Author: Paul Handover

Ancient history of the climate.

Showing that droughts have been in evidence for 1,000 years or more!

It is very easy, well it is for me, to think that the changes we are seeing in the climate are purely recent. There is no question that we are experiencing changes in the global climate. But it would be too easy to think that these changes are only the result of recent times.

My way of an introduction to this post from The Conversation.

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1,000-year-old stalagmites from a cave in India show the monsoon isn’t so reliable – their rings reveal a history of long, deadly droughts.

Published on the 19th September, 2022 by:

  1. Gayatri Kathayat Associate Professor of Global Environmental Change, Xi’an Jiaotong University
  2. Ashish Sinha Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences, California State University, Dominguez Hills

In a remote cave in northeast India, rainwater has slowly dripped from the ceiling in the same spots for over 1,000 years. With each drop, minerals in the water accumulate on the floor below, slowly growing into calcium carbonate towers known as stalagmites.

These stalagmites are more than geological wonders – like tree rings, their layers record the region’s rainfall history. They also carry a warning about the potential for catastrophic multiyear droughts in the future. 

By analyzing the geochemistry of these stalagmites in a new study published Sept. 19, 2022, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we were able to create the most precise chronology yet of the summer Indian monsoon over the past millennium. It documents how the Indian subcontinent frequently experienced long, severe droughts unlike any observed in the last 150 years of reliable monsoon rainfall measurements. 

The drought periods we detected are in striking synchrony with historical accounts of droughts, faminesmass mortality events and geopolitical changes in the region.

They show how the decline of the Mughal Empire and India’s textile industries in the 1780s and 1790s coincided with the most severe 30-year period of drought over the millennium. The depth and duration of the drought would have caused widespread crop failures and the level of famine discussed in written documentsat the time. 

Another long drought encompasses the 1630-1632 Deccan famine, one of the most devastating droughts in India’s history. Millions of people died as crops failed. Around the same time, the elaborate Mughal capital of Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned and the Guge Kingdom collapsed in western Tibet.

Buland Darwaza (Door of Victory) at Fatehpur Sikri, India.

Our findings have important implications today for water planning in a warming world, particularly for India, which, with its vast monsoon-reliant agriculture industry, is on pace to soon be the most populous country on the planet.

Why the monsoon’s history matters

Scientists began systematically measuring India’s monsoon rainfall with instruments around the 1870s. Since then, India has experienced about 27 regionally widespread droughts. Among them, only one – 1985 to 1987 – was a three-year consecutive drought or worse.

The apparent stability of the Indian monsoon in that data might lead one to surmise that neither protracted droughts lasting multiple years nor frequent droughts are intrinsic aspects of its variability. This seemingly reassuring view currently informs the region’s present-day water resource infrastructure.

However, the stalagmite evidence of prolonged, severe droughts over the past 1,000 years paints a different picture.

It indicates that the short instrumental period does not capture the full range of Indian monsoon variability. It also raises questions about the region’s current water resources, sustainability and mitigation policies that discount the possibility of protracted droughts in the future.

Timeline of major societal and geopolitical changes in India and the oxygen isotope record from Mawmluh cave. Gayatri Kathayat

How do stalagmites capture a region’s monsoon history?

To reconstruct past variations in rainfall, we analyzed stalagmites from Mawmluh cave, near the town of Cherrapunji in the state of Meghalaya – one of the wettest locations in the world.

Stalagmites are conelike structures that grow slowly from the ground up, typically at a rate of about one millimeter every 10 years. Trapped within their growth layers are minute amounts of uranium and other elements that were acquired as rainwater infiltrated the rocks and soil above the cave. Over time, uranium trapped in stalagmites decays into thorium at a predictable pace, so we can figure out the age of each stalagmite growth layer by measuring the ratio of uranium to thorium.

The oxygen in rainwater molecules comes in two primary types of isotopes – heavy and light. As stalagmites grow, they lock into their structure the oxygen isotope ratios of the percolating rainwater that seeps into the cave. Subtle variations in this ratio can arise from a range of climatic conditions at the time the rainwater originally fell.

