and drastically reduce greenhouse gases caused by burning oil, gas and coal if the world is to avert the most catastrophic impacts, experts have said.

Clean energy projects include dams that trigger military conflicts in the developing world

Giulio Boccaletti, 1-4, 22, When Climate Change Meets Geopolitics, New Security Beat,

Deteriorating security in Ethiopia, a country W.E.B. Dubois once described as where “the sunrise of human culture took place,” is deeply concerning. The last few months have seen a dramatic involution for a country that was once a poster child for sustainable development. The conflict between the government and rebel forces in Tigray is not just a matter of regional security, but a significant blow to the world’s efforts to fight climate change. Just over ten years ago, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi presented Ethiopia’s Climate Resilience and Green Economy Strategy. It was the 17th Conference of Parties in Durban, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The plan was hailed as a visionary, historic example of economic growth and climate agendas coming together, a new paradigm for development in a world of climate change. But behind the jargon of “green growth,” the plan was the product of a complicated geopolitical history. During WWII, President Roosevelt invited Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie to visit hydraulic projects, such as Glenn Canyon Dam, that had transformed the American West. The trip took place in 1954, during the Eisenhower administration. By then, economic development was a central concern for poorer countries like Ethiopia, who looked at the American Progressive experience in hydropower as a model to replicate. In the following years, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which at the time acted as a de-facto technical agency of the State Department, worked with the emperor’s government to produce a blueprint for the Blue Nile. The plan was an instrument of American Cold War strategy in the region. Far downstream, Gamal Nasser was playing Americans and Soviets against each other as he attempted to develop his own stretch of the river. Hydraulic development of the Nile’s upstream source was a powerful reminder to the newly elected Egyptian President that the Americans had their hand on the tap of his water supply. Amongst the proposed projects in the plan was a hydroelectric dam close to the border with Sudan, the “Border Dam.” It was supposed to hold just over 11 billion cubic meters of water, with installed capacity of about 1.5 Gigawatts. The plan was far too ambitious for Selassie’s autocratic government and remained unused. Eventually, the emperor was replaced by Mengistu’s DERG regime in 1974, itself then chased away by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and its allies in 1991. In May of 1992, Meles Zenawi, the leader of the TPLF and by then president of a transitional government, argued that the rebirth of Ethiopia would depend on the development of its substantial water resources. The time for the Blue Nile plan seemed to have come. But Egypt, fearing for its supply of water, vowed to fight any attempt to develop such infrastructure, a threat it could back with its military might, now confident of American support. The plan remained dormant. Then came the Arab Spring. I was in Addis Ababa when, on the morning of February 11, 2011, the military came out in full force across the city, signaling an unusual concern for security. Two thousand miles downstream, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian autocrat, had just been defeated in Tahrir Square. That day, everything changed. Up to that point, the government had been pursuing an Ethiopian green growth plan, but it had been singularly silent on how the vast, planned amounts of renewable energy would be delivered. Few knew of a key project, codenamed Project X, that was based on the Blue Nile blueprint. In fact, the Millennium Dam, built on the site of the Border Dam and subsequently renamed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, was going to be the keystone of the country’s low-carbon rebirth. Two months later, Prime Minister Zenawi laid the first stone. The dam—over-dimensioned by roughly five times compared to the original proposal—was to be the largest in Africa, an ambitious benchmark of the country’s aspirations, shrouded in a bright shade of green. In November of that same year, Zenawi presented the country’s Climate Resilient and Green Economy strategy in Durban, revealing his ambition to the world. A template for Green Growth had been set, anchored on a hydropower project that had been conceived over half a century earlier. Meles Zenawi died unexpectedly in 2012. A few years later, the TPLF lost its grip on power to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, setting the stage for the current conflict. Development of the vast dam continued—it has just completed the second stage in filling its vast reservoir—but for the past year, the once star performer in the African low carbon transition has been descending into chaos. No matter what happens, recomposing an ethnically divided country scarred by alleged war crimes will be a fragile basis from which to deliver on the promise of the green growth. The Ethiopian government continues to be ostensibly committed to its low carbon strategy. Egypt, incensed by what it views as uncooperative river development, has been increasing pressure to thwart it. This issue is going to dominate the regional context when nations convene in Sharm el Sheik for UNFCCC COP 27. There is little doubt that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will be looking upstream, trying to judge whether the troubles of its upstream rival might herald another reversal of fortunes along the Nile. Multilateral negotiations over climate can often appear to be a principled fight for a low carbon future against the reactionary forces of the incumbent fossil fuel economy. But Ethiopia’s potentially catastrophic setback shows that green growth, economic development, and regional geopolitics are inextricably bound in a complicated, path-dependent knot that can present insurmountable obstacles to progress. It is a crucial reminder that, for all the focus on technology and global targets, the political wrangling that shapes and has always shaped the pursuit of development and self-determination is the dominant engine that will define the world’s ability to win its fight against climate change.

