Earth witnesses hottest August ever recorded

2016’s global temperatures keep on breaking new records, NASA has said, declaring last month the hottest ever August to be recorded on Earth.

Last month earned the title of warmest ever August on Earth since 1880, when record-keeping began, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York announced in a press release on Monday. The findings come soon after NASA branded July 2016 both the hottest ever July and the hottest ever month on record.

August 2016 was 0.16 degrees Celsius warmer than the last hottest August which took place recently, in 2014. Last month’s temperatures were also 0.98 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean August temperature from 1951-1980, scientists said.

What is more, August 2016 managed to tie with July as the hottest month on record. August is also the 11th consecutive month during which global temperatures have broken all records, scientists pointed out, adding that the trend goes all the way back to October 2015.

Scientists said that long-term trends are the key to understanding the changes taking place on our planet.

“Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “We stress that the long-term trends are the most important for understanding the ongoing changes that are affecting our planet.”

To carry out its monthly analysis NASA collects data from some 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will announce its own August data later this month. Last month NOAA said that July 2016 was the 14th consecutive month with record high temperatures. April 2015 was the last month when the Earth did not encounter any record high temperatures.

READ MORE: Global temperatures set 14th consecutive monthly record

An upward trend in global temperatures has been noticed since 2014. Last year was considered the hottest on record surpassing its previous rival – 2014. This year is thought to have every chance of beating 2015, as the first six months of this year were all record warm.

NASA chief climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said earlier that 2016 has a 99 percent chance of being a third record hot year in a row. Last month he warned that the average temperature of Earth is rising at a pace “unprecedented in 1,000 years”.

Global warming making oceans sick, spreading disease in humans and animals, scientists warn

Global warming is making the oceans sicker than ever before, spreading disease among animals and humans and threatening food security across the planet, a major scientific report said.

The findings, based on peer-reviewed research, were compiled by 80 scientists from 12 countries, experts said at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.

"We all know that the oceans sustain this planet. We all know that the oceans provide every second breath we take," IUCN director general Inger Andersen said at the meeting, which has drawn 9,000 leaders and environmentalists to Honolulu.

"And yet we are making the oceans sick."

The report, Explaining Ocean Warming, is the "most comprehensive, most systematic study we have ever undertaken on the consequence of this warming on the ocean", co-lead author Dan Laffoley said.

The world's waters have absorbed more than 93 per cent of the enhanced heating from climate change since the 1970s, curbing the heat felt on land, but drastically altering the rhythm of life in the ocean, he said.

Mr Laffoley, marine vice chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas at IUCN, said "the ocean has been shielding us and the consequences of this are absolutely massive".

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Warming likely to change turtle sex ratio

The study included every major marine ecosystem, containing everything from microbes to whales, including the deep ocean.

It documents evidence of jellyfish, seabirds and plankton shifting toward the cooler poles by up to 10 degrees latitude.

Mr Laffoley said the movement in the marine environment was "1.5 to five times as fast as anything we are seeing on the ground."

"We are changing the seasons in the ocean."

The higher temperatures will probably change the sex ratio of turtles in the future, because females are more likely to be born in warmer temperatures.

The heat also means microbes dominate larger areas of the ocean.

"When you look overall, you see a comprehensive and worrying set of consequences," Mr Laffoley said.

Evidence warming causing plant, animal disease

ore than 25 per cent of the report's information is new, published in peer-reviewed journals since 2014, including studies showing global warming is affecting weather patterns and making storms more common.

The study includes evidence ocean warming "is causing increased disease in plant and animal populations", it said.

Pathogens such as cholera-bearing bacteria and toxic algal blooms that can cause neurological illnesses such as ciguatera poisoning spread more easily in warm water, with direct impact on human health.

"We are no longer the casual observers in the room," Mr Laffoley said.

"What we have done is unwittingly put ourselves in the test tube where the experiment is being undertaken."

Coral reefs killed off at unprecedented rate

 

Meanwhile, the hotter oceans have killed off coral reefs at an unprecedented rate, reducing fish species by eliminating their habitats.

The loss of reefs cuts down on the abundance of certain fish, with implications for food security.

