98 Global Warming News Articles
for June of 2017
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Trump is a clear and present danger
to the United States and to the Planet!
6-30-17 Fighting climate change could trigger a massive financial crash
Fighting climate change could trigger a massive financial crash
The risks of global warming go far beyond the physical. If we don’t start preparing for the transition to a low-carbon economy we’re in for an incredibly bumpy ride. The great crash of 2023 made the 2007 financial crisis look like a blip. It was triggered by US president Bernie Sanders signing emergency measures to slash carbon emissions. Investors started panic-selling stocks in fossil fuel companies. Trillions were wiped from the stock markets within days – and hundreds of millions of people around the world lost their pensions. Impossible? Not according to financial regulators, who are so concerned about the prospect of climate-related financial crashes that they are already taking action to stop them happening. They want all big organisations to start assessing and disclosing their climate-related risks. “The whole point of this exercise is to avoid that kind of crash happening,” says Michael Wilkins of credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings, a member of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, which unveiled its guidelines last week. But the guidelines are voluntary. They will work only if they are widely adopted, and the companies facing the biggest risks will be the most reluctant to disclose them. So can we really prevent a financial crash when we get serious about limiting global warming? Or does saving the planet inevitably involve a very bumpy economic ride? The rapid warming of the planet poses two related threats to the financial system. There is the cost of physical damage inflicted by a changing climate, which is already high and climbing. For instance, insurance market Lloyd’s of London estimates that sea level rise due to climate change increased the losses from Superstorm Sandy by a third, adding around $5 billion to the cost.
6-30-17 Deadly heat sweeps planet
Deadly heat sweeps planet
If carbon emissions remain unchecked, a new study suggests, deadly heat waves will grow steadily worse, threatening up to 75 percent of the world’s population by century’s end. A team of researchers analyzed heat waves dating back to 1980, pinpointing 783 events that resulted in “excess human mortality,” including the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed 740 people and a similar occurrence in Moscow in 2010 that claimed 10,860 lives. They found that climate change is exacerbating extreme heat, spreading it like a global forest fire, NationalGeographic.com reports. Even with aggressive measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers warn, by 2100 roughly 50 percent of people on Earth will face at least 20 days a year of deadly heat. “Our attitude toward the environment has been so reckless that we are running out of good choices for the future,” says study lead author Camilo Mora. “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible. Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price.”
6-30-17 This Iranian city might have just suffered through the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth
This Iranian city might have just suffered through the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth
The Iranian city of Ahvaz, home to 1.1 million people, might have tied the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth on Thursday, The Washington Post reports. The hottest reliably measured temperatures on Earth were in Mitribah, Kuwait, on July 21, 2016, and Death Valley, California, on June 30, 2013, both reaching 129.2 degrees. The Weather Underground indicates Ahvaz reached 129.2 degrees twice on Thursday, at 4:51 p.m. and 5 p.m., although the temperature still needs to be officially verified by the World Meteorological Organization. The Washington Post adds: As the temperature climbed into the high 120s [in Ahvaz on Thursday], the dew point, a measure of humidity, peaked in the low 70s; a high level for the desert location (due to moist air flow from the Persian Gulf, to the south). The heat index — a measure of how hot it feels factoring in the humidity — exceeded 140 degrees. This combination of heat and humidity was so extreme that it was beyond levels the heat index was designed to compute. Technically speaking, the highest temperature on record was 134 degrees on July 1, 1913, in Death Valley, but extreme weather historian Christopher Burt of the Weather Underground believes the measurement was inaccurate and "essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective." Read more about the blistering weather in Iran at The Washington Post.
6-30-17 EPA to scrap water rule
EPA to scrap water rule
The Trump administration this week took a major step toward revoking a controversial Obama-era water-protection rule that limits pollution in the nation’s wetlands and tributaries. The rule, known as Waters of the United States, extended the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing authority to regulate larger bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound to cover the waterways and wetlands that flow into them. Implemented by the Obama administration in 2015, the regulation was hailed by environmentalists but triggered protests from real estate developers, farmers, and ranchers, who argued it was an infringement of their property rights. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a 42-page proposal to rescind the rule this week, saying it “usurps” state authority.
6-29-17 'Very strong' climate change signal in record June heat
'Very strong' climate change signal in record June heat
The June heat waves that impacted much of the UK and Western Europe were made more intense because of climate change say scientists. Forest fires in Portugal claimed scores of lives while emergency heat plans were triggered in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Britain experienced its warmest June day since the famous heat wave of 1976. Human-related warming made record heat 10 times more likely in parts of Europe the researchers say. During June, mean monthly temperatures about 3C above normal were recorded across western parts of the continent. France experienced its hottest June night ever on 21st when the average around the country was 26.4C. That same day had seen the mercury hit 34.5 at Heathrow in what was the UK's warmest June day for 40 years. It was a similar story in the Netherlands which is set to have its hottest June on record while in Switzerland it was the second warmest since 1864.
6-29-17 Climate change could exacerbate economic inequalities in the U.S.
Climate change could exacerbate economic inequalities in the U.S.
Counties in the South will pay the greatest price, simulation predicts. Climate change will hurt the economies of some U.S. counties more than others, a new study suggests. Changes in each county’s gross domestic product by 2080–2099 are shown (negative values indicate economic gains). Climate change may make the rich richer and the poor poorer in the United States. Counties in the South face a higher risk of economic downturn due to climate change than their northern counterparts, a new computer simulation predicts. Because southern counties generally host poorer populations, the new findings, reported in the June 30 Science, suggest that climate change will worsen existing wealth disparities. “It’s the most detailed and comprehensive study of the effects of climate change in the United States,” says Don Fullerton, an economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who was not involved in the work. “Nobody has ever even considered the effects of climate change on inequality.”
6-29-17 Why are Californian solar firms paying to give away power?
Why are Californian solar firms paying to give away power?
California companies are generating so much solar power that firms in other states are getting paid to take it. The state has been forced into the arrangement to "avoid overloading its own power lines", according to the Los Angeles Times. The situation doesn't necessarily mean we are "throwing money away", says economist Severin Borenstein, a professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. "But it probably is an indication that there are some serious problems in the way we're running the grid and the way we're making investment decisions." Why is this happening? Electricity production from renewable sources has skyrocketed in California. In 2015, California power plants generated about 15 times more electricity from solar sources than they did in 2010, according to the California Energy Commission. And that doesn't include the thousands of individual solar panels installed in recent years. The growth is thanks in part to laws that require half of the electricity sold to consumers to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
6-29-17 Wildfires’ ‘killer haze’ tracked with Twitter as it spreads
Wildfires’ ‘killer haze’ tracked with Twitter as it spreads
The Indonesian government is using a tool that mines social media chatter to track deadly smog and monitor the evacuation of local people. When Indonesia’s peatlands burn, the thick smog that fills the air can be deadly. Haze from wildfires there last year may have led to more than 90,000 deaths, according to one US study. To help it keep on top of active fires and save lives, the Indonesian government is trying out a tool that monitors references to haze on social media. Called Haze Gazer, the tool taps Twitter data to reveal where haze hotspots are – as well as how locals respond to government-issued evacuation notices. The software was built by a team from the University of Kassel in Germany and the United Nations Global Pulse office in Jakarta. Global Pulse is a programme set up to use big data for humanitarian ends. The researchers say Haze Gazer is now being used in the Indonesian president’s situation room. The government has previously had no way to track citizen’s movements in real time. “They asked what kind of information is available,” says Jong Gun Lee at Pulse Lab Jakarta. The team suggested looking at Twitter because Indonesia has the fifth-largest number of Twitter users in the world, producing 4.1 billion tweets in 2016.
6-29-17 Merkel: Hamburg G20 to focus on Paris climate deal
Merkel: Hamburg G20 to focus on Paris climate deal
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said this year's G20 summit will focus on furthering the aims of the Paris climate deal - putting her on a direct collision course with Donald Trump. Mrs Merkel told the German parliament she was aware it may be difficult following Mr Trump's decision to pull the US out of the accord. However, she said, tackling climate change remained a priority for Europe. The summit of the world's largest economies takes place next week. As host, it is up to Mrs Merkel to set out the priorities of the annual meeting, which is being held in Hamburg. This year, the Paris climate agreement, established to limit the impact of carbon emissions on the environment, with countries committed to keeping the rise in global temperatures "well below" 2C, will be among them. Mrs Merkel will be joined by leaders including Mr Trump, Britain's Theresa May and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron. The latter has made his views on Mr Trump's climate change stance entirely clear, pledging to "make the planet great again" - a play on the American president's election slogan. "The European Union unconditionally stands by its agreement in Paris and will implement it speedily and with determination. More than that: since the decision of the United States to leave the Paris climate agreement, we are more determined than ever to make it a success." (Webmaster's comment: Guess what Trump. A woman's is kicking your ass!)
6-29-17 UK CO2 and energy costs 'set to rise'
UK CO2 and energy costs 'set to rise'
Household energy bills and carbon emissions will rise unless ministers devise new policies to save power, a report says. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) confirms that bills and emissions have been forced down since 2008 by EU energy efficiency rules. Appliances like fridges, freezers and boilers are now designed to use less energy for the same work. Ministers say they will make new energy efficiency policy in the Autumn. But the government's critics point out that its Clean Growth plan for an efficient low-carbon society is already many months behind schedule. The CCC says the UK must shift much more swiftly towards electric cars to reduce carbon and tackle local air pollution. It also says a strategy is urgently needed to insulate millions of homes and create new forms of heating that don't foul the air or crank up climate change. The report's finding on home energy bills will surprise people amidst allegations of energy company profiteering and fears that many households find energy prices too high. It confirms that although the cost per unit of electricity and gas has indeed risen, household bills have fallen thanks to EU and UK efficiency standards which forced engineers to design appliances that use less energy. It says since 2008, when the Climate Change Act was introduced, electricity demand is down 17% (despite all our gadgets) and gas demand is 23% lower, thanks to better insulation and UK rules on improved boilers.
6-28-17 Open the floodgates: Designer deluges could save dammed rivers
Open the floodgates: Designer deluges could save dammed rivers
Dams provide vital green power but destroy precious river ecosystems. Could unleashing artificial floods give us the best of both worlds? BETWEEN the still waters of Lake Gruyère, held back by the Rossens dam, and the pretty town of Fribourg, the Sarine river winds lazily through western Switzerland. It’s a picture of bucolic tranquility. One day last September, though, it was anything but. Suddenly, great torrents of white water came rushing from the base of the dam. With spectators crowding vantage points and a drone capturing footage from above, it looked for all the world like a catastrophic engineering failure. In fact, it was quite the reverse. This stretch of the Sarine hadn’t run free since it was dammed for hydropower more than half a century ago, restricting its capricious flows to a predictable near-trickle. It is a story repeated around the world, with nearly half of the planet’s major river systems choked by dams. They bring important benefits, not least renewable energy, but come with a high ecological cost. Where people once marvelled at these triumphs of engineering, many have come to see dams as an environmental liability. But what if all that concrete could be part of the solution? That’s what the scientists behind the artificial flood released on the Sarine are attempting to find out. They want to unleash regular designer deluges, carefully calibrated to restore the river’s natural rhythms. The idea is to give us the best of both worlds: to keep our dams without destroying the ecosystems they exploit. The results are just beginning to dribble in, but they offer hope that dammed rivers may not be damned forever.
6-27-17 Battering storms caused Antarctic sea ice to shrink at record pace
Battering storms caused Antarctic sea ice to shrink at record pace
Extreme weather pattern led to daily loss of nearly South Carolina sized chunks. Southern Ocean storms in 2016 brought intense, warm winds that broke up Antarctica’s fragile sea ice and hastened its usual springtime melting. Unusually severe storms in 2016 wrought the quickest meltdown of Antarctic sea ice ever seen during a Southern Hemisphere spring. This could explain why Antarctica’s sea ice extent hit a record low earlier this year. Satellite images show that the extent of Antarctic sea ice decreased by an average of 75,000 square kilometers — almost the area of South Carolina — each day from September through December 2016. That was 18 percent faster than the previous record melt rate for this time of year and nearly 50 percent faster than average, researchers report online June 20 in Geophysical Research Letters. Typically, the ring of sea ice surrounding Antarctica expands and contracts over the course of a year, usually peaking at around 18 million square kilometers in September, then shrinking to about 3 million by February. The average expanse of sea ice in a given year has increased since satellite monitoring started in 1979. So scientists were surprised that the sea ice shrank so radically this year. It hit 4.04 million square kilometers in January (SN Online: 2/17/17) and kept shrinking, dropping to about 2 million square kilometers by the beginning of March.
6-27-17 Ozone layer recovery will be delayed by chemical leaks
Ozone layer recovery will be delayed by chemical leaks
Leaks of a common chemical used in paints and for manufacturing are harming the ozone layer and could delay recovery of the ozone hole until 2095. The healing of the ozone layer could be delayed for 30 years or more by rising emissions of a substance hitherto ignored by environmental regulators. Ironically, its principal use is as a feedstock to make “ozone-friendly” chemicals for air conditioners and refrigerators. As emissions of CFCs and other ozone-eating chlorine compounds are curbed under the 30-year-old Montreal Protocol, emissions of another chemical called dichloromethane – also known as methylene chloride – have been rising, says Ryan Hossaini of Lancaster University, UK. They now total over a million tonnes a year, and concentrations of dichloromethane in the lower atmosphere have doubled since 2004. The chemical, a volatile gas, has many uses, including as an industrial solvent and paint remover. The recent growth in its emissions – stemming either from production leaks or deliberate venting – are particularly tied to its increasing role in the manufacture of a hydrofluorocarbon called HFC-32, a widely used replacement for CFCs. Once in the atmosphere, dichloromethane has an average lifetime of only around five months before it breaks down, releasing chlorine that can destroy ozone if it reaches the stratospheric ozone layer. Until recently, it was thought that dichloromethane was too short-lived for much of it to reach the stratosphere. So it was not controlled under international treaties such as the Montreal Protocol, introduced after a hole opened up in the ozone layer over Antarctica in the early 1980s. But that view has been changing. And now Hossaini has modelled the likely impact of a continued rise in dichloromethane emissions. He says that by 2050, it could account for “a quarter of all the chlorine in the lower stratosphere”. The present figure is less than 1 per cent. Current forecasts are that the Antarctic ozone hole should fill by about 2065, but they ignore dichloromethane. Hossaini says that if those emissions are included, and if they continue to increase at the rate seen since 2004, the hole will not be filled until at least 2095.
6-26-17 More killer hail coming unless we curb global warming
More killer hail coming unless we curb global warming
Extreme hail storms can be a threat to life and property. If we carry on polluting the planet we'll have to face more of them, warns physicist Raymond Pierrehumbert. There is endless fascination with things that fall from the sky. The very term meteorology comes from the Greek word meteoron, referring to stuff high in the sky. Of that stuff, hailstones are among the more engaging things that drop on us. I remember rushing out to collect them in one of the rare hailstorms we had during my boyhood in New Jersey, and my own children did the same in Illinois. It’s exciting to keep them in the freezer like a hoard of gemstones. If you crack them open, they have onion-like layers inside. That’s the fun bit. But if hailstones as large as refrigerators came down, we would be in real trouble – especially since the bigger they are, the faster they fall. Doubling the size of a hailstone increases its damage-producing energy by a factor of roughly 16. Which is why it’s important for us to know how global warming might influence this kind of weather. As it is, hail cannot get that big on our planet (the modern record is a grapefruit-sized 7 inches), but it can still do plenty of damage. The great hailstorm of 1788 is one of several weather events that decimated French agriculture and helped incite the French Revolution. A 1990 storm in Denver dropped baseball-sized hail and caused damage to homes and cars equivalent to more than $1 billion dollars today. Those caught without shelter risk life and limb: hail killed 25 people and injured 200 during a violent storm in China’s Henan province in 2002.
6-26-17 Earth’s dry zones support a surprising number of trees
Earth’s dry zones support a surprising number of trees
New study boosts estimate of forested area in parched zones by at least 40 percent. Researchers analyzed Google Earth imagery of dryland forest plots to reveal millions of forest hectares not previously reported. Earth’s dry regions have more trees than once thought — a hopeful note in the fight against climate change. An analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery reveals that drylands globally have 40 to 47 percent more tree cover (an extra 467 million hectares) than reported in earlier estimates. An international team of researchers used Google Earth and Collect Earth, a program developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, to estimate tree cover on more than 210,000 half-hectare plots in dry areas of Australia, Africa, the American West and elsewhere. The new estimate, reported in the May 12 Science, increases by about 9 percent Earth’s total area with more than 10 percent tree cover, adding a zone the size of the Amazon Basin. This is good news: Drylands cover almost 42 percent of Earth’s land surface, and climate change could expand the parched zones by 11 to 23 percent by 2100. The new finding suggests that these dry regions might be able to support the planting of additional trees to help ease climate change and offset expected desertification, the researchers write.
6-25-17 Every breath you take contains a molecule of history
Every breath you take contains a molecule of history
‘Caesar’s Last Breath’ tells the stories of invisible gases. Caesar’s last moments have inspired much scientific thinking, as well as a new book. Julius Caesar could have stayed home on March 15, 44 B.C. But mocking the soothsayer who had predicted his death, the emperor rode in his litter to Rome’s Forum. There he met the iron daggers of 60 senators. As he lay in a pool of blood, he may have gasped a final incrimination to his protégé Brutus: You too, my son? Or maybe not. But he certainly would have breathed a dying breath, a final exhalation of some 25 sextillion gas molecules. And it’s entirely possible that you just breathed in one of them. In fact, calculating the probability of a particle of Caesar’s dying breath appearing in any given liter of air (the volume of a deep breath) has become a classic exercise for chemistry and physics students. If you make a few assumptions about the mixing of gases and the lifetimes of molecules in the atmosphere, it turns out that, on average, one molecule of “Caesar air” — or any other historic liter of air, for that matter — appears in each breath you take.
6-24-17 Schwarzenegger and Macron join forces in swipe at Trump
Schwarzenegger and Macron join forces in swipe at Trump
French President Emmanuel Macron has taken another swipe at Donald Trump over the US president's policy on climate change - this time backed up by the muscle of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a video on social media, Mr Macron is joined by the Terminator star as he vows to "make the planet great again". "Make America great again" was Mr Trump's presidential campaign slogan. Mr Macron has been critical of the US president's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Could this latest development, exposed in a post on Twitter on Friday, be the start of a new "political bromance"? Speaking into his phone camera, Mr Schwarzenegger said that he and Mr Macron had been "talking about environmental issues and a green future" together. The footage was posted on the social media site with the former film star and California governor saying he was "truly honoured" to meet Mr Macron, adding that the pair would "work together for a clean energy future". The 10-second clip runs for the full duration with the caption: "With President Macron, a great leader!" (Webmaster's comment: Join Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, many other famous actors, and the 2,000,000 protestors who will moon him if he shows up in England, in oppsition to this nasty miscreant we have for a president.)
6-23-17 Extreme heat
More than 40 flights were grounded at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport this week, as a record-breaking heat wave across the Southwest made it too hot for some planes to fly. Temperatures hit 119 degrees in Phoenix on Tuesday, the city’s fourth-hottest day on record, with temperatures in the 110s forecast through the week. The extreme conditions forced American Airlines to cancel some flights using the Bombardier CRJ aircraft, which has a maximum operating temp of 118 degrees. Las Vegas hit 117 degrees, tying a record temperature recorded only three other times in the city’s history. “That’s deadly heat no matter how you slice it,” said meteorologist Chris Breckenridge. Southern California also wilted, with temperatures hitting 122 degrees in Palm Springs, 124 in San Diego County and 127 in Death Valley.
Wildfires were once rare in the grasslands of the Great Plains, but their numbers more than tripled between 1985 and 2014—from about 33 a year to 117. Experts have attributed the rise to both climate change and an incursion of invasive plant species that have provided additional fuel.
6-22-17 Trump’s wise monkey environment plan: See no evil, hear no evil
Trump’s wise monkey environment plan: See no evil, hear no evil
If you don't measure the bad stuff, you don't have to do anything about it. That looks like the Trump philosophy, say Gretchen Goldman and Andrew Rosenberg. Just a few months into the Trump era, the White House and Congress have well and truly shown their disdain for science and science-based policy. The president’s proposed budget is the latest example showing that the role of research is being sidelined in decision-making. Perhaps most disturbing is the emerging philosophy behind all this: Don’t measure, so you don’t have to manage. The administration’s proposed funding cuts for science agencies offer an alarming window on this philosophy. For example, the cuts would kill funding of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Air Resources Laboratory, which tracks and forecasts the release of radioactive material, volcanic ash, wildfire smoke and hazardous chemicals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health preparedness programmes are also targeted, as is the entire research and development arm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating air and water quality data. And there’s more: the cuts would terminate four planned NASA Earth Science missions – projects expected to yield huge amounts of invaluable data on our planet. PACE, CLARREO Pathfinder, OCO-3 and DSCOVR would make measurements that improve greenhouse gas emission estimates; detect harmful algal blooms, volcanic ash events and oil spills; and improve air pollution measurements. All of these programmes ensure that the government collects the information we need to keep US citizens safe and healthy. Without this data, we are less prepared to deal with the big problems as a society. This appears to be the strategy. If we cannot track our greenhouse gas emissions, we can avoid commitments to reducing them. And if we can’t see the extent of pollution, then we don’t have to enact policies to protect the public, which usually means holding businesses accountable for what they cause. Does that save businesses money? Sure, but to what end?
6-22-17 Oil-exploration airguns punch 2-kilometre-wide holes in plankton
Oil-exploration airguns punch 2-kilometre-wide holes in plankton
The seismic airguns used to look for undersea oil don’t just disrupt marine mammals, their shock waves also kill and disperse the plankton population. The seismic sound blasts made by airguns searching for new oil reserves under the ocean floor can kill large swathes of plankton, the basis of the marine food chain, leaving the ocean dotted with plankton holes. Offshore oil exploration has become increasingly popular as land reserves are depleted. Since the 1960s, companies have employed airguns to probe the sea floor for oil deposits. The airguns release compressed air into the water, creating bursts of sound. The way the acoustic waves bounce back from the ocean floor gives information about whether petroleum is present. Previous research has shown that such airguns cause behavioural changes and hearing loss in whales, dolphins and giant squid, impairing their ability to find food and communicate. Now, Robert McCauley at Curtin University in Western Australia and his colleagues have shown for the first time that the noise also kills zooplankton – the microscopic animals swimming in the water. The team surveyed zooplankton populations before, and 1 hour after, setting off an airgun near the south-east coast of Tasmania in Australia. They found that the sound burst created a 2-kilometre-wide “hole” in the zooplankton population. Within this area, zooplankton abundance dropped by two-thirds and the number of dead zooplankton more than doubled.
6-22-17 Italy’s drying lakes imperil rare shrimp
Italy’s drying lakes imperil rare shrimp
The survival of ancient and unique species thriving in mountain lakes in central Italy have been threatened by a double whammy of a quake and climate change. A tiny ancient shrimp found only in a single small lake tucked away in the mountains of central Italy could soon disappear, as a combined result of climate change and an earthquake that hit the area last year. The fairy shrimp (Chirocephalus marchesonii) has evolved from a species native to the Himalayan region. Its ancestors are thought to have reached the Appennine range during the last ice age, after their eggs latched onto the feet of migratory birds. “Over the millennia, the shrimp has adapted to the specific environment of Lake Pilato, and its reproductive cycle is in sync with the seasonal hydrologic balance of the basin,” says Maria Gaetana Barelli of the Sibillini Park authority. The species is unique among freshwater shrimps in the area for its Asian origins, offering clues on the movement of animal species in prehistoric times. Barelli says that to hatch, the shrimp’s eggs need such a complex combination of environmental parameters that her five-year-long research project wasn’t enough to make them hatch in captivity. This is why she is concerned that the crustacean may go extinct if the small lake it inhabits undergoes significant environmental changes.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: Welcome to the new normal
Living with climate change: Welcome to the new normal
The greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere are already changing Earth's weather, ecosystems and even its tilt. Here's how: IT MAY not be immediately obvious, but the world outside your window is already a changed one. Since the industrial revolution, global temperatures have risen by about 1°C, which has had an impact at even the largest scales. For example, melting glaciers in Greenland are shifting the distribution of water on Earth, and nudging the planet’s axis. As a result, the position of the North Pole has moved eastwards by more than 1 metre since 2005. An upshot of this is that Earth will spin faster and, by 2200, days could be 0.12 milliseconds shorter. Earth’s tilt is unlikely to affect your life or even that of your children, but other changes are happening closer to home. In the UK, for instance, spring is beginning about two weeks earlier on average than it did half a century ago, and autumn a week later. In the seas, many animals have shifted their range hundreds of kilometres polewards. On land, we are seeing similar shifts, but it can be much harder for terrestrial wildlife to move, not least because of roads and cities. Another subtle change is that nights are warming faster than days. Night-time is a chance for heat to escape back out into space, but the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are trapping ever more of it. This is particularly bad news during heatwaves: if our bodies don’t get a chance to cool down at night, it is harder to cope with the heat of the day. (Webmaster's comment: The whole series of articles is really definitive. If you want to know why and how it's happening, and when it's happening, they are a must read!)
