Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize

Jun 28, 2017

By Justin Gillis

CAPE GRIM, Tasmania — On the best days, the wind howling across this rugged promontory has not touched land for thousands of miles, and the arriving air seems as if it should be the cleanest in the world.

But on a cliff above the sea, inside a low-slung government building, a bank of sophisticated machines sniffs that air day and night, revealing telltale indicators of the way human activity is altering the planet on a major scale.

For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017.

Scientists are concerned about the cause of the rapid rises because, in one of the most hopeful signs since the global climate crisis became widely understood in the 1980s, the amount of carbon dioxide that people are pumping into the air seems to have stabilized in recent years, at least judging from the data that countries compile on their own emissions.

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7 comments on “Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize

  • @OP – For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning:
    The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016.

    It seems that some who led the way on safety and durability of vehicles, are now making the next move to cleaner vehicles!

    Volvo has become the first traditional carmaker to signal the end of the internal combustion engine by saying all its cars will have an electric motor in three years’ time.

    The Chinese-owned firm, best known for its emphasis on driver safety, is not killing petrol and diesel altogether.

    By 2019 all of its cars will be either all-electric, or hybrids which combine electric and conventional engines.

    Volvo’s move puts pressure on Tesla, the start-up maker of electric cars.

    On Sunday, it announced that it will start deliveries of its first mass-market car, the Model 3, at the end of the month.

    Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, said the company was on track to make 200,000 Model 3 cars a month by December.

    His company’s rise has upset the traditional power balance of the American car industry.

    Tesla, which makes no profits, now has a stock market value of $58bn, nearly one-quarter higher than that of Ford, one of the Detroit giants that has dominated the automotive scene for more than a century.

    As well as a shift west – from Detroit to California’s Silicon Valley, where Tesla is based – Volvo’s electric move underlines a shift eastwards, to China.

    Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, has been quietly pushing ahead with electric car development for more than a decade.

    “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” said Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo’s car-making division.

    It seems that the traditional US car industry, can either move into the era of green sustainable energy, or gradually disappear into the history of grimy Trumpian obsolescence!

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    G20 Hamburg: Leaders fail to bridge Trump climate chasm

    Leaders of 19 nations at the G20 summit in Germany have renewed their pledge to implement the Paris deal on climate change, despite the US pulling out.

    Deadlock over the issue had held up the last day of talks in Hamburg but a final agreement was eventually reached.

    It acknowledges President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement without undermining the commitment of other countries.

    The compromise comes after violent protests in the host city.

    The joint summit statement released on Saturday said: “We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”

    However, the leaders of the other G20 members agreed the accord committing nations to restrict global temperature increases was “irreversible”.

    In her closing news conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she still deplored Mr Trump’s position on the Paris accord but she was “gratified” the other 19 nations opposed its renegotiation.

    The statement also said the US would “endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.

    Mr Trump has pledged to help the US coal industry make a comeback and has previously characterised the Paris agreement as trying to disadvantage American workers.

    He won another concession on a second sticking point – trade. While renewing a pledge against protectionism, the communiqué for the first time underlined the right of countries to protect their markets.

    Mr Trump cancelled his own scheduled news conference on Saturday, reinforcing the image of the G20 as the G19 + 1, reports the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent James Robbins.

    Having cancelled his news conference where real journalists would have asked him questions about the US stance on the top global priority climate issues, Trump has nevertheless with his usual delusional egotism, pronounced the G20 a “wonderful success” on twitter!

    US President Donald Trump has declared the G20 summit in Germany a “wonderful success”, despite his country’s isolated position on climate change.

    The Paris accord sets targets for greenhouse gas emissions aimed at curbing global temperature increases.

    In her closing news conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who hosted the summit in Hamburg, said she still deplored Mr Trump’s position but that she was “gratified” the other 19 nations opposed its renegotiation.

    Mr Trump said the G20 summit in Germany was “carried out beautifully” by Mrs Merkel

    However Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later said that his country’s ratification of the Paris accord was now in doubt, as the US withdrawal jeopardised compensation for developing countries.

    Mr Erdogan said that when Turkey signed the accord, France had promised that Turkey would be eligible for compensation for some of the financial costs of compliance.

    “So we said if this would happen, the agreement would pass through parliament. But otherwise it won’t pass,” Mr Erdogan told a news conference, adding that parliament had not yet approved it.

    Turkey is looking less and less like a candidate to join the European Union!

    Mr Trump also won a concession on trade, with leaders underlining the right of countries to protect their markets with what they referred to as legitimate trade defence instruments.

    Which is protectionism under another name!

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  • I see that our prioritising brexiteers, are still prevaricating and delaying on key UK development projects!

    The author of an independent review into the planned Swansea Bay tidal lagoon said he remains hopeful the UK government will back the scheme.

    It is now six months since ex-energy minister Charles Hendry’s report was published, concluding that the £1.3bn lagoon would be a “no regrets” option.

    The UK government is yet to respond to his findings but said it needed time to assess the lagoon’s merits.

    So months AFTER an independent review, the dumb-brained politicians need “time to assess the lagoon’s merits”.
    Does it really take them MONTHS to READ an independent report?

