Up-to-date Details on Climate Change

Auf Deutsch auf Deutsch

1   Population Growth

4.5.1937: 2'224'697'165 (my dad's birthday)
2.5.1964: 3'261'954'884 (my birthday)
1.5.2006: 6'569'831'399 (my niece's birthday)
2100: between 9.6 and 12.3 billion (Science, Sept. 2014)


2   Resources

Energy-Use CH: http://blogs.ethz.ch/klimablog/klimawissen/energie/energie-verbrauch/

  • Between 2000 and 2010, more plastic was produced than all the plastic previously put together (from: "The Ocean of Life", C. Roberts)

Contribution of cars and trucks to CO2-emissions: https://www.trucklocator.co.uk/uk-and-global-transport-facts/

3   Global Warming

3.1   CO2

  • Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990
  • Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades (!!)


CO2 emissions in Austria

  • It is not (just) China: in Austria the traffic related CO2 emissions went up by 60% between 1990 and 2010!
  • " Die THG (Treibhausgas) Emissionen Österreicht betrugen im Jahr 2010 in Summe etwa 9.7 t CO2-Äquivalent pro Kopf. [...] Bezieht man auch die durch österreichischen Konsum im Ausland verursachten CO2-Emissionen mit ein, so liegen die Emissionswerte für Österreich um etwa die Hälfte höher." (Klimabericht AAR14; Bemerkung: beim aktuellen Stand der Weltbevölkerung sind ca. 3 t/Jahr nachhaltig vertretbar.)

3.2   Temperatures

  • The eventual temperature development will strongly depend on our political decisions over the next 15 years. But based on the recent increases (!) in CO2 output, currently the most likely scenario is - in my personal opinion, based on the scientific data - a gobal temperature rise of about 3.5 deg C. IPCC AR5.
  • For Austria a temperature increase between 3.5 and 5.5 deg C is to be expected (AAR14, p. 30)

4   Water supply

  • 1.7 billion people rely directly on fossil aquifiers (i.e. groundwater that is not replenished), and each and every one of these aquifiers is facing a looming water crisis. For example, not a single drop of the mighty Colorado River reaches the Pacific any more, because everything is used up in its course.
  • Last year, Upper Austria lost >20'000'000 EUR, because of lower than usual water levels in the rivers.
  • Already, nuclear power plants had to be shut down because of lack of cooling water (Millstone, USA)

5   Fishing

  • Newfoundland's offshore cod stocks are at one per cent of what they were in 1977.
  • British fish stocks have dropped by 94 percent in the past 118 years and commercial fishing has profoundly changed seabed ecosystems, leading to a collapse in numbers of many species.
  • Most of the world's major fishery species have been reduced in numbers by 75 to 95 percent or more ("The Ocean of Life", p50).
  • Two thirds of the species we have fished since the 1950s have experineced collapse, and the rate is accelerating (FAO).
  • Tuna: 1940 - 300'000t; now: 4'000'000t Five of the world’s eight tuna species are already classified as threatened or nearly threatened with extinction, according to the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

6   Soil & Agriculture

  • Humankind now farms 38 percent of the earth's ice-free land. Crops take up one third of that area; pastures and rangelands for livestock cover the rest. Little room exists for expansion because most of the remaining land is deserts, mountains, tundra or urban.
  • For every degree of global warming, most crops (wheat, rice, corn) reduce their yield by about 10%.

8   What can I do?

Just start. It's quite simple:

  • Avoid unnecessary trips by car or by plane.
  • In winter, reduce the temperature in your home by a few degree.
  • Eat less meat.

9   Our Future

    Mögliche Zukunftsaussichten: Globale Emissionen von CO2 (oben) und globale Erwärmung nach einem Szenario ohne klimapolitische Maßnahmen (rot) und einem Szenario mit ambitionierten Vermeidungsmaßnahmen, die den CO2-Ausstoß auf eine Billion Tonnen CO2 in der ersten Hälfte des Jahrhunderts und anschließend fast Null begrenzen. Der Ausstoß von Treibhausgasen im Jahr 2050 liegt nach dem Vermeidungsszenario rund 70 Prozent unter dem Stand von 1990. Ohne klimapolitische Maßnahmen wird die globale Erwärmung in der Mitte des Jahrhunderts zwei Grad Celsius überschreiten. Vermeidungsmaßnahmen würden dieses Risiko auf 25 Prozent begrenzen.

    Possible future scenarios: Global CO2 emissions (top) and global warming according to a climate scenario without political intervention (red), and with ambitious CO2-reduction, limiting the total accumulated CO2 emission to 1 trillion tons of CO2 in the first half of this century, and essentially zero emitions after that (blue). In the scenario with massive CO2-reduction, the 2050 emissions are 70% below the emissions of 1990. Without political countermeasures, global warming will surpass 2 deg by 2050. With massive CO2-reduction, this risk is reduced to 25%.

    .M. Meinshausen et al. (2009) (Press announcement to this picture, in German)

Thomas Haslwanter, Last modified 21 Sept, 2014