Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

September 22, 2021 by  
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Activists in  New York  are trying to shame rich countries into keeping an expensive promise to the Global South. A new version of a digital “climate clock” displayed in Union Square shows a climate-action timeline along with an amount rich countries still owe. These richer countries promised to invest $100 billion annually in a global  green energy  fund to help developing nations. According to one photo taken of the digital clock, those countries are wondering about the whereabouts of the other roughly $90.5 billion promised this year. Related: NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming The climate clock forms part of the backdrop in which the United Nations General Assembly began its meeting in New York on Monday. The U.N. recently labeled the sorry state of our climate as a “code red for humanity.” According to the clock, we have about seven years and 300 days to slash emissions before facing the worst climate  emergency . “The new IPCC report sent a clear, unequivocal message: we are in a  climate  emergency, and without drastic corrective action on track for climate catastrophe,” said Laura Berry, Climate Clock research and advocacy director, in a statement, as reported by Common Dreams. The original climate clock was unveiled last September. Organizers of the display aren’t impressed by the progress made since then. They’re especially irate that the U.S. has failed to honor its  financial  obligations. “ Africa  needs countries like the U.S.—that are the greatest contributors to the problem—to also contribute the most to helping solve it,” said Climate Clock global ambassador Jerome Ringo. “The United States is only 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. We must contribute our fair share to the Green Climate Fund.” A lot of individuals and organizations are pessimistic about whether the richer countries will step up. Oxfam International estimated that “wealthy nations are expected to fall up to $75 billion short of fulfilling their longstanding pledge to mobilize $100 billion each year from 2020 to 2025 to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the dangerous effects of climate change and reduce their  emissions .” Via Common Dreams Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate clock ticks out shame for rich nations

California climate policy at risk in recall election

September 10, 2021 by  
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California may risk its climate reform progress in the upcoming recall elections. On September 14, California residents will vote to either affirm Governor Gavin Newsom or elect a new governor. Many worry that a loss for Newsom would prove detrimental to both the state and national fights against climate change. For a long time, California has positioned itself as a leader in the fight against climate change . Past governors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, and Newsom have enacted some substantial regulations to phase out fossil fuels. These gains may be lost if climate change deniers take office. Related: Petaluma becomes first US city to ban new gas stations Climate-friendly policies enacted by the past three regimes include shifting away from natural gas in home heating, limiting tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks, and requiring utilities to source 100% of their electricity from clean energy by 2045. California’s Air Resources Board has also been ordered to lower statewide emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Election rules state that if 50% of voters choose to recall, Newsom will lose his position as governor. In that case, the seat would go to whichever candidate earned the most votes, even if they didn’t get the majority of votes. Polls in the past week suggest growing support for Newsom. However, some remain skeptical due to competition. The leading Republican candidate, according to polls, is Larry Elder, a conservative radio host who has said that “ global warming alarmism is a crock.” Behind Elder is Republican businessman John Cox, who claims California’s climate policies are detrimental to the economy. Richard Frank, a professor of environmental law at the University of California, Davis, says “There’s the real potential for a huge shift in direction,” if Newsom loses the election. “California has had substantial influence over the direction of climate policy both nationally and internationally, and that could easily wane,” he added. Via The New York Times Lead image via Pixabay

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California climate policy at risk in recall election

The generational divides on climate anxiety

September 2, 2021 by  
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Different generations suffer from different anxieties, and those anxieties influence economic models. While Baby Boomers worry about rising inflation draining their retirement funds while they’re still aboveground, Gen Z is terrified that  climate change  means there will soon be no safe air to breathe nor water to drink. Older Americans suffer from price growth, which is the fastest it’s been for more than a decade. In a  Bankrate.com  survey published Wednesday, three-quarters of Baby Boomers said inflation has negatively impacted their  finances . Contrast that with 54% of Millennials and Gen Zers. Related: Biden unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and green economy plan Meanwhile, 37% of Gen Z called climate change a “top concern,” according to a Pew  Research  Center study. A third of Millennials agreed, while only 29% of Baby Boomers were as worried. Gen Zers are likelier to push for a green economy, inflation be damned. In that scenario, climate-friendly ventures would be rewarded, and those contributing to global warming, penalized. A  carbon  tax and a shift toward domestic production would have environmental upsides but could add to inflation. A new mental  health  issue, eco-anxiety, may further drive the green economy. While there’s not yet an official clinical diagnosis or definition, a team of clinicians is working on it. “The symptoms of clinical anxiety are the same,” said Navjot Bhullar, a professor of psychology at the University of New England in Australia, as reported by Verywell. “There’s a sense of dread or doom and not being able to concentrate, with a physical side of heart palpitations.” Of course, Gen Z is hardly the first generation to suspect the world was about to end. People have been predicting apocalyptic disasters throughout recorded history. Ever since World War Two, people have lived in fear of atomic bombs ending life on Earth. Generations who attended school between the 1950s and 1980s may remember practicing duck and cover drills, and some suffered from a mental health condition called nuclear anxiety. The difference this time? Well, the world does seem in more peril than ever, and we see the pollution, suffering, death and devastation on social media 24/7. That’s enough to spur climate dread in any generation. The green  economy  isn’t perfect. But it might be all we have. Via Business Insider , VeryWell Lead image via Ittmust

