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Climate Scientist: 2 Degrees of Warming Too Much ("this scenario is certain - IPCC")

Climate Scientist: 2 Degrees of Warming Too Much ("this scenario is certain - IPCC") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Famed climate scientist James Hansen and colleagues from a diverse array of disciplines, including economist Jeffrey Sachs, make the case that warming needs to be kept below the widely cited figure of 2 degrees Celsius, by means of a carbon tax.

International climate negotiators agreed in the Copenhagen Accord, a global agreement onclimate change that took place at the 2009 United Nations' Climate Change Conference, that warming this century shouldn't increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But in a new paper published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, Hansen and a cadre of co-authors from a wide array of disciplines argue that even 2 degrees is too much, and would "subject young people, future generations and nature to irreparable harm," Hansen wrote in an accompanying essay distributed to reporters.

The new study is a departure from the typical climate science paper, both for the wide variety of fields represented in the list of co-authors, which includes economist Jeffrey Sachs, as well as for the policy implications it raises, something climate scientists tend to shy away from. The authors also plainly state that humanity has a moralobligation to future generations, the type of statement scientists also tend to avoid.

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The latest on what's happening to the climate and the issue of air pollution.
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UN, Vatican team up for climate change agenda ("it's good that they are on the same side")

UN, Vatican team up for climate change agenda ("it's good that they are on the same side") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The United Nations and Vatican joined forces Tuesday to warn about the dire effects of climate change, gathering religious leaders, Nobel laureates and heads of state to present a united front ahead…

The United Nations and Vatican joined forces Tuesday to warn about the dire effects of climate change, gathering religious leaders, Nobel laureates and heads of state to present a united front ahead of make-or-break environment talks later this year in Paris.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Pope Francis for framing the need to combat global warming as an urgent moral imperative, saying his upcoming encyclical provided an "unprecedented opportunity" to create a more sustainable future for the planet.

Ban opened a Vatican conference on the environment that is a key part of the Holy See's rollout of Francis' eagerly awaited encyclical, which is expected in June. While popes past have all taken strong stands in favor of environmental protection, Francis will be the first to address climate change in a pontiff's most authoritative teaching document.

The conference gathered Francis' key environmental advisers, the presidents of Italy and Ecuador, religious leaders from different faiths, Nobel laureates and respected climate change scientists. They were unanimous in agreeing that climate change is real, it's mostly human-induced, the poorest suffer the most from it and collective action is needed to stop it..

Bert Guevara's insight:

It's good that they are both on the same side of the climate divide.


"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Pope Francis for framing the need to combat global warming as an urgent moral imperative, saying his upcoming encyclical provided an "unprecedented opportunity" to create a more sustainable future for the planet."

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Laura Rathe's curator insight, May 3, 9:48 AM

El Papa Francisco y Ban Ki Moon, secretario general de la ONU concuerdan que el combate al cambio climático es un imperativo moral

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UN News - Air pollution in Europe costs $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, UN study shows

UN News - Air pollution in Europe costs $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, UN study shows | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The United Nations health agency reported today in first-of-its-kind study that air pollution across Europe is costing “a staggering” $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, which amounts to nearly one tenth of the region’s gross domestic product.

The economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe is the first assessment of the economic burden of deaths and diseases resulting from outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the region, according to the study, which was carried out by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The study was published as more than 200 representatives from European countries and international and non-governmental organizations gathered in Haifa, Israel, from 28 to 30 April to look at achievements, gaps and challenges and set future priorities. The cost of the health impacts of air pollution is one of many studies that will provide evidence on the environmental impacts on health to be released at the Haifa meeting.

“Reducing air pollution has become a top political priority,” Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) said.

According to the WHO announcement, “a staggering $1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region.”

“The economic cost of deaths alone accounts for over $1.4 trillion,” according to the study. “Adding another 10% to this, as the cost of diseases from air pollution, results in a total of almost $1.6 trillion.”

In addition, the study showed that “in no less than 10 of the 53 countries of the Region, this cost is at or above 20 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP), and amounted to nearly one tenth of the GDP of the entire European Union in 2013.

Bert Guevara's insight:

In pursuit of cheap fossil fuel and energy, Europe is losing more in deaths and diseases borne out of air pollution. Economic managers should begin to look at the bigger picture and promote investments in clean fuel and energy.


“The economic value of deaths and diseases due to air pollution – $1,600,000, 000, 000 – corresponds to the amount societies are willing to pay to avoid these deaths and diseases with necessary interventions,” it explained. “In these calculations, a value is attached to each death and disease, independent of the age of the person and which varies according to the national economic context.”

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New Ozone Destroying Gases On The Rise Says Study ("coming from production of HFCs but damages ozone")

New Ozone Destroying Gases On The Rise Says Study ("coming from production of HFCs but damages ozone") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

At present, naturally-emitted VSLS account for around 90% of the total ozone loss caused by VSLS in the lower stratosphere. However, the contribution from man-made VSLS compounds is increasing and appears set to increase further in coming years. 

Study co-author Dr Stephen Montzka from the NOAA added: “The increases observed for dichloromethane are striking and unexpected; concentrations had been decreasing slowly in the late 1990s, but since then have increased by about a factor of two at sites throughout the globe.”

