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What Is This Great Eventful Climate Change Day? Questions Answered 2022.

Climate Desk reporters gathered reader questions and are here to help explain some common enigmas.

What is one thing you’d like to learn about earth or climate change? When we asked, hundreds of you responded.

The subject is vast, much like the planet. Overwhelming. Complex. But there has never been a more critical time to understand what is going on and what can be done about it.

What is one thing you’d like to learn about climate change? When we asked, hundreds of you responded.

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The subject is vast, much like the planet. Overwhelming. Complex. But there has never been a more critical time to understand what is going on and what can be done about it.

The Northern Hemisphere’s polar jet stream, which blows around the globe from west to east at an altitude of 5 to 9 miles, is linked to climate change and extremely cold weather. The jet stream moves north and south naturally, and when it moves south, it brings frigid Arctic air with it.

A distinct wind system known as the polar vortex forms a ring around the North Pole. When the vortex is temporarily disrupted — sometimes stretched or elongated, sometimes broken up — the jet stream tends to shift southward. According to Jennifer A. Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, “research suggests that these vortex disruptions are occurring more frequently in connection with a rapidly warming, melting the Arctic, which we know is a clear symptom of climate change.”

Climate change effects

Corals are dying as the oceans warm. Rising sea levels endanger the beaches where sea turtles nest and hotter temperatures result in more females being born. Seasonal changes are increasingly out of sync with the conditions on which species have evolved to rely.

Then there are the polar bears, who have long been a symbol of what might be lost in a warming world.

Climate change is already having an impact on plants and animals in ways that scientists are scrambling to comprehend. According to one study, sudden die-offs will occur, with large segments of ecosystems collapsing in waves. According to scientists, this has already begun in coral reefs and could begin in tropical forests by the 2040s.

Regarding the last part of your question, Richard, your guess is as good as ours at this point.

But here’s what we’ve learned so far. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, effectively killed President Biden’s Build Back Better climate and social spending legislation when he ended months of negotiations last year, saying he could not support the package. Manchin is the most powerful man in Congress because his support in an evenly divided Senate is critical.

Climate change endangers Americans’ access to safe drinking water in a variety of ways. Drought is the most obvious: rising temperatures are reducing the snowpack, which supplies drinking water to much of the West.

Climate change effects

Drought is not, however, the only climate-related threat to America’s water supply. Cities along the coast, such as Miami, that rely on underground aquifers for drinking water must be concerned about rising seas pushing saltwater into those aquifers, a process known as a saltwater intrusion. Rising sea levels also raise groundwater levels, which can cause septic systems to fail, allowing unfiltered human waste to enter the groundwater.

The concept of taking water from one community and giving it to another has some historical roots in the United States. To sustain its growth, Los Angeles opened an aqueduct in 1913 to carry water from Owens Valley, 230 miles north of the city.

However, in addition to costing around $23 million at the time, the project enraged Owens Valley residents, who were so upset about losing their water that they dynamited the aqueduct. Repeatedly.

There are some massive water projects underway in the United States today, but constructing a pipeline that spans a significant portion of the country would be exponentially more difficult. The distance between Albuquerque and the Mississippi River, for example — possibly the closest hypothetical starting point for such a pipeline — is about 1,000 miles, crossing at least three states along the way. Moving that water to Los Angeles would necessitate piping it 1,800 miles across five states.

Climate change effects

Climate scientists have long claimed that global warming is increasing the intensity and frequency of many types of extreme weather. That’s exactly what’s been going on. However, global climate models aren’t content with simulating extreme events in isolated regions. Individual heat waves, for example, are shaped by very local factors. Large-scale computer models are simply incapable of handling that level of detail at the moment.

However, some events appear so anomalous that scientists wonder if they reflect something new and unexpected, a gap in our understanding of the climate. Some researchers have classified the 2021 Pacific Northwest heatwave as such, and are attempting to determine whether they need to re-evaluate some of their assumptions.

