The Climate Emergency in a COVID Year
In this episode of BioScience Talks, Climate Emergency coauthor Jillian Gregg, who is with the Sustainability Double Degree program and the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University, joins us to discuss the latest climate update and the urgent actions needed ensure the long-term sustainability of human civilization.
In a year marked by unprecedented flooding, deadly avalanches, and scorching heat waves and wildfires, the climate emergency's enormous cost—whether measured in lost resources or human lives—is all too apparent. Writing in BioScience, a group led by William J. Ripple and Christopher Wolf, both with Oregon State University, update their striking 2019 "World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency" with new data on the climate's health. The news is not good.
Although fossil fuel use dipped slightly in 2020, a widely predicted result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors report that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide "have all set new year-to-date records for atmospheric concentrations in both 2020 and 2021." Furthermore, 16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs, reflecting metrics such as greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content, and ice mass, have also set disquieting records. However, there were a few bright spots, including fossil fuel subsidies reaching a record low and fossil fuel divestment reaching a record high.
In this episode of BioScience Talks, coauthor Jillian Gregg, who is with the Sustainability Double Degree program and the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University, joins us to discuss the latest climate update and the urgent actions needed ensure the long-term sustainability of human civilization.
Notes: For our discussion on extreme climate event attribution, we would like to clarify that current methods do not assess whether individual events are caused by climate change, but instead assess whether these events (floods, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, fires) are larger, more intense, or more frequent, as a result of climate change.
Links to some of the resources we discuss:
- Carbon Brief summarizes extreme weather events
- Al Gore Climate Reality Training
- Exeter University YouTube on how they are becoming carbon neutral
- We refer to the "Princeton group," which is the Climate Central Surging Seas site for visualizing sea level rise