Painfully slow hurricanes, deadly heat, and cities without water: What the climate crisis will look like in the next 10 years, according to experts

venice flood
A woman walks in a flooded street during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, November 11, 2012. The water level in the canal city rose to 149 cm (59 inches) above normal. 
REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri
  • In the last few years, we’ve seen record-breaking temperatures, intense hurricanes and wildfires, and unprecedented ice melt.
  • All of these are predicted consequences of climate change and are expected to get worse in the coming years.
  • Addressing this threat in the next 10 years is critical: Scientists say the world must slash its carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avoid catastrophic warming.
  • Here’s what we can expect in the next decade.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more.

We only have a decade to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

That’s the warning the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out last year. But so far, nations are not slashing emissions enough to keep Earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — the threshold established in the Paris climate agreement.

“What we know is that unabated climate change will really transform our world into something that is unrecognizable,” Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute’s climate program, told Business Insider.

That transformation has already begun. The last few years saw record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic and bizarre storms, and unprecedented ice melt. That’s all likely to get worse by 2030.

Here’s what we can expect in the next 10 years.

Scientists attribute the increasing frequency of record-breaking temperatures, unprecedented ice melt, and extreme weather shifts to greenhouse-gas emissions.

greenland ice melt
Ice melts during a heatwave in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on August 1, 2019. 
Caspar Haarloev from “Into the Ice” documentary via Reuters

Fossil fuels like coal contain compounds like carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat from the sun. Extracting and burning these fuels for energy releases those gases into the atmosphere, where they accumulate and heat up the Earth over time.

“As long as we burn fossil fuels and load the atmosphere with carbon pollution, it all gets worse,” climate scientist Michael Mann told Business Insider in an email.

Last year, the IPCC warned that we only have until 2030 to act in order to avoid the worst consequences of severe climate change.

IPCC climate change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chair Hoesung Lee, center, speaks during a press conference in Incheon, South Korea, October 8, 2018. 
Ahn Young-joon/AP

According to the IPCC, the world’s carbon emissions have to fall by 45% by 2030 to keep the world’s average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

So the next 10 years are crucial for any efforts to slow this trend.

If Earth warms more than 1.5 degrees, scientists think the world’s ecosystems could start to collapse.

arctic sea ice melting
The 2015 Arctic sea ice summertime minimum was 699,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average, shown here as a gold line in a visual representation of a NASA analysis. 
NASA via Reuters

“The choices that we make today are going to have profound impacts,” Levin said.

Even if nations stick to the goals they set under the Paris climate agreement, emissions will still likely be too high, according to the IPCC.

Reuters paris agreement
President Donald Trump departs after announcing his decision that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, in Washington D.C., June 1, 2017. 
Reuters

Under the voluntary goals set in the Paris agreement, the world would still emit the equivalent of 52 to 58 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year by 2030, according to the report. (This is measured as an “equivalent” in order to factor in other greenhouse gases, like methane, which is 84 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.)

So far, most countries are not on track anyway.

Regardless of what actions we take, there are a few changes scientists know we’ll see in the next 10 years.

greenland ice melt
Satellite image shows meltwater ponding on the surface of the ice sheet in northwest Greenland near the sheet’s edge on Monday, July 30, 2019. 
NASA via Associated Press

That’s because the world will keep getting warmer even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases immediately.

In the worst case scenario, we might even the 1.5-degree temperature-rise mark by 2030.

global warming temperature climate change 2014 to 2018
This map shows Earth’s average global temperature from 2014 to 2018, as compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980, according to a NASA analysis. Yellows, oranges, and reds show regions warmer than the baseline. 
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The globe’s ice caps will continue to melt, and crucial ice sheets like the one in Greenland might start down an irreversible path toward disappearing completely.

greenland ice melt
Ice melt formed gushing white water in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on August 1, 2019. 
Caspar Haarloev from “Into the Ice” documentary via Reuters

“Somewhere between 1.5 and 2 degrees, there’s a tipping point after which it will no longer be possible to maintain the Greenland Ice Sheet,” Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told Inside Climate News. “What we don’t have a handle on is how quickly the Greenland Ice Sheet will be lost.”