Climate change warms lakes, increasing species extinction

Clean Technica, January 4, 2022, Warming Lakes Are Losing Oxygen. Climate Change & Pollution Are To Blame,

In a sweltering morning last July, thousands of dead fish washed onto the northeastern shores of Pokegama Lake, 60 miles north of Minneapolis. Deb Vermeersch, an official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, was called in to investigate. When she arrived, she saw a quarter-mile stretch of sand covered with the rotting carcass of walleye and Northern pike, which thrive in deep, cool waters, as well as crappies, sunfish and suckers — all warm water dwellers. “They were already pretty decomposed because of the warm water,” Vermeersch recalled. Because so many different types of fish had died, Vermeersch and her colleagues knew it wasn’t a species-specific parasite, a common cause of fish kills. They zeroed in on the culprit: dangerously low oxygen levels. Oxygen is disappearing in freshwater lakes at a rate nine times that of oceans due to a combination of pollution and warming waters, according to a study published in Nature earlier this year. Lakes like Pokegama are warming earlier in the spring and staying warm into autumn, fueling algae blooms, which thrive in warm waters, and threaten native fish. Minnesota, with its 14,380 lakes and temperatures that have risen faster than the national average, is a unique laboratory for studying how climate change is affecting temperate-zone lakes around the world. The state sits at the intersection of four biomes — two distinct prairie ecosystems and two ecologically different forest systems. This means scientists here are able to study how lakes in different ecosystems fare on a warming planet, and look for ways to stave off the worst effects of climate change. “If you start losing oxygen, you start losing species.” What’s going on at the surface is that warmer water holds less oxygen than cool water,” said Lesley Knoll, a University of Minnesota limnologist and one of the authors of the Nature report. She said that longer, hotter summers are interfering with two key processes that have historically kept lakes’ oxygen levels in check: mixing and stratification. In temperate climates, water at the surface of lakes mixes with deep waters in the spring and the fall, when both layers are similar in temperature. As the surface water warms during the summer, the water forms distinct layers based on temperature — cool water at the bottom, warm at the top. This is known as stratification. In the fall, when the surface waters cool again, the water mixes for a second time, replenishing oxygen in deeper waters. But as climate change makes surface water warmer, and keeps it warmer for longer, that mixing doesn’t happen when it should. “As you have that stronger stratification, the water in the deep part of the lake is cut off from the oxygen at the top part of the lake. If you start losing oxygen, you start losing species,” says Kevin Rose, a biologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and a coauthor of the Nature study. Knoll, Rose and a team of 43 other researchers studied 400 temperate lakes from around the world. They found that, on average, surface waters warmed by 7 degrees Fahrenheit and have lost roughly 5 percent of oxygen since 1980; deep waters, which haven’t warmed much, have still lost an average of almost 20 percent of their oxygen. (Thanks to the state’s long-held lake monitoring programs, almost a quarter the lakes in the study were in Minnesota.) Warming lakes emit methane Fish kills aren’t the only reason scientists are concerned about lakes losing oxygen. In extreme cases, when deep waters go completely void of oxygen, something else happens: Methane-emitting bacteria begin to thrive. “As lakes warm, they will produce more methane and most of that has to do with stratification,” said James Cotner, a limnologist at the University of Minnesota. Lakes normally emit carbon dioxide as a natural part of breaking down the trees, plants and animals that decay in them, but plants in and around fresh water also absorb it, making healthy lakes carbon sinks. Lakes have historically emitted methane, too — about 10 to 20 percent of the world’s emissions — but the prospect of them releasing more of the greenhouse gas has Cotner and his colleagues alarmed. Methane is about 25 times more potent than CO2 when it comes to trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. Cotner is leading a team of researchers who are studying what conditions allow methane-emitting bacteria to prosper in lakes and how conservationists can respond. “The key questions are understanding how much and when carbon dioxide and methane are emitted from lakes, and what are the key variables that can tell how much will be emitted. Certainly, oxygen is a big part of that, but stratification and warming also plays a role,” says Cotner.

COP-26 targets won’t keep us at 1.5 degrees

Madeleine Cuff, 1-1, 2022, Why 2022 is climate change crunch time for the richest countries,

Global emissions are still rising and despite the pressure of COP26, nations have not promised tough-enough emissions cuts to hold warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – the last “safe” level of warming, according to scientists.

