Vital parameters – latest report. Earth is dying

Parametry życiowe Ziemi

Heart rate, saturation and temperature are the most important human vital signs. We have all known this since the pandemic, when we measured them more than once with maniacal persistence, driven by fear for our lives and those of our loved ones. And have we ever wondered what condition the Earth’s vital parameters are in? We appeared on this planet only 200,000 years ago. years, which, compared to the time of its existence, estimated at 4.6 billion, is only a moment in time. For that moment we managed to bring the Earth to an agonal state. When our planet dies, do we live in the moment without thinking about the future? The latest climate report speaks of the uncharted territory we are entering as a result of these changes.

All-time records

Mijający rok dostarczył nam nie tylko wrażeń i emocji politycznych, ale niestety także szeregu doniesień o ekstremalnych zjawiskach pogodowych i rekordowych temperaturach w Polsce i na świecie. Wyliczanie można zacząć od Kanady, gdzie od marca do czerwca odnotowano historycznie wysoką liczbę pożarów. Niestety na tym się nie zakończyło. Do października włącznie, ogień objął powierzchnię ok 185 tys. km2. Co stanowi ponad 6 razy więcej niż średnia z lat poprzednich.

The summer in Europe in this regard was equally dangerous. This was especially true in July, when Mediterranean countries struggled with devastating fires intensified by strong winds. According to EFFIS, in 2023. More than 740,000 were burned in Europe. ha of land. Had it not been for the record-breaking heat, the effects in the form of fires would not have been so severe. From July to October, temperatures broke new records, recording days and months as the warmest in Earth’s history.

Nieprzepuszczalne powierzchnie i wyschnięte połacie ziemi sprzyjały fatalnym w skutkach powodziom, z którymi walczono na całym świecie: od bliskich nam Włoch, Słowenii czy Grecji, przez Libię, Stany Zjednoczone, Emiraty Arabskie, a w ostatnich dniach nawet wyspy Karaibskie. Żywioł nie tylko spowodował ogromne straty materialne, ale zebrał także śmiertelne żniwo. Do spektakularnego wzrostu temperatur i globalnych anomalii prawdopodobnie przyczyniło się naturalne zjawisko El Niño, jednak spotęgowane skutkami zmiany klimatu. Dzisiaj już wiemy, że przez około 1/3 bieżącego roku średnia globalna temperatura była co najmniej o 1,5°C wyższa w porównaniu z okresem przedindustrialnym. Tempo wzrostu temperatury zaskoczyło wszystkich.

To the Rescue of the Earth – The Paris Agreement

The main goal of the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by most of the world’s countries in December 2015, was to take action to limit the long-term rise in global temperature and aim to keep it below 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels. The treaty itself, which 196 countries signed, did not indicate the exact time to be addressed. It is assumed, based on scientific publications, that the values agreed upon at the time referred to the difference between current average global temperatures and the average from the period 1850-1900, that is, before the era of widespread use of fossil fuels. During that period, the average temperature oscillated around 13.5°C. An important role in analyzing the effects of global warming, in conjunction with the pathways of global emissions, was played by the IPPC, preparing a special report that was updated this year.

However, as it points out, even keeping values below the 1.5°C level does not guarantee avoiding the effects of global warming. Is the Paris Agreement another success on paper? Certainly, the declarations and ambitions were aimed correctly, but as the latest data show, no country has kept pace with the expected actions and the resulting decline in globalCO2 emissions. Nonetheless, there is a clear downward trend in EU countries, indicating a shift away from coal burning. The increasingly widely proclaimed decarbonization and withdrawal of financial investment from the coal sector appears to be the only way to achieve meaningful results from this international agreement.

Climate report

This article was inspired by the publication of the 2023 climate report, which was recently published in the journal BioScience. From the latest publication by an international team of scientists, we learn that the Earth is dying, and its vital parameters have deteriorated significantly in recent years. Statistics show that of the 35 variables analyzed, as many as 20 are at record extreme levels (table below). A number of these relate to the Earth’s water resources, and I have focused my attention on these in the commentary below.

