Climate change

Now congressional Republicans are digging through scientists’ grant proposals

Read the full story in Grist.

When scientists across the country need money for research projects, one place they often turn is the National Science Foundation. The NSF is an independent federal agency with an annual budget of about $7 billion, which it doles out to fund about a quarter of all federally supported science research.

Of course, the agency doesn’t just give money away to anyone who asks. Proposals have to survive a rigorous review process that includes close scrutiny by a panel of top scientists in the relevant field. Competition is fierce: Of the 49,000 proposals submitted in 2013, only a fifth were ultimately funded. So as far as most scientists are concerned, an NSF grant is about the highest mark of scientific legitimacy a research project can get.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) apparently disagrees. Over the last 18 months, Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, has launched an aggressive campaign against what he sees as misguided money management at NSF that fritters funds away on frivolous research. Research on ridiculous things like, you know, climate change.

We can provide power to everyone without a huge leap in emissions, study finds

Read the full story in Grist.

When we talk about international climate action, it’s often taken for granted that developing countries need room to pollute as they pull their citizens out of poverty. More than a billion people worldwide don’t have access to electricity, the argument goes, and getting them connected will require major development projects that will come hand-in-hand with significant new emissions.

But that might be a false assumption, according to a new paper in Nature Climate Change.

Final Rule: Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Adjustments to the Allowance System for Controlling HCFC Production, Import and Export 2015-2019

The EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, signed the following final rule on 10/16/14, and EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register. While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the rule, it is not the official version of the rule for purposes of regulatory requirements. Please refer to the official version in a forthcoming Federal Register publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office’s FDsys website: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/home.action and on Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0263. Once the official version of this document is published in the Federal Register, this version will be removed from the Internet and replaced with a link to the official version.

Sharing a (Not So) Living Planet

Read the full story in Shareable.

Barely a week after more than half a million people marched for decisive action on climate change, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) released their latest Living Planet report, which serves as a timely reminder that the environmental crises we face extend far beyond the popular discourse on global warming. As ever, this year’s report makes for grim reading, with updated facts that illustrate the devastating impact of human activity on the biosphere and point to the urgent need for a revolutionary shift in the way we use, manage and share the earth’s natural resources.

According to the report’s Living Planet Index, vertebrate wildlife — including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and mammals — have declined by 52 percent over the past 40 years. This inconceivable loss of biodiversity comes as no surprise at a time when ecosystems are subjected to increasing demands from human activity, mainly due to our ubiquitous pursuit of consumption-driven economic growth. As the report’s ‘Ecological Footprint’ metric demonstrates, our collective use of available resources is highly unsustainable and clearly responsible for this dramatic loss of animal life. Echoing the findings of the WWF’s previous Living Planet report, the headline Footprint statistic reiterates the often-quoted fact that the world as a whole consumes natural resources 50 percent faster than they can be replenished.

A sprinkle of compost helps rangeland lock up carbon

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

A compost experiment that began seven years ago on a Marin County ranch has uncovered a disarmingly simple and benign way to remove carbon dioxide from the air, holding the potential to turn the vast rangeland of California and the world into a weapon against climate change.