Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts

29 April 2017

The World's Climate Will Suffer if China Decides to Convert Its Coal Into Natural Gas

Matthew Brown

(BEIJING)—China's conversion of coal into natural gas could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths each year. But there's a catch: As the country shifts its use of vast coal reserves to send less smog-inducing chemicals into the air, the move threatens to undermine efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Tuesday. 

The environmental trade-off points to the difficult choices confronting leaders of the world's second largest economy as they struggle to balance public health and financial growth with international climate change commitments. 

Between 20,000 and 41,000 premature deaths annually could be prevented by converting low-quality coal in the country's western provinces into synthetic natural gas for residential use, according to the findings of researchers from the United States and China published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

If the gas were used for industrial purposes, fewer deaths would be averted and they would carry a steeper price — a dramatic increase in carbon dioxide emissions, according to the researchers and a separate report released Tuesday by Greenpeace. 

26 April 2017

Pathways and obstacles to a low-carbon economy

The energy transition is happening. But the pace of change depends on a range of technical, business, and societal factors. 

Technological advances and falling prices are driving the momentum toward low-carbon energy production across the globe. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, McKinsey partner Arnout de Pee and Lord Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission and the Institute for New Economic Thinking, speak with McKinsey Publishing’s Cait Murphy about the shift toward renewable resources and the future of sustainable development. 

Podcast transcript 

Cait Murphy: How can the world produce the energy it needs to broaden prosperity without damaging the environment beyond repair? The Energy Transitions Commission, whose members comprise leaders from the public, private, and social sectors, is dedicated to answering that question. 

Speaking with us today is Lord Adair Turner, head of the Energy Transitions Commission, and Arnout de Pee, a partner at McKinsey’s Sustainability and Resource Productivity group. I’m Cait Murphy of McKinsey Publishing. 

Let’s start with the broad question. Lord Turner, what is meant by the term “the energy transition,” and why is such a transition necessary? 

Lord Adair Turner: The term “energy transition” describes the fact that over the next several decades, we are going to have to achieve a really dramatic transition in the world away from reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have been absolutely essential to the original industrial revolution, to the growth of prosperity that we’ve achieved in an increasing number of countries over the last 200 years. 

In order to limit global warming to below two degrees centigrade above preindustrial levels, we will have to really very significantly move away from fossil fuels, while still delivering in many countries even more energy use than there is today. 

25 April 2017

Comparative Assessment of China and U.S. Policies to Meet Climate Change Targets

China and the United States together emit more than 40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) according to the latest available data.[1] Therefore any successful global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must include meaningful contributions from both countries. Each country has started down this path by committing to reduce CO2 emissions and both have announced plans, policies, and programs to meet those commitments. However, the character of the carbon problem in each country is different and so while the plans, programs, and policies they are pursuing have some similarities, the emphasis is different.

China and the United States have different fundamental energy supply potential. China’s energy resource base is coal-intensive, while the United States has large oil and gas reserves. China does not have the option of dramatically increasing natural gas or oil supplies unless it chooses to import them. In fact, China has become the world’s largest importer of oil—importing 6.71 million barrels per day in 2015.[2] Energy security, which has historically been a political priority in the United States, now receives less attention due to the recent boom in shale oil and gas. The opposite is true for China, which faces no significant growth in domestic oil and gas production, forcing it to import more oil and gas. Due to a combination of logistical obstacles and slow growth in coal reserves, China is now a net importer of coal, and thus energy security is becoming more of a concern.

20 March 2017

Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge

by Andrew Revkin

James Mattis’ unpublished testimony before a Senate panel recognizes a threat others in the administration reject or minimize. 

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves. 

In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if. 

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.” 

11 March 2017

Who's Still Fighting Climate Change? The U.S. Military

By Laura Parker

Who's Still Fighting Climate Change? The U.S. Military

Despite political gridlock over global warming, the Pentagon is pushing ahead with plans to protect its assets from sea-level rise and other impacts. Here's how.

Tests of the Orion spacecraft were made at Naval Station Norfolk in August 2013. The low-lying base is at risk from rising seas. 

