Category: climate and weather

Sunday set: Wildflower love

Alpine beauties

Some wildflower love from Austria spanning the last couple of months, from first sprouts emerging through the remnant muck of winter, to forest orchids. Check out the Summit Voice photo archives for more wildflower shots from around the world, and visit our online gallery to purchase fine art nature and landscape prints.

Many wildflower species are under the gun from climate change, especially in the mountains, where they will be pushed out of their habitat. Other studies have documented how global warming will affect native plant diversity in California. The changes to plant communities will ripple through ecosystems, affecting insect and birds, as many studies have shown.

 

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Gradual CO2 buildup can trigger sudden climate tipping points

A new study links rising CO2 concentrations with disruptions to key climate-controlling currents during ice age climate shifts.

Ice age ocean current disruptions linked with greenhouse gas changes

Staff Report

Scientists say they’ve discovered another huge climate warning sign in the Arctic. Past increases in CO2 levels in the air drove ocean currents to a tipping point had a big impact on hemispheric weather patterns.

Within the span of just a few decades, rising CO2 concentrations drove temperatures in Greenland up by 10 degrees Celsius, according to a new study led by researchers with the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Cardiff. Continue reading “Gradual CO2 buildup can trigger sudden climate tipping points”

Global warming puts sea turtles at risk

As temps warm, most eggs will produce females

If beaches get too warm, sea turtle eggs will hatch mostly as females. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Global warming was first identified as a potential threat to sea turtles in the 1980s because the temperature at which the eggs incubate helps determine the sex of the embryos. A new study now adds weight to those concerns, finding that  warmer temperatures could lead to higher numbers of female sea turtles and increased nest failure, negatively on the turtle population in some areas of the world. Continue reading “Global warming puts sea turtles at risk”

Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!

EPA chief continues to alienate important allies

This now seems to be a bit of prescient moment during the COP 21 talks in Paris. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

The U.S. government continues to show how out of tune it is with the rest of the world’s leading economic nations with a press release from the EPA claiming that it has “reset” the conversation about climate change to reflect the Trump administration priorities and the “expectation of the American people.”

Apparently, EPA Administrator didn’t get the clear message from scores of American cities and states that responded to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement by forming a sub-national coalition that is aiming to uphold the goals of that agreement. The We Are Still In Group also includes hundreds of counties, universities and businesses committed to the agreement, so all Pruitt is managing to do is to divide the country. Continue reading “Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!”

Sunday set: The Paris climate agreement won’t die

Dont’t despair — act and vote!


The president’s decision to start pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was bitter disappointment for many, but it’s important to remember that the signing of the accord wasn’t an end. It marked the beginning of a long and difficult path that was sure to be fraught with challenges along the way. It was also designed to withstand major shocks, including the pull-out of a major signatory like the U.S. After all, this isn’t the first time it happened. The U.S. also failed to follow through on the Kyoto climate protocol. Read about how the Paris agreement was designed with this history in mind in one of my recent stories for Pacific Standard.

It’s also worth remembering that it will take several years for the withdrawal. In fact, the process won’t be complete until the day after the next U.S. presidential election, so perhaps his wrong-headed move can galvanize climate activists to focus on what matters — electing a candidate who will not only stay involved in global climate policy, but who will act decisively on the domestic front and fight for the changes needed in energy policy and many other areas so that the U.S. can actually deliver on climate action.

To me, Trump’s Paris speech was dangerous beyond climate policy. The language he used to justify his decision sounded a lot like the language Hitler used in the 1930 to rally support for his nationalist policies, and Trump’s attack on global cooperation could end up going far beyond climate. Read more on this topic here.

There’s a lot at stake, especially for the countries that can least afford to deal with global warming impacts. During the most recent climate talks in Bonn, the group of most vulnerable countries made it clear that it is a matter of survival. I reported on their concerns here.

And yes, there is reason to be hopeful. While Trump pursues unrealistic goals of dialing back U.S. policy to the age of coal, most other countries, especially India and China, are racing ahead. Their investments in renewable energy are very likely to drive the shape of global energy markets in the coming decades. More here.

More coral bleaching forecast this summer

Relentless ocean heat takes toll on reefs worldwide

Parts of the Northern Hemisphere oceans could once again be hit by coral reef bleaching this summer.
Bleaching caused by global warming is overwhelming many coral reefs. Photo via NOAA.

Staff Report

There’s been little let-up in the global wave of coral bleaching that’s been ongoing in various parts of the world since 2014, according to an update from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program. To date, the bleaching is the most widespread and damaging on record, including mass bleaching in areas where it’s never been seen before — the northern Great Barrier Reed, Kiribati and Jarvis Island.

And more of the same is expected in in the next few months as the Northern Hemisphere moves toward summer. Based on forecasts for the next two to three months, bleaching is likely in the eastern Pacific. Widespread coral bleaching with significant mortality continues in the Samoas (where bleaching of both shallow and deeper corals has now been confirmed) but is expected to dissipate shortly.

After extensive damage to the Great Barrier Reef, ocean temperatures finally cooled of in April, giving a respite to the corals that survived. Similarly, the corals around Florida also got some relief in the past few months. Get the full update at the NOAA coral reef watch page.

 

 

 

Adding insult to injury, U.S. taxpayers subsidize climate-disrupting fossil fuel industry with $7 billion per year

New report breaks down public cost of supporting oil and coal

fracking rig in Colorado
Oil, gas and coal development on public lands is a bad deal for U.S. taxpayers. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The as-yet barely checked use of fossil fuels is rapidly disrupting the global climate and to add insult to injury, taxpayers around the world are supporting the damage with huge subsidies, as well as tax breaks and loopholes.

A new report from watchdog groups last week helps detail exactly how that plays out in the U.S., where the subsidies may total as much as $7 billion per year. Additionally, the U.S. government is holding about $35 billion in public liabilities for drilling in public waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading “Adding insult to injury, U.S. taxpayers subsidize climate-disrupting fossil fuel industry with $7 billion per year”