Earth Day Quiz #3: Exercise Your Eco-Muscles

April 18, 2018 by  
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Who was the first scientist to explain how global warming … The post Earth Day Quiz #3: Exercise Your Eco-Muscles appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth Day Quiz #3: Exercise Your Eco-Muscles

The largest fire in Greenland’s history warns of an extreme future

April 13, 2018 by  
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The largest wildfire in Greenland ‘s history burned bright last summer, a potential warning sign for a future rattled by catastrophic climate change . Scientists are concerned that Greenland’s massive ice sheet may absorb the black carbon smog produced by the fires, as well as by any fires that occur in the future. One-third of the ice sheet has been affected by the soot from the wildfire, which accelerates heat absorption and glacial melting. “I think it’s a warning sign that something like this can happen on permafrost that was supposed to be melting at the end of the century,” rather than the present, Andreas Stohl, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU),  told Live Science . The fire burned about 90 miles northeast of Sisimiut, Greenland’s second largest city, and some suspect it was started by human activity. However, it is possible for  peat in oxygen-rich conditions to spontaneously combust, even when temperatures are low. In total, the wildfire burned about nine square miles of land. Of particular interest to scientists at NILU was the impact that soot might have as it landed on the ice sheets. “If you consider that Greenland has the largest ice sheet, apart from Antarctica , it immediately triggers some thinking,” NILU scientist Nikolaos Evangeliou told Live Science . Related: Scientists puzzle over subterranean heat melting Greenland’s glaciers Computer modeling enabled the NILU team to determine that seven tons of black carbon, approximately 30 percent of the total emissions produced by the fire , landed on the ice sheet . Ultimately, this amount of soot had a relatively small impact, less so even than that of North American wildfires that deposited soot across the sea to Greenland. Nonetheless, the fire may forecast larger ones in Greenland’s future. “If larger fires would burn, they would actually have a substantial impact on melting,” explained Stohl. Fires in Greenland potentially can also continue burning underground even when the surface fires have abated. “We cannot actually be sure that the fires (in Greenland) are out,” said Stohl. Via Live Science Images via NASA Earth Observatory

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The largest fire in Greenland’s history warns of an extreme future

69% of Republicans believe global warmings seriousness is generally exaggerated

April 3, 2018 by  
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Have people changed their minds about global warming after President Donald Trump, infamous for his climate change denial, has spent a year in office? Gallup conducted their annual survey regarding the environment in early March, finding  that Americans’ thoughts on the topic “have increasingly become politically polarized” — and  Trump might have contributed to the divide. In 2017, 66 percent of Republicans thought “the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated.” In 2018, that number is now up to 69 percent. In contrast, four percent of Democrats think global warming is exaggerated, down from 10 percent last year. This is just one of Gallup’s findings — they said Americans’ concerns on the topic aren’t that different from last year, but some partisan views have shifted. They conducted telephone interviews between March 1 and 8 “with a random sample of 1,041 adults” residing in Washington, D.C. and all 50 states. Related: Despite Trump’s rhetoric, US officials are still working to stop climate change Is Trump to blame for the divide? Gallup said he may have contributed “by reversing a number of government actions to address the issue.” The announcement to pull America out of the Paris Agreement is perhaps the most notorious example; others include “the removal of climate change from the list of top U.S. national security threats and the elimination of the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ from U.S. government websites and lexicons,” according to Gallup. 66 percent of Americans would “say most scientists believe global warming is occurring;” 64 percent say human activities caused the dilemma. These numbers fell a little from those in 2017; Gallup pinned that phenomenon on increased political polarization during the last year. Not all the numbers have dipped — 45 percent of Americans in 2018 “think global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime,” up from 42 percent in 2017. Gallup said the bottom line is that Americans’ higher level of concern over global warming, shown since 2016, remains largely intact. + Gallup News Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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69% of Republicans believe global warmings seriousness is generally exaggerated

Shell oil just unveiled a plan to move the world away from fossil fuels

March 27, 2018 by  
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Royal Dutch Shell just laid out a proposal to move us away from its own product. The company’s Sky Scenario is a plan to help the world meet the goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement . The plan would shift people away from oil and towards hydrogen and electric transportation in order to keep global warming under the 2 degree limit that most scientists think is the tipping point for climate change . As weird as it is for an oil company to suggest moving away from fossil fuels, Shell is putting its money where its mouth is. Last October, the company purchased an electric car charging company, a major natural gas company, and it’s working on carbon capture and storage technology through its Quest and Gorgon projects. Related: BP and Shell prepare for catastrophic climate change Shell’s Sky scenario details a way in which the world can shift from oil to other technologies by 2070. The proposal suggests addressing growing global energy needs by moving to clean electricity like solar and wind, replacing gas guzzlers with electric vehicles – particularly semi-trucks – and focusing on fuels like biofuel and hydrogen. “The relevant transformations in the energy and natural systems require concurrent climate policy action and the deployment of disruptive new technologies at mass scale within government policy environments that strongly incentivize investment and innovation,” the company said. Via The Washington Post Images via Shell and Deposit Photos