NORFOLK, VIRGINIATen times a year, the Naval Station Norfolk floods. The entry road swamps. Connecting roads become impassable. Crossing from one side of the base to the other becomes impossible. Dockside, floodwaters overtop the concrete piers, shorting power hookups to the mighty ships that are docked in the world’s largest naval base.

All it takes to cause such disarray these days is a full moon, which triggers exceptionally high tides.

Norfolk station is headquarters of the Atlantic fleet, and flooding already disrupts military readiness there and at other bases clustered around the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, officials say. Flooding will only worsen as the seas rise and the planet warms. Sea level at Norfolk has risen 14.5 inches in the century since World War I, when the naval station was built. By 2100, Norfolk station will flood 280 times a year, according to one estimate by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

4 February 2017

Ancient Indus Civilization’s Adaptation To Climate Change

Source Link

With climate change in our own era becoming increasingly evident, it’s natural to wonder how our ancestors may have dealt with similar environmental circumstances. New research methods and technologies are able to shed light on climate patterns that took place thousands of years ago, giving us a new perspective on how cultures of the time coped with variable and changing environments.

A new article in the February issue of Current Anthropology explores the dynamics of adaptation and resilience in the face of a diverse and varied environmental context, using the case study of South Asia’s Indus Civilization (c.3000-1300 BC).

Integrating research carried out as part of the Land, Water and Settlement project — part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Cambridge and Banaras Hindu University — that worked in northwest India between 2007 and 2014, the article looks at how Indus populations in north-west India interacted with their environment, and considers how that environment changed during periods of climate change.

27 December 2016

There is a third pole on earth, and it's melting quickly

Alex Gray

Temperatures in the Third Pole region have increased by 1.5 degrees – more than double the global average. 

When we think of the world’s polar regions, only two usually spring to mind – the North and South. However, there is a region to the south of China and the north of India that is known as the “Third Pole”.

That’s because it is the third largest area of frozen water on the planet. Although much smaller than its north and south counterparts, it is still enormous, covering 100,000 square kilometres with some 46,000 glaciers.

Scientists conducting research in the area have warned of disturbing global warming trends, and how, if they continue, they could affect the lives of 1.3 billion people.

The importance of the Third Pole

What happens to ice in the polar regions is taken as clear evidence of climate change. When the ice melts, we know that the planet is warming up.

19 November 2016

Finance And Investment Key To A New Dawn In Climate Change – Analysis

By J Nastranis
NOVEMBER 18, 2016

While there is “a new dawn for global cooperation on climate change”, greater efforts are required to mobilize funding to address climate change, especially to support developing countries, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Finance and investment hold the key to achieving low-emissions and resilient societies,” Ban said in remarks read by his Special Advisor on Climate Change, Bob Orr, to a High-Level Ministerial dialogue on climate financing at the 22nd Conference of Parties Conference (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

According to UN News, Ban underscored that one of the core objectives of the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016, is “to make all finance flows consistent with a pathway to low-emissions climate-resilient development.” He noted that there has been progress, in particular in renewable energy.

In December 2015 at COP21, 196 Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement, so-named after the French capital where it was approved. It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Agreement entered into force in time for COP 22 from November 7-18, 2016, where parties are expected to define the rules of implementation of the Paris accord and establish a viable plan to provide financial support to developing countries to support climate action.

18 November 2016

A Lesson for India in a Fog So Thick It Could Kill a Cow

NOV. 10, 2016

A thick fog shrouded Trafalgar Square in London on Dec. 7, 1952. This heavy smog episode — from coal-burning fireplaces and cooking ranges — left as many as 12,000 dead.CreditBettmann Archive/Getty Images

In December 1873, London was blanketed for a week in a yellow fog so thick that people could not see their feet. “Ladies & gentlemen,” Mark Twain saidin a public lecture at the time, “I hear you, & so know that you are here — & I am here, too, notwithstanding I am not visible.”

Some 780 people died and 50 prize cattle on display at the Smithfield Club panted, wheezed and eventually died of asphyxia. Still, it took 83 more years of noxious air before the country passed the Clean Air Act in 1956.