Stalagmite formation are marked inside Mawmluh Cave, where the new study was based. Gayatri Kathayat
A cross-section of a stalagmite shows differences in its ring formation as climate conditions changed. Gayatri Kathayat

Our previous research in this area showed that variations in oxygen isotope ratios in rainwater, and consequently, in stalagmites, track changes in the relative abundance of different moisture sources that contribute to summer monsoon rainfall.

During years when monsoon circulation is weak, rainfall here is primarily derived from the moisture that evaporated from the nearby Arabian Sea. During strong monsoon years, however, atmospheric circulation brings copious amounts of moisture to this area all the way from the southern Indian Ocean.

The two moisture sources have quite different oxygen isotope signatures, and this ratio is faithfully preserved in the stalagmites. We can use this clue to learn about the overall strength of the monsoon intensity at the time the stalagmite formed. We pieced together the monsoon rainfall history by extracting minute amounts of calcium carbonate from its growth rings and then measuring the oxygen isotope ratios. To anchor our climate record to precise calendar years, we measured the uranium and thorium ratio.

Stalagmites grow from the ground, and stalactites grow from above. These are in Mawmluh Cave, where the authors conducted their research. Gayatri Kathayat.

Next steps

The paleoclimate records can usually tell what, where and when something happened. But often, they alone cannot answer why or how something happened. 

Our new study shows that protracted droughts frequently occurred during the past millennia, but we do not have a good understanding of why the monsoon failed in those years. Similar studies using Himalayan ice cores, tree rings and other caves have also detected protracted droughts but face the same challenge. 

In the next phase of our study, we are teaming up with climate modelers to conduct coordinated proxy-modeling studies that we hope will offer more insight into the climate dynamics that triggered and sustained such extended periods of drought during the past millennium.

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So there we are. Droughts are a thing of the ancient past. But only a partial understanding for why the monsoons failed is known. Despite these modern times with so much general access to knowledge there are still things that we do not know!

Finally, one hopes that the next phase of their study will be along in reasonable time! I would love to report on it.

Our climate: Welcome to the New Normal!

An article read on Sunday is the motivation for today’s post.

The article, published by The Conversation blog site, was made public last Wednesday week.

I make no apologies for banging the climate change gong again, it is in my opinion the most important subject going.

Enough from me; now to the article.

(And it had been planned for last Tuesday but because of Pedi it is now today.)

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By Professor Shuang-Ye Wu

This article was written by Professor Shuang-Ye Wu. It is very good.

Professor Wu is the Professor of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at the University of Dayton, USA.

Looking back on America’s summer of heat, floods and climate change: Welcome to the new abnormal!

Much of the South and Southern Plains faced a dangerous heat wave in July 2022, with highs well over 100 degrees for several days. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The summer of 2022 started with a historic flood in Montana, brought on by heavy rain and melting snow, that tore up roads and caused large areas of Yellowstone National Park to be evacuated.

It ended with a record-breaking heat wave in California and much of the West that pushed the power grid to the breaking point, causing blackouts, followed by a tropical storm that set rainfall records in southern California. A typhoon flooded coastal Alaska, and a hurricane hit Puerto Rico with more than 30 inches of rain.

In between, wildfires raged through California, Arizona and New Mexico on the background of a megadrought in Southwestern U.S. that has been more severe than anything the region has experienced in at least 1,200 years. Near Albuquerque, New Mexico, a five-mile stretch of the Rio Grande ran dry for the first time in 40 years. Persistent heat waves lingered over many parts of the country, setting temperature records.

At the same time, during a period of five weeks between July and August, five 1,000-year rainfall events occurred in St. Louis, eastern Kentucky, southern Illinois, California’s Death Valley and in Dallas, causing devastating and sometimes deadly flash floods. Extreme rainfall also led to severe flooding in Mississippi, Virginia and West Virginia.

The United States is hardly alone in its share of climate disasters.

In Pakistan, record monsoon rains inundated more than one-third of the country, killing over 1,500 people. In India and China, prolonged heat waves and droughts dried up rivers, disrupted power grids and threatened food security for billions of people.

In Europe, heat waves set record temperatures in Britain and other places, leading to severe droughts and wildfires in many parts of the continent. In South Africa, torrential rains brought flooding and mudslides that killed more than 400 people. The summer may have come to an end on the calendar, but climate disasters will surely continue.