Developing world will drive future climate change, inadequate financial support for a green transition

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

In the struggle to combat climate change, the world is fighting the last war. Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, countries have released one and a half trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The largest cumulative emissions have come from the United States, European countries, China, and Russia, in that order. But these countries are now prosperous enough to pay for policies that can place them on the path to net-zero emissions by midcentury. The top emitting countries of the future could come largely from the developing world—countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, which face the herculean task of bringing millions out of poverty while simultaneously adapting to the harsh realities of climate change. If industrialized countries do not shoulder the responsibility to help prevent this next wave of emissions, the global effort to avoid climate disruption will fail. Efforts to ensure that today’s largest polluters rapidly curb their emissions are vitally important, but this progress risks being erased if poorer countries find it impossible to pursue a low-carbon development strategy. In order to simultaneously preserve the environment and help lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, rich countries must provide financing and policy support at a scale that has so far been unavailable to poorer countries. There are roughly two dozen emerging economies across the globe that are poised to expand their greenhouse gas emissions dramatically in the near future if they do not receive this assistance. Their population size, rapid economic growth rates, and reliance on fossil fuels have placed them on a trajectory for a dramatic expansion of their emissions. Together, they could cause the same massive wave of emissions that China produced during the first two decades of this century, when it released 195 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This would render impossible the efforts to reach global “net zero” by midcentury, which scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This challenge represents not only a scientific and political dilemma but an ethical and moral one, as well. Citizens of the world’s least developed countries have the same aspirations for economic prosperity as citizens of China, Germany, or the United States do. Those who argue that the only way to combat climate change is to reduce economic growth miss the fundamental unfairness of global economic development, which has left a third of the world’s population behind. Yet if developing countries follow the “grow first and clean up later” pattern established by the United States, western Europe, and East Asian countries, the consequences for the climate will be catastrophic. International focus, however, remains stubbornly fixated on the carbon emissions of China, the United States, and the EU. Institutions largely designed by and for developed countries—such as the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate and the G-7—continue to be central for climate diplomacy, even if they have not yet proved effective in reducing global emissions. But most of those countries’ emissions have already peaked, and they all boast the mature governance institutions, vibrant private sectors, and ready access to capital that make it entirely plausible for them to achieve net zero by 2050. The developing world, however, has none of these advantages. Many leaders from developing countries are no less concerned about climate action than their counterparts in Beijing, Washington, and Brussels, and the choices they make in the next five to ten years will determine the extent to which a surge in emissions can be prevented. So far, however, the efforts to provide their countries with low-carbon economic growth opportunities have been woefully inadequate. Although the recent UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP26 (the 26th Conference of the Parties), resulted in incremental progress, negotiators also acknowledged “with deep regret” that countries had failed to mobilize the financing for green development strategies that had been promised in previous agreements—and even those pledges were insufficient to address the scale of the problem. Meanwhile, the private sector continues to invest in whatever energy projects it wishes—regardless of how dirty they are.

Every ½ degree beyond 1.5 degrees puts hundreds of millions at-risk

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

Although world leaders have announced their intention to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the planet is currently on track to experience warming far in excess of that level. The consequences of this will be devastating: according to the latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, every additional 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius will cause “clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes . . . as well as agricultural and ecological droughts.” In the event of two degrees Celsius warming, extreme heat waves that normally would have occurred only once in 50 years will likely occur 14 times during the same time frame. Three hundred and fifty million more people risk being be exposed to deadly heat: residents of Karachi, Pakistan, and Kolkata, India, for example, could experience, on an annual basis, conditions like those of the heat wave that struck the Indian subcontinent in 2015, which killed thousands. These changes will afflict the developed and the developing world alike; there is no alternative but to collaborate to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

China’s emissions are triple those of the US

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

In 1997, China’s GDP was dwarfed by the United States’, standing at less than $1 trillion in current U.S. dollars. Its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, however, unleashed the potential of its export-led development model: China’s GDP grew by leaps and bounds for the next 20 years, reaching $14.7 trillion by 2020. This is the development model that most developing countries look to for inspiration today—but it is a climate disaster. As the growth of China’s economy exploded, the country’s emissions likewise skyrocketed, surpassing those of the United States in 2005 and tripling in only 14 years.

Developing countries could emit as much as China

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

No single country is likely to produce the same volume of emissions as China did during the first two decades of this century. China’s emission growth was a function of its massive population size, high economic growth rate, and heavy reliance on coal for energy. There are 15 major emerging-market or developing countries that possess two out of three of these drivers (Bangladesh, China, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and Vietnam); eight other countries are deeply reliant on petroleum consumption, the next most carbon­-intensive fuel (Algeria, Brazil, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and Saudi Arabia). This makes a total of about two dozen countries deserving priority attention and support.  Several of these countries together, if they continue on their current economic growth paths, could easily create a wave of emissions similar to the one China caused from 2000 to 2020. For instance, if just four of them—Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia—were to meet their pre-pandemic emission growth rates (as reported by the Climate Action Tracker) through 2050, their cumulative net emissions between now and then would be 197 billion metric tons. This figure would be equivalent to China’s emission output between 2000 and 2020.

