Grim tidings from science on climate change

December 1, 2018 by Marlowe Hood
Experts say there are clear links between climate change and increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather—such as droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, floods and cyclones

Scientists monitoring the Earth's climate and environment have delivered a cascade of grim news this year, adding a sense of urgency to UN talks starting Sunday in Poland on how best to draw down the greenhouse gases that drive global warming.

The 2015 Paris Agreement calls on humanity to block the rise in Earth's temperature at "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels, and 1.5C if possible.

Here is a summary of recent findings:

1 degree

Earth's average surface temperature from January to October 2018 was one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1850-1900 baseline.

Long-term warming is caused by the accumulation of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide (CO2) cast off when fossil fuels are burned to produce energy.

Seventeen of the hottest years on record have occurred since the start of the 21st century, with 2018 ranking as the 4th warmest.

405.5 ppm

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, the highest in at least three million years and a 45 percent jump since the preindustrial era.

The last time CO2 was at that level, oceans were 10-20 metres higher.

Concentrations of the second most important greenhouse gas, methane (CH4), have also risen sharply due to leakage from the gas industry's fracking boom and flatulence from expanding livestock.

The world's top 10 greenhouse gas emitting countries
Emissions

After remaining stable for three years, carbon pollution increased more than one percent in 2017 to 53.5 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent, a measure which includes all main greenhouse gases. Emissions are on track to climb again in 2018.

At that pace, Earth will pass the 1.5C marker as early as 2030.

To cap global warming at 2C, emissions must decline a quarter within a dozen years. To stay under 1.5C, they will have to drop by more than half.

Melting ice

Arctic summer sea ice shrank in 2018 to a low of 4.59 million square kilometres (1.77 million square miles), well above the record low of 3.39 million square kilometres set in 2012.

But long-term trends are unmistakable: Arctic sea ice cover is declining at a rate of more than 13 percent per decade, relative to the 1981-2010 average.

Climate models predict the Arctic Ocean could, in some years, be ice-free as early as 2030.

Extreme events

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says there are clear links between climate change and increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather.

The number of climate-related extreme events—such as droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, floods and cyclones—has doubled since 1990, research has shown.

Since 1993, the global ocean watermark has gone up by more than 85mm (3.3 inches)

The intensity of typhoons battering China, Taiwan, Japan and the Korean Peninsula since 1980 has increased by 12 to 15 percent.

Natural disasters drive more than 25 million people into poverty every year, according to the World Bank, and cause annual losses in excess of half a trillion dollars (440 billion euros).

84.8 millimetres

Water that expands as it warms and runoff from ice sheets atop Greenland and Antarctica currently add about three millimetres (0.12 inches) to sea levels per year. Since 1993, the global ocean watermark has gone up by more than 85mm (3.3 inches).

That pace is likely to pick up, threatening the homes and livelihoods of tens of millions of people in low-lying areas around the world.

Melting glaciers could lift sea levels a metre (three feet) by 2100, and—with only 2C of warming—by several metres more over the following centuries.

1/5 of species affected

Of the 8,688 animal and plant species listed as "threatened" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List, a fifth have been hit by climate change.

From 1970 to 2014, the global population of vertebrates—birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish—plummeted by about 60 percent, due mainly to killing for food or profit, and habitat loss.

The number of species is declining 100 to 1,000 times faster than only centuries ago, which means the planet has entered a "mass extinction event"—only the sixth in the last half-billion years.

Sources: NASA, NSIDC, UNEP, WMO, IPCC, peer-reviewed studies.

Explore further: Science update on climate change: from bad to worse

Related Stories

Science update on climate change: from bad to worse

November 17, 2017

Scientists monitoring the Earth's climate and environment have delivered a cascade of grim news this year, adding a sense of urgency to UN talks on how best to draw down the greenhouse gases that drive global warming.

Climate science update: bad news gets worse

November 3, 2017

Scientists monitoring Earth's climate and environment have delivered a cascade of grim news in 2017, adding to the urgency of UN talks in Bonn next week tasked with ramping up efforts to tame global warming.

Climate science: Bad news gets worse

May 6, 2017

As UN negotiators meet in Bonn to thrash out rules for implementing the climate-rescue Paris Agreement, the stakes have never been higher.