"In South-East Asia, harvests from marine fisheries are expected to fall by between 10 per cent and 30 per cent by 2050, relative to 1970-2000, as the distributions of fish species shift," the report said.

The report highlights the need for swift action on renewable energies, experts said.

"We need to cut greenhouse gases," director of the global marine and polar program at IUCN Carl Gustaf Lundin said.

"There is no doubt in all our minds that we are the cause of this.

"We know what the solutions are. We need to get on with it."

AFP

Modern environment blamed for 40% rise in children’s cancer cases

The number of cancer cases in children has leapt by 40 per cent in less than two decades because of pollution, pesticides and gadgets, new analysis has shown.

There are 1,300 more diagnoses of the disease a year in people under the age of 25 compared to 1998 – costing the NHS £130 million extra a year.

Cases of colon cancer in children are up 200 per cent, while thyroid cancer cases have more than doubled.

Ovarian and cervical cancer cases have also seen stark rises – up by 70 per cent and 50 per cent respectively, analysis of ONS data by the charity Children with Cancer UK found.

Around 4,000 children and young people develop cancer each year and it is the leading cause of death in children aged one to 14 in the UK.

The 40 per cent jump in cases over 16 years is partially attributed to population growth, as the incidence rate per 100,000 people has risen by 30 per cent.

However, Professor Denis Henshaw, scientific director at Children with Cancer UK, said that lifestyle and environmental factors could play a part in the rise.

“These significant rises in cancer cases cannot be explained by improvements in cancer diagnosis or registration alone – lifestyle and environmental causal factors must be considered.”

He said that burnt barbecues, the electric fields of power lines, and hairdriers were contributors to the rise, as well as a pregnant women’s diet and working shifts.

“We were shocked to see the figures, and it’s the modern lifestyle I’m afraid. Many items on the list of environmental causes are now known to be carcinogenic, such as air pollution and pesticides and solvents.”

He added: “What’s worrying is it is very hard to avoid a lot of these things. How can you avoid air pollution? It sometimes feels like we are fighting a losing battle.”

Children with Cancer UK are calling on the Government and medical and science community to ensure children with cancer have access to precision medicine by 2020.

The charity is hosting a three-day international conference on childhood cancer which begins today. It will look at precision medicine, immunotherapy and influenceable causes of childhood cancer.

Precision medicine – which considers an individual’s genes, environment and lifestyle to provide more targeted treatment – needs to be offered to all young people within the framework of clinical trials by 2020, the charity’s medical director has claimed.

2016 on Pace to Be Hottest Year Ever, CO2 at Record High: UN

The world is on track for its hottest year on record, the World Meteorological Organization says.

The world is on track for its hottest year on record and levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached new highs, further fuelling global warming, the United Nations weather agency said Thursday.

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June marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans, the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, said.

The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3°Celsius (2.4°Fahrenheit) warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th Century, according to NASA.

"This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to speed up the shift to low carbon economies and renewable energy," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

Under December's Paris Agreement, nearly 200 governments agreed to limit global warming to "well below" 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial times, while "pursuing efforts" for a ceiling of just 1.5°C. Temperatures are already nudging toward that lower limit.

"The heat has been especially pronounced in the Arctic, resulting in a very early onset of the annual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic sea ice," WMO said.

"What we’ve seen for the first six months of 2016 is really quite alarming," David Carlson, director of the WMO’s Climate Research Program, told a news briefing. "We would have thought it would take several years to warm up like this ... We don't have as much time as we thought."

RELATED: 'Climate Emergency' Declared As Jet Stream Crosses Equator

The northern hemisphere, including the state of Alaska in the United States, Canada and Russia, have posted unusually warm temperatures, he said.

The last month with global temperatures below the 20th Century average was December 1984.

A strong El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon associated with extreme droughts, storms and floods, "has now disappeared," the WMO said in a statement.

The El Nino event developed in 2015 and contributed to the record temperatures in the first half of 2016 before disappearing in May, WMO said.

"Climate change, caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases, will not (disappear). This means we face more heat waves, more extreme rainfall and potential for higher impact tropical cyclones," said Taalas.