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The generational divides on climate anxiety

How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

August 26, 2021 by  
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Trees are nature’s lungs. While we enjoy their beauty, shade and fruits of their existence, they are silently working to clean the air. The natural process of all plants taking in carbon and releasing oxygen not only gives us clean air to breathe but also stores carbon that otherwise contributes to global warming . Countries around the world are in a race to find solutions for these types of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activities like driving cars and manufacturing goods. While the push for electric vehicles and renewable energy through  solar panels , wind power and hydroelectricity takes the spotlight, another part of the solution equation is growing all around us in the form of trees. Related: Three Americans’ lifetime emissions enough to kill one person The simple fact is, planting trees is an exceptional tool in the fight against climate change. With this in mind,  Compare The Market  has presented its most recent research on the number of trees capital cities around the world would need to plant annually to offset the carbon emissions they contribute to the atmosphere. The study is based on information available through the Global Carbon Atlas Global City Emissions dataset, which measures emissions levels. While major cities work to reverse, slow down and stop the creation of these carbon emissions, what is the estimated number of trees it would take to counterbalance them? Which countries are the highest contributors and which have the lowest  environmental  impact? According to the data, Asia has some work to do. Five of the ten top carbon-emitting capital cities are in Asia. Note that for comparative purposes, the dataset measures transport, industrial,  waste  and local power plants emissions within city boundaries. The report combined data to show the total amount of carbon produced alongside the number of trees it would take to offset it. For example, the five cities in Asia, which include Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, release a combined 219,506,539 tCO2 annually. The cities would have to plant 43,901,308 trees each year to offset those emissions. Individually, Beijing would need to plant 15,020,976 trees, followed by Singapore with 9,366,336 and Hong Kong with 8,975,292. Tokyo needs a 5,522,200-plant offset and Seoul 5,016,504. Other cities in the top 10 were Istanbul, Lagos, Santiago, London and Mexico City.  An energy spokesperson at Compare The Market comments, “Becoming carbon neutral is an essential goal for countries around the world, and as pledges roll in to reach this target by 2050 and beyond, immediate action is needed. One way we have studied is to offset emissions by planting trees which is great for absorbing CO2, with added benefits of supporting the ecosystem and  wildlife .” The tree offset calculation is based on information sourced from Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide emissions calculator. The estimates are based on the assumption that five  trees  planted can clean up each ton of carbon dioxide produced.  The study stated, “A tree planted in the humid tropics absorbs on average 50 pounds (22 kg) of carbon dioxide annually over 40 years – each tree will absorb 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime; but as trees grow, they compete for resources and some may die or be destroyed – not all will achieve their full carbon sequestration potential.” On the other end of the data spectrum are the countries performing better in the battle of low carbon emissions. For these results, a few substitutions were made in the face of missing data. Toronto, Milan and Basel were substituted to include Canada, Italy and Switzerland in the study. Reykjavik, Iceland was the least carbon-emitting capital in the study with total emissions of 346,630 tCO2 per year. The city would still have some work to do, planting 69,326 trees annually to offset its footprint. Of all the cities in the study, Reykjavik was the only one to come in below the 500,000 tCO2-produced mark. Even though nearly 70,000 is still a lot of trees, it was also the only city to have an estimate below 100,000 trees per year to offset carbon emissions. New Zealand took second place for carbon control with annual emissions of 621,179 tCO2. For Wellington to neutralize this, it will have to plant 124,236 trees a year. Basel, Switzerland, had the third-lowest number to plant at 156,786 trees to offset its 783,932 tCO2 footprint. Every other city in the study came in at over 200,000 trees a year. The study provides one tool in an array of options to reduce carbon release. Planting trees alone isn’t a sustainable solution, but neither is focusing solely on renewable energy or  recycling . To achieve goals set by world leaders, it will take a combination of actions across a range of environmental fields.  “The number of trees required may seem very high in cities like Beijing which would need to plant over 15 million trees, but this is if we only used plant power alone. There are many other initiatives and technologies in place, like the government incentives, which present lots of opportunities to offset carbon emissions on a small and large scale,” the spokesman said. + Compare The Market Images via Pixabay

