The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
China’s Cities Face Sobering Cooling Costs
By Tim Radford
China's cities now have a better idea of what global warming is going to cost. New research warns that for every rise of one degree Celsius in global average temperatures, average electricity demand will rise by 9 percent.
And that's the average demand. For the same shift in the thermometer reading, peak electricity demand in the Yangtze Valley delta could go up by 36 percent.
And the global average rise of 1°C so far during the last century is just a start. By 2099, mean surface temperatures on planet Earth could be somewhere between 2°C and 5° hotter. That means that average household electricity use—assuming today's consumption patterns don't change—could rise by between 18 percent and 55 percent. And peak demand could rise by at least 72 percent.
Governments, energy utilities and taxpayers must plan for an uncertain future. The latest study in the needs of the fast-developing economy of China, now one of the world's great powers, and the biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases that drive global warming, would be necessary even if there were no climate change: that is because even without the factor of climate change driven by profligate combustion of fossil fuels almost everywhere in the world, household electricity consumption in China is expected to double by 2040.
And climate change brings severe additional problems. Chinese scientists already know that climate change within the country is a consequence of human-induced global warming. They know that average warming worldwide means more intense and more frequent extremes of heat and drought. And they have just learned that by the century's end, levels of heat and humidity could become potentially lethal, particularly so in the north China plains.
So researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai and Duke University in North Carolina report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they built up a picture of how householders respond to weather shifts by examining data from 800,000 residential customers in the Pudong district of Shanghai between 2014 and 2016, and then tested their findings against various projections of global climate change in this century.
Residential power demand makes up only about a quarter of the total for the Shanghai metropolis, but the scientists focused on individual householders because these were most responsive to fluctuations in temperature.
To nobody's great surprise, home usage of electricity went up during the days of extreme cold, early in February, and the days of extreme heat, usually around the end of July and early August.
They found that for every daily degree of temperature rise above 25°C, electricity use shot up by 14.5 percent. Compared with demand during the household comfort zone of around 20°C, on those days when temperatures reached 32°C, daily electricity consumption rose by 174 percent.
The implication is that more investment in air conditioning is going to drive even more global warming: other research teams have already identified the potential costs of heat waves and repeatedly warned that demand for air conditioning will warm the world even further. In the U.S., there are already signs that power grids may not be able to keep up with demand in long spells of extreme heat.
Shanghai is a bustling commercial powerhouse of a city: other parts of China have yet to catch up. The study found that higher-income households reached for the thermostat in cold weather. But in hot weather—and the Yangtze delta region, which is home to one fifth of the nation's urban population and produced one fourth of China's economic output, can get very hot—all income groups turned on the air conditioning.
"If we consider that more provinces would become 'Shanghai' as incomes rise, our results may ultimately be more broadly applicable," said Yatang Li, a Ph.D. student at Duke University, who led the research.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dan Gray
- Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
- A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
- It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.
New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.
By Jeff Turrentine
Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?