84 Global Warming News Articles
for October of 2018
Click on the links below to get the full story from its source
Some issues will go away with the passage of time, others will be so slow developing that the decision-makers will depart before the results of their neglect become manifest.
Which brings us to the environment.
Installation with 160 CO2 Removal Machines
We'll need 625,000 of these structures to remove the 37 Billion Tons of CO2 that we are currently dumping every year into the atmosphere.
That will be 2,500 rows of them 25 miles long!
Trump is a clear and present danger
to the United States and to the Planet!
10-31-18 Cutting aerosol pollution may lessen extreme weather even with warming
Here’s yet another good reason to reduce aerosol pollution from fossil fuels: it could help limit the alarming increase in extreme weather around the world, such as severe flooding. But it’s far from a “get out of jail free” card: the reductions could trigger worse heatwaves and hurricanes in some places. The world’s weather is growing increasingly extreme due to climate change. Warming-driven changes in the high-speed winds known as the jet stream appear to be contributing to recent summer extremes, from the record-breaking wildfires in Greenland last year to the unprecedented flooding in Japan this June and July, in which 225 people died. “What these events had in common was a very unusual jet stream pattern,” says Michael Mann of Penn State University. His team has previously shown that as the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes decreases, due to the rapid warming in the Arctic, the polar jet stream is becoming more likely to develop big latitudinal waves, or meanders, as it circles the globe. What’s more, these meanders can get stuck in place due to what the team call “quasi-resonant amplification” events, or QRAs. Stuck weather patterns can lead to serious weather extremes. “If the same weather persists for weeks on end in one region, then sunny days can turn into a serious heat wave and drought, and lasting rains can lead to flooding,” said team member Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
10-31-18 There’s little doubt we’re to blame for hurricanes getting worse
Climate scientists are still scrapping over the details, but the increased ferocity, unpredictability and spread of tropical storms is in line with predictions. HURRICANE Michael was a big one. Intensifying faster than expected, its 250-kilometres-per-hour winds were just short of Category 5 strength, making it the fourth most powerful hurricane to hit the US mainland since records began. The building codes in the Florida panhandle, where Michael made landfall on 10 October, are designed to protect only against winds of 180 kilometres an hour. Most houses were built long before even these codes were introduced. In seaside towns such as Mexico Beach, below, the winds and storm surge left few buildings standing. Michael is just the latest in a series of extraordinary tropical storms around the world (see “Trails of destruction”). “It’s been pretty shocking,” says hurricane expert Jeff Masters of online information service Weather Underground. These storms are not just stronger, as climate scientists have long predicted for a warming world. They are also forming and moving over regions far beyond their normal range, as well as producing more rainfall and higher surges, and strengthening more rapidly, giving us less warning of their arrival. “There are many reasons to be concerned,” says atmospheric scientist Adam Sobel at Columbia University, New York. “We are not as prepared as we should be.” Tropical storms are fuelled by the evaporation of warm water from the ocean surface. Hurricane season peaks in the northern hemisphere from August through to October, when the oceans are at their warmest.
10-30-18 New devices could help turn atmospheric CO2 into useful supplies
These electrochemical cells might also one day make deep-space missions easier. New chemical-recycling devices might help combat climate change by making good use of heat-trapping gas produced by burning fossil fuels. These electrochemical cells convert carbon monoxide into useful compounds much more efficiently than their predecessors, researchers report online October 25 in Joule. If combined with existing technology that harvests carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, the devices could help transform CO2 captured from pollution sources, like power plant flue gas stacks. That could reduce the warming effect of carbon emissions and produce chemical supplies for manufacturing and space travel. In the new device, an anode and a cathode are separated by a substance called electrolyte. Carbon monoxide that enters a copper catalyst layer in the cathode combines with electrons as well as charged particles called ions driven from the anode through the electrolyte by an electric voltage. That combination produces new carbon-based compounds, like ethylene gas and liquid acetate. Until now, these types of cells have converted only a small fraction of incoming CO into desired chemicals. In the new cells, the cathode is backed by a titanium block engraved with tiny channels that feed carbon monoxide directly into the copper catalyst layer of the cathode. Supplying CO to the catalyst through these passageways, rather than simply exposing the cathode to a CO stream where gas would either diffuse into the catalyst layer or bounce off the cathode unreacted, increases the CO’s likelihood of reacting inside the cathode to produce new chemicals.
10-30-18 A freak 1870s climate event killed millions – and could happen again
It’s not easy to forget the deaths of 50 million people, but we have managed it. A global drought in the 1870s caused mass starvation in South America, Africa and Asia, but the event doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Now it seems the drought was triggered by a never-before-seen combination of climate events. While rare, the drought was entirely natural so it could easily happen again. Between 1875 and 1878, severe droughts ravaged India, China and parts of Africa and South America. The result was a famine that struck three continents and lasted three years. “It is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in human history,” says Deepti Singh at Washington State University. In India the local manifestation of the event is known as the Great Famine. At the time India was controlled by the British Empire, and British policies exacerbated the drought’s effects. The British continued exporting grain for profit, leaving little for the local people to eat. The famine was described by Mike Davis at the University of California, Riverside in his 2001 book Late Victorian Holocausts. He estimated that 50 million people died. Like all historical death tolls, this figure is uncertain. Our World in Data puts it at 19 million, but excludes several countries. Either way, tens of millions died, putting the famine in the same ballpark as the 1918 influenza epidemic, the world wars, and perhaps even the Black Death of the 1300s. Now Singh and her colleagues, including Davis, have examined the drought in detail. “We knew there were droughts in these places, but we didn’t know how severe they were,” she says.
10-30-18 WWF report: Mass wildlife loss caused by human consumption
"Exploding human consumption" has caused a massive drop in global wildlife populations in recent decades, the WWF conservation group says. In a report, the charity says losses in vertebrate species - mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles - averaged 60% between 1970 and 2014. "Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions," the WWF's Living Planet Report adds. It urges policy makers to set new targets for sustainable development. The Living Planet Report, published every two years, aims to assess the state of the world's wildlife. The 2018 edition says only a quarter of the world's land area is now free from the impact of human activity and the proportion will have fallen to just a 10th by 2050. The change is being driven by ever-rising food production and increased demand for energy, land and water. Although forest loss has been slowed by reforestation in some regions in recent decades, the loss has "accelerated in tropical forests that contain some of the highest levels of biodiversity on Earth", the report notes. It says South and Central America suffered the most dramatic decline in vertebrate populations - an 89% loss in vertebrate populations compared with 1970. Marine freshwater species are particularly at risk, the report says. Plastic pollution has been detected in the deepest parts of the word's oceans, including the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific. Freshwater species - living in lakes, rivers and wetlands - have seen an 83% decline in numbers since since 1970, according to the report. The data, gathered from peer-reviewed studies, covers more than 16,700 populations belonging to 4,000 species around the world. (Webmaster's comment: This whole slaughter of wildlife by humans has got to stop!)
10-30-18 'Worst year' for Horsey seals injured by rubbish
The number of seals with "horrifying" injuries caused by fishing paraphernalia and plastic flying rings is on the rise, a charity has said. The Friends of Horsey Seals monitors the colony in Norfolk and said at least 10 animals currently had nets stuck to them or rings trapped on their necks. Volunteer David Wyse said this year had been "worse than any other". The RSPCA said it had also treated and released six grey seals from Norfolk in 2018, the highest figure for one year. Alison Charles, manager of the RSPCA's East Winch Wildlife Centre, said it had seen between two and four in previous years, and none at all before 2008. "It's horrifying," she said. "They are inquisitive, so they get caught in nets from fishing trawlers and the single nylon lines used in mackerel fishing, and Frisbees - just all the rubbish that's out there. "I've even seen a seal with a bikini around its neck. As they get larger and larger, it cuts through the skin and they get an infection. "They cannot extend their neck, so they cannot fish." Captured animals are treated with antibiotics over several months and released, but Ms Charles said a young seal had to be put to sleep when a nylon line severed its nose. In 2017, a young adult female survived after a plastic ring cut through several inches of blubber around its neck. "It had cut so deep, when I removed the ring I thought I had decapitated her," said Ms Charles. "I felt sick. It was brilliant when Blue Planet raised the issue of rubbish in our oceans - we had been saying it for years." In May, a grey seal was rescued from Horsey with "horrendous" injuries when it became entangled in discarded plastic netting.
10-29-18 Climate change is 'escalator to extinction' for mountain birds
Scientists have produced new evidence that climate change is driving tropical bird species who live near a mountain top to extinction. Researchers have long predicted many creatures will seek to escape a warmer world by moving towards higher ground. However, those living at the highest levels cannot go any higher, and have been forecast to decline. This study found that eight bird species that once lived near a Peruvian mountain peak have now disappeared. Researchers are particularly concerned about tropical mountain ranges and the impacts of climate change. "The tropical mountain areas are the hottest of biodiversity hotspots; they harbour more species than any other place on Earth," lead author Dr Benjamin Freeman from the University of British Columbia told BBC News. "It's only got a little bit warmer in the tropics and tropical plants and animals seem to be living quite a bit higher now than they used to." The species that live in these regions are also hugely vulnerable because the difference in temperatures between lower and higher elevations in tropical regions is not as great as it is in other parts of the world. This means that moving up the slopes may not be as much of a solution for species in the tropics as it is elsewhere. To test these ideas, scientists carried out a survey in 2017 of bird species that lived on a remote Peruvian mountain peak. The team covered the same ground, at the same time of year, and used the the same methods as a previous survey, carried out in 1985. They found that on average, species' ranges had shifted up the slope between the two surveys. Most of the species that had been found at the highest elevations declined significantly in both range and abundance. The researchers say that recent warming constitutes an "escalator to extinction" for some of these species with temperatures in the area increasing by almost half a degree Celsius between the two surveys. Of 16 species that were restricted to the very top of the ridge, eight had disappeared completely in the most recent survey.
10-29-18 Climate change: 'Wetlands vital to protect cities'
Cities around the world are frequently flooding during extreme weather, largely because they are fast losing the wetlands that work as a natural defence, experts warn. Wetlands are ecosystems like lakes, rivers, marshes and peatlands, as well as coastal marine areas including mangroves and coral reefs. The experts say wetlands work as a giant sponge that soaks up and stores extra rainfall and water from storm surges. Conservation of these water bodies in urban areas was the focus of an international meeting on wetlands that concluded in Dubai on Monday. The recent study by the global wetland convention found that nearly 35% of the world's wetlands were lost between 1970 and 2015. Latin America has seen the highest rate of loss - nearly 60% in that period - while Africa lost 42%, according to the report. To safeguard flood control and other benefits, the international meeting on wetlands has launched accreditation for cities that conserve wetlands. Under this scheme, 18 cities around the world have so far been recognised as conserving their wetlands. Expanding cities frequently encroach on wetlands because they are often viewed as wasteland to be used for other purposes, such as dumping sites. About half of the world's population today lives in urban areas and the figure is expected to increase to nearly 70% by 2050. "The idea of accreditation for cities is to make them realise the value of wetlands and to integrate them into urban planning," Lew Young, a wetland expert with the Wetland Convention, told the BBC. "On the top of the list of benefits of having wetlands is an increased resilience against natural disasters, including Tsunamis." Some experts also claim inland wetlands are five times more economically valuable than tropical forests. They provide - directly or indirectly - almost all of the world's supply of freshwater, and so are critical to human and planet life.
10-29-18 Brazil’s new president will make it harder to limit climate change
It is being described as a catastrophe for the planet. The far-right winner of Brazil’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, looks likely to further weaken protections for the Amazon rainforest and make the goal of limiting global warming to under 2°C even harder to achieve. “If he carries through on his rhetoric we can expect tribal genocide, torture of dissidents, and climate-altering destruction of the Amazon forest,” tweeted Christopher Dick of the University of Michigan, who studies the rainforest. “This is a nightmare scenario.” Bolsonaro has set out few specific policies on environmental issues, and his statements have sometimes been contradictory. He had previously suggested he would pull Brazil out of the Paris climate agreement, for instance; last week Bolsonaro said Brazil would stay in. However, there is no doubt that Bolsonaro wants to make it much easier for the Amazon rainforest to be cleared to make way for farms, mines and roads. In theory, this would require changing Brazil’s existing laws, which set a limit for deforestation by private landowners and also guarantee the land rights of indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro does not have the majority required to overturn these laws in Brazil’s national congress. Unfortunately, this may matter little in practice. If he slashes support for the agencies that enforce environmental laws, farmers and miners will be able to break the law with impunity. And Bolsonaro is said to detest these agencies after being fined in 2012 for fishing illegally. Forest protections have already been severely weakened in recent years, Brazilian scientists warned in July in a letter in Nature Climate Change. The Amazon rainforest is not only one of the richest and most diverse habitats on Earth, it has also been removing huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year despite the ongoing deforestation. But research suggests it is soaking up much less than it used to, making the task of limiting future warming even harder.
