Stay Current with GSS

This page has the most recent “stay current” articles sent to the GSS email list (google group) weekly.

To receive the weekly email updates, email gssmail@berkeley.edu
with subject line “Join GSS” and provide the name of your school, city, state, and country.

The articles are also compiled chapter-by-chapter through “Stay Current” links in the Contents page for each book.

REMEMBER: Though it’s easy to be overwhelmed by news articles of the dire consequences of climate change, stay focussed on possible solutions to make our lifestyles sustainable and Earth-friendly. We aim to add no excess atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and to cease or reverse the destruction of our CO2 absorbing forests. We aim to eliminate methane emissions from agriculture (livestock/animal waste) and fossil fuel systems (coal, oil, natural gas).

See Email updates from 2021

CURRENT YEAR (2022) EMAIL UPDATES

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2022-09-DATE. HEADLINE. [] By SOURCE. Excerpt: TEXT… For GSS BOOK chapter .

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2022-09-23. New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in Decades. [https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2022/new-webb-image-captures-clearest-view-of-neptune-s-rings-in-decades] By NASA Laura Betz (Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD), Hannah Braun and Christine Pulliam (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD). Excerpt: …Webb’s extremely stable and precise image quality permits these very faint rings to be detected so close to Neptune. …Compared to the gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, Neptune is much richer in elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. This is readily apparent in Neptune’s signature blue appearance in Hubble Space Telescope images at visible wavelengths, caused by small amounts of gaseous methane. Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) images objects in the near-infrared range from 0.6 to 5 microns, so Neptune does not appear blue to Webb. In fact, the methane gas so strongly absorbs red and infrared light that the planet is quite dark at these near-infrared wavelengths, except where high-altitude clouds are present. Such methane-ice clouds are prominent as bright streaks and spots, which reflect sunlight before it is absorbed by methane gas.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7 (and 2).

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2022-09-22. Natural Inspiration—Martha Muñoz has shown that organisms can influence their own evolution—a lesson she’s passing on to her students. [https://www.science.org/content/article/biologist-discovered-lizards-and-other-organisms-can-influence-their-own-evolution] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …At 37, Muñoz has already won recognition for her discoveries about underappreciated influences on evolution, some of which buck classical thinking in the field. Her extensive studies with Caribbean lizards called anoles, for example, have provided some of the best empirical evidence that organisms can shape their evolutionary trajectory through their behavior, either speeding up or slowing down the evolution of physiological and morphological traits. She brings perspectives from multiple disciplines to evolutionary questions, says Robert Pringle, an evolutionary ecologist at Princeton University. “Her research is at the nexus of ecology, evolution, and physiology, and she has been in the vanguard of testing whether behavior acts as a drag on evolution or instead accelerates it,” Pringle says… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-09-22. Genes for seeds arose early in plant evolution, ferns reveal. [https://www.science.org/content/article/genes-seeds-arose-early-plant-evolution-ferns-reveal] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …The emergence of seed-producing plants more than 300 million years ago was an evolutionary watershed, opening new environments to plants and ultimately leading to the flowering plants that brighten our world and supply much of our food. But it was less of a leap than it seems, newly published DNA sequences suggest. The genomes, from three fern species and a cycad, one of the oldest kinds of seed-bearing plants, show genes key to making seeds are the same as those in the spore-producing machinery of ferns, which emerged tens of millions of years earlier. They evidently existed in a common ancestor but were recruited into different reproductive functions as plants diverged. The fern and cycad genomes, published in a series of papers over the past several months “fill the gap of the gene flow during plant evolution,” says Shu-Nong Bai, a plant developmental biologist emeritus at Peking University who helped sequence a member of the maidenhair fern genus. “Evolutionary innovation [can] come from the alternative use of existing genes or networks, not new genes.” The genomes also teach a second striking lesson: that plants acquired some of their genes not through mutation and selection, but straight from fungi or other microbes through a controversial process dubbed horizontal gene transfer.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-09-22. Europe’s Shrinking Waterways Reveal Treasures, and Experts Are Worried. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/22/world/europe/europe-rivers-reservoirs-drought.html] By Derrick Bryson Taylor, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Across Europe, once-submerged villages, ships and bridges — some dating back thousands of years — have re-emerged this year as rivers and reservoirs have dried up. The steady stream of gripping photos has circulated while much of the continent faced a string of extreme heat waves and a devastating drought, two phenomena that scientists say are made more likely and more severe by human-caused climate change. …the Spanish Stonehenge, rose from a drought-hit dam west of Madrid. …In Prahovo, Serbia, water levels in the Danube River have fallen so low that more than a dozen sunken Nazi Germany World War II boats are now exposed. And in Northern England, falling water levels at Baitings Reservoir have revealed an ancient packhorse bridge.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-21. Senate Ratifies Pact to Curb a Broad Category of Potent Greenhouse Gases. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/21/climate/hydrofluorocarbons-hfcs-kigali-amendment.html] By Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, The New york Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve an international climate treaty for the first time in 30 years, agreeing in a rare bipartisan deal to phase out of the use of planet-warming industrial chemicals commonly found in refrigerators and air-conditioners. By a vote of 69 to 27 the United States joined the 2016 Kigali Amendment, along with 137 other nations that have agreed to sharply reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. The chemicals are potent greenhouse gases, warming the planet with 1,000 times the heat-trapping strength of carbon dioxide.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-09-21. Are There Better Places to Put Large Solar Farms Than These Forests? [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/21/opinion/environment/solar-panels-virginia-climate-change.html] New York Times opinion piece by Gabriel Popkin. Excerpt: CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE, Va. — In Charlotte County, population 11,448, forests and farms slope gently toward pretty little streams. The Roanoke River, whose floodplain includes one of the most ecologically valuable and intact forests in the Mid-Atlantic, forms the county’s southwestern border. On a recent driving tour, a local conservationist, P.K. Pettus, told me she’s already grieving the eventual loss of much of this beautiful landscape. The Randolph Solar Project, a 4,500-acre project that will take out some 3,500 acres of forest during construction, was approved in July to join at least five other solar farms built or planned here thanks to several huge transmission lines that crisscross the county. When built, it will become one of the largest solar installations east of the Rocky Mountains. Although she is all for clean energy, Ms. Pettus opposed the project’s immense size, fearing it will destroy forests, disrupt soil and pollute streams and rivers in the place she calls home. “I was so excited and hoped to see solar canopies over parking lots, solar panels on rooftops, solar panels on big box stores” after Virginia passed a 2020 law requiring the elimination of fossil fuels from its power sector by 2050, Ms. Pettus says. “I never dreamed it would involve so much deforestation and grading in a place I deeply care about.” The conflict Ms. Pettus described is becoming increasingly common in rural Virginia, where a recent boom in solar farm construction has given many people pause.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-09-20. How a Quebec Lithium Mine May Help Make Electric Cars Affordable. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/20/business/electric-vehicles-lithium-quebec.html] By Jack Ewing, photographs by Brendan George Ko For The New York Times. Excerpt: About 350 miles northwest of Montreal, amid a vast pine forest, is a deep mining pit with walls of mottled rock. The pit has changed hands repeatedly and been mired in bankruptcy, but now it could help determine the future of electric vehicles. The mine contains lithium, an indispensable ingredient in electric car batteries that is in short supply. If it opens on schedule early next year, it will be the second North American source of that metal, offering hope that badly needed raw materials can be extracted and refined close to Canadian, U.S. and Mexican auto factories, in line with Biden administration policies that aim to break China’s dominance of the battery supply chain. …Dozens of lithium mines are in various stages of development in Canada and the United States. …Most lithium is processed in China, …lithium processing requires expertise that is in short supply, .… For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-09-19. A Key to Controlling Emissions: More Buildings in a City’s Unused Spaces. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/climate/emissions-construction-buildings.html] By Peter Wilson, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Elephant Park, a three-acre plot of fountains, swings and slides and open space at the center of a large redevelopment [in London] which has seen the Brutalist architecture of a 1,200-home public housing estate replaced by a new neighborhood that by 2026 will hold about 2,924 apartments and townhouses. …One resident walking her dog complained recently that her rent is becoming unaffordable, before quickly adding that she is delighted to have a supermarket and gym in the same building as her one-bedroom apartment, with rail and Underground stations right next door and shops, bars, a yoga studio, a library and medical facilities sprinkled through the development. …“It is an absolutely exemplary example of what we need to be doing to make cities greener, and we need to be doing it quickly and all around the world,” said Kate Meyrick, a British-born urban consultant based in Brisbane, Australia, who studies urban developments. “The developers were primarily just trying to make a great place for people to live, and they have achieved that with a really interesting mix of spaces and services,” she said. “But a byproduct is that they have also created real climate benefits.”… For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-09-19. Impact Crater off the African Coast May Be Linked to Chicxulub. [https://eos.org/articles/impact-crater-off-the-african-coast-may-be-linked-to-chicxulub] By Katherine Kornei, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In the world of impact craters, Chicxulub is a celebrity: The 180-kilometer-diameter maw, in the Gulf of Mexico, was created by a cataclysmic asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous that spelled the demise of most dinosaurs. But researchers have now uncovered another crater off the coast of West Africa that might well be Chicxulub’s cousin. The newly discovered feature, albeit much smaller, is also about 66 million years old. That’s a curious coincidence, and scientists are now wondering whether the two impact structures might be linked. Perhaps Chicxulub and the newly discovered feature—dubbed Nadir crater—formed from the breakup of a parent asteroid or as part of an impact cluster, the team suggested. These results were published in Science Advances.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 9.

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2022-09-19. Burning world’s fossil fuel reserves could emit 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/19/world-fossil-fuel-reserve-greenhouse-gas-emissions] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: Burning the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels would emit more planet-heating emissions than have occurred since the industrial revolution, easily blowing the remaining carbon budget before societies are subjected to catastrophic global heating, a new analysis has found. An enormous 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be emitted if governments allow identified reserves of coal, oil and gas to be extracted and used, according to what has been described as the first public database of fossil fuel production. The database, which covers around three-quarters of global energy production, reveals that the US and Russia each have enough fossil fuel reserves to single-handedly eat up the world’s remaining carbon budget before the planet is tipped into 1.5C (2.7F) or more of heating compared to the pre-industrial era. …Among all countries, there is enough fossil fuel to blow this remaining budget seven times over, propelling people and ecosystems into disastrous heatwaves, floods, drought and other impacts never seen before in human history. Governments have agreed to restrain global heating to 1.5C but have largely declined to actively halt new fossil fuel leases or extraction.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-09-19. What I Saw as the Country’s First National Climate Adviser. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/19/opinion/environment/biden-gina-mccarthy-climate.html] New York Times opinion piece by Gina McCarthy, departing national climate adviser and a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Excerpt: This week, as the world’s leaders gather in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, the United States will deliver a message many thought was not possible: We are going to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, and zero them out by 2050. Over the past 20 months as America’s first-ever national climate adviser, I have witnessed a paradigm shift: The private sector no longer sees climate action as a source of job losses, but rather as an opportunity for job creation and economic revitalization. It’s a striking shift after four years of the Trump administration, which threw science out the window and backed out of the Paris climate agreement. In 2020 the future seemed grim. But today, states and companies are running toward a clean energy future. How did what was once considered impossible become not just feasible, but at the core of America’s manufacturing and economic resurgence? In my early days as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama, auto dealers were predicting that shifting to cleaner cars meant vehicle costs would skyrocket and sales would drop, while the autoworkers and steelworkers talked about plant closings and layoffs. Even very early on in the Biden administration, when labor was fully engaged and squarely at the table, the old paradigm that cleaner standards meant job loss was hard to break. And unions worried that a big shift to electric vehicles could pose a fundamental threat to their workers. But quickly the conversation shifted to one of long-term capital investments in E.V. technologies, expanding domestic manufacturing, adding more union jobs and building an E.V. market that would reach 50 percent of new U.S. car sales by 2030. Just a short time ago this shift would have been dismissed as a fairy tale. Not anymore.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-09-16. At Old Coal Mines, the American Chestnut Tries for a Comeback. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/climate/coal-mine-american-chestnut.html] By Elena Shao, Photographs by Maddie McGarvey, The New York Times. Excerpt: Billions of chestnuts once dominated Appalachia, with Americans over many generations relying on their hardy trunks for log cabins, floor panels and telephone poles. Families would store the trees’ small, brown nuts in attics to eat during the holiday season. …Now, Mr. French and his colleagues at Green Forests Work, a nonprofit group, hope to aid the decades-long effort to revive the American chestnut by bringing the trees back onto Appalachia’s former coal mines. Decades of mining, which have contributed to global warming, also left behind dry, acidic and hardened earth that made it difficult to grow much beyond nonnative herbaceous plants and grasses. As coal continues to decline and many of the remaining mines shut down for good, foresters say that restoring mining sites is an opportunity to prove that something productive can be made of lands that have been degraded by decades of extractive activity, particularly at a moment when trees are increasingly valued for their climate benefits. Forests can capture planet-warming emissions, create safe harbor for endangered wildlife species and make ecosystems more resilient to extreme weather events like flooding.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-09-15. Ethereum cryptocurrency completes move to cut CO2 output by 99%. [https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/sep/15/ethereum-cryptocurrency-completes-move-to-cut-co2-output-by-99] By Dan Milmo, The Guardian. Excerpt: Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, has completed a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 99%. The software upgrade, known as “the merge”, will change how transactions are managed on the ethereum blockchain, a public and decentralised ledger that underpins the cryptocurrency and generates ether tokens, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency after bitcoin. …The move means that ethereum will no longer be created by an energy intensive process known as “mining”, where banks of computers generate random numbers that validate transactions on the blockchain and generate new ether tokens as part of the process. The process, known as “proof of work” in the cryptocurrency world, will now move to a “proof of stake” system, where individuals and companies act as validators, pledging or “staking” their own ether as a form of guarantee, to win newly created tokens. …Ethereum mining used up as much electricity as Austria, according to the Digiconomist website, at 72 terawatt-hours a year. Alex de Vries, the economist behind the website, estimates that the merge will reduce the carbon emissions linked to ethereum by more than 99%. De Vries added that the move could represent 0.2% of the world’s electricity consumption disappearing overnight. However, he said bitcoin remained the biggest single contributor to the crypto world’s carbon footprint. “All eyes will be on bitcoin. It remains the largest polluter in the crypto space. Even today bitcoin is responsible for as much electricity consumption as Sweden. And we know that’s not going to change,” said De Vries.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-09-16. CRISPR infusion eliminates swelling in those with rare genetic disease. [https://www.science.org/content/article/crispr-infusion-eliminates-swelling-those-with-rare-inflammatory-disease] By Jocelyn Kaiser, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In a medical first, an infusion of the CRISPR gene editor into the blood of three people with a rare genetic disease is easing their symptoms, a biotech company reports. The experimental treatment tamped down a liver protein that causes painful and potentially life-threatening bouts of swelling in the throat and limbs. Two people in the company’s trial are doing so well after a single CRISPR injection that they no longer need drugs to control their condition. The data were reported at a meeting today in Berlin on the disease, called hereditary angioedema. The effort marks the second time the company, Intellia Therapeutics, has used in vivo delivery of CRISPR to inactivate a gene directly inside a person’s body. But the latest results reflect the first report of clinical benefits associated with injecting the tool, which can snip out or replace targeted bits of DNA, says John Leonard, Intellia president and CEO. …CRISPR has already been shown to treat blood disorders via an ex vivo strategy in which a patient’s cells are harvested, edited in a lab, and then returned to the body. An in vivo approach for blindness disorders, where the gene editor is injected into the eye, is also showing tentative benefits. But directing CRISPR to specific organs or cells inside the body via an intravenous infusion is harder. Last year in a landmark study, Intellia and partner Regeneron reported that in people with a rare genetic disease called transthyretin (ATTR) amyloidosis, an in vivo CRISPR drug halted the build-up of liver proteins that can cause nerve pain, numbness, and heart problems. Although the knockdown of the protein appears to be long-lasting, the company hasn’t yet revealed whether the patients’ symptoms improved. For the trial in hereditary angioedema, however, the benefits emerged quickly, Intellia reports.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-09-15. In a First Study of Pakistan’s Floods, Scientists See Climate Change at Work. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/15/climate/pakistan-floods-global-warming.html] By Raymond Zhong, The New York Times. Excerpt: Pakistan began receiving abnormally heavy rain in mid-June, and, by late August, drenching downpours were declared a national emergency. The southern part of the Indus River, which traverses the length of the country, became a vast lake. Villages have become islands, surrounded by putrid water that stretches to the horizon. More than 1,500 people have died. Floodwaters could take months to recede. The deluges were made worse by global warming caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, scientists said Thursday, drawing upon a fast-growing field of research that gauges the influence of climate change on specific extreme weather events soon after they occur — and while societies are still dealing with their shattering consequences. As climate scientists’ techniques improve, they can assess, with ever-greater confidence and specificity, how human-induced changes in Earth’s chemistry are affecting the severe weather outside our windows, adding weight and urgency to questions about how nations should adapt. The floods in Pakistan are the deadliest in a recent string of eye-popping weather extremes across the Northern Hemisphere: relentless droughts in the Horn of AfricaMexico and China; flash floods in West and Central AfricaIran and the inland United States; searing heat waves in IndiaJapanCaliforniaBritain and Europe. …The country might have experienced disastrously high rainfall this year even without global warming, said the study’s lead author, Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London. “But it’s worse because of climate change,” Dr. Otto said. “And especially in these highly vulnerable regions, small changes matter a lot.”.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-15. Facing Budget Shortfalls, These Schools Are Turning to the Sun. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/15/climate/solar-energy-school-funding.html] By Cara Buckley, The New York Times. Excerpt: One school district was able to give pay raises to its teachers as big as 30 percent. Another bought new heating and ventilation systems, all the better to help students and educators breathe easier in these times. The improvements didn’t cost taxpayers a cent, and were paid for by an endlessly renewable source — the sun. As solar energy gains traction across the country, one beneficiary have been schools, particularly those in cash-strapped districts contending with dwindling tax bases. From New Jersey to California, nearly one in 10 K-12 public and private schools across the country were using solar energy by early 2022, according to data released Thursday by Generation180, a nonprofit that promotes and tracks clean energy. That’s twice as many as existed in 2015. The savings in electric bills from schools with solar panels often topped millions in each district, and many have been able to adopt the technology without shouldering any costs up front.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-09-14. Oil Executives Privately Contradicted Public Statements on Climate, Files Show. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/oil-industry-documents-disinformation.html] By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: Documents obtained by congressional investigators show that oil industry executives privately downplayed their companies’ own public messages about efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and weakened industry-wide commitments to push for climate policies. Internal Exxon documents show that the oil giant pressed an industry group, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, to remove language from a 2019 policy statement that “could create a potential commitment to advocate on the Paris Agreement goals.” The Paris Agreement is the landmark 2015 pact among nations of the world to avert catastrophic global warming. The statement’s final version didn’t mention Paris. At Royal Dutch Shell, an October 2020 email sent by an employee, discussing talking points for Shell’s president for the United States, said that the company’s announcement of a pathway to “net zero” emissions — the point at which the world would no longer be pumping planet-warming gases into the atmosphere — “has nothing to do with our business plans.” These and other documents, reviewed by The New York Times, come from a cache of hundreds of thousands of pages of corporate emails, memos and other files obtained under subpoena as part of an examination by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform into the fossil fuel industry’s efforts over the decades to mislead the public about its role in climate change, dismissing evidence that the burning of fossil fuels was driving an increase in global temperatures even as their own scientists warned of a clear link.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-09-14. An Oily Challenge: Evict Stinky Old Furnaces in Favor of Heat Pumps. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/14/climate/oil-gas-furnace-heat-pump.html] By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In the United States, the Biden administration is trying to hasten that shift with billions of dollars in tax rebates to electrify buildings and make them more energy efficient. The global energy crisis, spurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has also hastened that shift. In 2021, sales of heat pumps grew significantly in the United States and several other major markets, according to research published in Nature. It’s important because emissions from buildings — primarily for heat and hot water — account for more than a quarter of the nation’s emissions. In New York City, it’s roughly 70 percent, and under a 2019 city law, most large buildings have to drastically reduce their numbers starting in 2024. If they exceed their emissions limits, they will be fined. Enter a new business opportunity. All summer, the heat pumps have also cooled the apartments, since they function as air-conditioners as well as heaters. This winter will be her first without the smelly, troublesome oil burners in the basement. She hopes her bills will be lower too. Ms. Nelson converted her building with the help of Donnel Baird, an entrepreneur who grew up nearby and founded a company called Bloc Power. His contractors installed the equipment. Ms. Nelson rents it on a long-term lease. …The Inflation Reduction Act, the climate law signed in August by President Biden, offers up to $8,000 in tax rebates for property owners to purchase electric heat pumps and make energy efficiency improvements (think insulation and better windows). …New York City’s 24 power plants run mostly on methane gas and fuel oil, spewing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and polluting the air nearby. New York City aspires to have what it calls a fully “clean energy” electricity grid by 2040.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-09-12. NASA’s unprecedented asteroid-deflection mission is more than ‘billiards in space,’ scientists say. [https://www.science.org/content/article/nasa-s-unprecedented-asteroid-deflection-mission-more-billiards-space-scientists-say] By Zack Savitsky, Science Magazine. Excerpt: On 26 September, an act of targeted violence will unfold 11 million kilometers from Earth, as a spacecraft about the size of a vending machine smashes into a small asteroid at 6 kilometers per second. Unlike some asteroids that stray worrisomely close to Earth’s orbit, Dimorphos—the 160-meter moon of a larger body—is an innocent bystander, posing no threat to our world. But the looming assault represents humanity’s first-ever field test of a planetary defense mission: NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART. The hope is that the collision will nudge Dimorphos into a closer orbit around its 780-meter partner, Didymos, shortening its nearly 12-hour orbital period by a few minutes. A successful strike would support the idea that, in the future, similar efforts could deflect threatening asteroids onto safer courses. But new simulations and lab experiments show the fate of the mission depends heavily on a crucial question: Are such small asteroids solid boulders or—as astronomers increasingly believe—loose heaps of rubble? The answer, which should be revealed from the crater and ejecta produced by DART’s collision, could determine just how hard to hit an asteroid when the exercise is not a test. …Dimorphos-size asteroids are thousands of times more likely to strike Earth than the larger ones that have triggered mass extinction events in the geologic past, and they are still capable of devastating a state or small country, making these smaller bodies the top priority for planetary defense efforts.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 1.

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2022-09-12. Mega-eruptions linked to most mass extinctions over past 500 million years. [https://news.berkeley.edu/2022/09/12/mega-eruptions-linked-to-most-mass-extinctions-over-past-500-million-years/] By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: Mass extinctions litter the history of life on Earth, with about a dozen known in addition to the five largest ones — the last of which, at the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago, killed off the dinosaurs and 70% of all life on Earth. A new study, led by scientists at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, concludes that most of these mass extinctions had one thing in common: They occurred after mega-eruptions that spewed volcanic lava and toxic gases for hundreds of thousands of years, and some for as long as a million years. The analysis linking mass extinctions throughout Earth’s history with major eruptions, characterized by lava and gas spilling from perhaps dozens of volcanoes and long fissure vents, confirms what many geologists have suspected for years. The most well-known mass extinction, referred to as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction, was famously tied to a comet or asteroid impact in the Caribbean, but geologists have since found that the impact was preceded by a long period of eruptions in India that left behind flood basalts known today as the Deccan Traps. Massive amounts of sulfur dioxide emitted during the long-term eruption would have cooled the planet and caused the massive die-off seen in the fossil record.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 8.

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2022-09-10. The Olive Oil Capital of the World, Parched. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/10/business/olive-oil-spain.html] By David Segal and José Bautista, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Drought has ravaged dozens of crops throughout Europe — corn in Romania, rice in Italy, beans in Belgium, and beets and garlic in France. Among the hardest hit is the olive crop of Spain, which produces one half of the world’s olive oil. Nearly half of Spain’s output comes from Jaén — pronounced hi-EN — a landlocked southern province of 5,200 square miles, about the size of Connecticut, that yields far more olive oil annually than all of Italy, according to the International Olive Council. It is often called the olive oil capital of the world. …What happens to a one-crop economy when that crop is scorched by record-breaking temperatures? …Since the Romans began planting this forest centuries ago, olive trees have sustained thousands of farmers and itinerant workers here.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-09. Major Investment in Air-Conditioning Needed to Address Future Heat Waves. [https://eos.org/articles/major-investment-in-air-conditioning-needed-to-address-future-heat-waves] By Jennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: During Europe’s mid-July heat wave—when temperatures topped 40°C—countries such as Spain and Germany recorded thousands of excess deaths as people succumbed to heat-related injuries and illnesses. Earlier this year, India and Pakistan experienced their hottest March on record, with an unusually early heat wave that killed at least 90 people. By the 2050s, large swaths of the world will need some form of air-conditioning (AC) to ride out these extreme heat waves or face deadly consequences, according to new research published in Energy and Buildings. But few countries have anywhere near enough cooling capacity to protect residents. …When calculating energy demand, the researchers assumed that increased air-conditioning usage will come in the form of ductless mini split units—wall-mounted air conditioners designed to cool a single room. However, these units have a high up-front cost, and in developing countries, cheaper, less efficient window units will likely fill the demand, said Shelie Miller, an environmental engineer at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study. “If anything, [the study’s researchers] may be underestimating the electricity demand because they are assuming a much more efficient unit than window ACs.” But blanketing the world in even high-efficiency air conditioners would strain electrical grids and generate greenhouse gases. Air conditioner manufacturing and usage account for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions—more than the aviation industry produces, said Jason Woods, a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory who was not involved in the study.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-09-08. Neighborhood Strategies Inform Boston’s First Urban Forest Plan. [https://eos.org/articles/neighborhood-strategies-inform-bostons-first-urban-forest-plan] By Iris Crawford, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Mattapan, a neighborhood in southwestern Boston, is heating up. Although some areas of the residential neighborhood benefit from the cooling effects of nearby green spaces, others are vulnerable to increasing heat stress, largely because of dark roofs, unshaded parking lots and pavements, and wide streets with limited numbers of trees. Mattapan is one of five Boston neighborhoods identified as being at particular risk for heat stress. (The other neighborhoods are Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, and Roxbury.) The five neighborhoods, all environmental justice communities, are at the focus of Boston’s heat resilience strategies, which include increasing the amount of light-colored surfaces and shade. A big reason for the risk is the simple fact that there are fewer trees in these neighborhoods. For example, less than 25% of the land in East Boston(excluding Boston Logan International Airport) has adequate tree coverage. Boston has recognized the importance of healthy tree coverage in addressing heat resilience and other climate change mitigation strategies. In fact, the city has been developing its first urban forest plan—a pathway to maintaining existing trees, planting new ones, and otherwise helping the city deal with the effects of a changing climate. The plan is set to be published in late summer or early fall. “This plan essentially provides an analysis of the conditions in each neighborhood,” said Neenah Estrella-Luna, the principal of StarLuna Consulting, a social equity researcher, and a consultant on the plan.… For GSS A New World View chapter 6.

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2022-08-24. Chasing Arrows: The Truth About Recycling (video). [https://ambr-recyclers.org/2022/08/ambr-release-chasing-arrows-the-truth-about-recycling/] By Alliance of Mission-Based Recyclers (AMBR). Excerpt: Reduce, reuse, then recycle: In the 1970s, this was the structure under which advocates built America’s recycling industry. Unfortunately, the petrochemical and packaging industries have exploited this fundamental premise and used recycling as a cover to increase plastic production exponentially.  AMBR’s new short film, “Chasing Arrows: The Truth About Recycling,” outlines how the plastics industry is trashing recycling with non-recyclable plastics. It exposes the recycling myths industry promotes, such as blaming the recycling system and consumers for plastic pollution. The real problem is one they created and are expanding: They are simply making too much plastic, most of which cannot be recycled. Recycling is not a strategy for making waste “go away.” It was designed to create feedstock for manufacturing new products so that virgin natural resources like trees, minerals, and fossil fuels are left “in the ground” and protected from being extracted and destroyed. A group of mission-based recyclers have banned together to reinforce this original role for recycling and to address myths about recycling by forming the Alliance of MIssion-Based Recyclers. … For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-08-19. ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ emerges from drought-hit dam. [https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/spanish-stonehenge-emerges-drought-hit-dam-2022-08-18/] By Silvio Castellanos and Marco Trujillo, Reuters. Excerpt: CACERES, Spain, Aug 18 …A brutal summer has caused havoc for many in rural Spain, but one unexpected side-effect of the country’s worst drought in decades has delighted archaeologists – the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle in a dam whose waterline has receded. Officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal but dubbed the Spanish Stonehenge, the circle of dozens of megalithic stones is believed to date back to 5000 BC. It currently sits fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has dropped to 28% of capacity.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-09. At the Great Salt Lake, record salinity and low water imperils millions of birds. [https://www.science.org/content/article/great-salt-lake-record-salinity-and-low-water-imperils-millions-birds] By Eli Kintisch, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Utah’s Great Salt Lake is smaller and saltier than at any time in recorded history. In July, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the world’s third-largest saline lake had dropped to the lowest level ever documented. And last week researchers measured the highest salt concentrations ever seen in the lake’s southern arm, a key bird habitat. Salinity has climbed to 18%, exceeding a threshold at which essential microorganisms begin to die.The trends, driven by drought and water diversion, have scientists warning that a critical feeding ground for millions of migrating birds is at risk of collapse. “We’re into uncharted waters,” says biochemist Bonnie Baxter of Westminster College, who has been documenting the lake’s alarming changes. “One week the birds are gone from a spot we usually see them. The next week we see dead flies along the shore. And each week we have to walk further to reach the water.” After years of inaction, the prospect of a dying lake, plus the risk of harmful dust blowing from the dry lakebed, is galvanizing policymakers to find ways of restoring water to the shrinking lake. …This year, however, policymakers sprang into action. In April, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a landmark series of bills aimed at rescuing the lake and addressing the drought. They include new rules that allow farmers to sell water rights they are not using to groups that will allow the water to flow to the lake. The state earmarked $450 million for water infrastructure and conservation projects, including a $40 million fund that could acquire water for the lake in the future.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-08. Just a small rise in Earth’s temperature could cause irreversible ecosystem and weather changes. [https://www.science.org/content/article/just-small-rise-earth-s-temperature-could-cause-irreversible-ecosystem-and-weather] By Cathleen O’Grady, Science Magazine. Excerpt: From melting ice sheets to stressed coral reefs, global warming is changing our world in unmistakable ways. But identifying “tipping points,” thresholds past which such transformations become irreversible or self-sustaining, has been more difficult—and controversial. An expansive study of climate tipping points in this week’s issue Science [Exceeding 1.5°C global warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points] is likely to fuel that discussion. It synthesizes the most current evidence on how much warming would risk passing 16 tipping points, triggering polar ice collapses, permafrost thawing, monsoon disruptions, and forest and coral reef diebacks. Many of these systems are already stressed by rising temperatures, and the study finds the world might already be within the warming range where the risk is elevated. It also concludes that even under the most ambitious scenario for limiting global warming—to 1.5°C compared with preindustrial levels—the planet could still see dramatic changes.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-07. The Southern Ocean absorbs more heat than any other ocean on Earth and the impacts will be felt for generations. [https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/sep/08/the-southern-ocean-absorbs-more-heat-than-any-other-ocean-on-earth-and-the-impacts-will-be-felt-for-generations] By Maurice Huguenin, Matthew England and Ryan Holmes, The Guardian. Excerpt: Over the last 50 years, the oceans have been working in overdrive to slow global warming, absorbing about 40% of our carbon dioxide emissions, and more than 90% of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere. But as our research published today in Nature Communications has found, some oceans work harder than others. We used a computational global ocean circulation model to examine exactly how ocean warming has played out over the last 50 years. And we found the Southern Ocean has dominated the global absorption of heat. In fact, Southern Ocean heat uptake accounts for almost all the planet’s ocean warming, thereby controlling the rate of climate change. This Southern Ocean warming and its associated impacts are effectively irreversible on human timescales, because it takes millennia for heat trapped deep in the ocean to be released back into the atmosphere. This means changes happening now will be felt for generations to come – and those changes are only set to get worse, unless we can stop carbon dioxide emissions and achieve net zero. …Ocean warming buffers the worst impacts of climate change, but it’s not without cost. Sea levels are rising because heat causes water to expand and ice to melt. …if the Southern Ocean continues to account for the vast majority of ocean heat uptake until 2100, we might see its heat content increase by as much as seven times more than what we have already seen up to today. This will have enormous impacts around the globe, such as further disturbances to the Southern Ocean food webrapid melting of Antarctic ice shelves and changes in the ocean conveyor belt.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-09-07. Desert Winemaking ‘Sounds Absurd,’ but Israeli Vineyards in Negev Show the Way. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/07/world/middleeast/israel-negev-desert-wine.html] By Isabel Kershner, The New York Times. Excerpt: …While these Negev [desert] vineyards are new, making wine here is not. The area was famed for its locally produced wines in ancient times. But the climate then was probably more forgiving than it is now, and the area’s wineries are developing farming techniques that might soon need to be replicated around the globe, as the effects of climate change worsen. “To succeed in the Negev, you have to be bold and experiment,” said David Pinto, a vintner who planted his family plot with vines about three years ago. …With some 325 days of sunshine and little annual rainfall, the desert vines depend on drip irrigation, an innovation developed by another Negev collective in the 1960s that allows the farmer to tightly control the amount of water. …in a global wine industry that must adapt to climate change, Israel could be a role model, said Aaron Fait, an expert in desert research and agriculture at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-09-07. Clean Energy Projects Surge After Climate Bill Passage. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/07/business/energy-environment/clean-energy-climate-bill.html] By Jack Ewing and Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: In the weeks since President Biden signed a comprehensive climate bill devised to spur investment in electric cars and clean energy, corporations have announced a series of big-ticket projects to produce the kind of technology the legislation aims to promote. Toyota said it would invest an additional $2.5 billion in a factory in North Carolina to produce batteries for electric cars and hybrids. Honda and LG Energy Solution announced a joint venture to build a $4.4 billion battery factory at a location to be named. …At a time of economic uncertainty, the legislation gives companies more confidence that they can earn a return on their bets. The investments serve as affirmation of political leaders’ intent: to further accelerate America’s transition away from fossil fuels and to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers, especially those in China.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-09-06. Out of thin air: new solar-powered invention creates hydrogen fuel from the atmosphere. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/07/out-of-thin-air-new-solar-powered-invention-creates-hydrogen-fuel-from-the-atmosphere] By Donna Lu, The Guardian. Excerpt: Researchers have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen fuel directly from moisture in the air. According to its inventors, the prototype produces hydrogen with greater than 99% purity and can work in air that is as dry as 4% relative humidity. The device would allow hydrogen to be produced without carbon emissions even in regions where water on land is scarce, they say. Hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel that yields only water as a byproduct when combusted. However, pure hydrogen is not abundant in nature and producing it requires energy input. Large-scale production commonly involves fossil fuels that generate carbon emissions. The study’s lead author and a senior lecturer in chemical engineering at the University of Melbourne, Dr Gang Kevin Li, said the hydrogen-producing device could be powered by solar or wind energy.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-09-06. In Energy Crunch, Germany Turns Down Heat but Won’t Limit Autobahn Speeds. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/06/world/europe/germany-autobahn-speed-limits.html] By Christopher F. Schuetze, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Germany is trying any range of measures to combat an energy crisis that is only expected to worsen this winter. Public buildings can be heated to just 66 degrees and most private pools not at all. Starting this month, billboards and other landmarks go dark at 10 p.m. The government has even extended the lives of two of the country’s last nuclear reactors. But the one thing Germany will not do, apparently, is put a general speed limit on the fabled autobahns, a proposal raised — and shot down — even though it could save gasoline and cut carbon dioxide emissions. …The German Environment Ministry found that if a speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour, about 62 miles per hour, were put in place on the autobahns, with an 80 k.p.h. limit on other roads, Germany’s 48 million automobiles could save 2.1 billion liters of fuel every year. If drivers actually kept to that speed, 5.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions could be saved, about 3 percent of all CO2 emitted from transportation. If drivers kept to a speed limit of 130 k.p.h., or 80 m.p.h. — a more realistic limit — the savings would drop to 1.9 million metric tons, or just above 1 percent of total transportation emissions.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-09-06. It Was War. Then, a Rancher’s Truce With Some Pesky Beavers Paid Off. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/06/climate/climate-change-beavers.html] By Catrin Einhorn, photographs by Niki Chan Wylie, The New York Times. Excerpt: WELLS, Nev. — Horace Smith blew up a lot of beaver dams in his life. A rancher here in northeastern Nevada, he waged war against the animals, frequently with dynamite. Not from meanness or cruelty; it was a struggle over water. Mr. Smith blamed beavers for flooding some parts of his property, Cottonwood Ranch, and drying out others. But his son Agee, who eventually took over the ranch, is making peace. And he says welcoming beavers to work on the land is one of the best things he’s done. “They’re very controversial still,” said Mr. Smith, whose father died in 2014. “But it’s getting better. People are starting to wake up.” As global warming intensifies droughts, floods and wildfires, Mr. Smith has become one of a growing number of ranchers, scientists and other “beaver believers” who see the creatures not only as helpers, but as furry weapons of climate resilience.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-09-05. The Hunt for Big Hail. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/05/science/hail-weather-climate.html] By Oliver Whang, The New York Times. Excerpt: …the hailstone Mr. Scott collected in 2010, … measured eight inches across and weighed nearly two pounds, …. …scientists from Western University in London, Ontario, collected a giant hailstone …measured five inches across and weighed a little more than half a pound…. …records set in the past couple of years, including Alabama’s in 2018 (5.38 inches long, 0.612 pounds), Colorado’s in 2019 (4.83 inches, 0.53 pounds) and Africa’s in 2020 (around seven inches long, weight unknown). Australia set a national record in 2020, then set it again in 2021. Texas’ record was set in 2021. In 2018, a storm in Argentina produced stones so big that a new class of hail was introduced: gargantuan. Larger than a honeydew melon. …the record-setting has come with increased hail damage. Although the frequency of reported “hail events” in the United States is at its lowest in a decade, according to a recent report by Verisk, a risk assessment firm, insurance claims on cars, houses and crops damaged by hail reached $16.5 billion in 2021 — the highest ever. Hail can strip plants to the stem and effectively total small cars. Ten years after the record-setting storm in Vivian, the tin roofs of some buildings are still dented. On Wednesday, a hailstorm killed a toddler in the Catalonia region of Spain. “It’s one of the few weather hazards that we don’t necessarily build for,” said Ian Giammanco, a meteorologist at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. “And it’s getting bigger and worse.” Although the changing climate probably plays a role in these trends, weather experts say, a more complete explanation might have something to do with the self-stoking interplay of human behavior and scientific discovery. As neighborhoods sprawl into areas that experience heavy hail and greater hail damage, researchers have sought out large hailstones and documented their dimensions, stirring public interest and inviting further study.… For GSS Energy Flow chapter 7.

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2022-09-02. A Post-Impact Deep Freeze for Dinosaurs. [https://eos.org/science-updates/a-post-impact-deep-freeze-for-dinosaurs] By Aubrey Zerkle, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: New research supports the hypothesis that dinosaurs were done in by climate change after an asteroid impact kicked up a massive plume of sulfur gases that circled the globe for several decades. …the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) asteroid impact, remains one of the highest-profile cosmic disasters in Earth history—it coincided with a planetwide extinction event that decimated nonavian dinosaurs and wiped out more than three quarters of life on Earth. The long-term biological consequences of this event are well established—the ecological reorganization that followed signified an end to the Mesozoic “Age of Reptiles” and ushered in the Cenozoic “Age of Mammals.” …the impact caused a shock wave that wiped out everything in its immediate path, followed by devastating tsunamis and extensive wildfires. Seismic waves propagated up rivers and onto land, producing landslides that buried anything in their path, including intact fish with well-preserved ear bones that constrained their time of death to Northern Hemisphere spring [During et al., 2022]. …Calculations confirm that dust and soot could have reduced sunlight almost entirely, but these heavier particles would have rained out of the atmosphere in months to years rather than decades [Tabor et al., 2020], limiting their effects to several chilling summers. The key to sustaining a long-term impact winter might lie in where the asteroid hit. …data definitively showed that sulfur from the impact event was thrust into the stratosphere, where it would have prolonged global cooling and intensified the extinction. …In 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo released sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere. This event released about 100,000 times less sulfur than the Chicxulub impact, but it still caused global temperatures to decrease by 0.5°C for 2 years.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 9.

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2022-09-02. Hawaii Closes Its Last Coal-Fired Power Plant. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/climate/hawail-coal-plant-shuts.html] By Elena Shao, The New York Times. Excerpt: Hawaii shuttered its last remaining coal-fired power station on Thursday, a major milestone in the state’s ambitious effort to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The station, the AES Hawaii Power Plant near Kalaeloa, in southwest Oahu, provided more than 11 percent of the state’s electricity in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “It really is about reducing greenhouse gases,” said Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, in an interview with The Associated Press. “And this coal facility is one of the largest emitters. Taking it offline means that we’ll stop the 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases that were emitted annually.” Throughout the United States, coal plants are powering down, squeezed out by cheaper natural gas, cleaner renewable energy and tougher emissions regulations. There are fewer than 270 coal-burning power plants remaining in the country; more than 600 have been retired over the past two decades.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-09-01. California Approves a Wave of Aggressive New Climate Measures. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/01/climate/california-lawmakers-climate-legislation.html] By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: California, with an economy that ranks as the world’s fifth-largest, embarked this week on its most aggressive effort yet to confront climate change, after lawmakers passed a flurry of bills designed to cut emissions and speed away from fossil fuels. Legislators approved a record $54 billion in climate spending and passed sweeping new restrictions on oil and gas drilling as well as a mandate that California stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2045. And they voted to extend the life of Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant, by five years, …. …Lawmakers approved a budget laid out by Mr. Newsom that would spend a record $54 billion over five years on climate programs. That includes $6.1 billion for electric vehicles, including money to buy new battery-powered school buses, $14.8 billion for transit, rail and port projects, more than $8 billion to clean up and stabilize the electric grid, $2.7 billion to reduce wildfire risks and $2.8 billion in water programs to deal with drought.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-09-01. Webb telescope takes its first direct image of an exoplanet. [https://www.science.org/content/article/webb-telescope-takes-its-first-direct-image-exoplanet] By Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: A research team analyzing early data from the James Webb Space Telescope has revealed the instrument’s initial images of a planet beyond our Solar System, a success that closely follows last week’s unveiling of Webb’s first measurements from the atmosphere of a different exoplanet. The newly imaged young gas giant, seven times the mass of Jupiter, is captured still glowing hot after its formation. The planet’s infrared emissions traveled 350 light-years before the photons were gathered by Webb’s gold-plated mirrors. In a paper posted today on the arXiv preprint server, the Webb astronomers exhibit several images of the planet, called HIP 65426 b, at a range of wavelengths (shown in insets, above) that have heretofore been invisible to Earthbound telescopes because of our planet’s infrared-blocking atmosphere. …the high quality of these first images bodes well for its discovery of new, even smaller exoplanets, down to the size of Saturn or even Neptune—ice giants that have never been directly observed outside our Solar System. Researchers hope Webb’s images will help them understand how and where such planets form in the disks of dust and gas around newborn stars.… For GSS A Change Cosmos chapter 8.

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2022-08-31. California Installing Huge Solar Panels Over Canals to Combat Drought
[https://futurism.com/the-byte/california-installing-huge-solar-panels-over-canals] By Victor Tangerman, The Futurist. Excerpt: Canal Shade California is spending $20 million on a pilot project that will involve 8,500 feet of solar panels being installed over sections of important water sources, including canals — a futuristic effort to fight a devastating drought hitting California this summer. The idea is simple. The massive panels, to be installed over the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) in central California by the end of next year, are intended to stop dwindling water reserves from evaporating too quickly and forming vegetative growth — while simultaneously providing renewable energy for the local grid. …The TID is citing a 2021 study which found that shading 4,000 miles of public water delivery systems with solar panels could save approximately 63 billion gallons of water a year. That’s enough to meet the demands of more than two million people, according to the organization. The solar panels themselves would generate enough energy to represent “one-sixth of the state’s current installed capacity,” according to TID’s website.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-08-30. This Remote Mine Could Foretell the Future of America’s Electric Car Industry. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/30/business/economy/electric-cars-us-nickel-mine.html] By Ana Swanson, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Talon Metals… is proposing to build an underground mine near Tamarack [Minnesota] that would produce nickel, a highly sought-after mineral that is used to power electric vehicles. …But mines that extract metal from sulfide ore, as this one would, have a poor environmental record in the United States, and an even more checkered footprint globally. …it could spoil local lakes and streams that feed into the Mississippi River. There is also concern that it could endanger the livelihoods and culture of Ojibwe tribes whose members live just over a mile from Talon’s land and have gathered wild rice here for generations. …current supply chains for electric vehicle batteries — and the batteries that would be needed for the electric grid that would charge that fleet of vehicles — rely on some adversarial and heavily polluting foreign nations. Much of the nickel that goes into car batteries is produced by strip mines that have decimated rainforests in Indonesia and the Philippines, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide before being refined in Chinese factories powered by coal. Another source of nickel is a massive mining operation north of the Arctic Circle in Norilsk, Russia, which has produced so much sulfur dioxide that a plume of the toxic gas is big enough to be seen from space. Other minerals used in electric vehicle batteries, such as lithium and cobalt, appear to have been mined or refined with the use of child or forced labor. With global demand for electric vehicles projected to grow sixfold by 2030, the dirty origins of this otherwise promising green industry have become a looming crisis.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-08-30. First Solar says it will spend up to $1.2 billion to expand U.S. production. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/30/business/energy-environment/first-solar-says-it-will-spend-up-to-1-2-billion-to-expand-us-production.html] By Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: First Solar, a big solar panel manufacturer, said on Tuesday that it would invest up to $1.2 billion to build its fourth factory in the United States, in large part because Congress this month passed a major energy and climate bill that expands incentives for renewable energy.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-08-29. Pakistan floods: plea for help amid fears monsoon could put a third of country underwater. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/29/pakistan-floods-plea-for-help-amid-fears-monsoon-could-put-a-third-of-country-underwater] By Martin Farrer, The Guardian. Excerpt: Pakistan’s government has appealed for international help to tackle a flooding emergency that has killed more than 1,000 people and threatens to leave a third of the country – an area roughly the size of Britain – underwater. …Sherry Rehman, a Pakistan senator and federal minister for climate change, told AFP on Monday: “What we see now is an ocean of water submerging entire districts. This is very far from a normal monsoon – it is climate dystopia at our doorstep.” Rehman said on Sunday that the warming climate was causing glaciers in mountainous northern regions to melt faster than normal, exacerbating the impact of the heavy rain. Pakistan has more glaciers – 7,532 – than anywhere outside the polar regions.… See also New York Times article. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-29. Major sea-level rise caused by melting of Greenland ice cap is ‘now inevitable’. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/29/major-sea-level-rise-caused-by-melting-of-greenland-ice-cap-is-now-inevitable-27cm-climate] By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: Major sea-level rise from the melting of the Greenland ice cap is now inevitable, scientists have found, even if the fossil fuel burning that is driving the climate crisis were to end overnight. The research shows the global heating to date will cause an absolute minimum sea-level rise of 27cm (10.6in) from Greenland alone as 110tn tonnes of ice melt. With continued carbon emissions, the melting of other ice caps and thermal expansion of the ocean, a multi-metre sea-level rise appears likely. Billions of people live in coastal regions, making flooding due to rising sea levels one of the greatest long-term impacts of the climate crisis. If Greenland’s record melt year of 2012 becomes a routine occurrence later this century, as is possible, then the ice cap will deliver a “staggering” 78cm of sea-level rise, the scientists said. …the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change used satellite measurements of ice losses from Greenland and the shape of the ice cap from 2000-19. … Mountain glaciers in the Himalayas and the Alps are already on course to lose a third and half of their ice respectively, while the west Antarctic ice sheet is also thought by some scientists to be past the point at which major losses are inevitable. Warming oceans also expand, adding to sea-level rise. “There is growing support in the scientific literature for multi-metre levels of rise within the next 100 to 200 years,” said Colgan. A collapse of the colossal east Antarctic ice sheet, which would lead to a 52-metre rise in sea levels if it all melted, could be averted if rapid climate action is taken.… See also New York Times article. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-28. Why NASA Is Going Back to the Moon. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/28/science/nasa-moon-rocket-launch.html] By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times. Excerpt: …astronauts will not actually step on the moon for several years, and by that time, NASA will have spent about $100 billion…. “It’s a future where NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon,” Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator, said during a news conference this month. “And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space and will develop the science and technology to send the first humans to Mars.” …Today’s program was named Artemis by NASA leaders during the Trump administration. In Greek mythology, Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo. …NASA is also hoping to jump-start companies looking to set up a steady business of flying scientific instruments and other payloads to the moon, and to inspire students to enter science and engineering fields.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-08-26. How US government diet guidelines ignore the climate crisis. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/26/usda-diet-guide-myplate-climate-crisis] By Marina Bolotnikova, The Guardian. Excerpt: US government’s 2020-2025 guidance is meat- and dairy-heavy. Experts say that isn’t sustainable. ,…Every five years, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services jointly publish a new version of the guidelines. They form the basis for the public-facing eating guide MyPlate, formerly MyPyramid, as well as many government-backed meal programs, such as National School Lunch. Historically, these guidelines have narrowly focused on human nutrition, but some are now saying they should be expanded to incorporate climate considerations as well. …The current, 150-page edition for 2020-2025 doesn’t mention food’s role in the climate crisis at all. Climate groups say this is an abdication of responsibility, with Americans feeling the effects of a warming planet more than ever. …A sustainability component would encourage Americans to eat less meat and dairy, which have a significantly higher climate impact than nutritionally comparable plant-based foods.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-25. Brighter Skies Ahead—As solar max approaches, new tech is on call. [https://eos.org/agu-news/brighter-skies-ahead] By Heather Goss, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …An impressive cadre of Sun-targeted missions has recently come online to replace or support an aging fleet of spacecraft, just as solar max is about to set in. …In February 2020, Solar Orbiter launched from Florida, carrying 10 state-of-the-art instruments to make the closest ever observations of the Sun. Daniele Telloni and colleagues, in “A New Journey Around (and Around) the Sun,” describe for us “the groundbreaking observations that Solar Orbiter has made already,” such as the “short-lived, small-scale flickering bright spots, nicknamed ‘campfires,’ in the solar corona.” Not only will this joint European Space Agency–NASA mission shed new light on the unsolved mysteries of the Sun, but also it’s revealing a new side of Venus from its 2020 flyby. …in our next feature, “Shake, Rattle, and Probe.” Helioseismology is a burgeoning discipline that allows physicists to better understand the structure of our star. …“11 Discoveries Awaiting Us at Solar Max,” get excited about peering inside coronal mass ejections, creating “Sun to mud” predictions, and better understanding magnetic fields throughout our solar system.… For GSS Energy Flow chapter 4.