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Land degradation could displace 50 to 700 million people by 2050

March 27, 2018 by  
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Land decay is undermining the well-being of two-fifths of all the people on Earth, or around 3.2 billion people , according to an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) three-year assessment, penned by over 100 experts hailing from 45 countries. It’s the first comprehensive land health assessment, according to Agence France Presse (AFP) — and assessment co-chair Robert Scholes of South Africa said land degradation is “pushing the planet towards a sixth mass extinction .” Human activity is driving dangerous land degradation — specifically quick expansion and unsustainable management of crop and grazing lands, according to IPBES. They said land decay has hit critical levels, impacting food security , water purification, and energy. The impacts of land degradation can be glimpsed in loss of biodiversity , declining animal populations, deforestation , and loss of soil health, to name a few. The assessment also says land degradation contributes to climate change . Related: Substantial swaths of globe face desertification without climate action — new study Grazing and crop lands sprawl across one third of the planet’s land surface, with under 25 percent of that surface escaping significant impacts of human activity, according to IPBES, although scientists estimate that figure will plunge to under 10 percent by 2050. As the population grows, there will be an even higher demand for food and biofuels , and researchers think pesticide and fertilizer use could double by 2050. Scholes said around four billion people will reside in drylands in a little over 30 years, and by then land degradation and climate change could force “50 to 700 million people to migrate.” Social instability could be a consequence of decreasing land productivity; “particularly in dryland areas, where years with extremely low rainfall have been associated with an increase of up to 45 percent in violent conflict.” The researchers pointed to an array of options for land restoration; for example, planting native species , developing green infrastructure like parks , or river channel restoration in urban locations. IPBES’s statement said humanity can attempt to avoid agricultural expansion into native habitats by increasing yields on farmlands that already exist and by shifting toward eating habits that don’t degrade land to the same extent, such as  plant-based diets. IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson said, “Of the many valuable messages in the report, this ranks among the most important: implementing the right actions to combat land degradation can transform the lives of millions of people across the planet, but this will become more difficult and more costly the longer we take to act.” + Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Via Agence France Presse Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2 )

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Land degradation could displace 50 to 700 million people by 2050

Arnold Schwarzenegger to sue Big Oil for "killing people all over the world"

March 12, 2018 by  
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Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will soon file a lawsuit against major oil companies for their decades-long contributions to climate change and environmental degradation. Schwarzenegger, who specifically called out Big Oil for “knowingly killing people all over the world,” is working with several private law firms and developing a public plan for his lawsuit. Announced at the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, the news comes as Schwarzenegger prepares to host a major environmental conference in Vienna , Austria, his native land. Schwarzenegger hopes to repeat the success of a similar legal crusade against the tobacco industry. “This is no different from the smoking issue,” he said. “The tobacco industry knew for years and years and years and decades, that smoking would kill people, would harm people and create cancer, and were hiding that fact from the people and denied it. Then eventually they were taken to court and had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of that. The oil companies knew from 1959 on, they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels , and on top of it that it would be risky for people’s lives, that it would kill.” Related: Schwarzenegger-backed startup takes on Tesla with new battery tech Schwarzenegger believes that the oil companies have a duty to the public to inform them of the risks of consumption. “It’s absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco,” he said. “Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it, every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it.” Regardless of the lawsuit’s ultimate success, Schwarzenegger hopes to at least shine a light on the issue, using harsh words to describe the allegedly guilty party. “I don’t think there’s any difference,” he said. “If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies”. Via Politico Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Arnold Schwarzenegger to sue Big Oil for "killing people all over the world"

New research reveals that sea levels could rise 1.5 inches every year

February 13, 2018 by  
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You know how we’ve been freaking out about how quickly global warming is causing ice to melt and sea levels to rise? Turns out, we weren’t panicking nearly enough. New satellite data shows that sea levels will continue to rise at a pace that is much faster than anyone predicted – at least 1.5 inches PER YEAR. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed 25 years of satellite data from across the planet to determine how far sea levels have risen, and how much more they may rise in the near future. According to their findings, in the past 25 years, sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches. At the current rate of acceleration, sea levels will be 2 feet higher by 2100. Related: New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse The rise is being caused by warming oceans and melting glaciers and ice sheets. The recent acceleration, according to the study, is the result of melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. The predicted sea level rise of 2 feet by century’s end may not be catastrophic for wealthier countries, but it will be devastating for those without the money to deal with impacts of global warming . Via Outer Places and CBS Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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New research reveals that sea levels could rise 1.5 inches every year