6-21-17 Arizona heatwave: Strange consequences of extreme heat
Arizona heatwave: Strange consequences of extreme heat
Summer has only just begun but a record-breaking heatwave in the southwest corner of the US has sparked wildfires and triggered power outages. There were 15 large blazes burning in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah on Wednesday. And intermittent blackouts were reported in a number of southwest cities and towns as the spike in demand for electricity to run air-conditioning units overloads power systems. But what are the more unlikely ways the blistering conditions are affecting the region? (Webmaster's comment: Welcome to the new world. And it's just beginning!)
- Driving with oven gloves
- Buckled roads
- Melting mail
- Closed zoos
- Swimming scorpions
- Quiet hiking trails
- Planes grounded
- Free ice cream
- And, of course, eggs cooking outside
6-21-17 Firefighting in extreme Arizona heatwave
Firefighting in extreme Arizona heatwave
Extremely high temperatures in the US southwest have sent the mercury above 115F (46C), but duty still calls for the Phoenix Fire Department.
6-21-17 Donald Trump talks up solar panel plan for Mexico wall
Donald Trump talks up solar panel plan for Mexico wall
US President Donald Trump has told supporters that his proposed wall along the border with Mexico could have solar panels fixed to it. Addressing a rally in Iowa, he said the panels would provide cheap energy and help to pay for the controversial wall. He suggested the plan was his own, saying: "Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea." However, solar panels have been included in designs for the wall submitted by companies. During his campaign, Mr Trump pledged to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He insisted he would make Mexico foot the bill, but President Enrique Peña Nieto has dismissed the idea. (Webmaster's comment: Trump Lies Again! Is the Wall's physical location the best location for the solar panels? The most cost effective location? How easy will it be to maintain? What's the weather like? Solar Panels, rather than in a typical solar panel farm configuration, in constant sun with cost savings in construction, interconnections and maintenance, the Wall will also require miles and miles of wiring. DUMB!)
6-21-17 Living with climate change: Welcome to the new normal
Living with climate change: Welcome to the new normal
The greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere are already changing Earth's weather, ecosystems and even its tilt. Here's how. IT MAY not be immediately obvious, but the world outside your window is already a changed one. Since the industrial revolution, global temperatures have risen by about 1°C, which has had an impact at even the largest scales. For example, melting glaciers in Greenland are shifting the distribution of water on Earth, and nudging the planet’s axis. As a result, the position of the North Pole has moved eastwards by more than 1 metre since 2005. An upshot of this is that Earth will spin faster and, by 2200, days could be 0.12 milliseconds shorter. Earth’s tilt is unlikely to affect your life or even that of your children, but other changes are happening closer to home. In the UK, for instance, spring is beginning about two weeks earlier on average than it did half a century ago, and autumn a week later. In the seas, many animals have shifted their range hundreds of kilometres polewards. On land, we are seeing similar shifts, but it can be much harder for terrestrial wildlife to move, not least because of roads and cities. Another subtle change is that nights are warming faster than days. Night-time is a chance for heat to escape back out into space, but the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are trapping ever more of it. This is particularly bad news during heatwaves: if our bodies don’t get a chance to cool down at night, it is harder to cope with the heat of the day. Not only are heatwaves more difficult to deal with in our changing world, they are also more frequent and more extreme. The 2003 European heatwave killed 70,000 people, many of them elderly or young children – groups who are less able to regulate their core temperature. A 2004 study showed that global warming has at least doubled the risk of such a weather event occurring.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: What’s the worst that can happen?
Living with climate change: What’s the worst that can happen?
If Earth reaches dangerous tipping points like the Antarctic glaciers melting, we'll have to engineer our way out of the crisis. It's difficult to gauge how far we are from either of those things. IN ANTARCTICA, the giant Thwaites glacier is in fast retreat. Ditto the Jakobshavn and Zachariae Isstrom glaciers in Greenland. Climate researchers worry they may have passed their tipping points, beyond which change feeds on itself and cannot be stopped. If the three glaciers melted fully, they alone would commit the world to more than 2 metres of sea level rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that rapid warming could take key Earth systems beyond their tipping points, part of the worst-case scenario of climate change. Tim Lenton of Exeter University, UK, says a threshold was passed in 2007 when the summer melt of Arctic sea ice accelerated. The fear is that, with less ice cover, the ocean will absorb more heat and prevent winter refreeze, locking the system into perpetual decline. This is not the only system at risk. Historically, as temperatures have gone up, changing amounts of sea ice at the poles have caused ocean circulation to flip. A new flip could lose us the Gulf Stream and collapse the Asian and West African monsoons, affecting the livelihoods of billions. So far, annual changes in sea ice have not disturbed overall global ocean circulation. But the Atlantic leg has already weakened markedly, which Lenton says may mean it is inching towards its tipping point. The trouble is that although there is plenty of historical evidence that tipping points exist, we don’t know what the warning signs are. Take the methane trapped in the permafrost of Siberia and North America, both of which are expected to thaw rapidly this century. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. It doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for as long as CO2, but if a large volume of it were released in one go, this could trigger runaway warming. Right now, methane is escaping from the permafrost, but it is minimal and nobody knows whether this is new or normal.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: Can we limit global warming to 2°c?
Living with climate change: Can we limit global warming to 2°c?
Current commitments from the world's nations mean we will overshoot the 2°c target agreed in Paris. More radical strategies are needed – and we need to work on them now. AT THE core of the Paris climate change agreement is the aspiration to “[hold] the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels”. At current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, we have 20 years before such a rise is inevitable. To avoid it, we need emissions to peak as soon as possible – preferably by 2020 – before making their way to zero by about 2070. There are some grounds for optimism: energy and industry emissions may already be peaking as the world moves away from the dirtiest of fossil fuels, coal (see “Living with climate change: Turning the corner“). But this needs to be seen in context. We are still emitting almost 42 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Change is not yet happening fast enough or on a large-enough scale to meet the world’s growing energy demand. Besides, closing coal mines and investing in renewables for electricity generation is the easy part. Generating electricity accounts for only a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, with emissions from agriculture, forestry, industry and transportation making up the rest. Oil, the primary fuel for transport, is particularly difficult to replace. Cars and buses can be made to run on electricity, but powering planes will require the large-scale development of renewable, sustainable jet fuel. The current global production, mainly biofuel made from fermenting crops, is minuscule compared even with the annual US consumption of 90 million litres of jet fuel.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: Turning the corner
Living with climate change: Turning the corner
In 2016 for the third year greenhouse gas emissions were almost static, while the world's economy grew – showing it is possible to go green and prosper. HUMANITY’S appetite for energy has driven up the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But here’s the good news: last year, emissions from energy use stayed flat for the third year in a row. Overall emissions, including from industry, grew less than 1 per cent for the third year in a row. Energy emissions have stabilised or dropped at three other times in recent history, but only in economic downturns (see diagram). This time, the world economy is growing. At last count, 21 nations were seeing this “decoupling” of energy emissions and economic growth, including the UK, France, Germany and the US. What’s going on? For a start, king coal is dying. The biggest fall has come in the US, where this dirtiest of fossil fuels is being pushed out by gas and renewables. In China and India – growing economies with huge energy appetites – concern over air pollution are playing a part. Satellite images show that, in India for example, construction of some new coal power stations appears to have been abandoned. Renewables are also winning. Cheaper, more efficient turbines and photovoltaics mean that wind and solar energy cost the same or less to produce compared with fossil fuel power in more than 30 countries, even without government subsidies. According the World Economic Forum, this should extend to two-thirds of countries over the next few years. In 2016, the proportion of electricity from renewable sources other than large hydroelectric dams rose to 11.3 per cent, according to the UN Environment Programme, while renewables accounted for 55 per cent of the new capacity added worldwide. That in itself is turning into an economic win. According to the non-profit Environmental Defence Fund, solar and wind power in the US are creating jobs 12 times faster than the economy as a whole. Let’s be honest: to stave off the worst of global warming, this should have been sorted at least a decade ago. But the trends do show that we can change our bad habits.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: How to cope in a warmer world
Living with climate change: How to cope in a warmer world
Feeding and housing a growing human population when seas are rising and extreme weather hits will be hard – but manageable if we take the right decisions now. HITTING the agreed limit for global warming set in Paris is undoubtedly a tough ask, and it seems likely that the world will be 3 to 4°C warmer by the end of the century (see “Living with climate change: Can we limit global warming to 2°c?”). That means loss and disruption. But starting to prepare now could mean that many people, perhaps even most, can thrive despite the rising temperature. That means more than building a few flood defences, however. Take the challenge of feeding a growing population in a world where fertile land has been lost to sea level rise, extreme weather events are more common and vast tracts of land may be needed to grow biomass to burn as fuel. Perhaps the highest priority here is to develop better crops that could feed more people using less land and fewer resources. Biologists are already developing crop plants that can capture more of the sun’s energy, make their own nitrogen fertiliser and resist droughts, floods, salt, pests and diseases. But much more effort and money is needed. It’s a similar story with protecting our homes, businesses, roads and railways from extreme weather. In many cases we know what needs to be done, such as planting more trees on high ground or building bigger storm drains to deal with increased rainfall. We just need to work out how to pay for it.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: You can make a difference
Living with climate change: You can make a difference
With climate change, individual behaviour does matter. Here's how to influence the future through how you travel, where you get your electricity and what you eat. “RIGHT now, your individual behaviour does matter,” says Chris Jones. “Anyone can go carbon-neutral today. Better yet, you’ll probably end up with more money in your pocket when you’re done.” Jones’s group, the CoolClimate Network at the University of California, Berkeley, provides an online carbon footprint calculator. It estimates greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, housing, food, goods and services for any household in the US. Other groups provide similar calculators for many other countries. Despite individual and local differences, some broad generalities emerge. “Globally, the three main contributors to greenhouse gas footprints are cars, coal and cows,” says Jones. And those three things are where individual choices can make the biggest difference. For most households, especially in the US, transportation claims the biggest share of carbon emissions, about 30 per cent of the total. Most of this is from fuel, so buying a more fuel-efficient car can shrink your carbon footprint dramatically, especially if you currently drive a gas-guzzler. The other big carbon source, especially for the affluent, is air travel. “One flight will probably blow your carbon budget out of the water,” says Stephen Cornelius, chief advisor for climate change at WWF-UK. Reducing air travel, by replacing business trips with teleconferencing for instance, can make a big difference. If you must fly, consider buying carbon offsets (see box) to balance the environmental impact of your flight. Whether you can wring similar savings by improving your home’s energy efficiency depends on where you live. In cold climates, better insulation can reduce the need to burn gas or oil for heat. But turning off lights, switching to LED bulbs and buying energy-efficient appliances only makes a difference if your electricity still comes from coal. If most of your electric power comes from renewable sources or nuclear plants, saving electricity has minimal effect on your carbon bottom line. In fact, the easiest way to green your home may be to buy your electricity from a renewable energy provider, says Jones.
6-21-17 Living with climate change: Convincing the sceptics
Living with climate change: Convincing the sceptics
Global warming is real, and global warming is here. Whether old-school conservative or free-market radical, here's how to convince the doubters of the facts. Some people reject the self-evident truths of climate change; others hold world views that don’t easily find common ground with science. So how can they best be persuaded of the need for action?
- Free market ideologues: “Saying climate change is the greatest threat to our world is a grab for global government by crazy catastrophists.” This group may not deny basic climate science, but they deny its importance. They see calls to clamp down on emissions as a threat to the free market that drives capitalism.
- Response: Ask why markets don’t reflect the costs associated with climate change. Free markets need social and political stability, and so climate stability too. Big banks, insurance firms and oil companies have called for action on climate change. Government dilly-dallying is anathema to their bottom lines.
- Christian ideologues: “The bible says humans have dominion over the Earth” and “it’s all part of God’s plan”. Many Christians, particularly US evangelicals, say nature is for us to use as we see fit. It ties in with a political agenda opposed to collectivism, so reticent on issues that need collective action.
- Response: Ask what happened to the strain of evangelism that sees “dominion” as meaning stewardship. Many other Christians say this gives us a moral imperative to tackle climate change. And climate change threatens the poorest most. Christian morals (and indeed the pope) say the fortunate should help those who are less fortunate.
