The Human and Planetary Existential Emergency

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[2024/02/19] Signs of Rapid Ocean Warming and Exponential Global Warming.

The article by Jonathan Watts in The Guardian provides evidence for a global ocean temperature that is by far the highest observed in a February. The blog by Grant Forster gives clear evidence of an exponential warming. These are very worrying pieces of evidence. As Katharine Hayhoe points out in the Guardian article, "This is happening at a much faster rate than ever documented in the past. If anything, we are much more likely to underestimate the impact of those changes on human society than to overestimate them."

[2024/02/10] The Tipping Point of the AMOC collapsing may not be closer than currently thought.

A new paper by René M. van Westen et al. on the potential collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC) finds that the collapse of the AMOC due to freshwater influx from melting icesheets may be closer than assessed in the last IPCC assessment. The collapse of the AMOC would have extreme impacts on the distribution of climate zones with much lower temperatures in Europe and much higher temperatures in the tropics. The article by Bob Berwyn summarizes the paper succinctly. See also the article by Jonathan Watts in The Guardian.

[2023/10/24] Earth’s “vital signs” are worse than at any time in human history.

The latest assessment of climate change indicators shows that 20 of the 35 planetary vital signs used to track the climate crisis are at record extremes. The indicators include among others greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature, sea level rise, and human and livestock population numbers. See the article in The Guardian for a summary.

[2023/09/23] Humanity has reached a saturation point on planet Earth.

In the article What the Latest Health Check Tells Us About the State of Our Planet in Time, the author Johan Rockström finds that “Humanity has reached a saturation point on planet Earth. There is no atmospheric space left to safely add more greenhouse gases, we cannot lose more intact nature or wild species, the oceans are at or beyond biological carrying capacity. We are hitting the planetary ceiling of hard-wired processes that regulate the stability and determine the livability on Earth. For the first time we face the risk of destabilizing the entire planet.

[2023/09/14] Six of the Nine Global Boundaries Transgressed

This update of the planetary boundaries framework by Richardson et al. (2023) finds that six of the nine boundaries are transgressed, suggesting that Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity. Ocean acidification is close to being breached, while aerosol loading regionally exceeds the boundary.

[2023/07/30] Doubling of Earth Energy Imbalance

The Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) went from roughly 250 TW in 2000 to 720 TW in 2023. It doubled in roughly 13 years (from 2007 to 2020). That is most likely the most important aspect of the Climate Emergency: the planetary heating is rapidly increasing!

A doubling time of 13 years for EEI means that the increase in heating is now decoupled from the increase in excess #greenhouse gases. Most likely, the change in surface albedo (potentially caused by the rapid loss of sea ice) allows for more heat storage particularly in the ocean. As a consequence, global warming is accelerating.

A key question with a potentially devastating answer is: "Has the climate entered a runaway phase?" If so, there is no climate action left that could change this.

Understanding that the Climate Crisis is at the core of the Planetary Emergency, a runaway climate would be devastating for the Earth's ability to support life at its current diversity on the planet.

The diagram was prepared by Leon Simons, who tweeted the diagram on July 28, 2023, see The diagram uses NASA CERES EBAF-TOA All-sky Ed4.2 Net Flux data from March 2000 to May 2023.

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