Climate science: Bad news gets worse

June 1, 2017

As President Donald Trump prepares to announce whether he will pull America out of the 2015 Paris Agreement sanctioned by his predecessor and nearly 200 other world leaders, the stakes on climate change have never been higher.

Climate science: Bad news gets worse

November 3, 2016

Diplomats from 196 nations gather from Monday for 12-day UN climate talks tasked with charting a path for capping global warming at "well below" two degree Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial era levels.

Global warming outpaces efforts to slow it: UN

November 27, 2018

Humanity is falling further behind in the race against climate change, with the gap between greenhouse gas emissions and levels needed to achieve the Paris climate treaty temperature goals continuing to widen, the UN said ...

Recommended for you

A damming trend

December 14, 2018

Hundreds of dams are being proposed for Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. The negative social and environmental consequences—affecting everything from food security to the environment—greatly outweigh the positive ...

Data from Kilauea suggests the eruption was unprecedented

December 14, 2018

A very large team of researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. has concluded that the Kilauea volcanic eruption that occurred over this past summer represented an unprecedented volcanic event. In their paper published ...

The long dry: global water supplies are shrinking

December 13, 2018

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like ...

Death near the shoreline, not life on land

December 13, 2018

Our understanding of when the very first animals started living on land is helped by identifying trace fossils—the tracks and trails left by ancient animals—in sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the continents.

31 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HeloMenelo
4.8 / 5 (17) Dec 01, 2018
Bad Bad news indeed ! When will the half brain dead and realize the destruction they are stoking on !
greenearth
5 / 5 (15) Dec 01, 2018
Very Grim, and it is going to get worse !
greengnome
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
This is getting worse by the day, and the Deniers have absolutely no conscience whatsoever !
highzone
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
The Denier Lunatics are the greediest self delusional prats in existence !
They only care about wasting the earth and fattening their filthy pockets ! ! !
aksdad
1.3 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
It takes a highly developed pessimism to find "grim news" in a global average temperature rise of 1° C over the last 170 years. Much of that, if not all, is a rebound from the cooler temperatures of the Little Ice Age that lasted for a few centuries and brought untold misery to Europe.

https://en.wikipe..._Ice_Age

What is always left out of the news is that global temperature rise has virtually stalled over the last 2 decades.

https://www.nsstc...climate/

The warming trend of the most recent 20 years (and, in fact, the last 170) is in line with the lowest global climate model projections, the RCP2.6 scenario, despite global CO2 emissions increasing at a rate imagined in the oft-quoted, most dire RCP8.5 (do nothing) projections. The computer projections are drastically over-inflated.

https://en.wikipe..._Pathway

aksdad
1.2 / 5 (17) Dec 01, 2018
All that melting ice causing so much hand-wringing for the alarmists has had no noticeable effect on sea level rise. It still continues at 1.7 (tide gauge measure) to 3.2 (satellite measure) millimeters per year (6 to 13 inches per 100 years) with no appreciable acceleration. In fact, the rate is decreasing slightly lately.

https://climate.n...a-level/

The number of climate-related extreme events—such as droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, floods and cyclones—has doubled since 1990

No.

Wildfires in the U.S. are decreasing:

https://www.nifc....res.html

Wildfire globally are decreasing:

https://www.ncbi....4874420/

No long-term increase in hurricanes/cyclones (through 2016):

http://models.wea...freq.png

No long-term increase in hurricane/cyclone intensity (through 2016):

http://models.wea..._ace.png
szore88
1.2 / 5 (18) Dec 01, 2018
Laughable. You're not getting my money, you're not getting my guns, you're not shutting down our economy nor our manufacturing with your Marxist BS and lies. Take you GW BS and cram it.
Bert_Halls
4.6 / 5 (19) Dec 01, 2018
The trolling on this website isn't even impressive on its own. Just the same five or so idiots repeating the same tired conspiracy theories to try to get a rise out of people.

Honestly, where are the mods?
novaman
4.8 / 5 (17) Dec 01, 2018
It takes a highly developed pessimism to find "grim news" in a global average temperature rise of 1° C over the last 170 years. Much of that ...cooler temperatures of the Little Ice Age...


The Little Ice Age remains for the present the subject of speculation. The most likely influence during this period is variable output from the sun combined with pronounced volcanic activity. We know that from the end of the LIA to the 1950s the sun's output increased. But since WW2 the sun has slowly grown quieter, yet the temperature on Earth has gone up.

