Bearing Witness to Climate Change October 2019

An estimated 1 million go without power in California due to the combination of weather conditions that are thought to have been made worse including drought and winds. The state’s largest utility takes the preemptive step to turn power off to whole sections of the state to avoid devastating wildfires that occurred last year.

A flash drought – a new weather phenomena – is being experienced by over 50 million residents of 14 southeastern states. Extreme drought conditions cover nearly 20% of the U.S. in a year which once saw parts of the U.S. receiving the most rainfall ever. Climate scientists predict that these types of droughts are 20% more likely to occur in the future due to climate change.

Economists and politicians, even those who don’t accept the science of climate change due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, have started to use the word “climate resilience” in promoting improved infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and other effects of climate change.

Scientists are witnessing the final days of Venezuela’s last glacier, Humboldt which is at 16,500 feet above sea level. It will be the first country in South America to lose all of its glaciers due to a warming planet. Glaciers in the tropics at high altitudes have been retreating faster than those located in other parts of the world.

As Amazon fires burn Pope Francis brought 200 bishops and climate experts together in a Rome Synod to discuss the fate of the Amazonian rainforest and the indigenous people it supports. Pope Francis was the first Catholic leader to create an entire encyclical on the environment called “Laudato Si” or often referred to as Care of Creation.

The International Monetary Fund or IMF is urging a global agreement to put a price on carbon as the most powerful, efficient, and fair means to fight climate change.  They predict that a global tax of $75 per ton of carbon emissions by the year 2030 could limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a NYT editorial, Al Gore summarizes a long list of the global catastrophes that will occur due to climate change, but says that it is not tool late to fight the battle of our time that can be won if we have the courage and political will.

A trial is set to begin in New York against Exxon Mobil. The giant petrochemical firm is accused of keeping two books on the effects of climate change; one internal and the other for investors. As a results, it is alleged, that Exxon hid billions of dollars in potential liabilities due to climate change thus fraudulently inflating the value of the company.

Arabic nations like Qatar which are already seeing temperatures in excess of 115 degrees are resorting to the air conditioning of outdoor areas like sports stadiums. The madness of it all.

Celebrities are following  the lead of young activists like Greta Thunberg in protesting the lack of political will and action. Jane Fonda, now 81, remembered by many due to her anti-Vietnam War protests, was arrested at the U.S. Capitol in an act of civil disobedience. She has vowed to get arrested every Friday as what appears to be her own act of bearing witness to this crime against humanity.

A new report from the National Audubon Society claims that nearly 400 species of birds, or 2/3,  are threatened by climate change and facing possible extinction.  An example is the state bird of Minnesota, the loon, where northern states are warming faster than the rest of the country.

In good news, there is a commercial rush on to create new sources of protein to feed what could be a world population of 10 billion mouths by 2050. It is thought that the raising of livestock such as cows is responsible for nearly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And to make matters worse, clearing land for livestock reduces the forested areas which help to uptake carbon.

President Trump’s administration has sued the state of California to block it from engaging in international efforts against climate change. This on top of the effort to rollback existing environmental protections and block the state from enforcing tougher fuel economy and emissions standards.

Over 600 wildfires are burning in California due to extreme winds and dryness that are at historic levels. 50,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes and nearly one million have lost power due to electricity being cut off.

A cascade of changes to Pacific coastal waters offshore of California is changing ocean ecosystems. There has been an explosion of sea urchins which in turns affects kelp and thus other marine life dependent on the kelp.

As ocean water’s warm, it has been reported by marine biologist that more baby seat turtles are being born female. In a dramatic sex imbalance some nests are 100% female.

Economists from around the world are now be confronted with the reality that they have failed to include the true risk, liability, and cost from climate change into their reporting and forecasting. It seems because they did not know how to quantify many terms as the planet navigates unchartered territory, they just ignored them all together.

As the Trump administration removes restrictions on oil exploration and drilling in public lands a new poll shows that 8 in 10 Americans think drilling in the US should stay the same or be reduced.

Insiders say that the Trump administration is proceeding with formal notice to withdraw the U.S. out of the 2015 Paris Climate agreement. President Obama had pledged to work toward reducing emissions by 28% by 2025 within the  below the 2005 emissions. Trump had previously called the agreement a disaster for our country.

In good news despite the U.S. falling behind, a new report from the International Energy Agency forecasts that renewable power around the world will expand by 50% in the next 5 years. Solar photo-voltaic alone will account for almost 60% of the expected growth, with onshore wind representing one-quarter. The rapid increase is due to mostly falling prices of alternative energy sources.

The Trump administration’s EPA plans to soften rules on coal power plants and ease environmental protections of coal ash that will sadly extend their lives of emitting carbon during a time we need to retire these plants. But it can’t prevent giant coal companies like Murray Energy from going bankrupt, do largely to the pressure of cheaper natural gas.

A new study predicts that the number of people threatened by climate-change driven flooding will rise to 300 million by 2050.  One example are Canada’s Magdalen Islands off the Atlantic coast that have previously been protected from storms by ice during much of the year and now face coastal erosion and flooding that is threatening settlements. Now temperatures are already approaching 3 degrees Celsius warmer than normal.

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society of Australia finds that the ability of forests which take up more than a quarter of the world’s human generated carbon emissions is being threatened by even small amounts of degradation and deforesting.

Young adults and children are suing the Canadian government for failing to protect their constitutional rights by promoting fossil-fuel energy sources which are contributing to climate change.

Climate change is being said to contribute to the loss of biodiversity and collapse of entire ecosystems such as marine life off the California pacific coast.