Is it true or not? What do we really know about Global Warming and Climate Change?
People who deny Climate Change is real say it is a scam hyped by environmentalists and clean energy proponents who want to tax petroleum out of existence. On the opposite side of the issue are those who say the sky is falling and we have to act now before it is too late. Unfortunately, politics and conspiracy theories have gotten in the way of factual science.
So what conclusions can be made from this information?
It's obvious that human activity over the past 200 years, and especially the most recent 20 years has had and will continue to have a major impact on CO2 emissions, Global Warming and Climate Change.
Scientists have documented an increase in average global temperatures of around 1.5 degrees F in the past couple of years. This is a significant trend that is already having serious consequences.
More heat in the atmosphere means more energy and moisture in the atmosphere. This, in turn, means much more rain for some areas (those once in 500 year floods are now happening every few years!), more drought in other areas, more forest fires in the western U.S., and more (and stronger) tornadoes and hurricanes causing more deaths, injuries, destruction and financial loss from climate-related disasters. More heat in the atmosphere also means more melting of polar ice caps and a corresponding rise in worldwide sea levels. Glaciers have been melting and shrinking at an accelerating rate, with some disappearing entirely. Maybe you should rethink buying that beach front property in Florida because half the state may be underwater in the not too distant future!
IF anything can be done to mitigate Global Warming and Climate Change (and I'm not sure we can considering the number of people and vehicles on our planet, our dependence on fossil fuels, and the money and politics behind the fossil fuel industry) , we had better be doing it sooner rather than later.
Some say we may have already passed the tipping point and that anything we do individually or collectively going forward will be too little too late. I hope this is not true because I want my grandchildren and great grandchildren (and myself) to continue living in a world that is hospitable to human existence and civilization.
Reducing our reliance on coal-fired power plants by converting them to cleaner burning natural gas, or replacing them with wind, solar and yes nuclear power generation can reduce global CO2 emissions. Nuclear has its own drawbacks and risks, but it terms of CO2 it is a clean energy source.
Electric vehicles that get their power from clean or relatively clean sources is another step we can take to reduce CO2 emissions. Electric car battery technology has come a long way in recent years and continues to improve. Some of today's electric cars can drive over 300 miles on a single charge, and others are coming that will go much further than that. Electric car sales are also increasing, with over a million sold worldwide last year. More electric cars are now being sold in China than any other country. But until there is a significant shift away from the internal combustion engine to battery or fuel cell powered transportation, those 1.42 billion fossil fuel burning vehicles that are on the road now will continue to be a major source of CO2 (not to mention oxygen depletion, which itself could be an even more serious problem down the road!)
Stopping the destruction of tropical rain forests, smarter land use policies, reducing urban sprawl, making homes and buildings more energy efficient, changing vehicle usage patterns to increase public transportation options and vehicle ride sharing are additional changes that are being made to reduce our carbon footprint and CO2 emissions. Family planning to slow world population growth is also essential.
Finally, how about less hot air and B.S. from politicians who don't know what they are talking about? That would be a huge help!
The Earth's atmosphere is about 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and the rest is trace gases including argon, methane, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide (only 0.04 percent). The current average year-round temperature for our planet, according to NASA data, is 58.3 degrees F (which is up from 57 to 57.5 degrees from the 1940s through 1970s).
Because CO2 traps and holds heat, the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more heat is retained and the higher the average temperature of the planet.
The planet Venus, which is almost the same size as Earth but is closer to the Sun, has an atmophere that is 96 percent carbon dioxide. This has created a runaway greenhouse effect that has raised the average temperature on Venus to 846 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead!
Methane Is An Even Greater Threat to Global Warming
Methane is an even greater threat to Global Warming because it traps and holds heat 21 times as much as carbon dioxide. Methane (natural gas) is a byproduct of oil drilling and production, organic material breaking down in landfills, and natural gas emissions from rice paddies, animal manure, cow farts, peat bogs, swamps, lakes and thawing permafrost. Although methane accounts for nearly 10 percent of all global greenhouse gases, it has been increasing, from 700 parts per billion (ppb) in 1750 to 1,818 ppb in 2011. To make things worse, methane can persist in the atmosphere for up to 100 years or more.
Click Here for more information from the EPA about greenhouse gases.
Jet Vapor Trails Are Also Warming The Planet
Jet aircraft contrails are also playing a role in Global Warming. When combustion byproducts (water vapor and CO2) exit a jet engine and hit the cold upper atmosphere, the water vapor condenses and forms a vapor trail cloud. The vapor trails produced by commericial jet traffic can trap enough heat to cause a localized increase in temperature. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, all air traffic was temporarily grounded for three days while officials sorted things out. Meterologists noted a drop in temperature during this period in areas near major air hubs due to the lack of vapor trails in the sky.
