Dave Lindorff writes: The concern is that if the Arctic Ocean waters were to warm even slightly, as they will do as the ice cap vanishes in summer, at some point the clathrates which have currently trapped massive amounts of methane will suddenly dissolve releasing tens of thousands of gigatons of methane in huge bursts.
extreme weather events
Yale Environment 360 reports: Last year marked the first time in several million years that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed 400 parts per million. Frighteningly, this modern rise of CO2 is also accelerating at an unusual rate. By looking at the Earth’s climate history, scientists are getting a sobering picture of where we are headed.
Common Dreams reports: For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year ever recorded. In 2016, a total of 22 nations set all-time records for their hottest ever temperatures. This breaks the record of eighteen all-time heat records in 2010 for the greatest number of such records set in one year.
Brian Kahn writes: This year is likely to remembered as a turning point for climate change, with world leaders agreeing to move toward a clean energy future. It’s clear 2016 was a year where planetary peril and human hope stood out in stark contrast. Here are the 10 most important climate milestones of the year.
Sophie Lewis writes: We often hear people saying it’s impossible to attribute any single weather event to climate change. While this may have been true in the 1990s, the science of linking extreme events to global warming has advanced significantly since then. However, how we communicate these findings has not kept pace with the science.
The National Geographic reports: Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive officer of India’s Council on Energy, Environment and Water, an environmental group, estimated that natural disasters exacerbated by climate change cost the Indian government roughly $30 billion (US dollars) between 2010 and 2015. That number will likely rise along with the global temperature, according to his research.
The Washington Post reports: In a massive new study published in the influential journal Nature, more than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades. That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon.
Brian Kahn writes: Climate change has entered a new phase, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization. Concentrations of carbon dioxide “surged again to new records in 2016,” and the WMO predicts that the annual average for CO2 would remain above 400 parts per million, 44 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution, for generations.
According to an authoritative new report, some of the heat that accumulates in oceans over the years can get released back to the atmosphere. In a nutshell, the oceans were behaving less like heat sponges over the last year or more, instead releasing heat to the surface, and hence the spike in average global temperatures.
Dia Mirza writes: We cannot call this devastation of ecology and livelihoods ‘natural calamities’ anymore; it’s evident that there is a nexus of powerful people who are ignorant to the ramifications of their idea of “development” and “progress” that is gutting our forests, polluting our rivers and leading many states to a state of drought.
Climate Central reports: In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 parts per million mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists at NASA.
Eric Holthaus writes: The latest comic from xkcd, the internet’s most famous science-focused webcomic, zips through 22,000 years of Earth’s climate history, juxtaposed with key moments in the history of civilization. Seeing it, you’ll probably come to an inescapable conclusion: Nothing like this has ever happened, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
Bill McKibben writes: Unlike Adolph Hitler, the last force to pose a planetwide threat to civilization, our enemy today is neither sentient nor evil. But before the outbreak of World War II, the world’s leaders committed precisely the same mistake we are making today—they tried first to ignore their foe, and then to appease him.
George Monbiot writes: If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All of them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse. The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the media.
Common Dreams reports: Environmental records of all kinds are being shattered as climate change takes effect in real time, a new climate research report says. 2015 was the hottest year on record since at least the mid-to-late 19th century, confirming the “toppling of several symbolic milestones” in global temperature, sea level rise, and extreme weather.
Chris Mooney reports: A recent report showed Greenland lost 1 trillion tons of ice mass between 2011 and 2014. A new NASA study shows that key areas where glaciers have been melting have actually experienced a reduction in gravitational pull, which has in turn reduced sea levels, confirming an age old prediction of climate science.
Fred Pearce writes: How hard would it be to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees? At various times in the past six months, global average temperatures have sometimes gone above 1.5 degrees. The truth is that scientists are only now getting out of the blocks to address what a 1.5-degree world would really look like.
The Guardian reports: India recorded its hottest day ever on 19 May, with the temperature in Rajasthan’s Phalodi rising to 51C. But it’s only one among many climate records broken this year. From soaring temperatures in Alaska and India to Arctic sea ice melting and CO2 concentrations rising, 2016 is smashing records around the world.
Ayesha Banerjee reports: “Climate change’s not something which will happen in the future. It’s happening right now. April 2016 was one of the hottest months on record.” The warning comes from climate change researcher Mihir Mathur, at TERI in Delhi, who is picking up danger signals from planet earth and wants to mitigate the impact.
Dana Nuccitelli reports in The Guardian: 2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since we began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is almost certain to break the record once again. It will be without precedent: the first time that we have seen three consecutive record-breaking hot years.