Climate Catastrophe: Graphs and Commentary


Short Version: click here for full essay

Ongoing essay: updated occasionally;

Highlights last updated: July 20, 2024;

Graphs and commentary last updated: July 15, 2024.

Climate data from NOAA unless otherwise stated.

Includes significant changes to NOAA's historic temperature data released in 2023.

Temperature anomalies from 1850-1900 average replace former anomalies from 20th Century average.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a climate scientist! and, most definitely, NOT an “expert!”

Major sections:

Some Recent Highlights

Other Recent Additions

Four Graphs and a Table



Some Meteorological Summer 2024 Highlights

(June through August 2024)


(in progress)

BY THE NUMBERS

1. June 2024 makes 13 months in a row, each one warmer than all previous months with that same name. Seven of the 13 were over 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average.

2. With the close of the 2023-24 El Niño episode, surface temperatures are not quite so anomalously warm as a few months ago. June 2024 registered 1.33°C above the 1850-1900 average. Ocean temperatures as well as land temperatures have fallen slightly.

3. The last ten 12-month periods ending in June (2015-2024) were the ten warmest on record, with the 12-month period ending June 2024, the warmest 12-month period on record, registering 1.48°C above the 1850-1900 average. Some models claim this 12-month period broke the 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average barrier.

4. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during June 2024 was 426.91 ppm as measured at Mauna Loa. The 12-month running average reached 422.84 in June 2024, an increase of 3.19 ppm over the 12-month running average in June 2023.

5. The El Niño / La Niña (ONI) index over the April through June 3-month period was 0.4, down from the 2.0 average during the November 2023 through January 2024 3-month period, and marking the end of the 2023-24 El Niño episode. While strong, the 2023-24 El Niño episode was well below the strength of the 2014-2016 El Niño. Climate models are still predicting a transition to La Niña conditions later in 2024, although not so strongly as in previous predictions. La Niña conditions favor an intense North Atlantic hurricane season.

FORESTS

6. A ground-breaking study by the US Forest Service found that in spite of wildfires, insects, drought, logging and other stressors, the world's forest have mostly maintained their ability to sequester carbon over the past 30 years. The study recommends less deforestation, more reforestation.

DEFENDING AGAINST CLIMATE INVADERS

7. Afghanistan is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and also among the countries least responsible for climate change. Lacking international support, Afghanistan adapts to climate change as best it can. “Just like they invaded our country, they’ve invaded our climate. We must defend our climate, our water, our soil to the same extent we defend ourselves against invasions.” Maybe, if other countries were also ready to defend their climate against invaders, we could reverse climate change.

HEAT AND FIRE

8. The great 2024 North American heat wave that started in Mexico in mid-March and later moved into Central America and the western United States is now moving East. The 2024 North American heat wave was responsible for record temperatures, including 120°F in Las Vegas on July 7 and devastating fires in California and Oregon. Hundreds have died in this heat wave. The Eastern seaboard is thought to be next in line.

9. On July 15, Rolla Municipal Utilities (RMU) declared a peak alert, exhorting customers to conserve energy during peak hours, 3-6pm. You can learn about RMU's peak alert program here.

10. After a wet Winter, Vegetation, baked dry in the heat, is burning — again. California has lost $7.7 billion over the last decade due to climate destruction. Oregon's Cow Valley Fire has burned ove 100,000 acres in Eastern Oregon.

11. Eurasia swelters under a massive heatwave. Temperatures topped 40°C across Southern Europe, from Spain to Greece. In Dubai, which flooded earlier in 2024, wet bulb temperatures (a combination of heat and humidity) surpassed 60°C.

WAR

12. In 2023 the world spent almost $2.5 trillion on its militaries. This is not only a missed opportunity to fight climate change, but adds significantly to the world's production of greenhouse gases. This is particularly true in Gaza and Europe where active wars are being fought. It seems like many prefer 100% of nothing to their fair share of what exists.

PROTESTS

13. Climate activists have been arrested in protests over Citibank's deadly climate-wrecking activities.

SCIENCE

14. Richard Heinberg describes in a short article why technology-based solutions to climate change don't work and why nature-based solutions are absolutely necessity. Heinberg notes, “Unlike technology, nature constantly repairs itself. It tends to clean up pollution, rather than spreading toxins.”

