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COVID-19 doing little to slow climate change, WMO report reveals

COVID-19 doing little to slow ...
A new report has painted a bleak picture for the health of the planet despite the impact of COVID-19
A new report has painted a bleak picture for the health of the planet despite the impact of COVID-19
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A new report has painted a bleak picture for the health of the planet despite the impact of COVID-19
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A new report has painted a bleak picture for the health of the planet despite the impact of COVID-19

As much of the world went into lockdown due to the novel coronavirus in early 2020, scientists observed some notable declines in air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. A few months on, we are learning more and more about how this fits into the overall picture of climate change, with a new report from the World Meteorological Organization revealing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are continuing to soar to record levels, with no signs of slowing down.

The coronavirus lockdowns that brought much of global society to a standstill this year led to a sharp decline in global carbon emissions. This drop was described as “extreme” by scientists analyzing the trend in May, with daily global carbon dioxide emissions dropping by as much as 17 percent at the height of the stay-at-home measures.

However, analysis published around the same time showed that atmospheric carbon dioxide had continued to hit record highs. While seemingly counter-intuitive, these revelations actually served as a useful indicator of how it will take more than short-term corrections to reverse the long-term trend of global warming, given the considerable momentum built up after decades of largely unchecked emissions.

A new report, titled United in Science 2020 and compiled by scientists from the UN, the Global Carbon Project, the UK Met Office and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, illustrates the continuation of this trend, even while much of the world still grapples with the pandemic and its disruption to everyday life.

Scientists measure the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as parts per million (ppm), with levels below 350 ppm considered to be safe for a livable planet. The new report reveals a number of new records at monitoring stations around the world, with levels of 414.38 ppm measured in July at Mauna Loa in Hawaii, up from 411.74 ppm last year, and 410.04 ppm being measured at Cape Grim in Australia, up from 407.83 in July of last year.

“This has been an unprecedented year for people and planet,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace. Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development. We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future. We need science, solidarity and solutions.”

The full report can be accessed online here.

Source: World Meteorological Organization

9 comments
Daishi
There are climate change deniers but a position I don't seem to see people take very often is that it's read but most efforts to do anything but slow it are likely to be futile. I think we always knew it would take a massive change to the way of life in most industrialized countries to change the path we are on, that's exactly what happened with the pandemic and it's still not even close to enough. In some countries like the US they have decent unemployment benefits for people impacted by the stay at home order but in some other countries such as the Philippines people are suffering going several months now with no means to earn a living and they are out of money to pay bills or buy food. I've helped a few people there that I know because their government wont but if this year hasn't had a significant enough impact on carbon emissions to matter it's hard to imagine society ever adopting sufficiently extreme measures for the sake of just slowing climate change. Most people I know now work from home. Many/most countries still don't allow international travel, my company has banned all air travel, and I rarely see planes in the sky any more. If the measures put in place this year aren't enough then what is?
Catweazle
Of course failure of atmospheric CO2 concentration to slow their increase when anthropogenic emissions drop couldn't possibly be due to there being no causative connection between the two, could it? Heh, perish the thought!
tsvieps
Not considered at all in the article is the possibility that there are other large drivers of CO2 build-up in the atmosphere that are very independent of human fuel burning. The COVID dip in fuel consumption may actually be an unusual experimental gift that gives us a way to check our consensus ideas. The results do not seem to match theory. Nature has driven CO2 up and down dramatically over millions of years with mechanisms we do not fully grasp yet.
jerryd
Fact is we need to change fast for economic and pollution reasons anyway and time to stop the massive corporate welfare.
The use of FFs really hasn't changed that much or long enough on covid, only down 20% so it could take a while for that to work though the system what little it is to be detected.
And you have things like massive wildfires caused by CC in the US case at least adding huge amounts could blunt the signal too as could CC warming in the arctic causing CO2 releases.
ljaques
The fact that the massive drop in emissions during Covid lockdowns made NO change in the climate should be of great import to everyone who is adamant against the Greenies wanting trillions to perform less of a drop. All the gorbal warming scenarios combined wouldn't have done as much as Covid lockdowns, so you can count out all of those, too. Humankind continues to make progress on living a lighter footstep on the planet, and we should continue along that vein. Less is better. But for Buddha's sake, let's drop the climate change hoax immediately and get on with cleaning our acts up in more meaningful ways. Retrain coal miners and get them working in cleaner jobs. Close the mines and convert the power plants to pocket nuclear. Put some retrained miners in nuclear, solar, wind, and wave energy jobs. Put some in construction regarding water/air/land cleanup where they are fouled. Put some in construction of electric cars. Soon, we'll have asteroids to mine, too. (Right, Elon? )
Worzel
Human produced CO2, is about 10% of the total, so no amount of tinkering by humans will make any significant difference, thankfully. However, an increase in CO2 is good news for habitat regeneration, and therefore all life on the planet. A recent report from Zimbabwe, was that elephants were dying mysteriously. This is probably due to overgrazing acacias, as they produce a deadly poison when overgrazed. They also produce pheromones, that trigger adjacent trees to do the same. So, anything that helps plant regeneration accelerate is good, and may help save some elephants if nothing else. As for climate change, thats just part of the planets eternal cycle, and has nothing to do with CO2. The present weather phenomena has everything to do with the change from interglacial climate to glacial climate, as shown by data from deep sea and lake core drillings, and nothing to do with CO2.
PB
It's refreshing to see an article like this. Proof that human emissions are not the driver of gloabl warming.
Global warming enthusiasts will take credit for being on the right side of the argument, regardless of whether global warm happens, or declines. They will blame humans if the global warming theory proves true, and they will take the credit if it is untrue since they will claim that their actions have cause a decline in the global temperature.
The post re California bushfires here - the bushfires put heavy particulates in the air (aka ash). That settles out so is no factor. The CO2 output from the fires is not great, and is offset in subsequent years by the vigorous growth of new plant life that absorbs carbon and emits oxygen,
Understand, too, that the occurrence of just one new volcano anywhere offsets the savings in emissions that humans make. Consider, too, that the Canadian government put out a study, about ten years ago, that stated that the carbon emissions from the beetles that infest the forests on the west coast outweighed all transportation emissions (cars, planes, buses, trains). If Canada halved transportation emissions it would make no difference, so why not concentrate on the beetle instead? Same with termites, the most populous animal on the planet.
Here, in California, we had three weeks of below average temperatures followed by a heat wave, followed by a week of below average temperatures. The hot weather arrives and the empty suit governor cried global warming. I get tired of the hysteria - this article reported by New Atlas says it all.
Wavmakr
No question there is climate change, but man's influence is highly doubtful..........Does anyone know what manufacturing plants and fossil fuels ended the ice age??..........asking for a friend.
Nobody
Anyone who believes that windmills and solar panels can replace fossil fuels doesn't have a clue. First, there is the energy used to construct them and then they aren't very efficient. Someone did a study a while back that one electric car on every city block could equal our current power grid. Now add that to what is already needed and it becomes apparent that to power both with windmills and solar panels would be impossible. Using nuclear power is our only realistic option. Anything less is lies and deception. How many politicians or scientists do you hear advocating that as a real solution? ZERO