46 Global Warming News Articles
for April of 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
4-26-16 How climate change is causing a bumper crop
How climate change is causing a bumper crop
Our carbon emissions seem to be making some crops healthier, but that doesn't mean climate change is a good thing. Climate change is ruining our planet, increasing the rates of extreme weather events, helping spread dangerous diseases, killing off endangered wildlife and bringing ruin to local farmers — with exceptions. In fact, a new study in Nature Climate Change suggests that some local farmers are actually seeing higher crop yields because of the carbon that we're pumping into the atmosphere. Now this does not mean climate change and carbon emissions are good for the planet, but it does suggest that the impacts of global warming are far more complex than we once thought. "Most of the discussion around climate impact focuses only on changes in temperature and precipitation," said co-author Delphine Deryng of NASA's Goddard Institute in a press statement. "To adapt adequately, we need to understand all the factors involved." Let's get one thing out of the way — carbon emissions are not good. While it is technically true that plants require carbon dioxide to survive, studies have shown that many crops suffer when fed too much CO2. Besides, climate change causes heat waves, droughts, and flooding, none of which are exactly healthy for our crops. Of course, anti-climate change politicians are invariably baffled by scientific nuance, and have nonetheless taken every opportunity to argue that plants need carbon, so we shouldn't try to stop climate change.
4-26-16 An Earth made verdant by greenhouse gases brings its own dangers
An Earth made verdant by greenhouse gases brings its own dangers
Fresh evidence that carbon pollution is greening our planet will be billed as good news by climate deniers. It isn't, says Olive Heffernan. Half our planet’s vegetated surface has become significantly greener in the past three decades. Plants in many regions – from stocky shrubs of the Arctic to towering trees of the rainforest canopy – are growing more and bigger leaves, according to the latest evidence. Leaf for leaf, it’s as though 4.4 billion giant Sequoia trees have been added to the Earth. This sounds like good news, but there is a sting in the tale. In the short term, this may buy us a little time, but the Artic is also greening rapidly, and that could be catastrophic. The great greening is mostly the result of unabated greenhouse gas pollution. And while it is no surprise that plants thrive when there’s more carbon around, the fertilising effect of extra CO2 in the air – blamed for 70 per cent of the greening in the new research – has never been shown on this scale before. This is worrying, for the simple fact that climate deniers like Rupert Murdoch have previously invoked CO2 fertilisation as a force for good that counters the need to curb emissions, from industry or elsewhere. Their woefully misguided vision of a more verdant, healthier Earth under climate change may now see a renaissance. However, they should ponder what this actually means for the planet.
4-25-16 Rise in CO2 has 'greened Planet Earth'
Rise in CO2 has 'greened Planet Earth'
Carbon dioxide emissions from industrial society have driven a huge growth in trees and other plants. A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA. Climate sceptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet. But the researchers say the fertilisation effect diminishes over time. They warn the positives of CO2 are likely to be outweighed by the negatives. The lead author, Prof Ranga Myneni from Boston University, told BBC News the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms.
4-25-16 Wind farms' climate impact recorded for first time
Wind farms' climate impact recorded for first time
In the first study of its kind, scientists have been able to measure the climatic effect of a wind farm on the local environment. The localised climatic effect of wind farms has been unknown and subject to speculation - until now. The team said its experiment showed that there was a very slight warming at ground level and that it was localised to within a wind farm's perimeter. Data suggested the operation of onshore wind farms did not have an adverse ecological effect, the group added.
4-22-16 Nations sign historic Paris climate deal
Nations sign historic Paris climate deal
Amid hope and hype, delegates have finished signing the Paris climate agreement at UN headquarters in New York. Some 171 countries inked the deal today, a record number for a new international treaty. About 15 nations, mainly small island states, had already ratified the agreement. But dozens of other countries were required to take this second step before the pact came into force.
4-22-16 Sentinels in constant watch on mighty polar glaciers
Sentinels in constant watch on mighty polar glaciers
The EU's Sentinel satellite system has begun monitoring six mighty polar glaciers in near real-time. The sextet - Pine Island and Thwaites in Antarctica; and Jakobshavn, Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden, Zacharae Isstrom and Petermann in Greenland - are major contributors to ongoing sea-level rise. They are thinning and flowing faster, and scientists believe some of them have become unstable. Routine observation should pick up any sudden changes in behaviour.
4-22-16 March hottest on record
March hottest on record
This March was the hottest on record, making it the 11th month in a row to break the global high-temperature record. Figures from NASA put March at 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1951–1980 average for the month. March was an even more drastic departure from the norm than February’s record-breaking heat, which climatologists described as a “shocker” signaling “a climate emergency.”
4-22-16 Why Earth’s axis is moving
Why Earth’s axis is moving
The melting of polar ice and the drying up of aquifers caused by climate change is altering how Earth turns on its axis, with the North Pole shifting a few millimeters eastward, a new NASA study reveals. The planet isn’t perfectly round, and tends to wobble as it spins at an angle of about 23.5 degrees. Geophysicists have long known that this process makes the poles drift slightly: The North Pole, for example, moved westward toward Canada’s Hudson Bay for about a century. Then, in 2000, it mysteriously reversed course, swinging eastward twice as fast as usual, reports National Geographic. Researchers previously attributed the shift to melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. But updated computer models provide solid evidence that drought and the depletion of aquifers, particularly the loss of water around India and the Caspian Sea, are also influencing Earth’s distribution of mass—and its axis. “The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic,” says NASA’s Surendra Adhikari. The polar shift poses no danger, but researchers say it underscores the profound impact humans are having on the planet.
4-22-16 The swift demise of Big Coal
The swift demise of Big Coal
“The U.S. coal industry is imploding,” said Brad Plumer in Vox.com. Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private producer of coal, last week became the fifth American coal company to declare bankruptcy in the past year, amid a “seismic shift” in the energy landscape. “A decade ago, coal provided fully half of America’s electricity.” Today, it’s less than a third—the result of tougher regulations and a flood of cheap natural gas from fracking. But St. Louis–based Peabody, founded in 1883, was brought low by its own missteps too. In 2011, the company made a “disastrous bet on Chinese coal demand,” just as China’s economic growth was beginning to wane. Saddled with debt, Peabody executives insisted the market for coal would rebound. “It never did.” The company, valued at $20 billion in 2011, is now worth just $38 million.
4-22-16 Record turnout at UN boosts climate deal
Record turnout at UN boosts climate deal
Amid hope and hype, delegates have started the process of signing the Paris climate agreement at UN headquarters in New York. Around 170 countries are expected to ink the deal today, a record number for a new international treaty. Ten nations, mainly small island states, have already ratified the agreement. But dozens of other countries will need to take this second step before the pact comes into force.
4-21-16 The psychology of climate change inaction
The psychology of climate change inaction
Scientists agree the climate is in peril, so why aren't we panicking? For decades, climate scientists have wondered why their near-consensus on the existence and danger of global warming hasn't translated into government action, much less a public that accepts climate change as reality. Now, a diverse team of scientists has an answer: Basically, human psychology is ill-suited to comprehend and deal with what's going on with the environment. "Why has it been so difficult to elicit substantive actions to alleviate this climate disruption?" writes a team of scientists led by Stanford University psychologist Lee Ross. In part, the answer lies with businesses and politicians who are more concerned with short-term gains than long-term sustainability, but that's only part of the problem. "Some specific features of the climate change threat combine with certain aspects of human psychology to make the challenge of collective national and international action an especially daunting one," the researchers write. The team, which includes Nobel Prize-winning economist Kenneth Arrow and biologist Paul Erhlich, author of The Population Bomb, outlines a number of different problems that lie at the nexus of climate change and psychology. Some of those problems are matters of scale. When temperatures swing by tens of degrees over the year or even over a day, for instance, it's hard to understand how a one- or two-degree increase in the global average temperature could lead to more floods and famines. Similarly, addressing climate change means taking a very long view. For many, weighing the choice between driving and walking to run errands is a matter of convenience, not the state of the climate 100 years from now. That's compounded by the fact that no one person has the power to avert a climate disaster. "People are all too aware that their own efforts, and those of their communities, will not really make a difference," the authors write. "To the extent that people feel [global] collective efforts will not be undertaken, they are understandably unwilling to exert effort" themselves.
4-21-16 Half a degree extra warming would lead to catastrophic impacts
Half a degree extra warming would lead to catastrophic impacts
At the Paris climate summit world leaders agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2°C – now a study shows that half degree may mean a world of difference. At the Paris climate summit last December world leaders agreed to try to limit warming to below 2°C – and if possible below 1.5°C – in part because they perceived crossing that boundary to be too risky. But no one knew for sure what difference that half degree rise would actually mean. Now we have a clearer idea: a study estimates that it could have dire consequences, in particular for coral reefs, but also for crop yields and fresh water availability. “Under a 1.5°C rise coral reefs would be dramatically affected, but there is more opportunity for adaptation and survival,” says lead author Carl Schleussner, a scientific advisor at Climate Analytics in Germany. “However, for 2°C there is very little hope that these systems would be able to survive.”
