The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.

Climate change rate to turn southern Spain to desert by 2100, report warns

Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned.

Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said.

The study, published in the journal Science, modelled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other.

‘The atmosphere is being radicalized’ by climate change

Climate change’s impacts on extreme weather and society are becoming increasingly clear and undeniable. While we are making progress in solving the problem, we’re still moving too slowly, and one of the two political parties governing the world’s strongest superpower continues to deny the science. This led astrophysicist Katie Mack to make the following suggestion, related to a common refrain from Donald Trump and Republican Party leaders:

Environmental records shattered as climate change ‘plays out before us’

The world is careening towards an environment never experienced before by humans, with the temperature of the air and oceans breaking records, sea levels reaching historic highs and carbon dioxide surpassing a key milestone, a major international report has found.

The “state of the climate” report, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) with input from hundreds of scientists from 62 countries, confirmed there was a “toppling of several symbolic mileposts” in heat, sea level rise and extreme weather in 2015.
The climate crisis is already here – but no one’s telling us

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” Michael Mann, a leading climatologist at Penn State, told the Guardian. “They are playing out before us, in real time. The 2015 numbers drive that home.”

Sandy’s Lessons Lost: Jersey Shore Rebuilds in Sea’s Inevitable Path

Toms River, N.J.—For most of the last century, modest one-story summer bungalows lined this private strip of road that dead-ends at Vision Beach. Then Sandy made landfall here on Oct. 29, 2012, obliterating them.

Today, except for the occasional vacant lot, the street has been transformed into two rows of gleaming brand-new three-story homes.

The main floors are about 14 feet off the ground, perched on pillars. Below, instead of an enclosed ground floor, many have parking spaces or picnic tables. Jay Lynch, the town’s planner, calls the new developments “canyons” because of the heights.

Similarly towering construction is occurring on almost every nearby road.

Native American Leaders Decry Increasingly Harsh Treatment of Dakota Access Protesters

The tribe at the heart of the contested Dakota Access oil pipeline asked the Department of Justice to step in after law enforcement arrested 127 activists using what the tribe’s chairman called “military tactics.”

“Thousands of persons from around the country, and the world, have come to express their opposition to the pipeline in a peaceful way,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in an Oct 24 letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “But state and local law enforcement have increasingly taken steps to militarize their presence, to intimidate participants who are lawfully expressing their views, and to escalate tensions and promote fear.”

Archambault’s letter cites the use of aerial surveillance, roadblocks and checkpoints, military vehicles and “strong-arm tactics” such as the “invasive and unlawful strip searches of men and women who have been arrested for misdemeanors.”

As Oceans Continue to Warm, Consequences Grow More Dire, Study Says

The coming century will likely bring dangerous and dramatic changes to the planet’s oceans, with ever strengthening storms, annual bleaching of almost all coral reefs, loss of biodiversity and severe impacts on fisheries and aquaculture unless humans slash greenhouse gas emissions.

These are the findings of a comprehensive review of the effects of warming oceans, issued Monday by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and compiled by more than 80 scientists from 12 countries. The report chronicles how the seas have absorbed the vast majority of the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere by carbon emissions in recent decades, and how that energy is already altering the planet’s weather systems and ecology, from deep ocean trenches to alpine glaciers.

Geoengineering Will Not Save Ocean Life from Acidification, Research Says

Waiting to tackle ocean acidification caused by climate change through yet-to-be developed geoengineering schemes will be too little too late to prevent mass extinction of ocean life, a new study concludes.

Cutting carbon emissions is the only way for oceans to recover from the devastating effects of climate change, according to the new research published in Nature Climate Change. While using deliberate, large-scale manipulation of earth processes to combat global warming has its proponents, intervening in the climate through potentially dangerous geoengineering technologies is unproven. And even if carbon dioxide could be removed from the atmosphere, ocean acidification already spurred by CO2 will persist for centuries. This could cause mass extinctions of marine species, researchers concluded.

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