CO2 Levels Expected to Reach Another Record High in 2019
Carbon dioxide emissions reached a new record high in 2019, according to the latest figures from the Global Carbon Project, raising concerns about the ability of large emitters to effectively address the climate crisis.
The new data was unveiled during a press conference at the COP25 UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid Wednesday. It shows that carbon dioxide emissions rose more slowly between 2018 and 2019 than they did between the previous two years, but humans are still expected to release 40.57 billion tons (36.8 billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere this year, the Associated Press reported. That's the equivalent of 2.57 million pounds of carbon dioxide, or two Airbus A380s, every second.
Yet another year, global CO2 emissions to increase in 2019. https://t.co/lC89Di23XP Our Global Carbon Budget 2019… https://t.co/OgL4W8b0fr— Pep Canadell (@Pep Canadell)1575423355.0
"Every year that emissions go up, even if it's just a small amount, makes the task of bringing them back down that much harder," Glen Peters, research director at the Cicero Center for International Climate Research in Norway and study contributor, told The New York Times.
Emissions are expected to rise 0.6 percent in 2019, according to the data published in Environmental Research Letters, Nature Climate Change and Earth System Science Data. That is significantly less than the 1.5 percent increase in 2017 and the 2.1 percent increase in 2018. However, a UN study released last month found that emissions need to decline 7.6 percent every year for the next decade in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
While the 2019 figures are an estimate based on six to ten months of data, Peters told the Associated Press that past estimates have proved more or less accurate.
The 2019 projections show coal emissions dropping by almost one percent, but oil emissions rising 0.9 percent and emissions from natural gas, which has driven more than 50 percent of emissions growth since 2012, rising by 2.6 percent. The rise in fracking has made gas the No. 1 electricity source in the U.S., according to The New York Times.
We project global coal, oil, & gas emissions for 2019 * Natural gas up 2.6% [+1.3% to +3.9%], driving >50% of growt… https://t.co/cnreKjnup8— Glen Peters (@Glen Peters)1575440818.0
Of the top four carbon dioxide emitters, the EU and the U.S. saw emissions fall by 1.7 percent, while emissions rose by 1.8 percent in India and 2.6 percent in China. Emissions in the latter two countries rose more slowly than expected due to slow economic growth. India especially was a surprise, since emissions there rose by eight percent in 2018, according to The New York Times. The economic slowdown in India and China helped account for the overall decline in coal use.
"Through most of 2019 it was looking as if coal use would grow globally, but weaker than expected economic performance in China and India, and a record hydropower year in India - caused by a strong monsoon - quickly changed the prospects for growth in coal use," Robbie Andrew, another Cicero researcher who was involved in the study, told BBC News.
The top six emitters in 2018 covered 67% of global emissions * China 28% * United States 15% * EU28 9% * India 7% *… https://t.co/YTWTl0Ns3h— Glen Peters (@Glen Peters)1575440825.0
The decline in U.S. emissions comes despite the pro-fossil fuel policies of President Donald Trump, but does not cancel out the country's 2018 emissions increase of 2.8 percent, The New York Times pointed out.
Overall, U.S. emissions have declined 9.7 percent between 2000 and 2018, the Associated Press reported, but 11 countries have achieved steeper declines this century. For example, the UK cut emissions by one third during the same time period.
"The numbers show that the U.S. is not leading in terms of overall emissions reductions and this proves that we could be doing better," University of Michigan environment dean Jonathan Overpeck told the Associated Press. "This highlights that more, not less, U.S. international leadership is urgently needed. I'm still hopeful we can turn this all around... If we don't, the planet is cooked."
However, the U.S. isn't the only country that needs to improve. The overall data shows that climate policies matter, and no country's policies so far are ambitious enough.
"I do think global and national policies are making a difference, particularly by driving the rapid growth in renewables, and we'd be worse off without them," Rob Jackson, an earth system science professor at Stanford University who was involved with the research, told The New York Times. "But at the same time, it's clear those policies haven't been enough to stop the growth in fossil fuels."
The Global Carbon Budget 2019 just out. Another extraordinary effort of the global carbon cycle research community.… https://t.co/K2hTEk6dR6— GlobalCarbonProject (@GlobalCarbonProject)1575419489.0
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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