Sea Level Rise Is Locked in Even If We Meet Paris Agreement Targets, New Study Says
Sea level rise will change the landscape of coastlines and challenge our ability to adapt over the next couple of centuries, even if all the 2030 emissions targets set in the Paris agreement are met, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Just like a large ship charging at full speed takes a long time to come to a stop, the rising seas will need centuries before they stop encroaching on to land. The researchers found that the greenhouse gas emissions from the signing of the Paris agreement in 2015 to the target date of 2030 is enough to make the oceans rise 3.1 inches by the end of the century, according to Agence-France Presse (AFP).
The study shows that the period from 2015-2030 will, on its own, emit enough greenhouse gasses to raise the oceans 7.87 inches by 2300. It will only be 7.87 inches of sea-level rise if nations around the world honor their commitments to the Paris agreement.
However, that may be a conservative estimate since it assumes all the countries in the world drastically reduce their emissions and stop emitting greenhouse gasses after 2030. Another study last week found that without drastic reductions in emissions, entire cities could be underwater by 2050 and 300 million people could experience annual flooding, as EcoWatch reported.
Additionally, from 1990 to 2030, the authors of the new PNAS study found that the top five top polluters will be responsible for over 10 inches of sea-level rise.
The researchers crunched the numbers and found the lag time between the reduction in emissions and the oceans response will mean the oceans will continue to rise for sometime — we are already locked into a one meter sea rise by 2300, the study says.
"Even with the Paris pledges there will be a large amount of sea level rise," said Peter Clark, an Oregon State University climate scientist and co-author of the study, according to The Guardian.
The study looked at a 15-year period from when countries signed onto the Paris agreement in 2015 to 2030. The researchers' model used data that assumes all the signatories will drastically reduce emissions by 2030 and then immediately eliminate all greenhouse-warming gasses from that point forward. However, the unfortunate reality is that very few countries are on target to meet their goals that would stop the planet from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as The Guardian reported.
"Sea level rise is going to be an ongoing problem for centuries to come, we will have to keep on adapting over and over again. It's going to be a whole new expensive lifestyle, costing trillions of dollars," said Clark, as The Guardian reported. "Sea level has a very long memory, so even if we start cooling temperatures the seas will continue to rise. It's a bit like trying to turn the Titanic around, rather than a speedboat."
However, that does not mean the situation is hopeless. It does mean that the decisions that are made today have tremendous impact in the future. The faster we can drop our emissions, the more time it will take ice to melt and for seas to rise. That will give coastal cities more time to prepare and it will give governments more time to fix the global climate crisis, as National Geographic reported.
"We can clearly see that there's a massive sea level rise contribution coming from emissions over such a short time frame, just over the Paris period," said Alexander Nauels, the lead author of the report and a sea level rise expert at Climate Analytics, as National Geographic reported. "But this is risk we can reduce, by all means, if we can, and it seems like we can."
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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