Day: November 2, 2021

COP26: Scotland to restore and extend Celtic rainforest as global leaders pledge to end deforestation

Read the full story at The Scotsman.

Rare and internationally important Celtic rainforests in Scotland are to be restored and expanded as part of a £500 million national investment in the country’s natural economy.

How herbivore activity around water affects plant communities

Read the full story from the University of California – Santa Barbara.

Plants need water to grow. So if there’s water, shouldn’t there be more plants? New research shows it’s a lot more complicated than that.

#COP26 is happening on Twitter

Read the full post on the Twitter blog.

The climate conversation happening on Twitter continues to accelerate, generating more than 40 million Tweets in 2021 alone. As global leaders convene in Glasgow for #COP26, people around the world are using Twitter to get the latest, connect with the environmental community, and galvanize around pressing climate challenges.

U.S. EPA to draft power plant emissions rules despite court ruling

Read the full story from Reuters.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will continue to draft rules targeting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants despite a surprise Supreme Court decision last week to review its authority to do so, its administrator told Reuters on Monday.

Climate pledges don’t stop countries from exporting huge amounts of fossil fuels

Read the full story at NPR.

The U.S. may be on the verge of passing the most consequential climate change legislation ever. President Biden is expected to tout it at a big climate change meeting in Glasgow this week. But that won’t change one of the country’s major sources of greenhouse gas emissions: fossil fuel exports.

The U.S. is among countries that plan to keep exporting oil, natural gas and coal for decades to come even as they work to zero out climate-warming fossil fuel emissions at home. In an increasingly controversial quirk, this is perfectly acceptable under the Paris climate agreement.

Biden announces new methane rules and launches global pledge to slash planet-warming emissions

Read the full story from CNN.

President Joe Biden targeted planet-warming methane emissions on Tuesday from the UN climate summit, announcing strong new US regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and launching a Global Methane Pledge, in partnership with the European Union, that has been signed by around 100 countries.

At the center of Biden’s US methane strategy is a rule from the EPA that would push oil and gas companies to more accurately detect, monitor and repair methane leaks from new and existing wells, pipelines and other equipment. The agency estimates the rule would cut 41 million tons of methane emissions from 2023 to 2035 — more greenhouse gas than all the carbon dioxide emitted by all US passenger cars and commercial planes in 2019.

Read more about the proposed methane regulations in this NPR story.

Sierra Club of Illinois, Prairie Rivers Network threaten to sue Sugar Camp coal plant

Read the full story in the Southern Illinoisan.

Environmental advocacy groups are threatening a lawsuit after toxic foam was dumped into the Sugar Camp Coal Mine, putting water supply at risk.

The science everyone needs to know about climate change, in 6 charts

Scientific instruments in space today can monitor hurricane strength, sea level rise, ice sheet loss and much more. Christina Koch/NASA

by Betsy Weatherhead, University of Colorado Boulder

With the United Nations’ climate conference in Scotland turning a spotlight on climate change policies and the impact of global warming, it’s useful to understand what the science shows.

I’m an atmospheric scientist who has worked on global climate science and assessments for most of my career. Here are six things you should know, in charts.

What’s driving climate change

The primary focus of the negotiations is on carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is released when fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – are burned, as well as by forest fires, land use changes and natural sources.

The Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s started an enormous increase in the burning of fossil fuels. It powered homes, industries and opened up the planet to travel. That same century, scientists identified carbon dioxide’s potential to increase global temperatures, which at the time was considered a possible benefit to the planet. Systematic measurements started in the mid-1900s and have shown a steady increase in carbon dioxide, with the majority of it directly traceable to the combustion of fossil fuels.

Once in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide tends to stay there for a very long time. A portion of the carbon dioxide released through human activities is taken up by plants, and some is absorbed directly into the ocean, but roughly half of all carbon dioxide emitted by human activities today stays in the atmosphere — and it likely will remain there for hundreds of years, influencing the climate globally.

During the first year of the pandemic in 2020, when fewer people were driving and some industries briefly stopped, carbon dioxide emissions from fuels fell by roughly 6%. But it didn’t stop the rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide because the amount released into the atmosphere by human activities far exceeded what nature could absorb.

If civilization stopped its carbon dioxide-emitting activities today, it would still take many hundreds of years for the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to fall enough naturally to bring the planet’s carbon cycle back into balance because of carbon dioxide’s long life in the atmosphere.

How we know greenhouse gases can change the climate

Multiple lines of scientific evidence point to the increase in greenhouse emissions over the past century and a half as a driver of long-term climate change around the world. For example:

When carbon dioxide levels have been high in the past, evidence shows temperatures have also been high. Based on Salawitch et al., 2017, updated with data to the end of 2020, CC BY
  • Long-term records from ice cores, tree rings and corals show that when carbon dioxide levels have been high, temperatures have also been high.
  • Our neighboring planets also offer evidence. Venus’ atmosphere is thick with carbon dioxide, and it is the hottest planet in our solar system as a result, even though Mercury is closer to the sun.

Temperatures are rising on every continent

The rising temperatures are evident in records from every continent and over the oceans.

The temperatures aren’t rising at the same rate everywhere, however. A variety of factors affect local temperatures, including land use that influences how much solar energy is absorbed or reflected, local heating sources like urban heat islands, and pollution.

The Arctic, for example, is warming about three times faster than the global average in part because as the planet warms, snow and ice melt makes the surface more likely to absorb, rather than reflect, the sun’s radiation. Snow cover and sea ice recede even more rapidly as a result.

What climate change is doing to the planet

Earth’s climate system is interconnected and complex, and even small temperature changes can have large impacts – for instance, with snow cover and sea levels.

Changes are already happening. Studies show that rising temperatures are already affecting precipitation, glaciers, weather patterns, tropical cyclone activity and severe storms. A number of studies show that the increases in frequency, severity and duration of heat waves, for example, affect ecosystems, human lives, commerce and agriculture.

Historical records of ocean water level have shown mostly consistent increases over the past 150 years as glacier ice melts and rising temperatures expand ocean water, with some local deviations due to sinking or rising land.

While extreme events are often due to complex sets of causes, some are exacerbated by climate change. Just as coastal flooding can be made worse by rising ocean levels, heat waves are more damaging with higher baseline temperatures.

Climate scientists work hard to estimate future changes as a result of increased carbon dioxide and other expected changes, such as world population. It’s clear that temperatures will increase and precipitation will change. The exact magnitude of change depends on many interacting factors.

A few reasons for hope

On a hopeful note, scientific research is improving our understanding of climate and the complex Earth system, identifying the most vulnerable areas and guiding efforts to reduce the drivers of climate change. Work on renewable energy and alternative energy sources, as well as ways to capture carbon from industries or from the air, are producing more options for a better prepared society.

At the same time, people are learning about how they can reduce their own impact, with the growing understanding that a globally coordinated effort is required to have a significant impact. Electric vehicles, as well as solar and wind power, are growing at previously unthinkable rates. More people are showing a willingness to adopt new strategies to use energy more efficiently, consume more sustainably and choose renewable energy.

Scientists increasingly recognize that shifting away from fossil fuels has additional benefits, including improved air quality for human health and ecosystems.

Betsy Weatherhead, Senior Scientist, University of Colorado Boulder

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

EPA unveils strategy for reducing lead exposure

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday announced a revised strategy for reducing lead exposure, with a focus on communities that have had a disproportionate amount.

New Chicago River sensors give real-time updates on water quality

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago.

“H2NOW reports on the river like a meteorologist reports on the weather,” said Alaina Harkness, executive director of the nonprofit leading the project.

%d bloggers like this: