73 Global Warming News Articles
for November of 2016
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
11-30-16 Earth warming to climate tipping point, warns study
Earth warming to climate tipping point, warns study
A warmer world will release vast volumes of carbon into the atmosphere, potentially triggering dangerous climate change, scientists warn. Writing in journal Nature, they project that an increase of 1C (1.8F) will release an additional 55 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere by 2050. This could trigger a "positive feedback" and push the planet's climate system past the point of no-return. Previous assessments have not taken carbon released by soil into account. In their Nature paper, an international team of scientists said that the majority of the Earth's terrestrial store of carbon was in the soil. They warned that as the world warmed, organisms living in the planet's soils would become more active, resulting in more carbon being released into the atmosphere - exacerbating warming.
11-30-16 Wastewater cap could dunk Oklahoma quake risk
Wastewater cap could dunk Oklahoma quake risk
Rising volume of underground injections had caused seismic activity to skyrocket. In Oklahoma, disposal of massive amounts of wastewater into underground wells over the last few years caused an uptick in earthquake activity over historic rates, including several large quakes registering magnitude 4.5 or stronger. New wastewater disposal regulations in Oklahoma will be enough to steady the state’s shaky ground, new research predicts. The injection of wastewater from oil and gas operations into underground wells has caused Oklahoma’s seismic activity to skyrocket (SN: 8/9/14, p. 13). In response, state regulators earlier this year ordered a 40 percent reduction in the volume of water pumped underground. After studying the statistical link between wastewater disposal and earthquakes, Stanford University geophysicists Cornelius Langenbruch and Mark Zoback predict that seismic activity in the region will return to historically normal levels within the next few years.
11-30-16 Stop buying organic food if you really want to save the planet
Stop buying organic food if you really want to save the planet
With global emissions from farming rising fast, we have to find a way for us consumers to make informed, rational choices about the food we eat. WANDER around the local supermarket and you will struggle to find any clues to the environmental impact of the food you eat. If you are lucky, some of the seafood might bear the mark of the Marine Stewardship Council, which certifies fish caught in a sustainable way, but that’s about it. Yet farming is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, only slightly behind heating and electricity. And while it’s relatively easy to cut emissions from electricity by switching to solar, reducing emissions from farming is a tougher nut to crack. You might think buying local food is always preferable to imported food when it comes to carbon emissions, but even this is not a reliable guide. Food flown thousands of miles can still have a much lower carbon footprint than, say, local produce grown in heated greenhouses. The one label you’re likely to find on many food items is the “organic” one. But if you care about the environment, don’t buy it (it’s not healthier either, but that’s another story).
11-30-16 The plan to ban fishing in more than half the world’s oceans
The plan to ban fishing in more than half the world’s oceans
A handful of countries are putting fish stocks at risk by exploiting the riches of the high seas, but conservationists are working on a scheme to stop them. IT IS one of the planet’s last true wildernesses, yet a handful of the world’s wealthiest nations are plundering its riches to satisfy the appetites of luxury consumers – all with the help of billions in public money. The great blue wilderness in question is the “high seas” – the 58 per cent of the ocean outside the 200-nautical-mile limit that defines the area each coastal country can exploit as an exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The vast majority of the high seas is a fishing free-for-all with almost no legal protection, but now a bold idea is taking root: why not ban fishing there altogether? The plan might seem an impossible conservation dream, especially with a new US president who has rejected internationalist foreign policy and environmental protections, but it has been gaining momentum. At the Our Ocean conference, hosted by the US Department of State in Washington DC in September, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke warmly about the notion of placing the high seas off limits. Turning this vast area of ocean into a marine protected area would be “an extraordinary step”, he argued. The notion has obvious appeal for conservationists, but that isn’t enough by itself. The fact that talk of a ban has reached diplomatic circles is testament to the persistence of a handful of marine scientists who have steadily built the ecological, economic and social case underpinning it.
11-30-16 Arctic sea-ice struggles to build volume
Arctic sea-ice struggles to build volume
There is likely to be about 10,500 cu km of Arctic sea-ice by the end of the week - a volume that would tie for the lowest on record for a November. It is another indicator of just how warm conditions in the polar north have been of late. Temperatures of -5C have been logged when -25C would be the norm. Ice extent - the two-dimensional measure of frozen ocean surface - is also well down, running currently at just over 9.4 million sq km. Ordinarily, it would be at least a million sq km higher.
11-30-16 EU energy use to fall by 30% under new efficiency plans for 2030
EU energy use to fall by 30% under new efficiency plans for 2030
The European Commission says that it plans to cut energy use across the bloc by 30% by 2030. The proposal is at the heart of a new package unveiled by the Commission to help meet its commitments to cut carbon under the Paris agreement. The plans also seek to boost renewables and give greater power to consumers to sell any electricity they produce. But green groups have criticised the measures saying they keep the door open for subsidies to coal. Under the Paris Climate Agreement the EU promised to cut emissions of CO2 by 40% by 2030. Today's plans to cut waste and make better use of renewables are a key part of that promise. The Commission's ideas for a 30% binding target on energy efficiency will see new incentives for smart metering and innovative design. Energy suppliers and distributors will have to save 1.5% each year from 2021 to 2030. There will also be a big focus on renovating older buildings. This sector accounts for 40% of Europe's energy consumption and the proposal aims to create a building renovation market with a value of up to 120bn euros by 2030.
11-29-16 Why the Democrats need to get radical on climate change
Why the Democrats need to get radical on climate change
The Democratic Party leadership that set up Hillary Clinton as the 2016 nominee is one of the all-time failures in American political history. Not only did they bobble an easily winnable presidential election, they have overseen a virtual collapse of the party at the state and local levels. Now a climate denier will take office at a time when aggressive climate policy is literally a matter of life and death. (By the way, global sea ice coverage is right now something like eight standard deviations below the average.) But more than that, Democrats must admit that their previous climate record was also pathetically inadequate. If they wish to preserve the United States in its current form, or perhaps even at all, hardcore climate radicalism must become an ironclad party commitment. Clinton's disastrous performance is no less than a screaming emergency for climate policy. President Obama's Clean Power Plan, various regulations on coal pollution and energy efficiency, subsidies and research spending on green technology, the Paris climate accords, all are probably getting flushed down the toilet. Instead of making at least reasonable forward progress on climate change, we're going backwards at speed.
11-29-16 Coral die-off in Great Barrier Reef reaches record levels
Coral die-off in Great Barrier Reef reaches record levels
Bleaching has killed more than two-thirds of corals in some areas. A scientist examines corals at Zenith Reef, off the coast of Australia’s Cape York Peninsula. Reefs in this area of the Great Barrier Reef suffered high mortality from coral bleaching, researchers have determined. Tourists planning a visit to northern portions of the Great Barrier Reef should be prepared for some sad sights. On average, two-thirds of the nearshore coral in the mostly pristine area north of Port Douglas, Australia, has been pronounced dead by scientists who have surveyed the reef. It’s the largest coral die-off ever recorded in Great Barrier Reef history, researchers from the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, report. Water temperatures off Australia rose to levels dangerous to corals starting in 2014 as a result of global warming and El Niño. In response, the corals began expelling the symbiotic algae that provide them with food, causing what is known as bleaching. In March, at the height of the bleaching event, scientists started monitoring dozens of reefs throughout the Great Barrier Reef through underwater and aerial surveys. They found huge losses in parts of the northern reef but far less damage elsewhere.(Webmaster's comment: Our whole ecosystem is collapsing!)
11-28-16 India’s grand plan to create world’s longest river set to go
India’s grand plan to create world’s longest river set to go
A highly ambitious and controversial project to link up the nation's rivers in a single inter-connected system is ready to start, even as environmental concerns are mounting. Engineering projects don’t come any bigger than this. If India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, gets his way, work could soon begin on a project to link large rivers in the Himalayas and Deccan Peninsula via 30 mega-canals and 3000 dams. When the work is finished the water network will be twice the length of the Nile, the world longest river, and it will be able to divert water from flood-prone areas to those vulnerable to drought. But geologists and ecologists in India question the science behind the Inter Linking of Rivers (ILR) scheme. If it goes ahead it might lead to ecological disasters and coastal erosion that would threaten livelihoods and endanger wildlife. And yet New Scientist has learned from the officials close to the project that work on the pilot link is likely to “start any time soon”, with final clearance from the ministry of environment and forests expected imminently.
11-27-16 How living far from fresh food might boost asthma risk
How living far from fresh food might boost asthma risk
ether they want to believe it or not, kids need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. But what some kids consider an annoyance is for other kids a near impossibility, as millions of children nationwide live in food deserts — places where fresh food just can't be found. And, according to a recent study, living in a food desert can significantly increase a child's risk of having asthma. The precise definition of what a "food desert" is can vary, but the researchers in this case viewed a food desert as anywhere that is at least one mile from the nearest supermarket. It's not that food deserts are completely bereft of food, but convenience stores and corner shops typically have lots of low-nutrition, produced items and few of the fresh fruits and vegetables needed for a balanced diet. "It is worth it to make it to a grocery store or farmer's markets to find fresh fruits and vegetables," allergy researcher Dr. DeVon Preston told Vocativ in an email, acknowledging that simply making the extra effort to go to a supermarket isn't the only challenge. "It is difficult since fresh foods often do cost more and the time to cook/prepare those foods may not be conducive due to employment and socioeconomic status."
11-26-16 50 years ago, nuclear blasting for gas boomed. Today it’s a bust.
50 years ago, nuclear blasting for gas boomed. Today it’s a bust.
In 1967, scientists lowered a 29-kiloton nuclear device deep underground, then detonated it at a depth of 4,240 feet. The explosion was intended to stimulate production of natural gas, as part of Project Gasbuggy. A pair of simultaneous nuclear explosions, one more than 1.6 miles underground and the other 1,000 feet above it, have been proposed as a way to extract huge quantities of natural gas from subterranean rock. Each blast would be … about 2.5 times the size of the bomb used at Hiroshima. By breaking up tight gas-bearing rock formations, a flow of presently inaccessible gas may be made available.… A single-blast experiment, called Project Gasbuggy, is already planned. — Science News, December 17, 1966. On December 10, 1967, Project Gasbuggy went ahead, with a 29-kiloton nuclear explosion deep underground in northwestern New Mexico. The blast released natural gas, but the gas was radioactive. The area is still regularly monitored for radioactive contamination. Today, natural gas trapped below Earth’s surface is often extracted via fracking, which breaks up rock using pressurized fluid (SN: 9/8/12, p. 20). Though less extreme, potential links to drinking water contamination and earthquakes have stoked fears about the technique.
11-26-16 All you need to know about nature deficit disorder
All you need to know about nature deficit disorder
It's tough to connect with nature at this time of year. Your days are spent under artificial lights in an office, while the last of autumn's blooms are hidden beneath piles of decaying leaves. NDD, or nature deficit disorder, has become a buzzword of late. Although it's not a recognised medical condition, concerns about its effects on wellbeing are attracting widespread attention. "I guess it's a symptom of current lifestyle," says Dr Ross Cameron of the department of landscape at Sheffield University. "We're so clued into modern technology and things that we're less observant about the world around us and we're more likely to learn about wildlife ironically from a David Attenborough programme than maybe from a walk in the woods." Richard Louv coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods.
11-25-16 In the future, will farming be fully automated?
In the future, will farming be fully automated?
In the not-too-distant future, our fields could be tilled, sown, tended and harvested entirely by fleets of co-operating autonomous machines by land and air. And they'll be working both day and night. Driverless tractors that can follow pre-programmed routes are already being deployed at large farms around the world. Drones are buzzing over fields assessing crop health and soil conditions. Ground sensors are monitoring the amount of water and nutrients in the soil, triggering irrigation and fertiliser applications. And in Japan, the world's first entirely automated lettuce farm is due for launch next year. The future of farming is automated. The World Bank says we'll need to produce 50% more food by 2050 if the global population continues to rise at its current pace. But the effects of climate change could see crop yields falling by more than a quarter. So autonomous tractors, ground-based sensors, flying drones and enclosed hydroponic farms could all help farmers produce more food, more sustainably at lower cost. No wonder the agricultural robotics sector is growing so fast.
11-25-16 Seasonal wetlands face uncertain future
Seasonal wetlands face uncertain future
Seasonal wetlands - ecologically important habitats that become visible during rainy seasons - are facing an uncertain future, warn scientists. These ephemeral ecosystems support unique flora and fauna species that do not occur in permanent wetlands. Yet these poorly understood habitats are being lost to future generations as a result of poor land-use practices, the authors observed. The details have been published in the Global Change Biology journal.
11-25-16 Obama blocks Arctic drilling
Obama blocks Arctic drilling
President Obama banned new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean this week, two months before Donald Trump’s inauguration—making it nearly impossible for the Republican president-elect to allow U.S. drilling in the area in the near future. Obama’s five-year offshore plan allows oil exploration to proceed in Alaska’s Cook Inlet, but blocks the sale of drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas north of Alaska. Environmentalists argued that Arctic drilling would exacerbate climate change and endanger whales and other sea life. Trump has expressed skepticism that climate change is real, but to reverse Obama’s ban he would have to restart a regulatory review process that could take as long as two years to complete.
11-25-16 La Niña’s impact on weather
La Niña’s impact on weather
Months after the conclusion of one of the strongest El Niños in history, the weather system’s lesser-known sister, La Niña, has finally made her arrival. Unlike El Niño, which occurs when ocean temperatures in the Pacific become unusually warm, La Niña cools the surface of the tropical Pacific, altering the storm track over North America and other parts of the world. El Niño was blamed for last year’s balmy winter in the Northeast and soaking rains in the drought-stricken West; La Niña will have the opposite effect, ushering in wetter, cooler conditions in the northern states and exacerbating dry conditions across the South. The weather system “is likely to contribute to persisting or developing drought across much of the southern U.S. this winter,” Mike Halpert of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, tells CNN.com. An ongoing drought in Southern California also is likely to continue. This La Niña isn’t particularly strong, and is expected to last only until spring.
11-25-16 Don’t use climate change as a scapegoat
Don’t use climate change as a scapegoat
Namibian leaders can’t blame global warming for the country’s water emergency, said Victoria Tuwilika Shifidi. Experts say that the Von Bach Dam—the main water supply dam for the capital, Windhoek—will be dry by the end of the year. Already, livestock are dying of thirst, and villagers have begun drinking unsafe well water because water has stopped flowing from their taps. The government says that this crisis is a result of climate change, but it’s letting itself off the hook. We may be in a major drought, but it’s not unprecedented, and it’s not the worst the country has faced. In fact, “our current water crisis seems to emanate more from poor management” than from the weather. Authorities have approved water-intensive projects such as breweries and chicken farms in dry areas, and there are practically no regulations on water pollution. Factories, hotels, and individuals “continue to pollute streams, waterways, and subsequently dams, with no repercussions whatsoever.” We aren’t suffering from physical water scarcity so much as “economic water scarcity.” That is both the good news and the bad. Better resource management can solve the problem, but our nation’s leaders tend to lose momentum “whenever it starts raining well again.”
11-25-16 Why coal can’t be saved
Why coal can’t be saved
Donald Trump has pledged to “bring the coal industry back,” but he’ll be lucky just to slow its “precipitous decline,” said Justin Fox. There are signs that market watchers think the Trump presidency could indeed revive the struggling sector’s fortunes; shares of coal giant Peabody Energy, which filed for bankruptcy in April, surged after the election. And to be fair, Trump’s promises to miners aren’t “entirely empty.” The Obama administration “really has been waging a ‘war on coal,’” by putting into place tougher air pollution regulations and blocking new coal leases on federal lands. Trump could immediately “cease hostilities,” which would help remove some of the industry’s headwinds. But environmental regulations were never the main reason for coal’s decline; market forces were. Thanks to the fracking boom, natural gas has displaced coal “as the nation’s No. 1 source of electrical power.” Natural gas not only burns cleaner than coal, it’s also cheaper. That’s likely to remain the case no matter how much Trump tries to give coal country a helping hand, because no one “has reason to expect a crackdown on natural gas drilling” from his administration. “The past few years have been so terrible for miners that even a pause in coal’s decline may feel like a comeback.” But a permanent revival? It’s just not in the cards.
11-23-16 Huge Antarctic glacier retreat triggered in 1940s
Huge Antarctic glacier retreat triggered in 1940s
The melting Antarctic glacier that now contributes more to sea-level rise than any other ice stream on the planet began its big decline in the 1940s. This is when warm ocean water likely first got under Pine Island Glacier (PIG) to loosen the secure footing it had enjoyed up until that point. Researchers figured out the timing by dating the sediments beneath the PIG. It puts the glacier’s current changes in their proper historical context, the scientists tell Nature magazine.
11-23-16 Time to stage trials of engineering the atmosphere to cool Earth
Time to stage trials of engineering the atmosphere to cool Earth
Tests of controversial geoengineering methods, especially poorly researched options such as radiation management, must begin in earnest, says Matthew Watson. The Paris climate agreement’s goal of stopping the world warming more than 1.5 °C produced a strong but mixed response from scientists. While most welcomed its intention, and the marker it put down, some, including me, were also alarmed, wondering how that goal might be achieved. Here’s the truth, made all the more plain by the possible withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement: if we wish to stay below 1.5 °C we have to deliberately intervene in the global climate system on a massive scale. Nothing of that scope has ever been attempted. The worst implications of a warmer world – sea-level rise, crop failure and population displacement – would make it immoral not to act if we can. These potential impacts look much less far-fetched than they did even a decade ago. We are nearing the point at which we must act. Hence the growing call for a full and frank discussion of all geoengineering methods. These would aim to alter the planet’s radiation budget, for example, by pumping reflective or cloud-altering particles into the air. In particular, field trials of radiation management (RM) methods to cool the Earth now need immediate support.
11-23-16 Air pollution 'causes 467,000 premature deaths a year in Europe'
Air pollution 'causes 467,000 premature deaths a year in Europe'
Air pollution is causing around 467,000 premature deaths in Europe every year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned. People in urban areas are especially at risk, with around 85% exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at levels deemed harmful by the World Health Organization (WHO). These particles are too small to see or smell, but have a devastating impact. PM2.5 can cause or aggravate heart disease, asthma and lung cancer.
11-23-16 America ditching the Paris climate accord would have global consequences
America ditching the Paris climate accord would have global consequences
In the wake of Donald Trump's unexpected election to the presidency, climate experts are scrambling to recalculate whether the world has any chance of reaching the goals of the Paris climate accord if the president-elect makes good on his threat to withdraw from the deal. One thing is for certain: The complex pact to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius will live on. Even if the United States pulls out, enough other countries have ratified the agreement to trigger its entry into force. And many experts say they don't expect the rest of the world to slack off on aggressive climate action simply because of the U.S. election. If the U.S. rededicates its energy mix to fossil fuels, some other countries would look to step into the breach to try and take advantage of the growing worldwide demand for clean energy. "If the U.S. decides not to embark on a low-carbon pathway, it will drag behind other major economies that will be eager to consolidate a dominant market share as producers of renewable energy technologies," says Joeri Rogelj, a carbon budget analyst with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, Austria. "It will be countries like China who will benefit from the U.S. running in the opposite direction and who will competitively outclass the U.S. economy."
11-23-16 Climate changing 'too fast' for species
Climate changing 'too fast' for species
Many species will not be able to adapt fast enough to survive climate change, say scientists. A study of more than 50 plants and animals suggests their ability to adapt to changes in rainfall and temperature will be vastly outpaced by future climate change. Amphibians, reptiles and plants are particularly vulnerable, according to US researchers. And tropical species are at higher risk than those in temperate zones. Some animals might be able to move geographically to cope with rising temperatures, but others live in isolated areas where they cannot move, such as in nature reserves or on mountains or islands. Ecologists analysed how quickly species had changed their climatic niches (the conditions where they can survive) over time, and how these rates compared with that of global warming. They analysed populations of plants and animals, including insects, amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles.
11-23-16 Finland set to become first country to ban coal use for energy
Finland set to become first country to ban coal use for energy
Tomorrow, the nation is expected to announce a move to phase out coal and switch to renewable energy, becoming the first to outlaw the fossil fuel. Finland could become the first country to ditch coal for good. As part of a new energy and climate strategy due to be announced tomorrow, the government is considering banning the burning of coal for energy by 2030. “Basically, coal would disappear from the Finnish market,” says Peter Lund, a researcher at Aalto University, and chair of the energy programme at the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council. The groundwork for the ban already seems to be in place. Coal use has been steadily declining in Finland since 2011, and the nation heavily invested in renewable energy in 2012, leading to a near doubling of wind power capacity the following year. It also poured a further €80 million into renewable power this past February. On top of this, Nordic energy prices, with the exception of coal, have been dropping since 2010. As a result of such changes, coal-fired power plants are being mothballed and shut all over Finland, leaving coal providing only 8 per cent of the nation’s energy.
11-21-16 Global sea ice has reached a record low – should we be worried?
Global sea ice has reached a record low – should we be worried?
A graph showing global sea ice levels hitting unprecedented lows for this time of year has caused a social media storm. Here’s what you need to know. An alarming graph showing the global area of sea ice falling to unprecedented lows for this time of year has gone viral. The graph adds together the area of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic to show the global total. It was compiled by a contributor to the Arctic Sea Ice blog called Wipneus, rather than an official source, but it is accurate. The latest version can be found here. One scientist suggested the trend was due to a sensor error, but this is not the case. So, should we be worried? Here’s what you need to know. (Webmaster's comment: No matter how you explain it, that amount of reduction in one year is very alarming!)
11-19-16 Climate talks: 'Save us' from global warming, US urged
Climate talks: 'Save us' from global warming, US urged
The next head of the UN global climate talks has appealed for the US to "save" Pacific islands from the impacts of global warming. Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the islands needed the US now as much as they did during World War Two. He was speaking as global climate talks in Marrakech came to an end. Mr Bainimarama said that climate change was not a hoax, as US President-elect Donald Trump has claimed. Mr Trump has promised to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and scrap all payments for UN global warming projects.
11-18-16 Obama bans new oil drilling in Arctic Ocean
Obama bans new oil drilling in Arctic Ocean
The Obama administration has introduced a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic for at least five years. The move is a significant victory for environmentalists who have campaigned for years against drilling in the ecologically fragile region. But the ban could be overturned by Donald Trump, who has previously pledged to increase offshore drilling. Drilling will be still allowed in Alaska's Cook Inlet and several areas of the Gulf of Mexico. According to the 2017 to 2022 leasing plan published by the US Department of the Interior, drilling will be banned in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off northern Alaska. The plan will limit, but not ban, development in the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska. (Webmaster's comment: Like I said on Sioux Falls Scientists billboards this last summer: Pump It Dry and Burn The World For Profits!)
