Thanks to ACD, Earth has lost approximately half of all its coral reefs in just the last three decades. A quarter of all marine species depend on reefs. Reefs provide the sole source of protein for more than one billion people, and they are now vanishing before our eyes.
Scientists are now speculating that an era of terminal global coral bleaching might have already arrived, decades earlier than previously expected. The recent bleaching events are so severe, there is no analog in the thousands of years of ancient coral cores scientists use to study past bleaching events.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science has warned that ACD will damage the US’s ability to maintain agricultural productivity, as rising temperatures and increasing droughts that plague areas where US food is grown are only going to increase. The study has warned that, without changes, US agricultural productivity will, by 2050, fall back to 1980 levels (for a population that was 114 million less than today’s).
In Canada, a recent scientific study has unearthed another climate feedback loop — this one coming in the form of vast expanses of farmland being exposed by melting snow and ice over longer amounts of time that then make a larger contribution to greenhouse gases and ACD. According to the study, the thawing of previously frozen cropland is burping nitrous oxide into the atmosphere at rates much greater than previously thought, which means that agriculture’s role in generating greenhouse gases has been greatly underestimated.
A report published in March shows that, according to the UN, the world is facing the widest and deepest humanitarian crisis since the end of WWII, as 20 million people face starvation and famine in Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan, with no end in sight.
Underscoring this crisis, another report from this spring has provided evidence that the Middle East and North Africa risk becoming uninhabitable within a few decades, due to lack of accessible fresh water, which has already fallen by two-thirds over the last 40 years.
The 22 countries impacted by this growing water crisis are home to nearly 400 million people, who are also impacted by lack of adequate water for agriculture and food production for their populations that are continuing to grow rapidly.
According to the report, per capita availability of fresh water across this region is already 10 times less than that of the world average, and ACD-driven higher temperatures may shorten growing seasons across the region by 18 days. At current trends, this would reduce agricultural yields another 27 percent — meaning a decrease of 55 percent by 2100, despite rising populations.
The wildfires burned furiously from September through November, as the Peruvian Amazon experienced its driest period in two decades, and more than 100,000 acres of rainforest and farm land burned. Then, in January, the droughts gave way to record-setting rains, which killed dozens and destroyed more than 12,000 homes as more than 175 districts around the country had to declare a state of emergency.
In March, in the US, a wildfire near Boulder, Colorado signaled an early kick-off to wildfire season when it forced the evacuation of 1,000 people.
At the time of this writing, wildfires across the US were already off to a furious start, with more than 2 million acres having burned. That number of acres burned is approximately 10 times the average for the time of year it was tabulated, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Trump’s anti-ACD-mitigation efforts are on track to ensure the US misses its (non-binding) Paris Climate Agreement target of emissions reductions, with one analyst pegging the target shortfall at more than one billion metric tons of CO2.
The corporate media has consistently maintained complicity in active ACD denial. According to a study by Media Matters, the major networks spent a grand total of 50 minutes on ACD coverage during the entirety of 2016. That pathetic amount was a 66 percent drop in coverage from 2015.
Meanwhile, geoengineering advocates are entering the Trump administration, and bringing with them their plans to spray sun-reflecting chemicals into the atmosphere. Advocates of geoengineering argue for planetary-scale manipulations of Earth systems in order to cool the Earth. Most scientists oppose the philosophy and practice of geoengineering, given the high likelihood of unintended consequences that will ultimately only intensify the impacts of ACD.
To close out this month’s dispatch on a sobering note, consider the results of a recent study published in Nature Geoscience: For the second year in a row, CO2 in the atmosphere — the primary driver of ACD — is now rising at the fastest rate ever recorded.