Science Today’s Climate Change Is Worse Than Anything Earth Has Experienced in the Past 2,000 Years
That’s a radical departure from modern climate change, Scott St. George, a climate researcher at the University of Minnesota who wasn’t involved in the research, wrote in a news and views article for Nature. [10 Climate Myths Busted]”Although the Little Ice Age was the coldest epoch of the past millennium, the timing of the lowest temperatures varied from place to place,” St. George wrote. „Two-fifths of the planet were subjected to the coldest weather during the mid-nineteenth century, but the deepest chill occurred several centuries earlier in other regions. And even at the height of the Medieval Climate Anomaly, only 40% of Earth”s surface reached peak temperatures at the same time. Using the same metrics, global warming today is unparalleled: for 98% of the planet’s surface, the warmest period of the Common Era occurred in the late twentieth century.”That means that almost every part of the planet had its hottest decades in the past 2,000 years at the same time.And the 21st century, which is outside the scope of these papers, has been much hotter than the 20th century so far. In fact, the world is on track to keep warmingas greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.To develop a rigorous picture of global temperatures over the past 2,000 years, the researchers relied on nearly 700 records from the so-called PAGES 2k proxy temperature database. That database rounds up evidence from ice cores, trees, coral and other substances that change their appearance or chemical composition based on global temperatures. The researchers used those records to build a detailed map of climate fluctuations the world over. And none of them look like the consistent, persistent shifts we’re seeing today.Of course, the causes are different, too. Evidence from the previous 2,000 years shows that short-lived volcanic events were the main drivers of climate fluctuations, the authors wrote. Human activities were perhaps a very minor secondary factor over that period. Now, humans are the ones driving the bus. And this time, it’s headed toward the edge of a cliff.
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Originally published on Live Science.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s heat wave (all times local):
The U.K.’s air traffic controller says it has fixed a technical issue that led to flight restrictions at the country’s airspace.
The controller, NATS, says the problem has been fixed „sufficiently” at its Swanwick control center and will be able to safely increase traffic flow rates. The controller promised an improving picture through the rest of the day.
Travelers at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports experienced delays, due in part to thunderstorms that followed the hottest July day in the U.K. on record.
NATS said the „weather is continuing to cause significant unrelated disruption across the country and more widely across Europe, which has further complicated today’s operation.”
Thursday may end up being the hottest day ever recorded in the U.K. Britain’s weather service says provisional temperature of 38.7 Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit) was recorded during this week’s heat wave — but it still needs to be confirmed.
Tourists in Rome, where afternoon temperatures hit 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), have been enjoying free bottles of water handed out near the Colosseum.
Volunteers on Friday distributed the bottles to sweltering visitors near the ancient arena and Roman Forum.
At the Pantheon, tourists dipped their hands in the fountain and sat at outdoor cafes with special fans that sprayed water.
Rome bans people from frolicking in its monumental fountains in a bid to discourage vandalism.
While uncomfortable, the Italian capital’s heat isn’t exceptional for mid-summer. Temperatures are forecast to be a few degrees lower on Saturday.
Hailstorms pounding France the day after record-breaking heat have forced an extraordinary halt to the Tour de France.
Organizers stopped the world’s premier cycling event for the safety of riders on Friday when the sudden storm made the route through the Alps too dangerous.
The racers were flying through hairpin bends down from the Tour’s highest peak, the Col d’Iseran, when the decision was announced. TV coverage showed a snowplow desperately trying to clear the road the races were heading toward, which was awash with streams of water and ice.
Halting the three-week race is an exceptional move. The Tour continued throughout this week’s heat wave, and cyclists usually shrug off rough weather.
It came on a high-drama day for the Tour, in which race leader Julian Alaphilippe lost his top spot and accompanying yellow jersey just ahead of Sunday’s finale.
French emergency officials say fires devastated some 6,500 hectares (16,000 acres) of forests, farm fields and other land on Thursday during a heat wave.
National emergency service spokesman Col. Michael Bernier said more than 4,000 firefighters worked to extinguish the blazes that broke out Thursday, when temperatures reached as high as high as 43.6 C (110.5 F) near Paris.
The national fire service said several firefighters were injured, and linked the fires to the heat wave that engulfed much of Europe this week.
Gregory Allione of the national firefighter federation called for continued fire vigilance even as temperatures declined Friday. He blamed the „remarkable intensity” of the fires on climate change and the resulting rise in extreme weather.
Authorities in the northern French region of Oise banned harvest activity Friday because of fire risk.
Britain’s weather service says a provisional temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded Thursday, which if confirmed would be the highest ever recorded in the U.K. The Met Office says the temperature was recorded at Cambridge University Botanic Garden in eastern England.
It says „quality control and analysis over the next few days” will determine whether the reading becomes official.
The existing record for the U.K. is 38.5 Celsius (101.3 Fahrenheit), was set in August 2003.
Temperature records have fallen across Europe this week as a suffocating heat wave swept up from the Sahara.
Britain was back to rain and lower temperatures on Friday.
People hoping to catch some sleep and maybe a cooling sea breeze during Europe’s heat wave got a rude awakening in a Dutch seaside suburb.
Police in The Hague said Friday that they handed out 140-euro ($155) fines overnight to 13 people sleeping on the beach and cafe terraces in Scheveningen.
Police say some of the sleepers were napping in the sand and getting in the way of local authority workers trying to clean up the beach before another sweltering day Friday.
The U.N. weather agency is voicing „concern” that the hot air which produced a record-breaking heat wave across much of western Europe this week is headed toward Greenland and that it could lead to increased melting of ice.
Heat records in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany tumbled in recent days as hot air surged from North Africa and Spain.
World Meteorological Organization spokeswoman Clare Nullis said in Geneva that forecasts suggest the air is heading towards Greenland.
This, she said, „will result in high temperatures and consequently enhanced melting of the Greenland ice sheet.”
Nullis said ice has been melting at high levels over the last few weeks in Greenland.
Travelers are facing a second day of disruption in Britain after record breaking July temperatures gave way to thunderstorms.
Network Rail, which oversees the majority of Britain’s railway network, is advising commuters to „only travel if their journey is absolutely necessary,” after Thursday’s disturbances left trains in haphazard locations and a fire damaged networks in the north.
The Met office says the mercury reached 38.1 C (100.6 F) in Cambridge on Thursday, only the second time temperatures over 100 F have ever been recorded in the UK.
The heat eased Friday, but Heathrow, Europe’s biggest airport, was forced to cancel or delay flights amid severe weather conditions. The airport admits they don’t know how many flights have been affected.
British Airways also announced that „severe thunderstorms are causing significant delays and cancellations to our operation in and out of London.”
Belgium suffered a first death as a direct result of the record-breaking heat wave when a woman was found dead near her caravan close to the beach.
The 66-year-old woman was found by a neighbor late Thursday afternoon after she had apparently been basking in the blazing sun. The incident happened in Middelkerke on the Belgian coast as temperatures rose in the region to over 40 degrees Celsius.
Middelkerke police commissioner Frank Delva told The Associated Press that the death is „very clearly linked to the heat.”
Emergency services rushed to the scene but could not resuscitate the woman.
On Thursday, Belgium endured, like many parts of Western Europe, its hottest day on record when the temperature rose to 41.8 C in Begijnendijk, 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Brussels.
LONDON (AP) — The temperature’s dropping but Europe’s troubles aren’t over: A record-busting heat wave gave way Friday to thunderstorms and hailstorms, bringing the Tour de France to a dramatic halt and causing trouble at British airports and beyond on one of the most hectic travel days of the year.
In addition, travelers at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports faced delays because air traffic controllers grounded flights over a technical problem.
It marked the second day of travel disruptions in European capitals after one of the hottest days in memory, when many places in Western Europe saw temperatures soar beyond 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Compounding that, the weekend is a big travel moment across Europe as families head off for their summer holidays now that schools have broken up for the academic year.
After several hours of flight restrictions over U.K. airspace Friday, the national air traffic controller NATS said it had fixed the technical issue and would be able to safely increase traffic flow.
