Yale Environment 360

GLOBAL IMPACTS


.......since climate conditions are changing so rapidly I am reproducing the conclusion of the Yale report in its entirety as well as offering the link to the origianl. It also gives me an opportunity to draw attent tyo the most importasnt areas as well as to ptroide commentary.

These changes represent a spiritual impoverishment of the earth, as well as a catastrophe for humanity. The Russian scientists investigating the offshore plumes (joined recently by German and Swedish expeditions) fear that a pulse of up to 50 gigatons of methane — some 8 percent of the estimated stock in the Arctic sediments — could be released within a very few years, starting soon. If this happened, model studies show that there would be a virtually immediate warming of 1 degree F, with accompanying massive costs to the planet.

What is the risk of such an outbreak? Many scientists say it is low, although those who regard it as high are the very scientists who have actually done the observational work in the East Siberian Sea. The IPCC ignores this risk, but does go into the likely result of the thawing of permafrost on land, which would itself set off a total methane emission of a similar magnitude, albeit spread over decades.

Other feedbacks from the loss of Arctic Ocean ice — ranging from a possible slowdown of the so-called “global ocean conveyor belt” to major shifts in the northern hemisphere’s jet stream — could also have serious climatic impacts.

What I am trying to offer in this tale of apparently unremitting gloom is a wake-up call rather than a statement of despair. What is taking place in the Arctic reinforces the conclusion of many scientists that last year’s Paris agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees C is unrealistic so long as it only involves the reduction of CO2 emissions. As the various Arctic climate feedbacks show, we are fast approaching the stage when climate change will be playing the tune for us while we stand by and watch helplessly, with our reductions in CO2 emissions having no effect in the face of, say, runaway emissions of methane.

What is needed today is a widespread global campaign to actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using techniques like direct air capture. In my view, initiatives to devise economically acceptable methods for carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere should be the most important concern of science and technology. The success of these efforts will mean the difference between the prospect of a positive future for mankind and the certainty of a descent towards climate-driven chaos. In my professional lifetime, I have witnessed the transformation of the top of the world from a beautiful ice-bound expanse of wilderness to a region now characterized by warming and melting on all fronts. These changes represent a spiritual impoverishment of the earth, as well as a practical catastrophe for humanity. The time for action has long since passed.

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