Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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President Trump Withdraws The United States From The Paris Climate Agreement.

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

“Most Americans Support the Paris Agreement.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

Geological evidence indicates that the earth is now the warmest it has been in the last 650,000 years. Data also indicates the 20th Century was the warmest century in the past 1000 years. Most of the warmest years of record have occurred since the beginning of the year 2000. Climate change is now taking place faster and faster and is responsible for historic catastrophes around the world. It is clear to the majority of human beings inhabiting this planet that there is a serious problem of change taking place in our weather and climate.

The Paris Climate Conference-Cop21

In the fall of 2015 the historic Paris climate conference-cop21 (Conference Of Parties) was held. Out of that conference came what is generally know as the Paris agreement. The main goal of the group is to keep the mean temperature of Earth from increasing less than 2 degrees above the pre-industrial average temperature. It has already risen about half that. This means keeping the global temperature from rising no more than another 1 degree F. By reducing this much it would bring the level of carbon dioxide back to where it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

building green

Cities, states and individuals must do their part in preventing climate change.

An agreement was finalized on December 12, 2015. It was ultimately approved by nearly all nations. The group committed to keeping the global temperature rise to 1 degree F by the year 2100. A key difference in this agreement from previous agreements is that each individual country could set its own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement imposes no penalties for countries which do not meet their own goals.

Prior conferences wanted to set the goals for each country. Some poor countries still wanted the richest countries to bear the biggest share of the cost or to make the biggest cuts in carbon emissions. The wealthier countries did commit $100 billion a year to help pay the costs for the poorest countries.

Climate Change 2016 Elections

Climate Change-Trump has NO plan!

Trump and the Paris Agreement

During the election campaign of 2016 and as President, Trump stated he would take America out of the Agreement. During the presidential campaign in 2016 he declared that climate change was a hoax. He also stated that if elected he would take the United States out of the 2015 Paris Accord.

On Thursday, June 1, 2017 the president of the United States announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement. The reason he gave was that the agreement was unfair to this country and, as president, he has the right to do that. That this decision on his part has trashed America’s image abroad is an understatement. The United State has been leading the effort to take action to reduce or halt the human induced portion of climate change. However, on Monday, December 2, 2019 President Trump again announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. This left the other signatories of the agreement to plan action to combat climate change without participation of one of the major contributors to the problem.

Support of the Paris Agreement

Most Americans Support the Paris Agreement. Millions of individuals have now become activists on reducing climate change. People are changing their life styles to use less energy. They are publicly active to get local governments to cut energy use and to change to less carbon based sources of energy. The governments of a number of states have publicly declared they will continue to support the agreement. They will move ahead on measures to reduce greenhouse emissions and climate change.

California, which is the sixth largest economy on the planet, is pushing ahead to become a carbon free region. Other states are following suit even if they do not officially support the Paris agreement. The number of states has now reached about a dozen at the time of this writing. More will participate I am sure.

Clean Energy Plan

Support a Clean Planet for Future Generations!

Mayors’ Action on Climate

Groups of cities are actively working to reduce greenhouse emissions. More than 250 American cities officially adopted the Paris agreement. They are part of a group called Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. Among the cities that have agreed to support the Paris Agreement is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is the very city which Trump stated he represented although he did not represent the Paris Agreement. There is no doubt that the position the current president of the United States has taken is a shock to the rest of the world, let alone to the majority of the people in this country. However, the people of this country will not turn their backs on the rest of the world. They will stand with all nations that are committed to reducing the extent of climate change which, is even at this date, resulting in catastrophes.

Island nation populations are being forced to move or cease to exist. Inland rivers are undergoing record floods. Extreme high temperatures are doing tremendous damage to plants and animals.

How great the catastrophes are in the future depends on what our nation, along with nearly all others, does in regard to climate change. Let the United States lead the way!


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Success of the Ocean Cleanup Project

“The latest announcement has plans for the collected ocean plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to prevent its return to the ocean.”

