An increasingly intense allergy season is linked to climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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If you’ve found that you’re having a particularly tough time breathing through this spring’s allergy season, you’re not alone. This season has been especially difficult throughout North America due to intense pollen production, and recent research has found that the problem may be linked to climate change . “Some research has suggested that the warming trend that we have in our environment is causing the pollen seasons to start a little bit earlier, and extend a little bit longer,” Dr. Stanley Fineman, former president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, told NBC News . “Consequently, patients are suffering because they’re exposed to pollen, for longer periods of time.” Winters that have been warmer and wetter than those in the past have combined with longer fall and spring seasons, contributing to an environment in which all manner of vegetation can produce greater amounts of pollen for longer periods of time. In  North America , oak, maple, and birch trees are currently producing plentiful amounts of pollen, as are poplar, alder and ash trees. Weeds and flowers, like dandelions, also contribute to the allergy season. Related: 5,000-year-old tree in Scotland is changing from male to female People are suffering from increased allergic symptoms because of the way we have dramatically altered the planet and our lifestyles. “Climate change, globalization, air pollution , and over-sanitization of the environment in the early years of life are just a few of the causes that, taken together, have introduced new allergens into our environment causing needless suffering,” medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York Dr. Clifford Bassett told NBC News . For those who are currently dealing with intense allergic symptoms or those who wish to avoid them, there are a few tips: use wraparound or large sunglasses to protect your eyes, wear a hat to prevent pollen from sticking to your hair, and choose your activities based on the weather report. Warm, dry, windy days typically have higher pollen counts than cloudy, wet days. Via NBC News Images via Depositphotos and   John Douglas/Flickr

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An increasingly intense allergy season is linked to climate change

California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

May 15, 2018 by  
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California is turning to dirt to help in the fight against climate change . The state’s  Healthy Soils Initiative draws on farming and land management techniques to build organic soil matter. The goal is to slash  greenhouse gas emissions and sequester more carbon . Multiple state departments and agencies, led by the state’s  Department of Food and Agriculture , are utilizing money from California’s  cap-and-trade program to target soil in the battle against climate change. According to the initiative’s website , around 75 percent “of the carbon pool on land” is found in soils, and about one quarter of the world’s  biodiversity  resides in soil. The initiative’s website quoted Governor Jerry Brown as saying, “As the leading agricultural state in the nation, it is important for California’s soils to be sustainable and resilient to climate change.” Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough How will the state boost soil health ? A 2016 action plan  pointed to agricultural practices like “planting cover crops, reducing tillage, retaining crop residue, managing grazing and adding compost .” Grist used farmer Doug Lo, who cultivates almond orchards, as an example. California is giving Lo $50,000 to try different techniques, such as putting composted manure around the trees and planting clover between the trunks as ground cover. In theory, the farming practices could help the soil absorb 1,088 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere yearly. “We’re trying to sequester some carbon,” Lo told Grist. “It should also help with the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the flowers in the cover crop should feed bees after the almond bloom is over.” + California Healthy Soils Initiative Via Grist Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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California’s Healthy Soil Initiative wants to use dirt to fight climate change

UK smashes days-old record, goes without coal for 76 hours

April 26, 2018 by  
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Just over a week ago, the United Kingdom set a new record: almost 55 hours without using coal . It didn’t take them long to shatter that record. CleanTechnica reported the country just went 76 hours without the polluting fuel — “for the first time since the 1880s,” according to a National Grid Twitter account . For the first time since the 1880s the UK electricity network has clocked up over 72 hours without the need for coal generation. This new record comes days after the first ever 48 hour period of no coal on the network. — National Grid Media (@Grid_Media) April 24, 2018 The country started their coal-free streak on Saturday, April 21, and went into Tuesday, April 24, ultimately going for 76 hours and 10 minutes, according to the UK Coal Twitter account . This may not be the last record the United Kingdom sets this year; Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit analyst Jonathan Marshall told The Guardian , “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two.” The final length of this record #coal free run was 76 Hours 10 minutes. Coal units are now back generating. pic.twitter.com/OauJREXzxN — UK Coal (@UK_Coal) April 24, 2018 Related: The UK just went for a record 55 hours without using coal What did the UK run on in the absence of coal? The Guardian put out a graphic showing the electricity mix from April 21 at 10 AM to April 24 at 10 AM; during that time 30.3 percent of power came from gas , 24.9 percent from wind , 23.3 percent from nuclear , 15.3 percent from biomass or other sources, and 6.2 percent from solar . Electrical engineer Andrew Crossland, who operates MyGridGB , cautioned against replacing coal with gas, telling The Guardian, “Shifting to gas is likely to make our electricity market more volatile as our energy price becomes increasingly locked to international gas markets. That will only hurt consumers.” More coal stations are shuttering — two plant owners in the country have said they’ll close this year, according to The Guardian. What will happen to those brownfield sites? The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit explored that question in a recent blog post from Marshall, who said one old power station could be transformed into a cruise ship terminal, another into housing, and others as logistics centers. At the time of writing, the UK was on another streak and had already gone 39 continuous hours without coal — could another record be over the horizon? Via CleanTechnica and The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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UK smashes days-old record, goes without coal for 76 hours

