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

Climate Change Drives Lakes Toward Ecological Tipping Points

When rising temperatures brewed up a perfect storm of excessive rainfall and extreme heat in the summer of 2014, the fallout hit home. The impacts were felt by at least half a million people in Ohio when a super-bloom of cyanobacteria, a toxic blue-green algae, shut down drinking water supplies for several days.

The algae feasted on fertilizers washed in from farm fields, and the warming may have pushed the lake past an environmental tipping point. In warming waters, the cyanobacteria thrived and spread in a slimy green froth across hundreds of square miles. Schools, restaurants and other public facilities shut down after contamination was detected in Toledo’s water intake system, and local stores quickly ran out of bottled water. In the summer of 2015, the algae spread again.

Congress to Pruitt: We’re Not Cutting EPA Budget to Trump’s Levels

Members of the congressional committee responsible for the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget—Republican and Democrat alike—made clear Thursday they have no intention of approving the White House’s proposal to slash the agency’s spending.

In a hearing, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt defended the Trump administration’s budget plan for the first time on Capitol Hill, insisting that the agency he leads could fulfill its mission under a plan that cuts its budget more than any other federal agency’s.

On climate change, the committee members divided along party lines on whether they supported the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris accord. Pruitt, who was a chief proponent of the move, claimed that President Donald Trump would “continue engagement” on the subject. But most of the hearing focused on other issues, with members of both parties driving home the point that Congress will not pass a budget that cuts the EPA’s funding by 31 percent and eliminates nearly 50 of the agency’s programs.

A third of the world now faces deadly heatwaves as result of climate change

Nearly a third of the world’s population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it “almost inevitable” that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found.

Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world’s population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut.

“For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” said Camilo Mora, an academic at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the study.

Tropics in trouble as rising heat, humidity push populations to the edge: study

Rising temperatures and humidity will make the world’s tropics increasingly unliveable by pushing more people to the thresholds of their physical tolerance and beyond, a new international study finds.

As of 2000, about 30 per cent of the world’s population lived in regions where the climate exceeds deadly threshold levels – based on temperature and relatively humidity levels – for at least 20 days a year, researchers publishing in the Nature Climate Change journal estimate.

Even with the most optimistic scenario for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, that share will rise to about 48 per cent by the end of the century. If so-called business as usual emissions continue, that share would climb to 74 per cent by then, the paper found.

France to ban all new oil and gas exploration in renewable energy drive

France is to stop granting licences for oil and gas exploration as part of a transition towards environmentally-friendly energy being driven by Emmanuel Macron’s government.

Nicolas Hulot, the “ecological transition” minister said a law would be passed in the autumn.

“There will be no new exploration licences for hydrocarbons,” he told BFMTV.

The latest threat to Antarctica: an insect and plant invasion

Antarctica’s pristine ice-white environment is going green and facing an unexpected threat – from the common house fly. Scientists say that as temperatures soar in the polar region, invading plants and insects, including the fly, pose a major conservation threat.

More and more of these invaders, in the form of larvae or seeds, are surviving in coastal areas around the south pole, where temperatures have risen by more than 3C over the past three decades. Glaciers have retreated, exposing more land which has been colonised by mosses that have been found to be growing more quickly and thickly than ever before – providing potential homes for invaders. The process is particularly noticeable in the Antarctic peninsula, which has been shown to be the region of the continent that is most vulnerable to global warming.

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