As Alaska and Siberia blaze, the Arctic is warming faster than previously calculated

As Alaska and Siberia blaze, the Arctic is warming faster than previously calculated

July 14, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Pakalolo wrote at Daily Kos on Sunday:

The hot and dry start to the summer in Yukon and Alaska has sparked record-breaking wildfires across the Taiga (Boreal Forests) and the tundra. Over 5000 lightning strikes from June 21 through June 30 have threatened indigenous villages in the far north with incineration and unhealthy smoke. Fire fighting resources are stretched thin in both Alaska and Yukon. …

So far, the fires have consumed 2 million acres so far in 2022. That is ten times greater than all of 2021.

Meanwhile, wildfires in Siberia, which set a record in 2021, are double in the first six months of 2022 what they were the first half of last year. Throughout the Arctic, climate change is driving warming, increasing the number and intensity of wildfires. The scientific view has been that the speed of Arctic warming is about two times faster than the global average rise. Last December, however, a study concluded that warming is rising four times as fast as the global average. From Science:

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But that figure, found in scientific studies, advocacy reports, the popular press, and even the 2021 U.N. climate assessment, is incorrect, obscuring the true toll of global warming on the north, a team of climate scientists reports this week. In fact, the researchers say, the Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average.

“Everybody knows [the Arctic] is a canary when it comes to climate change,” says Peter Jacobs, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who presented the work on 13 December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “Yet we’re misreporting it by a factor of two. Which is just bananas.”

Researchers in a study published this month have come to the same conclusion. 

“Thirty years is considered the minimum to represent climate change,” said Petr Chylek, a physicist and climate researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the study in Geophysical Research Letters. “We decreased the time interval to 21 years. At that smaller time scale, and contrary to previous investigations that found the Arctic amplification index increases in a smooth way, we observed two distinct steps, one in 1986 and a second one in 1999.” […]

The study calculated the Arctic amplification index to be greater than 4 within the early decades of the 21st century, four times faster than the global mean and considerably more rapid than previous published research had determined using 30- to 40-year time intervals. …

“People are not only interested in long-term climate change, but they are also interested in 10 years ahead, 20 years, 30 years. For decadal prediction, our observation that the amplification index changed in the past in steps is quite important,” Chylek said.

Two decades ago, scientists worried about changes in the Arctic were afflicted by an unhelpful mainstream media that gave equal billing to climatologists and fossil-fueled climate science deniers. In 2004, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the first comprehensive look at impacts of climate change in Arctic, was published. The four-year study was produced by an international team of 300 scientists. You can check out a three-minute read of its contents here. Its succinct conclusion: “The Arctic is experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on earth. The impacts of climate change on the region and the globe are projected to increase substantially in the years to come.” 

To people paying attention, that report was pretty scary even though most of the negative impacts it predicted were seen to be many decades in the future. The fact that changes were mostly viewed as distant happenings helped the deniers get away with their lucrative lies. However, as we have seen ever since the 2004 assessment, higher temperatures and many other predicted impacts are showing up a lot sooner than forecast. Some of them, like gigantic wildfires, are more visible than others, such as the growing harm to Indigenous life. 

And yet, in spite of gigatons of blah blah blah, we are far from commensurate actions to ameliorate or prevent some of the worst impacts of what is clearly an emergency, whatever officials deign to call it. What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. But you wouldn’t know it from listening to all too many of our leaders. 

  

WEEKLY GREEN VIDEO

eco-action

Faith Wakefield at EcoWatch explains How and Why to Organize a Local Beach Cleanup:

Human activities are threatening complex ocean and coastal ecosystems. When we clean our beaches, we are preventing garbage from entering or re-entering our oceans and helping species that rely on the beach for their survival. Cleanups are important because they:

  • Save marine life: Debris like plastic suffocates and starves marine life that ingests it. Cleaning beaches prevents animals like sea turtles from dying due to plastic pollution.
  • Help the local economy: Tourism and recreation in coastal areas contributes $143 billion to the U.S. GDP each year.2 Keeping your beaches clean means everyone can enjoy them.
  • Stop microplastic pollution: Plastic eventually breaks up into tiny microplastics that are nearly impossible to filter out of the environment once they are there. Picking up plastic prevents microplastics from further polluting the beaches and oceans.
  • Encourage stewardship and education: When you get involved in taking care of your community, you are more likely to think about your consumption choices and care for the environment.

ECO-QUOTE

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” — Carl Sagan

ecopinion

Jeff Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks as Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, right, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, left, look on during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, September 14, 2020. - Automakers Daimler AG and subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA have agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the US government and California state regulators to resolve emissions cheating allegations. (Photo by Susan Walsh / POOL / AFP) (Photo by SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeffrey Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks as Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, right, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, left, look on during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, September 14, 2020.

Before Trying to Overthrow Democracy, Jeffrey Clark Let Polluters Walk Free by Anita Desikan at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “During his time as Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Clark was in charge of enforcing the laws that are at the bedrock of our public health and environmental protections–and he fell short in his charge. By managing a team that undermined enforcement, he had a substantial negative impact on the health and safety of the environment and of communities across the country, especially underserved communities. Perhaps many of us have forgotten the day-in and day-out erosion of science and democracy that the prior administration carried out. But the example of Jeffrey Clark, an obscure political appointee, serves as a reminder–there are people willing and able to undermine the very purpose of our government agencies, subvert democracy, and endanger our health and safety for their own political benefit. And the main way to prevent the next Jeffrey Clark is for us to vote in leaders at local, state, and federal governments that advocate for equitable, democratic, and science-based decisionmaking.”

Raising diverse voices on the climate crisis beat. A discussion with Justin World and Klye Pope, editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review. “Should climate crisis coverage focus on the danger at hand, or on optimism and solutions at work? On what individuals can do, or industrial changes? As newsrooms struggle to reach a consensus, the Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards provide a model for impactful work. Justin Worland, senior correspondent at Time, was just named CCN’s 2022 Journalist of the Year. On this week’s Kicker, Worland sits down with Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of CJR, to discuss his climate crisis coverage and the Uproot Project, his initiative to support environmental journalists of color.”

Hype, Hope, and Hot Air: Inside Canada’s Hydrogen Strategy by Danielle Paradis at DeSmog. Industry and governments are eager to embrace hydrogen power. But the plan to do so is “overly optimistic” and based on “unfounded assumptions.” “Environmental campaigners have cautioned for years that blue hydrogen is little more than the newest attempt by the oil and gas industry to lock in dependency on fossil fuels. With carbon capture and storage technology still largely unreliable, the key to making this type of hydrogen environmentally friendly is little more than wishful thinking. Even if CCS becomes more dependable, it would only capture emissions in the process of turning natural gas into hydrogen; all the methane — a powerful climate-warming gas — emitted in the production and transport of natural gas, would be unabated.”

It’s Time to Decouple Wildlife Conservation From the Gun Lobby’s Agenda by Kevin Bixby at Truthout. “The firearms industry and state wildlife agencies have been joined at the hip since Congress passed the Pittman-Robertson (PR) Act in 1937. The law redirected an existing federal tax on firearms and ammunition to the states to help restore depleted game populations. At the time, taxing firearms to produce more game animals to benefit hunters under a “user pays” model made sense. It was assumed that most gun owners were hunters, and hunters were seen as the main “users” of wildlife. … This convergence of interests has not been good for wildlife. Consider these issues on which wildlife managers, hunting groups and the gun industry have generally coalesced around a position that favors gun use and hunting over conservation:

  • Opposed efforts to ban the use of lead ammunition for hunting, despite a scientific consensus that lead bullet fragments cause widespread poisoning of eagles and other scavengers;
  • Supported a major expansion of hunting on national wildlife refuges;
  • Opposed efforts to protect wolves and other species under the federal Endangered Species Act (which does not allow hunting of protected species);
  • Supported wildlife killing contests.”

eco-tweet

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half a dozen other things to read (or listen to)

Green groups warn that Joe Biden’s oil railway project will ‘light one of the nation’s biggest carbon bombs’ by Kenny Stancil at Common Dreams. “The Biden administration came under fire this week after paving the way for an oil railway that its own projections suggest would increase planet-heating pollution in the United States by almost 1%. Deeda Seed, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. ‘This is pouring another 5 billion gallons of oil on the fire every year and bulldozing a national forest in the process,’ Seed continued. ‘It’s a horrifying step in the wrong direction.’ On Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service rejected challenges to the Uinta Basin Railway, which is expected to quadruple oil extraction in northeast Utah’s Uinta Basin by connecting its fracking operations to a transcontinental railroad network that would move hundreds of heated tank cars loaded with waxy crude through the Colorado Rockies en route to Gulf Coast refineries each day.”

Lynette Quintana loads her truck with food distributed through the FDPIR program from the food distribution warehouse of the Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos in Bernalillo, New Mexico.
Lynette Quintana loads her truck with food distributed through the FDPIR program from the food distribution warehouse of the Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos in Bernalillo, N.M.

