Tuesday, November 07, 2017

37.4 - Not Good News: CO2 levels reach record high; ocean plastic bigger hazard then thought

Not Good News: CO2 levels reach record high; ocean plastic bigger hazard then thought

It's good we have some Good News on the environment because we also have some Not Good News on the same topic.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), concentrations of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, reaching a level not seen in 800,000 years.

The figure of 403.3 parts per million is based on measurements taken in 51 countries.

Just as worrisome is that it wasn't just an increase to a new high, it was the largest year-to-year increase the WMO has seen in the 30 years it's had the current reporting network and was 50% higher than the average year-to-year increase of the part 10 years.

Scientists fear this could put global temperature targets intended to head off the worst of global warming largely out of reach.

The report also raised another concern: The levels of methane in the atmosphere have seen a rapid rise over the past few years and scientists don't understand why. There is fear it's a sign of a positive reinforcement cycle where methane released from natural sources helps drive temperature increases which result in those natural sources releasing more methane which drives additional warmth, and so on.

Methane is not nearly as abundant in the atmosphere as is CO2, but it is by volume significantly more potent as a greenhouse gas.

And yet we have people like President Tweetie-pie and EPA Director Scott Pee-yew-itt and their ilk dismissing the whole idea of climate change. I've come to the conclusion that these people must hate civilization, hate the future, and hate their children. There is no other logical explanation.

And while you're thinking about that, here's another way humans have screwed things up.

Ocean plastic is an indiscriminate hazard. It harms fish and kills seabirds, which wash up with bellies full of trash. Turtles swallow it. It damages plankton and corals, which sometimes are found with particles wedged in their guts.

For years, biologists and conservationists assumed that most sea creatures ate plastic by accident. But a growing number of studies suggests another more disturbing reason. Marine animals aren't eating our plastic waste because they are hungry or lazy or confused but because they want to. Because they like it.

Put another way, the plastics we make taste good. And we don't even know what ingredient or ingredients it is that make this non-nutritious, non-biodegradable, damaging junk so tasty.

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