Dr Hossaini said: “It is uncertain what is driving this growth. However, it could be partly due to the fact that dichloromethane is used in the manufacturing process of some HFCs, the 'ozone-friendly' gases which were developed to replace CFCs. This would mean, ironically, that production of ozone-friendly chemicals is actually releasing some ozone-destroying gases into the atmosphere.”

The researchers found that while the amount of ozone depletion arising from VSLS in the atmosphere today is small compared to that caused by longer-lived gases, such as CFCs, VSLS-driven ozone depletion was found to be almost four times more efficient at influencing climate.

Dr Hossaini explained: “Due to their short atmospheric lifetimes, VSLS break down and destroy ozone in the lowermost part of the stratosphere. This is important, as a molecule of ozone lost in this region has a far larger impact on climate than a molecule destroyed at higher altitudes by longer-lived gases.”

The researchers also separated out natural sources of VSLS – such as seaweed in the ocean – and those released due to human activity – such as industrial processes – in order to determine the relative importance of each.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The battle to save the ozone just became complicated! For serious climate advocates, read the article and learn more about "dichloromethane".

 

Dr Hossaini said: “It is uncertain what is driving this growth. However, it could be partly due to the fact that dichloromethane is used in the manufacturing process of some HFCs, the 'ozone-friendly' gases which were developed to replace CFCs. This would mean, ironically, that production of ozone-friendly chemicals is actually releasing some ozone-destroying gases into the atmosphere.”

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California drought, lack of snow got you down? Try rock skiing ("sad reality met w/ jokes to light up")

California drought, lack of snow got you down? Try rock skiing ("sad reality met w/ jokes to light up") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
A group of filmmakers poked gentle fun at California skiers who were recently photographed skiing on an anemic patch of snow on the state’s drought-ridden mountains, by promoting a new sport: rock skiing.

In the film from Happy United and Groove Guild, a skier and a snowboarder donning winter gear are seen climbing a steep, rocky mountain, then leaping off. The pair ski down the sharp rock edges, landing in gravel instead of snow.

Jumping off boulders, the snowboarder and skier appear to navigate every turn and twist with considerable skill despite the lack of snow.

Then things take a turn for the worse as the pair plunge to the ground. They can barely hold themselves as they slip on rocks down the mountain. The skier ends up spitting dirt.

The short film ends with "No snow," "No Water," "#Climatechangeisreal."

The filmmakers say the video illustrates "the effects of climate change on our once snow-capped peaks."

The nearly three-minute video refers to a series of photographs taken at ski resorts in Northern California in March, showing skiers gliding on thin patches of snow surrounded by dirt.

Officials say the dismal snow conditions are the result of four years of drought.

"This is arguably one of the driest winters we have had," Bob Roberts, president and chief executive of the California Ski Industry Assn., told the Los Angeles Times.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Don't worry; be happy! Can skiers take a joke? 

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Changing Climate Moving People - YouTube ("forced migration is the normal response in critical areas")

Changing Climate, Moving People is a 35-minute film made by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), for UNESCO, which looks at disaster or climate stress relat...

Changing Climate, Moving People is a 35-minute film made by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI), for UNESCO, which looks at disaster or climate stress related migration from three different regions in the country – Uttarakhand, Bundelkhand and Odisha. These three states are already amongst the leading sources for internal migration and have been hit by extreme weather events like floods (Uttarakhand), drought (Bundelkhand region) and cyclones (Odisha), which are likely to become more recurrent and stronger as a result of climate change. The film is divided in three parts, each of these looking at a specific region and the nature of migration happening out of the said region.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is how climate is changing people's lives. There will be more migration due to rising sea levels, drought, landslides, etc.

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Dry spell to intensify in May, warns PAGASA | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines

Dry spell to intensify in May, warns PAGASA | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned over the weekend that the dry spell will intensify in the next couple of weeks and affect more provinces in May.

“It’s possible. That the areas will increase by May due to the peak of the summer,” PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran told PNA last Saturday.

He said that PAGASA will assess other areas by the end of the month to determine if dry spell affected them.

Duran also said that the dry spell became drought upon reaching months of minimum rains.

He pointed out the end of the dry spell in 30 provinces cannot be estimated yet and will be based on further evaluation.

Earlier, PAGASA announced a dry spell mostly in Mindanao, some areas in Luzon, and a few more areas in the Visayas.

The low rainfall areas are: Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Batanes, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Sulu.

Bert Guevara's insight:

More bad news for agriculture.

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Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits ("almost all countries failed")

Climate plans put world on track for warming above agreed limits ("almost all countries failed") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Russia's strategy is especially weak because it lets greenhouse gas emissions rise, experts say

The United States, the 28-nation European Union, Russia, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway and Gabon have so far submitted strategies to the United Nations, meant as the building blocks of a global deal to be agreed in December at a summit in Paris.

"We regret that so few ... have been submitted," said Miguel Arias Canete, European Climate Action and Energy Commissioner. So far, national plans cover about 30 percent of world emissions.

March 31 was a first, informal deadline for plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), that are meant to help slow the effects of climate change. Most nations are waiting to submit their plans.

