Tag Archives: research-letters

Queen Elizabeth has no patience for plastic.

Here’s how humanity could all but ensure its own demise: Dig up all the coal we have left and burn it, warming the planet 4 to 6 degrees C.

But that worst-case scenario doesn’t match up with what’s really happening in the world, Justin Ritchie, lead author of a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, told Grist.

That’s because money spent on climate change measures goes further than it did 30 years ago. Plus, baseline trends show greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline. Most studies underestimate the effect these factors have on global decarbonization.

The study indicates that the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are more achievable than previously projected — but that’s not to say humanity isn’t in deep trouble.

It’s not “4 to 6 degrees bad,” Ritchie says. “It’s 3 degrees bad. You can’t say we don’t have to worry about implementing policies, we do. But it’s not going to reach the truly catastrophic scenarios.”

Another recent study published in the same journal shows that if all the coal plants currently planned actually get built, humanity could blow past the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels.

Ritchie said his research doesn’t counteract that finding. “There’s a whole range of scenarios that can occur,” he says. “What our paper is trying to do is look at that whole range and how can we design policies that are more robust.”

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Queen Elizabeth has no patience for plastic.

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We could be in a little less trouble than we thought.

Here’s how humanity could all but ensure its own demise: Dig up all the coal we have left and burn it, warming the planet 4 to 6 degrees C.

But that worst-case scenario doesn’t match up with what’s really happening in the world, Justin Ritchie, lead author of a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, told Grist.

That’s because money spent on climate change measures goes further than it did 30 years ago. Plus, baseline trends show greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline. Most studies underestimate the effect these factors have on global decarbonization.

The study indicates that the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are more achievable than previously projected — but that’s not to say humanity isn’t in deep trouble.

It’s not “4 to 6 degrees bad,” Ritchie says. “It’s 3 degrees bad. You can’t say we don’t have to worry about implementing policies, we do. But it’s not going to reach the truly catastrophic scenarios.”

Another recent study published in the same journal shows that if all the coal plants currently planned actually get built, humanity could blow past the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels.

Ritchie said his research doesn’t counteract that finding. “There’s a whole range of scenarios that can occur,” he says. “What our paper is trying to do is look at that whole range and how can we design policies that are more robust.”

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We could be in a little less trouble than we thought.

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We are fleeing the world’s coasts

We are fleeing the world’s coasts

By on Jun 10, 2016Share

As if beaches weren’t already scary (think: Shark attacks! Seagulls swooping in to snatch a sandwich from your hands! And [gulp] beach body season!), you may have heard that climate change is ushering in even greater terrors. We’re talking intense hurricanes, tidal flooding, and sea-level rise of three or four feet by 2100.

And people may already be responding to the planet’s not-so-subtle signals that coastal areas may not a safe place to live in the future. According to a new study from Environmental Research Letters, population growth patterns have indicated a slight distribution away from coastlines. The share of population that lives 124 miles from the coast has decreased slightly in recent years, from 52 percent in 1990 to 51 percent in 2010.

Wait! One percentage point may be a subtle change, but it’s likely contrary to what you’ve heard before, since there’s a common understanding that people are actually moving toward the coasts. And on a global scale, many more people live in coastal areas today than in the past — about five times as many as in 1900, Fast Company reports.

Humans have historically been drawn to coasts, and that’s for good reason. Life near the sea has a lot to offer: food, jobs, and the occasional orca sighting. But eventually, the coastally inclined might find themselves in a bit of a salty pickle if they don’t move further inland. The ocean is all too eager to move into beachfront properties and turn living rooms into giant aquariums.

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We are fleeing the world’s coasts

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Meet perfluorotributylamine, the world’s worst greenhouse gas

Meet perfluorotributylamine, the world’s worst greenhouse gas

What synthetic compound has 27 fluorine atoms, a dozen carbon atoms, and a dash of nitrogen? The world’s worst known greenhouse gas.

A class of compounds known as perfluoroalkyl amines have been manufactured for more than 50 years for use by the electronics industry. Climate scientists don’t know much about them, but they have been worried for some time that they could be affecting the climate. And a new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, seems to have confirmed some of their worst fears.

National Institute of Standards and TechnologyJust call it PFTBA.