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How many trees are needed to offset a city’s carbon emissions?

After 40 years, blue whales are returning to Spain

August 25, 2021 by  
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Blue whales have started returning to the coast of Spain 40 years after they vacated. The world’s largest mammals have been spotted on the coast of Galicia in northwest Spain several times since 2017. First, marine biologist Bruno Díaz spotted a blue whale in 2017, the first sighting of a blue whale in Galicia since the 1980s. In 2018, a different whale was spotted, followed by another in 2019. In 2020, two whales were spotted and identified by marine biologists as the ones from previous years. Just a week ago, a different blue whale was spotted off the Islas Cíes. Díaz says that blue whales vacated the coast of Spain due to human actions. Related: Humpback whales in Alaska thrive in absence of cruise ships “I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz said. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.” Spain enjoyed one of the most robust whaling industries for over a century before the ban. Unfortunately, by the time the ban arrived in 1986, blue whales in Spain were virtually extinct . The return of the blue whale to Spain may sound like good news to many, but some experts remain skeptical. Alfredo López, a marine biologist at a Galician NGO, says the whales’ return is likely due to climate change. “I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” López told the newspaper La Voz de Galicia. López worries that if the mammals are pushed further north of the equator due to global warming, they may run out of habitat in the future. Díaz has a different school of thought, arguing that other factors may influence blue whale migration . He notes that recent studies indicate whales migrate based on their memory of places they have been to before. He speculates that they may have remembered their ancestral home. “In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” Díaz said. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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After 40 years, blue whales are returning to Spain

The International Garden Festival presents new 2021 installations

August 23, 2021 by  
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Magic lies outside  is the theme of the annual International Garden Festival, which aims to “bring us hope, to exalt creativity and to add colour to this world that is struggling to overcome this global pandemic and to come out of several months of confinement.” Now in its 22nd year, the 2021 edition at Reford Gardens in Quebec , Canada features five new installations, submitted from Canada, the United States, France and Sweden. These additions extend the current gardens, creating an outdoor museum of art. Related: Casa CBC incorporates greenery at every level   Choose Your Own Adventure Balmori Associates from New York present this work, inspired by the effects of global warming . The fight against climate change, coupled with the impact of the pandemic, drove the team to rethink the human/nature connection.  This contemplation is represented in simple lines of  plants  crisscrossing with hard materials. The message simplifies our relationship with the soil, water, air, plants and animals. Choose Your Own Adventure sets out to encourage visitors to feel the hot ground underfoot, smell the moisture or dryness in the air and hear the crunch of gravel as they walk. Hässja Architect Emil Bäckström from Stockholm, Sweden presents Hässja, a traditional hay-drying technique that offers shelter and a connection to nature. Each of the three structures is made up of millions of pieces of straw, transforming a once-living grass into a cozy and protected space for contemplating the resurgent need to intermingle human needs with those of nature. A press release explains the installation by saying, “The covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot. It has exposed a disconnection from nature, agriculture and the importance of biodiversity . All around the globe, a regained interest in traditional, sustainable ways of inhabiting the earth is emerging.” Miroirs Acoustiques Presented by landscape architects Emmanuelle Loslier and Camille Zaroubi from Montreal (Quebec) Canada , Miroirs Acoustiques gives visitors the chance to experience sound in a newly presented way. Inspired by sound mirrors used across the coast of Great Britain during WWI to detect approaching enemy aircraft, the installation allows sounds to bounce and focus, amplifying them via two parabolic reflectors ( recycled  aluminum antennas) planted in the ground. Open Space A team of architectural interns for Quebec, Canada (Gabriel Lemelin, Francis Gaignard, Sandrine Gaulin) delivers an open space in the outdoors . The premise is a completely unboxed house, loaded with endless possibilities. It not only provides an open space but a way for the mind to openly roam with new consideration for the doors, staircases, windows and walls around us every day. Porte-bonheur David Bonnard, DE-HMONP architect, Laura Giuliani, landscaper, and Amélie Viale, visual artist, represent Lyon, Villefranche-sur-Saône and Lissieu, France with Porte-bonheur, an installation about reopening the doors firmly shut during the pandemic lockdowns. “Porte Bonheur is a rite of passage between reality and potentiality. The installation invites visitors to dare to throw open the door, cross thresholds, go outside and explore their surroundings with all the wonder of a small child.” The Reford Gardens will be open daily from May 29 to October 3, 2021, in addition to being accessible to members in the low season. + Jardins de Métis Images via JC Lemay, Martin Bond, Nancy Guignard and Antoine Proulx

