Sea Levels Will Rise Faster Than Ever


 

sea-level-rise

Scientific research indicates sea levels worldwide have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches (3.5 millimeters) per year since the early 1990s. The trend, linked to global warming, puts thousands of coastal cities, like Venice, Italy, (seen here during a historic flood in 2008), and even whole islands at risk of being claimed by the ocean. Photograph by Andrea Pattero/AFP/Getty Images (National Geographic)

By Scott Waldman, ClimateWire on November 8, 2016

Source: Scientific American The Atlantic coast will be one of the hardest hit regions

Sea levels across the globe will rise faster than at any time throughout human history if the Earth’s warming continues beyond 2 degrees Celsius.

The Atlantic coast of North America will be one of the worst-hit areas as melting glaciers cause the sea level to rise over the next century, a new study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds.

However, that rise is not expected to be uniform, as gravity and the movement of the ocean will play a role in how the water is distributed, and some areas will be hit worse than others. New York and other cities along the East Coast could see seas rise by more than 3 feet by the end of the century if the Earth warms by 4 or 5 degrees beyond pre-industrial levels.

If the rate of carbon emissions continues unabated, the authors said, the globe would warm by 2 degrees and cause significant sea-level rise by 2040. It would be worse along the East Coast of North America and Norway, which are expected to experience a sea-level rise of about a foot. The relative speed of the sea’s rise means many areas won’t have time to adapt, researchers found. And from there, warming would accelerate even faster.

“The coastal communities of rapidly expanding cities in the developing world and vulnerable tropical coastal ecosystems will have a very limited time to adapt to sea-level rises after the ‘2 degrees Celsius’ threshold is likely to be reached,” said Svetlana Jevrejeva, a researcher at the National Oceanography Centre in Liverpool, England, and lead author of the study.

The sea-level rise comes as the Earth’s record-breaking warmth is expected to become the “new normal,” according to another study published this week in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. While 2015 was the hottest year on record, it could be the average within the next decade if carbon emissions continue to rise at their current rate, it found. And even if countries take action to limit carbon dioxide, humanity may have already locked in the increased warmth by 2040.

But limiting emissions now will mean some of the regions of the globe are not locked in for the new levels of warmth, and that they can still have significant variability.

“It gives us hope to know that if we act quickly to reduce greenhouse gases, seasonal extremes might never enter a new normal state in the 21st century at regional levels for the Southern Hemisphere summer and Northern Hemisphere winter,” said Sophie Lewis, a researcher at the Australian National University.

Millions of urban dwellers at risk

Nations that signed the Paris Agreement limiting warming to a maximum of 2 degrees are meeting this week in Morocco to put the accord into motion. Meanwhile, the United Nations has already cautioned that the emission targets countries voluntarily set may not be strict enough to meet the 2-degree goal.

Two degrees of warming is expected to cause an average global sea-level rise of 8 inches, but virtually all coastal areas will see more of a rise, Jevrejeva found. If warming exceeds 2 degrees by 2100, as some climate scientists worry it might, about 80 percent of the global coastline could experience a rise in sea levels of 6 feet. Such a rapid rise in sea levels is unprecedented since the dawn of the Bronze Age about 5,000 years ago, according to the study.

The research takes further the potential for sea-level rise posed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which argued that sea-level rise of 11 to 38 inches is possible by 2100. Many climate scientists have since claimed that estimate is too conservative.

Absent a concerted effort to limit warming, cities and island nations across the globe are at risk, researchers found.

“Coastal communities, notably rapidly expanding cities in the developing world; small island states; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Cultural World Heritage sites; and vulnerable tropical coastal ecosystems will have a very limited time after mid-century to adapt to these rises,” they wrote.

The rise for New York is predicated on a warming of 5 degrees by 2100, which some researchers have contested may be too high. But at the upper scale of that level of warming, tens of millions of people around the world would be displaced. That includes “2.5 million living in low-lying areas of Miami; 2.1 million in Guangzhou [in China]; 1.8 million in Mumbai; and more than 1 million each in Osaka [in Japan], Tokyo, New Orleans, New York, and [Vietnam’s] Ho Chi Minh City,” researchers contended.