- Traditional conservatives: “The weather always changes, this is a green fad. Anyhow, the scientists don’t agree. And none of my friends believe in it.” This is an age-old drumbeat. During the latest UK general election, climate campaigners identified 18 MPs in the previous parliament who were publicly opposed to action on climate change – 16 were Conservatives.
- Response: They can be persuaded with science. Point out that this is no fad. The greenhouse effect is 200-year-old physics. And climate models say more or less the same thing as chemist Svante Arrhenius calculated using pen and paper over a century ago.
- The “we’re doomed” brigade: “You can’t change human behaviour, so you can’t stop the emissions.”This is not so much denialism as doomsday determinism, but it’s odd how many people go from arguing that “there is no problem” to “there is nothing we can do about it anyway”.
- Response: Buy them a drink and explain how renewables are taking over. People do change their behaviour. The bar you are drinking in would have been full of smoke just 20 years ago.
6-21-17 Why are countries laying claim to the deep-sea floor?
Why are countries laying claim to the deep-sea floor?
Around the world, countries are claiming obscure and difficult-to-reach tracts of the deep-sea floor, far from the surface and further still from land. Why? There is a long history of claiming newly discovered territories, of planting the flag at far outposts of the known world. In the early 20th Century, explorers raced to the South Pole, their sponsors keen to benefit from future exploitation of these unknown areas. In 1945, President Harry S Truman broke with convention to claim the entire continental shelf off the US. And, in 2007, Russia used a submersible to plant a flag at the North Pole. All shared a common motivation - the hunt for new resources - and there is now a new frontier: the deep-sea floor. Exploration offers the prospect of finding huge amounts of previously untapped resources, but serious environmental concerns remain.
6-20-17 Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 with new law
Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 with new law
A climate plan backed by an overwhelming majority in parliament makes Sweden the first country to significantly upgrade its target since the Paris agreement. Sweden has committed to cutting its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045, becoming the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris accord in 2015. The law was drawn up by a cross-party committee and passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament by 254 votes to 41. The legislation establishes an independent Climate Policy Council and requires an action plan to be updated every four years. Sweden had previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, having met its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule. To achieve carbon-neutral status, the country will focus on reducing emissions from transport by increasing the use of biofuels and electric vehicles. It plans to cut domestic emissions by at least 85 per cent, and offset remaining emissions by planting trees or investing in projects abroad. (Webmaster's comment: Another country taking the lead in reducing Global Warming. Where is the United States? Its ignorant people are still immersed in their own greed.)
6-20-17 Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes
Phoenix flights cancelled because it's too hot for planes
As temperatures climb in Phoenix, Arizona, more than 40 flights have been cancelled - because it is too hot for the planes to fly. The weather forecast for the US city suggests temperatures could reach 120F (49C) on Tuesday. That is higher than the operating temperature of some planes. American Airlines announced it was cancelling dozens of flights scheduled to take off from Sky Harbor airport during the hottest part of the day. The local Fox News affiliate in Phoenix said the cancellations mostly affected regional flights on the smaller Bombardier CRJ airliners, which have a maximum operating temperature of about 118F (48C). The all-time record for temperatures in Phoenix is just slightly higher, at 122F, which hit on 26 June 1990. At higher temperatures, air has a lower density - it is thinner. That lower air density reduces how much lift is generated on an aircraft's wings - a core principle in aeronautics. That, in turn, means the aircraft's engines need to generate more thrust to get airborne. It's a well-known problem - a 2016 report from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) even warned that higher temperatures caused by climate change could "have severe consequences for aircraft take-off performance, where high altitudes or short runways limit the payload or even the fuel-carrying capacity". Those problems are why many countries in the Middle East, and some high-altitude airports in South America, tend to schedule long flights for the evening or night, when it is cooler.
6-19-17 Coffee under threat.Will it taste worse as the planet warms?
Coffee under threat.Will it taste worse as the planet warms?
Coffee drinkers could face poorer-tasting, higher-priced brews, as a warming climate causes the amount of land suitable for coffee production to shrink, say scientists from London’s Kew Gardens. Coffee production in Ethiopia, the birthplace of the high quality Arabica coffee bean and Africa’s largest exporter, could be in serious jeopardy over the next century unless action is taken, according to a report, published today. “In Ethiopia and all over the world really, if we do nothing there will be less coffee, it will probably taste worse and will cost more,” Dr Aaron Davis, coffee researcher at Kew and one of the report’s authors, told the BBC.
6-19-17 This incredible machine can suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere
This incredible machine can suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere
Climeworks estimates that it would need 750,000 shipping container–size units to capture 1 percent of global emissions. A Swiss startup wants to fight climate change with machines that suck carbon dioxide out of the air, said Adele Peters at Fast Company. Zurich-based Climeworks' CO2 collectors are housed in shipping containers. "Small fans pull air into the collectors, where a sponge-like filter soaks up carbon dioxide," which is later released "in a pure form that can be sold, made into other products, or buried underground." Eventually, governments and corporations may pay the company to remove CO2 from the atmosphere to meet ambitious climate goals, though the collecting machines would need "to be built at massive scale" to make an impact. Climeworks estimates that it would need 750,000 shipping-container–size units to capture 1 percent of global emissions. That number is not as outlandish as it seems, however. "The same number of shipping containers pass through the Port of Shanghai every two weeks." (Webmaster's comment: At at least $100,000 each we're talking 75 Billion dollars to capture 1%. We need to capture 50% of the carbon dioxide so the total bill is likely to be over 4 Trillion dollars. Trees are a lot cheaper and you get oxygen, shade and habitate for wildlife as a benefit. Add Wind Power and Solar Power and Stop Using Coal and we have a chance.)
6-19-17 Scientists fear new EU rules may 'hide' forest carbon loss
Scientists fear new EU rules may 'hide' forest carbon loss
Leading researchers have condemned attempts to change the way carbon from trees will be counted in Europe. The scientists fear that millions of tonnes of CO2 from forests will disappear from the books if the changes go ahead. Trees are important carbon sinks as they soak up about 10% of Europe's emissions every year. But some countries want to cut more trees down in future without counting the resulting loss of carbon. Europe's forests have been increasing for the last century, and over the last 10 years the equivalent of 1,500 football pitches of trees have been added every day. However accounting for carbon contained in trees is a fiendishly difficult task. Forests can both soak up and emit carbon depending on how old they are, and how they are managed and harvested. As the European Union tries to put in place wide-ranging plans to restrict future carbon emissions, officials want to ensure that accounting for the impact of forests on the atmosphere should be based on sound science. To this end they want to cap the use of forestry at the levels seen between 1990 and 2009. If countries want to harvest more trees in future than they did during this period, the loss of carbon would count towards the country's overall emissions. However several countries including Austria, Finland, Poland and Sweden want a change in these rules so that increased harvesting in the future should not be penalised.
6-16-17 Strange ice lolly icicles seen floating in clouds above the UK
Strange ice lolly icicles seen floating in clouds above the UK
Tiny icicles shaped like lollipops can form and exist in clouds – and may even affect the weather. A cloud full of ice lollies sounds like something out of a fairy tale. But this phenomenon has been spotted in cloud systems over the UK and North Atlantic. A significant concentration of these curious ice formations – in the shape of a stick with a spherical head at the end – were seen on a research flight over the north-east Atlantic Ocean last September, after previously being observed over the south-west UK in January 2009. Stavros Keppas and his colleagues at the University of Manchester have now published their findings from both flights. The observations made in 2009 were more comprehensive, as measurements from the aircraft’s on-board probes were combined with data from a radar system in the southern UK. There was no radar coverage in 2016 because the sighting was in a relatively remote region. The ice lollies seen in 2009 were typically about a millimetre long and found at an altitude of between 1 and 2.3 kilometres. They formed when a belt of rising humid air moving through clouds generated supercooled water droplets that collided with stick-shaped ice particles falling from the top of the clouds – created by the splintering and accretion of frozen water. “More measurements are needed in this region of a cloud system to see if this is a widespread phenomenon,” says Keppas. However, he thinks these ice lollies form on a regular basis, especially at high latitudes. There is a good chance of finding more now that some of the cloud regions in which they form are known about, he says.
6-16-17 Coal down, Green up
Coal down, Green up
World coal production fell by 6.2 percent in 2016, the biggest drop ever recorded, according to BP’s annual review of energy trends. China’s coal production fell by nearly 8 percent, while U.S. production dropped by 19 percent. Renewable energy production increased by 14 percent, with China overtaking the U.S. as the world’s largest producer of renewable power.
6-16-17 Nuclear power plants worldwide are nearing the end
Nuclear power plants worldwide are nearing the end
More than half of the roughly 450 nuclear power plants worldwide are nearing the end of their planned lives. Only 17 plants have ever been decommissioned and completely cleaned up—a process that can cost as much as $1.5 billion per facility.
6-16-17 Bowling, Dancers, and Coal Miners
Bowling, Dancers, and Coal Miners
The bowling industry, with 69,000 workers, employs more people than the coal industry, which has 51,000. There are more professional dancers—20,000—in the U.S. than actual coal miners—15,000.
6-16-17 Ice shelf close to collapse
Ice shelf close to collapse
Scientists monitoring the rapidly growing rift in the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica say it’s only a matter of days before a massive chunk of ice roughly the size of Delaware breaks away and forms one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. Researchers from Project MIDAS, which tracks the effects of a warming climate on the ice shelf, first spotted the crack in 2010, reports CNN.com. After steadily widening in recent years, the rift suddenly grew more than 10 miles during the last week of May. The 120-mile-long crack, which previously ran parallel to the Weddell Sea, has now turned toward the water and is within 8 miles of the edge of the ice shelf. “There appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely,” says lead researcher Adrian Luckman. Once the crack reaches the edge of Larsen C, which is the fourth-largest ice shelf in Antarctica, a massive iceberg 2,300 square miles in area and 1,150 feet thick will fall into the ocean. The calving will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula and could trigger a chain reaction that would speed up the flow of glacial ice into the ocean, eventually raising sea levels by up to 4 inches.
6-16-17 We can’t depend on the rain
We can’t depend on the rain
Uganda hasn’t figured out how to adapt to climate change, said Karoli Ssemogerere. “Decades of neglect of the agriculture sector have wiped out government food security infrastructure.” Last year, the country baked under a prolonged dry spell “that scorched most crops.” The rains arrived late and ended early, and some areas are suffering famine. The government’s advice—use perforated plastic bottles for drip watering in home gardens—is not helpful. Families who have to trek 7 miles to fetch drinking water “cannot engage in the luxury of dripping it in their gardens.” Of course, we would have had enough food if we had planted wisely in the areas that did get enough rain. Instead, those places are seeing “skyrocketing food prices” because they planted oil palm, a cash crop, rather than grains, fruits, or vegetables. Nor can the people eat fish from Lake Victoria, because illegal fishing has badly depleted its stocks. These problems will only get worse as the planet warms. With rainfall becoming more unpredictable, “urgent changes must be made to introduce a drought crop alongside regular food crops.” The drought crops could be sold to the government for storage as a hedge against famine. Until such changes are made, the people have to just keep “praying for rain.”
6-15-17 Billion-dollar dams are making water shortages, not solving them
Billion-dollar dams are making water shortages, not solving them
Dams are mitigating climate change impacts for certain populations, but the overall effect of such interventions may be increased drought. Dams are supposed to collect water from rivers and redistribute it to alleviate water shortages, right? Not so fast. It turns out that in most cases they actually create water scarcity, especially for people living downstream. Almost a quarter of the global population experiences significant decreases in water availability through human interventions on rivers, says Ted Veldkamp at Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Those interventions primarily involve dams that take water for irrigation or cities, or to generate hydroelectricity. To investigate the impact of dams on communities, Veldkamp and her colleagues created a detailed modelling study that divided the world into 50-kilometre squares. They used this to assess water scarcity between 1971 and 2010, so they could identify the hydrological winners and losers from dam interventions. The team found a drastic reshuffling of water-scarcity hotspots over time, with mostly people upstream benefitting from the capture of river flows, but those downstream left high and dry. The world has spent an estimated $2 trillion on dams in recent decades. But Veldkamp’s startling conclusion is that the activity has left 23 per cent of the global population with less water, compared with only 20 per cent who have gained. “Water scarcity is rapidly increasing in many regions,” says Veldkamp. A recent study put the number of people living in areas of such scarcity for at least one month a year at 4 billion. Many blame climate change, but that emerges as only a small element in the new study.
