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Scientific American: Not every year can be a record setter in the Arctic. But records are only one small piece of a larger puzzle that shows persistent change in the Arctic. And that change hasn't slowed according to this year's Arctic Report Card released at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting on Wednesday.
Long-term trends in rising temperatures, spiraling sea ice loss, and ecosystem shifts paint a picture of a region in transition due to climate change that is transpiring at a much faster rate than the...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:29 pm
New York Times: After years of gauging the environmental, medical, economic and political risks of hydraulic fracturing, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is moving to ban this method of extracting natural gas from shale deposits in New York State.
[Update, 9:30 p.m. | See the end of the post for an excerpt from the state health study that underpinned the decision.]
It had been clear for years, as I wrote in 2012, that there was little political or economic impetus to act quickly, even though I felt (and still am convinced)...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:11 pm
ScienceDaily: A chemical oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island who measured organic pollutants in the air and water around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario has found that airborne emissions are no longer the primary cause of the lakes' contamination. Instead, most of the lakes' chemical pollutants come from sources on land or in rivers.
According to Rainer Lohmann, professor of chemical oceanography at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, water quality in the Great Lakes has been slowly improving for...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:04 pm
ScienceDaily: 2013 saw global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production reach a new all-time high. This was mainly due to the continuing steady increase in energy use in emerging economies over the past ten years. However, emissions increased at a notably slower rate (2%) than on average in the last ten years (3.8% per year since 2003, excluding the credit crunch years).
This slowdown, which began in 2012, signals a further decoupling of global emissions and economic growth, which reflects mainly...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 10:04 pm
Associated Press: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday proposed an ambitious cap-and-trade program to require the state's largest industrial polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release.
The proposal was part of a broader package that the Democrat said would help the state meet a 2008 mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. It sets an overall limit on heat-trapping gases similar to a program that California launched nearly three years ago.
"It is primarily...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 1:06 pm
Ecologist: A new financial crisis is threatening to dwarf the 'subprime' mortgage debacle, writes Paul Mobbs. Cheap money from central banks has fuelled some $1.3 trillion of risky investments in high-cost 'unconventional' oil and gas. Now, with oil sinking below $60, all that paper is turning to junk - and that's putting the entire economic system at risk.
Throwing free money after bad, the US fracking industry mopped up a large wad of QE cash, and shortly after the number of drilling rigs in the US took...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 9:56 am
Reuters: California pension plans would divest all assets related to the coal industry under a measure the leader of the state senate said he will propose to reduce support for an industry that critics blame for contributing to climate change. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said on Monday he would introduce a bill that would require state pension plans to divest from coal assets. He had just returned from United Nations talks in Lima, Peru on international efforts to fight climate change. At the...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 9:00 am
Grist: Once Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) becomes Senate majority leader next month, his first order of business will be to hold a vote on authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, he said on Tuesday. If it passes, that would force President Obama to either approve or veto the bill, and thus the pipeline, before he is ready to. From CNN:
The President has said he wants the decision left in the hands of the State Department, which is six years into a review of the project and currently holds final authority because...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 7:40 am
SciDevNet: Rwanda's weather service is now better able to forecast floods and other natural disasters after scientists bridged climate-data gaps left by the 1994 genocide.
The collection of national rainfall and temperature records lapsed for after the genocide, and the absence of reliable records had hampered the Rwanda Meteorology Agency's ability to forecast threats such as torrential rain or flooding that damaged homes and crops, and caused fatalities.
But researchers have now combined Rwandan weather...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 7:00 am
Christian Science Monitor: On Friday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that 2.5 million people in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador had been forced into conditions of food insecurity.
The drought in the three countries is “turning into a creeping humanitarian crisis”, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian agency, told reporters in Geneva.
Subsistence farmers, farm labourers and low-income families were especially at risk, with young children and pregnant...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 6:47 am
Grist: President Obama took another step today to build up his green legacy, just the latest in a recent string of pro-environment actions. He protected Alaska’s Bristol Bay, a major environmental and economic resource, by withdrawing the waters indefinitely from future oil and gas drilling. The Huffington Post’s Kate Sheppard reports:
Obama said in a video Tuesday that he had issued a memorandum withdrawing the region from all future oil and gas lease sales. The region, he said, "is a beautiful, natural...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 6:44 am
Guardian: This year is on track to be the warmest ever recorded in Europe, and greenhouse gas emissions played a major role, according to new research. Scientists have analysed centuries of temperature records to conclude that this year’s warmth was made at least 35 times more likely because of climate change.
In the UK, this year’s weather included an unusually warm beginning to autumn, with hot sunny days continuing into late October. A team of researchers at Oxford found that the odds of such a warm...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 5:03 am
BBC: Scientists have assessed the scale of the epic California drought and say it will require more than 40 cubic km of water to return the US state to normal.
The figure was worked out by weighing the land from space.
The American West Coast has been hit by big storms in recent days, but this rainfall is only expected to make a small dent in California's problems.
Researchers described their research at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in San Francisco.
The US space agency (Nasa)...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 4:13 am
Guardian: Global pressure will force Australia to do more on climate change, Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, has predicted.
Cameron told a committee of British MPs in London he sensed the Australian government recognised it did not want to be the international “back marker” on the issue.
“Look, it’s a sovereign country. It has to make its own decisions. There has obviously been a very big debate in Australia about carbon taxes and prices and all the rest of it,” Cameron said as he gave evidence...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 4:09 am
Nature World: California has been suffering from a three-year-drought that is the worst the region has seen in more than a millennium. Now an analysis conducted by NASA has revealed that in order for the state to recover from its current predicament, it's going to have to gain 11 trillion gallons of water back somehow.
That finding was part of an overall review of the drought's recent peak, which was conducted by NASA experts and presented Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco....
Posted: December 17, 2014, 3:04 am
New York Times: President Obama on Tuesday again used his executive authority to enact an environmental priority as he indefinitely barred oil and gas exploration of Alaska’s picturesque Bristol Bay to protect some of the nation’s most productive commercial fisheries. Mr. Obama first put the ecologically sensitive area of the Bering Sea — home to an important population of whales, seals and sea lions — off limits to oil rigs in 2010, but that restriction was set to expire in 2017, several months after he leaves...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 2:53 am
Reuters: A trifecta of early winter storms that swept California with heavy rain and snow in the past two weeks put a promising dent in a severe drought entering its fourth year, but the water shortage remains far from over, water officials said on Tuesday.
Depleted reservoirs and the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which normally constitutes the state's largest natural store of fresh surface water, received a welcome boost from successive Pacific storms on Dec. 1-2, Dec. 11-12 and again on Monday and Tuesday....
Posted: December 17, 2014, 2:12 am
Press Trust of India: Coral reefs which are home to over 25 per cent of marine life, are facing a double blow across the globe in the form of thermal and chemical impact, a senior scientist said.
"Thermal impact on the earth is seen in terms of global warming. Earth has warmed by about 0.34 degree Celsius since the mid 1970s and the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001," senior scientist with Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) Dr Mahua Saha, told representatives of SAARC nations. ...
Posted: December 17, 2014, 12:27 am
National Geographic: Oil from a wrecked tanker is creating a disaster in the waters of Bangladesh's Sundarbans, the largest contiguous tidal mangrove forest in the world and a haven for a spectacular array of species, including the rare Irrawaddy and Gangetic dolphins and the highly endangered Bengal tiger.
"This catastrophe is unprecedented in the Sundarbans, and we don't know how to tackle this," Amir Hossain, chief forest official of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, told reporters.
Named for the native sundari...
Posted: December 16, 2014, 9:03 pm
Economic Times: India and the United States are expected to announce a joint effort to tackle climate change with focus on clean energy and technology R&D during President Barack Obama's visit to the country in January.
Though a big ticket announcement like the US-China deal last month has been ruled out, in keeping with the leadership role that the US has sought to take on in climate negotiations over the last two months, Obama is expected to persuade Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ramp up India's efforts to...
Posted: December 16, 2014, 3:39 pm