Climate news that has caught our attention.

Gulf Stream collapse


Schematic of key AMOC-related components of the North Atlantic Ocean (modified from García-Ibáñez et al., 2018). Abbreviations are as follows: NRG = Northern Recirculation Gyre; LC = Labrador Current; DWBC = Deep Western Boundary Current; IC = Irminger Current; EGIC = East Greenland-Irminger Current. Three source waters for North Atlantic Deep Water are noted: LSW = Labrador Sea Water; ISOW = Iceland-Scotland Overflow Water; DSOW = Denmark Straits Overflow Water. Box indicates the U.S. East Coast region. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

Climate Crisis: Scientists Spot Warning Signs of Gulf Stream Collapse. Historically, the Gulf Stream has caused dramatic changes in climate and there is evidence that the warm current is experiencing an unprecedented slowdown. What would the collapse of the Gulf Stream really mean? The Guardian has details: “Climate scientists have detected warning signs of the collapse of the Gulf Stream, one of the planet’s main potential tipping points. The research found ‘an almost complete loss of stability over the last century’ of the currents that researchers call the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), [including the Gulf Stream]. The currents are already at their slowest point in at least 1,600 years, but the new analysis shows it may be nearing a shutdown. Such an event would have catastrophic consequences around the world, severely disrupting the monsoons that billions of people depend on for food in India, South America and West Africa; increasing storms and lowering temperatures in Europe; and pushing up the sea level in the eastern US. It would also further endanger the Amazon rainforest and Antarctic ice sheets…” The future of the Gulf Stream bears watching…


Summary of major environmental-change categories expressed as a percentage change relative to the baseline given in the text. Red indicates the percentage of the category that is damaged, lost, or otherwise affected, whereas blue indicates the percentage that is intact, remaining, or otherwise unaffected.

Superscript numbers indicate the following references: 1IPBES, 2019; 2Halpern et al., 2015; 3Krumhansl et al., 2016; 4Waycott et al., 2009; 5Díaz et al., 2019; 6Christensen et al., 2014; 7Frieler et al., 2013; 8Erb et al., 2018; 9Davidson, 2014; 10Grill et al., 2019; 11WWF, 2020; 12Bar-On et al., 2018; 13Antonelli et al., 2020; 14Mora et al., 2011.

Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future. It’s not just the state of the Gulf Stream ringing alarm bells. Our grandkids are ‘gonna be super-pissed. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the word “ghastly” in a research paper – probably not the last. Here’s an overview at Conservation Science: “…Humanity is causing a rapid loss of biodiversity and, with it, Earth’s ability to support complex life. But the mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilization (Ceballos et al., 2015; IPBES, 2019; Convention on Biological Diversity, 2020; WWF, 2020). While suggested solutions abound (Díaz et al., 2019), the current scale of their implementation does not match the relentless progression of biodiversity loss (Cumming et al., 2006) and other existential threats tied to the continuous expansion of the human enterprise (Rees, 2020). Time delays between ecological deterioration and socio-economic penalties, as with climate disruption for example (IPCC, 2014), impede recognition of the magnitude of the challenge and timely counteraction needed...”

How to Prepare Supply Chains For the Next Global Crisis. Countries working together to lower climate risk and weather disruption? Imagine that. Here’s a blurb from an Op-Ed at Fortune: “…Companies have begun investing in climate adaptation as an insurance mechanism. For example, Seagate, a semiconductor manufacturer, and Fujikura, an electrical equipment manufacturer, have both invested in making their factories in Thailand more flood-proof after a 2011 disaster wiped out production. Studies indicate that companies that include climate science in their risk assessments do better at mitigating supply chain risks. More open trade would help accelerate the deployment of cutting-edge technologies for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Lowering tariffs and nontariff barriers would lead to increased specialization, scale, and competition in these environmental goods and services. This would lower the costs for all countries to get to net zero and adapt to a hotter world…”


In this Thursday, July 15, 2021, 2021 file photo, a regional train in the flood waters at the local station in Kordel, Germany, after it was flooded by the high waters of the Kyll river. This summer a lot of the places hit by weather disasters are not used to getting extremes and many of them are wealthier, which is different from the normal climate change victims. That includes unprecedented deadly flooding in Germany and Belgium, 116-degree heat records in Portland, Oregon and similar blistering temperatures in Canada, along with wildfires. Now Southern Europe is seeing scorching temperatures and out-of-control blazes too. And the summer of extremes is only getting started. Peak Atlantic hurricane and wildfire seasons in the United States are knocking at the door.

Sebastian Schmitt/dpa via AP, File

This Year’s Summer of Climate Extremes Hits Wealthier Places. The Associated Press has perspective: “As the world staggers through another summer of extreme weather, experts are noticing something different: 2021′s onslaught is hitting harder and in places that have been spared global warming’s wrath in the past. Wealthy countries such as the United States, Canada, Germany and Belgium are joining poorer and more vulnerable nations on a growing list of extreme weather events that scientists say have some connection to human-caused climate change. “It is not only a poor country problem, it’s now very obviously a rich country problem,” said Debby Guha-Sapir, founder of the international disaster database at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. “They (the rich) are getting whacked…”

Climate Central

Increasing Demand for Cooling. Nights are warming faster than days during the summer months, adding to an enhanced and growing demand for AC. Climate Central explains: “As temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, our need for air conditioning will increase as well. Cooling Degree Days (CDDs) describe how much cooling is needed to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature and can help determine changing energy demands. About 95% (235 of 246) of locations had an increase in the number of CDDs since 1970, indicating that cooling demand has risen in these places. We also see more homes being built with central air conditioning across the U.S. Higher usage of air conditioning raises several challenges. Air conditioners contain potent greenhouse gases, rely on fossil fuel-intensive power grids, and cost us money. Improving building and air conditioning efficiencies would reduce wasted energy. And replacing coal and natural gas with renewables, like wind and solar, will allow us to stay cool without making the planet warmer…”



A Florida City Wanted to Move Away from Fossil Fuels. The State Just Made Sure It Couldn’t. Grist has the post; here’s an excerpt: “…No state-level policies in Florida require reducing planet-heating emissions, and some federal and state lawmakers deny the science of human-caused climate change. So it’s been up to cities and towns to do what they can, like buying electric school buses and powering municipal buildings with renewable energy. Increasingly, local governments are ramping up their ambitions. But around the country, the gas industry has aggressively lobbied against local climate policies while simultaneously trying to get state legislatures to strip cities of their ability to restrict fossil fuels. That fight was about to come to Florida...”

Scientists Expected Thawing Wetlands in Siberia’s Permafrost. What They Found is “Much More Dangerous”. The Washington Post (paywall) reports: “Scientists have long been worried about what many call “the methane bomb” — the potentially catastrophic release of methane from thawing wetlands in Siberia’s permafrost. But now a study by three geologists says that a heat wave in 2020 has revealed a surge in methane emissions “potentially in much higher amounts” from a different source: thawing rock formations in the Arctic permafrost. The difference is that thawing wetlands releases “microbial” methane from the decay of soil and organic matter, while thawing limestone — or carbonate rock — releases hydrocarbons and gas hydrates from reservoirs both below and within the permafrost, making it “much more dangerous” than past studies have suggested…”

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