This Pilot Program Is Supporting Tribal Food Sovereignty with Federal Dollars by Kalen Goodluck at Civil Eats. “Once a month, packages flush with cuts of fresh buffalo, wild rice, and other fresh, traditional foods arrive at the doorsteps and pantries of the members of two tribes in Wisconsin, the Menominee Tribe and the Oneida Nation. The buffalo comes from Oneida Nation’s own farms, along with apples and roasted beef. The wild rice comes from Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota, and there’s also fresh fish from Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin. In late 2021, the two Great Lakes region tribes entered into a joint ‘demonstration’ project under the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), the nation’s federal food assistance program for income-eligible tribal households. … Launched in November 2021, the pilot program allows selected tribes to buy food directly from commercial vendors—many of them from within their own tribes and from their neighbors—instead of providing a standardized set of options typical of the FDPIR or ‘commodity foods’ program.”

Energy charter treaty makes climate action nearly illegal in 52 countries by Chamu Kuppuswam at The Conversation. “Five young people whose resolve was hardened by floods and wildfires recently took their governments to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Their claim concerns each country’s membership of an obscure treaty they argue makes climate action impossible by protecting fossil fuel investors. The energy charter treaty has 52 signatory countries which are mostly EU states but include the UK and Japan. The claimants are suing 12 of them including France, Germany and the UK—all countries in which energy companies are using the treaty to sue governments over policies that interfere with fossil fuel extraction. For example, the German company RWE is suing the Netherlands for 1.4 billion euros ($1.42 billion) because it plans to phase out coal. The claimants aim to force their countries to exit the treaty and are supported by the Global Legal Action Network, a campaign group with an ongoing case against 33 European countries they accuse of delaying action on climate change.”

Toxic waste

Waste from thousands of old industrial sites may be released by floods by Doug Johnson at Ars Technica. “As sea levels rise, coastal areas face a growing risk of flooding. But humans and environments near urban centers and the ocean may face issues beyond rising water. These areas have also been home to a large number of manufacturing facilities. Over the years, many of them may have left toxic chemicals in the soil. And now, those areas are also being threatened by floods. When it rains too hard or the sea rises too much, people nearby can expect to be exposed to a wide variety of leftover material and chemicals, some of which aren’t meant to be ingested or touched by humans. … Another issue is that, at least in the studied jurisdictions, lower-income people tend to live near the old industrial sites. Though the research focuses on the US, Marlow noted that other regions around the world—assuming they are near a coast and have manufacturing operations—could also be impacted.”

US Crosses the Electric-Car Tipping Point for Mass Adoption by Tom Randal at Bloomberg Green. Once 5% of new-car sales go fully electric, everything changes — according to a Bloomberg analysis of the 19 countries that have made the EV pivot. “Many people of a certain age can recall the first time they held a smartphone. The devices were weird and expensive and novel enough to draw a crowd at parties. Then, less than a decade later, it became unusual not to own one. That same society-altering shift is happening now with electric vehicles, according to a Bloomberg analysis of adoption rates around the world. The US is the latest country to pass what’s become a critical EV tipping point: 5% of new car sales powered only by electricity. This threshold signals the start of mass EV adoption, the period when technological preferences rapidly flip, according to the analysis.”

At least $110 billion—a tenfold increase—needed annually on methane abatement by Paul Rosane, Baysa Naran, Angela Ortega Pastor, Jake Connolly and Dharshan Wignarajah at Climate Policy Initiative. “Sharp and rapid reductions in methane emissions this decade are essential to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. While carbon dioxide has a longer lasting effect, methane has 80 times the warming power of CO2 in the first 20 years after emissions reach the atmosphere, meaning methane is setting the pace for near-term global warming. Reducing human-caused methane emissions by 30% this decade from 2020 levels, as set out in the Global Methane Pledge, would avert at least 0.2°C in global warming by 2050 (CCAC and UNEP, 2021). Even though methane is responsible for nearly half of net global warming to date, our findings show that finance for methane abatement measures represented less than 2% of total climate finance flows, or just over $11 billion, in 2019/2020. At least a ten-fold increase in methane abatement finance is necessary to meet the estimated more than $110 billion needed from private and public sources annually.”

Ecobits

¶ Waste from thousands of old industrial sites may be released by floods ¶ Bloomberg Green’s Electric Car Ratings ¶ Mercedes Strikes Second-Life Battery Pact With Canadian Startup ¶ Securing US territorial rights in the Arctic: New actions to protect America’s continental shelf ¶ Convince Republicans or revolt? No easy path to US climate action ¶ Climate Activists Alarmed as Biden Administration Takes Major Step Forward in Proposed Alaska Oil Drilling Project ¶ Legacy chemicals are contaminating eggs around the world ¶ An increase in Europe’s coal power would be ‘negligible’ — study ¶ ‘Cow power’ goes dark as manure-to-electricity fizzles ¶ CDC: Controversial weedkiller in 80% of human urine samples



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