Bearing Witness to Climate Change January 2019

  • A new study reported on in the NYT from the journal Nature claims that as the planet warms, plants and soil will absorb less not more carbon dioxide. The cause is attributable to hotter temperatures and wider droughts which stress plants and dries out the soil, making them less absorbent.
  • In some good news a survey from Yale in the NYT reports that some 73 percent of Americans now believer that global warming is happening.¬† And slightly over 60 percent believe correctly that human activities are responsible for creating this period of global warming.
  • While much of North America is caught in the frigid air of a polar vortex, down under Australia is reporting its hottest summer ever. Climate scientists¬† are reporting that winters in the Northern Hemisphere are getting shorter and more unpredictable due to climate change with greater extreme weather events. Due to an Arctic region that is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the jet stream which keeps cold air locked into the Arctic is thought to become more erratic, allowing the polar vortex to drop further south into northern latitudes.
  • In a CNN news story, biology researchers in Finland who study the newborn sex ratio predict that warmer climates will produce more male babies.
  • As an ominous sign of things to come and the true hidden cost of climate change, one of the first American businesses to seek bankruptcy attributed to factors which include climate change is the giant utility PG&E. The utility announced that it plans to announce bankruptcy as it is facing billions of dollars of claims and massive losses from wildfires that broke out in the past few years. Extreme weather events including droughts and high winds fueled the fires which became the mostly devastating.
  • A Bloomberg Business Article reports the economic effects from Europe’s most important river, the Rhine, in recent years has faced low water levels that threaten commerce, transportation, and tourism. The warming of the Alps along with extreme droughts are said to be the cause.
  • The U.S. military releases a report to Congress that says climate change and severe weather events creates significant risks to dozens of military installations at home and around the world. Examples are naval bases being flooded by rising sea levels and air force runways in the arctic region being made unusable by thawing permafrost.
  • European climate experts report that they expect when all the data is in that 2018 will have been the 4th warmest on record. That will make the hottest 11 years all since 2005. During the past year 29 countries reported their hottest years on record. Antarctica also was reported to have experienced the hottest year of human record keeping.
  • Meanwhile in the U.S. scientists at NASA and NOAA who compile the data and perform the research for the U.S. have been locked out of their jobs by a shutdown of the federal government.
  • A news article on climate research in the journal Science says that 2018 will likely be the warmest year for the planet’s oceans and that our oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than what previous climate change panels estimated only a few years ago. Oceans are said to absorb over 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere by humans. Warming oceans are expected to bring higher sea levels, more floods, powerful hurricanes, heavier rainfalls over land, and the die off of coral reefs which threatens the fisheries of the sea.
  • In a USA Today news story American scientists who study Antarctica ice report that it is melting six times faster than it did just 40 years ago, and is directly related to the burning of fossil fuels which is releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. If it continues that alone will raise ocean levels by meters in the coming centuries. This follows news from last year when it was reported that the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming areas on the planet where average temperatures have risen by five degrees Fahrenheit over the past 75 years.
  • America’s carbon dioxide emissions are projected to have risen, not fallen, in 2018 by an alarming 3.4% according to this climate news article.
  • The impact of climate change on economies in the developing world will be widespread, according to many scientists around the world. As example, a British botanist expects that warmer tropic regions and severe droughts threatens coffee production such as in Ethiopia.
  • President Trump picks an ex-coal industry lobbyist , Andrew Wheeler, to head the EPA who is an avid supporter of deregulation and weakening rules on carbon emissions. In testifying to Congress he downplays climate change as a crisis.
  • A sharp drop in western monarch butterflies is reported to be related to changing weather patterns.
  • According to the University of Missouri Extension Center climatologists, the past year of 2018 offered more weird weather across the state. There’s a good reason many felt there was no spring last year as April was the second coldest on record, and the following month was the hottest May on record. A lack of rainfall with high heat created drought conditions across much of Missouri’s farmland in 2018. Missouri experienced some of the largest multiple-season rainfall deficits of all the nation causing severe subsoil moisture shortages. The fall of last year felt as short as spring when November became the 4th coldest on record with many single digit low temperature records set, and one of the snowiest fall months in decades.
  • This St. Louis Post-Dispatch article uses data from the National Weather Service to summarize what was normal and not so normal weather of the past year in St. Louis. As example, St. Louis recorded its second-most daily high temperatures at or above 80 degrees. The region also experienced an unusual number of seesaw extremes in temperatures and precipitation.