These nine charts best tell the climate story (with the UN summit in Glasgow approaching)

The Glasgow Climate Summit at the end of this month will be all about saving what can be saved. These nine charts immediately show how fast warming is progressing.

When world leaders from around the world gather on October 31 in the futuristic-designed buildings of the SEC Event Center in Glasgow, there is one truth that few will say out loud: The Climate Summit has already failed before it even began.

At the summit, the most important since the Paris Summit (2015), the international community must pledge to limit global warming to 1.5°C by the end of the 19th century. Calculations show that this goal is in fact actually unattainable. We’ve already crossed 1°C, and with current promises included, a warming of between 1.6 and 2.7° is already inevitable: the sixth graph on these pages gives a good overview of the situation.

And even that only happens if everyone really sticks to their climate promises and goes further. If policy remains unchanged, we are headed for a temperature rise of about 3 degrees, well above the 2 degree limit that UN member states have described as “dangerous”. The risk of irreversible melting of large glaciers in Greenland and West Antarctica, which is probably a good thing for a sea level rise of tens of meters in a few centuries, becomes very large on top of that: see chart VIII, on ‘Wake Giants’.

In Glasgow, the game will essentially be: save what can be saved. New ropes are not signed. It all revolves around the question of how far people can still deliver on the promises of the climate in Paris. Many countries are expected to toughen their targets by shutting down more coal-fired power plants, bringing forward deadlines for various climate goals, reducing methane emissions and allocating more money for climate offsets in poor countries.

Through this comes the question of who exactly is coming – which is important as to the weight that is given to promises. For example, it remains uncertain whether China, the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas country, will send its supreme leader Xi Jinping, and what exactly are the plans of India, Australia and Indonesia, all major CO2 countries.

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1 | Our warm land

Ah, climate change. The climate is always changing, right? This graph, made by scientists at Oxford University, tells a different story. The blue line is what we’ll likely see if nature takes its course: the sun’s activity, the smoke of volcanoes. Indeed, global temperature follows the black line: a chain that is becoming increasingly disconnected from nature.

Reason? The orange line, or the expected effect of greenhouse gases. raises the temperature; In one fell swoop you see: It’s really humans who are heating up the Earth with greenhouse gases.

2 | The sting that greenhouse gases take

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If the Earth were a huge black ball heated only by the Sun, the red line would be the spectrum of light emitted by it, well. Indeed, the satellites look like blue mountain landscapes, with all the stings. This is what limits Earth’s energy, because greenhouse gases absorb energy in the atmosphere.

Each greenhouse gas does this on its side of the wavelength. For example, much of the radiation is stopped by H2O water vapor. But watch out for that big bite, which essentially takes greenhouse gas CO2 from the Earth’s energy spectrum, in the infrared. It’s a sting that the satellites see getting deeper and deeper.

It is not easy to graph. However, the graph shows the most direct and measurable evidence of an “enhanced” greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases, such as methane, and methane) push a deeper sink in energy that would otherwise radiate away from Earth. And what does not radiate away, sticks – and warms the earth.

3 | The peak carbon dioxide we live in

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By the way, carbon dioxide is a thing. Here you can see briefly the history of mankind, from the first agriculture, about 10 thousand years ago, to the present. The carbon dioxide concentration has always remained well below 300 parts per million. Until the large-scale combustion of coal, oil, and gas began in the nineteenth century: that strange peak on the far right. Currently, the counter stands at 413 ppm.

4 | How does carbon dioxide feed the bubble

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There are countless ways to find out that carbon dioxide is behind global warming. KNMI scientist Geert Jan van Oldenburg made this skeptical chart. Horizontally we see the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and vertically the temperature of the year in question. For gourmets, they both correlate with “r” 0.939, which is an almost perfect correlation. “I don’t know of anything in climate that shows such a strong relationship,” Van Oldenburg said at the time. de Volkskrant.

5 | We are addicted to fossils

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Well, we are becoming more sustainable at a rapid pace. but? Unfortunately. This graph, based on numbers from BP, shows what the ratios really are. Of all the energy we consume around the world, a third comes in the form of oil, a quarter from coal and another quarter from gas. Renewable energy accounts for about 10 percent, mainly due to dams. Of all the energy generated in the world, only 1 percent comes from solar panels, and 2 percent comes from wind.

6 | Why isn’t it working

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In September, the United Nations presented this progress graph showing the state of the world’s emissions. Or, well, “progress”.

In red, it is presented by countries that signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 since then. In blue and green what is required to keep global warming below 2 or below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Currently, emissions are on track with the yellow line. The emissions are expected to translate into about 2.7 degrees of warming by the end of this century.

7 | We fall through the ice

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Here you can see how the Arctic ice is growing and shrinking and growing and shrinking year after year. It grows in the winter and shrinks in the summer. Until September, the ice is growing again.

In recent years, the lines in the graph are decreasing: there is less ice. With its temporary lowest point in 2012, when polar ice shrank to nearly 3 million square kilometres. It’s not that difficult this year. However, it has become common for streaks to fall below the gray area, the average over the years 1980-2010.

8 | Awakening giants

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About 50 or 80 centimeters of sea-level rise at the end of this century: That’s what the graph at the bottom left, from the latest IPCC report, says. Well fit. Until you suddenly see another graph in the margin of the report: the situation in the year 2300. Because once the ice masses in Greenland and Antarctica melt, there may be no turning back. Meters, even tens of meters of sea level rise, our grandchildren can withstand.

9 | Barcode of reading

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You’ve likely come across it, this distinct striped surface. Here we see how the Earth has warmed from 1850 to 2020, based on the colors: warmer, red. Idea from atmospheric scientist Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading, who conceived the show in 2018. Just as the LGBT community holds a rainbow flag, people who care about the climate have these “global warming streaks,” as the record is called.

Glasgow Climate Summit: Climate desperation?

This is the first in a series of articles on climate change in the run-up to the Glasgow Climate Summit, which begins on October 31. It is expected to be an extraordinarily disturbing peak.

Megan Vasquez

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