An abridged cc/gw review-2: Where to go from here and how to get there

(Please see Part One of this series which, due to an editing error, appeared prior to this, Part 2.)
There is this maxim and it goes like this: In order to know where you’re going, you must first know where you are and where you’ve been. Installment 1 dove into climate change’s and global warming’s past, basically touching upon the main points and in a concise manner. Today’s discussion centers on only one outcome: saving the planet and perpetuating the human race.
Not just that, but also being able to maintain a good quality of life. How to achieve that in the here-and-now and in the future will both be explored. Directly applicable here is this second maxim: “Failure is not an option.”
The world’s 7.5 billion people face a titanic challenge every day. This is all about survival. There are potential and real threats to that survival coming from outer space (for example, asteroids colliding with earth) as well as from those originating right here on earth: Famine, pestilence, conflict, weather, climate and pollution. What’s extraordinary is how far humanity has come. Life is not something to take for granted. We must work at it. COVID-19 has taught us that.
In the context of the environment in which we exist, stability must be maintained. It’s a delicate balance. Climate change/global warming is today’s great environmental disruptor or, if you will, influencer.
You might be surprised to know that global warming (gw) is not new. In fact, it has a history. All throughout history there has been climate, weather, temperature fluctuations or, alternatively, variability. The world over time has experienced what are referred to as “hot house” and “ice house” periods. The difference this time is the degree of warming experienced over the relatively brief space of time that it has: a rise of 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) in about 270 years’ time between 1750 and today, the sharpest climb being from 1970 on.
We can’t just assume this time around global warming will resolve itself as it evidently has in the past; in this case it is reportedly us, through our continued burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas), that is at least partly responsible. The rate at which humans are pumping carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur hexafluouride and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere sort of mirrors the rate of temperature rise in that the increases appear to be proportional to each other. The rates of each have accelerated over time.
Carbon unequivocally being the biggest culprit has the longest-lasting impact. Which is why there is so much focus, energy and effort to remove it from the air – not all of it, mind you, but that which we are responsible for putting there. It should be noted that the carbon that has been introduced into the air from the process of burning fossil fuels didn’t just appear out of nowhere. It came from somewhere. That somewhere? The ground: That which was extracted from within it.
Which would explain the big push to retard releases of carbon into the atmosphere, but, as well, to remove what we are putting there.
Both approaches are far easier said than done because in the case of the first (i.e. slowing releases), on-the-ground behaviors must change. Serious cutbacks in fossil-fuel burning is the only way this can be achieved.
And, as to the second case (To wit: carbon extraction), methods to remove the carbon from the atmosphere and inject it into basalt beneath the surface of the ground and/or identify different uses for it, should be pursued. There has even been talk of geoengineering as in introducing vast quantities of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere located above the troposphere which contains the lower atmosphere, such providing a barrier to block some solar radiation from the sun from reaching the earth’s surface, the thinking here is that this will help cool the planet down.
All of that seems to be way off into the future and if it’s to have any meaningful and measurable impact, these processes must be scaled up substantially. On the bright side, it is good that we are thinking about these ideas now.
Fixing the fixable
The other big push across the globe is to keep the buried carbon, well, buried so as to stop the extraction or, if not that, then to scale the unearthing of carbon back.
The consensus appears to be to reach a 50-percent reduction in ground-based carbon extraction by year 2035 and to reach zero removal by 2050, purportedly, to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (C) at the end of the 21st century.
In California, which is mandated by law to reduce human-contributed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a level whereby all such GHGs entering the air over a given stretch of time, the identical amount in the same span of time, must also be removed – this approach otherwise known as net zero, a goal that must be reached by 2045, five years before the goal put before rest of the world. All of which means the world will have its work cut out.
That all said, there are important and effective steps that can be taken right now. Such as increasing production and sales of electric and near-zero-emissions vehicles. Overall in the U.S., yearly electric vehicle sales is hovering at nearly 2 percent. In addition, supporting infrastructure must be provided in order to meet the anticipated future demand. Some $65 billion has been allocated for this in the latest infrastructure bill that has only just recently been approved by the Senate in Congress.
Along these lines and where it makes sense we should encourage less driving. That means more emphasis placed on car-sharing and carpooling, alternative travel like walking, biking, use of transit and concepts like high-speed rail. Transit includes a host of such technologies as personal and group rapid transit, both automated and electric. And, cities could get in the habit of developing more vertically and less horizontally as a means of cutting back on sprawl, reducing the numbers of miles driven, saving valuable resources, and helping improve air quality and, by extension, health and quality of life.
Furthermore, increase efficiencies and reduce waste in business, energy, industrial and manufacturing sectors. Moreover, further utilization of cleaner- and clean-energy generation should be encouraged, which means greater reliance on renewable energy resources should be stressed as well.
All of which can go far and do much to lower the amount of GHGs entering the air, helping to facilitate a stoppage and reversal of the human-induced factor in the climate change/global warming equation.
There is more on this subject that can be accessed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report titled: “Code Red For Humanity,” released Aug. 9, 2021.
– Alan Kandel
All material copyright 2021.