Developing countries need financial support to meet emissions targets

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

This calculation does not take into account any planned emission-reduction policies or pledges. Thankfully, many developing countries have announced their intentions to improve their climate records: South Africa has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have committed to reaching net zero by 2060, and India has promised to achieve net zero by 2070. But none of these countries has produced a detailed plan for how to achieve its goal. Meanwhile, Iran has not yet announced a timeline for reaching net zero, and countries heavily reliant on coal, such as India and Vietnam, will have a particularly difficult time making the transition to a green economy. Despite these challenges, Vietnam committed at COP26 to phase out domestic coal use by the 2040s. Wealthy economies will need to provide some form of support for all these countries to bring an end to business as usual. Many countries in the developing world have good intentions to avoid climate change but need the financing and technical support to accomplish this policy shift. They will understandably prioritize poverty alleviation and economic growth—especially now, as the world comes out of a global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Climate change will wreck economies: 10-25% loss of GDP

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

These developing countries are also more vulnerable to extreme weather events caused by climate change. If the world doesn’t begin rapidly reducing emissions, their growth will be hobbled by increasingly frequent hurricanes, mudslides, floods, and droughts. One analysis, sponsored by a global network of central banks, found that most countries could experience a 10–25 percent loss of GDP if no additional steps are taken to mitigate climate change. The greatest GDP losses are projected to occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, but China and the United States could still suffer substantial losses of up to ten percent of GDP. According to a UN report published earlier this year, it is estimated that the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries will rise from $70 billion today to up to $500 billion by 2050.

58% increases in GHG emissions now

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

Despite the implementation of four major climate agreements and increasingly dire warnings from scientists, greenhouse gas emissions from all sources increased by 58 percent between 1990 and 2020. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased by 18 percent during the same period (since some emissions are absorbed by oceans and forests).

Paris will only limit warming to 2.7 degrees

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

Even the Paris agreement, a good outcome by the standards of international climate negotiations, is far from adequate. If all countries fulfill their promises, emissions will be 15 billion metric tons lower and global average temperatures will be one degree Celsius lower in 2050 than otherwise would have been the case. Yet by most estimates, total warming will still be an intolerable 2.7 degrees Celsius.

Inadequate financial resources for a green energy transition in developing countries

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

The resources being devoted to clean energy programs are too small to meet rising demand. Second, emerging economies (as well as many industrialized economies) have failed to develop a model of economic growth that does not rely on fossil fuels and energy-intensive industrialization. Japan, South Korea, and China adopted what became known as the East Asian development model—an approach that is manufacturing-intensive and export-led, with significant state intervention—and are all among the top ten emitters today. China is trying to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by switching to renewables and nuclear energy, but its abandonment of coal has been too slow. Third, public and private capital flows to developing economies do not provide sufficient financing to green energy projects. The International Energy Agency has estimated that $4 trillion in annual investments in clean energy is required to decarbonize the global energy system. In Paris, negotiators committed to mobilizing only $100 billion per year for developing countries by 2020—and even that pledge has not been met.

Although climate finance is notoriously difficult to track, the world appears to be mobilizing slightly more than $600 billion annually, just 15 percent of what is needed. National development institutions and corporations provide the bulk of the money (approximately $275 billion), multilateral and commercial banks come in second (with more than $190 billion), and individual investors and state-owned enterprises each provide roughly $55 billion. But three-quarters of these funds are spent domestically in developed countries, leaving little for the developing world. Sub-Saharan Africa benefits from only roughly $20 billion in climate finance per year, for example, compared with East Asia’s $292 billion. Most multilateral development institutions have failed to prioritize low-carbon energy projects. A study of investments from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian Development Bank in 2015 and 2016 found that only about 20 percent of the financing from these three institutions was aligned with the goal of staying below warming of two degrees Celsius.

For many developing countries, climate mitigation feels like a luxury they cannot afford.

The World Bank has reported that it provided $9.4 billion in financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy between 2015 and 2020. It does not report on its fossil fuel investments, making it difficult to assess its overall portfolio—although one German nongovernmental organization, Urgewald, conducted research that suggests the World Bank has invested $10.5 billion in new fossil fuel projects since the signing of the Paris agreement. By contrast, two of China’s so-called policy banks (the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China), which are government run, financed $16.3 billion in hydropower projects, $7.8 billion in nuclear power, and $2.4 billion in renewables between 2016 and 2020.

Although most multilateral development banks halted financing for coal a decade ago, they have done too little to support alternatives to this carbon-intensive fuel. There has been some modest progress: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank have both actively financed renewable energy projects. The World Bank’s energy strategy, updated in 2020, reiterates that the bank no longer finances coal projects, that it halted financing for upstream oil and gas in 2019, and that it has “ramped up” efforts to help developing countries transition to clean energy.

These are welcome initiatives, but the multilateral banks’ investments in clean energy are still insufficient. The World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds has supported 26 gigawatts of clean power since 2008, whereas China alone has financed 32 gigawatts of clean energy projects in the last five years. The main financing vehicle under the Paris agreement is the Green Climate Fund, a small organization that as of October 2021 had financed just 190 projects around the world, with a cumulative commitment of $10 billion. Although the fund should continue to be part of the solution, project-by-project approaches are not going to provide the scale of support that is needed.

The failure of multilateral development banks to make financing for clean energy widely available means that they are ceding the space to public and private investors who are more interested in profit or geopolitics than climate change. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has provided crucial development support to many poorer countries, but more than 55 percent of the BRI’s energy finance has gone to fossil fuels, and of that, 70 percent was investment in coal. Overall, China financed 133 gigawatts of new power plants between 2000 and 2021, of which 56 gigawatts were from coal, 35 gigawatts were from hydropower, nine gigawatts were from wind, four were from solar power, and one was from nuclear power. Xi recently committed to stop building overseas coal plants and to “step up” support for low-carbon and clean energy projects, but whether China will follow through on these promises remains to be seen.

Multilateralism won’t solve climate change

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

Although climate finance is notoriously difficult to track, the world appears to be mobilizing slightly more than $600 billion annually, just 15 percent of what is needed. National development institutions and corporations provide the bulk of the money (approximately $275 billion), multilateral and commercial banks come in second (with more than $190 billion), and individual investors and state-owned enterprises each provide roughly $55 billion. But three-quarters of these funds are spent domestically in developed countries, leaving little for the developing world. Sub-Saharan Africa benefits from only roughly $20 billion in climate finance per year, for example, compared with East Asia’s $292 billion. Most multilateral development institutions have failed to prioritize low-carbon energy projects. A study of investments from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian Development Bank in 2015 and 2016 found that only about 20 percent of the financing from these three institutions was aligned with the goal of staying below warming of two degrees Celsius.

For many developing countries, climate mitigation feels like a luxury they cannot afford.

The World Bank has reported that it provided $9.4 billion in financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy between 2015 and 2020. It does not report on its fossil fuel investments, making it difficult to assess its overall portfolio—although one German nongovernmental organization, Urgewald, conducted research that suggests the World Bank has invested $10.5 billion in new fossil fuel projects since the signing of the Paris agreement. By contrast, two of China’s so-called policy banks (the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China), which are government run, financed $16.3 billion in hydropower projects, $7.8 billion in nuclear power, and $2.4 billion in renewables between 2016 and 2020. Although most multilateral development banks halted financing for coal a decade ago, they have done too little to support alternatives to this carbon-intensive fuel. There has been some modest progress: the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank have both actively financed renewable energy projects. The World Bank’s energy strategy, updated in 2020, reiterates that the bank no longer finances coal projects, that it halted financing for upstream oil and gas in 2019, and that it has “ramped up” efforts to help developing countries transition to clean energy. These are welcome initiatives, but the multilateral banks’ investments in clean energy are still insufficient. The World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds has supported 26 gigawatts of clean power since 2008, whereas China alone has financed 32 gigawatts of clean energy projects in the last five years. The main financing vehicle under the Paris agreement is the Green Climate Fund, a small organization that as of October 2021 had financed just 190 projects around the world, with a cumulative commitment of $10 billion. Although the fund should continue to be part of the solution, project-by-project approaches are not going to provide the scale of support that is needed. The failure of multilateral development banks to make financing for clean energy widely available means that they are ceding the space to public and private investors who are more interested in profit or geopolitics than climate change. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has provided crucial development support to many poorer countries, but more than 55 percent of the BRI’s energy finance has gone to fossil fuels, and of that, 70 percent was investment in coal. Overall, China financed 133 gigawatts of new power plants between 2000 and 2021, of which 56 gigawatts were from coal, 35 gigawatts were from hydropower, nine gigawatts were from wind, four were from solar power, and one was from nuclear power. Xi recently committed to stop building overseas coal plants and to “step up” support for low-carbon and clean energy projects, but whether China will follow through on these promises remains to be seen.

US climate financing too little

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

But as tempting as it is to criticize China for funding overseas coal projects through its state-owned policy banks, it is important to note that 87 percent of the financing for overseas coal plants between 2013 and 2018 came from non-Chinese public and private financiers, including U.S. commercial investment banks, Japanese public and private banks, and more.  During the Trump administration, the United States offered almost no support for green development strategies. The U.S. Export-Import Bank temporarily halted lending in 2015 because it lacked a quorum on its five-member board and the Republicans refused to confirm new appointees. It was reauthorized in 2019 with a backlog of $39 million worth of projects in its financing pipeline. The United States didn’t have a development bank until 2019, when the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation was born—and even then, the Trump administration made little use of it. The DFC has committed to reach net zero in its investment portfolio by 2040 and announced in September that climate-focused investments would account for one-third of its portfolio by fiscal year 2023.The United States also has the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, but its resources are dwarfed by those of the world’s development banks. USAID’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year committed just $600 million to climate efforts. The Power Africa initiative of USAID during the Obama administration, which aimed to expand access to clean energy in Africa, was a great example of what is needed—but it withered on the vine during the Trump years. As of March 2021, Power Africa had financed only 12 gigawatts of renewable energy, 4.8 gigawatts of which were already online. The resources being devoted to clean energy programs are simply too small to meet rising demand in the developing world.