Scientists at the University of Toronto studied one such compound, perfluorotributylamine, and concluded that it could persist in the atmosphere, trapping heat here on Earth, for more than 500 years. Not only that, but the scientists concluded in their paper that it has the “highest radiative efficiency of any compound detected in the atmosphere.”

Researcher Angela Hong said that over a century a single molecule of PFTBA, as it is catchily called, has an “equivalent climate impact” of more than 7,000 carbon dioxide molecules.

Next up: Figuring out what the other perfluoroalkyl amines are doing to the climate, and searching for climate-friendlier chemicals that could be used instead. As Hong and her colleagues dryly note in their paper, “Detection of PFTBA demonstrates that perfluoroalkyl amines are a class of [long-lived greenhouse gas] worthy of future study.”

UPDATE, from The Guardian:

Concentrations of PFTBA in the atmosphere are low — 0.18 parts per trillion in the Toronto area — compared to 400 parts per million for carbon dioxide. So PFTBA does not in any way displace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal as the main drivers of climate change.

Dr Drew Shindell, a climatologist at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said: ”This is a warning to us that this gas could have a very very large impact on climate change — if there were a lot of it. Since there is not a lot of it now, we don’t have to worry about it at present, but we have to make sure it doesn’t grow and become a very large contributor to global warming.”


Source
Perfluorotributylamine: A novel long-lived greenhouse gas, Geophysical Research Letters
New long-lived greenhouse gas discovered by University of Toronto chemistry team, University of Toronto
Newly discovered greenhouse gas ‘7,000 times more powerful than CO2’, The Guardian

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Meet perfluorotributylamine, the world’s worst greenhouse gas

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No, global warming isn’t caused by solar flares or cosmic rays

No, global warming isn’t caused by solar flares or cosmic rays

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Of all the fanciful folklore espoused by climate deniers, among the strangest is cosmoclimatology. It posits that climate change is not the result of the blanket of carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere. Rather, the theory goes, global warming is caused when changes in the 11-year cycle of the sun cause the Earth to be bombarded by cosmic rays, which are high-energy particles, most of which come from deep in Outer Space. 

“Evidence is accumulating that cosmic rays associated with fluctuations in the sun’s electromagnetic field may be what drives global warming,” explains the Texas-based Institute for Creation Research. “[W]hen the sun is more active — more sunspots, a stronger magnetic field, larger auroras, stronger solar winds, etc. — fewer cosmic rays strike the earth and cloud cover is reduced, resulting in warmer temperatures.”

Nice theory. But actual scientists (i.e., those who believe in evolution and the like) have been rejecting it for years, and a flurry of new research is confirming that the theory is bunk.

One such paper (which is receiving a fair bit of media coverage) was published last week by a pair of British researchers in the journal Environmental Research Letters. From the paper’s conclusion:

Numerous searches have been made to try [to] establish whether or not cosmic rays could have affected the climate, either through cloud formation or otherwise. We have one possible hint of a correlation between solar activity and the mean global surface temperature. … Using the changing cosmic ray rate as a proxy for solar activity, this result implies that less than 14% of global warming seen since the 1950s comes from changes in solar activity. Several other tests have been described and their results all indicate that the contribution of changing solar activity either through cosmic rays or otherwise cannot have contributed more than 10% of the global warming seen in the twentieth century.

We conclude that cosmic rays and solar activity which we have examined here, in some depth, therefore cannot be a very significant underestimated contributor to the global warming seen in the twentieth century.

Other recent studies have been less kind to the theory. A paper published in Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics in August concluded that research results “do not lead to the conclusion that cosmic rays affect atmospheric clouds significantly. … [E]ven if cosmic rays enhanced cloud production, there would be a small global cooling, not warming.”

John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli do a nice job of summing all this up in a column for The Guardian. “[E]very step in the galactic cosmic ray-climate hypothesis is fraught with problems,” they conclude. “This failed hypothesis offers a stark contrast to the overwhelming consensus that our greenhouse gas emissions are driving warming. The latter is supported by solid, well-understood fundamental physics.”


Source
Cosmic rays fall cosmically behind humans in explaining global warming, The Guardian
A review of the relevance of the ‘CLOUD’ results and other recent observations to the possible effect of cosmic rays on the terrestrial climate, Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics
Cosmic rays, solar activity and the climate, Environmental Research Letters

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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No, global warming isn’t caused by solar flares or cosmic rays

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