TEN ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTS
1. UN Emissions Gap Report
UN Environment Programme, Emissions Gap Report 2022: The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies (27 Oct 2022). www.unep.org/resources/emissions-gap-report-2022
“The report is the 13th edition in an annual series that provides an overview of the difference between where greenhouse emissions are predicted to be in 2030 and where they should be to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
The report shows that updated national pledges since COP26 – held in 2021 in Glasgow, UK – make a negligible difference to predicted 2030 emissions and that we are far from the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C. Policies currently in place point to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century. Implementation of the current pledges will only reduce this to a 2.4-2.6°C temperature rise by the end of the century, for conditional and unconditional pledges respectively.
The report finds that only an urgent system-wide transformation can deliver the enormous cuts needed to limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2030: 45 per cent compared with projections based on policies currently in place to get on track to 1.5°C and 30 per cent for 2°C. This report provides an in-depth exploration of how to deliver this transformation, looking at the required actions in the electricity supply, industry, transport and buildings sectors, and the food and financial systems.”
2. Most recent science related to climate change, impacts and responses
United in Science 2022: A multi-organization high-level compilation of the most recent science related to climate change, impacts and responses. WMO, UNEP, GCP, UK Met Office, IPCC, UNDRR (13 Sept 2022). bit.ly/2msYN9w
See also, Kevin O’Sullivan, “Climate crisis: World faces ‘increasingly devastating’ effects without ambitious action,” The Irish Times (13 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3QURKi8
What is known as the United in Science report, which is issued annually, includes contributions on latest trends from leading climate science and meteorological bodies.
The 2022 report issued on Tuesday shows greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs while fossil fuel emission rates are above pre-pandemic levels after a temporary drop due to lockdowns.
The ambition of emissions reduction pledges for 2030 “needs to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement”, it concludes.
The number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the last 50 years, it confirms, with daily losses totalling more than €200 million.
3. Weather-Related Major Power Outages Since 2000
Weather-Related Major Power Outages Since 2000, Climate Central (Sept 2022). bit.ly/3LybB5M
See also, Ben Adler, “There are more blackouts these days, and it’s climate change’s fault,” Yahoo! News (21 sept 2022). yhoo.it/3BtM7C
“The research organization Climate Central released a report last week that analyzes the major electricity outages in the United States since 2000. The two key findings are that most of these events are caused by extreme weather, and as extreme weather becomes more common because of climate change, so do the power outages.
Of course, the resilience of the infrastructure itself plays a key role. Many of the regions that have suffered the most also have electric grids prone to failure, without the backup capacity and delivery mechanisms to overcome these challenges. All signs are that extreme weather events will continue to batter electric grids, plunging vulnerable areas into darkness.
From 2000 to 2021, 1,542 weather-related major power outages were reported by U.S. utilities, roughly 83% of them attributed to weather-related events. Those blackouts have become more frequent in recent years.
“The average annual number of weather-related power outages increased by roughly 78% during 2011-2021, compared to 2000-2010,” Climate Central writes.
4. Air pollution increases hospital admission risk for autistic children
Kyoung-Nam Kim, et al., Effects of short-term exposure to air pollution on hospital admissions for autism spectrum disorder in Korean school-aged children: a nationwide time-series study BMJ Open (20 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3qWnM31
See also, Andrew Gregory, “Air pollution increases hospital admission risk for autistic children, study suggests,” The Guardian (20 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3R3r1QO
“Autistic children face an increased risk of hospitalisation if exposed to air pollution for relatively brief periods, with boys more at risk than girls, new research suggests.
Admissions for issues such as hyperactivity, aggression or self-injury may be prevented by minimising their exposure, and cutting air pollution levels could lower the risks, the researchers behind the study concluded. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open.
“Short-term exposure [to air pollution] was associated with a higher risk of hospital admissions for autism spectrum disorder,” the researchers wrote. “The associations were demonstrated to be more prominent among boys than among girls in sex-stratified analyses.””
5. Methane emissions from gas flares
Genevieve Plant et al., “Inefficient and unlit natural gas flares both emit large quantities of methane,” Science (29 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3BQZlc0
Flaring is widely used by the fossil fuel industry to dispose of natural gas. Industry and governments generally assume that flares remain lit and destroy methane, the predominant component of natural gas, with 98% efficiency. Neither assumption, however, is based on real-world observations. We calculate flare efficiency using airborne sampling across three basins responsible for >80% of US flaring and combine these observations with unlit flare prevalence surveys. We find that both unlit flares and inefficient combustion contribute comparably to ineffective methane destruction, with flares effectively destroying only 91.1% (90.2, 91.8; 95% confidence interval) of methane. This represents a fivefold increase in methane emissions above present assumptions and constitutes 4 to 10% of total US oil and gas methane emissions, highlighting a previously underappreciated methane source and mitigation opportunity.
