The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
The European Union declared this week that it could make deeper greenhouse gas cuts than it has already pledged under the Paris climate agreement. But its scientific advisors are warning that the EU’s new renewable energy policy fails to fully account for the climate impacts of burning wood for fuel.
By counting forest biomass, such as wood pellets used in power plants, as carbon-neutral, the new rules could make it impossible for Europe to achieve its climate goals, the European Academy of Sciences Advisory Council (EASAC) wrote in a strongly worded statement.
The council said the renewable energy policy’s treatment of biomass is “simplistic and misleading” and could actually add to Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 to 30 years.
The most complete assessment to date of Antarctica’s ice sheets confirms that the meltdown accelerated sharply in the past five years, and there is no sign of a slowdown.
That means sea level is expected to rise at a rate that will catch some coastal communities unprepared despite persistent warnings, according to the international team of scientists publishing a series of related studies this week in the journal Nature.
The scientists found that the rate of ice loss over the past five years had tripled compared to the previous two decades, suggesting an additional 6 inches of sea level rise from Antarctica alone by 2100, on top of the 2 feet already projected from all sources, including Greenland.
As the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season begins, scientists are worried that U.S. coastal communities could face more super storms with winds, storm surges and rainfall so intense that current warning categories don’t fully capture the threat.
This year’s forecast is about average and much more subdued than last summer’s hyperactive season turned out to be, partly due to cooler ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, as well as a nascent El Niño pattern. But that doesn’t mean an individual storm won’t blow up to exceptional strength, as Andrew did before striking Florida in 1992, an otherwise relatively quiet year.
Heat trapped by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is raising the chances of that happening, said Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann.
A new review of global data on hurricanes shows that since 1980, the number of storms with winds stronger than 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph, or a strong Category 3) have doubled, and those with winds stronger than 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph) have tripled.
President Trump is repealing a controversial executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States.
In his own executive order signed late Tuesday, Trump put a new emphasis on industries that use the oceans, particularly oil and natural gas drilling, while also mentioning environmental stewardship.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday inched closer to proposing a regulation to replace an Obama-era rule that clarified which bodies of water qualified for federal protection.
The proposal comes more than a year after EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signed an executive action to revoke the 2015 Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule. The regulation clarified which wetlands and streams could be protected under the Clean Water Act and expanded federal authority to all “navigable” waters. That extended the federal safeguards to 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands, securing the drinking water of more than 117 million Americans.
But a federal judge stayed the Clean Water Rule in 2015; the rule has since bounced around the courts. In January, the Supreme Court volleyed the case back to the district court level. In the meantime, Pruitt began the process of repealing the rule outright.
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