10-29-18 Are hydrogen trains the future of UK travel?
Trains powered by hydrogen could be a reality in the UK by the "early 2020s", according to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. They're seen as a cleaner - but pricier - alternative to diesel trains, as the exhaust emission is pure water. The BBC's Roger Harrabin reports from Germany, where hydrogen trains are already running.
10-28-18 The mental health toll of a changing climate
The world has only a dozen years to act to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and stave off the most catastrophic effects of climate change, according to the latest report from the U.N.'s top climate science panel. Without rapid and drastic action, climate change will expose hundreds of millions more people to heat waves, sea-level rise, more extreme weather events — and, according to a new study published earlier this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, worsened mental-health outcomes. Previous studies have shown that rising temperatures can disrupt sleep patterns, worsen moods, and increase the risk of suicides, which led lead author Nick Obradovich and his colleagues to wonder if extreme temperatures might also lead to mental-health problems such as stress, depression, or anxiety. To find out, the researchers looked at self-reported mental-health data for some two million U.S. residents, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System between 2002 and 2012. The team compared health data to meteorological records over the same period to find out how extreme temperatures, gradual warming, and extreme weather events tracked with residents' self-assessments of mental health. "Generally what we found was that exposure to hotter temperatures and [more] precipitation increased the reporting of mental-health problems," says Obradovich, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. Months with at least 25 days of precipitation increased the probability of mental-health problems by 2 percent, while an increase in average monthly temperatures to above 30 degrees Celsius (or 86 degrees Fahrenheit) led to a 0.5 percent increase in the probability of mental-health issues. While half a percent may sound insignificant, on a population scale, the shift would lead to some two million more people in the U.S. reporting mental-health issues, which are already widespread and costly for American society. The data also suggests that the risk may be slightly elevated for low-income populations compared to those with higher incomes, and for women compared to men. Those differences, though small, correspond with previous studies showing that low-income people and women are often disproportionately affected by climate change, according to Obradovich. "So those findings are not super surprising, but they are still concerning," he says. Over the long term, every one-degree increase in average temperatures increased the risk of mental-health issues by 2 percent, while experiencing natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina led to a 4 percent jump in risk.
10-28-18 ‘18 Miles’ is full of interesting tales about Earth’s atmosphere
A new book explains the science behind climate and weather. How thick is Earth’s atmosphere? Sorry, that’s a bit of a trick question: Our planet’s air simply gets thinner with altitude, fading away to nothingness somewhere far above the height at which the lowest satellites orbit. It’s a fact, though, that 99 percent of Earth’s air lies below an altitude of 18 miles. Naturalist Christopher Dewdney uses that distance as the title of his latest book, which takes a deep dive into the science behind weather and climate. 18 Miles is full of fun facts: A cloud a few hundred meters cubed contains only a bathtub’s worth of water, for instance. And the phrase “cloud nine” references a category that the International Cloud Atlas uses in its cloud classification system. But the book is so much more than trivia. 18 Miles also contains detailed yet readable explanations of weather-related phenomena, from the annual cycle of seasons to how Earth’s rotation influences the spin of hurricanes and the large-scale wind patterns that drive such storms across long distances. Beyond the science of weather and climate, Dewdney delves into history and culture, including recounting the evolution of weather forecasting. A few thousand years ago, the Babylonians surmised weather from observations of cloud patterns, Dewdney notes. Now, meteorologists use computer simulations to prognosticate conditions nearly a week into the future. A chapter that chronicles a handful of occasions when weather changed the course of history, including how bitter cold thwarted Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, is particularly fascinating.
10-26-18 Climate change: Low cost, low energy cooling system shows promise
Researchers in the US have scaled up a new low-cost system that could provide efficient cooling for homes while using very little electricity. The team has developed a roof-top sized array, built from a highly reflective material made from glass and polymers. In tests, the system kept water around 10C cooler than the ambient air when exposed to midday sunlight in summer. The approach could also be scaled up to cool power stations and data centres. The system is based around what's termed a cooling meta-material, which is essentially an engineered film not found in nature. Last year, researchers at CU Boulder in the US published research on the extraordinary properties of the new film, which reflects back almost all incoming light from the Sun. But it also has another cooling trick that makes it quite special. If you use the film to cover water, it allows any heat in the liquid to escape into the air. So when the heat escapes and is not replaced because the material deflects away sunlight, temperatures drop rapidly. Now the scientists have improved the system and and built and tested a 13-sq-metre array of panels, that's small enough to fit on most rooftops. "You could place these panels on the roof of a single-family home and satisfy its cooling requirements," said Dongliang Zhao, lead author of the study from CU Boulder's Department of Mechanical Engineering. The system has been tested outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. In experiments carried out in the summer of 2017, the reflective system kept a container of water some 12C cooler than the surrounding air in the warmest hours of the day. "We can now apply these materials on building rooftops, and even build large-scale water cooling systems with significant advantages over the conventional air-conditioning systems, which require high amounts of electricity to function," said Associate Professor Gang Tan, another author of the study from the University of Wyoming.
10-26-18 Deepwater Horizon disaster #2
Since 2004, between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been leaking from the site of an oil-production platform 12 miles off the Louisiana coast that sank in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. The oil spill, which officials estimate could continue throughout this century, is on pace to overtake the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever, but there are currently no efforts to cap the many leaking wells.
10-26-18 Climate change vs. beer
As if extreme floods, crippling droughts, and possibly even the end of mankind weren’t bad enough, scientists are now warning of another catastrophic effect of climate change: a global beer shortage. Researchers examined how rising temperatures would affect the production of barley, a key ingredient in brewing. They found that depending on how much carbon emissions are reduced, global yields of the crop will fall by 3 to 17 percent by 2100. Not every country will see declines. Yields in the U.S. could actually increase, but not enough to offset the global decrease. In the worst-case climate scenario, the researchers concluded, the price of a pint will double and beer consumption worldwide will decline by 16 percent. In the best case, consumption will drop by only 4 percent, and prices will rise by 15 percent. “Consuming less beer isn’t itself disastrous and may even have health benefits,” co-author Dabo Guan, from the U.K.’s University of East Anglia, tells NPR.org. But “for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer availability and price will add insult to injury.”
10-26-18 Rising seas will swamp homes, report says
England’s coastal communities haven’t faced up to the reality of rising seas through climate change, a report says. An increase of at least 1m is almost certain at some point in the future, the government’s advisors predict. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) warns this huge rise may happen over the next 80 years - within the lifetimes of today's children. A government spokesman said the public would be protected from the impacts of climate change. But the CCC says current shoreline management plans are unfunded and hopelessly optimistic. It estimates that by the 2080s, up to 1.2 million homes may be at increased risk from coastal floods. The CCC’s chief executive, Chris Stark, told BBC News: “People know sea level is going to rise – but they haven’t grasped how bad this could be for them.” His colleague Professor Julia King added: “We’ve got to wake up to the fact that we’ve got some very difficult challenges ahead. “We need local councils to have some honest discussions with people to help them prepare for the difficult choices they’ll face.” The report says many coastal communities are particularly vulnerable because populations in coastal areas are often poorer and older than the UK average. It highlights the issue of land-slips on the coast. It says 100,000 cliff-top properties could be at risk from coastal landsliding, but the public don’t have clear and accurate information about the issues and there’s no insurance or compensation for people who lose their homes.
10-26-18 Coral larvae survive being frozen and thawed for the first time
A technique called cryopreservation might help save some threatened coral reefs. For the first time, researchers have quick-frozen coral larvae and then — the tough part — safely thawed them. Swathing larvae in specks of gold and then heating them with a laser warmed the frozen coral babies in milliseconds. Thawed this way, 43 percent of 2-day-old test larvae recovered well enough to start swimming again, physiologist and cryobiologist Mary Hagedorn and her colleagues report October 24 in Scientific Reports. This success with Fungia scutaria larvae, a colorful mushroom coral species from Hawaii, opens up much-needed conservation possibilities, says Hagedorn, of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. Biologists knew how to freeze coral sperm, but ice crystal damage from the process can kill bigger, fat-rich structures such as coral eggs and larvae. Being able to bank more than sperm may help preserve coral genetic diversity for attempts to aid reefs that falter as the climate warms. Biologists have been freezing and storing human embryos since at least the 1980s, but the first success with any nonmammal is recent, Hagedorn says. In 2017, she, John Bischof of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and colleagues described how warming zebrafish embryos with gold nanorods let 10 percent of the embryos survive at least 24 hours after thawing.
10-25-18 Climate change: Five cheap ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere
As well as rapidly reducing the carbon dioxide that we humans are pumping into the atmosphere in huge amounts, recent scientific assessments of climate change have all suggested that cutting emissions alone will not be enough to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 or 2 degrees C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others have all stated that extracting CO2 from the air will be needed if we are to bend the rising temperature curve before the end of this century. These ideas are controversial with some seeing them as a distraction from the pressing business of limiting emissions of CO2. But a new assessment from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that some of these "negative emissions technologies" are ready to be deployed, on a large scale, right now. The authors point to the fact that the US Congress has recently passed the 45Q tax rule, which gives a $50 tax credit for every tonne of CO2 that's captured and stored. So their study highlights some technologies that are available at between $20 and $100 per tonne.
- Coastal blue carbon This report says that there is a lot of potential for increasing the amount of carbon that is stored in living plants and sediments found in the marshy lands near the sea shore and on the edges of river estuaries. They include mangroves, tidal areas and seagrass beds.
- Planting trees Global deforestation has been a significant factor in driving up emissions of carbon, so researchers feel that planting new trees or restoring lost areas is a simple and cheap technology that could be expanding right now.
- Forest management As well as planting more trees, the report says that we need to manage our existing forests in a better way to remove more carbon. This can also be done for less than $20 per tonne of CO2.
- Agricultural practices The report says that some simple changes in the way farmers manage their land can be a cheap and effective way of removing carbon from the air.
- Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage The idea of BECCS is to grow energy crops that soak up carbon, which are then burned to create electricity while the emitted CO2 gas is captured and buried permanently underground.
- What other ideas does the report look at? The study also considers direct air capture of CO2 and carbon mineralisation.
- How effective will these ideas be? The report says that current technologies that cost less than $100 per tonne can be scaled up safely and store large amounts of carbon but much less than is needed to avoid dangerous climate change.
- If we come up with cheap CO2 removal technology, won't people just continue using fossil fuels? The report acknowledges that there is a significant "moral hazard" here.
10-25-18 Trump is wrong – millions of Americans breathe badly polluted air
There are places in the US where air quality is so poor that it can lead to serious health problems, but you wouldn’t know that if you took President Trump’s word for it. On 22 October, Donald Trump took to Twitter to declare that the US has “the cleanest air in the world – by far”. His tweet included a map based on data gathered by the World Health Organization, showing the global distribution of PM2.5 – air pollution consisting of particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. These fine particles come from vehicle exhaust, the burning of wood or heating oil, and power plants, as well as natural sources like wildfires and volcanic eruptions. They are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and aggravate respiratory problems like asthma. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The map Trump tweeted stems from an April 2018 WHO report but included a label not present in the original: “91% of the world population (none in the U.S.) are exposed to air pollution concentrations above WHO suggested level”. That statement is simply false, as was pointed out by John Walke, an attorney who once worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is now director of the Clean Air, Climate & Clean Energy Program at lobby group the National Resources Defense Council. Contrary to the president’s claim, Walke tweeted, 45 US cities have PM2.5 pollution levels above those suggested for healthy air, according to the WHO data. These include some of the country’s most populous cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles.
10-24-18 Banning cars in major cities would rapidly improve millions of lives
Cities are starting to experiment with banning cars from their streets and the benefits to health and well-being could be enormous. IN DOWNTOWN Madrid, the reign of cars is coming to an end. Starting next month, the city centre will be shut off to all cars, barring electric vehicles, those belonging to residents and a few other exceptions. Several other capital cities are also clamping down on cars. Oslo is eliminating on-street parking and converting roads into cycleways and pedestrian paths. Paris and Brussels have started hosting annual car-free days. Others – including Mexico City, Athens and Rome – are planning to ban diesel cars by 2025. So does this herald the end of city driving? There are good reasons for banning cars in dense urban areas. Cars and their supporting infrastructure now fill up to 60 per cent of space in cities, says Mark Nieuwenhuijsen at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain, which takes a heavy toll on our physical and mental health. “We’ve forgotten that cities are meant to be for people, not cars,” he says. The latest estimates suggest that vehicle pollution – which includes nitrogen oxides, soot and carbon monoxide – is responsible for at least 184,000 premature deaths globally each year, mostly due to heart and lung disease. It has also been linked with dementia, with recent research finding that people who live near major highways are 7 per cent more likely to develop the condition. Of course, petrol and diesel cars also produce greenhouse gases – chiefly carbon dioxide – that contribute to climate change.
