Nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, though there is still a short window to prevent the most harrowing future, a major new United Nations scientific report has concluded.
Humans have already heated the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, largely by burning coal, oil and gas for energy. And the consequences can be felt across the globe: This summer alone, blistering heat waves have killed hundreds of people in the United States and Canada, floods have devastated Germany and China, and wildfires have raged out of control in Siberia, Turkey and Greece.
But that’s only the beginning, according to the report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations. Even if nations started sharply cutting emissions today, total global warming is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades, a hotter future that is now essentially locked in.
At 1.5 degrees of warming, scientists have found, the dangers grow considerably. Nearly 1 billion people worldwide could swelter in more frequent life-threatening heat waves. Hundreds of millions more would struggle for water because of severe droughts. Some animal and plant species alive today will be gone. Coral reefs, which sustain fisheries for large swaths of the globe, will suffer more frequent mass die-offs.
“We can expect a significant jump in extreme weather over the next 20 or 30 years,” said Piers Forster, a climate scientist at the University of Leeds and one of hundreds of international experts who helped write the report. “Things are unfortunately likely to get worse than they are today.”
Not all is lost, however, and humanity can still prevent the planet from getting even hotter. Doing so would require a coordinated effort among countries to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by around 2050, which would entail a rapid shift away from fossil fuels starting immediately, as well as potentially removing vast amounts of carbon from the air. If that happened, global warming would likely halt and level off at around 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report concludes.
But if nations fail in that effort, global average temperatures will keep rising — potentially passing 2 degrees, 3 degrees or even 4 degrees Celsius, compared with the preindustrial era. The report describes how every additional degree of warming brings far greater perils, such as ever more vicious floods and heat waves, worsening droughts and accelerating sea-level rise that could threaten the existence of some island nations. The hotter the planet gets, the greater the risks of crossing dangerous “tipping points,” like the irreversible collapse of the immense ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica.
“There’s no going back from some changes in the climate system,” said Ko Barrett, a vice-chair of the panel and a senior adviser for climate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But, she added, immediate and sustained emissions cuts “could really make a difference in the climate future we have ahead of us.”
The report, approved by 195 governments and based on more than 14,000 studies, is the most comprehensive summary to date of the physical science of climate change. It will be a focal point when diplomats gather in November at a U.N. summit in Glasgow to discuss how to step up their efforts to reduce emissions.
A growing number of world leaders, including President Biden, have endorsed the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, though current policies in the major polluting countries are still far off-track from achieving that target. The 10 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases are China, the United States, the European Union, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran and Canada.
The new report leaves no doubt that humans are responsible for global warming, concluding that essentially all of the rise in global average temperatures since the 19th century has been driven by nations burning fossil fuels, clearing forests and loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that trap heat.
The changes in climate to date have little parallel in human history, the report said. The last decade is quite likely the hottest the planet has been in 125,000 years. The world’s glaciers are melting and receding at a rate “unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.” Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have not been this high in at least 2 million years.
Ocean levels have risen 8 inches on average over the past century, and the rate of increase has doubled since 2006. Heat waves have become significantly hotter since 1950 and last longer in much of the world. Wildfire weather has worsened across large swaths of the globe. Bursts of extreme heat in the ocean — which can kill fish, seabirds and coral reefs — have doubled in frequency since the 1980s.
In recent years, scientists have also been able to draw clear links between global warming and specific severe weather events. Many of the deadly new temperature extremes the world has seen — like the record-shattering heat wave that scorched the Pacific Northwest in June — “would have been extremely unlikely to occur without human influence on the climate system,” the report says. Greenhouse gas emissions are noticeably making some droughts, downpours and floods worse.
Tropical cyclones have likely become more intense over the past 40 years, the report said, a shift that cannot be explained by natural variability alone.
And as global temperatures keep rising, the report notes, so will the hazards. Consider a dangerous heat wave that, in the past, would have occurred just once in a given region every 50 years. Today, a similar heat wave can be expected every 10 years, on average. At 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, those heat waves will strike every 5 years and be significantly hotter. At 4 degrees of warming, they will occur nearly annually.
Or take sea level rise. At 1.5 degrees of warming, ocean levels are projected to rise another 1 to 2 feet this century, regularly inundating many coastal cities with floods that in the past would have occurred just once a century. But if temperatures keep increasing, the report said, there is a risk that the vast ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland could destabilize in unpredictable ways, potentially adding another three feet of sea-level rise this century in the worst case.
Further unpredictable changes may be in store. For example, a crucial ocean circulation system in the Atlantic Ocean, which helps stabilize the climate in Europe, is now starting to slow down. While the panel concluded with “medium confidence” that the system was unlikely to collapse abruptly this century, it warned that if the planet keeps heating up, the odds of such “low likelihood, high impact outcomes” would rise.