Developing countries need financial and technical assistance for a green energy transition (such as those under COP26)

Gallagher, January-February 2022, KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER is Academic Dean, Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy, and Director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tuft University’s Fletcher School. She served as Senior Policy Adviser in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration, The Coming Carbon Tsunami, Developing Countries Need a New Growth Model—Before It’s Too Late,

Many developing countries are not only willing to develop more sustainably but also eager to do so. The challenge is securing the necessary financing and technical assistance to make the transition to clean energy without jeopardizing their economic growth. Take Ethiopia, which has committed to a nonfossil fuel future and has a long list of geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind energy projects in its electricity-sector master plan. But many of these projects have not yet been financed, even as Ethiopia ranks as one of the top three countries in the world for the number of people without access to electricity. Due to the country’s lack of creditworthiness, China has been the main interested lender for Ethiopia’s renewable projects: Beijing’s Export-Import Bank has provided $4.4 billion in financing for nine hydro and wind power projects and five transmission and distribution projects since 2000. Meanwhile, the World Bank has provided $2.4 billion in loans to Ethiopia during this period for energy and climate-related projects.

Other countries are open to clean energy but are preoccupied with near-term solutions to their energy shortages. Pakistan has pursued an “all of the above” energy strategy, including expanding coal, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, solar, and wind power. China’s policy banks have financed a mix of fossil fuel and nonfossil fuel projects in the country, investing a whopping $20.6 billion in 19 energy projects since 2000, including seven coal, five hydro, and three nuclear projects. During the same time period, the World Bank appears to have invested $4.4 billion, primarily in clean energy and transmission and distribution projects. For Pakistan, climate mitigation no doubt feels like a luxury it cannot always afford as it works to increase its economic growth and alleviate poverty. Industrialized countries must help prevent the next wave of emissions. While the barriers to expanding clean energy in Ethiopia and Pakistan may be primarily financial, many other developing countries simply don’t know how to pursue greener development. Some aren’t even sure they want to do so, worrying that it will undercut their foremost priority: development. Most developing-world policymakers have minimal familiarity with renewables and a great deal of familiarity with coal. According to the International Energy Agency, in 2020, countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development relied on coal, peat, and oil shale for 36 percent of their total energy supply, while renewables supplied only 16 percent. In 2016, Bangladesh, opting for what it considered the most cost-effective path for power development, issued a power-sector master plan that embraced a shift from natural gas to coal. This is ironic, given that Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. (More recently, its government seems to have started to have second thoughts, introducing a new development plan that at least acknowledges that Bangladesh’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels “is a matter of concern.”) The national energy strategies of Indonesia, South Africa, and Vietnam also champion coal, largely because these countries have abundant domestic supplies of the fuel. An example of what is needed was announced at COP26, when France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union committed to provide $8.5 billion to help South Africa achieve a just transition away from coal and implement policies to decarbonize its economy. Policies like this can speed the shift to cleaner sources of energy in emerging markets, ensuring that their economic development does not hamper efforts to mitigate climate change. The process of global climate negotiations is necessary but not sufficient to solve the climate crisis. This work needs to be coupled with efforts to ensure that developing countries can access sufficient resources to pursue low-carbon development strategies. The public and private sectors must mobilize financing for the roughly two dozen countries where economic growth could cause large increases in emissions in the near future. Some of these countries, such as Saudi Arabia, should be able to finance their transitions without international assistance (although they may still benefit from policy advice). Others, such as Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam, will need much more comprehensive support in terms of financing, capacity building, and technical assistance. At the moment, national climate policies are essentially divorced from global financial flows. Changing that starts with governments, which must hold themselves and one another to account for regulating private financial institutions and greening their own public investments. Private firms control the overwhelming majority of international financial flows but have failed to regulate themselves despite the many voluntary agreements that already exist, such as the Green Bond Principles, which provide guidelines for financing environmentally sound and sustainable projects. Therefore, governments must step in. Financial regulators could require the disclosure of climate-related investments, prohibit companies from making new investments in coal or other high-carbon industries (as recently proposed in a bill by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon), and promote cooperation among central banks to reduce climate-related risks in the financial system. The U.S. Federal Reserve recently joined the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, a group of 80 central banks and supervisory authorities that is sharing best practices for strengthening the financial system’s resilience to climate-related risks. The developed and the developing world must collaborate to avoid the worst effects of climate change. The public sector is in equally dire need of reform. The governments of major emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia, must reform their state-owned enterprises to be carbon neutral and start moving away from taxes on fuel as a major source of revenue. One option is to shift from fuel and income taxes to carbon taxes, which could promote the use of low-carbon energy sources while allowing governments to maintain their tax bases. Industrialized nations that have already implemented a