Greenland’s ice is already approaching that tipping point, according to a study published in May. Whereas the melting that happened during warm cycles used to get balanced out when new ice formed during cool cycles, warm periods now cause significant meltdown and cool periods simply pause it.

That makes it difficult for the ice sheet to regenerate what it’s losing.

That will lead to more sea-level rise — about 0.3 to 0.6 feet on average globally by 2030, according to the US’ National Climate Assessment.

venice flood sea level rise
People walk in the flooded street during a period of seasonal high water in Venice, Italy, November 15, 2019. This week saw the city’s worst flooding in 50 years. 
REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri

In addition to melting ice, rising ocean temperatures cause seas to rise because warm water takes up more volume. As the globe heats up, scientists expect that simple fact of physics to account for about 75% of future sea-level rise.

The risk of high-tide flooding (which happens in the absence of storms or severe weather) is rapidly increasing for communities on the US Gulf and East Coasts.

king tide flooding florida
A motorbike navigates through floodwater caused by a seasonal king tide, October 17, 2016, in Hollywood, Florida. 
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

In 2018, the US Northeast saw a median of one major sunny-day flood per year. By 2030, projections suggest the region will see a median of five such floods per year. By 2045, that number could grow to 25 floods.

The rising seawater won’t be distributed evenly across the globe.

new orleans climate change
A Climate Central plug-in for Google Earth shows how New Orleans could disappear underwater by 2100. 
Google Earth/Climate Central

Low-lying countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Seychelles are especially vulnerable. Rising oceans have already begun to threaten cities like Miami, New Orleans, Venice, Jakarta, and Lagos.

Some areas could see sea levels up to 6 feet higher by the end of the century.

Extra warmth and water means hurricanes will become slower and stronger. In the next decade, we’re likely to see more cyclones like Hurricane Dorian, which sat over the Bahamas for nearly 24 hours.

hurricane dorian satellite 130pm mon
Hurricane Dorian ground to a halt over the island of Grand Bahama on September 2, 2019. 
NOAA GOES-East

That’s because hurricanes use warm water as fuel, so as Earth’s oceans and air heat up, tropical storms get stronger, wetter, and slower.

Over the past 70 years or so, the speed of hurricanes and tropical storms has slowed about 10% on average, according to a 2018 study.

When storms are slower, their forceful winds, heavy rain, and surging tides have much more time to cause destruction. In the Bahamas, Dorian leveled entire towns.

Hurricane Dorian
Aliana Alexis of Haiti stands on the concrete slab of what is left of her home after destruction from Hurricane Dorian on Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, September 5, 2019. 
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

“The slower you go, that means more rain. That means more time that you’re going to have those winds. That’s a long period of time to have hurricane-force winds,” National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said in a Facebook Live video as Dorian approached the Bahamas.

A study published earlier this month found that the frequency of the most damaging hurricanes has increased 330% century-over-century.

To make matters worse, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. The peak rain rates of storms have increased by 30% over the past 60 years.

hurricane harvey
People evacuated their Houston homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. 
David J. Phillip/AP

That means up to 4 inches of water per hour. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was a prime example of this: After it made landfall, Harvey weakened to a tropical storm then stalled for days, dumping unprecedented amounts of rain on the Houston area. Scientist Tom Di Liberto described it as the “storm that refused to leave.”

Hurricanes are likely to intensify more rapidly as well.

Hurricane Dorian
A woman seeks cover from wind, blowing sand, and rain whipped up by Hurricane Dorian as she walks in Cocoa Beach, Florida, September 2, 2019. 
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“It’s pretty well understood that if the water is warmer and it’s causing more moist air to come up, you have the potential of a storm to grow quickly and intensely,” Brian Haus, a researcher who simulates hurricanes at the University of Miami, previously told Business Insider.

Overall, extreme weather is expected grow more common and intense.