The study is part of a growing body of research that looks for possible scenarios that involve the potential for catastrophic sea-level rise, but more attention should be paid to the loss of land ice, as well, said Tad Pfeffer, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While researchers typically focus on the loss of glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland, the loss of land ice in other spots across the globe is now contributing to sea-level rise at almost the same rate as the Arctic’s melting ice, he said. It’s the full scope of the current glacial loss that concerns political leaders and policymakers because it has already presented a pressing need to be addressed, he said.

“This near-term time scale is the time of greatest concern to decision makers,” he said. “Research that reaches out to 2100 and beyond is scientifically exciting, but really of secondary importance to the people who are trying to make sense of the science for decision-making.”

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from E&E News. E&E provides daily coverage of essential energy and environmental news at www.eenews.net.

3 Questions We Have to Answer About Climate Change


Al Gore. (photo: Reuters)

Al Gore. (photo: Reuters)

By Al Gore,* EcoWatch, 28 February 16
Source: Reader Supported News

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in TED Talks 2016 where I discussed many of the challenges presented by the climate crisis. But a powerful shift has been taking place, and it is clear that we will ultimately prevail.

Here’s why:

There are now only three questions we have to answer about climate change and our future.

Each day we spew 110 million tons of heat-trapping global warming pollution into the very thin shell of atmosphere surrounding the planet, using it as an open sewer for the gaseous waste of our industrial civilization as it is presently organized. The massive buildup of all that man-made global warming pollution is trapping as much extra heat energy every day as would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs exploding every 24 hours. That, in turn, is disrupting the hydrological cycle, evaporating much more water vapor from the oceans, leading to stronger storms, more extreme floods, deeper and longer droughts, among other climate related problems. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years ever measured have been in this young century. The hottest of all was last year. So YES, we must change!

2. CAN we change? And the answer, fortunately, is now YES!

We’re seeing a continuing sharp, exponential decline in the cost of renewable energy, energy efficiency, batteries and storage—and the spread of sustainable agriculture and forestry—giving nations around the world a historic opportunity to embrace a sustainable future, based on a low carbon, hyper-efficient economy. Indeed, in many parts of the world, renewable energy is already cheaper than that of fossil fuels—?and in many developing regions of the world, renewable energy is leapfrogging fossil fuels altogether—?the same way mobile phones leap-frogged land-line phones. And these dramatic cost reductions are continuing.

3. WILL we change?

While the answer to this question is up to all of us, the fact is that we already are beginning to change dramatically.

In December, 195 nations reached a historic agreement in Paris, which exceeded the highest end of the range of expectations. And the Paris Agreement is just the most recent example of our willingness to act. Much more change is needed, of course, but one of the binding provisions of the Paris agreement requires five-year transparent reviews of the action plans put forward by every nation, and the first will begin in less than two years, so now is the time to build the momentum for the actions needed.

Businesses and investors are already moving. And with the continuing cost-down curves for renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage, it will get easier year by year to win this historic struggle.

There are many, many more examples of powerful responses to this moral challenge. They all give me confidence that we are going to win this.

It matters a lot how quickly we win, and some still doubt that we have the will to act on climate, but please remember that the will to act is itself a renewable resource.

I hope you will take the time to watch the 20-minute video embedded above. And I hope that you will personally take action to “become the change we need to see in the world.”

                                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* NOTE
To avoid any misinterpretations, the posting of the article and the speech does not mean that we are unaware of all background and possible “inconsistencies” in this and other cases.
Lacking “saints” and having in mind that hypocrisy is a “global” issue (like Climate Change), we just have to be double careful.   So, for your information: 

Criticism (from Wikipedia)

Gore’s involvement in environmental issues has been criticized. For example, he has been labeled a “carbon billionaire” and accused of profiting from his advocacy; a charge which he has denied,by saying, among other things, that he has not been “working on this issue for 30 years… because of greed”. A conservative Washington D.C. think tank, and a Republican member of Congress, among others, have claimed that Gore has a conflict-of-interest for advocating for taxpayer subsidies of green-energy technologies in which he has a personal investment. Additionally, he has been criticized for his above-average energy consumption in using private jets, and in owning multiple, very large homes, one of which was reported in 2007 as using high amounts of electricity. Gore’s spokesperson responded by stating that the Gores use renewable energy which is more expensive than regular energy and that the Tennessee house in question has been retrofitted to make it more energy-efficient.