11-18-16 World's poorest countries to aim for 100% green energy
World's poorest countries to aim for 100% green energy
Representatives from 47 of the world's most disadvantaged nations have pledged to generate all their future energy needs from renewables. Members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum issued their statement on the last day of the Marrakech climate conference. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Haiti, among others, say they will update their national plans on cutting carbon before 2020. Delegates here welcomed the move, saying it was "inspirational". These two weeks of negotiations have been overshadowed to an extent by reaction to the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency. But in an effort to show that even the world's poorest countries are committed to dealing with global warming, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) members have issued a promise to fully green their economies between 2030 and 2050. Termed the Marrakech Vision, the plan promises that the 47 members will: "strive to meet 100% domestic renewable energy production as rapidly as possible, while working to end energy poverty and protect water and food security, taking into consideration national circumstances".
11-18-16 Countries unite to defy Trump climate threat
Countries unite to defy Trump climate threat
Delegates from more than 190 countries meeting in Marrakech have issued an urgent call for action to tackle climate change. The Marrakech Action Proclamation calls for the highest political commitment to fight global warming. It is being seen as the united response of countries to the threat of president-elect Donald Trump to pull the US out of the landmark agreement. Campaigners say it shows the strength of the global consensus on the issue. The promise by Mr Trump to "cancel" the Paris Agreement and end financial support for international climate action has galvanised the countries meeting here in Morocco.
11-18-16 Climate skeptics in charge
Climate skeptics in charge
“Of all the reasons to fear a Donald Trump presidency,” said Will Oremus, perhaps the most important is “the irrevocable damage he could wreak on the planet.” Trump’s stance on climate change got “shamefully little attention” during the campaign, but he’s repeatedly said in the past that global warming is “nonsense”—a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt U.S. industry. Trump has also promised to defund federal environmental and clean-energy programs and “cancel” U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement endorsed by 190 nations—the world’s best hope to collectively slow greenhouse gas emissions. How much of this was political posturing, and how much does Trump really intend to do? No one knows. But it’s extremely telling that he selected climate-change skeptic Myron Ebell to head the transition at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell opposes environmental regulation and says there’s too much “alarmism” over “a little bit of warming.” During his presidency, Trump will meet little resistance to an anti-environmental policy from a Republican Congress or a conservative Supreme Court, so the damage he could do could be incalculable. A half century from now, future generations may still be paying the price for Trump’s willful ignorance.
11-18-16 Bleached corals in the Pacific have started bouncing back
Bleached corals in the Pacific have started bouncing back
Small signs of recovery and arrival of new baby coral and fish have left scientists somewhat upbeat about prospects of coral recovery following major bleaching last year. In excursions a year ago and then last April, scientists examined the normally-stunning coral reefs around the island of Kiritimati and pronounced it mostly a boneyard of dead coral. About 85 per cent of the coral was dead, 10 per cent was sick and bleached but still technically alive, and only 5 per cent was doing okay. The same scientists returned this month and found that 6 to 7 per cent of the coral is alive and not bleached, says Julia Baum, coral reef scientist from the University of Victoria, in Canada. “We left with a sense of dread and came back with a renewed purpose because there are some corals that literally came back from the brink,” says Kim Cobb, climate scientist from Georgia Tech in the US, who returned from the expedition earlier. “It’s the best we could have hoped for.”
11-17-16 UK signs up for Paris climate agreement
UK signs up for Paris climate agreement
The UK government has signed a document ratifying the world's first comprehensive agreement on tackling climate change. Parliament raised no objections to the Paris deal; after the government signed the deal on Thursday, it is now just awaiting deposition at the UN. The government is set to announce tomorrow that ratification is complete. It comes in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who has described climate change as a hoax. The US President-elect promised to re-instate the coal industry in the US and withdraw from the Paris deal which the US has already ratified. A government spokesman told BBC News earlier this week that the change in power in the US would not divert the UK from its climate change targets.
11-16-16 Kerry: 'Overwhelming majority' back US climate action
Kerry: 'Overwhelming majority' back US climate action
The US secretary of state John Kerry says that the overwhelming majority of US citizens support the US taking action on climate change. Speaking at a meeting in Marrakech, Mr Kerry said he believed that US commitments would not be reversed. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement once in office. Mr Kerry said that market forces, rather than policy, would ensure a transition to a low carbon world. He played an important role in building agreement with China on how the two leading economies could reduce their emissions. He was one of the architects of the Paris Climate Agreement last December. Speaking in his last climate conference as Secretary of State, Mr Kerry delivered a passionate and emotive defence of the global effort to tackle climate change. Massive progress was being made, he said. Investments in renewables were booming and the trend to decarbonise the world's energy supplies was irreversible.
11-16-16 What Trump means for climate change, health and nuclear weapons
What Trump means for climate change, health and nuclear weapons
How will the surprise election of Donald Trump impact the most important science and technology issues facing the US – and the world – today? Unless Donald Trump was lying about his proposed climate policies, we are on course for more than 3 °C of global warming. The big triumph of the recent Paris climate agreement was that all countries, not just rich ones, pledged to limit their emissions. Poor countries are supposed to receive $100 billion per year by 2020 to help them achieve this, but many rich nations are already failing to deliver the promised funds. With Trump saying he will move to block US climate funding, that money is now even less likely to appear. That will give many countries a legitimate reason not to deliver on their Paris pledges. What’s more, these commitments don’t go far enough. The Paris agreement says we must limit warming to at most 2 °C relative to pre-industrial times, but we won’t meet that target even if all countries stick to their current pledges. The deal was only ever intended to be a starting point, with countries regularly reviewing and improving their action plans. The trouble is that there is no way to enforce this. Although the ratcheting-up part of the agreement is legally binding, in practice it depends entirely on trust and reciprocity: “I’ll do it if you do it.” If the US fails to deliver on its promises – and it is already not doing enough – there is no chance other countries will scale up their actions to stick within the 2 °C limit.
- Climate change: “The US is the world’s second biggest emitter of CO2, so we need it to slash emissions as fast as possible“
- Abortion: “What will women with unwanted pregnancies do? It won’t quite be a return to widespread backstreet abortions“
- Nuclear Weapons: “Trump has said he would be ‘very, very slow on the draw’ but has refused to rule out using nukes“
- Healthcare: “If Trump’s campaign promises are acted on, the fate of Obama’s Affordable Care Act is bleak“
- Surveillance: “Don’t build a surveillance state, because you don’t know who will end up in charge of it“
11-16-16 Energy-efficient engine turns waste hot water into electricity
Energy-efficient engine turns waste hot water into electricity
The first industry trials are planned for the Exergyn Drive, which generates power from hot water and could reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. A new engine that generates electricity from waste hot water could reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions for thousands of different businesses, from cargo shipping to data centres. So says Exergyn, a firm based in Dublin, Ireland, which plans to run the first industrial trials of its technology next year. Globally, Exergyn estimates that the heat lost in waste hot water from industrial processes amounts to around twice the energy in Saudi Arabia’s annual oil and gas output. “There’s just so much waste hot water in the world,” says Exergyn CEO Alan Healy. “In most cases [companies] are actually spending energy to cool it.”
11-16-16 Hollande: US 'must respect climate commitments'
Hollande: US 'must respect climate commitments'
French president Francois Hollande says that the US must respect their commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement. Speaking at climate talks in Marrakech, Mr Hollande said that the pact was irreversible "in law and in fact". President-elect Donald Trump has promised to withdraw the US from the treaty. Mr Hollande said France would defend the deal in talks with the new US leader. (Webmaster's comment: Donarld Trump does not care about the law, only consolidating and expanding his power.)
11-16-16 The tragic beauty of Europe's vanishing forest
The tragic beauty of Europe's vanishing forest
One of the world's oldest ecosystems is under siege by a tiny, deadly force. Straddling the border of Poland and Belarus, the Bialowieza Forest is home to 20,000 animal species, including roughly a quarter of the world's bison population. At nearly 600 square miles, it is the largest remaining section of the continent's oldest primeval forest, which once stretched across the entire European plain. Its delicate ecosystem, largely untouched by humans, dates back to the Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago. That this ancient forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, and its wildlife are so well preserved is a testament to decades of conservation efforts. But, despite such protection, the Bialowieza Forest remains threatened by a deadly force: An infestation of bark beetles that are consuming spruce trees at an alarming rate. The situation has splintered environmentalists. Many are adamant the infestation is a natural part of the forest and must be left alone. Others — including the Polish government — are uncompromising in the belief that humans have a duty to actively stop the infestation by chopping down trees where the bark beetles live. For now, the Polish government has won — the logging campaign began in the spring of 2016. But in 2017, a World Heritage Site committee will evaluate the logging's consequences on the otherwise undisturbed ecosystem and determine a new conservation plan. Until then, take a closer look at what's left of Europe's lush primeval forest and its inhabitants. (Webmaster's comment: 600 square miles is nothing size-wise. It only 25 miles on a side. Not even as big as a large U.S. city.)
11-16-16 Deepwater Horizon oil in land food chain
Deepwater Horizon oil in land food chain
Researchers in Louisiana have discovered traces of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the feathers of birds eaten by land animals. A team examined the feathers and digestive tract contents of seaside sparrows - measuring signature carbon from spilled oil. They say it "is the first demonstration that oil from the spill made it into the" food chain of land animals. The findings are published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
11-16-16 80,000 reindeer have starved to death as Arctic sea ice retreats
80,000 reindeer have starved to death as Arctic sea ice retreats
Knock-on effects of weather have frozen snow in recent years, causing tens of thousands of reindeer to starve – and stoking fears of more famine to come this year. It’s not just polar bears that are suffering as Arctic sea ice retreats. Tens of thousands of reindeer in Arctic Russia starved to death in 2006 and 2013 because of unusual weather linked to global warming. The same conditions in the first half of November led to both famines, which killed 20,000 deer in 2006 and 61,000 in 2013. Sea ice retreated and unseasonally warm temperatures contributed to heavy rains, which later froze the snow cover for months, cutting off the reindeer’s usual food supply of lichen and other vegetation. “Reindeer are used to sporadic ice cover, and adult males can normally smash through ice around 2 centimetres thick,” says Bruce Forbes at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, who led the study. “But in 2006 and 2013, the ice was several tens of centimetres thick.” This September saw the second-lowest level of sea-ice cover on record in the Arctic, and there is fear of another famine.
11-15-16 Skimpy sea ice linked to reindeer starvation on land
Skimpy sea ice linked to reindeer starvation on land
Warmer water may trigger inland rain storms, forming ice that animals can’t crack to graze. Reindeer on Russia’s Yamal peninsula give nomadic herders their livelihood from sledge transportation to fur and meat. Changing ice patterns out at sea may disrupt this traditional lifestyle. Unseaonable shrinking of sea ice could be a trigger for another peril of climate change: increasing ice-overs that starve reindeer and threaten Siberian herders’ way of life. The worst of these events in the memory of nomadic Nenet herders on Russia’s Yamal peninsula destroyed 61,000 of their 275,000 reindeer in 2013, a blow to the herders’ livelihood that will take years to recoup. Such events have grown more frequent and more severe in the northwest Russian Arctic, says Bruce Forbes of the University of Lapland in Finland.
11-15-16 Donald Trump’s climate sceptics are coming to drill, baby, drill
Donald Trump’s climate sceptics are coming to drill, baby, drill
Global warming sceptic Myron Ebell and hawkish oil advocate Sarah Palin may shape the climate-shredding agenda in the US, says Matthew Nisbet. For planet Earth, these are worrying times. Not least because Myron Ebell, a notorious global warming sceptic, is now leading the effort to flesh out President-elect Donald Trump’s talk of dismantling US climate change regulation. Trump and Congressional Republicans campaigned on a pledge to undo all of Barack Obama’s major climate change-related actions, including rescinding the “job destroying” Environmental Protection Agency rules limiting emissions from coal plants. They have even called for the agency to be abolished. Ebell is overseeing plans for its fate. Between now and 20 January, when Obama steps aside, Trump, Ebell and the rest of his transition team will also name senior leaders of the federal government’s major scientific agencies including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These political appointees are likely to work with Republicans in Congress to follow through on Trump’s pledge to eliminate more than $50 billion in “wasteful climate change spending”.
11-15-16 There’s something cool about Arctic bird poop
There’s something cool about Arctic bird poop
Ammonia from guano contributes to climate-cooling cloud creation. The poop left behind by the tens of millions of seabirds that flock to the Arctic each year helps cool the region’s climate, new research suggests. Seabird poop helps the Arctic keep its cool, new research suggests. The droppings release ammonia into the atmosphere, where it reacts with other chemicals in the air to form small airborne particles. Those particles form the heart of cloud droplets that reflect sunlight back into space, researchers propose November 15 in Nature Communications.
11-15-16 US envoy says climate deal is bigger than any one head of state
US envoy says climate deal is bigger than any one head of state
The Paris climate agreement will survive a Trump presidency says the US special envoy on climate change Dr Jonathan Pershing. He was speaking before the arrival of ministers and some heads of state in Marrakech on Tuesday. They are coming to try to take the next steps to tackle global climate change. But the meeting has been rocked by the possibility that President-elect Donald Trump will withdraw the US from the pact.
11-15-16 CO2 emissions stay steady for third consecutive year
CO2 emissions stay steady for third consecutive year
Despite economic growth, global emissions of carbon dioxide won’t rise much in 2016 thanks in part to reduced coal burning in China, scientists report. Global emissions of carbon dioxide won’t increase much in 2016 despite overall economic growth, newly released bookkeeping suggests. The result marks a three-year-long plateau in the amount of CO2 released by human activities, scientists from the Global Carbon Project report November 14 in Earth System Science Data. The group’s projected rise in CO2 emissions of 0.2 percent for 2016 is far lower than the rapid emissions growth of around 2.3 percent annually on average from 2004 through 2013. Emissions increased by about 0.7 percent in 2014 over the previous year and remained largely flat in 2015.
11-14-16 2016 now looks dead set to become the hottest year on record
2016 now looks dead set to become the hottest year on record
Global temperatures this year are approximately 1.2 °C above pre-industrial levels and are set to break the record for warmest year on record. This year is set to be the hottest year ever recorded globally, beating 2015’s record temperatures, the World Meteorological Organisation has said. Global temperatures this year are approximately 1.2 °C above pre-industrial levels and 0.88 °C above the average for 1961-1990, which the WMO uses as a reference period, provisional figures show. As a result, 2016 is on track to be the hottest year in records dating back to the 19th century, and 16 of the 17 hottest years on record will have occurred in the 21st century. “Another year, another record,” said WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas. “The high temperatures we saw in 2015 are set to be beaten in 2016.”
11-14-16 2016 'very likely' to be world's warmest year
2016 'very likely' to be world's warmest year
2016 looks poised to be the warmest year on record globally, according to preliminary data. With data from just the first nine months, scientists are 90% certain that 2016 will pass the mark set by 2015. Temperatures from January to September were 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The body says temperatures should remain high enough for the rest of the year to break the previous record. El Nino has had an impact, but the most significant factor driving temperatures up continues to be CO2 emissions.
11-14-16 Global carbon growth stalls as US coal continues to slump
Global carbon growth stalls as US coal continues to slump
Declining consumption of coal in the US last year played a significant role in keeping down global emissions of carbon dioxide, according to a new report. The Global Carbon Project annual analysis shows that CO2 emissions were almost flat for the third year in a row, despite a rise in economic growth. The slowdown in the Chinese economy since 2012 has also been a key factor limiting carbon. Experts believe it is too early to say if global CO2 emissions have peaked. (Webmaster's comment: But the measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere show it continually increasing! There is nothing flat about them. Check Out the actual CO2 Increase Charts for the world.)
