Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Accelerating greenhouse gas levels

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) just released its annual Emissions Gap Report, warning that even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C, bringing even wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts.

The report adds that a continuation of current policies would lead to a global mean temperature rise of 3.5°C by 2100 (range of 3.4–3.9°C, 66% probability) and concludes that current policies will clearly not keep the temperature rise below 3°C and that temperatures may rise by much more than that.

Below is the UNEP video On the brink: Emissions Gap Report findings in 60 seconds.

[ image from earlier post ]
Indeed, the rise in greenhouse gas levels appears to be accelerating, despite pledges made under the Paris Agreement to holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently reported carbon dioxide (CO₂) concentrations for 2018 of 407.8 ppm (parts per million), as illustrated by the image on the right. The WMO adds that CO₂ levels, as well as methane and nitrous oxide levels, had all surged by higher amounts than during the past decade.

In energy, fossil fuel consumption for heating and transport increased. While renewables grew strongly in 2018, an even larger part of the growth in electricity was generated by fossil fuel, particularly by coal and natural gas. 

As the image below shows, a trend based on NOAA March 1958 through October 2019 monthly mean CO₂ data at Mauna Loa points at CO₂ levels crossing the 415 ppm mark in 2020, when an El Niño is forecast to come, as discussed in an earlier post.

The added trend in the image points at CO₂ levels crossing 1200 ppm before the end of the century, triggering the cloud feedback tipping point that by itself could push up global temperatures by 8°C, within a few years. Importantly, the clouds feedback starts at 1200 ppm CO₂-equivalent. Besides a CO₂ rise, further elements could contribute to the 1200 ppm CO₂e tipping point getting reached, such as albedo changes due to disappearing Arctic sea ice and seafloor methane releases from a rapidly-warming Arctic Ocean.

In conclusion, a huge temperature rise could eventuate much earlier than by the end of the century. The image below illustrates the potential for a rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026.

[ from an earlier post ]
As discussed in a recent post, a 2020 El Niño could be the catalyst triggering huge methane releases from the Arctic Ocean seafloor starting in 2020 and resulting in such a 18°C (or 32.4°F) temperature rise within a few years time. To put this into perspective, an earlier post concluded that humans will likely go extinct at a 3°C rise, as such an abrupt rise will make habitat for humans (and many other species) disappear.

In the video below, John Davis describes some of the extreme weather events that he experienced recently. “Disasters like this are man-made now”, John says, “they're not natural disasters. This is caused by climate change.”

Meanwhile, a recent study found that the consensus among research scientists on anthropogenic global warming has grown to 100%, based on a review of 11,602 peer-reviewed articles on “climate change” and “global warming” published in the first 7 months of 2019.

This further confirms the probability or likelihood that emissions by people are causing global warming, from a likely danger to certain danger. Furthermore, as discussed in many earlier posts, there are two additional dimensions to the danger of climate change; the severity of the impact makes it not merely a catastrophic danger, it is an existential threat; finally, regarding timescale, the danger is not just near, the danger is imminent and in many respects we're already too late.

Above image expresses this visually, with the red area depicting where we are now. There were readability problems with the text on the sides of the cube, reason why a version without text and the color on the sides was posted in an earlier post.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• UN news release

• Paris Agreement

• United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - Emissions Gap Report

• UNEP video: On the brink: Emissions Gap Report findings in 60 seconds

• WMO - Greenhouse gas concentrations in atmosphere reach yet another high

• NOAA Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

• Most Important Message Ever

• 2020 El Nino could start 18°C temperature rise

• Scientists Reach 100% Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming

• The Threat Of Arctic Albedo Change

• Climate Plan