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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

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Why the world is starting to panic over climate – Observer Research Foundation

The world community cannot hope to get a grip on this situation without finding a way of putting a price on carbon.

Kyoto Protocol, CO2 emissions, climate change, climate, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, COP26, sea-level rise, global temperature, Extinction Rebellion, greenhouse gas emissions, global warming

Matheus Bertelli — Pexels

Scientific background

Climate change is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced. Warming of the troposphere as a result of releasing man-made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere was predicted as long ago as 1896.
Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have been measured continuously since 1958 at the Mauna Lao Observatory in Hawaii. CO2 has risen from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 415 ppm (2021). Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas and has risen from a pre-industrial level of 722 parts per billion to 1,866 (2019). Methane levels plateaued in the ’90s, but have started rising again since 2008 as shown by the observatory at Baring Head in New Zealand.

Methane Graph courtesy of Dr Hinrich Schaefer, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand.

This has alarmed scientists who are, as yet, unsure as to the cause(s). Studies by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) favour a fossil fuel origin, and it is certainly true that the rise coincides with increased gas extraction globally, notably fracking. Other authorities favour tropical wetlands, but it is difficult to separate this from agricultural sources such as rice production in paddy fields, or methane released by ruminants such as sheep, cattle and goats. The latest data presented by Hinrich Schaefer at the first Mayday C4 Conference in London (May 1-3, 2021) indicates that agriculture is contributing significantly to these methane increases. Lurking in the background is the certainty that large quantities of methane will be released from thawing permafrost as temperatures in the Arctic continue to increase. An even more catastrophic scenario is the release of methane from the Arctic seabed where roughly 500 billion tonnes is stored in the form of clathrates. In 2013, Peter Wadhams and his colleagues from Cambridge University predicted that the release of just 50 billion tonnes from the East Siberian Ice Shelf would raise global temperatures by 0.6 degrees Centigrade (C). In October 2020, scientists reported significant methane releases from this precise area of the Arctic Ocean where the continental shelf is only 30 metres below the surface. Scientists are unsure whether this is a new phenomenon or whether they are observing something that has been happening for many years; other observers regard this event as signalling the start of irreversible climate change.

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