Stay Current with GSS

The GSS email list (google group) receives “Stay Current” articles (excerpts and links to the source articles). To receive them email gssmail@berkeley.edu with subject line “Join GSS”. Please give your city, state, country, and your school (if you’re a teacher). See also “Stay Current” links in each book’s Contents table. Some news sources limit the number of articles one person can read. You can “divide and conquer” with different students to reading and reporting to the class on different articles.

See Email updates from 2022 -|- 2021

CURRENT YEAR (2023) EMAIL UPDATES

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2023-01-00. . [] By . Excerpt: … For GSS chapter .

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2023-02-01. Dangerous Fungi Are Spreading Across U.S. as Temperatures Rise. [https://www.wsj.com/articles/fungi-spread-last-of-us-valley-fever-climate-11675260773] By Dominique Mosbergen, Wall Street Journal. Excerpt: Dangerous fungal infections are on the rise, and a growing body of research suggests warmer temperatures might be a culprit. …Climate change might also be creating conditions for some disease-causing fungi to expand their geographical range, research shows. …Deaths from fungal infections are increasing, due in part to growing populations of people with weakened immune systems who are more vulnerable to severe fungal disease, public-health experts said. At least 7,000 people died in the U.S. from fungal infections in 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, up from hundreds of people each year around 1970. …A January study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that higher temperatures may prompt some disease-causing fungi to evolve faster to survive…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2023-01-31. With rapidly increasing heat and drought, can plants adapt?. [https://news.berkeley.edu/2023/01/31/with-rapidly-increasing-heat-and-drought-can-plants-adapt/] By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley News. Excerpt: At a time when climate change is making many areas of the planet hotter and drier, it’s sobering to think that deserts are relatively new biomes that have grown considerably over the past 30 million years. Widespread arid regions, like the deserts that today cover much of western North America, began to emerge only within the past 5 to 7 million years. Understanding how plants that invaded these harsh deserts biomes were able to survive could help predict how ecosystems will fare in a drier future. An intensive study of a group of plants that first invaded emerging deserts millions of years ago concludes that these pioneers — rock daisies — did not come unequipped to deal with heat, scorching sun and lack of water. They had developed adaptations to such stresses while living on dry, exposed rock outcroppings within older, more moist areas and even tropical forests, all of which made it easier for them to invade expanding arid areas. The study by University of California, Berkeley, researcher Isaac Lichter-Marck is the first to provide evidence to resolve a long-standing evolutionary debate: Did iconic desert plants, like the stately saguaro cacti, the flaming ocotillos and the Seussian agaves, adapt to arid conditions only after they invaded deserts? Or did they come preadapted to the stresses of desert living? …Lichter-Marck and Bruce Baldwin, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, curator of the Jepson Herbarium and chief editor of The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California(2002), published their study about the evolution of rock daisies in North American deserts this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2023-01-31. Emissions divide now greater within countries than between them – study. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/31/emissions-divide-now-greater-within-countries-than-between-them-study] By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian. Excerpt: The difference between the carbon emissions of the rich and the poor within a country is now greater than the differences in emissions between countries, data shows. The finding is further evidence of the growing divide between the “polluting elite” of rich people around the world, and the relatively low responsibility for emissions among the rest of the population. It also shows there is plenty of room for the poorest in the world to increase their greenhouse gas emissions if needed to reach prosperity, if rich people globally – including some in developing countries – reduce theirs, the analysis has found. …a growing body of work suggests that a “polluting elite” of those on the highest incomes globally are vastly outweighing the emissions of the poor. …rich people in developing countries have much bigger carbon footprints than was previously acknowledged. In a report entitled Climate Inequality Report 2023, economists from the World Inequality Lab dissect where carbon emissions are currently coming from. The World Inequality Lab is co-directed by the influential economist Thomas Piketty, the author of Capital in the Twenty-first Century, whose work following the financial crisis more than a decade ago helped to popularise the idea of “the 1%”, a global high-income group whose interests are favoured by current economic systems…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-01-30. The Double Whammy Making Italy the West’s Fastest-Shrinking Nation. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/30/world/europe/italy-birthrate.html] By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times. Excerpt: …Italy’s population is aging and shrinking at the fastest rate in the West, forcing the country to adapt to a booming population of elderly that puts it at the forefront of a global demographic trend that experts call the “silver tsunami.” But it faces a demographic double whammy, with a drastically sinking birthrate that is among the lowest in Europe. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said Italy is “destined to disappear” unless it changes…. For GSS Population Growth chapter 8.

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2023-01-30. The Alternative, Optimistic Story of Population Decline. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/30/opinion/china-world-population-decline.html] By Wang Feng, New York Times opinion piece. Excerpt: China, the most populous country on the planet for centuries, this month reported its first population decline in six decades, …. By the end of the century China may have only around half of the 1.41 billion people it has now, according to U.N. projections, and may already have been overtaken by India. The news has been met with gloom and doom, often framed as the start of China’s inexorable decline and, more broadly, the harbinger of a demographic and economic “time bomb” that will strain the world’s capacity to support aging populations. …China is only the latest and largest major country to join a club that already includes Japan, South Korea, RussiaItaly and others. …But the alarmist warnings are often simplistic and premature. …Shrinking populations are usually part of a natural, inevitable process, and rather than focus excessively on concerns like labor shortages and pension support, we need to look at the brighter spots for our world. …The number of people on the planet more than tripled in seven decades, from 2.5 billion in 1950 to around eight billion in 2022. Turns out, that was a transitory phase when mortality rates fell faster than fertility rates because of improved nutrition and public health, and relative peace. …The population declines seen today in some countries have come about largely as a happy story of greater longevity and freedom. Fertility rates worldwide dropped from more than five births per woman in the early 1960s to 2.3 in 2020. Credit greater investment in child and maternal health everywhere: A mother who successfully brings her child to term and an infant who survives to childhood lower birthrates because parents often don’t feel the need to try again. Greater availability of free or affordable contraception has also reduced unwanted births. …Compared with a half-century ago, people in many countries are richer, healthier and better educated and women are more empowered. China’s population, for example, is shrinking and aging, but its people are more educated and have a longer life expectancy than at any time in the country’s history. Expanded educational opportunities guarantee a spot in a university for almost every person born today in China, including more women than men. Average world life expectancy has increased from 51 years in 1960 to 73 in 2019, and even more so in China, from 51 in 1962 to 78 in 2019. …Global population will inevitably decline. Rather than trying to reverse that, we need to embrace it and adapt…. For GSS Population Growth chapter 8.

