I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
NEWS
+
VIEWS
May 15 2024

heat records continue to be broken, a global coral bleaching event underway, more EV charging stations needed, too much solar electricity in California sometimes, battery costs continue to drop

April 2024 continued 11 months of record-setting heat across the globe. The Washington Post describes heat waves in Africa and Asia as climate change and El Niño combine to push temperatures into uncharted territory. Axios notes that this heat wave is affecting hundreds of millions of people, with temperature records being set in some of the world’s largest cities. The New York Times reports that, based on an analysis of tree rings, the summer of 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years. As El Niño wanes, it is expected that temperatures will fall below record levels in the latter half of 2024.

Grist reports that, for the second time this decade, a global coral bleaching event is underway, with over half of the world’s reef areas affected. Bleaching, caused by elevated ocean temperatures, is when the coral polyp ejects its photosynthetic partner, resulting in a white or “bleached” appearance. If temperatures stay elevated for too long, the corals will die, imperiling the ecosystems of which they are a foundation, including $11 trillion of human economic activity around the world. This may represent coral reefs going through a “tipping point” where their continued survival becomes impossible. Already, “the Great Barrier Reef, for example, has gone through five mass bleaching events in the last eight years, leaving little chance for recovery. Florida has already lost more than 90 percent of its coral reefs.”

Global warming is reducing the mass of ice sheets and glaciers globally, and most glaciers are expected to continue retreating at an accelerated pace. ZME Science reports that Venezuela has officially lost its last glacier, as the La Corona (or Humboldt) glacier is now “a piece of ice that is 0.4 percent of its original size.” Many other countries will follow, and this will impact drinking water availability, agriculture and river ecology around the world. My post, the The Breath of a Dying Glacier, includes a photo from my trip to one of California’s last glaciers…

read more
April 30 2024

the challenges of geo-engineering, “zombie fires” portend another bad Canadian fire season, coastal land subsidence increases sea level rise impacts, new nuclear-power plants operational in Georgia, peak use of fossil fuels in electricity sector

As it becomes clear that we are making little headway in reducing fossil-fuel burning, more attention is being paid to climate- or geo-engineering to reduce the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions. These efforts fall into two groups: reducing incoming solar radiation and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Inside Climate News describes the serious technical, political and moral challenges associated with “solar radiation management,” where particles are injected in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight (major volcanic eruptions like Mount Pinatubo in 1991 act on the Earth’s climate in this manner). An op-ed in The New York Times argues for the need for transparent experimentation as this technology is investigated. The Times also reports on marine cloud brightening, a technology that attempts to reflect sunlight on a more local scale (rather than injecting particles into the stratosphere). By purposely altering the energy balance of the earth, these technologies will undoubtedly lead to unanticipated changes in the weather in different places. Critics argue that we should be focusing all of our efforts on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, not further manipulating the planet’s climate.

The New York Times examines the largest projects that are attempting direct air capture, where renewable energy (geothermal or solar) is used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These efforts are highly criticized as too expensive to be meaningful, and imply that it is possible to keep burning fossil fuels. The large plants under construction, when complete, will still only capture 1% of global emissions.

Inside Climate News reviews another way to remove carbon from the atmosphere, creating biochar from plants and other organic materials and returning it to the soil. Biochar, created by burning materials in the absence of oxygen, not only ties up carbon in a very stable chemical structure, but also is a valuable soil amendment for farmers (although right now it is much more expensive than fertilizer). “The process of making biochar has other byproducts, like oil that can easily be made into asphalt, sugar and liquid fuel that can be used for shipping and aviation…”

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES
 

NEWS
+
VIEWS
I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
May 15 2024

heat records continue to be broken, a global coral bleaching event underway, more EV charging stations needed, too much solar electricity in California sometimes, battery costs continue to drop

April 2024 continued 11 months of record-setting heat across the globe. The Washington Post describes heat waves in Africa and Asia as climate change and El Niño combine to push temperatures into uncharted territory. Axios notes that this heat wave is affecting hundreds of millions of people, with temperature records being set in some of the world’s largest cities. The New York Times reports that, based on an analysis of tree rings, the summer of 2023 was the hottest in 2,000 years. As El Niño wanes, it is expected that temperatures will fall below record levels in the latter half of 2024.

Grist reports that, for the second time this decade, a global coral bleaching event is underway, with over half of the world’s reef areas affected. Bleaching, caused by elevated ocean temperatures, is when the coral polyp ejects its photosynthetic partner, resulting in a white or “bleached” appearance. If temperatures stay elevated for too long, the corals will die, imperiling the ecosystems of which they are a foundation, including $11 trillion of human economic activity around the world. This may represent coral reefs going through a “tipping point” where their continued survival becomes impossible. Already, “the Great Barrier Reef, for example, has gone through five mass bleaching events in the last eight years, leaving little chance for recovery. Florida has already lost more than 90 percent of its coral reefs.”

Global warming is reducing the mass of ice sheets and glaciers globally, and most glaciers are expected to continue retreating at an accelerated pace. ZME Science reports that Venezuela has officially lost its last glacier, as the La Corona (or Humboldt) glacier is now “a piece of ice that is 0.4 percent of its original size.” Many other countries will follow, and this will impact drinking water availability, agriculture and river ecology around the world. My post, the The Breath of a Dying Glacier, includes a photo from my trip to one of California’s last glaciers…

read more
April 30 2024

the challenges of geo-engineering, “zombie fires” portend another bad Canadian fire season, coastal land subsidence increases sea level rise impacts, new nuclear-power plants operational in Georgia, peak use of fossil fuels in electricity sector

As it becomes clear that we are making little headway in reducing fossil-fuel burning, more attention is being paid to climate- or geo-engineering to reduce the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions. These efforts fall into two groups: reducing incoming solar radiation and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Inside Climate News describes the serious technical, political and moral challenges associated with “solar radiation management,” where particles are injected in the atmosphere to reflect sunlight (major volcanic eruptions like Mount Pinatubo in 1991 act on the Earth’s climate in this manner). An op-ed in The New York Times argues for the need for transparent experimentation as this technology is investigated. The Times also reports on marine cloud brightening, a technology that attempts to reflect sunlight on a more local scale (rather than injecting particles into the stratosphere). By purposely altering the energy balance of the earth, these technologies will undoubtedly lead to unanticipated changes in the weather in different places. Critics argue that we should be focusing all of our efforts on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, not further manipulating the planet’s climate.

The New York Times examines the largest projects that are attempting direct air capture, where renewable energy (geothermal or solar) is used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. These efforts are highly criticized as too expensive to be meaningful, and imply that it is possible to keep burning fossil fuels. The large plants under construction, when complete, will still only capture 1% of global emissions.

Inside Climate News reviews another way to remove carbon from the atmosphere, creating biochar from plants and other organic materials and returning it to the soil. Biochar, created by burning materials in the absence of oxygen, not only ties up carbon in a very stable chemical structure, but also is a valuable soil amendment for farmers (although right now it is much more expensive than fertilizer). “The process of making biochar has other byproducts, like oil that can easily be made into asphalt, sugar and liquid fuel that can be used for shipping and aviation…”

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES