David Wallace-Wells | Climate Change Has Made Deadly Heat Waves Normal – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

It doesn’t take the end of the world to upend the way billions live in it. The punishing weather we are uneasily learning to call “normal” is doing that already.

Late last month, a heat wave swallowed South Asia, bringing temperatures to more than a billion people — one-fifth of the entire human population — 10 degrees warmer than the one imagined in the opening pages of Kim Stanley Robinson’s celebrated climate novel, “The Ministry for the Future,” where a similar event on the subcontinent quickly kills 20 million. It is now weeks later, and the heat wave is still continuing. Real relief probably won’t come before the monsoons in June.

Mercifully, according to the young science of “heat death,” air moisture is as important as temperature for triggering human mortality, and when thermometers hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit in India and 120 in Pakistan in April, the humidity was quite low. But even so, in parts of India, humidity was still high enough that if the day’s peak moisture had coincided with its peak heat, the combination would have produced “wet-bulb temperatures” — which integrate measures of both into a single figure — already at or past the limit for human survivability. Birds fell dead from the sky.

In Pakistan, the heat melted enough of the Shipsher glacier to produce what’s called a “glacial lake outburst flood,” destroying two power stations and the historic Hassanabad Bridge, on the road to China.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This is an excellent column, thank you David Wallace-Wells. I do not care at all about the need for news organizations of all stripes to push their email newsletters. It smells of marketing intrusion, even if it isn’t. And furthermore, I read this paper for almost half the day, almost every day, so I have no time to study more of it when I go to crash through my emails. I fault the writer, and the paper, for not communicating clearly, if these newsletters, will also be printed in the paper, or always get printed at least in the on-line version of the paper. Who said, the truth is now more important than ever. Is this “newsletter” part of the paper? Or is it an attempt at developing a new revenue stream? Meanwhile, the earth is heating itself to our probable demise. I will remind the NYT of my request last year, that all your news and opinion pieces on climate change and the sixth extinction be removed from your paywall, like you did for Covid, since we are already in a climate crisis, and the public will probably reward you for your excellent work.
Respectfully,
David Lindsay Jr
InconvenientNews.net

This Eminent Scientist Vaclav Smil Says Climate Activists Need to Get Real – The New York Times

“The “really” in the title of Vaclav Smil’s newest book, “How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going,” is doing some heavy lifting. Implicit in the renowned energy scientist’s usage is the idea that most of us are uninformed or just plain wrong about the fundamentals of the global economy. He aims to correct that — to recenter materials rather than electronic flows of data as the bedrock of modern life — largely through examining what he calls the four pillars of modern civilization: cement, steel, plastics and ammonia. (The production and use of all four currently requires burning huge amounts of fossil carbon.) Which brings us back to that “really.” In the context of Smil’s book, which will be published May 10, the word is also a rebuke to those calling for rapid decarbonization in order to combat global warming. “I am not talking about what could be done,” says Smil, who is 78 and who counts Bill Gates among his many devotees. “I’m looking at the world as it is.” ”

David Lindsay: A sobering and depressing converstation about the climate crisis. We are really in trouble, and not doing very much about it.  Just a smattering of suggested solution, like a stipend on small efficient cars, and a tax on SUV’s. But, there was one comment that stood out, for clarity, and direction.

Woof

Interesting article, but an international comparison shows that the US can cut its emission to *half* without significantly impacting its standard of living.

Country,  CO2 emissions per  annual capita in tons,    Carbon Tax

US 16.06  No (as in No Carbon Tax


United Kingdom 5.48 Yes  (as Yes, they have a carbon tax)

France 4.97 Yes

Spain 5.41 Yes

Sweden 4.26 Yes

Americans emit four times as much green house gases per person than Sweden. But the Swedes live just as well as Americans, and by some measures such as cost of education, social safety nets etc better And a chief reason for it, is that Sweden has the highest carbon tax in the world. And yet, there is NO carbon tax in the Biden plan. Nor does the word appear in the interview. To an economist, this is strange Biden’s plan is to reduce US emissions by 2030 to half of what they were in 2005 (19.59); that would 9.795 tons per capita in 2030 TWICE what Swedes emit now. Clearly, that is can be done – if US voters agree. It is the attitude of US voters that is the obstacle. And the solution is an education campaign on the scale of that essentially eliminated cigarette smoking in the US Start there

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Why Did the Larsen A and B Ice Shelves Fail? Scientists Say They Now Know. – The New York Times

“The rapid collapses of two ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula over the last quarter-century were most likely triggered by the arrival of huge plumes of warm, moisture-laden air that created extreme conditions and destabilized the ice, researchers said Thursday.

The disintegration of the Larsen A shelf in 1995 and of the Larsen B shelf in 2002 were preceded by landfall of these plumes, called atmospheric rivers, from the Pacific Ocean. They generated extremely warm temperatures over several days that caused surface melting of the ice that led to fracturing, and reduced sea ice cover, allowing ocean swells to flex the ice shelves and further weaken them.

“We identify atmospheric rivers as a mechanism that can create extreme conditions over the ice shelves of the Antarctic Peninsula and potentially lead to their destabilization,” said Jonathan Wille, a climatologist and meteorologist at the Université Grenoble Alpes in France and the lead author of a study describing the research in the journal Communications Earth and Environment.”

Charles M. Blow | The Fear of Nuclear War Looms – The New York Times

   Opinion Columnist

“I grew up during the Cold War, when, in elementary school, we still participated in bomb drills. A bell would ring or horn would blow and we would duck and cover, or in some teachers’ classrooms, just put our heads down on our desks.

From the videos of utter destruction caused by nuclear weapons, I couldn’t see how any of these drills would be helpful (apparently duck and cover did offer some protection). I simply assumed it would be better to be resting when I died than not.

Although we lived in a small Louisiana town, in the middle of nowhere really, we were about 30 minutes away from Barksdale Air Force Base, where President George W. Bush would, years later, take refuge after the attacks on 9/11. As children, it felt like we were in the military arena, particularly every time the jets overhead latticed the skies with contrails or produced a sonic boom.

Even people of modest means in the area built bomb shelters. Armageddon was in the air.

America and the Soviet Union were locked in the doctrine of mutually assured destruction: There were so many nuclear weapons that if one side used them to launch an attack, we were told the other would immediately respond, prompting the annihilation of both countries and possibly the world.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Excellent essay Charles Blow. Thank you. Nevertheless, I’m left disjointed. On the headline, “An Age of Existential Uncertainty,” I thought with excitement, Oh, Charles is going to write about the climate crisis and species extinction. Everything Charles Blow does write about seems to be factual and true. We are back in a nuclear stalemate with Russia, wondering about a nuclear winter. Frozen in fear.
But rather that cringe in fright, while Putin destroys the Ukraine, then who know which countries after it, we should call his bluff, and send in all the weapons the Ukrainians need, and even a few technicians, to make sure they work properly. There is no honor in sitting out the annihilation of a friendly democracy. The climate crisis could well end our civilization anyway, if we aren’t expeditious in the decade we have started, in curbing our carbon pollution footprint. Check out the new report from last week by the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
InconvenientNews.net

Antarctica and the Arctic are at least 50 degrees warmer than average | AP via  PBS NewsHour Weekend

“Earth’s poles are undergoing simultaneous freakish extreme heat with parts of Antarctica more than 70 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) warmer than average and areas of the Arctic more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) warmer than average.

Weather stations in Antarctica shattered records Friday as the region neared autumn. The two-mile high (3,234 meters) Concordia station was at 10 degrees (-12.2 degrees Celsius), which is about 70 degrees warmer than average, while the even higher Vostok station hit a shade above 0 degrees (-17.7 degrees Celsius), beating its all-time record by about 27 degrees (15 degrees Celsius), according to a tweet from extreme weather record tracker Maximiliano Herrera.

The coastal Terra Nova Base was far above freezing at 44.6 degrees (7 degrees Celsius).

It caught officials at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, by surprise because they were paying attention to the Arctic where it was 50 degrees warmer than average and areas around the North Pole were nearing or at the melting point, which is really unusual for mid-March, said center ice scientist Walt Meier.

“They are opposite seasons. You don’t see the north and the south (poles) both melting at the same time,” Meier told The Associated Press Friday evening. “It’s definitely an unusual occurrence.”

“It’s pretty stunning,” Meier added.”

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/hot-poles-antarctica-arctic-70-and-50-degrees-above-normal

Climate Change’s Effects Outpacing Ability to Adapt, I.P.C.C. Warns – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/climate/climate-change-ipcc-report.html

“The dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced, according to a major new scientific report released on Monday.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, is the most detailed look yet at the threats posed by global warming. It concludes that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cities, farms and coastlines from the hazards that climate change has unleashed so far, such as record droughts and rising seas, let alone from the even greater disasters in store as the planet continues to warm.

Written by 270 researchers from 67 countries, the report is “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”

The perils are already visible across the globe, the report said. In 2019, storms, floods and other extreme weather events displaced more than 13 million people across Asia and Africa. Rising heat and drought are killing crops and trees, putting millions worldwide at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition, while mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria and dengue are spreading into new areas. Roughly half the world’s population currently faces severe water scarcity at least part of the year.”

Thank you Plummer and Zhong. Here is my favorite comment.

gbb
Boston, MA3h ago

“climate change has begun slowing the rate of growth (in the food supply), the report said, an ominous trend that puts future food supplies at risk as the world’s population soars past 8 billion people.” In addition to reduction of the use of fossil fuels, the world desperately needs to get its population growth under control. Birth control should be free, readily available, and encouraged. It would be a lot easier to mitigate climate change if the world population was half its current size, matching that in the 1970’s. We simply can’t continue doubling the population every 50 years.

8 Replies165 Recommended

Climate Change Could Increase Risk of Wildfires 50% by Century’s End – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/climate/climate-change-un-wildfire-report.html

“A landmark United Nations report has concluded that the risk of devastating wildfires around the world will surge in coming decades as climate change further intensifies what the report described as a “global wildfire crisis.”

The scientific assessment is the first by the organization’s environmental authority to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide. It was inspired by a string of deadly blazes around the globe in recent years, burning the American West, vast stretches of Australia and even the Arctic.

The images from those fires — cities glowing under orange skies, smoke billowing around tourist havens and heritage sites, woodland animals badly injured and killed — have become grim icons of this era of unsettled relations between humankind and nature.

“The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.”

Conflict and Climate Change Ravage Syria’s Agricultural Heartland – The New York Times

“HASAKA, Syria — At a government bakery in Hasaka, Syria, a faded image of former President Hafez al-Assad looms over the aging machinery and clanging steel chains of the assembly line. The painting dates from long before the war, when this region of northeast Syria was still under government control.

Outside, a long line of families and disabled men wait for bags of subsidized flat bread, which sells at about a quarter of the market price.

What is new at this bakery, the largest in the region, is the color of the flour dumped into giant mixing bowls: It is now pale yellow instead of the traditional stark white.

“This is a new experiment we started three or four months ago,” said Media Sheko, a manager of the bakery. “To avoid bread shortages, we had to mix it with corn.” “

” . . . For thousands of years, the Euphrates River and its largest tributary, the Khabur River, which cuts through Hasaka Province, nurtured some of the world’s earliest farming settlements. But the rivers have been drying up.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, which studies climate change, says the drought that began in 1998 is the worst that some parts of the Middle East have seen in nine centuries.

Irrigation pumps on the Khabur River, which has slowed to a trickle. Now the pumps have to work overtime, using more diesel fuel to get the same amount of water.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Turkey, which controls the region’s water supply from parts of northern Syria that it controls through proxy fighters, has been accused of reducing the flow to the area inhabited by the Kurds, whom it considers an enemy.”

Ship Carrying 1,100 Porsches and Other Luxury Cars Is Burning and Adrift – The Newuxury Cars Is York Times

Here is a good comment, plus my own two cents.

Mia

Earth50m ago

This seems like a fitting time to remember that the 15 to 22 massive cargo ships of this size that travel the worlds oceans contribute more pollution to the atmosphere per annum than some nations’ total car fleet.

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David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.

Hamden, CT | NYT repy to comment above:

@Mia Is this statement true. What are your sources?

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

I think I just found a good source, NewAtlas.com, and posted it to my blog above.

“Big polluters: One massive container ship equals 50 million cars – NewAtlas.com Posted on February 18, 2022 “. . . In international waters ship emissions remains one of the least regulated parts of our global transportation system. The fuel used in ships is waste oil, basically what is left over after the crude oil refining process. It is the same as asphalt and is so thick that when cold it can be walked upon . It’s the cheapest and most polluting fuel available and the world’s 90,000 ships chew through an astonishing 7.29 million barrels of it each day, or more than 84% of all exported oil production from Saudi Arabia, the worlds largest oil exporter.

Shipping is by far the biggest transport polluter in the world. There are 760 million cars in the world today emitting approx 78,599 tons of Sulphur Oxides (SOx) annually. The world’s 90,000 vessels burn approx 370 million tons of fuel per year emitting 20 million tons of Sulphur Oxides. That equates to 260 times more Sulphur Oxides being emitted by ships than the worlds entire car fleet. One large ship alone can generate approx 5,200 tonnes of sulphur oxide pollution in a year, meaning that 15 of the largest ships now emit as much SOx as the worlds 760 million cars.” https://newatlas.com/shipping-pollution/11526/

Big polluters: One massive container ship equals 50 million cars – The Guardian

“. . . In international waters ship emissions remains one of the least regulated parts of our global transportation system. The fuel used in ships is waste oil, basically what is left over after the crude oil refining process. It is the same as asphalt and is so thick that when cold it can be walked upon . It’s the cheapest and most polluting fuel available and the world’s 90,000 ships chew through an astonishing 7.29 million barrels of it each day, or more than 84% of all exported oil production from Saudi Arabia, the worlds largest oil exporter.

Shipping is by far the biggest transport polluter in the world. There are 760 million cars in the world today emitting approx 78,599 tons of Sulphur Oxides (SOx) annually. The world’s 90,000 vessels burn approx 370 million tons of fuel per year emitting 20 million tons of Sulphur Oxides. That equates to 260 times more Sulphur Oxides being emitted by ships than the worlds entire car fleet. One large ship alone can generate approx 5,200 tonnes of sulphur oxide pollution in a year, meaning that 15 of the largest ships now emit as much SOx as the worlds 760 million cars.”

Source: Big polluters: One massive container ship equals 50 million cars