The link below is to an article that looks at 5 ways to deal with ticks – which also mentions those great pests of the Aussie bush, the drop bears.
Last year we found that the growth in global fossil fuel emissions have stalled over the past three years. But does this mean we are on track to keep global warming below 2℃, as agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement?
In our study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change today, we looked at how global and national energy sectors are progressing towards global climate targets.
We found that we can still keep global warming below 2℃ largely thanks to increasing use of clean energy, a global decline in coal use, improvements in energy efficiency, and a consequent stalling of emissions from fossil fuels over the past three years.
Nations need to accelerate deployment of existing technologies to lock in and build on the gains of the last three years. More challenging, is the needed investment to develop new technologies and behaviours necessary to get to net-zero global emissions by mid-century.
World moving away from fossil fuels
We looked at several key measures, including carbon emissions from fossil fuels, the carbon intensity of the energy system (how much carbon is produced for each unit of energy) and the amount of carbon emitted to produce one dollar of wealth.
The world share of energy from fossil fuels is starting to decline. There has been no growth in coal consumption and strong growth in energy from wind, biomass, solar and hydro power. The emerging trend is therefore towards lower carbon emissions from energy production.
Energy efficiency has also improved globally in recent years, reversing the trends of the 2000s. These improvements are reducing the amount of carbon emissions to produce new wealth.
From all these changes, global fossil fuel emissions have not grown over the past three years. Remarkably, this has occurred while the global economy has continued to grow.
As the global economy grows, it is using less energy to produce each unit of wealth as economies become more efficient and shift towards services.
These promising results show that, globally, we are broadly in the right starting position to keep warming below 2℃.
But modelling suggests that stringent climate policy will only slightly accelerate this historical trend of improvements in energy intensity. And to keep warming below 2℃ will require deep and sustained reductions in the carbon intensity of how energy is produced.
China leading the charge
We also looked at the countries that will have the greatest global impact.
The slowdown in global emissions in the past three years is due in large part to the reduced growth in coal consumption in China. Fossil fuel emissions in China grew at 10% per year over most of the 2000s, but have not grown since 2013. This signals a possible peak in emissions more than a decade earlier than predicted.
China is showing a significant decline in the share of fossil fuels in its energy sector. This has been driven by the decline in coal and the growth of renewable energies. The carbon intensity of fossil fuels has also been falling, for instance by burning coal more efficiently.
The United States has also reduced emissions in the last decade, with significant declines in coal consumption, particularly in the last few years. These declines have several causes, including a weaker economy in the last decade and continued improvements in energy efficiency, which have led to lower energy demand.
Emissions in the US have further declined due to a decline in carbon intensity of fossil fuels driven by the shift from coal to natural gas and the growth in renewables.
Emissions have declined in the European Union for several decades, most notably in the past 10 years as a weaker economy, along with continual improvements in energy efficiency, has led to declines in emissions. These declines are speeding up with the growing share of renewables in the energy sector.
India has sustained an emissions growth of 5-6% per year and is expected to continue growing, with little change in the underlying drivers of emissions growth.
Australia’s fossil fuel emissions have been stable or declining since 2009 as a result of the combined decline in the energy intensity of the economy and the carbon intensity of energy. However, fossil fuel emissions have grown since 2015.
The devil is in the detail
There is one big “but” in our analysis. We found that current fossil fuel trends are consistent with keeping warming below 2℃ because the future climate scenarios we use – assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – allow for relatively large amounts of fossil fuels use in the future.
These scenarios assume that large amounts of the carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels will be removed using carbon capture and storage (CCS).
CCS is also widely used together with bioenergy to produce a technology that in effect removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In this process, plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, burning these plants produces bioenergy, and the resulting CO₂ emissions are captured and stored underground. The plants grow again and the cycle is repeated.
Most scenarios rely on large-scale deployment of CCS, in the order of thousands of CCS facilities by 2030, to keep warming under 2℃. At present, just a few tens of facilities are being planned. There is also a lack of commitment to CCS in most pledges under the Paris Agreement for 2030.
Although many of the current indicators are consistent with limiting warming to 2℃, there is now an urgent need for deployment of CCS to avoid the divergence from those pathways. That is unless technological alternatives can be deployed to cover the mitigation gap that is quickly emerging.
Many emissions scenarios also include removing large amounts of CO₂ from the atmosphere. Although bioenergy with CCS is the preferred technology in those scenarios, there is an equally urgent need to invest in the research and development of alternative negative emission technologies, potentially with a smaller environmental footprint.
Turning the slowdown into a decline
It is significant that emissions growth has slowed in the last three years. This is necessary to move onto an emission pathway consistent with keeping global average temperatures below 2℃ above pre-industrial levels.