2 thoughts on “An abridged cc/gw review-2: Where to go from here and how to get there”

  1. Due to an unforeseen circumstance, part 1 of the above post did not get posted. Until that circumstance gets resolved, posted below is part 1. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

    An abridged climate change/global warming review and how we got here

    There is ample and compelling – and a growing body of – evidence that supports the premise that all across the world average temperature at Earth’s surface has risen, is rising and, barring a full-on-and-throughly-effective mitigating response, will continue to do so. It also is agreed upon by a cadre of scientists and climatological or meteorological experts that the last five years are among the warmest if not the hottest on record.

    Even so and just to be clear, there are those who reject science, refusing to believe that not only are surface temperatures not appreciably rising (or if they accept the fact that they are climbing, such in no way poses a serious threat), but this idea of global warming or climate change (or perhaps even both) is, in the deniers’ minds’ eyes, at best, hearsay, and, at worst, a total fabrication.

    Meanwhile, the historic heat waves, droughts and other extreme weather-related events we’re experiencing lately do not appear to be abating. What they have been doing is both intensifying and becoming more frequent.

    Some key facts

    For one hundred years commencing in 1750 (the start of the modern Industrial Age), globally, the temperature at the earth’s surface, for all intents and purposes, was flat, unchanged, in other words.

    Beginning in 1850 and extending to 1900, this was a time of noticeable change: Average world surface temperature started to rise. As time went on, the increase, after being gradual, became much more abrupt such that the trend starting around 1950 began shifting from one of being more horizontal in upward trajectory on the change-in-temperature versus the change-in-time plot, to one of being more vertical in orientation. The sharpest increase is from 1970 on. Total average surface temperature increase between 1750 and 2020: a 1.1 degree Celsius (1.9 degree Fahrenheit) jump.

    Moreover, it isn’t that this much temperature rise has happened geologic time-wise in the relative blink-of-an-eye that it has, it also is that this global temperature increase is the largest in more than 100,000 years’ time.

    Mirroring this trend, meanwhile, is concentration of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide. Annually, some 37 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide from anthropogenic activity – the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) – is being dumped into the air. This represents about a third of the total amount of yearly carbon dioxide contribution.

    Additionally, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in the Industrial Age, is roughly 500 gigatons. As far as contribution goes, California, with the fifth largest economy in the world, in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is, conservatively speaking, ranked 20th. This is the same as saying that just 19 out of around 200 total have emissions outputs that surpass that of the Golden State’s.

    The wide-ranging effects of the recent warming are, finally, both subtle and glaring alike, and include everything from melting sea- and land-based ice to increased infectious-disease spread, food- and drinking water shortages and higher storm surges, among others. There are those, meanwhile, who would dispute such evidence, calling it all false.

    In constant flux

    At first breath, right out of the Industrial Age’s starting gate, the forces having to do with both the economy and the environment were in agreement, allied and strategically aligned. There was tremendous progress made. Manufacturing, transportation, you name it, became more and more automated, society benefited, the economy at numerous times prospering as a reflection of this. Humanity was riding a wave of success, generally.

    But, unfortunately, much of this improvement, prosperity came at an additional cost: environmental and health degradation. This was particularly evident in the mid-20th century – the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, especially.

    Recognition of the situation had become overarching, almost universal. Think the first Earth Day on Apr. 22, 1970.

    Perhaps, as a result, or maybe even in spite of it, energy, time and effort was focused on an at-the-time all new realization that the world was warming, weather patterns were being altered, and for the first time, it was believed that it was possible – and now deemed highly likely – that human beings were what was driving this change. As to how much or whether at all humanity is responsible, are both areas of heated and sometimes protracted debate, debate which goes on to this day.

    At times, dealing with global warming and climatological forces seemingly undergoing a seismic shift, has created an apparently irreparable rift between disagreeing factions, the contentious bickering, at times, getting most ugly. That said, there have been some converts (people who once rejected global-warming (gw) and/or climate-change (cc) notions ultimately abandoning those previously held beliefs and embracing for them what has become a new gw/cc reality, but the numbers of those are a relative few when looking at the grand scheme of things. And, such will be the case for the foreseeable future.