10-24-18 Single-use plastics ban approved by European Parliament
The European Parliament has voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans. MEPs backed a ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks. The proposal also calls for a reduction in single-use plastic for food and drink containers like plastic cups. One MEP said, if no action was taken, "by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans". The European Commission proposed a ban in May, following a surge in public support attributed to documentaries such as David Attenborough's BBC Blue Planet series. The measure still has to clear some procedural hurdles, but is expected to go through. The EU hopes it will go into effect across the bloc by 2021. The UK will also have to incorporate the rules into national law if the ban becomes a fully-fledged directive before the end of a Brexit transition period. After the Parliament vote was backed by 571-53, the MEP responsible for the bill, Frédérique Ries, said it was "a victory for our oceans, for the environment and for future generations." Several countries are already considering proposals to target disposable plastic products - including the UK. The directive targets some of the most common ocean-polluting plastics. The list of banned items such as cutlery and cotton buds was chosen because there are readily available alternatives, such as paper straws and cardboard containers. Other items, "where no alternative exists" will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.
10-24-18 The battle to curb our appetite for concrete
We extract billions of tonnes of sand and gravel each year to make concrete for the building industry, and this is having an increasing environmental impact as beaches and river beds are stripped, warn campaigners. The world's construction industry is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. Alongside this environmental damage, the building industry is also a major contributor to greenhouse gases - cement manufacturing alone accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions. In many countries, sand is often extracted illegally from beaches or river beds. But once sand is taken from a river, the water flow can become faster and more violent - and the water table alongside a river will fall, affecting farming along the river bank. Dredging beaches for sand increases coastal communities' vulnerability to storm damage - because sandy beaches act as sponges absorbing a storm's excess energy - something that is increasingly likely because of climate change. "The problem is that the demand for sand is outpacing what we know about the environmental impact of extraction," says Dr Aurora Torres of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). "It is a hidden ecological disaster." The world's deserts may be awash with sand but this is of no use for construction, because erosion means desert sand grains are too rounded and smooth to be useful. The best kind are the grittier, more angular sand grains found in riverbeds or beaches. So far our appetite for sand and gravel shows no sign of slowing down. The OECD estimates we use 27 billion tonnes a year in construction and that this will double to 55 billion tonnes by 2060. Add in the sand and gravel used in land reclamation, coastal developments and roads - and the current annual consumption rises to 40 billion tonnes. This is twice the yearly amount of sediment carried by the world's rivers. In other words, we're using up sand faster than nature is creating it.
10-23-18 Hurricane Willa breaks an eastern and central Pacific storm season record
Half the 22 named storms were cat 3 hurricanes or stronger, unleashing record-breaking energy. From Hawaii to Mexico, powerful storms have buffeted a wide swath of the Pacific Ocean in 2018. Now, with Hurricane Willa bearing down on southwestern Mexico on October 23, the hurricane season across the central and eastern regions of the Pacific has become the most active on record — at least by one measure, known as accumulated cyclone energy. So far in 2018, there have been 22 named storms in the central and eastern Pacific regions, including 11 major hurricanes of category 3 or stronger. The latest in that string of storms, Willa rapidly strengthened from a tropical storm on October 20 into a category 5 hurricane two days later. At 2 p.m. EDT on October 23, as the storm approached the coast, it weakened into a category 3 hurricane, with maximum winds churning at 195 kilometers per hour. The eastern Pacific season has been “very active,” says Gerry Bell, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md. But whether or not the 2018 season is a record-breaker “depends on how you classify it,” Bell says. The 2018 season in the eastern Pacific has already had the largest number of major hurricanes on record, he says. But there are many ways to measure the activity of a storm season: number of overall storms, number of named storms, number of major hurricanes above a category 3. To better compare the overall strength of the season with historical records, NOAA uses the accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE. ACE takes into account both the intensity and the duration of a season’s storms, says Bell, who developed the measure in the 1990s. A major hurricane that lasts only a few days, for example, would add less to the overall energy of the season than one that lasts for more than a week.
10-22-18 Anti-plastic focus 'dangerous distraction' from climate change
The anti-plastic "fervour" sweeping across the UK is weakening the fight against climate change, the founder of an organic food company has said. Guy Singh-Watson, a prominent green entrepreneur and campaigner, said more focus should be put on cutting carbon. PM Theresa May has pledged to ban all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. Environmental experts have said that the anti-plastic movement showed the public could be "mobilised" for action on green issues. There has been growing awareness of the damage caused by single-use plastics after TV series Blue Planet II highlighted the issue last year. But Mr Singh-Watson, founder of Riverford Organic Farmers, which supplies about 47,000 boxes of vegetables to homes in the UK each week, said demonising plastic could do more harm than good. He said: "The fervour - the almost religious fervour - of some of our customers in (being) anti-plastic can actually create problems. "Plastic is not in itself an evil material, it is the fact that we use so much of it. "The biggest environmental challenge facing our planet is climate change - and anything that distracts attention from that is potentially dangerous." Mr Singh-Watson, whose company is aiming to use only fully compostable plastic by 2020, says switching materials isn't always the best option - as some, like paper, can have a higher carbon footprint than plastic. He said it would be "a step in the wrong direction" if companies focused too much on their plastic usage, rather than addressing energy efficiency or reducing their carbon footprint in other ways. The government has pledged to tackle plastic waste and is considering a number of proposals, including a ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Mr Singh-Watson said the biggest single issue the government needs to sort is the "ridiculous" lack of a unified recycling policy across the country.
10-19-18 Reforesting Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched a tree-planting campaign across Pakistan called the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami. The initiative builds on a program Khan launched two years ago in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province—controlled by his party since 2013—which involved the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees and a crackdown on timber smuggling. Decades of illegal logging and unregulated development have destroyed Pakistan’s forest cover. Malik Amin Aslam, the federal minister for climate change, said Pakistanis are now learning to protect their trees. Still, “there will be a lot of blowback,” he said. “About 40 percent of fertile public land has been encroached by land-grabbers, including some lawmakers.”
10-19-18 Our water is a toxic stew
Why is Zimbabwe still dealing with the “medieval” disease of cholera? asked Faith Zaba. The current outbreak has killed 49 people and sickened thousands over the past month—and that’s in the capital, Harare, which ought to boast the country’s most modern infrastructure. The problem is Lake Chivero, the principal water supply for some 2.6 million people. This reservoir was built in 1952 to supply the city, but it is located downstream, and thanks to bursting pipes and poor infrastructure, Harare residents regularly discharge raw sewage into two of its tributaries. The lake is now “basically a giant sewage pond,” polluted with metals, pesticides, and human waste. Treating this contamination is incredibly expensive. Harare needs new sources of water, “which means new dams.” But getting them built will require us to overcome rampant corruption: The Kunzwi Dam project, conceived in 1996, is still not complete more than 20 years later. And new reservoirs won’t help if we keep fouling them, so we’ll have to “rid the capital of squatter settlements” and stop the dumping of industrial waste. We need a “comprehensive solution.” In the 21st century, lack of access to potable water is “a major embarrassment” for our country.
10-19-18 Plastic recycling firms accused of abusing market
The plastics recycling industry faces an investigation amid reports firms are illegally profiting from the market and in some cases polluting rivers. The Environment Agency, the regulator, confirmed it had set up an investigative team and was pursuing "several lines of enquiry". It comes as councils cut back their plastics recycling services amid a fall in demand for exports to China. Importers are said to be worried about high contamination levels in UK waste. Britain sends about two-thirds of its plastic packaging waste abroad every year, including plastic bottles, yoghurt pots and other items. Exporters charge retailers and manufacturers a rate per tonne for plastic waste, and retailers are allowed to use these payments as proof they are meeting their recycling obligations. But MPs have criticised the system for being open to fraud. As first reported by the Guardian, allegations the Environment Agency (EA) is understood to be investigating include: 1. Exporters are illegally claiming for tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste which might not exist. 2. Plastic waste is not being recycled and is being left to leak into rivers and oceans. 3. UK firms accused of shipping contaminated waste - when non-recyclable items are mixed in with recyclables items - are being allowed to continue exporting. According to the Guardian, data passed to the EA shows a huge difference between the amount of packaging exports recorded by HM Customs, compared with the amount UK exporters claim to have shipped. The newspaper, which analysed the data, said British exporters claimed to have exported 35,135 tonnes more plastic than HM Customs recorded.
10-18-18 Banning straws isn’t enough. We must get serious about climate change
To head off climate disaster requires difficult changes to our lifestyles, says Adam Corner, and politicians must not be afraid to say so. On October 15, the UK government celebrated the start of its first ever ‘Green GB Week’ – an opportunity to promote clean growth for the nation. This followed hot on the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which set out the steps needed to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C. There’s one indisputable conclusion to take from that report – if we’re to get climate change under control, absolutely everything must be on the table. This includes lifestyle changes such as flying less and cutting down on red meat. Yet Claire Perry, the minister in charge of the UK’s climate change strategy, doesn’t see it this way. She described the idea of government telling us what to eat on climate grounds as “the worst sort of Nanny State ever”, adding: “Who would I be to sit there advising people in the country coming home after a hard day of work to not have steak and chips?” Perry’s reluctance to ask us to change says something important about why public engagement on climate change has not been straightforward. People in wealthy, industrialised nations like the UK tend to see climate change as a ‘psychologically distant’ risk: not here, and not now. As a political issue, it struggles to compete with more immediate concerns like terrorism or insecure employment. Politicians also fear that engaging with the public on climate change risks comes across as preachy or interfering. And, particularly on the right of the political spectrum, there has been a degree of suspicion that climate change activists have a hidden left-wing agenda.
10-18-18 More tornadoes are popping up east of the Mississippi
The twisters are becoming slightly less frequent in Tornado Alley. Twisters are twirling away from Tornado Alley. From 1979 to 2017, annual tornado frequency slightly decreased over the region, which stretches across the central and southern Great Plains of the United States, a study finds. Conversely, a higher number of storms touched down in areas east of the Mississippi River over the same period, researchers report October 17 in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science. “The great Tornado Alley is still No. 1 in terms of [overall] frequency,” says coauthor Victor Gensini, an applied climatologist at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. But more tornadoes in communities ill-prepared to face the relatively unfamiliar storms, such as in the southeastern United States, could mean more infrastructure damage and loss of life. Gensini and his colleague Harold Brooks, of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., analyzed weather data from across the country for the 38-year study period. The duo charted instances of ample moisture, unstable air pockets and large changes in wind in terms of direction and altitude — perfect conditions for tornadoes. But these conditions don’t always result in a twirling twister. So the team compared the weather data with anecdotal and sometimes unreliable tornado reports from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, also in Norman, to map the twister trends. Other research has suggested a similar change in tornado activity, finding evidence for a region dubbed “Dixie Alley” in states such as Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.
10-16-18 Bill Gates leads global call to accept realities of a warming planet
A coalition of major global figures say we must do much more to adapt to our rapidly warming world, and we need to do it fast. It is not enough that we try to limit further global warming – we must also do far more to ensure we survive it. That’s the message from a coalition of major global figures, including former UN head Ban Ki-moon and billionaire Bill Gates. The Global Commission on Adaptation, which is being launched today, says that the impact of global warming is already being felt much sooner and more powerfully than expected. To keep reducing global poverty and maintain economic growth, societies must do much more, much faster, to adapt. “Adaptation action is not only the right action to do, it is the smart thing. We need to make this case more aggressively,” says Ban, who along with Gates is one of 28 commissioners heading up the new initiative. “The costs of adapting are less than the cost of doing business as usual. And the benefits many times larger.” Climate adaptation is not just about special projects, says Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank and another of the commissioners. Everyone should think about resilience to climate change when making decisions: from governments and business leaders to farmers deciding what to grow and the general public when buying a home. “A very significant opportunity for adaptation comes from mainstreaming resilience in the normal investments we make,” says Georgieva. “It doesn’t have to be a more expensive investment, it has to be done with risk in mind.” For example, she describes how some farmers in Bangladesh have switched to raising ducks instead chickens. During floods, chickens drown but ducks swim.