By Linn Smith

Boyan Slat is one of my environmental heroes! At the young age of 25, he is leaving his legacy in the world by sustainably creating a healthier planet. (Also see my previous article at https://planetearth5.com/2018/10/08/boyan-slat-and-the-ocean-clean-up-project/)

The Ocean Cleanup

The last several weeks Slat’s non-profit company, The Ocean Cleanup, has reached a milestone in cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) and cleaning up the rivers at the source of garbage dumping with the latest operation called The Interceptor, a floating operation that extracts garbage in rivers. As he stated, “We need to close the tap.” to the garbage entering the ocean.

A Message from Boyan Slat

Boyan’s message on December 12 was, “Mission one completed– The plans to make products from the plastic catch. Welcoming the first of the plastic on land is the moment we’ve been looking forward to. I believe we can use this trash to turn a problem into a solution by transforming this unique material into products. As most people will never go to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, through these products we aim to give everyone the opportunity to take part in the cleanup.” After many months of trial and error and years of planning by Slat and his crew to get to this stage of the cleanup, success has been achieved!

Products from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The latest announcement are plans for the collected ocean plastic to prevent its return to the ocean. Sustainable products, launching in September 2020, will be made from the ocean plastic and sold to the public. Profits will be returned to the company to fund the continuation of the ocean cleanup.

How to Help

Go to link and fill out your contribution information:
https://products.theoceancleanup.com/26534150221/checkouts/094f916cf683ef170d11caa5d627736b?locale=en

The site states, “You are about to take part in the largest cleanup in history!
With a $50 donation you will:

*Help us remove more plastic from the oceans.

*Follow the plastic journey with front row seats to original content and other perks.

*Get early access to the first products ever made of verified plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which, if we succeed, we aim to launch in September 2020”

This is one of the many worthy causes that need your participation to clean up our Planet Earth!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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Recycling: Creating Hope for a Greener Planet

Recycle

Recycle and Conserve

“European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%.”

By Linn Smith

I am spending time in a suburb in the Southwestern part of the United States. After being a diligent recycler most of my adult life, I have come to realize that many households do not share my passion for doing their part to prevent further negative impact on our planet. Even though I’m conscientious about buying goods in bulk from local health food stores, I still accumulate some bottles, cans and plastics. It’s the world we live!

I have been in the Southwest for several weeks and have repeatedly asked people and businesses about a drop off place for glass and plastic. The answer is always the same….the surrounding suburbs no longer take drop off recyclables as rates have gone up and in some sections there has been complete halt on even curbside recycling for glass and plastic. Cans are less of a problem, as many are willing to turn them in for cash, but plastic and glass? My efforts have produced nothing.

Recycle

Recycling Shut Down!

Following is the message I found when trying to locate a place to drop off my recyclables:

**CLOSURE NOTICE**
All City of *****recyling Drop-off Centers Are Indefinitely Closed
Due to increasing recycling processing fees and decreasing commodity values, the City of **** has found it necessary to reevaluate its entire recycling program. While we value the importance and place high priority on conserving our natural resources, we must also take into account financial considerations to ensure we are able to maintain a sustainable program. The total operating cost for the City of ***** three recycling drop-off centers is approximately $250,000 per year. While we have been pleased to offer this service for many years and appreciate you visiting our centers, unfortunately the decision has been made to indefinitely close all three locations.”

Landfill

A newly formed mountain of waste.

The Landfill: A Mountain of Garbage!

I then sought out the local landfill. I couldn’t enter as the truck in the picture was on guard to keep out private citizens. But standing on the road running parallel to the landfill, I took in the site of a mountain newly produced by garbage from the city that won’t allow recycled dropoffs. As I stood in disgust of this newly formed mountain of garbage in our once beautiful desert Southwest, I wondered, “Where did we go wrong? Was it just a hundred years ago that people were growing their own food, canning, reusing their jars, sewing their own clothes, living what would now be called a sustainable life?”

Landfill

Guarding the landfill.