This isn’t just a freak summer: Over the years, such extreme events are occurring in increasing frequency and intensity.

Climate change is intensifying these disasters

The most recent international climate assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found significant increases in both the frequency and intensity of extreme temperature and precipitation events, leading to more droughts and floods.

A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature found that extreme flooding and droughts are also getting deadlier and more expensive, despite an improving capacity to manage climate risks. This is because these extreme events, enhanced by climate change, often exceed the designed levels of such management strategies.

A girl in rain boots walks through a mud-filled yard. Damaged mattresses and other belongings from a flooded house are piled nearby.
Flash flooding swept through mountain valleys in eastern Kentucky in July 2022, killing more than three dozen people. It was one of several destructive flash floods. Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Extreme events, by definition, occur rarely. A 100-year flood has a 1% chance of happening in any given year. So, when such events occur with increasing frequency and intensity, they are a clear indication of a changing climate state.

The term “global warming” can sometimes be misleading, as it seems to suggest that as humans put more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the world is going to get a bit warmer everywhere. What it fails to convey is that warming temperatures also lead to a more violent world with more extreme climate disasters, as we saw this past summer.

Climate models showed these risks were coming

Much of this is well-understood and consistently reproduced by climate models.

As the climate warms, a shift in temperature distribution leads to more extremes. The magnitudes of changes in extreme temperature are often larger than changes in the mean. For example, globally, a 1 degree Celsius increase in annual average temperature is associated with 1.2 C to 1.9 C (2.1 Fahrenheit to 3.4 F) of increase in the annual maximum temperature.

A man works on a car with an older mechanic in overalls standing next to him under the shade of a large beach umbrealla.
Heat waves, like the heat dome over the South in July 2022, can hit outdoor workers especially hard. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

In addition, global warming causes changes in the vertical profile of the atmosphere and equator-to-pole temperature gradients, leading to changes in how the atmosphere and ocean move. The temperature difference between equator and the poles is the driving force for global wind. As the polar regions warm at much higher rates then the equator, the reduced temperature difference causes a weakening of global winds and leads to a more meandering jet stream.

Some of these changes can create conditions such as persistent high-pressure systems and atmosphere blocking that favor more frequent and more intense heat waves. The heat domes over the Southern Plains and South in June and the West in September are examples.

The initial warming can be further amplified by positive feedbacks. For example, warming increases snow melt, exposing dark soil underneath, which absorbs more heat than snow, further enhancing the warming.

Warming of the atmosphere also increases its capacity to hold water vapor, which is a strong greenhouse gas. Therefore, more water vapor in the air leads to more warming. Higher temperatures tend to dry out the soil, and less soil moisture reduces the land’s heat capacity, making it easier to heat up.

These positive feedbacks further intensify the initial warming, leading to more heat extremes. More frequent and persistent heat waves lead to excessive evaporation, combined with decreased precipitation in some regions, causing more severe droughts and more frequent wildfires.

Higher temperatures increase the atmosphere’s capacity to hold moisture at a rate of about 7% per degree Celsius.

This increased humidity leads to heavier rainfall events. In addition, storm systems are fueled by latent heat, or the large amount of energy released when water vapor condenses to liquid water. Increased moisture content in the atmosphere also enhances latent heat in storm systems, increasing their intensity. Extreme heavy or persistent rainfall leads to increased flooding and landslides, with devastating social and economic consequences.

Even though it’s difficult to link specific extreme events directly to climate change, when these supposedly rare events occur with increasing frequency in a warming world, it is hard to ignore the changing state of our climate.

A woman with her eyes closed holds a screaming 1-year-old boy in a National Guard helicopter, with a guardsman standing in the open helicopter door.
A family had to be airlifted from their home in eastern Kentucky after it was surrounded by floodwater in July 2022. Michael Swensen/Getty Images

The new abnormal

So this past summer might just provide a glimpse of our near future, as these extreme climate events become more frequent.

To say this is the new “normal,” though, is misleading. It suggests that we have reached a new stable state, and that is far from the truth.

Without serious effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, this trend toward more extreme events will continue. Things will keep getting worse, and this past summer will become the norm a few years or decades down the road – and eventually, it will seem mild, like one of those “nice summers” we look back on fondly with nostalgia.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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There is growing evidence that things are really changing globally. I used to say that I would be dead before the impacts of climate change really hit home. As in, it would be a good twenty years before things really took a hold. But it is now much more likely that the next five years are going to see a continuation of the changes and that there isn’t time to hang around.

I may not be as sharp as I used to be but the changing climate will affect me and Jean and all those in our area. Will our leaders grasp this nettle now? I wish I knew.

Pure, unconditional love (in spades)

On this occasion it was the loss of our Pedi that had hearts ‘speaking’.

When it comes to dogs millions of people open their hearts to the love that exists between a dog and a dog’s close human. And I am not sure that I have cracked it yet; I know what is felt but putting it into words is more difficult.

So I shall turn to Jess and the guest post she sent to me. But just before sending me the story of Scruffy Jess sent me this email: “Sorry for the loss. Dogs have always been an important part of my life. I’ve cried like a baby every time I lost one. Truly man’s best friend. “

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Scruffy is getting up there in years and it breaks my heart to even think of losing him.  He’s been my best friend for the past twelve years.  He does everything that I do.

I never paint in my studio that he isn’t there beside me.

He will be 13 in February.  I only hope that I can get a couple more years out of him.  He is one of those special dogs.  If someone said, “If there was one thing you would change about Scruffy, what would it be?”  The only thing in this world I would change about him is to give him a longer life.

He minds me better than my kids ever minded and I’ve never laid an angry hand on him.  I talk to him like I would a human, and he seems to understand everything that I say.  I just bought another Schnauzer puppy, only four months old, hoping that some of Scruffy will rub off on him as he grows up.  So far Scruffy is not too happy about sharing me with another dog, but hopefully time will change that.

So this is Scruffy at age 12.  He still is full of life.  

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And this is Tux below, because of the Tuxedo that he always wears.  He’s also a Miniature Schnauzer, but in an exotic color, and he has one blue eye that I love!

Yes, you should get another puppy to fill the hole in your heart.  It seems, you are never sorry about it!  You guys have a wonderful day!   JESS

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Beautiful!

And then we were three!

Poor Pedi finally succumbed to his failing liver at 5:30 pm yesterday.

It was also the reason why I didn’t have the stomach to post this for midnight yesterday.

On the 8th July, this year, Pedi was diagnosed with having diabetes and a failing liver. This was a photo taken at the time.

Pedi diagnosed on July 8th, 2022.

Dr Codd, of Lincoln Road Vet, suggested that Pedi might be put down immediately but Jean wouldn’t hear of it. Thus every day, at 06:30 and 18:30 (PDT), Jeannie applied an injection of Insulin; the amount depending on what Pedi had eaten.

Jeannie went beyond anything that I have ever seen before. This morning, the 27th, I was talking to her and Jean said that she had been rescuing dogs since 1980. That’s over 40 years! No wonder that Jean was taking this so very hard.

Now my opinion is that we should get a replacement for Pedi and keep the minimum number of dogs to four. But it is too soon to make that decision and part of the issue is that we are getting reasonably close, probably in the next ten years, to selling up and going into a care home of some sorts. We have seen a couple and we need to do a proper examination of the total market to find the right one.

In the meantime we both grieve for Pedi but Jean much, much more so than me. I shall have my guts kicked out of me when Oliver goes, but that’s for another time.

And the other guest post!

This time from Penny Martin.

Penny wanted me to post this guest post from her a little earlier than the ‘chosen’ date. So, I am publishing it today!

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Tips and Tricks for Multistate Living with a Pet

As a senior, you get the best of both worlds by spending half the year in one state and half in another.  But sometimes, things can get a little hectic along the way, especially when you own two homes in independent living communities and a pet on top of it. There may be days when your stress levels rise as you try to cope with everything. That’s why Learning from Dogs has assembled some handy tips and tricks to smooth out multistate living for you and your pet.

Saving Money

One of your first considerations may be to save some money as you switch from one home to the other. You might, for instance, register your cars and purchase auto insurance in a state that is less expensive. Do the same for health insurance and even pet insurance to save extra money. You might also stock up on nonperishable and freezer items for each house when your budget allows so that you’ll have supplies on hand when you transfer between homes. Finally, consider replacing double cable services with streaming options. This way, you can watch all your favorite shows whenever and wherever you want without paying for access in two states.