The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), compiled by scientists, said pledges so far put the world on track for average temperatures in the year 2100 three to four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than they were in pre-industrial time. That is well above a U.N. goal of a maximum 2 degrees C (3.6F) rise.

"Hopefully, there can be a dynamic to increase ambition" in coming months, said Niklas Hoehne, a founding partner of the New Climate Institute, which helps compile the CAT.

CAT gave Russia an "inadequate" rating and assessed others as "medium". It said reports that Japan was considering cuts of only 20 percent by 2030 would also be "inadequate". 

Russia's goal is to limit emissions to 25 to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But its emissions were 32 percent below the 1990 benchmark in 2012, a legacy of the collapse of Soviet-era smokestack industries, meaning a rise by 2030.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The world is still short in climate action! The people of the world have to suffer the consequences, whether guilty or not, some more than the others.

Climate justice is not fair in terms of punishment for the guilty.


"The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), compiled by scientists, said pledges so far put the world on track for average temperatures in the year 2100 three to four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than they were in pre-industrial time. That is well above a U.N. goal of a maximum 2 degrees C (3.6F) rise."

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Artificial Photosynthesis could be the key to cleaner environment | Uncover Michigan ("a game-changer")

Artificial Photosynthesis could be the key to cleaner environment | Uncover Michigan ("a game-changer") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Researchers at Berkeley Labs have achieved success in artificial photosynthesis with a system that is able to capture carbon dioxide emissions, powered by solar energy. The process is capable of converting the CO2 into chemical products including liquid fuels, biodegradable plastics and pharmaceutical drugs.

The research team at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have achieved success in creating a hybrid system of semiconducting nanowires and bacteria that work in a way similar to natural photosynthesis. The photosynthesis process is used by plants to synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water with the help of sunlight. The natural process helps reduce the carbon dioxide in the environment.

The artificial photosynthesis process could be a breakthrough in the field of climate change research. If with artificial photosynthesis process, we are able to reduce the carbon dioxide in the environment, the impact of greenhouse can could be reduce, thereby helping in reduce the impact of CO2 on climate change.

Chris Chang informed, "In natural photosynthesis, leaves harvest solar energy and carbon dioxide is reduced and combined with water for the synthesis of molecular products that form biomass. In our system, nanowires harvest solar energy and deliver electrons to bacteria, where carbon dioxide is reduced and combined with water for the synthesis of a variety of targeted, value-added chemical products."

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is a potential game-changer for the chemical and oil industry! The principle sounds basic enough.


"Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and one of the leaders of this study, said, "Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground."

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Pacific Winds Tied to Warming Slowdown, Dry West | Climate Central ("El Niño, drought & typhoons")

Pacific Winds Tied to Warming Slowdown, Dry West | Climate Central ("El Niño, drought & typhoons") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The global warming hiatus and western U.S. drought both have roots in the Pacific according to recent research.

Strong trade winds have been forcing heat into ocean depths, contributing to a temporary slowdown in land surface warming over the past 15 to 20 years that some have called a warming hiatus, pause or false pause. New research published in the Journal of Climate has gone further — implicating those winds in stubborn droughts afflicting Western states.

Delworth and his colleagues looked at the role strong winds blowing out of the east have played in pushing warm water across the Pacific and eventually forcing it below the surface. Meanwhile, cooler-than-normal water has risen up to replace it in the eastern Pacific, a mechanism that has temporarily helped slow the rate of warming on land, despite continued global warming. (Globally, 2014 was the hottest year on record, and 13 of the hottest 15 years have been recorded since 2000.)

The ocean and atmosphere are intimately linked, so the story doesn’t just stop in the watery depth of the Pacific. Delworth’s analysis shows the precipitation deficit that has driven drought in the western U.S. since the early 2000s is due to these changes in the Pacific region. In particular, ocean conditions have helped set up a ridge pattern that deflects storms into Canada.

The results of the research show that 92 percent of the dry conditions in the West can be tied back to the trade wind shift in the Pacific, with the remainder due to humanity’s greenhouse gas pollution.

Bert Guevara's insight:

A glimpse of how the Pacific Ocean is affecting Philippine weather. Climate scientists are still studying these new trends in the light of warming trends caused by GHG emissions.


“This new work, along with earlier studies, shows the importance of tropical Pacific conditions for U.S. droughts. It also illustrates the need for accurate and long-range prediction of tropical Pacific climate anomalies,” he said in an email.

“We need water resource systems that are resilient to those extremes in systems due solely to natural variability,” Delworth said. “Riding on top of that is this long-term warming trend that will also increase demand.”

"There’s also a question of just how long the winds will continue to blow and what their impact will be. Xie said the findings offer a “tantalizing” glimpse of their impact if they persist."


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Travel from Daejeon to Sejong by bike Watch it . - YouTube ("attempt to use solar as shaded bike lane")

Travel from Daejeon to Sejong by bike (Watch it from the air) Aerial view of the bicycle road between Daejeon and Sejong, both cities are located 2~3 hours s...