6-14-17 Dams could 'permanently damage Amazon'
Dams could 'permanently damage Amazon'
The Amazon basin could suffer significant and irreversible damage if an extensive dam building programme goes ahead, scientists say. Currently, 428 hydroelectric dams are planned, with 140 already built or under construction. Researchers warn that this could affect the dynamics of the complex river system and put thousands of unique species at risk. The study is published in the journal Nature. "The world is going to lose the most diverse wetland on the planet," said lead author Prof Edgargo Latrubesse, from the University of Texas at Austin, US. The Amazon basin covers more than 6.1 million sq km, and is the largest and most complex river system on the planet. It has become a key area for hydroelectric dam construction. But this study suggests that the push for renewable energy along the Amazon's waterways could lead to profound problems. The international team of researchers who carried out the research is particularly concerned about any disruption to the natural movement of sediment in the rivers. This sediment provides a vital source of nutrients for wildlife in the Amazon's wetlands. It also affects the way the waterways meander and flow. “[The sediment is] how the rivers work, how they move, how they regenerate new land, and how they keep refreshing the ecosystems," said Prof Latrubesse. The Texas researcher said that at present environmental assessments were being carried out for each dam in isolation, looking at their impact on the local area. But he argued a wider approach was needed for the Amazon. "The problem is nobody is assessing the whole package: the cascade of effects the dams produce on the whole system."
6-14-17 Juncker rejects US climate deal re-negotiation
Juncker rejects US climate deal re-negotiation
Speaking to the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker categorically ruled out any re-negotiation of the Paris climate agreement. The European Commission President said: "We have spent 20 years negotiating", and now was the time for implementation. US President Trump has claimed that the accord could be amended and made more palatable to his country. Mr Trump announced earlier this month that the US would leave the pact. In his remarks to MEPs, Jean-Claude Juncker described the US decision as not just a sad event, "it is a sign of abdication from common action in dealing with the fate of our planet". The US "abandonment" will not mean the end of the agreement, he said, but would make the world more united and determined to work towards the accord's full implementation. He was very clear there would be no attempt to amend the agreement. "The European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement," Mr Juncker said. (Webmaster's comment: Tell Trump he can take, and America can take, its myoptic view of the world and stick it!)
6-14-17 Cool retreats are needed to save giant panda from warmer weather
Cool retreats are needed to save giant panda from warmer weather
Chinese mountains where pandas live are become too warm for these animals to live in happily, and a network of new chill-out zones may be their only chance. Building a network of artificial, cool retreats in the forest may be the last resort for China’s vulnerable giant pandas, as climate change threatens the iconic mammal with extinction. New data about habitat temperature and panda distribution, collected across six mountains along the Chinese edge of the Tibetan plateau, confirm what climate models have been suggesting for a while: the animal is struggling to survive as its natural habitat gets hotter. Researchers found that areas within the pandas’ habitat, that were exposed to a potential heat stress of up to 30 °C had increased from 332 to 4482 square kilometres over the past 40 years. Guozhen Shen of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, says previous studies showed that 25°C is the threshold for giant pandas to suffer heat stress, since they are adapted to cool mountain climes. A consistently warm environment can cause dehydration and metabolic problems in giant pandas, also affecting their reproduction abilities and their cubs’ health. To escape the heat, they have to move to cooler mountainous areas where foraging becomes more difficult.
6-13-17 Science and climate face uncertain future in post-election UK
Science and climate face uncertain future in post-election UK
Michael Gove's promotion and the need to rely on the DUP could make tackling global warming and listening to scientific advice low priorities for the UK’s new government. If you think the UK should be governed on the basis of sound scientific evidence, with climate change made a priority, look away now. After losing its majority in the election, the Conservative party is seeking to continue to govern with the help of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, whose politicians’ record on things scientific is abysmal. The DUP once appointed an outright climate change denier as Northern Ireland’s environment minister, and its ministers have opposed climate measures. The party is fiercely opposed to abortion. Last year, one DUP assembly member called for creationism to be taught in schools. And another has admitted he thought only gay people could get HIV. What’s more, in a post-election reshuffle, Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed Michael Gove as environment minister for England and Wales. Gove is infamous for his 2016 comment that “people in this country have had enough of experts”. He reportedly tried to remove global warming from the school curriculum as education minister, and recently called for the abolition of European Union regulations protecting important wildlife habitats. (Webmaster's comment: Trump Junior!)
6-12-17 Ocean plastics from Haiti’s beaches turned into laptop packaging
Ocean plastics from Haiti’s beaches turned into laptop packaging
Laptop packaging is an unlikely new destination for plastic otherwise destined for oceans – but will it make a difference to the clean-up efforts? What if pieces of plastic strewn across the world’s beaches ended up in brand new computer boxes, not floating in the middle of the ocean or lodged inside seabirds? That’s what computer company Dell has set out to do, testing a supply chain that sees litter picked up from Haiti’s beaches and worked into recycled packaging. Anyone now buying the XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop can expect to find the machine sitting on a tray that’s 25 per cent ocean plastic – complete with an image of a whale and a link that leads to information about marine litter. More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic float in the world’s oceans, breaking into smaller pieces and sinking to the ocean floor or hurting animals that get entangled in bags or eat pieces with sharp edges. Dell estimates that its programme, a first for the industry, will take around 8000 kilograms of plastic out of oceans this year. (Webmaster's comment: A start, but 7,999,992,000 kilograms to go.)
6-12-17 Rubber algae help create first artificial reef in Mediterranean
Rubber algae help create first artificial reef in Mediterranean
Ocean acidification could dissolve natural algal reefs in the Mediterranean Sea – but artificial replacements may keep these ecosystems going. Tiny, artificial algae are being deployed in the first such effort to restore reefs in the Mediterranean Sea. They look like coralline algae, which have a similar ecological function to corals: forming reefs using calcium carbonate structures that create diverse and complex environments. “Coralline algae are particularly ecologically important in shallow, temperate regions,” says Federica Ragazzola at the University of Portsmouth, UK. They are ecosystem engineers, providing habitats for numerous small invertebrates and shelter from physical stresses such as wave action, because coralline algae live in exposed areas. However, as the reefs they build are made from a soluble form of calcium carbonate, they are vulnerable to an ongoing ocean acidification. So Ragazzola partnered with researchers from the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) to explore whether artificial coralline algae reefs can protect the organisms living on them against ocean acidification, as well as acting as scaffolds for natural coralline algae reefs to grow.
6-11-17 China pollution: Survey finds 70% of firms break regulations
China pollution: Survey finds 70% of firms break regulations
An inspection of companies based around Beijing found more than 70% were violating air pollution regulations, Chinese state media says. Firms pumped out more emissions than allowed, operated without licences or had insufficient pollution control equipment, Xinhua news agency reported. Checks were carried out at thousands of companies at 28 cities in and around the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Air pollution in Chinese cities is notoriously bad. The findings appear to confirm suspicions that companies ignore strict environmental protection policies and that officials do not enforce them, correspondents say. Inspections found that more than 13,000 companies had failed to meet environmental standards, the ministry of environmental protection said in a statement. (Webmaster's comment: Exactly what you would expect with unregulated Free Enterprize and Capitalism!)
6-9-17 Trump pulls U.S. out of Paris accord
Trump pulls U.S. out of Paris accord
Overriding the concerns of U.S. business executives, world leaders, and several senior members of his own administration, President Donald Trump last week announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement. Casting his decision as a “reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” Trump said the 2015 deal to curb carbon emissions would significantly hamper the U.S. economy and cost millions of U.S. jobs. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he said in a celebratory speech at the White House. Under the nonbinding agreement, which was signed by every country in the world apart from Syria and Nicaragua, the U.S. pledged to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. Trump, who has in the past claimed global warming is a “hoax,” said countries such as China and India were “laughing at us” because of those terms, and suggested he could negotiate a better deal. “If we can, that’s great,” he said. “If we can’t, that’s fine.” Trump’s announcement prompted widespread praise from Republican lawmakers, but fierce pushback from the rest of the world. The leaders of France, Germany, and Italy issued a joint statement saying that the agreement could not be renegotiated. Former President Barack Obama, who signed and helped forge the accord, said the Trump administration had chosen to “reject the future.” Thirteen governors, dozens of cities, and hundreds of businesses and universities pledged to continue to work toward meeting the agreement’s targets. A Washington Post–ABC News poll found that 59 percent of Americans opposed Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, while 28 percent supported it.
6-9-17 Defying the world on climate change
Defying the world on climate change
President Trump’s pettiness and irresponsibility are now clear, said Chidanand Rajghatta in The Times of India (India). In a “shrill speech, replete with claims of American victimhood at the hands of the rest of the world,” Trump announced last week that he was pulling the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. He “raged against India, China, and the rest of the world,” saying that the global pact, under which countries set voluntary emissions targets, was “very unfair” to the U.S. Using his trademark “hyperbolic falsehoods,” Trump claimed that India had made its participation in the pact contingent on receiving “billions and billions and billions in foreign aid” from the U.S., but was now plotting to steal American coal jobs. He painted a picture of a put-upon America, bullied by the world, stomping home with its toys.
6-9-17 Hope in coal country
Hope in coal country
Gillette, Wyo., the self-proclaimed energy capital of the nation, fell on hard times as coal mines laid off workers, said reporter Robert Samuels. But residents are confident their fortunes will improve under President Trump. The resurrected feeling of American possibility came not from pontificating TV pundits or a radio host in a studio miles away. Optimism arrived here in Gillette, Wyo., because of what people were seeing: the unemployment lines getting shorter and their daily commutes getting longer. In Gillette and nearby Campbell County, people were beginning to feel the comeback they voted for. Unemployment has dropped by more than a third since March 2016, from 8.9 percent to 5.1 percent. Coal companies are rehiring workers, if only on contract or for temporary jobs. More people are splurging for birthday parties at the Prime Rib and buying a second scoop at the Ice Cream Cafe. Maybe it was President Donald Trump. Much was surely because of the market. But in times when corporate profits are mixed with politics, it was difficult for people here to see the difference. (Webmaster's comment: Creating more global warming. America's continuing gift to the world.)
6-9-17 Poll watch
President Trump’s approval rating dropped from 42% to 36% in just a few days. 57% of Americans disapprove of his performance.
72% of Americans agree that “given the amount of greenhouse gases that it produces, the United States should take aggressive action to slow global warming.” But the environment ranks low on most Americans’ list of national priorities: Only 4% think it is a bigger issue than health care, the economy, terrorism, immigration, education, and crime.
6-8-17 Climate change might help pests resist corn’s genetic weapon
Climate change might help pests resist corn’s genetic weapon
Crop engineered to make insect-killing Bt toxin could see more damage. In a warmer world, the corn earworm may evolve resistance faster to Bt corn, a crop that has been genetically modified to produce an insect-killing toxin, researchers propose. Climate change might be great news for pests looking to munch on genetically modified crops, researchers propose. In particular, researchers analyzed 21 years of data from Maryland cornfields and suggest that rising temperatures might help corn earworms (Helicoverpa zea) develop resistance faster to a widespread genetically built-in crop protection. Some commercial varieties of corn have been engineered with genes for a toxin borrowed from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt, that kills the earworms when they eat the crop. In areas with a lot of Bt corn acreage, plants defended by the Bt protein Cry1Ab suffered more earworm damage when summers grew warmer, the team reports June 7 in Royal Society Open Science.
6-8-17 Renewables provide more than half UK electricity for first time
Renewables provide more than half UK electricity for first time
Renewable sources of energy have generated more electricity than coal and gas in the UK for the first time. National Grid reported that, on Wednesday lunchtime, power from wind, solar, hydro and wood pellet burning supplied 50.7% of UK energy. Add in nuclear, and by 2pm low carbon sources were producing 72.1% of electricity in the UK. Wednesday lunchtime was perfect for renewables - sunny and windy at the same time. Records for wind power are being set across Northern Europe. The National Grid, the body that owns and manages the power supply around the UK, said in a tweet: "For the first time ever this lunchtime wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined." On Tuesday, a tenth of the UK's power was coming from offshore wind farms - a newcomer on the energy scene whose costs have plummeted far faster than expected. So much power was being generated by wind turbines, in fact, that prices fell to a tenth of their normal level.
6-8-17 Asian nations make plastic oceans promise
Asian nations make plastic oceans promise
Nations responsible for much of the world's ocean plastic pollution have promised to start cleaning up their act. At a UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines said they would work to keep plastics out of the seas. Some of the promises are not yet formalised and environmentalists say the measures proposed are not nearly urgent enough. But UN officials praised the statement. Meeting in New York, they said it was part of a clear international shift against ocean pollution. Eric Solheim, the UN's environment director, told BBC News: "There are quite encouraging signs, with nations taking the ocean much more seriously. Of course, there is a very long way to go because the problems are huge." It is estimated that 5-13 million tonnes of plastics flow into the world's oceans annually. Much of it is ingested by birds and fish – and fragments of plastic have even been found in organisms at the bottom of the ocean.A recent paper said much of the marine plastic often originates far from the sea – especially in countries which have developed consumer economies faster than their ability to manage waste.