Yes, according to ecologists. We recently published an article on the subject, examining how tree planting can either resurrect or devastate ecosystems, depending on the species planted and where it is planted.

To be sure, people require wood and other tree products for a variety of reasons, and nonnative species are sometimes necessary. Even when the stated goal is to help the environment, the commercial benefits of certain trees, such as Australian eucalyptus in Africa and South America or North American Sitka spruce in Europe, frequently triumph.

These solutions are collectively known as geoengineering or the intentional manipulation of the climate. Geoengineering can be divided into two categories: removing some of the carbon dioxides already present in the atmosphere so that the Earth traps less heat, known as direct air capture, and reducing how much sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface so that there is less heat, to begin with, known as solar radiation management.

Direct air capture machines are being developed by a few companies, and some have been deployed on a small scale. According to the International Energy Agency, these projects capture approximately 10,000 tons of CO2 per year, a negligible portion of the approximately 35 billion tons of annual energy-related emissions. Removing enough CO2 to affect the climate would take a long time and thousands of machines, all of which would require energy to operate.

Change in gas

To prevent the captured gas from reentering the atmosphere, it would also need to be securely stored. These obstacles make direct air capture a long shot, especially since there are few financial incentives to overcome them for the time being. Nobody wants to pay to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bury it beneath the ground.

The mercury thermometer was invented in the early 1700s, and by the mid-tolerable nineteenth century, local temperatures were being continuously monitored in many locations, primarily in the United States, Europe, and British colonies. By 1900, there were hundreds of recording stations around the world, but more than half of the Southern Hemisphere was still untapped. And the methods used may be primitive. Before about 1940, the most common method for measuring temperatures at the sea’s surface was to toss a bucket overboard a ship, haul it back up with a rope, and read the temperature of the water inside.

Climate scientists have had to perform some extremely delicate analyses to convert these sporadic local measurements into estimates of global average temperatures across both land and ocean. They’ve used statistical models to fill in the blanks left by indirect readings. They considered when weather stations changed locations or were near cities that were hot for reasons unrelated to larger temperature trends.

They’ve also used some ingenious techniques to try to fix outmoded equipment and methods. Those bucket readings, for example, could be off because the water in the bucket cooled as it was drawn aboard. So scientists combed through various nations’ maritime archives to determine what materials their sailors’ buckets were made of during various periods in history — tin, wood, canvas, rubber — and adjusted the way they incorporate temperature recordings into their computations.

without a doubt Mining, the metals and minerals used in electric car batteries have significant environmental and human costs.

Much of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country plagued by corruption and worker exploitation. The extraction of metals from their ores also necessitates a process known as smelting, which emits sulfur oxide and other harmful air pollutants.

Fossil Fuels

Alternatives to fossil-fuel-powered aircraft are being developed, but whether they are close to commercialization depends on your definition of “close.” It’s probably safe to say that the day when most air travel is done on low- or zero-emissions planes is still a long way off.

There has been some research into the use of hydrogen, including the use of it in modified jet engines. Airbus and engine manufacturer CFM International anticipates that a hydrogen-fueled engine will be in flight by the middle of the decade.

However, as with automobiles, the majority of the focus in aviation has been on electric power and batteries. The main issue with batteries is how little energy they provide in comparison to their weight. In cars, this is less of an issue (after all, they don’t have to get off the ground), but in aviation, batteries severely limit the size of the plane and its range.

Very few, according to Climate Action Tracker, a research organization that analyzes climate goals and policies. Before last year’s United Nations talks in Glasgow, the organization discovered that most major carbon dioxide emitters, including the United States and China, are falling short of their pledge to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, for example, are doing better than most. Only one country was on track to keep its promises: the Gambia, a small West African country that has been increasing its use of renewable energy.

New York City Scarp

New York City has yet to announce plans to fully relocate entire neighborhoods threatened by climate change, including all of the steps involved, such as determining which homes to buy, obtaining a homeowner agreement, locating a new patch of land for the community, constructing new infrastructure, securing funding, and so on.

