Global warming stopped? Not in the real world

Monday, August 4, 2014

Remember all those articles that claimed global warming has stopped? Here’s proof that those were anti-scientific fantasies.
On July 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that last month’s average global temperature was 16.2°C, which is 0.7°C higher than the 20th-century average.

Heat records were broken on every continent apart from Antarctica. The rises were especially notable in New Zealand, northern South America, Greenland, central Africa and southern Asia.

June this year was the warmest June, and May the warmest May, since records began in 1880.

And on July 17, the American Meteorological Society released its annual State of the Climate report. The vast global climate indicators — greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures — continued to reflect trends to a much hotter earth.

The report said greenhouse gases continued to climb. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increased by 2.8 parts per million last year, reaching a global average of 395.3 ppm for the year.

At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the daily concentration of carbon dioxide exceeded 400 ppm on May 9 for the first time since measurements began at the site in 1958.

This milestone follows observational sites in the Arctic that observed this carbon dioxide threshold of 400 ppm in 2012.

Warm temperature trends continued near the Earth’s surface: Four major independent datasets show last year was among the warmest years on record.

In the southern hemisphere, Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest.

Sea surface temperatures rose. Four independent datasets indicate that the globally averaged sea surface temperature for last year was among the 10 warmest on record. Global mean sea level also continued to rise last year.

The Arctic continued to warm and sea ice extent remained low. The Arctic observed its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 20th century.

Arctic sea ice extent was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979. All seven of the lowest sea ice extents on record have occurred in the past seven years.

Near the end of the year, the South Pole had its highest annual temperature since records began in 1957.

The number of tropical cyclones last year was slightly above average, with a total of 94 storms compared to the 1981-2010 average of 89.

In the Western North Pacific Basin, Super Typhoon Haiyan — the year’s deadliest cyclone — had the highest wind speed ever assigned to a tropical cyclone.

Lesson number one for climate science deniers: Just because you hope something is true doesn’t mean that it is.

Abridged from Climate and Capitalism.

A 10 point climate plan

With evidence of higher-than-ever concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, rising sea and air temperatures and worsening ice melts, it is important to keep in mind that many solutions have been developed — only to be ignored by governments in the pocket of big corporations.

State of the Climate in 2013 is the 24th edition in a peer-reviewed series published annually as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The full report is available online as a pdf.

In Australia, Beyond Zero Emissions developed a detailed plan in 2010 to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2020. That same year, Socialist Alliance, an Australian political group, adopted this 10-point plan.

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1. Set immediate emission cut targets to reduce net emissions to zero as soon as possible, including a target to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2020. Introduce emissions reduction targets of at least 5% a year.

2. Begin new international treaty negotiations aimed to get all countries to agree on a global target of at least 90% emissions cuts on 1990 levels by 2030. Make cutting rich industrial nations’ emissions a priority, and increase aid to poorer countries to help them to use clean energy for their development.

3. Start the transition to a zero-waste economy. Legislate to end industrial energy waste. Improve or ban wasteful consumer products, such as those with built-in obsolescence. Engage with workers and unions to redesign their products and jobs sustainably.

4. Require advanced energy efficiency measures be fitted to existing houses and subsidise owner-occupiers for the costs. Allow renters to use the same system. Install photovoltaic solar panels and solar hot water heaters on home roofs, subsidised or owned by the electricity authority. Give all commercial buildings a deadline to meet six-star energy standards within two years, and 10-star standards within 10 years. Improve mandatory energy efficiency standards for all new buildings.

5. Bring power industries under public ownership and democratic control. Begin phasing out coalmining and coal-fired power immediately. Provide guaranteed jobs and retraining on full pay for affected communities.

New sustainable industries should be built in these areas, with voluntary paid redundancies and free retraining offered to all workers. Run the maximum possible base-load power from existing natural gas and/or hydro power stations instead of coal until renewable energy is available.

6. Bring the car industry under public control. Re-tool this industry to manufacture wind turbines, public transport vehicles and infrastructure, solar hot water and solar photovoltaic cells. Subsidise the conversion of private cars to electric power.

7. Build solar thermal with storage plants and wind farms in suitable areas now. Boost research into all renewable energy sources. Create localised power grids and upgrade the national grid to make it compatible with 100% renewable energy.

8. Ban the logging of old-growth forests and begin an urgent program of reforestation, carbon farming and biodiversity protection.

9. Phase out industrial farming based on fertilisers, pesticides and fuel sourced from petroleum. Restrict farming areas to ensure that threatened ecosystems return to healthy states. Encourage new farming practices including organic and urban farming. This process must allow for security of food supplies, and guarantee full employment and retraining for rural communities.

10. Make all public transport free and upgrade services to enable all urban residents to use it for regular commuting. Nationalise and upgrade interstate train and ferry services. Rail freight must be prioritised. All rail, light rail and interstate freight to be electrified or to run on biofuels from waste. Encourage bicycle use through more cycleways and better facilities for cyclists. Implement free or low-cost bicycle rental networks.

From GLW issue 1019