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2022-08-23. Americans experience a false social reality by underestimating popular climate policy support by nearly half. [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-32412-y] By Gregg Sparkman, Nathan Geiger & Elke U. WeberNature Communications. Excerpt: …Systematic misperception of public opinion …like a widespread underestimation of public support for climate action could inhibit willingness to talk about the problem with others…, and could lead people to falsely conclude that the vocal minority who dismiss climate change are representative of broader public opinion…. Further, given that most Americans report concern about climate change and support many policies to address the issue…, why has the US not yet enacted major climate policy to address the issue? If most Americans were unaware of the popularity of their pro-climate action views, this could encourage inaction through pressures to conform to the (mis)perceived political attitudes of others, a phenomenon robust across the political spectrum…. These concerning possibilities raise the question: Do Americans accurately perceive public support for climate mitigation? …the vast majority of Americans greatly underestimate how many of their fellow Americans worry about climate change and support transformative climate policies to remedy the situation. …We find that roughly 80–90% of Americans underestimate the true level of concern for climate change as well as support for transformative climate policies like a carbon tax, 100-percent renewable energy mandates, and a Green New Deal. Not only are these misperceptions nearly universal in the country, but the magnitude is large enough to fully invert the true reality of public opinion: although polls show that a supermajority support these climate policies (66–80%), the average American’s estimate of public opinion suggests it is just a minority (37–3%…). In other words, supporters of major climate policies outnumber opponents 2 to 1, but Americans falsely perceive nearly the opposite to be true. In fact, Americans’ estimates for all national support for climate policies is roughly the same or even lower than even just Republican levels of support.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-08-25. Pace of Climate Change Sends Economists Back to Drawing Board. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/25/business/economy/economy-climate-change.html] By Lydia DePillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: Economists have been examining the impact of climate change for almost as long as it’s been known to science. In the 1970s, the Yale economist William Nordhaus began constructing a model meant to gauge the effect of warming on economic growth. The work, first published in 1992, gave rise to a field of scholarship assessing the cost to society of each ton of emitted carbon offset by the benefits of cheap power — and thus how much it was worth paying to avert it. Dr. Nordhaus became a leading voice for a nationwide carbon tax that would discourage the use of fossil fuels and propel a transition toward more sustainable forms of energy. It remained the preferred choice of economists and business interests for decades. And in 2018, Dr. Nordhaus was honored with the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. …the Inflation Reduction Act with its $392 billion in climate-related subsidies, one thing became very clear: The nation’s biggest initiative to address climate change is built on a different foundation from the one Dr. Nordhaus proposed. Rather than imposing a tax, the legislation offers tax credits, loans and grants — technology-specific carrots that have historically been seen as less efficient than the stick of penalizing carbon emissions more broadly. The outcome reflects a larger trend in public policy, …. A central shift in thinking, many say, is that climate change has moved faster than foreseen, and in less predictable ways, raising the urgency of government intervention. In addition, technologies like solar panels and batteries are cheap and abundant enough to enable a fuller shift away from fossil fuels, rather than slightly decreasing their use.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-08-25. Carbon dioxide detected around alien world for first time. [https://www.science.org/content/article/carbon-dioxide-detected-around-alien-world-first-time] By Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Astronomers have found carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere of a Saturn-size planet 700 light-years away—the first unambiguous detection of the gas in a planet beyond the Solar System. The discovery, made by the James Webb Space Telescope, provides clues to how the planet formed. The result also shows just how quickly Webb may identify a spate of other gases, such as methane and ammonia, which could hint at a planet’s potential habitability for life. …The Webb telescope is sensitive to infrared wavelengths of light that are mostly blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. …the infrared sensitivity is also critical for researchers…. When an exoplanet’s orbit takes it in front of its star, some of the starlight passes through the planet’s atmosphere and carries fingerprints of its composition. The atmospheric gases absorb specific wavelengths of light, which show up as dips in brightness when the starlight is spread out into a spectrum. For most gases of interest, the dips occur at infrared wavelengths.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8.

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2022-08-25. How the sea fireflies of the Caribbean are shining new light on evolution. [https://www.science.org/content/article/sea-fireflies-caribbean-shining-new-light-evolution] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In the 18th century, the French naturalist Godeheu de Riville was sailing across the Indian Ocean when he came upon a remarkable sight. The sea “was covered over with small stars; every wave which broke about us dispersed a most vivid light, in complexion like that of a silver tissue electrified in the dark,” he recounted in his journal. When de Riville examined the sparkling water with his microscope, he discovered that the “small stars” were tiny crustaceans now known as ostracods. …in the Caribbean, and only in the Caribbean, as Morin and colleagues discovered, those bright blue dots can double as mating calls. Today, thousands of dives later, they believe those signals have driven Caribbean ostracods to diversify into more than 100 species. …With modern genetic tools, they’ve been using these creatures to investigate the factors that wedge species apart, including sexual selection, driven by female preferences; geographic isolation; and genetic drift—the accumulation of random genetic changes. In just the past 2 years, researchers have figured out how to grow ostracods in the lab, a development that will allow them to dissect the molecular mechanisms of evolution in a way once possible only in more conventional lab animals such as nematodes and fruit flies.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 3.

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2022-08-25. California bans sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 in milestone step. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/24/california-ban-sales-gas-powered-cars-2035] By Dani Anguiano, The Guardian. Excerpt: Thursday’s vote is among the first of its kind and will be an example to other states when setting zero-emission standards. …In 2021, only 12% of new cars sold in California were zero-emission, according to Carb, though about 16% of cars sold in the first three months of this year were electric. The new rule would require the state reach 35% of sales by 2026, 68% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. It would not affect cars that are already on the road.… See also New York Times article about the ban as well as California E.V. Mandate Finds a Receptive Auto Industry. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-08-24. Up to 135 U.S. tree species face extinction—and just eight enjoy federal protection. [https://www.science.org/content/article/135-u-s-tree-species-face-extinction-and-just-eight-enjoy-federal-protection] By Gabriel Popkin, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Top threats include invasive pests, climate change and habitat loss… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-08-24. All-seeing telescope will snap exploding stars, may spy a hidden world. [https://www.science.org/content/article/all-seeing-telescope-will-snap-exploding-stars-may-spy-hidden-world] By Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Array of 900 instruments will make movies of heavens, revealing short-lived and fast-changing events. …Argus aims to achieve its unique vision with hundreds of off-the-shelf telescopes, each just 20 centimeters across and watching a different patch of sky. The final array will match the light-gathering power of a telescope with a single 5-meter mirror, which typically costs hundreds of millions of dollars, but cheap components should keep Argus’s cost below $20 million, Law says. The challenge will come in stitching together the array’s 900 images into a single, seamless movie of the night sky.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-08-24. Scientists exposed plants to a yearlong drought. The result is worrying for climate change. [https://www.science.org/content/article/scientists-exposed-plants-yearlong-drought-result-worrying-climate-change] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Europe and many other parts of the world are currently grappling with extreme drought—and that could be bad news for efforts to curb climate change, concludes a new global study of how shrubs and grasses respond to parched conditions. Grasslands and shrublands cover more than 40% of Earth’s terra firma, and they remove hefty amounts of carbon dioxide from the air. But by deliberately blocking precipitation from falling at 100 research sites around the world, researchers found that a single year of drought can reduce the growth of vegetation by more than 80%, greatly diminishing its ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Overall, plant growth in the artificially drought-stricken grassy patches fell by 36%, far more than earlier estimates. But the study, presented last week at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Montreal, also found great variability: Vegetation at 20% of the sites continued to thrive despite the lack of water. …Jentsch-Beierkuhnlein notes that during the current European drought, intensively managed grasslands with relatively few species, such as hayfields, have been hard hit. Planting more diverse assemblages might enable such grasslands to “keep delivering ecosystem services even under severe drought,” she says.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-24. India, a Dairy Titan, Studies How to Keep Milk Flowing in a Hotter World. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/24/world/asia/india-climate-change-milk-prices.html] By Mujib Mashal and Hari Kumar, The New York Times. Excerpt: …The scientists of the National Dairy Research Institute are quietly working to preserve India’s status as a dairy powerhouse in the face of the country’s acute threat from climate change, conducting studies on everything from developing new breeds of buffalo to testing new crops of shrubs for protein content. …India, the world’s largest producer of milk, generates more than 200 million tons every year. The dairy industry, which relies on 80 million farmers across the country, most with small herds, has grown steadily and now accounts for nearly 5 percent of India’s economy. …Stress on animals is just one way that extreme heat is challenging this crucial industry.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-23. Climate Change Has Already Aggravated 58% of Infectious Diseases. [https://eos.org/articles/climate-change-has-already-aggravated-58-of-infectious-diseases] By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In a sweeping analysis of more than 800 published studies, scientists from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) discovered climate change had exacerbated 58% of infectious diseases in certain documented instances. Although less common, climate warming also lessened 16% of infectious diseases. …The illnesses aggravated by climate change include some of the deadliest, such as measles, malaria, and diarrheal diseases. Scientific literature has long supported the fact that climate change enhances certain diseases, such as a study earlier this year finding that bacteria-caused diarrhea could become more dominant as wetter and warmer conditions spread. However, “this is the first paper to really comprehensively try and put together the full picture,” said McKenzie. Warming temperatures, changes in precipitation, and floods worsened the highest numbers of diseases. These factors were followed by other hazards associated with climate change, including fires, storms, sea level rise, ocean climate change, heat waves, drought, and changes to land cover.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-22. Democrats Designed the Climate Law to Be a Game Changer. Here’s How. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/22/climate/epa-supreme-court-pollution.html] By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: When the Supreme Court restricted the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to fight climate change this year, the reason it gave was that Congress had never granted the agency the broad authority to shift America away from burning fossil fuels. Now it has. Throughout the landmark climate law, passed this month, is language written specifically to address the Supreme Court’s justification for reining in the E.P.A., a ruling that was one of the court’s most consequential of the term. The new law amends the Clean Air Act, the country’s bedrock air-quality legislation, to define the carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels as an “air pollutant.” That language, according to legal experts as well as the Democrats who worked it into the legislation, explicitly gives the E.P.A. the authority to regulate greenhouse gases and to use its power to push the adoption of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-22. A 19th century farmer may be to blame for Australia’s rabbit scourge. [https://www.science.org/content/article/19th-century-farmer-may-be-blame-australia-s-rabbit-scourge] By Jack Tamaisiea, Science Magazine. Excerpt: On Christmas Day 1859, a shipment of 24 rabbits arrived in Melbourne, Australia, from England. The bunnies were a gift for Thomas Austin, a wealthy English settler who aimed to establish a colony of the creatures on his Australian estate. …Just 3 years later, thousands of his European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were hopping about. By 1865, Austin would boast to the local paper of killing some 20,000 bunnies on his property, where he hosted rabbit hunting parties for English royalty such as Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred. …Austin’s bunnies were the ones that came to dominate the continent, a new study finds. About 200 million rabbits now wreak havoc on crops and native plants, causing $200 million a year in agricultural damage. And nearly all of them, researchers conclude, can be traced back to the fateful shipment Austin received in 1859. To unravel how the rabbit plague began, Francis Jiggins, a geneticist at the University of Cambridge, and his colleagues analyzed the genetics of 187 rabbit specimens collected across Australia. They also tested potential source populations in England and France and a handful of rabbits from Tasmania and New Zealand, places that experienced their own devastating rabbit invasions.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-08-22. Drought Hurts China’s Economy as Central Bank Cuts Rates. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/22/business/china-power-shortage-drought.html] By Keith Bradsher, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Record-high temperatures and a severe drought in west-central China have crippled hydropower generation and prompted the shutdown of many factories there, in the latest blow to a Chinese economy that already has stagnant consumer spending and a deeply troubled real estate market. Sichuan Province in west-central China, one of China’s most populous and a fast-growing industrial base in recent years, normally generates more than three-quarters of its electricity from huge dams. The summer rainy season usually brings so much water that Sichuan sends much of its hydropower to cities and provinces as far away as Shanghai. But an almost complete failure of summer rains this year, coupled with daytime highs that have regularly approached or exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, has left rivers and reservoirs with fractions of their former water. The large province’s many dams cannot generate enough electricity even for Sichuan’s own needs, forcing factories there to close for up to a week at a time.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-08-22. My Job Is to Police Energy Use in My Office. Here’s How We Got to Net Zero. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/22/opinion/energy-office-buildings-net-zero-climate.html] By Carlos Gamarra, The New York Times, guest essay. Excerpt: …by paying close attention to every aspect of our energy use, my co-workers and I have seen how even the smallest actions can have an impact on climate change. We now take pride in the fact that the office’s electricity bill is $0. What’s more, the local utility pays our organization, the Houston Advanced Research Center, over $1,000 a year in rebates for the energy our solar panels provide to the power grid. …Some 40 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings and construction, and commercial buildings, which have an average life span of 50 to 60 years, account for around 20 percent of U.S. energy use. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that on average, 30 percent of the energy used in these commercial buildings is wasted.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-08-22. Expansion of Clean Energy Loans Is ‘Sleeping Giant’ of Climate Bill. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/22/business/energy-environment/biden-climate-bill-energy-loans.html] By Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: Tucked into the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden signed last week is a major expansion of federal loan programs that could help the fight against climate change by channeling more money to clean energy and converting plants that run on fossil fuels to nuclear or renewable energy. The law authorizes as much as $350 billion in additional federal loans and loan guarantees for energy and automotive projects and businesses. The money, which will be disbursed by the Energy Department, is in addition to the better-known provisions of the law that offer incentives for the likes of electric cars, solar panels, batteries and heat pumps.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-22. Webb’s Jupiter Images Showcase Auroras, Hazes. [https://blogs.nasa.gov/webb/2022/08/22/webbs-jupiter-images-showcase-auroras-hazes/] By Alise Fisher, NASA Webb Space Telescope. Excerpt: …NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured new images of [Jupiter].  …“We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley. …“It’s really remarkable that we can see details on Jupiter together with its rings, tiny satellites, and even galaxies in one image,” she said. The two images come from the observatory’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), which has three specialized infrared filters that showcase details of the planet. Since infrared light is invisible to the human eye, the light has been mapped onto the visible spectrum. Generally, the longest wavelengths appear redder and the shortest wavelengths are shown as more blue. Scientists collaborated with citizen scientist Judy Schmidt to translate the Webb data into images. In the standalone view of Jupiter, created from a composite of several images from Webb, auroras extend to high altitudes above both the northern and southern poles of Jupiter. …The Great Red Spot, a famous storm so big it could swallow Earth, appears white in these views, as do other clouds, because they are reflecting a lot of sunlight.… See also NPR article or Washington Post article. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-08-20. Diet for a hotter climate: five plants that could help feed the world. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/20/ancient-crops-climate-crisis-amaranth-fonio-cowpeas-taro-kernza] By Cecilia Nowell, The Guardian. Excerpt: Over the course of human history, scientists believe that humans have cultivated more than 6,000 different plant species. But over time, farmers gravitated toward planting those with the largest yields. Today, just three crops – rice, wheat and corn – provide nearly half of the world’s calories. That reliance on a small number of crops has made agriculture vulnerable to pests, plant-borne diseases and soil erosion, which thrive on monoculture – the practice of growing only one crop at a time. It has also meant losing out on the resilience other crops show in surviving drought and other natural disasters. As the impacts of the climate crisis become starker, farmers across the world are rediscovering ancient crops and developing new hybrids that might prove more hardy in the face of drought or epidemics, while also offering important nutrients. …Here’s a look at five crops, beyond rice, wheat and corn, that farmers across the world are now growing in hopes of feeding the planet as it warms…. Amaranth: the plant that survived colonization …Fonio: the drought-resistant traditional grain …Cowpeas: the fully edible plant …Taro: adapting the tropical crop for colder climes …Kernza: the crop bred for the climate crisis.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-08-20. UPS Drivers Say ‘Brutal’ Heat Is Endangering Their Lives. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/20/business/ups-postal-workers-heat-stroke-deaths.html] By Livia Albeck-Ripka, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Mr. Gubell, 26, had delivered about 200 packages. Temperatures had soared into the high 80s, and it was even hotter inside the metal shell of the back of the truck, where, with each stop, he would spend up to a minute or so to retrieve his cargo, sweat beading on his skin. Now, pulled over on the side of the road, he was panting and barely able to speak, gripping his phone with his hand, which had cramped from dehydration. …As blistering heat waves swept across the United States this summer, breaking temperature records and placing millions under heat advisories and warnings, workers like Mr. Gubell have continued to deliver America’s packages for a variety of carriers, often in trucks that have no cooling mechanisms for drivers. Some UPS workers have shared photographs that show thermometer readings of up to 150 degrees in the backs of their trucks. …Government records show that the problem is not isolated: Since 2015, at least 270 UPS and United States Postal Service drivers have been sickened and in many cases hospitalized from heat exposure. Dozens of workers for other delivery companies, including FedEx, have also suffered from heat exhaustion, according to the records, and a handful of drivers have also died in the past few years. According to the Teamsters, heat-related injuries, illnesses and deaths among drivers are severely underreported. The issue first drew widespread public attention in 2019, after reporting by the Center for Public Integrity and NBC News highlighted the grave heat dangers faced by mail and delivery workers.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-20. Dairy Farmers in the Netherlands Are Up in Arms Over Emission Cuts. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/20/world/europe/netherlands-farmers-protests.html] By Claire Moses, The New York Times. Excerpt: Goals of cutting nitrogen emissions in half by 2030 have caused an uproar in the Netherlands. Climate activists say the cuts are necessary to preserve nature. …Agriculture is responsible for the largest share of nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands, much of it from the waste produced by the estimated 1.6 million cows that provide the milk used to make the country’s famed cheeses, like Gouda and Edam. …To realize those planned cuts, thousands of farmers will be required to significantly reduce livestock numbers and the size of their farming operations. If they cannot meet the cuts the government demands of them, they may be forced to close their operations altogether. The Dutch government has set aside about 25 billion euros, about $26 billion, to carry out its plan, and some of that money will be used to help farmers build more sustainable operations — or buy them out, if possible.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-19. How an Unlikely Friendship Upended Permafrost Myths. [https://eos.org/features/how-an-unlikely-friendship-upended-permafrost-myths] By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: It’s not just the Arctic: Worldwide, methane emissions have been rising at an accelerating rate since 2007, and scientists aren’t sure why. Last year, about 640 million metric tons of methane entered the atmosphere, and global concentrations hit the highest value recorded since data collection began in 1983. Although scientists believe that Arctic methane contributes only a tiny fraction of today’s rise in emissions, they worry that will change. Methane emissions from thawing permafrost could use up 25%–40% of the allowable emissions to keep climate increase below 2°C, according to Susan Natali at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Mass. …A seminal discovery by a Russian scientist and an American researcher investigating winter methane emissions in the 1990s revealed a source of methane emissions that was previously unaccounted for. In the years following, estimates of climate warming from permafrost would more than double.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-18. Seeing Through Turbulence to Track Oil Spills in the Ocean. [https://eos.org/features/seeing-through-turbulence-to-track-oil-spills-in-the-ocean] By Guillermo García-Sánchez,  Ana M. Mancho,  Antonio G. Ramos,  Josep Coca and  Stephen Wiggins, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: After oil and tar washed up on eastern Mediterranean beaches in 2021, scientists devised a way to trace the pollution back to its sources using satellite imagery and mathematics…. For GSS Population Growth chapter 5.

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2022-08-18. Simple mix of soap and solvent could help destroy ‘forever chemicals’. [https://www.science.org/content/article/simple-mix-soap-and-solvent-could-help-destroy-forever-chemicals] By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: There’s finally hope for a simple, cheap way to destroy a class of ubiquitous environmental toxins found in shampoos, fast-food wrappers, and fire-dousing foams. A common ingredient in soap, mixed with water and an organic solvent, readily degrades per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals” because they can stick around in the environment for decades, a new study shows. The mixture doesn’t work on all PFAS compounds, but related approaches might offer communities a cheap way to rid soils and drinking water of contaminants that currently put millions of people at risk for cancer and other diseases. …PFAS contain strings of carbon atoms attached to fluorine atoms, which bind so tightly to one another they are nearly impossible to break apart. The compounds repel oil and water and can withstand friction and high temperatures, making them widely popular in industry. They accumulate in soils, water supplies, and even in living tissue. In the United States alone there are nearly 3000 PFAS-contaminated sites, from landfills to rivers and groundwater supplies. …The compounds have been implicated in kidney and liver cancer, thyroid disease, decreased immune response, and infant and fetal growth problems. Communities around the world have tried to filter out these chemicals or destroy them. …Two years ago, researchers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hit on a better approach by chance. When they placed a PFAS compound in a common solvent called DMSO as part of a toxicity study, the PFAS compound began to degrade. The new study builds on that work. Researchers …studied numerous recipes involving DMSO. One combined a little bit of the solvent with sodium hydroxide, a common component of soap, in water. When the team heated the mix to boiling temperature, it readily degraded one of the largest subsets of PFAS compounds.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-08-16. Can farmers fight climate change? New U.S. law gives them billions to try. [https://www.science.org/content/article/can-farmers-fight-climate-change-new-u-s-law-gives-them-billions-try] By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Cutting emissions from fertilizer and livestock will be key, scientists say. …all told, farming generates 10% of climate-affecting emissions from the United States each year. Now, Congress would like to turn back the clock and return some of that carbon to the soil. The Inflation Reduction Act, a broad bill signed into law today, has historic climate provisions, including massive subsidies for clean power and electric vehicles. But lawmakers also included more than $25 billion to expand and safeguard forests and promote farming practices thought to be climate friendly. Those include no-till agriculture and “cover crops,” plants cultivated simply to protect the soil. Researchers, environmental groups, and the farm industry agree that paying and training farmers to adopt those measures will improve soil health and water and air quality.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-15. Stowaways on NASA’s massive Moon rocket promise big science in small packages. [https://www.science.org/content/article/stowaways-nasa-s-massive-moon-rocket-promise-big-science-small-packages] By Erik Hand, Science Magazine. Excerpt: CubeSats packed on Artemis 1 will target lunar ice—if their batteries don’t fail them. When NASA’s most powerful rocket ever attempts its first flight this month, its highest profile payload will be three instrumented mannequins, setting off on a 42-day journey beyond the Moon and back. They are stand-ins for the astronauts that the 98-meter-tall rocket, known as the Space Launch System (SLS), is supposed to carry to the Moon as soon as 2025, as part of NASA’s Artemis program. But there will be other voyagers along for the ride when the SLS lifts off on 29 August: 10 CubeSats, satellites no bigger than a small briefcase, to probe the Moon, asteroids, and the radiation environment of deep space. …Several SLS CubeSats will focus on lunar ice, which has intrigued researchers ever since NASA’s Lunar Prospector discovered a signal suggestive of water in the late 1990s. …Researchers assume much of the hydrogen represents water ice delivered by ancient impacts of comets or asteroids and trapped in the coldest, darkest lunar recesses. But the hydrogen could also be implanted by the solar wind. When hydrogen ions in the wind strike oxygen-bearing minerals in lunar soil, it creates hydroxyl, which can be transformed into water through subsequent reactions.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-08-17. California urges residents to cut power use as searing heatwave grips US west. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/17/california-power-cuts-heatwave-climate-crisis] By The Guardian. Excerpt: California has urged residents to cut power use as a searing heatwave settles over the state and stretches power supplies to a breaking point, in the latest sign of extreme weather conditions in the US west. Temperatures in the most populous state are forecast to climb to well above 100F (38C) during the afternoon. To prevent power outages, state officials asked residents and businesses to turn off lights and appliances and preset their thermostats to 78F (26C), especially during the critical hours between 4 and 9pm local time when demand typically peaks and solar power generation beings to ebb.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-16. The most damaging farm products? Organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/16/most-damaging-farm-products-organic-pasture-fed-beef-lamb] By George Monbiot, The Guardian. Excerpt: Arable crops, some of which are fed to farm animals, occupy 12% of the planet’s land surface. But far more land (about 26%) is used for grazing: in other words, for pasture-fed meat and milk. Yet, across this vast area, farm animals that are entirely pasture-fed produce just 1% of the world’s protein. Livestock farmers often claim that their grazing systems “mimic nature”. If so, the mimicry is a crude caricature. A review of evidence from over 100 studies found that when livestock are removed from the land, the abundance and diversity of almost all groups of wild animals increases. The only category in which numbers fall when grazing by cattle or sheep ceases are those that eat dung. Where there are cattle, there are fewer wild mammals, birds, reptiles and insects on the land, and fewer fish in the rivers. Perhaps most importantly – because of their crucial role in regulating living systems – there tend to be no large predators. …the world’s urban areas occupy just 1% of the planet’s land surface, in comparison with the 26% used for grazing. Agricultural sprawl inflicts a very high ecological opportunity cost: the missing ecosystems that would otherwise exist… For GSS Population Growth chapter 5.

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2022-08-16. A Frustrating Hassle Holding Electric Cars Back: Broken Chargers. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/16/business/energy-environment/electric-vehicles-broken-chargers.html] By Niraj Chokshi, The New York Times. Excerpt: …The chargers where people refuel [electric] cars are often broken. One recent study found that about a quarter of the public charging outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area, where electric cars are commonplace, were not working. A major effort is underway to build hundreds of thousands of public chargers — the federal government alone is spending $7.5 billion. But drivers of electric cars and analysts said that the companies that install and maintain the stations need to do more to make sure those new chargers and the more than 120,000 that already exist are reliable.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-08-16. Killing of Ranger Protecting Rhinos Raises Fears for Conservation Efforts. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/16/science/poaching-ranger-murder-rhino.html] By Rachel Nuwer,
The New York Times. Excerpt: The fatal shooting of the head ranger at the Timbavati reserve in South Africa has stoked concerns that organized poaching syndicates are targeting wildlife protectors.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-08-15. Goats and sheep deploy their appetites to save Barcelona from wildfires. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/15/goats-and-sheep-deploy-their-appetites-to-save-barcelona-from-wildfires] By Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian. Excerpt: …Barcelona’s newest firefighting recruits began delicately picking past hikers and cyclists in the city’s largest public park earlier this year. The four-legged brigade – made up of 290 sheep and goats – had just one task: to munch on as much vegetation as possible. Their arrival turned Barcelona into one of the latest places to embrace an age-old strategy that’s being revived as officials around the world face off against a rise in extreme wildfires. The idea is simple: wildfire-prone areas are handed over to grazing animals, who chomp and trample over dry vegetation that could otherwise accumulate as fuel for fires. Whether the animals are semi-wild or overseen by a shepherd who is usually compensated for their efforts, a job well done usually leaves behind a landscape dotted with open spaces that can act as firebreaks.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-15. Plaintiffs in Long Fight Over Endangered Salmon Hope a Resolution Is Near. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/15/us/politics/salmon-dams-washington.html] By Mark Walker and Chris Cameron, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — After decades of legal fighting over hydroelectric dams that have contributed to the depletion of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest, the Biden administration is extending settlement talks with plaintiffs who hope the resolution they are seeking — removal of the dams — is near. The federal government has been sued five times over its failed attempts to save salmon in the Columbia River basin, and for violating longstanding treaties with the Nez Perce, Yakama and Umatilla tribes. But now the Biden administration and others say that restoring the salmon population is an issue of tribal justice, as well as the only real solution.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-08-15. Two New York Times articles about positive effects of invasive species: Death Valley’s Invasive Donkeys Have Become Cat Food [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/15/science/invasive-species-pigs-crocodiles.html] by Asher Elbein – Feral burros wreck wetlands in the desert national park. But a study found that when mountain lions prey on them, the donkeys may help some terrain thrive…. and Pigs to the Rescue: An Invasive Species Helped Save Australia’s Crocodiles [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/15/science/invasive-species-pigs-crocodiles.html] by Anthony Ham – Invasive species can damage the ecosystems they wind up in. But in parts of the world, endangered predators make hearty meals out of them.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-08-15. Flash Flooding in West Virginia Prompts Dozens of Water Rescues. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/15/us/west-virginia-flash-floods.html] By Christine Chung, The New York Times. Excerpt: Residents of two West Virginia counties were recovering from significant flash flooding that prompted dozens of water rescues early on Monday and destroyed at least two bridges, officials said. Overnight, brown water rose swiftly in Kanawha and Fayette Counties, uprooting trees, engulfing cars and roads, washing out culverts and damaging at least 100 homes in Kanawha County, just east of Charleston, W.Wa., officials said. The rain began around 3 a.m. on Monday and two to five inches fell, said Megan Kiebler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-15. Weeks of heat above 100F will be the norm in much of US by 2053, study finds. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/15/extreme-heat-risk-temperatures-2053-study] By Richard Luscombe, The Guardian. Excerpt: As many as 100 million Americans will be living in ‘extreme’ zones that will see heat index exceed 125F, according to new study… Almost two-thirds of Americans, who live in mostly southern and central states, will be at risk from the critical temperature increases, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from the non-profit First Street Foundation, which used current trends to predict the number of extreme heat days 30 years into the future. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-13. Europe’s rivers run dry as scientists warn drought could be worst in 500 years. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/13/europes-rivers-run-dry-as-scientists-warn-drought-could-be-worst-in-500-years] By Jon Henley, The Guardian. Excerpt: In places, the Loire can now be crossed on foot; France’s longest river has never flowed so slowly. The Rhine is fast becoming impassable to barge traffic. In Italy, the Po is 2 metres lower than normal, crippling crops. Serbia is dredging the Danube. Across Europe, drought is reducing once-mighty rivers to trickles, with potentially dramatic consequences for industry, freight, energy and food production – just as supply shortages and price rises due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine bite. Driven by climate breakdown, an unusually dry winter and spring followed by record-breaking summer temperatures and repeated heatwaves have left Europe’s essential waterways under-replenished and, increasingly, overheated. With no significant rainfall recorded for almost two months across western, central and southern Europe and none forecast in the near future, meteorologists say the drought could become the continent’s worst in more than 500 years.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-12. As Historic Climate Bill Heads to Biden’s Desk, Young Activists Demand More. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/12/climate/biden-climate-bill-young-activists.html] By Lisa Friedman and Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — For the septuagenarian lawmakers who wrote the historic climate bill that Congress passed on Friday, and the 79-year-old president who is about to sign it into law, the measure represents a “once in a generation” victory. But younger Democrats and climate activists crave more. They look at the bill as a down payment, and they worry a complacent electorate will believe Washington has at last solved climate change — when in fact scientists warn it has only taken the first necessary steps. “This bill is not the bill that my generation deserves and needs to fully avert climate catastrophe, but it is the one that we can pass, given how much power we have at this moment,” said Varshini Prakash, 29, who co-founded the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activism group. Christina Tzintzun Ramirez, 40, president of NextGen America, which is focused on young voter participation, said it wasn’t lost on her that the climate deal was crafted largely by older men and included some concessions to the fossil fuel industry.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-08-12. Her Discovery Changed the World. How Does She Think We Should Use It? [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/08/15/magazine/jennifer-doudna-crispr-interview.html] By David Marchese, The New York Times. Excerpt: It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that during some slow day at the lab early in her career, Jennifer Doudna, in a moment of private ambition, daydreamed about making a breakthrough that could change the world. But communicating with the world about the ethical ramifications of such a breakthrough? “Definitely not!” says Doudna, who along with Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for their research on CRISPR gene-editing technology. “I’m still on the learning curve with that.” [Read interview.…] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-08-11. James Webb Space Telescope Pics on the Worldwide Telescope. [https://web.wwtassets.org/specials/2022/jwst-release/] By Worldwide Telescope. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-08-11. How Wildfires Affect Snow in the American West. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/how-wildfires-affect-snow-in-the-american-west] By Saima May Sidik, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Fresh powder does more than support winter sports. Snowmelt flows into streams, where it helps sustain agriculture, supports natural ecosystems, and provides drinking water. But wildfires are threatening snowpacks, and research on wildfire’s impact on snow water equivalent generally focuses on localized areas, with varying methods and conflicting results. Now, Giovando and Niemann set about rectifying this situation with data from the Snow Telemetry system, or SNOTEL, which uses automated sensors to measure snow depth and other aspects of weather at hundreds of sites around the western United States. The researchers compared 45 burned SNOTEL sites to similar unburned sites. They found that when burned regions were at their snowiest, they obtained, on average, 13% less water from snow than their unburned counterparts. Snow melted completely 9 days earlier in burned regions compared to unburned areas. …The results of this study suggest that although climate change has affected the timing of snowmelt, wildfires exacerbate this change and can also have a larger effect on the amount of water obtained from snow. (Water Resources Researchhttps://doi.org/10.1029/2021WR031569, 2022).… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-10. From 300,000 rabbits to none: a Southern Ocean island is reborn. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/10/rats-and-rabbits-invasive-species-macquarie-island-southern-ocean-aoe] By Zoe Kean, The Guardian. Excerpt: On a world map, Macquarie Island is a speck in the Southern Ocean, but for ecologists it is a beacon, illuminating a future for grand-scale environmental recovery projects. Melissa Houghton first set foot on the 34km-long green streak as a dog handler in late 2011. Rabbits, cats, rats and mice had been introduced by sealers in the 1800s and were wreaking havoc on the world heritage site. At their peak, there were approximately 300,000 European rabbits and an untold number of black rats and house mice. During their trip, Houghton and a labrador named Wags found what would prove to be the last vertebrate pests left on the island: an adult rabbit and her young. In 2014, Macquarie was declared pest free, the largest island to successfully eliminate rabbits to date. Ten years after Wags sniffed out the last rabbit, the island has sprung back to life, and Houghton has stuck around to witness the change. She gave up dog handling, became a scientist and completed her PhD as part of the research team monitoring the island’s resurgence. …Houghton remembers being “blown away” by her first views of Macquarie Island after a three-day voyage south from Tasmania in 2011. Its beaches were crowded with hulking elephant seals and raucous colonies of endemic royal penguins. But Keith Springer, who was leading the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project, warned her that beyond the beaches the once biodiverse and unique island was so damaged that it was “nothing but a pretty paddock”. …Typically after an eradication scientists tend to assess how one charismatic species has responded to the pests’ removal. But Shaw is interested in how the island is responding as a whole ecosystem. “It’s not like someone turns the lights on and it’s back to normal. It’s actually quite a staggered response,” she says.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-08-10. Congress Just Passed a Big Climate Bill. No, Not That One. [https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2022/08/chips-act-climate-bill-biden/671095/] By Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic. Excerpt: No, I’m not talking about the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark Democratic climate and taxes bill that passed the Senate on Sunday along party lines. I’m talking about a different piece of legislation: The CHIPS and Science Act. Since it sailed through Congress last month, the CHIPS Act has mostly been touted as a $280 billion effort to revitalize the American semiconductor industry. What has attracted far less attention is that the law also invests tens of billions of dollars in technologies and new research that matter in the fight against climate change. Over the next five years, the CHIPS Act could direct an estimated $67 billion, or roughly a quarter of its total funding, toward accelerating the growth of zero-carbon industries and conducting climate-relevant research, according to an analysis from RMI, a nonpartisan energy think tank based in Colorado. That would make the CHIPS Act one of the largest climate bills ever passed by Congress. It exceeds the total amount of money that the government spent on renewable-energy tax credits from 2005 to 2019, according to estimates from the Congressional Research Service. And it’s more than half the size of the climate spending in President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill. That’s all the more remarkable because the CHIPS Act was passed by large bipartisan majorities, with 41 Republicans and nearly all Democrats supporting it in the House and the Senate. Yet CHIPS shouldn’t be viewed alone, Lachlan Carey, an author of the new analysis and an associate at RMI, told me. When viewed with the Inflation Reduction Act, which the House is poised to pass later this week, and last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, a major shift in congressional climate spending comes into focus. According to the RMI analysis, these three laws are set to more than triple the federal government’s average annual spending on climate and clean energy this decade, compared with the 2010s.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-11. America’s summer of floods: climate crisis fueling barrage, scientists say. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/11/america-summer-floods-rainfall-climate-crisis] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: An entire building and roads washed away by raging waters in Yellowstone. People desperately swimming from their homes in St Louis. Dozens dead after torrential downpours in Kentucky. The summer of 2022 has been one of extreme floods in the US, with scientists warning the climate crisis is worsening the devastation. The deadliest of the recent barrage of floods, in Kentucky, was described as “heartbreaking” by Joe Biden as he surveyed ruined houses and inundated cars on Monday. At least 37 people died after five days of pounding record rain washed down mountainsides and drowned entire towns, an event that scientists say is a once in 1,000 year occurrence. Such extremes are no longer such outliers, however, with St Louis breaking its one-day rainfall record by 8am on 26 July, swamping city streets and houses, a disaster quickly followed by a similarly severe storm that hit Illinois. On Friday, Death Valley in California, a place known for its searing dry heat, got a year’s worth of rain in just three hours, causing huge sheets of flooding that washed away and damaged hundreds of miles of roads. In an 11-day span, the US experienced at least four flooding events that would each normally be expected once every 1,000 years, or have a 0.1% chance of happening in any given year. Scientists say extreme rainfall spurred by climate breakdown is rendering many of these historical norms obsolete.… See also Record Death Valley flooding ‘a once-in-1,000-year event’. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-11. The Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than the globe since 1979. [https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-022-00498-3] By Mika RantanenAlexey Yu. KarpechkoAntti LipponenKalle NordlingOtto HyvärinenKimmo RuosteenojaTimo Vihma & Ari Laaksonen, Nature. Excerpt: In recent decades, the warming in the Arctic has been much faster than in the rest of the world, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. Numerous studies report that the Arctic is warming either twice, more than twice, or even three times as fast as the globe on average. Here we show, by using several observational datasets which cover the Arctic region, that during the last 43 years the Arctic has been warming nearly four times faster than the globe, which is a higher ratio than generally reported in literature. …we caution that referring to Arctic warming as to being twice as fast as the global warming, as frequently stated in literature, is a clear underestimation of the situation during the last 43 years since the start of the satellite observations. At a regional scale, areas in the Eurasian sector of the Arctic Ocean have warmed even up to seven times as fast as the globe (Fig. 1c).… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-10. These Groups Want Disruptive Climate Protests. Oil Heirs Are Funding Them. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/10/climate/climate-protesters-paid-activists.html] By Cara Buckley, The New York Times. Excerpt: They’ve taken hammers to gas pumps and glued themselves to museum masterpieces and busy roadways. They’ve chained themselves to banks, rushed onto a Grand
Prix 
racetrack and tethered themselves to goal posts as tens of thousands of British soccer fans jeered. The activists who undertook these worldwide acts of disruption during the last year said that they were desperate to convey the urgency of the climate crisis and that the most effective way to do so was in public, blockading oil terminals and upsetting normal activities. They also share a surprising financial lifeline: heirs to two American families that became fabulously rich from oil. …Aileen Getty, whose grandfather created Getty Oil, helped found the Climate Emergency Fund and has given it $1 million so far. The Equation Campaign started in 2020 with a $30 million pledge, to be distributed over 10 years, from two members of the Rockefeller family, Rebecca Rockefeller Lambert and Peter Gill Case. John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1870 and became the country’s first billionaire.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-08-10. Can citizen scientists turn the tide against America’s toxic algal blooms? [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/10/red-tide-citizen-scientists-toxic-algal-blooms] By Lena Beck, The Guardian. Excerpt: ‘Red tides’ are an annual hazard in Florida and other coastal areas but a monitoring project can help limit harm to humans. …As climate change brings warming ocean waters, predictions of a dangerous phenomenon known as “red tide” are on the rise. …Red tides occur when warming waters and other factors spur the growth of a type of rust-colored alga known as Karenia brevis. The alga produces toxic compounds that are harmful to humans as well as dolphins, manatees, shellfish and other sea life. Exposure to the organism can cause respiratory illnesses and other problems for people who are exposed, and, in rare occasions, be debilitating or even fatal. …In an effort to address the threat, last year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) launched the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast, an online map that shows the presence and severity of red tide at select locations. People can use the map to check safety conditions before swimming or fishing or engaging in other activities in the water. The warning system is especially important during peak bloom season from August to December.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-08-10. In the Amazon, a U.N. Agency Has a Green Mission, but Dirty Partners. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/10/world/americas/colombia-big-oil-united-nations.html] By Sarah Hurtes and Julie Turkewitz, The New York Times. Excerpt: RESGUARDO BUENAVISTA, Colombia — At the edge of the Colombian Amazon, in an Indigenous village surrounded by oil rigs, the Siona people faced a dilemma. The United Nations Development Program, or U.N.D.P., had just announced a $1.9 million regional aid package. In a village with no running water, intermittent electricity and persistent poverty, any money would mean food and opportunity. But the aid program was part of a partnership between the United Nations agency and GeoPark, the multinational petroleum company. The company holds contracts to drill near the Siona reservation, including one with the government that would expand operations onto what the Siona consider their ancestral land. To the Siona people on the Buenavista reservation, oil drilling is an assault, akin to draining blood from the earth. This collaboration is one example of how one of the world’s largest sustainable development organizations partners with polluters, even those that at times work against the interests of the communities the agency is supposed to help. From Mexico to Kazakhstan, these partnerships are part of a strategy that treats oil companies not as environmental villains but as major employers who can bring electricity to far-flung areas and economic growth to poor and middle-income nations. The development agency has used oil money to provide clean water and job training to areas that might otherwise be neglected. But …when the United Nations has partnered with oil companies, the agency has also tamped down local opposition to drilling, conducted business analyses for the industry and worked to make it easier for companies to keep operating in sensitive areas.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-10. Nearby star’s midlife crisis illuminates the future of our own Sun. [https://www.science.org/content/article/nearby-star-midlife-crisis-suggests-our-own-sun-may-lose-its-spots-again-decades] By Zack Savitsky, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Long magnetic lull on star mimics the Maunder Minimum, when the Sun’s spots largely disappeared 400 years ago. Soon after European astronomers developed the first telescopes at the start of the 17th century, they observed dark spots speckling the Sun’s surface. They also handed their modern successors a mystery. From about 1645 to 1715, the spots, now known to be indicators of solar activity, all but disappeared. Gathering sunspot counts and other historical observations, astronomer John Eddy concluded nearly 50 years ago that the Sun had essentially taken a 70-year nap, which he called the Maunder Minimum after an astronomer couple who had previously studied it. Now, it appears the Sun is not the only star that takes long naps. By building a decades-long record of observations of a few dozen stars at specific wavelengths that trace stellar activity, a team of astronomers has identified another star going through its own Maunder Minimum period. …The finding, reported in a preprint last month on arXiv, could help explain what triggered the Sun’s strange behavior 400 years ago and suggests more such episodes are likely. …van Saders says…that such events are an occasional symptom of a critical transition in the magnetic field of Sun-like stars about halfway through their lifetime—a midlife crisis of sorts. Some astronomers speculate that the Sun’s transition helped favor the emergence of life on Earth…. Scientists have known for decades that our Sun’s activity surges and ebbs on a roughly 11-year cycle, which corresponds to how often its magnetic poles flip their orientation. During a solar maximum, sunspots proliferate, marking weak points in the magnetic field, where plasma from the Sun’s atmosphere can lash out in violent loops. Astronomers have spotted young Sun-like stars with similar cycles, and older ones that have totally stable activity. But no one had spotted a cycling star suddenly turning flat.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 3.

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2022-08-09. Webb telescope reveals unpredicted bounty of bright galaxies in early universe. [https://www.science.org/content/article/webb-telescope-reveals-unpredicted-bounty-bright-galaxies-early-universe] By Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Star formation after the big bang appears much faster than models had forecast. The James Webb Space Telescope has only been watching the sky for a few weeks, and it has already delivered a startling finding: tens, hundreds, maybe even 1000 times more bright galaxies in the early universe than astronomers anticipated. “No one was expecting anything like this,” says Michael Boylan-Kolchin of the University of Texas, Austin. “Galaxies are exploding out of the woodwork,” says Rachel Somerville of the Flatiron Institute. Galaxy formation models may now need a revision, as current ones hold that gas clouds should be far slower to coalesce into stars and galaxies than is suggested by Webb’s galaxy-rich images of the early universe, less than 500 million years after the big bang. “This is way outside the box of what models were predicting,” says Garth Illingworth of the University of California (UC), Santa Cruz. …Within days after Webb began observations, it spotted a candidate galaxy that appears to have been shining brightly when the universe was just 230 million years old, 1.7% of its current age, which would make it the most distant ever seen. Surveys since then have shown that object is just one of a stunning profusion of early galaxies, each small by today’s standards, but more luminous than astronomers had expected.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 9.

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2022-08-08. A bigger home on the range for Montana bison. [https://www.science.org/content/article/bigger-home-range-montana-bison] By Katherine Irving, Science Magazine. Excerpt: As BLM opens public land to the animals, ranchers object, whereas ecologists see a boon for biodiversity. For the first time in more than 15 years, Montana bison will roam new grazing grounds on public land. After 4 years of review, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on 28 July granted a request by the nonprofit American Prairie to release its bison herd onto more than 24,000 hectares in central Montana. This is the largest land approval BLM has given American Prairie. Many ecologists are celebrating the expansion, part of American Prairie’s effort to restore Montana’s prairie ecosystems and return the U.S. national mammal to its former glory. …Grasslands, especially tallgrass prairies, are some of the most endangered and least protected ecosystems in the world, and they have received relatively little restoration. Some former prairie is difficult or impossible to restore, such as that converted to cropland or urban development. But there’s hope for land used for cattle grazing, notes American Prairie spokesperson Beth Saboe. “The biodiversity that can exist there is astonishing.” Just a few bison can aid the rebirth. Although all grazing animals can improve grassland diversity if carefully managed in small numbers, no species does it quite like bison, says University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, ecologist Joseph Bump. Bison are less reliant on water sources than are cattle, which means they can travel farther from rivers to graze. As a result, they are less likely to trample riparian plants, allowing fish and amphibian diversity to recover.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 2.

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2022-08-05. Building Resilience in the Face of a Dwindling Colorado River. [https://eos.org/articles/building-resilience-in-the-face-of-a-dwindling-colorado-river] By Jane Palmer, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Policymakers, industry and conservation professionals, and tribal members explore pathways to a sustainable future for the millions of people reliant on the “lifeblood of the American West.” In the past couple of decades, however, severe drought has plagued the Colorado River Basin, and the current period is the driest in the past 1,200 years. The situation is so dire that on 14 June, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner Camille C. Touton told a U.S. Senate committee that states within the region will need to cut usage by between 2 million and 4 million acre-feet in 2023 to protect the Lake Mead and Lake Powell reservoirs. …various stakeholders have already been exploring pathways to resilience to dwindling water resources. Urban water authorities have increased water efficiency and are experimenting with changing city landscapes in Colorado, farmers are reducing their water use, and conservation groups are exploring how to keep fish habitat stable with reduced streamflow.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-08-04. Evidence of Drought Provides Clues to a Viking Mystery. [https://eos.org/articles/evidence-of-drought-provides-clues-to-a-viking-mystery] By Korena Di Roma Howley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …Why, after more than 450 years, did a colony of medieval Norse farmers disappear from their remote Greenland settlement? In attempting to uncover what may have happened, researchers have returned again and again to climate—and to a seemingly obvious scenario. Having turned up on the island during the centuries-long Medieval Warm Period, the settlers were then gradually ushered out by the arrival of the Little Ice Age in the 14th century. But a new study has found that drought, not plunging temperatures, may have pushed an already fragile community to its breaking point. …Around 985 CE, at the height of the Viking era, a group led by exiled explorer Erik the Red sailed west from Iceland and established the first European settlement on Greenland. The Norse farmed the land and hunted walrus for the ivory trade. …Though they inhabited Greenland concurrently with Indigenous Dorset and Thule populations, archaeological findings show that the Norse never adopted effective Indigenous sea ice hunting practices or tools. Other evidence indicates conflict between the two populations. According to radiocarbon dating, by 1450, the Norse settlers were gone. The Little Ice Age, a period of cooling temperatures, began around 1300 and affected different parts of the globe at different times until the mid-19th century. …researchers have tended to extrapolate Little Ice Age climate effects in western Europe and Iceland and, perhaps erroneously, relate them to the fate of the Norse in North America. …In looking at both temperature and hydroclimate, the researchers made two surprise findings. “We were expecting to see this dramatic temperature drop at the end of the Norse settlement period, if temperature was indeed the main factor that caused them to leave,” Castañeda said. Instead, the leaf waxes revealed that Greenland had experienced a relatively wet period just before the settlers arrived, and conditions became drier over time, peaking in the century after the Norse abandoned the site. According to study authors, this long-term drying trend would have decreased summer grass yields, a critical source of winter fodder for livestock.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 12.

