Regeneration – Black and White

There is a “Reader’s Reference Guide” at the start of Hawken’s book. I found it a challenge to read easily as it was white lettering on a black page. My guess is he wanted to make the point that there are many points about climate change that are indisputable. My plan is to replicate these pages in the blog with little modification.

This is good background information and lays the foundation for what I plan to share in upcoming articles. Stay tuned.


Is there a difference between climate change and global warming?

Global warming refers directly to the accumulation of heat in the earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans resulting from increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate change describes the broader set of changes including shifting rainfall patterns, drought, glacial melting, and flooding caused, in part, by the increased levels of water vapor that can be held in a warmer atmosphere.

How much has the earth already changed?

The 2020 average surface temperature was 0.90°C (1.76°F) above the preindustrial average temperature. Since the 1980s, the average temperature has been increasing by 0.18°C (0.32°F) every decade.

Are forecasts of global warming accurate?

The current increase in global warming matches scientific temperature forecasts made thirty years ago. However, science did not foresee the full impact of warming. The rates of melting of polar ice, sea-level rise, and drought intensity are greater than had been predicted.

When did we discover the mechanism of global warming?

In 1824, Joseph Fourier, a French physicist, and mathematician showed how atmosphere gases trap hear and regulate the atmosphere. American physicist Eiumoce Newton Foote determined that carbon dioxide had the greatest warming potential of atmospheric gases. Irish physicist John Tyndall’s studies in 1859 are credited with establishing the greenhouse effect. In 1869, Swedish scientist Svante Arthemius showed that increases in carbon dioxide were coming primarily from industry and that a 50 percent increase would raise global temperatures 5° to 6°C. Were it not for levels increase far beyond what human civilizations have experienced, they are in effect double-glazing the planet – more heat is trapped and less escapes into space.

How much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere?

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 419 parts per million, a 50 percent increase since the beginning of the Industrial Age. However, there are other greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and refrigerant gases – methane foremost due to its ubiquity and impact. They are measured according to their global-warming potential as compared with carbon dioxide over a hundred years, a unit we call “carbon dioxide equivalent.” If we include these gases, the equivalent level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 500 ppm, the highest parts per million this planet has seen in more than 20 million years.

What is the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide?

Carbon is an element. It becomes a gas – carbon dioxide – when combined with two molecules of oxygen. In the atmosphere, carbon levels are measured as carbon dioxide. In soil and plants, it is measured as carbon only. One ton of carbon converts to 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide.

How much carbon exists on earth?

There are approximately 121 million gigatons of carbon on or near the surface. About two-thirds, 78 million gigatons are in the form of limestone, sediments, and fossil fuels. Of the remaining carbon, 41 million gigatons are in the deep and near the ocean, 3,300 gigatons are held on the land, and only 885 gigatons is in the atmosphere in gaseous form as carbon dioxide.

How big is a gigaton of carbon dioxide?

A gigaton is one billion metric tons. A one-gigaton ice cube would be about one kilometer high, long, and wide. The world burns 17 million pounds of coal per year, and each pound emits an average of 1.87 pounds of carbon dioxide, creating 14.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

What can be done to reverse warming?

There are three things we can do about planetary heating. We need to reduce and cease net carbon dioxide emissions over time. We need t to protect and restore the enormous stores of carbon contained in our forests, wetlands, grasslands, salt marshes, oceans, and sods. And we need t to bring carbon from the atmosphere back to earth by sequestering carbon dioxide.

What is sequestration?

Sequestration removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, some of which is stored in soil, plants, or trees. When carbon dioxide is captured by a plant, it releases oxygen into the air and combines carbon and water into sugars that feed the plant, the roots, and underlying soil organisms. Virtually all ecosystems, including grasslands, ocean algae, mangroves, forests, and parklands, are actively sequestering carbon. There are artificial methods being developed to sequester carbon, such as direct air capture, but it is still too early to determine whether these techniques will prove to be practical and affordable at scale.

What is the Paris Agreement?

Actions to prevent runaway global warming have been discussed at the UN-sponsored Conference of the Parties (COP), held annually in capital cities around the world. In 2016, a year after COP 21 in Paris, an accord was reached that committed 191 parties to reduce emissions i order to keep global warming under the 1.5°C; this is called the Paris Agreement.

Where does the world stand right now with respect to the Paris Agreement?

Of the 191 signatory states, only eight of the country pledges were in alignment with the original 2°C goal and only two countries have targets consistent with the 1.5°C limit – Morocco and Gambia. No G7 country – the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, or the United Kingdom – has come close to setting targets in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

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