CAPITALISM

15. Artificial Intelligence is so energy intensive that Google's carbon emissions have gone up 50% in the last five years. Still, Google toots: “A more sustainable future through information and innovation.” This is an excellent example of what Richard Heinberg talks about in article discussed above.

16. In a world that ought to be moving away from fossil fuels at breakneck speed, Shell doubles down on natural gas.

ICE

17. The melting of glaciers in the Himalayas has caused over 200 rivulets to dry up, with many more at risk. Lack of water flowing from the Himalayas could severely impact food production in much of Asia. Melting of mountain ice also impacts stability leading to avalanches such as the recent landslide that killed over 50 in Nepal.

OCEANS

18. Hawaii joins California, Oregon and Washington in banning seabed mining in state waters. Indigenous peoples, including Hawaiians, are demanding a seat at the table at the International Seabed Authority.

FLOODS

19. “Hoisted by his own petard:” After cutting $205 million from Florida's stormwater, wastewater, and sewer projects budget, Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency due to heavy flooding in southern Florida.

20. Speaking of being up to your ass in alligators, monsoon rains in South Asia and hurricanes in North America have led to flooding and crocodile invasions of coastal cities.

21. Hurricane Beryl was the earliest Category V hurricane to grace the North Atlantic. Taking advantage of super-heated ocean waters, Beryl intensified from a tropical storm to a Category V hurricane in just 42 hours. Beryl devastated the Windward Islands and Jamaica before crossing the Yucatan Peninsula and making its final landfall on the Texas coast, near Houston, where it caused flash flooding. Beryl was responsible for 40 fatalities with preliminary damage assessments in the billions. Remnants of Beryl, moving inland and north, caused flash-flooding in Vermont. One week after Beryl, thousands in the Houston area still without power amidst summer heat and humidity.

22. Nashville, Illinois, a town of 30,000, 50 miles east of St. Louis, was evacuated as heavy rains caused a dam above Nashville to overflow and inundate the town. No injuries have been reported. Over 200 dams in the United States have failed since 2000.

23. From Mumbai, India to Toronto, Canada, heavy rains are paralyzing our largest cities.

LEGAL

24. Six months after the Biden administration's pause in reviewing permits for liquified natural gas export terminals was hailed as a big win for the environment, a federal judge rules feds have no authority to pause review of permits for gas export terminals.


Some Meteorological Spring 2024 Highlights

(March through May 2024)


BY THE NUMBERS

1. Meteorological Spring 2024 was the warmest meteorological Spring on record, measuring 1.49°C warmer than the 1850-1900 average and 0.14°C warmer than the previous warmest meteorological Spring 2016.

2. Each of the last 12 months was the warmest month on record with that same name. The months: Sept. 2023 through April 2024, all broke the 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average barrier.

3. The last ten 12-month periods ending in May (2015-2024) were the ten warmest on record, with the 12-month period ending May 2024, the warmest 12-month period on record, registering 1.48°C above the 1850-1900 average. Some models claim this 12-month period broke the 1.5°C above the 1850-1900 average barrier.

4. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere during March 2024 was 425.38 ppm, marking an increase of 0.37 ppm in the 12-month running average as measured at the Mauna Loa and Maunakea sites. This is the largest month-to-month increase in the 12-month running average, going back to 1958 when record-keeping at Mauna Loa began. The 12-month running average reached 422.58 in May 2024, an increase of 3.16 ppm over the 12-month running average in May 2023.

5. The El Niño / La Niña (ONI) index over the March through May 3-month period was 0.7, down from the 2.0 average during the November 2023 through January 2024 3-month period , but still within the El Niño range. Climate models are predicting that this El Niño will continue to wane and transition to La Niña conditions during 2024. La Niña conditions favor an intense North Atlantic hurricane season. While strong, the current El Niño episode is well below the strength of the 2014-2016 El Niño.

SCIENCE

6. In the wake of Bill McGuire's ground-breaking book, Hothouse Earth, climate scientists are beginning to speak out. In a Guardian poll, 77% (almost 300) of the top climate scientists at the IPCC opine that global temperatures will rise to at least 2.5°C above pre-industrial times, far above limits set by the 2015 Paris Climate Accords.

LEGAL

7. 2,000 elderly women, arguing that lack of climate action violates their human rights, win case against the Swiss government in Europe's top human rights court. Does litigation help? You bet it does!