Meet your gadget’s next power supply: you

February 13, 2018 by  
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No power outlet? No problem. Juicing up your gadgets may soon be as easy as lifting your finger. Scientists from the University at Buffalo and the Institute of Semiconductors at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a tiny metallic tab, known as a a triboelectric nanogenerator, that can generate electricity from simple bodily movements,” said Qiaoqiang Gan, associate professor of electrical engineering in the University of Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “No one likes being tethered to a power outlet or lugging around a portable charger. The human body is an abundant source of energy. We thought: ‘Why not harness it to produce our own power?’” Triboelectric charging, also known as the triboelectric effect, occurs when certain materials become electrically charged after rubbing against a different material. Most everyday static electricity, for instance, is triboelectricity, Gan said. As described in a study that was published online January 31 in the journal Nano Energy , the 1.5-by-1-centimeter tab comprises two thin layers of gold separated by a sliver of polydimethylsiloxane, the same silicon-based polymer found in contact lenses and Silly Putty. Stretching the layers of gold sparks friction with the PDMS. Relatd: 6 human-powered gadgets to improve your life “This causes electrons to flow back and forth between the gold layers. The more friction, the greater the amount of power is produced,” said Yun Xu, professor of IoP at CAS, one of the study’s authors. So far, researchers have been able to deliver a maximum voltage of 124 volts, a maximum current of 10 microamps and a maximum power density of 0.22 millwatts per square centimeter—not enough to charge a smartphone just yet, but a promising start nonetheless. Because the tab is easy to fabricate in a cost-effective way, Gan and his team plan to experiment with larger pieces of gold to generate more electricity. The scientists are also working on developing a portable battery to store energy produced by the tab. Their eventual goal? To create a power source for a raft of wearable self-powered electronic devices, Gan said. + University at Buffalo Lead photo by Unsplash

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Scott Pruitt thinks global warming could be favorable for humans

February 9, 2018 by  
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has once again aired thoughts that depart from mainstream climate science , according to The Guardian . In a recent interview with Nevada TV station News 3 , Pruitt suggested global warming could be beneficial for people. He said, “Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, in the year 2018? It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.” Pruitt said in an interview with News 3’s Gerard Ramahlo, “No one disputes the climate changes , is changing, that’s, we see that, that’s constant. We obviously contribute to it; we live in the climate, right?…Now measuring that with precision, Gerard, I think is more challenging than is let on at times but I think the bigger question is…is it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have? I mean, we know that humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends. I mean, so, so, I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming that that necessarily is a bad thing.” Related: Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban The EPA administrator echoed an idea that’s been raised in the past of a debate on climate change, to go over “what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own.” A snapshot of the EPA website on January 19, 2017, the day before Donald Trump was sworn into office, was very clear that the impacts of climate change would threaten human health . They said people could be exposed to disease , be threatened by extreme weather events, or face food insecurity due to climate change impacts. Via The Guardian and News 3 Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Scott Pruitt thinks global warming could be favorable for humans

Polar bears could go extinct sooner than scientists previously thought

February 5, 2018 by  
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We’ve long known climate change will cause trouble for polar bears in the wild, but a new study reveals their metabolic rates are higher than we thought, and a changing environment is making it harder for them to snare enough food to satisfy energy needs. As they struggle to find prey, The Guardian reported they could go extinct faster than scientists previously feared. A team of scientists led by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) studied nine polar bears over three years during a time period in April, in the Beaufort Sea near Alaska . They discovered the bears required three juveniles or one adult ringed seal every 10 days. But five of the nine polar bears didn’t reach that goal during the study, and their body weight plummeted as a result – up to around 44 pounds, during one study period of 10 days. Related: Video of starving polar bear ‘rips your heart out of your chest’ USGS biologist Anthony Pagano told The Guardian, “We found a feast and famine lifestyle – if they missed out on seals it had a pretty dramatic effect on them. We were surprised to see such big changes in body masses, at a time when they should be putting on bulk to sustain them during the year. This and other studies suggest that polar bears aren’t able to meet their bodily demands like they once were.” Metabolic rates the scientists measured in the field averaged over 50 percent higher than previous studies predicted. Combined with other studies on drops in the numbers of polar bears recently, and their body condition, scientists say this new study, published this month in Science , reveals the bears are in a worse plight than we thought. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average, per The Guardian. Polar bears hunt for prey on sea ice , but as that ice diminishes, many polar bears must resort to foraging for food on land – like in garbage bins of remote towns, according to The Guardian. + University of California, Santa Cruz + Science Via The Guardian Images via Jessica K. Robertson, U.S. Geological Survey and Anthony M. Pagano, USGS

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Polar bears could go extinct sooner than scientists previously thought

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