Deadly Heat Wave’s Lesson: ‘This Is the Future We All Face’

After last year’s heat crisis, Pacific Northwest emergency managers, doctors and even transit systems are using lessons learned to prepare for this summer

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #health, #public-health

Prescribed Burns Are More Dangerous because of Climate Change

But the technique must remain in the firefighting toolbox, a new U.S. Forest Service report says

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #natural-disasters

Climate Change Is Turning More of Central Asia into Desert

The rapid expansion will have significant impacts on ecosystems and the people and animals who rely on them

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment

Impact of reading about climate science goes away almost instantly

Reading science news can get people to accept climate science, but the effect is brief.

Enlarge / Reading science news can get people to accept climate science, but the effect is brief. (credit: Getty Images)

For decades, the scientific community has been nearly unanimous: Climate change is real, it’s our doing, and its consequences are likely to be severe. Yet even as it gets more difficult to avoid some of its effects, poll after poll shows that the public hasn’t gotten the message. There’s very little recognition of how strong the scientific consensus is, and there is a lot of uncertainty about whether it’s our doing—and none of the polling numbers seem to shift very quickly.

Over these same decades, there have been plenty of studies looking at why this might be. Many of them have found ways to shift the opinions of study subjects—methods that have undoubtedly been adopted by communications professionals. Yet the poll numbers have remained stubborn. Misinformation campaigns and political polarization have both been blamed, but the evidence for these factors making a difference is far from clear.

A new study offers an additional hint as to why. While polarization and misinformation both play roles in how the public interprets climate science, the biggest problem may be that the public has a very short memory, and anything people learn about climate science tends to be forgotten by a week later.

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#behavioral-science, #climate-change, #evidence, #public-opinion, #public-understanding, #science

Seville Launches World’s First Program to Name and Rank Heat Waves

The launch comes after the hottest first two weeks of June ever recorded in Spain

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #weather

Fight over Damages Threatens to Derail Climate Negotiations

Small nations that have done little to cause global warming stand to suffer immeasurably and are increasingly vocal about receiving compensation

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment

Greenland polar bear population has been isolated for hundreds of years

Image of a polar bear on floating ice

Enlarge (credit: Paul Souders)

In the southeast corner of Greenland, scientists have discovered an unexpected population of polar bears. This population has developed distinct habits to survive in its odd—as far as polar bears are concerned—habitat, and the bears’ genomes are quite different from many of their kin. Beyond the novelty these animals represent, they could also help inform scientists about how more traditional bears will fare in a warming Arctic, according to new research.

Several things set this group of bears apart. For much of the year, they survive by hunting from ice that falls into the ocean after breaking off a Greenland glacier; the ice floats in the fjords these bears call home. This is unlike most other populations of polar bears, which require sea ice for hunting. According to the World Wildlife Fund, between 22,000 and 31,000 polar bears are left in the world.

The research team used seven years of data collected in the region, along with 30 years of historic data. For the new data, the team connected with local hunters and used tissue samples taken from the hunters’ kills to sequence the bears’ genomes. They also used fieldwork, satellite data—which also allowed them to study the geographical and sea ice conditions of the region—and tracking collars to get a sense of the bears’ movements.

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#arctic, #climate-change, #isolated-populations, #polar-bears, #science, #sea-ice

If Electric Vehicles Don’t Cut CO2 Fast Enough, These Fuels Might Help

Department of Energy researchers say gasoline might have to be substituted with biofuels to ensure that climate targets are achieved

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #fossil-fuels

How the U.S. Is Preparing for Europe’s Carbon Tariffs

More products are being added to a proposed carbon border fee, affecting billions of dollars of American goods

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#climate-change, #economics, #environment, #social-sciences

Climate Destroyers Go to Jail, Martian Travel Guide, Bee Interiority, and More

Recommendations from the editors of Scientific American

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#animals, #astronomy, #biology, #climate-change, #environment, #recommended, #spacephysics

India isn’t ready for a deadly combination of heat and humidity

India isn’t ready for a deadly combination of heat and humidity

Enlarge (credit: Prakash Singh | Getty )

R Lakshmanan has been making steel frames in the southern Indian city of Chennai for 20 years. His job involves standing for long hours outdoors at construction sites, pounding screws with careful precision onto steel rods. Each day he makes nearly 600 frames, which end up becoming the skeleton of a home. Often he works 12-hour shifts, beginning at 6 am. He always feels fortunate when he gets to work under a shady tree.

