Global food supplies will suffer as temperatures rise – climate crisis report

Politicians around world continue to respond to report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Wheat harvesting season in Ghaziabad, India. When heat and humidity is high, people cannot work safely in the fields.
Wheat harvesting season in Ghaziabad, India. When heat and humidity is high, people cannot work safely in the fields. Photograph: Pradeep Gaur/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
— Tue 10 Aug 2021- THE GUARDIAN
Food production around the world will suffer as global heating reaches 1.5C, with serious effects on the food supply in the next two decades, scientists have warned, following the biggest scientific report yet on the climate crisis.

 

Rising temperatures will mean there will be more times of year when temperatures exceed what crops can stand, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its sixth assessment report published on Monday.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 08/13/2021 at 5:45 pm

    This Scientist Isn’t Warning of Impending Disaster. She’s Proving It’s Already Here

    For years powerful entities with vested interests, whether petroleum giants or conservative politicians, tried to deny a connection between human activity and extreme weather events. Dr. Friederike Otto, a trailblazing scientist from Oxford, provides the missing link

    Yarden Michaeli | Haaretz

    When The Water Reached Chest Level And Inched Up Worrisomely To The Neckline, The Passengers On The Subway’s No. 5 Line Realized That These Might Be Their Last Moments. Water filled a subway tunnel and it took rescue crews four hours to get to the trapped passengers, 14 of whom didn’t survive.

    THE DISASTER IN CHINA IS ONLY ONE SUCH EVENT TO HAVE TAKEN PLACE THIS SUMMER, WHICH APPEARS TO BE THE MOMENT WHEN THE CLIMATE DECIDED TO MAKE IT CLEAR TO THE WORLD THAT IT CANNOT BE IGNORED.

    Besides flooding there and, earlier, in Germany, a partial list of extreme weather events this summer includes an unprecedented heat wave in North America in which hundreds lost their lives; vast forest fires in Siberia, a region better known for its freezing-cold weather, which have left a city living under a dense cloud of smoke; a severe drought that has left about a million people on the brink of starvation in Madagascar; fires raging across Turkey; and huge downpours that disrupted the work of a number of London hospitals, where residents in need of medical care were asked to turn to alternate facilities. Fittingly, on the eve of the heat wave now being felt in the Mediterranean Basin, a local weatherperson who presented the temperature chart said simply, “We’ve run out of red.”

    WHENEVER AN EXTREME EVENT SUCH AS THESE OCCURS, A QUESTION IMMEDIATELY ARISES:

    Are human beings responsible for it? And if so, to what degree? Until a few years ago, those questions remained unanswered. Climate is a complicated subject, scientists explained, and anyway, there’s nothing new about extreme weather. But that is changing now. Today answers are available, even if only in some cases.

    For example, a collective of international scientists showed that the soaring heat that struck North America would have been virtually impossible were it not for human impact on the planet.

    That dramatic conclusion was made possible by “ATTRIBUTION SCIENCE”, a trailblazing and dynamic research field. With its help, the question marks are fading and it is at long last possible to close the chain and show the connection between a specific natural disaster and human action.

    Thanks to one group of scientists who are expanding the boundaries of scientific orthodoxy, we may stand before a revolution in the way the world perceives the climate crisis.

    And if that were not enough, SENIOR LEGAL SCHOLARS AND HIGH-POWERED ATTORNEYS ARE SEEKING WAYS TO EMPLOY THE INNOVATIONS PRODUCED BY ATTRIBUTION SCIENCE AGAINST THE PETROLEUM GIANTS, IN BATTLES THAT EVOKE THE MAMMOTH LAWSUITS OF RECENT DECADES AGAINST THE TOBACCO COMPANIES.

    “THE ULTIMATE AIM IS TO PROVIDE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE FOR THE WHOLE CAUSAL CHAIN,” climatologist Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, tells Haaretz. In her 2019 book “ANGRY WEATHER: HEAT WAVES, FLOODS, STORMS, AND THE NEW SCIENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE”, she wrote:

    “We can state whether and to what extent climate change is manifesting in our weather. We can stand up to the energy companies and the mercenaries of doubt.”

    Otto and her colleagues are the authors of the study that found the connection between human actions and the heat dome that enveloped western North America at the end of June. With the world’s attention focused on the abnormal heat, Otto embarked on a race against the clock. Working ceaselessly, a team of 27 scientists was able to distill a conclusion within a mere nine days.

    IT USUALLY TAKES MONTHS, EVEN YEARS, TO ESTABLISH AND PUBLISH SUCH FINDINGS. But Otto’s team has set itself a truly challenging goal:

    To supply the information when it’s most relevant – not like other scientists, after the story has been swept out of the news flow.

    “WHAT IS STRIKING ABOUT THE NEWS COVERAGE OF THE HEAT WAVE THAT HAS RECENTLY SCORCHED PARTS OF NORTH AMERICA, IS A GENERAL HESITANCY TO LINK IT TO CLIMATE CHANGE,” she wrote in a recently published column, which shed light on her motives for moving quickly.

