Part-I-Climate-Science-and-Impacts

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Slide 10

Photo from 350.org section on flickr

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Photo from 350 flickr account -Climate is the average weather conditions of a place or area over a period of years -Climate change’ therefore is a change in the average weather -An area’s climate includes its temperature range and variation over the year the amount of precipitation it gets and in what forms (rain, snow, etc) the frequency of extreme weather events like hurricanes and tornados -Climate has always been variable Glacial periods occur through Earth’s history along with periods of warmer average temperature than today. This variability is natural and is caused by many things

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Need source for this – originally from Jenny Riesz’s powerpoint

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Source: Copenhagen Diagnosis, Figure 12. http://www.ccrc.unsw.edu.au/Copenhagen/Copenhagen_Diagnosis_HIGH.pdf

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Global warming is caused by releasing heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Many of the activities we do every day like turn the lights on, cook food, or heat or cool our homes rely on the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil, which emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases when burned (350 FAQ).

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Source: James Hansen’s “BluePlanet.27Oct2010.ppt” and NASA planet fact sheet. -While Venus is closer to the sun than Earth is, cloud-covered Venus absorbs only 25% of incident sunlight, while Earth absorbs 70%. However, Venus is warmer because it has a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere causing a greenhouse effect of several hundred degrees. This atmosphere also causes Venus to be hotter than Mercury on average because Mercury has little atmosphere and does not retain heat, actually making the planet very cold at night.

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For millions of years, huge amounts of carbon, methane, and other contributors to the greenhouse effect have been locked up inside ofplants, fossil fuels like oil and coal that are made of dead animals and plants, and in frozen pockets underneath the arctic tundra giving the earth a relatively stable climate, to which all current life on earth has adapted

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Graph: World Resources Institute

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Note: link to 350 FAQ on ppm & ppm-equivalent (http://www.350.org/understanding-350#14); include a note in the script about the difference. Ppm or parts per million of carbon dioxide is the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere. Ppm-e or parts per million of CO2 equivalent is the ratio of other greenhouse gas molecules, such as methane, to all of the molecules in the atmosphere Degrees Celsius in relation to climate change is the universal measurement of temperature increase on the centigrade scale, with 0 being the freezing point of water and 100 being the boiling point of water.

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Source: NOAA

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From Climate Interactive, www.climateinteractive.org - “Climate momentum simulator” Once we release a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, it stays there for x years, heating up the planet the whole timeWhich means that even if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gases NOW, the gases already emitted will remain in the atmosphere and continue to heat the planet for many years to come.

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Climate change will have major impacts on almost every fundamental aspect of human survival: Access to water, agriculture, fishing, food & hunger, health & disease, land (as in, the amount and quality of it), and terrestrial and marine ecosystems & biodiversity Our societies are finely tuned around the status quo of each of these. Hundreds of millions live in low-lying port cities. Subsistence farmers are experts in growing the crops that grow in their current climate. The survival of billions depends on access to fresh drinking water from rivers, glaciers, and other natural sources.

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All from “2 degrees of change.pdf”

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SOURCES: NOAA, the Met Office, Chart: Economist (we could recreate this)

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Source: NASA, Climate Safety

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Caption: Former local ski and mountaineer guides of Chacaltaya pay homage to the former glacier, outside La Paz, Bolivia.

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Source: World Glacier Monitoring Service

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Climate change will undoubtedly increase its impact on our socioeconomic sector such as the rising costs of food, fuel, and water.

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-In 2006, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a 700-page report compiled for the British government, was released, detailing the effects of global warming on the world economy. The key take-away of this report is that the costs of climate change in the future will be far greater than the costs of mitigation now. -Climate change could sap anywhere from 5% to 20% from the global economy by 2100, and global warming could inflict worldwide disruption as great as that caused by the two World Wars and the Great Depression.