We're going to ignore, at least for a moment, the bike-riders-sucking-down-car-fumes aspect of this particular green-energy-transportation plan. In South Korea, a 20-mile bike line has been built down the middle of a highway (talk about a "protected" bike lane), and it's covered in solar panels. Now all we need is for South Koreans to embrace plug-in vehicles en masse.
Yes, the path travels between the cities of Daejeon and Sejong in a region about 100 miles south of Seoul, right down what was the center median of a six-lane highway. And those panels do provide some much-needed shade, in addition to generating energy.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is an interesting way of using road space as a solar lane to produce electricity. It also serves as a bike lane.
Watch the video.

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Coal Is Dead: It's Time to Accept It ("times have changed & gov'ts have to re-assess their positions")

Coal Is Dead: It's Time to Accept It ("times have changed & gov'ts have to re-assess their positions") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
[The Motley Fool] For years, coal supporters have been saying that a turnaround is just around the corner. China's demand is about to pick up, domestic environmental regulations will be struck down and we'll fire up coal plants again, or clean coal is here!

Whether it's regulations, smog, or cost, there's no country that wants to build more coal power plants than it absolutely has to. That puts coal producers in a tough position, dealing with falling demand and competitors that are fighting over scraps of the coal market.

China has been reliant on coal for energy growth, but cities choking on pollution have pushed the country away from the fossil fuel. Beijing is shutting down all four of its coal plants to reduce pollution and replace them with plants burning natural gas. The country has also made a huge investment in renewable energy, installing more wind and solar than any other country in the last two years.   

Coal supporters like to blame regulation for coal's current demand problems. That's part of the problem, but the bigger problem is competition. As coal plants age, it is now more cost-effective to build natural gas plants, wind, and even solar power plants to replace them.

Below is Lazard's levelized cost of energy ranges for natural gas and coal plants in the U.S. You can see that coal was more expensive than natural gas long before recent EPA regulations were proposed.

Coal versus solar or wind is even more problematic, because not only are they lowering costs at a rapid rate (while the cost of coal slowly rises), they're now lowering costs below even the low end of coal in some locations. In the chart below, you can see that coal's cost range of $66-$151 cents MW-hr has been overtaken in the past couple years by wind at $14-$67 per MW-hr and solar at $56-$86 per MW-hr today. 

Bert Guevara's insight:

So why is the Philippines going ahead with its coal power plants? Is NEDA or the DOE living in a different world?

"Coal versus solar or wind is even more problematic, because not only are they lowering costs at a rapid rate (while the cost of coal slowly rises), they're now lowering costs below even the low end of coal in some locations. In the chart below, you can see that coal's cost range of $66-$151 cents MW-hr has been overtaken in the past couple years by wind at $14-$67 per MW-hr and solar at $56-$86 per MW-hr today."

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Direct Observation Of CO2's Impact On Warming Reported ("no more denial possible; humans to blame")

Direct Observation Of CO2's Impact On Warming Reported ("no more denial possible; humans to blame") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The influence of atmospheric CO2 on the balance between incoming energy from the Sun and outgoing heat from the Earth (also called the planet’s energy balance) is well established. But this effect has not been experimentally confirmed outside the laboratory until now. The research is reported Wednesday, Feb. 25, in the advance online publication of the journal Nature.

The results agree with theoretical predictions of the greenhouse effect due to human activity. The research also provides further confirmation that the calculations used in today’s climate models are on track when it comes to representing the impact of CO2.

They found that CO2 was responsible for a significant uptick in radiative forcing at both locations, about two-tenths of a Watt per square meter per decade. They linked this trend to the 22 parts-per-million increase in atmospheric CO2 between 2000 and 2010. Much of this CO2 is from the burning of fossil fuels, according to a modeling system that tracks CO2sources around the world.

“We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,” says Daniel Feldman, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and lead author of the Nature paper.

“Numerous studies show rising atmospheric CO2concentrations, but our study provides the critical link between those concentrations and the addition of energy to the system, or the greenhouse effect,” Feldman adds.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Although stating what many consider as obvious, this experiment confirms that man-made carbon emissions are causing more heat to be trapped in the earth's surface.

 

"Daniel Feldman and colleagues obtained spectroscopic measurements and atmospheric data from the Southern Great Plains of the USA and the North Slope of Alaska from 2000 to 2010. The researchers report evidence of increased surface radiative forcing throughout the decade, which was directly attributable to the increase in CO2 of 22 parts per million over the same period. The study focused on clear-sky conditions, under which most CO2-mediated changes to Earth’s surface energy balance are predicted to occur.

"The authors suggest that if CO2 concentrations continue to rise at the current mean annual rate, their measurements will provide sustained evidence of changes to Earth’s surface energy budget due to CO2 emissions."

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How dry spell is affecting farmers? - YouTube ("a change in crop choices inevitable but are farmers ready?")

Farmers are now starting to get worried because the waters in their irrigation systems are now beginning to be emptied. Even the supply of sugar may become a...
Bert Guevara's insight:

Drought in the Philippines was anticipated last year, with the news of El Niño entering our country. It is now here, and agriculture is reeling from its severe effects. Smart agriculture demands a change in crop selection. How prepared are our farmers?

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UK Supreme Court orders Government to take “immediate action” on air pollution ("no time to waste")

UK Supreme Court orders Government to take “immediate action” on air pollution ("no time to waste") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
ClientEarth means Justice for the Planet. We are an organisation of activist environmental lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet. We work in Europe and beyond, bringing together law, science and policy to create pragmatic solutions to key environmental challenges.

