CO2 lev­els in the at­mos­phere keep ris­ing

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY ED­WIN DEL­GADO Staff Writer Staff Writer Ed­win Del­gado can be reached at edel­gado@iv­pres­son­line.com

Ed­i­tor’s Note En­ergy Briefs is a weekly rec­ol­lec­tion of lo­cal, re­gional, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional news re­gard­ing some of the most in­trigu­ing news up­dates re­gard­ing en­ergy, water, and the en­vi­ron­ment.

The con­cen­tra­tion lev­els of car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere broke another record as it reached the high­est level in 800,000 years dur­ing 2016. Last year, the at­mos­phere av­er­aged a con­cen­tra­tion of 403.3 parts per mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Green­house Gas Bulletin.

The abrupt changes in the at­mos­phere wit­nessed in the past 70 years are with­out prece­dent. Con­cen­tra­tions of car­bon diox­ide are now 145 per­cent higher than of pre-in­dus­trial lev­els (be­fore 1750) ac­cord­ing to the Green­house Gas Bulletin.

Pop­u­la­tion growth in­ten­si­fied agri­cul­tural prac­tices, in­creases in land use and de­for­esta­tion, in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and as­so­ci­ated en­ergy use from fos­sil fuel sources have all con­trib­uted to in­creases in con­cen­tra­tions of green­house gases in the at­mos­phere since the in­dus­trial era, be­gin­ning in 1750.

The last time the Earth ex­pe­ri­enced a com­pa­ra­ble con­cen­tra­tion of CO2 was 3 mil­lion to 5 mil­lion years ago, the tem­per­a­ture was 2 de­grees to 3 de­grees Cel­sius warmer and sea-level was 10 me­ters to 20 me­ters higher than now.

“With­out rapid cuts in CO2 and other green­house gas emis­sions, we will be head­ing for dan­ger­ous tem­per­a­ture in­creases by the end of this cen­tury, well above the tar­get set by the Paris cli­mate change agree­ment,” said WMO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Pet­teri Taalas. “Fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will in­herit a much more in­hos­pitable planet,” he said.

“CO2 re­mains in the at­mos­phere for hun­dreds of years and in the oceans for even longer. The laws of physics mean that we face a much hot­ter, more ex­treme cli­mate in the fu­ture.”

New re­port

As if that re­port wasn’t con­cern­ing enough, last week the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice re­leased a new re­port on the eco­nomic im­pact cli­mate change is hav­ing on the coun­try and the in­creas­ing eco­nomic strain it will add in the fu­ture. The re­port was re­quested by Maria Cantwell (D-Wash­ing­ton) and Su­san Collins (R-Maine).

One of the main find­ings of the re­port con­cludes that the re­scind­ing of an Obama-era re­quire­ment for fed­eral agen­cies to work to­gether to pre­pare for the chal­lenges of cli­mate change, has left agen­cies with no set plan and no in­di­ca­tion that there will be one any­time soon.

The GAO re­port, cit­ing fed­eral re­search, found that ex­treme weather events in­clud­ing floods, droughts, and wild­fires will be­come more fre­quent and in­ten­sive if ef­fects of cli­mate change go un­mit­i­gated and warn that the less it’s done to pre­pare, the harder it will hit the coun­try eco­nom­i­cally.

The re­port found cli­mate change added more than $350 bil­lion in costs for tax­pay­ers in the past decade as it dealt with dis­as­ter re­lief, crop and flood in­sur­ance, fire­fight­ing costs, re­pairs needed for in­fra­struc­ture and pub­lic lands. The re­port es­ti­mated that those costs will in­crease any­where from $12 bil­lion to $35 bil­lion each year by the mid­dle of the cen­tury.

What’s the an­swer?

As con­cern­ing as these re­ports, which were made pub­lic within a week of each other, Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to move for­ward con­tin­u­ing to fa­vor the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try.

Last week, the De­part­ment of the In­te­rior an­nounced it will have the largest oil and gas lease sale ever in the United States. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is plan­ning on is­su­ing leases to oil and gas in­dus­try for 76,967,935 acres in fed­eral waters off the Gulf of Mex­ico, off­shore Texas, Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi, Alabama, and Florida. The pro­posed re­gion-wide lease sale will of­fer an area about the size of New Mex­ico to the in­dus­try in March which in­cludes all avail­able un­leased ar­eas on the Gulf’s Outer Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf.

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