MIT study shows that China’s climate policy could "more than pay for itself"

April 23, 2018 by  
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Is China turning the tide on pollution ? The country stands to benefit not just environmentally, but financially as well. A new MIT study found if China reduces carbon dioxide emissions by four percent a year, the nation could net around $339 billion in health savings by the year 2030. That figure could be around four times what it would cost the country to achieve climate goals – in other words, according to MIT, “the country’s climate policy would more than pay for itself.” Fulfilling its international pledge to cut carbon emissions makes sense for China in many ways. Not only could the nation contribute significantly to the global battle against climate change (as it’s the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases) – but the health impacts for Chinese citizens could be huge. Improving air quality could avoid a considerable amount of deaths from air pollution in every province — and MIT put a dollar figure on the benefit to society: $339 billion. Related: China reports meeting its 2020 carbon intensity goals three years early MIT associate professor Noelle Eckley Selin co-authored the study published today in Nature Climate Change . In a statement, she said: “The country could actually come out net positive, just based on the health co-benefits associated with air quality improvements, relative to the cost of a climate policy. This is a motivating factor for countries to engage in global climate policy.” How did the team reach their figure? They developed a modeling approach called the Regional Emissions Air Quality Climate and Health framework, combining an energy -economic model and atmospheric chemistry model. They used the energy-economic model “to simulate how a given climate policy changes a province’s economic activity, energy use, and emissions of carbon dioxide and air pollutants.” They ran simulations under four scenarios: one with no policy and three with policies aiming to cut emissions through 2030 by three, four, and five percent a year. They then plugged in results into the atmospheric chemistry model and estimated particulate matter concentrations for provinces to help calculate the pollution communities are inhaling. Epidemiological literature helped them figure out how many deaths could be avoided. They calculated the economic value of the deaths, which they compared against the total cost of implementing a policy scenario. Their findings? In a no-policy scenario, by 2030 there would be over 2.3 million premature, pollution-related deaths. In the three, four, or five percent emissions reductions scenarios, China could respectively avoid 36,000, 94,000, and 160,000 premature deaths. The savings “gained as a result of health co-benefits equals $138.4 billion, $339.6 billion, and $534.8 billion, respectively,” according to MIT. + MIT Images via Diego Jimenez , Frak Lopez , and Manon Boyer on Unsplash

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MIT study shows that China’s climate policy could "more than pay for itself"

Forests as a climate solution? Yes, naturally

April 17, 2018 by  
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Sponsored: Forests clean air and water, provide economic well-being, support biodiversity, provide forest products that people depend on — and serve as the world’s oldest carbon storage technology. That’s worth talking about.

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Forests as a climate solution? Yes, naturally

North American climate boundary pushed 140 miles eastward by climate change

April 16, 2018 by  
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A historic climate boundary which marks the division between the humid eastern region of North America and the more arid western region has deviated 140 miles to the east of its original location — thanks to climate change . In a study recently published in  Earth Interactions ,  scientists identified three factors that contribute to the formation of the visible division between North American climatic zones: the Rocky Mountains’ ability to disrupt moisture from reaching inland, Atlantic winter storms and summertime humidity that rises northeast from the Gulf of Mexico. In the recent study, lead author and climate scientist Richard Seager of Columbia University sought to explore the boundary — and its history — as a prominent example of “ psychogeography ,” or the relationship between environmental conditions and human decision making. The climate boundary line that runs along the 100th meridian west was first marked in the late 19th century by  geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell. “Powell talked eloquently about the 100th meridian, and this concept of a boundary line has stayed with us down to the current day,” Seager said in a statement . “We wanted to ask whether there really is such a divide, and whether it’s influenced human settlement.” Related: The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news The 100th meridian climate boundary has affected historic development in the United States. Eastern lands have greater population density and infrastructure, and agriculture is dominated by corn , a moisture-loving plant. To the west of the divide, agriculture is dependent on larger farms with crops — such as wheat  — that flourish in arid regions, and urban development is generally more scarce. As climate change affects the historic rainfall and temperature trends of the region, the study predicts that human development will also adapt, with eastern farms adopting characteristics of those historically found west of the boundary line. “Unless farmers turn to irrigation or otherwise adapt, they will have to turn from corn to wheat or some other more suitable crop,” said Columbia University in a statement . “Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. Water supplies could become a problem for urban areas.” Via Yale Environment 360 Images via  Seager Et Al. and Depositphotos

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North American climate boundary pushed 140 miles eastward by climate change

Why natural gas makes global warming worse

April 9, 2018 by  
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Hint: it has to do with methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

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Why do automakers support climate rollbacks?

April 4, 2018 by  
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Ford, GM and Toyota have been touting their climate concern. Is it hype or hypocrisy?

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Why do automakers support climate rollbacks?

Why and how to work with your design team

April 4, 2018 by  
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You’ll find inspiration from woodworking.

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Why and how to work with your design team

Climate change is threatening the garment industry

March 27, 2018 by  
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Extreme weather in India is harming worker health and posing risks to women’s rights.

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Climate change is threatening the garment industry

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