We just broke the record for hottest year, nine straight times

Earth’s record hottest 12 consecutive months were set in each month ending in September 2015 through May 2016.

2014 and 2015 each set the record for hottest calendar year since we began measuring surface temperatures over 150 years ago, and 2016 is almost certain to break the record once again. It will be without precedent: the first time that we’ve seen three consecutive record-breaking hot years.

But it’s just happenstance that the calendar year begins in January, and so it’s also informative to compare all yearlong periods. In doing so, it becomes clear that we’re living in astonishingly hot times.

June 2015 through May 2016 was the hottest 12-month period on record. That was also true of May 2015 through April 2016, and the 12 months ending in March 2016. In fact, it’s true for every 12 months going all the way back to the period ending in September 2015, according to global surface temperature data compiled by Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way. We just set the record for hottest year in each of the past 9 months.

 

These record temperatures have been assisted by a very strong El Niño event, which brought warm water to the ocean surface, temporarily warming global surface temperatures. But today’s temperatures are only record-setting because the El Niño was superimposed on top of human-caused global warming.

For comparison, 1997–1998 saw a very similar monster El Niño event. And similarly, the 12-month hottest temperature record was set in each month from October 1997 through August 1998. That was likewise a case of El Niño and global warming teaming up to shatter previous temperature records.

The difference is that while September 1997–August 1998 was the hottest 12-month period on record at the time; it’s now in 60th place. It’s been surpassed by yearlong periods in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Many of those years weren’t even aided by El Niño events; unassisted global warming made them hotter than 1998.

Global surface temperatures are now more than 0.3°C hotter than they were in 1997–1998. That’s a remarkable rise over just 18 years, in comparison to the 1°C the Earth’s average surface temperatures have risen since the Industrial Revolution began.

This has all happened during a time when ‘no significant warming in 18 years’ has been one of the rallying cries of climate denial. In reality, when we compare apples to apples – El Niño years to El Niño years – we’ve seen more than 0.3°C global surface warming over the past 18 years, which is in line with climate model predictions. ‘Climate models are wrong’ has been another now-debunked climate denial rallying cry.

Now that the past year’s El Niño event is over, the streak of record-breaking yearlong periods appears to have ended. Nevertheless, 2016 remains on track to break that record for the hottest calendar year, for an unprecedented third consecutive year, following record years in 2010 and 2005 as well.

With the Earth warming dangerously rapidly, at a rate 20–50 times faster than the fastest rate of natural global warming, one can’t help but wonder when the influence of the small minority of disproportionately powerful climate denial groups will wane.

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195 countries pledged to curb their carbon pollution in the tremendously successful Paris climate negotiations, but climate denial is still predominant in one of America’s two political parties, and may be gaining foothold in other regions of the Anglosphere like the UK and Australia. Fortunately, many other countries like China, India, and Canada seem to be moving in the right direction with their climate and energy policies.

Now that climate denial’s bread and butter arguments are toast, November’s US elections will be critical in determining whether the country continues along the path of climate leadership established by President Obama, or allows the oil industry’s puppet party to continue peddling long-debunked myths in order to delay climate action and put future generations at risk.

With global warming constantly breaking temperature records, and dozens of scientific organizations warning policymakers that “To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” we can no longer use ignorance as an excuse.

Leonardo DiCaprio wants his L.A. friends to fly halfway across the world to fight global warming

In an attempt to save the planet from climate change, Leonardo DiCaprio has found himself in hot water.

The Oscar-winning actor is hosting an exclusive gala in St. Tropez to raise money to stop global warming — and is asking his celebrity guests to fly halfway around the world to attend.

Many are criticizing DiCaprio’s event, arguing that flying from Los Angeles, where many guests live, to the south of France is not environmentally friendly, as private jets in particular leave a serious carbon footprint.

Hollywood elites including Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert De Niro and Kevin Spacey are expected to be among the 500 guests, alongside wealthy philanthropists and business tycoons.

Danny Harvey, a professor who specializes in global warming and energy efficiency at the University of Toronto, said that while airplanes can be harmful, the outcome of the fundraiser may be worth traveling to Europe.

