64 Global Warming News Articles
for July of 2017
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7-31-17 Jellyfish blooms linked to offshore gas platforms and wind farms
Jellyfish blooms linked to offshore gas platforms and wind farms
Vast blooms of jellyfish are becoming increasingly common – perhaps because human-made offshore platforms act as ideal nursery grounds for young jellies. Jellymageddon is upon us – and we might be partly responsible. Vast blooms of moon jellyfish and other related species are being reported with increasing frequency in the media. Evidence now suggests that our offshore constructions, including oil and gas platforms and wind farms, may be aiding these gelatinous invasions. Jellyfish form an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem, but create problems when they appear in large numbers. Such groups shut down beaches for swimmers, clog fishing nets, cause the closure of power plants and desalination facilities by blocking their water intakes, and alter the marine food chain by gobbling fish larvae and food for plankton feeders. Many jellyfish, including the harmless purple moon jellyfish, start life as “polyps” that need to attach themselves to a surface – often preferring overhanging ones. Such surfaces are fairly rare in nature, but some researchers think the increase in number of marine constructions may have inadvertently helped jellyfish to thrive by providing polyps with the ideal home (see “Jellyfish takeover”). Moon jellyfish have become increasingly common in the Adriatic Sea in recent decades. They were first observed there in 1834, but tended to be a rare occurrence. Between the 1950s and 70s they appeared once or twice per decade, and by the 80s and 90s were present around eight years in every 10. In the last two decades, they have been present every year. This surge in numbers has coincided with a rise in gas platforms in the Adriatic, from its first in 1968 to around 140 now.
7-28-17 Does doom and gloom convince anyone about climate change?
Does doom and gloom convince anyone about climate change?
New York magazine article brings teachable moment on communicating climate change science. An apocalyptic message about climate change might motivate some people to act but make others feel hopeless, science communication experts say. A couple of weeks ago, an article in New York magazine laid out a horrific scenario of global warming. The photo at the top summed up the tone: A fossilized human skull, jaw gaping beneath aviator sunglasses, hovered over a caption warning that people could be “cooked to death from both inside and out” in a hotter climate. If that’s not doom and gloom, I don’t know what is. Yet despite being a complete downer, the article quickly became New York magazine’s most-read story ever. The article also reignites a debate over how best to communicate the science of climate change. Scientists and others who hope to inform the public or spur action have long struggled with how to convey the high stakes of global warming without making people feel helpless or fueling deniers by coming across as alarmist. “Certainly a lot of people paid attention to it, and it sparked a very good conversation about what we’re up against,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. But its message of impending doom can have very different effects on people, he notes. “There are different audiences in this country, and they’re affected by extreme scenarios differently.” Others suggested it was just the kick in the pants that America needs. In fact, Slate said, the article isn’t too alarmist; the rest of us just haven’t been alarmist enough. (Webmaster's comment: THIS IS REAL! People in the world have already DIED because of Global Warming. How many more have to die before people demand action by their governments!)
7-27-17 Canada's Supreme Court halts seismic testing near Inuit hamlet
Canada's Supreme Court halts seismic testing near Inuit hamlet
A tiny Inuit hamlet in Canada's northern territory of Nunavut has won a landmark indigenous consultation case in Canada's top court. The Supreme Court ruled that oil and gas exploration near the community of Clyde River cannot go ahead. The unanimous decision stated Canada failed in its duty to consult the tiny Inuit hamlet about the impact of seismic testing near their community. The court heard the case in November. Wednesday's decision helps clarify the federal government's duty to consult with indigenous groups on development projects. Jerry Natanine, former mayor of Clyde River, said on Wednesday he is grateful for the outcome of the "seemingly impossible case". "Justice is on our side. We're fighting for our life, our way of life." The legal fight dates back to 2014, when three energy companies received authorisation from the National Energy Board (NEB), a regulatory agency, to undertake a five-year offshore seismic survey for oil and gas under the ocean around Baffin Island. The northern community of under 1,000 people relies heavily on hunting and fishing for both food and trade. They also had established treaty rights to hunt and harvest marine mammals in the area. The community was concerned the seismic testing, which uses loud noises, would harm the marine life they depend on, a worry confirmed by the NEB. The agency's environmental assessment concluded the project could indeed endanger marine mammals and change their migration routes. Their campaign caught the attention of celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Thompson, Jane Fonda, and Oprah Winfrey. Greenpeace Canada also championed the cause, including funding some of the legal fees.
7-26-17 Perovskites power up the solar industry
Perovskites power up the solar industry
A promising material could deliver sunny days for renewable energy — if it can expand its reach. Researchers are betting on a class of sunlight-absorbing materials called perovskites to improve today’s solar cells. A perovskite’s cagelike crystal structure surrounds a chunky ion such as methylammonium. The red, purple and orange balls are ions that can be varied so the material absorbs different wavelengths of light in its 3-D form. Tsutomu Miyasaka was on a mission to build a better solar cell. It was the early 2000s, and the Japanese scientist wanted to replace the delicate molecules that he was using to capture sunlight with a sturdier, more effective option. So when a student told him about an unfamiliar material with unusual properties, Miyasaka had to try it. The material was “very strange,” he says, but he was always keen on testing anything that might respond to light. Other scientists were running electricity through the material, called a perovskite, to generate light. Miyasaka, at Toin University of Yokohama in Japan, wanted to know if the material could also do the opposite: soak up sunlight and convert it into electricity. To his surprise, the idea worked. When he and his team replaced the light-sensitive components of a solar cell with a very thin layer of the perovskite, the illuminated cell pumped out a little bit of electric current. The result, reported in 2009 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, piqued the interest of other scientists, too. The perovskite’s properties made it (and others in the perovskite family) well-suited to efficiently generate energy from sunlight. Perhaps, some scientists thought, this perovskite might someday be able to outperform silicon, the light-absorbing material used in more than 90 percent of solar cells around the world.
7-26-17 Expert eavesdroppers occasionally catch a break
Expert eavesdroppers occasionally catch a break
In July of 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite into orbit around Earth. Since then, the spacecraft and its successors have transformed our understanding of Antarctica (and the rest of the planet, too). In the first year following the launch, Landsat’s images of the faraway continent showed “uncharted mountain ranges, vast ice movements and errors in maps as little as two years old,” according to an article published in Science News. William MacDonald of the U.S. Geological Survey, who had spent eight years mapping a part of West Antarctica, was “shocked” to learn of previously unknown peaks just 100 miles from McMurdo Station. Landsat’s images weren’t the first overhead shots of Antarctica, but to this day the program provides researchers a reliable and repeating view of hard-to-reach corners of the planet. It was Landsat images that in November of 2014 first alerted scientists to a growing crack in the Larsen C ice shelf that, after lengthening by about 20 kilometers in less than nine months, threatened to break off a Delaware-sized chunk of the shelf. With thermal imagery from Landsat 8 along with data from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellites, scientists sitting half a world away tracked the Larsen C crack to its final break, as described by Ashley Yeager.
7-26-17 UK ban on polluting cars by 2040 is just a cynical smokescreen
UK ban on polluting cars by 2040 is just a cynical smokescreen
The UK government’s plan to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars in two decades’ time is no help for those affected by air pollution. Imagine you are UK environment minister Michael Gove, the person tasked with cleaning up the nation’s air pollution. Your country is bound by limits on air pollution levels set by the European Union, but many areas still breach these rules seven years after they came into force. Your government has been repeatedly ordered by the country’s Supreme Court to come up with a plan to fix this fast, yet you know your latest scheme is still inadequate. What to do? What you need is a headline-grabbing announcement that doesn’t actually require you to do anything. Perhaps something already in the works that can be repurposed for your current predicament. For instance, it is clear that electric vehicles are set to replace fossil-fuelled ones. This transition has to happen if the UK is to meet its legal obligation to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Your government already aims for this switch to happen by 2040. “Our ambition is for nearly all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040,” transport minister Chris Grayling said last October. (Webmaster's comment: 23 years from now! This is why Global Warming will win. Pathetic, whimpy legislation like this.)
7-26-17 Diesel and petrol car ban: Clean air strategy 'not enough'
Diesel and petrol car ban: Clean air strategy 'not enough'
The government's £3bn clean air strategy does not go "far enough or fast enough", campaigners have said. Moves including scrapping new diesel and petrol cars from 2040 and £255m for councils to tackle air pollution locally have been welcomed. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the government was determined to deliver a "green revolution". But environmental groups criticised the decision not to include a scrappage scheme or immediate clean air zones. The plan to stop all sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is part of the government's intention for almost every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050. The government report includes the promise of £40m immediately to start local schemes rolling, which could include changing road layouts, retrofitting public transport or schemes to encourage people to leave their cars at home. The funding pot will come from changes to tax on diesel vehicles and the reprioritising departmental budgets - the exact details will be announced later in the year. If those measures do not cut emissions enough, charging zones for the most polluting vehicles could be the next step. (Webmaster's comment: 23 years is a long time to breathe the rotten stuff we are now calling air.)
7-24-17 Sea level fears as Greenland darkens
Sea level fears as Greenland darkens
Scientists are "very worried" that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected. They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface. Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly. Currently the Greenland ice sheet is adding up to 1mm a year to the rise in the global average level of the oceans. It is the largest mass of ice in the northern hemisphere covering an area about seven times the size of the United Kingdom and reaching up to 3km (2 miles) in thickness. This means that the average sea level would rise around the world by about seven metres, more than 20ft, if it all melted. That is why Greenland, though remote, is a focus of research which has direct relevance to major coastal cities as far apart as Miami, London and Shanghai and low-lying areas in Bangladesh and parts of Britain. Algae were first observed on the Greenland ice sheet more than a century ago but until recently its potential impact was ignored. Only in the last few years have researchers started to explore how the microscopically small plants could affect future melting. A five-year UK research project known as Black and Bloom is under way to investigate the different species of algae and how they might spread, and then to use this knowledge to improve computer projections of future sea level rise. The possibility of biologically inspired melting was not included in the estimates for sea level rise published by the UN's climate panel, the IPCC, in its latest report in 2013. (Webmaster's comment: It will accelerate because we have done nothing significant to slow global warming down. CO2 just keeps going up and Global Teemperatures just keep going up.)
7-24-17 Australia to expand commercial fishing in marine sanctuaries
Australia to expand commercial fishing in marine sanctuaries
Fishing operations will be rolled out in Australia’s protected marine areas, in a move that could endanger fragile ecosystems. Draft guidelines released on Friday propose increasing the total proportion of Australia’s marine reserves permitting commercial fishing from 64 to 80 per cent. If environment minister Josh Frydenberg’s proposal is approved, Australia will become the first country to wind back its ocean protection measures. At the moment, 36 per cent of Australian waters are classified as marine parks. These areas are closed to oil and gas exploration and restrict commercial fishing to defined zones where the environmental threat is considered low. Under the proposed changes, one of the hardest-hit regions will be the Coral Sea marine park adjoining the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland. Strict regulations are currently in place – including a fishing ban in half the 1-million-square-kilometre reserve – because it is one of the few regions in the world where large species like tuna, marlin and sharks continue to thrive. The area is also on the annual migration route for humpback whales, and has important nesting sites for seabirds and threatened turtle species. Frydenberg is proposing cutting the no-fishing areas of the reserve by 53 per cent to “enable a continued Australian tuna fishing industry based out of northern Queensland”. (Webmaster's comment: Kill it all, eat it all, more money for all. In the near future there will be no all left and then what will we do?)
7-24-17 Can technological wizardry save the planet?
Can technological wizardry save the planet?
Environmentalists have been waxing apocalyptic about global warming for several decades now. What do they have to show for it? America's president just pulled out of the Paris climate accord, leaving a rudderless and bereft global movement, and a nation with little appetite for meaningful political action on climate change. Why have environmentalists failed so utterly to push their cause forward? Because they've gone about it all wrong. Instead of treating global warming like a problem that needs to be addressed regardless of what caused it, the green left has been more obsessed with establishing humanity's culpability and embracing ever more extreme and painful mitigation steps, as if they were more concerned with punishing the perpetrators than solving the problem. Global warming guru Al Gore called in 1992 for the elimination of the internal combustion engine from the planet in 25 years, but the accursed engine is nowhere close to going away. Many environmentalists want to eradicate fossil fuels. This will never happen — or at least won't happen for a long, long time — especially in emerging economies that need cheap fuel to spur development and deliver decent living standards. Some liberals now say we should save the planet by having fewer kids, each of whom creates 58 tons of carbon dioxide each year (more for American parents). This is a ludicrous and inhumane suggestion. Apart from smacking of being misanthropic, the problem with all these remedies is that they suffer from what's called the collective action problem. Take, for example, forgoing children: If some people forgo but others don't, the former will suffer a deep personal loss and the planet will be no better off. Hence everyone waits for someone else to go first and the "solution" doesn't even get off the ground.
7-24-17 Electricity shake-up could save consumers 'up to £40bn'
Electricity shake-up could save consumers 'up to £40bn'
Consumers in the UK could save billions of pounds thanks to major changes in the way electricity is made, used and stored, the government has said. New rules will make it easier for people to generate their own power with solar panels, store it in batteries and sell it to the National Grid. If they work, consumers will save £17bn to £40bn by 2050, according to the government and energy regulator Ofgem. The rules are due to come into effect over the next year. They will reduce costs for someone who allows their washing machine to be turned on by the internet to maximise use of cheap solar power on a sunny afternoon. And they will even support people who agree to have their freezers switched off for a few minutes to smooth demand at peak times. They'll also benefit a business that allows its air-conditioning to be turned down briefly to help balance a spell of peak energy demand on the National Grid. Among the first to gain from the rule changes will be people with solar panels and battery storage. At the moment they are charged tariffs when they import electricity into their home or export it back to the grid. The government has realised that this rule must change because it deters people from using power more flexibly in a way that will benefit everyone.
7-23-17 World's first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland
World's first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland
The world's first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland. The revolutionary technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines. The Peterhead wind farm, known as Hywind, is a trial which will bring power to 20,000 homes. Manufacturer Statoil says output from the turbines is expected to equal or surpass generation from current ones. It hopes to cash in on a boom in the technology, especially in Japan and the west coast of the US, where waters are deep. "This is a tech development project to ensure it's working in open sea conditions. It's a game-changer for floating wind power and we are sure it will help bring costs down," said Leif Delp, project director for Hywind.
7-21-17 Arctic highway to top of world leads to hopes and fears
Arctic highway to top of world leads to hopes and fears
The remote hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, Canada used to only be accessible by ice road in the winter and bush plane in the summer. Now the community on top of the world is getting an all-weather highway that will open up the Arctic corner of the world to development. (Webmaster's comment: Open to the destruction of the environment is more like it.)
7-21-17 Climate change: Will doomsday scenarios backfire?
Climate change: Will doomsday scenarios backfire?
However alarmed you are about climate change, said David Wallace-Wells in New York magazine, you are “not alarmed enough.” After years of attacks from climate skeptics, the scientific community has become overly cautious in its predictions of how climate change may impact life on Earth, and how quickly. Behind the climatologists’ public “reticence,” however, there is growing evidence that unless we act now to dramatically cut carbon emissions, by the year 2100 the human race could be living, or rather dying, on an “uninhabitable planet.” Temperatures are already rising rapidly, particularly in polar regions, and within the next few decades warmer air could melt the Arctic permafrost, releasing 1.8 trillion tons of trapped carbon—twice as much as is currently in the atmosphere. This chain-reaction effect will greatly accelerate the rate of warming, rapidly raising global temperatures by more than 8 degrees. Baking heat and drought will quickly turn most of the planet’s agricultural regions into deserts. Seas will rise by as much as 10 feet, inundating coastlines. People all over the world will literally die of 110-degree heat and suffocating humidity. The worst can still be avoided, if this scenario shocks us out of our complacency, but right now, we’re on course to destroy our planet.
7-21-17 Giant iceberg on the loose
Giant iceberg on the loose
An iceberg roughly the size of Delaware broke away from Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf, permanently altering the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula, Reuters?.com reports. The iceberg spans roughly 2,200 square miles and weighs more than 1 trillion tons, making it one of the largest ever recorded. Larsen C, the fourth-largest ice shelf in Antarctica, is now 12 percent smaller. The phenomenon, known as calving, was not unexpected: For several years glaciologists had been monitoring the ice shelf for a growing rift, and the process had accelerated within the past year. In recent weeks the 120-mile crack, which had been running parallel to the Weddell Sea, turned toward the water and finally broke through the remaining few miles of ice. The iceberg, dubbed A68, was already floating before it calved, so there is no immediate impact on sea levels. Researchers point out, however, that Larsen C holds back the flow of glaciers into the ocean and warn that the event could trigger a chain reaction that would increase the flow of glacial melt, raising sea levels by up to 4 inches. Experts say further study is needed to gauge the extent to which climate change played a role in splitting off the iceberg, but in any case the future stability of Larsen C is now at risk. “In the ensuing months and years,” says glaciologist Adrian Luckman, “the ice shelf could either gradually regrow or suffer further calving events, which may eventually lead to collapse.”
7-20-17 California climate case turns up the heat on fossil fuel giants
California climate case turns up the heat on fossil fuel giants
Coastal communities in the US state are suing oil, gas and coal giants for the cost of dealing with sea level rise. Expect more of this, says Sophie Marjanac. In a potentially historic move, the coastal Californian counties of Marin and San Mateo, together with the City of Imperial Beach, have each filed a lawsuit against 20 of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers. The claims allege that by extracting, marketing and distributing oil, coal and gas, the companies have engaged in conduct that has and will continue to cause rising sea levels. The claims say the resulting floods interfere with public and private property and affect the rights of coastal residents in the US state to health, safety, peace, comfort and convenience. This is part of a growing international trend of climate change litigation: lawsuits that seek to hold companies and governments accountable for the increasing loss and damage attributable to anthropogenic climate change. Although similar claims brought in the US during the George W. Bush era had mixed success, more recent international examples have seen courts willing to take a position on the difficult issue of climate change. In 2015, a Dutch court ordered the government to tighten its target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate future climate change and consequent harm to the nation’s people and environment. Litigation is also being pursued against governments using several different legal approaches in New Zealand, Switzerland and India.
7-19-17 Earth is becoming 'Planet Plastic'
Earth is becoming 'Planet Plastic'
US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made and put the number at 8.3 billion tonnes. It is an astonishing mass of material that has essentially been created only in the last 65 years or so. The 8.3 billion tonnes is as heavy as 25,000 Empire State Buildings in New York, or a billion elephants. The great issue is that plastic items, like packaging, tend to be used for very short periods before being discarded. More than 70% of the total production is now in waste streams, sent largely to landfill - although too much of it just litters the wider environment, including the oceans. "We are rapidly heading towards 'Planet Plastic', and if we don't want to live on that kind of world then we may have to rethink how we use some materials, in particular plastic," Dr Roland Geyer told BBC News. A paper authored by the industrial ecologist from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and colleagues appears in the journal Science Advances. It is described as the first truly global assessment of how much plastic has been manufactured, how the material in all its forms is used, and where it ends up. Here are some of its key numbers.
- 8,300 million tonnes of virgin plastics have been produced
- Half of this material was made in just the past 13 years
- About 30% of the historic production remains in use today
- Of the discarded plastic, roughly 9% has been recycled
- Some 12% has been incinerated, but 79% has gone to landfill
- Shortest-use items are packaging, typically less than a year
- Longest-use products are found in construction and machinery
- Current trends point to 12 billion tonnes of waste by 2050
- Which will be a tonne of plastic waste for every human on earth!
- Recycling rates in 2014: Europe (30%), China (25%), US (9%)
(Webmaster's comment: And again America falls 67% behind Europe and China. We are a real nation of losers!)
7-19-17 Throwaway culture: The truth about recycling
Throwaway culture: The truth about recycling
We take it for granted that recycling is the best way to dispose of waste. But is that just greenwash? New Scientist sorts through the trash so that you can make up your mind. From the most basic environmental point of view, all materials are worth recycling, because this reduces the need for energy-intensive mining and smelting of virgin materials. That makes a huge difference for some things – notably aluminium – but even recycling glass leads to a small energy saving and consequent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling can also provide a reliable, non-imported source of scarce resources such as the rare earth metals that are crucial parts of touchscreens and other high-tech devices. However, the answer gets muddier when we consider economics. The price of recycled material fluctuates wildly, and some often aren’t profitable to recycle, especially if the recovered material has to be shipped long distances to a reprocessing plant. Waste managers often have to pay recyclers to take glass off their hands, for example. That can make virgin glass look like a better deal – but only because we often fail to include the environmental costs of mining sand and the carbon emissions from glassmaking furnaces. Similarly, plastics are often reprocessed in China, so proximity to a seaport may dictate whether it is profitable to recycle them. Other low-value materials such as wood and textiles need to be clean to be recyclable. The extra effort and expense required to separate them from general waste means they often end up in landfill. “In the US, landfill accounts for 18 per cent of methane emissions, making it the third largest source”
7-19-17 Why is India drilling deep into an earthquake hotspot?
Why is India drilling deep into an earthquake hotspot?
In the windswept skein of mountains in India's Western Ghats, geologists are drilling some of Asia's deepest boreholes in an audacious attempt to unlock the mysteries of earthquakes. The site is Gothane, a table-top 3,051ft (930m)-high mountain in the western state of Maharashtra, lashed by squally winds and ringed by looming wind farms and damp green forests populated by Asian antelopes, wild boars and deer. More significantly, the place is barely 10km (6.2 miles) from Koyna, the site of a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake in 1967, five years after a big, hydropower dam was built in the region. The December quake killed 177 people, injured more than 2,000 others and caused widespread damage and destruction. Mountains are ideal places to set up water reservoirs for generating electricity, but water pressure can build up in the pores of the Earth and stress the crust to danger levels. Quakes can also be triggered by mining, fracking (hydraulic fracturing to recover gas and oil from shale rock) or extracting water from under the ground. Geologists believe there are more than 100 sites around the world where quakes have been triggered by filling of water reservoirs. At Koyna, geologists say, earthquake activity began after the reservoir was filled with more than a trillion litres of water in 1962. Seismologist Harsh K Gupta says the Koyna region "is the best site anywhere in the world where an earthquake can be observed".
7-16-17 Ancient underwater forest found in US
Ancient underwater forest found in US
An underwater forest found off the coast of Alabama could provide valuable insights into climate change and rising sea levels.
7-18-17 California votes to extend cap-and-trade climate law to 2030
California votes to extend cap-and-trade climate law to 2030
California is challenging Mr Trump's decision to scrap his predecessor's environmental policies. California legislators have voted to extend a law to cut carbon emissions, weeks after President Donald Trump said the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The policy, which requires firms to purchase permits to release pollutants, will be extended to the year 2030. California Governor Jerry Brown said Republicans and Democrats had taken "courageous action" with the move. The US state aims to cut greenhouse gases by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. "Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time," Mr Brown said in a statement on Monday. "That's what good government looks like," he added. However, the vote to extend the cap-and-trade programme beyond 2020 was opposed by some conservatives who said the measure would hit the poor by increasing prices for fuel and food. California State Senator Andy Vidak said it represented a "regressive" tax that would not make any impact on climate change. "We could shut down the entire state of California and it would have no effect on the global climate," Mr Vidak said. (Webmaster's comment: It's the actions of lots of governments that add together to have an significant impact. If nobody does anything we'll just flood and fry, and the Republicans and their rich executive friends will make even more money. Yup. That'll work!)
7-18-17 Do climate skeptics believe in insurance?
Do climate skeptics believe in insurance?
Let's be honest: Most people who support doing something about climate change don't understand the science any better than their opponents. I spent over a year reporting on the economics of climate change, and I still don't think I can really claim a genuine expertise. Rather, when people say they believe the science, they're making a tribal statement about the sort of institutional authority to which they pledge their loyalty. Moreover, science can only outline the general forces at play in climate change — the physics of carbon in the atmosphere, the trapping of heat, the way it all changes weather patterns. It can sketch different scenarios in broad strokes, including the worst cases, and give us some sense of the odds of each. But that's about it. The science can tell us that we're running a risk. It can't tell us how to react to that fact. So the "reasonable" climate skeptics step in and say they believe the science. But they also think environmentalist hawks are being irresponsible and imprudent in demanding massive and rapid changes to how the world produces and consumes energy. The debate thus shifts from science to responsibility and ethics. It completely short-circuits liberals' tribal signaling of "I stand with science." Progressives would be better off if they championed science a little bit less, and tried to provoke conservatives' thoughts with the analogy of insurance.
7-17-17 Drifting Antarctic iceberg A-68 opens up clear water
Drifting Antarctic iceberg A-68 opens up clear water
The giant iceberg known as A-68 that was produced in the Antarctic last week continues to drift seaward. All the latest satellite images indicate the gap between the 6,000-sq-km block and the floating Larsen C Ice Shelf from which it calved is widening. The particular image on this page was acquired by the Deimos-1 satellite. It is not easy getting pictures of the Antarctic at this time of year because of the long winter nights and because of cloud cover. Those spacecraft that have so far spied the berg have been relying on radar or on infrared sensors to pierce these difficulties. (Webmaster's comment: Antarctic begins to breakup, one Delaware-size iceberg at a time.)
