The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Last month was pretty darn hot as global temperature measures go.
According to NASA, the world’s thermometer averaged 1.14 C warmer than 1880s temperatures or about 0.92 C warmer than NASA’s 20th Century baseline. These readings were the third warmest for January since NASA record keeping began in 1880.
For a temperature measure that has consistently been producing ‘hottest months on record’ throughout 2016, the dip back to top 3 during January represents an ephemeral respite. More to the point, the fact that this third hottest ever reading occurred during the cool phase of natural variability called La Nina presents little cause for reassurance.
It’s no secret that Siberia’s permafrost has been on thin ice lately. Conditions are varying so much that huge holes are appearing out of nowhere, and, in some places, tundra is quite literally bubbling underneath people’s feet.
But new research has revealed that one of the biggest craters in the region, known by the local Yakutian people as the ‘doorway to the underworld’, is growing so rapidly that it’s uncovering long-buried forests, carcasses, and up to 200,000 years of historical climate records.
In a few days the Arctic’s beleaguered sea ice cover is likely to set another grim record. Its coverage is on course to be the lowest winter maximum extent ever observed since satellite records began. These show that more than 2 million square kilometres of midwinter sea ice have disappeared from the Arctic in less than 40 years.
The ice’s disappearance – triggered by global warming caused by rising carbon emissions from cars and factories – is likely to have profound implications for the planet. A loss of sea ice means a loss of reflectivity of solar rays and further rises in global temperatures, warn researchers.
But there are other pressing concerns, they add. Sea ice loss is now posing serious threats to the Arctic’s indigenous species – its seals, fish, wolves, foxes and polar bears. “The Arctic food chain relies on a stable sea ice platform and that is now disappearing, putting the region’s wildlife at risk,” said marine ecologist Tom Brown, of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (Sams), in Oban.
Global warming will disrupt four-fifths of the world’s oceans by 2050 if greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, threatening fish that are the main source of food for a billion people, scientists said on Tuesday.
Curbs on man-made emissions, however, would give marine life more time to adapt to warming conditions or for marine life from algae to cod to shift to cooler waters nearer the poles, they said.
“By 2050 around four-fifths of the ocean surface will be affected by ocean acidification and ocean warming,” lead author Stephanie Henson, of the British National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, told Reuters of the findings.
When we think of solar power, we usually think of solar panels, but we should really be thinking about plants. After all, plants are the original solar power generators, turning the sun’s rays into energy through the process we all learned about in biology class: photosynthesis. Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a device that mimics that process artificially, producing what could be the cleanest energy on earth. In fact, they claim their “artificial leaf” is even more efficient than real plants at harnessing the power of the sun and turning it into useable energy.
The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems is for the second year in a row a supporting organization of The Economist’s Sustainability Summit, to take place in London on March 23-24, 2017.
The issue of sustainability is a multifaceted one, and cannot be tackled by policy makers or scientists alone. Finding ways to integrate environmental and social sustainability requires collaboration across sectors, not least between research institutions and the private sector.
But what do we as scientists know about how businesses can evolve and develop their practices to improve their environmental footprint? What are the challenges and opportunities that multinational companies face in implementing such changes across borders?
The summit will bring together leading critical thinkers, policy makers and business leaders, including WLE Steering Committee Chair, Johan Rockström. Rockström will set the scene for the summit by giving a talk on operating within the ‘planetary playing field’.
At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
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