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2022-08-01. U.S. Cities and States Are Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change. Here’s What the Claims Say and Where They Stand.. [https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/us-cities-states-sue-big-oil-climate-change-lawsuits/] By Bruce Gil, PBS Frontline. Excerpt: There are at least 20 pending lawsuits filed by cities and states across the U.S., alleging major players in the fossil fuel industry misled the public on climate change to devastating effect. While the precise claims vary from case to case — from securities fraud to nuisance, negligence and tort — most center on an argument that companies failed to disclose what they knew about their potential impact on the environment. It’s a relatively new legal tactic in a longtime argument from industry critics: that oil and gas companies must be held responsible for downplaying the impacts of fossil fuels and stalling government action on climate change — claims examined in FRONTLINE’s three-part documentary series The Power of Big Oil.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-05. Facing Energy Crisis, Germans, Warily, Give Nuclear a Second Look. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/world/europe/europe-energy-germany-nuclear.html] By Erika Solomon, The New York Times. Excerpt: LANDSHUT, Germany — When Angela Merkel pulled the plug on nuclear power after the Fukushima meltdown, she set Germany on a course to become the only leading industrial nation to abandon atomic energy in the world. The economic engine of Europe planned instead to fuel itself through a transition to renewable energies with cheap Russian gas. Now, 11 years later, with Russia toying with Germany’s gas supply, her successor, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who has modeled himself in Ms. Merkel’s image, is staring at the possibility of reversing that momentous decision. Europe’s geopolitical calculations have been turned upside down by the war in Ukraine. It has created an energy crisis that comes at a critical moment for Germany and Europe’s ambitions to become global leaders in the transition to climate neutrality. Instead, as Russia tightens the taps, coal plants are being refired across Europe, and nuclear energy is getting a second look as many on the continent wrangle over whether to sacrifice their sacred cows. The European Parliament recently took the much-contested step of classifying some gas and nuclear power as “green.” In the Netherlands, gas fracking is up for reconsideration. In Belgium, like Germany, the debate has turned to keeping nuclear plants running, something unthinkable just months ago.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-08-05. ‘Most Severe’ Drought Grips France as Extreme Heat Persists in Europe. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/world/europe/france-drought-europe-heat.html] By Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times. Excerpt: PARIS — France declared Friday that it was in the grip of its “most severe” drought, one that has also desiccated large areas of Europe this summer, causing wildfires and imperiling crops as temperature records shatter across the continent. “This drought is the most severe recorded in our country,” Élisabeth Borne, the French prime minister, said in a statement on Friday. Ms. Borne said France had received insufficient rainfall and had been hit in recent weeks by an “accumulation of successive heat waves,” increasing demand for water even as precious reserves evaporated in seemingly endless days of sweltering heat. She urged the French to be “very vigilant” about their water usage.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-05. How Republicans Are ‘Weaponizing’ Public Office Against Climate Action. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/climate/republican-treasurers-climate-change.html] By David Gelles, The New York Times. Excerpt: Nearly two dozen Republican state treasurers around the country are working to thwart climate action on state and federal levels, fighting regulations that would make clear the economic risks posed by a warming world, lobbying against climate-minded nominees to key federal posts and using the tax dollars they control to punish companies that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past year, treasurers in nearly half the United States have been coordinating tactics and talking points, meeting in private and cheering each other in public as part of a well-funded campaign to protect the fossil fuel companies that bolster their local economies. Last week, Riley Moore, the treasurer of West Virginia, announced that several major banks — including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo — would be barred from government contracts with his state because they are reducing their investments in coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Mr. Moore and the treasurers of Louisiana and Arkansas have pulled more than $700 million out of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, over objections that the firm is too focused on environmental issues. At the same time, the treasurers of Utah and Idaho are pressuring the private sector to drop climate action and other causes they label as “woke.” …At the nexus of these efforts is the State Financial Officers Foundation, a little-known nonprofit organization based in Shawnee, Kan., that once focused on cybersecurity, borrowing costs and managing debt loads, among other routine issues. Then President Biden took office, promising to speed the country’s transition away from oil, gas and coal, the burning of which is dangerously heating the planet. The foundation began pushing Republican state treasurers, who are mostly elected officials and who are responsible for managing their state’s finances, to use their power to promote oil and gas interests and to stymie Mr. Biden’s climate agenda, records show.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-04. Where the Clean Energy Jobs Are: 2022. [https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/energy/clean-energy-jobs-2022/] By ClimateNexus. Excerpt: At the end of 2021, over 3.3 million people worked in wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy fields, according to the Energy Department’s 2022 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, which uses data from 2021. That’s more than the number of people employed as registered nurses. Like many industries, the energy sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, but is experiencing a strong recovery. Energy sector jobs last year grew 4 percent over 2020, while overall U.S. employment only grew 2.8 percent year-to-year. The clean energy sector experienced especially high growth: jobs in net-zero aligned sectors made up nearly 40 percent of total energy jobs in 2021, and emissions-reducing vehicle manufacturing grew 25 percent between 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs continue to decline, with the coal sector seeing job losses of nearly 12 percent. The continued decline in fossil energy jobs underscores the importance of investing in clean energy jobs and economic diversification in communities historically dependent on fossil fuels. Even as they laid off thousands of American workers, oil and gas CEOs made record profits.… For GSS Energy Use 10 .

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2022-08-04. Fiery Invasions. [https://www.science.org/content/article/flammable-invasive-grasses-increasing-risk-devastating-wildfires] By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Around the world, flammable invasive grasses are increasing the risks of damaging wildfires. For decades, eastern Oregon’s scablands—rocky patches of open terrain—were a refuge for people fighting wildfires in the surrounding forests. The thin soil and sparse vegetation offered little fuel for the flames, creating an oasis from which firefighters could operate and a barrier that could help halt a fire’s spread. That all changed in 2015. After lightning sparked a fire near a steep-walled canyon, the blaze unexpectedly raced across scablands so quickly that firefighters struggled to catch up. …shin-high grass known as Ventenata dubia. The plant created shaggy golden carpets of dry foliage, transforming once fire-resistant scablands into flame-friendly corridors. …In northern Australia, invasive gamba grass from Africa fuels intense blazes that rip through eucalyptus groves. In Brazil, molasses grass from Africa turns vast swaths of the savanna known as the Cerrado into fire-prone grassland. In the western United States, two Old World grasses are creating ecological mayhem: Buffelgrass feeds fires in the Sonoran Desert that torch iconic saguaro cacti, while blaze-tolerant cheatgrass crowds out native sagebrush in the high desert known as the Great Basin.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-08-04. Surveys commissioned by 16th century Spanish king provide unprecedented ecological snapshot. [https://www.science.org/content/article/surveys-commissioned-king-spain-16th-century-provide-unprecedented-ecological-snapshot] By Viviana Flores, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In the 1570s, when King Philip II of Spain sent emissaries to survey the flora and fauna of villages in central and southern Spain, he wasn’t thinking about ecological networks or extinction. He just wanted to know exactly what he owned. So, he asked at least two people in each village to describe the land, flora, and fauna of their territory to his surveyors. Now, 450 years later, a team of ecologists says the resulting answers to that survey have value as ecological surveys, taken before the word “ecology” entered the lexicon. …The new work was done by Duarte Viana, an ecologist at the Doñana Biological Station (part of Spain’s National Research Council), and his colleagues. They used the answers to the king’s questionnaires and transcriptions from historians to create a list of plants, animals, and their respective ecological niches, providing an environmental snapshot of Castile, a large kingdom that was in modern-day central and southern Spain, from nearly 500 years ago. In their work, published recently in Ecology, they found various animals that lived and roamed across central Spain are now restricted to the north of Spain, whereas some plants that are abundant in the country now weren’t around in the 16th century.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 1.

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2022-08-04. How Coal Mining and Years of Neglect Left Kentucky Towns at the Mercy of Flooding. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/04/us/kentucky-flooding-coal-industry.html] By Rick RojasChristopher Flavelle and Campbell Robertson, The New York Times. Excerpt: FLEMING-NEON, Ky. — …For much of the last century, the country was powered by the labor of coal miners underneath the hills and mountains of southeastern Kentucky. But the landscape that was built to serve this work was fragile, leaving the people here extraordinarily vulnerable, especially after the coal industry shuttered so many of the mines and moved on. What remained were modest, unprotected homes and decaying infrastructure, and a land that itself, in many places, had been shorn of its natural defenses. Last week, when a deluge of rain poured into the hollows, turning creeks into roaring rivers, overwhelming old flood records, killing at least 37 people and destroying countless homes, that vulnerability was made brutally manifest.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-08-02. Webb Captures Stellar Gymnastics in The Cartwheel Galaxy. [https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2022/webb-captures-stellar-gymnastics-in-the-cartwheel-galaxy] By NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI. Excerpt: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has peered into the chaos of the Cartwheel Galaxy, revealing new details about star formation and the galaxy’s central black hole. Webb’s powerful infrared gaze produced this detailed image of the Cartwheel and two smaller companion galaxies against a backdrop of many other galaxies. …The Cartwheel Galaxy, located about 500 million light-years away in the Sculptor constellation, is a rare sight. Its appearance, much like that of the wheel of a wagon, is the result of an intense event – a high-speed collision between a large spiral galaxy and a smaller galaxy not visible in this image. …The collision most notably affected the galaxy’s shape and structure. The Cartwheel Galaxy sports two rings — a bright inner ring and a surrounding, colorful ring. These two rings expand outwards from the center of the collision, like ripples in a pond after a stone is tossed into it. Because of these distinctive features, astronomers call this a “ring galaxy,” a structure less common than spiral galaxies like our Milky Way.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-08-02. Global need for cooling to overtake need for heating. [https://www.creds.ac.uk/global-need-for-cooling-to-overtake-need-for-heating/] By CREDS newsletter, Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Excerpt: Historically, humanity has had a greater need for space heating than space cooling. However, our global analysis shows that the need for cooling will overtake heating in the next decade. …changes have been driven by increasing temperatures, but also increases in population in warmer parts of the world. However, at present, millions of people don’t have access to heating and cooling or can’t afford to run it, leaving them to suffer uncomfortable, unhealthy temperatures. Providing zero carbon cooling is essential to avoiding more carbon emissions and making global warming even worse. A new paper, joint authored by CREDS researchers Tadj Oreszczyn, Ian Hamilton, and Harry Kennard, Population-weighted degree-days: The global shift between heating and cooling, argues that accurate modelling of heating and cooling demands will be essential for both the management of energy demand as the earth’s climate warms as well as the provision of healthy and comfortable internal environments.… [Should all new air conditioning be solar powered?] For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-08-02. Satellite images reveal shrinkage of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/02/satellite-images-reveal-shrinkage-of-utahs-great-salt-lake] By Sadia Nowshin, The Guardian. Excerpt: Striking new images show lake has lost nearly half of its surface area from the historical average. …The disappearance of the lake has been attributed to drought caused by climate breakdown and water use, along with the redirection of water from streams used to replenish the lake for use in residential spaces and agriculture. The demand for the lake’s water has increased as the population of Utah climbs. Currently home to about 3.3 million people, it is projected that the population will increase by 66% by 2060, making it the fastest growing state in the US.… [Note: this article has a great interactive graphic comparing the Great Salt Lake in 1985 and 2022.] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-08-01. Surprise climate bill will meet ambitious goal of 40% cut in U.S. emissions, energy models predict. [https://www.science.org/content/article/surprise-climate-bill-will-meet-ambitious-goal-40-cut-us-emissions-energy-models] By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: But more action is needed to reach Biden’s pledge to halve emissions by 2030. …last week key senators suddenly announced an agreement on a $369 billion bill that would provide the most climate funding ever seen in the United States. …energy and climate modelers have now scrutinized its 725 pages and concluded the 40% claim is about on target. They plugged key provisions, including subsidies for renewable energy and tax cuts for electric vehicles, as well as controversial incentives for the fossil fuel industry, into their models. Two such models conclude that if the bill becomes law, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would fall by about 40% by 2030, although only part of that stems from the bill alone. One model also finds that the renewable energy subsidies will likely create 1.5 million jobs and prevent thousands of premature deaths from air pollution, especially in disadvantaged communities.… See also New York Times article, How the New Climate Bill Would Reduce Emissions, by Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-08-01. A Unified Atmospheric Model for Uranus and Neptune. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/a-unified-atmospheric-model-for-uranus-and-neptune] By Morgan Rehnberg, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In a new model, three substantial atmospheric layers appear consistent between the ice giants. The ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, are the least understood planets in the solar system. They remain the only worlds that an orbital spacecraft has not visited. Our limited understanding of them derives largely from the flyby of NASA’s Voyager 2 probe and subsequent observations with the Hubble Space Telescope. Yet the ice giants may be most representative of the extrasolar planets in our local vicinity. Why these planets appear so different in color despite having very similar physical properties, including vertical temperature profile and atmospheric composition, is a mystery. Past investigations have attributed Neptune’s deeper blue largely to excess absorption in the red and near infrared from atmospheric methane. …Irwin et al. attempt to fill this gap by developing a single atmospheric model consistent with the spectral observations of both planets. They fit near-infrared spectra collected by Hubble, as well as the ground-based Gemini and NASA Infrared Telescope Facility(IRTF) telescopes, to a three-layer aerosol model.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-07-29. Maui Endures More Drought and Drier Streams. [https://eos.org/articles/maui-endures-more-drought-and-drier-streams] By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Drought continues to threaten Maui’s native land-based and marine ecosystems, water resources, and traditional ways of life. But conservationists have hope—and ways to fight back.…Ultimately, swift and robust climate action will reduce the frequency and severity of drought on Maui and other Pacific islands. But much can be done in the meantime to mitigate the impacts of drought on island ecosystems. For example, building and maintaining fences can keep invasive ungulates from damaging vulnerable ground and spreading non-native plant seeds and pathogens.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-28. Portugal to speed up solar parks to cut gas use – energy secretary. [https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/portugal-speed-up-solar-parks-cut-gas-use-energy-secretary-2022-07-28/] By Sergio Goncalves, Reuters. Excerpt: LISBON, July 28 (Reuters) – Portugal will accelerate construction of solar parks to replace gas-fired electricity generation and hit an EU target to cut gas use, Energy Secretary Joao Galamba said. With Europe scrambling to close a gap between gas consumption and constrained supply, Galamba said speeding up installation of 1.2 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity would “make a very important contribution, as it will allow electricity generators to consume less gas.”.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-07-28. Climate Change Worsened Britain’s Heat Wave, Scientists Find. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/28/climate/britain-heat-wave-climate-change.html] By Raymond Zhong, The New York Times. Excerpt: The heat that demolished records in Britain last week, bringing temperatures as high as 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit to a country unaccustomed to scorching summers, would have been “extremely unlikely” without the influence of human-caused climate change, a new scientific report issued Thursday has found. … those temperatures were at least 10 times as likely as they would have been in a world without greenhouse-gas emissions, and at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit hotter. …As the burning of fossil fuels causes average global temperatures to rise, the range of possible temperatures shifts upward, too, making blistering highs more likely. …trains were slowed out of fear that the steel rails could buckle in the heat. Grass fires spread to London homes, shops and vehicles in what the city described as the Fire Brigade’s busiest day since World War II. More than 840 more people may have died in England and Wales than would have been typical, according to preliminary analysis using peer-reviewed methodology. …The report on last week’s heat was produced by World Weather Attribution, an alliance of climate scientists that specializes in rapid studies of extreme weather events to evaluate the degree to which global warming was behind them. Using computer simulations, the scientists compare the existing world, in which humans have spent more than a century adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, to a world that might have been without that activity.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-07-28. How the boom in air conditioning is fuelling global heating. [https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/jul/28/how-the-boom-in-air-conditioning-is-fuelling-global-heating] By Jeremy Plester, The Guardian. Excerpt: It is a vicious cycle – as the climate grows hotter, demand for air conditioning is booming and that is helping make the climate even hotter. Air conditioning accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world. Much of that electricity comes from power stations giving off greenhouse gases, and to make matters worse, air conditioners can also leak hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, greenhouse gases thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-07-27. Massive undersea eruption filled atmosphere with water. [https://www.science.org/content/article/massive-undersea-eruption-filled-atmosphere-water] By Nathaniel Scharping, Science Magazine. Excerpt: On 15 January, Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted under the sea, rocking the South Pacific nation and sending tsunamis racing around the world. The eruption was the most powerful ever recorded, causing an atmospheric shock wave that circled the globe four times, and sending a plume of debris more than 50 kilometers into the atmosphere. …The ash and gasses punching into the sky also shot billions of kilograms of water into the atmosphere, a new study concludes. That water will likely remain there for years, where it could eat away at the ozone layer and perhaps even warm Earth. …In all, the plume shot approximately 146 billion kilograms of water into Earth’s stratosphere, an arid layer of the atmosphere that begins several miles above sea level, the authors report this month in Geophysical Research Letters. …Other volcanoes have added measurable amounts of water vapor to Earth’s atmosphere, he says, but the scale this time was unprecedented. That’s likely because of the eruption’s magnitude and underwater location, he says. The water will probably remain in the stratosphere for half a decade or more, [study co-author and JPL atmospheric scientist Luis Millán] says. Big volcanic eruptions often cool the climate, because the sulfur dioxide they release forms compounds that reflect incoming sunlight. But with so much water vapor flung aloft, the Tonga eruption could have a different impact. Water absorbs incoming energy from the Sun, making it a potent greenhouse gas. And the sulfur dioxide will dissipate in just a few years whereas the water will likely stick around for at least 5 years—and potentially longer Millán thinks.… For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-07-27. Unearthing the Secret Superpowers of Fungus. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/07/27/climate/climate-change-fungi.html] By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times. Excerpt: Some species of fungi can store exceptional levels of carbon underground, keeping it out of the air and preventing it from heating up the Earth’s atmosphere. Others help plants survive brutal droughts or fight off pests. There are those especially good at feeding nutrients to crops, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. …By one estimate, 5 billion tons of carbon flow from plants to mycorrhizal fungi annually. Without help from the fungi, that carbon would likely stay in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the powerful greenhouse gas that is heating the planet and fueling dangerous weather. “Keeping this fungal network protected is paramount as we face climate change,” Dr. Kiers said. In addition, the biodiversity of underground fungi is a huge factor in soil health, which is crucial to the world’s ability to feed itself as the planet warms.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 5.

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2022-07-26. Flash Floods Swamp St. Louis Area, Breaking a Century-Old Rain Record. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/us/flash-flooding-st-louis-missouri.html] By Michael LevensonChristine Hauser and Eric Berger, The New York Times. Excerpt: …More than nine inches of rain fell in the St. Louis area overnight, the highest 24-hour rainfall total on record there, the National Weather Service said. It surpassed the 7.02 inches that fell in 1915 from the remnants of the Galveston hurricane. The normal amount of rain in St. Louis for July and August combined is 7.31 inches. By Tuesday morning, 10 to 12 inches of rain had fallen in parts of eastern Missouri, the National Weather Service said. The largest total was 12.34 inches in St. Peters, northwest of St. Louis, the agency said, noting that rain continued to fall.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-26. In San Antonio, the Poor Live on Their Own Islands of Heat. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/26/us/texas-heat-poverty-islands-san-antonio.html] By Edgar Sandoval, The New York Times. Excerpt: In San Antonio, weathering the second week of a heat wave that has been ferocious even by Texas standards, lower-income residents like Ms. Cruz-Perez are sometimes left with few options to relieve the misery. Not only can she not afford air-conditioning during the hottest part of the day, she lives in the Westside, one of several parts of San Antonio — nearly all of them working-class or poor neighborhoods — where there are few trees to provide shade. …San Antonio has seen at least 46 days of 100-plus-degree weather so far this year, according to the National Weather Service. Through July 25, measurements taken at the city’s airport have detected that all but one day in July has surpassed the 100-degree mark.The heat wave has been blamed for a series of wildfires, including a blaze that damaged more than 20 homes on Monday evening in Balch Springs, a suburb of Dallas. The heat has also tested the state’s beleaguered power grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which runs the power grid, has pleaded for power conservation from those who can afford air-conditioning to avoid rolling blackouts.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 5.

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2022-07-25. Tyre dust: the ‘stealth pollutant’ that’s becoming a huge threat to ocean life. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/25/tyre-dust-the-stealth-pollutant-becoming-a-huge-threat-to-ocean-life] By Karen McVeigh, The Guardian. Excerpt: For decades, coho salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to the creeks and streams of Puget Sound in Washington state to spawn were dying in large numbers. No one knew why. Scientists working to solve the mystery of the mass deaths noticed they occurred after heavy rains. Toxicologists suspected pesticides, as the main creek they studied ran through a golf course. But no evidence of pesticides was found. …The first real breakthrough happened when they tested actual runoff collected from a nearby road and exposed test salmon to it. The fish died within hours. …It was when they tested car tyre particles – a poorly understood yet ubiquitous pollutant – that they knew …“When we tested the tyres it killed all the fish,” said McIntyre. From there, they were able to identify the culprit: a toxic chemical known as 6PPD-quinone, the product of the preservative 6PPD, which is added to tyres to stop them breaking down. The pioneering study, published in 2020, has been heralded as critical to our understanding of what some describe as a “stealth pollutant”. …Tyre-wear particles – a mixture of tyre fragments, including synthetic rubbers, fillers and softeners and road surface particles – are considered by environmental scientists to be one of the most significant sources of microplastics in the ocean. Created during acceleration and braking, they are dispersed from road surfaces by rainfall and wind. The main environmental pathway is from road run-off into storm drains, where they empty into rivers and the sea. …A 2020 study suggested windblown microplastics are an even bigger source of ocean pollution than rivers.… For GSS Population Growth chapter 5.

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2022-07-24. Congo to Auction Land to Oil Companies: ‘Our Priority Is Not to Save the Planet’. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/24/world/africa/congo-oil-gas-auction.html] By Ruth Maclean and Dionne Searcey, The New York Times. Excerpt: DAKAR, Senegal — The Democratic Republic of Congo, home to one of the largest old-growth rainforests on earth, is auctioning off vast amounts of land in a push to become “the new destination for oil investments,” part of a global shift as the world retreats on fighting climate change in a scramble for fossil fuels. The oil and gas blocks, which will be auctioned in late July, extend into Virunga National Park, the world’s most important gorilla sanctuary, as well as tropical peatlands that store vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere and from contributing to global warming. “If oil exploitation takes place in these areas, we must expect a global climate catastrophe, and we will all just have to watch helplessly,” said Irene Wabiwa, who oversees the Congo Basin forest campaign for Greenpeace in Kinshasa. …said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, the nation’s lead representative on climate issues and an adviser to the minister of hydrocarbons …Congo’s sole goal for the auction… is to earn enough revenue to help the struggling nation finance programs to reduce poverty and generate badly needed economic growth. “That’s our priority,” Mr. Mpanu said, in an interview last week. “Our priority is not to save the planet.”.… For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2022-07-24. Pakistan’s Deadly Flood Season Worsened by Climate Change and Bad Infrastructure. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/24/world/asia/pakistan-monsoon-floods.html] By Zia ur-Rehman, Christina Goldbaum and Salman Masood, The New York Times. Excerpt: KARACHI, Pakistan — Year after year in Kausar Niazi Colony, a slum in the port city of Karachi, Murtaza Hussain and his neighbors watched as monsoon rains flooded into their homes, damaging furniture, televisions and other precious valuables. …But the season this year has been particularly brutal, offering an urgent reminder that in an era of global warming, extreme weather events are increasingly the norm, not the exception, across the region — and that Pakistan’s major cities remain woefully ill equipped to handle them. Monsoon rains have killed at least 282 people over the past five weeks, many of them women and children, the National Disaster Management Authority announced on Thursday. The deluge has also damaged critical infrastructure, like highways and bridges, and around 5,600 homes, the authority said. Pakistan has long ranked among the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world, according to the Global Climate Risk Index, which tracks the devastating human and economic toll of extreme weather events. The country is estimated to have lost nearly 10,000 lives to climate-related disasters and suffered about $4 billion in losses between 1998 and 2018.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-24. Heat Waves Sweep the Northeast Over Sweltering Weekend. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/24/nyregion/heat-wave-us.html] By Ali Watkins, The New York Times. Excerpt: Scorching temperatures swept the Northeast on Sunday in the region’s first prolonged heat wave of the summer, with a record-breaking five straight days of triple-digit temperatures in Newark and blistering heat in Boston; Providence, R.I.; and Manchester, N.H. Other parts of the country also sweltered, with Oklahoma enduring temperatures that have topped 100 degrees in nine of the past 11 days. The baking heat underscored the sobering reality that such dangerous temperatures are becoming a summertime norm for the United States and elsewhere, with heat waveswildfires and droughts disrupting day-to-day life across the globe.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-21. Nobel Recognition for the Roles of Complexity and Intermittency. [https://eos.org/opinions/nobel-recognition-for-the-roles-of-complexity-and-intermittency] By Daniel Schertzer and  Catherine Nicolis, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three scientists “for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems.” …Until recently, the Nobel Committee for Physics has been more used to awarding scientists for tracking down the elementary building blocks of the universe. Yet in October 2021, the committee awarded the prize jointly to three scientists who revolutionized nonlinear physics with insights into complex systems. Specifically, Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann were awarded “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming,” and Giorgio Parisi was awarded “for the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.” …According to the French Roadmap for Complex Systems, which was developed to coordinate and focus research on complex systems, “a complex system is in general any system comprised of a great number of heterogeneous entities, among which local interactions create multiple levels of collective structure and organization…[that] cannot be easily traced back to the properties of the constituent entities.” Natural examples of complex systems range from biomolecules and cells to social systems and the ecosphere; sophisticated artificial systems, such as the Internet, power grids, and large-scale distributed software systems, also qualify. …Syukuro Manabe was recognized by the Nobel committee for designing and developing one of the first consistent, high-resolution, deterministic numerical global climate models.… For GSS A New World View chapter 1.

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2022-07-22. Supercharged biotech rice yields 40% more grain. [https://www.science.org/content/article/supercharged-biotech-rice-yields-40-more-grain] By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: By giving a Chinese rice variety a second copy of one of its own genes, researchers have boosted its yield by up to 40%. The change helps the plant absorb more fertilizer, boosts photosynthesis, and accelerates flowering, all of which could contribute to larger harvests, the group reports today in Science. The yield gain from a single gene coordinating these multiple effects is “really impressive,” says Matthew Paul, a plant geneticist at Rothamsted Research who was not involved in the work. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like that before.” The approach could be tried in other crops, too, he adds; the new study reports preliminary findings in wheat.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-07-21. The most distinctive birds are the ones most at risk of extinction. [https://www.science.org/content/article/most-distinctive-birds-are-ones-most-risk-extinction] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …two independent studies of birds have concluded the ones most likely to disappear are those that serve unique—and possibly irreplaceable—functions in their ecosystems. Consider the toucan: Its iconic beak lets it eat and disperse seeds and fruit too large for other birds in South American rainforests. Yet these striking creatures, as well as vultures, ibises, and others with distinctive physical traits, are likely to be the first to go extinct, homogenizing the avian world, according to one study. A second paper predicts communities will grow more alike as species flock to cooler regions in the face of climate change. “That’s alarming because we know that diversity of sizes and shapes and behaviors is a signature of a healthy community,” says Scott Edwards, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who was not involved with the work. “ …Every ecosystem depends on diverse organisms to fill a variety of roles. Among birds, for example, some eat and disperse seeds whereas others eat carrion, helping recycle remains. Special traits aid these tasks: Long, pointed beaks help vultures tear into flesh whereas long legs keep wading birds’ bodies dry. “When communities are homogenized, they lose a lot of those ecological functions,” Brodie says. …The most threatened species also turned out to be the most distinctive in body shape and ecosystem function, the group reports today in Current Biology.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6.

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2022-07-21. Monarch Butterflies Are Endangered, Leading Wildlife Monitor Says. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/21/climate/monarch-butterflies-endangered-iucn.html] By Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times. Excerpt: North America’s monarch butterfly, whose showy looks and extraordinary migration have made it one of the continent’s most beloved insects, has been classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world’s most comprehensive scientific authority on the status of species. …The numbers of Western monarchs, which live west of the Rocky Mountains, plummeted by an estimated 99.9 percent between the 1980s and 2021. While they rebounded somewhat this year, they remain in great peril. Eastern monarchs, which make up most of the population in North America, dropped by 84 percent from 1996 to 2014. The new designation of endangered covers both populations. …Monarch caterpillars depend on milkweed, the only plants they can eat. After leaving their overwintering grounds, which for most monarchs are concentrated in just a few hectares of forest in central Mexico, females deposit eggs on milkweed plants from Texas to as far north as Canada in a multigenerational journey. …American farmers turned to crops that were genetically modified to withstand glyphosate, a herbicide that is used in the weed killer Roundup. “Glyphosate was suddenly sprayed over vast acreage of farm in the Midwest,” Ms. Walker said. “That took out a lot of the milkweed plants that the monarch caterpillars rely on.” …Monarch experts are eager to enlist the public’s help in saving the species. Their message: Plant milkweed that’s native to your region, which probably means avoiding tropical milkweed (it can do more harm than good, especially in the South). Swamp milkweed is an attractive, easy-to-grow variety native to all but the most western areas of the contiguous United States. That’s for the egg-laying and caterpillars. The butterflies need nectar, so plant native flowers that bloom when monarchs are in your area.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-07-21. A Painful Deadline Nears as Colorado River Reservoirs Run Critically Low. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/21/climate/colorado-river-water-cuts.html] By Henry Fountains, The New York Times. Excerpt: States in the Colorado River basin are scrambling to propose steep cuts in the water they’ll use from the river next year, in response to a call by the federal government for immediate, drastic efforts to keep the river’s main storage reservoirs from reaching critically low levels. The request comes with the Southwest still in the grip of a severe two-decade drought that shows no signs of letting up. And it comes on top of earlier, less desperate, efforts to keep more water in the two reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, including a first-ever shortage declaration last year that cut water to farmers in Arizona. …the long-term outlook for the Colorado is bleak, as climate change continues to affect runoff into the river and reduces the likelihood of a series of wet years that could end the drought. The request for cuts has further exposed the fault lines between the upper basin states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming and the lower basin states, California, Arizona and Nevada. The upper basin states note that they do not use all the water allocated to them, and that the most significant cuts will have to come from the lower basin states, which use more than their allocated share.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-20. In a paradox, cleaner air is now adding to global warming. [https://www.science.org/content/article/paradox-cleaner-air-now-adding-global-warming] By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: It’s one of the paradoxes of global warming. Burning coal or gasoline releases the greenhouse gases that drive climate change. But it also lofts pollution particles that reflect sunlight and cool the planet, offsetting a fraction of the warming. Now, however, as pollution-control technologies spread, both the noxious clouds and their silver lining are starting to dissipate. Using an array of satellite observations, researchers have found that the climatic influence of global air pollution has dropped by up to 30% from 2000 levels. Although this is welcome news for public health—airborne fine particles, or aerosols, are believed to kill several million people per year—it is bad news for global warming. The cleaner air has effectively boosted the total warming from carbon dioxide emitted over the same time by anywhere from 15% to 50%, estimates Johannes Quaas, a climate scientist at Leipzig University and lead author of the study. And as air pollution continues to be curbed, he says, “There is a lot more of this to come.” “I believe their conclusions are correct,” says James Hansen, a retired NASA climate scientist who first called attention to the “Faustian bargain” of fossil fuel pollution in 1990.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-07-20. ‘In 10 years, we might not have forests’: DRC struggles to halt charcoal trade – a photo essay. [https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jul/20/in-10-years-we-might-not-have-forests-drc-struggles-to-halt-charcoal-trade-a-photo-essay] By Ed Ram, The Guardian. Excerpt: …The rainforest of the Congo River basin covers 178m hectares (440m acres) across six countries. It absorbs about 4% of global annual carbon emissions, sustains rainfall as far away as Egypt, and is home to 80 million people – and a vast spectrum of rare animals, insects and flora. Its preservation is deemed key in the fight against global heating. But DRC has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation, losing 490,000 hectares (1.2m acres) of primary rainforest in 2020, according to Global Forest Watch. Unlike in the Amazon, where industrial-scale logging is mostly responsible, in DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] small-scale charcoal production and slash and burn agriculture drive deforestation; about 90% of forest loss between 2000 and 2014 was due to smallholder agriculture, according to a 2018 report in Science Advances.… For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2022-07-19. ‘It goes up like tinder’: unprecedented blazes envelop Alaska. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/18/alaska-wildfires-east-fork-lime-complex] By Brendan Jones, The Guardian. Excerpt: Across the state, 264 individual fires are burning and it is on track to break its 2004 record of 6.5m acres destroyed. Alaska has seen more than 500 forest fires since the beginning of April, which have forced the evacuation of mining camps, villages and remote cabins. By 15 June, more than 1m acres (405,000 hectares) in the state had already gone up in flames, about the amount of acres that would normally burn in an entire fire season. By mid-July, more than 3m acres of land had been torched, putting the state at risk of breaking its 2004 record of 6.5m acres (2.6m hectares) burned.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-18. Wild bison return to UK for first time in thousands of years. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/18/wild-bison-return-to-uk-for-first-time-in-thousands-of-years] By Damian Carrington and Nicola Davis, The Guardian. Excerpt: Early on Monday morning, three gentle giants wandered out of a corral in the Kent countryside to become the first wild bison to roam in Britain for thousands of years. The aim is for the animals’ natural behaviour to transform a dense commercial pine forest into a vibrant natural woodland. Their taste for bark will kill some trees and their bulk will open up trails, letting light spill on to the forest floor, while their love of rolling around in dust baths will create more open ground. All this should allow new plants, insects, lizards, birds and bats to thrive. The Wilder Blean project, near Canterbury, is an experiment to see how well the bison can act as natural “ecosystem engineers” and restore wildlife. The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. …European bison are the continent’s largest land animal – bulls can weigh a tonne – and were extinct in the wild a century ago, but are recovering through reintroduction projects across Europe.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 2.

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2022-07-18. ‘Heat apocalypse’ warning in western France as thousands flee wildfire. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/18/heat-apocalypse-warning-western-france-thousands-flee-wildfire] By Jon Henley and Sam Jones, The Guardian. Excerpt: Meteorologists have warned of a “heat apocalypse” in western France as more than 8,500 further people fled their homes to escape a large wildfire sparked by a searing southern European heatwave that has already caused hundreds of deaths. Nearly 25,000 people have been forced to abandon homes, holiday rentals and campsites for emergency shelters in the Gironde département west of Bordeaux, while blazes in Spain, Portugal and Greece have forced thousands more to flee. Temperatures across southern Europe showed some sign of abating on Monday as the heatwave, during which temperatures have surpassed 40C (104F) across much of the region, moved north, including towards Britain, which was set for its hottest day on record.… See also: Europe’s heatwave moves north as UK braces for hottest day on record; and UK has hottest night on record as temperatures forecast to hit 40C. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-17. This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/07/18/magazine/herman-daly-interview.html] By David Marchese, The New York Times. Excerpt: Growth is the be-all and end-all of mainstream economic and political thinking. Without a continually rising G.D.P., we’re told, we risk social instability, declining standards of living and pretty much any hope of progress. But what about the counterintuitive possibility that our current pursuit of growth, rabid as it is and causing such great ecological harm, might be incurring more costs than gains? That possibility — that prioritizing growth is ultimately a losing game — is one that the lauded economist Herman Daly has been exploring for more than 50 years. In so doing, he has developed arguments in favor of a steady-state economy, one that forgoes the insatiable and environmentally destructive hunger for growth, recognizes the physical limitations of our planet and instead seeks a sustainable economic and ecological equilibrium. …I’m not against growth of wealth. I think it’s better to be richer than to be poorer. The question is, Does growth, as currently practiced and measured, really increase wealth? Is it making us richer in any aggregate sense, or might it be increasing costs faster than benefits and making us poorer? Mainstream economists don’t have any answer to that. …In ecological economics, we’ve tried to make a distinction between development and growth. When something grows, it gets bigger physically by accretion or assimilation of material. When something develops, it gets better in a qualitative sense. It doesn’t have to get bigger. An example of that is computers. You can do fantastic computations now with a small material base in the computer. That’s real development. And the art of living is not synonymous with “more stuff.” People occasionally glimpse this, and then we fall back into more, more, more.… For GSS Population Growth chapter 5.

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2022-07-16. Did Nature Heal During the Pandemic ‘Anthropause’? [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/16/science/pandemic-nature-anthropause.html] By Emily Anthes, The New York Times. Excerpt: …in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic canceled the tourist season, …for ecologists, it has also been an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about how people affect the natural world by documenting what happened when we abruptly stepped back from it. …On April 5, 2020 — the peak of the pandemic lockdowns — 4.4 billion people, or 57 percent of the planet, were under some sort of movement restriction, scientists estimated. Driving decreased by more than 40 percent, while air traffic declined by 75 percent. …With humans holed up in their homes — cars stuck in garages, airplanes in hangars, ships in docks — air and water quality improved in some places, …Noise pollution abated on land and under the sea. Human-disturbed habitats began to recover. …In March 2020, Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, a popular snorkeling destination, closed and remained shuttered for nearly nine months. …Without swimmers kicking up sediment, water clarity improved by 56 percent, Dr. Rodgers and her colleagues found. Fish density, biomass and diversity increased in waters that had previously been thick with snorkelers. …scientists found that many species had moved into new habitats as pandemic lockdowns changed what ecologists have sometimes called “the landscape of fear.” …“We are noisy and novel and resemble their predators — and in many cases are their predators,” Dr. Gaynor said. …the mountain lions that live in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California typically stay away from cities. But after local shelter-in-place orders took effect in 2020, the animals became more likely to select habitats near the urban edge, …. Dr. Wilmers speculated that the mountain lions were responding to changes in the urban soundscape, which might typically be filled with human chatter and the rumble of passing cars. “But as soon as those audio stimuli are gone, then the animals are, like, ‘Well, might as well go see if there’s anything to eat here,’” he said.… For GSS Population Growth chapter 5.

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2022-07-15. In a Twist, Old Coal Plants Help Deliver Renewable Power. Here’s How. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/15/climate/coal-plants-renewable-energy.html] By Elena Shao, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Across the country, aging and defunct coal-burning power plants are getting new lives as solar, battery and other renewable energy projects, partly because they have a decades-old feature that has become increasingly valuable: They are already wired into the power grid. The miles of high-tension wires and towers often needed to connect power plants to customers far and wide can be costly, time consuming and controversial to build from scratch. So solar and other projects are avoiding regulatory hassles, and potentially speeding up the transition to renewable energy, by plugging into the unused connections left behind as coal becomes uneconomical to keep burning. In Illinois alone, at least nine coal-burning plants are on track to become solar farms and battery storage facilities in the next three years. Similar projects are taking shape in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Maryland. In Massachusetts and New Jersey, two retired coal plants along the coast are being repurposed to connect offshore wind turbines to the regional electrical grids.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 5.

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2022-07-15. How One Senator Doomed the Democrats’ Climate Plan. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/15/climate/manchin-climate-change-democrats.html] By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: …First, he killed a plan that would have forced power plants to clean up their climate-warming pollution. Then, he shattered an effort to help consumers pay for electric vehicles. And, finally, he said he could not support government incentives for solar and wind companies or any of the other provisions that the rest of his party and his president say are vital to ensure a livable planet. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who took more campaign cash from the oil and gas industry than any other senator, and who became a millionaire from his family coal business, independently blew up the Democratic Party’s legislative plans to fight climate change. The swing Democratic vote in an evenly divided Senate, Mr. Manchin led his party through months of tortured negotiations that collapsed on Thursday night, a yearlong wild goose chase that produced nothing as the Earth warms to dangerous levels.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-07-15. Cryptomining Capacity in U.S. Rivals Energy Use of Houston, Findings Show. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/15/climate/cryptocurrency-bitcoin-mining-electricity.html] By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: The findings, by a congressional investigation, highlight how the surge in activity has caused consumers’ electrical bills to rise and makes it harder to fight global warming. …Research has shown that a surge in cryptomining is also significantly raising energy costs for local residents and small businesses, and has added to the strain on the power grid in states like Texas, the letter noted. …Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have grown exponentially since they were introduced more than a decade ago, and in recent years, so have concerns over cryptomining, the process of creating a virtual coin. That process, a complex guessing game using powerful and power-hungry computers, is highly energy intensive. Worldwide, Bitcoin mining uses more electricity than many countries.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-07-15. Catching fire. [https://www.sciencemagazinedigital.org/sciencemagazine/library/item/15_july_2022/4027473/] By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The concept of using Earth’s internal heat to generate electricity is attractively simple. …By one recent estimate, more than 5000 gigawatts of electricity could be extracted from heat in rock beneath the United States alone. That’s nearly five times the total currently generated by all U.S. power plants. Geothermal energy is also attractive because it doesn’t burn fossil fuels, isn’t imported, and can run around the clock, unlike solar panels and wind turbines. Tapping that heat, however, has proved difficult. Some nations—notably volcanically active Iceland—siphon hot groundwater to heat buildings and generate electricity In most places, however, the rock lacks the water or the cracks needed to easily move heat to the surface. …geothermal energy provides just 0.33% of the world’s electricity, little changed from 1990, according to the International Energy Agency. In recent years, new hope for this renewable energy source has come from an unlikely source: new technologies developed by the oil and gas industry. The same methods that have boosted fossil fuel production in the United States, such as targeted drilling and fracking—artificially fracturing deep rock with high pressure fluids—can, it’s hoped, be put to work to efficiently and safely extract energy from hot, dry rock. Government agencies and private companies are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the approach, called enhanced geothermal systems.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-07-14. Metropolis meltdown: the urgent steps we need to take to cool our sweltering cities. [https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2022/jul/14/climate-crisis-metropolis-meltdown-urgent-steps-cool-sweltering-cities] By Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian. Excerpt: …As hot, developing nations become more prosperous, and prosperous nations become hotter, the International Energy Agency estimates that the energy spent on air conditioning will triple by 2050 – a growth equivalent to the current electricity demand in the US and Germany combined. …The biggest cause of the urban heat island effect – which can make cities up to 10C warmer than neighbouring rural areas – is the stuff they are made of: hard, dark, dense materials like concrete, brick, tarmac and asphalt, which absorb the sun’s heat during the day, and re-radiate it at night. It sounds too simple a solution, but some argue that one of the most effective measures to cool cities down is to make their surfaces reflect light, rather than absorb it – particularly where you might not think to look: up on the roof. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that making the rooftops of buildings a lighter, more reflective colour could reduce daytime temperatures by up to 3C during a heatwave. That might not sound like a huge difference, but the scientists concluded that such a drop could reduce the number of heat-related deaths by up to a quarter – a massive life-saving measure, given there were over 2,500 excess deaths from heat during the 2020 heatwave. …Research by NASA has shown that a white roof in New York City can be 23C cooler than a typical black asphalt roof on the hottest day of the summer. The city’s Cool Roofs campaign, which was launched in 2009, has already seen over 900,000 sq metres of roof space covered in a white reflective coating, saving almost 4,000 tonnes of CO2 a year from cooling emissions. …most urbanists agree that planting trees is one of the best ways to cool cities down – without the danger of reflecting sunlight where it isn’t wanted.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 8.

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2022-07-13. In ominous sign for global warming, feedback loop may be accelerating methane emissions. [https://www.science.org/content/article/ominous-sign-global-warming-feedback-loop-may-be-accelerating-methane-emissions] By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: If carbon dioxide is an oven steadily roasting our planet, methane is a blast from the broiler: a more potent but shorter lived greenhouse gas that’s responsible for roughly one-third of the 1.2°C of warming since preindustrial times. Atmospheric methane levels have risen nearly 7% since 2006, and the past 2 years saw the biggest jumps yet, even though the pandemic slowed oil and gas production, presumably reducing methane leaks. Now, researchers are homing in on the source of the mysterious surge. Two new preprints trace it to microbes in tropical wetlands. Ominously, climate change itself might be fueling the trend by driving increased rain over the regions. If so, the wetlands emissions could end up being a runaway process beyond human control, although the magnitude of the feedback loop is uncertain. “We will have handed over a bit more control of Earth’s climate to microorganisms,” says Paul Palmer, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of one of the studies, posted late last month for review at Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Most climate scientists already agreed that the post-2006 methane spike has largely not come from fossil fuel production. That’s because atmospheric methane has become ever more enriched in carbon-12, the lighter isotope of carbon, reversing what had been a multicentury trend, says Xin Lan, a carbon cycle scientist at the Earth System Research Laboratories (ESRL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This is a very significant signal,” she says. It points to microbes as the source because they favor reactions that use light carbon, giving the methane they produce a distinctive light signature. …Climate change may be setting the pace of the emissions.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-07-12. How does Caribbean fire coral thrive as others vanish?. [https://www.science.org/content/article/how-does-caribbean-fire-coral-thrive-others-vanish] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Fire corals can be the bane of a scuba diver’s existence. An accidental brush against one can cause agonizing pain. But they also may help save Caribbean reefs, which have been plagued by hurricanes, global warming, disease, and an overabundance of algae. A long-term study has revealed that fire corals (Millepora) are thriving there even as other corals disappear and could help preserve some of the 3D environment that helps make reefs such great homes to fish and other organisms.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-07-12. NASA Reveals Webb Telescope’s First Images of Unseen Universe. [https://webbtelescope.org/news/news-releases] By NASA. Excerpt: The first images and spectroscopic data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have revealed unprecedented and detailed views of the universe. Webb’s first images and spectra, including downloadable files, can be found at https://webbtelescope.org/news/first-images.… See zoomable image of Webb’s First Deep Field (very early galaxies); Deepest Image of Universe; Spectrum of an exoplanet; Southern Ring Nebula (dying star); Stephan’s Quintet (merging galaxies); star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula; and Science Magazine article Webb telescope wows with first images. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-07-12. Nearly $2trillion of damage inflicted on other countries by US emissions. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/12/us-carbon-emissions-greenhouse-gases-climate-crisis] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: The US has inflicted more than $1.9trillion in damage to other countries from the effects of its greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new analysis that has provided the first measurement of nations’ liability in stoking the climate crisis. The huge volume of planet-heating gases pumped out by the US, the largest historical emitter, has caused such harm to other, mostly poor, countries through heatwaves, crop failures and other consequences that the US is responsible for $1.91tn in lost global income since 1990, the study found. This puts the US ahead of China, currently the world’s leading emitter, Russian, India and Brazil as the next largest contributors to global economic damage through their emissions. Combined, these five leading culprits have caused a total of $6tn in losses worldwide, or about 11% of annual global GDP, since 1990 by fueling climate breakdown.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-12. Dangerous heatwaves engulf parts of China, US and Europe. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/12/dangerous-heatwaves-engulf-parts-china-us-europe] By Vincent NiSam Jones, and Nina Lakhani, The Guardian. Excerpt: Dangerous heatwaves are engulfing parts of China, Europe, south-west and central US this week, as dozens of cities have found themselves dealing with soaring summer temperatures. By Tuesday afternoon, at least 86 Chinese cities in eastern and southern parts of the country had issued heat alerts. Chinese meteorologists forecast temperatures in some cities would top 40C (104F) in the next 24 hours. In Shanghai, China’s most populous city, the authorities have told its 25 million people to prepare for unusually hot weather. Since record-keeping began in 1873, Shanghai has had only 15 days with temperatures above 40C. …Heatwave-related mortality has risen by a factor of four from 1990 to 2019, reaching 26,800 deaths in 2019, according to a Lancet study published in 2020.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-11. Precession Helped Drive Glacial Cycles in the Pleistocene. [https://eos.org/articles/precession-helped-drive-glacial-cycles-in-the-pleistocene] By Katherine Kornei, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …scientists have analyzed tiny bits of rock transported by glaciers and gained a better understanding of recent glacial cycles. The team found that precession—gradual changes in the direction of Earth’s axis of rotation—has played an important role in the breakup of Northern Hemisphere ice sheets over the past 1.7 million years. And during the late Pleistocene, that precession-driven collapse coincided with deglaciation, the researchers reported in May in Science. …energy received from the Sun at any one point on Earth varies according to two long-term cycles: precession and obliquity. Precession refers to changes in the direction of Earth’s axis of rotation, and obliquity is the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis as the planet orbits the Sun. These two so-called Milankovitch cycles modulate the amount of solar energy received by Earth’s surface over periods of roughly 23,000 and 41,000 years, respectively. …Barker and his colleagues found that glacial cycles before and after the Mid-Pleistocene Transition were correlated with both precession and changes in obliquity. The team showed that minima in precession—meaning that summer in the Northern Hemisphere occurs when the planet is closest to the Sun—were tied to ice sheet breakup. And times of decreasing obliquity were associated with ice sheet growth. It was particularly surprising to uncover the role of precession prior to the Mid-Pleistocene Transition, said Barker. That’s because the shorter glacial cycles long have been assumed to have been driven solely by changes in obliquity occurring at the same cadence, without any influence from precession, he said. “I nearly fell off my chair when I saw that.”.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 10.

