The language used to describe what is happening to our planet’s climate as we continue to emit large amounts of greenhouse gases has changed in the recent past.
At first, the term “global warming” was mainly used because it actually described the fact that the atmosphere was indeed warming. Then it became clear that there was much more to it.
The media and scientists then began to use a more comprehensive term “climate change”. This broader terminology reflected severe weather events fueled by increased energy, or heat, in the oceans and on land that supercharged hurricanes, droughts, rising sea levels and heavy rains. at levels never seen before. Hurricane Harvey dumped about 4 feet of rain over Houston in 2017.
This led to a “climate emergency” which became the currency for some time.
Today, the term “climate crises” is used to describe our fuller understanding of the impact of this increased heat on all of the Earth’s climate systems, the hydrosphere, the geosphere, the biosphere, the atmosphere and the Earth. cryosphere.
Descriptive terms currently in use include references to climatic tipping points, feedback loops, changes in ocean currents, significant loss of land ice like glaciers and ice caps, species extinction, loss of permafrost, floods, desertification and millions of climate refugees on the move around the world, and more. Phew!
So, climate activists have now developed an 80-foot-long clock on the side of a building in Union Square in New York City to remind all of us that these crises exist and time is running out.
The clock shows 7 years, 102 days, 12:02:01 hours. This duration is based on information contained in a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which indicates that as of 2018, humans could release 420 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon into the atmosphere. .
That would still give us a two-thirds chance of keeping the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius, the extended goal of the Paris climate accords.
Based on the rate at which we burn fossil fuels, around 42 gigatons per year, those 7+ years is the time left to transform the global energy economy and shift to 100% energy sources. renewables and avoid the worst climate impacts. .
Clocks like this have traveled the world from Paris to New York to Berlin and more. According to their website, one can also get a kit to build a clock for a classroom, university and / or hometown.
Financial markets seem to have started to realize the risk of these climate crises. In March 2021, the Federal Reserve declared that “climate change increases risks to financial stability”.
The reserve has also set up a climate committee to assess and manage this systemic climate risk. In addition, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has appointed its first-ever senior policy advisor on climate and environmental, social and governance issues.
This new awareness may be just in time. During the period 1980 to 2020, there were 285 severe weather events in the United States alone, costing over $ 1 billion each, 15 of which was the average annual number over the past 5 years.
In total, the cost of these extreme events is nearly $ 2 trillion, with more than 14,000 deaths. Every state in the United States has experienced extreme weather events, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Non-action is really starting to cost us dearly.
AN ENERGY ISLAND
Let’s look at a country that is aware of the “climate clock” and its implications and that is doing its part to deal with these climate crises. See the photo of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on a boat outside Copenhagen on April 22, with wind turbines in an offshore wind farm in the background. She had just given a lecture on Denmark’s plans to meet its energy needs through renewable energies.
Denmark responded to the oil crisis of the 1970s with policies to decentralize its energy system, improve energy efficiency, and in 1991 Denmark was the site of the first offshore wind farm.
In addition, “Denmark has shown how to integrate high levels of wind energy into a reliable electricity grid and do so in often extremely cold weather” [Paul Horn/InsideClimate News].
Please note the map of Denmark and the surrounding area titled ‘An Island of Energy’ and let’s take a look at the future of renewable energy in Denmark.
Their plan is to develop a wind farm that could eventually provide 10 gigawatts of renewable energy. When completed, the project will reduce their emissions by 70% from their 1990 levels by 2030.
The project includes an artificial island that would be built in the shallow waters of the North Sea that would house a battery bank to store and level the supplied energy, maintenance equipment and other logistical support.
It would collect the energy produced by hundreds of turbines using underground and submarine cables and distribute that energy both in Denmark and to other grids in Germany and elsewhere.
The focus here is on off-shore winds which are stronger and more stable away from land.
Another photo also provided by the Danish Energy Agency shows what this island would look like. The large battery banks are to the left, with berths for maintenance and other vessels to the right.
Currently, Denmark leads the world in the share of its electricity from wind with over 50 percent. Lithuania comes next with 39 percent, followed by the United States with 7 percent.
And Denmark has passed laws to achieve 100% renewable energy in all sectors by 2050.
Hopefully the current US administration will do its part to meet global greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Raymond N. Johnson, Ph.D.’s scientific career spanned 30 years in research and development as an organic / analytical chemist; he is currently the founder and director of the Institute of Climate Studies USA. Climate Science is published on the second Sunday of each month.