Climate Change ☀️
Exxon Mobil’s Chief Says It Is ‘Supportive’ of Zero-Emission Goals
Darren W. Woods rarely makes headlines even though he is the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, the oil company that some people consider a top environmental villain and others think of as a vital engine of the U.S. economy.

Few have taken seriously, or even noticed, that he is beginning to make promises to respond to climate change, which is at the very least a rhetorical break from his predecessors if not a substantive one.

“What society demands, and appropriately so, is affordable, reliable energy that doesn’t have the emissions associated with today’s energy systems,” he said on Tuesday. “We’re working on that evolution.”

While that might seem like a guarded statement, Mr. Woods, a soft-spoken electrical engineer from Wichita, Kan., is clearly changing the tone of the company, which he took over four years ago. The Texas swagger employed by his predecessors, one of whom openly dismissed concerns about climate change, has turned into something vaguely philosophical.


In an interview meant to be a curtain raiser to an annual presentation that executives will offer financial analysts and investors on Wednesday, Mr. Woods, 56, waxed poetic about the history of technology and the energy industry and even suggested there was common ground between his plans to reduce emissions and President Biden’s efforts to fight climate change. He went so far as to promise that Exxon would try to set a goal for not emitting more greenhouse gases than it removed from the atmosphere, though he said it was still difficult to say when that might happen.

“We are supportive of that ambition, and our goal is to help society to achieve it,” Mr. Woods said. “Frankly, the recognition of the challenge is continuing to grow. It’s an evolving conversation that I find very helpful to think through what needs to happen.”

Under pressure from activist investors, Exxon said this week that it was adding two new directors with no previous ties to fossil fuels to its board. The company recently said it would create a new business that captured carbon dioxide from industrial plants and buried it deep in the ground. It also recently invested in Global Thermostat, a company that aims to suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

Of course, many people are deeply skeptical about the company’s plans and motives. Unlike executives of European oil companies, Mr. Woods is not cutting investments in oil and gas in favor of spending money on wind and solar power. He steered clear of commenting on BP’s pledge last year to cut its net emissions to zero by 2050.

“Unlike their big oil competitors that have begun taking action on climate change, Woods and Exxon Mobil continue to live in a fairy tale world of inaction while California burns and Texas freezes,” said Peter Krull, chief executive of Earth Equity Advisors, a research and investment firm specializing in sustainability.

After spending nearly three decades with a company traditionally known for its insularity, rigid culture and public indifference to global warming, Mr. Woods suggested that he was ready to steer it onto a different course, albeit gradually.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/business/energy-environment/exxon-mobil-darren-woods.html


In the Atlantic Ocean, Subtle Shifts Hint at Dramatic Dangers
The warming atmosphere is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken, some scientists fear.

A “cold blob” in the North Atlantic — possibly caused by the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet — might be disrupting the Gulf Stream. The impact could be dramatic.

One arm of the powerful current functions like a giant heat pump, channeling Caribbean heat toward Canada before turning east toward the British Isles. But the cold blob seems to be weakening it, potentially tipping the delicate balance of hot and cold that has shaped climate and history on four continents. We visualized the changing Atlantic.

The consequences of this paradox — that a warming atmosphere has cooled one part of the world — could include faster sea level rise along parts of the Eastern U.S. and parts of Europe, stronger hurricanes and reduced rainfall across the Sahel, a semi-arid swath of land running the width of Africa that is already ripe for conflict.

“We’re all wishing it’s not true,” one expert said. “Because if that happens, it’s just a monstrous change.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/02/climate/atlantic-ocean-climate-change.html

Largest carbon stores found in Australian World Heritage Sites
Australia's marine World Heritage Sites are among the world's largest stores of carbon dioxide according to a new report from the United Nations, co-authored by an ECU marine science expert.

The report quantifies the enormous amounts of so-called blue carbon absorbed and stored by those ecosystems across the world's 50 UNESCO marine World Heritage Sites.

Despite covering less than 1 per cent of the world's surface, blue carbon ecosystems are responsible for around half of the carbon dioxide absorbed by the world's oceans while it is estimated they absorb carbon dioxide at a rate about 30 times faster than rainforests.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210302094050.htm

Miami Says It Can Adapt to Rising Seas. Not Everyone Is Convinced.
Officials in Miami-Dade County, where climate models predict two feet or more of sea-level rise by 2060, have released an upbeat strategy for living with more water, one that focused on elevating homes and roads, more dense construction farther inland and creating more open space for flooding in low-lying areas.

That blueprint, made public on Friday, portrayed rising seas as mostly manageable, especially for a low-lying area with a century of experience managing water.

Climate experts, though, warned that the county’s plan downplayed the magnitude of the threat, saying it failed to warn residents and developers about the risk of continuing to build near the coast in a county whose economy depends heavily on waterfront real estate.

“I’m not sure if it’s really owning up to the problems that are in Miami’s future,” said Rob Moore, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He described the strategy as “just enough to reassure developers that Miami’s safe enough to build in, in the near term.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/02/climate/miami-sea-level-rise.html

Scientists use forest color to gauge permafrost depth
Researchers have developed a remote sensing method of measuring the depth of permafrost by analyzing vegetation cover in boreal ecosystems.

Scientists regularly use remote sensing drones and satellites to record how climate change affects permafrost thaw rates -- methods that work well in barren tundra landscapes where there's nothing to obstruct the view.

But in boreal regions, which harbor a significant portion of the world's permafrost, obscuring vegetation can stymy even the most advanced remote sensing technology.

In a study published in January, researchers in Germany and at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute developed a method of using satellite imagery to measure the depth of thaw directly above permafrost in boreal ecosystems. Rather than trying to peer past vegetation, they propose a unique solution that uses variations in forest color to infer the depth of permafrost beneath.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210302154234.htm

Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations