Hard-won Paris climate agreement officially goes into force

November 4, 2016 by  
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The Paris climate change agreement officially goes into force today. Under the agreement, governments around the world must now work to limit temperatures to an increase of under 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. While environmental groups applaud the occasion, many still call for stronger action to avert disastrous climate change . The world’s biggest polluters – China, the United States, the European Union, and India – all ratified the historic agreement, and along with other countries around the world, committed to limit their carbon emissions . The goal of such commitments is to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius greater than they were before the industrial revolution. Related: UN warns of 3C global temperature increase without swift and aggressive global leadership While Greenpeace described today as a “momentous occasion,” they and several other groups said governments of the world must take stronger action to truly avoid the kind of catastrophic destruction resulting from climate change. ActionAid global lead on climate change Harjeet Singh told The Guardian, “The Paris agreement sends a much-needed signal to politicians and industry that we have to build a new world, and this has to start now. However, the deal is not enough to keep people and the planet safe.” United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Morocco Minister of Foreign Affairs, and COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar acknowledged the challenges ahead in a joint statement. They noted the World Meteorological Organization confirmed carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere hit the 400 parts per million milestone , which means we’re already behind in trying to reach the 2 degrees Celsius goal. At COP22 , which will take place in Marrakech, Morocco November 7-18, governments will work on a rule book to provide accountability for climate commitments. Espinosa and Mezouar were still hopeful, saying “Humanity will look back on November 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster and set off with determination towards a sustainable future.” Via The Guardian Images via UNclimatechange on Flickr and PublicDomainPictures.net

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Hard-won Paris climate agreement officially goes into force

The window for averting catastrophic climate change has probably closed

July 1, 2016 by  
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When world leaders first signed the Paris climate agreement back in December, some scientists warned the terms would not sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change . Former NASA scientist James Hansen was particularly outspoken, referring to the agreement as a ” fraud .” Now 10 other scientists are adding their voices to his, urging world leaders to take a tougher stance. Led by Joeri Rogelj, an energy research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Switzerland, researchers from around the world published a piece in the journal Nature warning that we are on a perilous path. The other researchers hail from institutions in the Netherlands, the United States, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, China, Austria, and Australia. They concluded while country goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be partially successful, by 2100 Earth could still warm by 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius. Related: Is the Paris climate accord really a “major leap for mankind”? An increase of 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius is far more drastic than the Paris climate agreement target, which is designed to keep temperatures from rising to 2 degrees Celsius, and if possible, to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. If global temperatures do increase by 3 degrees Celsius, sea levels could rise by 20 feet , which would have a huge negative impact on those living in coastal areas. Many of the goals set by countries target ending dependence on fossil fuels and switching to clean, renewable energies . The researchers said such measures could better lower greenhouse gas emissions than current policies, but the measures probably aren’t enough to save us from surpassing that 2 degree limit. According to the researchers, nations would essentially have to under promise and over deliver if we’re truly serious about keeping temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. They wrote, “…the window for limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius with high probability and without temporarily exceeding that level already seems to have closed.” Via Gizmodo Images via Christopher Michel on Flickr and Development Planning Unit University College London on Flickr

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The window for averting catastrophic climate change has probably closed

The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut

June 22, 2016 by  
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As the world struggles to find effective ways to limit carbon emissions and slow global warming , a recent study has found that the stakes may be higher than anyone has realized. According to Sergei Petrovskii, an applied mathematics professor at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, an unchecked rise in global temperatures could end up drastically reducing the amount of breathable oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere, threatening life on Earth as we know it. In a study published late last year in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology , Petrovskii ran computer models looking at the phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, microscopic marine plants responsible for producing two-thirds of the world’s atmospheric oxygen. In examining the ability of phytoplankton to photosynthesize at various temperatures, Petrovskii learned something incredibly troubling — at a certain point, these plants would simply halt oxygen production, leaving the world gasping for breath. Related: Alarming study shows disastrous climate change will strike much sooner than expected Perhaps the most terrifying part of Petrovskii’s findings is the fact that this catastrophe would come with few, if any, warning signs. If global warming continues unchecked, some scientists estimate we could reach this drastic tipping point as soon as 2100 , leaving us with only about 84 years before a mass die-off of human and animal life might occur. It’s important to note that this is an avoidable, although plausible, catastrophe: this doomsday scenario will only occur if we allow the world’s oceans to warm by a total of 6 degrees Celsius. Most climate scientists warn that to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change , global temperatures must be halted before they rise more than 2°C  above pre-industrial levels, and this is the goal recently adopted by the world’s nations at the Paris climate accord. Related: Runaway Global Emissions Make the Two-Degree Global Warming Limit Highly Unlikely That being said, the research is also showing that staying below the 2°C limit is increasingly unlikely unless global emissions can be slashed drastically, and the deals reached during the COP21 talks simply aren’t enough. The Climate Action Tracker , an independent group of European climate experts, estimates that current agreements will put eventual global temperatures at around 2.7°C , far lower than the scenario outlined in Petrovskii’s paper, but high enough to potentially trigger major sea level rise , destroy most coral reefs and glaciers , and permanently alter agricultural cycles around the world. In other words, though we’re currently on track to avoid an Earth with completely unbreathable air, we’re nowhere near where we need to be to avoid the worst effects of global climate change. Still, lawmakers must absolutely keep the possibility of this catastrophe in mind when crafting environmental policy. All life on Earth may depend on it. Via TakePart Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut

The cicadas are have arrived, blanketing Midwestern porches by the thousands

June 21, 2016 by  
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The iconic, spine-tingling line from Poltergeist, “They’re here…” is on the lips of wide-eyed mid-westerners during the deafening invasion of 17-year cicadas. Photos of one Mansfield, Ohio homeowner’s porch have gone viral , depicting piles and piles of discarded exoskeletons and deceased insects. The scene, to some, is like a real-life horror movie. Cicadas emerge from under the ground in broods. This particular brood is surfacing for the first time since 1999. Over the span of about six weeks they will shed their exoskeleton, mate, lay eggs, and then die. The thunderous mating call of millions of male cicadas is the biggest nuisance for humans, unless they show up on your doorstep. Richelle Smart, in northern Ohio, recently posted photos of thousands of bugs overtaking her porch. Her children dutifully helped sweep up the crunchy mounds, when they weren’t not jumping back at the sight of a live, bug-eyed cicada. Related: They’re coming… BILLIONS of cicadas to invade the northeast next month The cicadas’ presence may only be an annoyance to people, as they have a symbiotic relationship with Mother Nature. Laying eggs on tree branches promotes healthy pruning and the underground burrowing aerates the soil. The exoskeletons are returned to the Earth as nourishment, completing the cycle of life. If you are living in eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, southwest Pennsylvania, or some pockets of Virginia and Maryland, the beauty of nature may be the last thing on your mind. Luckily, once this brood takes care of their business, you won’t have to worry about them popping back up for another 17 years. Via  Daily Mail Images via  Wikimedia , Facebook

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The cicadas are have arrived, blanketing Midwestern porches by the thousands

Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

June 21, 2016 by  
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The FDA just approved the world’s first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine . The tests will determine whether or not the vaccine is safe for use in normal, healthy people – however, they will not be able to determine whether or not the vaccine prevents the disease. The vaccine, called GLS-5700, has been shown to cause a strong antibody response against the Zika virus in monkeys and mice. With any luck, the results of this new study will be available by the end of the year. The trial will be run by Inovio Pharmaceuticals , a company specializing in immunotherapy, and GeneOne Life Science , a DNA vaccine developer. It will begin in just a few short weeks, and it will include 40 adult subjects. If successful, the vaccine may be tested in people who have an existing Zika infection in later trials. GLS-5700 is what is known as a ” DNA vaccine ,” a relatively new approach to fighting disease. Instead of directly injecting parts of the infectious agent, it consists of DNA coded to produce a special protein that surrounds the Zika virus. The vaccine is injected the same way as a normal shot, and it’s also zapped with a device that delivers a short electrical pulse to help guide the DNA into the patient’s cells. Once this process is complete, the new DNA trains the immune system of the patient to fight the disease. Related: Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes are being released in the Cayman Islands to fight Zika This may be the first Zika vaccine approved for testing, but it isn’t the only one being developed. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is also in the process of developing a DNA vaccine , which may begin phase 1 testing as soon as August. However, it’s important to note that clinical testing is a long and complex process, and that it might still be years yet before either of these vaccines are ready for the mass market. Via The Verge Photos via Tom and Oregon State University

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Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

End of Century Temperatures to Exceed Pre-Industrial Levels by 4.8ºC Unless GHG Signficantly Reduced, Warns UN Climate Panel

April 15, 2014 by  
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Unless the world acts with a sense of urgency to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions , global warming is on pace to reach the catastrophic level of 4.8ºC above pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century. That is the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ‘s (IPCC) third and final Working Group report that is part of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on climate change . The report , titled “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change,” concludes that in order to keep global temperatures at or below the scientifically accepted maximum safe level of 2ºC above pre-industrial temperatures, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be reduced by up to 70 percent compared to 2010 levels by mid-century and near zero emissions must be reached by 2100. Read the rest of End of Century Temperatures to Exceed Pre-Industrial Levels by 4.8ºC Unless GHG Signficantly Reduced, Warns UN Climate Panel Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , 2 degrees Celsius , 4.8 degrees Celsius , carbon emissions , Climate Change , climate change mitigation , global warming , greenhouse gas emissions , IPCC , renewable energy , short-lived climate pollutants

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End of Century Temperatures to Exceed Pre-Industrial Levels by 4.8ºC Unless GHG Signficantly Reduced, Warns UN Climate Panel

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