The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
If it seems as if America’s record heat is in the news much more so than record cold in recent years, it is not a media conspiracy to ignore extremely cold weather. There is a simple and scientifically sound reason for it: Record warmth is happening much more often.
Record-warm weather has occurred five times as frequently as record cold in U.S. cities since 2010, according to a new analysis. The imbalance represents a striking example of climate change affecting the nation’s extreme weather in a clear and tangible way.
The federal government is providing extensive support for fossil fuel production on public lands and waters offshore, through a combination of direct subsidies, enforcement loopholes, lax royalty collection, stagnant lease rates and other advantages to the industry, a report released Wednesday found.
The government is contributing at least $7 billion per year in subsidies to support fossil fuel production on federally held lands and offshore waters alone, and is holding some $35 billion in public liabilities for drilling in public waters of the Gulf of Mexico. These subsidies support increased fossil fuel production on U.S. lands and waters out of step with efforts to meet international climate objectives.
The 22 Republican senators who sent a letter to President Donald Trump last week urging the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement received more than $10 million dollars in campaign funds from fossil fuel interests.
The two-page letter was signed by a number of Republican heavyweights from coal/gas/oil-rich states, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas.
The Guardian calculated that the 22 senators received a total of $10,694,284 from oil, gas and coal money in just five years. (See the breakdown below.)
However, that sum does not even come close to the amount of undisclosed funds coming from the deep pockets of Charles and David Koch’s coal, oil and gas conglomerate, Koch Industries, and other outside groups.
Under a dual onslaught of global warming and localised urban heating, some of the world’s cities may be as much as 8C (14.4F) warmer by 2100, researchers have warned.
Such a temperature spike would have dire consequences for the health of city-dwellers, rob companies and industries of able workers, and put pressure on already strained natural resources such as water.
The projection is based on the worst-case scenario assumption that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise throughout the 21st century.
The top quarter of most populated cities, in this scenario, could see temperatures rise 7C or more by century’s end, said a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Miles of ice sheets in the Antarctic are collapsing into the sea in a trend that scientists fear may indicate the early stage of an unstoppable disintegration.
The collapse of the most vulnerable parts of the ice sheet would cause the rising of the sea level, threatening some of the world’s biggest coastal cities such as Miami, New York, Mumbai and Shanghai.
While the melting of the ice cap is widely known, scientists are trying to gather information about the rate at which it is occurring.
The Arctic’s record-warm winter has allowed thousands of square miles of sea ice off Alaska to melt more than a month early, leaving the shoreline vulnerable to waves and exposing dark ocean water to absorb more heat from the sun.
The loss of ice in the Chukchi Sea will boost the regional temperature and could increase precipitation over nearby land, said Alaska-based climate scientist Rick Thoman.
As of May 24, the ice cover on the Chukchi Sea had melted away from the shore along a 300 mile stretch, from Point Hope all the way to Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States. Satellite and radar data show the ice-free area totaled about 54,000 square miles.
It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.
The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide “failsafe” protection against “the challenge of natural or man-made disasters”.
But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling.
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