    Investors have warned it risks stalling unless a green light is given soon.

    The latest state of play with the project is:

    New research commissioned by Business Secretary Greg Clark has been completed and it is understood discussions are now taking place with other departments including the Treasury and environment

    Mr Clark has now agreed to meet a cross-party delegation of AMs showing Welsh support for the project

    Final evidence on the estimated impact on fish and the marine environment has been submitted to Natural Resources Wales, as part of the process of getting a marine licence

    On Tuesday, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he remained supportive of the plans.

    Though ministers are yet to set out where they stand, Mr Hendry told BBC Wales he believed their message had been “consistent”.

    “They say they are carefully considering the scheme.

    The election has delayed that process and there may be other factors too,” he said.

    Ah! That “all important” election and cabinet re-shuffle, where Theresa May did to the Tory party what she is trying to do to the country!

    “But now with Greg Clark back in place as business secretary I’m hopeful of a definitive answer soon.”

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  • However, Scotland is pressing ahead with renewable power generations in various innovative forms!

    The world’s first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland.

    The revolutionary technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines used.

    The Peterhead wind farm, known as Hywind, is a trial which will bring power to 20,000 homes.

    Manufacturer Statoil says output from the turbines is expected to equal or surpass generation from current ones.

    It hopes to cash in on a boom in the technology, especially in Japan and the West coast of the US, where waters are deep.

    “This is a tech development project to ensure it’s working in open sea conditions. It’s a game-changer for floating wind power and we are sure it will help bring costs down,” said Leif Delp, project director for Hywind.

    So far, one giant turbine has already been moved into place, while four more wait in readiness in a Norwegian fjord.

    By the end of the month they’ll all have been towed to 15 miles off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, where they’ll float upright like giant fishing floats.

    While the turbines are currently very expensive to make, Statoil believes that in the future it will be able to dramatically reduce costs in the same way that manufacturers already have for conventional offshore turbines.

    “I think eventually we will see floating wind farms compete without subsidy – but to do that we need to get building at scale,” said Mr Delp.

    The tower, including the blades, stretches to 175 metres, dwarfing Big Ben
    Each tower weighs 11,500 tonnes
    The box behind the blades – the nacelle – could hold two double-decker buses
    Each blade is 75 metres – almost the wing span of an Airbus
    The turbines can operate in water up to a kilometre deep
    The blades on the towers have been a particular focus for innovation.
    Statoil says the blades harness breakthrough software – which holds the tower upright by twisting the blades to dampen motions from wind, waves and currents.

    The operation to begin shifting the first of the 11,500 tonne giants happened dramatically in the half-light of a Norwegian summer night.

    Crews secured thick cables to tug boats and used remote-controlled submarines to check for obstacles.

    Finally the giant was on the move, floating on a sealed vase-like tube 78 metres deep, its bottom filled with iron ore to weight the base and keep it upright in the water.

    The price of energy from bottom-standing offshore wind farms has plummeted 32% since 2012 – far faster that anyone predicted.

    The price is now four years ahead of the government’s expected target, and another big price drop is expected, taking offshore wind to a much lower price than new nuclear power.

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  • The UK electrification of road transport continues, despite the bumbling brexiteers!

    A fully electric version of the Mini will be built at the Cowley plant near Oxford, BMW has said.

    The carmaker said the model would go into production in 2019, with Oxford the main “production location” for the Mini three-door model.

    However, the electric motor will be built in Germany before being shipped to Cowley for assembly.

    BMW said it had “neither sought nor received” any reassurances from the UK on post-Brexit trading arrangements.

    Last year, the government faced questions about the “support and assurances” given to Nissan before the company announced that new versions of its Qashqai and X-Trail would be made in the UK.

    And there have been reports that Toyota agreed to invest in the UK after receiving a letter reassuring the Japanese carmaker over post-Brexit arrangements.

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  • @OP – For more than two years, the monitoring station here,
    along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning:
    The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016.

    Some of the warnings on climate and health are becoming more focussed on specific areas!

    Extreme weather could kill up to 152,000 people yearly in Europe by 2100 if nothing is done to curb the effects of climate change, scientists say.

    The number is 50 times more deaths than reported now, the study in The Lancet Planetary Health journal said.

    Heat waves would cause 99% of all weather-related deaths, it added, with southern Europe being worst affected.

    Warming to boost deadly humidity levels across South Asia

    Most of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will experience temperatures close to the limits of survivability by 2100, without emissions reductions.

    The research says the fraction of the population exposed to dangerous, humid heat waves may reach 30%.

    Most official weather stations around the world measure temperature with two thermometers.

    The first, or “dry bulb” instrument, records the temperature of the air. The other, or “wet bulb” thermometer, measures relative humidity in the air and the results are normally lower than just the pure air temperature.

    For humans, this wet bulb reading is critically important.

    While the normal temperature inside our bodies is 37C, our skin is usually at 35C. This temperature difference allows us to dissipate our own metabolic heat by sweating.

    However, if wet bulb temperatures in our environment are at 35C or greater, our ability to lose heat declines rapidly and even the fittest of people would die in around six hours.

    The study has been published in the journal Science Advances.

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