2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #10

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Mar 5, 2023 thru Sat, Mar 11, 2023.

Story of the Week

The Paris Agreement Will Fail Without Slashing Methane Emissions From Dairy and Meat, Researchers Say

A new study projects the Earth will warm by nearly 1 degree Celsius by 2100 from agricultural emissions alone, even if fossil fuel use is drastically reduced.

Dairy Cows

Photo by Mark Stebnicki: https://www.pexels.com/photo/livestock-farming-in-a-farm-11357088/

If humanity continues producing and consuming food as it does today, those food systems alone will drive Earth’s average temperature up by nearly 1 degree Celsius by the end of the century, scientists warned in a new study. It’s the latest research to suggest that slashing methane emissions from the agriculture sector—particularly from meat and dairy production—remains one of the most impactful ways to slow climate change.

Climate experts have long said tackling agricultural emissions, estimated to make up roughly 15 percent of Earth’s total production of greenhouse gases, is necessary to avoid catastrophic warming in the coming decades. But the new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, specifically highlights the outsized role methane plays among food-related emissions. 

The potent greenhouse gas—capable of warming the planet roughly 80 times more effectively than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period—is also emitted by fossil fuels and other industrial operations, as well as through natural processes like the decay of vegetation.

In fact, methane has accounted for roughly 30 percent of global warming since pre-industrial times and is proliferating faster than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s, according to the United Nations. The odorless gas, which is the main ingredient in the natural gas that heats buildings and powers electrical grids, is also the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas that causes 1 million premature deaths every year.

Because of those factors, as well as the fact that methane breaks down in the atmosphere far faster than carbon dioxide, scientists say that tackling methane emissions isn’t only necessary to keep global climate efforts on track, but it would be the fastest way to curb rising temperatures in the immediate future.

But according to Monday’s study, if the emissions released by the world’s food systems continue at current levels, they’ll cause at least 0.7 degree Celsius of additional warming by 2100, pushing the planet past the 1.5 degree threshold set by the Paris Agreement, even if fossil fuel use is drastically reduced. Methane emissions will account for a whopping 73 percent of that projected warming by mid-century, the study says.

“I think the biggest takeaway that I would want (policymakers) to have is the fact that methane emissions are really dominating the future warming associated with the food sector,” Catherine Ivanovich, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the study’s lead author, told the Associated Press.

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Inside Climate News website.

The Paris Agreement Will Fail Without Slashing Methane Emissions From Dairy and Meat, Researchers Say by Kristoffer Tigue, Today's Climate, Inside Climate News, Mar 7, 2023

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Tue, Mar 7, 2023

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Thu, Mar 9, 2023

Fri, Mar 10, 2023

Sat, Mar 11, 2023

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 11 March, 2023

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