Lethal Heat Hits the Planet
by Robert Hunziker
[This article was first published in CounterPunch on June 26, 2021.]
The news does not get much worse than a recent scientific report that the planet is trapping twice as much heat as it did only 14 years ago.
If this one report does not turn heads and create a sense of panic to get off fossil fuels, as soon as yesterday, then nothing will ever move the needle to fix the planet’s broken climate system. (Source: Norman G. Loeb, et al, Satellite and Ocean Data Reveal Marked Increase in Earth’s Heating Rate, Geophysical Research Letters – Advanced Earth and Space Science, June 15, 2021)
Scientists have been warning about the consequences of human-generated greenhouse gases ever since James Hansen testified before a Congressional committee 33 years ago: “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”
In fact, the warnings have been coming for 44 years. Prior to James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate committee, the most publicized report came from the National Academy of Sciences in 1977 when it warned that burning coal would crank up global temperatures to intolerable levels by 2050.
Meanwhile, a well-orchestrated core of climate deniers, including many members of the Republican Party, current and past, for decades have worked to create “doubt” about human impact on global warming in order to safeguard the fossil fuel industry and as a consequence block effective governmental policies to halt greenhouse gas emissions.
That type of obstructive behavior was formidably demonstrated only recently by former president Trump along with his entourage, like Pompeo, who shortsightedly celebrated Arctic ice loss in an Arctic Council speech. Unfortunately, he described as a positive event the meltdown of the planet’s greatest safeguard against global warming, i.e., Arctic ice. As the former secretary of state spoke, the planet was in its final throes of losing its biggest, most important giant reflector of incoming solar radiation, which has been around since humans discovered fire but now gone in only a few short decades because of human-generated global warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels like oil and natural gas and coal.
The climate denier class, especially in America, carries a heavy burden for the current out of control status of the planet’s climate system. It is beyond shameful that repeated warnings by the nation’s scientists have been ignored for decades, finally leading to the current state of a worldwide climate emergency. Deadly heat is tormenting the world.
Along those lines, Donald Trump’s destruction of environmental agencies and the removal of scientists and destruction of years of irreplaceable scientific data and removal from the Paris climate agreement of 2015 will go down in history as the worst-timed stupidest policies in all of American history.
The shocking Loeb study that lamentably demonstrates a frightening rise in heat absorbed by the planet utilized satellite data via CERES instrumentation that measures how much energy the planet absorbs in the form of sunlight and how much it emits back into space in the form of infrared radiation. This measures “energy imbalance.” Their study found a doubling of the imbalance for the period from 2005 to 2019. That’s exceptionally troubling, almost beyond comprehension, data collection is indicative of a climate system that’s way out of balance as an impending threat to existence.
Meanwhile, making matters doubly bad and emphasizing the fact that the planet is absorbing twice the heat, NASA reported 2020 as the “hottest year ever.” And, by all appearances, 2021 is shaping up to break the records once again, as abnormally high temperatures throughout the planet exceed all-time records. The planet is literally in a burn mode like humanity has never experienced, and nobody is doing anything about this burning dilemma with any sense of global reach. Meanwhile, talk of holding back temperature by controlling emissions at the nation/state level remains, like always, very cheap and ineffective. As well as totally remiss of the big picture of a global mess that requires global unity, or the lights go out fairly soon, here and there all across the land.
Confirmation of the Loeb study’s CERES data was established using Argo, which is an international network of sensors in the world’s oceans used to measure the rate at which the oceans absorb heat. This strengthened and confirmed the CERES data that the planet is trapping twice the amount of heat of 14 years ago.
According to the scientists for the study: “The two very independent ways of looking at changes in Earth’s energy imbalance are in really, really good agreement, and they’re both showing this very large trend,” Norman Loeb, lead author for the new study and principal investigator for CERES at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. (Source: Earth is Trapping Twice as Much Heat as it did in 2005, Space. Com, June 24, 2009.)
Thirty-three years after James Hansen testified to Congress, global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by 70% and have never gone down in any given year, always up, never down. When Hansen testified, fossil fuels were 79% of the world’s energy. It’s 84% today in the face of every wind turbine and solar panel that’s been installed over the past decades ever since Hansen spoke out about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions.
Frankly, the world is getting what it deserves and what it has failed to recognize in spite of the world’s top scientists’ warnings, a lot of heat!
Based in Los Angeles, Robert Hunziker is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and published in over 50 journals, magazines and sites worldwide.
Note: Feature image — “Global Warming” – Image by Avtar Kamani from Pixabay