Earth’s Last 8 Years Were the Hottest on Record – The New York Times

“The world remained firmly in warming’s grip last year, with extreme summer temperatures in Europe, China and elsewhere contributing to 2022 being the fifth-hottest year on record, European climate researchers said on Tuesday.

The eight warmest years on record have now occurred since 2014, the scientists, from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported, and 2016 remains the hottest year ever.

Overall, the world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in the second half of the 19th century, when emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels became widespread.

Carlo Buontempo, director of the Copernicus service, said the underlying warming trend since the pre-industrial age made 2022’s ranking in the top five “neither unexpected or unsurprising.” “

Robert B. Semple Jr. | Biden Set an Ambitious Goal for Nature. It’s Time He Went After It. – The New York Times

Mr. Semple, a reporter and an editor for The Times from 1963 to 2018, writes about the environment for the editorial board. He won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1996.

“Compared with the United Nations climate change summit in Egypt in November, the U.N. biodiversity conference held in Montreal this month may have seemed distinctly minor league.

There were no heads of state, save Canada’s. The proceedings generated few front-page headlines and little play on the evening news. Yet the issue confronting delegates from nearly 200 nations who are parties to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity was nothing less than what many scientists believe to be a planetary emergency: the alarming decline of biodiversity, which threatens the world’s food and water supplies.

This is an emergency, not incidentally, inextricably tied up with global warming. And what the conference ended up agreeing to was also significant: an ambitious pledge to protect nearly one-third of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030, a strategy whose shorthand is 30×30.”

” . . . . Second, Mr. Biden should press the Agriculture and Interior Departments to complete inventories of old-growth and mature forests and recommend protections in those deemed worthy of protection, much like the Tongass. If there is one alpha culprit in biodiversity loss, it is the clearing of forests and wetlands for farms to feed an exploding world population and, to a lesser extent, to produce biofuels. According to some estimates, the world’s natural forests are home to at least two-thirds of the world’s species. Intact forests also absorb and store enormous amounts of carbon, so preserving them assists not only the species that live there but also the struggle against climate change.”

Why protecting 30% of lands and waters is critical | The Wilderness Society

60%
Decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians over 40 years

“A 2018 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report focusing on how human activity has affected wildlife found that between 1970 and 2014, there was an approximately 60 percent decline in populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The report highlighted deforestation and other types of land degradation as a major driver of this trend, citing data showing only about one-quarter of land on Earth is largely free of human impacts. Protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters—as part of the global 30×30 goal—is a critical step to shore up critical habitat, save migration corridors and stop the bleeding. For example, species forced to shift to higher elevations in order to escape hotter temperatures need intact, interconnected thruways of land and water to make their move.

The chart below shows The Living Planet Index, an indicator of the state of global biodiversity cited by WWF. It measures the average rate of change over time across a set of species populations and shows an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014–an average drop over half in less than 50 years.”

Source: Why protecting 30% of lands and waters is critical | The Wilderness Society

Thomas Friedman on Hal Harvey | The Green New Deal Rises Again – The New York Times

“. . . .   As I wrote in my 2007 column: “To spark a Green New Deal today requires getting two things right: government regulations and prices. Look at California. By setting steadily higher standards for the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances — and creating incentives for utilities to work with consumers to use less power — California has held its per-capita electricity use constant for 30 years, while the rest of the nation has seen per-capita electricity use increase by nearly 50 percent, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. That has saved California from building 24 giant power plants.”

To keep it simple, my goals would be what energy innovator Hal Harvey has dubbed “the four zeros.” 1. Zero-net energy buildings: buildings that can produce as much energy as they consume. 2. Zero-waste manufacturing: stimulating manufacturers to design and build products that use fewer raw materials and that are easily disassembled and recycled. 3. A zero-carbon grid: If we can combine renewable power generation at a utility scale with some consumers putting up their own solar panels and windmills that are integrated with the grid, and with large-scale storage batteries, we really could, one day, electrify everything carbon-free. 4. Zero-emissions transportation: a result of combining electric vehicles and electric public transportation with a zero-carbon grid.

That’s my Green New Deal circa 2019. It basically says: Forget the Space Race. We don’t need a man, or woman, on Mars. We need an Earth Race — a free-market competition to ensure that mankind can continue to thrive on Earth. A Green New Deal is the strategy for that. It can make America healthier, wealthier, more innovative, more energy secure, more respected — and weaken petro-dictators across the globe.”

David ace-Wells | Has Climate Change Blinded Us to the Biodiversity Crisis? – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Perhaps you saw the memes, circulating like new variants of anxiety in the early months of the pandemic: a series of tidal waves, one following another and each taller than the last. The first wave represented Covid-19; behind it, and larger, the economic recession that would supposedly follow; then, a towering wave for climate change; and then, behind that and largest still, biodiversity collapse.

For the kind of person who has spent the past few years increasingly alarmed about climate, it might be strange to think of anything as looming larger than warming, which in recent decades has seemed to subsume not only all other ecological crises in the collective cultural imagination but also the existential fate of the species and the planet. The United Nations’ 15th international biodiversity conference just concluded in Montreal, and it received only a fraction of the press coverage lavished on the COP27 climate conference recently held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. That imbalance may seem intuitive, given one of the core principles of climate action in the post-Paris-agreement era: that decarbonization should be the environmental goal above all others, and might even offer a silver bullet to solve (or at least alleviate) all sorts of other problems, from mass extinction and insect collapse to air pollution and global inequality.”

“. . . . . . The problem is that warming is just one of the many ways that human civilization is stripping the planet of its biological complexity. In fact, last December, in a commentary published in Conservation Letters, a group of biologists called climate change a “myopic lens” through which to view the biological decline of the planet and called warming far from “the most important horseman of the biodiversity apocalypse” — indeed more of a “mule,” powerful but slow. “The current perception that climate change is the principal threat to biodiversity is at best premature,” the authors wrote. “Although highly relevant, it detracts focus and effort from the primary threats: habitat destruction and overexploitation.”

Because we all live in the world as it is today, regarding both its dimly remembered past and its uncertain future from the relatively stable-seeming vantage of the present, it can be hard to understand the scope of even recent loss. But according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report, which looks at studies of some 32,000 species worldwide, vertebrate populations have declined on average by 69 percent since just 1970; since I was born in 1982, the decline has been more than 50 percent. In some ecosystems, the collapse of vertebrates has been even more drastic: In Latin America and the Caribbean, for instance, the studied populations have fallen on average by 94 percent since 1970, while among freshwater species that live in the world’s rivers and lakes, the estimated decline has been 83 percent.

As many as a million animal and plant species currently face the threat of extinction, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (I.P.B.E.S.), a figure that translates to about 13 percent of bird species, 25 percent of mammals and 31 percent of sharks and rays. Insects are dying off, too — possibly more than 50 percent of them since 1970.”

Animals Are Running Out of Places to Live – The New York Times

“WILDLIFE IS DISAPPEARING around the world, in the oceans and on land. The main cause on land is perhaps the most straightforward: Humans are taking over too much of the planet, erasing what was there before. Climate change and other pressures make survival harder.

This week and next, nations are meeting in Montreal to negotiate a new agreement to address staggering declines in biodiversity. The future of many species hangs in the balance. Meet some of the animals most affected as humans convert more and more land:

At least 60 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 50 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 45 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 40 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 35 percent habitat loss since 2001
At least 33 percent habitat loss since 2001″
x
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Great article and wonderful comments. But such a sad and tragic story. How about a follow up story, how best to stop and reverse population growth. How do we get rid of 4 billion people, at least get to 30 by 30, 50 by 2050 or 2300. Half Earth (for other species) is a great little book by Edward O Wilson.
Question for the NYT staff, when does this important piece show up in print” It should say at least at the end, if not the begining, when it will, or when it did, show up in print at the Times. David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Can We Save Nature? – The New York Times

You’re reading the Climate Forward newsletter, for Times subscribers only.  Your must-read guide to the climate crisis.