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2023-01-22. A New Way to Hand-Me-Down. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/22/style/hand-me-downs.html] By Anna Grace Lee, The New York Times. Excerpt: In a San Antonio garage, two millennial mothers …Kara Livingston, 36, and Nicole Boynton, 35, …founders of Hand Me Up, a small business aimed at helping parents shop more responsibly to cut down on children’s clothing waste. …There is little data available about how much children’s clothing is discarded, said Amanda Forster, a materials research engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and an author of a 2022 report that looked at how to extend the life of textiles. The report said that a circular approach focused on reuse and repair is key, and Dr. Forster said that the principle applies to children’s wear as well. …“You want to try and keep things circulating back through the economy in their original form as much as possible,” Dr. Forster said. …More children’s wear brands have embraced responsible fashion in recent years, said Sandra Capponi, one of the founders of Good on You, a website and app that rates fashion brands for their impact on people, animals and the planet. …Some major brands have their own reuse or resale initiatives, like Patagonia’s Worn Wear, and North Face’s Clothes the Loop. In 2021, Carter’s teamed with TerraCycle to start a program that allows parents to send unwearable clothes to be recycled into raw materials…. For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7.

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2022-12-19. California approves roadmap for carbon neutrality by 2045. [https://apnews.com/article/california-agriculture-climate-and-environment-2591f7c60f1a143e08b599610dc49fce] By Sophie Austin, Associated Press. Excerpt: California air regulators voted unanimously Thursday to approve an ambitious plan to drastically cut reliance on fossil fuels by changing practices in the energy, transportation and agriculture sectors, but critics say it doesn’t go far enough to combat climate change. …It aims to do so in part by reducing fossil fuel demand by 86% within that time frame. …It calls for the state to cut liquid petroleum fuel demand by 94% by 2045, and quadruple solar and wind capacity along that same timeframe. …residential and commercial buildings will be powered by electric appliances before the next decade. …The board has already passed a policy to ban the sale of new cars powered solely by gasoline in the state starting in 2035. …It calls for the state to capture 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and store it underground by 2045. …One of the goals is to achieve a 66% reduction in methane emissions from the agriculture sector by 2045…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2023-01-26. Human activity and drought ‘degrading more than a third of Amazon rainforest’. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/26/human-activity-and-drought-degrading-more-than-a-third-of-amazon-rainforest] By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian. Excerpt: Human activity and drought may have degraded more than a third of the Amazon rainforest, double the previous estimate, according to a study that heightens concerns that the globally important ecosystem is slipping towards a point of no return. Fires, land conversion, logging and water shortages, have weakened the resilience of up to 2.5m sq km of the forest, …. This area is now drier, more flammable and more vulnerable than before, prompting the authors to warn of “megafires” in the future. Between 5.5% and 38% of what is left of the world’s biggest tropical forest is also less able to regulate the climate, generate rainfall, store carbon, provide a habitat to other species, offer a livelihood to local people, and sustain itself as a viable ecosystem, the paper observes. …The findings, published in Science on Thursday, are based on a review of existing studies, recent satellite data, and a new assessment of drought impacts by an international team of 35 scientists and researchers, from institutions including Brazil’s University of Campinas (Unicamp), the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and the UK’s Lancaster University. …Deforestation is the total clearance of forest and conversion of the land to other uses, which can be easily identified by satellites. Degradation, on the other hand, is the partial loss of vegetation due to human behaviour, which is often hidden because it takes place under the canopy of bigger trees. To the naked eye, the distinction is as great as that between having your hair shaved off completely and thinned. …The paper says the quantities of carbon released from degradation could even be higher than those from deforestation…. For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2023-01-24. Despite opposition, Japan may soon dump Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific. [https://www.science.org/content/article/despite-opposition-japan-may-soon-dump-fukushima-wastewater-pacific] By Dennis Normile, Science. Excerpt: Government says the release poses no risk to marine or human life, but some scientists disagree. The Japanese government is pushing ahead with its plan to release 1.3 million tons of radioactive water from the defunct Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. …The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the power station, says it is running out of space to store the water on land. Radioactivity levels in the discharged water will be too low to pose a risk to marine life or humans, TEPCO says, and its plan has the blessing of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). …But critics say the risks haven’t been studied in enough detail. TEPCO’s assurances are “not supported by the quantity and quality of the data,” says oceanographer Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. …says Robert Richmond, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa: “There is a strong consensus internationally that continued use of the ocean for dumping waste is simply not sustainable.”…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2023-01-24. Revealed: how US transition to electric cars threatens environmental havoc. [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/24/us-electric-vehicles-lithium-consequences-research] By Nina Lakhani, The Guardian. Excerpt: By 2050 electric vehicles could require huge amounts of lithium for their batteries, causing damaging expansions of mining….The global demand for lithium, also known as white gold, is predicted to rise over 40 times by 2040, driven predominantly by the shift to electric vehicles. …by 2050 the US alone would need triple the amount of lithium currently produced for the entire global market, which would have dire consequences for water and food supplies, biodiversity, and Indigenous rights. …In the best-case scenario – comparing the status quo in which EV battery size grows and US car dependency remains stable – with ambitious public transit, city density and recycling policies, the lithium demand would be 92% lower…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2023-01-23. Selectively Logged Forests Are Not Broken. [https://eos.org/articles/selectively-logged-forests-are-not-broken] By Erin Martin-Jones, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: …selectively logged forests—where timber is not clear-cut, but instead selectively harvested—now make up about a third of rain forests worldwide. …“The ecological value of logged forests has been underestimated; they are not as broken as they look,” said Yadvinder Malhi, an ecosystem ecologist from the University of Oxford who was involved in a large-scale biodiversity survey of forests and agricultural land in the state of Sabah, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. The results, which were published in December in the journal Nature, showed that logged forests can be buzzing with life and ecological functions and therefore have an important role to play in conservation…. For GSS A New World View chapter 6.

2023-01-23. Earth’s Inner Core: A Shifting, Spinning Mystery’s Latest Twist. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/23/science/earth-core-reversing-spin.html] By Robin George Andrews, The New York Times. Excerpt: Imagine Earth’s inner core — the dense center of our planet — as a heavy, metal ballerina. This iron-rich dancer is capable of pirouetting at ever-changing speeds. …Seismologists reported Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience that after brief but peculiar pauses, the inner core changes how it spins — relative to the motion of Earth’s surface — perhaps once every few decades. And, right now, one such reversal may be underway. …fret not: Precisely nothing apocalyptic will result from this planetary spin cycle, which may have been happening for eons…. For GSS Energy Flow chapter 3.