11-14-16 Antarctic quest to find 'oldest ice'
Antarctic quest to find 'oldest ice'
Scientists set out this week to try to find the oldest ice in Antarctica. They are seeking a location where they can drill a frozen core that contains a continuous record of climate change stretching back 1.5 million years. The chemistry of this ice can be used to deduce past temperatures on Earth. And tiny bubbles of air trapped inside the core will also betray the levels of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide that were once present in the atmosphere. This new data is expected to provide additional confidence in the modelled forecasts of how conditions on the planet might develop in the future.
11-11-16 Extreme weather: The new normal
Extreme weather: The new normal
This year, the U.S. has had 12 billion-dollar disaster events—floods, wildfires, hurricanes, severe storms, and droughts that each caused more than $1 billion worth of damage. Adjusted for inflation, there were on average only about two such events a year in the 1980s, five a year in the 1990s and 2000s, and almost 11 a year between 2010 and 2015. The flooding in Louisiana in August was the country’s eighth “once-in-every-500-years” weather event in a little over 12 months. Wildfires in California and other parts of the West grew at a rate of 90,000 acres a year between 1984 and 2011; in Alaska, four of the 10 worst fire seasons on record have occurred since 2004. The U.N. has calculated that the number of severe storms, floods, and heat waves worldwide is five times greater than it was in 1970; the World Bank estimates that extreme weather today affects 170 million people a year, up from 60 million three decades ago. “The weather has changed,” says Myles Allen, head of the Climate Dynamics group at Oxford University. “‘Normal weather,’ unchanged over generations apart from random fluctuations, is a thing of the past.”
- How frequent are these events?
- Why is this happening?
- Which areas are worst afflicted?
- How are people affected?
- Will it get worse?
11-11-16 Vanishing beaches
Climate change is destroying Rio de Janeiro’s famous gold-sand beaches. In the 1990s, massive storm surges occurred roughly once a year, but since 2010 they have been hitting Rio four or five times a year. Last week, 12-foot waves dumped tons of sand on beachfront streets, forcing kiosks and cafés to close and destroying public toilets. “This is the worst I have seen in the 20 years since I started working here,” said Dominique Souza, a kiosk owner who sells drinks and beach umbrellas. Huge chunks of Copacabana Beach, a major tourist draw, have been washed away. Brazil is more vulnerable than most countries to climate change, because one-quarter of its population lives along the coast.
11-10-16 Say hola to La Niña
Say hola to La Niña
El Niño’s meteorological sister is here and could alter your winter weather. Below-average temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific signify that a La Niña event has officially taken hold. El Niño’s meteorological sister, La Niña, has officially taken over. This year’s relatively weak La Niña is marked by unusually cool sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. That cold water causes shifts in weather patterns that can cause torrential downpours in western Pacific countries, droughts in parts of the Americas and more intense Atlantic hurricane seasons. The event has about a 55 percent chance of sticking around through the upcoming Northern Hemisphere winter and is expected to be short-lived, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center reported November 10.
11-10-16 Food made from natural gas will soon feed farm animals – and us
Food made from natural gas will soon feed farm animals – and us
The first big factory for turning natural gas directly into “dark food” for the animals we eat is about be built – a technology that could ease demand for land and water, but boost carbon emissions. All of the food you’ve ever eaten was made with sunlight captured by plants just a few months or years before you ate it. But some of the energy on your plate could soon come from sunlight captured by plants millions of years ago, thanks to plans to feed livestock with fossil fuels. A biotechnology company called Calysta, based in Menlo Park, California, is set to announce the first ever large-scale factory that uses microbes to turn natural gas – methane – into a high-protein food for the animals we eat. The factory, which will be built in the US in collaboration with food-giant Cargill, will produce 200,000 tonnes of feed a year. But it would also increase emissions of carbon dioxide, accelerating global warming. “Using fossil fuels as an energy source as opposed to sunlight is not very environmentally sound,” says Bob Rees, who studies greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture at Scotland’s Rural College in Edinburgh, UK.(Webmaster's comment: Also this "food" is not what animals have adapted to eat. This is not a good idea.)
11-10-16 What will President Trump mean for climate policy?
What will President Trump mean for climate policy?
Trump has repeatedly claimed that climate change is a hoax. In the day-after evaluations of the whys and whats of Donald Trump's stunning presidential election victory in the U.S., one topic that's barely warranted a mention is climate change. But Trump's election could have far-reaching effects on the world's efforts to address the climate crisis. The impacts of climate change continue to grow by the day. A new global climate agreement to try to prevent truly catastrophic global warming went into effect just last week. And thousands of people are gathering in Morocco this week to start figuring out how to make that aspirational new agreement actually work. But on Jan. 20, we'll have a U.S. president who has repeatedly claimed that climate change is a hoax — a huge change that will almost certainly make responding to the climate challenge even harder.
11-10-16 Climate change: Nations will push ahead with plans despite Trump
Climate change: Nations will push ahead with plans despite Trump
At UN climate talks in Morocco, countries say they are prepared to move ahead without the US. President-elect Trump has said that he will "cancel" the Paris Climate Agreement within 100 days of taking office. Negotiators in Marrakech say that such a move would seriously damage the credibility of the US. But fossil fuel supporters say Mr Trump's plans prioritise the needs of American families.
11-9-16 President Trump means we can’t escape a dangerously warmer world
President Trump means we can’t escape a dangerously warmer world
Whatever other countries say, the tenuous Paris climate change agreement has been dealt a very serious blow. Is there anything positive to say on the climate front after the US election result? Well, the rest of the world may finally get serious about preparing for a world more than 3 oC warmer, because make no mistake that is where we are heading. Other countries will insist that the Paris climate agreement will go ahead with or without the US. But the reality is that unless Trump was lying about his proposed climate policies, the effects will be very grave indeed. A Trump presidency will create three main problems. First, there’s the money. The big triumph of the Paris agreement was that all countries, not just rich ones, pledged to limit their emissions. But the reason many poor countries signed up is because they were promised financial help. From 2020 onwards, rich countries are supposed to provide $100 billion per year to help poor countries cut their emissions – and many of the promises made as part of the deal are conditional on this money materialising.
11-9-16 If you thought 2015 was hot, just wait
If you thought 2015 was hot, just wait
Record-setting year soon will be ‘new normal,’ simulations suggest. Many regions around the world saw record-breaking temperatures in 2015. That extreme heat could become the new normal as soon as the 2020s, new research predicts. The sweltering heat that smashed temperature records in 2015 will soon be par for the course. Depending on how much more carbon dioxide humans dump into the atmosphere, 2015 could become the “new normal” for global temperatures as soon as the 2020s, researchers estimate online November 4 in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Even if there’s a sharp reduction in CO2 emissions, the record-setting year (SN: 2/20/16, p. 13) will seem typical by 2040. When 2015’s record heat is the new normal, extremely hot years will be beyond anything humans have encountered so far, the researchers predict. That extreme heat could lead to more deadly heat waves (SN: 9/3/16, p. 5), wildfires (SN Online: 7/15/15) and other climate-related disasters.
11-9-16 A pause in growth rate of atmospheric CO2 is over – here’s why
A pause in growth rate of atmospheric CO2 is over – here’s why
Confused by headlines about a pause in carbon dioxide growth? This is what’s really going on. Headlines yesterday heralded global “greening” as having slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as reported by a new study. The idea is that increased plant growth fertilised by higher CO2 levels is partly offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions.
- This pause in carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere is great news, isn’t it?
- Hold on, isn’t there a new study saying there is a pause?
- So CO2 is rising each year, but that amount is not increasing?
- OK, but why did the growth rate pause between 2002 and 2014?
