Bearing Witness to Climate Change July 2019

As the new month begin, Alaska experiences record heat with temperatures climbing to 90 degrees in Anchorage. Because of the risk of wildfires, fireworks are being prohibited for the July 4th holiday.  This all is to be expected with climate change where the far north Arctic regions are warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

The amount of ice circling Antarctica has plummeted to record lows this past year.  There is less ice creation on the southern ocean during its winter season.

The United Nations Secretary-General Gutterres stated there is little time to lose as the world is facing a climate emergency. He calls for cutting greenhouse emissions by 45% and overhauling fossil fuel driven economies.

Separately in a new study published in Nature found that existing fossil fuel plants are so numerous and young that will commit the planet to experiencing irreversible climate change if nothing else is done. As example, China’s existing infrastructure is said to account for 41% of emissions, and that is  assuming no increase in the future as their economy grows.

Another new study showed the hope that restoring forests could slow down if not even arrest climate change. It was reported that forest restoration in the order of 2-3 billion acres could absorb two-thirds of historic carbon emissions.

Without leadership of the federal government, 23 state governors signed a pledge backing the state of California in its legal showdown with the Trump administration over the right to set their own fuel standards.

A State Department intelligence analyst, Rod Schoonover,  resigned in protest after the White House blocked his discussion of climate science in his written testimony to Congress on the affects to national security of climate change.

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are warning the American public that flooding will become more prevalent in the future as sea levels rise combined with more extreme weather events. Sunny day flooding due to higher tides have doubled along the East Coast in the last two decades.

Some Democrats running for the nomination of their party in 2020 presidential election are claiming that climate change is an existential threat and that price or cap should be put on greenhouse gas emissions. Others are calling for the end of the filibuster rules in the U.S. senate which is prohibiting action on climate change.

Newsrooms around the country are finally becoming less reluctant to say the words “global warming” or “climate change”. Some in Florida have begun to pool their resources to report on the impact of climate change to their state, which is one of the most vulnerable.

The EU’s satellite Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that the planet experienced the hottest June on record. In much of Europe temperatures were 5-10 degrees C above average setting all time records.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research says that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events. Tropical storms will have more moisture and linger longer over landfall having become more intense from ocean temperatures. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 as example dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some places over Texas.

A huge heat dome of the central US is breaking hundreds of records with record high low temperatures which provide little relief for overnight cooldowns. The frequency of heat waves in the US has jumped from an average of two per year in the 1960s to six per year in the past decade. the five warmest years of weather record keeping have been the last five and 18 of the 19 warmest have been since 2001. The time period in which heat waves may be expected has lengthened by 45 days. A tudy by the National Academy of Sciences found that climate change has heightened the changes for record heat waves across more than 80% of the globe.

The incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has declared climate change at the top of her agenda.  She wants to accelerated the EU’s goals of reduction of greenhouse gases to 50% of 1990 levels by 2030, up from 40%.

Here in the US the Trump administration continues to dismantle protection of the environment by its plans to weaken rules which gave communities a voice in EPA-issued pollution permits. Industrial companies will be able to protest a permit they feel is to restrictive, but communities will not be able to do so for permits they feel are not restrictive enough.

Flash floods soak parts of the Midwest like St. Louis where up 4-6 inches of rain fell overnight around the region. NOAA reports that the rolling 12 month precipitation record has hit all time highs. Rainfall extremes are expected with global warming where the atmosphere holds more moisture.

The heatwave in Europe worsens as the month ends with all time records hit across much of central Europe. Highs were 108 degrees F in Paris and over 100 in the Netherlands. Health emergencies are declared across many nations. Thousands are admitted to hospitals suffering from heat-related ailments.

A new study has concluded that the Earth is warming much faster than any time in the last two thousand years that were studied.

A group of Democrat legislators has called for the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. A United Nations panel on climate change has previously said that 2050 is a key year for the planet to avoid the worse consequences.