6. Acidification in the Arctic Ocean
Di Qi et al., “Climate change drives rapid decadal acidification in the Arctic Ocean from 1994 to 2020,” Science (29 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3EbrKN0
Acceleration in the Arctic:
“The Arctic is warming at a rate faster than any comparable region on Earth, with a consequently rapid loss of sea ice there. Qi et al. found that this sea ice loss is causing more uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide by surface water and driving rapid acidification of the western Arctic Ocean, at a rate three to four times higher than that of the other ocean basins. They attribute this finding to melt-driven addition of freshwater and the resulting changes in seawater chemistry. —HJS”
See also, Karen McVeigh, “Arctic Ocean acidifying up to four times as fast as other oceans, study finds,” The Guardian (29 Sept 2022). bit.ly/3UYiKk0
7. Reducing flood risk with sphagnum moss
Moors for the Future, “Superhero’’ sphagnum moss reduces flood risk,” bit.ly/3RvlOBa
“The risk of flooding is increasing all the time as our climate changes and we see more frequent extreme storm events. Effective NFM strategies have never been more important, and these remarkable findings prove sphagnum planting on peat moorland to be a powerful tool in minimising the risk and severity of flooding.
A 65% reduction in peak streamflow and a huge 680% decrease in lag time between rainfall and that rainwater entering the river system are startling results, with far-reaching benefits for communities downstream. Our study shows the effects of successful sphagnum reintroduction in just one area and the effects on the catchment are dramatic. Imagine these impacts on a landscape scale.”
8. Increasing summer droughts in Northern Hemisphere
Dominik L. Schumacher et al., “High temperatures exacerbated by climate change made 2022 Northern Hemisphere soil moisture droughts more likely,” World Weather Attribution (October 2022). bit.ly/3EuSRmm
See also, Nalima Marshall, “Climate change made ‘summer drought 20 times more likely in Northern Hemisphere’,” Irish Independent (5 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3VfsarB
“Climate change caused temperatures to soar during the summer this year creating soil conditions that made drought at least 20 times more likely in the Northern Hemisphere, according to a new study.
Analysis revealed greenhouse gas emissions played a key role in the warming, making the summer of 2022 one of the hottest ever recorded in Europe.
The scientists calculated that a drought like this can be expected around once in 20 years in today’s climate, which has been warmed 1.2C by emissions.”
9. Need to redesign Irish transport to meet climate targets
OECD, Redesigning Ireland’s Transport for Net Zero: Towards Systems that Work for People and the Planet (5 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3yPVj3h
See also, Kevin Sullivan, “OECD recommends major redesign of Irish transport to meet climate targets and improve wellbeing,” The Irish Times (5 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3VcUk6x
“With persistently high levels of car use, current passenger patterns across Ireland are incompatible with the transport sector’s ambitious targets to cut its carbon emissions, according to an OECD report published on Wednesday…
The Irish transport system “is car dependent by design, is high in greenhouse gas emissions and does not support improved wellbeing”, the OECD warns.
Its findings reveal, however, a reduction of car dependence is possible in line with halving transport emissions by 2030, but local input to decisions will be crucial to success.
This would include a radical reorganisation of road space especially in urban areas; scale up of “on-demand shared services” and enhanced use of “mobility hubs”.”
10. Lost fishing gear drifting in Earth’s oceans
Kelsey Richardson, “Global estimates of fishing gear lost to the ocean each year,” Science Advances (12 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3s2otIC
See also, Graham Readfearn, “New study reveals ‘staggering’ scale of lost fishing gear drifting in Earth’s oceans,” The Guardian (15 Oct 2022). bit.ly/3g5Fwqd
“Enough commercial fishing line is left in the ocean each year to stretch to the moon and back, according to the most comprehensive study ever completed of lost fishing equipment.
The staggering amounts of lost gear, which includes 25 million pots and traps and 14 billion hooks, was likely having deadly consequences for marine life, one of the study’s authors said.
Enough nets were lost or discarded each year to cover Scotland. If all types of lost line was tied together, it would be able to stretch round the Earth 18 times.”