This history, described in “London Fog: The Biography,” is a lesson in just how difficult it is for governments to put public health first when it comes into conflict with economic development, the political power of industry and even the polluting habits of their people.

The government of India is up against all of those things. The capital, New Delhi, a sprawling city of 20 million, just lived through an extraordinary episode of air pollution that closed schools for three days. India is one of a number of middle-income countries, including China, grappling with pollution problems that have ballooned along with economic growth and rapidly expanding cities.

A decade ago, the scope of the problem was poorly understood because the numbers on air pollution levels and deaths were spotty. But that has changed. Satellites have given scientists far more detailed pictures, allowing them to perform ever more precise calculations.

15 November 2016

Asia’s megacities are running out of water

Brahma Chellaney

Asia’s cities are ballooning, and the accompanying upsurge in the consumption of water and production of waste in urban areas is placing new pressures on the environment.

Home to 53% of the world’s urban population, Asia has the highest concentration of megacities, including Shanghai, Tokyo, Karachi and Beijing. Not only are Asia’s cities big and numerous, they are among the most polluted. The urban explosion has made providing safe water and sanitation a massive challenge for the region.

Historically, the availability of local water resources has determined not only where major cities have been established but how well they have fared. But in Asia, rapid — and often unplanned — urban growth in recent decades has overwhelmed water systems.

30 October 2016

Taiwan Should Be a Partner in Addressing Climate Change

October 27, 2016

The Paris Climate Agreement, negotiated within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions starting in the year 2020, was adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015. The agreement will take effect on November 4, after more than eighty of the 197 parties to the treaty to date have submitted their instruments of ratification to the United Nations, accounting in total for more than 55 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as a necessary threshold. This is a promising move forward in international efforts to mitigate the grave impact of climate change.

The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC is scheduled to convene from November 7 to 18 in Marrakech, Morocco. It is the crucial next step for governments to operationalize the Paris Agreement.

Taiwan, as the fifth-largest economy in Asia and the 22nd largest in the world, should have a place at the table in Marrakech. Taiwan cannot be left as a mere spectator to a problem which encompasses the entire international community. Its voice must be heard in the councils where viable solutions are vetted and adopted.

Global warming and the El Nino phenomenon have contributed to record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events around the globe. Dangerous weather conditions were recently seen in the United States as well, with historic flooding in Louisiana, tropical storms hitting Hawaii, and Hurricane Matthew causing deaths and destruction in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.

7 October 2016

The climate after Paris

Being a large and fast growing economy gives India an additional responsibility, especially for climate change actions

MK. Gandhi famously said,

“The world has enough for everybody’s need, but not for everybody’s greed.” It was most appropriate that on his birth anniversary, India announced its ratification of a global treaty signed in Paris last December. That global treaty signed by 191 parties will come into force only after at least 55 countries, representing 55% of global emissions of greenhouse gases, have ratified it. India became the 62nd country to ratify. It ratified ahead of the normally enthusiastic European Union. But India was behind the US and China, who jointly ratified it in Hangzhou, exactly a month ago.

Incidentally, the US had never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the earlier landmark global treaty with similar goals as the Paris treaty. The world has changed since Kyoto. The US under President Barack Obama took a leadership position on climate change. It is also at the forefront in trying to forge a global consensus around this issue, including cooperation in technology and financing. The Paris treaty, among other things, promises funding of $100 billion from developed countries to help developing countries switch to greener technologies. Much of this will have to originate from the US. Whether the next president will be equally keen and passionate about US leadership on climate change remains to be seen.

21 July 2016

The real problem in addressing climate change is the relation between emissions and power of nation states: Amitav Ghosh Interview with the author of 'The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable'

Nitin Sethi 
July 18, 2016  
Source Link

Amitav Ghosh, the author of 'The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable' speaks to Nitin Sethi about the language of concealment in which theParis agreement was scripted

You make an argument that turning it into a moral issue will not work to resolve climate change. But that is the argument globally civil society deploys. Do you think it's the failure of civil society to use the moral argument better or the argument is inherently built to fail?

