The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Africa’s “tree of life” may not have much longer left. It forms an integral part in people’s livelihoods. In west Africa, it is also called the “palaver tree” because of its social functions: when there is a problem in the community, meeting under the baobab tree with the chief or the tribesmen would be synonymous with trying to find a solution to that problem; it reinforces trust and respect among members of the community. Its extinction would not simply be an environmental tragedy.
The tree grows in very harsh conditions but is completely adapted to its environment: it sheds its leaves during the dry seasons to reduce water loss; it has a tap root system long enough to reach moisture or even water; and the thick bark protects it from bush fires. From a scientific point of view, the baobab tree is truly a complete plant. The leaves are used in traditional medicine to cure infectious diseases, while the fruit is high in nutrients and is used to make health foods. The seeds yield oil that is prized by the cosmetic industry. The trunk stores water and can be harvested by thirsty travellers.
Yet these highly important species are threatened with extinction, due to climate change and human development. Some species may not survive the next century.
Climate change has helped melt nearly a fifth of Colombia’s mountaintop glacier cover in just seven years, the government said Thursday.
The surface area of its six glaciers has shrunk from 45 square kilometers in 2010 to 37 square kilometers in 2017, for a decline of 18 percent, the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies said.
It blamed the glacier loss on “extreme events associated with natural phenomena and climate change.”
The daunting math of climate change means we’ll need carbon capture
At current rates of greenhouse-gas emissions, the world could lock in 1.5 ˚C of warming as soon as 2021, an analysis by the website Carbon Brief has found. We’re on track to blow the carbon budget for 2 ˚C by 2036.
Amid this daunting climate math, many researchers argue that capturing carbon dioxide from power plants, factories, and the air will have to play a big part in any realistic efforts to limit the dangers of global warming.
If it can be done economically, carbon capture and storage (CCS) offers the world additional flexibility and time to make the leap to cleaner systems. It means we can retrofit, rather than replace, vast parts of the global energy infrastructure. And once we reach disastrous levels of warming, so-called direct air capture offers one of the only ways to dig our way out of trouble, since carbon dioxide otherwise stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
There is a bias in climate policy shared by analysts, politicians, and pundits across the political spectrum so common it is rarely remarked upon. To put it bluntly: Nobody, at least nobody in power, wants to restrict the supply of fossil fuels.
Policies that choke off fossil fuels at their origin — shutting down mines and wells; banning new ones; opting against new pipelines, refineries, and export terminals — have been embraced by climate activists, picking up steam with the Keystone pipeline protests and the recent direct action of the Valve Turners.
But they are looked upon with some disdain by the climate intelligentsia, who are united in their belief that such strategies are economically suboptimal and politically counterproductive.
Now a pair of economists has offered a cogent argument that the activists are onto something — that restrictive supply-side (RSS) climate policies have unique economic and political benefits and deserve a place alongside carbon prices and renewable energy supports in the climate policy toolkit.
When U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup dismissed San Francisco and Oakland’s climate liability suits against five of the world’s largest oil companies last week, his ruling ignored the central question of the suit: who should be responsible for paying for the impacts of climate change? In his earlier hearing, Alsup seemed to struggle with the idea that cities could even anticipate what those costs are, imagining them to be unpredictable and far in the future.
But climate change adaptation costs are already piling up for the Bay Area cities. And in place of another way to raise money, San Francisco is sending a referendum to voters this November to vote on paying $425 million to repair the Embarcadero seawall, which is only a small part of a projected $5 billion long-term plan to upgrade the seawall to protect the city from sea level rise.
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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