Climate Letter #1148

How the US is reducing CO2 emissions (VOX).  It’s all happening in electric power generation, in part because of the switch from dirty coal to natural gas.  The three other major consumers of fossil fuel, for transportation, heating of buildings and industrial processes, have all been essentially flat for the past decade.  Those three, combined, have twice the emissions of the power sector.  Power should continue to do well, with growing help from renewables usage, but the other three sectors (plus agriculture) will soon need to start carrying more of the load in order to reach zero emissions by 2050.
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A report on the growing frequency and duration of heatwaves in the oceans (Carbon Brief).  One chart shows that the trend has greatly intensified in just the past decade.  “This is a very important and timely study as a growing number of studies have reported that recent marine heatwaves strongly impact corals and other marine ecosystems, which further impacts economies and societies.”
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The threat to seagrass meadows is a perfect example of the harm done by marine heatwaves, in combination with various other human practices.  How important are seagrass meadows?  “This loss of seagrass is a terrible problem as the habitats in Indonesia have a major significance for daily food supply and general livelihoods. Without seagrass as a fishery habitat many people in Indonesia would not be able to feed their families on a daily basis.”  They are being damaged or degraded at an accelerated rate, but have largely been ignored.
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Meanwhile, river systems are being killed by the influx of pharmaceutical waste.  One way or another, it all gets leached into waterways and the amount is expected to increase two-thirds by mid-century.  “Between 70 and 80 percent of all antibiotics consumed by humans and farm animals—totalling thousands of tonnes—find their way into natural environments, the UN agency said in a report.”
https://phys.org/news/2018-04-rivers-worldwide-threatened-pharma.html
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Do you know what CO2 emissions are allowed by the remaining carbon budget?  That all depends on whose methods of calculation you choose to depend on as well as how to define the very terms of the budget to begin with.  This post examines nine different methods that can be applied to any one set of terms, and the answers cover a wide range of figures.  Many other models from less prominent sources could be added to those nine.  The idea that there is a real budget that must be met, per the agreement of all nations, is just fine, but if there is no agreement on what budget number has been agreed to, then every nation can pick one it likes and feel justified in having done its duty.  It’s a mess, and not an easy one to correct.
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Here is a story to feel good about—an all-electric airplane for commuter routes expects to be making its first commercial flights in 2021.
https://www.fastcompany.com/40549048/world-changing-ideas-transportation-eviation-alice-commuter
Carl
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