Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Climate change - No Change

Goal of limiting rise in average global temperatures to below 2C may not prevent ice-free Arctic, scientists warn. Arctic sea ice could vanish in summers this century even if governments achieve a core target for limiting global warming set by almost 200 countries, scientists have said.

Under the 2015 Paris agreement, governments set a goal of limiting the rise in average world temperatures to well below 2C (35.6F) above pre-industrial times, with an aspiration of just 1.5C.
The 2C target may be insufficient to prevent an ice-free Arctic,” James Screen and Daniel Williamson of Exeter University wrote in the Nature Climate Change journal after a review of ice projections. A 2C rise would still mean a 39% risk that ice would disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summers.

The ice has been shrinking steadily in recent decades, damaging the livelihoods of indigenous people and wildlife, opening the region to more shipping and oil and gas exploration. They estimated a 73% probability that the ice would disappear in summers unless governments made deeper cuts in emissions. The scientists estimated temperatures would rise 3C on current trends.

This month the extent of Arctic sea ice is rivalling 2016 and 2015 as the smallest for the time of year since satellite records began in the late 1970s. The ice reaches a winter maximum in March and a summer minimum in September. In less than 40 years, we have almost halved the summer sea ice cover,” said Tor Eldevik a professor at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research at the University of Bergen in Norway, who was not involved in the study. He predicted sea ice would vanish in the Arctic Ocean in about 40 years on current trends.

Meanwhile in Australia, a major independent review into the state of Australia’s environment has found climate change is placing an “increasingly important and pervasive pressure” on the nation and some of its impacts “may be irreversible”.

Climate change is an increasingly important and pervasive pressure on all aspects of the Australian environment. It is altering the structure and function of natural ecosystems, and affecting heritage, economic activity and human wellbeing,” the report states. Climate change will result in location-specific vulnerabilities, and people who are socially and economically disadvantaged are most sensitive to climate change. Evidence shows that the impacts of climate change are increasing, and some of these impacts may be irreversible.”

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, who concedes the government’s target of 23.5 per cent renewable energy generation by 2020 “will be quite a stretch”.