- And that is good news, isn’t it?
- Why won’t plants save us?
Webmaster's comment: Check out the rate of increase of CO2 in the world's atmosphere on the CO2 Increase Charts. It has never slowed! And the rate is increasing! Nothing we have done so far has made the slightest difference. Trump's and Republican's anti-science global warming "hoax" beliefs, and their subsequent economic policies, will only ensure that it rises even faster!
11-9-16 WMO: Five hottest years on record have occurred since 2011
WMO: Five hottest years on record have occurred since 2011
New data released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) shows that the five years from 2011 to 2015 were the warmest on record. The report, published at global climate talks in Morocco, strongly links human activities to rising temperatures. It says that some studies found the the burning of fossil fuels had increased the probability of extreme heat by 10 times or more. The authors say that 2016 will likely break the record for warmest year. In their report on the global climate 2011-2015, the WMO says that the world's temperature was 0.57C above the long term average, which they define as being between 1961 and 1990. The five year period was the warmest for all continents except Africa. Throughout these years, temperatures over most of Europe were more than one degree Celsius above the long term trend. This was also the case in the Asian part of the Russian Federation, over much of the Sahara and Arabian regions, parts of South Africa, southwest US and the interior of Brazil. The mercury even reached three degrees above the average on the Arctic coast of Russia.
11-9-16 Trump could land fatal blow to the fight against climate change
Trump could land fatal blow to the fight against climate change
A Donald Trump presidency is poised to disrupt the fight against climate change in a way that threatens to snuff out all hope, warns Matthew Nisbet. Donald Trump will be the next US president. This is a man who has promised to “cancel the Paris climate agreement“, end US funding for United Nations climate change programmes, and rollback the “stupid” Obama administration regulations to cut power plant emissions. Trump swept to victory last night after defying party orthodoxy on many issues, shocking conservatives with his many off-the-cuff remarks. But he has directly echoed the party’s line which plays down climate change and talks up energy from fossil fuels. During his campaign, he made a speech to the oil industry which was a sign that he was seeking to capitalise on financial support from powerful fossil fuel concerns. His call to roll back industry regulations also deepened his appeal to voters in oil, gas and coal-producing states such as Pennsylvania where he did well last night.
11-8-16 Rise in atmospheric CO2 slowed by green vegetation
Rise in atmospheric CO2 slowed by green vegetation
The growth in the amount of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere has been slowed by the increased ability of plants to soak up the gas. A new study says that green vegetation has helped offset a large fraction of human related carbon emissions between 2002 and 2014. Plants and trees have become more absorbent say the authors, because of so much extra CO2 in the atmosphere. The slowdown, though, can't keep pace with the overall scale of emissions. Over the past 50 years, the amount of CO2 absorbed by the Earth's oceans, plants and vegetation has doubled and these carbon sinks now account for about 45% of the gas emitted each year because of human activities. Researchers now report that since the start of the 21st century there has been a significant change in the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by the plants and trees. The new analysis suggests that between 2002 and 2014 the amount of human caused CO2 remaining in the atmosphere declined by around 20%.
11-8-16 CO2-loving plants can counter human emissions
CO2-loving plants can counter human emissions
Under right conditions, photosynthesis-respiration cycle stems accelerating rise of atmospheric gas. Plants absorbed more carbon dioxide during the first few years of the new millennium than they released. That imbalance temporarily steadied the rise of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, new research suggests. Plants temporarily halted the acceleration of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, new research suggests. From 2002 through 2014, CO2 levels measured over the oceans climbed from around 372 parts per million to 397 parts per million. But the average rate of that rise remained steady despite increasing carbon emissions from human activities, researchers report online November 8 in Nature Communications. After pouring over climate measurements and simulations, the researchers attribute this steadying to changes in the relative amount of CO2 absorbed and released by plants.
11-8-16 A wind turbine’s swish may annoy, but it’s not hurting anyone
A wind turbine’s swish may annoy, but it’s not hurting anyone
Fresh calls to shut “noisy” wind farms should be dismissed given the lack of evidence of harm to health and the need for renewable power, says James Randerson. Opponents of wind farms are not known for their moderation. One UK Conservative MEP has compared the wind industry in Scotland to the threat posed by Nazi Germany. An Australian senator put its actions on a par with the crimes of “Big Tobacco”. Donald Trump calls turbines “industrial monstrosities“. For some reason, a small minority harbour a vitriolic hatred of spinning blades. And when a report on the noise from UK turbines came out a fortnight ago, demands that offending sites be closed soon followed. This defies the spectacular popularity of wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy. The latest UK government survey of public attitudes conducted a few weeks ago found 79 per cent support for renewables, compared with 26 per cent for nuclear power and 17 per cent for fracking. And a ComRes poll last month found 73 per cent backing for onshore wind, although respondents massively underestimated the level of turbine-love among the wider population – perhaps because of the many negative stories about wind farms.
11-7-16 Trump 'threat' to dominate UN climate negotiations
Trump 'threat' to dominate UN climate negotiations
Concerns over a Trump presidency are set to dominate the early days of global climate talks in Morocco. Some 20,000 participants are meeting in Marrakech for two weeks, starting on Monday, to agree new rules to limit warming on the planet. These plans were boosted when the Paris Climate Agreement came into force last week. However Mr Trump, who calls climate change a "hoax", has vowed to cancel the deal if elected. Signed by 193 countries in the French capital last December, the Paris Agreement is now international law, having been ratified by at least 55 countries representing over 55% of global emissions. The UN deal, hammered out after years of failed talks, aims to keep the rise in global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, and "will pursue efforts" to limit the rise to 1.5C.
11-6-16 How much do teachers shape kids' climate change beliefs?
How much do teachers shape kids' climate change beliefs?
Educators don't have much influence when it comes to the causes of climate change — but that might be a good thing. As the discussion around climate change shifts from theoretical predictions to real consequences, there remains a gap between the scientific community and the general public: While the vast majority of scientists believe humans are responsible for our warming planet, around one-third of Americans disagree. Now, researchers have asked whether teachers could do something to change that, and the answer is, well, yes and no: Teachers' beliefs about the existence of climate change influence their students, but their beliefs about the causes of climate change do not. "Our findings suggest convincing teachers that climate change is real, but not necessarily human caused, may have profound impacts on students," North Carolina State University biologists Kathryn Stevenson, Nils Peterson, and Amy Bradshaw write in PLoS One. Nine in 10 students had a teacher who believed climate change is indeed happening, although nearly all of those teachers thought a mix of human and natural causes was to blame. Only 12 percent of students had a teacher who thought climate change was real and believed humans were largely to blame. Eighty-two percent of students knew climate change was real, yet only 30 percent knew that humans were responsible.
11-4-16 World protects Antarctic
World protects Antarctic
Dozens of countries, including the U.S. and Russia, reached a historic agreement last week to create the world’s largest marine protected area near Antarctica. The 600,000-square-mile Ross Sea sanctuary covers 12 percent of the Southern Ocean; commercial fishing will be banned there for 35 years. Secretary of State John Kerry said the agreement “will safeguard one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet—home to unparalleled marine biodiversity and thriving communities of penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish.” The plan was held up for years by Moscow, but Russia finally agreed to the treaty at an Australian meeting last week.
11-4-16 Paris climate deal enters force as focus shifts to action
Paris climate deal enters force as focus shifts to action
The Paris agreement on climate change has come into force. Governments have agreed to keep the global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - and preferably 1.5 degrees. "This is a moment to celebrate," United Nations climate chief Patricia Espinosa told Reuters. "It is also a moment to look ahead with sober assessment and renewed will over the task ahead." The Eiffel Tower in Paris is expected to be lit up in green light on Friday to mark the entry into force of the historic climate pact. Delegates from almost 200 countries are meeting in Marrakech next week to consider the way ahead beyond Paris. The deal agreed in the French capital less than a year ago commits governments to moving their economies away from fossil fuels. On Thursday, a UN review of national pledges to cut carbon said they fall short of the levels needed to keep the rise in global temperatures under 2C. The report found pledges from governments that have ratified the accord would see the world on track for a rise in temperatures by the end of this century of between 2.9 and 3.4 degrees C.
