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Catastrophe Chronicle — October 2021 Edition

CO2 emissions worldwide
Worldwide CO2 Emissions — The New York Times

October 31, 2021
U.K.’s Johnson Says G-20 Climate Pledges Are Drop in the Ocean
Johnson says only 12 G-20 nations pledge net zero by 2050…. Environment pledges by the Group of 20 countries are ‘drops in a rapidly warming ocean’ and warned that COP26 climate talks risk failing if urgent action isn’t taken. — Bloomberg

October 31, 2021
Shell and BP paid zero tax on North Sea gas and oil for three years
“Shell and BP, which together produce more than 1.7bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year, have not paid any corporation tax on oil and gas production in the North Sea for the last three years, company filings reveal. The oil giants, which have an annual global footprint of greenhouse gases more than five times bigger than Britain’s, are benefiting from billions of pounds of tax breaks and reliefs for oil and gas production… A petroleum revenue tax of 35% was effectively scrapped by the then chancellor, George Osborne, in 2016 and oil giants can claim billions of pounds in taxpayer handouts for decommissioning rigs.” — The Guardian

October 28, 2021
World is failing to make changes needed to avoid climate breakdown, report finds
“Pace of emissions reductions must be increased significantly to keep global heating to 1.5C. Every corner of society is failing to take the “transformational change” needed to avert the most disastrous consequences of the climate crisis, with trends either too slow or in some cases even regressing, according to a major new global analysis. Across 40 different areas spanning the power sector, heavy industry, agriculture, transportation, finance and technology, not one is changing quickly enough to avoid 1.5C in global heating beyond pre-industrial times, a critical target of the Paris climate agreement, according to the new Systems Change Lab report.” — The Guardian

October 27, 2021
Greta Thunberg Has Given Up on Politicians
“All political and economic systems have failed, but humanity has not yet failed.” The New York Times

October 27, 2021
Why Financial Firms Can’t Be Climate Change Cops
You can’t force an industry that’s designed to pursue profit to be the arbiter of how we cool the world. In the past six years, banks have provided almost $4 trillion of finance for the fossil-fuel industry.… For every $1 raised on the capital markets by companies involved in renewable energy or other planet-friendly businesses, a further $10 is made available to ‘the companies that are causing the problems in the first place.’ as a report published this week by U.K. think-tank New Financial puts it. And “problems” is putting it mildly.– Bloomberg

October 27, 2021
The dirty dozen: meet America’s top climate villains
“The nation’s worst polluters managed to evade accountability and scrutiny for decades as they helped the fossil fuel industry destroy our planet. The actions of these climate supervillains have affected millions of people, disproportionately hurting the vulnerable who have done the least to contribute to global emissions. Working- and middle-class people must stop blaming themselves for the climate crisis. Instead, it’s time to band together to seek justice and hold these profiteers accountable. Only in calling out their power and culpability is it possible to reclaim the world that belongs to all of us, together.” — The Guardian

October 26, 2021
World faces disastrous 2.7C temperature rise on current climate plans, UN warns
“Tuesday’s publication warns that countries’ current pledges would reduce carbon by only about 7.5% by 2030, far less than the 45% cut scientists say is needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, the aim of the Cop26 summit that opens in Glasgow this Sunday.” — The Guardian

October 25, 2021
Yes, There Has Been Progress on Climate. No, It’s Not Nearly Enough.
“Today, thanks to rapid growth in clean energy, humanity has started to bend the emissions curve. Current policies put us on pace for roughly 3 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100 — a better result, but still devastating. Many countries have vowed to slash emissions even faster. So far those promises exist mostly on paper, but if nations follow through, the world could potentially limit total warming to around 2 to 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100. Yet scientists and world leaders increasingly say even that much warming is too risky. To hold global temperature rise to a safer limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, far more drastic action is needed.” — The New York Times

October 25, 2021
Climate crisis: greenhouse gas levels hit new record despite lockdowns, UN reports
“Levels of climate-heating gases in the atmosphere hit record levels in 2020, despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization has announced…. All key greenhouse gases (GHG) rose faster in 2020 than the average for the previous decade and this trend has continued in 2021, the WMO report found.”

