The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Among the 21st-century threats posed by climate change — rising seas, melting permafrost and superstorms — European leaders are warning of a last-century risk they know all too well: War.
Focusing too narrowly on the environmental consequences of global warming underestimates the military threats, top European and United Nations officials said at a global security conference in Munich this weekend. Their warnings follow the conclusions of defense and intelligence agencies that climate change could trigger resources and border conflicts.
“Climate change is a threat multiplier that leads to social upheaval and possibly even armed conflict,” the UN’s top climate official, Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, said at the conference, which was attended by the U.S. secretaries of defense and homeland security, James Mattis and John Kelly.
A large research synthesis, published in one of the world’s most influential scientific journals, has detected a decline in the amount of dissolved oxygen in oceans around the world — a long-predicted result of climate change that could have severe consequences for marine organisms if it continues.
The paper, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by oceanographer Sunke Schmidtko and two colleagues from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, found a decline of more than 2 percent in ocean oxygen content worldwide between 1960 and 2010. The loss, however, showed up in some ocean basins more than others. The largest overall volume of oxygen was lost in the largest ocean — the Pacific — but as a percentage, the decline was sharpest in the Arctic Ocean, a region facing Earth’s most stark climate change.
In recent years, one of climate change doubters’ favorite arguments has involved the floating sea ice around Antarctica. It’s growing, they contended — and that raises doubts about our understanding of human-induced climate change.
To this, climate scientists always responded: Not so fast. Floating sea ice in another cold place, the Arctic, is clearly shrinking, as are Arctic and Antarctic glaciers, and we don’t fully understand all the drivers behind the vast and complex Antarctic sea ice system. So don’t leap to the conclusion that odd behavior in floating Antarctic ice, which indeed has been growing slightly in recent years, undermines climate concerns.
Now, though, the argument for doubters just got even more complicated. After seeing a record high for total extent in the year 2014, Antarctic sea ice had been running very low in late 2016 and early 2017. And now, as of data recorded on Monday and Tuesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the extent of Antarctic sea ice now appears to have hit a record low (although scientists still have to confirm this and have not made an official announcement yet).
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to help revive the struggling coal industry.
It’s looking like a tough promise to keep.
In the past three weeks, owners of two of the nation’s biggest coal-fired power plants have announced plans to shut them down, potentially idling hundreds of workers. One plant in Arizona is the largest coal-fired facility in the western United States.
A Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act” unfolded Wednesday just as supporters of the law had feared, with round after round of criticism from Republican lawmakers who said the federal effort to keep species from going extinct encroaches on states’ rights, is unfair to landowners and stymies efforts by mining companies to extract resources and create jobs.
Canada’s Arctic glaciers have become a major contributor to sea level change, according to glaciologists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
The Queen Elizabeth Islands, which include Ellesmere Island and dozens more, saw surface melt on its ice caps and glaciers accelerate by 900 per cent over the course of a decade.
It went from three gigatons per year in 2005 to 30 gigatons per year in 2015, the research shows.
If you peruse NASA’s social media feeds dedicated to climate change, you would have no clue a new administration has taken power that has expressed doubts about the reality or seriousness of the issue.
Every day, NASA has dutifully posted updates on Twitter (@nasaclimate) and Facebook pertaining to climate change science, including some that are in direct contradiction to statements made by President Trump and some of his Cabinet picks.
Steve Cole, a NASA spokesperson, told the Capital Weather Gang the change in the administration has not altered how the agency communicates science. “We’re doing our jobs, it’s business as usual,” Cole said.
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