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Owing the World

November 2013, Hottest on Record

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

“This year is likely to be among the top 10 warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization,” Roger Harrabi (environment analyst), 2013 ‘One of Warmest’ on Record, BBC News, Nov. 13, 2013.

According to Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, “All of the warmest years have been since 1998, and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998,” Ibid.

As a consequence: “The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, told BBC News that warming could no longer be ignored… Mr. Kim said the overall trend was clear. He urged governments to end subsidies for fossil fuels and give people clean energy sources,” Ibid.

November Temp Index

The Land-Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) published by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) shows that November 2013 was the hottest since record keeping began in 1880 despite strong La Nina conditions, which tend to hold temperatures down (Source: Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index//data.giss.nasa.gov: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt.)

Almost all regions of the globe showed temperatures hotter than average with two exceptions: (1) West Antarctica and (2) central and eastern North America.

Large regions of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean and Arctic Ocean showed temps 0.5-to-4.0 degrees Celsius above normal.

The hottest areas included Russia and the adjacent Arctic Ocean, where temps were 4-to-8 degrees above average because of a persistent high amplitude ridge in the jet streams, which are primary drivers of weather patterns. The 30-year warming up of the Arctic is the devil behind the details of this erratic behavior of anomalous jet streams (Source: Jennifer Francis, PhD Rutgers University.)

According to Dr. Francis, polar amplification, or rapid warming at the poles, is impacting the upper atmospheric jet streams, which have become much more anomalous in recent years. In turn, this throws off weather patterns all across the Northern Hemisphere, causing embedded record heat waves, droughts, extreme rain events, and extreme weather events of all kinds.

Additionally, another new study finds the Arctic in 2013 experienced its hottest temps in 120,000 years.

“All the Baffin Island is melting, and we expect all the ice caps to eventually disappear, even if there is no additional warming,” Gifford H. Miller, PhD (University of Colorado – Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research) co-author, Unprecedented Recent Summer Warmth in Arctic Canada, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 40, Issue 21, Nov. 16, 2013.

The evidence of the hottest temps in 120,000 years is palpable and open to examination/study. Gifford, along with a team of scientists, traveled to Baffin Island for a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ inspection. Using carbon dating instruments, they determined that the thawing Arctic ice is exposing plants that are as old as 120,000 years.

Anomalous Heat- Russia and Adjacent Arctic Ocean- Methane Implications

The increasing heat is putting humankind at risk of out-of-control global warming, to wit: New research indicates Arctic seafloor methane releases in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) are double previous estimates.

“Increased methane releases in this area are a possible new climate-change-driven factor that will strengthen over time,” according to Natalia Shakhova, PhD (University of Alaska – International Arctic Research Center) et al, Ebullition and Storm-Induced Methane Release from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, Nature Geoscience, Nov. 24, 2013.

Dr. Shakhova says: “We believe that the release of methane from the Arctic, and in particular this part of the Arctic, could impact the entire globe,” Ibid.

Here’s the issue: Dr. Shakhova and Dr. Igor Semiletov (Pacific Oceanological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences) have examined the data and concluded there is a plausibility of a 50 Gigatonne methane release occurring abruptly at any time, accordingly, this means: “That may cause ~12-times increase of modern atmospheric methane burden with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming.”

Dr. Shakhova and her team have developed data derived from over twenty field trips (1999 to 2011) to ESAS, concluding that methane concentrations in the Arctic are the highest in 400,000 years and on par with previous estimates of methane venting from the entire world ocean.

However, there is considerable debate amongst scientists as to whether methane will run out of control. In this regard, if one can assume it is permissible to categorize the varied opinions into only two camps, meaning: (1) Yes, it may run out of control versus (2) No, it will not run out of control, the split of opinion is uniformly ‘Yes’ in the camp of ESAS (Arctic) specialists versus ‘No’ amongst scientists who are not experts in the Arctic (Source, Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, executive director, Institute for Policy Research & Development, Seven Facts You Need to Know About the Arctic Methane Timebomb, The Guardian, Aug. 5, 2013.)

Temperatures

Recently, the cooling crowd has been crowing about global cooling, especially as the winter sets in and bitter, harsh storms hit the country. And, they are partially right, it is not warming as fast as some scientists predicted it would some years ago, but guess what? It’s warming, not cooling.

The following is the latest data from the National Climatic Data Center (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Department of Commerce, USG):

“Averaging the globe as a whole, the temperature across the land and ocean surfaces combined during October 2013 was 1.13 degrees F above the 1901-2000 average… [the] 344th consecutive month with global temperature above the 20th century average… the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985,” (Source: Global Analysis – October 2013, National Climatic Data Center – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Vital Signs – Emissions

“According to the Global Carbon Project, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reached 9.7 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2012… This is the highest annual total to date—and it is 58 percent higher than emissions in 1990, the year often used as a benchmark for emissions trends,” Katie Auth (Research Associate – Climate and Energy), Record High for Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Worldwatch Institute, Nov. 27, 2013.

The top four emitters of CO2 in order from highest to lowest are: (1) China (2,625M tons); (2) U.S.A. (1,396M tons); (3) India (611M tons); (4) Russian Federation (491M tons). Thus, China (designated as a developing country in climate talks?) tops the charts with more emission of CO2 than the next three top countries combined.

Corporate Emitters

Interestingly, even though international climate negotiators have traditionally focused on the role of nation states, new analyses are looking at the role played by corporate entities in the emission of greenhouse gases. Preliminary analysis shows that investor-owned corporations account for nearly 22% of emissions and state-owned corporations nearly 20% (Source: Worldwatch Institute).

This new methodology for framing responsibility for climate mitigation stems from the fact that corporations are increasingly global and not confined to nation state borders. As such, global corporations should take responsibility for their emissions the same as nation states.

On a related matter, and as suggested by the president of the World Bank, one solution to global warming is removal of government subsidies for fossil fuel exploration, development, and production, but it remains to be seen whether governments have the moxie to execute.

As for now, it appears that whoever owns the energy, owns (or owes?) the world.

Robert Hunziker, Los Angeles, (310) 625-6866, roberthunziker@icloud.com