Earth­week: a Di­ary of the planet For the week end­ing Fri­day, Nov. 30.

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Steve New­man Dist. by: An­drews McMeel Syn­di­ca­tion­ © 2018 Earth En­vi­ron­ment Ser­vice

Climate De­nial

The lat­est of­fi­cial re­port by Amer­ica’s pre­em­i­nent climate sci­en­tists warns that un­less there are “sub­stan­tial and sus­tained” ef­forts to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions, climate change could even­tu­ally cost the coun­try “hun­dreds of bil­lions” of dol­lars per year. The stark warn­ing is­sued by the Na­tional Climate As­sess­ment was im­me­di­ately dis­missed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The re­port, is­sued ev­ery four years, states that climate change is al­ready af­fect­ing the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, agri­cul­ture, en­ergy pro­duc­tion and use, trans­porta­tion and hu­man health across the coun­try. But with an ad­min­is­tra­tion that sup­ports the fos­sil-fuel in­dus­try and is openly hos­tile to­ward ef­forts to curb green­house emis­sions, many sci­en­tists say they now feel any of­fi­cial U.S. ac­tion to ad­dress climate change is likely to come far too late to avoid a climate catas­tro­phe.

Weaker cur­rents A new study has found ev­i­dence that the ocean cir­cu­la­tion in the North At­lantic has be­come the weak­est of the past 1,500 years, mainly as a re­sult of a warm­ing climate. Many climate mod­els pre­dict a weak­en­ing, or even a col­lapse, of this branch of the ocean cir­cu­la­tion un­der global warm­ing. Re­searchers from the Univer­sity of Hong Kong write in the jour­nal Geo­phys­i­cal Re­search Letters that the At­lantic Merid­ional Over­turn­ing Cir­cu­la­tion has far-reach­ing im­pacts on the climate from North Amer­ica to Eu­rope, and can in­flu­ence the mon­soon rain­fall in South Asia and Africa. Ca­nine cu­rios­ity Ger­man re­searchers say they have found that dogs pos­sess “metacog­ni­tive” abil­i­ties that al­low them to solve a prob­lem when they don’t at first have enough in­for­ma­tion. The study at the Max Planck In­sti­tute cre­ated a test in which dogs had to find a re­ward be­hind one of two fences. It found that the dogs hunted for clues more of­ten if they had not seen where the re­ward was hid­den. The an­i­mal ex­perts say this proves dogs have the ex­tremely rare abil­ity in the an­i­mal king­dom to “know what they don’t know.” Erup­tion An ex­plo­sion caused by su­per­heated steam at the most ac­tive vol­cano in the Philip­pines sent ash soar­ing above Mayon’s sum­mit, about 200 miles south­east of Manila. Mayon last erupted in Jan­uary, prompt­ing the au­thor­i­ties to evac­u­ate thou­sands of nearby vil­lagers.

Emis­sions surge

Global emis­sions of the most preva­lent green­house gas, car­bon diox­ide, rose to a new his­toric high last year, ac­cord­ing to a U.N. re­port that warns the time for ac­tion to avoid dis­as­trous climate change is run­ning out. It adds that emis­sions be­gan ris­ing again dur­ing 2017 for the first time in four years. Lev­els of ac­cu­mu­lated at­mo­spheric CO2 reached a global av­er­age of 405.5 parts per mil­lion dur­ing 2017, al­most 50 per­cent higher than be­fore the In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion. “The last time the Earth ex­pe­ri­enced a com­pa­ra­ble con­cen­tra­tion of CO2 was 3 to 5 mil­lion years ago,” said World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Pet­teri Taalas.

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