The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its sixth report in three phases beginning in August, 2021 and concluding in April 2022. The first report declared that the climate crisis is unquestionably due to human activity and called the situation a 'Code Red for Humanity.' The second and third parts indicated that not enough action is being taken not just to mitigate the crisis but also to adapt to it. Clearing the FOG speaks with Professor Benjamin Horton of the Earth Observatory of Singapore about the gravity of the crisis, including that some impacts such as sea level rise are irreversible for the foreseeable future, the importance of activism by scientists to inform the public and push policy makers and how to keep fighting for a more livable future.
Sea level rise
For the second year in a row, NOAA scientists observed a record annual increase in atmospheric levels of methane, a powerful, heat-trapping greenhouse gas that’s the second biggest contributor to human-caused global warming after carbon dioxide. NOAA’s preliminary analysis showed the annual increase in atmospheric methane during 2021 was 17 parts per billion (ppb), the largest annual increase recorded since systematic measurements began in 1983. The increase during 2020 was 15.3 ppb. Atmospheric methane levels averaged 1,895.7 ppb during 2021, or around 162% greater than pre-industrial levels. From NOAA’s observations, scientists estimate global methane emissions in 2021 are 15% higher than the 1984-2006 period.
Although the worst effects of catastrophic climate change lie in the distant future, there are recent warnings that tell us that a climate disaster may be nearer than we thought. The Arctic and Antarctic regions are warming more than twice as fast as the remainder of the world. In the Antarctic region, the vast Thwaites glacier, sometimes called "the Doomsday Glacier", has recently exhibited so many cracks that scientists fear that it may shatter into small pieces like a windscreen. If this happens, the event may trigger the collapse of other nearby glaciers through a mechanism called "Marine Ice Cliff Instability". This could mean several meters of sea level rise, threatening all coastal cities throughout the world. Other warnings come from the Arctic.
Ocean levels along the U.S. coastline are projected to rise by an average of 10 to 12 inches over the next three decades, worsening the threat of flooding in dozens of highly populated cities, according to a new report released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other federal agencies. The additional foot of sea-level rise that millions in the U.S. are predicted to face by mid-century is equivalent to the amount experienced in the previous hundred years—a manifestation of the climate crisis that scientists attribute to unmitigated greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels. This intensification of rising seas "will create a profound increase in the frequency of coastal flooding, even in the absence of storms or heavy rainfall," said NOAA.
During the month of December 2021 two warnings of impending sea level rise were issued by highly respected groups of climate scientists. These are professional scientists who do not deal in hyperbole. Rather, they are archetypical conservative serious-minded scientists who follow the facts. The most recent warning on December 30th is of deteriorating conditions at the Arctic and Greenland. The second warning is the threatening collapse in Antarctica of one of the largest glaciers in the world. As these events unfortunately coincide so close together, one at the top of the world, the other at the bottom, should coastal cities plan to build sea walls? The scale of time and material and costs to build seawalls is nearly overwhelming. In fact, it is overwhelming.
The hunt is on to find out why the Champlain Towers South in the Miami suburb of Surfside collapsed. On Friday, reports surfaced that in 2018 Frank P. Morabito, an engineer, assessed the 40-year old building and reported that he had found "major structural damage" in a concrete slab below the pool deck, near the base of the tower that collapsed. Morabito had recommended repairs, including waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance way. These repairs had not been carried out when the collapse occurred. Morabito also found "abundant cracking" in the columns and pillars that support the parking garage located under the pool deck. On Saturday, Surfside mayor Charles Burkett ordered the evacuation of residents of the sister Champlain Towers North next door.
A controversial new climate study has found that, even if greenhouse gas emissions were halted tomorrow, it might not be enough to stop temperatures from continuing to rise. The study, published in Scientific Reports Thursday, was conducted by two researchers at the BI Norwegian Business School. They used the ESCIMO climate model to determine that, even if emissions ceased tomorrow, the permafrost would continue to thaw for hundreds of years. "According to our models, humanity is beyond the point-of-no-return when it comes to halting the melting of permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool," lead author and professor emeritus of climate strategy Jorgen Randers told AFP.
