The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme, or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of recently reported ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Plans After Overshooting 1.5°C
Dear Diary. From late 2022 going through the winter of 2023 the planet will be experiencing the third year of a triple La Niña. This means that planetary averages will be about as cool as possible this decade before they start to ramp up once the La Niña starts to dissipate later in 2023. A quadrupling La Niña, to my knowledge, would nearly be unprecedented. Here is where planetary temperature averages stand now:
It stands to reason that with the advent of the next El Niño, planetary averages will get very close to the first line in the proverbial sand that climate scientists have recommended that we not cross, 1.5°C above preindustrial conditions. We may see a few ENSO neutral years before this happens during the 2020s, but an El Niño year is quite likely before the decade is out. Looking at trends, it has become clear that we will cross the 1.5°C barrier and get very close to the dreaded second line in the sand, +2.0°C during the 2030s, provided of course that there are no major volcanic eruptions the next twenty years.
Keeping all of this in mind, scientists and policymakers are forced to plan some desperate measures. Here is a report on that from Context:
As climate ‘tipping points’ near, scientists plan for unthinkable
By Laurie Goering
Published: September 16, 2022
A boy with disability, sits with his partially wet and muddy cloths after he waded through flooded street, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Nowshera, Pakistan September 3, 2022. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz
What’s the context?
As irreversible ‘tipping points’ loom, scientists are trying to figure out how to communicate the risks – and push action.
- Irreversible and abrupt shifts likely above 1.5C of warming
- Scientists, policymakers ponder how to warn of and avert worst
- Positive tipping points for a resilient future also possible
EXETER, England – With new evidence that catastrophic climate-change “tipping points” are nearing – from surging sea levels as polar ice melts to spiking temperatures as methane escapes thawing permafrost – scientists are quietly planning for the unthinkable.
“Extreme climate change risks are under-explored,” Luke Kemp, a researcher with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, warned at a pioneering conference on the theme at the University of Exeter this week.
“Climate scholars have strong incentives to err on the side of least drama,” he noted. “You don’t want to be branded an alarmist.”
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But with fossil fuel emissions still going up and climate-fuelled disasters multiplying, it’s time for an “honest assessment of the risks and what can be done”, he told an audience stunned into silence by frank assessments of looming threats.
A study published last week in the journal Science found that four dangerous planetary tipping points are “likely” above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F) of warming above preindustrial temperatures – a level that could be passed within a decade.
Tipping points happen when a small change – such as an incremental increase in global temperature – sparks a rapid, often irreversible transformation, scientists say.
One – accelerating melting leading to the eventual collapse of the Greenland ice sheet – may have already been triggered, some believe, setting in motion 7 metres (23 feet) of sea level rise over time, enough to swamp key coastal cities.
David King, former chief scientific advisor for Britain and founder of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, an expert panel, said he thinks “the Arctic circle tipping points are now passed”.
With the Arctic having warmed 3C – well above the global average, which is already about 1.3C, he said – risks are also growing that large amounts of methane trapped in thawing permafrost could be released.
The melting Sermeq glacier, located around 80 km south of Nuuk, is photographed in this aerial over Greenland, September 11, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
Adding much more of that potent greenhouse gas to the atmosphere could drive an unstoppable cycle of higher global temperatures and more melting, King told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“If all of that is released, we’ll see temperatures rise 5-8C (8-14F) over 20 years,” he said, adding this would be “extraordinarily destructive to the future of humanity”, likely causing food system collapse and displacing billions of people.
United Nations’ chief António Guterres on Wednesday called the devastating floods covering a third of Pakistan a “window into the future”.
“What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis, and the betrayal and injustice at the heart of it,” he told the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
“If one-third of G20 countries were under water today, as (they) could be tomorrow, perhaps they would find it easier to agree on drastic cuts to emissions,” he added.
‘Positive’ tipping points
Scientists at the Exeter conference emphasised that channeling money and attention to rapidly scale up renewable energy – already as cheap as fossil fuels in most places – along with better nature protection could still hold off many disastrous shifts.
They pointed to early signs of “positive” tipping points that could also be approaching as some societies and economies push toward a safer and more sustainable path.
Most major car and truck manufacturers, for instance, now plan to stop producing fossil fuel vehicles.
And in many countries meat-eating – a major driver of emissions and nature loss – is falling, even if global demand is still rising, the scientists said.
Tasty, high-quality and increasingly cheap meat substitutes could prove “a potential tipping point that could take the carpet right out from under livestock farming”, which is a major driver of deforestation, said Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at Exeter and an organiser of the conference.
Similarly, the cost of renewable energy is expected to plunge so fast in coming decades that using anything else will soon be uncompetitive, said Doyne Farmer, director of the complexity economics programme at the Oxford Martin School.
“Even if you’re a climate denier, you should be behind making the green energy transition quickly” just to save cash, he added.
Social tipping points are also emerging, such as many new graduates refusing jobs at unsustainable companies, social scientists said.
Economist Kate Raworth said her students at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute now consider the traditional push for endless growth more radical and risky than her “doughnut” economics model which seeks a safe space between planetary boundaries and human needs.
From neighbours installing solar panels to Greta Thunberg launching her lone climate strike and cities like Harlem in the Netherlands banning ads for fossil fuels and, soon, meat, “behavior is contagious”, noted Dutch social campaigner Femke Sleegers.
Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and another conference convener, said that increasingly self-reinforcing green switches would be crucial to hold off catastrophic climate impacts.
“Nothing less than positive social tipping points will take us to a safe landing,” he said. “The radical suggestion is to continue business as usual. That’s the really nightmarish dead end.”
The shape of the hand is seen on the glue on the road as “Letzte Generation” (Last Generation) activist block a road under the slogan “Let’s stop the fossil madness!” for an end to fossil fuels and against oil drilling in the North Sea, in Berlin, Germany, July 15, 2022. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
An array of new efforts to reduce catastrophic risk – or to deal with the consequences of failing – are starting to appear.
Efforts to pass a fossil fuel “non-proliferation” treaty – designed to end new oil, gas and coal exploration and production – are gathering steam, while the Bezos Earth Fund this week put $1.15 million into efforts to “activate” positive tipping points. “non-proliferation” treaty:
Scientists also want a special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on catastrophic climate change and tipping points, in part to help raise the profile of the threats.
In New York, members of a new Climate Overshoot Commission are meeting on Friday and Saturday to discuss potential options – including a controversial proposal to spray sun-blocking chemicals into the sky – to limit runaway heating of the planet.
“Unfortunately we know 1.5C (of warming) has a very high likelihood of being overshot, and this necessitates a review of the action,” Pascal Lamy, former World Trade Organization head and co-chair of the commission, said in a phone interview. “We are here to leave no stone unturned.”
As they grapple with ever-clearer data about how close the planet may be to irreversible tipping points, scientists say they are struggling to deliver clear and realistic warnings about the unthinkable, without undermining hope.
“It’s scary and it’s real – and these are the futures that are going to be opening up to us if we don’t act strongly now,” warned Laura Pereira of the Global Change Institute at South Africa’s Witwatersrand University.
But as worst-case threats loom closer, “I don’t think that’s cause for complete despair or people saying, ‘we give up’,” said Rockström. “We have more empirical evidence that the reverse happens – people get angry.”
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Here are some “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks:
Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
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Guy Walton… “The Climate Guy”
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