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Why Climate Change News?

Why am I selecting climate change news when humanity’s environmental impact on the planet is so multi-faceted and complex? Read on!

Biodiversity loss is reaching catastrophic proportions with roughly half of all individual animals eradicated since 1970.

We are cutting down an area of forest equivalent to the size of Italy each year.

Nitrate run-off from farming fertilizers is facilitating marine algal blooms that deplete oxygen, leaving vast, coastal dead-zones in their wake.

At least a quarter of the Co2 released by human activities like deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels has been absorbed by the oceans, causing them to become 30% more acidic over the past two centuries – faster than any known change in ocean chemistry in the last 50 million years and a rate way in excess of marine life’s adaptation capacities.

The biosphere is so suffused with plastic that microplastic particles can be found strewn all through the food-chain and detected in high concentrations even in polar melt-ponds.

Why focus on climate change news?

So why then focus on a single issue like climate change, providing weekday updates of climate change news? Honestly, because extreme weather events make for the most dramatic, attention-grabbing spectacles. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing cars tossed about like toys by raging torrents of water?! If you are going to be saddled with the foreknowledge of our collective fate then you may as well enjoy the show.

If you happen to be one of those people who believe that adding 29 surplus gigatons of carbon annually to the planet’s natural carbon cycle (to say nothing of methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, etc.) will have no significant impact on the climate system and that climate change is, therefore, a Chinese hoax or a left-wing conspiracy – or if you’re one of those people who pretends to believe those things and promulgates those views because you are a Heartland Institute shill or similar – then by all means carry on.

If you think that debating attribution in relation to individual meteorological events is a useful or enjoyable way of passing the time then have at it. My personal view is that we have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere such that the entire context within which weather occurs has been altered and attribution studies are therefore moot – but is the worsening chaos in the climate system purely anthropogenic? Possibly not.

None of it matters, so I won’t argue the toss. Our worsening predicament has more than enough sharp edges to end the modern human experiment, irrespective of our rapidly changing climate.

And furthermore, there’s nothing we can do! The very fuels which are the sine qua non for modern industrial civilization and for keeping billions of us humans fed, clothed, (where applicable) warm, and generally not dead, are helping bring about our collective demise. It is an unfortunate irony.

Oil, coal, and gas still supply 85% of our direct energy needs and are intrinsic in the production of the remaining 15%. It is complete fantasy to imagine that solar panels and wind turbines and the dilute, intermittent energy they provide can be scaled up to replace them. But, again, if you are one of those people who imagine that they can, I am not going to work hard to dissuade you.

And if you are torturing yourself with the notion that humanity has been foolish and remiss in its choices, then take heart – as tribal creatures operating in a competitive system, there was no way we ever going to forego the advantages (and comforts) afforded us by burning fossil fuels.

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What we are likely to see moving forwards:

An overall, accelerating warming trend, resulting in many more meteorological records being broken for heat than cold

Disproportionately rapid warming in the Arctic eroding the temperature-gradient between the pole and the rest of the northern hemisphere, resulting in weak, fractured and often stuck jet streams thence stuck weather patterns

The penetration of warm air into the Arctic via these weaker jet streams and the corollary, i.e. Arctic air spilling out to the south, causing some extreme cold events

Accelerating ice-loss in the Arctic

Increasing emissions of methane from soils and shallow seas in permafrost regions of the Arctic

An accelerating increase in severe precipitation events and the potency of storms, due to the overall warming, both marine and atmospheric

Accelerated melting of glaciers

A continued slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

More persistent droughts in many parts of the world (major cities like Sao Paolo and Cape Town have been dangerously close to running entirely out of water. Sooner or later a city, probably in the southern hemisphere, will run dry)

Accelerating Antarctic sea-ice loss and ice-sheet destabilisation via sub-marine warming and the channeling of warm air from lower latitudes into the sea-ice zone

Accelerating rise of sea-levels (I use the plural because sea-level is not uniform around the planet)

All these and much, much more!

Speaking meteorologically, things are going to get weird; so, pull up your comfiest chair and chop out a line of your finest cocaine – like Douglas Adams’ ‘Restaurant at the End of the Universe’, we have ringside seats for a clusterfuck of unprecedented proportions and we’ll be following it here every week-day with climate change news updates at climateandeconomy.com.