To put things into perspective, if the Antarctic ice sheet melted, it would raise global sea levels by around 200 feet. We’ve already seen a noticeable loss of mass on the west end of the glacier, one of the many reasons why we should all be screaming. And Iceland most certainly is: Locals there just held a politically charged funeral for a 700-year-old glacier called Okjökull. Jökull is Icelandic for glacier, so that portion of Okjökull’s name has been removed, and what remains is now referred to as Ok. But Ok is not OK.
How many times will we rebuild Florida’s cities, Houston, coastal New Jersey, New Orleans and other population centers ravaged by storms lethally intensified by global warming? At what point, surveying the devastation and knowing more is inevitable, will we walk away, leaving behind vast coastal dead zones? Will we retreat even further into magical thinking to cope with the fury we have unleashed from the natural world? Or will we respond rationally and radically alter our relationship to this earth that gives us life?
20 June 2019– Coastal communities in the contiguous U.S. face more than $400 billion in costs over the next 20 years, much of it sooner, to defend coastal communities from inevitable sea-level rise, according to a new report released today by the Center for Climate Integrity in partnership with the engineering firm, Resilient Analytics. This is approaching the cost of the original interstate highway system and will require the construction of more than 50,000 miles of coastal barriers in 22 states by 2040, half the time it took to create the nation’s iconic roadway network.
Coastal communities across the United States are experiencing tangible impacts of climate change as sea level rise worsens. “Sunny day flooding”and “king tides” range from annoyance to serious danger in cities like Miami, San Francisco and Seattle. Coastal commissions and city planners are working against the clock to calculate and prepare for a future in which entire neighborhoods may disappear. In order to create effective plans, sea level rise and flood rates need to be carefully documented.
The most complete assessment to date of Antarctica's ice sheets confirms that the meltdown accelerated sharply in the past five years, and there is no sign of a slowdown. That means sea level is expected to rise at a rate that will catch some coastal communities unprepared despite persistent warnings, according to the international team of scientists publishing a series of related studies this week in the journal Nature. The scientists found that the rate of ice loss over the past five years had tripled compared to the previous two decades, suggesting an additional 6 inches of sea level rise from Antarctica alone by 2100, on top of the 2 feet already projected from all sources, including Greenland. "That may not sound like a lot, but it's a big deal for people living along coasts," said University of Leeds climate researcher Andrew Shepherd, who led the assessment, supported by NASA and the European Space Agency.
To get a sense of how much it will cost the nation to save itself from rising seas over the next 50 years, consider Norfolk, Virginia. In November, the Army Corps released a proposal for protecting the city from coastal flooding that would cost $1.8 billion. Some experts consider the estimate low. And it doesn't include the Navy's largest base, which lies within city limits and likely needs at least another $1 billion in construction. Then consider the costs to protect Boston, New York, Baltimore, Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Houston and the more than 3,000 miles of coastline in between. Rising seas driven by climate change are flooding the nation's coasts now. The problem will get worse over the next 50 years, but the United States has barely begun to consider what's needed and hasn't grappled with the costs or who will pay.
By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch - These dire predictions were pulled from a new rewrite of the state's Coastal Master Plan for 2017 released Tuesday by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The plan, first introduced in 2007 post- Hurricane Katrina, acts as a 50-year blueprint for restoring the Pelican State's rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands and protecting the state's natural resources and communities. Louisiana's Legislature unanimously approved the 2007 and 2012 versions. The new plan, which is now out for public review and must be voted up or down by the Legislature, calls for 120 new projects...
By Eleanor Goldfield for ActOut! Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Trump thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax. So in light of recent reports from NASA climate scientists, which for example reveal a gigantic rift in the Antarctic's Larsen ice sheet, Trump is gutting their research and plans to put climate change deniers at the helm of the EPA. Once the ice sheet is set adrift, it will be equal to the size of Delaware. An ice shelf on the West side of the Antarctic is breaking up from the inside, which is highly unusual. Temperatures in the Arctic are record-breaking. All of this adds up to warmer ocean temperatures and higher predicted sea levels. Scientists are calling this a climate emergency. There is only one thing standing in the way of continued climate destruction...