Screaming heat skull of death
In June 2019, France faced its worst heat wave since 2003. The heat map looked like a screaming skull. 
Meteoceil

“Certain types of extreme events in the US have already become more frequent and intense and long-lasting,” Levin said. “There’s no reason to think that we’re not going to start to see an amplification of what we’ve been seeing.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that, overall, climate change will kill an additional 241,000 people per year by 2030.

Rio Grande drought
Sandbars fill the Rio Grande north of Albuquerque, New Mexico, after sparse rainfall in the US Southern Plains caused drought conditions to worsen, February 18, 2018. 
Susan Montoya Bryan/Associated Press

The WHO expects that heat-related illnesses will be a major culprit, killing up to 121,464 additional people by 2030.

In the coming years, experts expect to see “day zeros” — the term for the moment when a city’s taps run dry.

chennai india water day zero
Residents gather to fill empty containers with water from a municipal tanker in Chennai, India, as the city faces a “day zero” water crisis, June 25, 2019. 
P. Ravikumar/Reuters

In January 2018, Cape Town, South Africa, got dangerously close to this reality: The government announced the city was three months from day zero. Residents successfully limited their water use enough to make it to the next rainy season, however.

The IPCC projects severe reductions in water resources for 8% of the global population from 2021 to 2040.

Dry vegetation in hot regions lights up easily, which means more frequent, bigger wildfires.

Kincade Fire firefighter
Firefighter Joe Zurilgen passes a burning home as the Kincade Fire rages in Healdsburg, California, on October 27, 2019. 
Noah Berger / AP

“Climate change, with rising temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns, is amplifying the risk of wildfires and prolonging the season,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a July release.

2016 study found that climate change nearly doubled the amount of forest that burned in the western US between 1984 and 2015, adding over 10 billion additional acres of burned area. In California in particular, the annual area burned in summer wildfires increased fivefold from 1972 to 2018.

We’re also likely to see more wildfires in the Arctic, which is warming almost twice as fast as the global average. That means Arctic sea ice is also disappearing.

greenland wildfire
Satellites detected the infrared signal of a wildfire near Sisimiut, Greenland on July 10, 2019. 
Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

Rapid warming means that crucial sea ice is melting, which accelerates warming even more.

“You take what was a reflective surface, the white ice, and you expose darker oceans underneath it,” Levin said. “That can lead to a much greater absorption of solar radiation, and knock-on warming impacts as well as change of weather patterns.”

The Amazon rainforest is in trouble as well, largely because farmers and loggers are cutting it down so rapidly.

Amazon fire
An aerial view of a tract of the Amazon jungle burning as it gets cleared by loggers and farmers, August 23, 2019. 
REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

A 2008 study projected that humans would clear away 31% of the Amazon by 2030. Another 24% would be damaged by drought or logging, the study found.

People have already cut down 20% of the Amazon. If another 20% disappears, that could trigger a feedback loop known as a “dieback,” in which the forest could dry out and become a savannah.

“The risk of transforming the Amazon to a savannah-like state — it could have a tremendous impact for our ability worldwide to get a handle on the climate-change problem,” Levin said.

amazon deforestation in brazil
A September 15, 2009 photo shows a deforested area of the Amazon rainforest near Novo Progresso in Brazil’s northern state of Para. 
AP Photo/Andre Penner

That’s because the Amazon stores up to 140 billion tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of 14 decades’ worth of human emissions. Releasing that would accelerate global warming.

“You have a vital carbon sink no longer acting as a carbon sink, but instead acting as a carbon source,” Levin added.

Other crucial ecosystems face collapse in the next decade as well. At present rates, it’s expected that 60% of all coral reefs will be highly or critically threatened by 2030.

bleached coral
Bleached coral in Tahiti, French Polynesia, late-May 2019. 
Luiz Rocha, California Academy of Sciences

High ocean temperatures can cause coral to expel the algae living in its tissue and turn white, a process called coral bleaching.

