Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

April 20, 2017 by  
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For decades, scientists have known that summertime brings liquid meltwater to Antarctica’s ice sheets. But until now, they’ve had no idea just how extensive the continent’s network of rivers, streams, ponds, and waterfalls really is. A new analysis by scientists at  Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has found that warmer months cause far more extensive melting than previously thought. That could be a problem as global temperatures continue to rise. Surface water can damage the ice shelves , weakening them and causing them to collapse into the ocean. Some of the channels identified in this survey allow meltwater to run harmlessly off into the sea, but in other areas, standing water can be a huge problem. In 2002, more than 2,000 lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf drained through the ice into the ocean below, causing the entire area to rapidly disintegrate. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc The presence of water on the frozen continent does not yet appear to be the cause of widespread problems—but there’s also the possibility that warmer temperatures are causing sub-surface ice melt. Unfortunately, that phenomenon has been researched in far less detail, so it’s unclear exactly what effect it will have on the ice and rising sea levels in the future. Via Phys.org Images via NASA and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists discover Antarctica is covered in rivers

For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

April 17, 2017 by  
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For the first time on record, climate change has completely changed the route of a river. In a shift that researchers called “geologically instantaneous,” a river in Canada’s Yukon territory shifted from draining into the Bering Sea to draining into the Pacific Ocean below Alaska. What makes this particularly concerning is that while shifting rivers aren’t unheard of in the Earth’s history, never before to our knowledge has a river rerouted so quickly, causing an enormous impact on the surrounding environment. The Kaskawulsh glacier in Canada has been rapidly melting. That influx of meltwater choked out the Slims River, depriving the downstream Kluane Lake of water and causing it to drop rapidly. The water shifted to the Alsek River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean south of Alaska, where the ocean water will now see a rapid influx of freshwater. The shift began in 2016 when the melting water burst through an ice dam, depriving Slims River of its glacial water source. Now, the Kluane Lake level is dropping rapidly, which will put stress on the environment around the lake and could completely alter the geology of the area. Related: Scientists warn rapidly-melting glacier in West Antarctica could cause serious global havoc Scientists determined that this shift was driven by human-caused climate change after they looked at the Kaskawulsh glacier and calculated that there was only a minuscule chance of it retreating in a stable climate. They also believe that it is unlikely that the Slims River will return to its previous water levels. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience . Via The Washington Post images via Nature Geoscience, Murray Foubister and Nat Wilson

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For the first time, climate change has caused a river to completely reroute

Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

April 17, 2017 by  
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Nuclear energy must be an option as humanity shifts away from fossil fuels , according to a recent article penned by four candidates of Finland’s Green Party , or Green League. The party strictly opposed the controversial fuel source in the past, but these four candidates said we’re running out of time to fight climate change and no longer have the luxury of picking between renewable energy and nuclear power. Humanity should take another look at nuclear power, according to Jakke Mäkelä, Tuomo Liljenbäck, Markus Norrgran, and Heidi Niskanen of the Finnish Greens. They wrote a March 6 blog post, translated by J.M. Korhonen , detailing why Finland should develop nuclear energy. Related: Germany’s massive nuclear fusion reactor is actually working Finland’s temperatures are spiking quicker than any other place in the world due to climate change, according to Forbes contributor James Conca. The country has pledged to end coal use by 2030, but they’re also widely utilizing biomass . The four Greens condemned the government’s burning of wood chips for power since it emits carbon dioxide and will destroy forests . The Greens said renewable energy won’t be able to help us wean completely off fossil fuels yet. They said solar and wind work very well up to a point, but on a large scale require lots of raw materials and land. They pointed to Germany, which shuttered nuclear power plants, but the consequence was renewable energy largely replaced nuclear energy and not fossil fuels. The four Greens said we no longer have the option of choosing between renewables and nuclear. They wrote, “Unless we spend a lot more money in all clean energy sources, we are certain to be doomed.” Korhonen notes their viewpoint is not an official recommendation from the Green Party or of the Viite, the technology and science subgroup of which Mäkelä is vice-chairman and the others are members. It’s simply the opinion of the four candidates, who were up for election in Turku. The Green Party won 12 percent of the total vote in the recent elections, gaining seats and winning the largest share in their history. Via J.M. Korhonen and Forbes Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