6-8-17 The 81-year-old woman inspiring a nation to recycle
The 81-year-old woman inspiring a nation to recycle
An 81-year-old who set up an all-woman rubbish collection team in her village in Lebanon now has a stream of visitors asking how she did it. For nine months in 2015 and 2016 rubbish piled up on the streets of the capital, Beirut, and even now a lack of landfill sites means some of the city's waste is being thrown in the sea. Zeinab Mokalled has shown that when government fails, do-it-yourself local initiatives can work. "There used to be dirt everywhere and the kids were filthy," Zeinab Mokalled tells me. She is remembering the 1980s and 90s, when Israel occupied part of the south of the country for 15 years, and waste collection came to a halt in her village, Arabsalim. As the years went by, it piled up, and Mokalled went to the regional governor to ask for help. "Why do you care? We are not Paris," he told her. "I knew that day that I had to take it upon myself," she says. Mokalled called on the women of the village to help, not the men - partly because she wanted to empower them, and partly because she thought they would do a better job.
6-7-17 Acosta mine: Are coal jobs returning to the US?
Acosta mine: Are coal jobs returning to the US?
At Lisa Maurer's Ford dealership in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, trucks are her bread and butter. When a young person lands his first well-paying job, one of the first things they do is buy a pick-up. The trucks are useful for navigating the rugged Allegheny Mountain terrain and the intense snowy winters. "It's kind of part of the culture here," says Maurer. So it was clear to her how bad things had gotten two years ago, when young coal miners she'd sold brand new trucks to just a day or two earlier started bringing them back. At the time, it seemed like a new coal company was declaring bankruptcy every week and the laid-off miners weren't able to make the payments. But now, for the first time in roughly seven years, a brand new coal mine is opening in Somerset County - the Acosta deep mine, just three miles from Maurer's dealership. "We're hopeful - it means we're going to have things happening again," she says. "Everybody's excited." Maurer has deep roots in coal. Her great-great grandfather emigrated from Slovakia to work in the mines, her grandfather and father opened their own mines, and now her 29-year-old son operates machinery in a mine. In 2002, her brother-in-law was one of nine men who were trapped for three days in a flooded mine shaft 240 feet under the ground. Miraculously, they all survived - some even went back to work.
6-7-17 Inventor hero was a one-man environmental disaster
Inventor hero was a one-man environmental disaster
From poisonous cars to the destruction of the ozone layer, Thomas Midgley almost single-handedly invented a global environmental crisis, finds Fred Pearce. BY THE time of his death in 1944, Thomas Midgley Jr was regarded as one of the great inventors of the 20th century. From cars to kitchens, his creations ran the gamut. He had turned Henry Ford’s “bangers” into speedy, must-have Cadillacs with a magic ingredient added to petrol, and for an encore found a chemical that made killer refrigerators and aircon units safe for millions of homes. On the face of it, an enviable legacy – except that the products of Midgley’s genius were fatally flawed. His lead-based petrol additive damaged the developing brains of millions of children globally; and Freon, the first CFC, almost destroyed Earth’s ozone layer. Midgley is now seen as the world’s worst inventor. Born in 1889, Midgley’s first claimed invention – made in high school – was a method for curving the flight of baseballs, by rubbing them with the chewed bark of the slippery elm. It was widely used thereafter by baseball pitchers. Later, after a stint working for his father’s tyre development company, Midgley came under the wing of Charles Kettering, the inventor of the electric starter motor for cars. In 1916, Kettering set 27-year-old Midgley to work on a solution to the problem of car engine “knock”. Caused by the badly timed ignition of fuel, knock was noisy, jolting and effectively prevented the use of more efficient higher-octane fuel. It probably led to early automobiles being dubbed “old bangers”. Midgley came up with no fewer than 143 fuel additives to deal with knock. The initial front runner was ethyl alcohol, made from grain. But to Kettering and the paymasters at General Motors, he backed a different contender: tetraethyl lead (TEL), a compound first discovered in the 1850s and known to be highly poisonous.
6-7-17 There’s as much water in Earth’s mantle as in all the oceans
There’s as much water in Earth’s mantle as in all the oceans
The zone of mantle rock that sits 400 to 600 kilometres below our feet seems to be saturated with water. The deep Earth holds about the same amount of water as our oceans. That’s the conclusion from experiments on rocks typical of those in the mantle transition zone, a global buffer layer 410 to 660 kilometres beneath us that separates the upper from the lower mantle. “If our estimation is correct, it means there’s a large amount of water in the deep Earth,” says Fei Hongzhan at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. “The total amount of water in the deep Earth is nearly the same as the mass of all the world’s ocean water.” The results add to mounting evidence that there is much more water than expected beneath us, mostly locked up within the crystals of minerals as ions rather than liquid water. At least one team has previously discovered water-rich rock fragments in volcanic debris originating from the mantle. Another group has conducted experiments suggesting that the water at these depths was formed here on Earth rather than being delivered to the primordial planet by comets and asteroids. “The vast amount of water locked inside rocks of this deep region of the mantle will certainly force us to think harder about how it ever got there, or perhaps how it could have always been there since solidification of the mantle,” says Steven Jacobsen of Northwestern University in Illinois, who wasn’t connected with the new research. “It’s a key question about the evolution of the Earth, which extends to extrasolar planets as well.”
6-7-17 Paris pollution victim sues France for bad air
Paris pollution victim sues France for bad air
A Parisian woman is taking the French state to court for failing to protect her health from the effects of air pollution. Clotilde Nonnez, a 56-year-old yoga teacher, says she has lived in the capital for 30 years and seen her health deteriorate. However, it became worse than ever when pollution in Paris hit record levels last December. Her lawyer says air pollution is causing 48,000 French deaths per year. "We are taking the state to task because we think the medical problems that pollution victims suffer are as a result of the authorities' lack of action in tackling air pollution," François Lafforgue told Le Monde newspaper. More cases would be brought in the coming weeks, in Lyon, Lille and elsewhere, he added. Paris has struggled for years to combat high levels of smog and the authorities have introduced fines for any vehicle not carrying a "Crit'Air" emissions category sticker - part of a scheme to promote lower-emitting vehicles. (Webmaster's comment: We should do the same in the United States.)
6-7-17 Antarctic base waits on 'Halloween' ice crack
Antarctic base waits on 'Halloween' ice crack
Halley serves as a support link to exploration in the Antarctic interior. It is also renowned for its atmospheric research. Restricted operations at the British Antarctic Survey's Halley station may have to continue for some time to come. The base, which ordinarily stays open year-round, is currently closed because of uncertainty over a developing crack in the ice shelf on which it sits. Scientists are using automated ground instruments and satellites to monitor the fissure from afar, and plan to reoccupy Halley from November. Whether that is just for the length of the Summer season, though, is unclear. "That decision will have to be based on our observations; and these processes, because they are ice-related, are often painstakingly slow," BAS glaciologist Jan De Rydt told BBC News. The UK has had a permanent presence on the Brunt Ice Shelf since 1956, and scientists would be loath to see their operations routinely reduced to just a few months a year.
6-6-17 Energy security is possible without nuclear power or fracked gas
Energy security is possible without nuclear power or fracked gas
There is a mantra that nuclear and natural gas power stations are essential to keep the lights on in the UK. It's a myth, says Keith Barnham. Here’s a fact you won’t have heard from the main parties during the UK’s election campaign: the nation doesn’t need a new generation of expensive nuclear reactors or a dash for shale gas to keep the lights on. An all-renewable electricity supply can provide energy security. Germany’s Kombikraftwerk project showed the possibilities as long ago as 2006. This was a simulation, in which the country’s electrical power demand throughout the year was fed into a computer in real time, scaled down and compared with the power supplied by a group of real wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) generators. The simulation then matched electrical power supply to demand 24/7 for the full 52 weeks of that year by turning to biogas generators and the power stored by, or recovered from, a hydro-storage system when necessary. Biogas is made by anaerobic digestion of farm or food waste to biomethane. This provides extremely low-carbon electricity that is far better than fracked gas, because it avoids greenhouse gas emissions from waste rotting on farms or in landfill. A hydro-storage system pumps water up to a reservoir and releases it to generate electricity on demand. (Webmaster's comment: The same is true in the United States. We don't want coal, oil, gas or nuclear power stations. They are only there to provide corporate profits.)
6-6-17 US diplomat in China quits 'over Trump climate change policy'
US diplomat in China quits 'over Trump climate change policy'
A top diplomat at the US embassy in Beijing has stepped down, apparently because he disagreed with President Donald Trump's climate change policy. The state department said Deputy Chief of Mission David Rank had resigned. US media outlets say he stepped down over Mr Trump's controversial announcement last week that the US was withdrawing from the Paris agreement. The US embassy in Beijing told the BBC it was Mr Rank's personal decision and his years of service were appreciated. Before becoming president, Mr Trump had said climate change was a hoax created by China to undermine US manufacturing. He has said withdrawing the US from the 2015 Paris agreement - under which 188 countries committed to limiting rises in global temperatures - would protect the US economy.
6-6-17 The terrible risk management of climate change 'moderates'
The terrible risk management of climate change 'moderates'
n conservative intellectuals think straight about climate change? Back in 2014, I argued that their fixation with the so-called global warming "pause" demonstrated most of them could not. After 2014, 2015, and 2016 all came in as the hottest years ever recorded, each one breaking the previous record (and the last by a huge margin), I checked back in to see whether such people — like The New York Times' Ross Douthat — had recanted and admitted their previous error. As of a few weeks ago, he had not. Finally, Douthat has returned to the subject and admitted fault on the since-vanished pause. But he has made no change to his underlying view on climate change, still subscribing to what he calls "lukewarmism," a belief that climate change is real, humans are causing it, but it won't be as bad as the greens say. He's still wrong — and he unintentionally offers a good demonstration of why this sort of fake moderation on climate is untenable. Like his colleague Bret Stephens, most of Douthat's column makes meta-discourse points, though at least in this instance he both admits to errors on his own part and the fact that the Republican Party is saturated with full-blown denial. But he outsources the meat of his lukewarmer case to two articles by Oren Cass.
6-5-17 Accelerating Antarctic crack will hasten calving of huge iceberg
Accelerating Antarctic crack will hasten calving of huge iceberg
Kink turns 200-kilometre fissure towards the sea and will seal fate of a future iceberg that is one quarter the area of Wales, possibly within weeks. An enormous chunk of the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula now looks doomed to calve into the Weddell Sea, possibly within weeks. Its fate is being sealed by a sudden change of direction in a 200-kilometre ice crack. Until last week, it had been running parallel to the Weddell Sea, but it has now turned seaward, satellite images have revealed. The rift grew 17 kilometres between 25 and 31 May, having been stationary since January, and is now just 13 kilometres from the sea. “Now that so little ice remains joining the iceberg to the ice shelf, we expect propagation to be quicker, but we really cannot know for sure how long it will take,” says Adrian Luckman of Swansea University, UK, and head of Project MIDAS, which monitors the ice shelf. “It could be any time, maybe within weeks, or possibly months.” “Assuming the propagation speed doesn’t diminish, the shorter distance that the crack needs to grow will presumably bring forward the detachment date,” says Richard Hindmarsh of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge.
6-4-17 Trump 'does believe in climate change', says US ambassador to UN
Trump 'does believe in climate change', says US ambassador to UN
US President Donald Trump "believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation," says the US ambassador to the UN. He knows "the US has to be responsible for it and that's what we're going to do," said Nikki Haley. The president provoked widespread condemnation when he announced on Thursday the US would withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement. The US becomes one of only three countries outside its framework. When he made the announcement, Mr Trump said the deal would hurt the US economy. He made no mention of climate change science. During his election campaign, Mr Trump had said that climate change was a hoax and, since his announcement on Thursday, has avoided questions on the subject, as has White House press secretary Sean Spicer. (Webmaster's comment: Trump believes in anything he thinks furthers his support with his ignorant white supremacist base. He doesn not care about global warming except as an issue to manipulate to increase his autocratic political power.)