It’s an increasingly dire problem, given that oceans absorb 93% of the extra heat that greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere. Recent research revealed that the seas are heating up 40% faster, on average, than the prior estimate.

The consequences of coral bleaching extend beyond the coral itself, since reefs house 25% of all marine life and provide the equivalent of $375 billion in goods and services each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

About 55% of the world’s oceans could suffer due to rising temperatures, acidification, decreasing oxygen, and other symptoms of climate change by 2030.

sea turtle coral reuters
A green turtle lies on a bed of corals off the Malaysian island of Sipadan in the Celebes Sea, December 7, 2008. 
David Loh/Reuters

These largely irreversible changes will eventually force mass migrations of marine life, upend ocean ecosystems, and threaten human livelihoods that depend on the ocean, according to a 2017 study. Many species that can’t adapt could die out.

“Climate impacts are also going to exacerbate social inequality,” Levin said.

California Drought Farm
A farm worker picks table grapes in Maricopa, California, United States, July 24, 2015, during the fourth year of a drought. 
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

That’s because people with fewer resources will be less able to avoid the worst impacts.

“That National Climate Assessment shows that residents, for example, in rural communities who often have less capacity to adapt, are going to be especially hard-hit given their dependence on agriculture,” Levin explained.

She added: “You can think also of the scenario of the poor who live in cities who could be at greater exposure to heat stress if they lack air conditioning and heat waves increase in frequency and duration.”

 More: https://www.businessinsider.com/climate-change-in-the-next-decade-2019-11#climate-impacts-are-also-going-to-exacerbate-social-inequality-levin-said-24

Scientists Have Detected a Rapid Spike of a Widely Overlooked Greenhouse Gas

Exposing the Big Game

CARLY CASSELLA
19 NOV 2019

Carbon dioxide and methane aren’t the only greenhouse gases the world needs to worry about. The rapid rise of nitrous oxide (N2O), colloquially known as ‘laughing gas’, is no joke either.

This little-known greenhouse gas may not be as prevalent nor as long-lasting as carbon dioxide, but it is hundreds of times more potent and can stick around in the atmosphere for more than a century.

Today, it’s released mainly through human agricultural practices, such as using cheap nitrogen fertiliser. And, as you’ve no doubt guessed, it’s also a main contributor to ozone depletion and global warming.

To make matters worse, we’ve seriously underestimated its use. Since the turn of the century, new measurements reveal atmospheric N2O has risen much faster than experts at the United Nations once predicted.

“We see that the N2O emissions have increased considerably during the past two…

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120-year-old photo sparks Greta Thunberg conspiracy theories

https://nypost.com/2019/11/19/120-year-old-photo-sparks-greta-thunberg-conspiracy-theories/

Well, she’s impressive, but she’s not that impressive.

Conspiracy theorists are at it again over a 120-year-old photo depicting a girl who bears an uncanny resemblance to teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

The photo, unearthed from archives at the University of Washington, shows three children working at a gold mine in Canada, including a girl wearing Thunberg’s signature braid and stoic expression.

Historians believe it was taken around 1898.

Thunberg, 16, took the world by storm when she arrived at the UN Climate Action Summit from her native Sweden this year via sailboat — having sworn off airplanes because of their environmental impact.

She spoke bluntly to US policymakers at the summit for not having stricter emissions standards.

“How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said at the time.

Enlarge Image
See the resemblance?Getty Images

Thunberg is currently looking to hitch another low-carbon ride across the Atlantic after protests in Chile forced a venue change for an environmental summit.

And while her activism is powerful — nabbing her a cover slot on Time magazine — her ability to time-travel is not, contrary to the Twitter conspiracy mill.

Hunter in China catches bubonic plague after eating a wild rabbit

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting Blog

Hong Kong (CNN)Twenty-eight people are in quarantine in China’s northern Inner Mongolia province after a hunter was diagnosed with bubonic plague Saturday, the local health commission said.