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The International Garden Festival presents new 2021 installations

Greenland’s ice melt enough to cover Florida in water

August 2, 2021 by  
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Greenland’s vast ice sheets are melting away at an alarming rate, according to a recent report. As reported by the Danish government, the ice sheet lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on Tuesday alone. On Thursday, another 8.4 billion tons were lost thanks to high temperatures. The melting experienced on Tuesday released enough water to cover the entire state of Florida in two inches of water. This meltdown has caused concern, as continued large-scale melting of Greenland’s ice could lead to flooding in coastal cities worldwide. Related: Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia While speaking to the Guardian, Marco Tedesco, a glacier expert at Columbia University, said that the current melting rate will likely accelerate future ice melting . “It’s a very high level of melting and it will probably change the face of Greenland, because it will be a very strong driver for an acceleration of future melting, and therefore sea-level rise.” Currently, Greenland is experiencing record temperatures, with a reading of 19.8 degrees Celcius (roughly 67 degrees Fahrenheit) recorded last Wednesday. Although it is normal for the region to experience warmer temperatures this time of year, this year’s temperatures have been a notch higher. The high temperatures led to the melting of seasonal ice, exposing darker core ice, which is also melting. “The snow is like a protective blanket so once that’s gone you get locked into faster and faster melting, so who knows what will happen with the melting now. It’s amazing to see how vulnerable these huge, giant areas of ice are. I’m astonished at how powerful the forces acting on them are,” Tedesco said. Tedesco adds that the current atmospheric events, while normal, are becoming longer and frequent. Greenland warms up when high pressure sucks warm air from further south and holds it over parts of the country. Usually, Greenland’s melting season starts in June and runs to August. According to recent data released by the Danish government, more than 100 billion tons of ice have been lost since June this year. While this year’s ice melt is less than that experienced in 2019, when 11 billion tons of ice were lost in a single day, the area affected is much bigger. The prolonged season is also a major concern. Via EcoWatch and The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Dragonflies are losing their color due to climate change

July 13, 2021 by  
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A  new study  published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that dragonflies are losing key features due to climate change . The study has established that global warming is causing male dragonflies to lose their color, a feature used to attract mates. The study was lead and co-authored by Michael Moore, an evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis. In the study, researchers analyzed over 300 dragonfly species from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. They also cross-referenced wing colors between about 2,700 individual dragonflies from different locations and climates. It was found that male dragonflies were losing their wing colors due to increasing global temperatures.  Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life “Our research shows that males and females of these dragonfly species are going to shift in pretty different ways as the climate changes,” Moore said in an interview. “These changes are going to happen likely on a much faster timescale than the evolutionary changes in these species have ever occurred before.” A  different study  done in 2019 found that male dragonflies with darker wing patterns thrive in colder conditions. The darker pigmentation absorbs more heat and is likely to increase their body temperature by 2 degrees Celsius. In contrast, they tend to give away their color to adapt to higher temperatures.  “Evolutionary changes and wing coloration are a really consistent way that dragonflies adapt to their climates ,” Moore said. “This got us wondering what the role of evolutionary changes in wing coloration might be as dragonflies respond to the rise in global temperatures.” While the study raises serious concerns about the future of dragonflies and mating, the researchers are unable to explain the changes experienced in female dragonflies. According to Moore, female dragonflies usually do not show drastic changes to climate change, and when they do, it is the opposite of what happens to male dragonflies. In other words, female dragonflies may get darker as temperatures rise. “We don’t yet know what’s driving these evolutionary changes in female wing coloration,” Moore said. “But one of the very important things that this indicates is that we shouldn’t assume that males and females are going to respond to climatic conditions in exactly the same way.” Via CNN Lead image via Pixabay