The UK Supreme Court has quashed the Government’s ineffective plans to cut illegal levels of air pollution in Britain and ordered it to deliver new ones by the end of the year. 
The Supreme Court Justices were unanimous in their decision, handed down this morning, saying: “The new Government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”
The historic ruling is the culmination of a five year legal battle fought by ClientEarth for the right of British people to breathe clean air. 
The ruling will save thousands of lives a year by forcing the Government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide found in many of the UK’s towns and cities.
ClientEarth Lawyer Alan Andrews said: “Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people in this country every year. We brought our case because we have a right to breathe clean air and today the Supreme Court has upheld that right.”  
“This ruling will benefit everyone’s health but particularly children, older people and those with existing health conditions like asthma and heart and lung conditions.
“The next Government, regardless of the political party or parties which take power, is now legally bound to take urgent action on this public health crisis. Before next week’s election all political parties need to make a clear commitment to policies which will deliver clean air and protect our health.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

If the Philippine Supreme Court has the Manila Bay Mandamus, in UK they have the Clean Air Mandamus!

This is a victory for the environment and the people!


"The Supreme Court ruling means the Government must start work on a comprehensive plan to meet pollution limits as soon as possible. Among the measures that that it must consider are low emission zones, congestion charging and other economic incentives.
"ClientEarth is calling for action to clean up the worst polluting diesel vehicles, including through a national network of low emission zones."

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State of Earth in 4 Climate Trends ("even the pope has raised the concern for climate action")

State of Earth in 4 Climate Trends ("even the pope has raised the concern for climate action") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
On Earth Day, four climate trends reveal what's happening to our changing climate

But to really understand climate change, the trends are what matter. Here are four that make it clear how our planet is changing.

The Number: 400 ppm
The Trend: Current level of CO2, up from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm
Even though carbon dioxide doesn’t make up much of the Earth’s atmosphere, its heat-trapping ability helps prevent Earth from being cold and barren, like Mars. But there can be too much of a good thing: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has been steadily rising due to human activities like burning coal for electricity, with the excess CO2 trapping ever more heat and raising global temperatures. It is the trend that drives all of the others associated with global warming.

The Number: 1.6°F
The Trend: Rise in global temperatures since 1880
Since the advent of modern recordkeeping in 1880, the global average temperature has risen 1.6°F. The trend is one of the hallmarks of global warming and tightly tied with the rise in human CO2 emissions.

The Number: 361
The Trend: Consecutive months of above-normal temps
Every month, the story writes itself when it comes to the global average temperature: it’s above normal. Occasionally—and more frequently in recent years—it’s record-setting.

The Number: 10
The Trend: The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 1998
If you take those monthly temperature numbers and average them over a year, another notable trend emerges. All 10 of the warmest years on record have come since 1998. What’s more, 13 of the 15 warmest years have come since 2000, including the exclamation point of 2014, the hottest year on record (though its rein may be short-lived as 2015 is on track to take the crown). The odds of that happening by chance alone? About 1-in-27 million.


Bert Guevara's insight:

While we celebrate Earth Day, how is our planet doing?


"It’s easy to get caught up in individual records or wondering what influence climate change has on extreme weather events. But to really understand climate change, the trends are what matter. Here are four that make it clear how our planet is changing."

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Dosage may make the poison, but low exposures to these toxins may still pack a punch ("loaded air")

Dosage may make the poison, but low exposures to these toxins may still pack a punch ("loaded air") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The dose may make the poison, but a new study finds even low levels of certain toxins might affect our health.

Researchers from the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and the University of Colorado, Boulder reviewed 40 studies on those four chemicals, which are found at oil and gas wells and within everyday products such as gasoline, glues, detergents, dyes, and pesticides. Large doses of these substances can cause reproductive problems and cancer, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says they won’t harm us in smaller amounts. Not so, say the paper’s authors. They found that exposure levels lower than the EPA’s threshold could be linked to health issues like asthma, heart disease, and low birth weight.

The findings are cause for concern, says lead author Ashley Bolden, a research associate at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange.

The biggest danger, the report suggests, comes from exposure indoors, where Americans on average spend more than 80 percent of their time. Pollution can blow into homes through open windows, come in on dust from shoes, or off gas from toys and other products. The four chemicals studied are present in 90 percent of air samples, yet you’d never know it because they are odorless at low doses. Ethylbenzene, for example, is one of the top 10 chemicals used in kids’ toys and on playgrounds, where, according to the EPA, it can waft into the air or get onto little sneakers.

The review is important because the effects of low-level exposure to pollutants—especially these four—haven’t received much attention, says Ruthann Rudel, a toxicologist with the Silent Spring Institute, which studies environmental links to breast cancer. A spokesperson for the EPA told Environmental Health News that the agency would review Bolden’s paper and possibly incorporate some of its findings into its own work. With enough data, the agency could ban the chemicals from certain products or limit how much is allowed, depending on factors such as the likelihood to cause cancer or exacerbate other health issues.

Bert Guevara's insight:

You will find small amounts of poisons in the air, through the windows, in your shoes, in toys, etc. Even in small amounts, they can be harmful to the health.