According to state-run news agency Xinhua, the unidentified patient was believed to have become infected with the plague after catching and eating a wild rabbit in Inner Mongolia’s Huade county.
Bubonic plague is the more common version of the disease and is rarely transmitted between humans.
The case comes after the Chinese government announced on November 12 that two people were being treated for the pneumonic plague in the capital of Beijing — the same strand that caused the Black Death, one of the deadliest pandemics in human history.
Pneumonic plague is the most virulent and deadly strain of the disease. It originates in…

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Pope Francis Proposes Adding “Ecological Sin” to Church Teachings

Pope Francis on Friday issued a warning against the rise of fascist forces worldwide that remind him of the Nazis of the 20th Century as he also railed against corporate crimes and announced consideration of adding “sins against ecology” to the church’s official teachings.

During a speech at the Vatican before the 20th World Congress of the International Association of Penal Law, a network of justice system and criminology experts from around the world, the leader of the Catholic Church said worrying developments both in the political arena and from the world of business remind him of dark episodes from humanity’s past, including Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

“It is not coincidental that at times there is a resurgence of symbols typical of Nazism,” Francis said as he decried the “culture of waste and hate” represented by contemporary politicians who spew derogatory and racists attacks against homosexuals, gypsies, Jewish people, and others. “I must confess to you,” he continued, “that when I hear a speech (by) someone responsible for order or for a government, I think of speeches by Hitler in 1934, 1936.”

The Pope also highlighted environmental degradation and said the church was considering adding crimes against nature and the environment to the catechism—the official text of church doctrine and teachings.

“We have to introduce, we are thinking about it, in the catechism of the Catholic Church, the sin against ecology, the sin against our common home, because it’s a duty,” he said. Francis has been championed by climate activists for using his position to preach about the urgent need for humanity to recognize the dangers of human-caused global warming and calling on other world leaders—and the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics in the world—to act boldly to address the crisis.

Crimes against the environment, said the Pope, should be seen as “crimes against peace, which should be recognized by the international community.”

Francis also spoke of the crimes of big business, many of which receive too little attention and often go unpunished.

“One frequent omission of penal law,” Francis told the criminal experts at the conference, “is the insufficient attention the crimes of the powerful receive, especially the large-scale delinquency of corporations.”

As the Religious News Service reports:

In his speech, Francis condemned global corporations that are responsible for “countries’ over-indebtedness and the plunder of our planet’s natural resources.” He said that their activities have the “gravity of crimes against humanity,” especially when they lead to hunger, poverty and the eradication of indigenous peoples.

Such acts of “ecocide” must not go unpunished, said the pope, who in October concluded a synod of bishops to discuss the Amazon region and the safeguarding of the environment.

“The principle of profit maximization, isolated from any other consideration, leads to a model of exclusion which violently attacks those who now suffer its social and economic costs, while future generations are condemned to pay the environmental costs,” Francis said.

“The first thing lawyers should ask themselves today is what they can do with their knowledge to counter this phenomenon,” he said, “which puts democratic institutions and the development of humanity itself at risk.”

Record high global debt of $250 trillion ‘could curb efforts to tackle climate risk,’ report warns

PHOTO: Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration.Jason Lee/Reuters, FILE
WATCHNews headlines today: Nov. 15, 2019

The global debt ballooned to a record high of more than $250 trillion and shows no sign of slowing down, according to a new report from the Institute of International Finance (IIF), which warned that this massive debt could impact international efforts to mitigate climate change.

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Worldwide debt surged by $7.5 trillion in the first half of 2019, urging researchers to predict that the global debt would exceed $255 trillion by the end of the year.

“Extended low interest rates and easy money has facilitated the accumulation of a bone crushing amount of debt over the last decade or so,” Dylan Riddle, a spokesperson for the IIF told ABC News in a statement. “This debt has helped fuel global growth, however, we must focus on managing the current debt load, and deploying resources for more productive means — like fighting climate change or investing in growth.”

The bulk of the global debt — or more than 60% — is from the U.S. and China, the report released on Thursday found. Meanwhile, emerging markets debt also hit a new record high of $71.4 trillion.