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Dragonflies are losing their color due to climate change

A tropical forest will soon grow in Helsinki and provide all the citys heat

July 13, 2021 by  
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A design proposal for a series of tropical islands has just won the Helsinki Energy Challenge. The goal of this contest is to decarbonize heating systems in the capital city by 2030. Projects like Hot Heart by Carlo Ratti Associati are going to make that happen. Hot Heart is a series of islands that store thermal energy and can support tropical forest ecosystems from all over the world. The islands are actually 10 basins that are cylindrical in shape. Each measures almost 740 feet in diameter. The basins serve as hot water reservoirs that are capable of storing millions of gallons of water . The system works like a thermal battery. Related: CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil Four of the 10 reservoirs are enclosed in transparent domes, and this is where the floating forests will thrive. These tropical ecosystems will serve as social gathering spots, and the domes will be warm even during the harsh Helsinki winters. Imagine sitting in a rainforest during the coldest day in Helsinki! Here are the basics of how it works: seawater heat pumps convert wind and solar power into heat, which is stored in the Hot Heart reservoirs. An AI system controls the production and consumption of thermal energy and will help to stabilize the national energy grid. In fact, the system is expected to provide for all of Helsinki’s heating needs by the end of the decade. It will produce zero carbon emissions. The cost? It will be 10% lower than present-day heating costs. The Hot Heart project is expected to be fully implemented in 2028. The proposal was developed by Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) in collaboration with Ramboll, OP Financial Group, Danfoss Leanheat, Transsolar, Schneider Electric, schlaich bergermann partner and Squint/Opera. Once complete, this will be the largest infrastructural facility of its kind. The idea was inspired by a Finnish concept of Jokamiehen Oikeudet, meaning that everyone has the right to relax and enjoy nature. Harnessing nature’s energy to provide carbon-free heating solutions is definitely a great way to enjoy the natural world. This design also still respects the environment even while harnessing energy thanks to the tropical biomes and the zero-emission design. + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via CRA

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A tropical forest will soon grow in Helsinki and provide all the citys heat

Heat waves are damaging bird eggs during incubation

June 29, 2021 by  
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The latest heat waves are concerning for birds, whose eggs could be damaged from the skyrocketing temperatures. When extremely higher-than-normal temperatures occur in a region and prevail for several days, there is a possibility that bird eggs may not be able to incubate. Scientists are warning that such instances may drive vulnerable bird species out of existence. According to a study, a heat wave during the peak of Australia’s summer in February 2017 saw almost all zebra finch eggs fail to incubate. The maximum air temperature stayed above 40°C (104°F) for eight days straight. Ideally, zebra finches incubate their eggs at about 36°C to 38°C. Related: Record-breaking heat waves ravaging the West are not normal, scientists warn “The temperatures that killed these embryos, they are obviously just too much for the embryos to take,” Simon Griffith, professor and researcher at Macquarie University in Australia, told EcoWatch reporter Richa Malhotra. Griffith, who was part of a larger study group, said that his team visited hundreds of nests to monitor the status of the eggs before, during and after the heatwave. They tested the eggs to feel the heartbeat of the embryos. “Before the heatwave, we could still see the heartbeat and then after these two or three days of heat when we checked the eggs, the heartbeat had stopped,” Griffith said. Tragically, only 23 out of 25 egg clutches managed to hatch. This resulted in just two egg hatchings out of 100. Even more alarming is the fact that the hatched chicks also died a few days later. According to Griffith, zebra finches are well-adapted birds that can survive in extremely harsh climates. Further, they can lay eggs frequently and at any time of the year. But he warns that the same scenario could be replicated for other bird species , particularly as temperatures continue to climb. Andrew McKechnie of the South African National Biodiversity Institute said, “Widespread heat-related mortality of eggs, similar to that documented here, should be of particular concern for threatened species .” In 2020, McKechnie documented the deaths of more than 100 birds and bats in South Africa following a single day of extreme heat . The majority of the birds that died were songbirds, despite their tolerance to high temperatures. Griffith explained things are likely to get worse as the globe becomes hotter . However, he also believes that birds may adapt and be able to tolerate higher temperatures where water is available. The problem is that the high temperatures are threatening existing water sources. “Where there will be problems is where there is no water,” Griffith said. Via EcoWatch Image via William Warby

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Heat waves are damaging bird eggs during incubation

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