4-21-16 Pressure grows for price on carbon ahead of UN signing
Pressure grows for price on carbon ahead of UN signing
A group of world leaders and international finance chiefs has urged the world to rapidly expand the pricing of carbon pollution. They argue that more than half of emissions of CO2 should be covered by a carbon price within a decade. India has also called on rich countries to put a tax on coal to help poorer nations adapt to climate change. These calls came ahead of a UN ceremony where some 155 countries are expected to sign the Paris Climate Agreement.
4-21-16 Race to ratify the Paris climate deal starts at the UN
Race to ratify the Paris climate deal starts at the UN
The first significant step to putting the Paris Climate Agreement into practice will take place on Friday. Around 155 countries are expected to formally sign the deal at the UN, setting in motion events that could see the treaty operational within a year. The UN says the expected record turnout for the signing shows overwhelming global support for tackling rising temperatures. But some environmentalists have dismissed the event as a "distraction".
4-20-16 Climate change has been kind to Americans – but it won’t last
Climate change has been kind to Americans – but it won’t last
Most of the US has better weather now than 40 years ago, and this might explain why Americans tend to be less convinced of the dangers of climate change. For the majority of the US population, the weather they experience is better than it was 40 years ago, according to a new study. But it won’t last: by the end of the century, day-to-day weather will get less pleasant for most. While there is no shortage of predictions about temperature and rainfall over wide areas, few studies have looked at future climate trends through the lens of public perception.
4-20-16 Do flatlining emissions make Paris climate deal more realistic?
Do flatlining emissions make Paris climate deal more realistic?
Global CO2 emissions have stalled. Have we reached a turning point, or are delegates at this week's UN signing ceremony putting their names to a doomed deal? “To have a chance of limiting warming to 2 °C, global emissions need to peak by 2020. This is very unlikely“ Global emissions figures should be treated with caution, however, as they come with big uncertainties and some countries’ figures are unreliable – or non-existent. What we can measure with certainty is the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Alarmingly, it increased by a record 3 parts per million (ppm) in 2015 and looks set to rise even more this year, with some readings at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa monitoring station approaching 410 ppm last week. (Webmaster's comment: They haven't flatlined at all! The CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing faster than ever. Reporting what emissions add up to using data from reports by the very emitting nations and emitting industries themselves does not an actual total measurement make. Look at the Mauna Loa measurements. Those are actual measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. That is how much CO2 is really increasing.)
4-20-16 Victorians experienced early climate change but missed the signs
Victorians experienced early climate change but missed the signs
Europe in Victorian times was already starting to see evidence of global warming, with temperatures rising by 0.4°C and ice on lakes melting earlier. Retreating glaciers and early melting of ice on lakes were all beginning to appear shortly after the industrial revolution. “The signs were there for this period, mainly in Europe and North America,” says Victor Venema of the University of Bonn, Germany. Venema re-examined temperature and meteorological data recorded between 1850 and 1920 in Europe’s industrialised heartland and North America. Previous estimates of the average global temperatures for that time period suggested there was no warming – or that if there was any it was negligible, Venema says. But closer examination of temperatures in Europe suggests they did rise over this timespan by around 0.4°C, which is a lot given that we are now at around 1°C above the preindustrial level. Ice records are also telling. Ponds and lakes now begin to freeze over 20 days later, on average, than they did in 1850, with melting also starting earlier by the same margin. The freeze and melt dates had already shifted by four to five days in Europe between 1850 and 1920, Venema found. Likewise, data gathered from that period by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that glaciers were already retreating, at least in Europe.
4-19-16 Unprecedented global warming as 2016 approaches 1.5 °C mark
Unprecedented global warming as 2016 approaches 1.5 °C mark
Temperatures could soar to 1.3 °C or more above pre-industrial levels this year, taking us alarmingly close to 1.5 °C before the Paris deal even comes into effect. Global surface temperatures could get close to the 1.5 °C-above-preindustrial limit before the Paris climate agreement even comes into effect. That’s alarming news, considering that the deal aspires to limit global warming to no more than this. Last week Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, estimated that the average global temperature in 2016 could range from about 1.1 °C above preindustrial to only slightly below 1.5 °C, based on GISS’s temperature record and its definition of pre-industrial (other records and definitions vary). March is the eleventh month in a row to set a record for being the warmest that a specific month has ever been.
4-18-16 Wildfire shifts could dump more ice-melting soot in Arctic
Wildfire shifts could dump more ice-melting soot in Arctic
In some areas, black carbon emissions from blazes will double, simulations predict. Wildfires will spew more soot into the air in many regions by the end of the century, new research predicts. That soot could darken Arctic ice and accelerate melting. Raging wildfires could burn away efforts to reduce Arctic-damaging soot emissions. Soot produced by burning fossil fuels and plants, also called black carbon, can cause respiratory diseases and greenhouse warming, and can accelerate the melting of ice. Rising temperatures and changing weather patterns will shift where and how fiercely wildfires burn and spew soot, new simulations show. Outside of the tropics, fire seasons will last on average one to three months longer during the 2090s than they do currently, researchers report online April 8 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Soot emissions from wildfires will as much as double in regions that border the Arctic and counteract projected reductions in soot from human activities, the researchers predict.
4-15-16 TEPA boosts estimate of U.S. methane emissions
EPA boosts estimate of U.S. methane emissions
Contributions from natural gas, oil and landfills rise. A new report by the Environmental Protection Agency revises upward its estimates of U.S. methane emissions, such as those from natural gas wells, by more than 3.4 million metric tons. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, criticized for understating how much methane the United States spews into the atmosphere, has boosted its estimate of total U.S. methane emissions by 13 percent. That’s an increase of more than 3.4 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas and has the same long-term global warming impact as a year’s worth of emissions from about 20 million cars.
4-15-16 Face-to-face with Great Barrier Reef’s worst coral bleaching
Face-to-face with Great Barrier Reef’s worst coral bleaching
Laura Hampton reports from ground zero on efforts to document the worst coral-bleaching event on record at Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef. Even to the untrained eye, it’s easy to see that the Great Barrier Reef is in more than a little hot water. This is the worst bleaching event the Great Barrier Reef has ever seen, according to Terry Hughes, director at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville, Queensland. Bleaching happens when corals become stressed and expel algae called zooxanthellae living inside them. These colourful algae provide up to 90 per cent of the energy needs of corals through photosynthesis. Corals can survive bleaching, but will die if they stay in that condition for long enough.
4-14-16 Greenland is now melting at a potentially catastrophic pace
Greenland is now melting at a potentially catastrophic pace
Time to get extra, extra worried about climate change. The Greenland ice sheet is the second-largest single piece of ice on the planet (second only to the one in Antarctica). Nearly two miles thick in places, it contains some 684,000 cubic miles of ice. And because that is all above sea level — as opposed to floating, like the northern ice cap — if all of the Greenland sheet were to melt, it would raise the world sea level about 20 feet. So it's a bit worrisome that the annual melting season has begun a month earlier than the previous record start — and in spectacular fashion, immediately leaping to a melt extent not usually seen until June. It's a clear and present danger to any low-lying cities, but also a reminder that the uncertainty of future predictions is one of climate change's most threatening aspects. Even the summit of Greenland recently topped 20 degrees Fahrenheit — some 40 degrees above average. (Webmaster's comment: The Greenland ice cap is history. We've reached the tipping point. The point were global warming goes into positive feedback. Expect it to really get worse every year now at an ever increasing rate. Your children will inherit a very different world than you did. We'll all be spending most of our lives trying to stay alive in spite of the HEAT! When the electrical power fails from air conditioner overloads and the air conditioners stop expect thousands to millions to die every time.)
4-14-16 Coral reefs set to lose tolerance to bleaching as oceans warm
Coral reefs set to lose tolerance to bleaching as oceans warm
As ocean temperatures rise, coral reefs could lose the 'practice run' periods of milder warming that now prepare them to survive bleaching. The future is not looking bright. Coral reefs are set to become more vulnerable to bleaching as rising temperatures cripple their self-defence mechanisms. Bleaching occurs when warm waters strip away the colourful photosynthesising algae that provide nourishment to corals. This happens during unusually warm periods, such as during El Niño years, but doesn’t always kill coral, which can recover when waters cool again. Corals are often able to survive heatwaves by developing resistance during periods of milder warming, when water temperatures rise and cool off again, says Tracy Ainsworth of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The corals are essentially given a warning for what’s about to come, a sort of practice run.
4-14-16 EPA underestimates methane emissions
EPA underestimates methane emissions
Environmental Protection Agency reports underestimate U.S. methane emissions, new studies show. That discrepancy could stem from a small number of methane sources such as leaky natural gas wells that release a disproportionate amount of the greenhouse gas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a methane problem — and that could misinform the country’s carbon-cutting plans. Recent studies suggest that the agency’s reports fail to capture the full scope of U.S. methane emissions, including “super emitters” that contribute a disproportionate share of methane release. Those EPA reports influence the country’s actions to combat climate change and the regulation of methane-producing industries such as agriculture and natural gas production.
4-14-16 Heat may outpace corals’ ability to cope
Heat may outpace corals’ ability to cope
Ever warmer waters could eliminate chance to prepare for protection against bleaching. Corals are in hot water — and may soon lose their ability to handle the heat. In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, most past bouts of warming allowed many corals to adjust their physiology and avoid serious damage. But as waters warm even more, corals could run out of wiggle room, researchers report in the April 15 Science.
4-14-16 More moose on the loose in a warmer Alaska
More moose on the loose in a warmer Alaska
Rising temperatures and longer summers have helped the iconic Alaskan moose conquer vast new stretches of frozen tundra according to a new study. Changes in climate have seen a rapid increase in the size of plants that the moose depend on in winter to survive. The large, lumbering creatures have moved hundreds of kilometres northwards following the spreading shrubs. Scientists believe the moose will continue to colonise new territories as warming continues.
4-13-16 Record early ice melt in Greenland due to freak warm weather
Record early ice melt in Greenland due to freak warm weather
Greenland's ice usually doesn't start melting much until mid-May. This April’s temperatures above 10 °C have led a tenth of the ice there to start melting already. After record low amounts of sea ice across the Arctic Ocean last winter, spring has begun with an unprecedented early melt of land ice on Greenland. Temperatures soaring above 10 °C caused more than a tenth of the island’s vast ice sheet to start melting on Monday and Tuesday this week, says Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen. Previously, the earliest melting recorded over more than a tenth of Greenland was on 5 May 2010, Mottram said. Normally, significant melting does not begin there until at least mid-May. Meteorological records dating back to 1873 show temperatures this week are a record high for the time of year. “This would be a warm day in July, never mind April,” said Robert Fausto of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, in a blog post on Tuesday. (Webmaster's comment: It won't be considered freak weather for long. It'll soon be normal weather. There'll be no going back.)
4-13-16 UN climate chief: Here's why Paris climate deal will work
UN climate chief: Here's why Paris climate deal will work
With diplomats soon to head to New York to sign the Paris agreement, the world is already making progress towards achieving its goals, says Christiana Figueres. We have about 130 countries that confirmed to come to New York, and the number grows every day. About half of them will be represented by their head of state or government. The Paris agreement will be open for signature during an entire year, and the fact that we have at least 130 nations for the first day really is a record. The previous record was held by the Law of the Sea [convention] that was signed by 119 nations on the first day. We will see on 22 April what is the sum total. But as we saw in Paris, that was a unanimous decision of all countries. And I don’t have any reasons to believe any country is stepping away. (Webmaster's comment: But the United States congress will never agree because for Republicans keeping the corporate executives rich is their biggest objective.)
4-13-16 What's behind bankruptcy of world's largest private coal firm
What's behind bankruptcy of world's largest private coal firm
US giant Peabody Energy filed for bankruptcy today. Its decline is part of a larger trend ushering in the end of coal and rise of renewables. The decline of the global coal industry claimed its biggest victim today as US giant Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, filed for bankruptcy. Coal mining saw a worldwide boom lasting more than a decade after the millennium. Its share of global energy generation grew from 25 per cent to 30 in 2013, largely thanks to growing demand from China, which by 2013 was burning almost half of the world’s coal. But boom has turned to bust. In 2014, China reduced its coal burning by 1.4 per cent and last year there was a further fall of around 3 per cent. The China trend is likely to be permanent, say analysts. It is the result of a decline in heavy industry, efforts to control killer smog in cities by mothballing hundreds of urban power stations, and growing investment in renewables to meet promises on curbing climate change. (Webmaster's comment: To bad we haven't done the same in the United States. We gotta make the rich executives richer.)
4-13-16 Coal giant Peabody files for bankruptcy protection in US
Coal giant Peabody files for bankruptcy protection in US
Peabody Energy, the world's largest privately-owned coal miner, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US after a sharp fall in coal prices left it unable to repay its debts. The firm said the move was aimed at reducing debt and that all its mines and offices would continue to operate. Peabody's debt problems stem from its takeover of Australian rival Macarthur. The firm paid about 5bn Australian dollars (£2.5bn) to buy the coalminer in 2011, but lower coal prices amid falling demand means it has struggled to repay its resulting debts. The move is the latest in a series of bankruptcies in the industry, with miners hit by a combination of low energy prices, tougher environmental regulations and a shift to natural gas.
4-12-16 Sea-level rise factors unravelled
Sea-level rise factors unravelled
Global sea-level rise since the 1970s has been predominantly driven by greenhouse gas emissions and not natural climate variability, a study suggests. Over the last 100 years, sea levels have been rising much faster than over previous millennia. Now, scientists have modelled the cumulative forces driving observed sea-level rise in the modern era.
4-12-16 Pollen becoming bee junk food as CO2 rises
Pollen becoming bee junk food as CO2 rises
Greenhouse gas threatens nutrition for pollinators. Bees may need their own supplemental protein shakes as increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere saps the nutritional quality of pollen. Pollen collected from plants gives bees their only natural source of protein (nectar is a sugar-shot for energy). Yet protein content in pollen of a widespread goldenrod species (Solidago canadensis) dwindled by a third, from about 18 percent to 12 percent, over 172 years, according to analysis of recently collected flowers and of preserved specimens at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. During those same years, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increased from about 280 parts per million to 398 ppm.
4-8-16 Changing climate: 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth
Changing climate: 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth
In the 10 years since the movie sparked increased public discussion, climate scientists have made major advances. More observations, faster climate-simulating computers and an improved understanding of the planet’s inner workings now provide a clearer window on how Earth’s climate will change. Some of the bold forecasts of the 2006 movie are holding, and others are on an accelerated track. A few of the most dire warnings need revising, says Thompson, at Ohio State University in Columbus. And plenty of questions remain. In a controversial paper in March in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, researchers argued that the effects of climate change could be even more severe and sudden than current predictions. While a lot has changed, the fundamental understanding of climate change, dating back to the 19th century recognition that carbon dioxide warms the planet, has held strong, he says.
4-8-16 Tata Steel windfall from carbon emissions permits
Tata Steel windfall from carbon emissions permits
Tata Steel is refusing to comment on claims it has made £700m windfall profits from a policy designed to protect the climate. Three separate experts say Tata made the cash by selling carbon emissions permits it was given for free. They say Tata was allocated more carbon allowances under the EU emissions trading scheme (EUETS) than it needed. There is no suggestion Tata broke the rules, and the firm said its permits were a "matter of public record". Reports say Tata profited more than any other firm in the UK from the much-criticised trading scheme, which allowed it to sell the surplus to other firms wanting permits to pollute. (Webmaster's comment: And this scheme was meant to reduce carbon emissions and global warming! It was a JOKE!)
4-8-16 The disintegrating Antarctic ice sheet
The disintegrating Antarctic ice sheet
Warming air and seawater temperatures may melt Antarctica’s western ice sheet much faster than previously thought, producing a catastrophic sea-level rise of up to 6 feet by the end of this century, new research indicates. In recent years, the western ice sheet has been losing lots of ice, and scientists have found that warming seawater is carving rivers under ice shelves, causing them to crack off and fall into the sea. Climatologists used computer simulations to project how this process will play out over coming decades if climate change continues at current rates. The models show that much of the western ice sheet will disintegrate into the sea, releasing a vast volume of water that will drown much of the world’s coastline during the lifetime of children alive today. With ice melting in other regions, the total sea level rise could be 6 feet by 2100, the researchers said. “We will be literally remapping coastlines,” study author Robert DeConto, a climate scientist at the University of Massachusetts, told CNN.com. Miami, New Orleans, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sydney would all likely be inundated, as would smaller communities along the shores. Last week, a separate study found that ice at the other end of the globe, in the Arctic Ocean, is also waning, and reached its lowest winter maximum on record this year. DeConto said that “the worst-case scenario” of sea-level rise could be averted if dramatic efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions are taken over the next few decades. “Policy is going to play a really big role in which future path we go down,” he said.
4-8-16 Why the North Pole is now slowly moving towards London
Why the North Pole is now slowly moving towards London
A shift in the direction of our planet’s axis since 2000 has been attributed to melting polar ice. But changes in land water also seem to be playing a part. The planet’s North Pole mysteriously changed the direction of its travel in 2000, turning eastwards towards the Greenwich meridian. It now seems that this change in direction is down to the redistribution of water on land as well as to melting polar ice. The Earth’s rotational axis, and with it the location of the physical North Pole, was travelling at a rate of about 10 centimetres a year over the last century towards Canada’s Hudson Bay along a line of longitude that runs through Toronto and Panama City. This movement was down to the redistribution of Earth’s mass as the crust has slowly rebounded after the end of the last ice age. But since 2000 it has made a dramatic 75-degree eastward shift heading along the Greenwich meridian. Some evidence suggested that the shrinking of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica caused by climate change was behind the surprise shift. Now, a study says this change is also influenced by the changing distribution of water on land.
4-7-16 Earth’s cloud shield against warming may be weaker than thought
Earth’s cloud shield against warming may be weaker than thought
The whiteness of clouds reflects sunlight back into space – but climate models may have overestimated just how protective this effect is to our planet. That silver lining may be thinner than we thought. Certain types of cloud are thought to reduce the effects of climate change, but now it seems we may have overestimated their powers. The critical factor here is whiteness, which determines how effective clouds are at bouncing sunlight back into space. And whiteness depends on what makes up the cloud.
4-7-16 Capitalism must be re-engineered if we want a low-carbon world
Capitalism must be re-engineered if we want a low-carbon world
Financiers have woken up to the idea that global warming may wipe trillions off the global economy, but can they do anything about it, asks Fred Pearce. It’s a kick to the bulls for the investment markets. If we bust the limit of 2 °C of warming set at the Paris climate summit at the end of last year, it could wipe anything from $2.5 trillion to $24 trillion from the value of the world’s financial assets, environmental economists warned on Monday. That’s up to a fifth of the current global economy. Some of that financial meltdown would come as agriculture succumbs to drought, industrial zones are ripped apart by hurricanes and cities are flooded by rising sea levels. The rest would come from coal mines and oil fields becoming worthless as the world is finally forced to give up on fossil fuels.
4-7-16 Cutting food and carbon waste-lines for healthy climate
Cutting food and carbon waste-lines for healthy climate
Reducing food waste and changing the way people consume calories will help deliver a sustainable food system and reduce emissions, a study suggests. The global demand for food could more than double by the middle of the century, yet an estimated one third of produce is lost or wasted each year. By cutting this waste will help food security and reducing agriculture's climate burden, the researchers added.
4-6-16 Sea levels could rise twice as fast as previously predicted
Sea levels could rise twice as fast as previously predicted
Limited understanding of past ground shifts adds uncertainty to projected increase by 2100. The collapse of keystone glaciers in West Antarctica, such as Thwaites Glacier, could raise sea levels faster and sooner than thought. Antarctica’s meltdown could spur sea level rise well beyond current predictions. A new simulation of the continent’s thawing ice suggests that Antarctic melting alone will raise global sea levels by about 64 to 114 centimeters by 2100, scientists report in the March 31 Nature. Adding Antarctic melt to other sources of sea level rise, such as the expansion of warming seawater and melting Greenland ice, the scientists predict that sea levels will rise 1.5 to 2 meters by the end of the century. That’s as much as double previous predictions that didn’t incorporate mechanisms that can expedite the Antarctic ice sheet’s collapse, though uncertainties remain, says study coauthor David Pollard, a paleoclimatologist at Penn State.
4-6-16 I’m creating supercharged corals to beat climate change
I’m creating supercharged corals to beat climate change
By giving evolution a helping hand, Ruth Gates aims to produce corals tough enough to survive in increasingly hostile oceans. What does your coral project consist of? What are the goals of this work? What’s the outlook for coral in general? One threat to reefs is bleaching as a result of environmental stress. What happens? Is such bleaching terminal for a reef? So does your project aim to harness this natural variability in resilience? What will you do with these “super corals”? Will you send Hawaiian super corals to Australia? How soon will you be introducing super corals? What factors might cause your programme to falter? Is it difficult to grow coral in the lab? Will you need special permission to put these super corals on natural reefs? Is this type of work truly necessary, given recent research on coral’s surprising ability to bounce back? Could releasing super corals have drawbacks for biodiversity? Is there an ethical dimension to altering reefs? This seems a very proactive type of science. What sparked your passion for the oceans? Can you imagine a world without reefs?