The skeptical argument that current warming is a continuation of the same warming that ended the LIA is unlikely. There is a lack of evidence for a suitable forcing (e.g. the sun) and numerous correlations with known natural forcings that can account for the LIA itself, and the subsequent climate recovery. Taken in isolation, the LIA might cast doubt on the theory of climate change. Considered alongside the
novaman
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
What is always left out of the news is that global temperature rise has virtually stalled over the last 2 decades.

Claims that global warming has stopped are not. It is an illogical position: the climate is subject to a lot of natural variability, so the premise that changes should be 'monotonic' – temperatures rising in straight lines – ignores the fact that nature doesn't work like that. This is why scientists normally discuss trends – 30 years or more – so that short term fluctuations can be seen as part of a greater pattern. (Other well-known cyclic phenomena like El Nino and La Nina play a part in these complex interactions).
novaman
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
The warming trend of the most recent 20 years (and, in fact, the last 170) is in line with the lowest global climate model projections, the RCP2.6 scenario, despite global CO2 emissions increasing at a rate imagined in the oft-quoted, most dire RCP8.5 (do nothing) projections. The computer projections are drastically over-inflated.


The temperatures are going up, just like the theory predicted. But where's the connection with CO2, or other greenhouse gases like methane, ozone or nitrous oxide?

The connection can be found in the spectrum of greenhouse radiation. Using high-resolution FTIR spectroscopy, we can measure the exact wavelengths of long-wave (infrared) radiation reaching the ground.
novaman
4.8 / 5 (17) Dec 01, 2018
All ..... (6 to 13 inches per 100 years) with no appreciable acceleration. In fact, the rate is decreasing slightly lately.

https://climate.n...a-level/

False:
What really governs the warming potential is how long the extra CO2 remains in the atmosphere. CO2 is essentially chemically inert in the atmosphere and is only removed by biological uptake and by dissolving into the ocean. Biological uptake (with the exception of fossil fuel formation) is carbon neutral: Every tree that grows will eventually die and decompose, thereby releasing CO2. (Yes, there are maybe some gains to be made from reforestation but they are probably minor compared to fossil fuel releases).
novaman
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
Dissolution of CO2 into the oceans is fast but the problem is that the top of the ocean is "getting full" and the bottleneck is thus the transfer of carbon from surface waters to the deep ocean. This transfer largely occurs by the slow ocean basin circulation and turn over (*3). This turnover takes 500-1000ish years. Therefore a time scale for CO2 warming potential out as far as 500 years is entirely reasonable
novaman
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
Laughable. You're not getting my money, you're not getting my guns, you're not shutting down our economy nor our manufacturing with your Marxist BS and lies. Take you GW BS and cram it.


Hilarious, Is you brain as ingrown as your toe nails ? The only BS that is spoken is coming from your snout, Global Warming is Real and it's Idiots like you that will be continued to be exposed right here everyday ! Your greedy filthy intentions have no conscious ! And it WIll end some day.
HeloMenelo
4.8 / 5 (16) Dec 01, 2018
askdaddy aka antigoracle bafoon, being the laughing stock of physorg once again, this bafoon actually believes all the garbage he reads lol
granville583762
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2018
The solution is called energy
earthlings are here to stay
as we stay
earthlings need energy
not the energy of earthlings in the wild
earthlings need energy for living
for heating
for refrigeration
for drying our hair
the imense industry
transmute iron ore to steel
that is ultimately
used to make toe nail clippers
I ask you
If you believe the hype
the planet
and its populous of billions is dying
for vanity
so we can cut our toe nails
these earthly human practises
when earthlings
ran wild and free
had no need for these vanities
they had no need to dry their hair
but earthlings are not the beasts they were
now earthlings are tame
they need all these vanities
as this is what keeps us tame
and so dear earthlings
we want our energy
we need our energy
as without our energy
we will go back to the wild
we will go wild
and there will be petulance
there will be poverty and starvation
an existence living
Which is why we will never give up our energy
grandpa
1.5 / 5 (8) Dec 01, 2018
Humans are redistributing species all over the world. Eventually this will make the species stronger throughout the earth. Biggest problem I see is loss of habitat for animals. Global warming opens up so much more habitat for animals. If the ocean is 20 meters higher in 2000 years I think we have time to adjust.
szore88
1 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2018
So because I'm not turning over my god given freedom to Chinese Communists, I'm 'greedy'. Pathetic... You NWO globalists are no better than cockroaches. You want civil war? Bring it. NOW you understand the 2nd amendment.
Da Schneib
3.9 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2018
And as always, Chinese pollution outstrips everyone else's. So how many Chinese coal barons are on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China?