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2023-01-23. ‘No miracles needed’: Prof Mark Jacobson on how wind, sun and water can power the world. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/23/no-miracles-needed-prof-mark-jacobson-on-how-wind-sun-and-water-can-power-the-world] By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: Wind, water and solar can provide plentiful and cheap power, he argues, ending the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis, slashing deadly air pollution and ensuring energy security. Carbon capture and storage, biofuels, new nuclear and other technologies are expensive wastes of time, he argues. …We have wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, electric cars. We have batteries, heat pumps, energy efficiency. We have 95% of the technologies right now that we need to solve the problem.” The missing 5% is for long-distance aircraft and ships, he says, for which hydrogen-powered fuel cells can be developed…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2023-01-23. I tried lab-grown meat made from animals without killing them – is this the future of ethical eating?. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/23/lab-grown-meat-animals-climate] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: The meat … came from a named pig, an affable-looking swine called Dawn. …a clump of her cells were grown in a lab to create what’s known as “cultivated meat”, a product touted as far better for the climate – as well as the mortal concerns of pigs and cows – and is set for takeoff in the US. …“A harmless sample from one pig can produce many millions of tons of product without requiring us to raise and slaughter an animal each time,” said Eitan Fischer, founder of Mission Barns, a maker of cultivated meat that invited the Guardian to a taste test in an upscale Manhattan hotel. …Mission Barns is one of about 80 startup companies based around San Francisco’s Bay Area now jostling for position after one of their number, Upside Foods, became the first in the country to be granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November, a key step in allowing the sale of cultivated meat in the US. On Monday, Upside said it aims to start selling its cultivated chicken in restaurants this year, and in grocery stores by 2028. …In December, a company called Believer Meats broke ground on a $123m facility in North Carolina it claims will be the largest cultivated meat plant in the world, set to churn out 10,000 tons of product once operational. …the “world is experiencing a food revolution”, as the FDA put it, with the rise of cultivated meat holding the promise of slashing the meat industry’s ruinous planet-heating emissions and shrinking its voracious appetite for land, as well as sparing livestock the barbarity of factory farming. …The raising and slaughter of livestock is responsible for more than half of the greenhouse gas pollution of the entire food sector, which in itself is estimated to contribute around a third of total global emissions…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-01-19. Could Air Someday Power Your Flight? Airlines Are Betting on It. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/19/travel/airlines-climate-change-fuel.html] By Paige McClanahan, The New York Times. Excerpt: By the middle of this century, most cars and buses should be powered by renewable energy, while bikes, electric trains and your own two feet will continue to have little impact on the climate. And if global aviation achieves the goal it adopted last year, then your 2050 flight from New York to Hong Kong will result in “net zero” carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. …new technologies are in the works, including hydrogen-powered aircraft, fully electric planes and synthetic jet fuel made from carbon extracted from the atmosphere…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2023-01-20. ‘Super-tipping points’ could trigger cascade of climate action. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/20/super-tipping-points-climate-electric-cars-meat-emissions] By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: …Three “super-tipping points” for climate action could trigger a cascade of decarbonisation across the global economy, according to a report. Relatively small policy interventions on electric cars, plant-based alternatives to meat and green fertilisers would lead to unstoppable growth in those sectors, the experts said. But the boost this would give to battery and hydrogen production would mean crucial knock-on benefits for other sectors including energy storage and aviation. …The tipping points occur when a zero-carbon solution becomes more competitive than the existing high-carbon option. More sales lead to cheaper products, creating feedback loops that drive exponential growth and a rapid takeover. The report, launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the three super-tipping points would cut emissions in sectors covering 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-01-20. White House Aims to Reflect the Environment in Economic Data. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/20/business/economy/economic-statistics-climate-nature.html] By Lydia DePillis, The New York Times. Excerpt: Forests that keep hillsides from eroding and clean the air. Wetlands that protect coastal real estate from storm surges. Rivers and deep snows that attract tourists and create jobs in rural areas. All of those are natural assets of perhaps obvious value — but none are accounted for by traditional measurements of economic activity. On Thursday, the Biden administration unveiled an effort to change that by creating a system for assessing the worth of healthy ecosystems to humanity. The results could inform governmental decisions like which industries to support, which natural resources to preserve and which regulations to pass…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2023-01-18. Revealed: more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest provider are worthless, analysis shows. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/18/revealed-forest-carbon-offsets-biggest-provider-worthless-verra-aoe] By Patrick Greenfield, The Guardian. Excerpt: The forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading provider and used by Disney, Shell, Gucci and other big corporations are largely worthless and could make global heating worse, according to a new investigation. The research into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2bn (£1.6bn) voluntary offsets market, has found that, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions…. For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2023-01-17. Banks still investing heavily in fossil fuels despite net zero pledges – study. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/17/banks-still-investing-heavily-in-fossil-fuels-despite-net-zero-pledges-study] By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian. Excerpt: Banks and finance institutions that have signed up to net zero pledges are still investing heavily in fossil fuels, research has shown, …. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) initiative was launched by the former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, as one of the main UK achievements in hosting the Cop26 UN climate summit at Glasgow in 2021. The UK boasted at Cop26 that 450 organisations in 45 countries with assets of more than $130tn had signed up to GFANZ, to align their investments with the goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But its members have poured hundreds of billions into fossil fuels since then, according to data compiled by the pressure group Reclaim Finance…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-01-16. Skipped Showers, Paper Plates: An Arizona Suburb’s Water Is Cut Off. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/16/us/arizona-water-rio-verde-scottsdale.html] By Jack Healy, The New York Times. Excerpt: RIO VERDE, Ariz. — Joe McCue thought he had found a desert paradise when he bought one of the new stucco houses sprouting in the granite foothills of Rio Verde, Ariz. There were good schools, mountain views and cactus-spangled hiking trails out the back door. Then the water got cut off. Earlier this month, the community’s longtime water supplier, the neighboring city of Scottsdale, turned off the tap for Rio Verde Foothills, blaming a grinding drought that is threatening the future of the West. Scottsdale said it had to focus on conserving water for its own residents, and could no longer sell water to roughly 500 to 700 homes — or around 1,000 people. …Almost overnight, the Rio Verde Foothills turned into a worst-case scenario of a hotter, drier climate, showing what happens when unregulated growth collides with shrinking water supplies…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2023-01-16. China’s Population Falls, Heralding a Demographic Crisis. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/16/business/china-birth-rate.html] By Alexandra Stevenson and Zixu Wang, The New York Times. Excerpt: …The world’s most populous country has reached a pivotal moment: China’s population has begun to shrink, after a steady, yearslong decline in its birthrate that experts say is irreversible. The government said on Tuesday that 9.56 million people were born in China last year, while 10.41 million people died. It was the first time deaths had outnumbered births in China since the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s failed economic experiment that led to widespread famine and death in the 1960s. Chinese officials have tried for years to slow down the arrival of this moment, loosening a one-child policy and offering incentives to encourage families to have children. None of those policies worked. …Government handouts like cash for babies and tax cuts, have failed to change the underlying fact that many young Chinese people simply do not want children…. See also article in The Guardian. For GSS Population Growth chapter 6.

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2023-01-15. Dwindling Snow Leaves Swiss Alpine Villages Staring at an Identity Crisis. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/15/world/europe/switzerland-skiiing-alpine-villages-no-snow.html] By Erika Solomon, The New York Times. Excerpt: …As the planet warms, Europe has faced a bruising year of climate crises. In the summer, many regions suffered severe drought and record heat. Already this year, some areas have seen the highest-recorded winter temperatures — so warm that many ski resorts could not even make snow. For Switzerland, whose glaciers and snowpack form a crucial storehouse for European water supplies, the effect has been especially alarming. The country is warming at more than double the rate of the global mean and its glaciers lost 6 percent of their volume in the last year alone, according to Swiss federal authorities and a glacier monitoring group. The changes pose a risk to some parts of a Swiss ski industry that by some estimates generates around $5.5 billion a year. But in a country where nearly everyone skis, the loss of snow is more than an economic or environmental danger. It is a threat to national identity…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2023-01-15. Webb Telescope Confirms Earth-size Exoplanet, Tries to Sniff Its Air. [https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/webb-telescope-confirms-earth-size-exoplanet-tries-to-sniff-air] By Monica Young, Sky & Telescope. Excerpt: The James Webb Space Telescope has confirmed its first exoplanet, a rocky Earth-size planet, and attempted to take the measure of its atmosphere. …Although roughly Earth-like in size, this world is nevertheless completely uninhabitable, roasting in its four-day orbit around its middle-aged red dwarf star. …while they can match the data with an atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide, those data are also consistent with a completely airless world. Zero atmosphere for a planet several hundred degrees warmer than Earth wouldn’t be a great surprise, especially around the type of star known for its atmosphere-stripping flares…. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8.

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2023-01-14. 850-year-old Supernova Left “Zombie Star” Behind. [https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/amateur-astronomer-discovers-a-weird-supernovas-fireworks] By Govert Schilling, Sky & Telescope. Excerpt: A supernova explosion that skywatchers in the Far East observed almost 850 years ago has produced the most unusual remnant astronomers have ever found. …a paper has been submitted to Astrophysical Journal Letters (preprint available here). In other work presented at the AAS meeting and submitted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (preprint here), his coauthor Bradley Schaefer (Louisiana State University) argues that the supernova resulted when two white dwarf stars collided, leaving an extremely energetic “zombie” star behind. …the measured expansion velocity of the nebula — some 1,100 kilometers per second — puts its age at 850 years old. …astronomers are now confident about its relation with SN1181, a zero-magnitude supernova that appeared in northern Cassiopeia on August 6th of 1181 AD. Chinese and Japanese observers recorded this “guest star” slowly fading over a period of six months…. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 6.

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2023-01-14. Ecuador Tried to Curb Drilling and Protect the Amazon. The Opposite Happened.. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/14/climate/ecuador-drilling-oil-amazon.html] By Catrin Einhorn and Manuela Andreoni, The New york Times. Excerpt: YASUNÍ NATIONAL PARK, Ecuador — In a swath of lush Amazon rainforest here, near some of the last Indigenous people on Earth living in isolation, workers recently finished building a new oil platform carved out of the wilderness. Teams are drilling in one of the most environmentally important ecosystems on the planet, one that stores vast amounts of planet-warming carbon. …some of the country’s largest oil reserves are found here, too. Ecuador is cash-strapped and struggling with debt. The government sees drilling as its best way out. The story of this place, Yasuní National Park, offers a case study on how global financial forces continue to trap developing countries into depleting some of the most biodiverse places on the planet…. For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2023-01-14. A Deal to Help South Africa Is a Breakthrough for the World. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/14/opinion/climate-change-south-africa.html] By The Editorial Board, The New york Times. Excerpt: South Africa generates 80 percent of its electricity by burning coal, more than any other industrialized nation. Some 200,000 people are directly employed by the coal mines, coal transports and coal-fired power plants that dot the flatlands east of Johannesburg, but the prosperity of the rest of the nation also rests on a foundation of black rock. Now, the South African government, with the help of the United States and European nations, is embarking on an audacious plan to quit coal without undermining economic growth. If it works, the proposed transition to solar and wind power could fuel faster growth and create a template for coal-dependent nations to confront climate change. This is a significant opportunity, and it deserves support and attention. The United States has committed more than $1 billion as part of an $8.5 billion international aid package to catalyze South Africa’s shift to renewable energy, and, after two years of talks about the details, the government in Pretoria is to deliver a plan in February for carrying it out. The proposed aid package is part of a broader shift in the international response to climate change. Windy talk about the necessity for wealthy countries to help less wealthy countries is finally turning tangible. In November, a group of nations, including the United States, committed $20 billion for a similar partnership with Indonesia, then made a $15.5 million commitment to Vietnam in December. Talks are underway with other nations, including Senegal and India…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2023-01-13. Sweden Says It Has Uncovered a Rare Earth Bonanza. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/13/business/sweden-rare-earth-minerals.html] By Stanley Reed, The New York Times. Excerpt: A Swedish mining company said this week that it had found Europe’s largest known deposit of coveted rare earth metals, critical to many green technologies including electric vehicles, in a far northern part of the country within the Arctic Circle. The world’s production of rare earths is dominated by China. The discovery by LKAB, a state-owned company, creates the prospect that Europe could over time develop a domestic source of these minerals. “This is good news, not only for LKAB, the region and the Swedish people, but also for Europe and the climate,” Jan Mostrom, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2023-01-13. Space Dodgers. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/interactive/2023/space-debris-game/] By Shikha SubramaniamRekha Tenjarla and Christian Davenport, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …the space above Earth has been flooded with thousands of satellites, spent rocket stages and the debris from several catastrophic events. As a result, Earth’s lower orbit has been littered with an increasing amount of junk that is careening through space at intense speeds, threatening satellites and even the International Space Station. Last year, the problem became serious enough to prompt the Biden administration to call for the abolishment of tests that destroy satellites in orbit. The announcement came after Russia blew up a dead satellite in 2021, creating a massive debris field that threatened the ISS astronauts along with other satellites. …Every year there are dozens of near-collisions between active satellites or pieces of debris. …There are more than 6,000 active satellites rotating around Earth as of Jan. 9, according to LeoLabs, a company that tracks satellites and debris in Earth’s lower orbit. …The United States and private companies like LeoLabs track tens of thousands of pieces of space debris, including operational and non-operational satellites, rocket stages and unknown objects. But there are many more pieces too small to see. NASA estimates that there are roughly 500,000 objects between 1 and 10 centimeters in diameter orbiting Earth, and that there are more than 100 million particles larger than 1 millimeter. (The agency said that as of January last year, the amount of material in orbit was more than 9,000 metric tons.)… For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2023-01-11. Deep-Sea Pressure Crushes Carbon Cycling. [https://eos.org/articles/deep-sea-pressure-crushes-carbon-cycling] By Elise Cutts, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: When the research submarine Alvin sank off the coast of Massachusetts in 1968, it took the crew’s lunch with it. …to the shock of the scientists who later returned to recover the wreck, there they remained—practically unspoiled despite sitting more than a kilometer below the surface for nearly a year. A sandwich left out on your countertop or casually thrown into the sea would be lucky to last more than a day or two before going bad or getting gobbled up. So why didn’t something eat the Alvin crew’s lunch? New evidence suggests that the extreme pressures of the deep sea slow down microbial carbon degradation, the process responsible for spoiling sandwiches and recycling organic carbon into carbon dioxide, a critical step in the carbon cycle. The research team behind the new study says that their findings could have important implications for carbon budgets, which are used in climate models, and future geoengineering strategies that propose storing excess carbon on the seafloor. The results were published in Nature Geoscience.… For GSS Life and Climate chapter 8.