World leaders are not yet done negotiating the future of the planet this year. Another crucial environmental meeting is about to start, and there is hope that the world could agree on an official plan to protect nature.

A big question: Can the planet’s biggest predator save what’s left of our struggling ecosystems?

The challenge is immense. One example: An assessment that monitors populations of vertebrate animals found that since 1970, these populations declined more than two-thirds on average. (That estimate has some caveats, which my colleague Catrin Einhorn explained here.) The decline is mainly a result of humans taking too much of planet from them, and climate change will profoundly worsen the crisis, too.

At this week’s U.N. meeting in Montreal, known as COP15, leaders will have an opportunity to change this path, by setting goals for each country to work toward through the next decade and beyond. Targets could be expanding protected areas, getting rid of subsidies to industries that harm nature or agreeing on funding strategies for conservation.

Stakes are high. At the conference’s opening news conference this morning, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the United Nations executive who oversees the treaty on biodiversity, stressed that none of the goals established at an earlier meeting a decade ago to protect nature were achieved.

We’re on our way to a global carbon surveillance state – David Wallace-Wells – NYT

Author Headshot By David Wallace-Wells
“For decades, those of us wondering why so little action had been taken to reduce carbon emissions, and why the public felt so little urgency about that failure, would sometimes lament that carbon dioxide was invisible. Unlike the pollution that smogged up cities, set rivers on fire and inspired the Clean Air and Water Acts here and similar legislation abroad, the stuff that was damaging the climate was being put into the atmosphere without anyone really seeing it.
That’s why one of the most fascinating developments from this year’s major climate conference, COP27, which kicked off Nov. 6 with the U.N. secretary general António Guterres declaring that the world was on a “highway to climate hell,” is a new online tool released by the nonprofit coalition Climate Trace that allows us to see emissions in near-real time.
For a while, we’ve used ballpark estimates for emissions from countries, industries and the planet as a whole. The point of the Climate Trace project is to bring it down to the level of individual polluting facilities: to make it possible to track climate-damaging carbon released from more than 72,000 “steel and cement factories, power plants, oil and gas fields, cargo ships, cattle feedlots,” as The Times put it — to name just a handful of the sources.”

Source: We’re on our way to a global carbon surveillance state

Extreme Heat Will Change Us – The New York Times

“ON A TREELESS STREET under a blazing sun, Abbas Abdul Karim, a welder with 25 years experience, labors over a metal bench.

Everyone who lives in Basra, Iraq, reckons with intense heat, but for Abbas it is unrelenting. He must do his work during daylight hours to see the iron he deftly bends into swirls for stair railings or welds into door frames.

The heat is so grueling that he never gets used to it. “I feel it burning into my eyes,” he says.

Working outside in southern Iraq’s scalding summer temperatures isn’t just arduous. It can cause long-term damage to the body.

We know the risk for Abbas, because we measured it.

By late morning, the air around Abbas reached a heat index of 125°F SHOW CELSIUS, a measure of heat and humidity. That created a high risk for heat stroke — especially with his heavy clothing and the direct sun.”

This link might have full access:

Red Sea Coral Reefs Keep Thriving Despite Global Warming – The New York Times

Jenny Gross and 

Jenny Gross reported from Egypt’s Ras Mohammed National Park in the Red Sea. Vivian Yee reported from the United Nations climate summit in Egypt.

“SHARM El SHEIKH, Egypt — The vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are likely to be severely damaged in the coming decades if the planet keeps warming at its current rate.

But the wildly colorful coral reefs in the waters outside the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, where the annual United Nations climate conference is taking place, are an anomaly: They can tolerate the heat, and perhaps even thrive in it, making them some of the only reefs in the world that have a chance of surviving climate change.

There is a limit to how much they can take, however.

Mass tourism at Egypt’s beach resorts, overfishing, overdevelopment, pollution, occasional failures of the sewage system, sediment from construction and oil spills from tankers or terminals have put them at risk, according to marine biologists who study the Red Sea.”