2019 Major Events: The year the world woke up to climate change

2019, millions of people around the world mobilised in protest to highlight the dire emergency facing our planet. Could 2019 prove to be the year when talk turned to action on the climate crisis?

See the source image

Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg

In 2019, the reaction to the ongoing climate crisis switched up another gear.

Greta chose to make a statement when she sailed – rather than flew – to a UN climate meeting in New York. Summing up the trajectory for many who have joined popular climate movements, she told chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt: “I felt like I was the only one who cared about the climate and ecological crisis… it makes me feel good that I’m not alone in this fight.” Inspiring millions who took part in mass protests during the course of the year in countries as diverse as Australia, Uganda, Colombia, Japan, Germany and the UK.

See the source imageThe UK’s Extinction Rebellion (XR)

XR made its point through non-violent direct action in 2019. The group, which aims to compel government action on climate change, occupied five prominent sites across central London in April 2019. Notably, they parked a pink boat in the middle of busy Oxford Circus bearing the phrase “Tell the Truth”.

This year also saw the UK’s Parliament – along with individual councils around the country – declare a climate emergency, granting what had been one of XR’s key demands.

See the source image‘Ring of fire’

In April, astronomers released the much anticipated first image of a black hole. This is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The picture was taken by a network of eight telescopes across the world and shows what was described as “the heavyweight champion of black holes”.

The 40 billion km-wide, spacetime-warping monster features an intense halo, or “ring of fire”, around the black hole caused by superheated gas falling in.

See the source imageLand and oceans under threat

Two major reports from the UN’s climate science body revealed in sharp relief the extent to which humanity is ravaging Earth’s land surface and her oceans. The first of these documents from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) warned that we must stop abusing the land if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided.

The report outlined how our actions were degrading soils, expanding deserts, flattening forests and driving other species to the brink of extinction. Scientists involved in the UN process also explained that switching to a plant-based diet could help combat climate change.

The second report, dealing with the world’s oceans and frozen regions, detailed how waters are rising, ice is melting and species are being forced to move. As co-ordinating lead author Dr Jean-Pierre Gattuso said, “The blue planet is in serious danger right now, suffering many insults from many different directions and it’s our fault.” The authors believe that the changes we’ve set in motion are coming back to haunt us. Sea level rise will have profound consequences for low-lying coastal areas where almost 700 million people live.

See the source imageFar-out fly-by

On 1 January, Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft made the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object. Launched all the way back in 2006, it performed its primary task – a flyby study of the Pluto system – in 2015. But with plenty of gas still in the tank, mission scientists directed the spacecraft towards a new target, an object called 2014 MU 69.

MU 69, later dubbed Ultima Thule, and more recently Arrokoth, may be fairly typical of the primitive, icy objects occupying a distant zone of our Solar System known as the Kuiper Belt.

There are hundreds of thousands of objects out there like it, and their frigid state holds clues to how all planetary bodies came into being some 4.6 billion years ago.

Earlier this year, scientists presented details of what they had found at a major conference in Houston. They had determined that Arrokoth’s two lobes formed when distinct objects collided at just 2-3m/s, about the speed you would run into a wall, according to team member Kirby Runyon.

See the source imageGreenland’s record melt

In September, former UK chief scientist Sir David King said he was scared by the faster-than-expected pace of climate-related changes. One of the most shocking examples this year of the extreme events Sir David spoke of was surely the record ice melt in Greenland.

In June, temperatures soared well above normal levels in the Danish territory, causing about half its ice sheet surface to experience some melting. As David Shukman reported on his trip to the region, during 2019 alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre.

Underlining the rapid nature of the change, he returned to a glacier he had filmed in 2004 to find that it had thinned by as much as 100m over the period.

Greenland’s ice sheet stores so much frozen water that if the whole of it melted, it would raise sea levels worldwide by up to 7m. Although that would take hundreds or thousands of years, polar scientists told the American Geophysical Union meeting in December that Greenland was losing its ice seven times faster than in the 1990s.

Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University, said: “The simple formula is that around the planet, six million people are brought into a flooding situation for every centimetre of sea-level rise.”

See the source imageRocks from space

While civilisation-threatening asteroids are a staple of the movies, the probability of a sizeable space rock hitting our planet is very low. But as the dinosaurs found out, the risk does increase with time. Some 19,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are being monitored, but many lurk undetected by telescopes, so there is always potential for a bolt-from-the-blue.

In March, Nasa scientists told the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) that a big fireball had exploded in Earth’s atmosphere at the end of 2018. The space rock barrelled in without warning and detonated with 10 times the energy released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Luckily, the rock blew up over the sea off Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. But an outburst that size could have had serious consequences had it occurred nearer the ground, over a densely populated area.

Then in July, an asteroid the size of a football field buzzed Earth, coming within 65,000km of our planet’s surface – about a fifth the distance to the Moon. The 100m-wide rock was detected just days before it passed Earth.

Meanwhile, two robotic spacecraft have been examining different NEAs close-up. Scientists working on Japan’s Hayabusa mission reported that their asteroid, Ryugu, was made of rubble blasted off a bigger object. And the US Osiris-Rex spacecraft detected plumes of particles erupting from the surface of its target, Bennu.

See the source imageElectricity ‘Dirty secret’ boosts warming

The gas sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) isn’t a household name. But as the most powerful greenhouse gas known to science, it could play an increasingly important role in discussions about climate change.

As environment correspondent Matt McGrath reported in September, levels are on the rise as an unintended consequence of the boom in green energy. The cheap, non-flammable gas is used to prevent short circuits and fires in electrical switches and circuit breakers known collectively as “switchgear”.