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2023-01-09. Relentless rain, record heat: study finds climate crisis worsened extreme weather. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/09/climate-crisis-extreme-weather-heat-rainfall-drought] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: …some of the most severe weather events that have occurred around the world in the past few years were made far more likely due to the climate crisis, new research has found. …The fingerprint of climate change is being identified across the planet. The risk of extreme drought across California and Nevada was made six times worse by the climate crisis and a strong periodical La Niña climate event from October 2020 to September 2021, while, conversely, extreme rainfall that deluged parts of the UK in May 2021 was 1.5 times more likely due to global heating. A severe hot spell in China in February 2021 was made between four and 20 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, while acute drought in Iran, which it experienced in 2021, is now 50% more likely because of the greenhouse gases humanity has pumped into the atmosphere. …The compendium of research, presented by Noaa at a conference on Monday, draws together some of the latest examples of climate attribution, where scientists have managed to pinpoint the influence of human-induced climate change upon individual weather events and disasters…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 7.

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2023-01-13. Private jet emissions quadrupled during Davos 2022. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/13/private-jet-emissions-quadrupled-davos-2022] By Helena Horton, The Guardian. Excerpt: Private jet emissions quadrupled as 1,040 planes flew in and out of airports serving Davos during the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting. Climate campaigners accused the rich and powerful of hypocrisy in flying in on private jets to a conference discussing climate breakdown…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2023-01-12. Extended producer responsibility for fossil fuels. [https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aca4e8] By Stuart Jenkins, et al, Environmental Research Letters. Excerpt: …an opportunity: to open a conversation about applying the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to fossil fuels. …Implementing EPR through a combination of geological CO2 storage and nature-based solutions can deliver net zero at comparable or lower costs than conventional scenarios driven with a global carbon price and subject to constraints on CO2 storage deployment. It would also mean that the principal beneficiary of high fossil fuel prices, the fossil fuel industry itself, plays its part in addressing the climate challenge while reducing the risk of asset stranding. …Under EPR as implemented in France, for example, a ‘producer’, meaning ‘any natural or legal person who develops, manufactures, handles, treats, sells or imports waste-generating products’, ‘may be required […] to provide or contribute to the prevention and management of the resulting waste’. This law already applies to household chemicals, but not hydrocarbon fuels, despite the fact that almost 100% of the carbon contained in fossil fuels ending up as waste CO2 dumped into the atmosphere. If the principle of EPR were applied across OECD countries without this exemption, anyone extracting or importing fossil fuels into the OECD would become responsible for permanent disposal of the waste CO2 that those fuels generate…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9.

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2023-01-12. Exxon Scientists Predicted Global Warming, Even as Company Cast Doubts, Study Finds. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/12/climate/exxon-mobil-global-warming-climate-change.html] By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: In the late 1970s, scientists at Exxon fitted one of the company’s supertankers with state-of-the-art equipment to measure carbon dioxide in the ocean and in the air, an early example of substantial research the oil giant conducted into the science of climate change. A new study published Thursday in the journal Science found that over the next decades, Exxon’s scientists made remarkably accurate projections of just how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. Their projections were as accurate, and sometimes even more so, as those of independent academic and government models. …Yet for years, the oil giant publicly cast doubt on climate science, and cautioned against any drastic move away from burning fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change. Exxon also ran a public relations program — including ads that ran in The New York Times— emphasizing uncertainties in the scientific research on global warming…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-01-12. Cougars Are Heading East. We Should Welcome Them. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/12/opinion/cougars-migrating-east.html] By Mark Elbroch, New York Times Opinion/Guest Essay. Excerpt: Numerous cougar sightings were reported east of the Mississippi River last fall, encounters that have become more frequent in recent years. …Cougars once had the run of the continent, ranging far and wide. But they were virtually eliminated in the Eastern United States by the early 1900s (except for a small population that survives in Florida), victims of bounty hunting and habitat loss. …Newly published research by me and 12 colleagues has pinpointed over a dozen landscapes large enough to sustain cougars indefinitely in states that border or are east of the Mississippi…. For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 6.

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2023-01-11. Oceans were the hottest ever recorded in 2022, analysis shows. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/11/oceans-were-the-hottest-ever-recorded-in-2022-analysis-shows] By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: The world’s oceans were the hottest ever recorded in 2022, demonstrating the profound and pervasive changes that human-caused emissions have made to the planet’s climate. More than 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed in the oceans. The records, starting in 1958, show an inexorable rise in ocean temperature, with an acceleration in warming after 1990. Sea surface temperatures are a major influence on the world’s weather. Hotter oceans help supercharge extreme weather, leading to more intense hurricanes and typhoons and more moisture in the air, which brings more intense rains and flooding. Warmer water also expands, pushing up sea levels and endangering coastal cities…. See also New York Times article The Last 8 Years Were the Hottest on Record. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2023-01-11. The New Soldiers in Propane’s Fight Against Climate Action: Television Stars. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/11/climate/climate-propane-influence-campaign.html] By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times. Excerpt: An industry group is spending millions of dollars to push back against efforts to move heating away from oil and gas. …The Propane Education and Research Council, or PERC, which is funded by propane providers across the country, has spent millions of dollars on “provocative anti-electrification messaging” for TV, print and social media, …. …“The movement to electrify everything is rapidly gaining momentum, and poses a substantial threat to the sustainability of our industry,” he said, according to meeting minutes…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-01-11. As Storms Hammer California, Homeless Campers Try to Survive Outside. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/11/us/california-storms-homeless.html] By Shawn HublerLivia Albeck-Ripka and Corina Knoll, The New York Times. Excerpt: From rural Sonoma County to the celebrity enclave of Montecito, a brutal parade of atmospheric rivers has tested California’s infrastructure and endurance. Streets have flooded, levees have failed, mudslides have closed highways and wind gusts have knocked out electricity for days. At least 17 people have died since late December. But few have faced as stark a challenge as the more than 170,000 people who are homeless in California. The state not only has the nation’s largest population of homeless residents, but unlike in colder locales, nearly 70 percent of them sleep in tents, vehicles or public open spaces. …The extreme weather driven by climate change has intensified the need for efforts to protect homeless people across the country, where about 230,000 people are living unsheltered, according to an annual estimate coordinated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. In the Phoenix region, heat-related deaths among unhoused people nearly doubled between 2013 and 2021. In Salt Lake City last month, plunging temperatures claimed the lives of five unsheltered people in a week…. See also Soaked and Battered by Repeating Rainstorms, California Girds for More. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8.

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2023-01-09. Earth’s ozone layer on course to be healed within decades, UN report finds. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/09/ozone-layer-healed-within-decades-un-report] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: The hole in the Earth’s ozone layer, once the most feared environmental peril facing humanity, is set to be completely healed over most of the world within two decades following decisive action by governments to phase out ozone-depleting substances, a new UN assessment has found. The loss of the ozone layer, which risked exposing people to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun, is on track to be completely recovered by 2040 across the world, aside from the polar regions, according to the report. The poles will take a little longer – the ozone layer will fully bounce back by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2066 over the Antarctic.… See also New York Times article, Restoration of the Ozone Layer Is Back on Track, Scientists Say. For GSS Ozone chapter 9.

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2023-01-10. Where the Bison Could Roam. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/10/science/bison-prairie-grassland.html] By Jim Robbins, The New York Times. Excerpt: MALTA, Mont. — Around 200 chocolate-brown bison raise their heads, following the low growl of a pickup truck slowly motoring across the sagebrush-studded prairie. …This knot of bison — colloquially referred to as buffalo, though they are not the same species — is part of a project to rebuild a vast shortgrass prairie not only to return large numbers of bison here, but also to eventually restore the complex and productive grassland ecosystem the animals once engineered with their churning hooves, waste, grazing and even carcasses. …Between 30 million and 60 million bison once roamed parts of the United States, primarily in the Great Plains. They were a “keystone” species in a complex ecological web, creating a cascade of environmental conditions that benefited countless other species. Intact grasslands are very productive for biodiversity. In part because of the loss of bison and other megafauna, intact grassland biomes are now among the most endangered in the world, and the numbers of many species that depend on them have collapsed. …The primary task here now, researchers and managers say, is to increase the number of bison and acres. In 2008, more than two dozen ecologists and experts, in a paper known as the Vermejo Statement, estimated that to foster a functioning prairie ecosystem at least 5,000 bison would need to be able to migrate freely on some 450,000 contiguous, fenceless acres. “In virtually every ecosystem currently grazed by bison, all of the grassland songbirds are lining their nest with bison hair,” said Mr. Olson, the co-author of the book “The Ecological Buffalo,” which details the many ways bison are connected to grassland ecosystems. “It insulates and increases chick survival and egg survival by up to 60 percent.”… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 2.

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2023-01-04. Has the Amazon Reached Its ‘Tipping Point’? [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/04/magazine/amazon-tipping-point.html] By Alex Cuadros, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In a healthy rainforest, the concentration of carbon should decline as you approach the canopy from above, because trees are drawing the element out of the atmosphere and turning it into wood through photosynthesis. In 2010, when Gatti started running two flights a month at each of four different spots in the Brazilian Amazon, she expected to confirm this. But her samples showed the opposite: At lower altitudes, the ratio of carbon increased. This suggested that emissions from the slashing and burning of trees — the preferred method for clearing fields in the Amazon — were actually exceeding the forest’s capacity to absorb carbon. At first Gatti was sure it was an anomaly caused by a passing drought. But the trend not only persisted into wetter years; it intensified. …When Gatti published her findings in Nature in 2021, it sparked panicked headlines across the world: The lungs of the earth are exhaling greenhouse gases. But her discovery was actually much more alarming than that. Because burning trees release a high proportion of carbon monoxide, she could separate these emissions from the total. And in the southeastern Amazon, air samples still showed net emissions, suggesting that the ecosystem itself could be releasing more carbon than it absorbed, thanks in part to decomposing plant matter — or in Gatti’s words, “effectively dying more than growing.” …Across the Amazon, more forests ultimately burned than in the largest California wildfires in history, putting half a billion tons of carbon back into the atmosphere — the equivalent of more than one year of emissions by Mexico. …the ecosystem is losing its natural resilience, entering an alternate feedback loop. In Gatti’s samples, the 2015-16 drought also marked the moment when, as she put it to me, “the southeastern Amazon went to pot,” and the forest itself started consistently releasing more carbon than it absorbed. Fire does more than destroy trees. It also accelerates the transformations predicted by Nobre’s tipping-​point theory…. For GSS A New World View chapter 5.