October 24, 2021
The Chinese Companies Polluting the World More Than Entire Nations
“The world’s top five polluters were responsible for 60% of global emissions in 2019. China alone generated about the same amount of CO2 as the next four countries combined. And its carbon output is still rising every year.” — Bloomberg

October 23, 2021
Supersized Methane Leaks Detected in U.K. Ahead of Climate Summit
“The nation hosting crucial COP26 talks to tackle global warming is also home to some of the worst methane emissions in Europe. One of the most significant outcomes of next week’s COP26 climate summit may be a pledge by dozens of countries to cut emissions of methane, the superpotent greenhouse gas. That will require the U.K. hosts to do some major cleaning up at home.” — Bloomberg

October 22, 2021
Historical analysis finds no precedent for the rate of coal and gas power decline needed to limit climate change to 1.5°CScienceDaily

October 22, 2021
Xi Says China Must Secure Energy Supply in ‘Its Own Hands’
“President Xi Jinping told oil workers that China must secure its own energy supply, signaling a continued role for fossil fuels in the nation’s efforts to meet power demands.” — Bloomberg

October 22, 2021 (Updated)
The U.S.’s Best Hope For Real Climate Policy Is Fizzling. What Happens Now?
“After months of negotiations, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose home state and personal fortune depend on the continued burning of heavily polluting coal, appears to have effectively blocked inclusion of the president’s Clean Electricity Performance Program.” — HuffPost

October 22, 2021
The Production Gap: Governments’ planned fossil fuel production remains dangerously out of sync with Paris Agreement limits
“The damages are widespread, rapid, and intensifying. The report also serves as a clarion call that while there is still time to limit long-term warming to 1.5°C, that window of opportunity is rapidly closing. — 2021 Report

October 21, 2021
Climate Change Poses a Widening Threat to National Security
“Intelligence and defense agencies issued reports warning that the warming planet will increase strife between countries and spur migration. Worsening conflict within and between nations. Increased dislocation and migration as people flee climate-fueled instability. Heightened military tension and uncertainty. Financial hazards.” — The New York Times

October 21, 2021
In Australia, It’s ‘Long Live King Coal’
“The country has fallen behind other developed nations in its commitment to slashing carbon emissions. Neither fires nor international pressure has pushed it away from coal and other fossil fuels. At a time when climate change and those who fight it demand that coal be treated like tobacco, as a danger everywhere it is burned, Australia is increasingly seen as the guy at the end of the bar selling cheap cigarettes and promising to bring more tomorrow.” — The New York Times

October 21, 2021
COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report
“A huge leak of documents seen by BBC News shows how countries are trying to change a crucial scientific report on how to tackle climate change. The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels. It also shows some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies.” — BBC

October 21, 2021
Plastics Will Create More Climate Pollution Than Coal In U.S. By 2030, New Study Finds
It’s widely understood that plastics litter the oceans and kill animals. But its huge and growing impact on global warming has evaded public scrutiny. Plastics are everywhere. From the stomachs of deep-sea fish to human feces, Arctic snow to gusts of wind in the remote wilderness, the oil and gas byproduct has, barely a century after it was first synthesized in a laboratory, become a ubiquitous feature of virtually every ecosystem on Earth and every aspect of modern life…. Plastics already produce 3.8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions throughout their lifecycle, roughly double the planet-heating pollution spewed by airplanes. By the end of this decade, the plastics industry in the United States alone is on pace to eclipse the carbon footprint of the country’s remaining coal-fired power plants.” — HuffPost

October 21, 2021
Scientists part of team that points to strong connection between climate change, plastics pollution
“At the root of global climate change and the worldwide plastics problem are two related carbon-based fuels — oil and natural gas. Not only are the two among the key drivers of climate change, they are instrumental in the manufacturing of plastics. As storms intensify and become more frequent, the movement of trash from land to our oceans and, and vice versa, is only going to get worse.” — ScienceDaily

October 21, 2021
Northern lakes warming six times faster in the past 25 years
“‘We found that lakes are losing on average 17 days of ice cover per century. Alarmingly, what we found is that warming in the past 25 years, from 1992 to 2016, was six times faster than any other period in the last 100 years….’” — ScienceDaily

October 21, 2021
U.S. Warns Climate Poses ‘Emerging Threat’ to Financial System
“Climate change is an “emerging threat” to the stability of the U.S. financial system, top federal regulators warned in a report on Thursday, setting the stage for the Biden administration to take more aggressive regulatory action to prevent climate change from upending global markets and the economy.” — The New York Times

October 21, 2021
Climate Change Poses a Widening Threat to National Security
“Worsening conflict within and between nations. Increased dislocation and migration as people flee climate-fueled instability. Heightened military tension and uncertainty. Financial hazards. The Biden administration released several reports Thursday about climate change and national security, laying out in stark terms the ways in which the warming world is beginning to significantly challenge stability worldwide. — The New York Times

October 20, 2021
COP Aims to End Coal, But the World Is Still Addicted
“The burning of coal represents the biggest single obstacle to meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5C…. But the dramatic rally in prices in recent weeks shows ever more clearly that it’s nowhere near enough. Humanity remains deeply dependent on coal.” — Bloomberg

October 20, 2021
Fossil Fuel Drilling Plans Undermine Climate Pledges, U.N. Report Warns
“Even as world leaders vow to take stronger action on climate change, many countries are still planning to dramatically increase their production of oil, gas and coal in the decades ahead, potentially undermining those lofty pledges, according to a United Nations-backed report released Tuesday. The report looked at future mining and drilling plans in 15 major fossil fuel producing countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada, China, India and Norway. Taken together, those countries are currently planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.” — The New York Times

October 20, 2021
Climate plan urging plant-based diet shift deleted
“A government research paper recommending people “shift dietary habits” towards plant-based foods has been hastily deleted.” — BBC

October 20, 2021
If the US could get on a war footing in 1941, we can tackle the climate emergency
“Drastic action is required to stop the Earth’s systems flipping into new states. Now should be our Pearl Harbor moment.” — The Guardian

October 20, 2021
Changing ocean currents are driving extreme winter weather
“Throughout Earth’s oceans runs a conveyor belt of water. Its churning is powered by differences in the water’s temperature and saltiness, and weather patterns around the world are regulated by its activity. A pair of researchers studied the Atlantic portion of this worldwide conveyor belt called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, and found that winter weather in the United States critically depends on this conveyor belt-like system. As the AMOC slows because of climate change, the U.S. will experience more extreme cold winter weather.” — ScienceDaily

October 20, 2021
How to Stop 30 Years of Failing to Cut Emissions
“In the three decades since 1990, as countries such as China and India followed the same development path as the U.S. and Europe, human civilization burned ever-increasing amounts of fossil fuels. Rich countries, in particular, had any number of opportunities to take stock and reverse course. Most refused. Now it’s a race against those emissions.” — Bloomberg Green

October 20, 2021
It’s time for philanthropy to step up the fight against climate change
“In 2020, US-based grant makers disbursed almost $64 billion. Of that, about $320 million went directly toward climate change (0.5%).” — McKinsey

October 20, 2021
Climate change: Fossil fuel production set to soar over next decade
“Plans by governments to extract fossil fuels up to 2030 are incompatible with keeping global temperatures to safe levels, says the UN.The UNEP production gap report says countries will drill or mine more than double the levels needed to keep the 1.5C threshold alive.” — BBC

October 19, 2021
What’s missing from forest mortality projections? A look underground
“You can’t see it happening. But what goes on below ground in a forest is very important in determining its fate. In a study, scientists conclude that the sideways flow of water through soil can have an important impact on how riparian forests respond to climate change. Models used to predict the future plight of forests typically don’t account for this factor — but they should, researchers say.” — ScienceDaily

October 19, 2021
How quickly does the climate recover?
“It took the climate 20,000 to 50,000 years to stabilize after the rise in global temperatures of five to eight degrees Celsius 56 million years ago.” — ScienceDaily

October 19, 2021
‘Case closed’: 99.9% of scientists agree climate emergency caused by humans
“Trawl of 90,000 studies finds consensus, leading to call for Facebook and Twitter to curb disinformation.” — The Guardian

October 19, 2021

Turkmenistan’s Dirty Secret
“The former Soviet republic is one of the world’s worst emitters of planet-warming methane. Its exported natural gas is becoming crucial to China.
Since methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide when it first enters the atmosphere, this one leak had a climate impact roughly equivalent to the annual emissions of all the cars in Arizona…. Of the 50 most severe methane releases at onshore oil and gas operations analyzed since 2019 by monitoring firm Kayrros SAS, Turkmenistan accounted for 31 of them…. it’s not at all clear how Turkmenistan can be persuaded to reduce its climate impacts. Led by Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a dentist-turned-dictator who was reelected as president in 2017 with a purported 98% of the vote, Turkmenistan is one of the most repressive places on the planet.” — Bloomberg

October 18, 2021
Factory farms of disease: how industrial chicken production is breeding the next pandemic
“At least eight types of bird flu, all of which can kill humans, are circulating around the world’s factory farms — and they could be worse than Covid-19. One day last December, 101,000 chickens at a gigantic farm near the city of Astrakhan in southern Russia started to collapse and die. Tests by the state research centre showed that a relatively new strain of lethal avian flu known as H5N8 was circulating… But the Astrakhan incident was different. When 150 workers at the farm were tested, five women and two men were found to have the disease, albeit mildly. It was the first time that H5N8 had been known to jump from birds to humans.” — The Guardian

October 18, 2021

Lakes are changing worldwide: Human activities to blame
“Worldwide, lake temperatures are rising and seasonal ice cover is shorter and thiner. This effects lake ecosystems, drinking water supply and fishing. International research now shows that these global changes in lake temperature and ice cover are not due to natural climate variability. They can only be explained by massive greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution.” — ScienceDaily

October 15, 2021
The five biggest threats to our natural world … and how we can stop them
“From destructive land use to invasive species, scientists have identified the main drivers of biodiversity loss — so that countries can collectively act to tackle them…. The world’s wildlife populations have plummeted by more than two-thirds since 1970 — and there are no signs that this downward trend is slowing.” — The Guardian

October 14, 2021
The Southern Ocean’s role in driving global carbon cycle stronger than expected
“The Southern Ocean’s role in driving the global carbon cycle may be stronger than expected as the biological carbon pump is not “switched off” in winter as previously thought.” — ScienceDaily

October 14, 2021
Expansion of wind and solar power too slow to stop climate change
“The production of renewable energy is increasing every year. But after analyzing the growth rates of wind and solar power in 60 countries, researchers conclude that virtually no country is moving sufficiently fast to avoid global warming of 1.5°C or even 2°C.” — ScienceDaily

October 14, 2021
The climate disaster is here
“Earth is already becoming unlivable. Will governments act to stop this disaster from getting worse?… ‘We have built a civilization based on a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” as Katherine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, puts it.’… Cranking up the temperature of the entire globe this much within little more than a century is, in fact, extraordinary, with the oceans alone absorbing the heat equivalent of five Hiroshima atomic bombs dropping into the water every second.” — The Guardian

October 14, 2021
By 2500 Earth could be alien to humans
“To fully grasp and plan for climate impacts under any scenario, researchers and policymakers must look well beyond the 2100 benchmark. Unless CO2 emissions drop significantly, global warming by 2500 will make the Amazon barren, the American Midwest tropical, and India too hot to live in, according to a team of international scientists.” — ScienceDaily

October 14, 2021
Scientists discover large rift in the Arctic’s last bastion of thick sea ice
“The 3,000-square-kilometer gap in the ice may signal that the Last Ice Area is not as resilient as previously thought.” — ScienceDaily

October 10, 2021
Biodiversity loss risks ‘ecological meltdown’ — scientists
“The UK is one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries — in the bottom 10% globally and last among the G7 group of nations, new data shows. It has an average of about half its biodiversity left, far below the global average of 75%, a study has found. A figure of 90% is considered the “safe limit” to prevent the world from tipping into an ‘ecological meltdown.’ according to researchers.” — BBC

October 9, 2021
‘Spillover’ diseases are emerging faster than ever before — thanks to humans
“The growing human population, increasing globalisation, and environmental damage are all accelerating the process, says William Karesh, an executive vice president at EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit that studies zoonoses, or diseases that spread between animals and humans. ‘The laws of biology haven’t changed, but the playing field has changed dramatically,’ he says. The result: Dangerous new human diseases are emerging at unprecedented rates, including Marburg virus, avian flu, AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Nipah virus, swine flu, Ebola, Lyme disease, chikungunya, Zika, dengue, Lassa fever, yellow fever, and now COVID-19. Some 2.5 billion people are infected with zoonotic diseases each year, and because many of these ailments have no cure, they kill about 2.7 million annually, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.” — National Geographic