7-17-17 Donald Trump's $10 trillion climate mistake
Donald Trump's $10 trillion climate mistake
Trump and his fellow climate change skeptics claim that the science is unsettled while simultaneously proposing to end studies that would settle it. This will cost us — big league. Climate change skeptics claim that the science is unsettled while simultaneously proposing to end studies that would settle it. This posture would be ironic and slightly amusing if it wasn't so flagrantly dangerous to the future of human civilization on Earth. The latest iteration of this ludicrous hypocrisy was on full display last week when the House appropriations committee carved another $50 million from NASA's Earth science division, on top of the already severe 2018 cuts requested by the Trump administration. If eventually endorsed by Congress, the reductions will leave Earth scientists unable to fill gaps in data considered crucial to understanding the state of the planet, thus perpetuating the "unsettled science" that deniers profess to abhor. The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) pathfinder is one of four NASA missions set for elimination. It is practically the apotheosis of the avowed Republican desire for highly accurate climate data and modeling. CLARREO improves the accuracy of spaceborne Earth sensors that use either the infrared or reflected solar spectrum. "In one sense, you can think of CLARREO providing for space instrument calibration what GPS provided for navigation," says Bruce Wielicki, the mission scientist of CLARREO. "Literally up to 100 sensors could achieve greatly improved calibration if CLARREO flies." It would make the comparison of data from different sensors easier and more accurate, with revolutionary implications for climate science.
7-16-17 A mission to the Pacific plastic patch
A mission to the Pacific plastic patch
A mariner who has spent years travelling "hundreds of thousands of nautical miles" to measure the impact of plastic waste in the ocean has estimated that a "raft" of plastic debris spanning more than 965,000 square miles (2.5m sq km) is concentrated in a region of the South Pacific. Capt Charles Moore has just returned from a sampling expedition around Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. He was part of the team which discovered the first ocean "garbage patch" in the North Pacific gyre in 1997 and has now turned his attention to the South Pacific. Although plastic is known to occur in the Southern Hemisphere gyres, very few scientists have visited the region to collect samples. Oceanographer Dr Erik van Sebille, from Utrecht University, says the work of Capt Moore and his colleagues will help fill "a massive knowledge gap" in our understanding of ocean plastics. "Any data we can get our hands on is good data at this point," he told BBC News. Capt Moore explained that the space occupied by sub-tropical gyres - areas of the ocean surrounded by circulating ocean currents - is approximately the same size as the entire land mass of the Earth, but they are now being "populated by our trash". The phenomenon of oceanic garbage patches was originally documented in the North Pacific, but plastic has now been found in the South Pacific, Arctic and Mediterranean. "It's hard not to find plastic in the ocean any more," Dr van Sebille said. "That's quite shocking".
7-15-17 Volvo's electric gamble
Volvo's electric gamble
Starting in 2019, every new Volvo model will run at least partly on electricity. Volvo "is betting that the future is electric," said Adele Peters at Fast Company?. Last week, the Swedish firm became the first mainstream car company to commit entirely to electrified vehicles. Starting in 2019, every new Volvo model will run at least partly on electricity. Some will be all-electric cars, while others will be hybrids, which use batteries and electric motors to supplement traditional combustion engines run on gasoline. The standard industry production cycle is seven years, so Volvo will continue to build and sell diesel and gas-powered cars until about 2025. But as those older models are retired, every vehicle in the Volvo fleet will eventually have an electric motor. "By plunging fully into this space, Volvo appears equal parts visionary, zealot, and daredevil," said Aarian Marshall at Wired?. Despite the buzz, electric vehicles still make up less than 1 percent of global car sales — and "for good reason." Their batteries are still heavy and expensive and provide limited range; charging infrastructure is still relatively sparse. Here in the U.S., low gas prices "blunt the ‘save on fuel' sales pitch." But look closer, and Volvo's gambit isn't as crazy as it initially seems. Governments around the world are implementing strict new emissions standards to fight climate change, with France announcing last week that it will ban sales of diesel and gas vehicles altogether by 2040. Self-driving cars, considered to be the industry's "next big thing," also work better with electric motors, which are simpler than combustion engines.
7-14-17 Use waste rather than crops for biofuels, says UK report
Use waste rather than crops for biofuels, says UK report
Liquid biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions, but the focus should be on making them from wastes such as cooking oil, says major review. Biofuels made from genuine waste can help can reduce carbon emissions and should be encouraged, says a report commissioned by the UK government. But, it says, biofuels made from food crops like wheat can sometimes produce higher emissions than fossil fuels and their use should be capped. There also need to be clear rules and regulations to make sure biofuels made from waste are sustainable. “We have to ensure that wastes are actually genuine wastes, and not diverted from some other use,” says Adisa Azapagic of the University of Manchester, who chaired the Royal Academy of Engineering group that produced the review. In the long term, the best way to reduce emissions is to switch to electric vehicles powered by renewable energy sources, Azapagic and her colleagues told journalists. But for heavy goods vehicles, ships and aircraft it will be hard to find alternatives to liquid fuels, so biofuels may be needed for decades to come. A couple of decades ago there was a rush to embrace liquid biofuels – as well as biomass more generally – as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with many countries subsidising their production or stipulating that a certain percentage of the fuel consumed must be biofuel. But this policy has backfired horribly in some cases.
7-14-17 Waste products, not crops, key to boosting UK biofuels
Waste products, not crops, key to boosting UK biofuels
The UK should focus on using waste products like chip fat if it wants to double production of biofuels according a new study. The report from the Royal Academy of Engineering says that making fuel from crops like wheat should be restricted. Incentives should be given to farmers to increase production of fuel crops like Miscanthus on marginal land. Even with electric vehicles, biofuels will still be needed for aviation and heavy goods say the authors. While the European Union has mandated that 10% of transport fuels should come from sustainable sources by 2020, these biofuels have been a slow burner in the UK. Suppliers are already blending up to 4.75% of diesel and petrol with greener fuel, but doubling this amount will take up to 10 years say the authors of this new report, that was commissioned by the government. To get to this point, the authors argue that several important changes will need to take place. While in countries like the US and Brazil biofuels are mainly made from maize or sugar cane, the main sources in the UK are wheat and used cooking oil. To boost production there will need to be restrictions on crops grown for fuel, say the authors.
7-14-17 Polar bear attacks on people set to rise as climate changes
Polar bear attacks on people set to rise as climate changes
Dwindling sea ice is driving hungry bears on to land and towards human settlements. Climate change may be driving more aggressive polar bears towards areas where people live, and the consequences could be lethal. “You’ve got this perfect storm set up where you’ve got bears that are spending increasing amounts of time on land becoming nutritionally stressed, moving into areas of human settlements,” says Todd Atwood, a wildlife biologist at the US Geological Survey. This makes the bears more likely to come into conflict with humans. Atwood was a member of a team that combed through nearly 150 years of records of bear attacks in Canada, Greenland, Russia, the US and Norway. They drew their data from government agencies, news reports and, in the older cases, from ships’ logs. Between 1870 and 2014, they found 73 cases of polar bears attacking a group of people or an individual, with 63 people injured and 20 people dead. Bears were acting in a predatory manner in most attacks, and it was male bears that were more often involved. Where details were available, the researchers assigned the attacking bear a score reflecting its body condition. It turned out that 61 per cent of these bears were in “below average” condition – a situation Atwood says is down to them not finding as much food because of dwindling time on sea ice, their habitual seal hunting ground. Polar bear attacks averaged around eight or nine per decade, Atwood says, but from 2010 to 2014 alone there were 15. “That does lead you to hypothesise that around 2000 we might have hit a shift in the kind of conditions in the Arctic.”
7-14-17 Hailing e-Volvos as imminent saviours of the planet is nonsense
Hailing e-Volvos as imminent saviours of the planet is nonsense
High praise was heaped on Volvo when it said it would stop making cars powered only by petrol or diesel. This is no revolution, says Olive Heffernan. Much hoopla greeted Volvo’s pledge to stop making vehicles powered only by petrol or diesel. Across the internet, its “historic” claim was dutifully repeated. Some were even asking whether it might save the planet. Few paused to consider if it was all just PR. Let’s be clear. The promise is that, within two years, any new Volvo will be at least partly electric powered. From 2019, all its range will have an electric motor of some form, either mild hybrids, which engage battery propulsion in limited circumstances like pulling away, or plug-in hybrids, which team a combustion engine with an electric unit that can be recharged from the mains. By 2021, the company will also roll out five fully electrified models. So it is true that all future Volvos will be part electric. But it is also true that most will continue to have an internal combustion engine. And the fuel efficiency gains of mild hybrids are usually meagre for anything other than urban driving. A real revolution would be a legacy car brand vowing to ditch internal combustion altogether by 2019. To be fair to Volvo, pledging that would spell commercial suicide. Its reputation is built on providing reliable, safe, practical – and some high-end – cars to Europe, the US and China, where consumers are increasingly drawn to hybrids amid air pollution concerns and the diesel emissions scandal. Even the most environmentally savvy are unlikely to choose all-electric because of “range anxiety” and a lack of public charging points or off-street parking to enable easy home charging.