I think it is an approach that is very ill suited to this particular problem. This whole issue of presenting it as a moral issue to my mind that actually is a capitulation to a kind of neo-liberal ideology which tries to reduce all collective action to cases of individual choices. As I say in the book, I think that you can actually argue the morality of it very easily. What are the dominant parameters of morality, especially in the English-speaking world in neo-classical economics of one kind or another? Looking at a lot of literature on the justice literature on climate change, which was very striking to me. How many approach it from a Rawlsian perspective. Essentially within that perspective the results that you get in relation to morality are not at all what you and I would imagine.

It's been very interesting for me to especially think of it in terms of Gandhian approach to politics and morality. Part of our political priority is this whole idea that you have to be the change that you want to see. Actually, it is in some sense an embrace of complete neoliberal model that you reduce all collective action problems to individual action problems and let all collective institutions off the hook. That for me is really one of the major problems with the morality thing. Secondly, to approach this issue from moralistic perspective you shall always be weakened by the deniers. They are going to reduce it to a question of individual sacrifice: What have you sacrificed? Why are you wearing that shirt? Why are you sitting in an air-conditioned room? You are actually handing them the tool with which to bludgeon you. I have seen this so often, repeatedly. People have become accustomed to this neo-liberal individualising morality. What they want is to reduce the question of individual sacrifice. Not institutional and not collective.

Conversely, you enter this problem and you get caught up in it at so many levels. Many major climate scientists Kevin Anderson and several others, Michael Mann, they also have now started talking about this in terms of individual sacrifice.

Yes, they drive the conversation along these lines very often…

Kevin Anderson particularly. I really admire the man. I think he is great. But you can see he is filled with this kind of anger, at the same time you can see equally that this is a kind of protestant thing. He feels that he is in a church.

At a pulpit you mean…

13 June 2016

Energy Perspectives 2016: Climate policies and geopolitics determine the global energy mix toward 2040
June 9, 2016
By PennEnergy Editorial Staff
Source: Statoil

The Paris climate agreement can be realized, but that requires new measures and much faster changes than we have seen so far.
Towards 2040 the world will need a lot of renewable energy. Considerable investments in new production of oil and gas are also necessary to replace falling production from existing fields.
This is outlined in Statoil’s Energy Perspectives report that was presented today.

“In order to achieve the objectives of the Paris climate agreement we need fast changes in the electricity sector and in private car transport, in addition to a strong energy efficiency improvement in all sectors,” says Statoil’s Chief economist Eirik Wærness.
“Even with a rapid increase in new renewable energy the oil and gas demand will only be slightly lower than today’s level in 2040. To compensate for falling global production from existing fields, considerable investments in new oil and gas production volumes will be needed, which in combination will correspond to 15-30 times the current total output on the Norwegian continental shelf,” says Wærness.
Statoil’s annual Energy Perspectives report describes how the world economy, international energy markets and energy-related greenhouse gas emissions develop, based on three different scenarios: Reform, Renewal and Rivalry.
The report has been prepared by a team of Statoil analysts in the fields of macroeconomics, energy markets, climate policies and geopolitics. It is based on models and frameworks that the company uses in connection with long-term analyses of the energy markets.

Three scenarios
“The future is uncertain, and consequently we have, just like last year, prepared three different scenarios for the development towards 2040,” says Wærness.
The Reform scenario in this year’s report is based on the national climate targets of the Paris agreement (COP21), with further restrictive measures in the energy and climate policies over time. The 2-degree target will not be reached in this scenario.
The scenario outlining the most ambitious energy and climate goals is Renewal, which assumes that nine out of 10 new private cars sold in 2040 will be hybrids or electric cars. It also assumes a transformation in the electricity sector, where sun and wind will account for around 40% of the global electricity generation in 2040, compared to the current 5%. In this scenario the oil and gas demand will be somewhat lower than the current level.
“This will require a radical and coordinated effort and transformation of the transport and electricity sector, driven by efficiency efforts, technology development, markets, consumer behaviour and not least politics. There may be cause for questioning whether the investments in oil, gas and renewable energy in the time ahead will be sufficient to meet the demand,” says Wærness.