But this year, that protection hasn’t been enough. Ever since temperatures in March hit a sizzling 38° Celsius—4° above normal for Chennai—the conditions have been stifling. The metal frames Lakshmanan works with have been too hot to touch, the steel burning his fingertips and leaving behind painful sores. He has seen construction workers, especially women, collapse around him, and has had to take breaks during the workday to cope with fits of dizziness and nausea. “On some days, there’s so much heat, it feels like you’re living in a fireball,” he says.

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#climate-change, #india, #policy, #science, #wet-bulb

Oil Companies Tee up the Next Supreme Court Climate Showdown

The companies are asking the justices to step in once again in a sprawling legal fight over the industry’s climate liability

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#climate-change, #environment, #fossil-fuels

Carbon Credits Versus the “Big Gulp”

Reviving peatlands in the San Joaquin River Delta could prevent levee failure and lock away carbon

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#climate-change, #environment

There’s no healthy economy (or planet) without healthy forests

Morning view of shady country road with some ray of light penetrating through trees

Enlarge (credit: Alfian Widiantono)

Forests are among the world’s best bets for carbon capture. But according to this year’s State of the World’s Forests report from the United Nations, forests are also the foundation of green and equitable economies, sustainable resource management, and biodiversity preservation and are generally key to a brighter future.

This latest report highlights how much forests are undervalued in economic analyses and re-emphasizes a three-pronged approach: preserve existing forests, restore degraded lands and expand agroforestry (the integration of trees and shrubs into agriculture), and sustainably use forest products. These actions need upfront financing, but the amount needed is modest compared to other government spending. And the return on investment—in terms of avoiding climate calamity and building a more equitable and sustainable economy—would be significant.

“Governments are estimated to spend $1.8 trillion a year in military expenditures and more than $5 trillion in fossil fuel subsidies, but only about $50 billion on landscape restoration,” said Robert Nasi, the managing director of The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in CIFOR-ICRAF’s media release about the report. “It’s time for society to rethink our priorities to enable a better future.”

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#climate, #climate-change, #earth-science, #ecology, #economy, #forests, #science

Biden Order Will Boost Heat Pumps and Building Insulation

Invoking the Defense Production Act could help reshape the economics around building decarbonization

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#climate-change, #environment

It’s “now or never” on climate change, but that doesn’t mean we’re doomed

Making our climate solutions equitable. Click here for transcript. (video link)

Human beings have made tremendous scientific and technological breakthroughs, but our continued social and cultural advancement has come at the expense of our planet’s ecosystems, endangered by human-driven global climate change. Ars Science Editor John Timmer joined climatologist Michael Mann of Penn State University (moving to the University of Pennsylvania this fall) and Sally Benson, deputy director for energy and chief strategist for the energy transition at the White House of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), for a spirited discussion about the existential threat of climate change; viable—and ethical—solutions to that threat; and the need to face the grim reality the planet faces without giving in to so-called climate “doom-ism.”

The discussion took place in the wake of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—technically the third and final section of the 6th Assessment Report—concluding that the next few years are a critical window of opportunity if we hope to limit global warming to the benchmarks of 1.5° C or 2° C. The good news: There are signs of clear progress, most notably an acceleration in the growth of the clean energy sector. The bad news: We are at the peak of the so-called emissions curve, so emissions must begin declining now. Jim Skea (co-chair of the group behind the report), described it as a “now or never” scenario.

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#ars-frontiers, #ars-technica-videos, #climate-change, #energy-and-environment, #environmental-sciences, #frontiers-recap, #science, #science-policy

Attribution Science Linking Warming to Disasters Is Rapidly Advancing

Event attribution is one of the fastest developing areas of climate science since it began 20 years ago

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#climate-change, #environment, #natural-disasters

Meerkats Are Getting Climate Sick

For meerkats in the Kalahari Desert, rising temperatures spark deadly outbreaks of tuberculosis.

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#animals, #biology, #climate-change

Sweltering India Turns to Superheating Coal for Cooling

The need to use coal to boost power supplies illustrates the challenge of quickly increasing renewable energy to avoid bigger climate impacts

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#climate-change, #environment, #fossil-fuels

Record Methane Spike Boosts Heat Trapped by Greenhouse Gases

NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index finds that greenhouse gases trapped nearly 50 percent more heat last year than they did in 1990

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #fossil-fuels

Bear hibernation: More than a winter’s nap

A brown bear with two cubs looks out of its den in the woods under a large rock in winter.