7-14-17 Cutting flatulence to save the planet
Cutting flatulence to save the planet
Emissions - belches and farts - from cows' digestive systems have a big impact on global warming. This Kenyan farm is doing something about it. (Webmaster's comment: Anything but anything to detract us from the real problem. CO2 from burning fossil fuels and scrubbing and sequesting those CO2 emmissions.)
7-13-17 Record number of environmental activists killed around the world
Record number of environmental activists killed around the world
Growing competition for land and natural resources saw a record number of environmental activists killed in 2016, says Global Witness. The green group's report details at least 200 murders across 24 countries, up significantly from 2015. Disputes over mining were the cause of the greatest number of killings, followed by logging and agribusiness. Brazil saw the most deaths overall, but there were big increases in Colombia and India. Global Witness has been publishing annual reports on the threats to activists since 2012, although it has data going back to 2002. The organisation compiles its analysis from media sources, information from other non-governmental organisations and from the UN. It also verifies the data with monitoring groups in priority countries, such as Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and the Philippines. Some 60% of the killings last year took place in Latin America, with a significant number of victims from indigenous communities. According to those who compiled the report, those doing the killing have become bolder in recent years. (Webmaster's comment: Notice who's behind the killings. Business and corporations raping the earth for profits! Many of them are American!)
7-13-17 Rising temps may mean fewer passengers on airplane flights
Rising temps may mean fewer passengers on airplane flights
As if air travel weren’t annoying enough, new research suggests that global warming will force planes to carry fewer passengers to get off the ground. While a little more legroom might sound good, it could make flying more expensive. Researchers examined the impact of rising temperatures on five types of commercial planes flying out of 19 of the world’s busiest airports. In the coming decades, 10 to 30 percent of flights that take off during the hottest time of day could face weight restrictions, they found. That’s because warmer air particles are more spread out, so they generate less lift under a plane’s wings as it barrels down the runway. As a result, a plane must be lighter to take off. In some cases, a typical 160-seat plane would have to jettison 4 percent of its weight — say, a dozen passengers, the researchers calculated.
7-13-17 Bialowieza Forest: Poland sued over ancient woods logging
Bialowieza Forest: Poland sued over ancient woods logging
The EU executive has urged Poland to halt logging immediately in one of Europe's last remaining areas of primeval forest, and has asked the European Court of Justice to act on it. Last year the Polish government decided to increase logging in Bialowieza Forest, a unique ancient habitat and conservation area, three-fold. Unesco, EU officials and green activists protested at that move. The government says the logging can help to curb a bark beetle infestation. But the European Commission says some endangered species are at risk. The forest, a Unesco World Heritage site, lies on Poland's eastern border with Belarus. It is famous as a home for rare European bison, but also boasts many bird species including varieties of woodpecker and flycatcher. (Webmaster's comment: Destroying nature and the world one forest at a time. It never stops for over 7 billion reasons.)
7-12-17 Uninhabitable Earth? In fact, it’s really hard to fry the planet
Uninhabitable Earth? In fact, it’s really hard to fry the planet
A controversial article says we’re heading for the worst-case warming scenarios. But while we can’t rule out extreme warming, it’s not our most likely future. A bleak article in New York magazine headlined “The Uninhabitable Earth” has created a storm among the climatorati. It describes how global warming will lead to famine, economic collapse and “a sun that cooks us”. The piece has provoked two main criticisms. The first is to say it isn’t helpful, that frightening people leads to despair rather than action. Maybe, but that’s a ludicrous criticism of any piece of reporting. In my view, the job of journalists is to tell it like it is, not to spout feel-good propaganda. If an asteroid is about to hit the planet, should all articles have to focus on NASA’s efforts to deflect it rather than on where it will strike if they fail and what will happen as a result? The second criticism is to say the article has got the science wrong, along with quite a few other things. For instance, it implies that methane released from the melting Arctic will hugely add to warming. But most climate scientists say we don’t need to lose much sleep worrying about this. Many of the doomsday scenarios outlined in the magazine will only come about if we see extreme warming of 6°C or more, and there’s a very good reason this is unlikely to happen: physics. More on that shortly. First, it is also worth pointing out that the article gets many things right. Indeed, on the most certain impact of warming – sea level rise – it mostly understates the case. It says correctly that some scientists now predict seas could rise 3 metres by 2100, but that’s not the full story. In fact, we’ve already emitted enough carbon dioxide to raise sea level 5 metres over the coming centuries. Over the new few decades, we’re likely to produce enough to make the seas rise 20 metres or more. Many coastal cities and low-lying places like Florida really are doomed.
7-12-17 There will never be global solidarity against climate change
There will never be global solidarity against climate change
President Ronald Reagan famously used to discomfit his advisors by bringing up a favorite thought experiment. What, he wondered, would the nations of the world do if extra-terrestrial aliens invaded our planet? Wouldn't we put aside our differences and unite against the common threat? And if that is true, then shouldn't we put aside our differences now, to unite against that which threatens all of life on earth, the scourge of nuclear weapons? He brought the subject up with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev at their summit in Iceland, and again in a speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations, because for him it was not an idle speculation, but a very serious matter. We would, he was sure, unite against a common enemy that threatened us all in the most total way imaginable. So why couldn't we see the risk of a nuclear exchange as a similar kind of common enemy, and unite against it? I was thinking about this history in light of the much-discussed recent doom-crying article on climate change by David Wallace-Wells for New York magazine. Wallace-Wells' premise in writing the article is similar in its way to Reagan's: that if people understood the nature and scope of the common threat, they would unite against it. Most people probably don't realize just how catastrophic the consequences of climate change could be, just as most people probably didn't realize that mutually-assured destruction really did mean that the human race itself was at risk if deterrence ever broke down. While much of the press since Wallace-Wells' article came out has cautioned that the worst-case scenarios are unlikely and that real progress is actually being made, it's also true that the composition of the atmosphere has already changed enough that some serious consequences are already baked in, and that predictions get harder the further out into the tail of the probability distribution we get. Even under more hopeful scenarios, the potential consequences of climate change are severe enough to outweigh virtually any of the petty concerns that dominate our politics.
7-12-17 Delaware-sized iceberg breaks off Antarctic ice shelf
Delaware-sized iceberg breaks off Antarctic ice shelf
Calving of the massive ice chunk raises questions about Larsen C’s stability. Images from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellites confirm the crack of Larsen C has reached the Weddell Sea, allowing an iceberg weighing 1 trillion metric tons to calve. With a final rip, an iceberg roughly the size of Delaware has broken off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf. Anticipated for weeks, the fracture is one of the largest calving events ever recorded. On July 12, satellite images confirmed a nearly 5,800-square-kilometer, 1-trillion-metric-ton chunk of ice, equivalent to 12 percent of Larsen C’s total area, split from the ice shelf. “[We] have been surprised how long it took for the rift to break through the final few kilometers of ice,” Adrian Luckman, a glaciologist at Swansea University in Wales, said in a blogpost for Project MIDAS, which has been tracking the effects of a warming climate on the ice shelf. Now the focus will shift to the stability of the remaining ice shelf and the fate of the giant iceberg. (Webmaster's comment: Just remember there is no Global Warming. Scientists made it up according to Trump.)
7-12-17 A massive iceberg just broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf
A massive iceberg just broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf
A 5,800-square-kilometre iceberg weighing more than a trillion tonnes is one of the largest known, and will change the face of Antarctica forever. One of the largest icebergs on record has broken away from an ice shelf in Antarctica. Researchers who have been monitoring a huge crack in the Larsen C Ice Shelf, which had left a vast iceberg more than a quarter the size of Wales “hanging by a thread”, say the rift has finally completed its path through the ice. A 5800-square-kilometre iceberg weighing more than a trillion tonnes has now calved, the team from the Swansea University-led Midas project said. The final breakthrough happened between Monday and Wednesday and was detected in data from Nasa’s Aqua MODIS satellite instrument. The calving of the iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, reduces the size of the Larsen C Ice Shelf by around 12 per cent and will change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula forever, the scientists said.