„Weather is continuing to cause significant unrelated disruption across the country and more widely across Europe, which has further complicated today’s operation,” NATS said in a statement.
In France, suffocating heat turned into slippery storms Friday — including a hailstorm on the Tour de France route in the Alps that was so sudden and violent that organizers ordered a stop to the world’s premier cycling event.
As riders careened down hairpin turns after mounting a 2,770-meter (9,000-foot) peak, a storm lashed the valley below. A snowplow worked desperately to clear the route of slush, but organizers deemed it too dangerous to continue.
Weather almost never stops the three-week race, and the decision came on a day of high-drama in which race leader Julian Alaphilippe lost his top spot and accompanying yellow jersey just ahead of Sunday’s finale.
British rail commuters were also facing delays after the heat wave prompted Network Rail to impose speed restrictions in case the tracks buckled. Engineers from the company have been working to get the network back to normal after the track temperatures soared to up to 20 C (68 F) more than the air temperature.
„With the railway being made of metal and moving parts, the sustained high temperatures took their toll in places,” said Phil James of Network Rail. „Everything was done to keep trains moving where possible, and last night hundreds of staff were out fixing the damage and repairing the railway ready for today.”
Passengers using Eurostar services to and from Paris were also facing „severe disruption” due to overhead power line problems in the French capital, which on Thursday recorded its hottest day ever with the temperature rising to 42.6 C (108.7 F).
Britain, along with much of Western Europe, endured potentially its highest temperature ever on Thursday. The country’s weather service said a provisional temperature of 38.7 C (101.7 F) was recorded at Cambridge University Botanic Garden in eastern England, which if confirmed would be the highest ever recorded in the U.K. The existing record for the U.K. — 38.5 C (101.3 F) — was set in August 2003.
It said „quality control and analysis over the next few days” will determine whether the reading becomes official.
Authorities across Europe were looking to address the consequences of Thursday’s soaring temperatures, as records that had stood — in some cases for decades — fell.
Europeans and tourists alike jumped into fountains, lakes, rivers or the sea to escape a suffocating heat wave rising up from the Sahara. Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands — all places where air conditioning is not typically installed in homes, cafes or stores — strained under the heat.
France faced a spike in fires in forests and farm fields that left a dozen firefighters injured, and a rise in drownings. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner linked the country’s 60 drowning deaths so far this month indirectly to the current heat wave, noting a rise in people drowning in unguarded bodies of water as they seek relief from high temperatures, some of whom suffer thermal shock when they jump from hot air into cold water.
In Belgium, a 66-year-old woman died near her caravan close to the beach.
The woman was found by a neighbor late Thursday afternoon after she had apparently been basking in the blazing sun. The incident happened in Middelkerke on the Belgian coast as temperatures rose in the region to over 40 C (104 F).
Middelkerke police commissioner Frank Delva told The Associated Press that the death is „very clearly linked to the heat.”
Emergency services rushed to the scene but could not resuscitate the woman.
Angela Charlton in Paris, Danica Kirka in London and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this story.
