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On May 4, 2021 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its once a decade report on the status of United States weather over the previous thirty year period.  The report called U.S. Climate Normals, provides a compilation of the observations from local weather stations throughout the United States during the period from 1991 through 2020.

“Simply stated: The Normals are the basis for judging how daily, monthly and annual climate conditions compare to what’s normal for a specific location in today’s climate.”

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Last week the United Nations secretariat issued a “Synthesis Report” summarizing the current status of the attempts by the signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement in addressing climate change. The Report provides sobering revelations concerning the speed by which irreversible climate change is occurring and how little time the world has to take action. The Report is stated to be a synthesis of information provided, as of December 31, 2020, by 48 of the Nationally Determined Contributors (“NDCs”), with respect to their goals for periods ranging between 2025 and 2050. It is anticipated that the information will be updated as the time for the next conference on climate change approaches.

The report summarizes the present goals for reduction in Green House Gases (“GHGs”) but notes: “…to be consistent with global emission pathways with no or limited overshoot of the 1.5°C goal, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions need to decline by about 45 per cent from the 2010 level by 2030,reaching net zero around2050. For limiting global warming to below 2°C, CO2 emissions need to decrease by about 25 per cent from the 2010 level by 2030 and reach net zero around 2070. Deep reductions are required for non-CO2 emissions as well. Thus, the estimated reductions referred to … above fall far short of what is required, demonstrating the need for Parties to further strengthen their mitigation commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

The Report summarizes various actions  and goals proposed by the Participants noting:

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The American Meteorological Society issued its annual report recently on the state of the climate for 2019. The report notes increases in Green House Gases (GHGs) as well as extreme warm days during 2019. A partial summary of the findings in the report includes the following:

“All major greenhouse gases released into Earth’s atmosphere reached new record high concentrations in 2019. The annual global average carbon dioxide concentration at Earth’s surface was 409.8 ± 0.1 ppm, an increase of 2.5 ± 0.1 ppm over 2018, and the highest in the modern instrumental record and in ice core records dating back 800,000 years. Greenhouse gases, along with several halogenated gases, have contributed to a 45% increase in net forcing compared to 1990.

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According to a report released this week, extreme heat events will increase unless aggressive actions are rapidly implemented. The Report, issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, outlines the  devastating impacts of increasingly frequent extreme heat events throughout the United States. The Report notes in what is effectively a call to action:

“If we wish to spare people in the United States and around the world the mortal dangers of extreme and relentless heat, there is little time to do so and little room for half measures. We need to employ our most ambitious actions to prevent the rise of extreme heat—to save lives and safeguard the quality of life for today’s children, who will live out their days in the future we’re currently creating.”

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This week the Federal District Court for  the District of Columbia found that the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to adequately consider the potential impacts of oil and gas leases on climate change. In Wildearth Guardians v. Zinke, the Court noted:

“Climate change, and humanity’s ability to combat it, are increasingly prominent topics of public discourse. This case concerns the attention the government must give climate change when taking action that may increase its effects.”

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Last week the Department of Defense (“DOD”) released a report concerning the impacts of climate change on 79 of its installations, as well as DOD operations. The report found increasing effects from sea level rise, wild fires and other aspects of climate change.

”The Mlitary Departments noted the presence or not of current and potential vulnerabilities to each installation over the next 20 years, selecting from the events listed below. Note that the congressional request established the 20-year timeframe.
Climate-Related Events
 Recurrent Flooding
 Drought
 Desertification
 Wildfires
 Thawing Permafrost”

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The second volume of the National Climate Assessment was issued on November 23. The Report clearly states that Climate Change is getting worse, temperatures are increasing at rates unprecedented in modern times and humans are contributing.

”However, the assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid (Ch. 28: Adaptation, KM 2). Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts (Figure 1.2) (CSSR, Ch. 1.9). The warming trend observed over the past century can only be explained by the effects that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, have had on the climate (Ch. 2: Climate, KM 1 and Figure 2.1).”

The Report “…concludes that the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising. These impacts are projected to intensify—but how much they intensify will depend on actions taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the risks from climate change now and in the coming decades (Ch. 28: Adaptation, Introduction; Ch. 29: Mitigation, KM 3 and 4).”

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The report issued this week, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), laid out both a scenario for dire impacts from Climate Change and an opportunity to avoid many of those impacts.  The report notes there is still an opportunity to avoid some of the worst effects of Climate Change but the window of opportunity is rapidly shrinking.

The report concludes it is essential to limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 C degrees by 2030 in order to avoid some of the most catastrophic impacts of Climate Change. The report notes:

“D1 …Avoiding overshoot and reliance on future large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) can only be achieved if global CO2 emissions start to decline well before 2030 (high confidence).”

 

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A recent peer reviewed article raises the the strong possibility of reaching an irreversible threshold in climate change. The article raises the serious potential for what is called “Hothouse Earth” where an irreversible tipping point of climate change is reached.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America the article notes:

“We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a ‘Hothouse Earth’ pathway even as human emissions are reduced.”

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Earlier this month the government issued its fourth climate science report (NCA4) which, among other things, reinforces the scientific evidence of the contribution by humans to climate change. It is important to note the Report is mandated by the Global Climate Assessment Act of 1990 and was prepared by a group of agencies and individuals with significant credentials:

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) serves as the administrative lead agency for the preparation of NCA4. The CSSR Federal Science Steering Committee (SSC)1 has representatives from three agencies (NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], and the Department of Energy [DOE]); USGCRP; and three Coordinating Lead Authors, all of whom were Federal employees during the development of this report. Following a public notice for author nominations in March 2016, the SSC selected the writing team, consisting of scientists representing Federal agencies, national laboratories, universities, and the private sector. Contributing Authors were requested to provide special input to the Lead Authors to help with specific issues of the assessment.”

A sampling of the sobering conclusions of the Report regarding the increasing human influence on climate change, the already extreme impacts and the potential for even more severe effects are quoted below: Continue reading →

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