carbon tax should provide technical assistance to developing countries. Norway, for example, has deep experience with these policies: it has proposed tripling its national tax on carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, while also committing to offset these increases with reductions in other taxes to avoid decreased competitiveness. The other big task is to fundamentally rethink how global development institutions function. The inventor Charles Kettering, who led General Motors’ research division in the first half of the twentieth century, once observed that managers should “never put a new technology in an old division,” because it will get eaten by its siblings. That is why the world needs a new global green development bank. Such a bank should be modeled on the World Bank or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank but be devoted solely to financing low-carbon, resilient economic development trajectories. It could offer grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other types of investments to developing countries without the cumbersome project-by-project approach currently used by the Green Climate Fund. It should be staffed by experts who can provide technical assistance to developing countries about how to establish the environment necessary to spur private-sector investment in low-carbon industries. Ideally, it would induce a “race to the top” as each country tried to outperform the others in the delivery of sustainable prosperity solutions. Finally, a low-carbon development model must concentrate on green industrialization—that is, job creation and growth in industries that do not result in pollution. Moving forward, this model could tap new digital technologies to produce economic activity that is less carbon-intensive. Expanding service industries, creating strategies for sustainable agriculture, and investing in new high-tech energy, transportation, and building industries are also key elements of a low-carbon development model. There have been important success stories in the developing world that show the potential of this kind of development model. In India, a state-owned company aggregated commitments from cities and states to buy 85,000 electric three-wheelers, which are now available for purchase at subsidized rates. In Kerala, the state government has ordered that government offices purchase electric vehicles. These are the sort of procurement and financing arrangements that the developing world needs going forward. But electric vehicles still accounted for less than two percent of India’s automobile sales last year, underscoring the need to quickly scale up efforts t decarbonize economies around the world. LEADING THE WAY It is entirely possible to stop the next wave of emissions, provided both developed and developing countries show leadership in confronting the challenge. Many emerging economies are willing to adopt policies to mitigate climate change: of the roughly two dozen countries identified as having the potential for high emission growth, half have proposed net-zero targets for midcentury. Indonesia is about to institute a modest carbon tax on coal plants, and Mexico and South Africa already have carbon taxes in place. China recently finalized a national emission-­trading system for power plants, and Kazakhstan has established its own emission-trading regime. Ethiopia has released an economic strategy that prioritizes green development, featuring plans to expand its electricity supply from renewables and to reforest the country. But these countries also need financing and policy support, and unfortunately, the world’s two largest economies have failed to offer climate leadership. The United States has not modeled a good policy approach to low-carbon economic growth, as meaningful climate legislation remains stalled in Congress. The country arguably leads the world in clean energy research and development, but it falls terribly short in transferring those inventions to the marketplace because of its historical inability to create stable market incentives for low-carbon industries. The United States should be leading the push for reform of the multilateral development banks and the establishment of a global green bank. It must also begin regulating its private banks so that they cease investing in high-carbon industries and instead provide finan­cing for low-carbon industries and fuels.  China, meanwhile, has concentrated on industrial policy for low-carbon industries. Its firms have already conquered global solar markets and are on the way to expanding their control of the market for electric vehicles and batteries. Likewise, Beijing created stable markets for renewable energy deployment, resulting in China having the largest renewable energy capacity in the world. But China is far from a role model: it has not yet managed to stop building coal plants or to reform its fossil-fuel-based state-owned enterprises. Furthermore, it has not yet articulated a plan for increasing financing of clean industries overseas, and its investments through the BRI and other funding instruments remain shrouded in secrecy. Both the United States and China need to fully disclose their public and private investments in overseas markets so that they can be held to account for their impact on the climate. This abdication of leadership leaves the ball in the court of major developing countries, such as India, Indonesia, and South Africa, to forge a new approach. Developing countries have proved their capacity for innovation but need resources and policy assistance from their developed counterparts to transition to a low-carbon development model. This support from rich economies—which became rich, needless to say, by pumping the lion’s share of carbon into the atmosphere—is the only way for the world to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Regenerative agriculture will reverse climate change

InHabitat, 1-31-21, Why regenerative agriculture will reverse climate change,

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture describes farming practices that create a cycle of caring for the soil through responsible grazing and land management. It’s a general term that encompasses a range of practices from composting to pasture cropping. The primary goal of regenerative agriculture is to enhance and retain the biodiversity in soil that has been continuously stripped for generations.

Why do we need regenerative agriculture?

The need for a conversion to regenerative agriculture is clear: higher temperatures and water shortages are impacting the food supply around the globe. Desertification, erosion, flooding and wildfires are other indicators of poor soil health. The causes of this soil damage are many and varied. They include the use of pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals, as well as overgrazing of the land and damaging crop planting practices.

