Photo credit: VanderWolf-Images (creator)/Getty Images/iStockphoto
The novel coronavirus outbreak has spread across large regions, infecting more than 308,000 and killing more than 13,000 people. The world health organization (WHO) has declared the disease a pandemic due to the rate at which the virus is travelling, causing fear all around the world. Millions of flights have been cancelled, schools are shut down, even attraction sites such as Disneyland and The Eiffel Tower are being closed due to the spread. Multiple health organizations have recommended social distancing measures to mitigate the impact of the disease, which has resulted in great isolation amongst public areas.
Although the virus caused severe disruptions and affected people of every age, it does have an unexpectedly positive effect on carbon emission levels. China – the world’s largest carbon emitter – has an estimated decrease of 25% in carbon emissions in the past month. Granted the trend in carbon emissions continue, analysts predict that this may lead to the first fall in carbon emissions since the 2008-9 financial crisis. Additionally, the crisis in the airline industry has also been a major contributor in the fall of global emissions. The cancellation of international conferences and global events may also lead to more carbon savings.
Despite the low levels of carbon emissions, clinical associate professor Gernot Wager expressed his sympathetic views to those compensating for the cut in emissions, putting forward the idea that climate change should not be wagered for the price of death and insufferable living conditions. “Emissions in China are down because the economy has stopped and people are dying,” Wager told MIT Technology Review. “Poor people are not able to get medicine and food. This is not an analogy for how we want to decrease emissions from climate change.” Climate experts have also noted the offset in low carbon emissions produced by public areas, emphasising on the increase in home-used energies due to isolation and social distancing. “[People spending more time watching television or using appliances at home] could end up having a higher energy use,” reported Jacqueline Klopp, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University. As a result, this increases a household’s carbon footprint.
Klopp noted that the behavioural changes due to the pandemic incurred significant changes to the economy. She believes that this is the norm for dealing with similar situations, such as a natural disaster. Klopp also pointed out that this level of disaster preparedness has shed a light on the fact that the significance of public health awareness and climate change can often clash with one another.
Regardless of the change in carbon emission due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, once the pandemic is over, whether people willingly choose to apply carbon-friendly changes instead of unintentionally offsetting global carbon emissions is another question.
To learn more about our changing climate, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/climate-topics
©2020 Weather Forecaster Caitlyn Rusli
Coastal Erosion Inundates O'ahu Community for 15+ Years (Credit: Star Advertiser, Meteorologist Jessica Olsen)
DISCUSSION: Oahu, home to some of the most breathtaking views cut from such mountain ranges as the Koolau’s or Waianae range, that some forget the daily issues that plague the small yet full island. Residents along Kamehameha highway on the Windward coast are facing a constant battle with eroding highways.
Most recently emergency repairs where conducted along Kamehameha highway to secure locations from Kaneohe, north to Kahuku. The result, an increase in traffic and rush-hour delays stemming from the repairs, residents are saying have been ongoing for at least a decade and a half. The Department of Transportation having made repairs two years in a row to the area.
What is to blame are the increase in sea-level rise due to climate change and high-surf leading to devastating erosion on Kamehameha highway. Repairs beginning February 11th, were estimated to cost between $3-4 million. A current resiliency study, which is expect to be completed in July, has indicated concern for the Hawaiian Islands as 20% of Hawaii’s roads will be inundated by the end of the century. This would put the cost of mitigation at an estimated $15 billion. State Rep. Sean Quinlan, representing Hauula and Kaaawa called on the Department of Transportation to create a strategic plan by 2021 which would include the replenishment of beaches and to reinforce the highway by 2024.
The US Climate Resilience Toolkit, managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has indicated that coastal erosion is “the process by which local sea level rise, strong wave action, and coastal flooding wear down or carry away rocks, soils, and/or sands along the coast.” It is estimated that more than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are lost annually, and coastal erosion costs are approximately $500 million per year in property loss in the United States.
Strategies to combat such issues include; shoreline stabilization, beach nourishment, and coastal restoration. These are merely similar adaptation and mitigation procedures the United States has been conducting for years. The efforts help to safeguard coastal communities, and restoring the area.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) has provided a Coastal Vulnerability Index, that may “help identify locations where coastal erosion may occur along undeveloped coastlines.”
For additional information on erosion on climate related issues, visit the Global Weather and Climate Center!
© 2020 Meteorologist Jessica Olsen