Enlarge / A brown bear with two cubs looks out of its den in the woods under a large rock in winter. (credit: Byrdyak | Getty)

Every spring, as days in the north stretch longer and melting snow trickles into streams, drowsy animals ranging from grizzlies to ground squirrels start to rally from hibernation. It’s tempting to say that that they are “waking up,” but hibernation is more complicated and mysterious than a simple long sleep: Any animal that can spend months underground without eating or drinking and still emerge ready to face the world has clearly mastered an amazing trick of biology.

The roster of animals that hibernate includes all manner of rodents, some amphibians and even a few primates (several species of dwarf lemurs), but bears are literally the biggest hibernators of them all. Adult grizzly and black bears weigh as much as American football players, or more, with the energy and curiosity of preschoolers, but they have no trouble hunkering down for months at time. The choreography that goes into shutting down a creature this big defies easy explanation, says Elena Gracheva, a neurophysiologist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “Hibernation is so complex it requires adaptations at multiple levels,” she says.

Bear hibernation offers important insights into the workings of large mammals, especially us, explains Gracheva, who coauthored an exploration of the physiology of hibernation in the 2020 Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology. A better understanding of the process could potentially change our approach to a wide range of human conditions, including stroke, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s (see sidebar).

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#animal-behavior, #bears, #biology, #climate-change, #hibernation, #science

Rethinking air conditioning amid climate change

Rethinking air conditioning amid climate change

Enlarge (credit: Jupiter Images | Getty)

It was a monumental day for the environmental movement more than 30 years ago when all 198 countries in the world agreed on something for the first and only time ever. They signed on to the Montreal Protocol, making a pact to phase out a roster of chemicals that damage the Earth’s ozone layer. Chief among these were the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons used by the cooling and refrigeration industry. Alternatives, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were quickly found.

But in recent years, scientists have come to realize that the Montreal Protocol of 1987 might have traded an immediate problem for a long-term one. Though HFCs don’t cause the same damage to the ozone layer as CFCs do, the chemicals have warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times higher than that of CO2—making their growing global use a cause for concern.

The 20th-century industrial revolution saw a major boom in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry in Europe and North America. Now, as developing nations boost their economies, countries such as China, India, and Nigeria are seeing skyrocketing demand for these appliances.

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#air-conditioning, #climate-change, #emissions, #features, #policy, #science

U.S. Emissions Rise 4 Percent as Drivers Log a Record Number of Miles

Drivers tallied 753 billion miles in the first three months of the year, the highest total on record

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#climate-change, #environment, #pollution

Humming birds suffer if they move uphill to escape the warming climate

Image of a hummingbird in flight near a flower.

Enlarge (credit: Dan Ripplinger / 500px)

As the Earth’s climate warms, some animals may seek a reprieve from the heat in colder, northern climates or higher altitudes. For some species, these cooler locales may provide greener—so to speak—pastures than their current homes as annual average temperatures continue to increase.

For the diminutive Anna’s hummingbird—which calls North America’s West Coast from California to Vancouver, British Columbia, home—this might not be an option. According to research published Thursday in the Journal of Experimental Biology, a move to chillier and higher altitudes would achieve only two things: cause them to struggle to hover as their metabolic rate drops and sleep most of the day.

“As you get upslope, it’s colder, and also there’s less oxygen available. You can think of this like Everest; people have to go up to basecamp and bring extra oxygen and get used to it up there,” Austin Spence, one of the paper’s authors and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California Davis’ Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, told Ars.

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#altitude, #climate-change, #ecology, #hummingbird, #science

Can we cut the US’s carbon emissions in half this decade?

Image of a power plant.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

’’About a year ago, President Joe Biden set an ambitious climate target: The US should cut its greenhouse gas emissions roughly in half by 2030. That’s consistent with what we’d need to do to reach some of the goals of the Paris Agreement, but it provides very little time to get our emissions under control.

That raises some obvious questions. Is it even possible? If so, how? To find out, a group of energy experts used six different models of the US energy economy, tasking each with reaching a state where emissions are consistent with our goals. The good news is that all the models provide routes to getting there. While the exact details vary from model to model, their common features strongly hint at where our focus needs to be.

Route finding

Greenhouse gas emissions come primarily from energy use, both for generating electricity and powering transportation. Industrial processes can also release either carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gasses, some of which have an even higher warming potential. It’s possible to track the costs and benefits of altering the weight of each of these sources. In some cases, it can involve switching an industrial process to alternate materials or from fossil fuels to a renewable source. Alternately, it could include offsetting continued emissions through things like carbon capture or reforestation.

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#carbon-dioxide, #climate-change, #earth-sciences, #energy, #renewable-energy, #science

As 2022 Hurricane Season Looms, A Current that Fuels Monster Storms Is Very Warm

The Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico has fueled major storms such as Hurricane Katrina

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #weather

Florida Lab to Mimic Category 6 Hurricanes with 200-Mile-per-Hour Wind

With what will be one of the world’s most advanced hurricane simulators, researchers will be able to reproduce wind, rain and storm surge

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #weather

Deadly Heat in India and Pakistan ‘Highly Unlikely’ without Climate Change

A weekslong heat wave in India and Pakistan was 30 times more likely because of human-caused warming

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #weather

Pakistan hits 120°F as climate trends drive spring heatwave

Image of the Sun in a hazy, orange sky.

Enlarge (credit: Chuchart Duangdaw)

Spring has brought remarkably extreme heat to India and Pakistan this year. Unusually extensive heatwaves have followed one after another since March and are continuing well into May. The situation presents a conundrum for rapid studies of the role of climate change in this event, as we can’t yet put an end date on it. Nevertheless, a pair of studies have looked into the influence of the climate on March and April’s heat.

Daily and monthly temperature records have been broken in many areas. Thermometers have hit temperatures as high as 120°F (49°C), and the heat has been accompanied by abnormally dry weather. Record-breaking heatwaves often coincide with drought, as the dry ground heats up even more without the cooling effect of evaporation. However, the lower humidity has reduced the heat’s threat to human health, though at least 90 deaths have been reported so far, and that number is expected to rise.

Working outdoors has been extremely challenging, and the impacts of the slowdown have added up as the heat drags on. The effect on agriculture has been significant, with wheat yield losses already estimated at 10–35 percent in areas of northern India, for example. With Ukrainian exports down because of war, India had previously been planning to increase its own exports but instead instituted an export ban this month.

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#climate-change, #science, #weather-attribution

California Faces Summer Blackouts from Climate Extremes

Energy planners are working to increase the grid’s reliability to keep the power on during droughts, wildfires and heat waves

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#climate-change, #environment

Biden administration lays out plan for four carbon-capture facilities

Image of a facility filled with green-colored tubes.

Enlarge / Bioreactors that host algae would be one option for carbon sequestration—as long as the carbon is stored somehow. (credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced the latest program to come out of the bipartisan infrastructure funding package that was passed last year. In this case, the money is going to foster the development of a technology that we’ll almost certainly need but is currently underdeveloped: capture of carbon dioxide from the air and its stable storage. The infrastructure law set aside $3.5 billion for direct air capture, and the DOE plans to use that to fund four facilities spread across the US.

Direct air capture has suffered from a bit of a catch-22. Most scenarios for limiting end-of-century warming assume we’ll emit enough carbon dioxide in the next few decades to overshoot our climate goals and will therefore need to remove some from the atmosphere. That would necessitate the development of direct air capture technologies. But, at present, there’s no way to fund the operation of a facility to do the capturing, so the technology remains immature and its economics poorly understood.

The DOE’s funding has the potential to change some of that. It has a total of $3.5 billion to spend in the years 2022 through 2026. It plans to use that to fund four carbon-capture and storage centers spread across the US, each with the capability of permanently storing a million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.

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#carbon-capture, #climate-change, #department-of-energy, #green, #science

Climate-Fueled Heat Waves Will Hamper Western Hydropower

Earlier snowmelt can leave less water available to generate power during the height of summer

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #renewable-energy

If Sea Ice Melts in the Arctic, Do Trees Burn in California?

A new study links sea ice decline with increasing wildfire weather in the Western United States.

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment

Climate Change Caused $4 Billion of Typhoon’s Damage

A new wave of attribution research links the economic cost of weather events to climate change

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#climate-change, #environment, #natural-disasters

‘Reef Balls’ Gain Traction for Shoreline Protection

Structures first deployed as artificial reefs are being used in the Northeast to combat the force of waves as ocean levels rise

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment

Climate Change Doubled the Likelihood of Devastating South African Floods

Hundreds of people were killed and thousands of homes destroyed in Durban after torrential rains unleashed flooding

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #natural-disasters

Declines in Air Pollution Have Made Hurricanes Stronger

Without the cooling effect of aerosols, warmer oceans have provided more fuel to storms

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #pollution

Women Bear the Brunt of Drought Shocks

Gender discrimination multiplies the challenges women face from climate change, a new U.N. report says

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #inequality

Why the 2022 Southwest Fire Season Is So Early and Intense

La Niña, climate change and an increasing human presence are all raising wildfire risks

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #natural-disasters

Air-Conditioning Should Be a Human Right in the Climate Crisis

We need to protect vulnerable people from killer heat without destroying the environment

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #engineering, #environment, #health, #inequality, #public-health, #renewable-energy, #technology

Why the EPA Might Make New Gas Plants Catch Carbon

There is debate about whether the agency will rely on carbon capture to achieve emissions reductions

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#climate-change, #environment, #fossil-fuels

Why our continued use of fossil fuels is creating a financial time bomb

Why our continued use of fossil fuels is creating a financial time bomb

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The numbers are startling.

