Climate Change Resists Narrative, Yet the Alphabet Prevails (A to Z): Now M!

by admin on January 13, 2023

OMG! Have you seen the most recent Lancet Countdown on the climate — code red!

Math Matters to Climate Crisis ~ Why do small degrees of warming matter?

From an Article by Seth Borenstein & Dana Beltaji, Associated Press, November 6, 2022

On a thermometer, a tenth of a degree seems tiny, barely noticeable. But small changes in average temperature can reverberate in a global climate to turn into big disasters as weather gets wilder and more extreme in a warmer world.

In 2015, countries around the world agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and pursue a goal of curbing warming to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) as part of the Paris Agreement.

Two degrees of difference might not be noticeable if you’re gauging the weather outside, but for global average temperatures, these small numbers make a big difference. “Every tenth of a degree matters,” is a phrase that climate scientists around the world keep repeating.

The Earth has already warmed at least 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, giving the world around 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 Fahrenheit) of more heating before passing the goal and suffering even more catastrophic climate change events, scientists have said.

These tenths of a degree are a big deal because the temperatures represent a global average of warming. Some parts of the world, especially land mass and northern latitudes like the Arctic have already warmed more than the 1.1 Celsius average and have far surpassed 1.5 Celsius, according to estimates.

It’s helpful to look at temperatures like a bell curve, rather than just the average which doesn’t reveal “hidden extremes,” said Princeton University climate scientist Gabe Vecchi.

“On the far end where the bell shape is very narrow, that is telling you the odds of very extreme events,” he said. “If you have a slight shift of the average of the peak of that bell to the warming direction, what that results in is a substantial decrease in the odds of extremely cold temperatures and a substantial increase in the odds of extremely warm temperatures.”

It’s a similar picture with sea level rise, where the average obscures how some places are seeing much higher sea level increases than others, he said.

Most nations — including the world’s two largest emitters, the U.S. and China — aren’t on track to limit warming to 1.5 Celsius or even 2 Celsius, according to scientists and experts who track global action on climate change, despite promises to cut their emissions to “net zero”.

If temperatures increase by about 2 more degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the world will experience five times the floods, storms, drought and heat waves, according to estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“All bets are off” when it comes to how climate systems will respond to more warming, warned Brown University climate scientist Kim Cobb. The threat of some irreversible changes and feedback loops that amplify warming, such as the thawing of permafrost that traps massive amounts of greenhouse gas, could trigger even more heating.

“It’s just staggering to think about how many people will be under immediate threat of climate-related extremes in a two degree world,” Cobb said.

>>> Follow Associated Press (AP) climate and environment coverage at


The 2022 Global Report of the Lancet Countdown

The health of people around the world is at the mercy of a persistent fossil fuel addiction.

People around the world are increasingly feeling the impact of climate change on their health and wellbeing and these compounding crises are amplifying those harms. Yet governments and companies in both high- and low-income countries continue to prioritise fossil fuel interests.

This year’s report launches as countries and health systems grapple with the health, social and economic implications of climate change, which now compound the impacts of the the global energy crisis, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Our 2022 Report tracks the relationship between health and climate change across five key domains and 43 indicators, revealing that the world is at a critical juncture.

While a renewed overreliance on fossil fuels could lock in a fatally warmer future with exacerbated health impacts, a health-centred, low-carbon response offers a renewed opportunity to deliver a future in which world populations can not only survive, but thrive.

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Elizabeth Kolbert January 13, 2023 at 10:19 am

Climate Change from A to Z ~ Math Matters With Climate Change, Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker Magazine, November 28, 2022

Carbon dioxide hangs around in the atmosphere for a long time. How long, exactly, is complicated; what matters in terms of the math, though, is not annual but aggregate emissions. This is where the notion of a carbon budget comes from: for every increment of warming, there’s a certain amount of CO2, in total, that can be emitted.

The budget for warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius — almost three degrees Fahrenheit — has, for all intents and purposes, been spent; at current emissions rates, it will run out entirely by 2030. Even the budget for two degrees Celsius — more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit — is going fast. It could easily be exhausted within the next few decades.

The U.S., with less than a twentieth of the globe’s population, accounts for a quarter of aggregate emissions. Europe, with about six per cent of the world’s population, is responsible for another !fth. At this point, there’s no way to shove all that CO2 back underground, so no way—or at least no safe way—for the rest of the world to catch up. This ethical challenge is as big as, or perhaps even bigger than, the technical challenge posed by climate change. But let’s try to stay positive.

