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December 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions to set new record this year, but rate of growth shrinks

Global carbon emissions are expected to hit an all-time high in 2019, scientists say, smashing a previous record set in 2018. By the end of the year, emissions from industrial activities and the burning of fossil fuels will pump an estimated 36.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And total carbon emissions from all human activities, including agriculture and land use, will likely cap off at about 43.1 billion tons.



Europe to lead in monitoring carbon from space

Even optimists at the European Space Agency (ESA) were startled last week when its member governments awarded it a €12.5 billion, 3-year budget, its largest ever and more than 20% above its previous 3 years of funding. With the unexpected windfall, ESA will develop a reusable space cargo capsule, support the International Space Station until 2030, and join NASA in retrieving rocks from Mars.



CO2 Emissions Will Break Another Record in 2019

The recent increase in emissions from fossil fuel burning did slow down, but huge cuts are needed to avoid dangerous warming. Global carbon emissions are expected to hit an all-time high in 2019, scientists say, smashing a previous record set in 2018. By the end of the year, emissions from industrial activities and the burning of fossil fuels will pump an estimated 36.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And total carbon emissions from all human activities, including agriculture and land use, will likely cap off at about 43.1 billion tons.


Scientific American

Contribution of oxic methane production to surface methane emission in lakes and its global importance

Recent discovery of oxic methane production in sea and lake waters, as well as wetlands, demands re-thinking of the global methane cycle and re-assessment of the contribution of oxic waters to atmospheric methane emission. Here we analysed system-wide sources and sinks of surface-water methane in a temperate lake. Using a mass balance analysis, we show that internal methane production in well-oxygenated surface water is an important source for surface-water methane during the stratified period.



Even 50-year-old climate models correctly predicted global warming

Climate change doubters have a favorite target: climate models. They claim that computer simulations conducted decades ago didn’t accurately predict current warming, so the public should be wary of the predictive power of newer models. Now, the most sweeping evaluation of these older models—some half a century old—shows most of them were indeed accurate.



The scientific challenge of understanding and estimating climate change

Given the slow unfolding of what may become catastrophic changes to Earth’s climate, many are understandably distraught by failures of public policy to rise to the magnitude of the challenge. Few in the science community would think to question the scientific response to the unfolding changes. However, is the science community continuing to do its part to the best of its ability? In the domains where we can have the greatest influence, is the scientific community articulating a vision commensurate with the challenges posed by climate change? We think not.


Navigating transformation of biodiversity and climate

This planet is the home of life, born into existence and transformed over 3.8 billion years into a continuous tapestry, covering all possible places from the deep ocean floors to mountain summits. Ours is a bioclimatic world in which every organism, from bacterium to blue whale, inseparably contributes to the climate and surface conditions of Earth.



Molecular catalyst converts carbon dioxide to methanol

A molecular catalyst dispersed on carbon nanotubes has been found to catalyze the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide to methanol — a liquid fuel and industrially useful bulk chemical.



Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against

The growing threat of abrupt and irreversible climate changes must compel political and economic action on emissions. Politicians, economists and even some natural scientists have tended to assume that tipping points1 in the Earth system — such as the loss of the Amazon rainforest or the West Antarctic ice sheet — are of low probability and little understood. Yet evidence is mounting that these events could be more likely than was thought, have high impacts and are interconnected across different biophysical systems, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changes.



Analysis: Global coal power set for record fall in 2019

Global electricity production from coal is on track to fall by around 3% in 2019, the largest drop on record.


Carbon Brief

Cumulative environmental and employment impacts of the shale gas boom

Natural gas has become the largest fuel source for electricity generation in the United States and accounts for a third of energy production and consumption. However, the environmental and socioeconomic impacts across the supply chain and over the boom-and-bust cycle have not been comprehensively characterized.



Unraveling the claims for (and against) green growth

When economists contend that growth can continue indefinitely, it is because in their view, growth is something measured in terms of economic value rather than material throughput. The preferred measure of output for economists—the gross domestic product (GDP)—is denominated in monetary value rather than in material weight. These things, they argue, are separable: By decoupling one from the other, economies ought to be able to escape the dominion of finite limits at least to any relevant degree



Environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of alternative power sector decarbonization strategies

A rapid and deep decarbonization of power supply worldwide is required to limit global warming to well below 2 °C. Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, the power sector is also responsible for numerous other environmental impacts. Here we combine scenarios from integrated assessment models with a forward-looking life-cycle assessment to explore how alternative technology choices in power sector decarbonization pathways compare in terms of non-climate environmental impacts at the system level.



Frequency of extreme precipitation increases extensively with event rareness under global warming

The intensity of the heaviest extreme precipitation events is known to increase with global warming. How often such events occur in a warmer world is however less well established, and the combined effect of changes in frequency and intensity on the total amount of rain falling as extreme precipitation is much less explored, in spite of potentially large societal impacts. Here, we employ observations and climate model simulations to document strong increases in the frequencies of extreme precipitation events occurring on decadal timescales.



Air quality in Mexico city during the fuel shortage of January 2019

The closure of pipelines to tackle fuel-theft in central Mexico caused an unexpected fuel shortage that disrupted transport systems in Mexico City in January of 2019. Fuel sales in the Metropolitan Area and CO emissions from reanalysis showed a significant decrease during the fuel shortage of 7% and 6%, respectively.


Science Direct

The Carbon Bomb

A new report shows that deforestation released a shocking 626 percent more CO2 between 2000 and 2013 than previously thought. As part of this portfolio of approaches, new research shows that we should be taking much better care of our last great intact forests because doing so has remarkable climate benefits. The numbers reveal a staggering increase in the estimated CO2 released by losses of intact tropical forest between 2000 and 2013—626 percent higher than previously thought.


Scientific American

The technological and economic prospects for CO2 utilization and removal

The capture and use of carbon dioxide to create valuable products might lower the net costs of reducing emissions or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Here we review ten pathways for the utilization of carbon dioxide. Pathways that involve chemicals, fuels and microalgae might reduce emissions of carbon dioxide but have limited potential for its removal, whereas pathways that involve construction materials can both utilize and remove carbon dioxide. Land-based pathways can increase agricultural output and remove carbon dioxide.


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