Tag Archives | climate

NASA: World ‘Locked Into’ at Least 3 Feet of Sea Level Rise

Photo: NASA/Saskia Madlener

Photo: NASA/Saskia Madlener

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Andrea Germanos’ posts here.

New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, NASA scientists warned Wednesday.

That’s the higher range of the 1 to 3 feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment.

Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise.

“Given what we know now about how the ocean expands as it warms and how ice sheets and glaciers are adding water to the seas, it’s pretty certain we are locked into at least 3 feet of sea level rise, and probably more,” said Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and lead of NASA’s interdisciplinary Sea Level Change Team. “But we don’t know whether it will happen within a century or somewhat longer.”

The Greenland ice sheet has contributed more greatly to sea level rise, losing an average of 303 gigatons of ice a year over the past decade, while the Antarctic ice sheet has lost an average of 118 gigatons a year.… Read the rest

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Bombshell Study Reveals Methane Emissions Hugely Underestimated

A methane flare at a natural gas drilling site. (Photo: WildEarth Guardians/cc/flickr)

A methane flare at a natural gas drilling site. (Photo: WildEarth Guardians/cc/flickr)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren McCauley’s articles here.

The amount of methane being leaked from natural gas production sites has been hugely underestimated, according to a “bombshell” new study released on Tuesday.

In a paper published at Energy & Science Engineering, expert and gas industry consultant Touché Howard argues that a much-heralded 2013 study by the University of Texas relied on a faulty measurement instrument, the Bacharach Hi-Flow Sampler (BHFS), causing its findings to low-ball actual emission rates “by factors of three to five.”

“The data reported by the University of Texas study suggest their measurements exhibit this sensor failure, as shown by the paucity of high-emitting observations when the wellhead gas composition was less than 91% CH4, where sensor failures are most likely,” Howard writes, “during follow-up testing, the BHFS used in that study indeed exhibited sensor failure consistent with under-reporting of these high emitters.”

Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org called Howard’s findings a “bombshell,” adding: “The more we learn about fracking, the worse it is for the environment.”

If Howard is correct, the study throws into question countless other estimates of methane emissions from natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been hailed as a low-emission energy solution.

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Pope Calls on World Youth to Rise Up Against Global Capitalism

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

The latest call for a youth uprising against global capitalism came not from grassroots groups, but from the leader of the Catholic Church, who on Sunday gave a rousing speech during which he told a crowd of young people in Paraguay that it is their time to “make a mess.”

The address marked the end of Pope Francis’ week-long pilgrimage to Latin America, during which he also assailed the prevailing economic system as the “dung of the devil,” saying that the systemic “greed for money” is a “subtle dictatorship” that “condemns and enslaves men and women.”

During Sunday’s rally, which was held on the banks of the Paraguay River outside the capital Asunción, the Argentinian pontiff went off-script as he addressed tens of thousands of local youth.

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Big Oil Knew. Big Oil Lied.

A new report, The Climate Deception Dossiers, chronicles how Exxon and other major fossil fuel companies did not take action to disclose or reduce climate risks in the ensuing years, but instead actively misled the public and policymakers about them. (Image: Union of Concerned Scientists)

A new report, The Climate Deception Dossiers, chronicles how Exxon and other major fossil fuel companies did not take action to disclose or reduce climate risks in the ensuing years, but instead actively misled the public and policymakers about them. (Image: Union of Concerned Scientists)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Jon Queally’s articles here.

They knew. They lied. And the planet and its people are now paying the ultimate price.

It’s no secret that the fossil fuel industry—the set of companies and corporate interests which profit most from the burning of coal, oil, and gas—have been the largest purveyors and funders of climate change denialism in the world.

Now, a new set of documents and a report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) answers the age-old question always asked when it comes to crimes of corruption, cover-up, and moral defiance: What did they know and when did they know it?Read the rest

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WHO Says Widely-Used Dow Herbicide ‘Possibly Carcinogenic’ to Humans

"We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops," said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. Read more of Sarah Lazare’s posts here.

The World Health Organization revealed on Tuesday that 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic, a key ingredient of a widely-used herbicide produced by Dow, is “possibly carcinogenic” to humans—a classification that public health and environmental advocates say is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall dangers the chemical poses.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer—a Lyon, France-based wing of the WHO—published the findings Tuesday in The Lancet Oncology and also disclosed them in apublic statement (pdf).

The agency said there is “strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress that can operate in humans and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in-vivo and in-vitro studies.”

The classification of “possibly carcinogenic” puts 2,4-D two levels above “probably not carcinogenic” but one below “probably carcinogenic.”