10-16-18 Could chip fat help dirty shipping clean up its act?
The global shipping industry is as big a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as aviation. And the heavy fuel oil that powers its giant vessels is exceptionally dirty - packed with soot, black carbon and sulphur. So is it doing enough to clean up its act? Shipping is facing a big problem. In little more than a year from now it will have to conform to new international regulations on toxic sulphur dioxide emissions. But there's little consensus on how this should be done, with many companies dragging their feet as a result. Sulphur dioxide belched out by ships when the fuel is burned is harmful to people and can cause environmentally damaging acid rain. On top of that, the sector contributes about 3% to global greenhouse gas emissions - that's more than 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere. Could chip fat help mitigate these failings? In September, a biofuels program called GoodShipping announced that it had supplied a small container ship with 22,000 litres of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) - former cooking oil that has been turned into a diesel. When burned, it produces much less carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates. Powering ships with biofuel has been done before, but the challenge is getting the industry to switch to cleaner alternatives in a big way. "We expect to be adding more, and larger, companies to our list of customers very soon," a spokeswoman for GoodShipping tells the BBC. A report by Lloyd's Register published last December argued that biofuels were probably the best way to help shipping lower emissions by 2030. But, the authors noted, "biofuels have two key, and coupled, challenges - sustainability and availability."
10-15-18 Add beer to the list of foods threatened by climate change
Rising temperatures and periods of drought will target barley crops worldwide. Beer lovers could be left with a sour taste, thanks to the latest in a series of studies mapping the effects of climate change on crops. Malted barley — a key ingredient in beer including IPAs, stouts and pilsners — is particularly sensitive to warmer temperatures and drought, both of which are likely to increase due to climate change. As a result, average global barley crop yields could drop as much as 17 percent by 2099, compared with the average yield from 1981 to 2010, under the more extreme climate change projections, researchers report October 15 in Nature Plants. That decline “could lead to, on average, a doubling of price in some countries,” says coauthor Steven Davis, an Earth systems scientist at University of California, Irvine. Consumption would also drop globally by an average of 16 percent, or roughly what people in the United States consumed in 2011. The results are based on computer simulations projecting climate conditions, plant responses and global market reactions up to the year 2099. Under the mildest climate change predictions, world average barley yields would still go down by at least 3 percent, and average prices would increase about 15 percent, the study says.
10-15-18 Will there be beer shortages as the world warms? Well, maybe
Predictions of beer shortages and rocketing prices as extreme weather hits barley production should not be taken too literally but do highlight a very real problem. As the world warms, severe droughts and heat extremes will lead to a shortage of beer, causing prices to shoot up. In Ireland, the price could double. In some eastern European countries, prices could increase seven-fold. Cue mass panic? These headline-grabbing conclusions, from a study released today on how global warming will affect beer production, are almost certainly wrong – but we should still take this kind of study seriously. The thing is, predicting the future is notoriously difficult, and no one can forecast future beer prices with any certainty. It depends, for instance, on demand for beer. How is that going to change by 2100? Maybe demand will soar as the world’s growing population gets richer. Or maybe hardly anyone will drink beer in future. Young people in many countries are, after all, drinking less than they used to. We also now know that alcohol causes cancer. Perhaps in fifty years’ time people will regard alcoholic drinks with the same horror we now regard smoking. The point is, such things are just impossible to predict. So to get any kind of result, forecasters have to make a series of assumptions they know are wrong. In the case of the beer study, the key assumptions were that farmers will keep growing the same varieties of barley in the same places, and that demand and the global economy remain as they are.
10-15-18 Trump: Climate change scientists have 'political agenda'
US President Donald Trump has accused climate change scientists of having a "political agenda" as he cast doubt on whether humans were responsible for the earth's rising temperatures. But Mr Trump also said he no longer believed climate change was a hoax. The comments, made during an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, come less than a week after climate scientists issued a final call to halt rising temperatures. The world's leading scientists agree that climate change is human-induced. Last week's report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the leading international body evaluating climate change - warned the world was heading towards a temperature rise of 3C. Scientists say that natural fluctuations in temperature are being exacerbated by human activity - which has caused approximately 1C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. The report said keeping to the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". During Sunday's interview, Mr Trump cast doubt on making any changes, saying the scientists "have a very big political agenda". "I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference," he told journalist Lesley Stahl. "But I don't know that it's manmade. I will say this. I don't want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don't want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don't want to be put at a disadvantage." Mr Trump added that temperatures "could very well go back" - although he did not say how. (Webmaster's comment: This man is so full of Bullshit!)
10-15-18 UK steps towards zero-carbon economy
The UK is taking a tentative step towards a radical "green" future with zero emissions of greenhouse gases. The government is formally seeking Committee on Climate Change guidance about how and when to make this leap. If it happens it would mark an extraordinary transformation of an economy built on burning fossil fuels. The decision was prompted by last week's UN report warning that CO2 emissions must be stopped completely to avoid dangerous climate disruption. Climate minister Claire Perry told BBC News: "The report was a really stark and sober piece of work - a good piece of work. "Now we know what the goal is and we know what some of the levers are. "But for me, the constant question is what is the cost and who's going to bear that, both in the UK and in the global economy. "The question is: what does government need to do, where can the private sector come in, and what technologies will come through?" The UK's current target is a reduction of 80% of emissions by 2050 based on 1990 levels. But the CCC, which is an independent body set up to advise the government on emissions targets, is warning the UK will drift further away from this goal unless new policies are introduced. Experts say greater emissions cuts are already needed from cars, planes, industry, waste, farming, meat consumption and heating. (Webmaster's comment: They can cut emissions because they don't have an idiot as President!)
10-15-18 Hurricane Michael: Dozens still missing on Florida coast
Dozens of people remain missing in coastal areas of north-west Florida devastated by Hurricane Michael last week, officials say. Recovery teams with dogs and heavy equipment are due to scour destroyed buildings in Mexico Beach and Panama City in the search for more victims. At least 18 deaths are confirmed so far across four states and the death toll is expected to rise. President Donald Trump will visit the storm-hit region later on Monday. He and First Lady Melania Trump will fly to Florida and are also expected to visit southern Georgia. Many places are still without power and rescue efforts have been hampered by fallen trees and other debris blocking roads. There are also shortages of food and water. So far at least nine people are confirmed dead in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia. On Sunday, officials in Florida confirmed that another body had been recovered in Mexico Beach. City Mayor Al Cathey told ABC news on Sunday that 46 people remained missing or unaccounted for.
10-14-18 The guardians of the forest
Indigenous tribes are the last, best hope for the Amazon rainforest. Caudio da Silva, thickset, his bare chest traced with blue-black lines of body paint, wields a chainsaw not to cut down trees but to destroy a wooden timber hauler used by a band of illegal loggers. Da Silva is a member of the Amazon's Guajajara tribe in the Brazilian state of Maranhão and the leader of an armed group of Indigenous forest protectors called the Guardians of the Forest. Illegal logging and land clearing continue to eat away at the world's largest remaining tropical rainforest. But the guardians and others like them in Brazil are pushing back. On a summer day, da Silva and the guardians prepare to patrol the Caru River, a narrow strip of muddy water marking up the boundary of the Guajajara's 700-square-mile forest reserve. The land is protected on paper, but it's under constant threat. "If we go looking in our territory, we always find illegal things going on," da Silva says before we leave. And sure enough, as we make our way up the river in speedboats, da Silva spots a dugout canoe on the bank on the Guajajara side. We pull up alongside it, jump out, and move quickly up a narrow path into the dense forest. There are fresh machete cuts in the brush. And then we hear the sound of men's voices coming toward us. The guardians crouch down for an ambush, their rifles loaded. The guardians shout commands as three boys appear, with barking dogs at their heels. Soon, the boys are kneeling, with hands behind their heads. They're from the settlement across the river. The youngest is 14; the other two are in their 20s. They confess to cutting virgin timber to make charcoal, a valuable product in this impoverished region of Brazil. The guardians eventually send the boys back to their homes across the river with a warning to the others: Don't come back. "This is a war," da Silva says. "The invaders want confrontation. The hunters, the loggers, the farmers, they're all armed. We can die at any time."
10-14-18 We’re probably undervaluing healthy lakes and rivers
Economists often ignore the human health benefits of keeping water bodies clean. For sale: Pristine lake. Price negotiable. Most U.S. government attempts to quantify the costs and benefits of protecting the country’s bodies of water are likely undervaluing healthy lakes and rivers, researchers argue in a new study. That’s because some clean water benefits get left out of the analyses, sometimes because these benefits are difficult to pin numbers on. As a result, the apparent value of many environmental regulations is probably discounted. The study, published online October 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 20 government reports analyzing the economic impacts of U.S. water pollution laws. Most of these laws have been enacted since 2000, when cost-benefit analyses became a requirement. Analysis of a measure for restricting river pollution, for example, might find that it increases costs for factories using that river for wastewater disposal, but boosts tourism revenues by drawing more kayakers and swimmers. Only two studies out of 20 showed the economic benefits of these laws exceeding the costs. That’s uncommon among analyses of environmental regulations, says study coauthor David Keiser, an environmental economist at Iowa State University in Ames. Usually, the benefits exceed the costs. So why does water pollution regulation seem, on paper at least, like such a losing proposition?
10-13-18 Hurricane Michael: Fears deaths will rise as 'war zone' searched
Rescuers are picking their way through devastated areas of north-west Florida amid fears the death toll from Hurricane Michael will rise. At least 17 deaths have been confirmed so far in a swath of destruction stretching up to Virginia. Rescuers have still to search the worst-affected areas of Florida's flattened Mexico Beach. The hurricane, one of the most powerful in US history, struck on Wednesday with 155mph (250km/h) winds. So far at least eight people are confirmed dead in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia. Rescuers using heavy machinery and trained dogs found the body of a man, the latest reported fatality, while searching through rubble on Friday in Mexico Beach. But Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), said the number of deaths was expected to rise as teams combed through badly hit areas in Mexico Beach, Port St Joe and Panama City. Residents of Mexico Beach had been under a mandatory evacuation order, but it is believed at least 285 people among a population of 1,000 had stayed behind to ride out the storm. Florida senator Marco Rubio said: "You hope that somehow at the last minute a bunch of people got up and left or went somewhere else." Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for across the area, but this may simply reflect an inability to communicate with relatives, with mobile phone coverage out in many areas.
10-12-18 A beast of a storm
Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm, made landfall in northwest Florida this week with winds of 155 mph—the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in nearly 50 years. On the eve of the storm, Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned the 375,000-plus people on the Gulf Coast who had been advised to evacuate that first responders would not be able to reach many of those who did not. The Federal Emergency Management Agency cautioned that people could be left powerless for weeks, and more than 170,000 homes and businesses were already without power soon after the storm made landfall. Unlike the many hurricanes that weaken as they reach land, Hurricane Michael rapidly intensified as it approached, fueled by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Georgia declared a state of emergency in more than 100 counties, and the Carolinas anticipated flooding from heavy rains.
10-12-18 U.N. warns of a coming climate catastrophe
Climate change could cause devastating food shortages and wildfires, submerged coastlines, and a mass die-off of coral reefs within two decades, unless humanity drastically cuts its fossil fuel use, a major United Nations scientific report warned this week. Authored by 91 scientists from 40 countries who analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies over three years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current levels, the planet could warm by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial levels by 2040. At that level of warming, summer heat waves will get hotter and longer, intense droughts more common, and extreme rainfall events such as hurricanes Harvey and Florence more frequent. If warming hits 3.6 degrees, twice as many crops in the tropics will perish as in a 2.7-degrees-hotter world, the number of people affected by water scarcity will double, and the size of global fisheries will drop by 50 percent. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the reports says, greenhouse gas emissions will have to decrease 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and be entirely eliminated by 2050. The amount of electricity derived from coal will have to fall from nearly 40 percent today to as low as 1 percent by 2050. At the same time, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar—which currently account for 20 percent of energy generated—will have to rise to 67 percent. The report is “like a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” said Erik Solheim, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program. “We have to put out the fire.”
10-12-18 Australia drought: How much rain would end 'the big dry'?