Climate Justice and Palestine: the New Intersectionality


On February 9, 2016, the US Supreme Court in a troubling example of shortsighted hubris halted Obama’s latest climate change resolutions which had emerged from the December Paris Agreement on global warming, thus also threatening commitments made by other top polluters, India and China. While China has now surpassed the US as the number one polluter, the decades of fossil fuel use by the US stills makes us the largest contributor to the climate crisis. The decision to freeze the resolutions which sought to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants until legal challenges are resolved, threatens to imperil an already inadequate approach to climate change. The Paris Agreement included what advocates call “false solutions.” These involve technological fixes such as carbon markets, genetically modified seeds, and industrial agriculture. The Agreement also lacked a financial commitment to ameliorate the irreparable harm that has already been done or to support climate refugees in the future.

The repeated failures of international and governmental agencies to effectively deal with the disastrous changes that threaten the entire planet have sparked local indigenous and small farmer activism from Bolivia to Palestine. It is already clear that global warming will disproportionately affect the poorest of the poor who are the least able to cope and the least responsible for the rising temperatures. The activism and discourse around our warming planet is increasingly grounded in a deep understanding of the intimate relationship between food sovereignty, climate justice, and resource rights, as well as the critical role for small farmers, local solutions, and the centrality of human rights and transitional justice.

There is growing evidence that climate change and resource wars lead to major conflict. The Rwandan genocide was preceded by crop failure; the war in Sudan by drought. The Syrian disaster was triggered by one of the worst droughts in Middle East history, five years of crop failures and dead livestock that lead to 1.5 million desperate rural people flocking to the cities where they were met with water shortages and no work. This led to serious political unrest, massive repression by President Bassar al-Assad, and a desperate radicalization of the populace. Hunger and hopelessness are powerful motivators and now the country lies in shambles. Half the Syrian population is displaced, four million people are living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, most in heartbreaking poverty, and the European Union is facing a destabilizing refugee crisis that is provoking both the best altruism and the worst xenophobia that countries have to offer. As the US anxiously grapples with the Syrian refugee crisis, it is becoming more evident that we are all in this together.

So how does this relate to Palestine? Palestine is faced with a double challenge, global and local. Due to climate change, the average rainfall is decreasing and the Jordan River will soon run dry. The Gazan aquifer is so over-utilized and salinated, experts have been saying that there will be no drinkable water for 1.9 million people by 2016 which is, after all, now. These same people are also crippled by a crushing economic siege and an environment poisoned by toxic munitions. At the same time, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is characterized by water confiscation and contamination. The Israeli government refuses to allow Palestinians to drill wells or build dams and repeatedly destroys water and waste treatment infrastructure, massively uproots olive trees, and bulldozes farm lands, sometimes for settlements or the separation wall or bypass roads and sometimes, just because.

Israel’s state owned water company, Mekorot, diverts 90% of the water in the West Bank aquifers to Israel and then brags about Israeli water innovation and independence. Israeli per capita water use is four to five times greater than Palestinians. Their access, which is controlled by Israel, is below the minimum standard set by the World Health Organization. Gazans have also endured repeated assaults to civilians and infrastructure and environmentally catastrophic attacks. They are thwarted by severe limitations on fishing as well as the contamination of the Mediterranean by untreated raw sewage due to the bombing of the treatment plants and the harsh restrictions on imports of reconstruction materials. There are increasing reports of hopeless, angry young men traumatized by repeated wars and the loss of a viable future, now turning from Hamas who has failed them to ISIL. Desperation breeds radicalization. Jewish settlements in the West Bank also include massive industrial zones that ignore Israeli environmental regulations, often dumping toxic waste into Palestinian farms and water sources. The industries also profit from poorly paid and poorly protected Palestinian workers.

