World Bank report on the likely consequences of a four degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures
; World Bank
A new study has predicted 6°C increases in global temperatures within 90 years.
A group of economists from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) concluded that governments are to blame for the rise for not finding alternatives to fossil fuels.
According to their report, it is now impossible to control the temperature increases within 2°C, which scientists believed would reduce the major environmental damage as a result of climate change.
The target adopted by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now appears unattainable due to the rate of major world economies reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. To achieve the target, the study says the world would have to achieve a 5.1% “decarbonisation” rate for almost 40 years.
Leo Johnson is a PwC partner is climate change and sustainability. ”Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation would still lead to emissions consistent with 6°C of warming by the end of the century. To give ourselves a more than 50 per cent chance of avoiding 2°C will require a sixfold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation,” he said, adding that a 5.1% decarbonisation rate had not been seen since the end of World War II.
Johnson said that the time has come for us to prepare for a warmer world. Sea level too, after rising around seven inches over the past century, is predicted to have an irreversible effect on mangroves and coastal infrastructure within the next 30 to 100 years.
Some areas are affected more than others. For example, the 600-mile Atlantic coastline between Cape Hatteras and the north of Boston has experienced sea levels rising three to four times faster than global figures since 1990. This is equivalent to adding 8 to 11 inches to the global average during the course of this century.
In the summer of this year, Greenland experienced a record-setting melt. Rising sea levels will also increase the height of storm surges, such as the recent Tropical Storm Sandy.
“This isn’t shock tactics, it’s simple maths. We’re heading into uncharted territory for the scale of transformation and technical innovations required. Whatever the scenario, or response, business as usual is not an option,” Johnson concluded.
It is often said that there are winners and losers of climate change and warmth-loving species are expected to appear on the winner side. A new study was published in Global Change Biology this week that found it otherwise. The study shows that despite of climate warming 27 thermophilous butterfly species are likely to occupy smaller range of habitats.
The researchers looked at data from 77 UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme sites collected over 30 years (1977-2007). They expected to show an increase in the distributions of the species due to climate warming through that period. Opposing to these expectations, they found that 74% of those butterfly species showed habitat contractions in the long term.
Based on their results they concluded that declines in the breadth of butterfly habitat was most probably caused by habitat degradation which seems to be able to overrule effects of climate change. Professor Chris Thomas, a co-author of the paper from the University of York, highlighted: “The fact that most butterfly species have shown habitat contractions over the past 30 years suggests that the negative effects of other drivers, such as habitat degradation, may have outweighed any benefits of climate warming for these warmth-loving species.”
Oliver, T.H., Thomas, C.D., Hill, J.K., Brereton, T. and Roy, D.B. (2012) Habitat associations of thermophilous butterflies are reduced despite climatic warming. Global Change Biology, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2012.02737.x
Arlington, VA – A paper published today in the journal Global Change Biology showed that corals that are found living within the boundaries of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) appear to be just as susceptible to ocean warming as corals found in unprotected areas. The study was conducted by scientists from Conservation International, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
To determine whether coral deaths caused by ocean warming were lower inside marine protected areas, researchers combined more than 8,000 coral reef surveys performed by divers with satellite measurements of ocean surface temperatures.
“Marine protected areas can protect coral reefs from localized problems, particularly overfishing and terrestrial run-off,” said Elizabeth Selig, conservation scientist with Conservation International and the study’s lead author. “However, the magnitude of losses from increased ocean temperatures as a result of climate change seems to be overwhelming these positive effects. This paper suggests that we need to rethink our current planning for MPAs in order to maximize the benefits they can provide.”
Globally, corals reefs are being degraded by a number of factors including overfishing, sedimentation and rising ocean temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions, Selig said.
MPAs provide many direct benefits to fisheries and coral reefs, however such zones appear to offer limited help to corals in their battle against global warming, according to the new study. The researchers on the study concluded that to protect coral reefs from climate change, marine protected areas need to be complemented with policies that can meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Although marine protected areas could help coral populations recover from temperature-induced mortality in particular situations, this does not appear to be an effective general solution,” said study author John Bruno, Ph.D., associate professor of biology in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences.
A rise of just 1 degree to 2 degrees Fahrenheit (about 0.5 degrees to 1 degree Centigrade) above normal summertime highs can kill coral polyps, which build reefs.
Given the difficulty of slowing or reversing the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, coral reef scientists, managers and conservationists had pinned their hopes on a different, more localized strategy: saving corals by restricting fishing in marine protected areas. The reasoning is that fishing depletes herbivorous fishes, which can lead to more seaweed on the seafloor; that can harm baby corals, so restricting the taking of fish that trim back seaweed should help coral populations recover.
Previous research has shown that under optimal conditions, reefs in marine protected areas saw increases in coral cover of 1 percent or 2 percent per year.
But those gains might not be enough to mitigate the impact of thermal stress events. For example, the new study found that when water temperatures were more than 1 degree Centigrade above summertime averages for eight weeks (recognized as the threshold that generally results in widespread bleaching and significant coral death), it correlated with coral cover loss of 3.9 percent annually.
“Reducing overfishing, although clearly a very good thing, will not meaningfully limit the damage being done to the world’s coral reefs by greenhouse gas emissions,” Bruno added.
Richard B. Aronson, Ph.D., professor and head of the biological sciences department at the Florida Institute of Technology, said the study clearly showed that marine protected areas cannot by themselves save coral reefs.
“We have to reverse climate change by stopping runaway greenhouse gas emissions,” said Aronson, who did not participate in the study. “That is a lot harder than protecting a reef against local problems like fishing pressure, because it requires international cooperation. But it can be done — and it must be done if we are going to save the coral reefs and the rest of the planet.”
Along with Selig and Bruno, the other author of the study was Kenneth S. Casey, Ph.D., a satellite oceanographer and technical director of NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center.
For a photo gallery of images of UNC researchers conducting coral reef surveys in Belize in 2009, go to http://uncnews.unc.edu/content/view/3339/74/
Video: To see underwater video from the Belize surveys, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/UNCChapelHill#p/f/0/0iIz4tnj_1k
UNC News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, [email protected]
Researchers at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies have released their annual analysis of global temperatures
Researchers at Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) have released their annual analysis of global temperatures, noting that Earth’s land and ocean surfaces continue to experience higher temperatures than several decades ago. Nine of the top 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000. Last year was another one of them, coming in at 9th warmest since 1880. The map above shows temperature anomalies, or changes, by region in 2011
Photographer: Goddard Institue for Space Studies/NASA
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Environment news, comment and analysis from the Guardian | guardian.co.uk
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