Many drought-stricken regions in Australia have finally received much-needed rain in recent days. Parts of New South Wales (NSW) - a state declared to be 100% in drought - have enjoyed their best rainfalls in two years, according to meteorologists. But while the drenching has provided some relief, forecasters say it is nowhere near enough. Farming regions in NSW and Queensland have been bone dry for months - years in some cases - meaning there is no quick fix to end the drought. So what would it take? Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) measures it in terms of "rainfall deficiency" - a period when precipitation is deemed to be below average. This year, rainfall levels in NSW are among the lowest ever recorded over an extended period. In some areas, the state is the driest it has ever been. For the drought to end, some regions would need 200-300mm (8-12 inches) spread over at least three months, said BOM meteorologist Dr Simon Grainger. That is more than the entire amount - 191mm - that the state has averaged since January. So what has this month produced? Dr Grainger says some areas have had 25-50mm, but others have missed out entirely. "A single rain event is not itself enough to break the drought. You need sustained rainfall over months," he told the BBC. Unfortunately for farmers, the immediate odds are not good. There is only a 25% chance of sufficient "above average" rainfall in the coming months, forecasters say.
10-12-18 Spinning straws into gold
Disposable plastic straws have become environmentalists’ Enemy No. 1. They’ve been banned in Seattle, Oakland, and Miami Beach, and New York City could follow soon. Restaurants and bars can replace the plastic with old-fashioned paper straws. But only one U.S. firm makes them, said Kate Krader in Bloomberg Businessweek, and it has a three-month backlog of orders. It’s a big turnaround for Aardvark, which is based in Fort Wayne, Ind., and traces its roots to the company that invented the paper straw in 1888. That market disappeared in the 1960s with the advent of the plastic straw, but Aardvark started making paper straws again in 2007 as the anti-plastics movement gained strength. Demand rose 50-fold from 2017 to 2018, and Aardvark now has to ration its product, prioritizing cities where plastic straws are prohibited. “We shift to help folks in need,” says an Aardvark manager.
10-12-18 Deadly sinkhole
A sinkhole opened up suddenly in a sidewalk in a commercial district of the Chinese city of Dazhou this week, sending four people plunging 30 feet to their deaths. Two victims, a recently married couple, were pulled alive from the pit but later died in the hospital; the bodies of the other two, a man and his son, were retrieved later. Authorities evacuated nearby buildings, fearing that the 100-square-foot sinkhole might expand. Sinkholes are often formed when acidic rainwater dissolves limestone or similar rock beneath the ground, leaving a void; shoddy construction planning and poor drainage can exacerbate the problem.
10-12-18 Hurricane Michael erases beach town like 'mother of all bombs'
Hurricane Michael has all but rubbed a Florida beach town off the map after landing like the "mother of all bombs". The storm smashed into the state's north-west coast near the community of Mexico Beach on Wednesday afternoon packing 155mph (250km/h) winds. Over 1.4m homes had no power in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas on Friday morning. One of the most powerful hurricanes in US history, Michael has now killed at least 11 people. Rescuers are still searching for survivors. The storm had moved out to sea off the Virginia coast by early Friday morning. Michael, which fell just 2mph short of a top-level category five, ripped apart entire neighbourhoods, reducing properties to kindling and rubble. The hurricane's shrieking winds and wall of water swept row after row of Mexico Beach beachfront homes off their foundations. The storm was so powerful that it snapped boats in two and knocked over 30-ton freight rail cars like toys.
10-12-18 Six climate questions for 'Green GB'
Scientists say we must keep global temperature rise under 1.5C - so what does that mean for the UK? Next week, ministers are likely to ask their advisers how Britain can reduce carbon emissions in line with that target. They’ve declared what they're calling Green GB Week – a celebration of the UK’s achievement as a world leader in tackling climate change whilst increasing the economy. But will they make the huge carbon cuts still needed on these six key issues?
- Transport Overall, the UK’s CO2 emissions have been falling, but transport emissions have gone UP by 4%. People are buying bigger cars after the Treasury removed the fuel duty incentive for low-pollution hybrids.
- Heating Our ageing housing stock leaks heat, and we can’t meet carbon emissions targets unless we insulate homes better. But home insulation has plunged by 95% because insulation grants have been cut.
- Energy The government is pushing to exploit shale gas by the controversial technique of fracking. They say it’s good for jobs and balance of payments.
- Waste/recycling If food and plant matter is dumped in landfill, it will rot and create methane, which contributes to climate change.
- Food and the countryside Farming is a major source of greenhouse gases. Fertilisers and manure emit greenhouse gases, and farm machines pollute, too. Emissions from farms have barely reduced.
- Technology We’re going to need new technologies to help us use energy differently. Online systems can save individuals wasting energy, and enable us to buy power more cheaply.
(Webmaster's comment: Other nations are making a serious effort. In the United States we still have our heads in the sand!)
10-11-18 The children living on the frontline of climate change
Vietnam's Mekong Delta is home to 18 million people but is regularly swamped. The land is sinking and the sea is rising, as global warming causes the water to expand and the ice caps to melt. Children at a primary school there were asked to draw pictures showing how they felt about the flooding. Some of the images they produced were particularly disturbing.
10-10-18 The challenge of recycling waste in Antarctica
Picture a wide snowy expanse as far as the eye can see, edged by mountains on one side, and an iceberg-filled sea on the other. That is the view from the Rothera Research Station on Adelaide Island, off the coast of mainland Antarctica. The base is the largest of three run by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in the British Antarctic Territory. Rothera is self-sufficient - it has a laboratory, offices, workshops, accommodation, a canteen, TV rooms, a surgery, a runway and hangar for aircraft, and a wharf to receive ships. In winter, when the temperature can plummet to -20C, only 20 people stay on base. But during the Antarctic summer, when visibility and weather conditions are less severe, up to 120 staff are stationed there from October to May. With all 30 countries that have a presence in Antarctica following strict rules to not disturb natural ecological systems, waste removal and recycling is a very serious business at Rothera. Over the last five years, the BAS - a governmental body - has recycled between 81-88% of the waste produced at its research stations. The BBC's Circular Economy series highlights the ways we are designing systems to reduce the waste modern society generates, by reusing and repurposing products. At Rothera, as project support coordinator and base general assistant, waste management is a key part of Craig Nelson's job. "Each day varies, but normally the job will take till 6pm in the evening, and even then you might be required to do even longer hours depending on flights," he says. "Planes come back in the evening until midnight, and you'd be expected to help out, unload the aircraft, sort out the equipment, take it to the necessary places, and the waste as well." All waste at the base is sent to a metal hut called the Miracle Span. And in domestic areas of the station, there are recycling bins for glass, paper, cardboard, plastic and cans. Waste generated by research missions also has to be sorted; the BAS recycles everything from batteries, tetra packs, IT equipment, toner and inkjet cartridges, to wood, scrap metal, rope and textiles.
10-11-18 Storm Michael: Monster storm mauls US south-east
One of the strongest storms in recorded history to hit the US has battered north-west Florida, flooding homes, washing out beaches and snapping trees. Rescue services are beginning to assess the full impact of Hurricane Michael, which made landfall on Wednesday afternoon as a category four storm with 155mph (250km/h) winds. Two people, including a child, were killed by falling debris. Having weakened to a tropical storm, Michael is on its way to the Carolinas. Storm-surge warnings are still in place, the US National Hurricane Center says, and residents across the southern US have been warned of the continuing danger from downed powerlines, flash floods and landslides. There are fears for people who ignored evacuation warnings in some of the areas now flooded. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, at around 14:00 (18:00 GMT) on Wednesday. It ranks among the most powerful hurricanes to hit the US in terms of wind speed and barometric pressure, comparable to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Michael was so strong as it swept into Florida that it remained a hurricane for hours as it moved further inland, before being downgraded to a tropical storm. Its rapid intensification caught many by surprise, although the storm later weakened. Unusually warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico turbo-charged the storm from a tropical depression on Sunday. On Tuesday it was still a category two hurricane but by Wednesday morning it had reached borderline category five, the highest level.
10-11-18 Old homes around the world must be retrofitted to meet climate targets
Countries need to start a massive programme of retrofitting old homes to make them carbon neutral if the world is to meet the global emission reduction target. The world needs to go carbon neutral by 2050, according to the major UN climate report released on Monday. To achieve that, countries need to “deep retrofit” old homes, says another report. An incremental approach, such as insulating lofts or installing more efficient gas boilers, is not enough, says the report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Instead, the aim should be to completely transform houses to make them “net-zero”. That means insulating an entire house to a very high standard, and installing sustainable heating systems, solar panels and the like, in one fell swoop. In the Netherlands, 1300 homes have already been retrofitted in this way, with another 15,000 in the pipeline. The approach is now being extended to other countries, including the UK, US, Canada, Germany and France. In the UK, cities and the government should launch a pilot programme to retrofit 30,000 homes as soon as possible, and help set up a national centre of excellence to help develop more effective methods. The aim must be to retrofit all 27 million homes by 2050. “If we are to meet the 2050 targets, then all housing in the UK must have zero carbon emissions from space and water heating, and space cooling,” says Rick Hartwig of the IET. But there are formidable obstacles. The greatest is cost. The city of Nottingham has already deep-retrofitted 10 properties, and the cost was around £80,000 per property, says Marjan Sarshar at Nottingham Trent University, one of the authors of the report. This is too expensive, she says. But the costs would fall sharply if there was a massive programme of deep retrofitting, and vast quantities of the required components were being manufactured on a huge scale.
10-11-18 'Flexitarian' diets key to feeding people in a warming world
If the world wants to limit climate change, water scarcity and pollution, then we all need to embrace "flexitarian" diets, say scientists. This means eating mainly plant-based foods, and is one of three key steps towards a sustainable future for all in 2050, they say. Food waste will need to be halved and farming practices will also have to improve, according to the study. Without action, the impacts of the food system could increase by up to 90%. Fast on the heels of the landmark report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) comes this new study on how food production and consumption impact major threats to the planet. The authors say that the food system has a number of significant environmental impacts including being a major driver of climate change, depleting freshwater and pollution through excessive use of nitrogen and phosphorous. The study says that thanks to the population and income growth expected between 2010 and 2050, these impacts could grow between 50-90%. This could push our world beyond its planetary boundaries, which the authors say represent a "safe operating space for humanity on a stable Earth system". However the study finds that no single solution will avert the dangers, so a combined approach is needed. So when it comes to climate change, the authors looked at what they called a "flexitarian diet". "We can eat a range of healthy diets but what they all have in common, according to the latest scientific evidence, is that they are all relatively plant based," said lead author Dr Marco Springmann from the University of Oxford. "You can go from a diet that has small amounts of animal products, some might call it a Mediterranean based diet, we call it a flexitarian diet, over to a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan diet - we tried to stay with the most conservative one of these which in our view is the flexitarian one, but even this has only one serving of red meat per week."
10-10-18 Here’s what’s unusual about Hurricane Michael
The late-season Gulf of Mexico storm rapidly intensified to a category 4 before making landfall. Call it an October surprise: Hurricane Michael strengthened unusually quickly before slamming into the Florida panhandle on October 10 and remained abnormally strong as it swept into Georgia. The storm made landfall with sustained winds of about 250 kilometers per hour, just shy of a category 5 storm, making it the strongest storm ever to hit the region, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center, or NHC. Warm ocean waters are known to fuel hurricanes’ fury by adding heat and moisture; the drier air over land masses, by contrast, can help strip storms of strength. So hurricanes nearing the Florida panhandle, a curving landmass surrounding the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, tend to weaken as they pull in drier air from land. But waters in the Gulf that were about 1 degree to 2 degrees Celsius warmer than average for this time of year, as well as abundant moisture in the air over the eastern United States, helped to supercharge Michael. Despite some wind conditions that scientists expected to weaken the storm, it strengthened steadily until it made landfall, which the NHC noted “defies traditional logic.” The fast-moving storm weakened only slightly, to a category 3, before hurtling into Georgia. Although it is not possible to attribute the generation of any one storm to climate change, scientists have long predicted that warming ocean waters would lead to more intense tropical cyclones in the future. More recent attribution studies have borne out that prediction, suggesting that very warm waters in the tropical Atlantic helped to fuel 2017’s powerful storm season, which spawned hurricanes Irma and Maria.
10-10-18 AI’s dirty secret: Energy-guzzling machines may fuel global warming
Advances in artificial intelligence could lead to massive growth in energy use as smart machines push into every corner of our lives. ARTIFICIAL intelligence breakthroughs have become a regular occurrence in recent years. One of the most impressive achievements so far was in 2016, when Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI beat champion Lee Sedol at one of the world’s most complex games, Go. The feat made headlines around the world as an example of machines besting humans, but in some sense it wasn’t a fair fight. Sedol’s brain would have been consuming around 20 watts of power, with only a fraction of that being used for the game itself. By contrast, AlphaGo was using some 5000 watts. It isn’t widely appreciated how incredibly energy hungry AI is. If you ran AlphaGo non-stop for a year, the electricity alone would cost about £6000. That doesn’t matter for one-off events, like an epic Go showdown. But it does matter if billions of people want their smartphones to be truly smart, or have their cars drive themselves. Many potential uses of AI simply won’t become widespread if they require too much energy. On the flip side, if the uses are so desirable or profitable that people don’t care about the costs, it could lead to a surge in electricity consumption and make it even harder to limit further warming of the planet. AI consumes so much energy because the technique behind these recent breakthroughs, deep learning, involves performing ever more computations on ever more data. “The models are getting deeper and getting wider, and they use more and more energy to compute,” says Max Welling of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
10-10-18 Rewilding: Can we really restore ravaged nature to a pristine state?