“It’s not like we can draw a sharp line where, if we stay at 1.5 degrees, we’re safe, and at 2 degrees or 3 degrees it’s game over,” said Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University who helped write the report. “But every extra bit of warming increases the risks.”
Experts have estimated that current policies being pursued by world governments will put the world on track for roughly 3 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century. That has ramped up pressure on countries to make more ambitious pledges, beyond what they agreed to under an international climate agreement struck in Paris in 2015.
If nations follow through on more recent promises — like Mr. Biden’s April pledge to eliminate America’s net carbon emissions by 2050 or China’s vow to become carbon neutral by 2060 — then something closer to 2 degrees Celsius of warming might be possible. Additional action, such as sharply reducing methane emissions from agriculture and oil and gas drilling, could help limit warming below that level.
“The report leaves me with a deep sense of urgency,” said Jane Lubchenco, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “Now is the critical decade for keeping the 1.5 target within reach.”
While the broad scientific understanding of climate change has not changed drastically in recent years, scientists have made several key advances. Computer models have become more powerful. And researchers have collected a wealth of new data, deploying satellites and ocean buoys and gaining a clearer picture of the Earth’s past climate by analyzing ice cores and peat bogs.
That has allowed scientists to refine their projections and conclude with greater precision that Earth is likely to warm between 2.5 degrees and 4 degrees Celsius for every doubling of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The new report also explores in greater detail how global warming will affect specific regions of the world. For example, while only one corner of South America to date has had a detectable rise in droughts that can harm agriculture, such damaging dry spells are expected to become much more common across the continent if global average temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius.
The focus on regional effects is one of the most important new aspects of this report, said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, a climate scientist at University of Paris-Saclay and a co-chair of the group that produced the report. “We show that climate change is already acting in every region, in multiple ways,” she said.
Past climate reports have focused mainly on large-scale global changes, which has made it hard for countries and businesses to take specific steps to protect people and property. To help with such planning, the panel on Monday released an interactive atlas showing how different countries could be transformed as global temperatures rise.
“It’s very critical to provide society, decision makers and leaders with precise information for every region,” Dr. Masson-Delmotte said.
The new report is part of the sixth major assessment of climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was created in 1988. A second report, set to be released in 2022, will detail how climate change might affect aspects of human society, such as coastal cities, farms or health care systems. A third report, also expected next year, will explore more fully strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt global warming.
A clay tablet fragment roughly 3,500 years old inscribed with a fragment of the Gilgamesh epic…..is retrieved back from “The Bible Museum” & Cornwell University.
When Religion & respected Universities are used as a means for theft -whether in Iraq or Palestine.!!!
ERBIL, Iraq — When the Iraqi prime minister’s plane touched down in Baghdad last week after an official visit to the United States, its cargo included 17,000 archaeological artifacts returned by a prominent museum and an Ivy League university in the largest-ever repatriation of looted Iraqi antiquities.
On Tuesday, plywood crates holding the thousands of clay tablets and seals — pieces from Mesopotamia, site of the world’s earliest civilizations — were stacked next to a table displaying a few of the artifacts as the Iraqi Culture Ministry took custody of the cultural treasures.
The repatriation of so many objects rounds out a remarkable chapter in the story of a country so ravaged by decades of conflict and war that its very history was pulled out of the ground by antiquities thieves and sold abroad, ending up on display in other countries’ museums. And it is a victory in a global effort by countries to press Western institutions to return culturally vital artifacts, like the push to repatriate the famed Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.
“This is not just about thousands of tablets coming back to Iraq again — it is about the Iraqi people,” Hassan Nadhem, the Iraqi minister of culture, tourism and antiquities, said in a telephone interview. “It restores not just the tablets, but the confidence of the Iraqi people by enhancing and supporting the Iraqi identity in these difficult times.”
The institution that held about 12,000 of the items was the Museum of the Bible, a four-year-old Washington museum founded and funded by the Christian evangelical family that owns the Hobby Lobby craft store chain. The addition of artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia was intended to provide context for Old Testament events.
Four years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice fined Hobby Lobby $3 million for failing to exercise due diligence in its acquisitions of more than 5,000 artifacts; some of those artifacts were among those returned last week to Iraq. Hobby Lobby agreed as part of the government lawsuit to tighten its acquisition procedures, and the museum found thousands more suspect artifacts after it later initiated a voluntary review of its collection.
More than 5,000 of the other pieces returned last week had been held by Cornell University. That collection from a previously unknown Sumarian city of Garsana was donated to the university in 2000 by an American collector. Partly because the city was unknown, it was widely suspected by archaeologists to have come from a looted archaeological site in the south of Iraq.
The holdings underline a thriving market in stolen antiquities and highlight the plight of countries like Iraq, which has been subjected to three decades of antiquities looting. When government forces lost control of parts of southern Iraq in 1991, in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, widespread looting occurred at unexcavated sites. And the industrial-scale thefts continued amid a security vacuum after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Many of the returned clay tablets and seals are from Irisagrig, a lost ancient city. The city’s existence became known only when tablets mentioning it were seized at the Jordanian border in 2003, while thousands more surfaced in international antiquities markets.