We know roughly how much more carbon dioxide we can put into the atmosphere before we exceed our climate goals—limiting warming to 1.5° to 2° C above preindustrial temperatures. From that, we can figure out how much more fossil fuel we can burn before we emit that much carbon dioxide. But when you compare those numbers with our known fossil fuel reserves, things get jaw-dropping.

To reach our climate goals, we’ll need to leave a third of the oil, half of the natural gas, and nearly all the coal we’re aware of sitting in the ground, unused.

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#carbon-emissions, #climate-change, #features, #finance, #fossil-fuels, #policy, #science

Vast underground water system helps drive Antarctica’s glaciers

Vast underground water system helps drive Antarctica’s glaciers

Enlarge (credit: De Agostini Picture Library | Getty Images)

Lake Whillans is a strange body of water, starting with the fact that there is liquid to fill it at all. Though buried under more than 2,000 feet of Antarctic ice, its temperatures climb to just shy of 0° Celsius, thanks to a combination of geothermal warmth, intense friction from ice scraping rock, and that thick glacial blanket protecting it from the polar air. Given the immense pressure down there, that’s just balmy enough to keep the lake’s water watery. Stranger still, Lake Whillans is also teeming with life. One survey a decade ago found thousands of varieties of microscopic critters, thought to be feeding on nutrients left by seawater that sloshed into the basin several millennia ago, when the glaciers last pulled back.

More recently, Chloe Gustafson, a geophysicist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, arrived on the remote stretch of ice above Lake Whillans with a different mystery in mind: What’s happening underneath that lake? Antarctic researchers had long suspected the plumbing below the glacier went much deeper than they could see. Any groundwater beneath the lake would have implications for how the ice up above moves oceanward, and thus for how quickly it might contribute to rising seas. But they couldn’t definitively prove what groundwater was there. It was too deep, too ice-covered to map with the traditional tools of glaciology, like bouncing radar signals off the ice or setting off explosives and listening to the shockwaves.

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#antarctica, #climate-change, #glaciers, #science

Astonishing Heat Grips India and Pakistan

Sustained temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit threaten people, wheat crops and power supplies

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #weather

Climate Change Will Boost Viral Outbreaks

Modeling study is first to project how global warming will increase animal encounters and virus swapping between species

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #epidemiology, #health

Scientists Warn of Looming Mass Ocean Extinction

If greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, temperature spikes could bring the first such mass extinction in 250 million years

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #oceans

Millions of Trees Were Removed in 2021, Hurting Climate Goals

The dramatic loss of tree cover in the tropics and northern boreal forests is releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide

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#climate-change, #conservation, #environment

Paul Sutter walks us through the future of climate change—things aren’t great

Produced and directed by Corey Eisenstein. Transcript coming soon. (video link)

Our previous episode of Edge of Knowledge peeped back in time a few billion years to explore the origins of life on Earth, but now we aim our lens in a different direction. Rather than looking at the distant past to see how life began, this episode looks to the near future—specifically, at the ways in which Earth’s climate might change over the next few decades.

Dealing with it

First, let’s get this bit of inconvenient truth out of the way: anthropogenic climate change—that is, climate change caused by humans—is well-established science. The evidence is overwhelming, and attempted rebuttals are incomplete, flawed, or fabricated. The questions we need to be answering, as Paul points out in the video, aren’t “Is this even happening?” or “Should we do something?” The questions we’re now faced with are “How bad is it going to get?” and “What, exactly, do we need to be doing?”

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#anthropogenic-climate-change, #ars-technica-videos, #climate-change, #edge-of-knowledge, #feature, #features, #global-warming, #paul-sutter, #science, #video

A Major Ocean Current Is at Its Weakest Point in 1,000 Years

Natural variations are currently the main cause, but climate change should continue to cause it to slow down

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #oceans

Carbon Cap and Trade Is Set to Start in Pennsylvania–but for How Long?

Governor Tom Wolf announced last week that his administration had finalized a regulation to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #fossil-fuels