Vast tracts of land are returning to wilderness as farming retreats worldwide. But rewilding isn't an easy win – and debates rage about how to manage it. “IT WAS a picture postcard of how the English countryside is meant to look,” Isabella Tree tells me. “It was a working farm. We had green fields, manicured hedgerows and ditches, land that was constantly active with maize, barley, rye and grazing cattle. We didn’t realise it at the time, but it was virtually a biological desert. Now it looks much more like Africa.” She’s talking about her home, the Knepp estate in West Sussex. Seventeen years ago, she and her husband Charlie Burrell stopped trying to coax a living out of its heavy soil. Today, the 1400-hectare estate is the closest thing in southern England to a primaeval landscape: a mosaic of water meadows, thorny scrub, sallow groves and grazing lawns roamed by cattle, ponies, pigs and deer. “The colliding of different habitats has been rocket fuel for biodiversity,” says Tree. Knepp is an experiment in “rewilding”, a movement that has swept the Western world in recent years. It takes different forms in different places, but a simple and compelling concept drives it: let nature run things and it can right the wrongs we have done Earth’s wildlife. Habitats will restore themselves and biodiversity will bounce back, along with the vital services that the ecosystems provide, such as pollination and water purification. Yet even as experiments like Knepp take off, researchers are voicing concerns about how effective rewilding truly is. Meanwhile, the world has embarked on a huge but largely undirected rewilding project as vast tracts of once-productive agricultural land are abandoned. This is bringing unexpected answers as to what really happens when you let nature run its course.
10-10-18 Potentially catastrophic Hurricane Michael is about to hit Florida
Hurricane Michael intensified faster than expected overnight and is now headed for Florida. It was fuelled by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the stuff of nightmares for weather forecasters: a hurricane that intensifies faster than expected overnight just before making landfall, leaving little time to warn people. This is exactly what has just happened with Hurricane Michael, which will soon reach Florida. The storm, which had been forecast to strike as a Category 3 hurricane, now looks set to make landfall in the Florida panhandle as a “potentially catastrophic” Category 4, according to the US National Hurricane Centre. Category 4 winds can destroy even well-built homes and leave areas uninhabitable for months. The storm has been fuelled by abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and has therefore almost certainly been made worse by global warming. Michael’s 230 kilometre-per-hour winds and storm surge of up to 4 metres are expected to cause extreme damage. Storm surges are extra high tides caused by winds piling water up against the shore. Some coastal regions are already flooding, and the eye itself will not arrive until this afternoon local time. Hurricanes usually weaken rapidly after moving over land and being cut off from the warm waters that fuel them. However, Hurricane Michael is forecast to move forward very rapidly, meaning areas far inland – including parts of Georgia and Alabama – could be hit by hurricane force winds before it weakens. (Webmaster's comment: It's a wake-up call, but ignorant Americans will deny it till the end!)
10-10-18 Hurricane Michael: 'Too late to flee' storm set to hit Florida
US officials say it is too late to flee from the path of Hurricane Michael - a category four storm - hours before it is due to hit the US mainland. The storm is forecast to make landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast, and is expected to the largest storm to hit the region in 100 years. Florida Governor Rick Scott warned citizens of "unimaginable devastation". At least 13 people reportedly died in Central America over the weekend as a result of storm rains and floods. The storm has sustained winds of 145mph (230km/h) and is due to make landfall at about midday (16:00 GMT). Officials warn it is now too late for coastal residents to flee, and that those who remain should seek shelter. More than 370,000 people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate and move to higher ground, but officials estimate that far fewer have actually left. "Do not leave your house," Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Wednesday. "The worst thing you can do now is leave," he said, adding that those who do "put yourself and your family in danger". Florida has declared a state of emergency, as have Alabama and Georgia. (Webmaster's comment: People should not have listened to the Global Warming deniers! Some will now be DEAD wrong!)
10-10-18 Florida's political hurricane
Floridians are bracing themselves for Hurricane Michael, which forecasters predict could hit the state's Panhandle region today. If Michael devastates the Sunshine State, lives, livelihoods, and all manner of property could be lost. But Michael could also have a big effect on the Nov. 6 midterms — and with it the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. The mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum, is the Democratic nominee for governor in Florida. He's running against former GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis. Florida's governor, Republican Rick Scott, is challenging the Democratic incumbent senator, Bill Nelson, who is running for his fourth term. Polling for both statewide races puts them at or near a dead heat as the storm comes up the Gulf of Mexico. That sets up the potential for a dramatic showdown between politicians with every political incentive to make their opponent look bad, but also with the need to rely on each other to deliver in a crisis. Hurricanes have upended political battles in the past. Republican partisans held a grudge against former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for years, blaming him in part for Barack Obama's narrow win in 2012 over Mitt Romney. Christie literally embraced the president in late October 2016 when Obama came to inspect damage from Hurricane Sandy, one of the most destructive storms to hit the Northeast in decades. It provided Obama a moment to demonstrate both leadership and bipartisanship just a week ahead of a national election. With Hurricane Michael, the incentives for leadership and bipartisanship might once again come into competition with electoral impulses. All of those factors will certainly be in play. However, Florida may wind up being the closest thing we get this cycle to a truly local election at the top of the ballot.
10-10-18 We’ve missed many chances to curb global warming. This may be our last
Keeping warming to a manageable (but still dangerous) 1.5°C is possible, strictly speaking, but it will be the largest project humanity has ever undertaken. IT WAS always likely to come to this. Despite decades of ever-starker warnings, and years of increasingly obvious changes to the climate, we still haven’t done nearly enough. Now, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the UN’s advisory body on the science of global warming – we are rapidly running out of time. Limiting warming to a manageable (but still dangerous) 1.5°C is possible, strictly speaking, but it would require “rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” by 2030 (see “What you need to know about the big UN climate report out this week”). That would mean starting not some time in the future, but right now. Will humanity do what’s necessary? For individuals, that means making sacrifices and sticking to them, forever. For politicians, that means an end to the indulgence of the fossil fuel industry; investing in renewable energy, and carbon capture and storage; radically transforming transport; halting deforestation; and dropping the remorseless pursuit of economic growth above everything else. Will all of this happen? Your response is probably “not likely”. If we don’t act, though, the consequences are grave and they are going to hit us within the lifetime of our grandchildren. As the IPCC says, even if everyone sticks to the Paris Agreement, we are currently on course to warm the planet by 3°C by the year 2100. That would mean a decisive end to the balmy and benign Holocene climate that allowed our civilisation to flourish, and the start of something much less hospitable. Heatwaves, flooding, wildfires, drought and famine will become much more common “in every inhabited continent” – which is why most of us try not to think about it too much. “We still have time for a rescue, but it will be the largest project humanity has ever undertaken”
10-10-18 The case against despair on climate change
The world faces a climate catastrophe. Don't panic. Human society is on a path to self-immolation. But don't give in to despair. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out with an interim report, and the predictions are terrifying. If current trends continue, average global atmospheric temperatures will increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) on a 10-year averaged basis by roughly 2040. What's more, the latest science has generally found that even 1.5 degrees is going to be worse than previously thought, with high risk of murderous heat waves, flooding, drought, and sea level rise that threatens tens of millions of people around the world — and as Gavin Schmidt writes, the sheer arithmetic of keeping warming that low is virtually impossible. Many are reacting to this report with despondency. Climate science denier Donald Trump is president, after all, and he just got another anti-climate policy guy on the Supreme Court. It is pretty hard to imagine world politics shifting to become even slightly sensible on the biggest problem facing human civilization. However, despair is not warranted. Saving humanity from our own mistakes is not impossible. The Republican Party and its brand of ultra-conservatism is obviously an impediment, saturated as it is with foaming science deniers throughout the entire party leadership and bureaucratic apparatus that is in charge of the world's most powerful nation. This style of loopy extreme right-wing politics has spread throughout much of the Anglosphere, especially where there are large fossil fuel interests. Canada, with its enormous tar sands export sector, has dragged its feet for years, and recent plans to institute a carbon tax have inspired a Trump-style right-wing backlash. Meanwhile, the right-wing coalition running Australia — which has been deeply infected by American-style conservatism — is even worse. The Liberal Party (conservative in an Australian context) has repealed the country's carbon tax, abandoned emissions targets, and refused to stop using coal. Emissions from there are rising strongly as a result.
10-9-18 Australia defies climate warning to back coal
The Australian government has backed coal-fired power, despite the recommendations of a major report on climate change. Phasing out coal is considered crucial to limiting global warming to within 1.5C, as set out in the UN report released yesterday. Australia's deputy prime minister has said the country should "absolutely" continue to use and exploit its coal. But China remains the world's biggest coal consumer. In addition, China has restarted work at hundreds of coal-fired power stations, according to an analysis of satellite imagery. The Guardian reports that Michael McCormack, Australia's Deputy PM, said his government would not change policy "just because somebody might suggest that some sort of report is the way we need to follow and everything that we should do". He added that coal provided 60% of Australia's electricity, 50,000 jobs and was the country's biggest export. Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price told ABC radio that the IPCC was "drawing a long bow" by calling for an end to coal by 2050, and touted new technologies as a way of saving the polluting fuel. The climate report was produced by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It warned that "unprecedented" changes would be required to limit the Earth's temperature rise, and predicted that catastrophic species loss and extreme weather would result if the target was exceeded. It said that coal-fired power generation had to end by 2050 in order to avoid devastating changes to the planet. The coal lobby is pushing a technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a solution. CCS involved capturing CO2 produced through the burning of fossil fuels like coal and trapping it deep in the ground.
10-9-18 Hurricane Michael: 'Monstrous' storm strengthens to category two
Hurricane Michael has strengthened to a category two storm, with winds topping 100mph (155km/h) as it churns towards the Florida coast. The storm is expected to reach category three before making landfall on Wednesday. Governor Rick Scott warned residents to get out of the way, saying: "This is a monstrous storm." At least 13 people have already been reported killed in Central America as a result of Hurricane Michael. Forecasters say some regions of the US may see 12in (30cm) of rain, and storm surges of up to 12ft (3.6m). Is it expected to crawl up the US East Coast after making landfall on the Gulf Coast. Heavy rains is forecast for the Carolinas, which were drenched by Hurricane Florence last month. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, warned on Tuesday that warm waters will probably further strengthen Michael before it makes landfall. Over 300 miles of coastline are currently under threat, the National Weather Service has said. The agency warned residents in Florida and Alabama of possible storm surges, high winds and flash flooding. Governor Scott warned in a news conference that Hurricane Michael is a "massive storm that could bring total devastation to parts of our state, especially in the panhandle". He added that it is predicted to be "the most destructive storm to hit the Florida panhandle in decades". Some 120,000 people have been warned to evacuate along Florida's coast, where schools and state offices are to remain shut this week. Gov Scott warned of more evacuations due to the size of the potential storm surge.
10-8-18 The economics of climate change and tech innovation win U.S. pair a Nobel.
Award comes as a U.N. panel urges policy makers to pursue technical advances to curb warming. Two U.S. economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, have received the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their efforts to untangle the economics of climate change and technological innovations. Nordhaus and Romer “significantly broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement announcing the awards on October 8. Nordhaus, of Yale University, developed two computer simulations that weigh the costs and benefits of taking various steps to slow global warming. He has argued for taxes on the carbon content of fuels as an effective way to get businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has used Nordhaus’ work, among others, to estimate the economic impacts of climate change. The announcement of Nordhaus’ award came just hours after a United Nations panel on climate change released a report predicting grim future effects of climate change and calling for more vigorous action by world governments to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial times (SN Online: 10/7/18). The new report cites Nordhaus’ work. Romer, of New York University, expanded economic theory by arguing that government policies, such as funding for research and development, can stimulate technological advances. The presence or absence of such policies helps to explain national differences in wealth and economic growth, in Romer’s view.
