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Game Over? Report Card on Our Planet’s Environment

Game Over? Report Card on Our Planet’s Environment

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report for 2019 indicates that most experts point to environmental problems as being the most serious threats to global stability—just as they found in the previous two years. That report follows on one in October 2018 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It said with “high confidence” that at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, “global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.” Avoiding the worst-case consequences would require measures that have “no documented historic precedent.”

As Americans see the evidence of climate-influenced destruction, they’re on edge: Seventy-two percent of those polled late last year considered climate change “important,” a 15-percentage point increase over 2015. Sixty-nine percent were “worried” about it.

So here we are again, facing another round of bad news on the environment. Actually, the news is worse this time around. 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record; 2015-2017 are the other three. The Arctic experienced its second-warmest year ever. The head of the World Meteorological Organization said: “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.”

Rising sea levels, according to the IPCC, “will continue beyond 2100 even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C in the 21st century (high confidence). Marine ice sheet instability in Antarctica and/or irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet could result in multi-metre rise in sea level over hundreds to thousands of years.” Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice loss has recently received extensive media coverage as scientists have discovered just how far offtheir earlier predictions were. Antarctica’s enormous ice reserves are melting six times faster now than they were between 1979 and 1989.

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