As more wind turbines are built around the world, more of these electrical safety devices are being installed. The vast majority use SF6.

Although overall atmospheric concentrations are small for now, the global installed base of SF6 is expected to grow by 75% by 2030. Worryingly, there’s no natural mechanism that destroys or absorbs the gas once it’s been released.

See the source imageReigning supreme

Quantum computers hold huge promise. The “classical” machines we use today compute in much the same way as we do by hand. Quantum computers promise faster speeds and the ability to solve problems that are beyond even the most powerful conventional types. But scientists have struggled to build devices with enough units of information (quantum bits) to make them competitive with classical computers.

A quantum machine had not surpassed a conventional one until this year. In October, Google announced that its advanced quantum processor, Sycamore, had achieved “quantum supremacy” for the first time. Researchers said it had performed a specific task in 200 seconds that would take the world’s best supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

IBM, which has been working on quantum computers of its own, questioned some of Google’s figures. But the achievement represents an important step towards fulfilling some of the predictions made for these machines.

Source: BBC News

Pls Comment, like and share

Thinking of buying a property?

Need help with property purchase in the UK from start to finish, Please Contact me

Selling or renting your property in Greater Manchester? Get same day EPC for £45 only

Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Experts links Killer diseases such as cancer to air pollution in UK

The UK’s failure to meet World Health Organisation standards limiting the amount of ultra-fine particles in the air represents a major danger to health that is only now being recognised, experts claim.

Studies published this year link the particles to cancers, lung and heart disease, adverse effects on foetal development, and poor lung and brain development in children. They are considered a key threat to health because they go deep into the lungs and then reach other organs, including the brain. But European standards allow the levels of particles in the air to be 2.5 times higher than those stipulated by the WHO.

See the source image

Professor Annette Peters, director of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, said Europe – and the UK – urgently needs to introduce tougher standards. She said: “Particles are a major and invisible danger to our health, especially in London and our big cities.

The US has a standard of 12 micrograms of ultra-fine particles per cubic metre, while the WHO standard is 10 micrograms.

“We [the UK and EU’s limits] are currently at 25 micrograms per cubic metre – double the US standards,” said Peters, who warned that scientific evidence confirming the threat they pose to human health “has really strengthened this year”.

See the source image

“We initially had evidence of the effect on the lungs and heart, but now we also have evidence that it alters the metabolism as well as impacting the brain.

Vehicle emissions are predominantly to blame, but domestic heating systems and industrial pollutants are also factors. “Recent studies from London and our work in a medium-sized community in southern Germany show there really is evidence that the ultra-fine particles go beyond the lungs,” Peters said.

Source: The Guardian 

Pls Comment, like and share

Thinking of buying a property?

Need help with property purchase in the UK from start to finish, Please Contact me

Selling or renting your property in Greater Manchester? Get same day EPC for £45 only

Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

COP25 Climate Change: Major emitters disagree over UN deal

UN climate talks in Madrid enter their final scheduled day with divisions emerging between major emitting countries and small island states.

Negotiators are attempting to agree a deal in the Spanish capital that would see countries commit to make new climate pledges by the end of 2020.

See the source image

But serious disagreements have emerged over how much carbon-cutting the major emitters should undertake.

The talks have also become bogged down in rows over key technical issues.

Negotiators arrived in Madrid two weeks ago with the words of the UN secretary general ringing in their ears – António Guterres told delegates that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon”.

Despite his pleas, the conference has become enmeshed in deep, technical arguments about a number of issues including the role of carbon markets and the financing of loss and damage caused by rising temperatures.

Source: BBC News

Pls Comment, like and share

Thinking of buying a property?

Need help with property purchase in the UK from start to finish, Please Contact me

Selling or renting your property in Greater Manchester? Get same day EPC for £45 only

Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Greta Thunberg named the youngest ‘Person of the Year’ by Time magazine

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl who inspired a global movement to fight climate change, has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

The 16-year-old is the youngest person to be chosen by the magazine in a tradition that started in 1927.

Time magazine cover with Greta Thunberg

Speaking at a UN climate change summit in Madrid before the announcement, she urged world leaders to stop using “creative PR” to avoid real action.

The next decade would define the planet’s future, she said.

Last year, the teenager started an environmental strike by missing lessons most Fridays to protest outside the Swedish parliament building. It sparked a worldwide movement that became popular with the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.

Since then, she has become a strong voice for action on climate change, inspiring millions of students to join protests around the world. Earlier this year, she was nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Source: BBC News

Pls Comment, like and share

Thinking of buying a property?

Need help with property purchase in the UK from start to finish, Please Contact me

Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Climate Change: Greenhouse gas emission breaks new record

Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases once again reached new highs in 2018.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says the increase in CO2 was just above the average rise recorded over the last decade.

Levels of other warming gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, have also surged by above average amounts.

Since 1990 there’s been an increase of 43% in the warming effect on the climate of long lived greenhouse gases.

The WMO report looks at concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere rather than just emissions.

The difference between the two is that emissions refer to the amount of gases that go up into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels, such as burning coal for electricity and from deforestation.

Concentrations are what’s left in the air after a complex series of interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans, the forests and the land. About a quarter of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the seas, and a similar amount by land and trees.

Using data from monitoring stations in the Arctic and all over the world, researchers say that in 2018 concentrations of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million (ppm), up from 405.5ppm a year previously.

This increase was above the average for the last 10 years and is 147% of the “pre-industrial” level in 1750.

Source: BBC News

 

Thinking of buying a property?

Need help with property investment in the UK from start to finish, Please Contact me

Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk