Environment

Bug Food Anyone?

Finnish researchers say Europe can reduce global warming associated with its food consumption by switching, at least in part, to edible insects, such as crickets, flies and worms.

The team from the University of Helsinki and LUT University, Finland, proposes eating them fresh or drying and processing them into flour for bread and pasta. It adds that directly eating the insects will contribute less to climate change than using them for livestock feed instead of soy.

The expanding use of soy in animal feed has led to rampant deforestation around the world to meet the demand.

Global Warming

Oil Should Remain in the Ground

A new study says that oil and gas production around the world must fall by 3% each year, with 58% of known petroleum reserves remaining in the ground, to hold global heating to the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal in the Paris Agreement.

“There’s a good likelihood the rates of decline are going to have to be even larger, and the total amount of carbon that’s going to stay in the ground is also going to be larger,” said James Price at University College London, involved in the analysis.

While some oil companies have cut their plans for future oil and gas extraction as they transition to low-carbon energy, Price says the outlook is bleak for cooperation from countries that rely on revenue from oil and gas.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 45.5 degrees Celsius at Adrar, Algeria.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 70.5 degrees Celsius at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Global Warming

World now sees twice as many days over 50C

The number of extremely hot days every year when the temperature reaches 50C has doubled since the 1980s, a global BBC analysis has found. They also now happen in more areas of the world than before, presenting unprecedented challenges to human health and to how we live.

The total number of days above 50C (122F) has increased in each decade since 1980. On average, between 1980 and 2009, temperatures passed 50C about 14 days a year.

The number rose to 26 days a year between 2010 and 2019. In the same period, temperatures of 45C and above occurred on average an extra two weeks a year.

“The increase can be 100% attributed to the burning of fossil fuels,” says Dr Friederike Otto, associate director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

Global Warming

Ice Persists in the Northwest Passage, Despite Global Warming

For centuries, explorers have tested the icy waters of the Arctic, looking for sea routes through the cluster of islands north of mainland Canada. Such a route, known as the Northwest Passage, can dramatically shorten the journey between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The decline of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has made this passage increasingly viable. But as this image shows, it’s still not always smooth sailing.

Part of the “southern route”—one of two main routes most feasible for the passage of large ships. Since about 2006, the Northwest Passage has become navigable for a short period late in most summers. So far this year, that hasn’t quite happened.

Northwest Passage August 2021 Annotated

Environment

Solar Meltdown

Earth’s reliance on electronics could make the planet vulnerable to a global internet “meltdown” should a solar storm as powerful as the one that occurred in the pre-hi-tech year of 1859 knock out that technology. The Carrington Event of Sept. 1-2, 1859, caused serious damage to telegraph systems of the day.

Speaking to WIRED, researcher Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi said that while local and regional fiber networks probably wouldn’t be badly affected by such a large-scale solar storm, she is concerned about the repeaters used to connect the world’s vast undersea cable system.

Earlier studies have warned that other technology, especially orbiting satellites, could be fried by an intense solar storm.

Pollution Killer

A new report highlights how air pollution, mainly from coal, is impacting life expectancy far greater than diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and even behaviour such as smoking cigarettes and waging war.

The Air Quality Life Index reveals that unless particulate pollution is reduced to meet World Health Organization guidelines, the average person will lose about 2.2 years of his or her life.

Even though China has slashed its air pollution, dirty air is still cutting about 2.6 years off its life spans. India has made no such efforts, and its citizens lose 5.9 years off their lives, especially in the highly polluted north of the country.

Global Warming

Dwindled Giant

South America’s once- mighty Paraná River is now at its lowest level since 1941, causing thousands of acres of wetlands to dry up as well as threatening public water supplies and the livelihoods of fishermen and farmers.

Experts say they don’t know if this is part of a natural cycle or climate change. But there has been a three-year period of below-normal rainfall at the river’s source in southern Brazil. Low water levels have also created a 50% drop in hydroelectric power at generating plants along the Argentina-Paraguay border.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 49 degrees Celsius at Yanbu, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 71.0 degrees Celsius at the South Pole, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Global Warming

Polluters Are Trying to Ensure They’re Never Held Responsible for Climate Change

Last week, Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc from Louisiana to New York — but that wasn’t the only part of the country or world experiencing extreme weather events. The day before Ida raged through New Orleans, fire tornadoes blazed in California, a state currently grappling with more than a dozen active wildfires. The entire Pacific Northwest has been plagued by drought and heat waves all summer. The turmoil hasn’t been limited to North America. Italy, Lebanon, Siberia, Spain, Turkey, and Greece have been experiencing wildfires, while the Chinese province of Shaanxi has been struggling with extreme flooding and landslides.