Just askin'.
Anonym518498
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2018
the sky is falling the sky is falling, I'm sure they have a not-so-secret plan to exterminate 5 billion or so humans, the strangelove contingency, in the meantime pass another beer eh
Ojorf
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 01, 2018
And as always, Chinese pollution outstrips everyone else's.


Only in the last short while, the USA (also UK & Germany) just about outstripped the rest of the world for more than a century.

Cool interactive map of CO2 emissions per country since 1850:
http://www.slate....ers.html
Ojorf
5 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2018
I wonder what the total emissions per country since 1850 is?
Da Schneib
4.5 / 5 (8) Dec 02, 2018
In the US, coal plants are being cancelled at the reported rate of 192 to 30. That's more than are operating.

The big problem is China. The US can do all it can, but China has to stop burning coal or we're sunk. And this is something I have been saying for twenty years. China doesn't reject the Paris Protocol but they don't adhere to it either. Is this better or worse than the US?
julianpenrod
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2018
Reports like this this regularly ignore the recent revelation that a "peer reviewed" article in Nature claiming the oceans are warming faster than expected was found to be false. This continues a pattern where up to 90% of all "peer reviewed" articles are being found to make irreproducible claims. And many of those claims, it seems likely or even expected, include irreproducible claims related to "climate change"! Much of the material "climate change" assertions are based on may be false! Note, the fires out West are abnormally large even compared to recent years. No one seems to be looking at the evident likelihood they were actually set and artificially sustained and intensified. So many insist on building expensive homes here, even after supposed evidence of "climate change". Then the homes burn and they file claims. The wildfires may be a massive fraud scheme based on claims of "climate change"
Tessellatedtessellations
3 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2018
The big problem is China. The US can do all it can, but China has to stop burning coal or we're sunk. And this is something I have been saying for twenty years. China doesn't reject the Paris Protocol but they don't adhere to it either. Is this better or worse than the US?


Look at the per capita part of the graphic above. A person in the US emits between 2 and 3 times more than a Chinese. Much of that is because the world offshored energy intensive manufacturing to China--it isn't the average Chinese person living wastefully like in the US and Canada. So much of China's pollution is actually yours and mine. Also for every $1 the US invests in green energy, China invests $3, so in the long run at least, they'll be a greener place to have things made than the US.

Germany would be a good role model for all 3 countries I mentioned, industrialized, high standard of living and half the per capita CO2 emissions of the US or Canada.
V4Vendicar
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2018
Liar.. Liar.. Pants on fire.

"Reports like this this regularly ignore the recent revelation that a "peer reviewed" article in Nature claiming the oceans are warming faster than expected was found to be false." - juleanpenrod

The results presented in the article you refer to did not change.

What changed were the error bars surrounding those results.

So why did you feel a need to lie about it?
Da Schneib
4 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2018
Not interested in per-capita. Interested in how much carbon each nation is emitting and China is the big criminal. Like I said, I wonder how many coal barons are on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China?
V4Vendicar
3 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2018
"Not interested in per-capita" - Da Schneib

Then you are a moron.
V4Vendicar
not rated yet Dec 03, 2018
"In the US, coal plants are being cancelled at the reported rate of 192 to 30." - DaSchneb

192 to 30 isn't a rate.

Your statement is incoherent and meaningless.
guptm
5 / 5 (3) Dec 03, 2018
China's emissions alone is a whopping 26.8% of the world emission. See figure on page 13 and Table 2.1 of just released UN Emissions Gap Report 2018. Here:

http://wedocs.une...quence=1
guptm
5 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2018
US FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT Report 2018 says (link below) - In the last 10 years, the share of generation from natural gas increased from 20% to over 30%, while coal has declined from nearly 50% to around 30%.

Solar and wind generation in the United States grew by 44% and 19% during 2016.

https://nca2018.g...apter/4/

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.