Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Intensifying Climate Disruption & Ocean Anomalies - Will Big Business Soon Come To The Table?

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Even as the "Green New Deal" continues to be hotly debated - with conservatives (at CPAC) yelping the "Greens" plan to take their burgers away - ominous new falling temperature records signal we may be even closer to the runaway greenhouse.  To fix ideas, this would mean an unstoppable climate forcing dynamic from which neither Earth - nor its human inhabitants - would ever return. We are talking about a process leading to another Venus.  The question that often comes up - especially in the financial media - is whether big business is planning to do much of anything about it. So far the only businesses  we know that are taking climate change totally serious - think of actions not just words - are the re-insurance companies like Munich Re.

The graphic above - from The Wall Street Journal- basically tells the whole tale, at least in terms of the temperature anomalies now recorded,  especially relative to the 1951-1980 average. To the right we can also see the annual and smoothed global surface temperature anomalies compared.   As the article reports:

"The past five years have been the hottest in modern records, federal scientists said....Last year was the fourth warmest year since 1890, according to the report by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which track annual climate trends."

Even more ominous (ibid.):

"The report comes after a year of extreme storms, floods and fires across the country, NASA scientists link such extreme weather to rising temperatures, saying that the warming extends fire seasons and fuels bigger storms".

And in terms of the global reach of these effects:

"During 2018 the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.42 (0.79 C) above the 20th century average, according to NOAA's report. It noted record high temperatures across much of Europe and the Mediterranean, the Middle East and New Zealand and surrounding oceans - and across Asia, the Atlantic Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean."

In  terms of the latter perilous thresholds are also being reached, again from warmer temperatures. According to  Laure Resplandy , a geoscientist at Princeton University who led the startling study published  in the journal Nature:

"If you look at the IPCC 1.5C, there are big challenges ahead to keep those targets, and our study suggests it's even harder because we close the window for those lower pathways. A warmer ocean will hold less oxygen, and that has implications for marine ecosystems.  There is also sea level, if you warm the ocean more you will have more thermal expansion and therefore more sea level rise."

The critical element is the fact that as waters get warmer they release more carbon dioxide and oxygen into the air.  As Dr. Resplandy made clear:

"When the ocean warms, the amount of these gases that the ocean is able to hold goes down,"  


"So what we measured was the amount lost by the oceans, and then we can calculate how much warming we need to explain that change in gases."

The additional IPCC findings help resolve a long-running puzzle about the rate of ocean warming before 2007. when more reliable measurements from devices called “Argo floats” were put to use worldwide. Before that, differing types of temperature records — and an overall lack of them — contributed to uncertainty  about how quickly the oceans were heating up.

The higher-than-expected amount of heat in the oceans means more heat is being retained within Earth’s climate system each year, rather than escaping into space. In essence, more heat in the oceans signals that global warming is more advanced than scientists thought.

As Dr. Resplandy explains:

"We thought that we got away with not a lot of warming in both the ocean and the atmosphere for the amount of CO2 that we emitted.  But we were wrong. The planet warmed more than we thought. It was hidden from us just because we didn’t sample it right. But it was there. It was in the ocean already".
Given ocean temperatures are rising more rapidly than previously calculated, that  leaves nations even less time to dramatically cut the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide. That is, assuming there is any hope in limiting global warming to the ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.  Many newer results show this is overly optimistic and neglecting other factors in play, e.g.

Climate report understates threat


"So far, average temperatures have risen by one degree Celsius. Adding 50 percent more warming to reach 1.5 degrees won’t simply increase impacts by the same percentage—bad as that would be. Instead, it risks setting up feedbacks that could fall like dangerous dominos, fundamentally destabilizing the planet. This is analyzed in a recent study showing that the window to prevent runaway climate change and a “hot house” super-heated planet is closing much faster than previously understood."
In the midst of all these more recent climate developments it shouldn't be surprising that we learned some of the nation's top oil executives have issued a clarion call that companies "need to actively address climate change and technology concerns that are scaring investors away."  Denver Post, Business,  'Oil Chiefs Issue Climate Call', March 12, p. B3). Still, raising a call or having a conference, is not the same as actual action, given (ibid.):
"Shell is the only giant Western oil and gas company that has agreed to set goals to reduce emissions from the end use of its products."
True, we seem to be a long way from the Climate Deception Dossiers, e.g. 
But alas, we have a long long way to go and there may not be sufficient time to stop the climate change tide even with a Green New Deal.   For example, WSJ columnist Greg Ip has exposed the dichotomy of many businesses which profess concern about climate change, but then "fight solutions that hit their bottom line". ('Climate Change Alarms Business, To An Extent', January 17, p A2).  

The negative takeaways? Many businesses still have to be dragged kicking and screaming to become changelings. Also, "the limited efforts by the federal government under previous administrations are being dismantled by Trump's administration".  Which tells me more businesses - like coal, already on its way out - need to stand up to the Dotard.

 The positive takeaway?  "Many other businesses have concluded some sort of tax or cap and trade system is necessary".  The question remaining is whether global business finally coming to the table now will make an appreciable difference to the fate of our world - the only planet we know is habitable.  At least for humans.

Stay tuned!

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