    The good news is that strategies to deal with the environmental and health fallout over time became more and more commonplace. These have by and large been implemented piecemeal, though. A bold, all-encompassing, proactive mitigating strategy has yet to be deployed.

    Is that coming? This is what will be explored here next time.

    – Alan Kandel

    All material copyright 2021.

    Reply
  2. An abridged climate change/global warming review and how we got here

    There is ample and compelling – and a growing body of – evidence that supports the premise that all across the world average temperature at Earth’s surface has risen, is rising and, barring a full-on-and-throughly-effective mitigating response, will continue to do so. It also is agreed upon by a cadre of scientists and climatological or meteorological experts that the last five years are among the warmest if not the hottest on record.

    Even so and just to be clear, there are those who reject science, refusing to believe that not only are surface temperatures not appreciably rising (or if they accept the fact that they are climbing, such in no way poses a serious threat), but this idea of global warming or climate change (or perhaps even both) is, in deniers’ mind’s eyes, at best, hearsay, and, at worst, a total fabrication.

    Meanwhile, the historic heat waves, droughts and other extreme weather-related events we’re experiencing lately do not appear to be abating. What they have been doing is both intensifying and becoming more frequent.

    Some key facts

    For one hundred years commencing in 1750 (the start of the modern Industrial Age), globally, the temperature at the earth’s surface, for all intents and purposes, was flat, unchanged, in other words.

    Beginning in 1850 and extending to 1900, this was a time of noticeable change: Average world surface temperature started to rise. As time went on, the increase, after being gradual, became much more abrupt, such that the trend starting around 1950 began shifting from one of being more horizontal in upward trajectory on the change-in-temperature versus the change-in-time plot, to one being more vertical in orientation. The sharpest increase is from 1970 on. Total average surface temperature increase is between 1750 and 2020: a 1.1 degree Celsius (1.9 degree Fahrenheit) jump.

    Moreover, it isn’t that this much temperature rise has happened geologic time-wise in the relative blink-of-an-eye that it has, it also is that this global temperature increase is the largest in more than 100,000 years’ time.

    Mirroring this trend, meanwhile, is concentration of atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide. Annually, some 37 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide from anthropogenic activity – the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) – is being dumped into the air. This represents about a third of the total amount of yearly carbon dioxide contribution.

    Additionally, the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in the Industrial Age, is roughly 500 gigatons. As far as contribution goes, California, with the fifth largest economy in the world, in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is, conservatively speaking, ranked 20th. This is the same as saying that just 19 out of around 200 world economies have emissions outputs that surpass that of the Golden State’s.

    The wide-ranging effects of the recent warming are, finally, both subtle and glaring alike, and include everything from melting sea- and land-based ice to increased infectious-disease spread, food- and drinking water shortages and higher storm surges, among others. There are those, meanwhile, who would dispute such evidence, calling it all false.

    In constant flux

    At first breath, right out of the Industrial Age’s starting gate, the forces having to do with both the economy and the environment were in agreement, allied and strategically aligned. There was tremendous progress made. Manufacturing, transportation, you name it, became more and more automated, society benefited, the economy at numerous times prospering as a reflection of this. Humanity was riding a wave of success, generally.

    But, unfortunately, much of this improvement, prosperity came at an additional cost: environmental and health degradation. This was particularly evident in the mid-20th century – the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, especially.

    Recognition of the situation had become overarching, almost universal. Think the first Earth Day on Apr. 22, 1970.

    Perhaps, as a result, or maybe even in spite of it, energy, time and effort was focused on an at-the-time all new realization that the world was warming, weather patterns were being altered, and for the first time, it was believed that it was possible – and now deemed highly likely – that human beings were what was driving this change. As to how much or whether at all humanity is responsible, are both areas of heated and sometimes protracted debate, debate which goes on to this day.

    At times, dealing with global warming and climatological forces seemingly undergoing a seismic shift, has created an apparently irreparable rift between disagreeing factions, the contentious bickering, at times, getting most ugly. That said, there have been some converts (people who once rejected global-warming (gw) and/or climate-change (cc) notions) ultimately abandoning those previously held beliefs and embracing for them what has become a new gw/cc reality, but the numbers of those are a relative few when looking at the grand scheme of things. And, such will be the case for the foreseeable future.

    The good news is that strategies to deal with the environmental and health fallout over time became more and more commonplace. These have by and large been implemented piecemeal, though. A bold, all-encompassing, proactive mitigating strategy has yet to be deployed.

    Is that coming? This is what will be explored here next time.

    – Alan Kandel

    All material copyright 2021.

    Reply

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