The culprit is easily identified: man-made climate change. In recent years, “attribution science,” or the science of identifying causal connections between climate change and individual weather events, has become much more accurate. And last month, for the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) asserted that human activity is the driving force behind planetary warming. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” noted the new report.

According to the well-established “polluter pays” legal principle, those responsible for this warming should be held liable for the cost. Sure enough, the fossil fuel industry has increasingly found itself in the legal crosshairs of governments, impacted communities, students, and activists all over the world, especially in light of investigations showing that companies like Exxon knew about the dangers of climate change decades ago, did little to address it, and even misled the public on the dangers.

According to a January report from the UN’s Environment Programme, the number of climate change cases filed against countries and corporate actors nearly doubled in the past few years, with at least 1,550 cases filed as of July 2020. In the United States alone, twenty-four climate lawsuits — including some related to climate change–fueled wildfires — are currently moving through the courts. In February, the International Bar Association even released a model for litigants to pursue legal action related to climate change.

But the biggest polluters have yet to face meaningful consequences for planetary destruction — and it remains to be seen if they ever will. As efforts mount to hold polluters accountable, fossil fuel companies and other corporate interests are working overtime to leverage the US court and political system to avoid responsibility for the climate crisis — and offload the costs of environmental damage onto taxpayers.

Environment

Nuclear Contamination

Contaminated water now stored in about 1,000 tanks at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant will be released offshore into the Pacific through a newly planned undersea tunnel.

Operators say they will drill through bedrock beneath the seabed and begin releasing the water about 40 feet below the ocean’s surface beginning in the spring of 2023. They say the scheme is designed to avoid interfering with local fishing.

The stored water from the plant’s meltdowns will first be diluted with large amounts of seawater to reduce the concentration of the radioactive material.

Northernmost Land

Members of a Danish research expedition to Greenland’s northern coastal waters say they accidently discovered what is now believed to be the northernmost island on the planet. While unsuccessfully trying to locate and land on Oodaaq Island to collect samples, they instead “landed on a strange unvegetated bunch of mud, moraine deposits and gravel surrounded by sea ice on all sides.”

After checking their position, the found they were not on Oodaaq, but on land about 3,600 feet farther north than what was previously thought to be the island nearest to the North Pole. The team wants the newly discovered island to be named Qeqertaq Avannarleq, which means “the northernmost island” in Greenlandic.

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Global Warming

Disasters Soar

Natural disasters such as deadly heat waves and floods are now occurring five times more often than they did 40 years ago, which the U.N. weather agency says is directly linked to human-driven global heating.

The World Meteorological Organization’s new “Atlas” reviews the human tragedies and economic losses from weather extremes and water, and is said to be the most detailed ever produced. It shows that such disasters have killed more than 2 million people since 1970 and have cost $3.64 trillion in losses.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 124 degrees Fahrenheit (51.1 degrees Celsius) Bordj Badji Mokhtar,Algeria.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 98.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 72.2 degrees Celsius) at the South Pole, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Global Warming

Chile Megadrought

A blob of warm water in the southern Pacific is fueling a decade-long megadrought in Chile, and climate change is at least partly to blame, scientists say.

The “Southern Blob” east of New Zealand is driving hot and dry conditions in Chile, with snow caps melting on the Andes, reservoirs running low and once-lush landscapes withered. Chilean authorities this year were forced to truck water to some 400,000 people living in rural areas.

That massive blob – wider than the continental United States – is now 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than it was 40 years ago. Areas of nearby ocean, however, have warmed much more slowly during that time, and are just 0.2C to 1C warmer, the study shows.

The heat from the blob warms the air directly above it and winds carry the heated air toward Chile. This impacts pressure trends, affecting rainfall and resulting in dry conditions in Chile.

Environment

Snowless Andes

South America’s majestic Andes Mountain range is in the grip of a decade-long drought that has left many slopes between Ecuador and Argentina with only patches of snow, or no snow at all.

Currently in the depth of the Southern Hemisphere winter, the Andes should be at the peak of the snow season. But satellite images from this July and a year ago show a significant decrease in snow cover, threatening ski resorts and the communities that depend upon the mountains for water.

“The glaciers are in a very dramatic process of retreat that is much more accelerated than we have seen before,” Ricardo Villalba of the Argentine Institute of Snow, Glacier and Environment Science Studies told Reuters.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius) in Adrar, Algeria.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 98.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 72.2 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.