Here’s a new research report that finds we’ve failed reduce the emissions that are creating conditions that are making our world increasingly unlivable. The nations that have made pledges to reduce their emissions have essentially failed to follow their pledges. Things are actually getting worse.
When I see “global issues” I often wonder what I, as a single individual, can do to make any sort of measurable difference. Then I think of the Margaret Mead quote …
“Never doubt that a small group of
thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world; indeed, it’s
the only thing that ever has.”
Then, I wonder what I can do. Here’s the report. Comments afterwards.
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‘The worst possible news’:
UN report reveals greenhouse
gas levels have hit all-time highs
Brett Wilkins, – AlterNet
October 27, 2022
Scientists and activists expressed shock and the need for urgent climate action Wednesday as the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization revealed that atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases fueling catastrophic global heating all hit record highs in 2021.
The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin warns that atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide reached unprecedented levels last year. According to the report, carbon dioxide concentrations in 2021 were 415.7 parts per million (ppm), methane was 1908 parts per billion (ppb), and nitrous oxide was 334.5 ppb. These levels are, respectively, 149%, 262%, and 124% above pre-industrial levels.
The report notes that methane concentrations saw their biggest single-year increase since systematic measurements began nearly 40 years ago, while CO2 levels rose at a higher-than-usual rate. Climate scientist Bill McGuire tweeted, in response to the new figures …
“The brutal truth is here for every-
one to see. Far from emissions
being brought under control,
they are actually accelerating.
This is the worst possible news.”
Referring to the Paris agreement’s targets for avoiding projected worst-case climate scenarios, he added…
“You can say goodbye to 1.5°C and 2°C too.”
The new report came on the same day that the United Nations warned ahead of next month’s COP27 climate summit that nations are falling far short of their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that global heating could hit a catastrophic 2.9°C by century’s end absent immediate, meaningful action by major polluters to dramatically slash carbon emissions and transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement that this year’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin …
“has underlined, once again, the
enormous challenge — and the
vital necessity — of urgent action
to cut greenhouse gas emissions
and prevent global temperatures
rising even further in the future.”
He added …
“The continuing rise in con-
centrations of the main heat-
trapping gases, including the
record acceleration in meth-
ane levels, shows that we are
heading in the wrong direction.”
Scientists fear soaring concentrations of methane — which is up to 87 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year period — may have triggered a potentially irreversible climate feedback loop.
As the WMO bulletin notes, scientists still do not fully understand all causes of the sharp rise in methane levels in recent years. Methane is emitted during fossil fuel production and transport, as well as from agriculture and biogenic sources like wetlands.
Last September, the European Union and the United States pledged to voluntarily reduce methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by the end of the decade. More than 100 nations have signed on to their Global Methane Pledge.
The world’s three leading methane emitters — China, Russia, and India — have not signed the pledge, nor have other major methane polluters like Australia and Iran.
In the U.S., efforts to slash methane emissions have been stymied by opposition from the fossil fuel industry and the politicians it influences through campaign contributions. For example, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose family owns a coal brokerage and who is currently by far the largest congressional recipient of oil and gas industry contributions, has been a staunch opponent of bold climate action.
Critics call the 30% target a step in the right direction but insufficient to adequately address the emissions crisis. The International Energy Agency said last October that a 75% reduction in methane emissions by 2030 is “essential” to combating the climate emergency. Taalas argued …
“There are cost-effective strategies available
to tackle methane emissions, especially from
the fossil fuel sector, and we should implement
these without delay. However, methane has a
relatively short lifetime of less than 10 years
and so its impact on climate is reversible.
“As the top and most urgent priority, we have
to slash carbon dioxide emissions, which are
the main driver of climate change and associ-
ated extreme weather, and which will affect
climate for thousands of years through polar
ice loss, ocean warming, and sea level rise.”
o o o o o o
For centuries, the world burned wood, a renewable resource, to heat their homes. Then coal came along, which provided heating, and also power, using steam engines, for trains and boats. That enabled us to travel greater distances. But it also created soot and smog. Then along came oil. It gave us planes so we could travel the globe as never before … but it’s also led to global warming, which may make our entire planet totally unlivable.
Adding some comments from D …
“Most people think about cars as the number one emitter of carbon dioxide; and that is true. And the more we move toward electric cars, the less carbon dioxide there will be in the air.
“The number two emitter is homes, for two reasons:
“The first reason is: homes lose, on average, approximately 60% of their heat or cooling through the roof. That means that there is far too little insulation to keep the heat or cool in the home. It is a very wasteful use of energy.
“The second reason is the use of natural gas, mostly used in furnaces, dryers and cooktops. The electric options have no emissions, except from the power plants that generate the electricity. And you can, with most power companies, request that your electricity be generated from non-fossil fuel sources. If you put photovoltaics on your roof, you will be controlling the source of your electricity, and also slashing your power costs.”
At this point, I have to say that I’m living in the nicest home I’ve ever lived in; we also have no utility bills for our home or car, and no emissions, whatever. And the technology is available for everyone. Wal-Mart’s motto is “Save money. Live Better.” I may not shop there all the time, but isn’t that what “Sustainable Living” is all about?