6-3-17 Trump climate deal: US can fulfil pledges, says Michael Bloomberg
Trump climate deal: US can fulfil pledges, says Michael Bloomberg
The US can still meet its commitments to fight climate change, despite President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Paris accord, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said. He argued this could be done "through partnerships among cities, states and businesses", saying Americans would not let Washington stand in their way. Mr Bloomberg is the UN special envoy for cities and climate change. Mr Trump said the 2015 Paris agreement would cost American jobs. His decision, announced on Thursday, triggered widespread international condemnation. China, the EU and India, which along with the US make up the four biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, restated their commitment to the accord. It committed the US and 194 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C. The World Meteorological Organisation said that, in the worst scenario, the US pullout could add 0.3C to global temperatures by the end of the century.
6-3-17 Trump climate deal: Modi vows to go beyond Paris accord
Trump climate deal: Modi vows to go beyond Paris accord
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed his country will go "above and beyond" the 2015 Paris accord on combating climate change. Speaking at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Modi described the agreement as part of "our duty to protect Mother Earth". Several global leaders have criticised President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Paris accord. Mr Trump said the deal would impoverish the US and cost American jobs. The Paris agreement commits the US and 194 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C. China and the European Union have restated their commitment to the agreement, while Mr Macron called Mr Trump's decision a "mistake both for the US and for our planet".
6-3-17 Climate change: Why isn't Nicaragua in the Paris agreement?
Climate change: Why isn't Nicaragua in the Paris agreement?
Ever since US President Donald Trump declared that he would withdraw the US from the landmark Paris climate change agreement, much has been made of the fact only two other countries have not signed up. They are Syria, and the Central American nation of Nicaragua - but the US is very different from either. Syria has been embroiled in a civil war for six years, leaving 300,000 dead, so it is perhaps understandable that it did not participate in talks. Nicaragua's reason for refusing the deal, though, is not because it wanted to burn more fossil fuels, but because the agreement did not go far enough. The country already gets more than half of its energy from renewable resources, and plans to bump that up to 90% by 2020. A 2013 World Bank report labelled it "a renewable energy paradise", with extensive opportunity for geothermic, wind, solar and wave energy. When the Paris deal was being negotiated, Nicaragua said there was a total mismatch between what the document said was needed to protect the climate, and what signatories proposed to do about it. (Webmaster's comment: And I totally agree. CO2 levels will continue to increase and even faster!)
6-2-17 How the world can contain Trump's climate lunacy
How the world can contain Trump's climate lunacy
Imagine if on Dec. 8, 1941, President Roosevelt had insisted in a speech before Congress that the Japanese navy had not attacked Pearl Harbor, and in fact anyone reporting such was part of a TORPEDO BOMBER HOAX. That would have harmed the national interest roughly on a scale with what President Trump did Thursday, with his announcement that he would be withdrawing America from the Paris climate accord. His justifications for doing so were, unsurprisingly, incoherent claptrap. He said the agreement was both "draconian" and "non-binding," complained at length about a moderate fund to help developing countries transition to green energy, yet swore — ludicrously — that he "cares deeply about the environment" and would be open to a different agreement. It was obviously just a bunch of reverse-engineered fluff to justify a decision driven by ideology. As I have previously written, under Trump the United States has ceded whatever lingering threads of global leadership it had not already shredded by pointless wars of aggression and financial doomsday devices; we are now something of a pariah state. On climate change, it now falls to Europe, China, and India to corral this blundering, addled elephant of a nation, until our janky political machinery can eject Trump and the Republican Party from power. Here's how they can do it. (Webmaster's comment: Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States!)
6-2-17 Scientists dispute the 'tiny, tiny' impact of Paris deal
Scientists dispute the 'tiny, tiny' impact of Paris deal
Climate scientists have taken issue with some of the research used by President Trump to bolster his case for withdrawal from the Paris agreement. The President argued that even if the accord was fully implemented it would only have a "tiny, tiny" impact. But researchers have told BBC News that the President was "cherry picking in the extreme" in his use of the facts. They say that the Paris deal could make the difference between tolerable and dangerous levels of warming. While much of his statement on withdrawal was concerned with the negative economic impact of being part of the Paris agreement, the President also mentioned the negligible impact that the deal would have on temperatures. "It is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree … Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100," he said during his lengthy explanation. "Tiny, tiny amount." Climate researchers have immediately taken issue with the President's use of the data.
6-2-17 Does Trump still think climate change is a hoax?
Does Trump still think climate change is a hoax?
For a speech about whether the US should remain a party to the Paris climate accord, Donald Trump's Rose Garden address on Thursday didn't have a whole lot of discussion about, you know, the climate. There was plenty of talk about jobs and the US economy. He offered more than a few expressions of concern over whether other nations were being given an unfair advantage over the US. And then there was that lengthy opening plug for his presidential accomplishments that had nothing to do with the environment whatsoever. At one point the president made a somewhat oblique reference to current climate science, asserting that even if all nations hit their self-set, non-mandatory greenhouse gas emissions targets under the Paris agreement, it would only result in a 0.2% reduction in average global temperatures by the year 2100. (The researchers who conducted the study said the number he cited was outdated and misrepresented.) Mr Trump's relative silence on the matter has left reporters wondering whether the president still stands by earlier comments - and tweets - expressing serious scepticism about the whether climate change is real. Does he still believe it's a Chinese plot to make the US less competitive, as he tweeted in November 2012? Or that it is a money-making "hoax", as he said during a December 2015 campaign rally?"
6-2-17 Trump climate deal pullout: The global reaction
Trump climate deal pullout: The global reaction
President Donald Trump's announcement that the US is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement has drawn strong reaction from supporters and opponents inside America and around the world. French President Emmanuel Macron: "I tell you firmly tonight: We will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. There is no way. Don't be mistaken on climate; there is no plan B because there is no planet B."
- Former President Barack Obama, who negotiated the Paris deal for the US
- French President Emmanuel Macron
- Elon Musk, entrepreneur and Tesla Inc CEO who had served on a White House advisory council
- US Senator Bernie Sanders, former Democratic presidential candidate
- Democratic Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio
- Democratic former US Secretary of State John Kerry
- Republican US House Speaker Paul Ryan
- US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer
- Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
- Peabody Energy, largest coal mining firm in the US
- Paul Bailey, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE)
- UK Prime Minister Theresa May - a Downing Street statement
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (via spokesman Stephane Dujarric)
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- European Commission climate action commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete
- Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris
- President Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, which is organising the next UN annual climate meeting, COP23
- Hilda Heine, President of the under-threat Marshall Islands
6-2-17 American companies, local leaders pledge to uphold Paris Agreement
American companies, local leaders pledge to uphold Paris Agreement
A group of American mayors, governors, university professors, and businesses will submit a plan to the United Nations to uphold the promises the U.S. made in the Paris Agreement, despite President Trump announcing Thursday he will withdraw the U.S. from the climate pact. The group is crafting a proposal to ensure the U.S. meets its goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025, which it pledged to do when former President Barack Obama accepted the Paris Agreement in 2015. The coalition hopes its plan can be recognized alongside the other 195 nations' contributions to the Paris accord. The U.S. will join only Nicaragua and Syria as countries who are not committed to the pact. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spearheading the effort and has offered $15 million to the U.N. to match the funding it stands to lose from the U.S.'s withdrawal from the pact. In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, Bloomberg insisted that "non-national actors" — which he argued make "the bulk of the decisions which drive U.S. climate action in the aggregate" — remain "committed to the Paris accord."
6-2-17 Paris climate deal: Dismay as Trump signals exit from accord
Paris climate deal: Dismay as Trump signals exit from accord
There has been widespread international condemnation of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the move "extremely regrettable" and said nothing would stop those who supported the accord. But Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would "not judge" Mr Trump. Mr Trump said he was prepared to discuss a new deal but key signatories to the accord quickly ruled that out. "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," President Trump said. The Paris agreement commits the US and 195 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C. The UN World Meteorological Organisation said on Friday that, in the worst scenario, the US pullout could add 0.3C to global temperatures by the end of the century. (Webmaster's comment: It will be more like 3.0C.)
6-2-17 How the world can contain Trump's climate lunacy
How the world can contain Trump's climate lunacy
Imagine if on Dec. 8, 1941, President Roosevelt had insisted in a speech before Congress that the Japanese navy had not attacked Pearl Harbor, and in fact anyone reporting such was part of a TORPEDO BOMBER HOAX. That would have harmed the national interest roughly on a scale with what President Trump did Thursday, with his announcement that he would be withdrawing America from the Paris climate accord. His justifications for doing so were, unsurprisingly, incoherent claptrap. He said the agreement was both "draconian" and "non-binding," complained at length about a moderate fund to help developing countries transition to green energy, yet swore — ludicrously — that he "cares deeply about the environment" and would be open to a different agreement. It was obviously just a bunch of reverse-engineered fluff to justify a decision driven by ideology. As I have previously written, under Trump the United States has ceded whatever lingering threads of global leadership it had not already shredded by pointless wars of aggression and financial doomsday devices; we are now something of a pariah state. On climate change, it now falls to Europe, China, and India to corral this blundering, addled elephant of a nation, until our janky political machinery can eject Trump and the Republican Party from power. Here's how they can do it.
6-2-17 Trump ditching Paris climate deal isn’t the end of the world
Trump ditching Paris climate deal isn’t the end of the world
The US president has decided to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, but the rest of us, including US states and cities, can come together to work around him and save the planet. Yesterday US president Donald Trump declared “we’re getting out” of the Paris climate agreement, swiftly followed by a pledge to begin negotiations to re-enter it on “better” terms. The decision will unavoidably damage businesses and research in the US, as well as the health of its population and its international reputation. But how much damage will it inflict on global efforts to keep warming below 2°C? In short, has Trump doomed us all? Current political pledges, including US targets set by the last president, Barack Obama, add up to a global temperature rise of 3.6°C. To bring that down to 2°C, global emissions must peak as soon as possible, ideally within the next three years, and cease entirely by 2070. That’s a tall order, but the energy sector and industry more generally have undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. Best of all, much of it is happening on the international stage, independent of US federal decisions. First, the dirtiest of fossil fuels – coal – is in decline, most notably in the US and China. As Trump is at pains to point out, the US coal industry is dying; most agree his best efforts are unlikely to reverse that. Coal-fired power stations around the world are being retired at unprecedented rates and in the last few years, the amount of coal mined globally has fallen. At the same time, the cost of renewable energy has been slashed, largely thanks to Chinese investment and development. As a result, emissions from industry and energy have held steady for three years in a row even as the global economy has continued to grow. To many, this signals the early stages of the long-awaited transfer to a low-carbon economy. Suddenly, a global peaking of emissions by 2020 looks possible. (Webmaster's comment: The Chinese have taken the lead. American is rapidly become a second-rate nation due to its citizen's ignorance.)
6-2-17 Paris deal decision
Paris deal decision
President Trump was poised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate change accord this week, according to reports, following his refusal to express support for the landmark deal during last week’s G-7 summit in Italy. Trump met this week with EPA head Scott Pruitt, who has said that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change, to reportedly iron out the withdrawal. The 195-nation pact was negotiated under President Obama in 2015 and requires signatories to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration proposed to cut U.S. emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Under the pact, a withdrawal would take three years; the Trump administration could speed up the process by withdrawing from the underlying U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Only two other countries, Syria and Nicaragua, have refused to support the accord.
6-2-17 More coastal flooding coming
More coastal flooding coming
The effects of rising sea levels on coastal flooding could be worse than previously thought, reports the Los Angeles Times. A new study has found that if oceans rise by 4 to 8 inches—which is expected to happen by 2050, under current estimates—the frequency of severe coastal flooding around the world will likely double. Whereas previous global-scale projections accounted only for storm surges and tidal fluctuations, this new report also factored in the impact of waves. Researchers say Pacific islands and vulnerable tropical cities will be the first affected, because sea-level rises are proportionally more significant in areas where tidal ranges are smaller. But as sea levels rise, they warn, higher-latitude cities like New York, Los Angeles, and London will also see more severe floods. “It is pretty much inevitable that we are going to see increased frequency of extreme water levels,” says lead researcher Sean Vitousek of the University of Illinois at Chicago. “There is no way around this.”
6-2-17 Can greenhouse gases become an innovative new raw material?
Can greenhouse gases become an innovative new raw material?