10-8-18 What you need to know about the big UN climate report out today
A special report on limiting global warming to 1.5°C has been released. Get caught up on why it matters. When the Paris climate agreement was being negotiated in 2015, island nations facing obliteration from rising seas demanded swifter action. To get them on board, countries agreed not just to try to limit warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but also “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. It actually took climate scientists by surprise, given that the world had already warmed by 1°C and that no countries were proposing to do nearly enough to achieve the 2°C goal. Nonetheless, it was decided the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up by the United Nations, should put together a special report to compare the impacts of 1.5°C with 2°C, and what it would take to achieve it. It is a synthesis of all published research up to 15 May this year, so nothing in it should come as a surprise. It does not use that word but an early draft leaked in February came as close as this kind of report will ever get: “There is very high likelihood that under current emission trajectories and current national pledges the Earth will warm more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” This was watered down in a later leaked draft, which instead waffled on about feasibility: “There is no simple answer to the question of whether it is feasible to limit warming to 1.5°C… because feasibility has multiple dimensions…”. Even this got cut from the final report. While the first drafts of IPCC reports are written by climate scientists, the final wording is the outcome of political negotiations among diplomats. We know from yet more leaks that the US was one of the countries trying to water it down.
10-8-18 Front-runner in Brazil’s election wants to pull out of climate treaty
The far-right winner of the first round of Brazil's presidential election wants to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and cut down the Amazon rainforest. It’s not a move in the right direction. Just as a major climate report has highlighted how we are not doing nearly enough to meet the target of the Paris climate agreement, the first round of Brazil’s presidential election has been won by a far-right candidate who wants to withdraw from the deal. Jair Bolsonaro will face a left-wing Workers’ Party candidate in the second round on 28 October after he failed to get the 50 per cent of votes needed to win outright in the first round. As a large developing country and home of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s actions really matter when it comes to limiting further climate change. At one point the country had succeeded in greatly slowing deforestation but in recent years the rate of loss has soared. The Amazon rainforest is being cut down to make way for cattle ranches and soya farms. High prices for soya, as well as reduced funding for forest protection, are behind the rise in deforestation. “The abandonment of deforestation control policies and the political support for predatory agricultural practices make it impossible to meet targets consistent with Brazil’s contribution to a 2°C world,” Brazilian scientists warned in July in a letter in the journal Nature Climate Change. If Bolsonaro becomes president, environmental protections are likely to be weakened even further. Bolsonaro also wants eliminate the science and environment ministries, and his views on women and gay people have provoked outrage.
10-8-18 Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'
It's the final call, say scientists, the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures. Their dramatic report on keeping that rise under 1.5 degrees C says the world is now completely off track, heading instead towards 3C. Keeping to the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". It will be hugely expensive - but the window of opportunity remains open. After three years of research and a week of haggling between scientists and government officials at a meeting in South Korea, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C. The critical 33-page Summary for Policymakers certainly bears the hallmarks of difficult negotiations between climate researchers determined to stick to what their studies have shown and political representatives more concerned with economies and living standards. Despite the inevitable compromises, there are some key messages that come through loud and clear. "The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways," said Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC. "The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C - changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation."
10-8-18 Five things we have learned from the IPCC report
BBC environment correspondent Matt McGrath outlines five key takeaways from one of the most important reports on rising temperatures issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Their study, on the impacts and possible methods of keeping temperatures from warming by more than 1.5C, has just been launched in South Korea. There's no doubt that this dense, science-heavy, 33-page summary is the most significant warning about the impact of climate change in 20 years. "It is seriously alarming," Amjad Abdulla, a lead author on one of the chapters from the Maldives, told BBC News. "The small islands will be the first, but nobody can escape; it is quite clear." But while the warnings about the dangers of letting temperatures go beyond 1.5C are dire, the report says, surprisingly perhaps, that the world can keep below the limit. "We face a really large challenge but it is not impossible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees," said Dr Natalie Mahowald, an IPCC author. "I wouldn't want to be too optimistic as it will require huge changes, but if we don't do it, that will also require huge changes." The report goes to great lengths to point out the differences between allowing temperatures to rise towards 2 degrees C above pre-industrial times, or keeping them nearer to 1.5. A half a degree doesn't sound like much but whether it is coral reefs, crops, floods or the survival of species, everyone and everything is far better off in a world that keeps below 1.5C. "Every bit of extra warming makes a difference," said Dr Hans-Otto Pörtner of the IPCC. "By 2100, global mean sea level rise will be around 10cm lower for warming of 1.5 degrees compared with 2C. This could mean up to 10 million fewer people exposed to the risks of rising seas." Similarly, when it comes to heat waves, in a world that's warmed by up to 1.5C, about 14% of the population are exposed to a heat wave every five years. That increases to 37% of the population at 2C.
10-8-18 Economics Nobel prize given for putting a price tag on climate change
The 2018 Sveriges Riksbank prize in economic sciences has gone to Paul Romer and William Nordhaus for integrating climate change and technology into macroeconomics. William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, who integrated climate change and technological innovation into macroeconomic analysis, have won the 2018 Sveriges Riksbank prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel. Nordhaus at Yale University created the first model describing the interplay between the economy and the climate in the 1990s. His work is now used to study the consequences of climate policies, such as carbon taxes. Nordhaus’s work has been hugely influential in guiding thought about how the world should tackle climate change. His key recommendation is that governments, corporations and households should have to pay a price on carbon emissions. “Today it is virtually zero. If the price were higher, people would have other choices, like renewable energies,” he said after winning the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award earlier this year. Romer at New York University demonstrated how economic forces influence the willingness of firms to produce new ideas and innovations, and how knowledge can drive economic growth. In 1990, while mainstream economists were expecting growth to taper off, Romer overturned this idea by emphasising humanity’s limitless capacity for invention. Ideas would not suffer from scarcity and diminishing returns like material goods, he asserted, and would keep producing new opportunities for profit. His arguments made a compelling case for governments and companies to invest in research and innovation.
10-8-18 This year's Nobel prize for economics has been awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer for their work on sustainable growth.
This year's Nobel prize for economics has been awarded to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer for their work on sustainable growth. The US economists' research focuses on how climate change and technology have affected the economy. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said they had addressed "some of our time's most… pressing questions" on how to achieve sustainable growth. The duo will receive nine million Swedish krona (£841,000). Prof Nordhaus, of Yale University, was the first person to create a model that described the interplay between the economy and the climate, the academy said. Prof Romer, of New York University's Stern School of Business, has shown how economic forces govern the willingness of firms to produce new ideas and innovations. "Their findings have significantly broadened the scope of economic analysis by constructing models that explain how the market economy interacts with nature and knowledge," the academy said in statement. Prof Romer courted controversy earlier this year when he stepped down as the World Bank's chief economist after just 15 months in the job. He had claimed that Chile's rankings in a closely watched "Doing Business" report may have been manipulated for political reasons under socialist president Michelle Bachelet. It came amid reports that the outspoken economist had clashed with colleagues at the Word Bank over a host of issues, including the organisation's culture and economists' use of grammar. Commenting on the prize, Prof Romer told reporters: "I think... many people think that protecting he environment will be so costly and so hard that they just want to ignore [this]. "[But] we can absolutely make substantial progress protecting the environment and do it without giving up the chance to sustain growth."
10-7-18 Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees versus 2 has big benefits, the IPCC says
Scientists hope a new climate report will jump-start policy decisions to reduce emissions. Half a degree can make a world of difference. If Earth warms by just 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial times by 2100, rather than 2 degrees, we would see fewer life-threatening heat, drought and precipitation extremes, less sea level rise and fewer species lost. Those findings are detailed in a report, a summary of which was released October 8, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, following its weeklong meeting in Incheon, South Korea. The report is the result of dozens of climate scientists sifting through dozens of recent studies and new datasets probing the impact of a global temperature hike of 1.5 degrees. “This will be one of the most important meetings in the IPCC’s history,” Hoesung Lee, a climate economist at Korea University in South Korea and current IPCC chair, said in his opening address October 1. Three years ago, in 2015, 195 nations signed onto the Paris agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees by 2100 (SN: 1/9/16, p. 6). Getting all the delegates on the same 2-degree-warming page was a hard-won victory. But many scientists have warned that the 2-degree target isn’t stringent enough to prevent major environmental changes affecting everything from sea level rise to water scarcity to habitat loss. During the Paris talks, more than 100 nations — including many of those most vulnerable to climate change, such as the island nation of the Maldives and drought-stricken Angola — called for a lower warming target of 1.5 degrees.
10-6-18 Solar panels unveiled at Chernobyl nuclear power site
Ukraine launches its first solar plant in the abandoned area around the former nuclear power station. A new solar power plant has been built at the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power station. The Chernobyl plant was the site of a catastrophic nuclear disaster in 1986. Radioactive material was released into the atmosphere across parts of Europe, leading to a rise in cases of thyroid cancer. The area around the plant is now part of an exclusion zone spanning 1,000 square miles (2,600 sq km). The Chernobyl plant was decommissioned and forced to close in 2000. Ukraine has now launched its first solar plant in the abandoned area around the former power station. The country's government wants renewable energy companies to develop the abandoned land. The site will create enough energy to power around 2,000 households. However people will not be able to return to live in the evacuated zone for another 24,000 years, Ukrainian authorities say.
10-5-18 Our overheating national parks
America’s national parks could soon be unrecognizable because of climate change. That’s the conclusion of a new study that found average annual temperatures in the country’s 417 national parks increased twice as fast from 1895 to 2010 as they did in the rest of the U.S., and that precipitation levels in those protected wildernesses sharply dropped. If carbon emissions that cause climate change aren’t curbed, the study says, temperatures could rise 16 degrees in certain areas by 2100. That would kill most of the spiky yucca palms that give California’s Joshua Tree National Park its name, melt Glacier National Park’s most iconic features, and cause raging wildfires that could turn Yellowstone’s conifer forests into grassland. Parks are particularly vulnerable because of where they are located: More than half the country’s national park area is in Alaska—which has been severely affected by climate change—and many other parks are in the arid Southwest. “The key is to take action now,” lead author Patrick Gonzalez, from the University of California, Berkeley, tells OutsideOnline.com. “The later we head down that road, the less chance we have of saving the parks.”
10-5-18 Timber laundering
Amazon rain forest timber is being illegally logged, falsely labeled, and sold abroad, mostly to the U.S. and China, according to Peruvian investigative journalism site Ojo-Publico.com. Timber traffickers in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia inflate their counts of lumber taken from areas where logging is legal and slap the extra certificates onto shipments of wood taken from protected forests. Most of this “timber laundering” takes place in Peru, where some 5,000 truckloads of illegal timber were harvested between October 2017 and August 2018. Scientists say the Amazon has lost 17 percent of its tree cover in the past 50 years, and once that figure reaches 20 percent, the forest will no longer be able to keep functioning as one of the lungs of the planet.
10-5-18 North Carolinians
North Carolinians, who are facing a plague of mosquitoes hatching in floodwaters left behind by Hurricane Florence, including members of the species Psorophora ciliata, which are the size of a quarter and have a bite that feels “like you’re being stabbed.”
10-5-18 Caution urged over use of 'carbon unicorns' to limit warming
Climate scientists meeting in Korea are being urged to avoid relying on untested technologies as a way of keeping global temperature rise under 1.5C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish a report on how the world might stay below this limit. Early drafts said it would require machines to suck carbon out of the air. The ideas are unrealistic, said one expert, calling them "carbon unicorns". The IPCC special report, to be released on Monday, is expected to point towards the use of technology as a critical part of efforts to keep below the guardrail figure. Earlier versions of the document stated that all the pathways to keeping below 1.5C required rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions with net-zero reached by the middle of this century. If emissions continue at the present rate, the world would "overshoot" 1.5C by 2040. If this happens, researchers believe that carbon dioxide removal technologies, in some form, would be needed to help bring the Earth's temperature back down. The IPCC report is expected to mention a number of approaches that range from planting more trees, to direct air capture of CO2, to bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). The latter involves growing large amounts of plants that capture CO2, and then burning them for energy while capturing and storing the gas that is emitted. This has long been a controversial approach - requiring huge amounts of land to grow crops for burning. Previous research calculated an area twice the size of India would be needed to help the world stay under 2C of warming this century. "It sounds crazy, and it is crazy," said Dr Glen Peters, a climate researcher at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway. "But this may be the only way to keep temperatures well below 2C. "I struggle to see how the world can remove billions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere for decades, but if we want 1.5C then we have to accept that this may be the only possible pathway." Others agree that BECCS is possible but impractical, diverting huge amounts of land from food production at a time when the world population is expected to be touching 9 billion.
Structure with 160 CO2 Removal Machines
We'll need 625,000 of these structures to remove the 37 Billion Tons of CO2 that we are currently dumping every year into the atmosphere.
That will be 2,500 rows of them 25 miles long!
10-5-18 What you need to know about the big UN climate report out next week
A special report on limiting global warming to 1.5°C will be published on Monday, but draft versions have already been leaked. Get caught up on why it matters. When the Paris climate agreement was being negotiated in 2015, island nations facing obliteration from rising seas demanded swifter action. To get them on board, countries agreed not just to try to limit warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, but also “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”. It actually took climate scientists by surprise, given that the world had already warmed by 1°C and that no countries were proposing to do nearly enough to achieve the 2°C goal. Nonetheless, it was decided the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up by the United Nations, should put together a special report to compare the impacts of 1.5°C with 2°C, and what it would take to achieve it. It is a synthesis of all published research up to 15 May this year, so there should be no unexpected revelations. It does not use that word but an early draft leaked in February came as close as this kind of report will ever get: “There is very high likelihood that under current emission trajectories and current national pledges the Earth will warm more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” This was watered down in a later leaked draft, which instead waffles on about feasibility: “There is no simple answer to the question of whether it is feasible to limit warming to 1.5°C… because feasibility has multiple dimensions…”
10-5-18 Fast fashion is harming the planet, MPs say
Young people's love of fast fashion is coming under the scrutiny of Britain's law-makers. MPs say the fashion industry is a major source of the greenhouse gases that are overheating the planet. Discarded clothes are also piling up in landfill sites. and fibre fragments are flowing into the sea when clothes are washed. The retailers admit more needs to be done, but say they are already working to reduce the impact of their products. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee says there is a basic problem with an industry that relies on persuading people to throw away good clothes because they are "last year's colour". It quotes evidence that: 1. British shoppers buy far more new clothes than any nation in Europe, 2. People are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did a decade ago, 3. Fish in the seas are eating synthetic fibres dislodged in the wash. The MPs have written to the UK's top fashion bosses asking how they can maintain the £28bn benefit their industry brings to the UK economy, while reducing the environmental harm. They believe swift action is essential, because if current clothes consumption continues "...they will account for more than a quarter of our total impact on climate change by 2050", chairwoman Mary Creagh told BBC News. "Three in five garments end in landfill or incinerators within a year - that's expensive fuel! Half a million tonnes of microfibres a year enter the ocean. Doing nothing is not an option."
10-4-18 Vietnam's children and the fear of climate change
One little girl draws a nightmarish picture of people calling for rescue as they drown in rising water. Another sketches a huge snake with sharp teeth to show the power and danger of flooding. These disturbing images are the work of children at a primary school in Can Tho province, a region of Vietnam that is regularly swamped. They live in the Mekong Delta, a huge plain of rivers and rice-fields that's popular with tourists but lies only just above the surface of the ocean. The land itself is sinking and, at the same time, the level of the sea is rising, as global warming causes the water to expand and the ice caps to melt. That's why the delta, one of the world's greatest centres for rice production and home to 18 million people, is recognised as especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The children were asked to draw their pictures as part of a project run by Florence Halstead from the University of Hull, a researcher into young people's attitudes on global warming. At a primary school, which was itself flooded three years ago, she asked the pupils to close their eyes and think about flooding and then to describe what was on their minds. Loi, a 10-year-old, leapt to his feet and came out with a shocking image - "people on their houses screaming for help". His classmate, To Nhu, used crayons to depict a small girl drifting on her own in a boat towards what looked like a whirlpool or tornado. "I think the flood is so scary," she told me, "and I hope that we will not be swept away in the flood season." (Webmaster's comment: First we burn millions of their civilians alive with our naplam and now we drown them with global warming caused by our CO2 emissions! We've never cared about non-whites anywhere in the world.)
10-4-18 Wind farms do affect climate – but they don’t cause global warming
A study has claimed that large-scale wind power in the US would cause significant warming, but this is misleading and could harm take-up of renewables. A study published today claims that if the US generated enough energy from wind to meet its current electricity demand, the surface of the continental US would warm by 0.24°C. What’s more, it goes on to compare this increase with global warming. It would take 100 years for the savings in greenhouse gas emissions from all those windfarms to counteract this warming, the researchers estimate. “Large-scale US wind power would cause a warming effect that would take roughly a century to offset,” claims the headline on a press release issued alongside the study. This research is part of an ongoing debate, but other climate scientists say this particular claim is misleading. For starters, the study assumes that a third of the US is covered in wind turbines, points out wind energy researcher Cristina Archer of the University of Delaware. “That means you jump in your car in Ohio and drive all the way to the Rocky Mountains, and all you see at every point is wind turbines,” she says. “It’s a crazy scenario that’s never going to happen.” What’s more, the study relied on a regional climate model called the WRF. This model has a known flaw that exaggerates the air-mixing effect of wind turbines two or threefold, says Archer. Then there’s the comparison with global warming. The crucial point here is that wind turbines simply redistribute heat that’s already in the air. At night, for instance, the ground cools and so does the layer of air just above it. The turning of turbine blades heats the surface by bringing down warmer air from above – the overall heat content of the atmosphere does not change and the effect ceases when the turbines stops turning.
10-4-18 How wind power could contribute to a warming climate
Enough turbines to generate all of America’s power would warm the U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius. Giant wind turbines that generate fossil fuel–free power add a little heat of their own to the planet. If the United States sprouted enough wind turbines to meet its entire demand for electricity, the turbines would immediately raise the region’s surface air temperatures by 0.24 degrees Celsius, on average, scientists report online October 4 in Joule. In the short term, that’s not a negligible amount: Current global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to warm the contiguous United States by 0.24 degrees Celsius by 2030. Harvard University applied physicists Lee Miller and David Keith postulated a parallel world in the years 2012 through 2014: In it, a wind farm region across the central United States generates 0.46 terawatts of electric power — as much as the country currently uses. With those hypothetical turbines in place, surface air temperatures during those years were warmer than average across the contiguous United States, particularly near the center of the wind farm region, Miller and Keith (who also started the Vancouver-based carbon capture company Carbon Engineering) found.
10-3-18 'Reasons to be hopeful' on 1.5C global temperature target
Dutch scientist Dr Heleen de Coninck is one of the co-ordinating lead authors of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5C which will be released next Monday in South Korea. Speaking to the BBC before the start of the negotiations in Incheon, she explained what her role involves and why, despite the enormous climate challenge facing the world, she believes there are some hopeful signs.
Many people think that perhaps we can tackle climate change with technology - do you think that's something that will be needed in the future? If we go on the way the way we are living at the moment with our high-energy usage, high consumption lifestyles, it is hard to stay consistent with the 1.5C temperature scenarios, that's very clear. So we will need all kinds of changes, and technological changes are part of that. One thing that is in the news is negative emissions technology, at some point we should not only prevent the emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, we may have to remove these gases from the atmosphere. That's fairly new technology, so we are not there yet.
Are there reasons to be optimistic? Personally I am hopeful. We're seeing some countries making serious plans to be consistent with 1.5C, we are seeing costs of renewable energies drop. Many people are adopting low-emission lifestyles, and for instance don't fly anymore. Even the costs of some negative emission technologies are dropping so we are seeing some hopeful signs. The IPCC also tries to be more solution-oriented rather than only flagging and analysing problems. There's really good reasons to really start working now! I'm not sure about optimism, but I think that losing hope is never a good idea.
10-2-18 What does 1.5C mean in a warming world?
Over the past three years, climate scientists have shifted the definition of what they believe is the "safe" limit of climate change. For decades, researchers argued the global temperature rise must be kept below 2C by the end of this century to avoid the worst impacts. But scientists now argue that keeping below 1.5C is a far safer limit for the world. Everyone agrees that remaining below that target will not be easy. This week in South Korea, researchers will report on the feasibility and costs of achieving this lower limit. The scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are gathering in the city of Incheon to hammer out a plan in co-operation with government delegates, on the actions that would need to be taken to meet this new goal. The idea of two degrees as the safe threshold for warming evolved over a number of years from the first recorded mention by economist William Nordhaus in 1975. By the mid 1990s, European ministers were signing up to the two-degree limit, and by 2010 it was official UN policy. Governments agreed in Cancun to "hold the increase in global average temperatures below two degrees". However, small island states and low-lying countries were very unhappy with this perspective, because they believed it meant their territories would be inundated with sea water as higher temperatures caused more ice to melt and the seas to expand. They commissioned research which showed that preventing temperatures from rising beyond 1.5C would give them a fighting chance. At the ill-fated Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, the climate-vulnerable nations pushed for the lower figure, but their efforts were lost in the blame-game that followed the collapse of the conference. But the idea didn't go away completely - and by the time of the Paris negotiations in 2015, it emerged centre-stage as French diplomats sought to build a broad coalition of rich and poor nations who would support a deal.
10-2-18 Cargo ships through the Arctic may cool the region, but that’s bad
Sending more cargo ships through the Arctic as the sea ice retreats might actually reduce the warming in the region, but it would also threaten human health. All the extra shipping traffic passing through the Arctic might have an unexpected upside: slightly slowing the rapid warming around the North Pole, helping the sea ice linger a little longer. But it would also have other, less pleasant consequences. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet, and as a result the sea ice has retreated for decades. The Arctic may see its first ice-free summer for millennia in the next few decades – although the ice does grow back in winter. The shrinking ice means shipping routes that were once impassable are opening up. Shipping firm Maersk said last week that one of its vessels had travelled from Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast to St Petersburg, via the Northern Sea Route. Such routes can shave thousands of kilometres off journeys. “We’ve known for some time that shipping in the Arctic is likely to have climate impacts of one form or another,” says Scott Stephenson of the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Ships release black carbon, which both traps more of the Sun’s energy and darkens the ice – causing it to absorb more heat. On the flip side, aerosols like sulphur dioxide cause more clouds to form, which reflect heat and therefore cool the area. Previous studies focused on one but not the other of these processes, or used simple climate models in which certain variables like the extent of the sea ice were fixed.
10-2-18 Tracking how rainfall morphs Earth’s surface could help forecast flooding
Using GPS, scientists measured Hurricane Harvey’s daily flood footprint. By mapping how downpours cause Earth’s crust to sag and swell, scientists may one day better forecast floods. When Hurricane Harvey struck the southern United States in August 2017, it crushed rainfall records and doused the region with roughly 95 cubic kilometers of water, leaving cities like Houston inundated. Using daily elevation data from 219 GPS stations along Harvey’s path, scientists traced the rise and fall of Earth’s surface. “The idea was to try to provide a new approach to tracking storm water,” says Christopher Milliner, a geodesist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The weight of the water caused some parts of the Gulf Coast to sink by as much as 21 millimeters and then rebound, depending on how quickly the water flowed away or evaporated, Milliner and his colleagues report online September 19 in Science Advances. Such tracking could aid future predictions for how floodwaters might move and where they might pool. Meteorological forecasts already reliably track where large amounts of rain fall, helping communities prepare for potential flooding. But these forecasts can’t always predict where that water will go or how it will impact area waterways. So Milliner’s team started with a question: “Once Harvey deposited that water, what happened to it?” The weight of Harvey’s floodwaters caused fluctuations in the height of Earth’s surface. Surveying this crustal deformation indicated exactly where the water pooled as the hurricane passed overhead, and helped researchers calculate the weight of the water.
10-1-18 IPCC: Climate scientists consider 'life changing' report
It is likely to be the most critical and controversial report on climate change in recent years. Leading scientists are meeting in South Korea this week to see if global temperatures can be kept from rising by more than 1.5C this century. The world has already passed one degree of warming as carbon emissions have ballooned since the 1850s. Many low-lying countries say they may disappear under the sea if the 1.5C limit is breached. After a week of deliberations in the city of Incheon, the researchers' new report is likely to say that keeping below this limit will require urgent and dramatic action from governments and individuals alike. One scientist told BBC News that our lives would never be the same if the world changed course to stay under 1.5C. 2018 is on course to be fourth warmest year. The new study is being produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body set up to provide a clear scientific view for governments on the causes, impacts and solutions to rising temperatures. When the Paris climate agreement was signed in December 2015, there was delight and surprise among many delegates that countries had agreed that the long-term goal of the pact should be to keep global temperatures "well below two degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees C". To examine the challenges and impacts of keeping temperatures below the 1.5C limit, the UN asked the IPCC to produce a special report, which the scientific body has delivered in record time. This week in Incheon, the scientists and government delegates will go through the final, short, 15-page Summary for Policymakers, the key distillation of the underlying scientific reports. This will be done word by word, to ensure everyone - scientists and governments alike - are in agreement on the text.