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From “GDRs3 canonical.ppt” -Map of tipping points across the globe with an increase in 2 deg C -So far we have assumed that the present trends will continue However, earth is known to have ‘tipping points’ where conditions suddenly ‘snap’ and a new world order is created (from Our Fragile Earth). Once the tipping point is reached, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to reverse the trend. One example of a tipping point is permafrost melting: “As the melting of permafrost accelerates, large areas of Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and even southern Greenland will be affected…. With around 500 billion tonnes of carbon currently locked up in frozen soils, more greenhouse gases will be released and global warming will be further accelerated” – from “2 Degrees of Change.pdf” In other words, permafrost melting and carbon release will increase past the point of control. Computer simulations also predict tipping points for two other examples: Demise of the Amazon rainforests Slowing or collapse of the Gulf Stream .

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From Our Fragile Earth Computer simulations predict that global warming will cause significant reduction to the amount of rainfall over the Amazon Rainforest This is likely to stress plants to the point that the Amazon collapses This will release a massive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere: The Amazon contains 10% of all carbon stored in land ecosystems This positive feedback will hugely accelerate global warming 1000ppm of atmospheric CO2 by 2100, instead of 710ppm otherwise predicted The Amazon contains 50% of the world’s biodiversity – which will be lost forever

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From Our Fragile Earth Computer simulations predict that global warming will cause significant reduction to the amount of rainfall over the Amazon Rainforest This is likely to stress plants to the point that the Amazon collapses This will release a massive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere: The Amazon contains 10% of all carbon stored in land ecosystems This positive feedback will hugely accelerate global warming 1000ppm of atmospheric CO2 by 2100, instead of 710ppm otherwise predicted The Amazon contains 50% of the world’s biodiversity – which will be lost forever

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It’s easy to get bogged down with the negative impacts of climate change. But we must stay positive and take the steps towards finding solutions and improving future outcomes. To learn about real solutions we can implement, check out the “Solutions” module.

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We know climate change is real.

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We know it’s happening now.

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And we know that solutions exist.

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So why aren’t we doing anything to stop the biggest problem to face humanity?

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It’ll a movement of concerned people like us to ensure our leaders act in the face of the biggest challenge to ever confront humanity.

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Climate science (or, climate change is real) Climate impacts (or, climate change is happening now) Climate solutions (or, we know that solutions exist) Climate politics (or, so why aren’t we doing anything about it? In this presentation, we’ll learn all about…

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We know climate change is real.

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What is climate change? What is causing it? How sure are we? Are we too late? Science Overview

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What do we know about climate change?

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‘Climate’ means… the average weather conditions of a place or area (or the whole globe) over a period of years So ‘Climate change’ is a long term change in the average weather

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Our climate has always been variable. Glacial periods and warmer periods have occurred throughout Earth’s history. This variability is natural and is caused by many things

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However… Global temperature change (between glacial and interglacial periods) occurs normally at a rate of 0.05 – 0.005°C every 100yrs. In the last 50yrs the global average temperature has increased by 0.5 degrees This is between 20 and 200 times the normal rate, and it’s accelerating

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We also know the Earth is warming up quickly (because we can measure it) Global average temperature change from 1850

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Why is the Earth warming? The Greenhouse Effect There are many greenhouse gases Carbon dioxide (CO2) – most abundant Methane Nitrous oxide CFCs Ozone The gases in the atmosphere that trap heat in the earth’s surface are called greenhouse gases and they occur naturally in our atmosphere, in small amounts.

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Some greenhouse gases are good – they allow our planet to be warm enough to support life.

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Why is our planet warming faster now?

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Greenhouse gases are naturally stored on our planet above ground, in plants, trees, and our oceans • below the ground as fossil fuels – coal, oil, natural gas, and more.

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But since the industrial revolution, human activity has caused these gases to be released at abnormal rates

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That’s around the time when humans became dependent on coal and oil for transportation and energy.

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The Carbon cycle Burning fossil fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere that has been stored for millennia (and otherwise would stay stored there)

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There is no debate that burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, or that we have burned a lot of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution.