The site of all those recyclable materials sitting in a landfill in our beautiful desert for a hundred years and accumulating day by day, year by year is almost too much for me to comprehend. To me you either care about out planet, leaving future generations with at least the knowledge that you tried, or you don’t…..you further the “pig sty” concept of what use to be our beautiful earth. The choice is ours to not be lazy!

Where will our Recyclables Go?

The excuse for many cities is this….China quit taking our dirty waste which we had been shipping over to them since 1992 and that alone broke the recycling system in the U.S. Keefe Harrison, CEO of the Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit that seeks to boost the industry, stated “European countries are recycling 35% to 40% [of their plastic waste]. The U.S. only recycles 10%. How tragic is that? We’re fighting an uphill battle to make it cost competitive from day one. The U.S. has previously outsourced so much of its recycling to Asia that the domestic industry languished. And there’s the fact that plastic manufacturers keep making more and more of it, and consumer brands like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Walmart keep wrapping more consumer goods in it.”

According to an article in the Sierra magazine, China’s refusing to take our recyclables has given us the opportunity to develop a plan of our own if we care enough to go down that avenue. “The whole crisis narrative has been wrong,” says Steve Alexander, president of the Association of Plastic Recyclers. “China didn’t break recycling. It has given us the opportunity to begin investing in the infrastructure we need in order to do it better.”

Alliance to End Plastic Waste

There are many different types of plastic. Some can be recycled, some cannot. In the past companies have used the plastic most profitable without considering what happens to their product packaging.

Several petrochemical companies have joined big consumer brands in pledging to make most of their plastic recyclable, reusable or compostable within the next decade or two. Their group, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has promised to spend $1.5 billion over five years to recycle their packaging products.

Every Bottle Back

Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper recently announced a plan, Every Bottle Back, to reduce their dependence on new plastic by collecting, recycling and remaking plastic bottles from plastic they have already produced. “Closed Loop Partners, the leading investment firm in sustainability, will manage upgrades to recycling infrastructure and fund upgrades to equipment at bottle recovery systems. The fund will also be used to help businesses that turn recycled bottles into plastic pellets for reuse in many products.”

The Ocean Clean Up

The Ocean Cleanup.

The Ocean Cleanup

Then there are the heroes of our planet.The Ocean Clean Up nonprofit organization, started by 25 year old Boyan Slat, is not only working on the clean up of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but has recently unveiled technology to clean up rivers that are streaming garbage to the ocean.
“The Interceptor is The Ocean Cleanup’s answer for river plastic waste. It is the first scalable solution to prevent plastic from entering the world’s oceans from rivers. It is 100% solar-powered, extracts plastic autonomously, and is capable of operating in the majority of the world’s most polluting rivers.”

The Interceptor

The Ocean Clean Up, Boyan Slat

But we cannot depend on a young man in his 20’s to clean up our planet, even though he has diligently done more than his part. We must all do our part also!

Sources:

*Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr Pepper team up for recycled plastics drive
Toby Hill,October 31, 2019
*NPR U.S. Recycling Industry Is Struggling To Figure Out A Future Without China August 20, 2019

Recycle

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Climate Change: Marine Heat Waves

The Ocean Heat Wave

The Blob shows the warmest ocean .

“In recent years large regions of unusually warm water have been observed in the global oceans.”

By John J. Hidore

Terrestrial heat waves have been a problem for the human species throughout history. They occur on all continents with the possible exception of Antarctica. Technically, they occur there as well. Terrestrial heat waves are defined as prolonged periods of unusually warm weather. What would be defined as a heat wave in one location would not be appropriate for another location, perhaps one not even too far away. An adequate definition might be, “A heat wave is an unusually warm or hot period lasting for days or perhaps weeks.” We associate them with summer but by this definition they can actually occur at any season. At least one country makes a clear definition of a heat wave and that is Pakistan. India defines heat waves and uses different temperatures in different parts of the country to establish what constitutes a heat wave. In the plains regions temperatures above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) constitute a heat wave. They also define a severe heatwave for this region as experiencing temperatures over 46 degrees C (114.8 degrees F).

The Ocean Heat Wave

Breaking previous ocean temperatures.

Marine heat waves

In recent years large regions of unusually warm water have been observed in the global oceans. These large areas of warmer than usual water develop when surface winds drop in velocity or become calm and are now referred to as marine heat waves. These large areas of unusually warm water(MHWs) are defined in similar terms to heat waves on land as prolonged periods of unusually warm water. In the United States NOAA defines a marine heat wave as an event where the surface water temperature is warmer than 90% of past events whose temperatures were warmer than average for that particular time of year and location for at least five days. The term” blob” has been applied to them. The term was the name given to an event that occurred off the west coast of the United States in 2014-2015.

Pacific Ocean Heat Wave of 2019

A marine heat wave developed over a large part of the northeastern Pacific Ocean this past summer. It extended from Hawaii to the Pacific coast of the United States and stretched all the way from Alaska to California. Temperatures off the coast here rose by 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit. Off the west coast of the United States the blob resulted in a large loss of marine life from microorganisms to large fish. It subsequently affected marine animals and birds. The Hawaiian Islands had the warmest summer on record this year. The effects of the current MHW had a major impact on life in the ocean near the islands. The warmer water resulting in extensive coral bleaching damage to the reefs.

These events are a product of the 21st century, occur in the oceans around the world and are occurring more often and are lasting longer.

Warming Ocean Temperatures

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Heating your RV

“Staying warm can be challenging, especially in an RV.”

By Linn Smith

Winter is upon us here in North America and staying warm can be challenging, especially in an RV. We have a Mr. Heater which we sometimes use in the RV, but I have always used it for short periods only, because I have never been sure of the safety when it comes to carbon monoxide emissions… and the RV chat groups on the internet have ceased to put my mind to rest.

Some RVers say they would never use a Mr. Heater in small spaces, others say they have used them for years. These heaters have built in safety features so, except for leaks at the connections which can be checked for after connecting, they are relatively safe. Mr. Heater has a sensor that shuts them down when oxygen gets low and a tip over safety feature which will also shut them down.

Mr. Heater

Mr. Heater attached to outside propane tank on RV.

Heating your RV

I have friends in Arizona who use only the Mr. Heater to heat their RV, running a Mr. Heater 12’ propane hose assembly from their outside propane tank. There are videos on YouTube for setting this up by drilling a hole in the floor of the RV.

What is the carbon foot print of propane heaters? According to Seattlepi.com, “Propane, though a fossil fuel, is a relatively clean burning fuel which is attributed to its lower carbon content….though its combustion does produce some greenhouse gas wastes.”

Solar on RV

Charge your battery with solar panels.

Although you can make many arguments for and against the environmental impact of an RV, most full time RVers go south for the winter, where they have access to an ideal heat source…warm weather and the warm sun shining through the windows. Today more and more RVs are equipped with solar panels to keep their battery charged.

Charging the battery with solar

The “green argument” for heating an RV with propane? It’s not ideal, but you are heating a very small space and if you travel south for the winter, a heater is only used occasionally for several hours at night.

Heating with a Mr. Heater

During my spare time I began watching videos on the safety of Mr. Heaters and found one that pretty much put my mind at rest, a video on YouTube hosted by a charismatic Canadian full time RVer, Taylor Dzaman. Mr. Dzaman did his own very thorough investigation on Mr. Heaters called “Are Buddy Heaters Safe Inside an RV/Carbon Monoxide full test (review). The question he asked, “Can you sleep all night long with a Buddy heater turned on in your RV. What about a tent? A room in your home? Does it give off carbon monoxide?”

Here’s the link to his YouTube video: https://youtu.be/5vqyfOq0D-8

Heating your RV

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U.N. Climate Action Awards: Eco Wave Power

Wave Power

Creating Electricity for the Ocean

“Eco Wave Power has successfully developed and commercialized wave energy.”

By Linn Smith

Eco Wave Power is a company founded in 2011 which is the only company in the world that turns ocean waves into clean energy, connecting wave floaters to the power grid. Since 2016 the Wave Farm has been providing Gibraltar, a tiny country bordering Spain, with electricity. Eco Wave Power is also a 2019 recipient of the United Nation’s Climate Action Award.

Clean Energy

Generating electricity from the ocean

Clean and Affordable Energy

According to the U.N. Climate Action organization,”The project generates clean and affordable electricity, using a simple design that allows the project’s uniquely shaped floaters to be attached to existing man-made structures (such as piers, breakwaters and jetties), and thereby simplifying the installation process, as well as maintenance and accessibility.”

Ocean Energy

Ocean waves create electricity in Gibraltar

How Wave Energy Works

The converter consists of three main functional parts: mechanical, hydraulic and electric systems. The mechanical system serves as a wave energy receiver on floaters and transmits the energy to hydraulic cylinders. The hydraulic system transforms the mechanical energy from the sea to hydraulic fluid pressure and forces a hydraulic motor rotation, which transfers the energy from rotation to the generator. The generator is part of a converter electrical system. It receives the energy from rotation and transforms it to electrical power.

Wave power

Generating clean energy

Key Facts according to U.N. Climate Action

*Wave energy has historically been uncommercialized due to the complexity of extracting energy from the ocean. This project has successfully developed and commercialized wave energy, resulting in a grid-connected array that has operated continuously since 2016.

*In 2018, the station set a world record for wave energy when it clocked over 15,000 grid-connection hours.

*Commercializing wave energy has enormous potential — the World Energy Council predicts that wave energy can produce twice the amount of electricity the world currently produces.

*More than half the world’s population lives within 100 km (62 miles) of a coastline, and in many locations, the power of the waves is available around the clock.

Being easy to build and cost efficient these floaters also have little negative impact on the environment. Gibraltar has been a test site and Eco Wave’s plan for further expansion are on the horizon!

Sources:
https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/women-for-results/eco-wave-power

http://www.ecowavepower.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_power

wave energy


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Unethical but not Illegal: Feeling Indifferent about Our Carbon Footprint

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

“The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.”

Joshua Becker

By Linn Smith

What is unethical? According to vocabulary.com it means, “Going against social or professional expectations of what’s right. It’s a word that’s often used to describe bad behavior or immoral conduct.”

What is the definition of Illegal? Laws and consequences that regulate human behavior.

Legally Destroying our Planet

Currently there are very few regulations on carbon dioxide and toxins we pour into our atmosphere, landfills and oceans. Most regulations are voluntary. What makes it unethical? The practice of adding more greenhouse gases and toxic materials to our earth and our atmosphere is a destructive force that negatively impacts our planet…but it’s not illegal!

We have produced generations of people that have lost all human memory of survival by using their own resources to live, such as growing gardens, canning, freezing, sewing their own clothes, harvesting their own honey….having the ability to live independent of industry. It’s the Industrial Revolution of destruction… consumers dependent on mass production which is destroying our planet!

The earth continues to warm

Fight against global warming!

Unethical but not Illegal

It’s not against the law to:

•Manufacture, transport and toss millions of plastic materials which, not only leave a huge carbon footprint in manufacturing, but end up in our lakes, rivers, oceans, landfills and falling from the sky in raindrops. Unethical but not illegal!

•Purchase gas guzzling vehicles that have left huge carbon footprints even before being purchased.

•Spend thousands on the latest fashions. The fashion industry leaves a huge toxic trail before you see it on the racks of your favorite retail outlet. Unethical but not illegal.

•Buy the latest and greatest cell phone….huge carbon footprint!

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

The Most Environmentally Friendly Product

Here’s a suggestion. Why not buy used and donate the difference to The Ocean Cleanup (which is currently cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage patch), a nonprofit clean energy organization, homeless shelters, a children’s hospital or a horse rescue, just to name a few possibilities. There are many horse rescues around and they always need hay! Just google one and offer to buy a few bales once in awhile! (I volunteer at horse rescues so I know this firsthand.)