Harmful pollutants could be harnessed to help us make everything from shoes to couch cushions. For years, manufacturers have relied on raw materials like petroleum and crops to make industrial chemicals. In turn, those industrial chemicals go on to be used in all kinds of consumer products, from couch cushions to running shoes. But petroleum depletes a nonrenewable resource, and plants require lots of energy and land. Neither method is particularly efficient or cheap. But what if harmful greenhouse gases could be harnessed as the raw material instead, allowing us to use existing resources to make chemical manufacturing greener, cheaper, and more efficient? It's an ambitious vision — and just what Derek Greenfield, cofounder and CEO of a San Francisco-based startup called iMicrobe, has in mind. iMicrobe (short for Industrial Microbes) wants to transform natural gases into chemicals to be used in manufacturing. To do so, it needs to engineer microscopic interactions between bacteria and gas. The company uses chemical reactions between methane — which is found in most natural gas — and micro-organisms like yeast to produce results that are identical to the ones achieved with bio-based raw materials. The chemicals that result from these methane-microbe interactions can then become the building blocks of still more chemicals — substances that manufacturers use to create the things we buy. "Cells are already amazing chemists," says Greenfield. "We're trying to come up with more efficient types of chemistry that don't generate pollution."
6-1-17 Paris climate deal: Macron pledges to 'make planet great again'
Paris climate deal: Macron pledges to 'make planet great again'
Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement has been criticised by French President Emmanuel Macron. (Webmaster's comment: The world needs a common enemy to unite it. We now have it, Donald Trump!)
6-1-17 Huge ice age methane blowout is ill omen for glacier retreat
Huge ice age methane blowout is ill omen for glacier retreat
Glacier retreat at the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago released huge bubbles of trapped methane, a potent global warming gas. As the most recent ice age came to a close 12,000 years ago, retreating glaciers in the Barents Sea north of Norway triggered unprecedented blowouts of methane gas from massive dome-like features on the seabed. Methane leaking from the permafrost today tends to be released very gradually or absorbed into vegetation or seawater. But evidence of the prehistoric blowouts, from dome structures on the seabed called pingos, suggests much larger and more rapid releases are possible. With glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland retreating fast because of global warming, the big worry is that there could be pingos hiding underneath waiting to “go pop” in the same way, says Karin Andreassen at the Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate at the Arctic University of Norway. Andreassen and her colleagues pieced together the story using detailed seismic and geologic data of the Barents seabed captured through high-resolution echo sounding from ships. They also looked at the composition of methane-containing gases still spewing up from the remains of 100 pingos.
6-1-17 U.S. will withdraw from climate pact, Trump announces
U.S. will withdraw from climate pact, Trump announces
President Donald Trump announced June 1 that the United States will leave the Paris climate accord, calling it “simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States.” President Donald Trump announced on June 1 that the United States will pull out of the Paris climate accord. In signing the 2015 Paris agreement, the United States, along with 194 other countries, pledged to curb greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. But Trump — who has called climate change a “hoax” despite scientific evidence to the contrary — promised during his campaign that he would withdraw from the Paris accord. “The agreement is a massive redistribution of the United States’ wealth to other countries,” Trump said. “As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens [it] imposes on our country.” This includes making further payments to the Green Climate Fund, set up to help developing countries battle and cope with climate change. The United States has already paid $1 billion of the $3 billion it pledged to the fund.
6-1-17 Is Trump abandoning US global leadership?
Is Trump abandoning US global leadership?
What is Donald Trump's vision of American leadership? His inaugural speech gave us a headline - "from this day forward, it's going to be only America first" - but four months on, how much more do we know? Amid a flood of stories about the president's lack of commitment to cherished post-war alliances, his attitude to trade and his unwillingness to collaborate on issues like climate change, Mr Trump's critics draw pessimistic conclusions. "The cumulative effect of Trump policies, capped by his foolish, tragic Paris decision = abdication of America's global leadership. Shame!" tweeted Susan Rice, Barack Obama's former national security adviser. "Donald Trump's every instinct runs counter to the ideas that have underpinned the post-war international system," writes G John Ikenberry, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton. "Across ancient and modern eras, orders built by great powers have come and gone," he writes in Foreign Affairs. "But they have usually ended in murder not suicide."
6-1-17 Paris negotiator John Kerry: 'Grotesque abdication of leadership'
Paris negotiator John Kerry: 'Grotesque abdication of leadership'
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry tells the BBC's Katty Kay withdrawal from the Paris climate accord is a "gross abdication" of leadership.
6-1-17 Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf is within days of completely cracking
Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf is within days of completely cracking
The crack in the Larsen C ice shelf has grown 17 kilometers in recent days. The rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf continues to rip. Researchers from Project MIDAS, which tracks the effects of a warming climate on the ice shelf, report that the crack grew 17 kilometers between May 25 and May 31. The crack has now turned toward the water and is within 13 kilometers of the edge of the shelf. Within days, the crack could reach the edge. When that happens, one of the largest icebergs ever recorded will fall into the ocean. “There appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely,” the researchers write. After calving such a massive section, the shelf won’t be stable. It may experience the same fate as Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002, after a crack there broke off a huge chunk of ice.
6-1-17 Paris climate deal: EU and China rebuff Trump
Paris climate deal: EU and China rebuff Trump
Chinese and EU leaders are to agree a joint statement on the Paris climate agreement saying it is "an imperative more important than ever". A draft of the document, seen by the BBC, stresses the "highest political commitment" to implement the deal. It will be widely seen as a rebuff to the US, as President Trump prepares to announce on Thursday if the US is withdrawing from the accord. The joint statement will be published on Friday after a summit in Brussels. For more than a year, Chinese and EU officials have been working behind the scenes to agree a joint statement on climate change and clean energy. The document highlights the dangers posed by rising temperatures, "as a national security issue and multiplying factor of social and political fragility," while pointing out that the transition to clean energy creates jobs and economic growth. "The EU and China consider the Paris agreement as an historic achievement further accelerating the irreversible global low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development," the draft document says. "The Paris Agreement is proof that with shared political will and mutual trust, multilateralism can succeed in building fair and effective solutions to the most critical global problems of our time. The EU and China underline their highest political commitment to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement in all its aspects."
6-1-17 Trump decision 'will encourage activists'
Trump decision 'will encourage activists'
California Governor Jerry Brown tells the BBC that President Trump has energised climate activists and his state will work with China on addressing climate change if the US pulls out of Paris accord. (Webmaster's comment: Like I've said, China will now take the lead in world affairs on June 1st, 2017. America now becomes a second-rate nation unlikey to ever recover given its religious and white supremacist mania!)
6-1-17 Trump urged to retain Paris climate deal by UN chief
Trump urged to retain Paris climate deal by UN chief
China's premier earlier said his country would honour its commitments on climate change. The US has been urged to remain committed to the 2015 Paris climate agreement ahead of an announcement by President Donald Trump on the issue. Reports in the US suggest Mr Trump will withdraw the US from the deal. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that as the world's largest economy, US support was crucial. Meanwhile, Chinese and EU leaders are set to agree a joint statement backing the Paris agreement, saying it is "an imperative more important than ever". The statement - a draft of which has been seen by the BBC - says rising temperatures affect national security and increase "social and political fragility", while the transition to clean energy creates jobs and economic growth. Mr Guterres told the BBC: "It is obviously a very important decision as the United States is the biggest economy in the world. "But independently of the decision of the American government, it's important that all other governments stay the course. "The Paris agreement is essential for our collective future and it's also important that American society - like all other societies, the business community - mobilise themselves in order to preserve the Paris agreement as a central piece to guarantee the future of our children and grandchildren." (Webmaster's comment: China will take the lead in world affairs thanks to Trump!)
6-1-17 Stephen Bannon and Scott Pruitt have been scheming for months to get Trump to ditch the Paris accord
Stephen Bannon and Scott Pruitt have been scheming for months to get Trump to ditch the Paris accord
If President Trump announces this afternoon that he's pulling out of the Paris climate accord, it will be a win for chief strategist Stephen Bannon and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Politico reported Thursday that both men have long been angling for Trump to bail on the deal: Donald Trump's chief strategist and EPA administrator maneuvered for months to get the president to exit the Paris climate accord, shrewdly playing to his populist instincts and publicly pressing the narrative that the nearly 200-nation deal was effectively dead — boxing in the president on one of his highest-profile decisions to date. Steve Bannon and Scott Pruitt have sought to outsmart the administration's pro-Paris group of advisers, including Trump's daughter Ivanka, who were hoping the president could be swayed by a global swell of support for the deal from major corporations, U.S. allies, Al Gore, and even the pope. While Ivanka was setting up meetings for her dad with supporters of the agreement, Bannon and Pruitt were reportedly pushing concerns about how the deal could "hobble his pro-fossil-fuel energy agenda" and playing into Trump's concerns that the U.S. wasn't getting a good deal under the Paris Agreement. "Some of the debate was for show to help the moderates feel like they had their say," a person who'd talked to Pruitt told Politico. "Pruitt has believed all along that this was never in doubt." Trump is slated to announce his decision Thursday at 3 p.m. Three White House officials told Politico that he's settled on pulling out of the Paris accord — though they conceded it's always possible Trump could change his mind.
6-1-17 The pitiful peacocking of Trump's Paris decision
The pitiful peacocking of Trump's Paris decision
President Trump is reportedly ready to pull out of the Paris climate accord. This is extraordinarily dumb on two levels: First and most obviously, there's the overwhelming need to do something about climate change, one of the gravest dangers mankind has ever faced. But recklessness from this White House shouldn't surprise at this point. What is surprising is the second way this is dumb: Trump gains absolutely nothing by it. The international agreement, which was signed by every country on the planet save Nicaragua and Syria, is entirely voluntary. As Vox's David Roberts helpfully explains, this is precisely what set the Paris accord apart from previous international climate treaties. It imposes no binding targets. The United States gets to decide for itself how much carbon it's willing to reduce. Its only obligations are to set some target, and then update the international community on its progress every five years and explain its behavior. The whole point is to rely on voluntarism, transparency, peer pressure, and a healthy sense of shame to move countries to do something about their greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration put in place all sorts of new regulations to meet America's Paris commitment. These run from vehicle emission standards to methane leak rules to sweeping and highly controversial carbon emission cuts for power plants. Being executive actions, some of these rules will be relatively easy for the Trump administration to undo. Others far less so. Dismantling the power plant regulation, for instance, will require years of legal wrangling and court battles that will almost certainly take longer than Trump's four-year term.
6-1-17 Stop freaking out about the Paris Agreement
Stop freaking out about the Paris Agreement
Why Trump pulling the U.S. from the Paris accord isn't actually a big deal. President Trump has signaled pretty heavily that he wants to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, and is widely expected to make it official Thursday afternoon. The leaders of all other G7 nations have urged Trump to remain in the accord, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions and has been signed by every nation on Earth except Nicaragua and Syria. Secretary of State (and former oilman) Rex Tillerson also wants the U.S. to stay committed to the agreement. Large corporations have opposed the move, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk even threatened to resign from Trump's CEO advisory council if Trump goes through with it. And of course, no debate about the environment would be complete without Hollywood's expert opinions. Mark Ruffalo tweeted that Trump would "have the death of whole nations on his hands" (whole nations! Not just parts of nations, whole nations!); Don Cheadle implored the president to change his mind because of the children (won't someone think of the children?!). Meanwhile Trump has reminded everyone that withdrawing from the Paris Agreement was a campaign promise of his, and has said that it hurts jobs in the Rust Belt, which is a core issue for his core constituency. Ever since it was signed in 2015, the Paris Agreement has been a totem to which everyone genuflects. The problem, though, is that beyond allowing people an opportunity to do some serious virtue signaling, the Paris Agreement actually doesn't do much of anything.
6-1-17 Geoengineering fears make scrutiny of ocean seeding test vital
Geoengineering fears make scrutiny of ocean seeding test vital
Talk of dumping iron into the ocean off Chile to boost plankton is a return of a controversial idea that warrants questions, says Olive Heffernan. If a Canadian team gets its way, 10 tonnes of iron dust will be dumped into waters off the coast of Chile. The Oceaneos Marine Research Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Vancouver, aims to use “ocean seeding” to replenish the sea with nutrients essential for the growth of phytoplankton. The idea is to boost the food chain and revive declining fish stocks. This has obvious appeal. Globally, fisheries are in dire straits, and if exploitation continues at the same rate, we will run out of seafood by 2048. Chile is a case in point – overfishing has decimated nearly all its major commercial fisheries. But the proposal has sparked concern among some scientists sceptical of the technique’s benefits and worried about other possible implications. The backlash comes – in part – because of the legacy of a similar scheme in 2012 off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. It caused an outcry and there was no evidence of benefits to the sockeye salmon population it was hoping to revive, or to the Haida community that helped fund the project. Some critics worry that trials of the sort proposed in Chile could set the scene for something far more elaborate and potentially profitable – using ocean seeding to slow climate change, with the know-how largely in private hands. The idea that ocean seeding could cool the climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere isn’t new. It was first proposed in 1998 by a US biochemist named John Martin who said: “Give me half a tanker of iron, and I’ll give you an ice age.”