Climate Letter #1077

An important new study calculates the potential for adding carbon storage to Earth’s vegetation.  Best estimates show that current vegetation holds 450 billion tons of carbon versus a potential for 916 billion tons in a natural state under current climate conditions.  “The inference is that current human use of land is responsible for roughly halving the potential storage of carbon by that land.”  The difference is equal to a little over half of the amount of carbon in the atmosphere today, indicating meaningful potential to serve as a cheap and effective sink, if such a strategy were actively pursued.
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A new study about future global aridity indicates a dramatic difference between a world that is 2C warmer and one that is up just 1.5C.  The research team studied projections from 27 global climate models, finding aridification to be a serious threat for more than 20% of the world’s population under 2C warming, which could be greatly contained if the lower target is achieved.  We have already reached 1C, which has been enough to expose what many of the harmful effects are like, including the notably rapid increase in wildfires.
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How the oil industry was warned about global warming back in 1959.  Edward Teller’s predictions were fairly close to the mark.  The rest of this story, unfortunately, is history.
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Scientists explain what is happening today in the Arctic.  This 10-minute video is fast-paced and includes wonderful photography along with descriptions of the Polar Vortex that has just lately emerged again.
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Genetically modified sugarcane could become an important source of climate-friendly jet aircraft fuel in the US.  The transformation from ordinary sugarcane that has already been achieved by scientists at the University of Illinois is quite amazing.
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A new technology for producing wave energy has been tested for four years in Japan and is now ready for market.  (It looks interesting but the announcement says nothing at all about the economic factors.)  “The institute’s professor Tsumoru Shintake says the combined productive power of 10 nuclear plants, 10 gigawatts, can be produced using the turbines along just 1% of the Japanese coastline.”
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Here is Part 2 of the essay about carbon isotopes published in the Skeptical Science website.  The information is helpful for anyone interested in the study of ancient climate history and how certain estimates are formulated.  (First reported in CL #1070.)
Carl
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