The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy!” and I will insert “buy new!”

cop21

Extreme Weather

The Industrial Revolution cannot continue. Underdeveloped countries need to develop in an environmentally friendly direction and developed countries need to take a look at the meaning of economic growth if the meaning of economic growth is further destruction to our planet!

How much extreme weather can we endure and how many species will become extinct? Can we just turn our backs and say it’s too late or worse, nothing I can do will matter?

Tagore had it right! “The one who plants trees, knowing that they will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life.”

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Record Breaking Temperatures Across our Planet

Climate Change, Global Warming

Climate Change Affects Everyone!

“The average temperature of our planet is heating up!”

By Linn Smith

I can attest, being a resident of the western United States, that the summer of 2019 was HOT! In the west records were broken in most states along with the number of days over 90 degrees. In the Northern Hemisphere, June and July of 2019 were the hottest ever recorded, tied with the records of 2016. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July was 1.71 degrees hotter than the average.

Africa just recorded its hottest months ever and countries in Europe also experienced record highs. The Earth’s oceans recorded highs this summer, about 1.5 degrees F above normal for July. Denver, Colorado had the hottest September on record, with a record breaking 100 degrees, which had never happened before in September.

Sustainable living

It’s our responsibility to change.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrative Data

The following information is data taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrative( NOAA) website which has the correct data on the record highs this summer (2019):

August 2019: The average global temperature in August was 1.66 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees, tying it with 2015 and 2017 as the second-hottest August in the 140-year record, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The hottest August on record was August 2016, and the five hottest Augusts on record have all occurred since 2014.

The global sea surface temperature last month was 1.51°F above the 20th century monthly average of 61.4°F, making it the highest global ocean temperature for August on record.

Climate Change

Temperatures are steadily rising on our planet.

Meteorological summer in the Northern Hemisphere

June through August 2019 was the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest meteorological summer on record, tied with 2016. The period of June through August, which also marks the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, was the planet’s second hottest in the 140-year record at 1.67 degrees F above the 20th-century average, behind June-August of 2016. The last five June-August periods are the five hottest on record.

The period from January through August produced a global temperature that was 1.69 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 57.3 degrees (for both hemispheres, one being in winter), making it the third hottest January-August period on record after 2016 and 2017.

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

More notable stats and facts

*Sea ice retreats: The August Arctic sea ice coverage was 30.1 percent below average, right behind August 2012’s record-lowest extent. Antarctic sea ice extent was the fifth smallest August extent on record.

*Regional record heat: Europe, Africa and the Hawaiian region had August temperatures that ranked among their three hottest Augusts on record.

*Scorching season for some: Africa had its warmest June–August since records began. South America and Europe had a June–August temperature that ranked among the three-warmest such periods on record.

Is it warming up where you are? The answer is yes. Even though you still have cold days and seasonal changes, the climate average of our planet is heating up!

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/?Set-Language=ar

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The Greenhouse Effect: Dangers of Methane

The Methane Molecule

The methane molecule binds heat because of its make up.

“Keeping methane emissions in check is essential to prevent global warming.”

By Linn Smith

As we battle the effects of climate change we must also educate ourselves about the changes taking place in our atmosphere. The two main components humans are dumping into our atmosphere that are contributing to the greenhouse effect are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane(CH4).

CO2 vs Methane

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the emission we think of as creating the greatest impact on global warming. The least talked about until recently is methane. The increase in fracking for natural gas has resulted in an increase of methane in our atmosphere.

A 2015 study published in ScienceMagazine.org revealed that emissions of methane in our atmosphere was approximately 60% greater than has been estimated by the EPA, as the EPA did not include the emissions from fracking and drilling sites not currently active.

Methane leaks by oil rigs

Methane leaking in the U.S.

