Climate: Widespread heatwaves setting all-time temperature records across the northern hemisphere

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Above average temperatures are expected to persist across the Far West for the next three months.

Global warming is here …

Staff Report

FRISCO — With El Niño still strengthening in the Pacific Ocean, many parts of the northern hemisphere are breaking all-time heat record this week, including England, where tennis players in the early Wimbledon rounds have to contend with the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the UK.

The ongoing heatwaves parts of Asia, North America and Europe may be a clear sign that 2015 will, as expected, end up as the hottest year on record for the globe, and a sign of trouble ahead, as deadly heatwaves are expected to increase and put millions of people at risk, with the threat growing every year, according to a recent climate study. Continue reading

Environment: Independence Day fireworks cause short-term spike in harmful air pollution

July 4 fireworks.

July 4 fireworks can result in short-term spikes of fine particulate pollution. @bberwyn photo.

Research tracks surge in PM2.5 pollution around the Fourth of July

Staff Report

FRISCO — The fallout from Independence Day fireworks can cause air pollution to spike by as much as 370 percent for a few hours, scientists said this week after studying several years worth of data from more than 300 air quality monitors around the country.

Specifically, the researchers looked at the surge in fine particulate matter — particles that are two and one half microns in diameter (PM2.5) on July 4. The data came from 315 measuring sites spanning 15 years, for the first time quantifying the increase in pollution. Continue reading

Disease-carrying mosquitoes spreading quickly in our warming world

Caption: Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has landed on a human finger. Eliminating puddles and small containers of water can greatly reduce this mosquito's population. Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany

Global warming is helping disease-carrying mosquitoes spread rapidly to new territories.
Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany

New maps can guide prevention efforts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Warmer global temperatures are enabling the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes, putting millions of people at risk, Oxford University researchers say.

The scientists recently created the first global distribution maps of two species of dengue and chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes, showing a rapid expansion in parts of the US, Southern Europe and China during the past 10-15 years. Continue reading

Environment: Denver roundtable shows how climate action will benefit Colorado

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Global temperatures have reached record levels the past few months, with 2015 on track to be warmest year ever.

Heat waves, increased air pollution seen as key climate risks for Colorado

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new EPA report suggests that failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions could cause up to 57,000 additional deaths across the U.S. in coming decades due to poor air quality.

The study was released as part of the run-up to the finalization of the controversial Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA is set to finalize the plan later this summer.

The report’s findings were part of the discussion at a Denver roundtable convened by Environment Colorado this week, as EPA experts joined with state leaders and health experts to bring the message home to Colorado.

“Climate change is already having an impact on human health and is challenging EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission,” said EPA regional climate change coordination Laura Ferris. “We know that taking action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions will significantly benefit Americans by reducing health impacts, saving lives and avoiding more costly damages across the economy.” Continue reading

Study: Global warming won’t cut winter-related deaths

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Winter deaths are unlikely to decline substantially because of global warming, a new study says. @bberwyn photo.

Professor Patrick Kinney of Columbia University

Hot summer temps more of a problem

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even though winters may become warmer as climate change ramps up, it probably won’t result in a big reduction of winter deaths, says a new study that contradicts the conventional wisdom on health impacts of climate change.

“For years I’ve been hearing people say that global warming will reduce winter deaths but I wanted to check this claim out for myself,” said Columbia University Professor Patrick Kinney.

Kinney and his colleagues used statistical methods to pick apart the possible factors contributing to deaths of older people during the winter; they found that cities with warmer winters have similar amounts of winter deaths as do cities with colder winters. The new research was published this week in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters journal. Continue reading

Study: Cleaning the air would save millions of lives worldwide

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Thick smog along the east coast of China. Satellite image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

‘With no changes in air pollution, deaths per capita from air pollution would increase 20 to 30 percent during the next 15 years in India and China …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Numerous public health studies have shown how cleaning up air pollution in the U.S. could prevent thousands of premature deaths. On a global scale, the benefits of cleaner air are staggering, according to scientists and engineers.

The researchers developed a global model showing how reductions in outdoor air pollution could lead to changes in the rates of health problems such as heart attack, stroke and lung cancer, potentially saving millions of lives every year. Continue reading

The U.S. could transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050

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Wind power!

‘The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Getting the U.S. completely off its addiction to fossil fuels may seem daunting, especially if the goal is a relatively quick switch to renewable energy sources. But there’s more and more scientific evidence showing it can be done with existing technology, and without causing a lot of economic pain.

The U.S. could achieve the transition by 2050, say two California scientists who have outlined a plan for all 50 states to make the switch to renewable energy sources.

The advantages are pretty clear: Combating climate change, eliminating  mortality and disease linked with air pollution, creating new jobs and stabilizing energy prices to the benefit of consumers. Continue reading

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