11-4-16 Pipeline protest turns violent
Pipeline protest turns violent
At least 141 Native American protesters and environmental activists were arrested near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation last week during a confrontation with riot police, who moved to push occupiers off private land where a controversial oil pipeline is being constructed. People from across the country have traveled to the area to demonstrate against the Dakota Access pipeline—which would snake 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois—arguing that it threatens the Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply and burial sites. Police used beanbag rounds, rubber bullets, and pepper spray to push demonstrators to their main encampment on public land—prompting some angry protesters to set fire to pipeline workers’ vehicles. In an interview, President Obama said that the Army Corps of Engineers was examining possible alternate routes for the pipeline.
11-3-16 Human CO2 emissions put Arctic on track to be ice-free by 2050
Human CO2 emissions put Arctic on track to be ice-free by 2050
Arctic sea ice could vanish sooner than previously thought, according to new calculations of carbon dioxide’s direct ice-melting effects. The average American’s carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for shrinking Arctic sea ice by nearly 50 square meters each year. That’s the implication of a new study that finds that each additional metric ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere directly results in a 3-square-meter loss of sea ice cover at summer’s end — comparable to losing a chunk of ice with a footprint a bit smaller than a two-seat Smart car. “For the first time now, it is possible to grasp how each one of us contributes to tangible consequences for the global climate system,” says study coauthor Dirk Notz, a climate scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. Globally, humans are responsible for the release of some 36 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. With another trillion metric tons, the Arctic Ocean will have a completely iceless summer — possibly the first in 125,000 years. That threshold could be crossed before 2050, Notz and Julienne Stroeve of University College London estimate online November 3 in Science. Many previous studies projected that summertime ice would stick around for years longer (SN Online: 8/3/15).
11-3-16 World is set to warm 3.4°C by 2100 even with Paris climate deal
World is set to warm 3.4°C by 2100 even with Paris climate deal
Without swift reductions in emissions we’re set to warm the planet much more than safe levels and way beyond what nations have agreed through UN’s climate deal. The world must “urgently and dramatically” step up its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions if it is to have any chance of limiting dangerous climate change, according to a new report. Released in London a day before the Paris Agreement comes into force, the report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that 2030 emissions are set to exceed by more than a quarter the levels needed to keep global warming below the crucial 2 °C level. Without swift reductions in emissions, the world is on track for a temperature rise of 2.9 °C to 3.4 °C this century, even if the pledges agreed in Paris last year are fully implemented, the report warned. The Paris Agreement committed signatories — including the UK — to holding the increase in global average temperatures well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C, which it said would “significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”. But the UNEP report finds that, on current trends, emissions are set to reach the equivalent of 54-56 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide by the end of the next decade – well above the 42 gigatonne maximum if warming is to be kept below 2 °C. The demand for urgent action is reinforced by the fact that 2015 was the hottest year on record and the first six months of 2016 were each the warmest recorded, said the report.
11-3-16 UN review says carbon plans fall well short of climate goals
UN review says carbon plans fall well short of climate goals
A UN review of national plans to cut carbon says they are well short of the levels needed to keep the rise in global temperatures under 2C. The report finds that by 2030 the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere will be some 25% above that mark. The analysis takes into account the pledges that countries have made under the Paris climate agreement. Many scientists say that technology to remove carbon from the air will now be needed to meet the Paris targets. The UN Emissions Gap Report, prepared by an international team of scientists, finds that by 2030, global emissions are expected to reach 54 to 56 gigatonnes of CO2. The authors say this is far above the 42 gigatonnes needed to have a good chance of staying below 2 degrees by the end of the century, and a long way from the 39 gigatonnes needed to keep to 1.5 degrees as was promised in Paris last December. A gigatonne is roughly the equivalent of the annual emissions produced by all forms of transport in the European Union. While the report notes that the growth of emissions from fossil fuel use and industry is now slowing, this scale of carbon would put the world on track for a rise in temperatures by the end of this century of between 2.9 and 3.4 degrees C.
11-2-16 A huge problem still lurks at the heart of Paris climate deal
A huge problem still lurks at the heart of Paris climate deal
As the Paris climate deal becomes legally binding, the world must stop pinning hopes on negative emissions technology, say Kevin Anderson and Glen Peters. Yet there’s no need to fear, apparently: the theory goes that we can use all of our carbon budget today, and even go into carbon debt, but then compensate for it. We are developing a technical fix that will enable fossil fuel use for decades. Shiny bits of engineering kit will suck billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air and store it underground for millennia. Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) has emerged as the front runner from an array of technologies, even though it is highly uncertain how much “sucking” is required. And BECCS is already ubiquitous in models guiding governments on mitigation. So what’s the problem? Not least the need to build BECCS power stations magically fast, and the sheer scale of carbon storage and biomass infrastructure required. There are also challenging technical hurdles, competition for biomass and multiple competing pressures for land. Perhaps we can engineer carbon-sucking machines. The problem arises if we can’t scale them to the incredible level assumed in models. If we act today like we have enough of these machines tomorrow, we will bequeath future generations the climate Paris seeks to avoid. Given the huge risk of the technologies not working at the scale promised, negative emissions should, at best, be a small dollop of cream on top of an enormous and fast-baked carbon-mitigation cake.
11- 2-16 Coal country West Virginia feels forgotten by politics
Coal country West Virginia feels forgotten by politics
The vacant store fronts of low buildings line Delbarton's main street. A town once thriving on money from the coal industry is now fighting for its existence. Delbarton is typical of many towns in West Virginia, built on coal and suffering as the industry shrinks. Former miner Bo Copley knows this struggle firsthand. In September 2015 he was laid off from his job at a coal mine. He is one of nearly 200,000 people who have lost their jobs in the coal industry since September 2014. The layoffs have increased an existing rift between West Virginia's population and Washington DC politicians - who they feel don't care about the state's unique culture and struggles. (Webmaster's comment: But there are 1.8 million software programming jobs that are unfilled in America because American companies can find no one qualified to fill them. There are no job guarantees in a free-enterprise job market. There is no silver platter. One must adapt to changing job markets to make a good living. That's just the way it is.)
11-1-16 How the oil crisis wrecked Russia and obliterated Venezuela
How the oil crisis wrecked Russia and obliterated Venezuela
e future is not rosy for Russia and Venezuela. The Kremlin faces a big budget deficit, which it's trying to close with cuts to health and education spending, and a massive 27 percent reduction in its military. Meanwhile, Russia's economy is in recession, and projected to slightly shrink for the third year in a row. If that sounds bad, check out Venezuela, which is in utter economic pandemonium: Its GDP is projected to shrink 10 percent this year, and it's grappling with triple-digit inflation rates. Mass strikes and protests are breaking out, and its authoritarian government is threatening to crack down. On the surface, these may seem like two very different countries with two very different sets of problems. But underneath, their woes actually share a common source: oil. Sixty-eight percent of Russia's exports are in oil, oil products, and natural gas. For Venezuela, oil is a staggering 95 percent of its exports, and the oil industry makes up a quarter of its economy. Even more importantly, though, is the degree to which both governments rely on oil exports to finance themselves. Oil-related revenues supply roughly half the budget for both Russia and Venezuela. The reason these governments rely on oil isn't hard to understand: If your government pulls in most of its money by exporting oil or other natural resources to the rest of the globe, it can keep taxes on its own people low while showering them with benefits bought with those exports. Sounds like a great deal!