This development did not come as a shock to public health and environmental advocates.

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I Spent the Night in the Tate Gallery, Listening to the Quiet Sounds of Art Activism


Ellen Booth writes at Common Dreams:

It’s 5:20am in the morning, and I’m sitting on a small folding stool at the side of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. It feels strangely soothing as I sit listening to the musical night time sounds inside the Tate Modern. The drone of the air conditioning units forms the backdrop to a cacophony of dull repetitive chimes, scraping of chairs and cordons as cleaners work, distant frustrated clanging of management doors, and a ghostly gusting of wind through the corridors and rafters above.

In front of me, a bright line of books reflects the rising morning sun. To the left of these books, a cluster of friends and journalists sleep, sniffling and snoring, surrounding a store of precious water and food. To the right, a tired shift of performers in veils, kneel to scrawl charcoal messages of hope and despair on the floor. The squeaking of charcoal sounds like so many happy mice, busy at work.

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NASA: The Earth is Running Out of Water

Lake Hume stands at 4 percent during a drought in Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Tim J Keegan/cc/flickr)

Lake Hume stands at 4 percent during a drought in Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Tim J Keegan/cc/flickr)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. Read more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

Bottom line: the Earth is running out of water.

Two new NASA studies led by researchers from the University of California Irvine and published Tuesday show that the depletion of global groundwater resources, due to the dueling impacts of global warming and growing human demand, has caused the world’s water supply to drop to dangerous levels.

The first report compares statistical analysis of water withdrawal to GRACE satellite analysis, which measures variations in gravity on the Earth’s surface, between January 2003 and December 2013. The study compares the difference between the use and availability of these resources to determine the amount of overall renewable groundwater stress, or RGS.

According to the findings, at 21 of the 37 largest aquifers, water is being drained at a greater rate than it is being naturally replenished, 13 of which fell into the most troubled category.… Read the rest

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The Solution to Climate Change Right Under Our Feet

Healthy soil.  (Photo: Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Campaign/flickr/cc)

Healthy soil. (Photo: Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Campaign/flickr/cc)

Andrea Germanos writes at Common Dreams:

What if there were a risk-free way of helping to mitigate climate change while simultaneously addressing food and water security?

A new report from the Center for Food Safety’s Cool Foods Campaign says that such an opportunity is possible, and it’s right below our feet.

Soil & Carbon: Soil Solutions to Climate Problems outlines how it is possible to take atmospheric CO2, which is fueling climate change, and plug it into the soil. Far from moving the problem from one place to another, this shift can reduce ocean acidification because the oceans are no longer the sink for vast amounts of CO2, and can regenerate degraded soils by providing needed carbon.

The report lays out the problem in this way:

Humans are altering the chemistry of where carbon is stored, and climate change is a manifestation of that alteration.

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Roads Melting, Death Toll Soaring as ‘Unprecedented’ Heatwave Grips India

This was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Jon Queally’s posts here.

The deathtoll related to an ongoing and “unprecedented” heatwave in India has soared to nearly 1,200 people, according to the nation’s health ministry on Wednesday, with no respite for hundreds of millions of people expected until at least the weekend.

According to officials quoted in the Hindustan Times, most of the victims have been construction workers, the elderly or the homeless. In regions across the subcontinent this week, temperatures have sweltered populations with thermometers pushing towards 50°C (or 122°F) and high levels of humidity stifling air quality. In response, India’s Meteorological Department has issued what are called “red box” warnings for various states where the maximum temperatures are expected to remain above 45°C.

“This year, the heatwave condition is unprecedented and there has been a large number of deaths. The Health Ministry is likely to come up with an advisory soon for all the states and common people,” a senior health Ministry official told the Press Trust of India (PTI).

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‘The Bees Can’t Wait': White House Plan to Save Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts

Experts say that in order for bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama must order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. (Photo: CrashSunRay2013/cc/flickr)

Experts say that in order for bees and pollinators to survive and thrive, President Obama must order an immediate ban on neonicotinoids. (Photo: CrashSunRay2013/cc/flickr)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. You can read more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

Faced with the growing crisis of declining bee populations, the White House on Tuesday released its strategy for improving pollinator health. Almost immediately, experts decried the plan, saying it “misses the mark” by refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming role that pesticides play in driving bee deaths.

Under the strategy (pdf) put forth by the Pollinator Health Task Force, which falls under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal government aims to:

  • Reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within 10 years, deemed “economically sustainable levels.”
  • Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies and protect its annual North American migration.
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