Justin Gillis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Scientists say their inability to know for certain is a reflection not just of the scientific difficulty of the problem, but also of society’s failure to invest in an adequate monitoring system to keep up with the profound changes humans are wreaking on the planet.
CAPE GRIM, Tasmania — On the best days, the wind howling across this rugged promontory has not touched land for thousands of miles, and the arriving air seems as if it should be the cleanest in the world.
But on a cliff above the sea, inside a low-slung government building, a bank of sophisticated machines sniffs that air day and night, revealing telltale indicators of the way human activity is altering the planet on a major scale.
For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017.
Scientists are concerned about the cause of the rapid rises because, in one of the most hopeful signs since the global climate crisis became widely understood in the 1980s, the amount of carbon dioxide that people are pumping into the air seems to have stabilized in recent years, at least judging from the data that countries compile on their own emissions.
That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever? Does it mean the natural sponges that have been absorbing carbon dioxide are now changing?
“To me, it’s a warning,” said Josep G. Canadell, an Australian climate scientist who runs the Global Carbon Project, a collaboration among several countries to monitor emissions trends.
Read more at: Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize – The New York Times
SONOMA VALLEY SUN
The post-election landscape for climate change policy has introduced an atmosphere of uncertainty, fear and doubt that necessary progress will be supported by the federal government. In Sonoma County, the outlook is brighter for positive action. The onus is now more clearly on accomplishing climate goals at regional levels.
The number one source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is transportation.
Many regional government agencies and non-governmental agencies are pursuing different aspects of climate change. These actors cross a spectrum of county sectors and interests. Business interests respond to cost savings, and there is movement in building energy efficiency. In spite of tensions between different climate action approaches, Sonoma County’s aggregate efforts are far ahead of the rest of the nation.
Groups such as Wine Water Watch, and Preserve Rural Sonoma County continue to challenge business as usual wine/tourism, climate-related land use decisions that result in loss of carbon sequestering forest cover and higher vehicle miles traveled. The Greenbelt Alliance is a strong advocate of regional planning and high-density infill practices (not South Bay sprawl) that reduce GHG emissions.
The Regional Climate Protection Authority has developed the Climate Action 2020 framework, for county municipalities to reduce, by the year 2020, GHG emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels The state of California, by Governor Brown’s executive order B-3-15, is shooting to get to 40 percent below 1990 levels, by the year 2030. To meet these goals, a lot of work remains.
Jerry Bernhaut, of California River Watch, challenged the Regional Climate Protection Authority’s plans in a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit, for what he sees as a lack of full cost accounting for county transportation and wine industry GHG emissions. Bernhaut, and others, believe the GHG reduction baselines are not low enough to result in meaningful long-term GHG reductions. This lawsuit has temporarily slowed the momentum for county climate action implementations. There will be a hearing on March 10 to see where the case stands.
Read more at http://sonomasun.com/2017/02/24/update-sonoma-climate-action-plan/