Saturday July 20, 2019
Home Lead Story Climate Chang...

Climate Change To Get Worse In The Future: Study

The real change to mitigate climate change through gradual cutting of emissions will come from the public.

0
//
Drought, Climate change, global warming
A farmer stands on cracked earth that three weeks earlier created the bottom of a reservoir on his farm, in Groot Marico, South Africa. VOA

A new report has taken the results of thousands of papers on the impacts of climate change and put them together into a giant assessment detailing the multiple ways that climate change will impact humanity in the coming century.

Lead researcher Camilo Mora says the report shows what he calls a “massive domino effect” of bad news as climate change intensifies in the coming century if the world doesn’t mitigate the amount of carbon we are pumping into the atmosphere.

In the report being published Monday in Nature Climate Change, Mora says there is literally no place on the planet that’s safe.

Putting all the data in one place

The study is unique in that it doesn’t produce any new information, but is basically a mother of all spreadsheets that takes all of the predicted effects of climate change and puts them into one place.

Hurricane, climate change
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey overflow from Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston, Texas, VOA

Mora told VOA he and his team of dozens of researchers spent six months gathering and inputting data on climate change into their system and watching how all of these impacts would affect individual sites around the world.

What they came up with was exactly 467 ways that climate change is going to negatively impact the weather, from localized changes like more droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, and storms, to the global changes like sea level rise, and changes in ocean chemistry.

Mora also looked at how climate change is expected to impact everything from food supplies, to increased susceptibility to disease, as well as more difficult to gauge effects like climate insecurity’s impact on mental health.

What he found was surprising, “I couldn’t stop being mind blown every single day,” he told VOA, mainly by the fact that the dangerous and damaging effects of climate change are already impacting humans all over the globe. “We think this is going to happen later,” he says, “but we found that this is already happening.”

“Last year, for instance, Florida recorded extreme drought, record high temperatures, over 100 wildfires, and the strongest ever recorded hurricane in its Panhandle: the category 4 Hurricane Michael,” Mora says. “Likewise, California is currently experiencing ferocious wild fires and one of the longest droughts, plus extreme heatwaves this past summer.”

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change
Tire tracks left by a truck can be seen in a drought-stricken paddock on Kahmoo Station property, located on the outskirts of the southwestern Queensland town of Cunnamulla in outback Australia, Aug. 10, 2017. (VOA)

And he says if carbon levels in the atmosphere continue to increase on pace there will no place on earth that isn’t affected.

Take New York, for instance. Mora lays out a future scenario in which in 2100 New York will be constantly dealing with the potentially devastating effects of four different climate hazards, including extreme weather and sea level rise.

All of these effects are measurable and in the future a city like Miami might be dealing with drought, extreme heat, sea level rise and more numerous and more powerful hurricanes. “Any coastal area in the tropics is going to be on fire” Mora says. Sydney, Los Angeles, Brazil and Mexico City are all at risk as the effects of climate change stack up.”

Mora’s study is impressive in its detail, noting, “Planes can’t fly during heat waves … wires short circuit during heat waves,” Mora says. And for people who work outdoors it can literally get too hot and “their livelihoods depend on their job ability to work out doors.”

All of these impacts add up and have a profound economic effect. Mora says they create stressed communities that have less economic ability to deal with change, plus higher financial costs thanks to the infrastructure damage and repair associated with predicted extreme weather events.

Australia, Meat free,Hurricane, climate change
A tree art installation made up of individual trees and Hydrangeas is seen in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 22, 2018, to celebrate Earth Day and promote the planting of trees in an effort to combat climate change. VOA

Is it too late?

But despite all of the bad news in this assessment, Mora is bullish on our ability to head off the effects of climate change.

“This is not game over,” he says. “We are not too late to turn this around and we have pathways to reduce emissions what we need to do is implement them.”

Mora says the solution to the world’s carbon problem will not come from the world’s leaders, despite agreements like the Paris Accord for which hundreds of the world’s leaders came together to commit to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

Also Read: Australia’s PM Abandons Plan To Enshrine Carbon Emission Cuts

He says the real change to mitigate climate change through gradual cutting of emissions will come from the public, and he points to efforts like Hawaii’s decision to become a carbon neutral state by 2045 and to shift to 100 percent renewable energy.