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2022-07-09. ‘Disturbing’: weedkiller ingredient tied to cancer found in 80% of US urine samples. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/09/weedkiller-glyphosate-cdc-study-urine-samples] By Carey Gillam, The Guardian. Excerpt: More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called “disturbing” and “concerning”. The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children ranging from six to 18.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-07-06. Arctic Shipping Routes Are Feeling the Heat. [https://eos.org/articles/arctic-shipping-routes-are-feeling-the-heat] By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Controversy over shipping routes in the Arctic Ocean is intensifying in light of recent climate science projections of sea ice melt. By midcentury, ice-free routes in international waters once covered by summer sea ice may appear for the first time in recent history, according to new research. A more accessible Arctic could influence the timing, sustainability, and legal status of international shipping. … Sea ice extent may even influence the reach of international law: At present, Article 234 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea grants coastal countries regulatory power over areas that are ice-covered for most of the year. Although opinions differ, some have said shrinking sea ice could limit countries’ claims in the Arctic Ocean. “There’s no scenario in which melting ice in the Arctic is good news,” said climate scientist Amanda Lynch from Brown University. “But the unfortunate reality is that the ice is already retreating, these routes are opening up, and we need to start thinking critically about the legal, environmental, and geopolitical implications.”.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-05. Green hydrogen storage system project launched on NREL Colorado campus. [https://www.energy-storage.news/green-hydrogen-storage-system-project-launched-on-nrel-colorado-campus/] By Cameron Murray, Energy Storage News. Excerpt: Hydrogen storage company GKN Hydrogen, gas utility SoCalGas and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory are collaborating on a new green hydrogen storage solution. The three will work together to deploy two of GKN’s ‘HY2MEGA’ green hydrogen storage subsystems on NREL’s Flatirons Campus in Colorado, US. They will connect to an existing electrolyser and fuel cell at the ARIES (Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems) facility at Flatirons. The electrolyser will use renewable energy sources, possibly wind based on photos provided in the press release, to produce hydrogen for storage in GKN’s storage solution. HY2MEGA stores hydrogen in a solid state under low pressure, which can then be converted to produce electricity. The two systems will store a total of 500kgs of hydrogen on-site and GKN said its solution can enable long duration clean energy storage, providing resilient power in case of widespread outages. The three-year project is set to launch by the end of 2022. …“This project is exactly what the ARIES platform was designed for: demonstrate the benefits of a new technology that efficiently stores energy produced from renewable electricity,” said Katherine Hurst, group manager and research scientist at NREL. “It brings together a national laboratory, a clean energy technology developer, and a large utility to work on solutions that help decarbonize the power grid.”.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-07-06. To tame lake-fouling algal blooms, try an ecosystem approach. [https://www.science.org/content/article/to-tame-lake-fouling-algal-blooms-try-an-ecosystem-approach] By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Every summer, surges of toxic green muck plague lakes worldwide, sickening hikers who fail to purify drinking water, closing favorite swimming holes, and killing fish. The most feared—and studied—cause of these freshwater “algal” blooms is a genus of cyanobacterium called Microcystis. Its explosive summer growth is thought to be spurred by rising levels of phosphorus, nitrogen, and other nutrients, perhaps from fertilizer run off or other pollution sources. But new research, driven by advances in DNA sequencing, suggests other types of microbes also play key roles in these massive overgrowths. …reducing nutrients may not be enough to stop these slimy explosions, some scientists say. That doesn’t mean curbing pollution is unimportant, they stress, but ecological factors must be considered. …With the warming climate and continuing inflows of pollution, harmful algal blooms are on the rise, becoming more frequent and longer lasting in ever more places across the globe. …In some lakes, reducing fertilizer runoff at first seemed to thwart blooms—then they came back. Similar plans for bloom-choked Lake Erie might backfire, a team of academic microbiologists and water quality experts funded by the National Science Foundation and other U.S. agencies reported in May. A 2014 bloom there caused such severe shortages of drinking water in the nearby city of Toledo, Ohio, that Canada and the United States have agreed to cut phosphorus going into the lake by 40%.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-07-07. A fungal safari; ‘Myconauts’ aim to reveal the often hidden soil fungi that shape ecosystems. [] By Gabriel Popkin, Science Magazine. Excerpt: CHILE’S VILLARRICA NATIONAL PARK—As a motley medley of mycologists climbed the basalt slopes of the Lanín volcano earlier this year, the green foliage at lower elevations gave way to autumnal golds and reds. Chile’s famed Araucaria—commonly called monkey puzzle trees—soon appeared, their spiny branches curving jauntily upward like so many cats’ tails. Beneath the majestic trees, the scientists were focused on something far less glamorous—indeed, mostly invisible: mycorrhizal fungi, tiny organisms that intertwine with roots of the Araucaria and nearly all the other plants in this forest. The multinational research team had come to collect soil samples they hoped would, with help from DNA testing, reveal exactly which fungi live here, and how they support this complex assemblage of flora. …“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 100 undescribed species” of fungi in each bag, said mycologist Giuliana Furci, founder of the Chilean nonprofit Fungi Foundation and one of the expedition leaders. …“Up to 50% of the living biomass of soils are these networks,” says ecologist Toby Kiers of the Free University of Amsterdam…. …fungi are integral to Earth’s ecosystems. They evolved hundreds of millions of years before land plants and animals. By breaking down rock and freeing up nutrients, they helped plants colonize land some 500 million years ago. To this day, most land plants access water and nutrients in part by partnering with mycorrhizal fungi that grow on—and often into—their roots. (Roughly speaking, “mycorrhiza” means “fungal root.”) Some plants get up to 80% of their phosphorus—a vital nutrient—from fungi. And some fungi construct intricate underground webs known as mycelium that can stretch for kilometers. “Wherever there are roots,” Kiers says, “there are fungi.”.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 5.

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2022-07-09. Companies’ Climate Promises Face a Wild Card: Farmers. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/09/business/farmers-climate-change.html] By Julie Creswell, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Companies like PepsiCo, Cargill, Walmart, and General Mills are trying to convince farmers like Mr. Gaesser to adopt new climate-friendly agricultural techniques through a variety of financial incentives and programs. They have good reason. Together, these companies have pledged that at least 70 million acres, or roughly 18 percent of the nation’s total cropland, an area about the size of Nevada, will be operated using regenerative agriculture techniques by 2030. …Through photosynthesis, plants — whether corn or trees — convert carbon dioxide from the air into energy that is stored in the soil. Regenerative farming techniques, such as planting a cover crop during the fall, allows that process to continue throughout the winter months when the soil would normally be bare. But there are several complicating factors. The programs sponsored by the companies, which run from cost-sharing agreements with farmers to guarantees to cover any declines in yields to complex, multiyear contracts to pay for carbon dioxide that is captured and held in the soil, are largely still in pilot stages and amount to only a fraction of the companies’ overall goals. And many farmers remain skeptical of the initiatives, arguing that the incentives being offered simply aren’t enough to cover the additional costs these new techniques will incur.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-07-07. E.P.A. Describes How It Will Regulate Power Plants After Supreme Court Setback. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/07/climate/epa-greenhouse-gas-power-plant-regulations.html] By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: Following the Supreme Court’s landmark rulinglast week limiting the government’s ability to restrict the pollution that is causing global warming, the Biden administration is planning to use other regulatory tools in hopes of achieving similar goals. A key part of the plan: Further restrict other pollutants that coal-burning power plants emit such as soot, mercury and nitrous oxides — a move that also will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. …White House officials said they believe President Biden’s goal of slashing emissions roughly in half by the end of this decade, and fully eliminating fossil fuel emissions from the power sector by 2035, still remains well within reach. The falling cost of renewable energy like wind and solar will help, administration officials said, as well as an increasing number of policies at the state and local levels to fight climate change, along with the new E.P.A. regulations.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-07-07. Global atmospheric CO2 concentration is still rising. [https://gml.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/index.html] By NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory. For the most current data in graphical form, see https://gml.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/index.html where graphs show monthly mean carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. But CAUTION, prepare to be depressed: the concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is still rising, owing largely to human combustion of fossil fuels. As pointed out in the outset in GSS Climate Change book chapter 1, the greenhouse effect coupled with rising CO2 atmospheric concentrations means that we expect global average temperatures to rise accordingly. For GSS Climate Change chapter 6.

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2022-07-07. Glacier Tragedy Shows Reach of Europe’s New Heat. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/07/world/europe/italy-glacier-collapse.html] By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times. Excerpt: CANAZEI, Italy — Days before a glacier in the Italian Dolomites broke off with the force of a collapsing skyscraper, crushing at least nine hikers under an avalanche of ice, snow and rock, Carlo Budel heard water running under the ice. …A year after Greece lost lives, livestock and entire swaths of forest to wildfires, and deadly floods swept through Germany, the calamity in these mountains this week provided the latest evidence that almost no part of the continent can escape the effects of Europe’s new, intense and often unlivable summer heat. That includes the highest peak of the Dolomites. Italy is suffering through another prolonged and scorching heat wave, which contributed to the disaster and has brought the worst drought in 70 years along the Po River, its longest waterway, cutting off fountains and parching parts of the country. …In the last 20 years, Professor Fazzini said, Italy had lost 25 percent of the water from those shrinking glaciers.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-05. ‘Every year it gets worse’: on the frontline of the climate crisis in Bangladesh. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/05/every-year-it-gets-worse-on-the-frontline-of-the-climate-crisis-in-bangladesh] By Thaslima Begum, The Guardian. Excerpt: Over the past few weeks, catastrophic flash floods – the worst in Bangladesh in a century – have inundated much of Sylhet, where rising waters have washed away whole towns, killing at least 68 people and leaving thousands displaced. According to the UN, an estimated 7.2 million people across seven districts have been affected. …Humayara Jeba, 20, a climate fighter at YouthNet, the largest youth-led network for climate advocacy in Bangladesh, says women and girls are the most affected by the flooding because of their limited access to resources. “With high existing levels of poverty and inequality, climate change is intensifying the everyday challenges they already face,” she says. …An estimated 60,000 women are pregnant in the affected region, with more than 6,500 births expected to take place in July. According to Sylhet health department, 24 healthcare facilities have sustained extensive damage, including MAG Osmani Medical College hospital, the city’s main hospital, which usually treats up to 5,000 patients a day.Of the 926 community clinics scattered throughout Sylhet, 414 are under water. Dr Himanshu Roy, Sylhet’s divisional health director, says that an outbreak of waterborne diseases has left medical staff struggling to cope.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-07-05. Methane much more sensitive to global heating than previously thought – study. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/05/global-heating-causes-methane-growth-four-times-faster-than-thought-study] By Kate Ravilious, The Guardian. Excerpt: Methane is four times more sensitive to global warming than previously thought, a new study shows. The result helps to explain the rapid growth in methane in recent years and suggests that, if left unchecked, methane related warming will escalate in the decades to come. The growth of this greenhouse gas – which over a 20 year timespan is more than 80 times as potent than carbon dioxide – had been slowing since the turn of the millennium but since 2007 has undergone a rapid rise, with measurements from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recording it passing 1,900 parts a billion last year, nearly triple pre-industrial levels. …About 40% of methane emissions come from natural sources such as wetlands, while 60% come from anthropogenic sources such as cattle farming, fossil fuel extraction and landfill sites. Possible explanations for the rise in methane emissions range from expanding exploration of oil and natural gas, rising emissions from agriculture and landfill, and rising natural emissions as tropical wetlands warm and Arctic tundra melts. But another explanation could be a slowdown of the chemical reaction that removes methane from the atmosphere. The predominant way in which methane is “mopped up” is via reaction with hydroxyl radicals (OH) in the atmosphere. …But hydroxyl radicals also react with carbon monoxide, and an increase in wildfires may have pumped more carbon monoxide into the atmosphere and altered the chemical balance. …Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest global heating is four times more influential in accelerating methane emissions than previously estimated, with rising temperatures helping to produce more methane (by speeding up microbe activity in wetlands for example), while at the same time slowing down the removal of methane from the atmosphere (with increasing numbers of wildfires reducing the availability of hydroxyl radicals in the upper atmosphere).… For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-07-01. The Giant African Land Snail Has Been Spotted Again in Florida. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/01/us/giant-african-land-snail-florida.html] By Patricia Mazzei, The New York Times. Excerpt: …The dreaded snails — known to invasive-species connoisseurs as GALS — were spotted in June by a gardener in Pasco County, north of Tampa, the first time a population of them has been detected outside of South Florida. To try to contain them, state officials placed a portion of Pasco County in the New Port Richey area under quarantine this week. No plants, yard waste, debris, compost or building materials can lawfully be moved out without permission, for fear that the clingy mollusks will spread. …Giant African land snails typically “like humid, and they like dense vegetation.” “Of course, in areas that are irrigated, like in nurseries or in home landscapes, they will be perfectly happy,” he added. Giant African land snails are “one of the most invasive pests on the planet,” according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. They eat more than 500 types of plants — and also feed on stucco, “as a source of calcium.” They hide in cool, damp places during the day, feed at night and lay many thousands of eggs over their lifetimes. Some snails can grow to eight inches long and five inches wide. They can also carry a parasite, rat lungworm, that causes meningitis in humans and animals — if, say, people eat unwashed lettuce or other produce that the carrier snail has slid across, leaving behind a trail of slime.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-07-01. As Federal Climate-Fighting Tools Are Taken Away, Cities and States Step Up. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/01/climate/climate-policies-cities-states-local.html] By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: Across the country, local governments are accelerating their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in some cases bridging partisan divides. Their role will become increasingly important. Legislators in Colorado, historically a major coal state, have passed more than 50 climate-related laws since 2019. The liquor store in the farming town of Morris, Minn., cools its beer with solar power. Voters in Athens, Ohio, imposed a carbon fee on themselves. Citizens in Fairfax County, Va., teamed up for a year and a half to produce a 214-page climate action plan. …New York and Colorado, for example, are on track to reduce electricity-related emissions 80 percent or more by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, according to new state scorecards from RMI. By removing partisan politics from community discussions about climate policy, it’s sometimes possible to reach a consensus that’s been difficult to achieve on a national level. That is what happened in Morris, a city of about 5,000 in Minnesota, not far from the South Dakota border. There, the University of Minnesota Morris campus leans left politically, while surrounding farming communities lean right. But both communities broadly support — and have helped to shape — the “Morris Model,” which calls for reducing energy consumption 30 percent by 2030, producing 80 percent of the county’s electricity locally by 2030 (thus guaranteeing it comes from renewable sources) and eliminating landfill waste by 2025.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-07-01. For scientists, Roe’s end raises concerns about personal safety and professional choices. [https://www.science.org/content/article/scientists-roe-s-end-raises-concerns-about-personal-safety-and-professional-choices] By Katie Langin, Science Magazine. Excerpt: When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on 24 June, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion and handing decisions about abortion access to state legislators, the response across the polarized country was swift, dramatic, and divided. Many scientists decried the decision as a potentially deadly violation of human rights. “Abortion bans will kill people in lots of different horrible ways,” tweeted Amanda Stevenson, a researcher who studies abortion at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Some scientists also began to ask how the decision will affect the research community, especially in states that ban or severely restrict abortion. “It’s going to really negatively impact science … if we have scientists actively avoiding half of this country, or all of it entirely,” says Rosa Lafer-Sousa, a neuroscience postdoc based in the Washington, D.C., area who is considering how the ruling will affect her upcoming faculty job search. She and others expressed fear that the lack of an abortion option would create hardship for aspiring scientists who become pregnant. “I really worry that it’s going to affect people’s ability to write their own destiny,” says an M.D.-Ph.D. student at a university in Texas who requested anonymity. …These concerns have some scientists reconsidering their career plans and stance on where they’re willing to live and work.… For GSS Population Growth chapter 7.

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2022-06-30. Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions. [https://apnews.com/article/supreme-court-epa-ruling-2e893673819a1b6c6aa272a5e814f0b0] By Mark Sherman, Associated Press. Excerpt: In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. By a 6-3 vote, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. The decision, said environmental advocates and dissenting liberal justices, was a major step in the wrong direction — “a gut punch,” one prominent meteorologist said — at a time of increasing environmental damage attributable to climate change amid dire warnings about the future.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-30. Meat, monopolies, mega farms: how the US food system fuels climate crisis. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/30/us-food-production-climate-crisis-meat-monopoly-farming] By Amanda Schupak, The Guardian. Excerpt: Food and the climate crisis are locked in a tangled web of cause and effect. Globally, food systems contribute about a third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet they are also uniquely vulnerable to climate impacts: from soaring temperatures and drought to intense rainfall and flooding. Food production is caught in a battle between people and profits, as an increasingly industrialized system prioritizes low operating costs and high profits. …Agriculture contributes less than 1% to GDP in the US – yet it is responsible for 11% of the country’s GHG emissions, polluted waterways and millions of acres of degraded land. …The average American eats about 57lb of beef in a year, nearly twice the average of other high-income countries. …But beef is a climate disaster. It takes an enormous amount of land to raise cattle – land that would sequester more carbon as grass that doesn’t get grazed and forests that are not felled for pasture. It also takes an enormous amount of food to feed cattle. About 55% of the grain grown in the US goes to fattening cows (and other animals). And as the ruminants chew, they burp out methane, a powerful planet-warming greenhouse gas. Meanwhile, animal waste and fertilizer runoff pollute rivers and poison drinking water supplies. …industrial agriculture continues to pump methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while weakening soil, crushing biodiversity and sucking aquifers dry.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-06-28. Extreme temperatures in major Latin American cities could be linked to nearly 1 million deaths. [https://www.science.org/content/article/extreme-temperatures-major-latin-american-cities-could-be-linked-nearly-1-million] By Rodrigo Perez Ortego, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In mid-January, the southern tip of South America suffered its worst heat wave in years. In Argentina, temperatures in more than 50 cities rose above 40°C, more than 10°C warmer than the typical average temperature in cities such as Buenos Aires. The scorching heat sparked wildfires, worsened a drought, hurt agriculture, and temporarily collapsed Buenos Aires’s electrical power supply. It also killed at least 3 people, although experts estimate the true number might be much higher. With climate change, heat waves and cold fronts are worsening and taking lives worldwide: about 5 million in the past 20 years, according to at least one study. In a new study published today in Nature Medicine, an international team of researchers estimates that almost 900,000 deaths in the years between 2002 and 2015 could be attributable to extreme temperatures alone in major Latin American cities. This is the most detailed estimate in Latin America, and the first ever for some cities.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-28. Can Dual-Use Solar Panels Provide Power and Share Space With Crops?. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/28/business/dual-use-solar-panels-agrivoltaics-blue-wave-power.html] By Ellen Rosen. The New York Times. Excerpt: In its 150-year history, Paul Knowlton’s farm in Grafton, Mass., has produced vegetables, dairy products and, most recently, hay. The evolution of the farm’s use turned on changing markets and a variable climate. Recently, however, Mr. Knowlton added a new type of cash crop: solar power. …He had already installed solar panels to provide electricity for his home and barn. When a real estate agent came knocking to see if he was interested in leasing a small portion of his land for a solar array, “she planted the seed that I could do more,” Mr. Knowlton said. …Soon, two small parcels of largely unused land were home to low-to-the-ground panels that produce power. This year, Mr. Knowlton’s farm will go one step further: In a third parcel, solar panels will share space with crops so that both can thrive. This approach is called agrivoltaics — a portmanteau of agriculture and voltaic cells, which transform solar power to electrical power. Also called dual-use solar, the technology involves adjusting the height of solar panels to as much as 14 feet, as well as adjusting the spacing between them, to accommodate equipment, workers, crops and grazing animals. The spacing and the angle of the panels allows light to reach the plants below, and has the added benefit of shielding those crops from extreme heat.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-06-28. Climate change role clear in many extreme events but social factors also key, study finds. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/28/climate-change-heatwaves-droughts-study-weather] By Sofia Quaglia, The Guardian. Excerpt: Climate change is to blame for the majority of the heatwaves being recorded around the planet but the relation to other extreme events and their impacts on society is less clear, according to a study. “I think on the one hand we overestimate climate change because it’s now quite common that every time an extreme event happens, there is a big assumption that climate change is playing a big role, which is not always the case,” said Friederike Otto, a climate change and environment professor at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, who was one of the lead authors of the research. “But on the other hand, we really underestimate those events where climate change does play a role in what the costs are, especially the non-economic costs of extreme weather events to our societies.” In the study published in the journal Environmental Research: Climate fromIOP Publishing, Otto’s team used “attribution science” to pore over available international data, literature and climate models – as well as the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports – and calculate how human-induced climate change is affecting the impact of five types of extreme weather events: heatwaves, heavy rainfall, drought, wildfires and tropical cyclones. They say that in the case of heatwaves, the role of climate change is unequivocal, and that the average and extreme heat levels in every continent across the globe are increasing specifically because of human-caused climate change.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-06-28. Chilli peppers, coffee, wine: how the climate crisis is causing food shortages. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/28/climate-crisis-food-shortages] By Victoria Namkung, The Guardian. Excerpt: Blistering heat, stronger storms, droughts, floods and fires are putting food production at risk. …Huy Fong Foods, the southern California company that produces 20m bottles of sriracha annually, has experienced a low inventory of red jalapeño chilli peppers in recent years made worse by spring’s crop failure. The cause? Severe weather and drought conditions in Mexico. It’s not just chilli peppers. Mustard producers in France and Canada said extreme weather caused a 50% reduction in seed production last year, leading to a shortage of the condiment on grocery store shelves. Blistering heat, stronger storms, droughts, floods, fires and changes in rainfall patterns are also affecting the cost and availability of staples, including wheat, corn, coffee, apples, chocolate and wine. The climate crisis is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events – and it’s putting food production at risk. …In the Great Plains, where most of the US’s wheat is harvested, drought depressed the winter crop. Abandonment levels for winter wheat in the US – primarily in Texas and Oklahoma – are the highest since 2002. Meanwhile in Montana, flooding is threatening grain crops. …In India, a fierce heatwave damaged the wheat crop due to record-setting temperatures throughout the spring and summer. As Delhi hit 120F in May, the government placed a ban on wheat exports, driving up prices even further than the rise following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Climate change could seriously affect the global production of maize and wheat as early as 2030, a 2021 Nasa study found, with maize crop yields estimated to decline by 24%. …Extreme weather is affecting the cost of coffee. Between April 2020 and December 2021, coffee prices increased 70% after droughts and frost destroyed crops in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee-producing country. …Last year, France’s wine industry saw its smallest harvest since 1957, with an estimated loss of $2bn in sales. One Champagne vineyard that typically makes 40,000 to 50,000 bottles annually produced nothing in 2021 due to higher temperatures and heavy rains. One study showed that if temperatures rise by 2C, wine-growing regions could shrink by as much as 56%. Four degrees of warming could mean 85% of those areas would no longer be able to produce good wines.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-28. Early human ancestors one million years older than earlier thought. [https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/jun/28/early-human-ancestors-one-million-years-older-than-earlier-thought] By AFP, The Guardian. Excerpt: The fossils of our earliest ancestors found in South Africa are a million years older than previously thought, meaning they walked the Earth around the same time as their east African relatives like the famous “Lucy”, according to new research. The Sterkfontein caves at the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site northwest of Johannesburg have yielded more Australopithecus fossils than any other site in the world. Among them was “Mrs Ples”, the most complete skull of an Australopithecus africanus found in South Africa in 1947. Based on previous measurements, Mrs Ples and other fossils found at a similar depth of the cave were estimated to be between 2.1 and 2.6m years old. But “chronologically that didn’t fit,” said French scientist Laurent Bruxelles, one of the authors of a study published Monday in the PNAS science journal. “It was bizarre to see some Australopithecus lasting for such a long time,” the geologist told AFP. …casting doubt on Mrs Ples’s age was recent research showing that the almost-complete skeleton of an Australopithecus known as “Little Foot” was 3.67m years old. Such a big gap in ages between Mrs Ples and Little Foot seemed unlikely given they were separated by so few sedimentary layers. …The previous dates underestimated the age of the fossils because they measured calcite flowstone mineral deposits, which were younger than the rest of that cave section, the study said. For the latest study, the researchers used a technique called cosmogenic nuclide dating, which looked at levels of rare isotopes created when rocks containing quartz were hit by high-speed particles that arrived from outer space. “Their radioactive decay dates when the rocks were buried in the cave when they fell in the entrance together with the fossils,” said the study’s lead author, Darryl Granger of Purdue University in the US. The researchers found that Mrs Ples and other fossils near her were between 3.4 and 3.7m years old.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 11.

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2022-06-28. In 10 years, CRISPR transformed medicine. Can it now help us deal with climate change? [https://news.berkeley.edu/2022/06/28/in-10-years-crispr-transformed-medicine-can-it-now-help-us-deal-with-climate-change/] By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: Coming from a long line of Iowa farmers, David Savage always thought he would do research to improve crops. That dream died in college, when it became clear that any genetic tweak to a crop would take at least a year to test; for some perennials and trees, it could take five to 10 years. …But the advent of CRISPR changed all that. Savage is now pivoting to molecular crop breeding, hoping to find ways to improve their carbon uptake and the amount of carbon they return to the soil. …“The advent of CRISPR basically allowed us to create new molecular tools for potentially skipping the slow aspects of plant tissue culture and plant genetic engineering, which are large barriers to doing experiments in plants,” said Savage, associate professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, …and member of the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI), which focuses on the myriad uses of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. One of his collaborators, Krishna Niyogi, UC Berkeley professor of plant and microbial biology, estimates that the suboptimal photosynthetic reactions in plants could be improved with CRISPR editing to be between 20% and 50% more efficient. That means more carbon captured from the air, complementing other efforts — in particular, halting the burning of fossil fuels — to reduce greenhouse gases. Agriculture could potentially sequester billions of tons of carbon each year. …Capturing and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere is key to mitigating some of the worst consequences of climate change.… See also New York Times article CRISPR in the Classroom, by Eleanor Lutz. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-06-26. Ukraine War’s Latest Victim? The Fight Against Climate Change. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/26/world/europe/g7-summit-ukraine-war-climate-change.html] By Katrin Bennhold and Jim Tankersley, The New York Times. Excerpt: BERLIN — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seemed like an unexpected opportunity for environmentalists, who had struggled to focus the world’s attention on the kind of energy independence that renewable resources can offer. With the West trying to wean itself from Russian oil and gas, the argument for solar and wind power seemed stronger than ever. But four months into the war, the scramble to replace Russian fossil fuels has triggered the exact opposite. As the heads of the Group of 7 industrialized nations gather in the Bavarian Alps for a meeting that was supposed to cement their commitment to the fight against climate change, fossil fuels are having a wartime resurgence, with the leaders more focused on bringing down the price of oil and gas than immediately reducing their emissions. Nations are reversing plans to stop burning coal. They are scrambling for more oil and are committing billions to building terminals for liquefied natural gas, known as L.N.G. Fossil fuel companies, long on the defensive, are capitalizing on energy security anxieties and lobbying hard for long-term infrastructure investments that risk derailing international climate targets agreed to only last year.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-24. A Hail of a Night in Mexico. [https://eos.org/articles/a-hail-of-a-night-in-mexico] By Humberto Basilio, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When a severe hailstorm hit Mexico’s capital last week, citizens began to wonder whether climate change could be the cause. But is that the right question to ask? …Approximately 20 metric tons of hail collapsed the 1,000-square-meter roof of the local supermarket. …more than a dozen other incidents were reported that night in the Álvaro Obregón, Benito Juárez, Iztapalapa, and Coyoacán municipalities. …Although hail is frequent in Mexico City during the spring-summer transition, citizens were surprised by the sheer volume covering the highways and houses on 12 June. …Still, for Jorge García, a climate physicist at Columbia University, the problem is that the question being asked (“Is this severe weather caused by climate change?”) is wrongly formulated from the start. Extreme weather events have always existed; none of them are specifically, solely “caused” by climate change. But climate change has affected the atmosphere in which all these events happen, and that influences the severity of the events. …So instead of asking whether anthropogenic climate change caused the hailstorm, García said that “what we can ask ourselves is how climate change affected the amount of hail and the probability of having this storm that turned the whole city white. Would this storm have been the same 100 years ago? Most likely not.”.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-06-17. The farmers restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests that once fed an island. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/17/hawaii-traditional-farming-methods-ancient-food-forests] By Nina Lakhani, The Guardian. Excerpt: Rain clouds cover the peaks of the west Maui mountains, one of the wettest places on the planet, which for centuries sustained biodiverse forests providing abundant food and medicines for Hawaiians who took only what they needed. Those days of abundance and food sovereignty are long gone. Rows of limp lemon trees struggle in windswept sandy slopes depleted by decades of sugarcane cultivation. Agricultural runoff choking the ocean reef and water shortages, linked to over-tourism and global heating, threaten the future viability of this paradise island. Between 85% and 90% of the food eaten in Maui now comes from imports while diet-related diseases are soaring, and the state allocates less than 1% of its budget to agriculture. Downslope from the rain-soaked summits, there is historic drought and degraded soil. “We believe that land is the chief, the people its servants,” said Kaipo Kekona, 38, who with his wife Rachel Lehualani Kapu have transformed several acres of depleted farmland into a dense food forest on a mountain ridge. The soil there is once again full of life, with wriggly worms and multi-colored insects busy among the layered roots and mulch. This food forest provides a glimpse of the ancient forests that for millennia thrived on these slopes until being burnt multiple times to create cropland – a cultural and ecological tragedy documented in traditional songs, chants and stories. The couple are Indigenous farmers – ancient knowledge keepers – and part of a wider food and land sovereignty movement gaining momentum in Hawaii.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-07-01. Subverting Climate Science in the Classroom. [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/subverting-climate-science-in-the-classroom/] By Katie Worth, Scientific American, pp. 42-49. Excerpt: Over the past two years school board meetings around the country have erupted into shout fests over face masks, reading lists and whether to ban education about structural racism in classrooms. In Texas, a quieter political agenda played out during the lightly attended process to set science education standards—guidelines for what students should learn in each subject and grade level. For the first time, the state board considered requiring that students learn something about human-caused climate change. That requirement came under tense dispute between industry representatives interested in encouraging positive goodwill about fossil fuels and education advocates who think students should learn the science underlying the climate crisis unfolding around them. . . Last, Hickman moved to drop the climate mitigation standard that Pérez-Díaz had managed to add in September, arguing that the subject was more appropriate for social studies than for science and that it “just seems above and beyond for an eighth grade student and teacher.” The board Democrats fought the change, but they were outnumbered. The board replaced the mitigation standard with the line “Describe the carbon cycle.”… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-23. Largest ever Burmese python in Florida found in Collier County. [https://news.wgcu.org/2022-06-23/largest-ever-burmese-python-in-florida-found-in-collier-county] By Hayley Lemery, WGCU PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida. Excerpt: The largest Burmese python ever discovered in Florida was captured from the Everglades and brought to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for research. The female python, weighing in at 215 pounds and 18 feet long, had 122 eggs inside of her, which is the largest egg count ever recorded for a python. The Conservancy’s python program has been conducting research since 2013 to understand the invasive species …. “We feel like it’s a win when we can target animals of this size. Remove them from the bioregion, repeat. Each season this crew removes tons of python. This was a two-ton season,” said Ian Bartoszek, wildlife biologist and python project manager for the Conservancy. …“The last meal this animal had was a white-tailed deer in Picayune Strand State Forest,” Bartoszek said. The team discovered this during their necropsy by finding hoof cores in the python’s digestive track. Researchers estimate the deer was around 75 pounds. “This team has been radio tracking invasive Burmese pythons for about the last 10 years, learning about their behaviors so we can find out methods to more effectively remove them from the ecosystem,” Bartoszek said.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-06-23. Hidden carbon layer may have sparked ancient bout of global warming. [https://www.science.org/content/article/hidden-carbon-layer-may-have-sparked-ancient-bout-global-warming] By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: There is no perfect parallel in Earth’s past for present-day climate change—human-driven warming is simply happening too fast and furiously. The closest analog came 56 million years ago, when over the course of 3000 to 5000 years, greenhouse gases soared in the atmosphere, causing at least 5°C of warming and pushing tropical species to the poles. The cause of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) has long been debated, with researchers invoking exotic mechanisms such as catastrophic releases of methane from the sea floor or even asteroid strikes. But over the past few years, evidence has mounted for a more prosaic culprit: carbon-spewing volcanoes that emerged underneath Greenland as it tore away from Europe. Now, researchers have found signs of an effect that would have supercharged the warming effect of the volcanoes, making them a stronger suspect. The underside of Greenland is thought to be encrusted with carbon-rich rocks, like barnacles on the keel of a ship. During the rifting, they might have liberated a gusher of carbon dioxide (CO2), says Thomas Gernon, a geologist at the University of Southampton and leader of the new study. “It’s a perfect storm of conditions.” Mudrocks on the sea floor also contain carbon that originated in living things, and magma from submarine eruptions could have heated the rocks and liberated the carbon. But in 2017, researchers analyzed plankton fossils from an ocean core and found the carbon released during the PETM was heavier than previously thought. For some, that indicated the carbon wasn’t from living sources. “Given the current state of knowledge, it seems likely to be volcanism,” says Marcus Gutjahr, a geochemist at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, who led the 2017 study. …CO2 and other gases can bubble out of tectonic plates as they dive into the mantle, percolating up into the underside of thick crusts like Greenland’s, and forming carbonate formations that can be stable for millions or even billions of years.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 10.

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2022-06-23. Can farm and food waste power tomorrow’s airplanes? [https://www.science.org/content/article/can-farm-and-food-waste-power-tomorrow-s-airplanes] By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: It’s a painful truth for people who fly: …Air travel is among the most carbon-polluting human activities. A round trip from New York City to London emits nearly 1000 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) per passenger…. Annually, airplanes spew some 920 million tons of CO2, accounting for roughly 3.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Derek Vardon is hoping a yellowish, foul-smelling liquid will help change that. The fluid is a collection of short, chainlike molecules called volatile fatty acids (VFAs) from decaying food waste, …. In a process he and colleagues developed, the VFAs are vaporized, then …knit the VFAs into longer chains called ketones. …the ketones are piped to another reactor …to make kerosene, aka jet fuel. Vardon, a chemist who spent most of the past decade at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is betting this food-to-fuel process and others that convert different forms of waste “biomass” into fuel represent the future of air travel, and the world’s best hope for dramatically reducing  the  greenhouse gases it generates. In March 2021, he and his colleagues detailed the technology in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences along with calculations revealing the resulting jet fuel could be nearly as cheap as the petroleum-based version. …the net emissions from bio-based jet fuel would only be a fraction of those from fossil fuel. In October 2021, Vardon bet on his technology, leaving NREL to become chief technical officer of Alder Fuels, a startup aiming to produce sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). …In fall 2021, United Airlines committed to buying 5.7 billion liters of SAFs from Alder, the largest such aviation deal at that time. …More than a dozen SAF startups have formed in recent years in the United States, China, Japan, Singapore, India, Finland, Sweden, Austria, and Canada. …For now, SAF producers create just 100 million liters of fuel per year for an industry that consumed more than 360 billion liters in 2019…. By 2030, the market for SAFs may grow by 70-fold, to nearly $15.7 billion, according to Markets and Markets.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-06-21. Side Benefits of Climate Action May Save Millions of Lives in Africa. [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/side-benefits-of-climate-action-may-save-millions-of-lives-in-africa] By Saima Sidik, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Moving from fossil fuels to clean energy sources comes with many side benefits, including a reduction in air pollution, which is responsible for premature deaths of 8–10 million people around the world. In a new study, Shindell et al. model the impacts that cleaner air and sustainable growth would have on Africa under a scenario in which Earth warms by about 2°C by 2100. The researchers predict that levels of many pollutants in Africa, including carbonaceous aerosols, sulfur dioxide, and ammonia, would drop substantially, but the magnitudes of the drops would vary across different regions. …the researchers predict that all regions of Africa will experience massive benefits if climate action results in cleaner air. By around 2050, the annual number of premature deaths could drop by around 45,000 in southern Africa and 175,000 in West Africa, with other regions of the continent experiencing intermediate declines. Cumulatively, cleaner air could prevent about 3 million premature deaths on the continent by 2050 and more than 10 million by the end of the century, according to the authors. (GeoHealthhttps://doi.org/10.1029/2022GH000601, 2022). For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-06-19. Republican Drive to Tilt Courts Against Climate Action Reaches a Crucial Moment. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/19/climate/supreme-court-climate-epa.html] By Coral Davenport, The New york Times. Excerpt: …The [Supreme Court] case, West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, is the product of a coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general, conservative legal activists and their funders, several with ties to the oil and coal industries, to use the judicial system to rewrite environmental law, weakening the executive branch’s ability to tackle global warming. Coming up through the federal courts are more climate cases, some featuring novel legal arguments, each carefully selected for its potential to block the government’s ability to regulate industries and businesses that produce greenhouse gases.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-18. Burning planet: why are the world’s heatwaves getting more intense? [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/18/burning-planet-why-are-the-worlds-heatwaves-getting-more-intense] By Fiona HarveyAshifa Kassam in Madrid,  Nina Lakhani in Phoenix, and Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi, The Guardian. Excerpt: …When the temperature readings started to come through from Antarctic weather stations in early March, scientists at first thought there might have been some mistake. Temperatures, which should have been cooling rapidly as the south pole’s brief summer faded, were soaring – at the Vostok station, about 800 miles from the geographic south pole, thermometers recorded a massive 15C hotter than the previous all-time record, while at Terra Nova coastal base the water hovered above freezing, unheard of for the time of year. …But that was not all. At the north pole, similarly unusual temperatures were also being recorded, astonishing for the time of year when the Arctic should be slowly emerging from its winter deep freeze. The region was more than 3C warmer than its long-term average, researchers said. …To induce a heatwave at one pole may be regarded as a warning; heatwaves at both poles at once start to look a lot like climate catastrophe. …A heatwave struck India and Pakistan in March, bringing the highest temperatures in that month since records began 122 years ago. Scorching weather has continued across the subcontinent, wreaking disaster for millions. Spring was more like midsummer in the US, with soaring temperatures across the country in May. Spain saw the mercury hit 40C in early June as a heatwave swept across Europe, hitting the UK last week. Scientists have been able quickly to prove that these record-breaking temperatures are no natural occurrence. A study published last month showed that the south Asian heatwave was made 30 times more likely to happen by human influence on the climate.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-17. Reevaluating Ecosystems on the Basis of Climate Change Vulnerability. [https://eos.org/articles/reevaluating-ecosystems-on-the-basis-of-climate-change-vulnerability] By Deepa Padmanaban. Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Ecosystems play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity and provide such services as water and air filtration, pollination, and erosion prevention. But globally, ecosystems are being degraded by such human impacts as land development and pollution. To assess the status of ecosystems and guide conservation policies, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) established the Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) in 2014. Ecosystems are evaluated and categorized with terms borrowed from IUCN’s internationally recognized categories for endangered species: from least concern …to collapsed (the most severe, akin to extinction). Risk factors used for RLE assessment include rates of spatial decline, rates of abiotic degradation (such as erosion), and rates of disruption to biotic processes (such as epidemics). Now a study conducted by scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and NatureServe …factors in climate change vulnerability as a risk factor for the RLE. …Researchers first developed a framework called the Habitat Climate Change Vulnerability Index (HCCVI). The index considered such factors as exposure (the extent to which the climate within an ecosystem is likely to change), sensitivity (the degree to which any ecosystem is likely to be affected by these changes), and resilience (the ability of the system to recover). Patrick Comer, chief ecologist at NatureServe and lead author of the new paper, said, “One needs to think about climate vulnerability differently for an ecosystem than an individual species, as we’re dealing with an assemblage of species in their environment and how they interact….” The authors applied the index to 33 ecosystems in 10 discrete categories in the United States…. …Exposure measures were calculated on the basis of changes in 19 bioclimatic variables such as annual mean temperature, annual precipitation, and seasonal mean climate conditions. …When the authors applied the HCCVI to the RLE, they found that 17 of the 33 ecosystem scores shifted to higher-risk categories, including endangered.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-17. Electrocuted birds are sparking wildfires. [https://www.science.org/content/article/electrocuted-birds-are-sparking-wildfires] By Richard Kemeny, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In 2014, a wildfire ripped through central Chile, destroying 2500 homes and killing at least 13 people. A year later, a blaze in Idaho burned more than 4000 hectares, an area nearly 12 times the size of New York City’s Central Park. Both conflagrations had one thing in common: Experts believe they were started by birds. Our feathered friends love to perch on power lines, …. But if a bird touches the wrong wires together, or somehow forms an electrical pathway to the ground, it can get fried. Falling to the floor like winged Molotov cocktails, birds can spark an inferno if they hit an especially dry, tindered patch of earth. More than three dozen fires started this way in the United States from 2014 to 2018, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of such blazes. …Humans are responsible for the vast majority of wildfires in the United States. …The researchers found 44 reports of avian-induced wildfires, they report this month in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. Twelve (the densest cluster of fires) occurred in an ecological region that stretches from southern Oregon through California to northern Mexico, bounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada mountains. This area…has a warm Mediterranean-style climate…with mild, wet winters fed by the ocean, followed by hot, dry summers. It is also prone to severe droughts. This combination creates large amounts of vegetation in the winter that quickly dries out to become potential fuel. “That’s why we see a lot of fires going to the catastrophic level,” Barnes says. The region is also densely populated, which may make unwanted urban-wildlife interactions, such as electrocuted large raptors (hawks, eagles, and owls) more likely. …The wildfires reported in the study were generally small: Most of them burned about 1.2 hectares, a touch over two U.S. football fields. Yet there is a clear potential for large-scale devastation, as the Idaho and Chile fires show.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-17. Meet the Peecyclers. Their Idea to Help Farmers Is No. 1. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/17/climate/peecycling-farming-urine-fertilizer.html] By Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times . Excerpt: …Human urine… is full of the same nutrients that plants need to flourish. It has a lot more, in fact, than Number Two, with almost none of the pathogens. Farmers typically apply those nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — to crops in the form of chemical fertilizers. But that comes with a high environmental cost from fossil fuels and mining. …Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has worsened a worldwide fertilizer shortage that’s driving farmers to desperation and threatening food supplies. Scientists also warn that feeding a growing global population in a world of climate change will only get more difficult. …Toilets, in fact, are by far the largest source of water use inside homes, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Wiser management could save vast amounts of water, an urgent need as climate change worsens drought in places like the American West. It could also help with another profound problem: Inadequate sanitation systems — including leaky septic tanks and aging wastewater infrastructure — overload rivers, lakes and coastal waters with nutrients from urine. …algal blooms that trigger mass die offs of animals and other plants. In one dramatic example, manatees in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida are starving to death after sewage-fueled algal blooms destroyed the sea grass they depend on. “The urban environments and aquatic environments become hideously polluted while the rural environments are depleted of what they need,” said Rebecca Nelson, a professor of plant science and global development at Cornell University. …some are also drawn to a transformative idea behind the endeavor. By reusing something once flushed away, they say, they are taking a revolutionary step toward tackling the biodiversity and climate crises: Moving away from a system that constantly extracts and discards, toward a more circular economy that reuses and recycles in a continuous loop.… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-06-16. Record-shattering events spur advances in tying climate change to extreme weather. [https://www.science.org/content/article/record-shattering-events-spur-advances-in-tying-climate-change-to-extreme-weather] By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In June 2021, a jet stream charged with heat and chaotic energy from a nearby cyclonestalled over the Pacific Northwest. The mass of trapped air baked the already hot landscape below to a record 49.6°C. More than 1000 people died from heat exposure. Scientists quickly began working to figure out how much of the blame for the heat wave could be laid to global warming. …the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative…ultimately issued a statement, finding the heat wave was “virtually impossible” without global warming. But…that statement masked plenty of doubts. …new approaches promise to increase the field’s rigor and more precisely capture the relationship between climate change and extreme weather—even for events so extreme that there is no historical record for comparison. …WWA no longer relies on a single climate model, says Friederike Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London; instead, it uses a suite of models to compare extreme events in preindustrial and greenhouse climates. The group has also standardized how it defines and categorizes an extreme event, a choice that’s critical when hunting for and tallying up similar events in the models.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-06-16. ‘Wholly Unexpected’: These Polar Bears Can Survive With Less Sea Ice. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/16/climate/climate-change-polar-bears.html] By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: Scientists have identified a distinct subpopulation of polar bears in southeastern Greenland that, in an area with little sea ice, survive by hunting from ice that breaks off glaciers. The discovery suggests a way that a small number of bears might survive as warming continues and more of the sea ice that they normally depend on disappears. But the researchers and other polar experts cautioned that grave risks to the overall polar bear population in the Arctic remain and will only be lessened by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming. The subpopulation, believed to number several hundred animals, was identified during a multiyear study of what was thought to be a single population of bears along Greenland’s entire 1,800-mile-long east coast. …Overall, there are an estimated 26,000 polar bears around the Arctic, in 19 officially designated subpopulations. The animals live on the seasonal sea ice, hunting their primary prey, seals, as the seals bask on the ice or come up for air through breathing holes. But the rapid warming of the Arctic linked to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases has reduced the extent and duration of sea-ice cover.… See also article in Science Magazine. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-16. Dangerously Hot Weather Descends on 60 Million Americans. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/15/us/heat-wave-midwest-southeast.html] By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Derrick Bryson Taylor, The New York Times. Excerpt: Millions of people were expected to suffer through blistering conditions again on Thursday with heat-related warnings and advisories in effect, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast, the National Weather Service said, adding that it may take weeks to see relief. More than 60 million people from Southern California to West Virginia and as far south as Florida were under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory, meteorologists said. Residents in several states on Wednesday saw temperatures rise well into the 90s, and in some cases into the 100s, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service. They said hot temperatures were likely to persist across large sections of the country for several days.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-16. How millions of lives can be saved if the US acts now on climate. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/16/us-climate-crisis-millions-lives-saved] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: The rapidly shrinking window of opportunity for the US to pass significant climate legislation will have mortal, as well as political, stakes. Millions of lives around the world will be saved, or lost, depending on whether America manages to propel itself towards a future without planet-heating emissions. For the first time, researchers have calculated exactly how many people the US could save by acting on the climate crisis. A total of 7.4 million lives around the world will be saved over this century if the US manages to cut its emissions to net zero by 2050, according to the analysis. The financial savings would be enormous, too, with a net zero America able to save the world $3.7tn in costs to adapt to the rising heat. As the world’s second largest polluter of greenhouse gases, the US and its political vagaries will in large part decide how many people in faraway countries will be subjected to deadly heat, as well as endure punishing storms, floods, drought and other consequences of the climate emergency. …Climate Impact Lab consortium … conducted the study. …The lab’s new “lives saved calculator” uses a model of historical death records and localized temperature projections to come up with an estimate for the number of lives saved if emissions are eliminated.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-06-15. Flooding Chaos in Yellowstone, a Sign of Crises to Come. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/15/us/yellowstone-national-park-floods.html] By Jim RobbinsThomas Fuller and Christine Chung, The New York Times. Excerpt: …The floodwaters that raged through Yellowstone this week changed the course of rivers, tore out bridges, poured through homes and forced the evacuation of thousands of visitors from the nation’s oldest national park. It is difficult to directly connect the damage in Yellowstone to a rapidly warming climate — rivers have flooded for millenniums — but scientists are raising the alarm that in the coming years destruction related to climate change will reach nearly all 423 national parks, which are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. …The cactuses in Saguaro National Park in Arizona, icons of the rugged, arid West with prickly arms that reach for bright blue desert sky, are dying from the heat. …in Joshua Tree National Park, where scientists are mulling a future when the park would be mostly denuded of the trees it was named after. Joshua trees are dying from both rising temperatures and wildfires. A blaze in the nearby Mojave National Preserve in 2020 killed 1.3 million trees, leaving the park management to describe one area as “a graveyard of Joshua tree skeletons.”… See also National Geographic article Yellowstone flooding: Why is it happening now? For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-15. New data reveals extraordinary global heating in the Arctic. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/15/new-data-reveals-extraordinary-global-heating-in-the-arctic] By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: New data has revealed extraordinary rates of global heating in the Arctic, up to seven times faster than the global average. The heating is occurring in the North Barents Sea, a region where fast rising temperatures are suspected to trigger increases in extreme weather in North America, Europe and Asia. The researchers said the heating in this region was an “early warning” of what could happen across the rest of the Arctic. The new figures show annual average temperatures in the area are rising across the year by up to 2.7C a decade, with particularly high rises in the months of autumn of up to 4C a decade. This makes the North Barents Sea and its islands the fastest warming place known on Earth. Recent years have seen temperatures far above average recorded in the Arctic, with seasoned observers describing the situation as “crazy”, “weird”, and “simply shocking”. Some climate scientists have warned the unprecedented events could signal faster and more abrupt climate breakdown.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-06-14. Zhurong Rover Spots Evidence of Recent Liquid Water on Mars. [https://eos.org/articles/zhurong-rover-spots-evidence-of-recent-liquid-water-on-mars] By Katherine Kornei, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Mars is hardly a verdant world today, yet evidence abounds that liquid water once flowed over the Red Planet. Now, the latest rover to arrive on Mars’s surface—Zhurong, part of China’s Tianwen-1 mission—has spotted hydrated minerals that point to liquid water persisting well into the Red Planet’s most recent geologic period. These results, published in Science Advances, contribute to our understanding of when liquid water flowed on Mars, the research team has suggested.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-06-14. On Climate Change’s Front Lines, Hard Lives Grow Even Harder. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/14/world/asia/india-south-asia-climate-change.html] By Mujib Mashal and Hari Kumar, The New York Times. Excerpt: When the unseasonably heavy rains flooded the fields, and then the equally unseasonable heat shriveled the seeds, it didn’t just slash Ranjit Singh’s wheat harvest by nearly half. It put him, and nearly all the other households in his village in northern India, that much further from financial stability in a country where a majority of people scratch out a living on farms. Like many Indian farmers, Mr. Singh is saddled with enormous debt and wondering how he will repay it, as a warming world makes farming ever more precarious. For India and other South Asian nations, home to hundreds of millions of humanity’s most vulnerable, a seemingly bottomless well of challenges — poverty, food security, health, governance — has only deepened as the region bakes on the front lines of climate change. Global warming is no longer a distant prospect that officials with short electoral mandates can choose to look away from.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-14. One Site, 95 Tons of Methane an Hour. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/14/climate/methane-emissions-russia-coal-mine.html] By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: A remote-sensing satellite has detected one of the largest releases of methane from a single industrial site, an underground coal mine in south-central Russia. The finding is another indication of the scope of the problem of curbing emissions of methane, a potent planet-warming gas. Thirteen plumes of the gas were observed at the Raspadskya mine, the largest coal mine in Russia, in late January during a single pass of a satellite operated by GHGSat, a commercial emissions-monitoring firm. The total flow rate from all the plumes was estimated at about 87 metric tons (about 95 U.S. tons) an hour. “This is the biggest source we’ve ever seen,” said Brody Wight, director of energy, landfills and mines at GHGSat, which was formed in 2011 and now has six emissions-sensing satellites. By contrast, the highest rate measured at Aliso Canyon, a natural gas storage facility in Southern California that had a major leak for nearly four months in 2015 and 2016, was about 60 metric tons an hour.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-06-13. ‘Vomiting. The loss of strength’: Southwest heat drives health fears. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/06/13/extreme-heat-las-vegas/] By Joshua Partlow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: LAS VEGAS — Cristian Sanchez’s crew was on the job site by 6 a.m. Saturday, when Las Vegas was just a balmy 90 degrees. By the end of their shift, ripping out dead grass to make way for drought-resistant vegetation, temperatures at Harry Reid International Airport would reach 109 degrees, tied for the daily record set in 1956. Another 109 the day before broke that day’s record, and set the mark for hottest day of the year, part of a late spring heat wave that also blistered Arizona, California, and much of the American southwest. …Sanchez, from Veracruz, Mexico, has spent six years as a landscaper in Las Vegas, and he knew what it looked like when heat became overwhelming. …“Vomiting. The loss of strength,” he said. “When I first began working this way, I felt the heat, with a lot of headaches. But over time, one gets used to it, your body gets accustomed to the heat. And it becomes normal.” But for researchers studying extreme heat here, Sanchez falls neatly into a particularly high risk category for heat-related illness and injury. A study published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology that looked at the effects of extreme heat on the health of the outdoor workforce in Nevada, California and Arizona found that heat morbidities increase with years of service on the job. …“That was not expected,” said lead author Erick Bandala,…. He thought newer, unexperienced workers would face the biggest problems. …workers become inured to the threat, even as climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, makes heat waves more frequent and more intense.… For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-10. Astronomers may have detected a ‘dark’ free-floating black hole. [https://news.berkeley.edu/2022/06/10/astronomers-may-have-detected-a-dark-free-floating-black-hole/] By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: If, as astronomers believe, the death of large stars leave behind black holes, there should be hundreds of millions of them scattered throughout the Milky Way galaxy. The problem is, isolated black holes are invisible. Now, a team led by University of California, Berkeley, astronomers has for the first time discovered what may be a free-floating black hole by observing the brightening of a more distant star as its light was distorted by the object’s strong gravitational field — so-called gravitational microlensing. The team, led by graduate student Casey Lam and Jessica Lu, a UC Berkeley associate professor of astronomy, estimates that the mass of the invisible compact object is between 1.6 and 4.4 times that of the sun. Because astronomers think that the leftover remnant of a dead star must be heavier than 2.2 solar masses in order to collapse to a black hole, the UC Berkeley researchers caution that the object could be a neutron star instead of a black hole. Neutron stars are also dense, highly compact objects, but their gravity is balanced by internal neutron pressure, which prevents further collapse to a black hole. …“This is the first free-floating black hole or neutron star discovered with gravitational microlensing,” Lu said. …The analysis by Lam, Lu and their international team has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. …Notably, a competing team from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore analyzed the same microlensing event and claims that the mass of the compact object is closer to 7.1 solar masses and indisputably a black hole.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 6.

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2022-06-10. Why Did Sunspots Disappear for 70 Years? Nearby Star Holds Clues. [https://eos.org/articles/why-did-sunspots-disappear-for-70-years-nearby-star-holds-clues] By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Every 11 years, the number of spots dotting the surface of the Sun increases and decreases like clockwork. Astronomers have been tracking the 11-year sunspot cycle for more than 400 years, using it to better understand the chaotic magnetic field the Sun puts out. (The current solar cycle, number 25, started in 2019.) The timing of the solar cycle is remarkably consistent: Sunspot numbers rise and fall, rise and fall…except for that time that they disappeared and weren’t seen again for 70 years. That period of time, from 1645 to 1715, is known as the Maunder Minimum, named after 19th century British astronomers Edward and Annie Maunder. Astronomers still don’t understand why the Sun ceased making sunspots for 70 years, but a new analysis of more than 5 decades of measurements of nearby stars has identified one that might be undergoing its own Maunder-like minimum. The star, HD 166620, could help scientists understand this mysteriously quiescent period of the Sun’s history and unlock clues about how the solar dynamo functions.… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 3.

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2022-06-09. Fossil Fuels Drive Increase in Atmospheric Helium. [https://eos.org/articles/fossil-fuels-drive-increase-in-atmospheric-helium] By Jennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) during the extraction and burning of fossil fuels has contributed to major changes in Earth’s atmosphere in the centuries since humans realized their value as an energy source. Often accompanying CO2 are benign gases such as helium (He) that can be used to trace such emissions. Scientists have long speculated that the amount of 4He—an isotope of helium—in the atmosphere is increasing because it is found in the same reservoirs as natural gas and other hydrocarbons. But measurements have so far been conflicting and imprecise. Now, researchers have developed a new way to measure the noble gas, shedding light on the decades-old conundrum. “With our measurements, for the first time, we’re able to demonstrate that [the theory is] actually true, that helium concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing,” said Benjamin Birner, an atmospheric chemist and postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The new discovery could lead scientists to better identify sources of CO2 in the atmosphere, which could guide policies to curb emissions. The increase in 4He also raises questions about its isotopic companion, 3He, and a potential undiscovered reservoir of the gas—a critical resource in some research and commercial industries.… For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-06-09. ‘Fantastic giant tortoise’ species thought extinct for 100 years found alive. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/09/galapagos-fantastic-giant-tortoise-species-thought-extinct-found-alive] By Sofia Quaglia, The Guardian. Excerpt: A rare Galápagos species, the “fantastic giant tortoise”, long thought extinct, has been officially identified for the first time in more than a century in what scientists called a “big deal” for the famed islands’ embattled biodiversity. The animal is the first Chelonoidis phantasticus to be seen since a male specimen was discovered by the explorer Rollo Beck during an expedition in 1906. The newcomer has been named Fernanda, after the Fernandina Island, a largely unexplored active volcano in the western Galápagos Archipelago that she calls home.… For GSS Population Growth chapter 3.

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2022-06-12. Fish leather is here, it’s sustainable – and it’s made from invasive species to boot. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/12/fish-leather-lionfish-sustainable-invasive-species] By Richard Luscombe, The Guardian. Excerpt: Aarav Chavda has been diving off the coast of Florida for years. Each time he became increasingly depressed by the ever-growing void, as colourful species of fish and coral reefs continued to disappear. A significant reason for that disappearance is the lionfish, an invasive species that has boomed in Atlantic waters from Florida to the Caribbean in recent decades, and in numerous other places from Brazil and Mexico to the Mediterranean. Lionfish have no natural predators outside their native range – in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the Red Sea – and are all-consuming, devouring an estimated 79% of young marine life within five weeks of entering a coral reef system. …Chavda and a team of ecologically aware fellow scuba enthusiasts decided to act by establishing Inversa, which turns lionfish into a new product: fish leather. On Wednesday, World Oceans Day, the team was recognised as one of nine finalists in the Global Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (Oric).… For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-06-09. A Wild Hope. [https://www.science.org/content/article/two-decades-vanished-stunning-spixs-macaw-returns-forest-home] By Kai Kupferschmidt, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Two decades after it disappeared in nature, the stunning blue Spix’s macaw will be reintroduced to its forest home. CURAÇÁ, BRAZIL—In 1995, conservationists and scientists embarked on a desperate attempt to save the world’s rarest bird, a blue-gray parrot called the Spix’s macaw. …By the mid-1990s only a single individual remained alive in the wild, close to this dusty, small town in northeastern Brazil. …Now, conservationists are attempting to undo that fate. On 11 June, …they plan to release eight Spix’s macaws from captivity into the wild. Twelve more are supposed to follow at the end of the year and still more in the years to come. If everything goes according to plan, these birds will be the vanguard of a new population of Spix’s macaws in their natural habitat.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-06-06. How the wild jungle fowl became the chicken. [https://www.science.org/content/article/how-wild-jungle-fowl-became-chicken] By Ann Gibbons, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …A pair of new archaeological studies suggest that without rice, chickens may have never existed. The work reveals that chickens may have been domesticated thousands of years later than scientists thought, and only after humans began cultivating rice within range of the wild red jungle fowl, in Thailand or nearby in peninsular Southeast Asia, says Dale Serjeantson, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton who was not involved with the research. …Charles Darwin proposed that chickens descended from the red jungle fowl—a colorful tropical bird in the pheasant family–because the two look so much alike. …In 2020, a study of 863 living chickens’ genomes confirmed that the jungle fowl Gallus gallus spaedicus subspecies was the ancestor of living chickens; chickens share more of their DNA with that subspecies than other types of jungle fowl. …the oldest bones of likely chickens came from a site called Ban Non Wat in central Thailand, where farmers grew rice 3250 to 3650 years ago, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 3.

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2022-06-04. Climate-friendly diets can make a huge difference – even if you don’t go all-out vegan. By Amanda Schupak, The Guardian. Excerpt: Changing habits can be hard but even partial shifts from meat-based menus could significantly decrease planet-heating emissions. What we eat has an enormous environmental impact. Scientists estimate that food production causes 35% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, with meat responsible for more than twice the pollution of fruits, grains and greens. In April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report urged world leaders, especially those in developed countries, to support a transition to sustainable, healthy, low-emissions diets to help mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis. …eating less meat is one of the most meaningful changes people can make to curb greenhouse gas emissions, help reduce deforestation and even decrease the risk of pandemic-causing diseases passing from animals to humans, according to the IPCC report. The shifts needn’t be extreme. Adopting a healthy Mediterranean-style diet – rich in grains, vegetables, nuts and moderate amounts of fish and poultry – could be nearly as effective as going vegetarian or vegan, the report found. If everyone met basic nutritional recommendations, which for most people in developed countries means more fruit and veg and less red meat, emissions could fall 29% by 2050, according to one study…. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/04/meat-diets-climate-emissions-plant-based-vegan] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-06-02. Once eager to drill, oil companies exit leases in Arctic refuge. By Steven Mufson and Joshua Partlow , The Washington Post. Excerpt: Three major oil companies have given up opportunities to explore for oil in Alaska’sArctic National Wildlife Refuge, after the industry and Republican politicians have spent decades workingto gain access to the sensitive region. Regenerate Alaska, a division of an Australian firm and the only oil company to directly acquire a tract on the refuge’s nearly 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, canceled its lease last month, after Chevron and Hilcorp, two other major oil companies,had also jettisoned their claims. The exits make it far less likely that drilling will take place soon in a vast, unspoiled landscape that has achieved iconic status among environmentalists and has been fought over for half a century. …Five major U.S. banks — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — and a growing list of insurance companies have stopped giving financing for the Arctic oil business. …There are many obstacles to drilling in the Arctic refuge. There are no roads or facilities, so building the infrastructure to support oil exploration would be costly. There has long been strong opposition to drilling in the refuge, which has only intensified as climate change worsens, driven by burning of fossil fuels. The Alaskan Arctic has warmed at least three times more than other parts of the country, posing new risks to oil infrastructure on the North Slope as permafrost melts. “If you look at project proposals in other parts of the Arctic, they’re using things like chillers to freeze the permafrost so they can drill more,” said Jenny Rowland-Shea, deputy director for public lands at the Center for American Progress, a liberal thinktank. “It’s not getting any colder in the Arctic. It’s only getting harder to do things like drill, and it’s a vicious cycle.” …Some oil industry analysts see the departure from Alaska as a sign of increased fiscal discipline by oil companies as renewable energy becomes a more prominent focus for them. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/06/02/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge-drilling/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-06-01. Planting Wetlands Could Help Stave Off Climate Catastrophe. ByJennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Repopulating forests, planting neighborhood trees, and stopping large-scale logging are popular strategies to offset or reduce carbon emissions. But forests pale in comparison to wetlands’ carbon sequestration potential. Peatlands, salt marshes, and other coastal and inland wetlands cover just 1% of Earth’s surface, yet they store 20% of our planet’s ecosystem carbon, according to new research. Restoring wetlands is a powerful additional tool to combat climate change, said Brian Silliman, an ecologist at Duke University and a coauthor of the study, published in Science. …Peatlands are particularly important carbon sinks. Peat moss—a primary ingredient in many boggy wetlands—grows as mats of spongy plant matter. Older peat is buried beneath newer sprouts, and in the submerged, low-oxygen environment, sluggish decay locks in thick mats of carbon for millennia. …Around 1% of wetlands are lost each year to threats such as construction, farming, and sea level rise, according to the study. With the loss of these environments comes the release of their stored carbon—accounting for roughly 5% of annual total global carbon emissions. …Restoring, protecting, and rebuilding wetlands can be both a global and grassroots strategy. [https://eos.org/articles/planting-wetlands-could-help-stave-off-climate-catastrophe] For GSS  Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-06-07. As the Great Salt Lake Dries Up, Utah Faces An ‘Environmental Nuclear Bomb’. By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times. Excerpt: SALT LAKE CITY — If the Great Salt Lake, which has already shrunk by two-thirds, continues to dry up, here’s what’s in store: The lake’s flies and brine shrimp would die off — scientists warn it could start as soon as this summer — threatening the 10 million migratory birds that stop at the lake annually to feed on the tiny creatures. Ski conditions at the resorts above Salt Lake City, a vital source of revenue, would deteriorate. The lucrative extraction of magnesium and other minerals from the lake could stop. Most alarming, the air surrounding Salt Lake City would occasionally turn poisonous. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic and as more of it becomes exposed, wind storms carry that arsenic into the lungs of nearby residents, who make up three-quarters of Utah’s population. …As climate change continues to cause record-breaking drought, there are no easy solutions. Saving the Great Salt Lake would require letting more snowmelt from the mountains flow to the lake, which means less water for residents and farmers. That would threaten the region’s breakneck population growth and high-value agriculture — something state leaders seem reluctant to do. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/07/climate/salt-lake-city-climate-disaster.html] For GSS  Population Growth chapter 5.

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2022-06-07. Funding needed for climate disasters has risen ‘more than 800%’ in 20 years. By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian. Excerpt: The funding needed by UN climate disaster appeals has soared by more than 800% in 20 years as global heating takes hold. But only about half of it is being met by rich countries, according to a new report by Oxfam. Last year was the third costliest on record for extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and wildfires with total economic costs estimated at $329bn, nearly double the total aid given by donor nations. While poor countries appealed for $63-75bn in emergency humanitarian aid over the last five years, they only received $35-42bn, leaving a shortfall that Oxfam condemned as “piecemeal and painfully inadequate”. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/07/funding-needed-for-climate-disasters-has-risen-more-than-800-in-20-years] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-03. Did volcanic ‘glasses’ help spark early life? By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …Fossils suggest microbes were present 3.7 billion years ago, just a few hundred million years after the 4.5-billion-year-old planet had cooled enough to support biochemistry, and many researchers think the hereditary material for these first organisms was RNA. Although not as complex as DNA, RNA would still be difficult to forge into the long strands needed to convey genetic information, raising the question of how it could have spontaneously formed. Now, researchers may have an answer. In lab experiments, they show how rocks called basaltic glasses help individual RNA letters, known as nucleoside triphosphates, link into strands up to 200 letters long. The glasses would have been abundant in the fire and brimstone of early Earth; they are created when lava is quenched in air or water or when the melted rock created in asteroid strikes cools off rapidly…. [https://www.science.org/content/article/did-volcanic-glasses-help-spark-early-life] For GSS Life and Climate chapter 4.

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2022-06-04. Climate change is forcing schools to close early for ‘heat days’. By Laura Meckler and Anna Phillips, The Washington Post. Excerpt: With no air conditioning and no money to install it, districts are sending students home. Temperatures kept rising in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Finally, it was just too hot to keep students in classrooms without air conditioning. On Tuesday, both systems let students out early. Climate change poses a growing threat to American schools. Regions where extreme heat was once rare — from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest — now periodically find their buildings unbearably hot as spring turns to summer and again when classes resume in August or September…. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2022/06/04/school-heat-days-climate-change/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-03. Carbon Dioxide Levels Are Highest in Human History. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: Humans pumped 36 billion tons of the planet-warming gas into the atmosphere in 2021, more than in any previous year. It comes from burning oil, gas and coal. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any time in at least 4 million years, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials said. The concentration of the gas reached nearly 421 parts per million in May, the peak for the year, as power plants, vehicles, farms and other sources around the world continued to pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere…. Emissions totaled 36.3 billion tons in 2021, the highest level in history. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/03/climate/carbon-dioxide-record.html] See also article in The Guardian [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/06/carbon-dioxide-levels-increase-global-heating-study]. For GSS Climate Change chapter 6.

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2022-06-02. How humid air, intensified by climate change, is melting Greenland ice. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The term “atmospheric river” has recently become popularized in media due to its role in extreme weather. As the plume of water vapor makes landfall, it precipitates as rain or snow. In the fall and winter, atmospheric rivers bring much of California’s annual precipitation but can also unleash intense flooding. In July 2021, an atmospheric river brought flooding to Germany, which killed more than 200 people. In Greenland, these warm rivers in the sky also play a role in melting the ice sheet. Amid rising temperatures, Greenland has lost more ice mass than it gained for 25 years in a row. In that time, melting ice from Greenland has added about 0.4 inches to sea level rise — equivalent to adding water from 120 million Olympic-size swimming pools each year. If the entire ice sheet were to melt, sea level could increase by more than 20 feet. In a study released Thursday, Box and his colleagues illuminate how an atmospheric river caused the August 2021 melt event and brought rain to the summit. The explanation foretells a future that could be increasingly common as global temperatures rise due to human-caused climate change, accelerating sea level rise…. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/06/02/greenland-melt-warm-climate-change/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-06-02. The last hunt? Future in peril for ‘the unicorn of the sea’. By Sofia Moutinho and Regin Winther Poulsen, The Guardian. Excerpt: …Narwhals are found in Arctic waters mostly around Greenland and Canada, and are estimated to number about 120,000 globally. These elusive animals face threats, including noise pollution from ships, which can disturb their navigation and ability to find food, as well as warming waters due to global heating. As the ice melts, they lose their habitat and food. Greenland’s government introduced quotas for hunting narwhal for the first time in 2004, and also banned the lucrative export of their tusks. Narwhal meat is now the hunters’ most commercially prized product, and is distributed around the country from the hunting districts to be sold in Facebook groups and supermarkets, where it can fetch 500 Danish kroner (£57) a kilo. Yet, despite hunting restrictions, populations are plummeting, according to surveys by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, a government advisory body that monitors the environment. In 2008, surveys estimated there were about 1,900 narwhals in Ittoqqortoormiit, the main hunting location in east Greenland. At the last count in the area, in 2016, the population was put at about 400…. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/02/the-last-hunt-greenland-split-over-protection-for-the-narwhal] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-06-01. University of California to remove all companies that own fossil fuel reserves from the UC Retirement Savings Program. By UC Berkeley. Excerpt: UC Investments believes that the fossil fuel industry faces considerable long term financial risk and that removing such companies from the RSP will have a positive financial and risk-reducing impact on fund performance in the long run…. [https://preview-accept.myucretirement.com/resource/2312] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-01. ‘Singing’ lava lakes could help predict when volcanoes will blow. By Zach Savitsky, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In 2007, lava began to pool inside one of the craters atop Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, a gentle eruption that would culminate more than a decade later in a spectacular display of spewed ash and massive lava flows. Until that final outburst, the lava lake was a tourist spectacle, a calm surface that hid the churn of magma deeper within the volcano. Now, researchers have found a new way to identify key signs of Kilauea’s eruptive potential—by listening to vibrations from these lava lakes. Eventually, they hope to use these lava “songs” to forecast when a volcano will start and stop erupting…. [https://www.science.org/content/article/singing-lava-lakes-could-help-predict-when-volcanoes-will-blow] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-06-01. Biden Administration to Cut Costs for Wind and Solar Energy Projects. By Lisa Friedman, The New York Times. Excerpt: WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said on Wednesday it would cut in half the amount it charges companies to build wind and solar projects on federal lands, a move designed to encourage development of renewable energy…. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/01/climate/biden-solar-wind-fees-cut.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-06-01. The village that stood up to big oil – and won. By Jess Craig, The Guardian. Excerpt: Today, the oil industry in Nigeria faces a reckoning with Shell at the helm. According to Amnesty International, the oil company has come under “unprecedented legal scrutiny” in recent years for its negligent and criminal practices in the Niger Delta. Several lawsuits are ongoing while others have culminated in courts ordering Shell to pay plaintiffs billions of dollars in damages. The mounting pressure has Shell considering a rapid departure from the region’s oil market. In early August 2021, the company announced it would sell off all remaining onshore oilfields in Nigeria, citing challenges with community unrest, sabotage and a company-wide refocus on promoting green energy. But locals and lawyers see the move as Shell ducking its responsibility to clean up after itself. A court in March barred Shell from selling any more assets in Nigeria while the company appeals against a ruling in which it was found liable for a 2019 oil spill and ordered to pay affected communities nearly $2bn in damages…. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/jun/01/oil-pollution-spill-nigeria-shell-lawsuit

2022-06-01. Better than CRISPR? Another way to fix gene problems may be safer and more versatile. By Jocelyn Kaiser, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Tools such as CRISPR that snip DNA to alter its sequence are moving tantalizingly close to the clinic as treatment for some genetic diseases. But away from the limelight, researchers are increasingly excited about an alternative that leaves a DNA sequence unchanged. These molecular tools target the epigenome, the chemical tags adorning DNA and its surrounding proteins that govern a gene’s expression and how it ultimately behaves. A flurry of studies in the past few years in mice suggests epigenome editing is a potentially safer, more flexible way to turn genes on or off than editing DNA. In one example described last month at a gene therapy meeting in Washington, D.C., an Italian team dialed down expression of a gene in mice to lower the animals’ cholesterol levels for months. Other groups are exploring epigenome editing to treat everything from cancer to pain to Huntington disease, a fatal brain disorder…. [https://www.science.org/content/article/better-crispr-another-way-fix-gene-problems-may-be-safer-and-more-versatile] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

2022-06-01. We cannot adapt our way out of climate crisis, warns leading scientist. By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian. Excerpt: The world cannot adapt its way out of the climate crisis, and counting on adaptation to limit damage is no substitute for urgently cutting greenhouse gases, a leading climate scientist has warned. Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy in the US and professor at Texas Tech University, said the world was heading for dangers unseen in the 10,000 years of human civilisation, and efforts to make the world more resilient were needed but by themselves could not soften the impact enough. “People do not understand the magnitude of what is going on,” she said. “This will be greater than anything we have ever seen in the past. This will be unprecedented. Every living thing will be affected.”…. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/01/we-cannot-adapt-our-way-out-of-climate-crisis-warns-leading-scientist

2022-06-01. ‘Consequences will be dire’: Chile’s water crisis is reaching breaking point. By John Bartlett, The Guardian. Excerpt: Unprecedented drought makes water a national security issue as more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in area with ‘severe water scarcity’ by end of 2021. From the Atacama Desert to Patagonia, a 13-year megadrought is straining Chile’s freshwater resources to breaking point.By the end  of 2021, the fourth driest year on record, more than half of Chile’s 19 million population lived in an area suffering from “severe water scarcity”, and in April an unprecedented water rationing plan was announced for the capital, Santiago. In hundreds of rural communities in the centre and north of the country, Chileans are forced to rely on emergency tankers to deliver drinking water. …Many called for a rewrite of Chile’s 1981 water code, a relic of Gen Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990) which enshrines one of the most privatised water systems in the world, allowing people to buy and sell water allocations like stocks. Chile is also the only country in the world that specifically says in its constitution that water rights are treated as private property.… [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/01/chiles-water-crisis-megadrought-reaching-breaking-point

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2022-06-01. How the Bramble Cay melomys became the first mammal lost to the climate crisis. By Hannah Seo, The Guardian. Excerpt: No one knows how the Bramble Cay melomyses – rodents with large, liquid eyes and reddish-brown fur, small enough to fit in the palms of your hands – ended up on Bramble Cay. The cay is speck of land about 50km (31 miles) off the coast of Papua New Guinea, at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. …in 2015, the Bramble Cay melomys became the first mammal to go extinct directly because of human-caused climate breakdown. …Bramble Cay is only a little larger than an average US shopping mall. The highest point is about 10 feet above sea level. …The tiny cay and its essentially trapped inhabitants were susceptible to even small changes in the surrounding ocean. Climate change and rising sea levels led to salt-water intrusions throughout the island, choking much of the flora – in the decade between 2004 and 2014, the volume of leafy plants on Bramble Cay shrank by 97%. Storm surges also winnowed down the population, sweeping animals out to sea. When biologists returned in 2002 and 2004, only about a dozen melomyses could be found…. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/01/extinction-obituary-bramble-cay-melomys-climate-change-aoe] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-05-30. Hit Hard by High Energy Costs, Hawaii Looks to the Sun. By Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Nearly a third of Hawaii’s single-family houses have rooftop solar panels — more than twice the percentage in California — and officials expect many more homes to add panels and batteries in the coming years. Even before energy prices surged globally this year, homeowners, elected leaders and energy executives in Hawaii had decided that rooftop solar panels were one of the best ways to meet demand for energy and tame the state’s high power costs. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only strengthened the state’s embrace of renewable energy. Electricity rates in Hawaii jumped 34 percent in April from a year earlier because many of its power plants burn oil, about a third of which came from Russia last year. …The state has increased the use of renewable energy in large part by getting electric utilities to accept rooftop solar rather than fight it, as energy companies in California, Florida and other states have been doing. …“In Hawaii, we’ve come to the recognition that rooftop solar is going to be an important part of our grid, has to be part of our grid,” said Shelee Kimura, president and chief executive of Hawaiian Electric Company, the state’s largest power provider. …Less than a decade ago, utilities like Ms. Kimura’s pressed state lawmakers to reduce incentives for rooftop solar, a tactic that the utility industry has used across the country, arguing that rooftop solar is not as efficient as large solar and wind farms. …In 2015, Hawaii’s utility regulators reduced how much homeowners were paid for sending the excess energy that their solar panels produced to the electric grid. That change …did little to bring down energy costs. The state’s electricity rates now stand at 39 cents a kilowatt-hour, nearly three times the national average of 14 cents. …state officials in recent years have gone back to encouraging the use of small-scale energy systems. …Hawaii offers up to $4,250 to homeowners on Oahu, home to about 70 percent of the state’s population and Honolulu, to install home batteries with their solar systems, defraying as much as third of the cost of doing so. Utilities can tap those batteries for power between 6 and 8:30 p.m., when energy demand typically peaks.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/30/business/hawaii-solar-energy.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-05-29. Green Energy Complicates the Taliban’s New Battle Against Opium. By Bryan DentonDavid Zucchino and Yaqoob Akbary, The New York Times. Excerpt: …stamping out opium will be more difficult than ever because of a shift by poppy farmers to green energy. Water pumps powered by cheap and highly efficient solar panelsare able to drill deep down into rapidly dwindling desert aquifers. …Now, solar power is a defining feature of southern Afghan life. Tiny solar panels power light bulbs in mud huts, and solar-driven pumps irrigate cash crops like wheat and pomegranates, as well as subsistence farmers’ vegetable plots. …Opium farmers now rely on at least 67,000 solar-power-fed water reservoirs across Afghanistan’s desert southwest, according to a European Union-funded research project by David Mansfield, …. …The panels, which supplanted more expensive and less reliable diesel to run water pumps, have helped turn the desert green. The population of previously uninhabited desert areas in Kandahar, Helmand and Nimruz Provinces ballooned to at least 1.4 million people in recent years as solar-driven pumps helped expand arable land, according to Dr. Mansfield’s research. …When farmers used diesel-powered pumps, groundwater levels dropped about three meters a year, Mr. Armani said. But since solar panels arrived, they have sometimes sunk up to nine meters annually. His well is 30 meters deep, he said, but his neighbor’s well across the river is 60 meters deep. “We have to continue to dig our wells deeper and deeper,” Mr. Armani said.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/29/world/asia/afghanistan-opium-taliban.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-05-26. Egg-eating humans helped drive Australia’s ‘thunder bird’ to extinction. By Andrew Curry, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Fifty thousand years ago, Australia was populated by big birds—really big birds. One of them, known as mihirunga, or the “thunder bird,” was six times the size of a modern emu; it may have weighed in at 250 kilograms and stood more than 2 meters tall. But the giant Genyornis newtoni disappeared 45,000 years ago, and researchers have long puzzled over whether human hunters or climate change was the culprit. Now, a new analysis of ancient eggshells—the leftovers of a prehistoric feast—suggests “humans were responsible,” says Trevor Worthy, a paleozoologist at Flinders University. …burned shells suggest the first humans to arrive in Australia were stealing and eating eggs—each of which would have been a family-size meal—rather than taking on the big birds directly. “It’s quite possible humans were successful at chasing birds off the nest,” Miller says. “The most efficient way to cause an extinction is to capture the young.”… [https://www.science.org/content/article/egg-eating-humans-helped-drive-australia-s-thunder-bird-extinction] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

2022-05-26. Climate Change Leads to Decline in Lichen Biocrusts. By Derek Smith, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, are communities of living organisms at the soil surface and are known as the “living skin” of dryland ecosystems. They cement soil grains together, thereby protecting dryland soils from erosion. Biocrusts also add critical nutrients to the soil by converting nitrogen in the atmosphere to ammonia, which serves as a kind of fertilizer for plants and microbes. Unfortunately, trampling by livestock and such human activity as driving vehicles off-road make biocrust survival difficult. New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has suggested that there’s another phenomenon that biocrusts are sensitive to: climate change. …The research was conducted on the Colorado Plateau within the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. …Increasing summertime temperatures best explained the decline in lichen cover; lichen cover was lowest in years with the hottest maximum temperatures in June…. [ttps://eos.org/articles/climate-change-leads-to-decline-in-lichen-biocrusts

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2022-05-24. Some Elephants Are Getting Too Much Plastic in Their Diets. By Joshua Rapp Learn, The New York Times. Excerpt: Some Asian elephants… sneak into dumps near human settlements at the edges of their forest habitats and quickly gobble up garbage — plastic utensils, packaging and all. …elephants are transporting plastic and other human garbage deep into forests in parts of India. “When they defecate, the plastic comes out of the dung and gets deposited in the forest,” said Gitanjali Katlam, an ecological researcher in India. While a lot of research has been conducted on the spread of plastics from human pollution into the world’s oceans and seas, considerably less is known about how such waste moves with wildlife on land. But elephants are important seed dispersers, and research published this month in the Journal for Nature Conservation shows that the same process that keeps ecosystems functioning might carry human-made pollutants into national parks and other wild areas. This plastic could have negative effects on the health of elephants and other species that have consumed the material once it has passed through the large mammals’ digestive systems. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/24/science/india-elephants-plastic.html] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

2022-05-24. Active Hurricane Season Expected in the Atlantic Ocean. By enessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: If forecasts are correct, this season will mark the seventh consecutive above-normal hurricane season for the Atlantic. NOAA forecasts out today predict a 65% chance of an above-average season, a 25% chance of a normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The ranges account for uncertainty in the data and models of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center…. [https://eos.org/articles/active-hurricane-season-expected-in-the-atlantic-ocean]

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2022-05-23. Scientists turn tomatoes into a rich source for vitamin D. By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …Two studies now show that with a little help from gene editing, Sun-ripened tomatoes can also stockpile a precursor molecule to vitamin D, a vital nutrient normally found mainly in animal products. …Today in Nature Plants, a team led by Cathie Martin, a plant metabolic engineer at the John Innes Centre, reported that knocking out a single gene created tomatoes which could each provide 20% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D in the United Kingdom. And in a late March preprint, a group led by plant geneticist Sunghwa Choe of Seoul National University reported that by knocking out a related gene, it was able to produce tomatoes with even higher levels of a vitamin D precursor.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/scientists-turn-tomatoes-rich-source-vitamin-d] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-05-22. Millions Displaced and Dozens Dead in Flooding in India and Bangladesh. By Karan Deep Singh and Saif Hasnat, The Nw York Times. Excerpt: NEW DELHI — Heavy pre-monsoon rains in India and Bangladesh have washed away train stations, towns and villages, leaving millions of people homeless as extreme weather events, including heat waves, intense rainfall and floods, become more common in South Asia. More than 60 people have been killed in days of flooding, landslides and thunderstorms that have left many people without food and drinking water and have isolated them by cutting off the internet, according to officials.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/22/world/asia/flooding-india-bangladesh.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-25. ‘It seems this heat will take our lives’: Pakistan city fearful after hitting 51C. By Rahmat Tunio, The Guardian. Excerpt: As Pakistan and India sweltered during the recent heatwave, the city of Jacobabad, where Akbar lives, hit a record-breaking 51C. Normally the summer heat starts from the last week of May, but this year, for the first time according to the people here, the heat began in March. Now it will continue till August.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/25/it-seems-this-heat-will-take-our-lives-pakistan-city-fearful-jacobabad-after-hitting-51c] See also New York Times article A Heat Wave’s Lamented Victim: The Mango, India’s King of Fruits and The Guardian article Deadly Indian heatwave made 30 times more likely by climate crisis. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-20. Historic May heat shatters records in Southern and Central Europe. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A brutal blast of record-breaking heat has spread over southern and central Europe, shattering May records from Portugal to Germany. Some of the most extreme heat is focusing in Portugal, Spain and France. The record-setting temperatures are occurring at the same time exceptional heat scorches the eastern United States. The concurrent heat waves on two continents underscore the effects of human-caused climate change, which boosts the frequency, intensity and duration of such events. Europe’s hottest weather Friday concentrated in Portugal and Spain. In southern Spain, the temperature surged as high as 107 degrees (41.8 Celsius) Friday and hotter weather was projected on Saturday. Seville climbed to 105.4 degrees (40.8 Celsius) Friday, tying its highest May temperature on record.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/05/20/spain-france-heat/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-05-19. French dijon mustard supply hit by climate and rising costs, say producers. By Robyn Wilson, The Guardian. Excerpt: Climate change and rising costs are causing supermarkets in France to run out of dijon mustard, raising questions over whether the shortage could spread to other countries. French mustard producers said seed production in 2021 was down 50% after poor harvests, which they said had been brought on by the changing climate in France’s Burgundy region and Canada, the second largest mustard seed producer in the world. It has caused French supermarket shelves to run empty of the condiment, including in several stores visited by the Guardian. One of France’s largest mustard producers, Reine de Dijon, said the shortages were being driven by climate breakdown. The group’s general manager, Luc Vandermaesen, said a “heat dome” in Canada at the beginning of July in 2021 had “really dried up the crops”.… [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/19/french-dijon-mustard-supply-hit-by-climate-and-rising-costs-say-producers] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-12. Wildfire, Drought, and Insects Threaten Forests in the United States. By Rishika Pardikar, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Western forest managers face a catch-22: They can keep carbon sequestered in trees by reducing controlled burns, but that creates denser forests at greater risk of going up in uncontrolled flames. Wildfire risk to forests across the United States is set to increase by a factor of 4, and tree mortality caused by other climate-induced factors like drought, heat, disease, and insects is set to at least double, new research shows. “Forests in the western half of the U.S. have the highest vulnerability to each of these risks,” said William Anderegg, an associate professor at the University of Utah and lead author of the paper, which was published in Ecology Letters. But risks are not confined to the West. There are wildfire risks in Florida and Georgia, as well as parts of Oklahoma and Texas, and insect and drought risks in the northern Great Lakes states.… [https://eos.org/articles/wildfire-drought-and-insects-threaten-forests-in-the-united-states] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-17. Europe Rethinks Its Reliance on Burning Wood for Electricity. By Lois Parshley, The New York Times. Excerpt: In recent years, Europe’s power plants have slashed their use of coal by burning something else instead: Millions of tons of wood, much of it imported from the United States. A controversial European Union policy called the Renewable Energy Directive drove this transition by counting biomass — organic material like wood, burned as fuel — as renewable energy and subsidizing its use. A trans-Atlantic industry developed, logging American forests and processing the material into pellets, which are then shipped to Europe. But critics have long argued that the subsidies actually have few climate benefits and should be scrapped. Late Tuesday in Brussels, a committee of the European Parliament voted to make substantial changes to both how the union subsidizes biomass, and how it counts emissions from burning it — policies with major consequences if passed by the full Parliament. …“This vote is a historic breakthrough,” said Martin Pigeon, a forests and climate campaigner with Fern, a nonprofit group focused on European forests. “For the first time, a major E.U. regulatory body makes clear that one of the E.U.’s most climate-wrecking policies of the last decade, incentivizing the burning of forests in the name of renewable energy, has to stop.” .… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/climate/eu-burning-wood-electricity.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-05-17. Michael Bloomberg Plans a $242 Million Investment in Clean Energy. By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, will announce a $242 million effort on Tuesday to promote clean energy in 10 developing countries. The investment is part of Mr. Bloomberg’s push, announced last year, to shut down coal production in 25 countries and builds on his $500 million campaign to close every coal-fired power plant in the United States. The announcement is tied to a gathering this week in Rwanda hosted by Sustainable Energy for All, an international group working to increase access to electricity in the global south. The money will fund programs in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/climate/michael-bloomberg-climate-coal.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-05-16. Here Are the Wildfire Risks to Homes Across the Lower 48 States. By Christopher Flavelle and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: [county-by-county map of the U.S.] New data was used to calculate fire risk to residential and other properties. The threats are rising. …The data, released Monday by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group in New York, comes as rising housing prices in cities and suburbs push Americans deeper into fire-prone areas, with little idea about the specific risk in their new locale.… [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/05/16/climate/wildfire-risk-map-properties.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-16. Cutting air pollution from fossil fuels would save 50,000 lives a year, study says. By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Eliminating air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels would prevent more than 50,000 premature deaths and provide more than $600 billion in health benefits in the United States every year, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers. Published in the journal GeoHealth, the study reports the considerable health benefits of removing from the air harmful fine particulates, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides produced by electricity generation, transportation, industrial activities, and building functions such as heating and cooking. Highway vehicles make up the largest single share.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/05/16/climate-change-air-pollution-saved-lives/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-05-15. Caesar’s favourite herb was the Viagra of ancient Rome. Until climate change killed it off. By James Tapper, The Guardian. Excerpt: Of all the mysteries of ancient Rome, silphium is among the most intriguing. Romans loved the herb as much as we love chocolate. They used silphium as perfume, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and turned it into a condiment, called laser, that they poured on to almost every dish. …Yet it became extinct less than a century later, by the time of Nero, and for nearly 2,000 years people have puzzled over the cause. Researchers now believe it was the first victim of man-made climate change – and warn that we should heed the lesson of silphium or risk losing plants that are the basis of many modern flavours. Paul Pollaro and Paul Robertson of the University of New Hampshire say their research, published in Frontiers in Conservation Science, shows that urban growth and accompanying deforestation changed the local microclimate where silphium grew. “You’ll often see the narrative that it [became extinct] because of a mix of over-harvesting and also over-grazing – sheep were very fond of it and it made the meat more valuable,” Pollaro said. “Our argument is that regardless of how much was harvested, if the climate was changing, silphium was going to go extinct anyway.”.… [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/15/caesars-favourite-herb-was-the-viagra-of-ancient-rome-until-climate-change-killed-it-off] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-05-15. The Tesla Effect: Snowmobiles, Boats and Mowers Go Electric. By Jack Ewing, The New York Times. Excerpt: STOWE, Vt. — Snowmobiles are part of the winter soundtrack in this part of Vermont, at their worst shattering the stillness of the forest like motorcycles on skis. But the motorized sleds bouncing along a wooded mountain trail in February were silent except for the whoosh of metal runners on snow. The machines, made by a start-up Canadian company, Taiga, were battery-powered — the first electric snowmobiles to be sold widely — and symbols of how conveyances of all kinds are migrating to emission-free propulsion. Taiga is also offering battery-powered personal watercraft, another form of recreation where the gasoline version is regarded in some circles as a scourge. While electric cars get most of the attention, electric lawn mowers, boats, bicycles, scooters and all-terrain vehicles are proliferating. In some categories, battery-powered machines are gaining market share faster than electric cars are conquering the auto world. …The environmental benefits are potentially significant. Unlike cars and trucks, outboard motors or lawn mowers do not usually have catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions. They are noisy, and they often use lower-quality fuel. A gasoline lawn mower generates as much pollution in an hour as a 300-mile car trip, according to the California Air Resources Board.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/15/business/electric-snowmobiles-boats-mowers.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-05-14. Poisoned legacy: why the future of power can’t be nuclear. By Serhii Plokhy, The Guardian. Excerpt: …On the surface, the switch to nuclear makes sense. It would not only enable European countries to meet their ambitious net zero targets, since it produces no CO2. It would also make them less vulnerable to Russian threats, and allow them to stop financing the Russian war machine. But the invasion also provided a chilling reminder of just why so many governments have treated nuclear power with great caution over the years. On the first day, Russian troops in unmarked uniforms took control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the worst ever nuclear disaster. On the following day, electronic monitors in the Chernobyl exclusion zone indicated sharp spikes in radiation levels as heavy equipment and trench-digging by Russian soldiers threw up contaminated dust. The world woke up to an even more nightmarish reality a week later, when news arrived from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. Reports suggested that Russian forces had shelled the plant and set one of its buildings on fire. Russian troops left Chernobyl once they lost the battle for Kyiv, but they remained in Zaporizhzhia, further endangering the operation of Europe’s largest nuclear power station. What the Russian takeover of these nuclear facilities exposed is a hazard inherent in all nuclear power. In order for this method of producing electricity to be safe, everything else in society has to be functioning perfectly. Warfare, economic collapse, climate change itself – all of these increasingly real risks make nuclear sites potentially perilous places. Even without them, the dangers of atomic fission remain, and we must ask ourselves: are they really worth the cost?.… [https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/may/14/poisoned-legacy-why-the-future-of-power-cant-be-nuclear] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-05-14. In London, a Long-Awaited High-Tech Train Is Ready to Roll. By Mark Landler, Photographs by Andrew Testa, The New York Times. Excerpt: LONDON — When Andy Byford ran New York City’s dilapidated subway system, fed-up New Yorkers hailed his crusade to make the trains run with fewer delays and lamented his premature exit after clashes with the governor at the time, Andrew M. Cuomo. …Straphangers even took to calling him “Train Daddy.” Nobody calls Mr. Byford Train Daddy in London, where he resurfaced in May 2020 as the commissioner of the city’s transit authority, Transport for London. But on May 24, when he opens the Elizabeth line — the long-delayed, $22 billion-plus high-capacity railway that uncoils from west and east underneath central London — he might find himself again worthy of a cheeky nickname. …Heathrow Airport has had a subway link for decades. When the Elizabeth line’s next phase is opened in the fall, passengers will be able to travel from Heathrow to the banks at Canary Wharf in East London in 40 minutes; that is a prime selling point for a city desperate to hold on to its status as financial mecca after Brexit. All told, the line has 10 entirely new stations, 42 miles of tunnels and crosses under the Thames three times.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/14/world/europe/london-train-crossrail.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-05-13. Lithium Valley: Imperial County big winner in California budget revision. By Janet Wilson, Palm Springs Desert Sun. Excerpt: California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to add up to $400 million to the 2022-23 budget to accelerate development of a potential huge global supply of lithium and clean energy at the south end of the Salton Sea, …. “Lithium Valley represents an extraordinary economic opportunity for the Imperial Valley and all of California, with the potential to power the transition to clean energy and zero-emission vehicles nationwide — and beyond,” Newsom said. “We’re doubling down on our progress with new investments to develop Lithium Valley while keeping our values of inclusive, green growth and sustainability front and center to ensure communities in the region share in the benefits.” …President Joe Biden and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, along with Newsom, have in recent months promoted the little known portion of the state as a major potential provider of global and domestic lithium and clean energy supply.… [https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2022/05/13/lithium-valley-imperial-county-big-winner-california-budget-revision/9752840002/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-05-11. Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown. By Damian Carrington and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian. Excerpt: The world’s biggest fossil fuel firms are quietly planning scores of “carbon bomb” oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts, a Guardian investigation shows. The exclusive data shows these firms are in effect placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating. Their huge investments in new fossil fuel production could pay off only if countries fail to rapidly slash carbon emissions, which scientists say is vital.  The oil and gas industry is extremely volatile but extraordinarily profitable, particularly when prices are high, as they are at present. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron have made almost $2tn in profits in the past three decades, while recent price rises led BP’s boss to describe the company as a “cash machine”. The lure of colossal payouts in the years to come appears to be irresistible to the oil companies, despite the world’s climate scientists stating in February that further delay in cutting fossil fuel use would mean missing our last chance “to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. As the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders in April: “Our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us.”.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2022/may/11/fossil-fuel-carbon-bombs-climate-breakdown-oil-gas] For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-05-11. How life could have arisen on an ‘RNA world’. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: It’s the ultimate chicken-and-egg conundrum. Life doesn’t work without tiny molecular machines called ribosomes, whose job is to translate genes into proteins. But ribosomes themselves are made of proteins. So how did the first life arise? Researchers may have taken the first step toward solving this mystery. They’ve shown that RNA molecules can grow short proteins called peptides all by themselves—no ribosome required. What’s more, this chemistry works under conditions likely present on early Earth.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/how-life-could-have-arisen-rna-world] For GSS Life and Climate chapter 4.

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2022-05-14. The Colorado River Is In Crisis, and It’s Getting Worse Everyday. By Karin Brulliard, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …the Colorado’s water was overpromised when it was first allocated a century ago. Demand in the fast-growing Southwest exceeds supply, and it is growing even as supply drops amid a climate change-driven megadrought and rising temperatures. …As temperatures rise, the mountain snowpack that feeds the Colorado river is diminishing over time and melting earlier. That decreasing runoff is more quickly soaking into Western Colorado’s parched terrain and evaporating into its hotter air. Less water is flowing downriver, depriving the ranchers, rafters, anglers and animals who depend on it.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/interactive/2022/colorado-river-crisis/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-13. Did Warming Play a Role in Deadly South African Floods? Yes, a Study Says. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: The heavy rains that caused catastrophic flooding in South Africa in mid-April were made twice as likely to occur by climate change, scientists said Friday. An analysis of the flooding, which killed more than 400 people in Durban and surrounding areas in the eastern part of the country, found that the intense two-day storm that caused it had a 1-in-20 chance of occurring in any given year. If the world had not warmed as a result of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, the study found, the chances would have been half that, 1 in 40. The study, by a loose-knit group of climate scientists, meteorologists and disaster experts called World Weather Attribution, is the latest in a string of analyses showing that the damaging effects of global warming, once considered a future problem, have already arrived. And extreme events like this one are expected to increase as warming continues.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/climate/south-africa-floods-climate-change.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-12. Shadow of Milky Way’s giant black hole seen for the first time. By Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: After 5 years, astronomers release picture of Sagittarius A*’s event horizon, ringed by bright gas. Astronomers today released the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy—or at least a picture of its shadow. Eight radio observatories around the globe and more than 300 scientists joined forces to image the object known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), a feat thought impossible until just a few years ago. …The team, known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), in 2019 produced the first ever image of a black hole, at the center of the nearby giant galaxy M87. The M87 black hole is 1600 times more massive than Sgr A*. Yet the similarity of the two images—bright rings of gas trapped in death spirals around these ultimate sinkholes—shows how Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, general relativity, works the same at all scales.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/05/11/black-hole-milky-way] See also Washington Post article Supermassive black hole seen at the center of our galaxy by Joel Achenbach, and Smithsonian Magazine article Here’s What the Black Hole in the Center of the Milky Way Looks Like. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 9.

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2022-05-12. The swift march of climate change in North Carolina’s ‘ghost forests’. By Brady Dennis, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …Few examples of climate change are as unmistakable and arresting as the “ghost forests” proliferating along parts of the East Coast — and particularly throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula of North Carolina. Places where Lanier once stood on dry ground are now in waist-deep water. Forests populated by towering pines, red maple, sweet gum and bald cypress have transitioned to shrub land. Stretches of shrub habitat have given way to marsh. And what once was marsh has succumbed to the encroaching sea. … As sea levels rise, droughts deepen and storms become more intense, saltier water makes its way into these woodlands more readily from surrounding water bodies, as well as deeper into the sprawling network of drainage ditches and irrigation canals created long ago to support the expansion of agriculture. Persistently wet conditions can weaken existing trees. And episodes of saltwater intrusion can push already stressed forests to the breaking point, poisoning the freshwater on which they depend and hastening the death of trees not only at the water’s edge, but in some cases far inland. The result are expanses of dead or dying trees, known as “snags,” that stand as grim monuments to a shifting ecosystem.“This has happened over and over before in geologic time,” says Marcelo Ardón, an ecologist at North Carolina State University. “But now it is happening faster.”.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/05/12/ghost-forests-carolina-climate-change/] For GSS A New World View chapter 5 and Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-12. Record heat fueling violent storms in central U.S.. By Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A sprawling dome of summerlike heat has swelled from Texas to Wisconsin and is poised to shatter records in more than a dozen states. Madison, Wis., Chicago, Des Moines, St. Louis, Kansas, Little Rock and New Orleans could all set record highs above 90 degrees Thursday.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/05/12/record-heat-storms-midwest-minneapolis/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-12. Violent storms blast Upper Midwest with hurricane-force winds, dust. By Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: WATERTOWN, S.D. — A violent complex of storms roared through the Upper Midwest on Thursday evening, unleashing destructive wind gusts over 100 mph while stirring up a towering wall of dust. …The dust cloud swept up by the storm produced scenes reminiscent of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Technically called a “haboob,” it swallowed entire communities as the storm complex, racing northeast at breakneck speeds of 65 to 85 mph, turned day into night. …Producing widespread damage along an extensive path, the storm complex met some criteria of a derecho — the meteorological term for an arcing, fast-moving line of violent storms whose damage can be comparable to a hurricane. …As of 11 a.m. Eastern time Friday, the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center had received 59 reports of winds gusting over 74 mph. second most on record for a calendar day. The record holder for the most 74-plus mph gusts occurred less than six months ago: Dec. 15, 2021. …As with the violent thunderstorm and tornado outbreaks in December, the intensity of this event raises questions about the possible role of human-caused climate change. The December outbreaks were similarly fueled by record-breaking temperatures, which climate change makes more probable.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/05/12/derecho-dust-storm-southdakota-minnesota/] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 7.

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2022-05-09. Lowly mushrooms may be key to ecosystem survival in a warming world. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Fungi that decompose plant matter may keep ecosystems healthy, especially after drought. …Across a wide variety of ecosystems, from grasslands to forests to deserts, the more species of decomposers, the more plant productivity stayed the same over time, Delgado-Baquerizo and colleagues report today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Having a wide variety of decomposers and to a lesser extent, root fungi, also helped keep the vegetation growing even in dry spells, the authors found. This diversity might ensure that no matter how conditions change, some fungi will still be able to supply the plants above them with nutrients.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/lowly-mushrooms-may-be-key-ecosystem-survival-warming-world] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 4.

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2022-05-09. As record-setting heat blasts Pakistan, a glacial lake floods village. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Record-high April temperatures over Pakistan melted glaciers faster than normal, triggering a flash flood Saturday in a village in the northern region of the country that wiped out part of a key bridge and damaged homes and buildings. The event, known as a glacial lake outburst flood, occurs when water is suddenly released from a glacial lake because of a dam failure or breach. Warmtemperatures over the past month accelerated snow and ice melt near an ice-dammed lake by Shishpar glacier, near Mount Shishpar, increasing the lake’s volume and likely causing the breachand water to overflow across the top.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/05/09/pakistan-heat-flood-glacier/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-09. India tries to adapt to extreme heat but is paying a heavy price. By Gerry Shih and Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …Typically, heat waves in India affect only part of the country, occur in the summer and only last for a week or so. But a string of early heat waves this spring has been longer and more widespread than any observed before. India experienced its hottest March on record. Northwest and central India followed with their hottest April. “This probably would be the most severe heat wave in March and April in the entire [recorded] history” of India, said Vimal Mishra, a climate scientist at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar. …India loses more than 100 billion hours of labor per year because of extreme heat, the most of any country in the world, according to research published in Nature Communications. …The extreme heat is straining not only farmers but also their crops, as high temperatures coincided with the final weeks of the planting season, when grains need cool weather to mature. Devinder Sharma, an agricultural policy expert, said a quarter of every acre of Indian wheat could be lost to the heat.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/09/india-heat-wave-climate-change/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-06. Climate Action Plans Tailored to Indian Cities. By Deepa Padmanaban, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Many Indian cities are developing climate action plans to adapt to increasing risks they face because of climate change (such as flooding and heat waves) and to mitigate greenhouse emissions associated with extensive urbanization. Abinash Mohanty, program lead for the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, New Delhi, said, “The discourse of city climate action plans started because the hierarchy of decisionmaking, operation, preparedness, prevention, and mitigation is different at city and national levels. We need to understand where the hyperlocal action happens—that can only happen at a city level.” Mumbai is the latest Indian city to release a climate action plan (CAP).… [https://eos.org/articles/climate-action-plans-tailored-to-indian-cities] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-05-06. An Unprecedented View Inside a Hurricane. By Gregory R. Foltz,  Chidong Zhang,  Christian Meinig,  Jun A. Zhang and  Dongxiao Zhang, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: To improve future tropical cyclone forecasts, researchers sent a remotely operated saildrone into the extreme winds and towering waves around the eye of a category 4 hurricane.… [https://eos.org/features/an-unprecedented-view-inside-a-hurricane] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 7.

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2022-05-06. Hawaii Legislature Calls For Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams. Excerpt: Hawaii lawmakers put the state on the path to making history after the Legislature passed a resolution Thursday endorsing a document called the “Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.” “Hawaii has reminded the world of the climate leadership and spirit communities throughout the Pacific have embodied for decades by calling for the immediate phaseout fossil fuels and… a just transition to ensure the survival and continued flourishing of our peoples and our planet for generations to come,” said Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio, a campaigner with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. …Senate Concurrent Resolution 108, introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads (D-13), passed the upper chamber Thursday after clearing the House last month. The measure affirms Hawaii’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s targets for greenhouse gas reductions. …Launched in 2020, the treaty initiative is grounded in three pillars, the first of which is immediately ending all new exploration and production of oil, gas, and coal. At the same time, existing fossil fuel production must be phased out in line with the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C threshold for warming, with wealthier nations leading the effort. The third pillar calls for a “peaceful and just transition” to a renewable energy system that provides “real solutions… for every worker, community, and country.”.… [https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/05/06/hawaii-legislature-calls-fossil-fuel-non-proliferation-treaty] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-05-04. Projected environmental benefits of replacing beef with microbial protein. By Florian HumpenöderBenjamin Leon BodirskyIsabelle WeindlHermann Lotze-CampenTomas Linder & Alexander PoppNature volume 605, pages 90–96 (2022). Abstract: Ruminant meat provides valuable protein to humans, but livestock production has many negative environmental impacts, especially in terms of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and eutrophication1. In addition to a dietary shift towards plant-based diets2, imitation products, including plant-based meat, cultured meat and fermentation-derived microbial protein (MP), have been proposed as means to reduce the externalities of livestock production3,4,5,6,7. Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies have estimated substantial environmental benefits of MP, produced in bioreactors using sugar as feedstock, especially compared to ruminant meat3,7. Here we present an analysis of MP as substitute for ruminant meat in forward-looking global land-use scenarios towards 2050. …substituting 20% of per-capita ruminant meat consumption with MP globally by 2050 (on a protein basis) offsets future increases in global pasture area, cutting annual deforestation and related CO2 emissions roughly in half, while also lowering methane emissions.… [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-04629-w] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-05-10. Just one of 50 aviation industry climate targets met, study finds. By Damien Gayle, The Guardian. Excerpt: The international aviation industry has failed to meet all but one of 50 of its own climate targets in the past two decades, environment campaigners say. A report commissioned by the climate charity Possible assessed every target set by the industry since 2000 and found that nearly all had been missed, revised or quietly ignored. The charity says the findings undermine a UK government plan to leave airlines to reduce their emissions through self-regulation.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/10/just-one-of-50-aviation-industry-climate-targets-met-study-finds] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-05-9. Climate limit of 1.5C close to being broken, scientists warn. By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: The year the world breaches for the first time the 1.5C global heating limit set by international governments is fast approaching, a new forecast shows. The probability of one of the next five years surpassing the limit is now 50%, scientists led by the UK Met Office found. As recently as 2015, there was zero chance of this happening in the following five years. But this surged to 20% in 2020 and 40% in 2021. The global average temperature was 1.1C above pre-industrial levels in 2021.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/09/climate-limit-of-1-5-c-close-to-being-broken-scientists-warn] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-05-09. Discoveries shed new light on the day the dinosaurs died. By Dave Kindy, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …Thescelosaurus panicked and looked to flee — but it was too late. Everything changed in a heartbeat as a 30-foot-high wave of mud and debris came racing up the seaway from the south, sweeping away life and limb in the process. The dinosaur was caught in the destructive deluge, its leg ripped off at the hip by the devastating surge. That moment — 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when an earth-shattering asteroid ended the reign of the dinosaurs — is frozen in time today through a stunning fossil found last year at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota. This perfectly preserved leg clearly shows the skin, muscle and bones of the three-toed Thescelosaurus. …“We’re never going to say with 100 percent certainty that this leg came from an animal that died on that day,” the scientist said. “The thing we can do is determine the likelihood that it died the day the meteor struck. When we look at the preservation of the leg and the skin around the articulated bones, we’re talking on the day of impact or right before. There was no advanced decay.” DePalma and the dinosaur leg will be featured in two episodes of “Nova” on PBS airing back-to-back on Wednesday: “Dinosaur Apocalypse: The New Evidence” and “Dinosaur Apocalypse: The Last Day.” Biologist and natural historian Sir David Attenborough will host the programs, which were produced in conjunction with the BBC. The leg and several other relics discovered at the North Dakota site are the first actual fossils found showing the death and destruction that took place when a 10-mile-long space rock struck the Yucatán Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2022/05/09/how-dinosaurs-died-tanis/] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 1 and Life and Climate chapter 9.

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2022-05-09. Millions of tonnes of dead animals: the growing scandal of fish waste. By Emma Bryce, The Guardian. Excerpt: … figures from WWF show that in 2019, at least 230,000 tonnes of fish were dumped in EU waters. Most of the waste – 92% – is related to bottom-trawling, a fishing method that scrapes the seafloor, indiscriminately scooping up everything in its path. But this figure is a small fraction of an even larger global issue. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 35% of all fish, crustaceans and molluscs harvested from oceans, lakes and fish farms are wasted or lost before they ever reach a plate. …Fish populations are already threatened by overfishingpollution, and the climate crisis. With current rates of fish consumption projected to double by 2050, waste is increasingly on the radar of regulators. …Just under half of all fish consumed by people is wild-caught at sea. “There’s such abundance that we’ve grown to be OK with certain loss rates,” Pearson says, although noting that 34% of global marine stocks are now overfished. Bycatch (unintentionally caught, unwanted fish) is a growing problem, too: roughly 10% of wild-caught fish are discarded worldwide each year, representing 8.6m tonnes of animals. The main culprits are imprecise fishing gear and policies that allow fishers to discard non-target species. There’s an economic driver, too. “I think there is a strong connection between subsidies and waste in the water,” says Rashid Sumaila, professor of ocean and fisheries economics at the University of British Columbia. Although subsidies were historically devised to support small-scale fishers, today 80% of $35.4bn (£26.4bn) in annual fishing subsidies goes to a handful of industrial fleets, .… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/09/millions-of-tonnes-of-dead-animals-the-growing-scandal-of-fish-waste] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-05-05. Bogs, lakebeds, and sea floors compete to become Anthropocene’s ‘golden spike’. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: If you had to pick one spot that best reflects when human activity became an Earth-shaping force, where would it be? Geoscientists will consider the question this month when they meet to evaluate 12 sites, only one of which can serve as the “golden spike” for the Anthropocene, a proposed geological age beginning in the 1950s amid the fire of nuclear bomb tests and the fumes of surging fossil fuel use. Although the idea of the Anthropocene has gained wide traction, it still lacks a formal geological definition. In 2016, the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a group of several dozen geoscientists convened by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), settled on the early 1950s as its starting point. But the ICS still needs a formal proposal with an ideal geologic sample recording these global changes—a golden spike—to mark the end of the Holocene epoch, which began 11,700 years ago, and the beginning of the Anthropocene. To find that sample, teams of earth scientists spent several years analyzing sites that contain promising markers, such as spikes in plutonium and other radionuclides that settled after atmospheric nuclear tests, spherical ash particles from unchecked industrial emissions, microplastics, and perturbations to carbon and nitrogen chemistry from greenhouse gas emissions and urban smog.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/bogs-lakebeds-and-sea-floors-compete-become-anthropocene-s-golden-spike] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 1.

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2022-05-05. US is recycling just 5% of its plastic waste, studies show. By Katharine Gammon, The Guardian. Excerpt: When most people toss a plastic bottle or cup into the recycling bin, they assume that means the plastic is recycled – but a new report lays bare how rarely that actually happens. According to the Last Beach Cleanup and Beyond Plastics, the organization behind the report released on Wednesday, the recycling rate for post-consumer plastic was just 5% to 6% in 2021. The Department of Energy also released a research paper this week, which analyzed data from 2019, and came to the same number: only 5% of plastics are being recycled. The researchers on that report wrote that landfilled plastic waste in the United States has been on the rise for many reasons, including “low recycling rates, population growth, consumer preference for single-use plastics, and low disposal fees in certain parts of the country”, according to a press release.… [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/04/us-recycling-plastic-waste] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-05-04. Use of ‘too hot’ climate models exaggerates impacts of global warming. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: One study suggests Arctic rainfall will become dominant in the 2060s, decades earlier than expected. Another claims air pollution from forest fires in the western United States could triple by 2100. A third says a mass ocean extinction could arrive in just a few centuries. All three studies, published in the past year, rely on projections of the future produced by some of the world’s next-generation climate models. But even the modelmakers acknowledge that many of these models have a glaring problem: predicting a future that gets too hot too fast. Although modelmakers are adapting to this reality, researchers who use the model projections to gauge the impacts of climate change have yet to follow suit. That has resulted in a parade of “faster than expected” results that threatens to undermine the credibility of climate science, some researchers fear. Scientists need to get much choosier in how they use model results, a group of climate scientists argues in a commentary published today in Nature. Researchers should no longer simply use the average of all the climate model projections, which can result in global temperatures by 2100 up to 0.7°C warmer than an estimate from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). …says Zeke Hausfather, climate research lead at payment services company Stripe and lead author of the commentary. “We must move away from the naïve idea of model democracy.” Instead, he and his colleagues call for a model meritocracy, prioritizing, at times, results from models known to have more realistic warming rates.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/use-too-hot-climate-models-exaggerates-impacts-global-warming] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-05-03. The Ocean Is Still Sucking Up Carbon—Maybe More Than We Think. By Nancy Averett, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Recent studies looking at carbon-sequestering microbes suggest we still have a lot to learn about the ocean’s biological carbon pump. The ocean plays a critical role in carbon sequestration. Phytoplankton, which live on the warm, light-filled surface, suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere for food. They also need nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from colder, heavier, saltier water that upwells into warmer layers. When phytoplankton die, they sink, bringing some of the carbon and other nutrients they consumed with them back to the ocean depths. Key to this circular process, known as the ocean’s biological carbon pump, is the vertical mixing of the surface and deeper water layers, which occurs through such mechanisms as currents, winds, and tides. …traditional scientific models have long predicted that as the planet warms, this process would be disrupted, phytoplankton would be unable to thrive, and the ocean would sequester less carbon. Now, two studies have shown the limits of such models. One found evidence that phytoplankton may become more efficient as the ocean warms. The other reported the discovery of a new, widely distributed ocean microbe species that also has the potential to sequester carbon.… [https://eos.org/articles/the-ocean-is-still-sucking-up-carbon-maybe-more-than-we-think] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-05-02. Ozone-destroying chemical is on the rise despite crackdown. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Levels of an ozone-destroying chemical are mysteriously rising, despite international efforts to crack down on the problem. The uptick in the airborne chemical HCFC-141b comes even though reported production has declined steadily since 2012, leaving scientists stumped about the source. …The chemical, used chiefly to make foam insulation for appliances such as refrigerators, is part of a family of fluorocarbon molecules blamed for eating away at a layer of stratospheric ozone, roughly 20 kilometers above the ground, that filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The world began to wean itself off these chemicals under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, widely considered the most successful international environmental treaty. Overall, ozone-damaging chemicals have declined steadily since the early 2000s, and the ozone “holes” above the poles have begun to heal. In 2018, however, researchers reported that levels of the banned chemical CFC-11 had been rising since 2012. An international panel concluded that surge was likely due to illicit production, much of it in eastern China, perhaps because HCFC-141b, then used as a substitute for CFC-11 because it is less destructive to ozone, was in scarce supply. Releases of CFC-11 started to fall once again in 2019. …But scientists say atmospheric levels of HCFC-141b are actually rising. … [https://www.science.org/content/article/ozone-destroying-chemical-rise-despite-crackdown] For GSS Ozone chapter 9.

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2022-05-02. The west can cut its energy dependency on Russia and be greener. By Jeffrey Frankel, The Guardian. Excerpt: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has amplified the importance of national-security considerations in western countries’ energy policies. At the same time, governments must continue to focus on reducing environmental damage – in particular, on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Both goals, geopolitical and environmental, are urgent and should be evaluated together.  These two objectives are not necessarily in conflict, as some believe. There are plenty of energy measures the west can adopt that would benefit the environment and further its geopolitical aims. The most obvious steps, especially for the European Union, are sanctions that reduce demand for imports of fossil fuels from Russia. …governments should not prolong the life of coal and should withdraw coal subsidies. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that global energy subsidies (including for oil and natural gas, as well as coal), at either the producer or consumer end, exceed $5tn a year. Direct US fossil-fuel subsidies alone have been conservatively estimated at $20bn annually.… [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/02/west-energy-depencency-russia-green-ukraine-war] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-04-29. A Lidar’s-Eye View of How Forests Are Faring. By Van R. Kane,  Liz Van Wagtendonk and  Andrew Brenner, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Success in Yosemite is driving the wider use of lidar surveys to support forest health and wildfire resilience, study wildlife habitats, and monitor water resources. Building the perfect campfire requires the right mix of ingredients: plenty of kindling, a spark to ignite it, and large, dry logs to keep the fire burning strong. Unfortunately, fire suppression strategies adopted long ago—combined more recently with severe droughts and climate change—have created this same mixture writ large across many of the dry forests of the western United States, such as those in Yosemite National Park and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada. …Despite their destructive power, fires are natural phenomena in many forests, where they are essential to the biomes’ long-term health. Decades of field-based studies have built the field of fire ecology and have informed nuanced views of fire as both a threat and a restorative process. …in the 1960s, fire ecology research at the University of California, Berkeley shined a light on the connection between regular fires and forest health …. …areas burned by fires under nonextreme weather conditions ultimately became more resilient and resistant to future burning. …forest managers in Sequoia and Yosemite national parks in the Sierra Nevada of California were among the first to introduce prescribed burns and to allow lightning-sparked wildfires to burn …as part of a fire benefit program. In doing so, they sought to return these forests to a healthy cycle involving frequent fires that had existed for centuries before managers first sought to suppress all fires in the 19th century. …Scientists’ ability to study Yosemite’s forests both on a broader scale and in more detail began to change in 2010. From 2010 to 2011, Watershed Science (now NV5 Geospatial) used its airborne lidar instruments to image and measure a total of 64,800 acres (26,200 hectares) of Yosemite National Park’s forests, …. These lidar data—collected at a high density of about 100,000 measurements per acre (247,000 per hectare) across the full study area—provided a census of the 3D structure of vegetation and the ground below.… [https://eos.org/features/a-lidars-eye-view-of-how-forests-are-faring] For GSS A New World View chapter 4.

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2022-04-01. Environmental protesters block oil terminals across UK. By Damien Gayle, The Guardian. Excerpt: Hundreds of environmental protesters have blocked 10 oil terminals across the country as part of a campaign to paralyse the UK’s fossil fuel infrastructure. Early on Friday, supporters of Just Stop Oil began blockades at oil refineries around London, Birmingham and Southampton by climbing on top of tankers and gluing themselves to road surfaces. Shortly after 4am, activists blocked terminals in Purfleet and Grays, Essex, which they said were the biggest in the country. In Tamworth, near Birmingham, a group of more than two dozen protesters had been hoping to disrupt the nearby Kingsbury oil terminal. However, due to police intervention they were able only to block a road leading to the site. Just Stop Oil has demanded that the government agree to halt all new licences for fossil fuel projects in the UK. They have vowed to continue disrupting the UK’s oil infrastructure until the government agrees.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/01/environmental-protesters-block-oil-terminals-across-england] See also Damien Gayle’s Twitter feed about how scientists in white lab coats glued their hands to the glass facade of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in Great Britain. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-05-02. ‘We are living in hell’: Pakistan and India suffer extreme spring heatwaves. By Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi and Shah Meer Baloch in Islamabad. TheGuardian. Excerpt: For the past few weeks, Nazeer Ahmed has been living in one of the hottest places on Earth. As a brutal heatwave has swept across India and Pakistan, his home in Turbat, in Pakistan’s Balochistan region, has been suffering through weeks of temperatures that have repeatedly hit almost 50C (122F), unprecedented for this time of year. Locals have been driven into their homes, unable to work except during the cooler night hours, and are facing critical shortages of water and power. Ahmed fears that things are only about to get worse. It was here, in 2021, that the world’s highest temperature for May was recorded, a staggering 54C. …As the heatwave has exacerbated massive energy shortages across India and Pakistan, Turbat, a city of about 200,000 residents, now barely receives any electricity, with up to nine hours of load shedding every day, meaning that air conditioners and refrigerators cannot function. “We are living in hell,” said Ahmed.… [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/02/pakistan-india-heatwaves-water-electricity-shortages] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-05-01. Catch a failing star: the tense wait for a supernova. By Robin McKie, The Guardian. Excerpt: …When a supernova erupts, it sprays the cosmos with heavy elements – so observing one nearby would provide precious information about the creation of matter in our galaxy. …Scientists estimate that on average about 20 supernovae occur in a galaxy such as ours every thousand years. Yet only five have been observed in the last millennium. East Asian and Arabic records indicate there were supernovae in 1006, 1054 and 1181, while European documents recall ones that occurred in 1572 and 1604. …if supernovae are so brilliant, why have we only detected five in the past 1,000 years? Why have we not seen a number that is nearer the 20 suggested by observations of other galaxies? The answer is straightforward, says Sullivan. “Our galaxy is like a flat plate and our solar system is about two-thirds of the way towards its edge. A supernova that occurs on the other side of the plate will simply be obscured by all the dust and stars that lie at the centre of the galaxy.”… [https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/may/01/catch-a-failing-star-the-tense-wait-for-a-supernova] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 1.

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2022-05-01. ‘Turning the dial up’: US south-west braces for extended wildfire season amid drastic drought. By Gabrielle Canon, The Guardian. Excerpt: A million acres have already burned across the country already, with La Niña bringing more severe dry climate. …“Climate change is taking a situation that would be bad for us normally,” says Gregg Garffin, a climatologist at the University of Arizona, “and turning the dial up.” Once confined to specific times of year, wildfire conditions are stretching across more months, and will likely continue until the region gets additional rain.… [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/may/01/us-new-mexico-drought-wildfire-southwest] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-04-29. How Americans’ love of beef is helping destroy the Amazon rainforest. By Terrence McCoy and Júlia Ledur, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The pattern is clear: First, the forest is razed. Then the cattle are moved in. If the Amazon is to die, it will be beef that kills it. And America will be an accomplice. Cattle ranching, responsible for the great majority of deforestation in the Amazon, is pushing the forest to the edge of what scientists warn could be a vast and irreversible dieback that claims much of the biome. Despite agreement that change is necessary to avert disaster, despite attempts at reform, despite the resources of Brazil’s federal government and powerful beef companies, the destruction continues. …the United States has grown to become its second-biggest buyer. The country bought more than 320 million pounds of Brazilian beef last year — and is on pace to purchase nearly twice as much this year. …JBS, the world’s largest beef producer, has repeatedly been accused by environmentalists of buying cattle raised on illegally deforested land.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2022/amazon-beef-deforestation-brazil/] For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2022-04-28. Animal melting pot created by climate change could lead to new disease outbreaks. By Jon Cohen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: As habitats shift, many mammalian species will meet each other for the first time and swap viruses, modeling study predicts. Earth’s warming climate is expected to change the habitat of many animal species, which a new modeling study predicts may spell trouble: Species on the move will mingle with many others they have never encountered before, allowing the various animals to exchange viruses. That could spark new disease outbreaks in many wildlife populations—and in humans as well. By 2070, assuming the most conservative warming scenario, there will be at least 15,000 new cross-species transmissions involving more than 3000 mammalian species, according to a modeling team led by Colin Carlson, a global change biologist at Georgetown University. “Most of this pattern has probably been set in motion with the 1° of warming we’ve already experienced,” says Carlson, whose study appears online in Nature today. …“We get a completely different geography of risk than we expected,” he says. He anticipated that climate change would drive species north and south toward the poles, but the models showed intense mixing occurs earlier, because species will move to habitats at higher or lower altitudes. Bats, which make up about 20% of all mammals, will have an outsize impact on mixing because their ability to fly allows even nonmigratory species to travel hundreds of kilometers over a lifetime, far more mobility than most small animals.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/animal-melting-pot-created-climate-change-could-lead-new-disease-outbreaks] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-04-28. Avoiding ocean mass extinction from climate warming. By Justin L. Penn and Curtis Deutsch, Science Magazine. Abstract: Global warming threatens marine biota with losses of unknown severity. Here, we quantify global and local extinction risks in the ocean across a range of climate futures on the basis of the ecophysiological limits of diverse animal species and calibration against the fossil record. With accelerating greenhouse gas emissions, species losses from warming and oxygen depletion alone become comparable to current direct human impacts within a century and culminate in a mass extinction rivaling those in Earth’s past. Polar species are at highest risk of extinction, but local biological richness declines more in the tropics. Reversing greenhouse gas emissions trends would diminish extinction risks by more than 70%, preserving marine biodiversity accumulated over the past ~50 million years of evolutionary history.… [https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abe9039] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-04-27. Global land degradation serious, U.N. report finds, but restoration offers hope. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Restoring 5 billion hectares of land could increase crop yields, slow biodiversity decline, and help curb climate change. …Reversing global land degradation can alleviate three big problems—the effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, and food insecurity, according to a U.N. report released today. The Global Land Outlook 2 from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification(UNCCD) points out that 40% of Earth’s land has been compromised by development, deforestation, farming, and other human activities. But the report also offers a vision of benefits that could accrue by 2050 if humanity acts to restore landscapes and reverse this toll.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/global-land-degradation-serious-u-n-report-finds-restoration-offers-hope] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 4.

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2022-04-27. Postcards from Kamikatsu, Japan’s ‘zero-waste’ town. By Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Inuma, The Washington Post. Excerpt: KAMIKATSU, Japan — Tucked away in the mountains of Japan’s Shikoku island, a town of about 1,500 residents is on an ambitious path toward a zero-waste life. In 2003, Kamikatsu became the first municipality in Japan to make a zero-waste declaration. Since then, the town has transformed its open-air burning practices used for waste disposal into a system of buying, consuming and discarding with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality. Now, the town estimates it is more than 80 percent of its way toward meeting that goal by 2030. …The Zero Waste Center is the town’s recycling facility, where residents can sort their garbage into 45 categories — there are nine ways to sort paper products alone — before they toss the rest into a pile for the incinerators. Residents clean and dry dirty items so they are suitable for recycling.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/interactive/2022/japan-zero-carbon-village-climate/] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-04-22. Birth of six endangered red wolves has their advocates howling for joy. By Darryl Fears, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Six critically endangered red wolves were introduced into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in coastal North Carolina. But unlike other wolves, no one brought these new canines to the Outer Banks area as part of a federal program to recover a dying species. For the first time in four years, these red wolves were born there.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/04/22/red-wolves-pups-born-endangered/] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 8.

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2022-04-22. Studying Volcanoes through Myths, Legends, & Other Unconventional Data. By Nancy Averett, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Studying historic eruptions through a storytelling lens often improves our understanding of and ability to prepare for such events.… [https://eos.org/features/studying-volcanoes-through-myths-legends-other-unconventional-data] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-01-04. Sensing Iceland’s Most Active Volcano with a “Buried Hair”. By Sara Klaasen,  Sölvi Thrastarson,  Andreas Fichtner,  Yeşim Çubuk-Sabuncu and  Kristín Jónsdóttir, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Distributed acoustic sensing offered researchers a means to measure ground deformation from atop ice-clad Grímsvötn volcano with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions.… [https://eos.org/science-updates/sensing-icelands-most-active-volcano-with-a-buried-hair] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-04-27. From King Cobras to Geckos, 20 Percent of Reptiles Risk Extinction. By Catrin Einhorn, The New York Times. Excerpt: About 20 percent of reptile species risk extinction, mainly because people are taking away their habitats for agriculture, urban development and logging, according to the first global reptile assessment of its kind. From inch-long geckos to the iconic king cobra, at least 1,829 species of reptiles, including lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodiles, are threatened, the study found. The research, published Wednesday in Nature, adds another dimension to a substantial body of scientific evidence that points to a human-caused biodiversity crisis similar to climate change in the vast effect it could have on life on Earth. … [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/27/climate/reptiles-extinction-biodiversity.html] See also Science Magazine article. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-04-21. These whales are on the brink. Now comes climate change — and wind power. By Dino Grandoni, The Washington Post. Excerpt: With only about 300 left, the North Atlantic right whale ranks as one of the world’s most endangered marine mammals. Nearly annihilated centuries ago by whalers, the slow-swimming species is said to have earned its name because it was the “right” whale to hunt. Old-fashioned harpoons have yielded to other threats. Humans are still killing right whales at startlingly high numbers — but by accident. Waters free from whalers now brim with ships that strike them, and ropes that entangle them. The latest challenges come in a changing climate. Rising temperatures are driving them to new seas. And soon, dozens of offshore wind turbines — part of President Biden’s clean energy agenda — will encroach their habitat as the administration tries to balance tackling global warming with protecting wildlife.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/04/21/right-whales-biden/] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-04-21. How radar-powered forecasts save birds from deadly city lights. By Joshua Sokol, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The skies above North America host some 3 billion fewer birds today than in 1970, according to one 2019 analysis. The flocks have faced death by a thousand cuts, including not just light pollution, but climate change, vanishing habitat, and pesticides. Ornithologists fear each added insult could be enough to bend once-abundant bird populations toward extinction. The radar studies at the Tribute in Light helped lay the groundwork for a tool that could ease the toll: a program Farnsworth’s team calls BirdCast, which incorporates continent-scale weather radar and machine learning to forecast the exact nights when hundreds of millions of migratory birds will torrent over U.S. cities. The team then feeds those findings to conservationists and policymakers desperate to help the birds survive the journey by dimming lights along the way.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/radar-powered-forecasts-save-birds-deadly-city-lights] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6.

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2022-04-20. Global warming is speeding up ocean currents. Here’s why. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Excess heat constricts water flow in shallow surface layers Two years ago, oceanographers made a surprising discovery: Not only have oceans been warming because of human-driven climate change, but the currents that flow through them have accelerated—by some 15% per decade from 1990 to 2013. At the time, many scientists suspected faster ocean winds were driving the speedup. But a new modeling study fingers another culprit: the ocean’s own tendency to warm from top to bottom, leading to constricted surface layers where water flows faster, like blood in clogged arteries. The study suggests climate change will continue to speed up across ocean currents, potentially limiting the heat the ocean can capture and complicating migrations for already stressed marine life.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/global-warming-speeding-ocean-currents-here-s-why] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-04-19. Sea-farmed supercrop: how seaweed could transform the way we live. By Richard Orange, The Guardian. Excerpt: experts believe that seaweed could be a key crop in the “protein shift” away from meat. Some of last spring’s harvest here hit about 30% protein, close to the level that would make it compete against the world’s other big protein sources like meat and soya. Steinhagen also believes passionately that this plant – long eaten as “green laver” on the coasts of Britain – can be a more sustainable alternative to soya. Sea lettuce doesn’t draw on scarce resources of land and fresh water. “There is no other option,” she says later, … “Climate change is affecting most of our crop systems and we are in urgent need of new production. We cannot extend terrestrial farmland – so we need to go into the ocean.” It’s not just a protein source. As we shift to a bio-based rather than fossil-fuel-based economy, seaweed could provide a lot of the compounds we need. For example, Ulrica Edlund… is a professor of polymer science who has used polysaccharides extracted from seaweed to make plastic films, filaments and other plastic materials. “It’s circular because it provides a route away from fossil-based plastics….“You don’t have to wait 50 years for the forest to grow until you can harvest those polymers.”.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/19/sea-farmed-supercrop-how-seaweed-could-transform-the-way-we-live] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-04-15. Seed banks: the last line of defense against a threatening global food crisis. By Salomé Gómez-Upegui and Rita Liu. The Guardian. Excerpt: As the risks from the climate crisis and global conflict increase, seed banks are increasingly considered a priceless resource that could one day prevent a worldwide food crisis. Two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction, and though researchers estimate there are at least 200,000 edible plant species on our planet, we depend on just three – maize, rice and wheat– for more than half of humanity’s caloric intake. There are roughly 1,700 seed banks, or gene banks, around the world housing collections of plant species that are invaluable for scientific research, education, species preservation and safeguarding Indigenous cultures. “At a first glance, seeds may not look like much, but within them lies the foundation of our future food and nutrition security, and the possibility for a world without hunger,” said Stefan Schmitz, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving crop diversity for food security. “Well-funded, well-maintained seed banks are critical to reducing the negative impact of the climate crisis on our agriculture globally.”… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/15/seed-banks-the-last-line-of-defense-against-a-threatening-global-food-crisis] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 8.

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2022-03-15. Fairfax County Public Schools expands electric school bus fleet amid rising gas prices. By Christy Matino, ABC8 News. Excerpt: FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Fairfax County Public Schools are going green in hopes of saving some green.
Parents and officials gathered on Monday to celebrate the addition of new electric school buses to their fleet. This brings the county one step closer to its goal of obtaining all-electric school buses by 2035. Dropping diesel for electric buses is a trend seen in school districts across the DMV, and the soaring cost of gas makes it the perfect time to switch over. “Higher prices at the pump highlight the need accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy, and offer affordable and convenient transportation options that are less vulnerable to these price spikes,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.… [https://www.wric.com/news/virginia-news/ga-price-school-district-expands-electric-school-bus-fleet-amid-gas-price-increases/] See also Battle of the Buses: Diesel vs. Electric (youtube) For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-04-16. The Battery That Flies. By Ben Ryder Howe, The New York Times. Excerpt: A new aircraft being built in Vermont has no need for jet fuel. …Amazon and the Air Force are both betting on it. …a long-held aviation goal: an aircraft with no need for jet fuel and therefore no carbon emissions, a plane that could take off and land without a runway and quietly hop from recharging station to recharging station, like a large drone. …Electric motors have the virtue of being smaller, allowing more of them to be fitted on a plane and making it easier to design systems with vertical lift. However, batteries are heavy, planes need to be light, and for most of the last century, the e-plane was thought to be beyond reach.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/16/business/beta-electric-airplane.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-04-13. ‘Thermal batteries’ could efficiently store wind and solar power in a renewable grid. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: How do you bottle renewable energy for when the Sun doesn’t shine and the wind won’t blow? …Massive battery banks are one answer. …Another strategy is to use surplus energy to heat a large mass of material to ultrahigh temperatures, then tap the energy as needed. This week, researchers report a major improvement in a key part of that scheme: a device for turning the stored heat back into electricity. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory achieved a nearly 30% jump in the efficiency of a thermophotovoltaic (TPV), a semiconductor structure that converts photons emitted from a heat source to electricity, just as a solar cell transforms sunlight into power. …The idea is to feed surplus wind or solar electricity to a heating element, which boosts the temperature of a liquid metal bath or a graphite block to several thousand degrees. …TPVs …Funnel the stored heat to a metal film or filament, setting it aglow like the tungsten wire in an incandescent light bulb, then use TPVs to absorb the emitted light and turn it to electricity. …With researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, [Asegun] Henry’s team laid down more than two dozen thin layers of different semiconductors to create two separate cells stacked one on top of another. The top cell absorbs mostly visible and ultraviolet photons, whereas the lower cell absorbs mostly infrared. A thin gold sheet under the bottom cell reflects low-energy photons the TPVs couldn’t harvest. The tungsten reabsorbs that energy, preventing it from being lost. The result, the group reports today in Nature, is a TPV tandem that converts 41.1% of the energy emitted from a 2400°C tungsten filament to electricity.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/thermal-batteries-could-efficiently-store-wind-and-solar-power-renewable-grid] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-04-13. As Australia’s climate changes, a tropical disease advances. By Frances Vinall, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Public health professionals say the appearance of Japanese encephalitis here is just the latest example of how global warming is contributing to the spread of disease. Six years ago, melting permafrost in Siberia released frozen anthrax, which infected an Indigenous community. In 2007, the tropical chikungunya virus was detected in Europe for the first time in two Italian villages and has since appeared in France. In the United States, Lyme disease cases have doubled over 30 years as warmer conditions create longer tick seasons. And in Australia, experts warn Japanese encephalitis could be the first of several illnesses to spread south. Tim Inglis is the head of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Western Australia. “With accelerating climate change, we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” he said, “with some of these diseases that have in the past been restricted in the tropics extending, as we’re beginning to see. …The mosquitoes that carry [Japanese encephalitis] need pools of stagnant water, such as those created by the heavy downpours of the tropics, to breed. In February and March, the northeast coast of Australia was hit with record floods — conditions that enabled the virus to travel hundreds of miles south and west via mosquitoes biting water birds, horses and, especially, pigs. …over the past decade, it has traveled in the opposite direction, to higher-altitude regions of Tibet and Nepal.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/14/australia-japanese-encephalitis-climate-change/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-04-13. Discovery Alert: A Flood of New Planets, Plus Hint of an ‘Exomoon’. By Pat Brennan, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program. Excerpt: Data from NASA’s now-retired Kepler Space Telescope reveals an eclectic assortment of new planets and planetary systems that promises to deepen understanding of how exoplanets form. Some of the newly-discovered planets might make tempting targets for the James Webb Space Telescope, now being fine-tuned for its first observations this summer. The Webb telescope is expected to search for signs of atmospheres around some exoplanets, and potentially determine some of the gases and molecules present. This raft of new planets also helped push NASA’s tally of confirmed exoplanets past the 5,000 mark in March 2022. …Combing through Kepler data also revealed another potentially significant find: a possible exomoon. …The new possible exomoon, Kepler-1708 b-i, would be very large for a moon, about 2.6 times as big around as Earth. It would be orbiting a confirmed Jupiter-sized planet, itself in orbit around a Sun-like star more than 5,400 light-years away from Earth. It’s the second “unexpectedly large” exomoon candidate identified by astronomers; the first, Kepler-1625 b-i, was revealed in 2018 – a possible Uranus-sized moon also orbiting a Jupiter-sized planet. … [https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/news/1704/discovery-alert-a-flood-of-new-planets-plus-hint-of-an-exomoon/] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8.

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2022-04-12. Most Active Hurricane Season Was Also Wetter Because of Climate Change. By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: During the record-setting 2020 Atlantic storm season, the most extreme three-hour rainfall rates were 10 percent higher than they would have been without climate change, a new study found. …During the official 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ran from June through November, the average sea surface temperature in the Atlantic Ocean was more than 27 degrees Celsius, or 80.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, used modeling to estimate that the average temperature would have been 0.4 to 0.9 degrees Celsius lower without the effects of climate change. The researchers then simulated a hypothetical season without those 0.4 to 0.9 degrees Celsius in human-caused warming, and compared the rainfall rates and totals to models of the actual season.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/12/climate/climate-change-hurricane-rain.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-04-11. Climate change is killing off soil organisms critical for some of Earth’s ecosystems. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Lichens can’t take the heat, with disastrous implications for arid places Just as our skin is key to our well-being, the “skin” covering desert soils is essential to life in dry places. This “biocrust,” made up of fungi, lichens, mosses, blue-green algae, and other microbes, retains water and produces nutrients that other organisms can use. Now, new research shows climate change is destroying the integrity of this skin. …in 2013, scientists discovered climate change is changing the microbial composition of biocrusts. A new survey of these organisms in a pristine grassland in Canyonlands National Park in Utah has uncovered a hidden vulnerability of some of the lichens in these crusts. …The U.S. Southwest is rapidly warming, and Canyonlands is no exception, says USGS ecologist Rebecca Finger-Higgens, who led the analysis. Weather measurements over the past 50 years reveal temperatures in that park have increased 0.27°C each decade, and recent summers have been particularly warm. At the same time, almost all the lichens have been waning, particularly the kinds that help convert nitrogen in the air to a form organisms can use, Finger-Higgens and her team report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1967 and in 1996, those nitrogen-fixing lichen made up 19% of the biocrust, even though the percentage did fluctuate from year to year. Since then, that percentage has shrunk to just 5%, and it shows no sign of increasing again.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/climate-change-killing-soil-organisms-critical-some-earth-s-ecosystems] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6 and Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-04-11. Giant Planet’s Formation Caught in Action. By Jure Japelj, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Astronomers took a direct image of a massive protoplanet embedded in a protoplanetary disk. The system provides strong evidence for an as-yet-unconfirmed theory of planet formation. …Jupiter-class gas giants on far-flung orbits have challenged what is known as the standard formation scenario. Scientists converged on the scenario that our solar system’s giant planets formed via accretion within the gaseous protoplanetary disk. Rocky planetary cores fed on pebbles or planetesimals, and once the cores reached a certain mass, they began gobbling up the surrounding gas, rapidly becoming giant planets. But that process works only when planets form relatively close to their host stars—the gas giants found on wide orbits would not have had time to grow a sufficiently massive core before the gaseous disk dissipated. The unstable disk model is one of several alternative models suggesting that a massive and gravitationally unstable protoplanetary disk could fragment into dense clumps, directly giving birth to wide-orbiting planets. …Now, a team of scientists has made a discovery that might have been just the evidence the community has been waiting for. The team imaged a massive protoplanet orbiting the star AB Aurigae at about 93 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. Scientists caught the planet in an early stage of formation, still embedded in a protoplanetary disk. The properties of both the planet and the disk match well the predictions of the unstable disk model. The study was published in Nature Astronomy.… [https://eos.org/articles/giant-planets-formation-caught-in-action] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8.

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2022-04-08. Lightning Had Difficulty Forming in Early Earth’s Atmosphere. By Rebecca Dzombak, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Lightning could have sparked the beginnings of life, but the primordial atmosphere might have made it more difficult for lightning to initiate. In 1952, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey made sparks fly in a gas-filled flask meant to reflect the composition of Earth’s atmosphere around 3.8 billion years ago. Their results suggested that lightning could have led to prebiotic molecules necessary for the evolution of life, such as amino acids. At the time, scientists thought the early atmosphere would have been primarily methane and ammonia, but by the 1990s, experts argued for an atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide and molecular nitrogen. Now, a new study suggests that the composition of Earth’s primordial atmosphere likely made it harder to generate lightning, which may have increased the time it took to generate and accumulate prebiotic molecules important for life.… [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/lightning-had-difficulty-forming-in-early-earths-atmosphere] For GSS Life and Climate chapter 4.

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2022-04-08. U.S. Fires Quadrupled in Size, Tripled in Frequency in 20 Years. By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Changes including intensifying drought, expansion into burnable land, and an increase in human-caused ignitions have led to a shift in fire patterns.Extreme fires increased primarily in the western and Great Plains regions, while moderate and small fires worsened across the entire country. These fire pattern changes, which threaten human and ecosystem health, are attributed to a combination of climate change impacts and human expansion into new and burnable land.… [https://eos.org/articles/u-s-fires-quadrupled-in-size-tripled-in-frequency-in-20-years] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-04-07. A Climate Mystery Warns Us to Heed the Unknown. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: A basic fact about climate change is curiously absent from public consciousness. …Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, has been rising in the atmosphere at an accelerating rate since 2007. But the cause of the acceleration remains unknown. Today, NOAA announced more sobering news. In 2021, methane rose more than other any other year on record, according to a preliminary analysis of weekly measurements taken at 40 sites globally. 2020 also broke records. …It’s rare to feel like climate change is a mystery anymore. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formed, controversy besieged even basic facts: Is the planet warming? Are sea levels rising? Those squabbles have long since ebbed, …With so much at stake, there’s a heightening sense that the science is settled. Science historian Naomi Oreskes called for the end of the IPCC’s deliberations on the physical science of climate change, arguing that all efforts must instead go toward finding solutions. But when it comes to methane, the science is not settled.… [https://eos.org/articles/a-climate-mystery-warns-us-to-heed-the-unknown] For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-03-16. 1.5°C May Not Seem Like Much, But It’s a Really Big Deal. Here’s Why. By Ann Reid, Executive Director, National Center for Science Education. Excerpt: In 2015, recognizing the existential threat posed by global climate change and the need for coordinated action, nearly 200 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a framework for addressing the climate threat on an international scale. A central goal of the agreement was this: Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. …That still might not seem like much, but there are certainly times when a 2.7°F increase would be a cause for concern. For example, if one of my children had a fever of 101.3°F, 2.7°F above normal, it would certainly get my attention.  Fever is just one instance of a small change in temperature having a dramatic biological effect. For example, developing sea turtles are exquisitely sensitive to temperature: If turtle eggs are incubated below 81.86°F, all the babies will be male. Above 87.8°F, all of them will be female. As temperatures rise, the gender balance of the species will grow increasingly skewed.  In fact, all sorts of biological processes are affected by temperature, including when leaves open and fruits form, insects hatch, and fish spawn. And because so many of those biological processes are interconnected, the effect of even minute changes in temperature can cascade through an ecosystem.… [https://www.nsta.org/blog/15degc-may-not-seem-much-its-really-big-deal-heres-why] For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-04-11. Truck Makers Face a Tech Dilemma: Batteries or Hydrogen? By Jack Ewing, The New York Times. Excerpt: Even before war in Ukraine sent fuel prices through the roof, the trucking industry was under intense pressure to kick its addiction to diesel, a major contributor to climate change and urban air pollution. But it still has to figure out which technology will best do the job. Truck makers are divided into two camps. One faction, which includes Traton, Volkswagen’s truck unit, is betting on batteries because they are widely regarded as the most efficient option. The other camp, which includes Daimler Truck and Volvo, the two largest truck manufacturers, argues that fuel cells that convert hydrogen into electricity — emitting only water vapor — make more sense because they would allow long-haul trucks to be refueled quickly. …Battery-powered trucks sell for about three times as much as equivalent diesel models, although owners may recoup much of the cost in fuel savings. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will probably be even more expensive, perhaps one-third more than battery-powered models, according to auto experts. But the savings in fuel and maintenance could make them cheaper to own than diesel trucks as early as 2027, according to Daimler Truck.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/11/business/electric-hydrogen-trucks.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-04-10. Wind Energy Company to Pay $8 Million in Killings of 150 Eagles. By Eduardo Medina, The New York Times. Excerpt: A wind energy company pleaded guilty last week to killing at least 150 eagles at its wind farms and was ordered to pay $8 million in fines and restitution, federal prosecutors said. …ESI [Energy] acknowledged that at least 150 bald and golden eagles had died at its facilities since 2012, and that 136 of those deaths were “affirmatively determined to be attributable to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade,” the Justice Department said in a statement. …The company agreed to spend up to $27 million on measures to “minimize additional eagle deaths and injuries,” prosecutors said. …The case comes as the bald eagle, the nation’s symbol whose resurgence is considered one of the greatest conservation stories of the 21st century, faces a new threat: lead poisoning. All but a few hundred bald eagles were presumed dead by the mid-20th century, killed off largely by the widespread use of the synthetic insecticide DDT. A ban on DDT in 1972 and conservation efforts helped the population to rebound. The bald eagle was removed from Endangered Species Act protection in 2007 and its estimated population grew to 316,700 by 2019. …A 2013 study found that between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed each year in the United States at monopole turbines. …Roberto Albertani, a professor of mechanical engineering at Oregon State University, said in 2017 that he and his team had devised a system …using cameras to determine if the birds were approaching the blades, triggering on-the-ground inflatable tubes, or “wind dancer” figures, like those often seen at car dealerships, to scare the birds away, Professor Albertani said in a presentation last year. Eagles appear to be “annoyed by anthropomorphic figures,” he said. Professor Ponder said some researchers were looking into using audio signals to keep the birds away from turbines… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/10/us/bald-eages-dead-wind-farms.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-04-10. Facing Disastrous Floods, They Turned to Mangrove Trees for Protection. By Suhasini Raj, The New York Times. Excerpt: As sea levels rise, eroding embankments and pushing water closer to their doorsteps, the residents of the hundreds of villages in the Sundarbans — an immense network of rivers, tidal flats, small islands and vast mangrove forests straddling India and Bangladesh — have found their lives and livelihoods at risk. In the absence of much government support, women like Aparna Dhara, with help from a nonprofit environmental conservation organization, have devised their own solution: planting hundreds of thousands of additional mangrove trees to bolster their role as protective barriers. …Mangroves, found only in tropical and subtropical climates, are distinctive for their ability to survive in brackish water. Research has shown mangrove forests to be an excellent way to mitigate the effects of climate change, especially the storm surge accompanying cyclones, by reducing the height and speed of waves. Mangroves also help reduce greenhouse gases, as they have high rates of carbon capture.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/10/world/asia/sundarbans-mangroves-india-bangladesh.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-04-07. Methane emissions jumped by record amount in 2021, NOAA says. By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Global methane emissions soared by a record amount in 2021, eclipsing the record set the year before, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, demonstrating the huge challenge facing policymakers who have pledged to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Methane, the second biggest contributor to human-caused global warming after carbon dioxide, is emitted in part by oil and natural gas production, particularly shale gas drilling. But it’s also emitted by livestock farming and landfills, as well as wetlands whose waterlogged soils, rich in microbes, are ideal for naturally producing methane.Since last year, about 100 countries have signed on to a Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut emissions 30 percent by the end of the decade. Some major emitters, such as Russia and China, still have not.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/04/07/methane-emissions-jumped-by-record-2021-noaa-says/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-04-06. Tiny labmade motors could one day suck pollutants from the air and harvest precious metals. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Tiny molecular machines make life possible. Spinning rotary motors generate the chemical fuel our cells need, miniature walkers carry nutrients, and minute construction crews build proteins. Now, chemists are getting in on the act by making even smaller and simpler versions of these biological machines. In three studies, scientists report designing their own molecular pumps and rotary motors. The puny devices are not quite ready to make their real-world debut, but future versions could suck carbon dioxide from the air and harvest valuable metals from seawater. The new studies show it’s possible to get teams of motors all working in the same direction and concentrate target chemicals in a confined space, a feat biology uses to sustain work.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/tiny-labmade-motors-could-one-day-suck-pollutants-air-and-harvest-precious-metals] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-04-04. Australian Wildfires Linked to Ozone Layer Depletion. By Krystal Vasquez, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The Australian “Black Summer” bushfires produced nearly 1 million tons of smoke in 2019 and 2020, wreaking havoc on local air quality. But new research has shown that this is far from the only impact that the smoke had on the atmosphere. According to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, thunderstorms generated by the intense wildfires thrust smoke particles well into the stratosphere, where they contributed to a 1% loss of the ozone layer. That’s the amount that should have been recovered over the past decade due to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, said Susan Solomon, a professor of environmental studies and chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead author on the paper. “This fire offset that in one blow.”.… [https://eos.org/articles/australian-wildfires-linked-to-ozone-layer-depletion] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8 and Ozone chapter 9.

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2022-03-22. Colorado Welcomes Arrival of New Zero-Emissions Big Rigs. By Colorado Department of Transportation. Excerpt: New all-electric trucks will help Colorado meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals and save consumers money. Roads in Colorado will soon be seeing green 18-wheelers — big trucks with plenty of power but zero emissions. …Colorado Energy Office Director Will Toor and Colorado Department of Transportation Office of Innovative Mobility Chief Kay Kelly on Tuesday joined officials from Nikola, Wagner Equipment and the Colorado Motor Carriers Association to hail the arrival of the electric big rigs. A Nikola Tre truck, on display at the Capitol Tuesday, is a fully battery-electric vehicle (BEV) offering a range of up to 350 miles. Beginning in 2023, Wagner will also include the Nikola Tre hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles as part of its portfolio of trucks. “Colorado recently released a draft Clean Truck Strategy, which is among the most comprehensive plans in the U.S. to build and scale the market for zero emission trucks,” said Toor. “…The strategy includes ambitious plans to transition to zero-emissions electric and hydrogen trucks and buses. …Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles like tractor trailers represent less than 10% of all the vehicles on the road but are responsible for 22% of on-road transportation greenhouse gas emissions as well as ozone precursors.… [https://www.codot.gov/news/2022/march/colorado-welcomes-arrival-of-zero-emissions-big-rigs] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-04-04. 5 Takeaways From the U.N. Report on Limiting Global Warming. By Raymond Zhong, The New York Times. Excerpt: Current pledges to cut emissions, even if nations follow through on them, won’t stop temperatures from rising to risky new levels.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/04/climate/ipcc-report-explained.html] See also Eos article by Jenessa Duncombe, NY Times article, Stopping Climate Change Is Doable, but Time Is Short, U.N. Panel Warns; and IPCC Synthesis Report. For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-03-28. Befriending Trees to Lower a City’s Temperature. By Peter Wilson, The New York Times. Excerpt: New York, Denver, Shanghai, Ottawa and Los Angeles have all unveiled Million Tree Initiatives aimed at greatly increasing their urban forests because of the ability of trees to reduce city temperatures, absorb carbon dioxide and soak up excess rainfall. Central Melbourne, on the other hand, lacks those cities’ financial firepower and is planning to plant a little more than 3,000 trees a year over the next decade. Yet it has gained the interest of other cities by using its extensive data to shore up the community engagement and political commitment required to sustain the decades-long work of building urban forests. …Called the Urban Forest Visual, the map displayed each of the 80,000 trees in its parks and streets, and showed each tree’s age, species and health. It also gave each tree its own email address so that people could help to monitor them and alert council workers to any specific problems. That is when the magic happened. City officials were surprised to see the trees receiving thousands of love letters. They ranged from jaunty greetings — “good luck with the photosynthesis” — to love poems and emotional tributes about how much joy the trees brought to people’s lives.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/28/special-series/befriending-trees-to-lower-a-citys-temperature.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-04-02. Imagine Another World. Now Imagine 5,000 More. By Becky Ferreira, The New York Times. Excerpt: NASA recently announced that it had detected more than 5,000 exoplanets, so we asked astronomers, actors and an astronaut to share their favorite worlds orbiting distant stars.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/02/science/nasa-exoplanets-5000.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8.

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2022-04-01. What Sounds Captured by NASA’s Perseverance Rover Reveal About Mars. By NASA News. Excerpt: A new study based on recordings made by the rover finds that the speed of sound is slower on the Red Planet than on Earth and that, mostly, a deep silence prevails. ​Listen closely to sounds from Mars, recorded by NASA’s Perseverance: the rover’s mechanical whine and click in a light Martian wind; the whir of rotors on Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter; the crackling strike of a rock-zapping laser. An international team of scientists has done just that, performing the first analysis of acoustics on the Red Planet. Their new study reveals how fast sound travels through the extremely thin, mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere, how Mars might sound to human ears, and how scientists can use audio recordings to probe subtle air-pressure changes on another world – and to gauge the health of the rover. …Most of the sounds in the study, published April 1 in the journal Nature, were recorded using the microphone on Perseverance’s SuperCam, mounted on the head of the rover’s mast. … [https://mars.nasa.gov/news/9158/what-sounds-captured-by-nasas-perseverance-rover-reveal-about-mars/] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-04-01. Indigenous people are leading effort to bring caribou back from brink of extinction. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Strategies by First Nations peoples triples size of dwindling herd. In early March, Naomi Owens-Beek sat bundled against the cold, as her sled whizzed through the snow in the mountains of central British Columbia. In her hands, she clutched precious cargo: a sedated caribou—one of 114 of a herd facing extinction. The caribou—a female belonging to the Klinse-Za herd—and 18 others will spend 5 months in a mountain enclosure known as the maternal pen. Here, they’ll be safe from wolves, bears, and other predators as the pregnant cows give birth and begin to rear their calves. The work is part of an unusual, costly, and labor-intensive experiment led by two First Nations to bring one of Canada’s many dwindling caribou herds back from the brink. New research suggests it’s working. Since 2013, the Klinse-Za herd has tripled in size. The results point to what it could take to revive the fortunes of ailing caribou elsewhere on the continent—some of the last herds of large, migratory mammals in the Americas (also known as reindeer). The work is not for the faint of heart. It has included killing hundreds of wolves, expensive coddling of pregnant caribou cows, and hard-won protections for land in mountainous central British Columbia covering an area larger than the state of Delaware.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/indigenous-people-are-leading-effort-bring-caribou-back-brink-extinction] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 2.

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2023-31. The Planet Inside. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Scientists are probing the secrets of the inner core—and learning how it might have saved life on Earth. …Earth’s magnetic field, nearly as old as the planet itself, protects life from damaging space radiation. But 565 million years ago, the field was sputtering, dropping to 10% of today’s strength, according to a recent discovery. Then, almost miraculously, over the course of just a few tens of millions of years, it regained its strength—just in time for the sudden profusion of complex multicellular life known as the Cambrian explosion. What could have caused the rapid revival? Increasingly, scientists believe it was the birth of Earth’s inner core, a sphere of solid iron that sits within the molten outer core, where churning metal generates the planet’s magnetic field. Once the inner core was born, possibly 4 billion years after the planet itself, its treelike growth—accreting a few millimeters per year at its surface—would have turbocharged motions in the outer core, reviving the faltering magnetic field and renewing the protective shield for life.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/scientists-probing-secrets-earths-inner-core-saved-life-planet] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 3.

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2022-03-29. Traditional Fertilizers Beat Out Industrial Chemicals in Soil Health Test. By Andrew Chapman, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …Since the 1960s, the Indian government has subsidized chemical-intensive fertilizers to enhance crop growth. Now, new research from western India has shown that in a head-to-head test of soil properties, organic fertilizer based on Traditional Ecological Knowledge encouraged better soil structure and fertility, even during drought periods. Only about 10%–15% of farms in the region studied use the traditional fertilizer, but studies like this one could incentivize more sustainable agricultural practices.… [https://eos.org/articles/traditional-fertilizers-beat-out-industrial-chemicals-in-soil-health-test] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 5.

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2022-03-28. Warmer Nights Are Adding Fuel to Nighttime Fires. By Jennifer Schmidt, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Wildland firefighters battling record-setting blazes are noticing that the game is changing. Where crews once gained ground in the evening hours, when fires naturally die down, some on the front lines now say they often are facing a sustained battle. A new study published in Nature showed just how accurate these reports are, particularly in the western United States.… [https://eos.org/articles/warmer-nights-are-adding-fuel-to-nighttime-fires] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-03-28. ‘Meet us, don’t eat us’: Iceland turns from whale eaters to whale watchers. By Abby Young-Powell, The Guardian. Excerpt: Iceland, one of the few countries in the world to hunt whales commercially, announced in February its plan to end the practice from 2024, though it has not officially banned it yet. Falling demand for whale meat, especially since Japan resumed commercial whaling in 2019, has influenced the decision. …Whaling has been practised around Iceland since the early 1600s, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that steamships and explosive harpoons allowed US and European companies to hunt the animals on a large commercial scale. Iceland stopped commercial whaling in 1985 and scientific whaling four years later under the international moratorium on commercial hunts. But commercial whaling resumed in 2006. Current annual quotas allow for 209 fin whales to be killed in Iceland, to be sent to Japan, along with 217 minke whales, which are eaten domestically. Since the practice restarted, an association of local whale-watching companies, led by the non-profits International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and IceWhale, have fought to end it…using the slogan “meet us, don’t eat us”. Contrary to what many visitors believe, whale is not considered a delicacy among Icelanders, says Arni Finnsson, chair of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association, who worked on the campaign. Only 2% of Icelanders say they regularly eat it, according to IFAW. Instead, the biggest eaters of minke whale have been the country’s roughly 2 million annual visitors, many of whom believe it is an Icelandic speciality.… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/28/meet-us-dont-eat-us-how-iceland-is-turning-tourists-from-whale-eaters-to-whale-watchers] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 7.

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2022-03-25. Dirty bomb ingredients go missing from Chornobyl monitoring lab. By Richard Stone, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Insecure radioactive materials are the latest worry as Russia continues occupation of infamous nuclear reservation. …When the lights went out at Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant on 9 March, the Russian soldiers holding Ukrainian workers at gunpoint became the least of Anatolii Nosovskyi’s worries. More urgent was the possibility of a radiation accident at the decommissioned plant. If the plant’s emergency generators ran out of fuel, the ventilators that keep explosive hydrogen gas from building up inside a spent nuclear fuel repository would quit working, says Nosovskyi, director of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants (ISPNPP) in Kyiv. So would sensors and automated systems to suppress radioactive dust inside a concrete “sarcophagus” that holds the unsettled remains of Chornobyl’s Unit Four reactor, which melted down in the infamous 1986 accident. …In the chaos of the Russian advance, he told Science, looters raided a radiation monitoring lab in Chornobyl village—apparently making off with radioactive isotopes used to calibrate instruments and pieces of radioactive waste that could be mixed with conventional explosives to form a “dirty bomb” that would spread contamination over a wide area.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/dirty-bomb-ingredients-go-missing-chornobyl-monitoring-lab] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-03-30. US transition to electric vehicles would save over 100,000 lives by 2050 – study. By Nina Lakhani, The Guardian. Excerpt: …Analysis by the American Lung Association highlights the public health damage caused by the world’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels, and provides a glimpse into a greener, healthier future – should political leaders decide to act. According to the report, swapping gas vehicles for zero-emission new cars and trucks in the US would lead to 110,000 fewer deaths, 2.8m fewer asthma attacks and avoid 13.4m sick days by 2050. The shift would lead to a 92% fall in greenhouse gases by 2050, generating $1.7[trillion] in climate benefits by protecting ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure from rising sea levels and catastrophic weather events including drought and floods.… [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/mar/30/us-electric-vehicles-save-lives-public-health-costs-study] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-03-29. In a First, an Ice Shelf Collapses in East Antarctica. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: For the first time since satellites began observing Antarctica nearly half a century ago, an ice shelf has collapsed on the eastern part of the continent, scientists said. The collapse of the 450-square-mile Conger ice shelf in a part of the continent called Wilkes Land occurred in mid-March. It was first spotted by scientists with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and appeared in satellite images taken on March 17, according to the National Ice Center in the United States. …Several very large glaciers in West Antarctica are already flowing faster and if their ice shelves were to collapse completely, sea levels could rise on the order of 10 feet over centuries.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/25/climate/east-antarctica-ice-shelf-collapse.html] See also article in The Guardian. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-03-29. How 2 Industries Stymied Justice for Young Lead Paint Victims. By Ellen Gabler, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Although lead poisoning has decreased substantially since the late 1970s as a result of regulatory actions and public health initiatives, about 500,000 children under 6 have elevated blood lead levels in the United States and are at risk of harm. …with little public attention and the approval of state officials, insurance companies across the country excluded lead from their policies, declining to pay out when children were poisoned on properties they covered, according to interviews with health and housing officials, regulators and lawyers who represented children and their families. The move also eased pressure on landlords to fix up their rentals.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/29/us/lead-poisoning-insurance-landlords.html] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 8.

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2022-03-28. Solar Cookers International at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Forum. [Youtube video] By Solar Cookers International. Excerpt: …Approximately 2.6 billion people cook over open fires around the globe and women and girls carry the greatest burdens of this cooking method. Gathering fuel and cooking over open fires increases the risks of rape, premature deaths, burns, and disability. Solar cooking frees women from those burdens with an affordable, healthy, sustainable, off-grid solution. SCI advocates for the adoption of solar cooking to empower women and their families to live healthier and more sustainable lives while alleviating climate change.… [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccZR9Np3vWI] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-03-27. How Joe Manchin Aided Coal, and Earned Millions. By Christopher Flavelle and Julie Tate, The New York Times. Excerpt: At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business. Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action. …While the fact that Mr. Manchin owns a coal business is well-known, an examination by The New York Times offers a more detailed portrait of the degree to which Mr. Manchin’s business has been interwoven with his official actions. He created his business while a state lawmaker in anticipation of the Grant Town plant, which has been the sole customer for his gob for the past 20 years, according to federal data. At key moments over the years, Mr. Manchin used his political influence to benefit the plant. …As the pivotal vote in an evenly split Senate, Mr. Manchin has blocked legislation that would speed the country’s transition to wind, solar and other clean energy and away from coal, oil and gas, the burning of which is dangerously heating the planet.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/27/climate/manchin-coal-climate-conflicts.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-03-24. Methane Leaks in New Mexico Far Exceed Current Estimates, Study Suggests. By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: Startlingly large amounts of methane are leaking from wells and pipelines in New Mexico, according to a new analysis of aerial data, suggesting that the oil and gas industry may be contributing more to climate change than was previously known. The study, by researchers at Stanford University, estimates that oil and gas operations in New Mexico’s Permian Basin are releasing 194 metric tons per hour of methane, a planet-warming gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. That is more than six times as much as the latest estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency. The number came as a surprise to Yuanlei Chen and Evan Sherwin, the lead authors of the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. …The largest previous assessment of methane emissions from oil and gas in the United States, published in 2018, reviewed studies covering about 1,000 well sites, a tiny fraction of the more than one million active wells in the country. The new study, by contrast, used aerial data to examine nearly 27,000 sites from above: more than 90 percent of all wells in the New Mexico portion of the Permian Basin, which also extends into Texas.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/climate/methane-leaks-new-mexico.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-03-19. $87.50 for 3 Minutes: Inside the Hot Market for Videos of Idling Trucks. By Michael Wilson, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Citizens Air Complaint Program, a public health campaign that invites — and pays — people to report trucks that are parked and idling for more than three minutes, or one minute if outside a school. Those who report collect 25 percent of any fine against a truck by submitting a video just over 3 minutes in length that shows the engine is running and the name of the company on the door. The program has vastly increased the number of complaints of idling trucks sent to the city, from just a handful before its creation in 2018 to more than 12,000 last year.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/19/nyregion/clean-air-idle-car.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-03-18. It’s 70 degrees warmer than normal in eastern Antarctica. Scientists are flabbergasted. By Jason Samenow and Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The coldest location on the planet has experienced an episode of warm weather this week unlike any ever observed, with temperatures over the eastern Antarctic ice sheet soaring 50 to 90 degrees above normal. The warmth has smashed records and shocked scientists.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/03/18/antarctica-heat-wave-climate-change/] See also The Guardian article, Heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles alarm climate scientistshttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/20/heatwaves-at-both-of-earth-poles-alarm-climate-scientists. For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-03-17. For Car Designers, E.V.s Offer a Blank Canvas. By Paul Stenquist, The New York Times. Excerpt: The internal combustion engine is exiting stage left. While it provided great transportation and performance thrills for many years, it will no longer play a leading role. In its place under the hood will be, well, very little. Ready or not, the curtain is going up on electric vehicles, and most of their mechanical components don’t sit where fossil-fuel engines once performed. Electric motors — far smaller than gasoline engines — are mounted between the wheels. A large transmission no longer gobbles up passenger space. No drive shaft is needed, thus no tunnel in the middle of the floor. The rear seat doesn’t have to be positioned to provide room for a fuel tank. The E.V.’s power source — the battery — is heavy and large but of minimal height. Situated within the area protected by the wheels, it serves as part of the chassis — a structural member. Nearly all the parameters of vehicle packaging have changed. Given a new and radically different platform on which to build vehicles, designers are rethinking their approach; the sheet metal that adorned gas-guzzlers can be a misfit here. …The size and weight of the battery compel it to be placed low and between the wheels, Mr. Langer said. That allows for a flat floor. The cowl — a structural element between engine compartment and passenger area — can be moved toward the front, increasing interior space. …The Lucid team took advantage of starting with a clean sheet. According to Mr. Jenkins, the Lucid Air has the largest “frunk,” or forward trunk, of any consumer-aimed E.V. … [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/17/business/electric-vehicle-ev-design.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-03-16. A high-performance capillary-fed electrolysis cell promises more cost-competitive renewable hydrogen. By Aaron Hodges et al, Nature Communications. Abstract: Renewable, or green, hydrogen will play a critical role in the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors and will therefore be important in limiting global warming. However, renewable hydrogen is not cost-competitive with fossil fuels, due to the moderate energy efficiency and high capital costs of traditional water electrolysers. Here a unique concept of water electrolysis is introduced, wherein water is supplied to hydrogen- and oxygen-evolving electrodes via capillary-induced transport along a porous inter-electrode separator, leading to inherently bubble-free operation at the electrodes. An alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis cell of this type demonstrates water electrolysis performance exceeding commercial electrolysis cells, with a cell voltage at 0.5 A cm−2 and 85 °C of only 1.51 V, equating to 98% energy efficiency, with an energy consumption of 40.4 kWh/kg hydrogen (vs. ~47.5 kWh/kg in commercial electrolysis cells). High energy efficiency, combined with the promise of a simplified balance-of-plant, brings cost-competitive renewable hydrogen closer to reality.… [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28953-x] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-03-15. Tree Carbon Data That Ring True. By Nancy Averett, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Forests around the world pull carbon out of the atmosphere and are crucial in the global fight to stem climate change. But figuring out how much carbon forests are storing as the planet heats up is tricky. …a team of international researchers has published a study that puts forth a solution for acquiring these data: gather tree ring cores from live trees in national forests. …The easiest way to collect these data, Evans and DeRose noted in the study, is to include tree ring sampling in existing national forest inventory programs. …A recent study that Evans coauthored with Kelly Heilman, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, shows how integrating the two data sources can help with forest management. In the paper, they and their colleagues combined tree ring data with FIA data on Arizona’s ponderosa pines and were able to infer the size of the trees each year and see how they responded to climate variables such as rainfall and temperature. Their study predicted a 56%–91% decline in individual tree growth under future climate scenarios. It also showed that denser ponderosa forests fare worse when its hotter and drier—which has implications for forester managers, who could mitigate some climate stress on the forests by thinning them. “If you have both an overly dense forest and climate warming happening at the same time, that’s a double whammy. But if you thin the forests, you can remove one source of stress,” said Evans.… [https://eos.org/articles/tree-carbon-data-that-ring-true] For GSS A New World View chapter 6.

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2022-03-14. Holes the size of city blocks are forming in the Arctic seafloor. By Katie Hunt, CNN. Excerpt: Marine scientists have discovered deep sinkholes — one larger than a city block of six-story buildings — and ice-filled hills that have formed “extraordinarily” rapidly on a remote part of the Arctic seafloor. Mapping of Canada’s Beaufort Sea, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle and ship-mounted sonar, revealed the dramatic changes, which the researchers said are taking place as a result of thawing permafrost submerged underneath the seabed. …On land, thawing permafrost has led to radical shifts in the Arctic landscape, including ground collapses, the formation and disappearance of lakes, the emergence of mounds called pingos, and craters formed by blowouts of methane gas contained in the permafrost. These extreme features have affected infrastructure such as roads and pipelines. …Many of the landscape changes seen on terrestrial permafrost have been attributed to warmer temperatures as a result of the climate crisis — the Arctic is warming two times faster than the global average. However, the authors said the changes they’d identified could not be explained by human-caused climate change. …Instead, the holes were likely caused by much older, slower climatic shifts that are related, he said, to our emergence from the last ice age and appear to have been happening for thousands of years.… [https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/14/world/arctic-seafloor-holes-permafrost-scn/index.html] For GSS Life and Climate chapter 10.

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2022-01-03. H2 Clipper Will Resurrect Hydrogen Airships to Haul Green Fuel Across the Planet. By Edd Gent, SingularityHub. Excerpt: …Hydrogen is increasingly being seen as a promising alternative for … hard to decarbonize sectors. It has a higher energy density than natural gas and can either be burned in internal combustion engines or combined with oxygen in a fuel cell to create electricity. …much of today’s hydrogen is derived from natural gas and therefore not much better than fossil fuels, in theory you can also make it by using renewable electricity to power electrolyzers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Producing green hydrogen economically is still a huge challenge,…. But transporting hydrogen remains a sticking point: Areas that are abundant in renewable energy such as sun and wind are not always close to where the hydrogen is needed. …a start-up called H2 Clipper has an ingenious workaround. …build airships that simultaneously transport hydrogen and use it as a lighter-than-air gas to provide the aircraft with lift. …its airships will also use hydrogen fuel cells to power their engines. …the H2 Clipper will be able to cruise at about 175 mph, which would allow it to ferry cargo 7 to 10 times faster than a boat. It also has a cargo volume of 265,000 cubic feet—8 to 10 times more than most airfreighters—and can carry up to 340,000 pounds of payload 6,000 miles at its standard cruising speed. Between distances of 1,000 to 6,000 miles, the airship could carry a ton of cargo for as little as $0.177 to $0.247 per mile—a quarter of the cost of airfreight. …US law currently bans the use of hydrogen as a lift gas in airships. …not surprising, seeing as the era of the airship came to an abrupt end nearly a century ago after the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg went up in flames. H2 Clipper deals with this issue in their FAQs, pointing out that hydrogen storage technology has undergone rigorous testing in the automotive industry thanks to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with no recorded explosion to date. The company says this is because hydrogen’s very fast expansion rate means that it typically disperses too quickly for an explosion to happen.… [https://singularityhub.com/2022/01/03/h2-clipper-will-resurrect-hydrogen-airships-to-haul-green-fuel-across-the-planet/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-03-10. New insight into magma chambers could improve volcano models. By Colin Barras, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Researchers have discovered a simple and surprising control over the depth of a volcano’s magma chamber: how much water it contains. The finding is significant because water fuels the most devastating eruptions—from Vesuvius in 79 C.E. to Mount Pinatubo in 1991. The work could also help improve models that predict eruptions, which for years have been based on a volcano’s seismic rumblings and records of its past behavior. …Daniel Rasmussen …and his colleagues wanted to understand why magma chambers—slushy mixes of molten rock, solid crystals, and gases—lie anywhere between about 1 kilometer and 12 kilometers below the surface of “arc” volcanoes, a common kind of volcano that forms near the boundaries of tectonic plates. When plates of ocean crust slide into the mantle, the layer that makes up most of Earth’s interior, they drag water with them that gets locked away in minerals. This water then fuels the formation of magmas. As this magma rises through cracks and fissures, it is depressurized …much like the bubbles in a popped can of carbonated soda. But magma also gets stickier as it loses water, and …gradually becomes so thick it can rise no farther—at least until a physical disturbance such as an injection of extra magma drives an eruption. …A magma body with 1% water by weight would begin to lose water just 1 kilometer below the surface, …but for magma with 7% water by weight, loss would begin much deeper, at about 12 kilometers. This means, counterintuitively, that “wetter” magmas—even though they’re initially more fluid—thicken up and stall out at greater depths than “drier” ones. The researchers thought this could explain why magmas occur at different depths.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/new-insight-magma-chambers-could-improve-volcano-models] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-03-08. Road Salts Linked to High Sodium Levels in Tap Water. By Sarah Stanley, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When snowstorms hit, deicing agents such as road salts and brine help keep streets and walkways open. However, some deicers release sodium and chloride into the surrounding environment. Links between elevated sodium intake and human health risks, such as high blood pressure, are well established. The effects of deicers on drinking water, however, have been less clear. Now, evidence reported by Cruz et al. supports a link between deicers and elevated sodium levels in drinking water, with concentrations in the Philadelphia region sometimes surpassing recommended limits for people on sodium-restricted diets. The new study adds a public health perspective to research that has focused primarily on the harmful effects of deicers on freshwater aquatic animals, including amphibians and benthic macroinvertebrates.… [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/road-salts-linked-to-high-sodium-levels-in-tap-water] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-03-08. The largest remaining tall-grass prairie in Texas is getting solar panels. Environmentalists can’t stop it. By Mary Beth Gahan, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A solar facility on a 3,594-acre tract of land has environmental groups searching for a way to save what they consider a living museum …“We recognize the importance of this native prairie ecosystem,” said Daniel Willard, a biodiversity specialist at Orsted. “One of the best ways to protect biodiversity is the development of clean energy, and we are taking several steps to ensure that development is done in balance with nature.”… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/03/08/texas-prairie-solar-panels-climate-change] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10 and Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-03-03. Forest Edges Are More, Not Less, Productive Than Interior Forest. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The boundaries of northeastern U.S. forests suck in more carbon dioxide than previously thought.… [https://eos.org/articles/forest-edges-are-more-not-less-productive-than-interior-forest] For GSS A New World View chapter 6.

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2021-12-16. Opening a 50-year-old Christmas present from the Moon. By European Space Agency. Excerpt: A pretty special gift unwrapping will soon take place – a piercing tool built by ESA will open a Moon soil container from Apollo 17 that has gone untouched for nearly 50 years. The opening will allow the extraction of precious lunar gases which may have been preserved in the sample.… [https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Opening_a_50-year-old_Christmas_present_from_the_Moon] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-03-07. Making a Camera That Works a Million Miles Away. By Mark A. Stein, The New York Times interview. Excerpt: When the James Webb Space Telescope sent its first images to Earth, no one was more excited than Marcia J. Rieke, who oversaw the design and construction of its camera. …We’ve gotten the first images and we’re super happy. The entire Webb team is ecstatic at how well the first steps of taking images and aligning the telescope are proceeding. …When did the astronomy bug bite you? As a kid, I read astronomy and science fiction books from the public library and became enchanted with the idea of visiting other planets. When I was in junior high, I worked as a babysitter and saved money to buy myself a telescope. …This was in the late 1960s. How was it to be a woman in your field back then? My entering class was one of the first ones where M.I.T. made a big push to get more women accepted. In my class, there were something like 73 women out of 1,000 incoming students. That isn’t a big number, but it was a lot bigger number than had been coming in before. …What advice was most helpful in your career? People need to do something they love doing. Find your passion and go for that.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/07/science/space/marcia-rieke-james-webb-telescope.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-03-07. Amazon Is Less Able to Recover From Droughts and Logging, Study Finds. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: The Amazon is losing its ability to recover from disturbances like droughts and land-use changes, scientists reported Monday, adding to concern that the rainforest is approaching a critical threshold beyond which much of it will be replaced by grassland, with vast consequences for biodiversity and climate change. The scientists said their research did not pinpoint when this threshold, which they described as a tipping point, might be reached. “But it’s worth reminding ourselves that if it gets to that tipping point, that we commit to losing the Amazon rainforest, then we get a significant feedback to global climate change,” said one of the scientists, Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter in England. Losing the rainforest could result in up to 90 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide getting put back into the atmosphere, he said, equivalent to several years of global emissions. That would make limiting global warming more difficult.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/07/climate/amazon-rainforest-climate-change-deforestation.html] For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2022-03-07. E.P.A. to Tighten Tailpipe Rules for the Biggest Polluters on the Road. By Coral Davenport, The New York Times. Excerpt: The Biden administration on Monday proposed strict new limits on pollution from buses, delivery vans, tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks — the first time in more than 20 years that tailpipe standards have been tightened for the biggest polluters on the road. The new draft rule from the Environmental Protection Agency would require heavy-duty trucks to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide by 90 percent by 2031. Nitrogen dioxide is linked to lung cancer, heart disease and premature death. The E.P.A. also announced plans to slightly tighten truck emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is driving climate change. The new rules for nitrogen oxide pollution would apply to trucks beginning with the model year 2027, while the carbon dioxide rules would apply to trucks starting with the model year 2024.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/07/climate/trucks-pollution-rules-epa.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9 and Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-03-04. Abandoned rocket ‘hits the Moon’ . By Georgina Rannard, BBC News. Excerpt: A discarded part of a rocket should have crashed into the Moon’s far side by now, say scientists who were expecting the impact at 12:25 GMT. The three-tonne rocket part had been tracked for a number of years, but its origin was contested. At first, astronomers thought it might have belonged to Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm, and then said it was Chinese – something China denies. The effects of the impact on the Moon should have been minor. The rocket stage would have dug out a small crater and created a plume of dust. …The European Space Agency estimates there are now 36,500 pieces of space junk larger than 10cm. No space programme or university formally tracks deep space junk. Monitoring space is expensive and the risks to humans from high-orbit debris are low.… [https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-60596449] See also NASA web page, Space Debris and Human Spacecraft. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-03-03. This Map Shows Where Biodiversity Is Most at Risk in America. By Catrin Einhorn and Nadja Popovich, The New York Times. Excerpt: …places in the lower 48 United States most likely to have plants and animals at high risk of global extinction. …Animals like the black-footed ferret and California condor are represented, but so are groups often left out of such analyses: species of bees, butterflies, fish, mussels, crayfish and flowering plants. Not included are gray wolves, grizzly bears and other wildlife not at risk of global extinction.… [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/03/03/climate/biodiversity-map.html] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-03-01. Forecast for Solar Power Boom: Sunny and Bright. By Nathanael Greene, Nature’s Voice (NRDC). Excerpt: Clean power just keeps winning in the marketplace. According to the federal Energy Administration, wind and solar made up 62 percent of new electric generating capacity in 2019, and 76 percent in 2020. The reason is clear…wind and solar are simply less expensive than dirty fossil fuels. And costs for wind, solar, and battery technologies continue to fall. …In 2021 more than 10,000 megawatts of utility-scale solar projects came online—triple the amount just five years before. …here’s more good news: the Energy Department also found that the disturbed lands that are suitable for solar use—that is, lands denuded or contaminated by prior use, impacted by invasive species, or good for rooftop solar—are about eight times what is needed to decarbonize the whole country…. [https://issuu.com/nrdc/docs/naturesvoice-spring-2022] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2021-11-09. Regenerative Agriculture 101. By Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Excerpt: NRDC interviewed more than 100 farmers and ranchers who are building healthy soil and growing climate-resilient communities across the country. …the holistic principles behind the dynamic system of regenerative agriculture are meant to restore soil and ecosystem health, address inequity, and leave our land, waters, and climate in better shape for future generations. …this is not a new idea…. In fact, Indigenous communities have farmed in nature’s image for millennia. “The regenerative agriculture movement is the dawning realization among more people that an Indigenous approach to agriculture can help restore ecologies, fight climate change, rebuild relationships, spark economic development, and bring joy,” says Arohi Sharma, water and agriculture policy analyst at NRDC. …“When we speak with farmers and ranchers focused on regenerative agriculture, they tell us that their notion of ‘success’ goes beyond yield and farm size,” says Lara Bryant, deputy director of water and agriculture at NRDC. “It includes things like joy and happiness, the number of families they feed, watching how the land regenerates and flourishes, the money saved from not purchasing chemical inputs, the debt avoided by repurposing old equipment, and the relationships built with community members.” …when we took animals out of cropping systems (a practice that started with poultry in the 1950s and expanded to beef and pork in the ’60s) and separated them into confined facilities and feedlots, we introduced a host of ethical and ecological problems, including the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria and harmful algal blooms. But fostering relationships between animals and the land can help cycle nutrients, increase water retention (from the organic matter left behind by animal manure), and curb weed and pest problems without the use of chemicals. —Prioritize Soil Health— While the techniques for caring for the soil vary with the context of each farm, generally, regenerative growers limit mechanical soil disturbance. Instead, they feed and preserve the biological structures that bacteria, fungi, and other soil microbes build underground—which provide above-ground benefits in return…. [https://www.nrdc.org/stories/regenerative-agriculture-101] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 5.

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2022-02-28. IPCC issues ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown. By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian. Excerpt: Climate breakdown is accelerating rapidly, many of the impacts will be more severe than predicted and there is only a narrow chance left of avoiding its worst ravages, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said. …In what some scientists termed “the bleakest warning yet”, the summary report from the global authority on climate science says droughts, floods, heatwaves and other extreme weather are accelerating and wreaking increasing damage. Allowing global temperatures to increase by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as looks likely on current trends in greenhouse gas emissions, would result in some “irreversible” impacts. These include the melting of ice caps and glaciers, and a cascading effect whereby wildfires, the die-off of trees, the drying of peatlands and the thawing of permafrost release additional carbon emissions, amplifying the warming further. António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said: “I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this. Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”… [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/28/ipcc-issues-bleakest-warning-yet-impacts-climate-breakdown] See also articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Science. For GSS Climate Change chapter 4.

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2022-02-27. ‘Rain Bomb’ Hits Northeastern Australia, Killing at Least 9. By Yan Zhuang, The New York Times. Excerpt: Days of downpours have pummeled Queensland and New South Wales, with the authorities describing the wild weather as “waves of water just coming down.” …Up to 18,000 homes across the state have been affected, the authorities estimated, with about 15,000 of those in Brisbane. More than 1,500 people have been evacuated and about 53,000 homes were without power on Monday morning. Hundreds of schools are closed, and officials have asked residents to work from home. Residents have been asked to conserve water after flooding knocked a water treatment plant offline on Sunday. On Monday morning, the rain had eased and the Brisbane River had peaked at 12.6 feet. It was expected to peak again in the afternoon.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/world/australia/australia-flood-queensland.html.] See also Washington Post article. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-02-25. How ‘solar canals’ could help California survive a megadrought. By Roger Bales, Fast Company. Excerpt: Mounting evidence suggests the western United States is now in its worst megadrought in at least 1,200 years. Groundwater supplies are being overpumped in many places, and the dryness, wildfires, and shrinking water supplies are making climate change personal for millions of people. As an engineer, I have been working with colleagues on a way to both protect water supplies and boost renewable energy to protect the climate. We call it the solar-canal solution, and it’s about to be tested in California. About 4,000 miles of canals transport water to some 35 million Californians and 5.7 million acres of farmland across the state. As we explained in a 2021 study, covering these canals with solar panels would reduce the evaporation of precious water—one of California’s most critical resources—and help meet the state’s renewable energy goals, while also saving money.… [https://www.fastcompany.com/90725151/how-solar-canals-could-help-california-survive-a-megadrought] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-02-24. Final Resting Place. By Sedeer El-Showk, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Finland is set to open the world’s first permanent repository for high-level nuclear waste. …Although nuclear power is declining in many nations, Finland has embraced the carbon-free energy source, lobbying the European Union to label it as sustainable. …nuclear power will account for more than 40% of Finland’s electricity. The emissions-free electricity comes with a downside: hot and highly radioactive spent uranium fuel rods. …surface storage is vulnerable to accidents, leaks, or neglect during the thousands of years the waste remains dangerous, …groundwater contaminated by leaky waste tanks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Hanford Site in Washington state, where reactors produced plutonium for the first nuclear weapons. Without a long-term solution, the waste is piling up. Finland had about 2300 tons of waste in 2019, and about 263,000 tons of spent fuel sit in interim storage facilities worldwide, a report this year from the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates. … Street protests have slowed down plans for a disposal site in France, and in 2009, after years of debate, then-President Barack Obama’s administration gave up on plans to develop Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as the U.S. national repository. “The U.S. approach didn’t pay sufficient attention to community acceptance or engagement,” says Isaacs, who was the lead adviser on a 2012 blue-ribbon report commissioned by DOE to chart a way forward. “The original approach led to conflict rather than cooperation.” Finland, however, has run into remarkably few problems with Onkalo, which the government approved as a site in 2000. It helped that the residents of Eurajoki, the town closest to Onkalo and the nearby reactors, were comfortable with nuclear power..… [https://www.science.org/content/article/finland-built-tomb-store-nuclear-waste-can-it-survive-100000-years?] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-02-23. USPS finalizes plans to buy mostly gasoline-powered delivery trucks. Here’s what experts say is wrong with that. By Jacob Bogage and Anna Phillips, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The U.S. Postal Service finalized plans Wednesday to purchase up to 148,000 gasoline-powered mail delivery trucks, defying Biden administration officials’ objections that the multibillion-dollar contract would undercut the nation’s climate goals. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy disregarded requests from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency this month to reconsider replacing the delivery fleet with 90 percent gas-powered trucks and 10 percent electric vehicles, at a cost of as much as $11.3 billion. The contract, orchestrated by DeJoy, offers only a 0.4-mpg fuel economy improvement over the agency’s current fleet. The decision is a major blow to the White House’s climate agenda. President Biden has pledged to transition the federal fleet to clean power, and apart from the military, the Postal Service has more vehicles than any other government agency. It accounts for nearly one-third of federally owned cars and trucks, and environmental and auto industry experts argue that the agency’s stop-and-start deliveries to 161 million addresses six days a week provides an ideal scenario for using electric vehicles. EPA officials said the Postal Service vastly underestimated the emissions of its proposed fleet of “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles,” accusing the mail agency of fudging the math in its analysis to justify the massive purchase of internal-combustion-engine trucks.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/02/23/usps-trucks-epa-climate-change] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-02-23. World’s nations start to hammer out first global treaty on plastic pollution. By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Each year, an estimated 11 million tons of plastic waste enter the ocean, equivalent to a cargo ship’s worth every day. The rising tide—in the oceans and beyond—is just a symptom of much wider problems: unsustainable product design, short-sighted consumption, and insufficient waste management, scientists say. To curb the flood, says Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia, “we need to take more action and it needs to be further upstream” in the production process. That’s exactly what negotiators from 193 countries are setting out to do when they meet in Nairobi, Kenya, next week. Their ambitious goal: to create a negotiating committee that will try to hammer out, within 2 years, a new global treaty intended to curb plastic pollution. An already released proposal, modeled on the United Nations’s climate treaty, would have nations adopt action plans, set binding waste reduction targets, and establish monitoring systems and a new global scientific advisory body.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/world-s-nations-start-hammer-out-first-global-treaty-plastic-pollution] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-02-23. To fight climate change, a biotech firm has genetically engineered a very peppy poplar. By Gabriel Popkin, Science Magazine. Excerpt: A California biotech company seeking to create fast-growing trees that can rapidly soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide has announced its first experimental results: the firm’s genetically enhanced poplars grew more than 1.5 times faster than unmodified ones in lab trials. Plant scientists applaud the news, but caution that much more work is needed before engineered trees can start to help curb climate change.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/fight-climate-change-biotech-firm-has-genetically-engineered-very-peppy-poplar] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-02-23. Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires. By UN Environment Programme. Excerpt: Wildfires are becoming more intense and more frequent, ravaging communities and ecosystems in their path. Recent years have seen record-breaking wildfire seasons across the world from Australia to the Arctic to North and South America. With global temperatures on the rise, the need to reduce wildfire risk is more critical than ever. A new report, Spreading like Wildfire: The Rising Threat of Extraordinary Landscape Fires, by UNEP and GRID-Arendal, finds that climate change and land-use change are making wildfires worse and anticipates a global increase of extreme fires even in areas previously unaffected. Uncontrollable and extreme wildfires can be devastating to people, biodiversity and ecosystems. They also exacerbate climate change, contributing significant greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.… [https://www.unep.org/resources/report/spreading-wildfire-rising-threat-extraordinary-landscape-fires] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-02-23. E.U. will unveil a strategy to break free from Russian gas, after decades of dependence. By Michael Birnbaum and Steven Mufson, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Ukraine crisis has pushed Europe toward renewables — but will the change come quickly enough?.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/02/23/russia-ukraine-eu-nordstream-strategy-energy] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-02-22. Peat is the Unsung Hero of Carbon Capture. By Sabrina Imbler, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Although peatlands make up just 3 percent of land on Earth, they store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined.… [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/02/21/headway/peat-carbon-climate-change.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-02-20. A year after Texas cold spell, study shows renewable energy could help prevent blackouts. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …a recent study shows that electricity blackouts can be avoided across the nation — perhaps even during intense weather events — by switching to 100 percent clean and renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water.[https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/02/20/texas-energy-winter-renewable-jacobson-dessler-rogan] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-01-04. These homes are off-grid and climate resilient. They’re also built out of trash. By Nick Aspinwall, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Earthships originally spawned from the arid climate of Taos, maximizing abundant sunlight while squeezing whatever they can from about eight inches of annual rainfall. Each Earthship shares a set of core organs such as a water organization module, which filters and separates water as it moves throughout the house. In the Earthship ecosystem, water is first used for drinking, showering and hand washing before moving to interior plants, such as fig and banana trees, along with hanging gardens of herbs and flowers. The resulting “gray water” is used to fertilize ornamental outdoor plants and can be safely released into the groundwater supply or used in the toilet, from which “black water” is flushed into a septic tank. …Another module controls solar power, which is used primarily for lights and appliances. Earthships use about one-sixth as much power as a conventional house. “You take care of it, it’ll take care of you,” Albury said. “It’s very symbiotic.” A typical Earthship can produce 25 to 50 percent of the food its residents need, .… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/04/earthship-houses-climate-change/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-02-21. Court ruling on social cost of carbon upends Biden’s climate plans. By Maxine Joselow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A recent court ruling that bars the Biden administration from accounting for the real-world costs of climate change has created temporary chaos at federal agencies, upending everything from planned oil and gas lease sales to infrastructure spending. The Feb. 11 decision by a Louisiana federal judge blocked the Biden administration from using a higher estimate for the damage that each additional ton of greenhouse gas pollution causes society. This formula, called the social cost of carbon, applies to consequential decisions affecting fossil fuel extraction on public lands, infrastructure projects and even international climate talks. …President Biden last year directed federal agencies to applyan interim social cost of carbon of $51 per ton — the figure used under former president Barack Obama — while his administration weighed whether to raise itto as high as $125 per ton. Under former president Donald Trump, that figure had fallen as low as $1 per ton, as his appointees recalculated the impacts of climate change on present and future generations.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/02/21/social-cost-of-carbon-biden] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-02-17. Nearly half of bald eagles have lead poisoning. By Tess Joosse, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …The study…surveyed eagles in 38 states, whereas previous work focused on a single region or just a handful of states. …Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were close to extinction by the 1960s thanks in part to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). The pesticide washed into waterways, contaminated the fish the eagles ate, and poisoned the birds, weakening their eggshells and killing hatchlings. After DDT was banned in 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 protected bald eagle habitat, population numbers started to tick up. There are more than 300,000 bald eagles alive in the wild today. …When an eagle eats lead—usually in the form of ammunition left behind in deer and other carcasses—it shows up in the bloodstream, filters through the liver, and can build up in the bones if the bird eats enough lead throughout its lifetime. …Models comparing natural and lead-caused deaths revealed lead levels would stunt annual population growth by 3.8% in bald eagles and 0.8% in golden eagles each year, the team reports today at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science) and online today in Science. Watts isn’t so sure a 3.8% dip in population growth will put a meaningful dent in bald eagle recovery, because many local populations include a “buffer” group of nonbreeding adults that could swoop in and reproduce if others are lost. He says the losses are of more concern for golden eagles. …“Their populations are much more on the edge,” …. Counts from 2016 estimate about 40,000 golden eagles in the United States.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/nearly-half-bald-eagles-have-lead-poisoning] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6.

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2022-02-17. Facing the effects of climate change, skiers want to save their snow — and their sport. By Denise Hruby, The Washington Post. Excerpt: OBERWÖLZ, Austria — At the Lachtal ski resort, high in the eastern Alps of Austria, skiers immediately pull out their phones after sliding off the chairlift — not to take selfies, but rather to snap pictures of the windmills that have become part of the mountainous vista. When the first windmills were built here in 2002, at about 7,290 feet, many tourists saw the massive blades as an eyesore. But as the wind park grew and expanded, so did skiers’ environmental conscience. Today, locals and tourists are proud to ski among the backdrop. “When I ride up with them and eavesdrop, they’re usually impressed,” says Rudolf Wiesnegger, who maintains the wind park and adjacent solar panels. “They comment that it’s great for the environment,” he says. …Skiers and spectators have been flabbergasted by this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Just as the LED snowflakes that sparkled during the Opening Ceremonies weren’t real, the snow that skiers and snowboarders are competing on isn’t natural, either.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/02/17/skiing-snow-climate-change-olympics/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-02-16. Evidence of giant asteroid strike may be buried under Wyoming. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Some 280 million years ago, before the rise of the Rocky Mountains—or even the dinosaurs—a 2.5-kilometer-wide asteroid smashed into the supercontinent of Pangaea, near the eastern border of present-day Wyoming. The impact’s heat and shock wave would have killed anything within 400 kilometers, making it one of the largest asteroid strikes in North American history. …And there the crater may sit, kilometers down, even to this day. That’s the scenario painted in new work. Researchers haven’t found the crater itself, but they have identified a series of 31 smaller craters, each no wider than a U.S. football field. These “secondary” craters would have been formed by boulders ejected by the impact, landing up to 200 kilometers away. It is the first time a secondary crater field—commonly seen on other planetary bodies, including the Moon—has been discovered on Earth. …The craters’ pattern was similar to the rays and streaks of small craters that surround large craters on the Moon, like Tycho. They provide clear evidence that such formations are possible on Earth, the researchers conclude this month in the Geological Society of America Bulletin.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/evidence-giant-asteroid-strike-may-be-buried-under-wyoming] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 1.

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2022-02-15. Coal Seam Fires Burn Beneath Communities in Zimbabwe. By Andrew Mambondiyani, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: As Zimbabwe’s coal industry expands, residents around the western town of Hwange are experiencing the effects of underground coal seam fires. Residents, particularly children, and livestock are at risk from falling into the smoldering fires beneath unstable ground. Unfenced areas above the fires are often used as outdoor toilets, playgrounds, and grazing areas. Victims suffer burned legs, and in one case, a young girl died of her burn injuries. …Most of these fires start with the ignition of exposed coal seams, but they can also spark in coal storage or waste piles. Coal seam fires, which can ignite naturally as well as through human activity, can burn for decades and even thousands of years. Thousands of fires are burning at any given time, releasing toxic fumes that account for 3% of the world’s carbon emissions and release 40 tons of mercury to the atmosphere every year.… [https://eos.org/articles/coal-seam-fires-burn-beneath-communities-in-zimbabwe] For GSS Energy Use chapter 3.

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2022-02-15. On Mars, a Year of Surprise and Discovery. By  Kenneth Chang, The New York Times. Excerpt: …NASA’s Perseverance rover …On Feb. 18 last year, the spacecraft carrying the rover pierced the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 miles per hour. …Twelve months later, Perseverance is nestled within a 28-mile-wide crater known as Jezero. From the topography, it is evident that more than three billion years ago, Jezero was a body of water roughly the size of Lake Tahoe, with rivers flowing in from the west and out to the east. One of the first things Perseverance did was deploy Ingenuity, a small robotic helicopter and the first such flying machine to take off on another planet. Perseverance also demonstrated a technology for generating oxygen that will be crucial whenever astronauts finally make it to Mars. The rover then set off on a diversion from the original exploration plans, to study the floor of the crater it landed in. …collect cores of rock — cylinders about the size of sticks of chalk — that are eventually to be brought back to Earth by a future mission [Mars Sample Return]. …data confirm that what orbital images suggested was a river delta is indeed that and that the history of water here was complex. The boulders, which almost certainly came from the surrounding highlands, point to episodes of violent flooding at Jezero. …On April 18 last year, Ingenuity rose to a height of 10 feet, hovered for 30 seconds, and then descended back to the ground. The flight lasted 39.1 seconds. …NASA decided five flights were not enough. When Perseverance set off to explore the rocks to the south, Ingenuity went along, now scouting the terrain ahead of the rover. …During the development of Perseverance’s drill, engineers tested it with a wide variety of Earth rocks. But then the very first rock on Mars that Perseverance tried to drill turned out to be unlike all of the Earth rocks. The rock in essence turned to dust during the drilling and slid out of the tube.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/science/mars-nasa-perseverance.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-02-14. Exploration and Evaluation of Deep-Sea Mining Sites. By Aaron Sidder, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The seafloor near a mid-ocean ridge is often home to rising hydrothermal fluids from the deep crust that deposit minerals on the ocean bottom. These seafloor massive sulfide deposits offer new sources of copper, zinc, lead, gold, and silver. The ore potential led to the European Union’s initiation of the Blue Mining project in 2014 with the goal of turning seafloor mining into a viable industry. Two recent and related studies sought to optimize the detection and exploration of seafloor massive sulfide deposits. …The two studies are a significant step forward in identifying and characterizing active and inactive hydrothermal mounds on the seafloor. The findings move seafloor mining toward cost-effective exploration and assessment of currently undeveloped mineral resources, with a focus on exploiting the hydrothermally inactive deposit to minimize negative environmental impacts. (Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earthhttps://doi.org/10.1029/2021JB022082 and https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JB022228, 2021).[https://eos.org/research-spotlights/exploration-and-evaluation-of-deep-sea-mining-sites] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-02-11. New Perspectives on the Enigma of Expanding Antarctic Sea Ice. By Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth,  Ian Eisenman,  Sally Zhang,  Shantong Sun and  Aaron Donohoe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …The extent of Antarctic sea ice varies greatly from year to year, but 40 years of satellite records show a long-term trend. Although some Antarctic regions have experienced reductions in sea ice extent, the overall trend since 1979 shows increased ice. The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent stands in stark contrast to conditions in the Arctic, where sea ice extent has declined significantly—by about 2 million square kilometers, or about 20%, over the past 40 years. Much of the observed loss of Arctic sea ice, which is in general agreement with expectations from climate models, has been attributed to anthropogenic global warming. The trend in Antarctic sea ice, meanwhile, has confounded scientists—most climate models indicate that Antarctic sea ice extent should have decreased over the past several decades. Here we discuss results from three recent independent studies that all applied a “nudging” technique to the same climate model to study the influences of different processes on Antarctic sea ice extent.… [https://eos.org/science-updates/new-perspectives-on-the-enigma-of-expanding-antarctic-sea-ice] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2022-02-10. Himalayas Are Experiencing an “Exceptional” Loss of Glacial Mass. By Rishika Pardikar, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The Himalayas have lost 40% of their glacial mass since the Little Ice Age. East Nepal and Bhutan have experienced the most rapid losses.… [https://eos.org/articles/himalayas-are-experiencing-an-exceptional-loss-of-glacial-mass] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-02-10. To Make a Big Moon, Start with a Small Planet. By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In a contest of which planet in the solar system has the most relatively massive moon, Earth takes the prize. The Moon is roughly 1% of Earth’s mass, whereas the moons of all the remaining moon-bearing planets—that’s all of them save for Mercury and Venus—are less than one ten thousandth their planets’ masses. …“We think that a giant impact is a very efficient way to form fractionally large moons,” said Miki Nakajima, a planetary scientist at the University of Rochester in New York. Large collisions are thought to be a common occurrence in the chaos of a still-forming solar system, but if all giant impacts formed fractionally large moons, our solar system would be rife with them. …Using computer simulations, Nakajima and her colleagues explored what happens when rocky or icy would-be planets of various sizes collide. The researchers found that after such a major impact, only rocky planets less than 6 times Earth’s mass and icy planets less than 1 Earth mass can form a fractionally large moon out of the collision debris. They published these results in Nature Communications on 1 February.… [https://eos.org/articles/to-make-a-big-moon-start-with-a-small-planet] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-02-15. Affordable housing for teachers? California owns plenty of land for that. By Ivan Natividad, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: New research from UC Berkeley has the potential to influence state policy aimed at providing affordable housing to public school teachers and staff. The report, “Education Workforce Housing in California: Developing the 21st Century Campus,” was published today by UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools, the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at Berkeley, and cityLAB at UCLA. The research, developed in collaboration with the California School Boards Association and funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, looked at tens of thousands of potential California housing sites and found that counties across the state own public land that can be designed and developed to house public school teachers and staff. Researchers found that the scarcity of affordable housing in California impacts the quality of K-12 education because public school teachers and employees often cannot live in the communities where they work. … [https://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/affordable-housing-for-teachers-california-owns-plenty-of-land-for-that/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9. Why is this article related to Energy Use chapter 9? Because if people live close to their work, they expend less energy (and emit less greenhouse gas) than commuting far distances.

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2022-02-14. Rapid intensification of the emerging southwestern North American megadrought in 2020–2021. By A. Park WilliamsBenjamin I. Cook & Jason E. Smerdon, Nature Climate Change. Abstract: A previous reconstruction back to 800 CE indicated that the 2000–2018 soil moisture deficit in southwestern North America was exceeded during one megadrought in the late-1500s. Here, we show that after exceptional drought severity in 2021, ~19% of which is attributable to anthropogenic climate trends, 2000–2021 was the driest 22-yr period since at least 800. This drought will very likely persist through 2022, matching the duration of the late-1500s megadrought.… [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-022-01290-z] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. See also New York Times article How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 12 Centuries, Study Finds.

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2022-02-11. The precious genes of the world’s first cloned ferret could save her species. Joel Goldberg, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, isn’t Jurassic Park, but new developments there might sound familiar to fans of the sci-fi classic. This year, the center’s sole cloned ferret, a 14-month-old female named Elizabeth Ann, is expected to become the first clone to be bred for the sake of saving her species from extinction. Three other species have been cloned for conservation: a Przewalski’s horse named Kurt, and two types of Southeast Asian cattle under threat, the gaur and the banteng. But Elizabeth Ann is the only clone set to take the next step and breed, an essential step in delivering her unique genes to the shrinking black-footed ferret gene pool.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/precious-genes-world-s-first-cloned-ferret-could-save-her-species] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-02-10. France Announces Major Nuclear Power Buildup. By Liz Alderman, The New York Times. Excerpt: President Emmanuel Macron announced a major buildup of France’s huge nuclear power program on Thursday, pledging to construct up to 14 new-generation reactors and a fleet of smaller nuclear plants as the country seeks to slash planet-warming emissions and cut its reliance on foreign energy. The announcement represented an about-face for Mr. Macron, who had previously pledged to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear power but has pivoted to burnishing an image as a pronuclear president battling climate change as he faces a tough re-election bid in April.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/10/world/europe/france-macron-nuclear-power.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4 and Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-02-10. How Billions in Infrastructure Funding Could Worsen Global Warming. By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: …widening highways and paving new roads often just spurs people to drive more, research shows. And as concerns grow about how tailpipe emissions are heating the planet, Colorado is among a handful of car-dominated states that are rethinking road building. In December, Colorado adopted a first-of-its-kind climate change regulation that will push transportation planners to redirect funding away from highway expansions and toward projects that cut vehicle pollution, such as buses and bike lanes. …In 2019, states spent one-third of their highway dollars on new road capacity, roughly $19.3 billion, with the rest spent on repairs. “This is a major blind spot for politicians who say they care about climate change,” said Kevin DeGood, director of infrastructure policy at the Center for American Progress…. “Everyone gets that oil pipelines are carbon infrastructure. But new highways are carbon infrastructure, too. Both lock in place 40 to 50 years of emissions.” The core problem, environmentalists say, is a phenomenon known as “induced traffic demand.” When states build new roads or add lanes to congested highways, instead of reducing traffic, more cars show up to fill the available space. Induced demand explains why, when Texas widened the Katy Freeway in Houston to more than 20 lanes in 2011, at a cost of $2.8 billion, congestion returned to previous levels within a few years.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/10/climate/highways-climate-change-traffic.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-02-10. The U.S. Army has released its first-ever climate strategy. Here’s what that means. By Michael Birnbaum and Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The U.S. Army released its first climate strategy this week, an effort to brace the service for a world beset by global-warming-driven conflicts. The plan aims to slash the Army’s emissions in half by 2030; electrify all noncombat vehicles by 2035 and develop electric combat vehicles by 2050; and train a generation of officers on how to prepare for a hotter, more chaotic world. It is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to address climate change across government agencies, including at the Pentagon. …strategists are increasingly alarmed about the security implications of climate change. The strategy notes “an increased risk of armed conflict in places where established social orders and populations are disrupted.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/02/10/army-military-green-climate-strategy/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-02-09. Gene-edited wheat resists dreaded fungus without pesticides. By Erik Stokstad, Science Magazine. Excerpt: New strain survives powdery mildew, a costly disease, without side effects… [https://www.science.org/content/article/gene-edited-wheat-resists-dreaded-fungus-without-pesticides] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-02-09. An electric jolt salvages valuable metals from waste. By Sam Kean, Science Magazine. Excerpt: As chemists scramble to find ways to reclaim valuable metals from industrial waste and discarded electronics, one team has found a solution that sounds a little like magic: Zap the trash with flashes of electric heat. Rare earth elements (REEs) present an environmental paradox. On one hand, these dozen or so metals, such as yttrium and neodymium, are vital components of wind turbines and solar panels, and cheap sources of REEs could give those green technologies a huge boost. On the other, mining REEs causes billions of dollars of environmental damage each year. …mining companies have to chew through tons upon tons of ore, stripping and gutting landscapes. …Old electronics and other industrial waste, in contrast, are rich in REEs. But existing recycling methods are inefficient and expensive, and require corrosive chemicals such as concentrated hydrochloric acid. The new process could help break that logjam. Today in Science Advances, a team led by organic chemist James Tour of Rice University reports using pulses of electrical heat to make it easier to extract REEs from industrial waste. The technique is roughly twice as efficient as current methods and uses far more benign chemicals. …In addition to fly ash, Tour’s team has extracted REEs from so-called red mud—a byproduct of making aluminum—and from electronics. In the latter case, the team gutted an old laptop and ground its circuit board into powder to experiment with.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/electric-jolt-salvages-valuable-metals-waste] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-02-09. European fusion reactor sets record for sustained energy. Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In experiments culminating the 40-year run of the Joint European Torus (JET), the world’s largest fusion reactor, researchers announced today they have smashed the record for producing controlled fusion energy. On 21 December 2021, the U.K.-based JET heated a gas of hydrogen isotopes to 150 million degrees Celsius and held it steady for 5 seconds while nuclei fused together, releasing 59 megajoules (MJ) of energy—roughly twice the kinetic energy of a fully laden semitrailer truck traveling at 160 kilometers per hour. The energy in the pulse is more than 2.5 times the previous record of 22 MJ, set by JET 25 years earlier. “To see shots in which it sustains high power for a full 5 seconds is amazing,” says Steven Cowley, director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). JET’s achievement doesn’t mean fusion-generated electricity will flow into the grid anytime soon, however. Researchers had to put roughly three times as much energy into the gas as the reaction produced. But the result gives them confidence in the design of ITER, a giant fusion reactor under construction in France, which is supposed to pump out at least 10 times as much energy as is fed in. “This is very good news for ITER,” says Alberto Loarte, head of ITER’s science division. “It strongly confirms our strategy.”.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/european-fusion-reactor-sets-record-sustained-energy] For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2022-02-09. Solar Storm Destroys 40 New SpaceX Satellites in Orbit. By Robin George Andrews, The New York Times. Excerpt: Over the past three years, SpaceX has deployed thousands of satellites into low-Earth orbit as part of its business to beam high-speed internet service from space. But the company’s latest deployment of 49 new satellites after a Feb. 3 launch did not go as planned. As a consequence of a geomagnetic storm triggered by a recent outburst of the sun, up to 40 of 49 newly launched Starlink satellites have been knocked out of commission. They are in the process of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, where they will be incinerated. …The sun has an 11-year-long cycle in which it oscillates between hyperactive and quiescent states. Presently, it is ramping up to its peak, which has been forecast to arrive around 2025. This recent solar paroxysm was relatively moderate by the sun’s standards. “I have every confidence that we’re going to see an extreme event in the next cycle, because that typically is what happens during a solar maximum,” said Hugh Lewis, a space debris expert at the University of Southampton in England. If a milquetoast outburst can knock out 40 Starlink satellites hanging out at low orbital altitudes, a more potent solar scream has the potential to inflict greater harm on the mega-constellations of SpaceX and other companies.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/09/science/spacex-satellites-storm.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 3.

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2022-02-03. Good News: Rocks Crack Under Pressure from Mineral CO2 Storage. By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When carbon mineralizes in stone, each new fracture exposes more surfaces that can react with and trap CO2, enhancing a rock’s storage capacity. As concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) continue to rise and drive climate change, scientists have been researching options not just to reduce CO2 emissions but also to actually remove carbon from the atmosphere. Many carbon capture and storage methods seek to trap gaseous or water-dissolved CO2 in underground storage reservoirs, but these could leak and release greenhouse gas back into the atmosphere. “When you inject COin a gas form, it can escape, for example, if a fault is moving or there is damage to the reservoir. It is always going to be looking for a way to escape to an area where the pressure is lower,” explained Catalina Sanchez-Roa, an experimental geophysicist at Columbia University Climate School in New York City. “But with carbon mineralization, you [store] it as a mineral, as a solid, and then it’s very stably stored for a really long period of time.”.… [https://eos.org/articles/good-news-rocks-crack-under-pressure-from-mineral-co2-storage] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-02-02. A Giant Impact Triggered Earthquakes for Thousands of Years. By Katherine Kornei, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When an asteroid struck South Africa during the Precambrian, earthquakes rocked the region for millennia as Earth’s crust reequilibrated, new research reveals.… [https://eos.org/articles/a-giant-impact-triggered-earthquakes-for-thousands-of-years] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 1.

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2022-02-08. Why This Could Be a Critical Year for Electric Cars. By Jack Ewing and Neal E. Boudette, The New York times. Excerpt: Sales of cars powered solely by batteries surged in the United States, Europe and China last year, while deliveries of fossil fuel vehicles were stagnant. …While electric vehicles still account for a small slice of the market — nearly 9 percent of the new cars sold last year worldwide were electric, up from 2.5 percent in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency — their rapid growth could make 2022 the year when the march of battery-powered cars became unstoppable, erasing any doubt that the internal combustion engine is lurching toward obsolescence. …The auto industry is on track to invest half a trillion dollars in the next five years to make the transition to electric vehicles, Wedbush Securities, an investment firm, estimates. That money will be spent to refit and build factories, train workers, write software, upgrade dealerships and more. Companies are planning more than a dozen new electric car and battery factories just in the United States. “It’s one of the biggest industrial transformations probably in the history of capitalism,” Scott Keogh, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, said in an interview.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/08/business/energy-environment/electric-cars-vehicles.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-02-04. As seed-hauling animals decline, some plants can’t keep up with climate change. By Meagan Cantwell, Science Magazine. Excerpt: The average animal-dispersed plant has experienced a 60% reduction in its ability to keep pace with climate change. …More than half of plants rely on animals to disperse their seeds far and wide. In the face of climate change, birds and mammals are these plants’ best chance at putting down roots in a more suitable environment. Unfortunately, many birds and mammals that carry these seeds have experienced staggering losses to their population—some large seed haulers, such as woolly mammoths, are extinct. A study published in Science last month created models that could forecast future interactions between animals and plants as their habitat ranges shift, and how species losses up until now have reduced the distance seeds can travel.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/seed-hauling-animals-decline-some-plants-can-t-keep-climate-change] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 4.

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2022-02-01. Climate change may be fueling increase in major Northeast snowstorms. By Jacob Feuerstein, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Saturday’s tremendous coastal storm pushed a band of heavy snow into southern New England, burying cities under a snowpack up to two feet deep. These near-recordsnowfall totals continue an astonishing run of historic storms to impact the Northeast in recent years, probably attributed, in part, to anthropogenic climate change. “Extreme snowstorms, even in the face of longer term declines in winter snow, are entirely consistent with the effects of global warming,” Justin Mankin, a professor at Dartmouth College who studies climate change and variability, said in a statement.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/02/01/northeast-snow-storm-climate/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-02-01. Global elimination of meat production could save the planet. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: A new study of the climate impacts of raising animals for food concludes that phasing out all animal agriculture has the potential to substantially alter the trajectory of global warming. The work is a collaboration between Michael Eisen, professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Patrick Brown, professor emeritus of biochemistry at Stanford University and the CEO of Impossible Foods Inc., a company that sells plant-based meat substitutes. …Rapid global phaseout of animal agriculture has the potential to stabilize greenhouse gas levels for 30 years and offset 68 percent of CO2 emissions (PLOS Climate).… [https://news.berkeley.edu/2022/02/01/global-elimination-of-meat-production-could-save-the-planet/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-01-31. Massive wolf kill disrupts long-running study of Yellowstone park packs. By Virginia Morell, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Hunters are killing gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains in numbers not seen since the animals were driven to near extinction in the continental United States in the 20th century. The killing of more than 500 wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming in recent months…threatens to undermine a decades-old effort to restore the predators to the landscape and disrupt a long-term Yellowstone research project that has produced influential findings on how wolves help shape ecosystems. Researchers and conservation groups are calling on government officials to rethink the hunts, which have eliminated about 16% of the wolves living in the three states. …The killings are the result of a change in legal protections for Canis lupus. For decades, the wolves were strictly protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), but more than 10 years ago successful restoration efforts prompted federal officials to ease protections and give state governments a greater say in managing the species. …several states have legalized or expanded wolf hunts. Legislators in Montana, for example, last year set a goal of shrinking the state’s wolf population to “at least 15 breeding pairs,” the minimum required by the ESA; state rules allow a person to kill up to 20 wolves each season. Idaho also aims to shrink its wolf population and has set no kill limits. Wyoming has nearly achieved its goal of maintaining just 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone (where hunting is barred). Biologists say the recent killings won’t cause the regional extinction of wolves, …. [https://www.science.org/content/article/massive-wolf-kill-disrupts-long-running-study-yellowstone-park-packs] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1.

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2022-01-31. Biden administration to give states $1.15 billion to plug orphaned wells, which leak planet-warming methane. By Tik Root. The Washington Post. Excerpt: The White House on Monday announced new steps to help curb emissions of methane, saying it will send $1.15 billion to states to clean up thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells that leak the powerful planet-warming gas. …Tens of thousands of abandoned wells dot the country in places where the oil and gas companies or individual owners went out of business, or are otherwise no longer responsible for their cleanup. …The funds will go to the 26 states that submitted notices of intent to the Interior Department late last year. The allocations range from about $25 million for Alabama, up to $107 million for Texas. More will be spent in the coming months and years as part of grants to states.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/31/orphaned-wells-biden-climate-change/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-01-31. World record 477-mile-long lightning ‘megaflash’ confirmed over U.S.. By Matthew Cappucci, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The World Meteorological Organization also certified a flash over South America that lasted a record 17 seconds… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/01/31/world-record-lightning-megaflash-us/] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 7.

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2022-01-25. Berkeley astronomers to put new space telescope through its paces. By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: …Following the six-month-long commissioning phase, 13 teams chosen by NASA will take the new [James Webb Space] telescope [JWST] for a spin, putting its instruments through their paces by targeting astronomical objects that will be the major focus of scientists during the telescope’s planned 10 years of operation, and probably much longer. “To have two of the 13 led by people at Berkeley was pretty exceptional,” said [Imke] de Pater, a Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School and Distinguished Professor Emerita of astronomy and earth and planetary science who wrote her proposal in 2017 before her retirement from teaching last year. Given the JWST’s primary mission to study dim, distant galaxies and faint exoplanets, the observations planned by de Pater and her team of about 50 astronomers may seem out of character: They will turn the telescope on one of the brightest objects in the sky, Jupiter.… [https://news.berkeley.edu/2022/01/25/berkeley-astronomers-to-put-new-space-telescope-through-its-paces/] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-01-28. Illegal gold mines flood Amazon forests with toxic mercury. By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. Excerpt: …the forest is hiding a toxic secret: It is tainted by mercury at levels as high as those found in industrial regions in China, according to new research. The mercury is the product of hundreds of illegal, small-scale gold mines, and is leaving its poisonous fingerprint in forest wildlife. “These forests … are receiving an enormous load of mercury, and the mercury is indeed entering into the food web,” says biogeochemist Jackie Gerson, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the research as a Ph.D. student at Duke University. The new study, the first to describe such effects anywhere in the world, is another strand in the growing web of evidence that connects mining to mercury pollution in rivers, fish, and forests. Gold mining has recently outstripped coal burning as the world’s single largest source of airborne mercury pollution, annually releasing as much as 1000 tons of the potent brain and reproductive poison into the atmosphere. Using mercury to extract gold is a miner’s dream: The cheap, liquid metal, when mixed with a slurry of water and raw ore, binds with the precious gold. Miners then heat the globs of mercury and gold until the mercury burns off, floating away as a vapor.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/illegal-gold-mines-flood-amazon-forests-toxic-mercury] See also New York Times article, Alarming Levels of Mercury Are Found in Old Growth Amazon Forest. For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2022-01-24. Science Off the Seashore. By Heather Goss, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In January 2021, the United Nations launched the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The initiative encourages partner nations to fund scientific research that “achieves the ocean we want by 2030.” …Ocean thermal energy conversion is a fairly simple concept that could help island nations find independence from fossil fuels, but it’s suffering from the “innovation valley of death.” Read more about the potential of this ocean-based power source…. …The deep-sea mining industry is impatiently waiting for international regulators to take the leash off so they can begin collection of the rare earth elements waiting on the floor of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific. We report on the stakes that are all going to become clear in less than 2 years—for the ocean ecosystems, for the investors in deep-sea mining, and for the renewable energy tech that currently depends on these resources…. [https://eos.org/agu-news/science-off-the-seashore] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-01-21. From River to Sea: Estimating Wood Cascades. By Carolyn Wilke, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Dead wood might sound like it belongs in a garbage dump, but it’s a boon to the world’s rivers, beaches, and oceans, where it fuels ecosystem diversity. Until now, scientists have lacked an estimate for how much wood flows through rivers and out to sea. But according to a study reported in Science Advances, some 4.7 million cubic meters of wood may enter the oceans every year as a result of natural process such as erosion and storms. And that amount—almost twice the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza—may pale in comparison to the wood cascades of the preindustrial past. …Before the 1970s, many people thought that the dead wood of old-growth forests was just debris, said Ellen Wohl, a geologist at Colorado State University and one of the authors of the new study. But in the late 1970s, a whole-ecosystem study in the Pacific Northwest started a revolution in how people think about dead wood, she said. …Early history may have seen vastly more wood reach the ocean, the authors say. Nowadays, dams cut off river flow and, by extension, the transport of dead wood. People remove wood from waterways for flood control, as well as from harbors, estuaries, and beaches. Plus, deforestation has decreased global tree cover, leading to less wood inputs to the oceans. All of these changes raise the question, What impacts does dead wood’s removal have on coastal, open ocean, and deep-sea ecosystems?.… [https://eos.org/articles/from-river-to-sea-estimating-wood-cascades] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 1.

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2022-01-21. Radiometric Dating Sheds Light on Tectonic Debate. By Aaron Sidder, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: At the far edges of continents, where the continental shelf transitions into the deep ocean, continental and oceanic plates come face to face. At many of these margins, the denser oceanic plate is pushed below the continental plate in a process called subduction. However, in some cases, known as obduction, the oceanic plate ends up atop the more buoyant continental plate instead of diving below it. …The resulting ophiolites—slices of oceanic crust and mantle atop a continental plate—offer uncommon opportunities to view seafloor geology from the comfort of land. The Samail Ophiolite (Oman–United Arab Emirates), in the northeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, is frequently studied as a model of obduction because of its well-exposed and well-studied geology. …In a new study, Garber et al. sought to clarify the timing of the obduction episode in Oman. …Samarium-neodymium (Sm-Nd) and uranium-lead (U-Pbradiometric dating on the garnet, zircon, and rutile crystals in the rocks helped determine the age of the subduction event. …The results indicate that the episode occurred approximately 81–77 million years ago when the Arabian continental plate subducted to the northeast below the Samail Ophiolite.… [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/radiometric-dating-sheds-light-on-tectonic-debate] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-01-20. The Maldives is being swallowed by the sea. Can it adapt? By Tristan McConnell, National Geographic. Excerpt: …Twenty-five hundred years of maritime living have shaped the culture and identity of the people of the Maldives, a country of 1,196 low-lying islands arranged into a double chain of 26 coral atolls, so flat they scarcely breach the horizon. …the Maldives may become the first country on Earth to disappear beneath rising seas. …Now, as the pace of climate change accelerates, this tiny nation is trying to buy time, in hopes that the world’s leaders will reduce carbon emissions before the Maldives’ inevitable demise. The archipelago has bet its future—along with a substantial sum from the national purse—on construction of an artificial, elevated island that could house a majority of the population of nearly 555,000 people. Meanwhile, a Dutch design firm plans to build 5,000 floating homes on pontoons anchored in a lagoon across the capital. …The nation’s entire land area is just 115 square miles sitting in 35,000 square miles of ocean, with few islands bigger than 300 acres. …The islands themselves have an ephemeral quality: sandbanks upon living coral, they grow and shrink, rise and fall, depending upon the ocean currents and sand deposits. (The list of “disappeared islands” of the Maldives is long.) Most of the islands—including the capital Malé—stand about 3.5 feet above sea level; climate scientists forecast they will be inundated by the century’s end. Hulhumalé, the man-made rescue platform, has an elevation of 6.5 feet.… [https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/the-maldives-is-being-swallowed-by-the-sea-can-it-adapt] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-01-27. Gas stoves in kitchens pose a risk to public health and the planet, research finds. By Maxine Joselow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Gas-burning stoves in kitchens across America may pose a greater risk to the planet and public health than previously thought, new research suggests. The appliances release far more of the potent planet-warming gas methane than the Environmental Protection Agency estimates, Stanford University scientists found in a study published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The appliances also emit significant amounts of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that can trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions. Scientists and climate activists have increasingly urged homeowners to switch to all-electric stoves, water boilers and other appliances, even as the natural gas industry fights in New York and across the country to keep the signature blue flames of gas-burning stoves as a staple in American homes.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/01/27/gas-stoves-kitchens-pose-risk-public-health-planet-research-finds] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-01-24. Webb telescope arrives at outpost 1 million miles from Earth to begin study of distant galaxies. By Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post. Excerpt: NASA’s long-delayed, $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble, has been cruising for a month, deploying a vast sun shield and 18 gold-plated mirrors while overcoming a long list of potential snags. It will study the evolution of galaxies and provide new looks at worlds in our own solar system. …The final course correction, the third engine burn since launch, placed the Webb in a gravitationally stable position known as L2, where it will always be roughly 1 million miles from Earth on the opposite side of our planet from the sun. …the launch itself and two subsequent engine burns were so efficient that the Webb did not expend very much fuel to get where it is going. The extra fuel will prolong the lifetime of the telescope by years, well beyond its official 10-year target. “We doubled the mission life. The budget was for 10 years. With this new estimate, we’re about 20-plus years.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2022/01/24/webb-space-telescope-final-destination/] See also Science Magazine article, After reaching deep space haven, Webb telescope begins 5 months of fine-tuning and UC Berkeley News article, Berkeley astronomers to put new space telescope through its paces. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2022-01-21. An Ocean May Lurk Inside Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ Moon. By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times. Excerpt: …For eight years, scientists have been considering that Mimas, seemingly a pockmarked ball of ice frozen hard, might be hiding a secret: an ocean flowing 14 to 20 miles below the surface. In recent years, such ocean worlds — Europa at Jupiter and Enceladus at Saturn, to name two — have jumped to the top of the lists for scientists who are considering places in the solar system where life could have arisen. One NASA spacecraft, Juno, will swoop past Europa for a closer look this year and another mission, Europa Clipper, is to arrive for a dedicated mission there in 2030. But unlike other icy moons known to possess under-ice oceans, Mimas has a surface that offers no hints of cracks or melting that might suggest sloshiness within. It also stretched scientific credulity that the interior of a moon as small as Mimas could be warm enough for an ocean to remain unfrozen. …A planetary scientist who thought the idea of a Mimas ocean was unlikely now finds the thermodynamics to be plausible. …The results were published this week in the journal Icarus.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/science/mimas-ocean-death-star.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-01-20. Superstores can meet half their electricity needs with rooftop solar, says a new report. By Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: From Walmart to Ikea, a report finds that the rooftops of big-box stores offer enough solar potential to power the equivalent of 8 million American homes.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/20/superstores-can-meet-half-their-electricity-needs-with-rooftop-solar-says-new-report/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-01-19. Biden Administration Announces Plan to Spend Billions to Prevent Wildfires. By Alyssa Lukpat, The New York Times. Excerpt: After a year that included one of the largest wildfires in California history and ended with an unseasonably late blaze that became the most destructive ever seen in Colorado, the Biden administration on Tuesday announced a 10-year, multibillion-dollar plan to reduce the fire risk on up to 50 million acres that border vulnerable communities. The federal Agriculture Department said in a statement that it would take measures to reduce the danger of catastrophic fires in dozens of spots in 11 Western states by thinning overgrown trees and using controlled burns to get rid of dead vegetation. The plan, detailed in a report, would quadruple the government’s land treatment efforts.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/climate/biden-administration-wildfire-plan.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2022-01-19. Here’s What Scientists Know About the Tonga Volcano Eruption. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: The explosion probably won’t cool the planet as some previous eruptions have done, but it could affect weather in the short term.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/19/climate/scientists-tonga-volcano-eruption-effects.html] For GSS Energy Flow chapter 2.

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2022-01-17. Mars rover detects carbon signature that hints at past life source. By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Since 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover has trundled across Mars, drilling into rocks and running the grit through a sophisticated onboard chemistry lab, aiming to tease out evidence for life. Today, a team of rover scientists announced an intriguing signal, one that may or may not be evidence of past life, but is, at the very least, surprisingly weird. The team found that the carbon trapped in a handful of rocks probed by the rover is dramatically enriched in light isotopes of carbon. On Earth, the signal would be seen as strong evidence for ancient microbial life. Given that this is Mars, however, the researchers are reluctant to make any grand claims, and they have worked hard to concoct alternative, nonbiological explanations involving ultraviolet (UV) light and stardust. But those alternatives are at least as far-fetched as a scenario in which subterranean microbes emitted the enriched carbon as methane gas. The team concludes the study does “inch up the plausibility” that microbes once existed on the planet—and could still today, says Christopher House, a biogeochemist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and lead author of the study, which was published todayin the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/mars-rover-detects-carbon-signature-hints-past-life-source] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-01-14. Ecuador expands protections around Galápagos, creating ‘a new highway’ for sea life. By Dino Grandoni, The Washington Post. Excerpt: The South American government will curb fishing in more than 20,000 square miles of ocean next to the archipelago, which is treasured for its abundance of wildlife.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/14/ecuador-galpagos-sea-animals-protection/] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2022-01-14. Donkeylike creatures may be first known hybrid animal made by humans. By Tess Joosse, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In the third millennium B.C.E., a strange group of donkeylike creatures was buried alongside royals in an ancient city east of what is now Aleppo, Syria. Archaeologists reckoned the animals were “kungas,” a rare type of ass highly prized by Bronze Age Mesopotamian elites. Yet their true biological identity has remained a mystery. …The genetic material in the skeletons was poorly preserved after thousands of years baking in the Syrian desert. …So the team used highly sensitive sequencing methods to analyze nuclear DNA from the remains, while also looking at regions from the animal’s maternal and paternal lineages. They compared the possible kunga DNA to the genomes of other equids, including modern horses, domestic donkeys, and the extinct Syrian wild ass. The bones weren’t from a single species of equid, the researchers report today in Science Advances. Rather, the animal was the first generation offspring of two species, a female domestic donkey and a male Syrian wild ass. …this is the first documented example of a half-wild, half-domesticated animal. The mule (a hybrid of horse and donkey) is possibly the next-earliest such beast, but it didn’t come onto the scene until later. … [https://www.science.org/content/article/donkeylike-creatures-may-be-first-known-hybrid-animal-made-humans] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4.

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2022-01-14. Large Herbivores May Improve an Ecosystem’s Carbon Persistence. By Rishika Pardikar, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: The grazing habits of wild animals like elephants and boars enable long-term carbon storage, according to new research that stresses the need to align climate mitigation goals with biodiversity conservation.… [https://eos.org/articles/large-herbivores-may-improve-an-ecosystems-carbon-persistence] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 5.

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2021-09-22. Equipmake reveals Jewel E battery-electric double-decker. By routeone Team. Excerpt: Equipmake has revealed its Jewel E battery-electric double-decker bus. The model will be produced in partnership with Spanish coachbuilder Beulas and it will offer a maximum of 543kW/h of onboard energy storage. That is the largest energy capacity of any two-axle battery-electric double-decker. It will deliver what Equipmake claims is a 250-mile range. The first vehicles are expected to begin in-service trials in Q1 2022… [https://www.route-one.net/news/equipmake-reveals-jewel-e-battery-electric-double-decker/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-01-17. China’s Births Hit Historic Low, a Political Problem for Beijing. By Steven Lee Myers and Alexandra Stevenson, The New York Times. Excerpt: China announced on Monday that its birthrate plummeted for a fifth straight year in 2021, moving the world’s most populous country closer to the potentially seismic moment when its population will begin to shrink, and hastening a demographic crisis that could undermine its economy and even its political stability. The falling birthrate, coupled with the increased life expectancy that has accompanied China’s economic transformation over the last four decades, means the number of people of working age, relative to the growing number of people too old to work, has continued to decline. That could result in labor shortages, which could hamper economic growth, and reduce the tax revenue needed to support an aging society. …China’s ruling Communist Party has taken steps to address the birthrate decline, by relaxing its notorious “one child” policy, first allowing two children in 2016 and as many as three since last year. It is also offering incentives to young families and promising improvement in workplace rules and early education. None have been able to reverse a stark fact: An increasing number of Chinese women don’t want children.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/17/world/asia/china-births-demographic-crisis.html] See also Science Magazine article, China’s population may start to shrink this year, new birth data suggest. For GSS Population Growth chapter 6.

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2022-01-11. Did Volcanoes Accelerate the Fall of Chinese Dynasties? By Tim Hornyak, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: After analyzing ice cores and historical documents, researchers found a link between eruptions and political change in China over the past 2 millennia. Researchers in China, Europe, and the United States …have found that volcanic eruptions (as well as conflict) may have contributed to dynastic collapse because they cooled the climate and affected agricultural production.… [https://eos.org/articles/did-volcanoes-accelerate-the-fall-of-chinese-dynasties] For GSS Life and Climate chapter 12.

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2022-01-11. Is Norway the Future of Cars? By Shira Ovide, The New York Times. Excerpt: Last year, Norway reached a milestone. Only about 8 percent of new cars sold in the country ran purely on conventional gasoline or diesel fuel. Two-thirds of new cars sold were electric, and most of the rest were electric-and-gasoline hybrids. …electric car enthusiasts are stunned by the speed at which the internal combustion engine has become an endangered species in Norway. …Norwegians started with much of the same electric vehicle skepticism as Americans. That changed because of government policies that picked off the easier wins first and a growing number of appealing electric cars. Over time, that combination helped more Norwegians believe electric cars were for them. …if Norway could do it, the U.S. and other countries could, too. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and climate scientists have said that moving away from combustion engine vehicles is essential to avoiding the worst effects of a warming planet. U.S. electric car sales are increasing fast, but at about 3 percent of new passenger vehicles, percentages are far lower than those in most other rich countries. So what did Norway do right? …the country’s policies focused first on what was the least difficult: nudging people who were considering a new car to go electric. Norwegians who bought new electric cars didn’t have to pay the country’s very high taxes on new vehicle sales. That made electric cars a no-brainer for many people, and it didn’t hurt people who already owned conventional cars or those who bought used ones.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/11/technology/norway-electric-vehicles.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-01-10. The Uncertain Future of Antarctica’s Melting Ice. By Florence Colleoni,  Tim Naish,  Robert DeConto,  Laura De Santis and  Pippa L. Whitehouse, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: A new multidisciplinary, international research program aims to tackle one of the grand challenges in climate science: resolving the Antarctic Ice Sheet’s contribution to future sea level rise. …Among the most visible effects of anthropogenic global warming are rising seas around the world: Since 1880, the global mean sea level (GMSL) has increased by 20 centimeters. …sea level globally will continue to rise well beyond the 21st century, even if warming of the planet is stabilized below the target set by the Paris climate agreement in 2015 of 2°C above the preindustrial average. …An estimated 800 million people are likely to experience impacts of high-tide flooding by the end of the 21st century, even if the Paris climate agreement target is met. In many coastal settings, even a small increase in baseline sea level can substantially increase the frequency and magnitude of flooding during high tides, storm surges, and extreme weather. The United Nations estimates that the potential costs of damage to harbors and ports alone from this flooding could be as high as $111.6 billion by 2050 and $367.2 billion by the end of the century. …If global carbon emissions follow the high-emission Shared Socioeconomic Pathway (SSP) 5–8.5, meaning atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise above 1,000 parts per million by 2100 …, melting Antarctic ice would contribute 14–32 centimeters (13th–87th percentiles) to an overall GMSL rise of 62–101 centimeters… according to a statistical assessment of numerical model projections [e.g., Edwards et al., 2021].… [https://eos.org/features/the-uncertain-future-of-antarcticas-melting-ice] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-01-10. Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Australian Megafires. By Saima Sidik, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: From October 2019 to February 2020, fire ripped through the Australian bush with unprecedented intensity, killing 34 people and more than 3 billion animals. In a new study, Graham et al. seek to quantify the health impacts of an indirect form of fire damage: the damage caused by poor air quality. Like car engines, gas stoves, and cigarettes, fires create fine particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, called PM2.5. High PM2.5 concentrations can exacerbate a wide range of medical conditions, from lung disease to cardiovascular disease, even leading to death. …Around 437,000 people were exposed to air with a PM2.5 concentration of least 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is substantially more than the 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air that the World Health Organization considers an acceptable level for short-term exposure. …Using methodology developed by the World Health Organization, the authors estimated that increased PM2.5 levels brought on by the fires led to 171 deaths, or about 30% of the deaths caused by short-term PM2.5 exposure during this time.… [https://eos.org/research-spotlights/health-impacts-of-air-pollution-from-australian-megafires] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-01-9. EasyJet will be first airline to use green hydrogen on commercial flights. By Nigel Rosser & Barry Ellams, Wales Online. Excerpt: EasyJet is set to become the world’s first major airline to use green hydrogen fuelled aircraft on commercial flights. The low budget carrier is planning to use eco-friendly hydrogen cell technology on passenger flights as early as 2030 in an attempt to slash its carbon footprint. …Cranfield are being backed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Government who have awarded them £7.5 million for development. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also given the project his approval. …Experts say hydrogen fuel cells have zero emissions, no battery charge and flight turnaround time is comparable to that of conventional fuels, with fuel costs significantly lower. Converting electricity to hydrogen to make the fuel is also carbon-zero. Cranfield are currently developing a nine-seater Britten-Normander plane to fly for 60 minutes with 45 minutes reserve fuel time. By 2030 they believe far longer flights of up to four hours can be achieved.… [https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/easyjet-first-airline-use-green-22695010] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-01-08. Deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope is Complete. By David Dickenson, Sky & Telescope Magazine. Excerpt: The James Webb Space Telescope has unfolded its primary mirror, marking the end of the deployment phase for the observatory.… [https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/deployment-james-webb-space-telescope-complete] See also NASA Press Release 22-004 and ESA animations of deployment. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2021-12-08. Hydrogen-powered ferry to debut in San Francisco. By Ben Tracy, CBS News. Excerpt: For more than a century, residents have traveled around San Francisco Bay with ferry boats powered mostly by diesel — a planet-warming fossil fuel. But now, the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger ferry, which produces zero emissions, is launching in the bay.  “Instead of a big diesel engine spinning things to make power … [it] just happens here in the fuel cells,” said Jeff Sokolik, who works for All American Marine, the Bellingham, Washington, company that built the 75-passenger catamaran. “When you actually use hydrogen to create electricity, the only byproduct is literally hot water, so it’s zero emissions and completely clean,” said Ron Willie, the president of the company. The marine-based shipping industry, mostly international shipping, is one of the dirty and not so little secrets of climate change. It causes about 3% of all global carbon dioxide gas emissions, which is more than the CO2 emissions from the airline industry. A much larger hydrogen-powered ferry is now being built in Europe, and the technology could eventually be applied to container ships. But there is a downside: if hydrogen leaks during production or from its tanks, it contributes to global warming. “There’s a lot of hope and promise around it, but in order for it to really move forward — in order for the climate to be protected, we need to understand what the leak potential really is,” said Amanda Leland, the executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund.… [https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hydrogen-powered-ferry-to-debut-in-san-francisco/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2022-01. As Water Runs Low, San Joaquin Valley Adapts to a Drier Future. By Glen Martin, California Magazine. Excerpt: As the drought has deepened in the state, growers have turned to groundwater, resulting in severe overdraft in many areas—particularly the San Joaquin Valley. That led to the passage of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which required the identification of the state’s overdrawn and at-risk basins, quantification of their yields, and the development of pumping plans that achieve sustainability within 20 years of being implemented. …Almond trees are only commercially productive for about 20 years, and his groundwater plan means replacement trees won’t be planted in many areas. Instead, Woolf will concentrate on growing tomatoes for processing, as well as pistachios, which are longer-lived and less thirsty than almonds. …Woolf is also experimenting with alternative crops—specifically, drought-tolerant ones like agave, the feedstock for products like tequila and mezcal. “The ultimate goal would be to distill and market spirits ourselves, under our own brand,” he says. …And there’s a new crop on the horizon: energy. Rather than asking his plants to turn sunlight into calories, as farmers always have, Woolf plans to harvest sunlight directly. He’ll ultimately convert 3,500 acres of former cropland to solar installation, and many other growers are doing the same: Large photovoltaic arrays are popping up all across the valley.… [https://alumni.berkeley.edu/california-magazine/winter-2021/water-runs-low-san-joaquin-valley-adapts-drier-future] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-01-04. Russia’s new permafrost monitoring system could improve climate models, protect infrastructure. By Olga Dobrovidova. Excerpt: With the Arctic warming up to four times faster than the global average, temperatures in the frozen soil, or permafrost, under northern Siberia have been rising, turning firm ground unstable and weakening foundations. On 29 May 2020, the thaw may have helped lead to a disaster, when a diesel fuel depot near the town of Norilsk collapsed and spilled more than 21,000 tons of fuel into a small river. The pollution turned the river rusty-red and ultimately reached the Arctic Ocean. The owner of the fuel depot, Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest miner of nickel and palladium, was fined almost $2 billion for the spill—the largest settlement for an environmental disaster in Russian history. Now, the disaster has spurred the government to set up the first national system to monitor Russia’s permafrost—the world’s largest expanse of frozen soil, covering two-thirds of the nation. In October, President Vladimir Putin gave the go-ahead to a new $21 million system of 140 monitoring stations that could begin to deliver data as soon as 2023. Sensors placed in boreholes up to 30 meters deep will measure the temperature of permafrost at various depths, a critical parameter for tracking both the growing hazard thawing ground poses to infrastructure and the broader climate threat: that the thaw could release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/russia-s-new-permafrost-monitoring-system-could-improve-climate-models-protect] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-01-05. Stars may form 10 times faster than thought. Ling Xin, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Astronomers have long thought it takes millions of years for the seeds of stars like the Sun to come together. Clouds of mostly hydrogen gas coalesce under gravity into prestellar cores dense enough to collapse and spark nuclear fusion, while magnetic forces hold matter in place and slow down the process. But observations using the world’s largest radio telescope are casting doubt on this long gestational period. Researchers have zoomed in on a prestellar core in a giant gas cloud—a nursery for hundreds of baby stars—and found the tiny embryo may be forming 10 times faster than thought, thanks to weak magnetic fields. “If this is proven to be the case in other gas clouds, it will be revolutionary for the star formation community,” says Paola Caselli from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who was not involved with the research.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/stars-may-form-10-times-faster-thought] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2022-01-07. Lyme-carrying ticks live longer—and could spread farther—thanks to warmer winters. By Elizabeth Pennisi, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Research reported here this week at the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology has revealed black-legged ticks infected with the Lyme disease–causing microbe thrive in below-freezing weather and can be active even in winter. The finding suggests the variable winter conditions brought on by climate change could increase ticks’ activity, boosting the odds that people will encounter the ticks and come down with Lyme disease.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/lyme-carrying-ticks-live-longer-and-could-spread-farther-thanks-warmer-winters] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-01-05. Clever Wood Use Could Mitigate Wildfires and Climate Change. By Andrew Chapman, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In a study published early this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, provide a possible path to limiting both carbon emissions and wildfires by turning the low-value wood harvested during forest thinning into new products. …Two scenarios modeled business-as-usual forest management in California with variations in how much wood is sold. The third introduced a value to the low-value wood generated from forest thinning, allowing it to be used for new products. Smaller trees can be turned into a construction-grade wood product called oriented strand board, which retains the wood as a carbon store. A mixture of forest residues, including leaves and bark, can be used to make low-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen fuel.… [https://eos.org/articles/clever-wood-use-could-mitigate-wildfires-and-climate-change] For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2022-01-03. Termite Fumigation in California Is Fueling the Rise of a Rare Greenhouse Gas. By Jenessa Duncombe, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: New research has suggested that the nationwide rise of the potent greenhouse gas sulfuryl fluoride comes almost entirely from termite fumigations in the greater Los Angeles area. …The method rose in popularity after the Montreal Protocol phased out another common fumigant, methyl bromide, that was found to erode the ozone layer. But research in 2008 and 2009 revealed that sulfuryl fluoride has a relatively high global warming potential and sticks around longer than initially thought. The gas has a global warming potential of more than 4,000 times that of carbon dioxide over 100 years and remains in the atmosphere for about 36 years.… [https://eos.org/articles/termite-fumigation-in-california-is-fueling-the-rise-of-a-rare-greenhouse-gas] For GSS Climate Change chapter 3.

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2022-01-03. As U.S. moves toward solar energy, this roofing company hopes ‘solar shingles’ will get homeowners to buy in. By Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Thousands of Americans install solar energy systems on their roofs each year. Most commonly, that means solar panels mounted on racks, but another option may become more accessible: solar shingles. Starting Monday, one of the largest roofing companies in the United States will be selling a new solar shingle product. The aim is to drive the cost of installation down and the rate of solar adoption up. …The goal is to lower the cost of rooftop solar by combining roofing and solar installation, said DeBono, …. His traditional roof, he said, cost around $28,000, and the solar panels he installed would be around $24,000, for a total price tag of around $52,000, or about $44,000 after rebates and incentives…. In comparison, he estimated a GAF Energy solar roof would cost approximately $42,000 and drop to around $30,000 after incentives, saving about $14,000. …Rooftop solar on small buildings could theoretically meet a quarter of electricity demand in the United States, a 2016 assessment from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found. But putting efficient, durable and eye-pleasing solar panels on roofs at a reasonable cost hasn’t been easy. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, less than 3 percent of single-family homes have any type of solar system installed.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/03/solar-energy-roof-shingles-climate/] See also CNBC article, Roofing giant takes on Tesla to make solar roof shingles more affordable. For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-01-05. This Vast Wildfire Lab Is Helping Foresters Prepare for a Hotter Planet. By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. Excerpt: When the Bootleg fire tore through a nature reserve in Oregon this summer, the destruction varied in different areas. Researchers say forest management methods, including controlled burns, were a big factor. …thinning of trees in overgrown forests, combined with prescribed, or controlled, burns of accumulated dead vegetation on the forest floor, can help achieve the goal of reducing the intensity of wildfires by removing much of the fuel that feeds them.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/05/climate/fire-forest-management-bootleg-oregon.html] For GSS A New World View chapter 6.

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2022-01-05. More than 40 percent of Americans live in counties hit by climate disasters in 2021. By Sarah Kaplan and Andrew Ba Tran, The Washington Post. Excerpt: As climate-fueled extreme weather intensified last year, more than 80 percent of Americans experienced a heat wave. The impacts of fires and severe storms also spread. …At least 656 people died amid the onslaught of disasters, media reports and government records show. The cost of the destruction tops $104 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even before officials calculate the final toll of wildfires, drought and heat waves in the West. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency identified fewer climate-related disasters in individual counties last year, it declared eight of these emergencies statewide — the most since 1998 — encompassing 135 million people overall.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/01/05/climate-disasters-2021-fires/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2022-01-04. These homes are off-grid and climate resilient. They’re also built out of trash. By Nick Aspinwall, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Earthships are off-grid, self-reliant houses built from tires, dirt and garbage that have long been an offbeat curiosity for travelers passing by the ski town of Taos, but suddenly look like a haven for climate doomers. Residents of the 630-acre flagship Earthship community treat their own waste, collect their own water, grow their own food, and regulate their own temperature by relying on the sun, rain and earth, which Reynolds and other adherents call natural “phenomena.” At this Earthship community in New Mexico, renters can give sustainable living a try. Reynolds, 76, has been building these structures — he calls them “vessels” — since the early 1970s when, after graduating from architecture school at the University of Cincinnati, he took up off-road motorcycle racing on the high desert plateau around Taos to try to injure himself to avoid being drafted to the Vietnam War. He never left, attracting interest and eyerolls as dozens of Earthships arose from the dirt.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/04/earthship-houses-climate-change/] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2022-01-02. Did a Meteor Explode Over Pittsburgh? By Azi Paybarah, The New York Times. Excerpt: For Heather Lin Ishler, the first morning of 2022 in Dormont, a neighborhood just south of downtown Pittsburgh, began like most days had in 2021. …Then, the bed shook. “The sensation,” Ms. Ishler, 34, later said, “reminded me of fireworks” and how, if you stand too close, you can feel “a rumbling in your chest.” …“It was just the feeling of the shock wave,” Ms. Ishler recalled, “but no sound or flash or anything like that.” …Diane Turnshek, an astronomer who lectures at Carnegie Mellon University, felt something powerful on Saturday morning, too. She was in her home atop a Pittsburgh hill, 1,120 feet above sea level. Her initial thought was that her dryer had fallen off the washing machine in the room next door. Calls started coming into the Pittsburgh office of the National Weather Service from people who had heard “a really loud sound but didn’t see anything,” said Jenna Lake, a Weather Service meteorologist. Soon, it seemed as if everyone was looking for answers. …No earthquakes were detected by the seismograph at the nearby Allegheny Observatory, Ms. Turnshek said. …Ms. Lake at the Weather Service said the air over Pittsburgh on Saturday was “too benign” for storms or lightning, so those were ruled out, too. …For now, a meteor explosion is the best theory about what happened over Pittsburgh on Saturday, Ms. Lake said, though it will remain just that — a theory — “unless someone finds some rocks in their backyard,” she said.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/02/us/meteor-explosion-pittsburgh.html] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 1.

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2022-01-02. Coming Soon to This Coal County: Solar, in a Big Way. By Cara Buckley, The New York Times. Excerpt: MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. — In Martin County, Ky., where coal production has flatlined, entrepreneurs are promising that a new solar farm atop a shuttered mine will bring green energy jobs. …For a mountain that’s had its top blown off, the old Martiki coal mine is looking especially winsome these days. With its vast stretches of emerald grass dotted with hay bales and ringed with blue-tinged peaks, and the wild horses and cattle that roam there, it looks less like a shuttered strip mine and more like an ad for organic milk. The mountain is poised for another transformation. Hundreds of acres are set to be blanketed with solar panels in the coming year, installed by locals, many of them former miners. The $231 million project, which recently cleared its last regulatory hurdle, may well be the biggest utility-scale coal to solar project in the country.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/02/climate/coal-mines-solar-climate.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

Earlier articles for staying current with GSS may be found in the specific “Stay Current” pages for each chapter of each book.

See also Email Updates 2021 (Aug-Dec).