PHOTO: Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration.Jason Lee/Reuters, FILE
Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration.

The biggest increase in global debt over the past decade has been driven by governments and the non-financial corporate sector, according to the report.

At the end of their report, the economists warned that “high debt burdens could curb efforts to tackle climate risk.”

“Global climate finance flows remain far short of what’s needed for an effective transition to a low-carbon economy,” the IIF reported.

Citing the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s estimation in 2010 that an average of $3.5 trillion is needed annually to prevent global temperatures from increasing 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the report said that “public and private finance flows will have to be scaled up rapidly.”

“This is a growing source of concern for high-debt countries that also have high exposure to climate risk,” the report added, listing Japan, Singapore, Korea “and even the U.S.”

Hidden debt and other “poorly understood contingent liabilities” can create additional uncertainty, the report said, “and could leave some sovereigns struggling to source international and domestic capital — including to combat climate change.”

Earth’s odd rotation may solve an ancient climate mystery

Exposing the Big Game

A geologic change might have plunged lush landscapes into arid zones, killing off an array of creatures—and it might happen again one day.

AT FIRST, IT seems like a case of extinction by climate change: More than 160 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, a fanciful menagerie crept, swam, and flew through the cool, damp forests of what is now northeastern China. Then, almost in a geologic instant, the air grew warmer and the land dried out. As the water disappeared, so too did the life. And yet, researchers have struggled to pin down a climate-related culprit behind this ecological collapse.

Now, a study published in the journal Geology suggests that it wasn’t the climate that changed, but the geographic location of the landscape. Paleomagnetic signatures in the area’s rocks indicate that sometime between 174 and 157 million years ago, the…

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Why some hydropower plants are worse for the climate than coal

Patrick Civello / Getty Images
HELL AND HIGH WATER

According to a new study published in Environmental Science Technology, hundreds of active hydropower plants are making a worse impact on the climate than fossil fuels.

Yup, you read that right: Hydropower, popularly seen as a green energy source — and a major clean energy source in a lot of emission-reduction plans — can release more greenhouse gases than coal- or oil-burning power plants, under certain conditions.

Scientists have known for a while now that hydropower facilities release greenhouse gases — mostly methane, but also CO2 and nitrous oxide. But the way they’ve historically calculated a facility’s climate impact has obscured methane’s heat-trapping potency. The new study, which looks at data from thousands of hydropower plants to compare their long- and short-term climate impacts, found that hundreds of active facilities around the world are worse for the climate than coal.

“It’s pretty alarming,” Ilissa Ocko, the study’s lead author, told Grist.

Setting up a hydropower facility means building a dam and creating a reservoir, often submerging plants and other organic matter in the process. Traditional calculations of hydropower’s environmental impact take this destruction into account. But as the drowned plants decompose, they release methane, which bubbles out of the reservoir and into the atmosphere. Ocko’s study was the first to take into account how these methane emissions change over time.

Exactly how much methane is released varies widely depending on a wide range of factors, from temperature to precipitation to the depth of the pool — methane production can vary from year to year and even season to season. Ocko’s team was able to identify a few indicators that a hydropower facility plant would likely produce more greenhouse gases than others, such as a large surface-area-to-depth ratio of the reservoir and warmer temperatures. But it’s a lot more complicated than that, and each facility’s exact emissions profile — and the causes of that emissions profile — all vary, widely.

None of this means that hydropower is “bad”: Some facilities have negative emissions, and some are more warming than fossil fuels in the short term but better in the long term (even as the opposite is also sometimes true).

Since hydropower still has the potential to be a low-emissions power source, the most important thing is for planners to choose locations and design facilities with emissions in mind, so that the plants either minimize greenhouse gas emissions or divert them before they enter the atmosphere.

This is going to be crucial for industry and policymakers alike in coming years as governments turn to hydropower to meet their sustainability goals. Hydropower electricity production is expected to grow by up to 70 percent by 2040, with 3,700 new facilities currently planned or under construction. New York City is a prime example — Mayor Bill de Blasio recently recommitted to a pipeline to bring hydroelectricity to the city from Canada. With this and similar plans, the devil is in the details.