Because of their elevation, the Great Lakes are not directly threatened by rising oceans: the lowest of them, Lake Ontario, is about 240 feet above sea level. The St. Lawrence River transports water from the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, but rising waters in the Atlantic are unable to travel in the opposite direction due to elevation differences.

However, climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms in the Great Lakes region, and the consequences, including higher water levels and more flooding, are similar to those caused by rising seas. It’s simply another manifestation of climate change.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records, the past five years, from April 2017 to March 2022, the last month for which complete data is available, has been the second-wettest on record for the Great Lakes Basin. The water level has risen as a result. Water levels in the lakes reached 100-year highs in 2019, causing severe flooding and shoreline erosion.

Because of their elevation, the Great Lakes are not directly threatened by rising oceans: the lowest of them, Lake Ontario, is about 240 feet above sea level. The St. Lawrence River transports water from the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, but rising waters in the Atlantic are unable to travel in the opposite direction due to elevation differences.

However, climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms in the Great Lakes region, and the consequences, including higher water levels and more flooding, are similar to those caused by rising seas. It’s simply another manifestation of climate change.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records, the past five years, from April 2017 to March 2022, the last month for which complete data is available, has been the second-wettest on record for the Great Lakes Basin. The water level has risen as a result. Water levels in the lakes reached 100-year highs in 2019, causing severe flooding and shoreline erosion.

Cryptomining, the enigmatic process by which virtual cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are created (and which is also at the heart of technology such as NFTs), necessitates a massive amount of computing power, is extremely energy-intensive, and generates massive emissions. In this article, we delved into that process and its environmental impact, but suffice it to say, the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

Plants

Because Bitcoin is designed to use a process known as “proof of work,” as interest in cryptocurrencies grows and more people begin mining, more energy is required to mine a single Bitcoin. According to Cambridge University researchers, mining Bitcoin consumes more electricity than midsize countries such as Norway. An influx of Bitcoin miners in New York has resulted in the reopening of dormant power plants.

What does the data for greenhouse gas emissions in the last 200 years look like when volcanic activity is removed? — Boston’s Haley Rowlands

According to the US Geological Survey, volcanic activity produces 130 million to 440 million tons of CO2 per year. Human activity produces approximately 35 billion tons of CO2 per year, which is 80 times the high-end estimate for volcanic activity and 270 times the low-end estimate. That is carbon dioxide. Human activity also emits far more greenhouse gases, such as methane, than volcanoes.

Volcanic Eruptuon

The largest volcanic eruption in the last century was Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991; NASA calculated that if an explosion of that size occurred every day, it would still emit half as much carbon dioxide as a daily human activity. The annual emissions from cement production alone, a minor component of global warming human activity, are greater than the annual emissions from all of the world’s volcanoes combined.

Carbon dioxide levels in the air vary from place to place at any given time, depending on the amount of vegetation and human activity nearby. As a result, a barren volcano in the middle of the Pacific has a lot to offer as a location to monitor the average state of the atmosphere, at least over a large part of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s high above the ground, far enough away from major sources of industrial pollution, and still relatively accessible to researchers.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now study global carbon dioxide levels using data from Mauna Loa Observatory and other sources. These include observatories in Alaska, American Samoa, and the South Pole, as well as tall towers across the country and samples collected by balloons, aircraft, and volunteers all over the world. (A map of all those locations is available here.)

NOAA also compares its measurements at Mauna Loa to others from the same location, including those taken independently by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography using different methods. On average, the difference between their monthly estimates is negligible.

If a “mini-ice age” occurred, average global temperatures would fall, offsetting the warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels over the last century and a half.

It’s a nice thought: a natural occurrence comes to our aid. But it isn’t happening, and it isn’t expected to happen.

The concept is based on the natural variability in the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth. The sun goes through regular cycles of activity that last about 11 years and swing from low to high. However, there are longer periods of reduced activity known as grand solar minimums. The most recent lasted seven decades and began in the mid-17th century.

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