CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

October 30, 2017 by  
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2016 was a year for breaking records — and not all of them were good. Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest month in the modern temperature record – and a new report shows that CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere hit their highest point in 800,000 years. “The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent,” said the report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Every year, the Geneva-based organization compiles data for its annual greenhouse gas report. While reviewing 2016’s data, it cited a combination of “human activities” and “a strong El Niño event” as the reasons why CO2 levels increased so abruptly. CNN reports that the last time Earth experienced similar levels of concentrated CO2 in the atmosphere was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and the sea level was 10-20 meters higher than it is now. “Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions , we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.” In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement , which outlines specific emissions targets each nation must meet to prevent climate change from worsening. The United States, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, is the only developed nation that hasn’t agreed to join the Paris accord. As a result, some US states have joined together and set their own emissions goals that are in line with the Paris treaty. Related: The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut In October, the UN Environment Programme will release a separate Emissions Gap Report. This report keeps track of the policy commitments each country has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also analyzes how present policies will meet 2030 goals. “The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed,” said Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme. “The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy , but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.” + World Meteorological Organization Via CNN Images via Pexels, Pixabay

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CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

Beyond the Messy Truth with Van Jones

October 3, 2017 by  
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The CNN political commentator and founder of Dream Corps discusses how to communicate with people with different political and personal world views.

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Beyond the Messy Truth with Van Jones

Getting from Here to the Utility of the Future — An Industry View

October 3, 2017 by  
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Senior executives from three very different U.S. utilities discuss their respective visions for the future of utilities — specifically, the energy transition issues they are dealing with locally and nationally, and what it will take for corporations and local governments to work collaboratively with utilities to advance a clean energy economy. The conversation will also include a focus on how innovations within the power sector — including technologies and business models — are spurring significant opportunities for all industry stakeholders.

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Getting from Here to the Utility of the Future — An Industry View

Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

September 18, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Maria , which is forecasted to slam into Puerto Rico and neighboring islands within hours, has officially strengthened into a Category 3 storm. This means that within the past 24 hours, it has doubled in strength and sustained winds of 120 mph. In preparation for the storm, Puerto Rico’s government has declared a “state of emergency” and is calling for citizens and to evacuate to safer locations. The hurricane is only expected to strengthen up to 150 mph until it makes landfall. CNN reports that as of 11 a.m. ET, the hurricane was approximately 60 miles east of Martinique. Maria is expected to make landfall at about 8 p.m. ET in the northeast Caribbean Leeward Islands — particularly St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, and Martinique. This is the first time in 85 years Puerto Rico is expected to suffer a direct landfall from a Category 4 hurricane . As a result, the country’s government has declared a “state of emergency” and governor Ricardo Rosselló has ordered evacuations. Said Rosselló, “Our call is for people to evacuate areas that are prone to floods and landslides, in addition to vulnerable structures. It is time to seek refuge with a family member, friend, or move to a state shelter because rescuers will not go out and risk their lives once winds reach 50 miles per hour.” The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has warned, “A dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 5 to 7 feet above normal tide levels near where the center of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands.” Some areas are expected to receive up to 20 inches of rain, others approximately 12 inches. “Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” said the NHC. Related: New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse Puerto Rico was the haven thousands fled to in preparation for Hurricane Irma . Now, those evacuees and native Puerto Ricans are preparing to be slammed by another devastating storm. If Maria is as damaging as forecasted, it will be “more dangerous than Hugo and Georges.” Hurricane Hugo took the lives of five people in Puerto Rico in 1989, and Hurricane Georges went down in the textbooks for causing more than $1.7 billion in damage to the island in 1998 . Via CNN Images via Pixabay , National Hurricane Center , NASA

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Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Maria bears down on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

Hurricane Jose strengthens to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4

September 8, 2017 by  
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Hot on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is yet another natural disaster, Hurricane Jose. The “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane is located east of the Leeward Islands and is forecasted to transit west-northwest into the Atlantic Ocean in the coming days. This is the first time in history two hurricanes with 150-plus mph winds have been recorded at the same time. According to the National Hurricane Center , Jose has sustained winds near 150 mph.  As a result, Antigua, Barbuda and Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy — islands that were just battered by Hurricane Irma — are now on a Hurricane Watch as of Friday at 11 a.m. When Irma passed over Barbuda, a tiny Caribbean island of 1,800 residents, 95 percent of the buildings were destroyed, said Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Cuba and south Florida are now preparing for the destruction Irma is expected to unleash. Related: This image of Hurricane Irma from space will blow your mind This is the first time on record two hurricanes with 150-plus mph winds have been recorded at the same time, said Colorado State University meteorologist  Philip Klotzbach . And, it turns out humans deserve most of the blame. For years, scientists have warned that unsustainable habits would exacerbate climate change , resulting in melting glaciers, rising sea levels , and worsening natural disasters due to increased precipitation and a few other factors. The only silver lining from this situation might be that the events inspire more people to invest in sustainable initiatives. + National Hurricane Center Via CNN Images via National Hurricane Center, Pixabay