    FOR YEARS, CLIMATE SCIENTISTS EXPLAINED THAT IT WAS DIFFICULT TO IMPOSSIBLE TO ISOLATE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HUMANS AND SPECIFIC WEATHER EVENTS.

    No one disputes that heat waves, floods and other natural disasters have occurred throughout history. Nor is there any dispute that Earth’s average temperature is increasing due to human activity, that icebergs are melting and ocean levels rising.

    But because climate is a complex, variable-rich field, it was always difficult to draw, with scientific certainty, a connection between human activity and the increase in the frequency and intensity of specific extreme events.

    A typical ad, from 2000, claimed that scientists “CAN’T PROVE THE CONNECTION” between human activity and the floods and storms occurring at the time.

    AN OUTRAGEOUS EXPLANATION CURRENTLY APPEARS ON THE WEBSITE OF THE ISRAELI EDUCATION MINISTRY, under the rubric of learning materials: “On the issue of global warning there is no unanimity of opinion in the scientific community… Warming is liable to heighten the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, but it’s difficult to prove a causal connection between that and a given event.”

    A column was published not long ago that sharply attacked the scientific consensus, claiming, among other points, that “some of the extreme events are increasing, others are weakening. In any case, there is no direct proof of a direct connection between these changes and the global temperature.”

    THIS IS NOT ONLY A SCIENTIFIC OR EDUCATIONAL PROBLEM. Without proof of a connection between human actions and specific damage, activists have found it difficult to promote legislation and regulation of the polluters. Large companies are capable of muddying the public discussion, and they are more than interested in doing just that when they are at risk of losing a great deal of money.

    THUS, THE TOBACCO COMPANIES FOUGHT FOR YEARS TO BLUR THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SMOKING AND LUNG CANCER – “DOUBT IS OUR PRODUCT”, is the most famous quote from the internal documents of the tobacco companies ….

    – THE AMERICAN GUN LOBBY DIVERTED THE DEBATE FROM LEGISLATION TO PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY – “GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE” – and the discourse around climate science became rife with conspiracies of all types.

    Working in their unique way, Otto and her team have published many studies. And what do their findings suggest? One example pertains to Cape Town, which by 2018 was suffering from a drought so serious that the water in the city of four million was about to run out, AN EVENT THAT RESONATES WITH OVERTONES OF BIBLICAL PUNISHMENT.

    Otto and her colleagues told the world that the climate crisis caused by the burning of fossil fuels had increased the likelihood of the drought by a factor of three. There was also the sizzling summer of 2017 in South Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, which included a heat wave that was dubbed “LUCIFER”.

    THE RESEARCHERS FOUND THAT, THANKS TO HUMAN ACTIVITY, THE LIKELIHOOD THAT A SUMMER OF THAT KIND WOULD REPEAT ITSELF INCREASED 10-FOLD.

    AND WHAT ABOUT THE HUGE FOREST FIRES THAT RAGED IN AUSTRALIA AT THE END OF 2019?

    The researchers of World Weather Attribution found that human beings had increased by a multiple of four the likelihood that they will take place again.

    “CLIMATE CHANGE IS NOT CAUSING EXTREME EVENTS IN A YES OR NO WAY – because all extreme weather events have multiple causes,” Otto explains. “BUT IT DOES CAUSE A HEAT WAVE IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY THAT SMOKING CAUSES CANCER. ……

    It is not guaranteed you’re going to get cancer and you could get it without the smoking, but…,” she says, leaving the conclusion of the sentence hanging in the air.

    “And yet most of the reporting on these events doesn’t mention this. If, along with the weather forecasts, people were told how much of the rain or heat intensity was our fault, that might bring home the seriousness of climate change in ways that we haven’t managed to date.”

    IN CONVERSATION, OTTO EXPLAINS THE UNDERLYING IDEA OF THE METHOD OF ATTRIBUTION SCIENCE. SIMPLY PUT, IT’S A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE FREQUENCY OF A PARTICULAR EVENT IN THE WORLD AS IT IS TODAY, AND THE FREQUENCY OF THAT SAME EVENT IN A WORLD IN WHICH THERE WAS NO CLIMATE CRISIS.

    WHEN AN EXCEPTIONAL EVENT OCCURS, SCIENTISTS MUST FIRST DEFINE EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Afterward they try to answer a question that sounds simple:

    What weather is possible in the world as it is today? This is the moment at which the immense knowledge that has been about the weather on Earth becomes concretely useful. Until a few years ago, there were too many holes in the database, but now the researchers can run and rerun computer models that enable them to determine the frequency of the event that was observed in reality.

    Already in the 1970s one of the company’s senior scientists stated that “THERE IS GENERAL SCIENTIFIC AGREEMENT THAT THE MOST LIKELY MANNER IN WHICH MANKIND IS INFLUENCING THE GLOBAL CLIMATE IS THROUGH CARBON DIOXIDE RELEASE FROM THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS…

    There are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered…

    Rainfall might get heavier in some regions and other places might turn to desert. Some countries would have their agriculture output reduced or destroyed. Man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical. Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible.”

    Did the oil company documents change anything? Did the fact that the campaign of deception was exposed change the rules of the game? Just last June, a secretly recorded video of an oil company lobbyist in Washington was revealed, from a sting operation of the Greenpeace organization’s investigative unit.

    THE LOBBYIST RELATES HOW EVEN TODAY, THE COMPANY IS TRYING TO INTERFERE WITH THE CLIMATE POLICY OF U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, AND WHY ITS GREEN DECLARATIONS, TOO, ARE ACTUALLY NO MORE THAN A PUBLICITY STUNT.

    “There’s often that argument that we’re all responsible because we’re all using CO2 in our lifestyle,” Otto says. “BUT WE DON’T LIVE THIS LIFESTYLE BECAUSE IT’S THE CHOICE OF INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE – it’s the choice of a country that is capable of making laws and providing infrastructure that are very different.

    And in the case of the big carbon majors, they are aggressively selling a business model. There are people who are more responsible for our situation than others. That’s not only an ethical argument – but you can actually show how it plays out in the science.”

    At present, Otto is engaged in discussions with lawyers who are interested in taking the climate struggle into courtrooms, and only recently she published a study on the subject. “We looked at 80 climate litigation cases that were brought to court in the last few years,” she explains.

    “I LOOKED AT THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE IN THESE CASES AND FOUND A BIG DISCREPANCY BETWEEN WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN SAID FROM A SCIENTIFIC POINT OF VIEW AND WHAT WAS ACTUALLY PRESENTED IN THESE CASES AS SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE.

    So in fact, those cases could have been a lot stronger if the science presented was state of the art and not as it was 10 years ago. I think the potential exists for attribution to really make those cases a lot stronger. BUT FOR THAT TO HAPPEN, THE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE LEGAL AND SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY NEEDS TO IMPROVE.”

    What’s the next step? The report of the international panel of scientists just published, of which Otto is one of the lead authors, will serve as a significant basis for the discussions of the UN conference on the climate that will convene in Glasgow at the end of this year.

    Many view this conference as humankind’s last chance to prevent a worse climate catastrophe. But even if the meeting succeeds beyond expectations, and even if all the countries in the world live up to their promises, there is still no model in which climate events do not become ever more extreme over the decades ahead. And therefore, this leading scientist from Oxford says, now is the time to prepare.

  • wally n  On 08/13/2021 at 7:26 pm

    Google is dominated with putting down “deniers”, and pushing WE GONNA DIE.I don’t think that anyone one can deny the changes, a closer look at actions of big industrial countries around the world show they are responsible for most of the problems. Rerouting water ways, beach encroachment… covering of green spaces……..
    That being said, don’t you think that Governments should lay out a plan, addressing major culprits first, instead promising infrastructure soon.
    I doubt I will ever trust my present, all you get is like the old investment sales men, Give me your money, and in fifty years you can live just like I am now.
    I will be on the fence.WHAT…build a high one?

  • wally n  On 08/14/2021 at 11:41 am

    Canadian Energy Centre
    Commentary: China is building 184 coal plants – Guess what that will do to carbon emissions?

    Canada’s abundant supply of natural gas has potential to reduce Asia’s reliance on coal
    As of 2020, 350 coal-fired power plants are under construction. They include seven in South Korea, 13 in Japan, 52 in India, and 184 in China with the rest underway in other parts of the world.

    China is also building and financing hundreds of other coal-fired power plants in countries such as Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Egypt, and Bangladesh.

    This matters (or should) to sensible discussions about how much pain — lost investment, killed jobs, lost incomes, and potential foregone tax revenue in the hundreds of billions of dollars — that Canadians should endure in attempts to squeeze reduced carbon emissions out of Canadians in the future.
    some point fingers at Canada’s oil sands, or oil and gas more generally. They imagine if that industry disappeared, somehow carbon emissions would magically evaporate as well.

    The reality is that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are 1.6 per cent of the total world emissions (with the oil and gas sector’s emissions at 0.3 per cent and the oil sands at 0.1 per cent included in that 1.6 per cent Canadian total).

    Moreover, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions intensity has fallen by 30 per cent since 2000. Between 2000 and 2018, GHG emissions intensity in Canada fell from 0.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT of CO2e) per billion dollars of GDP to 0.35 MT of CO2e per billion dollars of GDP.
    Most of people like myself, live in houses, keep our environment, conserve electricity, water, PAY OUR TAXES. do what we can.
    Why should we pay taxes to clean up the mess made by Giant conglomerates, free wheeled themselves to billions on the backs of people throughout the world.
    People pushing Climate Change attack the low hanging, kinda enronish criminal move, why am I skeptical, because, “There is big money to be made in dem hills”
    Very easy to change my mind, release an all out attack on CHINA (first) then maybe I will listen.

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