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2023-01-04. Marine Science Goes to Space. [https://eos.org/features/marine-science-goes-to-space] By Damond Benningfield, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Cassini discoveries added Enceladus to a growing list of possible ocean worlds in our own solar system—bodies with large amounts of liquid water hidden from view. Some of them could contain more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined. And in addition to Enceladus, planetary scientists have counted at least one other member of the list, Jupiter’s moon Europa, among the ranks of the “possibly habitable.” “There could be life in our own solar system, and we may already have flown past it,” said Christopher German, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutionand a coleader of Network for Ocean Worlds (NOW), a NASA-funded effort to advance research on these intriguing bodies. “Instead of just a sci-fi thing, suddenly we have grounds for wondering if there’s life on these nearby worlds—places we have the technology to reach.” …German said scientists have identified five “confirmed” ocean worlds beyond Earth: Jupiter’s moons Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede and Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan. That list could be just the tip of the planetary iceberg, however. “There are probably 20 candidates from places that haven’t been studied closely since the Voyagermissions of the 1980s,” German said…. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2023-01-07. Federal rebates are expected to create a surge in electric vehicle buyers. Key things to know before you make the leap. [https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/federal-rebates-expected-create-surge-090505897.html] By Karl Ebert, USA Today. Excerpt: At the start of 2022, just 5% of vehicles sold in the U.S. were battery-powered electric cars and trucks or plug-in hybrids. That’s expected to rise to 9% by the end of the year and near 50% by 2030 thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act‘s consumer and manufacturer incentives. …There’s a phenomenon known as “range anxiety,” and it remains a real concern for electric vehicle drivers taking longer trips. …This year, the number of vehicles that can go 300 or more miles on a full charge nearly tripled, from five to 14, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. …According to McKinsey and Co., the average person drives 30 miles a day. …it’s very common in a two-car household to have one car that you use to get around town and another car that you use for road trips …In that case, you can get an EV that’s going to be an around-town car…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2023-01-07. Look for Saturn-Venus Conjunction in Southwest January 22-23. [https://skyandtelescope.org/observing/sky-tour-podcast-january-2023/] By Sky & Telescope. Excerpt: As January opens, you can see four bright planets in the sky after sunset, …. Make note of where the Sun goes down, and then look…about 30 to 45 minutes after sunset. …pick out Venus very low above the horizon …the planet Saturn will pop into view to the upper left of Venus.  Night by night, Saturn drops deeper into the twilight, and Venus rises a little higher. On the evening of January 22nd, these two planets will pass each other just ½° apart — about the apparent diameter of the Moon. And one evening later, a very thin crescent Moon will perch to the upper left of these paired planets…. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 2.

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2023-01-06. A Forest, for the Trees. [https://eos.org/agu-news/a-forest-for-the-trees] By Caryl-Sue Micalizio, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: [January 2023 edition of Eos has articles on forests:]  “For Western Wildfires, the Immediate Past Is Prologue,” “Last Tree Standing”, “A Lidar’s-Eye View of How Forests Are Faring,” Free-Air CO2Enrichment technology in the Amazon and the Internet of Things in Germany’s Black Forest…. For GSS A New World View chapter 6.

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2023-01-06. Scientists may have found magic ingredient behind ancient Rome’s self-healing concrete. [https://www.science.org/content/article/scientists-may-have-found-magic-ingredient-behind-ancient-romes-self-healing-concrete] By Jacklin Kwan, Science. Excerpt: …when the researchers tried to make their own Roman concrete in the lab with quicklime, they ended up with material that was “identical” to the samples they gathered from Privernum, Masic says. When the team created small cracks in the concrete—as would happen as the material aged—and then added water (as would happen with rainwater in the real world), the lime lumps dissolved and recrystallized, effectively filling in the cracks and keeping the concrete strong, the researchers report today in Science Advances. …Modern concrete typically doesn’t heal cracks larger than 0.2 or 0.3 millimeters across. The team’s Roman-inspired concrete, in contrast, healed cracks up to 0.6 millimeters across. Masic hopes the work will inspire today’s engineers to improve their own concrete, perhaps with quicklime or a related compound. …The material wouldn’t just be less expensive than current self-healing concrete, Masic says, it could also help fight climate change: Cement production accounts for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 6.

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2023-01-05. The Nuclear Dump That Created a Generation of Indigenous Activists. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/05/world/asia/lanyu-taiwan-nuclear-waste.html] By Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien, The New York Times. Excerpt: …in 1980, when a local pastor saw an article buried in the back of a newspaper, …the islanders found out what the site actually was: a massive nuclear waste dump. …Following the revelation that the site was a nuclear waste facility, the Tao fought vigorously to persuade the government to remove it. For years they staged mass protests on the island and in front of government offices in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. They became self-taught experts in nuclear waste. …But despite the government’s repeated promises to relocate the site, the dump remains. …efforts to relocate the waste fell short. In 1993, a group of countries voted to permanently ban the practice of dumping all nuclear waste in the ocean. Other potential options, including a plan to export the waste to North Korea, were scuttled. …the authorities agreed to pay the Tao $83 million in compensation, with an additional $7 million to be disbursed every three years…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2023-01-04. Sun-powered water splitter produces unprecedented levels of green energy. [https://www.science.org/content/article/sun-powered-water-splitter-produces-unprecedented-levels-green-energy] By Robert F. Service, Science. Excerpt: …The latest iteration of their device uses not only the visible and ultraviolet photons able to split water, but also the less energetic infrared photons. The combined changes enabled the scientists to convert 9.2% of the Sun’s energy into hydrogen fuel, roughly three times more than previous photocatalytic setups, they report today in Nature. …In addition, …the new setup also works well, though somewhat less efficiently, with seawater, a cheap and inexhaustible resource. Being able to convert seawater cheaply into carbon-free fuel would truly be the ultimate in green energy. For GSS Energy Use chapter 10.

