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The Global Environment: At a Tipping Point?

Lecture for Global & International Studies undergraduate students
by

Xueying Han

on 4 March 2016

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Transcript of The Global Environment: At a Tipping Point?

The Global Environment: At a Tipping Point?
Deforestation
Extinctions
Nations under risk
Richard Appelbaum, PhD
Xueying Han, PhD
Atmosphere
Greenhouse gases
Solar energy is absorbed by earth's surface and turned into heat, causing the emission of infrared radiation into the atmosphere
Some infrared radiation passes the atmosphere and is lost into space
Some infrared radiation is absorbed and re-emitted by greenhouse gas molecules
Direct effect--warming of the earth

As the surface warms and gains more heat, it emits more infrared radiation
Solar radiation is reflected from the atmosphere and lost into space
C
O
O
C
O
O
C
O
O
C
O
O
C
O
O
C
H
H
H
C
H
H
H
C
H
H
H
C
H
H
H
CO2--77% of all greenhouse gases
57% fossil fuels
17% deforestation, decay of biomass
3% other

CH4
14%

N
N
O
N
N
O
N
N
O
N
N
O
N2O
8%

Bleaching
Prolonged increase by 2C results in corals to expel zooxanthellae
Loss of symbiotic algae--bleaching
<1% of the ocean's area
25% of all marine fish species
Most diverse fish assemblage: ~8000 fish species
Generates > $30 billion/year
Goods and services:
Tourism: ~$10 billion
Fisheries: ~$7 billion
Coastal protection: ~$9 billion
Biodiversity: ~$6 billion
1998: largest bleaching on record
~1/6 of all the world's reefs were lost
Ocean Acidification
Sea Levels Rising
Economic impacts:
Hong Kong: ~$61 billion below 100yr sea level projection
Rise by 16 inches + no action = $140 billion infrastructure at risk
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch
~1400 cities by 2100

Places to go before they disappear:
Palau, Kiribati, Bangladesh, Tuvalu, Maldives, Barbados, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, Torres Strait Islands, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands
Carbon Sink
Deforestation
46-58 million square miles are lost each year = 36 football fields/minute
15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result from deforestation
Variety of causes: conversion to agriculture, logging, fires, fuelwood harvesting
Deforestation accounts for 2/5 of CO2 increase since 1800, and 1/5 today
Climate Change Affects Everyone
The Plight of California
Tea Fire, Santa Barbara
13 November 2008
324 Sherman Rd, 12 November 2008
14 November 2008
What is your carbon footprint?
http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator
http://myfootprint.org
Are We Doomed?
Yes
No
The new research shows that even if all emissions were stopped now, temperatures would remain higher than pre-Industrial Revolution levels because the greenhouse gases already emitted are likely to persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

"This is not an argument to say we should keep emitting aerosols. It is an argument that we should be smart in how we stop emitting. And it is a call to action because we know the warming we are commited to from what we have emitted already and the longer we keep emitting the worse it gets."

Armour and Roe 2011
Ocean=CO2 sink
Absorbs ~50% of all man-made CO2
Warming temperatures = less CO2 absorbed
More CO2 in the air, warmer temperatures
Decrease in calcification of both corals and other organisms
Decreased corals = decrease in fisheries
31% of the land's area
2/5 of the world's oxygen come from rainforests
Trees reduce heat sinks, lowers temperatures
Trees are filters--absorb pollutants
Amazon loses 10,00 square miles of forest per year
Whose Responsibility Is It?
US and China are the biggest polluters overall
Per capita: US and Australia are high,
China and India are pretty low
2 weeks of UN talks ended 23 Nov 2013
Climate Justice: developed vs developing countries
November 9-23, 2013
Paris 2010: replace moribund Kyoto Protocol
US produces ~20% of the world's greenhouse gases
Larger impact globally if developed countries cut down emissions?
RIP
2006
1989
2002
2000
2006
1952/2008
IUCN Red List
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
University of California's Sustainability Initiative
How Much of California is in drought?
100%!
Full transcript