With the rapid growth of electricity generation, renewables—including solar, wind, and hydroelectric power—are the fastest-growing energy source between 2018 and 2050, surpassing petroleum and other liquids to become the most used energy source in the Reference case. Worldwide renewable energy consumption increases by 3.1% per year between 2018 and 2050, compared with 0.6% annual growth in petroleum and other liquids, 0.4% growth in coal, and 1.1% annual growth in natural gas consumption.
The eia projects that even with the rapid growth of renewables they will only make up 28% of energy production. There are links to the data.
Thanks to the high heat capacity of water and the huge volume of the global oceans, Earth’s surface temperature resists rapid changes. Said another way, some of the excess heat that greenhouse gases force the Earth’s surface to absorb in any given year is hidden for a time by the ocean. This delayed reaction means rising greenhouse gas levels don’t immediately have their full impact on surface temperature. Still, when we step back and look at the big picture, it’s clear the two are tightly connected.
There are nice rate of change statements:
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose by around 20 parts per million over the 7 decades from 1880–1950, while the temperature increased by an average of 0.04° C per decade.
Over the next 7 decades, however, carbon dioxide climbed nearly 100 ppm (5 times as fast!). . . . At the same time, the rate of warming averaged 0.14° C per decade.
There is another graph, a fun cartoon, and links to the data.
Last year was the fourth warmest year on record despite La Niña conditions early in the year and the lack of a short-term warming El Niño influence until late in the year.
Global sea level was highest on record. For the seventh consecutive year, global average sea level rose to a new record high in 2018 and was about 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) higher than the 1993 average, the year that marks the beginning of the satellite altimeter record.
Glaciers melted around the world. Preliminary data indicate that the world’s most closely tracked glaciers lost mass for the 30th consecutive year. Since 1980, the cumulative loss is the equivalent of slicing 79 feet (24 meters) off the top of the average glacier.
There are a number of graphs and plenty of quantitative information in this article.
The United Nations projects that world population growth will slow significantly over the course of the 21st century, coming close to its peak at 10.9 billion by 2100.
The striking change between now and 2100 is the expected growth in the African population. Today, its population is around 1.3 billion; by 2100 it’s projected to more than triple to 4.3 billion.
North, Central and South America, and Oceania, are projected to also see a rise in population this century – but this growth will be much more modest relative to growth in Africa. Europe is the only region where population is expected to fall – today its population stands at around 747 million; by 2100 this is projected to fall to 630 million.
The melting season for Arctic Sea Ice has started with a quick drop in ice. The total ice is at a record low for this time of year (orange line in chart). But, how this plays out throughout the melting seasons is hard to predict based solely on past seasons. For instance, 2012 is the year of the record low (dashed line), but numerous seasons have been lower than 2012 at this time of year (2016 – yellow, 2015 – green, 2007 – blue shown here). Arctic Sea Ice extent is updated daily on the Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph by NSIDC. This graph allows the user to select years, download the image, and choose between Arctic and Antarctic ice extent. NSIDC posts the data and there is a project on both the Calculus and Statistics page using this data, as well as an interactive graph.
More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.
(Note percentage rate of change in the quote.) Why?
One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.
“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo
The Guardian article is a good QL resource. The paper has nice graphs and data but is behind a paywall.
EIA expects non-hydroelectric renewable energy resources such as solar and wind will be the fastest growing source of U.S. electricity generation for at least the next two years. EIA’s January 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts that electricity generation from utility-scale solar generating units will grow by 10% in 2019 and by 17% in 2020. According to the January STEO, wind generation will grow by 12% and 14% during the next two years. EIA forecasts total U.S. electricity generation across all fuels will fall by 2% this year and then show very little growth in 2020.
The good news is more renewables, but “fastest growing” can be misleading. According to the chart (copied from the article) nonhydro renewables are projected to go from 10% in 2018 to 13% in 2020, and so their share of electricity generation is still small. This is good good discussion for a calculus class or any QL based course. The article includes two other charts and one is a complex bar chart that could be the focus of a class period.
Breeding by natural selection has been modified by human-directed selection. While the size of the domesticated chicken in historical times was little different to the red jungle fowl (figure 3), domestic chicken bone morphology shows that selective breeding practices took place as early as the sixteenth century [53,54]. Chickens from the late twentieth century are markedly different in terms of size (figures 3 and 4), growth rate (figure 5) and body shape. The change in body mass and body shape has been visually documented by photographs of broiler breeds throughout ontogeny from 1957, 1978 and 2005 . Broilers from a 1957 breed are between one-fourth and one-fifth of the body weight of broilers from a twenty-first century breed [13,14]. The modern broiler is a distinctive new morphotype with a relatively wide body shape, a low centre of gravity  and multiple osteo-pathologies. If left to live to maturity, broilers are unlikely to survive. In one study, increasing their slaughter age from five weeks to nine weeks resulted in a sevenfold increase in mortality rate : the rapid growth of leg and breast muscle tissue leads to a relative decrease in the size of other organs such as the heart and lungs, which restricts their function and thus longevity . Changes in the centre of gravity of the body, reduced pelvic limb muscle mass and increased pectoral muscle mass cause poor locomotion and frequent lameness . Unlike most other neobiota, this new broiler morphotype is shaped by, and unable to live without, intensive human intervention.
The article includes a number of interesting charts including the one copied here and in reference to the figure they refer to a derivative:
Chicken-meat consumption is growing faster than any other meat type and is soon to outpace pork
Data used in the paper is available under Supplemental Material (left side bar).
The ocean is the main source of thermal inertia in the climate system1. During recent decades, ocean heat uptake has been quantified by using hydrographic temperature measurements and data from the Argo float program, which expanded its coverage after 20072,3. However, these estimates all use the same imperfect ocean dataset and share additional uncertainties resulting from sparse coverage, especially before 20074,5. Here we provide an independent estimate by using measurements of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2)—levels of which increase as the ocean warms and releases gases—as a whole-ocean thermometer. We show that the ocean gained 1.33 ± 0.20 × 1022 joules of heat per year between 1991 and 2016, equivalent to a planetary energy imbalance of 0.83 ± 0.11 watts per square metre of Earth’s surface. We also find that the ocean-warming effect that led to the outgassing of O2 and CO2 can be isolated from the direct effects of anthropogenic emissions and CO2 sinks. Our result—which relies on high-precision O2 measurements dating back to 19916—suggests that ocean warming is at the high end of previous estimates, with implications for policy-relevant measurements of the Earth response to climate change, such as climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases7 and the thermal component of sea-level rise8.
The paper has other interesting graphs that could be used in a QL based class. For a calculus class, the graph here is an example of the use of the Δx notation in the “real world”.
Lauren Parker and John Abatzoglou of the University of Idaho tracked what would happen to hardiness zones from 2041 to 2070 under future global warming scenarios, and found the lines will continue to march northward at a “climate velocity” of 13.3 miles per decade.
One study in northern Canada found that the permafrost around James Bay had retreated 80 miles north over 50 years. Studies of ground temperatures in boreholes have also revealed frightening rates of change, says Schafer. “What we’re seeing is 20 meters down, it’s increasing as high as 1-2 degrees C per decade,” he says. “In the permafrost world that’s a really rapid change. Extremely rapid.”
North America is seeing the opposite phenomenon: Its arable land is romping northward, expanding the wheat belt into higher and higher latitudes. Scientists project it could go from about 55 degrees north today to as much as 65 degrees North — the latitude of Fairbanks, Alaska — by 2050. That’s about 160 miles per decade.
The article includes potential ramifications of these changes along with other quantitative information.
Graphic: Hardiness zones in the U.S., which track average low temperatures in winter, have all shifted northward by half a zone warmer since 1990.SOURCE: UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. GRAPHIC BY KATIE PEEK.