6 June 2016

Earth's Relentless Warming Just Hit A Terrible New Threshold

Special Report from ProPublica
- this post authored by Sarah Smith
In an age of broken temperature records, this one is especially worrisome.
The number of climate records broken in the last few years is stunning. But here's a new measure of misery: Not only did we just experience the hottest April in 137 years of record keeping, but it was the 12th consecutive month to set a new record.
It's been relentless. May 2015 was the hottest May in records dating back to 1880. That was followed by the hottest June. Then came a record July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March - and, we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday - the hottest April. In an age of rising temperatures, monthly heat records have become all too common. Still, a string of 12 of them is without precedent.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the magnitude of the new records. The extremes of recent months are such that we're only four months into 2016 and already there's a greater than 99 percent likelihood that this year will be the hottest on record, according to Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
The chart below shows earth's warming climate, measured by land and sea, dating back to 1880.

Click to see full graphic

If NASA's Schmidt is right, 2016 will be the the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record - the first time that's ever happened. So far, 15 of the hottest 16 years ever measured have come in the 21st century.
Results from the world's chief monitoring agencies vary slightly, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration says April is only the seventh consecutive record-breaking month. But NASA, NOAA, and the Japan Meteorological Agency all agree that the extremes of 2016 are unrivaled in the modern climate record.
The NASA map below shows how heat was distributed across the globe last month. The most extreme heat swept the Arctic, where ice levels have been setting daily lows for this time of the year. Come summer, the ice cap at the top of the planet will likely be the smallest on record.

6 May 2016

World Bank: The way climate change is really going to hurt us is through water

May 3 2016 

The dried-up riverbank of the Ganges is seen from a bridge in Allahabad, India, on May 3. Much of India is reeling from a heat wave and severe drought conditions that have decimated crops, killed livestock and left at least 330 million Indians without enough water for their daily needs. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP) This story has been updated.

As India, the world’s second-most populous country, reels from an intense drought, the World Bank has released a new report finding that perhaps the most severe impact of a changing climate could be the effect on water supplies.

The most startling finding? The report suggests that by 2050, an inadequate supply of water could knock down economic growth in some parts of the world a figure as high as 6 percent of GDP, “sending them into sustained negative growth.” Regions facing this risk — which can at least partly be averted by better water management, the document notes — include not only much of Africa but also India, China and the Middle East.

“When we look at any of the major impacts of climate change, they one way or another come through water,” said Richard Damania, a lead economist at the bank and the lead author of the report, on a call with reporters Tuesday. “So it will be no exaggeration to claim that climate change is really in fact about hydrological change.”

The New Economy of Climate Change

APR 29 2016 

The New Economy of Climate Change 

Climate change presents significant risks to long-term economic growth and socioeconomic development in developing economies. Thus, the response to climate change necessitates major revisions around how economies are structured and how they function. ORF organised a symposium on the subject “The New Economy of Climate Change” on 15 March 2016. This Special Report builds on the key themes presented by the panellists, and draws policy lessons from the same.

21 April 2016

Fury Over Fracking 
by Neela Banerjee, John H. Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer, and Lisa Song 
by Gary Sernovitz 

Andrew MooreA flare used to burn off excess natural gas produced by oil wells, McKenzie County, North Dakota, 2014; photograph by Andrew Moore from Dirt Meridian, his collection of images made along the hundredth meridian, from North Dakota to Texas. The book includes texts by Kent Haruf, Toby Jurovics, and Inara Verzemnieks and is published by Damiani. An exhibition is on view at Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, February 5–April 16.What should we think of a corporation that undertakes research on one of its products only to discover that its use could be damaging—and then tries to conceal the potential dangers of that product’s use? An investigation underway by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman promises to shed light on one such alleged case—concerning ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, and the possibility that it misled investors and the public about the dangers of climate change.