Satellite Detection of Methane

As stated in my previous article, https://planetearth5.com/2014/10/30/the-hottest-spot-of-methane-in-the-u-s/, data from satellites have detected the largest gas leaks from major sources. Newer and more efficient satellites, MethaneSAT, are due to be launched in 2021. These satellites are so advanced they will be able to pinpoint individual producers of greenhouse gases from oil rigs.

Methane

The make up of the methane molecule.

Methane and the Greenhouse Effect

What then makes methane so deadly to our plMethaneanet? When we hear the term greenhouse effect, it isn’t all negative. Some of it is a natural process of keeping the earth warm so we can inhabit it. The sun’s rays make their way to Earth, trapping some of the energy in our atmosphere where the natural greenhouse gases are interconnected with the energy of the sun making our planet livable.

The Scientific Explanation of Greenhouse Gases

The greenhouse gases are molecules made up of 3 or more atoms bound together loosely so they can vibrate when they absorb heat. This keeps heat near the Earth’s surface. Most of the gas in our atmosphere is made up of oxygen and nitrogen which are made up of 2 atoms bound together more tightly than the greenhouse gas molecules, which are three or more atoms. Two atoms bound together can’t vibrate as three or more atoms do, so they can’t absorb the sun’s heat as it travels back from earth into space. The vibrating and absorption of heat by the molecules made up of 3 or more atoms causes the greenhouse effect.

Methane is made up of 5 atoms and carbon dioxide of 3, so methane is able to absorb far more heat than CO2 even though there is less methane in our atmosphere. The more methane and CO2 flood our atmosphere, the greater the greenhouse effect because of their 3 and 5 atom makeup. The methane molecule can stay 10 or more years in the earth’s atmosphere, not as long as carbon dioxide but binding more unwanted heat in its molecules. For more information see: UCAR Center for Science Education (scied.ucar.edu).

Methane a greenhouse gas

84 times more potent than co2.

Global Warming Potential of Methane

According to National Geographic.com, “The 20 year global warming potential of methane is 84. That is, over a 20 year period it traps 84 times more heat per mass unit than CO2 and 32 times the effect when accounting for aerosol interactions. Global methane concentrations rose from 722 parts per billion (ppb) in pre-industrial times to 1866 ppb in 2019.” Methane has risen more than 150% ppm since the 1700s. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has warned that keeping methane emissions in check is essential to prevent global warming.

In 2016 during the Obama administration, steps were put in place to regulate the fracking and drilling industries’ emission of methane, cutting the total emissions in half by 2025. Last month the Trump administration announced they had plans to loosen these regulations.

Emissions of methane

Methane is a greenhouse gas.

As these more dangerous gases are released into our atmosphere by gas vehicles, industry, drilling and heating our homes, our planet continues to move towards an unbalanced system. This will continue in the future to cause our earth to warm, weather to be more extreme, ice to melt in the arctic and many species to become extinct…..possibly even humans. So sense of urgency? Yes, because our focus on wealth by and for continuous development in the private sector, industry and government seems to be speaking louder than our suffering planet.

Methane: A greenhouse gas

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Climate Change Brings Hotter Heat Waves

Indian drought

Millions effected by the drought

“Heat Waves: They will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places.”

By Dr. John J. Hidore

When it seems unusually warm someplace there is a tendency to describe it as a heat wave. The reason is simple. Normal high temperatures vary greatly from place to place. So what would be defined as a heat wave in one location would not be appropriate for another location, perhaps one not too far away. An adequate definition might be, “A heat wave is an unusually warm or hot period lasting for days or perhaps weeks.”

We associate heat waves with summer, but by this definition they can actually occur at any season. India and Pakistan make a clear definition of a heat wave and they use different temperatures in different parts of the country to establish what constitutes a heat wave. In the plains regions temperatures above 40 C (104F) constitute a heat wave. They also define a severe heatwave for this region as experiencing temperatures over 46 C (114.8F).

