Climate Change: Another Year Of Record Gas Emissions, Warns UN Meteorological Agency

‘Future generations will face increasingly severe impacts of climate change include rising temperatures, extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise, ocean acidification, disruption to ecosystems.’ – United Nations

Some Critical News about the Health of Our Planet from the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization

Posted November 25th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Levels of the three main heat-trapping gases emitted into the atmosphere – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide – have reached yet another high,  the United Nations’  meteorological agencyWMO, said  this Monday, November 25th.

In an appeal to Governments to do more to reverse countries’ reliance on producing energy from fossil fuels, in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalaswarned that “the future welfare of mankind” was at stake.

To vew a video the World Meteorlogicala Orgaization put together on the news that greenhouse gas concentartions have hit a new record high, please click on the screen below

“We have again broken records in carbon dioxide concentrations and we have already exceeded 400ppm level which was regarded as a critical level,” he said, in reference to the 407.8 parts per million reading for 2018. “That happened already two years ago and this carbon dioxide concentration continues and continues, and last year’s increase was about the same as we have been observing in the past 10 years, as an average.”

According to the World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, since 1990, so-called “long-lived” greenhouse gases have caused a 43 per cent increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate.

Of these gases, CO2 accounts for about 80 per cent, according to the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose data is quoted in the WMO Bulletin.

Carbon dioxide especially damaging

Ontario’s Ford government is spending millions of our tax dollars in the courts, fighting efforts by the federal government to put a price on climate-ravaging carbon pollution. It also made it mandatory this past summer for gas stations to put these stickers on their pumps to scare Ontarions out of working to cut carbon pollution.

CO2 is particularly harmful in a global warming context because it remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the oceans for even longer, the agency explained.

Professor Taalas noted too that when the Earth last had similar concentrations of CO2, the temperature “was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer (and) sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now”.

Turning to methane, which is responsible for 17 per cent of radiative forcing, Professor Taalas noted that “we have also been breaking records”, since last year’s increase “was the second-highest in the last 10 years”.

According to the WMO bulletin, global readings indicate that atmospheric methane (CH4) reached a new high of 1,869 parts per billion (ppb) in 2018, more than two and a half times the pre-industrial level.

Approximately 40 per cent of methane comes from natural sources, such as wetlands and termites, but 60 per cent comes from human activities, including cattle breeding, paddyfields, mines, landfills and biomass burning.

It appears the Ford government is willing to see more of this in Ontario. This was Brantford in the winter at one point in 2018. In Niagara, we are seeing more frequent flooding along the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario. A costly price to pay to save a few cents on a litre of gas.

“For CH4, the increase from 2017 to 2018 was higher than both that observed from 2016 to 2017 and the average over the last decade,” the bulletin noted.

Gas concentrations accelerating

This upwards trend in emissions was repeated in the case of nitrous oxide (N2O), with concentrations in 2018 estimated at 331.1 ppb, or 123 per cent above pre-industrial levels.

“Nitrous oxide has contributed about six per cent of the warming so far”, said Professor Taalas. “It’s very much coming from farmlands and again there we have been breaking records, the steady growth of N2O concentration still continues.”

Based on current data, global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020, if existing climate policies – as set out in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – remain unchanged, WMO believes.

Addressing this will involve promoting non-fossil-based energy sources, since “we produce 85 per cent of the global energy based on fossil ones – coal, oil and gas”, Professor Taalas said, “and only 15 per cent based on nuclear, hydro and renewables. And to be successful in implementation of the Paris Agreement we should reverse those numbers in the coming decades.”

China number one

Highlighting the need for the global community to tackle emissions, the WMO head explained that the biggest polluters “used to be Europe and North America, USA, but China has become number the one emitter – along with “fairly strong growth in the emissions of non-OECD countries” too.

A developer from China was recently cited in a Niagara, Ontario newspaper saying she has done years of work on projects that protect the environment in China and she is prepared to do the same with a development project planned for the Thundering Waters Forest area in Niagara Falls, Ontario. There appears to be a lot more environmental work for her to do in China however. That certainly seeps to be the case  when people in Beijing are covering their faces with masks to protect themselves from choking carbon-related emissions. Some Chinese citizens reportedly go abroad on what they call  “lung cleansing” trips to escape  from this. Yet new reports in papers like the Financial Times in Europe say that  the Chinese government is moving relentlessly ahead on opening more coal-fired energy plants to spur economic growth..The whole world stands to pay dearly for this.

This demonstrates that global perspective and strategy is needed to solve this problem, Professor Taalas said. The European Union or USA, or China, can’t solve it alone, “you have to have all of the countries involved.”

While Governments understand that this is a challenge, so too does the private sector, he added, noting that it was “more and more interested in finding solutions”.

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“A politician thinks of the next election. a leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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