7-12-17 Giant iceberg splits from Antarctic
Giant iceberg splits from Antarctic
One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded has just broken away from Antarctica. The giant block is estimated to cover an area of roughly 6,000 sq km; that's about a quarter the size of Wales. An US satellite observed the berg on Wednesday while passing over a region known as the Larsen C Ice Shelf. Scientists were expecting it. They'd been following the development of a large crack in Larsen's ice for more than a decade. The rift's propagation had accelerated since 2014, making an imminent calving ever more likely. The more than 200m-thick tabular berg will not move very far, very fast in the short term. But it will need to be monitored. Currents and winds might eventually push it north of the Antarctic where it could become a hazard to shipping. An infrared sensor on the American space agency's Aqua satellite spied clear water in the rift between the shelf and the berg on Wednesday. The water is warmer relative to the surrounding ice and air - both of which are sub-zero. "The rift was barely visible in these data in recent weeks, but the signature is so clear now that it must have opened considerably along its whole length," explained Prof Adrian Luckman, whose Project Midas at Swansea University has followed the berg's evolution most closely. The event was confirmed by other spacecraft such as Europe's Sentinel-1 satellite-radar system.
7-12-17 'Make new rules' to save the oceans
'Make new rules' to save the oceans
New rules are urgently needed to protect life in the open seas, scientists have warned. A report to a UN ocean conference in New York points out that more than 60% of the ocean has no conservation rules as it’s outside national jurisdiction. It says the open ocean is at risk from climate change, over-fishing, deep sea mining, farm pollution and plastics. The authors say one area – the Bay of Bengal - is at a tipping point which could impact on global fish stocks. The report was commissioned to inform delegates preparing a UN resolution on governance of the open ocean. Representatives in New York are preparing a text that could cover everything from establishing marine protected areas to distributing the benefits of valuable biotech products generated from the seas. One of the report’s authors, Prof Alex Rogers from Oxford University, told BBC News: “This is very, very important. A lot of states are looking towards developing industrial activities in the ocean – fishing, deep-sea mining, renewable energy… even aquaculture offshore. “It’s really vital that we come to some international agreement on how to protect or manage biodiversity on high seas in the face of all these pressures.”
7-11-17 Melting ice may be making mountains collapse in Greenland
Melting ice may be making mountains collapse in Greenland
The collapse of the mountain which triggered a tsunami that destroyed an Arctic village last month may have been caused by climate change – and more may follow. Earthquakes in Greenland are rare. At least, they’re supposed to be. But a few weeks ago, a 4.1 “quake” struck Nuugaatsiaq, a tiny island off Greenland’s west coast, triggering a massive tsunami that smashed homes, leaving at least four people dead. One brave but panicked Greenlander recorded that 17 June incident on a shaky iPhone. But what residents – and seismic equipment – initially labelled a quake may be nothing of the sort. “Everyone was fooled by the collapse of a mountain,” says Martin Luethi, a Swiss glaciologist who has been studying Greenland’s glaciers since 1995. “The tsunami wasn’t triggered by an earthquake.” Luethi believes the culprit was a landslide at nearby Karrat fjord. And as the falling mountain hit the ocean, it created enough seismic noise to dupe sensors and generate the waves that inundated Nuugaatsiaq. It’s a recognised pattern. In 2002, Norwegian researchers discovered that landslides can fool seismometers and initiate tsunamis. Two years earlier, a landslide triggered a tsunami that levelled the uninhabited mining town of Qullissat. “Ice cannot hold a mountain together if the ice flows,” adds Luethi. “Melting and freezing cycles mean rocks are getting destroyed. There’s so much unstable rock in Greenland and they have no earthquakes to shake it down.”
7-11-17 Fusion energy pushed back beyond 2050
Fusion energy pushed back beyond 2050
We will have to wait until the second half of the century for fusion reactors to start generating electricity, experts have announced. A new version of a European "road map" lays out the technological hurdles to be overcome if the processes powering the Sun are to be harnessed on Earth. The road map has been drawn up by scientists and engineers at EUROfusion. This is a consortium of European laboratories and universities that funds research on fusion energy. The original version of the road map, published in 2012, forecast that a demonstration fusion power plant known as DEMO could be operating in the early 2040s, in order to supply electricity to the grid by 2050. But in the updated version, yet to be released, DEMO would not start running until "early in the second half of the century". A related document that provides more detail on DEMO's design says that operations would start after 2054. The setback has been caused largely by delays to ITER, a 20bn-euro reactor that is currently being built in the south of France to prove that fusion energy is scientifically and technically feasible. In fact, according to EUROfusion's programme manager, nuclear physicist Tony Donné, DEMO's schedule could slip further, depending on progress both with ITER and a facility to test materials for fusion power plants that has yet to be built. (Webmaster's comment: Most of us will be long dead before this promise is realized, IF EVER! Is it worth the expense when there are many more sure ways to generate green energy and to defeat global warming.)
7-10-17 Shells record West Antarctic glacier retreat
Shells record West Antarctic glacier retreat
Scientists are getting a much clearer picture of the retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet over thousands of years, and of the forces driving it. New research indicates that warm waters pulled up from the deep by strong winds sharply undercut glaciers from about 11,000 years ago to 7,500 years ago. This incursion then stopped until it got under way again in the 1940s. The findings are important because they inform our understanding about how the ice may respond in the future. Today, the big glaciers that enter the ocean in a key sector called the Amundsen Sea Embayment are in a rapid withdrawal. These ice streams, such as Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, are colossal in scale - and their melting has become a significant contributor to global sea-level rise at around 1mm per decade. The glaciers’ grounding lines - the places where they enter the ocean and become buoyant - are heading inland; as are the floating segments, or shelves, they push out in front themselves. Dr Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, a senior marine geologist at the British Antarctic Survey, explained: "We know today that the ice sheet in the Amundsen Sea is mainly influenced by this warm deep-water upwelling, which is very effectively melting the undersides of the ice shelves and weakening them, and because these shelves buttress the glaciers we therefore get the thinning of the glaciers, the acceleration in the flow speed of the glaciers and the retreat of their grounding lines."
7-10-17 Climate change lets invaders beat Alpine plants in mountain race
Climate change lets invaders beat Alpine plants in mountain race
Rising temperatures and mountain roads are helping invasive weeds to overwhelm native Alpine flowers. As the climate warms up, invasive weeds are outpacing native Alpine plants to the tops of mountains, threatening them with extinction. To avoid warming temperatures, Alpine plants can migrate to cooler habitats higher up mountains, but new research is showing that invasive species are beating them to it. “We find that invasive species are responding to climate change far more quickly than the native ones,” says Matteo Dainese of the University of Würzburg in Germany, who led the team studying the phenomenon. Dainese and his colleagues discovered the unequal race to the summit after studying the distributions of 1300 plant species over 20 years – from 1989 to 2009 – on an Alpine mountain area around Mount Baldo in northeast Italy. From 130,000 observations, they found that on average, the 126 non-native species were increasing their elevation range at twice the speed of the 1208 native species. During the study, the mean annual temperature rose by 1.2°C and the mean growing season temperature rose by 1.7°C. Dainese and his colleagues found that the invasive species were more tolerant to warmth compared with the natives, and that they moved up the mountain faster. They spread their seeds more widely and their passage up the mountain was helped by roads whose verges provided convenient conduits toward the summit.
7-10-17 Shells record West Antarctic glacier retreat
Shells record West Antarctic glacier retreat
Scientists are getting a much clearer picture of the retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet over thousands of years, and of the forces driving it. New research indicates that warm waters pulled up from the deep by strong winds sharply undercut glaciers from about 11,000 years ago to 7,500 years ago. This incursion then stopped until it got under way again in the 1940s. The findings are important because they inform our understanding about how the ice may respond in the future. Today, the big glaciers that enter the ocean in a key sector called the Amundsen Sea Embayment are in a rapid withdrawal. These ice streams, such as Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, are colossal in scale - and their melting has become a significant contributor to global sea-level rise at around 1mm per decade. The glaciers’ grounding lines - the places where they enter the ocean and become buoyant - are heading inland; as are the floating segments, or shelves, they push out in front themselves.
7-10-17 How climate change will transform business and the workforce
How climate change will transform business and the workforce
Our planet is already feeling the effects of climate change, but it’s also poised to cause irreversible shifts in the ways we work, and the skills that employers need. When we think of climate change, most of us think of environmental consequences like rising sea levels, elevated temperatures and melting glaciers. In some parts of the world, like south Florida or the mountains of Switzerland, those shifts already are affecting daily life. In Miami, for example, wastewater treatment plants are being re-built higher, seawalls raised and car parks designed with flood gates – not only in response to flooding today, but with an eye to the sea levels of tomorrow. But experts say that those effects may only be the tip of the (melting) iceberg. Climate change is shaking up everything from finance to health. As a result, it isn’t only urban planners in at-risk areas who will have to shift their framework for planning for the future. From financial planners to farmers, civil engineers to doctors, an increasingly wide range of other professionals are likely to find their industries affected. That means there may be another consequence of climate change that often gets overlooked: what it means for your career.