“We need to be really careful that new facilities we develop don’t fall into the category that have emissions that lead to climate impacts that are worse than fossil fuels,” said Ocko.

Climate Change Threatens Arizona’s Forest Birds

New Audubon report shows about half of Arizona’s birds are vulnerable.

When most folks think of Arizona, they think of the saguaro cactus and red rocks. But the ecology of the 48th state is actually much more diverse—it’s home to spruce and fir trees on the  highest mountains and is home to the largest ponderosa pine forest on the planet.

So, what will a warming planet mean to these forests and the birds that live there?

The Arizona section of Audubon’s latest report, Survival by Degrees: 389 Species on the Brink features the Painted Redstart, a colorful summer resident and breeding bird in the state’s pine forests. But the Painted Redstart is vulnerable to a changing climate.

In Arizona, 102 out of 242 species are climate vulnerable in summer under a 3 degrees Celsius temperature increase. Of those 102 species, the 44 species that summer in Arizona’s forests will be the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The greatest climate-related threats to Arizona forests are wildfire and drought. Drought results in bark beetle outbreaks that kill trees, and a smaller snowpack in the winter. Higher temperatures may also prevent the return of forest trees, which will be replaced by more heat and drought tolerant plants such as fire prone shrubs.

In addition to the Painted Redstart, other forest birds at high risk are Dusky Grouse, Spotted Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Red Crossbill, Acorn Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, Bridled Titmouse, Western Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Pygmy Nuthatch, Red-faced Warbler, Olive Warbler, Grace’s Warbler, Cassin’s Finch, Hepatic Tanager, and more.

As we know, water is life in the arid West, and Arizona’s forests are the watersheds for our water supplies. Fire and drought threaten our water supplies because soils and sediments end up in the streams and rivers that provide drinking water to Phoenix and nearby cities. Beyond Arizona, the drying and loss of forests in the Rocky Mountains means quicker snowmelts in spring. These snowpacks are the life-blood of the Colorado River basin water supply and we rely on them to melt slowly so we can have drinking water and flowing rivers year-round.

In addition to protecting our forests, we must act to limit the increase in global temperature to only 1.5 degrees C (as opposed to the more dire 3.0 C scenario) by taking action locally and at the federal level to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The birds will thank you and so will future generations.

Help Audubon track what the birds are telling us by joining Audubon’s Climate Watch bird surveys for bluebirds and nuthatches. https://www.audubon.org/conservation/climate-watch

Climate Change Might Hit the Economy Harder and Faster Than Thought

  • Oxford Economics report reviews latest scientific data
  • Global warming may shave off up to 7.5% of global GDP by 2050

How Rising Temperatures Can Fry the Economy

The economic effects of global warming may arrive sooner and with a bigger impact than previously thought, according to Oxford Economics in a report that compares recent scientific research with the economic literature on the costs of climate change.

In the absence of efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the earth could warm by 2 degrees celsius by 2050, cutting global gross domestic product by 2.5% to 7.5%, Oxford estimates, with the worst affected countries being in Africa and Asia. Longer term, a rise in temperatures of 4 degrees by 2100 could cut output by as much as 30%.

Economist James Nixon partly based his analysis on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. Older studies tended to predict the effects of even 4 or 5 degree of warming at no more than a few percent of global GDP and becoming significant only in the second half of the century, Nixon said, yet latest scientific findings show profound climate alterations already happening, including drought, flooding and extreme weather that affect economic activity.

Fighting Climate Change Will Help Economic Growth, Study Finds

“While over a 10-year horizon the costs seem unlikely to be significant enough to affect our forecasts, the window of indiscernibility looks to be closing rapidly,” Nixon said in the report. The effects are “big enough to be considered in our short-term economic forecasts for the first half of this century.”

Global greenhouse-gas pollution has risen for a second year, ending a lull in emissions and putting the world on track for further increases through 2040 unless governments take radical action.