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Scientists measure how our climate is changing in a few different ways Ppm and Ppm-e Degrees Celsius

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HIstorically, greenhouse gases have stayed in a particular range. Since industrialization, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen from about 280ppm (parts per million) to over 392ppm due to human activities. The present CO2 concentration has not been exceeded during the past 420,000yrs and likely not in the past 20 million yrs (humans only appeared on earth 2 million yrs ago!)

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To recap… Climate change means a long term change in the average weather Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere Humans have been releasing more and more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere since the industrial revolution We can measure that we have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere higher than at any time in human history. We can measure that global average temperature is rising faster than any time in human history.

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So are we too late?

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Once emitted, greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere and trap heat for decades. That’s why its essential to cut emissions now. It will be difficult to stabilize our climate, but it’s not impossible.

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Thankfully, we know where we need to aim: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 387ppm to at most 350ppm.” NASA climatologist Dr. James E. Hansen, 2008

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The 350ppm target means that at our current level – 392ppm, we are already in the danger zone. The Earth and the species that live on it have never gone through a change in climate such as the one we are now facing. But it’s not too late – if we act now!

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But how sure are we?

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The largest research project in history: In 1988, the IPCC was created to “provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change” The largest research project in history

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2,000 Scientist, New reports every 4 years

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The numbers speak for themselves… Number of scientific studies dealing with “climate change” published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003: 928 0 Number disagreeing with the global consensus that greenhouse gas pollution has caused most of the warming of the last 50 years: Science, December 3, 2004 Vol. 306, Issue 5702,1686

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Uncertainty There is uncertainty about just how our climate will change in the future That’s because our earth is such a big and complex system But in general, scientists’ predictions have tended to be conservative compared to observed impacts so far

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Example: Melting of the arctic

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Earth gets warmer, causing arctic ocean to warm Dark ocean reflects less sunlight, absorbs more energy White sea ice melts, exposing dark ocean underneath Much of the uncertainty is due to “feedback loops”, when climate impacts reinforce and amplify each other, which can be hard to model Example: The Albedo feedback loop

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Most of all, we know our climate is changing from the impacts we are already witnessing.

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Climate change is real, and it’s happening now What’s in store for the future? Overview

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Climate change is real and it’s happening now: what are some examples?

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Some things are already changing in very real and measurable ways, like: Temperature Arctic sea ice Glaciers Sea level rise

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The top ten hottest years on record have all been in the past 15 years

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The Arctic is currently warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world Between 1979 and 2007, the Arctic lost over 40% of its ice 1979 2007

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Glaciers are also melting before our eyes

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Muir & Riggs Glacier 1941

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Muir & Riggs Glacier 2004

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Pedersen Glacier, ak 1920

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Pedersen Glacier, ak 2005

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In early 2009, researchers in Bolivia went to measure the Chacaltaya glacier to find that it had completely disappeared.

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In a 2005 survey of 442 glaciers, 398 - or 90% - were retreating.

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Severe impacts on local economies

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Stern Review, 2006 “The most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change warns that global warming could inflict worldwide disruption as great as that caused by the two World Wars and the Great Depression.” - Environmental News Service

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Again, we could see impacts much worse due to possible feedback loops and tipping points like: The desertification of the Amazon rainforest Melting of the Greenland ice sheet Melting of West Antarctic ice sheet Methane release from massive permafrost melt Monsoon shift in India

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One example: the Collapse of the Amazon Rainforest

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Scientists predict significant reduction to the amount of rainfall over the Amazon Rainforest This will cause a positive feedback between stressed plant life and CO2 release The Amazon will no longer be able to absorb as much CO2 The Amazon contains 50% of the world’s biodiversity

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But there’s reason to hope: •We have the solutions to cut emissions •We have the ability to organize a movement

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More information

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Sources and more information 350.org “Science of 350” and “FAQ” sections “2 Degrees, One Chance” James Hansen’s “Blue Planet” Scripps CO2 Program Audubon society Grist Denier argument FAQ World Health Organization Oxfam International IPCC Website Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Summary: An educational presentation about the science and impacts of climate change by 350.org.

Tags: climate change 350ppm impacts global warming

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