7-8-17 G20 Hamburg: Leaders fail to bridge Trump climate chasm
G20 Hamburg: Leaders fail to bridge Trump climate chasm
Leaders of 19 nations at the G20 summit in Germany have renewed their pledge to implement the Paris deal on climate change, despite the US pulling out. Deadlock over the issue had held up the last day of talks in Hamburg but a final agreement was eventually reached. It acknowledges President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement without undermining the commitment of other countries. The compromise comes after violent protests in the host city. The joint summit statement released on Saturday said: "We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement." However, the leaders of the other G20 members agreed the accord committing nations to restrict global temperature increases was "irreversible". In her closing news conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she still deplored Mr Trump's position on the Paris accord but she was "gratified" the other 19 nations opposed its renegotiation. (Webmaster's comment: Merkel won! The world does not need America, instead America needs the world as we will find out sooner or later. The world didn't need America to defeat Germany in WWII either, the Russians did that! They killed 61% of the Nazi soldiers, had the world's top fighter aces flying Russian build fighters, had 800,000 women combat soldiers, many who were the war's best snipers, tank drivers, machine gunners, company commanders, they also flew bombers - the famous Night Witches, flew fighter bombers - the famous Black Death, and flew fighters and also became aces. These women have no match even today. Read the Books: Heroines of the Soviet Union, Night Witches, Red Sky Black Death, A Dance With Death, Women in Air War, Wings Women and War.)
7-8-17 G20 summit: Deadlock on climate change 'broken' in Hamburg
G20 summit: Deadlock on climate change 'broken' in Hamburg
Deadlock over climate change between the US and the other nations at the G20 summit appears to have been broken. The BBC understands a compromise final closing text has been agreed at the second day of their meeting in Hamburg. According to an EU official, the text acknowledges President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement without undermining the commitment of other countries. It comes after a second night of violent protests in Hamburg. Negotiators worked through the night in an attempt to reach a compromise on the wording of the summit statement. (Webmaster's comment: Like I've said, Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States and to the planet!)
7-7-17 G20: Merkel’s mission is to co-opt Saudis and Russia to embarrass US
G20: Merkel’s mission is to co-opt Saudis and Russia to embarrass US
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is battling to prevent US President Donald Trump undermining the world leaders' united front on climate change. At the Paris climate deal, all world leaders spoke in favour of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees but that was after a massive diplomatic effort by President Barack Obama made membership of the climate club a moral imperative. He and the French hosts created such an atmosphere that even the normally foot-dragging Russians and Saudis committed to the deal, despite their long history of slowing progress in climate negotiations behind the scenes. They own vast fossil fuel reserves of oil and gas and fear they will stand to lose if the world shifts away from fossil fuels. Many a UN climate conference has drawn to a semi-successful close, only for the chair to wearily announce "objection from Saudi Arabia". The task for Chancellor Merkel and her allies is to bind these two nervous bedfellows into the great climate alliance between the EU and China, leaving the US looking out of touch. Ideally, from Europe's standpoint, President Trump would recant his rejection of the Paris deal. But that will not happen so the next least bad option is for Mr Trump to be isolated, with other nations standing together against him and in favour of stronger climate action. (Webmaster's comment: And that's exactly what happened. The world will proceed with science and reason on its side while Trump takes a backseat with anti-science and anti-reason on his.)
7-7-17 Invisibility cloak makes solar panels work more efficiently
Invisibility cloak makes solar panels work more efficiently
A new material that hides the metal grid on top of solar panels make them 9 per cent more efficient in lab tests. An invisibility cloak has been used in the lab to hide the metallic strips used in solar panels, making the devices more efficient at using the sun’s energy. Invisibility cloaks are made of materials that can bend the path of light around them and so hide anything under them from view. Martin Schumann at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and his colleagues have used one to create a prototype solar panel with a cloak over the metallic contact fingers throughout the panel that extract the generated current. Although crucial, these metal strips also reduce how much light a panel can absorb, reducing efficiency by about 10 per cent. “In the end, solar cell energy has to compete with all the fossil-fuel energy and it’s essential to increase the efficiency as much as possible in order to decrease the costs,” Schumann says. So Schumann and his colleagues designed a single solar cell in the lab with an added polymer coating. They then etched grooves into that coating, so it acts as an invisibility cloak, guiding any incoming light around the contact fingers and toward the solar cell. The team placed enough contact fingers on their cell to cover 6 per cent of the surface area. But when they added their invisibility cloak, the efficiency didn’t just increase by 6 per cent, it rose by 9 per cent. This is because some of the light that doesn’t get absorbed by the solar panel and would have otherwise reflected, actually gets trapped within the cloak and later absorbed.
7-7-17 Deadly heat sweeps planet
Deadly heat sweeps planet
If carbon emissions remain unchecked, a new study suggests, deadly heat waves will grow steadily worse, threatening up to 75 percent of the world’s population by century’s end. A team of researchers analyzed heat waves dating back to 1980, pinpointing 783 events that resulted in “excess human mortality,” including the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed 740 people and a similar occurrence in Moscow in 2010 that claimed 10,860 lives. They found that climate change is exacerbating extreme heat, spreading it like a global forest fire, NationalGeographic.com reports. Even with aggressive measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers warn, by 2100 roughly 50 percent of people on Earth will face at least 20 days a year of deadly heat. “Our attitude toward the environment has been so reckless that we are running out of good choices for the future,” says study lead author Camilo Mora. “For heat waves, our options are now between bad or terrible. Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price.”
7-7-17 Tesla to build world’s largest lithium ion battery in Australia
Tesla to build world’s largest lithium ion battery in Australia
The 100 megawatt battery will store excess energy generated by a wind farm when electricity demands are low, then feed it back into the grid during peak hours. Need extra storage? Tesla has announced it will build the biggest-ever lithium ion battery in South Australia. The 100 megawatt battery will act like an electricity back-up – it will store excess energy generated by a wind farm when electricity demands are low, then feed it back into the grid during peak hour. South Australia has adopted renewable technologies faster than any other state in Australia, but repeated blackouts since September have sparked uncertainties about their reliability. In March, Tesla founder Elon Musk offered to fix the problem with a large-scale version of a Tesla car battery. On Twitter, he said he would get the system up and running within 100 days, or else do it for free. Today, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced that a deal had been struck. Tesla’s megabattery will be paired with the Hornsdale Wind Farm, which is being built near Jamestown in the state’s mid-north region. The launch date is expected to be in December this year.
7-7-17 Tesla to build world's largest lithium ion battery in Australia
Tesla to build world's largest lithium ion battery in Australia
An Australian state will install the world's largest lithium ion battery in a "historic" deal with electric car firm Tesla and energy company Neoen. The battery will protect South Australia from the kind of energy crisis which famously blacked out the state, Premier Jay Weatherill said. Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed a much-publicised promise to build it within 100 days, or do it for free. The 100-megawatt (129 megawatt hour) battery should be ready this year. "There is certainly some risk, because this will be largest battery installation in the world by a significant margin," Mr Musk said in Adelaide on Friday. He added that "the next biggest battery in the world is 30 megawatts".
7-6-17 France plans to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040
France plans to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040
The country’s environment minister has pledged to phase out coal by 2022, and end sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. The French government has set out an ambitious goal for no more petrol or diesel cars to be sold in the country by 2040. The target was announced by environment minister Nicolas Hulot as part of far-reaching efforts to wean the world’s sixth biggest economy off fossil fuels. At a news conference unveiling a five-year government plan to encourage clean energy and meet France’s commitments under the Paris climate accord, Hulot said French car manufacturers have projects that “can fulfil that promise”. His appeal came a day after Sweden’s Volvo became the first major carmaker to pledge to stop making cars powered solely by the internal combustion engine. France is unusually dependent on diesel fuel, blamed for pollution that often chokes the French capital. The Paris mayor wants to ban diesel vehicles by 2020. Hulot’s plan would cover the whole country and also target petrol cars, but it could face resistance from manufacturers and drivers. He proposed aid for poorer families to buy cleaner vehicles. The maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, PSA Group, said the environment minister’s pledge fits with its goal of offering hybrid or electric versions of 80 per cent of its cars by 2023.
