Most agriculture in the southwestern U.S. is already marginal, possible only because U.S. taxpayers support cheap water for questionable crops. And because of global warming, the outlook is grim as the region continues to warm and dry.
By 2050, Arizona cotton production will drop to less than 10 percent of the crop yield under optimal irrigation conditions, a new MIT study projects. Similarly, maize grown in Utah, now only yielding 40 percent of the optimal expected yield, will decrease to 10 percent with further climate-driven water deficits. Continue reading “Global warming will devastate marginal farming areas”→
Farmers have known it for generations that heatwaves, drought and extreme rain are a bad recipe for growing wheat, and now scientists have quantified those impacts. Heat stress, combined with drought or excessive rain is responsible for about 40 percent of the changes in wheat yields from one year to another.
That’s bad news in a world that’s expecting extreme weather to intensify in the coming decades, but at least the stress index developed scientists with the European Joint Research Centre will help communities plan ahead and ameliorate at least some climate change impacts. Continue reading “Climate extremes have big effect on wheat yields”→
New research focuses on biophysical impacts of climate change
Vegetation plays a key role in the climate change equation, with a recent study showing that vegetation density has substantial climate impacts. According to the research by the European Union’s Joint Research Center, the findings show that vegetation has a warming effect in cold areas and cooling effect in warm areas.
Figuring out the net effect would help develop more integrated and effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The puzzle is complex. Increasing greenhouse gases spur vegetation growth, but the overall effects at the global level are not clear. The new study explores how changes in leaf area (a measure of vegetation density) affect local climate. Continue reading “Increased greening amplifies global warming in boreal zones”→
Ice age ocean current disruptions linked with greenhouse gas changes
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.
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”→
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!”→
Paris is always a magical place, and during the 2015 climate talks, it was downright inspirational.
This seemed to be a bit of prescient moment during the COP 21 talks in Paris.
One of the things that made the COP 21 talks successful was giving voice to smaller, less powerful countries that stand to lose the most from global warming.
Native Americans arrive at the COP 21 talks in Paris to present their concerns about global warming impacts on indigenous peoples.
The Paris talks offered practical solutions to climate change.
The voices of everyday people …
Climate action now!
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.