Southern Iraq, part of ancient Mesopotamia, contains thousands of unexcavated archaeological sites between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers where the world’s first known civilizations began. Babylon and Ur, the reputed birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, flourished there, and it is where writing, astronomy and the first known code of law originated.
Hobby Lobby’s batch of repatriated objects does not include what had been the best-known of its holdings from Mesopotamia: a clay tablet fragment roughly 3,500 years old inscribed with a fragment of the Gilgamesh epic, an ancient saga mentioning the Great Flood and the Garden of Eden that predates the Old Testament by many centuries.
The Justice Department, which describes it as “stolen Iraqi property,” seized the tablet in 2019. It is the only Hobby Lobby artifact among those being returned to Iraq to have been exhibited in the Museum of the Bible.
Hobby Lobby, which is suing Christie’s auction house to recover the $1.6 million that it paid for the fragment in a private sale in London, withdrew its objections to returning it in July. Now in a federal warehouse in Brooklyn, the piece is expected to be handed back to Iraq in a few weeks.
The tablet, about 6 inches by 5 inches, was first offered for sale by a Jordanian antiquities dealer in London in 2001. It then changed hands several times, and in 2014 Christie’s brokered a private sale of it to Hobby Lobby with documents later found to be false. The Justice Department said that a dealer had warned that the provenance would not withstand the scrutiny of a public auction. Christie’s has said it did not know the documents were fake.
Hobby Lobby’s president, Steve Green, has said that he knew nothing about collecting when he started the museum and that he had been misled by unscrupulous dealers.
Some of the artifacts were bought in lots of up to 2,000 pieces with what the museum’s current director has described as paperwork so vague that the museum did not know what it was getting.
Because most of the objects bought for the museum were not studied, they remain a mystery. The sole artifact that it has kept from the collection, a cuneiform-inscribed brick from a temple in Nebuchadnezzar’s period, has a clear provenance. The museum says that export papers from the family that donated it show that it was legally taken from Iraq to the United States in the 1920s.
But the artifacts returned by Cornell have been widely studied by scholars who published their findings. Many archaeologists criticize any research into potentially looted items, saying it not only deprives the countries of origin of the opportunity to study the objects themselves, but also helps fuel the trade in looted antiquities by raising black-market prices for similar items.
“We missed this great opportunity to study our tablets, our heritage,” said Mr. Nadhem, the culture minister, who said that Cornell had not consulted Iraq on its research of the tablets. “This is a kind of bitterness in our mouth.”
Cornell, which has revealed little about the return of its collection, said that it had repatriated 5,381 clay tablets to Iraq. In 2013, the U.S. Justice Department urged the university to give back thousands of ancient tablets believed to have been looted from the country in the 1990s, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Asked about the returned artifacts, Cornell provided a statement thanking the Iraqi government “for their partnership as we continued the crucial work of preserving these important artifacts for future generations to study.” It also said it had published studies about the tablets for “the cultural benefits of the Republic of Iraq.”
The returned Hobby Lobby artifacts include thousands of pieces seized by the U.S. government in 2011, which became the basis of the Justice Department fine against the company. They included cuneiform tablets, ancient cylinder seals and clay seal impressions known as bullae.
Most of the shipments, according to the Justice Department, had been marked Turkish “ceramic tiles” and shipped to Hobby Lobby and two corporate affiliates from dealers in the United Arab Emirates. Others from Israel falsely declared Israel as their country of origin.
The Museum of the Bible counted more than 8,000 others when it began reviewing the provenance of every item in its collection in an effort to emerge from scandals resulting from the Hobby Lobby acquisitions. The museum’s highest-profile acquisitions, purported fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, turned out to be forgeries.
When it became clear shortly after the museum opened that it could not verify the provenance of the Mesopotamia artifacts, it packed them up to be returned.
“In a large measure, the contents are pretty much unknown,” said Jeffrey Kloha, the museum’s director of collections, who joined after the pieces were acquired. He has previously said that more than 5 percent of the artifacts bought by Hobby Lobby that were said to be from ancient Mesopotamia are fake.
Now, with the return of the Iraqi and, previously, of other suspect holdings, the museum has turned its focus to domestic acquisitions with much clearer provenance, including early Bibles, Mr. Kloha said.
Patty Gerstenblith, director of the Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law at DePaul University in Chicago, said that because the importance of the returned Iraqi artifacts was unknown, it was difficult to assess the repatriation in archaeological terms.
But she said the move had symbolic value.
“I think the fact that the museum proactively went through and said, ‘OK, we really can’t establish where this stuff came from,’ that was also an important step,” she said. “Other museums should do the same thing.”