Earth’s ‘boring billion’ years of stagnant, stinking oceans might actually have been rather dynamicSimon Poulton, Professor of Biogeochemistry and Earth History, University of Leeds•Vladi333 / shutterstockGeologists have dubbed Earth’s middle age the “boring billion”. Occurring some 1,800 to 800 million years ago, it has long been considered a period when little happened on Earth in terms of biological evolution, climate, or the chemistry of the oceans and atmosphere. But emerging evidence now suggests that the “boring billion” may have been far more dynamic than that.Our planet has been shaped by many monumental events. From the Cambrian explosion around 540 million years ago, when most animal forms appeared, to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, the dramatic course of biological evolution is well documented by the fossil record. Similarly, from the glaciations of the most recent ice age, to much earlier “snowball Earth” periods, when the entire planet may have frozen over for millions of years, climate change has left a clear imprint on the geological record. But then we come to the “boring billion”, where the rocks appear to give us startling evidence for, well, not much really.At first glance, the Earth seems to have been stuck in perpetual stasis across this billion year interval. The planet was likely somewhat warmer than today, but there is zero evidence in the rocks for any dramatic change in climate. Oxygen in the atmosphere was stuck at a level much lower than we have today, and indeed much of the global ocean was entirely devoid of oxygen, leading to inhospitable seas that were rich in either iron or toxic hydrogen sulphide (the smelly gas released by rotten eggs).While the first eukaryotes (cells with a nucleus) had already evolved, the pace of biological evolution appeared to have stalled. Until recently, the most advanced traces of life found at any time through this interval were tiny organic microfossils in aquatic environments, and if you went back in time on safari, you would be confronted by entirely barren landscapes.All of this led the ever-mischievous scientist Roger Buick, in a seminal 1995 publication, to paraphrase Winston Churchill with the immortal line “never in the course of Earth’s history did so little happen to so much for so long”. Apparently inspired, the late palaeontologist Martin Brasier then coined the term “boring billion”, and it is this soundbite that has since become firmly embedded in geological consciousness.But geologists have recently shown renewed interest in this time period (which forms part of what we call the Proterozoic Eon), and I would now argue that the “boring billion” is every bit as exciting and important to understand as anything that happened in the past 500m years of Earth history. If we do not understand periods of relative stasis, then what hope do we have for understanding times of monumental change? Stinky oceans So how does a scientist first get interested in all this? As is often the case, it happened almost by accident. While a PhD student, I spent my time thinking about mud at the bottom of the modern ocean, which tends to be full of the toxic hydrogen sulphide mentioned above. At about the same time, Don Canfield of the University of Southern Denmark started writing about stagnant, stinking, hydrogen sulphide-rich oceans during the “boring billion”. The idea captured my imagination.So, when an opportunity arose to work with Don I seized the moment and started to attack 1.8 billion year old rocks from the north shore of Lake Superior with some of the tools we were using to understand mud in the modern ocean. The results were cool – we did indeed find clear evidence for widespread stinking oceans devoid of oxygen.But this was just the start. Since then it has become clear that oxygen levels were not static at all during the “boring billion”, and in fact geologists have found clear evidence for intervals of increased oxygen. (Why didn’t this prompt evolution on the scale of the Cambrian? Partly because we are still talking about relatively low levels. But there’s also huge argument among scientists over whether oxygen spurred early animal evolution, or whether the evolution of animals allowed oxygen levels to rise).Paleontologists have also recently begun to identify a much richer tapestry of lifeacross the interval, which includes an increase in the size of seaweed-like algae coincident with rising levels of oxygen. These fossils might not appear as dramatic as the early animals of the Cambrian explosion, but they provide a crucial window into the course of biological evolution on Earth, and help fuel the debate over the importance of oxygen in early evolution.Against the backdrop of these advances, it is also clear that we have only just begun to piece together the enigmatic history of this fascinating time period. We need to look at the rocks with new techniques and new eyes to unravel the subtle clues that they hide. Likewise, new locations housing spectacular fossils are sure to be found. It is fair to expect that in 10 or 20 years we will have a profoundly different perception of the so-called “boring billion”.This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.The ConversationSimon Poulton receives funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, the Royal Society, and the Leverhulme Trust.
After years of failed global attempts to cut carbon emissions meaningfully, some activists are propagating the idea that everyone on the planet should go vegetarian or even vegan.Government is supposed to help, not hurt: Trump administration’s ‘scientific oppression’ threatens US safety and innovationIt’s interesting to note that even environmentalists themselves are loathe to make the major lifestyle changes that would be required to avoid all meat products. A recent survey found that most of the UK Green Party’s elected representatives are in fact meat-eaters, with considerable disagreement on how important vegetarianism is in combating climate change, ranging from those who believe that it’s the biggest personal contribution anyone can make, to more sensible politicians who see veganism is a fad.But the environmentalists calling on us to go vegan seem to somehow get the most airtime. Perhaps it’s the extreme things they say: The former head of the United Nations’ climate change organization, for example, suggested that meat-eaters should be made to feel like pariahs. “How about restaurants in 10-15 years start treating carnivores in the same way that smokers are treated?”
The idea of forcing carnivores to eat outside in the rain might be an interesting conversation starter in Bonn, Germany, where the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is based, but it blithely ignores the reality that elsewhere on the planet, 1.45 billion people are vegetarians today not because they prefer veggie burgers, but because of poverty. Those people desperately want to be able to afford meat.There’s an even more fundamental problem with the idea that we replace steak dinners with tomato steaks. The truth is we can’t stop temperature rises with our diets.Vegetarians lose on practicality–We’re often told that going vegetarian is the biggest thing that any of us could do, with headlines telling us: „Cut your carbon footprint in half by going vegetarian.” Statements like that are misleading for two reasons.First, that cut isn’t to our entire emissions — just those from food. That means Four-fifths of emissions are ignored, according to an analysis of emission from the European Union, which means the impact is actually five-times lower.Think local: We sent a man to the moon. Now let’s save the planet.Second, the more optimistic figures about how much of your emissions you can cut are based not just on a vegetarian diet, but on an entirely vegan one where we avoid every single animal product altogether.A systematic peer-review of studies of going vegetarian shows that a non-meat diet will likely reduce an individual’s emissions by the equivalent of nearly 1,200 lbs carbon dioxide. For the average person in the industrialized world, that means an emissions cut of just 4.3%.Cows at Hornstead Dairy have frost on their whiskers as outside temps reached 20 below zero, Jan. 30, 2019, in Brillion, Wisc.This still overstates the effect, because it ignores the well-established „rebound effect.” Vegetarian diets are slightly cheaper, and saved money will likely be spent on other goods and services that cause extra greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S., vegetarians save at least $750 on their food budgets every year. That extra spending will cause more carbon dioxide emissions, cancelling about half the saved carbon emissions from going vegetarian.It’s not you, it’s big business: You can’t save the climate by going vegan. Corporate polluters must be held accountable.In a first world setting, the reality is that going entirely vegetarian for the rest of your life means you reduce your emissions by about 2%, according to a study of the environmental impact of Swedish vegetarians.To put this into context: either you could go vegetarian for the rest of your life, or you could reduce your emissions by the exact same amount by spending a little more than $3 a year using the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first mandatory market-based program in the United States covering several states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Given all of this, it seems downright mean-spirited of the Manchester University scientists to try to shame people for having a summer barbecue.
It would be a better use of their time to push for more spending on development of artificial meat, which is showing much greater promise than the idea that all the planet’s meat-eaters will develop a taste for vegan alternatives. They should also push for global research and development into green energy.
This technology needs to be massively developed so that we can bring forward the day when alternatives can out-compete fossil fuels, and we can rein in temperature rises while still growing our economies.
Going vegetarian can help a little bit, but it’s both an unrealistic and inefficient policy to push on people across the world. We should focus on research to develop cleaner, maybe artificial, meat and cheaper clean energy. And while we do so, we can have our summer barbecues without being told they destroy the planet.
Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @BjornLomborg
You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Climate change: Going vegetarian won’t truly help our carbon footprint
„This is a major discovery,” Ronan Allain, a paleontologist at the National History Museum of Paris told Reuters. „I was especially amazed by the state of preservation of that femur.””These are animals that probably weighed 40 to 50 tonnes.”Allain said scientists at the site near the city of Cognac have found more than 7,500 fossils of more than 40 different species since 2010, making it one of the largest such finds in Europe.(Reporting by Regis Duvignau; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Peter Graff)
„When I came back, I was surprised to find that, unfortunately, the girls had fallen,” he said, referring to the sisters.
The jihadist-run Idlib region is supposed to be protected by a months-old international truce deal, but it has come under increased bombardment by the government and its ally Russia since late April.
Aid groups have decried a „nightmare” that has slain an alarming amount of children, in the latest bloody episode of Syria’s eight-year civil war.
Save the Children said the number of children killed in Idlib over the past four weeks had exceeded the number slain in the same region in the whole of last year.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.