A coal plant in Turkey. Photo: Mehmet Ali Ozcan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A sobering new piece in the journal Nature finds that October's dire UN science report about the ongoing and future effects of climate change may have actually underestimated the pace of global warming.

Why it matters: The new analysis, if borne out, widens what's already a huge gulf between the expected human and ecological toll from high levels and rapid rates of warming and the failure of governments worldwide to bring about the steep carbon emissions cuts that could prevent runaway temperature increases.

The big picture: The Nature piece sees a "good chance" that a temperature rise of 1.5 °C, or 2.7°F, above preindustrial levels could arrive by 2030 if emissions continue unchecked.

  • That's a decade earlier than the UN science body envisioned in their report.
  • "Policymakers have less time to respond than they thought," writes Texas A&M University atmospheric scientist Yangyang Xu. The other authors are University of California, San Diego climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan, and UC-San Diego political scientist David Victor.

What they found: The authors see three big trends combining over the next 20 years that will make climate change "faster and more furious than anticipated."

  • Carbon emissions: They're rising again after a plateau in 2014 to 2016.
  • Air pollution: Ironically, governments' success in improving air quality is speeding up the temperature rise. That's because tiny particles known as aerosols in traditional pollutants help to reflect sunlight back into space. This blunts some of the warming due to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Natural climate cycles: The authors point to natural climate fluctuations that favor the increased release of heat from the oceans. One is a cycle of changes in the Pacific Ocean that may be heading back into a mid-latitude warming phase. The other is less mixing of surface and deep waters in the Atlantic, which keeps more heat at the surface.

What's next: The Nature piece says the accelerated warming calls for a suite of responses from scientists and policymakers that focus more heavily on the nearer-term.

  • One of them are aggressive efforts to cut "super-pollutants" — methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons — that are emitted in far lower amounts than CO2 but have an outsized and relatively near-term warming effect.
  • And "various climate engineering options should be on the table as an emergency response," they write. They call for research, testing, and technical readiness to deploy the controversial idea of spreading aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect some solar energy away from the planet.

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Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.