Staying Organized

It can be quite difficult to stay organized when you’re splitting your time between two different homes, but you can if you get in the habit of making lists. Keep a running tab of your possessions and current supplies, like food and cleaning products, at both homes. This way, you’ll know what you have and what you need to bring with you. If you find yourself overwhelmed by clutter, don’t be afraid to use a storage unit. There are plenty of self-storage options in San Diego, and you can check prices and reviews in advance.

When it comes to your pet’s needs, you might do well to have a set of care items like harnesses, crates, cat trees, and litter boxes at both homes. This way, you won’t have to drag things back and forth. When you’re shopping for pet supplies, be sure to read online reviews from customers but also from veterinarians and other animal experts so that you can ensure the quality of the products and the health and safety of your pet. 

Keeping Your Pet Healthy

Dividing time between two homes in two different states can be stressful for your pet, so make sure you take care of your pet’s health. Find a trustworthy veterinarian in both locations, and take your pet for frequent checkups each time you settle into a new place. Make sure your pet has proper flea and tick prevention for both environments, and find a good pet sitter in both locations, too. 

Also, consider pet insurance to help defray vet costs. One state may actually offer less expensive pet insurance policies than another — although you may find it more expensive in many ways — so shop around for the best policy. Research coverage options, prices, deductibles, limitations, and provider reputations before choosing a policy that is right for you and your pet. 

Living Well in Two States

Multistate living can be a challenge, but it can also be a delightful experience for you and your pet. Use the tips above to save money, stay organized, keep your pet healthy, and enjoy the best of both worlds.

Learning from Dogs serves as a reminder of the values of life and the power of unconditional love – as so many, many dogs prove each and every day. Click here to get involved!

Image via Pexels

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It was exceedingly kind of Penny to promote this blog and I am grateful for the links.

It is a very useful guest post and I hope that many people find it of value. It would be nice to hear from people who have read Penny’s post.

That’s all from me!

Educational Support Animals

Today and tomorrow there are guest posts for you. I must say that I really appreciate these guest articles. So without any more delay, here is today’s post.

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A guest post by Indiana Lee.

How To Effectively Discuss Your ESA With Your Employer

If you have — or want to obtain — an emotional support animal (ESA), it’s natural that you may want to bring it to work. If this is the case, you need to discuss your ESA with your employer. Yet, doing so is often easier said than done.

For some people, bringing an ESA to work may seem problematic. Your ESA helps you feel and perform your best. However, you may be concerned that your emotional support animal will be a distraction. Even worse, you may be worried that your ESA may disrupt your relationship with your employer.

When it comes to ESAs at work, it is important to keep in mind that you and your employer share a common goal: to achieve the best-possible results at work. If you know how to discuss your needs with your employer, you can highlight the benefits for all parties involved. 

Now, let’s look at five tips to help you effectively bring up an ESA with your employer. 

1. Have a Face-to-face Conversation With Your Employer

Schedule a date and time to meet with your employer to discuss your ESA. Once you set up the meeting, plan accordingly.

Consider how you will deliver your message to your employer. It can be beneficial to illustrate the health benefits of having a pet for emotional support. You can also provide details about how you’ll manage the animal while you work and ensure it does not hamper your and your colleagues’ productivity. 

2. Respond to Your Employer’s Concerns and Questions About Your ESA

Give your employer plenty of time to share their concerns and questions about your emotional support animal. If your employer has concerns or questions about why you need an animal at work, you should be ready to address them. 

The most common emotional support animals are dogs. Complete any paperwork required by your employer so you can take a dog or other type of emotional support animal to work. They will perhaps already have a policy on bringing dogs to work, but if it is a cat or other type of pet, you should make this clear in the meeting. 

Employers are also allowed to request medical documentation if you want to bring an ESA to work due to a disability. You can meet with a medical professional to get this documentation.

3. Let Your Employer Share Your ESA’s Story

Encourage your employer to use your ESA to promote its workplace culture. This can help your employer attract top talent and keep its staff happy. 

For instance, your employer can share the story of your ESA with job candidates and employees. This can show job candidates that your employer is committed to do what it can to accommodate its workers. Giving the background of the pet and how it has helped you be a productive, happy employee can be heartwarming and aid in their search for top performers.