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Hurricane Jose strengthens to an "extremely dangerous" Category 4

Hurricane Harvey may have totaled up to 500,000 cars

August 30, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Harvey didn’t just devastate homes and businesses – it may also have totaled up to half a million cars. An estimated 500,000 Texan vehicles will likely be scrapped, leading to a massive sales wave of new and used cars in the near future. Compared to the fallout of other major storms, such as Hurricane Sandy , the density of totaled vehicles in Houston is staggering. Cox Automotive — the company behind Kelly Blue Book and Autotrader — told CNBC that nearly 500,000 vehicles are likely to be totaled. Reportedly, “scores” of trucks and cars had water up to their windows and, in some cases, over the hood and roof. Said Jonathon Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, “This is worse than Hurricane Sandy . Sandy was bad, but the flooding with Hurricane Harvey could impact far more vehicles.” 250,000 vehicles were scrapped in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy battered New York and New Jersey. Related: 1,200 dead, millions homeless due to flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh Whenever a hurricane hits, it leaves a legacy of damaged property, industrial waste, raw sewage, and oil spills – and the repercussions of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for many months. According to Ryan Maue with Weatherbell, 11 trillion gallons of rain dumped on the state during the actual storm ; by the time the weather dissipates completely, that number is expected to increase to 25 trillion gallons of rain. In total, 30,000 people sought temporary shelter and 450,000 are expected to seek assistance from FEMA . Via Jalopnik , CNN , CNBC Images via Defense.gov

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Hurricane Harvey may have totaled up to 500,000 cars

Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals

May 23, 2017 by  
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Before heading to the beach, most people make sure to pack a bottle of sunscreen. After all, the ultraviolet rays can be seriously damaging and no one wants to get  skin cancer . But it turns out some ingredients in hundreds of common sunscreens don’t work as well as advertised, according to a new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Additionally, 73 percent of 880 sunscreens that were tested contain “worrisome” ingredients people may not want to slather on their skin. Authors of the report , which was released on Tuesday, examined the SPF protection, chemical ingredients and overall safety and effectiveness of numerous sunscreens , moisturizers, and lip balms. Then, they compiled a list of the best- and worst-rated products to help consumers make the best – and healthiest – choices when preparing to have fun in the sun. Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the environmental advocacy group and lead scientist of the 2017 Sunscreens Guide, said of the findings, “Sunscreens are really mismarketed, and as a result, people who depend on them think they are far more powerful than they really are.” According to dermatologist Dr. Dawn Davis, who did not participate in the report and works at the Mayo Clinic, the SPF is a ratio of how long a person without sunscreen can be in the sun without becoming red. In his own words, “if you’re standing on the equator at high noon and it would usually take your skin one minute without sunscreen to become red and irritated, SPF 15 means you can stand in that same sun exposure for 15 minutes.” Related: Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens Most sunscreen brands offer products with high SPF, sometimes even over 100. Thought to be beneficial, they are actually misleading, says Lunder. “People who buy high-SPF products are more likely to get burned because they assume they’re getting better and longer-lasting protection,” she said. It is for this reason that she supports the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation to choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 (which would block 97% of UVB rays) and suggests one reapply it every few hours. SPF protection can also vary, depending on its age, how it has been stored and lab tests find that SPF levels can vary wildly. There is also something to be said about the questionable ingredients in certain sunscreens. While most chemicals in the product create a barrier to prevent damage from UV rays, other chemicals create damaging effects. Two ingredients, in particular, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, consumers should avoid. According to Lunder, oxybenzone “is a hormone disruptor that mimics body hormones and affects reproductive tract and other hormones.” And Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, has been linked to the development of skin tumors under direct UV light. More research needs to be conducted on the latter, but authors of the report advise consumers to avoid sunscreens that contain both ingredients. All in all, the report recommends sunscreen products that are safe and offer adequate sun protection. The EWG says outdoor enthusiasts should look for three things: an SPF between 30 and 50 to protect from UVB rays, zinc oxide and titanium oxide to ward off UVA rays, and no oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. + Environmental Working Group Via CNN Images via  Bella Mecia , Pixabay

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Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals

FBI investigates claims Russia has information compromising Trump

January 11, 2017 by  
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating allegations that Russian agents possess compromising financial and personal information about President-elect Donald Trump , reports CNN . The news organization said memos providing the classified information haven’t been “independently corroborated,” but it appears the FBI was at least aware of such damaging allegations before the United States election. Trump, President Obama , and eight members of Congress reportedly received a two-page summary on the allegations that also included claims Trump surrogates exchanged information with Russian government intermediaries during Trump’s campaign. The two-page summary was compiled mainly from memos prepared by a former British intelligence agent. U.S. intelligence officials believe past work from this agent is credible. The FBI will now delve into the accuracy and credibility of the allegations from the memos, which contain information coming from Russian sources, but CNN notes “many essential details” in the memos have not yet been confirmed. Although Buzzfeed published the memos, CNN did not. Related: Trump calls for more nuclear weapons in alarming new tweet The former British agent, who during the 1990’s was posted to Russia, now operates his own private intelligence firm. CNN reports donors and groups backing Republican opposition to Trump initially funded the former agent’s investigations into the President-elect. After Trump nabbed the Republication nomination, donors and groups backing Hillary Clinton funded further investigations. It appears the FBI knew about the compromising memos during the summer; the former British agent gave memos to an FBI official in August 2016 in Rome, reports CNN. The news organization also said Senator John McCain delivered memos dated from June to December 2016 to FBI Director James Comey on December 9. FBI and Director of National Intelligence spokespersons did not comment. CNN said officials they talked with spoke off the record as the information is classified. Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Late Night with Seth Meyers that the memos are untrue. And predictably, Trump ranted on Twitter about “fake news.” Via CNN Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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FBI investigates claims Russia has information compromising Trump

Trump breaks campaign pledge by asking Congress for money to build Mexico border wall

January 9, 2017 by  
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In a direct contradiction to his campaign promise, President-Elect Donald Trump recently said that he will ask congress for funds to build a wall across the U.S. – Mexico border. The move breaks with Trump’s repeated campaign promise that he would make Mexico pay for the wall by October 2017. Meanwhile, Mexico’s leaders have maintained they will, under no circumstances, pay for the wall. CNN reports that Trump’s transition team signaled on Friday to congressional Republican leaders that he would prefer to pay for the border wall through the appropriations process. Under attack for the reneging, Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning and said he wants to use congressional appropriations to speed the building process along. “The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” Trump tweeted Friday, according to CNN . Chris Collins, a New York Republican and congressional liaison for Trump’s transition team says Trump has all the cards he needs in his hand to win negotiations with Mexico and get the fronted Congress money back. “When you understand that Mexico’s economy is dependent upon US consumers, Donald Trump has all the cards he needs to play,” Collins told CNN.”On the trade negotiation side, I don’t think it’s that difficult for Donald Trump to convince Mexico that it’s in their best interest to reimburse us for building the wall.” Related: Mexican designers envision Trump’s border wall in “all its gorgeous perversity.” Trump’s team says it has the authority it needs to build the wall via a G.W. Bush-era 2016 law, but they currently don’t have the money to build it. So they want the money to fund the project tacked on to the bill that allows them to build it. Via CNN Images via Wikipedia and Gage Skidmore

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Trump breaks campaign pledge by asking Congress for money to build Mexico border wall

President Obama says we’ll be heading to Mars by the 2030s

October 11, 2016 by  
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President Barack Obama  is setting his sights towards  Mars . Recently, the president penned an opinion piece for CNN on the future of space exploration in America. In it, he talked of the scientific research he’s invested in during his presidency, and his belief that humans could reach the red planet “by the 2030s.” “I still have the same sense of wonder about our space program that I did as a child,” President Obama said. “It represents an essential part of our character – curiosity and exploration, innovation and ingenuity, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and doing it before anybody else.” Related: Leonardo DiCaprio could be headed to Mars with SpaceX President Obama recalled his vow “to return science to its rightful place” in his first presidential address. He detailed the accomplishments America’s space program has achieved since, such as finding water on Mars , taking some of the best images of Pluto ever, and finding Earth-like planets . He said only America can claim to have “flown by every planet in the solar system.” Even as such thrilling discoveries are made, the president said “the cost of space exploration” keeps going down for taxpayers. Linked to thriving space exploration is STEM education. According to President Obama, 100,000 engineers are now graduating each year “from American schools.” The president’s goal is to train 100,000 new quality STEM teachers in 10 years, and he said we are “on track” to reach that goal. President Obama referred to today’s students as “the Mars generation.” He said initially the goal will be to send humans to Mars and then return them to Earth, with a long term goal of astronauts remaining on Mars. He held out the hope he would witness that day with his grandchildren on his shoulders, as he once sat on his grandfather’s shoulders “waving a flag as our astronauts returned to Hawaii.” Via CNN Images via Daniel Borman on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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President Obama says we’ll be heading to Mars by the 2030s

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