Responsible Agriculture a Must to Meet Climate Change Goals

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

More resources need to be dedicated to sustainable agriculture if the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement are to be met, according to sector leaders and experts speaking at the UN Climate Change Conference. During a session on Friday, a key takeaway was that investing in agricultural climate action, especially in terms of small-scale farmers and those in rural areas, will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions.

Thousands of scientists issue bleak ‘second notice’ to humanity

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

In late 1992, 1,700 scientists from around the world issued a dire “warning to humanity.” They said humans had pushed Earth’s ecosystems to their breaking point and were well on the way to ruining the planet. The letter listed environmental impacts like they were biblical plagues — stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, the collapse of fisheries and loss of soil productivity, deforestation, species loss and  catastrophic global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels…

To mark the letter’s 25th anniversary, researchers have issued a bracing follow-up. In a communique published Monday in the journal BioScience, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries assess the world’s latest responses to various environmental threats. Once again, they find us sorely wanting.

 

New routes to renewables: Sandia speeds transformation of biofuel waste into wealth

Read the full story from Sandia National Laboratory.

A Sandia National Laboratories-led team has demonstrated faster, more efficient ways to turn discarded plant matter into chemicals worth billions. The team’s findings could help transform the economics of making fuels and other products from domestically grown renewable sources.

Lignin, the tough material left over from biofuel production, contains compounds that can be converted into products like nylon, plastics and drugs. It is one of the main components of plant cell walls, and gives plants structural integrity as well as protection from microbial attacks.

Products made from converted lignin could subsidize biofuel production, making the cost of biofuels more competitive with petroleum. Unfortunately, lignin’s toughness also makes it difficult to extract its valuable compounds. Scientists have wrestled for decades with deconstructing it. As a result, lignin often sits unused in giant piles.

Sandia bioengineer Seema Singh and her team have demonstrated two new routes to lignin conversion that combine the advantages of earlier methods while minimizing their drawbacks. The team’s recent findings are described in the journal Scientific Reports.

 

Saving Coney Island from the roller coaster of climate change

Read the full story from Cornell University.

Through the lens of natural history, Coney Island features marshes, wetlands, creeks and a sandy shore. Today, it’s famous for hot dogs, crowded beaches, Mermaid Avenue and Luna Park.

As sea levels rise, the Coney Island peninsula is in danger of becoming uninhabitable.

Cornell landscape architecture graduate students are wrestling with the island’s tenable, livable resilience in the face of nature aiming to reclaim it.

Greenhouse gas emissions just went the wrong way, again

Read the full story at Mashable.

After years of promise, we’re going backwards on greenhouse gases. Global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise by 2 percent in 2017, following a flat line between 2014 and 2016.

How cities can fight climate change most effectively

Read the full story from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What are the best ways for U.S. cities to combat climate change? A new study co-authored by an MIT professor indicates it will be easier for cities to reduce emissions coming from residential energy use rather than from local transportation — and this reduction will happen mostly thanks to better building practices, not greater housing density.

CO2 emissions from coal fell by record amount in 2015, led by Texas and Midwest

Read the full story from the Energy Information Administration.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with coal consumption in the United States fell by a record 231 million metric tons in 2015. More than 60% of the annual decrease occurred in 10 states, led by Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, according to EIA’s state-level carbon dioxide emissions data. Most of the decline in 2015 U.S. coal consumption occurred in the electric power sector, where reduced coal-fired electricity generation was largely offset by higher natural gas-fired electricity generation.