Shut It Down: Now!

January 16, 2019

(Illustration found here).

As far as our environment goes, it’s getting way-close to the now-or-we’re-fucked point — the Guardian yesterday:

The study found that if all fossil fuel infrastructure — power plants, factories, vehicles, ships and planes — from now on are replaced by zero-carbon alternatives at the end of their useful lives, there is a 64-percent chance of staying under 1.5C.

Christopher Smith, of the University of Leeds, who led the research, said: “It’s good news from a geophysical point of view. But on the other side of the coin, the [immediate fossil fuel phaseout] is really at the limit of what we could we possibly do. We are basically saying we can’t build anything now that emits fossil fuels.”
Nicholas Stern, of the London School of Economics, who was not part of the research team, said: “We are rapidly approaching the end of the age of fossil fuels. This study confirms that all new energy infrastructure must be sustainable from now on if we are to avoid locking in commitments to emissions that would lead to the world exceeding the goals of the Paris agreement.”

Smith’s personal belief is that global heating will surpass 1.5C.
“We are going the right way, but I don’t think we will do enough, quickly enough. I think we are heading for 2C to 2.5C.”
But he added: “If you don’t have a goal, you are not going to get anywhere. If you have a target that is really hard to achieve and you miss it slightly, that is better than wandering aimlessly into a future climate that is no good for anybody.”

Optimism to the end…
Yet the indicators continue to indicate. The Guardian piece did include this note down near the bottom: ‘The analysis did not include the possibility of tipping points such as the sudden release of huge volumes of methane from permafrost, which could spark runaway global warming.’

In lock-step — via InsideClimateNews, also today:

Vast areas of permafrost around the world warmed significantly over the past decade, intensifying concerns about accelerated releases of heat-trapping methane and carbon dioxide as microbes decompose the thawing organic soils.
The warming trend is documented in a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications.
Detailed data from a global network of permafrost test sites show that, on average, permafrost regions around the world—in the Arctic, Antarctic and the high mountains—warmed by a half degree Fahrenheit between 2007 and 2016.
The most dramatic warming was found in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures in the deep permafrost increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

By some estimates, the Arctic permafrost contains enough carbon to nearly double the amount of CO2 currently in the Earth’s atmosphere.
A rapid meltdown would be disastrous because it could release a lot of CO2—in addition to methane, a powerful short-lived climate pollutant—to the atmosphere, where it would cause additional warming, said Ted Schuur, a permafrost expert at Northern Arizona University.
“This rate of warming suggests substantial change underway,” Schuur said.
“This is important and often overlooked news. We often don’t think about what we can’t see deep under the ground.”

Again just today, more research published about ocean warming (CNN):

The year 2018 passed the previous record set just the year before, in 2017; the top five years of ocean heat have come in the last five years.
Last year continues a startling trend of global ocean warming that is a direct result of humans’ warming of the planet, the authors say.

The same group of scientists published a study last week showing that oceans are warming faster than scientists thought, by absorbing more heat than was previously known.
That will result in a six-fold increase in ocean warming by 2081-2100, compared to the past 60 years.

Finally, the climate change struggle now really is against a two-pronged adversary  — one being natural elements being bombarded by humanity, the other being the T-Rump. Also from the Guardian, but this morning:

Planet-warming emissions would “rebound” under the Trump policy, researchers found, as it delays the retirement of coal-fired power plants.
Carbon dioxide emissions would be 8.7-percent higher in 18 states and Washington DC by 2030, compared with having no policy at all.
The study by the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, comes ahead of a congressional hearing on Wednesday to confirm Andrew Wheeler as the administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist and an architect of the new Trump emissions policy, has been acting EPA administrator since his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, departed last July.
“This new plan essentially gives out a free pass for carbon pollution,” said Kathleen Lambert, an expert in climate change and public health at Harvard who coauthored the research.
“It’s a recipe for increased carbon emissions. It will make it even harder for the US to meet its emissions targets under the Paris accord and sets us in exactly the opposite direction we need to go in.”


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