Meanwhile, your coworkers can see that your employer wants them to feel comfortable. This can lead to a positive work culture in which all employees are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. After all, workplace efficiency is improved when employees feel valued and comfortable in the work environment.

4. Keep Your Employer Up to Date About Your ESA

Communicate with your employer about your ESA. If any problems arise that involve the animal, you can share them with your employer immediately. That way, you and your employer can address any issues before they escalate. For example, if your emotional support dog contracts an infectious disease, let your employer know. You can make accommodations to work from home or not bring the animal during that period to keep others safe.

5. Explore Alternatives to Bringing Your ESA to Work

If your employer will not allow you to bring your ESA to work, try not to stress about it. Rather, continue to work with your employer to explore alternatives. For example, your employer may let you work remotely so you can have your ESA by your side while you work. Or, your employer may allow you to work a flexible schedule. If this isn’t possible, it’s entirely okay to look for a job that accommodates your needs.

Don’t Wait To Discuss Your ESA With Your Employer 

An emotional support animal can provide a great source of comfort and companionship. If you feel having an ESA at work would be beneficial, you should discuss this topic with your employer right away.

Many employers are more willing than ever before to let their employees have an ESA at work. By discussing the topic with your employer, you can find out what it can offer. From here, you and your employer can work together to ensure you receive the support you need to thrive at work.

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That is very good advice and I am grateful to Indiana for writing it and then offering it to Learning from Dogs. Thank you, Indiana.

Goodbye to Facebook.

Our reaction to a video by Carole Cadwalladr.

I have been a user of Facebook for some time. Persons in my family use it but not Jeannie. In fact, Jean is a very low user of all things computing and that has turned out to be a very good act.

Here is the summary of what the talk is all about:

Facebook’s role in Brexit — and the threat to democracy

In an unmissable talk, journalist Carole Cadwalladr digs into one of the most perplexing events in recent times: the UK’s super-close 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Tracking the result to a barrage of misleading Facebook ads targeted at vulnerable Brexit swing voters — and linking the same players and tactics to the 2016 US presidential election — Cadwalladr calls out the “gods of Silicon Valley” for being on the wrong side of history and asks: Are free and fair election…

Here is the talk:

So by the time you watch this I shall have deleted my Facebook account. Then it is on to finding a good alternative to WhatsApp!

Climate Change

Paul Handover’s talk to the Grants Pass Humanists and Freethinkers group, Saturday, 17th September, 2022

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Martin Lack, a good friend of Paul’s from England, wrote a book called The Denial of Science. The first words in the preface were from Sir Fred Hoyle, Fellow of the Royal Society (1915-2001).

Once a photograph of the Earth taken from the outside is available, once the sheer isolation of the Earth becomes plain, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.

Here, in Paul’s opinion, is that photograph:

Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders, this iconic picture shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell aboard.
Image Credit: NASA Last Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Editor: Yvette Smith

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, from 31st October to 13th November 2021. It was called COP26 because it was the 26th UN Climate Change Conference to be held. It was opened by the Prince of Wales, now King Charles III.

The Prince warned: “Time has quite literally run out.”

It is us!

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) kicked off its 2021 report with the following statement: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.

The article also says: It took a while, but climate modelling is now refined enough to predict how things would go without human influence, within a margin of error. What we are observing today, however, is beyond that margin of error, therefore proving that we have driven the change.

It is getting hot

The last decade was the hottest in 125,000 years.

The oceans

We live on a water world. The facts are that 71% of the Earth’s surface is water-covered and the oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. A 2019 study found that oceans had sucked up 90% of the heat gained by the planet between 1971 and 2010. Another found that it absorbed 20 sextillion joules of heat in 2020  – equivalent to two Hiroshima bombs per second. A (chiefly British) definition of a sextillion: It is the cardinal number equal to 1036. Sextillion is a number equal to a 1 followed by 21 zeros. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 is an example of a sextillion.

Carbon-dioxide

In fact CO2 levels are now the highest that they have been in 2 million years. Today, they stand at close to 420 parts per million (ppm). To put that into context pre-industrial levels, say before 1750, had CO2 levels around 280 parts per million.