Click Here to read about what happened when jet traffic was temporarily grounded following 9/11.
Some scientists have also said that jet vapor trails alone may account for much of the global rise in temperatures since the 1970s!
The Trump administration is cutting climate and ocean research programs as well as education initiatives, grants, and other activities throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The administration is cutting NOAA’s budget to about $4.5 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2020, a drop of about 18 percent, nearly $1 billion, compared with the agency’s FY 2019 enacted budget.
The budget cuts will terminate most climate research programs within the agency’s Climate Program Office and eliminate climate competitive research funding. Among other cuts, the budget cuts would terminate the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the National Sea Grant College Program, and some Arctic research, decrease funding for ocean exploration and research efforts; and eliminate coastal zone management grants.
Trump also wants to kill any climate change reseach within NASA's budget. The 2019 budget of $1.78 billion is an almost 6.5 percent less from the $1.92 billion allocated in FY 2017. The reduced budget cuts kill five Earth science missions, including the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3), which would observe carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.
Instead of taking action to do more research on global warming and climate change, the Trump administration has decided to stick its head where the sun don't shine and pretend the problem does not exist. God help us!
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports that levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high. The impact of this continuing trend will be more climate change, higher temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017.
The increase in CO2 from 2017 to 2018 was very close to that observed from 2016 to 2017 and just above the average over the last decade. Global levels of CO2 crossed the symbolic and significant 400 parts per million benchmark in 2015. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the oceans for even longer.
Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged by higher amounts than during the past decade, according to the WMO network which includes stations in the remote Arctic, mountain areas and tropical islands.
Since 1990, there has been a 43 percent increase in total "radiative forcing" (the warming effect on the climate) by long-lived greenhouse gases. CO2 accounts for about 80 percent of this, according to figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration quoted in the WMO Bulletin.
“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind,” he said.
“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3°C warmer, sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now,” said Mr Taalas.
Global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030 but will continue to increase if current climate policies and promises are not met. We are falling behind the greenhouse gas targets that were set at the Paris Agreement. The difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” is known as the emissions gap.
The United Nations Environment Programme issued a report that predicts the world will heat up another 3.2 degrees C (5.7 degrees F) within 10 years if carbon emissions are not curtailed five-fold. Current efforts to reduce carbon emissions are falling far short of what they have to be to limit average global temperatures increases to 1.5 degrees C by 2030. Scientists say if the temperautre continues to rise beyond 1.5 degrees by 2030 there will be severe consequences for everyone.
To miniize the impct of global warming, greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut 7.6 percent a year for the next 10 years. But over the past decade, carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels have risen on average by 1.5 percent a year. In 2018, the total reached 55 gigatonnes, a 2.0 perrcent increase over 2017.
The 20 wealthiest countries that make up the G20 are responsible for 78 percent of all emissions. But so far, only the EU, the UK, Italy and France have committed to long-term net zero targets. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, and seven G20 members, including Australia, Brazil and Canada, need to take more action to meet their current carbon emission target. Russia, China and India also have to make more effort to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels.
China has the world's second largest economy and their greenhouse emissions continue to grow, although they appear to be on track to peak before 2030, which is the target date that China set for itself. China has invested heavily in renewable energy such as solar and wind, and it leads the world in electric vehicle infrastructure. However, the U.N. report says per capita emissions in China are now in the same range as the European Union due to the huge growth in China's car population.
Is Clean Energy going to save the planet? Will power from wind and solar replace coal-fired power plants? What about burning biomass (trees) to generate energy?
Planet of the Humans by Jeff Gibbs and produced by Michael Moore takes a hard look at the Green Energy Movement and what is really going on behind the scenes. It turns out many so-called green energy alternatives are not so green after all!
I won't comment further other than to say it is a real eye-opener and thought-provoking examination of where we are heading as a species.
Spoiler Alert: COVID-19 is the least of our worries based on what this documentary reveals about our never-ending thirst for energy and consumption!
Here is the link if you want to watch it on YouTube (it's free):
Movie Link: Planet of the Humans
According to readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the average daily CO2 readings for April are 419.17 ppm, compared to 416.67 a year ago.
The peak CO2 reading occurred on April 3 at 421 ppm, another all-time record high.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 slowed industrial output around the world, it did little to slow the steady climb in global CO2 levels. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere now is 50 percent higher than it was 200 years ago.
The global average for CO2 in 2020 was 412.5 ppm, with an increase of 2.6 ppm during the year.