CLIMATE CHANGE AUG 28, 2021

CLIMATE CHANGE NEWS & VIEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB

QUOTABLES:

If we delay action, within a few decades we will be looking back at today’s extremes as “the good old days”.


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
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Kenya holds biggest ever animal census

Weather Whiplashing Events in North America — Analysis: Part 1 of 2

Weather Whiplashing Events in North America — Analysis: Part 2 of 2

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ALBERTA NEWS

Solar panels in southern Alberta have been dimmed by wildfire smoke this summer

Calgarians using solar panels to help power their homes have seen big swings in the amount of energy being generated in recent weeks.

On days where there is heavy smoke in the air — wafting over from the wildfires to the west — some are finding the amount of energy produced can drop by as much as two-thirds.

Sean McCann was among those who took advantage of a provincial rebate program in 2018 and had a set of solar panels installed at his home in the northwest quadrant of the city, enough to generate just under 2000 watts of power.

“I paid really close attention to the numbers for the first year, so from June 2018 to June 2019, they accounted for just about 20 per cent of my energy usage,” he said.

“When the sun is shining and I’m at home during the day, the whole house is powered by solar, my house is using the energy from solar first.”

But on days when the sun has been blocked by smoke, McCann said there was a noticeable drop in power production.

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CANADA NEWS

Wildfires, drought and record heat: Why climate change matters in Election 2021

During an absolutely staggering heat wave in June, the town of Lytton, B.C., set all-time Canadian temperature records three days in a row — 46.6 C, 47.5 C and 49.6 C.

The next day, Lytton burnt to the ground as a fast-moving wildfire consumed nearly everything in its path.

“It’s absolutely devastating and tragic,” Scott Hildebrandt, a municipal government official, said at the time.

Health officials in B.C. blamed the heat wave for nearly 600 premature deaths.

Since then, thousands of people in the province have been temporarily displaced from their homes due to out-of-control fires. Many thousands more have been put on evacuation alert.

Satellite images reveal plumes of smoke moving across North America, while the skies over Vancouver turned red, making it difficult to breathe and dangerous for anyone with a respiratory illness to go outside.

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What can Canadians do to avert climate crisis?

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WORLD NEWS

95% of existing ocean climates could disappear by 2100 if CO2 emissions continue to climb

Coral, shelled organisms face new threats as climate warms

Canada is home to three oceans, all of which harbour thousands of fish and animals, on which many Canadians rely. But, with a warming planet, these bodies of water are rapidly changing.

new study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that our oceans’ climates — existing environments with delicately balanced ecosystems — face extreme change under climate-change scenarios.

When trying to predict how our climate will change as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions, scientists use something called the representative concentration pathway, or RCP. They represent different climate futures under varying levels of greenhouse gas emissions. 

In this study, the authors looked at two: RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5.

Under RCP 4.5 — considered a moderate scenario — emissions peak in 2050, and are then followed by a slowed increase. Under RCP 8.5 — often considered as a “business-as-usual” scenario, and the worst one — emissions peak in 2100 and are then followed by a slowed increase. 

Under these scenarios, the authors suggest that 10 to 85 per cent of the surface ocean would see conditions never before seen, or a change in their “climate.”

“Previous studies have looked at specific locations and said, ‘Okay, this location’s getting warmer, or this location is getting acidic.’ What we did was, we looked at the whole climate of the global ocean,” said lead author Katie Lotterhos, associate professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, Maine.

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How Greenland’s arctic landscape is at the heart of the climate crisis

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Fires in the Amazon are out of control. Again.

Hundreds of wildfires have already scorched the rainforest this year, and the worst is likely yet to come.

In the summer of 2019, the Amazon captured the world’s attention when large chunks of the iconic rainforest went up in flames and smoke darkened the afternoon sky above São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. The following year proved to be even worse.

And this year?

It’s not looking good so far: More than 1,000 large fires have burned across the rainforest since January. Experts say this year is on track to be as bad as 2020, when fires razed more than 19 million acres of the world’s largesttropical forest.

Conservation advocates aren’t counting on help from the government of Brazil, which is home to some 60 percent of the Amazon. While President Jair Bolsonaro banned unauthorized outdoor fires and deployed troops to the Amazon earlier this year, experts say these efforts haven’t worked in the past — and question the president’s commitment to ending rampant forest loss. A populist and ally of former President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has dismantled a number of environmental protections since taking office in 2019.

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The Dream of Carbon Air Capture Edges Toward Reality

n early September, at an industrial facility located about 25 miles southeast of Reykjavik, Iceland, the Swiss company Climeworks will mark the opening of a new project named “Orca.” At least in a conventional sense, Orca doesn’t actually make anything. It is comprised of eight elongated boxes that resemble wood-clad tanks. Each of these boxes — known as “collectors” — is roughly the size of a tractor trailer, and each is festooned with 12 whirring fans that draw a stream of air inside. Within the collectors, a chemical agent known as a sorbent will capture CO2 contained in the air wafting through. Periodically, the surface of the sorbent will fill up. And at that point the CO2 trapped within it will need to be released. At Orca, this task is accomplished with a blast of heat, which is sourced from a nearby hydrothermal vent. The extracted CO2 will then be piped from the collector boxes to a nearby processing facility, where it will be mixed with water and diverted to a deep underground well.

And there it will rest. Underground. Forever, presumably. The carbon dioxide captured from the Icelandic air will react with basalt rocks and begin a process of mineralization that takes several years, but it will never function as a heat-trapping atmospheric gas again.

Climeworks maintains that Orca, once it’s running around the clock, will remove up to 4,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year. And there isn’t much reason to doubt the facility can achieve this feat. For one thing, the technology for the plant, known as direct air capture, or DAC, is a variation on ideas that have been utilized over the course of half a century in submarines and spacecraft: Employ chemical agents to “scrub” the excess CO2 out of the air; dispose of it; then repeat. More to the point, perhaps, is the fact that Climeworks has already built smaller, less sophisticated plants in mainland Europe, which have in turn pulled hundreds of tons of CO2 per year from ambient air.

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Could this solar farm be a climate change solution?

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