“OK, there’s some C02 emissions, but what are the benefits of this one event? Maybe the benefits outweigh it,” Harvey said.

The event — The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Annual Gala To Fund Climate and Biodiversity Projects — reportedly raised US$40 million last year, and this year’s July 20 fundraiser aims to help fund research and project grants for climate change.

The Daily Mail reported that tables at the gala’s dinner range from US$77,000 to US$160,000.

“If (guests) want to have the lowest impact, they should go economy class in a big commercial airline on a non-stop flight,” Harvey said.

“Private jets might be harder to justify, unless everyone is going in the same jet.”

Gideon Forman, a climate change policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation, echoed Harvey’s stance, and said traveling in the day has less impact than flying at night.

“If this is the only way to do it, and this is a crucial climate meeting, that would be some reason to go ahead, because the climate issue is so pressing,” Forman said.

“You can also buy carbon offsets…that’s another thing the participants can do.”

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Ozone layer ‘to heal’ by 2050, hole shrank by 4 million sq km in last 15yrs – researchers

The hole in the ozone layer has diminished by 4 million sq km since 2000 and could heal completely by 2050, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown in their latest study, which appeared in the journal Science.

The changes have happened largely due to the Montreal Protocol adopted in 1987 that oversaw the ban of chemicals.

“We can now be confident that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal,” lead author Susan Solomon, the professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at MIT, has said, as quoted by the university’s news outlet.

“Which is pretty good for us, isn’t it? Aren’t we amazing humans, that we did something that created a situation that we decided collectively, as a world, ‘Let’s get rid of these molecules’? We got rid of them, and now we’re seeing the planet respond.”

The process wasn’t uniform, though. At times it slowed, mainly due to the effect of volcanic eruptions.

 
The ozone hole was first found back in the 1950s, and some 30 years later, researchers from the British Antarctic survey paid attention to the fact the ozone layer was depleting.

So what destroys ozone in general? The chemical is sensitive to chlorine originating from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emitted by dry cleaning processes, old refrigerators, and aerosols such as hairspray. However, there are other factors that trigger the depletion, including temperature and sunlight. It should be cold with light present to start the ozone-chlorine reaction, with this fact discovered in 1987 by none other than Susan Solomon, lead author of the latest research.

Ozone depletion over Antarctica begins in late August - deep winter at the South Pole, but with daylight returning - and the hole is formed by October. In the latest study, though, researchers decided to look at the hole while it is still forming, in September.

“I think people, myself included, had been too focused on October, because that’s when the ozone hole is enormous, in its full glory,” Solomon said.

“But October is also subject to the slings and arrows of other things that vary, like slight changes in meteorology. September is a better time to look because chlorine chemistry is firmly in control of the rate at which the hole forms at that time of year. That point hasn’t really been made strongly in the past,” she added.

Researchers have looked at the ozone hole in September over the past 15 years, examining ozone data taken from weather balloons and satellites. They also measured sulfur dioxide emitted by volcanoes, which can also add to the ozone depletion. Finally, they tracked meteorological factors such as temperature and wind.

What they found was startling: the ozone hole had shrunk by 4 million sq km by 2015. And the predictions for the future are good.

“It’s been interesting to think about this in a different month, and looking in September was a novel way. It showed we can actually see a chemical fingerprint, which is sensitive to the levels of chlorine, finally emerging as a sign of recovery,” Diane Ivy, research scientist with MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, said.

An interesting detail for the scientists was that the ozone depletion spiked in 2015, but this was mainly because of the eruption of the Chilean volcano Calbuco, which emitted small particles that increased the amount of polar clouds that reacts with the human-made chlorine.

However, Solomon sees no reason why the ozone hole shouldn’t close forever by 2050.

“What’s exciting for me personally is, this brings so much of my own work over 30 years full circle. Science was helpful in showing the path, diplomats and countries and industry were incredibly able in charting a pathway out of these molecules, and now we’ve actually seen the planet starting to get better. It’s a wonderful thing,” she said.

Death from Air Pollution Will Double or Triple by 2060

PARIS – The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, stressed in a report published on Thursday that death rates due to air pollution in the world will double or triple by the year 2060 if the rates of pollution remained high.

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