"Until we know more about what we’re inviting in from outside, Bolden suggests making sure our buildings are well ventilated—a simple enough precaution, and hopefully in this case, too, a little will go a long way."

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Looking for Global Warming? Check the Ocean | Climate Central (93% of warming absorbed by oceans")

Looking for Global Warming? Check the Ocean | Climate Central (93% of warming absorbed by oceans") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Greenhouse gases are trapping a lot of heat in the climate system and most is ending up in the ocean.

But surface heat is but a fraction of the climate change equation. Only 7 percent of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is sticking around in the surface and atmosphere of the planet. The other 93 percent? That's ending up in the ocean, though some scientists expect some of that heat will eventually find its way back to the surface andtrigger even more warming.

“We continue to be stunned at how rapidly the ocean is warming,” Sarah Gille, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor, told Climate Central last year. 

Not only has the ocean been absorbing more heat than the surface of the earth, it's been absorbing ever greater quantities of it. Earlier this year, the ocean's heat literally went off the charts. The y-axis on a graphic that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration uses to measure ocean heat wasn't high enough to accomodate the latest measurements. Luckily, it was an easy fix to just add a few more zettajoules to the axis. 

Unfortunately it won't be quite as easy to fix the ocean, which has a long memory. It will take decades or even centuries after humans stop burning fossil fuels and emitting greenhouse gases for the ocean to reach equilibrium. In the meantime, all that extra stored heat will cause seawater to expand, raising sea levels, and altering the ecosystemsthat marine plants and animals have adapted to for eons.


Bert Guevara's insight:

This is worrisome because the world tends to be complacent with the thought that the oceans will always be there to absorb the heat. Well, that is not true forever.


"But surface heat is but a fraction of the climate change equation. Only 7 percent of the heat being trapped by greenhouse gases is sticking around in the surface and atmosphere of the planet. The other 93 percent? That's ending up in the ocean, though some scientists expect some of that heat will eventually find its way back to the surface andtrigger even more warming."

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Big Insurance Companies Are Warning The U.S. To Prepare For Climate Change ("this applies to the rest of the world")

Big Insurance Companies Are Warning The U.S. To Prepare For Climate Change ("this applies to the rest of the world") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Insurance companies are telling the U.S. to stop wasting so much money on responding to disasters after they happen.

According to a report released Tuesday by the SmarterSafer coalition, the U.S. needs to increase how much it spends on pre-disaster mitigation efforts and infrastructure protection. That way, it asserts, the U.S. can stop wasting so much money on cleaning up after a disaster happens.

“Our current natural disaster policy framework focuses heavily on responding to disasters, rather than putting protective measures in place to reduce our vulnerability and limit a disaster’s impact,” the report reads. “This needlessly exposes Americans to greater risks to life and property and results in much higher costs to the federal government.”

The SmarterSafer coalition is made up of more than 30 different groups, including some of the biggest insurance companies in the world: Allianz, Liberty Mutual, SwissRe, and USAA, to name a few. Adequately dealing with the risks of climate change is inherently important to the insurance industry, as failure to prepare can lead to increased costs for insurance companies when storms wipe out basements and take out walls.

Making sure the government is prepared is important for private insurers too. Because if governments don’t fortify their infrastructure, the damage can fall onto the companies. A good example is Farmers Insurance Co., which sued local governments in the Chicago area last year for failing to prepare for climate change (the lawsuits have since been dropped). That lack of preparedness, the lawsuits said, caused sewers to burst into people’s homes and property values to decline — damage that Farmers had to pay for.

The report suggested changing FEMA’s payment system so that states that have taken the most mitigation and preparation efforts are rewarded with more federal aid when disasters strike. “[R]ather than simply writing a blank check after every disaster,” it says, “disaster assistance must be provided on a sliding scale so that communities can get a full share of funding only if they have taken significant steps to protect its residents from harm.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

No room for climate denial when big insurance companies start counting the real costs of unpreparedness.

 

"One of the biggest climate risks is sea level rise, which has increased both the frequency and length of minor coastal flooding — also called “nuisance flooding.” Whereas nuisance flooding along the Atlantic, Gulf, and West Coasts only occurred less than once per year at any given location in the 1950s, it now occurs on average about once every three months, the report says.

"In addition, periods of very heavy precipitation have increased in every region of the country except Hawaii since 1958, according to the National Climate Assessment. That’s been particularly bad in the Northeast and Midwest, which have seen 71 percent and 37 percent increases in very heavy precipitation, respectively.

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Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables ("numbers show a clear trend for renewables")

Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables ("numbers show a clear trend for renewables") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
This is the beginning of the end.

The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there's no going back. 

The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added. 

"The electricity system is shifting to clean,'' Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said in his keynote address. "Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas."

The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

The question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take. In the chart below, BNEF forecasts the billions of dollars that need to be invested each year in order to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change, represented by a benchmark increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

The blue lines are what's needed, in billions; the red lines show what's actually being spent. Since the financial crisis, funding has fallen well short of the target, according to BNEF. 

Bert Guevara's insight:

The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

The question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take. In the chart below, BNEF forecasts the billions of dollars that need to be invested each year in order to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change, represented by a benchmark increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius. 