VariableTypeYearsYearValueChangeRank
Human population (billion people)annual7420238,050,07021
Fertility rate (births per woman)annual6220212,27-0,026562
Ruminant animals (billion individuals)annual6120214,130,02551
Meat production (inhabitant/kg/year)annual61202145,21,411
World GDP (in trillion USD/year)annual64202392,32,541
Global loss of tree cover (million ha/year)annual22202222,8-2,459
Loss of Amazonian forest in Brazil (million ha/year)annual3520221,16-0,14722
Coal consumption (EJ/year)annual5820221611,042
Oil consumption (EJ/year)annual5820221915,833
Gas consumption (EJ/year)annual582022142-4,522
Solar/wind energy consumption (EJ/year)annual58202232,24,721
Air transport (billion passengers carried/year)annual4920212,280,50811
Total institutional assets sold (trillion USD)annual11202229,30,31
CO2 emissions (GT equivalent/year)annual33202239,30,31
CO2 emissions per capita (t equivalent/year)annual3320224,93-0,0031415
Greenhouse gas emissions covered byCO2 emissions price (%)annual342023230,691
CO2 emission price (USD/t)annual34202322,90,7149
Fossil fuel subsidies ($ billion/year)annual13202211005661
Governments that have declared a climate emergencyannual720222330861
CO2 (parts per million)semi-annual452023,4584202,031
CH4 (parts per billion)semi-annual402023,375192013,21
N2O(parts per billion)semi-annual462023,5373371,141
Surface temperature anomaly (change) (°C)semi-annual1442023,5371,030,1243
Earth’s energy imbalance (W/m2; 12-month rolling average)semi-annual232023,4521,730,1871
Change in the heat content of the ocean (1022 J)annual18202228,20,9121
Ocean acidity (pH)semi-annual342021,9268,05-0,021134
Sea level change from 20-year average (mm)semi-annual312023,39157,13,771
Minimum amount of sea ice in the Arctic (in million km2)annual4420224,67-0,0534
Greenland ice mass change (GT)semi-annual222023,45-5270-16722
Antarctic ice mass change (GT)semi-annual222023,45-233017518
Change in glacier thickness (m water equivalent)annual732022-26,7-1,1873
Area burned in the United States (million ha/year)annual4020223,070,18311
Global loss of tree cover due to fires (million ha/year)annual2220226,72-2,628
Billion-dollar floods in the United States in losses (events/year)annual4320221-125
Exceptionally hot days compared to 1961-1990 (% days/year)annual72202218,5-0,653
Source: climate report

Comments on the table: The columns of the table show the name of the variable, the frequency of updates, the number of years of data storage, the time of the last data point, the current value of the variable, the change from the previous value and the rank (where 1 is the highest value to date). Value, change and rank, for variables occurring for less than 12 months, are based on current data from the beginning of the year. Note that the variable intervals (number of years) vary widely depending on the source. Variables establishing all-time records are highlighted in red.

Three indicators: the acidity of the oceans, the thickness of glaciers and the mass of Greenland’s ice have fallen to record lows. We wrote about the dangerous consequences of melting glaciers in “Water Matters” earlier this year. At the same time, sea and ocean levels continue to rise, accumulating more and more heat. The last 10 years have been the warmest decade in this regard, and in 2022. recorded the highest global sea level in the history of measurements.

The climate report points to the alarming consequences of the increase in heat content and rapid rise in sea surface temperature in the form of loss of biodiversity, the extinction of coral reefs or an increase in the intensity of violent tropical storms and hurricanes. The study’s authors also point to possible disruptions in the hitherto observed pattern of precipitation on Earth. It is likely that the tipping point will occur this century, between 2025 and 2095, leading to severe damage to ecosystems and a reduction in the natural uptake of CO2.

Water justice on Earth

Fairness in access to water nor global responsibility for this resource does not exist. Access to water, even rejecting changes in quantity or quality due to human action, varies. Also, each country’s contribution to climate change, given historical circumstances, is different. The uneven distribution of available resources and the effects of climate change overlap disproportionately, affecting the poorest. More than 2 billion people do not have access to safe to drink water. Every 20 seconds, a child dies in the world due to lack of potable water.

Extreme weather events, i.e. Droughts, floods or hurricanes, have killed more than 62,000 this year. individuals. A great deal depends on water. Its absence often results in food shortages, and agricultural productivity declines. It is important to realize that the communities and even countries affected by these phenomena have, for the most part, no influence over emissions or policy decisions. The consequences, therefore, largely affect the innocent.

Climate report – conclusions

The publication presents a number of postulates and conclusions of the analysis. Below are those worth noting:

  1. The effects of global warming will become increasingly severe, but due to the lack of sufficient research – impossible to parameterize at the moment.
  2. It is estimated that by the end of the century, as a result of climate change, between 3 billion and 6 billion people (or up to half of the world’s population), could be out of habitable territory.
  3. Conditions in large regions of the world will become very dangerous and potentially unmanageable with an expected warming of 2.6°C over the century. This could occur even if the Paris Agreement’s emission reduction commitments are met.
  4. What is needed is the implementation of policies that focus on issues of exceeding the limits of resources available on Earth.
  5. It is essential to reduce over-consumption of resources, use closed circuits, recycle, and prioritize sustainability.
  6. Climate justice and the equitable distribution of the costs and benefits of climate action is another demand, particularly relevant to vulnerable communities.
  7. Stabilizing the human population through voluntary family planning and supporting women’s education remains an important issue.
  8. It warns of a potential socio-economic collapse in the world as a result of the occurrence of extreme phenomena, including geopolitical conflicts.

An excellent summary is given to us by the Climate Report:

“As we are about to exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target, the importance of immediately reducing fossil fuel consumption and preventing further increases in global warming cannot be overstated. Instead of focusing solely on reducingCO2 emissions and climate change, the fundamental issue of not exceeding the limits of available resources should be addressed, which will give us the best chance of meeting the challenges in the long term. This is the moment to make profound changes in the way we live on Earth. We must act with unwavering courage and determination to initiate changes that will stand the test of time.”

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