Several years ago there was much talk from Netanyahu of an economic peace in Palestine. Just like a purely big business, economic focus will not successfully address climate change, a strengthening of markets and investment will not bring tranquility to Palestine. The much trumpeted economic development of the West Bank goes nowhere without addressing the brutal facts of occupation.

Palestinians understand this. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) talks of their defense of land and water for Palestinian farmers as partly resistance to Israeli occupation and partly fighting climate change. They help farmers rebuild after Israeli attacks, build gray water infrastructure, cisterns for irrigation, and hydroponic sprouting units, and have developed the most far reaching seed bank in the region. The seed banks preserve the local seed biodiversity and the independence and steadfastness of the farmers; this is a struggle for food sovereignty as well as a resistance economy. As Abu Saif from UAWC states, “There’s no national sovereignty without seed sovereignty.”[i] Local seed banks challenge the powerful seed companies that rely on a system of genetically modified and hybridized seeds that is grounded in industrial practices based on petroleum.

In addition the UAWC supports women’s empowerment and indigenous human rights with their focus on sustainable agriculture through locally based agroecology, challenging the impact of occupation and the racist policies that privilege the Jewish settler with a green lawn and swimming pool over the thirsty Palestinian living in the valley below. At the same time the focus on small farmers and local markets reduces global greenhouse emissions and more reliably meets the food needs of the population. Hiba Al-Jibeihi of UAWC notes, “We all as humans fight for food sovereignty, climate justice and gender justice…Climate change’s effects on Palestinians are double because the Israeli occupation takes our resources, including land and water. Climate justice means resource rights, land justice, gender justice, food sovereignty and peace.”[ii]

It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the steady rise of temperatures, sea levels, and the fierce and wild weather changes that are becoming common place as climate change deniers, global corporations, and national governments block any meaningful progress towards stopping global warming and fossil fuel based economies. But there is clearly much to be done on the local as well as international levels and the climate changes are becoming harder and harder to deny. Likewise, when it comes to Palestine, there is growing awareness of the evils of the occupation, the horrors of each Gaza invasion, and the interconnections between the mushrooming settler movement, the use of water as a weapon to subdue and control the Palestinian population, and the importance of local solutions as well as international support.

In the US, groups like Grassroots International, an organization mobilizing resources from progressive US donors, look to the climate justice movement in Palestine as a source of information and inspiration. “They are advancing a powerful vision of climate justice, by developing sustainable livelihoods, protecting the environment and fighting against the Israeli occupation, all at the same time.  As the just transition movement grows in the US, calling for a transition from the extractive, exploitative economy to resilient, thriving communities, stronger solidarity with Palestine’s climate justice movement will be key to achieving that vision.”[iii]  Activists are also drawing links between the growing boycott, divestment, sanction movement against Israel and the call for divestment from fossil fuels and the industries that extract and deliver them.

Perhaps we should take heart that boycotting products made in the Israeli settlements, challenging the massive Israeli blue and green washing propaganda machine, and supporting activists replanting olive saplings on the ancient terraces where they have been uprooted, not only supports the struggle against Israeli occupation. This activism also contributes to climate justice and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the most local and intimate level.

Notes.

[i] http://www.grassrootsonline.org/news/articles/planting-seeds-sovereignty-palestine

[ii] http://www.grassrootsonline.org/news/blog/road-climate-justice-goes-through-palestine

[iii] Personal communication, Chung-Wha Hong, executive director, Grassroots International

Chilling Warning on Warming’s Future Effect


The sea sweeps across a road after Hurricane Sandy hit Assateague Island off the east coast of the US in 2012. Image: NPS Climate Change Response via Wikimedia Commons

The sea sweeps across a road after Hurricane Sandy hit Assateague Island off the east coast of the US in 2012. Image: NPS Climate Change Response via Wikimedia Commons

Posted on Feb 11, 2016 By Alex Kirby / Climate News Network

Source: Truthdig

LONDON—Humanity is taking a huge risk of causing irreversible damage for untold millions of people in future generations by treating climate change as simply a short-term problem, according to an international team of scientists..

They warn that the window of opportunity for reducing emissions is now small, and that the speed at which we are currently emitting carbon into the atmosphere could result in the Earth suffering damage lasting for tens of thousands of years.

Writing in Nature Climate Change journal, they say too much of the climate policy debate has focused on the past 150 years and their impact on global warming and sea level rise by the end of this century.

Peter Clark, professor of geology and geophysics at Oregon State University in the US, and the study’s lead author, says: “Much of the carbon we are putting in the air from burning fossil fuels will stay there for thousands of years—and some of it will be there for more than 100,000 years.”

Long-term view

Co-author Thomas Stocker, professor of climate and environmental physics at the University of Berne, Switzerland, and former co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warns of “the essential irreversibility” of greenhouse gas emissions.

He writes: “The long-term view sends the chilling message of what the real risks and consequences are of the fossil fuel era. It will commit us to massive adaptation efforts so that, for many, dislocation and migration becomes the only option.”

The authors say sea level rise is one of the most graphic impacts of global warming, yet its effects are only just starting to be felt. The latest IPCC report, for example, expects that likely sea level rise by the year 2100 will be no more than one metre.

They examined four scenarios based on different rates of warming, from a low end attainable only with massive effort to eliminate fossil fuel use over the next few decades, to a higher rate based on consumption of half the remaining fossil fuels over the next few centuries.

“We are making choices
that will affect our
grandchildren’s grandchildren – and beyond”

The Paris Agreement reached at the UN climate change summit in December last year aims to keep temperatures “well below” the 2°C previously accepted internationally as the safe level of increase

But with just 2°C of warming in the low scenario examined in the study, sea levels are predicted eventually to rise by about 25 metres. And with 7°C expected in the high scenario, the rise is estimated at 50 metres, over several centuries to millennia.

“It takes sea level rise a very long time to react—on the order of centuries,” Professor Clark says. “It’s like heating a pot of water on the stove; it doesn’t boil for quite a while after the heat is turned on—but then it will continue to boil as long as the heat persists. Once carbon is in the atmosphere, it will stay there for tens or hundreds of thousands of years.”

An estimated 122 countries have at least 10% of their population in areas that will be directly affected by rising sea levels in the low scenario. About 1.3 billion people—20% of the Earth’s population—may be directly affected.

“We can’t keep building seawalls that are 25 metres high,” Clark says. “Entire populations of cities will eventually have to move.”

Moral questions

Another of the study’s co-authors, Daniel Schrag, director of Harvard University’s Centre for the Environment, is concerned about the moral questions involved in the kind of environment this generation is handing on.

“Sea level rise may not seem like such a big deal today, but we are making choices that will affect our grandchildren’s grandchildren—and beyond,” he says.

The analysis says the long timescales involved mean that reducing emissions slightly or even significantly is not sufficient. Clark says: “To spare future generations from the worst impacts of climate change, the target must be zero or even negative carbon emissions—as soon as possible.”

Geologists say that in the last 50 years humans have changed the climate and introduced the Anthropocene, a new geological era with fundamentally altered living conditions for thousands of years ahead.

“Because we do not know to what extent adaptation will be possible for humans and ecosystems, all our efforts must focus on a rapid and complete decarbonisation—the only option to limit climate change,” Stocker concludes.

COP21: The Most Possible Agreement Text


 

tour Eiffel 1,5degrees

The Eiffel tower is lit up with a reference to the tougher global warming target of 1.5C that is expected to appear in the final draft Paris climate text. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images

Conference of the Parties
Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11December 2015
Agenda item 4(b)
Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (decision 1/CP.17)
Adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties
ADOPTION OF THE PARIS AGREEMENT
Proposal by the President
Draft decision-/CP.21

READ: Adoption Of The Paris Agreement (COP21)

 

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