4-5-16 Anger as coal mine that could damage Great Barrier Reef approved
Anger as coal mine that could damage Great Barrier Reef approved
The largest coal mine in Australia has been approved by the Queensland government, a move environmentalists say will hurt the nearby Great Barrier Reef. As part of the plan, which would see huge exports of coal to India, the port at Abbot Point adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef would be expanded to accommodate the extra traffic. This would potentially release plumes of soil and debris over the reef, causing damage to its ecosystem. In addition, environmental groups say that mining and the eventual burning of this coal will generate huge amounts of carbon dioxide that will accelerate global warming and affect the health of the reef.
4-5-16 Aviation and shipping firms edge towards pledging emissions cuts
Aviation and shipping firms edge towards pledging emissions cuts
Meetings this month could make headway towards a deal on capping aviation emissions from 2020, although a similar deal for shipping remains some way off. Will the last great untamed carbon dioxide emitters – airlines and shipping companies – finally be brought under international control? Last December’s Paris agreement on climate change introduced national commitments from 2020 to limit emissions from power generation, land transport and deforestation. But it left untouched fast-rising emissions from international aircraft and shipping. Meetings being held this month could change that. After years of procrastination, the aviation industry is set to agree to cap its emissions from 2020. Airlines will then either have to stabilise emissions through more efficient engines and conversion to biofuels, or offset those emissions by investing in reforestation projects – specifically those under the UN’s REDD programme.
4-4-16 Hidden cost of climate change is unwanted carbs in your food
Hidden cost of climate change is unwanted carbs in your food
Foods are becoming richer in carbohydrates and poorer in some essential nutrients - the result of pumping carbon dioxide into the air, warns Irakli Loladze. This nutritional cost of changing Earth’s atmosphere is now worrying the world’s most powerful nation. For the first time it is a key finding in an official report on health impacts of climate change in the US, unveiled by the White House today. Why would more CO2 mean poorer food? Photosynthetic organisms, such as plants, are the carbohydrate factories of the world. They convert CO2 and water into gigatonnes of starch and sugars every year. And every year, since the dawn of the industrial age, humans have been steadily feeding them more and more CO2. Plants respond by building more carbohydrates but less protein into their tissues. The result is a higher ratio of carbohydrate to protein in most plants, including major crops such as wheat, rice and potato. This is a double whammy: protein deficiencies afflict much of the developing world, while excess carbohydrate consumption is a worry in obesity-riven developed world.
4-1-16 Has Uruguay discovered the answer to our climate change problems?
Has Uruguay discovered the answer to our climate change problems?
Uruguay — the tiny South American country with a population smaller than Los Angeles — has become a world leader in renewable energy. Uruguay gets nearly 95 percent of its electricity from renewables, according to Ramón Méndez, the head of climate change policy in Uruguay. A rapidly growing portion of that renewable energy comes from the wind. Roughly a decade ago, the country had no wind energy industry to speak of, but a new working paper from the World Resources Institute finds that Uruguay is now building more wind energy installations per capita than anywhere else in the world. In a few short years, Uruguay's wind energy industry was completely transformed — a feat that nearly every developed country around the world would need to replicate if we are to meet the global warming limits of less than two degrees Celsius set at last year's COP21 conference in Paris. Uruguay's wind transformation was at least in part spurred by a changing climate: Before 2007, the country relied on hydropower for the majority of its electricity, but a series of dry years in the preceding decade forced Uruguay — a nation without its own oil reserves — to invest in new energy sources.
4-1-16 Australia’s coral-bleaching crisis
Australia’s coral-bleaching crisis
Ocean warming and acidification have triggered an epic bleaching event in northern Australia, leaving huge swaths of coral devoid of color and struggling to survive. “This is the worst coral-bleaching event ever to hit this most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef,” says World Wildlife Fund spokesman Richard Leck. When coral is stressed by changes in temperature and acidity, it expels the symbiotic algae living in its tissue that provide it with essential nutrients. This causes brilliantly colored reefs to turn bone white. A resilient reef can recover or adapt if conditions return to normal or stabilize, but if temperatures rise too quickly or algae loss is prolonged, coral eventually dies. Ocean temperatures in northern Australia have averaged 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal since January, but it’s more than a localized crisis—climate change and a strong El Niño have been heating seas all around the world, posing a threat to coral reefs almost everywhere. Marine ecologist Nick Graham of Lancaster University in England says the current bleaching event compares to the most severe on record, which wiped out 16 percent of the world’s reefs from 1997 to ’98. “This is the big one that we’ve been waiting for,” he tells The Guardian (U.K.). But Graham believes the situation isn’t hopeless. “The real question mark is how frequent these events are going to be. If it’s another 18 to 20 years until we get the next one, then a lot of reefs will have time to bounce back.”