The North grew wealthy by burning fossil fuels. It could use that wealth to help other nations leapfrog to renewables. In 2009, at cop15, in Copenhagen, the world’s richest countries took a !rst step in this direction. They pledged to create a fund to !nance clean energy and climate adaptation in countries such as India, Uganda, and Somalia. The fund would grow steadily until, by 2020, it was disbursing a hundred billion dollars a year. Hillary Clinton, who was then the Secretary of State, said in Copenhagen that the U.S. recognized the need for “generous !nancial and technological support,” particularly for the “poorest and most vulnerable.”



Times Dispatch January 13, 2023 at 12:14 pm

Another hot year, fossil fuels, and Virginians’ health

From the Alert by Sean Sublette, Richmond Times – Dispatch, January 13, 2023

The planetary warming signal continues to roar more loudly above the noise of everyday weather.

On Thursday, NOAA announced that 2022 was the sixth warmest year on record globally, matching an independent analysis from the Japan Meteorological Agency. NASA and the team at Berkeley Earth both calculated 2022 as the fifth warmest year on record, each using slightly different methods for their calculations.

GRAPH SHOWN: Global temperature anomalies through 2022. (Climate Central)

All of these organizations agree that the eight warmest years on record have come in the last eight years. These long term analyses indicate Earth’s average temperature is now about 2°F higher than at the end of the 19th century.

The warming in Virginia is in line with the planetary average. Statewide, the average temperature has climbed 1.5°F since that time. And with the exception of 2014, every year in the last quarter-century in Virginia has been warmer than the full 20th century average.

GRAPH SHOWN: Virginia annual average temperature through 2022. (NOAA)

There are no indications that warming is about to slow down. The increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a byproduct of burning coal, oil, and natural gas, is the primary reason for the warming.

Since 1979, carbon dioxide concentration in the air has increased 25 percent, an unprecedented rate of increase in human history. To slow down the warming, more work will need to be done to move away from energy sources that emit carbon dioxide, a process known in many circles as decarbonization.

In addition to carbon dioxide, the burning of coal, oil and natural gas produces pollutants that directly impact human health, from microscopic particles that permeate the bloodstream to nitrogen oxides that contribute to childhood asthma. An analysis released by the Virginia Climate Center at George Mason University examined the benefits of decarbonization of Virginia’s power plants by 2045, meeting the goals of the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act.

Dr. Nick Snow, a retired gastroenterologist in Winchester who continues working as an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University, sees the relationship very clearly. “If the VCEA goal is met, it will more rapidly reduce the risk of childhood asthma than without it.”

In addition to the immediate health benefits, VCC estimates a total health cost savings between $2.8 billion and $7 billion over the next 20 years for Virginians — mostly from the costs involved in premature death. People and businesses would also save upwards of $7.8 million by 2045, as the improved air quality means that people will lose less time at work from illness.

Notably, the air is cleaner than a few decades ago. Luis Ortiz, who led the VCC study, explains, “A lot of that benefit in those decades is from phasing out coal, which is very little of the power mix in Virginia right now. And coal is by far the most harmful of the pollutant-emitting power plants.”

Natural gas, also a fossil fuel, burns more cleanly than coal, but like other fossil fuels, burning it still produces airborne pollutants. Ortiz continues, “The move to natural gas has already produced a lot of benefits, in terms of emissions. Now it’s a matter of eliminating fossil fuels entirely from Virginia’s electricity production to further protect human health.”

The VCC analysis shows the biggest benefit to meeting the VCEA goals comes to Virginians living in Chesterfield and Henrico counties, near Dominion Energy’s Chesterfield Power Station, where two coal units continue to operate. Richmond was a little further down the list of benefiting municipalities, as it is usually upwind from the power plant.

Dominion is in the process of moving toward decarbonization, having already informed the regional electricity transmission organization that they will retire the two coal units at the Chesterfield Power Station and its oil unit in Yorktown at the end of May.

Dominion’s oil unit near Quantico (Possum Point) was retired last year, and its two coal units at the Clover Power Station in Halifax County are tentatively planned for retirement in 2025 — although no final decisions have been made there.

According to Aaron Ruby with Dominion, there is one caveat. Current law allows Dominion to petition the State Corporation Commission if a planned retirement would jeopardize reliability, and there are proposals from the state legislature to require a reliability review by the SCC before a facility is retired.

As warm as it was, 2022 could have been even warmer, had it not been for the periodic cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, known as La Niña.

And there are already signs that the Pacific temperatures are coming back up for 2023.


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