OCEANS

8. As oceans continue to warm, the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs are suffering what is likely to be their worst-ever case of coral-bleaching.

9. Changes in ocean currents, likely due to our fast-changing climate can cause sudden upwelling of cold water from the ocean depths, which can be deadly to marine life. This scenario is likely to have caused the great South African fish-kill of March 2021.

10. Off the charts heat in the North Atlantic has brought a new category of coral bleaching to the Caribbean and presages a violent hurricane season this Summer and Fall.

SUBSIDENCE

11. A study based on satellite images finds that 45% of China's urban areas are sinking. The problem of urban subsidence, along with sea-level rise, is not limited to China and may make many of the world's urban areas unlivable.

HEAT

12. Asia has been hit by catastrophic Spring heatwaves. Thousands of schools in the Philippines forced to close due to extreme heat. At least 30 dead in Thailand from heat stroke. Tel Aviv sets an April temperature record. And in Gaza, refugees from Israel's genocidal campaign swelter out in the open.

13. A third year of Spring heatwaves in South Asia has brought record temperatures well above 50°C to India and Pakistan.

14. A vicious heat dome settled over Mexico bringing drought and unprecedented temperatures to our good southern neighbor, killing at least 48.

DISEASE

15. While a warming climate spells disaster for humanity, certain diseases revel in it. Puerto Rico declares an emergency as dengue fever spirals out of control. Dengue has caused 1,800 fatalities in the Americas so far in 2024.

16. Valley Fever vastly expands its reach in the US southwest. H5N1 bird flu is spreading, not only among birds, but cattle too. H5N1 has infected humans and may mutate and spread throughout the human population. And the leafhopper bug devastates Argentina's corn crop.

FLOODS: Spring has brought catastrophic flooding to many locations. Here are a few links.

17. Dubai received over a year's worth of rain in one day, flooding this normally dry city.

18. Not yet fully recovered from decades of war and foreign invasions, the Afghan drought ended with a bang as heavy rains and flash flooding killed hundreds and devastated villages and farms.

19. Over 100,000 evacuated as heavy rains bring severe flooding to China's Guangdong Province.

20. Levees collapse in Central Russia as flood waters in the Ural River rise.

21. Heavy rains in east and central Africa kill hundreds and bring the water-level in Lake Tanganyika up to record heights.

22. Torrential rains in Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul leave over 100 dead and displace over 1/2 million.

23. Flash floods, mud slides and cold-lava flows kill at least 43 in Indonesia's West Sumatra Province.

24. In the wake of heavy rains, a landslide in New Guinea may have buried thousands of people under tons of mud.

DROUGHT

25. Amidst a severe South/Central American drought, Colombians exhorted to conserve water by showering with a partner.

26. Southern Africa is in the midst of a devastating drought. Millions in Zimbabwe will go hungry this year.

27. In parts of Africa, drought resilient camels are replacing cows as the livestock of choice. Camels were introduced in the US desert southwest in the 19th Century, but haven't survived. Perhaps it is time to import camels again.

28. The mild drought we have experienced in Missouri over the past 12 months is, indeed, tiny compared to what other folks have been experiencing. But don't fret. Our time will come.

FIRES

29. Canadian wildfires are again off to an early start. They are already causing air pollution in the lower 48 United States.

30. Spring fires in the Arctic which used to be attributed to underground zombie fires left smoldering in the Fall, may be caused by spontaneous combustion as the Arctic heats up in the Spring.

31. Drought induced wildfires in the Amazon could cause total collapse of the Amazon rain forest.

CAPITALISM

32. Amidst drought in the Colorado River basin, Wall Street is buying up farmland and selling the water allotment to developments hundreds of miles away at huge profits.

33. While budgeting a paltry seven billion for solar energy, the United States remains among the world's most fossil-fuel friendly nations as the Biden administration licenses what will be the largest oil-export terminal in the United States. And in spite of pledges to stop backing international fossil fuel projects, the U.S. Export-Import Bank will provide a $500 million loan for oil and gas expansion in Bahrain.

34. Big banks have invested trillions in fossil fuel development since the 2015 Paris Climate Accords. JPMorgan Chase tops the list at $431billion, followed by Citigroup and Bank of America.