Mora is also involved with tree planting efforts in Hawaii that he says if done worldwide could help the planet actually remove carbon from the atmosphere, not just stop putting it in. He calls it one of “many simple steps to clean our footprint all together.” (VOA)

Next Story

As Federal Government Retreats from Dealing with Climate Change, Corporate America Moving Forward Anyway

Some of the largest companies in the United States are pushing local authorities for renewable energy

0
Corporate, America, Climate Change
The blades of wind turbines catch the breeze at the Saddleback Ridge wind farm in Carthage, Maine, March 19, 2019.. VOA

As the federal government retreats from dealing with climate change, major parts of corporate America are moving forward anyway.

Some of the largest companies in the United States are pushing local authorities for renewable energy, such as solar, wind or hydro power. In some cases, they’re pushing harder than those local authorities are ready to go.

One place to see this happening is Northern Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The brains of the internet are housed here in anonymous office parks. Warehouse-sized buildings filled with row upon row of computers process clicks, taps and swipes from around the globe.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Northern Virginia is home to more of these data centers than anywhere else in the world, according to real estate firm JLL.  Each building draws an average of 30 megawatts of electricity, roughly equivalent to 7,500 homes, according to Stan Blackwell, head of economic development at Dominion Energy, the region’s electric power company.

The region topped 1 gigawatt of capacity recently, according to real estate brokers CBRE. And another roughly 140 megawatts of data center demand has hooked up to the grid each year for the last several years, Blackwell said.

“The industry as a whole is the fastest growing segment in our territory,” he added.

Tech wants clean power

Also Read- Venezuela’s Independent Media Decimates by Country’s Years-Long Crisis

The companies behind those power-hungry buildings include some of the biggest names in tech: Facebook, Amazon and Google.

These companies have plans to get all their power from renewable sources. Google says it’s there already.

“It’s important that what we build leaves a positive legacy, that we don’t build it on the back of fossil fuels, but rather, we build it on the back of the next generation of energy technology of wind and hydro and solar,” said Brian Janous, lead energy manager for Microsoft, another major data center customer in Northern Virginia. Microsoft is aiming for 70% renewable energy by 2023.

So when Dominion submitted plans last year to meet demand growth with natural gas-fired power, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and seven other companies wrote to the state regulator to demand less gas and more renewables.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
As the federal government retreats from dealing with climate change, major parts of corporate America are moving forward anyway. Pixabay

“Dominion Energy … fails to fully take into account the energy preferences of the data center industry — by limiting the amount of competitively procured solar energy, neglecting to consider energy storage as a cost-effective and beneficial energy resource, and continuing to plan for the development of additional natural gas infrastructure,” the letter said.

Blackwell says a mix of power sources is best to ensure a reliable supply. And Dominion has worked with tech companies before to get solar power on the grid.

Driving change

Facebook approached Dominion several years ago about building solar capacity to power a new data center.

Also Read- Support for U.S. President Donald Trump Increases Slightly among Republicans

“Regulation required you to build the lowest cost source of generation,” Blackwell said. “Solar resources in that case were slightly above that, and so they agreed to make up that difference.”

Facebook helped modify state regulations so Dominion could sell the company power from several solar farms and build several more, Blackwell says.

“Facebook drove that change and that new tariff and we’re very happy with it,” he added.

But the cost of wind and solar have plunged in just the last few years. In many cases they are now the cheapest option. Data center companies now say they have an economic case for renewables as well as a climate argument.

“We just don’t really see why utilities should be talking about building new fossil fuel plants that realistically may only have a useful life of a few years before their costs are significantly undercut by wind and solar paired with storage,” Janous said.

Regulators ultimately approved Dominion’s plan. But the company is required to include cost estimates for solar power plus battery storage in its next planning update.

Corporate commitments

Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have set at least one climate or clean energy target, according to a 2017 report.

Even in states where fighting climate change is not a priority, local authorities are finding that companies are demanding renewable energy.

“Our first solar decision in the state of Alabama was based solely on the Walmart decision to come in and use solar power,” Alabama Public Service Commissioner Jeremy Oden told a recent coal industry conference.

Outside of Walmart, the state still has negligible amounts of solar power on the grid, and has no policies to encourage renewables.

But Oden says from retail to manufacturing, states are often finding that if they want to recruit major industries, offering renewable energy is a must.

“You’re seeing some of this demand, especially in these car companies that we’re dealing with, like Toyota and Mazda, and Honda and Hyundai, they all have … (a certain amount of) alternative energy in their production. And so, whatever we do to recruit these, we have to offer (it).” (VOA)