A transition to regenerative agriculture means investing in small farmers who work the land with a variety of old school practices like growing organic crops, timed grazing of livestock animals, so they benefit rather than harm the land, and planting practices that avoid tilling the soil when planting.

All of these practices work in conjunction to create farms that bring a host of benefits. Imagine replacing industrialized crop production with smaller and well-managed farms with an emphasis on healthy land management. Considering around one-third of our planet is used in food production, this is a swap that can provide better soil for future generations to come.

Supporters of the movement are confident regenerative agriculture can not only slow, but reverse climate change. Regenerative agriculture rebuilds soil organic matter and restores degraded soil biodiversity, which controls carbon sequestration and improves water efficiency. In addition to supporting smaller farmers around the world and protecting the soil for the future, regenerative farming results in the same or improved food yields, the elimination of fertilizers and other chemicals and practices that don’t require expensive and damaging equipment. That means more hands-on jobs, shorter transport distances and higher profits. The truth is, the planet cannot support our current rate of food production if we continue to use the same processes that have changed the makeup of the soil. Even beyond the decrease in fertile soil and biodiversity that marks health, there’s another concerning factor for the future of agriculture: the loss of knowledge in regards to how to manage land wholesomely. Since regenerative agriculture happens on a small scale, it’s a lifestyle. The knowledge base can then be passed onto the next generation. This is an issue that can’t wait for the next generation before addressing a solution. Soil scientists estimate that with the current rate of indigenous seed loss and soil destruction, we will be facing serious natural food shortages within 50 years. Rather than investing heavily in lab-made foods, regenerative farming and grazing can not only protect the land, but also the rest of the environment suffering damage due to climate change caused by carbon release. “Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our four billion acres of cultivated farmland, eight billion acres of pastureland and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to feed the world, keep global warming below two degrees Celsius or halt the loss of biodiversity,” according to Regeneration International. What is considered regenerative farming? Some of the types of permaculture and organic farming practices that fall under the umbrella of regenerative agriculture include: aquaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, biochar, compost, holistic planned grazing, no-till management, pasture cropping, use of perennial crops and silvopasture. Although the movement offers promise, the need is urgent and immediate. In order for regenerative agriculture to swiftly derail climate change, it needs to be a coordinated global approach. The good news is that many areas already have a system in place. Others are seeing the benefits and making the change. As a consumer, buying from local farms at the farmer’s market and looking for the Fair Trade label when buying from other parts of the world ensure environmental, economic and worker protections. “

Reaching 1.5 degrees requires net zero by 2

Bordoff & O’Sullivan, 2022 (Foreign Affairs, January, February, Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy, JASON BORDOFF is Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council; MEGHAN L. O’SULLIVAN is Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan,

A move away from oil and gas will reconfigure the world just as dramatically. But discussions about the shape of a clean energy future too often skip over some important details. For one thing, even when the world achieves net-zero emissions, it will hardly mean the end of fossil fuels. A landmark report published in 2021 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that if the world reached net zero by 2050—as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned is necessary to avoid raising average global temperatures by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and thus prevent the worst impacts of climate change—it would still be using nearly half as much natural gas as today and about one-quarter as much oil.

Clean energy transition means Russian oil becomes too expensive

Bordoff & O’Sullivan, 2022 (Foreign Affairs, January, February, Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy, JASON BORDOFF is Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council; MEGHAN L. O’SULLIVAN is Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan,

In addition, the transition to clean energy will wind up augmenting the influence of some oil and gas exporters by concentrating global production in fewer hands. Eventually, the demand for oil will decline significantly, but it will remain substantial for decades to come. Many high-cost producers, such as those in Canada and Russia’s Arctic territory, could be priced out of the market as demand (and, presumably, the price of oil) falls.

Achieving net-zero requires carbon removal

Bordoff & O’Sullivan, 2022 (Foreign Affairs, January, February, Green Upheaval: The New Geopolitics of Energy, JASON BORDOFF is Co-Founding Dean of the Columbia Climate School and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. During the Obama administration, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the staff of the National Security Council; MEGHAN L. O’SULLIVAN is Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power. During the George W. Bush administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan,

For the past 30 years, rates of growth in the developing world have on the whole exceeded those in the developed world, fueling a gradual economic convergence of rich countries and poor ones. In the long run, the transition to clean energy promises to reinforce that trend. Although a net-zero world will still entail hardships, it will also mean far less pain for developing countries than a world of unchecked climate change. Moreover, many developing countries enjoy abundant, low-cost clean energy resources, such as solar power, which they will be able to use at home or export as either electricity or fuels. A fair number also boast geologic formations excellent for storing carbon dioxide that will need to be removed from the atmosphere. (According to some estimates, one-fifth of the reduction in carbon dioxide necessary to achieve net-zero emissions will come from carbon removal.)