CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS & VIEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB
..”sudden and unexpected deaths” had been reported over the past week – triple the number during a similar period in a typical year. We are releasing this information as it is believed likely the extreme weather BC has experienced in the past week is a significant contributing factor to the increased number of deaths.
Lisa Lapointe BC chief coroner
The costs to California cities to clean up single-use product litter on beaches, parks, and streets is massive: nearly a half billion dollars statewide. https://t.co/U29Td4oOxw
— Sierra Magazine (@Sierra_Magazine) July 3, 2021
Can redesigning aeroplanes save the planet?
‘Bombshell’ Secret Footage of ExxonMobil Lobbyists Sparks Calls for Action by Congress
This clip — which is real, not a scene from the latest Avengers movie — seems like an appropriate visual metaphor for the past week, at least. https://t.co/1OL0CVH5AE
— Scott D. Sampson (@DrScottSampson) July 2, 2021
As @DrShepherd2013 pointed out earlier this week, Elsa is the earliest named 5th storm of an Atlantic hurricane season on record. The 5th named storm typically does not form until August 31st. “Whatever “typically” means these days,” he added … https://t.co/piSUCV7PeE
— Prof. Katharine Hayhoe (@KHayhoe) July 2, 2021
Western Canada’s heat wave is ‘unprecedented.’ Scientists say it will become more common with climate change
‘There’s going to continue being new normals until we stop emitting greenhouse gases,’ says climate scientist
Smoky skies. Polluted air. Sweltering heat.
During three of the past five summers, British Columbians have endured extreme weather events, rewriting a season long known for its mild, sunny forecasts.
This week’s historic heat wave, which unleashed punishing temperatures on the Pacific Northwest and is now moving eastward to Alberta, has brought the realities of climate change into even sharper relief.
Climate scientists are cautious about citing climate change as the cause of any specific weather event. But some say evidence suggests extreme events are intensifying and becoming more common because of global warming.
“I’m shocked by this,” said Simon Donner, a professor of climatology at the University of British Columbia.
“As a climate scientist, we expect to see more extreme heat waves going forward into the future because we’re adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. But this is even beyond my expectations. To have a heat wave last this long and be this hot in Canada is completely unprecedented in history.”
‘It really feels like dangerous heat’
The village of Lytton in B.C.’s Interior shattered Canada’s all-time weather record over three consecutive days, surpassing an eye-popping 49 C on Tuesday. B.C.s Fraser Valley recorded temperatures in the mid 40s. Vancouver, which usually benefits from cool ocean air, recorded an overnight low of 24 C on Monday night, the type of heat often felt in the tropics.
“There’s something that feels a bit different about this one and I can’t quite put my finger on it,” said Joseph Shea, a professor of environmental geomatics at the University of Northern British Columbia.
“I was trying to come up with a word on the weekend and I think the word is menacing. It really feels like dangerous heat.”
The sky isn’t falling, but scientists have found that parts of the upper atmosphere are gradually contracting in response to rising human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Combined data from three NASA satellites have produced a long-term record that reveals the mesosphere, the layer of the atmosphere 30 to 50 miles above the surface, is cooling and contracting. Scientists have long predicted this effect of human-driven climate change, but it has been difficult to observe the trends over time.
“You need several decades to get a handle on these trends and isolate what’s happening due to greenhouse gas emissions, solar cycle changes, and other effects,” said Scott Bailey, an atmospheric scientist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and lead of the study, published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. “We had to put together three satellites’ worth of data.”
Together, the satellites provided about 30 years of observations, indicating that the summer mesosphere over Earth’s poles is cooling four to five degrees Fahrenheit and contracting 500 to 650 feet per decade. Without changes in human carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers expect these rates to continue.
As early as 1958, the oil industry was hiring scientists and engineers to research the role that burning fossil fuels plays in global warming. The goal at the time was to help the major oil conglomerates understand how changes in the earth’s atmosphere may affect the industry – and their bottom line. But what top executives gained was an early preview of the climate crisis, decades before the issue reached public consciousness.
What those scientists discovered – and what the oil companies did with that information – is at the heart of two dozen lawsuits attempting to hold the fossil fuel industry responsible for their role in climate change. Many of those cases hinge on the industry’s own internal documents that show how, 40 years ago, researchers predicted the rising global temperatures with stunning accuracy. But looking back, many of those same scientists say they were hardly whistleblowers out to take down big oil.
Some researchers later testified before Congress, using their insider knowledge to highlight the ways in which the oil industry misled the public. Others say they have few qualms with how the petroleum giants handled their research.
Few, however, could have predicted the imprint their work would have on history in efforts to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for our climate emergency. The Guardian tracked down three of those scientists to see how they view their role today.
In my first week as the BBC’s new Australia correspondent in 2019, a state of emergency was declared in New South Wales. Bushfires blazed and came very close to Sydney.
The orange haze and the smell of smoke will forever be etched in my memory.
As the country woke to pictures of red skies, destroyed homes and burned koalas in smouldering bushland, the climate change debate came to the fore.
But this wasn’t a scientific debate. It was political and it was partisan.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not answer questions about the issue, while then Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack dismissed climate concerns as those of “raving inner-city lefties”.
That was my other big memory of my first week in Australia. The leadership – after years of drought and as blazes raged across the east coast – openly throwing doubt on the effects of climate change.
This was a tussle at the heart of Australian politics.
Climate change is a hotly charged issue here. It draws in the powerful fossil fuel industry and regional voters fearful for their livelihoods.
It’s a subject that has ended political careers.
‘Vacuum of leadership’
Throughout those months of the Black Summer fire season, Mr Morrison would face fierce criticism about how his government handled the situation – and how it continued to avoid the climate crisis.
The science around climate change is complex but it’s clear. Yes, it was not the cause of any individual fire but experts agree it played a big role in creating catastrophic fire conditions; a hotter, drier climate contributed to the bushfires becoming more frequent and more intense.
An inquiry following the Black Summer fires said further global warming is inevitable over the next 20 years – and Australians should prepare for more extreme weather.