The theme I chose for this year is Climate Change. I had hoped to learn and write about it last year, but it was impossible not to get sidetracked. I’m not going to address people who don’t believe it is occurring or even those who don’t believe mankind is causing it. This is for people who believe in the science and read what scientists have to say about it.
There has been a benefit to the containment caused by the COVID-19 epidemic and that is that we have all had to rely on technology to see our friends and learn about the world. I had the pleasure of watching Greta Thunberg and the Dalai Lama discuss climate change with two climate scientists at my breakfast last week. Susan Natale (renowned Arctic scientist with Woodshole Oceanographic Institute) and William Moomaw (lead author on reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/IPCC, and the co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize) each gave a glimpse into their research and talked about feedback loops that aren’t even considered in the Climate Change international agreement. There are three videos that help to visualize what is going on ecologically.
Natale discussed her studies in the Arctic and the feedback loop being created there. The permafrost is thawing and temperatures are rising twice as fast as the rest of the planet. When the permafrost thaws, it releases gas that has been frozen. In addition, the ground collapses like a slow mudslide. Twice as much carbon is released in permafrost as in the rest of the planet.
Moomaw discussed his research on forests. When temperatures rise, plants release more CO2. This increases droughts, pests and fires. Fires release more carbon and dead trees don’t absorb any CO2 . Carbon began to increase in the atmosphere in the 1750s with industrialization. Half of the carbon in the atmosphere was created since 1992. Eleven billion tons of carbon have been released, but there are only five billion tons still there. The rest has been absorbed by the oceans and plants. Carbon is stored in dry wood, leaves and soil. Of the carbon stored in the Northern Hemisphere, 50% of it is located in temperate forests. He called for us to rely on wind and solar power, and save and expand the temperate forests, wetlands, marsh and grassland.
Why are these not included in carbon budgets? One reason may be that not many people live at the poles. It is also hard to get data from the poles.
The Dalai Lama noted that the snow is disappearing from the mountains of Tibet. Ecology is looking into the future and favoring preservation over “progress”.
Since the first Earth Day, I have heard the argument that we can’t sacrifice our economy for Mother Nature, and I have always thought that Mother Nature will have her revenge if we don’t think about what we are doing.
Serendipity: from “The Thread,” My two must-reads in early 2021 on climate change are: David Pogue’s “How to Prepare for Climate Change” and Bill Gates’ “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”
- Dalai Lama https://www.facebook.com/339188887615/videos/262379708552887/
- David Pogue https://www.publicmediamarket.org/blogs/blog/how-to-prepare-for-climate-change-by-david-pogue?utm_campaign=The+Thread_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sfmc_&utm_content=
- David Pogue https://authory.com/DavidPogue
- Bill Gates https://www.gatesnotes.com/How-to-Avoid-a-Climate-Disaster
- The Thread, https://www.mprnews.org/arts/books?utm_campaign=The+Thread_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sfmc_&utm_content=