Fossil Fuels

Coal and Oil Formation

Western European Heat wave of 2019

The last two decades have seen the hottest summers in the last 500 years.The summer of 2019 was no exception. July of this year was the warmest July ever recorded for the planet. Record high temperatures were recorded over much of western Europe in the last week of July. In Paris, France the temperature reached 110°F ( 43°C ) on July 25. In Bayreuth, Germany the temperature reached a record 93°F (34°C). A high of 105 °F (41°C ) was recorded in Belgium. The high temperatures became a health hazard, particularly for the elderly.

It was the lack of air conditioning and the high temperatures which were largely responsible for the high death toll in Europe in the summer of 2003. The use of air conditioning varies greatly from country to country. Over 90% of households in Japan and the United States have air conditioning systems. There is relatively little installed air conditioning in households in Europe. In Germany, for instance, less than two percent of households have air conditioning systems. Parts of Paris are served by a cold water pipeline system that uses water from the Seine River for cooling.

The Barefoot College

Gandhi’s Philosophy: The small villages must be empowered.

Indian heat wave of 2016

India experienced unusually high temperatures in 2016. Temperatures were above normal most of the spring. Normally, the hottest months of the year are April, May, and June, before the summer monsoon rains begin. In May a severe heat wave alert was issued for several states. A severe heat wave is one in which temperatures of at least 117°F (47.2°C) occur. In the city of Philodi, in western India unofficial temperatures reached 124°F (51°C). This is the highest temperature on record in India. Temperatures averaged above 104 ºF (40°C) over large areas. Some urban high temperatures were:

New Delhi 47 °C (117 ºF)
Churu 50 °C (122 ºF)
Philodi 51.°C (124 ºF)

The impact on the country was immense. More than 300 million people were adversely affected. Crops failed or were below average in 13 states in the last growing season . Thousands of farmers abandoned their farms. In places the asphalt on the streets partially melted. At Bikaner, the streets were being sprinkled with water to reduce the heat. Some 17,000 villages had, or were facing water shortages. Several Indian states shut down schools to reduce risk to students. Heatstroke was a widespread problem and many deaths were reported across the region. Fortunately the government responded in a variety of ways to reduce the suffering and mortality.

Global Greenhouse Gases

Asian heat waves of 2015

In 2015 a May heat wave in India claimed at least 2,500 lives. Heat waves are fairly frequent in India but this was the greatest loss of life from a heat wave in over 30 years. Extremely high temperatures were reached in cities scattered over the country. Power outages were wide spread as a result of high demand for air conditioning. The city of Khammam recorded the highest temperature ever recorded there at 48 degrees C (118.4 degrees F). Other high temperatures that were recorded were:

Allahabad 47.8 C (118.0 F)
Delhi 45.5 C (113.9 F)
Hyderabad 46 C (115 F)
Jharsuguda 45.4 C (113.7 F)

In June the deadliest heat wave known to have occurred in Pakistan took place in the southern part of the country near Karachi. The death toll is unknown for certain, but may have reached more than 1000. It followed by several weeks the severe heat wave that struck India. The heat wave struck during the month of Ramadan which made the impact of the event more severe than it might have been. Unfortunately, city services were not in condition to cope with the heat.

Perhaps the most deadly heat wave of the 21st Century was that which occurred in Europe in August of 2003. Temperatures in France reached as much as 40°C (104F) and remained exceptionally high for two weeks resulting in nearly 15,000 deaths in that country alone. The death toll over Europe reached 35,000 at least and may have been as high as 50,000. A large contributing factor in the high death toll was warmer nighttime temperatures. Nighttime temperatures were much warmer than normal. As a result people without air conditioning could not cool down during the night. The heat stress accumulated over time.

Extreme heat waves also can devastate agriculture. In Europe in the heat wave of 2003 temperatures averaged 5.5°C (10°F) above normal. In Italy corn yields dropped 36% below average. In France fruit yields fell 25% and wine production 10%. Heat also affects the rate of plant pollination.

As the planet warms it can be expected that: (1) there will be more severe heat waves and (2) They will become hotter, more frequent, last longer, and occur in more varied places. New record high temperatures will be set for the planet As cities grow larger in area and population they will also experience increasing heat waves.