The short-term challenge is to lock in this slowdown from declining coal use, switching coal for gas, and the increasing share of clean energy. This will reduce the risk of emissions rebounding if the global economy grows more strongly in the short term.
However, our research shows that for emissions to move onto a downward trend at the required speed will require emission reductions in a broader range of sectors and more rapid deployment of existing low-carbon technologies.
Ultimately, reaching zero emissions this century will require a rapid program of research and development to support a wide range of low-carbon technologies, including systems to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Pep Canadell, CSIRO Scientist, and Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project, CSIRO; Corinne Le Quéré, Professor, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia, and Glen Peters, Senior Researcher, Center for International Climate and Environment Research – Oslo
Fans of the movie Finding Nemo may remember the terrifying fish that scares Dory (a blue tang) and Marlin (a clown fish) at the bottom of a trench.
But in reality this “monster”, a black seadevil, is only about 9 cm long, which would make it about a third of the size of Dory and potentially smaller than Marlin or Nemo.
In 2014, researchers at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute began studying a single black sea devil. It was caught and moved to a special darkroom laboratory designed to simulate its dark and cold natural habitat.
While this misconception or inaccuracy may seem harmless, it could pose problems for future conservation efforts, as people are more likely to support conservation of cute rather than creepy-looking animals.
While the angler fish is easily turned into a scary monster, the similar-sized tiny Pac-Man looking octopus is cute and popular with the public.
Deep sea commercial fishing nothing to celebrate
From 2000-2010, scientists described about 1,200 new species in the Census of Marine Life Program. While this figure may seem astounding, a further 5,000 individual dead creatures are in specimen jars, waiting to be described. The scientific process of describing new species is slow.
Specimens must be methodically collected, identified, and then the identity of new deep-water species must be confirmed.
People have always had a fascination for unusual creatures that they may never see. Many exotic land animals can be seen in zoos around the world, but few deep sea species are on display in aquaria. In the meantime, people on social media are hungry for images of strange and exotic animals of the sea.
As a result, a Russian fisherman working on deep sea commercial trawlers last year gained huge numbers of social media followers after posting photos and videos of some of the deep sea creatures caught on his ship, with some even stuffed by craftsmen on board.
Presumably, many of these specimens are bycatch, accidentally caught in nets trawling for other species popular with consumers. Sometimes bycatch, which includes marine mammals, is thrown back into the sea but it may end up on consumer plates.
If images are posted on social media by laypeople in a way that appears sensational and even heartless, and without any accurate information about the animals, then there is no resulting respect for these sea creatures or educational value. Simply viewing these creatures as freaks, ignores the importance of their role in keeping our oceans healthy.
Deep in danger
Most people will never spend time on a trawler fishing in deep oceans, but marine conservation and management policy depends on all of us being aware of the risks that human activities pose to marine ecosystems, such as deep water fishing, off shore mining and pollution.
If we call unusual deep sea animals monsters or demons or freaks, then we may harm their conservation as people are unlikely to connect with them or care about saving them.
On the other hand, their rarity clearly makes them popular on social media sites. For other species, this has resulted in increases in illegal trafficking for exotic pets, and aquariums. Deep sea species may potentially become illegally sourced taxidermy curiosities or food. Humans may end up eating these animals of the deep to extinction before their species are even known to science.
Saving our ‘blue heart’
We still have so much to learn about deep marine ecosystems and their inhabitants, which have special adaptations for living in these typically cold and dark waters. With new submarines and technology, scientists are able to explore the ocean more easily.
The deepest part of any ocean is the Challenger Deep valley in the Mariana Trench, part of the Pacific Ocean, which is about 11,000 metres deep. By comparison, Mount Everest is about 8,550 metres tall.
The cold water of the North Atlantic, down to depths of about 1,800m, is home to the Greenland Shark, which can live for as long as 400 years!
A new species of beaked whale has also been discovered recently. It is smaller and darker than other beaked whales, perhaps because it forages for deep sea fish and giant squid at depths of up to 3,000m below sea level.
Every habitat on earth is interconnected, and whatever we as humans do on the ground, or in the oceans has an impact on marine ecosystems. Removing deep sea predators and prey, and disturbing deep sea habitats, will change marine ecosystems in ways that we do not yet understand.
Some experts have compared the rapid global spread of unsustainable fishing technologies and practices to a pathological disease outbreak. Oceans are sometimes called the lifeblood of our planet, while rainforests are its lungs.
In reality, about 80% of our oxygen is produced by microorganisms in the oceans. This makes our oceans both the lungs and lifeblood of our planet. In fact, oceans are the blue heart of our planet and we must all try harder to save them.