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New Studies Reveal Climate Extremes From Fire to Ice | Climate Central ("CO2 & the snowball earth theory")

New Studies Reveal Climate Extremes From Fire to Ice | Climate Central ("CO2 & the snowball earth theory") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Two new studies show how drastically CO2 has affected Earth's climate in the distant past.

Climate scientists don't just rely on computer models and contemporary observations to understand the intimate relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and environmental conditions on Earth. They also look to the ancient past — and two reports in recent days have made it clear how intimate that relationship is. One chronicles an episode 2.4 billion years in the past, when the entire planet was covered in a layer of ice hundreds of feet thick, oceans and all, while global average temperatures hovered around 40° F below zero.

A massive infusion of heat-trapping CO2 from powerful volcanoes — more CO2 than we're likely to emit in many hundreds of years, to be sure — saved the planet from this so-called Snowball Earth environment. The second report covers an event that happened about 250 million years ago, and this time the effects weren't so benign. Another set of gigantic eruptions poured enough CO2 into the air not only to warm the planet drastically, but also to acidify the oceans so profoundly that some 90 percent of all ocean species died off, followed by two-thirds of land species. It's the worst mass extinction, as far as we know, in history.

These monumental episodes of climate change, both linked intimately to levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, are a testament to the dramatic effects this greenhouse gas has on the entire planet. So it's no surprise that the smaller amounts we're emitting could have a significant effect as well.

What the new paper adds is a good estimate of where temperatures stood at the time. “Nowadays,” said lead author Daniel Hewartz, a geologist with the University of Göttingen, “you can measure past temperatures by looking at ice cores” — that is, samples of ancient ice drilled from the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica.

Bert Guevara's insight:

For serious climate students, here is an interesting theory about carbon dioxide and how it shaped the planet's climate.


"Both of these reports on ancient CO2 and climate will need confirmation from future studies, since both involve difficult measurements at the edge of what’s technically possible. But both are entirely consistent with the picture climate scientists have been putting together for more than a century. Carbon dioxide was a key driver of the climate system billions of years ago, and it still is."

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Dry spell hits 30 provinces | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News ("El Nino still mild level")

Dry spell hits 30 provinces | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News ("El Nino still mild level") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Manila Bulletin, the nation's leading newspaper, brings you the latest news and current events in the Philippines and abroad daily, since 1900.

At least 30 provinces are now experiencing the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon which will be experienced until the middle of the year, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) acting Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano said yesterday.

State weather forecaster said the El Niño phenomenon may even strengthen toward the end of the year.

The provinces currently experiencing the dry spell are:

1.            Abra 

2.            Benguet

3.            Ifugao

4.            Kalinga

5.            Apayao

6.            Ilocos Norte

7.            Ilocos Sur

8.            La Union

9.            Batanes

10.          Pampanga

11.          Tarlac

12.          Zambales

13.          Palawan

14.          Negros Occidental

15.          Negros Oriental

16.          Bohol

17.          Zamboanga del Norte

18.          Zamboanga del Sur

19.          Zamboanga Sibugay

20.          Camiguin

21.          Lanao del Norte

22.          Misamis Occidental

23.          Misamis Oriental

24.          South Cotabato

25.          Sarangani

26.          Agusan del Norte

27.          Surigao del Norte

28.          Basilan

29.          Lanao del Sur

30.          Sulu.

 

Based on the monthly weather outlook of the PAGASA, slightly warmer than average air temperatures are likely to be felt in most parts of the country except for slightly cooler than average air temperatures over the mountainous areas of Luzon and Mindanao.

Bert Guevara's insight:

At least 30 provinces are now experiencing the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon which will be experienced until the middle of the year, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) acting Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano said yesterday.

State weather forecaster said the El Niño phenomenon may even strengthen toward the end of the year.

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JFK Profile In Courage Award Going To Former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis ("strange how truth hurts")

JFK Profile In Courage Award Going To Former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis ("strange how truth hurts") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
In 2010, Inglis, R-S.C., lost his seat in the Tea Party wave for, among other things, accepting climate change. Past winners of the award include President George H.W. Bush.

The foundation said in a statement:

"Inglis is being awarded this honor for the courage he demonstrated when reversing his position on climate change after extensive briefings with scientists, and discussions with his children, about the impact of atmospheric warming on our future.

"Knowing the potential consequences to his political career, Inglis nevertheless called on the United States to meaningfully address the issue. In June, 2010, Inglis lost his re-election to the U.S. Congress."

Inglis, a former South Carolina congressman, was first elected to Congress in 1992. He will receive the award on May 3 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Inglis now runs the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University, which advocates a free market approach to climate change. In a response posted on Twitter, he said: "It's thrilling — incredibly thrilling — to be selected for this year's" award.

The Profiles in Courage prize was awarded last year to President George H.W. Bush. Other past winners include President Gerald Ford and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, as well as former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.

Bert Guevara's insight:

While the rest of the world is either bracing for or reeling from the disasters of climate change, there are people still persecuted for talking about it.

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China's coal imports fall nearly half in 12 mo. as anti-pollution drive bites ("someone's listening")

China's coal imports fall nearly half in 12 mo. as anti-pollution drive bites ("someone's listening") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The slowing economy and tougher environmental checks to curb chronic air pollution problems are behind the 42% drop in imports

China’s coal imports fell by nearly half in the first three months of the year as the slowing economy and tougher rules on pollution took their toll.