MISCELLANEOUS

35. Thawing permafrost is releasing enough heavy metals into Alaska's rivers that they are turning orange and threatening the health of riparian ecosystems.

36. The world has experienced at least 15 billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2024, 11 in the United States, including a mid-May derecho that struck Houston with 100+ mph winds, killing at least seven and blowing out windows in tall skyscrapers. A record 500+ tornadoes were sighted in May in the United States

37. Indigenous Sami reindeer herders in Norway are fighting the introduction of high voltage powerlines across their homeland. Rudolph has been complaining for years that powerlines represent an unacceptable hazard to Santa and his reindeer.

38. The use of solar-powered pumps for irrigation in water-poor locations has been so successful that it is causing aquifers to run dry.

Click here for highlights from previous months.



Other Recent Additions
The section on the possible relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and an unexplained drop in atmospheric CO2 has been expanded to the possible relationship between economic disruptions in general and decreases in atmospheric CO2. It appears in the full essay here.

And the following five paragraphs were added to the full essay during 2024:
(New April 2024)
5. In the wake of Bill McGuire's exposé, climate scientists are coming out of the woodwork. In a recent Guardian poll of top IPCC climate scientists, 77% say that global warming will rise to at least 2.5°C above pre-industrial times, far above limits set by the 2015 Paris Climate Accords. Sadly, the articles I have seen, do not credit Professor McGuire.

Click here for context in full essay.

(New Feb. 2024)
Indeed, as some have noted, climate scientists and their mathematical models have been unable to keep up with the fast pace at which our climate is deteriorating. Instead of predicting the future, they are constantly playing catchup. As Thomas Neuburger put it, “Everything in the climate prediction world is wrong to the slow side. Things are happening sooner than anyone thought they would.”

Click here for context in full essay.

(New Feb. 2024)
5. Indeed, a study of 300-year-old sponges by Malcolm McCulloch suggests that the Earth had warmed by 0.5°C by the latter half of the 19th Century. This would throw all pronouncements about global warming since pre-industrial times off by −0.5°C.

Click here for context in full essay.

(New Jan. 2024)
6. I note that climate scientists and other commentators now tend to use phrases like “reference period” or “surrogate” to describe the relationship between the pre-industrial period and the period: 1850-1900. This lends some clarity to the situation.

Click here for context in full essay.

(New Feb. 2024)
3. I note that commentators are beginning to deal with the huge contributions war and militarism make to global warming. See for example: Emissions from Israel’s war in Gaza have ‘immense’ effect on climate catastrophe, in which it is estimated that the first two months of Israel's War Against Gaza are responsible for more CO2 emissions than many countries contribute in a year. It is also estimated that global militarism is responsible for at least 5.5% of all human CO2 emissions, and this study was done before Israel's 2024 War Aginst Gaza.

Click here for context in full essay.

1. This graph compares each month separately to the 1850 - 1900 average (for months of that same name only) and ranks them separately. In other words: The month of March is compared only to other Marches. The month of September is compared only to other Septembers.

Note 1: The period 1850 through 1900 is used as a proxy for pre-industrial times by the IPCC and many others. See discussion of the IPCC and 1.5°C. below.

Note 2: NOAA gives anomalies from the 20th Century average in its climate at a glance section. The anomaly for any given month, say June 2024, from the 1850-1900 average is computed by subtracting the average anomaly from the 20th Century average for all Junes in the 1850-1900 range from the anomaly from the 20th Century average for June 2024.

2. For example: The warmest February, June and October are all colored red. The second warmest January, August and December are all colored orange. The March colored light blue (2014) is between the 11th and 15th warmest Marches inclusive and is 0.97° C. warmer than the average of all Marches between 1850 and 1900 inclusive. The December colored yellow (2019) is the third warmest December and is 1.27° C. warmer than the average of all Decembers between 1850 and 1900 inclusive. Etc.

3. When there is a tie, the tying months are all given the highest rank. For example, July 2021 and 2022 are both colored light green(fourth warmest). No July is colored dark green (fifth warmest).
Table of warmest 12-month periods



Click here for context in full essay.


A 55+ year temperature graph: 12 month overlapping anomalies



Click here for context in full essay.


55+ years of CO in atmosphere: 12 month overlapping averages



Click here for context in full essay.


A 174 year temperature graph: 36 month overlapping anomalies



Click here for context in full essay.


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