October 7, 2021
Unprecedented rise of heat and rainfall extremes in observational data
“A 90-fold increase in the frequency of monthly heat extremes in the past ten years compared to 1951–1980 has been found by scientists in observation data…. Record daily rainfall events also increased in a non-linear way — on average, 1 in 4 rainfall records in the last decade can be attributed to climate change. Already today, extreme events linked to human-caused climate change are at unprecedented levels, the scientists say, and they must be expected to increase further.” — ScienceDaily

October 6, 2021
Fossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11m a minute, IMF finds
“Trillions of dollars a year are ‘adding fuel to the fire’ of the climate crisis, experts say…. The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs.” — The Guardian

October 6, 2021
U.N. weather agency says world ill-prepared for ‘looming water crisis’
“Most countries are ill-equipped to handle what the United Nations said Tuesday is a “looming” global water crisis caused by climate change and population growth…. Currently, more than 2 billion people live in ‘water-stressed countries’ where they lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation, according to the report ‘The State of Climate Services 2021: Water.’” — The Washington Post

October 5, 2021
Climate Change Is Devastating Coral Reefs Worldwide, Major Report Says
“The world lost 14 percent of its coral in just a decade, researchers found.” — The New York Times

October 5, 2021
China Orders Banks to Ramp Up Funding to Boost Coal Output
“Another step in its efforts to ease a power crunch and ensure supplies this winter.” — Bloomberg

October 5, 2021
India Houses Half of All People Vulnerable to Life-Threatening Heat
“Global heating is disproportionally affecting city dwellers in the world’s second-most populous nation….The researchers found that more than half the people on Earth who face life-threatening heat stress caused by climate change live in India. Urban dwellers in world’s second-most populous nation have borne the brunt of global warming over the last three decades, and the risks to their health are poised to rise…. India has 17 of the 50 cities most affected by heat stress. New Delhi ranked second, while Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka topped the list…. ‘Almost one in five people on Earth experienced increases in exposure to urban heat over the past 30 years.’” — Bloomberg

October 4, 2021
Almost one-in-three people globally will still be mainly using polluting cooking fuels in 2030, research shows
“A major source of disease and environmental destruction and devastation — in 2030, new research warned. This rises to more than four-in-five in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of people mainly using polluting fuels is growing at an alarming rate.” — ScienceDaily

October 4, 2021
Exposure to deadly urban heat worldwide has tripled in recent decades, says study
A fifth of world population is affected; many U.S. cities on list. — ScienceDaily

October 4, 2021
Could Fossil Fuel Companies Ever Be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity?
“The list of damages is long from turning parts of the Amazon into a toxic sacrifice zone to lying about climate change for decades and locking up the political means to deal with it, putting humanity in grave danger. For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of experts to find out.” — Gozmodo

October 3, 2021
Energy Crisis Adds New Hurdle to COP26 Goal of Ending Coal
“The energy supply crisis is showing how difficult ending the dependence on fossil fuels would be. China is driving demand for coal as it tries to secure the fuel to keep the lights on and factories running. Europe, which remains reliant on gas supplies from Russia, is seeing its companies seeking more coal for electricity generation ahead of winter with gas prices at record highs and supply hard to come by.” — Bloomgerg

October 1,2021
Firefighters are trying to keep sequoias around throughs their 3000th birthdays. Here’s How
With some standing taller than the Statue of Liberty, sequoias are not only some of the largest trees in the world but also some of the most ancient. Their impressive height make them a natural wonder at the slopes of the Sierra Nevada — the only place in the world where they grow.” — The Washington Post

October 1, 2021
How fossil fuel companies use propaganda and disinformation to derail efforts to tackle climate change
“Oil companies use cunning tactics to stop action on climate change, a professor said…. Mr Supran, speaking to the Harvard Gazette, said companies like ExxonMobil have gone to tremendous effort to promote doubt about climate change…. He also spoke about another ExxonMobil manager, who described the effort by former company chairman and chief executive Rex Tillerson in the mid-2000s as an effort to ‘carefully reset’ the company’s profile on climate change so that it would be ‘more sustainable and less exposed.’ Tillerson later served as former President Trump’s secretary of state. ‘They did so by drawing straight from the tobacco industry’s playbook of threading a very fine rhetorical needle, using language about climate change just strong enough to be able to deny that they haven’t warned the public, but weak enough to exculpate them from charges of having marketed a deadly product,’ Mr Supran added.” — Independent

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