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2023-01-04. US government approves use of world’s first vaccine for honeybees. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/04/honeybee-vaccine-first-approved] By Oliver Milman, The Guardian. Excerpt: The world’s first vaccine for honeybees has been approved for use by the US government, raising hopes of a new weapon against diseases that routinely ravage colonies that are relied upon for food pollination. …a vaccine created by Dalan Animal Health, a US biotech company, …. …The vaccine, which will initially be available to commercial beekeepers, aims to curb foulbrood, a serious disease caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae that can weaken and kill hives. There is currently no cure for the disease, which in parts of the US has been found in a quarter of hives, requiring beekeepers to destroy and burn any infected colonies and administer antibiotics to prevent further spread. …The US is unusually dependent upon managed honeybee colonies to prop up its food pollination, with hives routinely trucked across the country to propagate everything from almonds to blueberries. This is because many wild bee species are in alarming decline, due to habitat loss, pesticide use and the climate crisis, fueling concerns around a global crisis in insect numbers that threatens ecosystems and human food security and health.… For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 8.

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2023-01-03. Is a Dam in Rural Portugal a Key to Our Alternative Energy Future?. [https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/03/business/energy-environment/portugal-hydroelectric-power-renewable-energy.html] By Stanley Reed, The New York Times. Excerpt: When Portugal’s electrical system needs a boost, a signal activates a power plant buried deep in a hillside in the country’s scrubby, pine-covered north. Inside the man-made cavern, valves, nine feet in diameter, suddenly open, allowing water draining from a reservoir four miles away to begin streaming through four massive turbines. …the 1.5 billion euro ($1.6 billion) complex of concrete, tunnels and water is not just massive. It is also providing an answer to one of the most vexing questions facing renewable energy. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent across the globe on solar energy and wind power. But when the sun goes down, or the breezes become still, where will the electricity come from? Iberdrola’s giant project — which uses water and gravity to generate power on demand, and then pumps the water back to the upper reservoir when rates drop — is part of the solution…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 4.

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2023-01-03. Space Missions to Watch in 2023. [https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-blogs/space-missions-to-watch-in-2023/] By Sky & Telescope. Excerpts: …SpaceX’s Starship …Axiom Space’s AX2 … to the International Space Station …ESA’s Euclid space telescope …an infrared instrument, aimed at studying dark matter and dark energy …Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) …X-ray Polarimeter Satellite, …and the Aditya L1 solar mission, headed to the Earth-Sun L1 point. …China’s Xuntian Space Telescope, a sky survey telescope …China also plans to launch two X-ray telescopes in 2023 …The Moon will be bustling in 2023. Three missions [to the Moon] are at least partially NASA-funded through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services. …The Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment (PRIME 1) is set to launch in June, carrying with it The Regolith and Ice Drill for Exploring New Terrain. The TRIDENT drill will delve three feet deep to bring lunar regolith up to the surface. …[Russian] Roscosmos’ Luna 25 lander …India …Chandrayaan 3 …German-based Rocket Factory Augsburg might also send up a small lunar orbiter, named Harmony …A Google Xprize alumnus, ALINA will land near the Apollo 17 landing site. …Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Smart Lander for Investigating the Moon (SLIM) …ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) will …arrive at Jupiter in October 2029. …NASA’s Psyche will depart…for the enigmatic “metal asteroid” 16 Psyche. …Rocket Lab may launch MIT’s ambitious Venus mission in May …drop a small probe into the Venusian atmosphere…. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7.

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2023-01-02. Astronomy Modeling with Exoplanets course. [https://www.modelinginstruction.org/pd/upcoming-workshops-2/2023-spring-distance-learning-courses/] By the American Modeling Teachers Association. Excerpt: This course gives teacher participants a 45-hour distance learning experience that will ground them in the use of the Modeling Method of Instruction. This course follows AMTA’s initial face-to-face Astronomy Modeling Workshop in 2019 and utilizes newly updated curriculum resources that focus on the modern-day scientific pursuit of discovering and exploring planets around other star systems: exoplanets. …participants …develop models of space and time that enable them to locate objects and map space from the perspective of Earth …examine motion and forces in order to develop a generalizable model of orbital motion. …construct both particle and wave models of light as a mode of energy transfer (and information transfer) via radiation. …develop a model of cosmic evolution, to better understand the history and fate of our universe …consider the probability of life elsewhere in the universe, on exoplanets. …develop skills and knowledge in observational astronomy, image acquisition, stellar photometry, data and image analysis, and how telescopes work …access remote telescopes and collaborate with professional exoplanet astronomers in their own exoplanet observations…. For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8.

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2023-01-02. Hitting Record, Electric Cars Sales in Norway Near 80% in 2022. [https://www.usnews.com/news/top-news/articles/2023-01-02/hitting-record-electric-cars-sales-in-norway-near-80-in-2022] By Reuters. Excerpt: OSLO (Reuters) -Almost four out of five new cars sold in Norway last year were battery-powered, with Tesla the top-selling brand for the second year in a row, registration data showed on Monday. Seeking to become the first nation to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2025, oil-producing Norway has until now exempted battery-powered fully electric vehicles (BEV) from taxes imposed on rivals using internal combustion engines (ICE). The share of new electric vehicles rose to 79.3% in 2022 from 65% in 2021 and from a mere 2.9% a decade ago, the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) said…. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9.

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2023-01-01. Extinction Rebellion announces move away from disruptive tactics. [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/01/extinction-rebellion-announces-move-away-from-disruptive-tactics] By Robert Booth, The Guardian. Excerpt: The climate protest group Extinction Rebellion is shifting tactics from disruptions such as smashing windows and glueing themselves to public places in 2023, it has announced. A new year resolution to “prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks”, was spelled out in a 1 January statement titled “We quit”, which said “constantly evolving tactics is a necessary approach”. …XR is calling for 100,000 people to “leave the locks, glue and paint behind” and surround the Houses of Parliament on 21 April…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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2023-12-31. Greta Thunberg ends year with one of the greatest tweets in history. [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/dec/31/greta-thunberg-andrew-tate-tweet] By Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian. Excerpt: On 27 December, former kickboxer, professional misogynist and online entrepreneur Andrew Tate, 36, sent a boastfully hostile tweet to climate activist Greta Thunberg, 19, about his sports car collection. “Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions,” he wrote. He was probably hoping to enhance his status by mocking her climate commitment. Instead, she burned the macho guy to a crisp in nine words. Cars are routinely tokens of virility and status for men, and the image accompanying his tweet of him pumping gas into one of his vehicles, coupled with his claims about their “enormous emissions”, had unsolicited dick pic energy. Thunberg seemed aware of that when she replied: “yes, please do enlighten me. email me at smalldickenergy@getalife.com.” Her reply gained traction to quickly become one of the top 10 tweets of all time; as I write, it’s been liked 3.5 million times and shared directly 650,000 or so…. For GSS Climate Change chapter 10.

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