The story begins in mid-1977, when Exxon’s powerful Management Committee was briefed by James Black, a company scientist, on the potential dangers of climate change. Two years earlier, Syukuro Manabe of the US Weather Bureau and his collaborator Richard Wetherald had published the first computer model that estimated how a doubling of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 would affect Earth’s surface temperature. Their results revealed a “somewhat larger” warming of the lower atmosphere—around 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit—than had been anticipated. It also revealed that the polar regions were likely to warm two to three times faster than lower latitudes, and that worrisome disruptions to the global water cycle might result. The impetus for this landmark study came from the activities of the fossil fuels industry itself: in their introduction Manabe and Wetherald quoted a 1971 estimate by Lester Machta, director of the Air Resources Laboratory, that owing to the burning of fossil fuels, CO2 concentrations would rise by 20 percent by the end of the century.

11 January 2016

India: Trouble in the Air
Residents of New Delhi are literally choking to death. Can authorities solve the pollution problem?
By Neeta Lal, January 08, 2016
On December 24, 2015, people in India’s capital city of New Delhi – already considered the world’s most polluted city – woke up to a nightmare. Pollution levels across this city of 25.8 million had reached such alarming levels that they were classified in the most “severe” category of PM 2.5 and PM 10. The former had shot up to 295 micrograms per cubic meter and the latter 470, against the recommended upper limits for the two pollutants at 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively.

These toxic levels of pollution exceed those of the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai, internationally notorious for their pollution, and have some severe ramifications for human health. Delhi’s air is redolent of diesel fumes from motorized vehicles, which are now designated as a class I carcinogen by the World Health Organisation and can lead to lung cancer.
According to medical experts, the city’s pollution has also led to a startling spike in the cases of respiratory illness, skin and eye allergies, cardiac arrest, memory loss, depression, and chronic lung damage. Four out of every 10 children in the capital also suffer from severe lung problems.

“The city’s air is a slow poison that is ruining people’s health,” states Dr J.C. Suri, HOD of pulmonology and sleep medicines, Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi. ”The current scenario is extremely worrisome as the citizens are getting exposed to noxious air on a daily basis and for long hours. Vulnerable groups like children are the worst off.”

8 January 2016

The 7 Most Interesting Climate Findings of the Year
Published: December 30th, 2015
By Brian Kahn
At Climate Central, we love climate research (but really, who doesn’t?). We cover it relentlessly and a lot of findings have come through our inboxes this year. All those studies are crucial to shaping both what we know about the world we currently live in as well as what we’re in store for in the future depending on how we respond to climate change.
But there are a baker’s half dozen studies that really piqued our interest this year, from the Atlantic circulation slowdown to the disappearance of the global warming slowdown. While the seven were all fascinating and critical, some also created controversies that are still ongoing.

The finding: We could be entering an era of warming unseen in at least 1,000 years.
Why it made the list: The rate of global warming has increased with each passing decade. A couple of studies published this year show that the rate will not only continue to rise, but soon be one the earth hasn’t seen since the Vikings found their way to Greenland (and possibly longer than that). Warming will be fastest in the northern hemisphere, which just so happens to be where most humans live.
Changing drought patterns across the U.S. at the start of each decade through 2095.
Credit: NASA
The finding: The Southwest and Central Plains face an “unprecedented” megadrought.
Why it made the list: The Southwest and Central Plains are already pretty dry places. Now imagine a drought that “makes the Dust Bowl look like a picnic.” That’s what the region has in store in the coming decades, according to climate projections published earlier this year. Since the 1930s Dust Bowl, population and agriculture have both boomed in the region. That means more people and more assets could face a drought worse than anything the region has seen in a long time.
The finding: Atlantic circulation is weakening, which could be bad news for weather and sea levels.
Why it made the list: Climate change is causing Greenland’s ice to melt, sending a rush of cold freshwater into the sea. That’s acting as roadblock on a key ocean conveyor belt that shuffles warm water from the tropics northward. The slowdown in circulation has been tied to a 5-inch spike in sea levels on the East Coast and harsh winters in Europe. Movie aficionados might also remember a similar scenario occurring in “The Day After Tomorrow” and spinning up a series of super storms that freeze out the East Coast. That outcome is a little far-fetched but the impacts of an Atlantic shutdown are still nothing to scoff at.

A revised analysis shows a slight recent uptick in the global average temperature.
Credit: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information