7-6-17 France set to ban sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040
France set to ban sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040
France is set to ban the sale of any car that uses petrol or diesel fuel by 2040, in what the ecology minister called a "revolution". Nicolas Hulot announced the planned ban on fossil fuel vehicles as part of a renewed commitment to the Paris climate deal. He said France planned to become carbon neutral by 2050. Hybrid cars make up about 3.5% of the French market, with pure electric vehicles accounting for just 1.2%. It is not yet clear what will happen to existing fossil fuel vehicles still in use in 2040. (Webmaster's comment: America will soon not be able to sell its gas guzzlers overseas. But Trump's pandering to greedy and ignorant global warming deniers is more important.)
7-6-17 Dirty laundry: Are your clothes polluting the ocean?
Dirty laundry: Are your clothes polluting the ocean?
In an indoor "Manchester-drizzle-simulating" rain room at the University of Leeds, and in a laundry lab in Plymouth, research is revealing the unexpected environmental cost of the very clothes on our backs. "Not many people know that lots of our clothes are made of plastic," says Imogen Napper, a PhD student at Plymouth University, "polyester, acrylic." Ms Napper and Prof Richard Thompson study marine microplastics - fragments and fibres found in the ocean surface, the deep sea and the marine food chain. And in a recent lab study, they found that polyester and acrylic clothing shed thousands of plastic fibres each time it was washed- sending another source of plastic pollution down the drain and, eventually, into the ocean. "My friends always make fun of me because they think of marine biology as such a sexy science - it's all turtles, hot countries and bikinis," says Ms Napper. "But I've been spending hours washing clothes and counting the fibres." It might not be exotic, but this painstaking "laundry-science" has revealed that an average UK washing load - 6kg (13lb) of fabric - can release:
- 140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend
- nearly half a million fibres from polyester
- more than 700,000 fibres from acrylic
7-5-17 How Aboriginal knowledge can help the world combat wildfires
How Aboriginal knowledge can help the world combat wildfires
Wildfires are on the increase across the globe as the climate changes. To gain control, we should learn how people in Australia have traditionally tamed them. “I LIVE in a city that can be completely destroyed by fire,” says David Bowman. Fifty years ago, the Tasmanian capital, Hobart, came within a whisker of being burned to the ground as flames raked in from the surrounding hills. Some 3000 buildings and 80 bridges were destroyed; more than 60 people died. When wildfires hit the news, they tend to be in tinderbox lands in south-eastern Australia and the western US, or perhaps in southern Europe, as with last month’s catastrophic fires in Portugal. But wildfires are a truly global concern. They consume an area the size of India each year, and their economic and social impacts are felt far beyond their scorched boundaries. They release huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – and as Earth warms, they are on the increase. Yet we know surprisingly little about them. For many, fire is just about oxygen, fuel and heat for ignition. For Bowman, an ecologist at the University of Tasmania who has been researching wildfires for 40 years, those bald chemical facts aren’t enough. “I’m not a guru,” he says. “Gurus tempt people with simple solutions, and fire is complicated.” Specifically, we tend to ignore some crucial elements that determine how wildfires play out: landscape, people and the interaction between the two. And for effective solutions to the problem of wildfire, says Bowman, we should look to those people who have lived alongside fire the longest.
7-5-17 Volvo goes electric across the board
Volvo goes electric across the board
Carmaker Volvo has said all new models will have an electric motor from 2019. The Chinese-owned firm, best known for its emphasis on driver safety, has become the first traditional carmaker to signal the end of the internal combustion engine. It plans to launch five fully electric models between 2019 and 2021 and a range of hybrid models. But it will still be manufacturing earlier models that have pure combustion engines. Geely, Volvo's Chinese owner, has been quietly pushing ahead with electric car development for more than a decade. It now aims to sell one million electric cars by 2025. "This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car," said Hakan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo's carmaking division. "People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers' current and future needs," he said. (Webmaster's comment: The Chinese and Swedes again take the lead. The United States is becoming an "also ran" if it even runs at all.)
7-5-17 China's forest city
China's forest city
In an attempt to tackle air pollution China is planning on building what it says is the first forest city. (Webmaster's comment: Again China takes the lead. Integrating a city right into a green environment. America could learn a lot from the Chinese! But many Americans are too arrogant and uneducated.)
7-5-17 Antarctic iceberg: Giant 'white wanderer' poised to break free
Antarctic iceberg: Giant 'white wanderer' poised to break free
Everybody is fascinated by icebergs. The idea that you can have blocks of frozen water the size of cities, and bigger, sparks our sense of wonder. British astronaut Tim Peake photographed one from orbit that would just about fit inside Central London's ring road. But at 26km by 13km (16 miles by 8 miles), it was a tiddler compared with the berg that is about to break away from the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. A rift has grown across the edge of the Larsen C Ice Shelf. A thin, 5km-long section of the floating shelf is now all that prevents a 6,000-sq-km berg from drifting away into the Weddell Sea. Think about the size for a moment. That's more than a quarter the area of Wales. (Webmaster's comment: It is the size of Delaware. And this state-sized iceberg contains 277 cubic miles of ice.)
7-5-17 Raw waste water use on farms is '50% higher' than estimated
Raw waste water use on farms is '50% higher' than estimated
The global use of untreated waste water from cities to irrigate crops is much more widespread than previously estimated, says a new report. According to this updated assessment, nearly 30 million hectares are now using untreated water within 40km of an urban centre Some 800 million people, including farmers, vendors and consumers are said to be exposed to serious health risks. China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran account for most of the treated land. The huge populations in big cities across the developing world make very attractive markets for farmers. The lack of refrigeration and transport means that crops need to be grown close to these consumers. Being close to cities also provides a key element for the crops - plentiful amounts of nutrient-rich waste water. "Some might call it sewage, but it's mostly domestic waste water, although it can contain industrial effluent," says study co-author Dr Pay Drechsel, from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). "But in our report we've not just looked at waste water, we've also looked at the waste water that enters the rivers and streams, where it gets diluted to some extent but it is still tremendously dangerous when it comes to farmers' fields." (Webmaster's comment: There is too many people and too few resources to go around. This problem is only going to get worst.)
7-3-17 Court blocks EPA attempt to scrap Obama-era rule against methane emissions
Court blocks EPA attempt to scrap Obama-era rule against methane emissions
A federal appeals court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency can't suspend rules imposed by the Obama administration to restrict methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. The decision marked a setback for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's effort to unravel Obama-era regulations. The Trump administration has suffered similar legal reversals as it tries to break with policies and regulations it inherited from President Trump's predecessor, former President Barack Obama. Courts blocked Trump's temporary travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations for months before the Supreme Court said it would review the case and let part of the ban take effect. A California judge blocked Trump's threat to penalize sanctuary cities that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation by withholding cooperation from federal officials. Other decisions, such as a rule lifting grizzly bears from federal protection, also could face court scrutiny.
7-3-17 Snow and rain tug on earthquake faults in California
Snow and rain tug on earthquake faults in California
Seasonal changes in water weight can set off small tremors. Weighed down with water during wet winters, California’s northern mountain ranges — like the Sierra Nevada, rebound during dry summers. This seasonal flexing leads to an uptick in small quakes along some faults, new research finds. Winter weather brings seismic tremors. A new study reveals how water buildup and runoff throughout the year can increase stress along faults in California, triggering small earthquakes. “This kind of observation is extremely important to constrain our models of earthquakes,” says Jean-Philippe Avouac, a geologist at Caltech who was not involved in the study. Improved models could ultimately help scientists better forecast seismic activity. Snow and rain compress mountain ranges in Northern California several millimeters during wet winter months. But with the weight of the water gone during the dry summers, the landscape lifts back up. This seasonal squeeze and release of the terrain puts stress on nearby faults, which can set off more small earthquakes.
7-2-17 Hawking says Trump's climate stance could damage Earth
Hawking says Trump's climate stance could damage Earth
Stephen Hawking says that US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement could lead to irreversible climate change. Prof Hawking said the action could put Earth onto a path that turns it into a hothouse planet like Venus. He also feared aggression was "inbuilt" in humans and that our best hope of survival was to live on other planets. The Cambridge professor spoke exclusively to BBC News to coincide with his 75th birthday celebrations. Arguably the world's most famous scientist, Prof Hawking has had motor neurone disease for most of his adult life. It has impaired his movement and ability to speak. Yet through it all, he emerged as one of the greatest minds of our time. His theories on black holes and the origin of the Universe have transformed our understanding of the cosmos. Prof Hawking has also inspired generations to study science. But through his media appearances what has been most impressive of all has been his humanity.