Email Message Sent September 8, 2013 to: Editor, Wisconsin State Journal (Not Published by Wis. State Journal)
What more could our congressional and state representatives possibly be waiting for that would convince them global warming is a threat to our future? It is becoming a far greater threat than most people had first imagined, and it’s pace is accelerating by the degree that we all are adding to the increased build up greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
It is critical they take major actions now or it will be too late? The AP report published in the WSJ last Thursday summarized a just released joint National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and British meteorology office report that used thousands of runs of computer simulation of last year’s wildest weather events and reports that man-made global warming made U. S. heat waves and Superstorm Sandy flooding more likely, caused further shrinkage of Arctic sea ice, increased the likelihood of drought in Europe’s Iberian peninsula and flooding in Australia and New Zealand.
NOAA: 2013 November Average Global Temperature was the 345th Straight Month of Above Average Global Temperatures and Earth’s Warmest November of Record
In 2010, the United States emitted over 6.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases (CO2e). Greenhouse gases are emitted by all sectors of the economy, including electric power (34% of total), transportation (27%), industry (21%), residential & commercial (11%), and agriculture (7%).
The growing demand for air travel has resulted in increasing levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the aviation sector, despite efficiency improvements. Compared to driving, traveling by bus or taking the train, flying has a greater climate impact per passenger mile, even over longer distances. It’s also the mode of freight transport that produces the most emissions.
A special characteristic of aircraft emissions is that most of them are produced at cruising altitudes high in the atmosphere. Scientific studies have shown that these high-altitude emissions have a more harmful climate impact because they trigger a series of chemical reactions and atmospheric effects that have a net warming effect. The IPCC, for example, has estimated that the climate impact of aircraft is two to four times greater than the effect of their carbon dioxide emissions alone.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says average global temperature, for water and land surfaces combined, was 56.6 degrees (13.7 Celsius). That’s 1.4 degrees (0.78 degrees Celsius) above the 20th century average. It was the 37th consecutive November with above-average temperatures. The last below-average November was in 1976.
It was also the 345th straight month with above-average temperatures. That’s almost 29 years. Among the November hot spots: much of Eurasia, Central America and the Indian Ocean. In Russia, it was the warmest November on record. But parts of North America were cooler than average.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that “the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide [greenhouse gases] have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions [deforestation]. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification”.
“Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century. The rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971 to 2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets.”
“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”, the IPCC report states, and ” cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped” and that “this represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.
Sources: IPCC, “Summary for Policymakers, Climate Change 2013”, October, 2013; Huffington Post Green, “2013 Brings Warmest November Since at Least 1880”, December 18, 2013; Center for Climate and Energy Solutions