Imports by the world’s biggest coal consumer reached 49.07m tonnes in the first quarter, a fall of 42% on the same period a year ago according to data from the Chinese customs office. 

“We have seen an even weaker coal demand in March,” said Zhang Xiaojin, an analyst at Everbright Futures in Zhengzhou.

Along with subdued demand, China’s demand for coal has been curbed by tougher environmental checks from Beijing to tackle air pollution.

China will boost efforts this year to reduce pollution and cut the energy intensity of its economy, which is expected to grow at its lowest rate in 25 years.

The national development commission said in its annual report in March that it would implement policies aimed at reducing coal consumption and controlling the number of energy-intensive projects in polluted regions.

“The rigid demand for coal is no longer there despite collapsing prices. Power plants no longer purchase extra coal, and traditional heavy consumers from the industrial sector are buying less amid economic slowdown,” Zhang said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

A little bit of good news for clean air and the climate.

“The rigid demand for coal is no longer there despite collapsing prices. Power plants no longer purchase extra coal, and traditional heavy consumers from the industrial sector are buying less amid economic slowdown,” Zhang said.

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World Is Locked into ~1.5°C Warming & Risks Are Rising, New Climate Report Finds ("we told you so!")

World Is Locked into ~1.5°C Warming & Risks Are Rising, New Climate Report Finds ("we told you so!") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
Turn Down the Heat: Confronting the New Climate Normal explores the impact of climate change in Latin America, Central Asia and the Middle East and finds that warming of close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times is already locked into the earth's atmosphere.

In the Andes of South America and across the mountains of Central Asia, the glaciers are receding. As temperatures continue to warm, their melting will bring more water to farms and cities earlier in the growing season, raising the risks of damaging floods. Within a few decades, however, the risk of flood will become risk of drought. Without action to stop the drivers of climate change, most of the Andean glaciers and two-thirds of Central Asia’s glaciers could be gone by the end of the century.

These changes are already underway, with global temperatures 0.8 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, and the impact on food security, water supplies and livelihoods is just beginning.

A new report exploring the impact of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and finds that warming of close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial times is already locked into the Earth’s atmospheric system by past and predicted greenhouse gas emissions. Without concerted action to reduce emissions, the planet is on pace for 2°C warming by mid-century and 4°C or more by the time today’s teenagers are in their 80s.

The report warns that as temperatures rise, heat extremes on par with the heat waves in the United States in 2012 and Russia in 2010 will become more common. Melting permafrost will release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that will drive more warming in a dangerous feedback loop. Forests, including the Amazon, are also at risk. A world even 1.5°C will mean more severe droughts and global sea level rise, increasing the risk of damage from storm surges and crop loss and raising the cost of adaptation for millions of people.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Nothing new, except that the future bad news is happening tomorrow and that little can be done to stop it. The most that can be achieved in our lifetime is to slow it down.

 

“Today’s report confirms what scientists have been saying – past emissions have set an unavoidable course of warming over the next two decades, which will affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the most,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said.  “We cannot continue down the current path of unchecked, growing emissions.”

As governments gather in Lima for the next round of climate negotiations, this report and others provide direction and evidence of the risks and the need for ambitious goals to decarbonize economies now. 

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Scientists confirm that the Arctic could become a major new source of carbon emissions ("bad news?")

Scientists confirm that the Arctic could become a major new source of carbon emissions ("bad news?") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
There's no good news to be found in the latest numbers on how much carbon the Arctic contains, or how fast it could come out.

Overall, it’s a troubling large amount of carbon — especially in light ofnumbers presented by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggesting that if we want to have a good chance of holding global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, we probably have only about 500 more gigatons of carbon in total that we can emit.

“We’ve gone back with this whole synthesis effort, looked through all the data, and synthesized, and yeah, this problem is not going away,” says lead study author Schuur.

Fortunately, the new study also finds that any sudden or catastrophic release of Arctic carbon stores is unlikely. Rather, the experts estimate that by 2100, somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of the 1,330-1,580 gigatons could  be emitted. Ten percent of the total would equate to around 130 to 160 gigatons of carbon emitted this century — which is both good news and bad news at the same time.

The good news is that the permafrost emissions are “unlikely to occur at a speed that could cause abrupt climate change over a period of a few years to a decade,” as the study puts it. The bad news, though, is that 160 gigatons, even though it’s less than we’re expected to emit from fossil fuels in coming decades, is still a large enough amount to really matter for the planet — especially given the relatively tight carbon budget that we have remaining.

Bert Guevara's insight:

No matter how I analyze this report, there is no good news that can come out of it; except that it will be felt in the next decade. But this is just delaying the inevitable.

 

"The good news is that the permafrost emissions are “unlikely to occur at a speed that could cause abrupt climate change over a period of a few years to a decade,” as the study puts it. The bad news, though, is that 160 gigatons, even though it’s less than we’re expected to emit from fossil fuels in coming decades, is still a large enough amount to really matter for the planet — especially given the relatively tight carbon budget that we have remaining."

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