We are losing ice big time

Paul can do no better than to quote from Earth.org“Since the mid-1990s, we’ve lost around 28 trillion tons of ice, with today’s melt rate standing at 1.2 trillion tons a year. To help put that into perspective, the combined weight of all human-made things is 1.1 trillion tons. That’s about the same weight as all living things on earth.”

To repeat that: Every single year we are losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice! (1,200,000,000,000).

Extreme weather

We can now attribute natural disasters to human-driven climate change with certainty. We can now say with precision how much likelier we made things like the North American summer 2021 heatwave, which the World Weather Attribution says was “virtually impossible” without climate change. Then there is the Indian heatwave that experts believe was made 30 times more likely because of climate change.

Climate change mitigation

There is a long and comprehensive article on the above subject on WikiPedia. I will quote from the paragraph Needed emissions cuts.

If emissions remain on the current level of 42 GtCO2, the carbon budget for 1.5°C (2.7°F) will be exhausted in 2028. (That’s 42 gigatons, as in 1 gigaton is a unit of explosive force equal to one billion (109) tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT).

In 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report on climate change, warning that greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and decline 43% by 2030, in order to likely limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

Secretary-general of the United Nations António Guterres clarified that for this to happen “Main emitters must drastically cut emissions starting this year”.

WikiPedia also reports that: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, aims to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level where ecosystems can adapt naturally to climate change, food production is not threatened, and economic development can proceed in a sustainable fashion. Currently human activities are adding CO2 to the atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove it.

We need to act now, otherwise…

… it will be too late for billions of us.

This may be the most catastrophic of our climate change facts. As of now, only 0.8% of the planet’s land surface has mean annual temperatures above 29°C (84.2°F) mostly in the Sahara desert and Saudi Arabia (solid black in the map).

study by Xu et al. (2020) called “Future of the Human Niche” found that by 2070, under a high emissions scenario, these unbearable temperatures could expand to affect up to 3 billion people (dark brown areas in the map).

Doing nothing is much worse than doing something

On the current path, climate change could end up costing us 11 to 14% of the global GDP by mid-century. Regression into a high emissions scenario would mean an 18% loss, while staying below 2°C would reduce the damage to only 4%. 

It has been proposed that ending climate change would take between $300 billion and $50 trillion over the next two decades. Even if $50 trillion is the price tag, that comes down to $2.5 trillion a year, or just over 3% of the global GDP. 

These are the facts. There is no disputing them. Paul and Jean, Paul’s wife, are relatively immune from the effects, because of their ages, but not entirely so. The last few weeks of summer (2022) with the imminent risk of their property being damaged by wildfires is one example. The last three winters being below average rainfall is another (and the prediction that next year will continue with below average rainfall). But it is the youngsters Paul fears most for. On a personal note, his daughter and husband have a son, Morten, and he is presently 12. What sort of world is Morten growing up in?

What about global attitudes to climate change?

Here is another chart setting out those concerns.

Paul is not a political animal. However he recognises that it is our leaders, globally, but especially in the top 10 countries in the world, who have to be leaders!

Here are the top 10 countries with areas of their country in square kilometres:

Russia. 17,098,242,

Canada. 9,984,670,

United States. 9,826,675,

China. 9,596,961,

Brazil. 8,514,877,

Australia. 7,741,220,

India. 3,287,263,

Argentina. 2,780,400,

Kazakhstan. 2,724,400, and

Algeria, 2,381,741.

But these are the top ten countries based on land size. That is not helpful. We have to examine the top countries in terms of CO2 emissions. Here are the top five countries, as in the top five worst, (readings from 2020):

  1. USA, 416,738 metric tons,
  2. China, 235,527 tons,
  3. Russia, 115,335 tons,
  4. Germany, 92,636 tons, and,
  5. UK, 78,161 metric tons.

This puts the USA as the top worst country, some 77% ahead of China.

So focussing on the USA, again in 2020, the split of greenhouse gas emissions, was:

  1. Transportation, 27%,
  2. Electric Power, 25%,
  3. Industry, 24%,
  4. Commercial and Residential, 13%,
  5. Agriculture, 11%.

So back again to all five countries we say, please, dear leader, make this the number one priority for your country, and for the world.

The end.