Extreme weather takes climate change models ‘off the scale. Fires, floods, heatwaves, and droughts. The deadly weather that has unfolded in recent weeks has left climate scientists “shocked” and concerned that extreme events are arriving even faster than models predicted. In southern Oregon, a fire over an area 25 times the size of Manhattan has raged for weeks, aided by a record-shattering heat wave. In China, floods left 51 dead after a year’s worth of rain fell in a single day in the central city of Zhengzhou causing more than $10bn in damages. And in Russia, a state of emergency has been declared in Yakutia in the Far East, where authorities are creating artificial rain by seeding clouds with silver iodide in an attempt to put out more than 200 fires. Climate scientists say the severity of these events is simply “off-scale” compared with what atmospheric models forecast — even when global warming is fully taken into account.
FT 24th July 2021 read more »
Reminders that our planet is wilting under the impact of human-driven climate change have been hard to avoid this month. Catastrophic floods have killed 160 in Germany while more than 50 died after massive inundations swept through the central Chinese province of Henan when a year’s worth of rain fell in three days last week. At the same time, forest fires have ripped through one of the world’s coldest places, Siberia, after unusually hot, dry weather gripped the region. Canada and the US have also been afflicted by conflagrations that have destroyed communities and vast areas of woodland. One blaze in the US state of Oregon has spread over an area 25 times the size of Manhattan and has raged out of control for weeks. Global warming, triggered by rising levels of greenhouse gases, has been implicated in every case. The problem, say scientists, is that to halt worsening weather patterns by 2050, rises in global temperatures will have to be limited to around 1.5C from pre-industrial days. However, the world has already heated up by 1.2C since then, thanks to the greenhouse gases we have put into the atmosphere, and the prospects of limiting further rises to a fraction of a degree over the next 30 years look remote. In fact, estimates based on current pledges by nations to cut emissions suggest temperatures are likely to rise by more than 2C above preindustrial levels by the middle of the century. In such a future, more than a quarter of the world’s population would be likely to experience extreme drought for at least one month a year; rainforests would face eradication; melting ice sheets would result in dangerous sea level rises and trigger major changes in the behaviour of ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream. In addition, loss of reflective ice from the poles would cause oceans to absorb more solar radiation, while melting permafrost in Siberia and other regions would release plumes of methane, another greenhouse gas. Inevitably, temperatures would soar even further. This terrifying prospect has come about because politicians and business leaders have failed, for several decades, to appreciate the risks involved in massively interfering with the make-up of our atmosphere and to instigate measures to limit the damage. As a result, the world faces a climate catastrophe with little time left to act to counter the threat.
Observer 25th July 2021 read more »
Research by Herrington, a rising star in efforts to place data analysis at the center of efforts to curb climate breakdown, affirmed the bleaker scenarios put forward in a landmark 1972 MIT study, The Limits to Growth, that presented various outcomes for what could happen when the growth of industrial civilization collided with finite resources. Now, with the climate crisis increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, and many single events shown to have been made worse by global heating, the Club of Rome, publisher of original MIT paper, has returned to the study. Earlier this year, in a paper titled Beyond Growth, the analyst wrote plainly: “Amidst global slowdown and risks of depressed future growth potential from climate change, social unrest, and geopolitical instability, to name a few, responsible leaders face the possibility that growth will be limited in the future. And only a fool keeps chasing an impossibility.” Herrington, who as a degree in econometrics from the University of Amsterdam and a master’s in sustainability from Harvard, believes that the field of economic sustainability has to be made into an observable science that can be acted upon.
Observer 25th July 2021 read more »
Wildfires are raging throughout Russia, overwhelming an overstretched firefighting service, and leaving desperate locals with little choice but to defend themselves however they can. The summer may not set a record for forest fires in recent memory — that was likely set in 2003. But it is the fourth consecutive year of what Greenpeace describes as “catastrophic” burning. It is a period without parallel since records began, and it threatens to feed an unstoppable cycle of climate change.
Independent 24th July 2021 read more »
Britain could experience its first 40C day within ten years as intense heatwaves become more frequent, scientists have warned. If carbon emissions continue to rise and global warming is not curbed the UK will cross the 40C threshold more and more often, modelling suggests. Under the worst projections, by the end of the century this temperature would be reached every three years. Last week’s heatwave peaked at 32.2C at Heathrow on Tuesday, and Northern Ireland recorded its highest ever temperature of 31.4C in Armagh on Thursday. By the weekend the hot spell had given way to cooler and unsettled weather.
Times 25th July 2021 read more »