Senate Republicans could save methane rules from Trump

April 14, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is facing opposition to his rolling back of environmental regulations. Of course climate activists and Democrats are fighting back against the administration’s attempts to undermine Obama-era rules on everything from fuel efficiency standards to preventing coal ash from being dumped in rivers. On at least one Trump action however, it is Republicans in the Senate who are pushing back — a bill to overturn a methane regulation for public lands has stalled in the Senate (it passed the GOP-controlled House in February) because, according to reporting from Mother Jones , “a number of moderate and Western state Republican senators have worried about the implications of permanently restricting the Interior Department’s ability to regulate methane emissions.” Methane is a powerful, although short-lived, greenhouse gas with at least 86 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over a time span of 20 years in the atmosphere and 34 times the strength of CO2 over a 100-year time scale. The Interior Department’s methane and natural gas rule limits the release of methane from oil and gas operations on public lands. The natural gas is wasted through leaks, intentional venting, or burning off the gas — a process known as flaring. Related: House Republicans move to make methane pollution great again Some Senate Republicans are hedging on repealing the methane rules because of the permanency of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) that allows for Congress to overturn federal rulemaking with a simple majority vote. In other words, the CRA blocks federal agencies from putting forward similar rules at any point in the future, meaning the Bureau of Land Management might not ever be able to regulate methane pollution on public lands no matter who sits in the White House or what party controls Congress. A recent survey by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found strong support for current federal methane regulations aimed at reducing natural gas emissions. “The idea that conservatives would be attacking a waste reduction measure is kind of bizarre,” the Wilderness Society’s deputy director of energy and climate, Josh Mantell, told Mother Jones. Via Mother Jones Images via Flickr 1 , 2

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Koch-backed group distributes 25,000 insane climate change conspiracy booklets

April 12, 2017 by  
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The climate change deniers at the Koch brothers-backed Heartland Institute have apparently mailed a lengthy report challenging established climate science to 25,000 educators across the nation. The report, entitled “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming,” has been challenged as climate “propaganda” by the National Science Teachers Association . The goal of the Heartland Institute’s campaign is to continue to mail out the 135-page report until it reaches the hands of 200,000 teachers across the country. If you’d like to read the report, it’s available freely online , but here are a few of the highlights. The report opens by arguing that the science of climate change “is not settled,” despite the fact that multiple studies have found the vast majority of scientists agree that human-caused global warming is real and a serious threat. Study after study has shown that 97% of researchers surveyed are in consensus on this. Related: Fossil fuel-funded study attempts to deny the human causes of climate change It also bashes the science of climate models, claiming that because the certain aspects of the climate are not completely understood, that it’s impossible to predict how global temperatures will change over time. Over at Gizmodo , climate scientist Patrick Brown of the Carnegie Institution for Science explains, “Scientists are constantly working to try to improve these models and reduce uncertainty. This is all done openly and honestly in the peer-reviewed literature.” There’s a lot more inaccurate information packed into this report, including the claim that changing global temperatures are all just part of Earth’s “natural variability” and that global warming could be caused by the sun instead of CO2 emissions (in case it needs to be said, this is not true ). The authors even go so far as to claim that evidence of climate change is “unreliable” and that there’s no proven correlation between melting sea ice and rising temperatures. Related: Americans don’t trust climate change science because of fossil fuel industry’s disinformation Finally, it closes with conspiracy theories claiming that climate scientists are corrupt and driven by a political agenda rather than accurate science. That’s rich coming from an organization backed by fossil fuel companies like Exxonmobil , although perhaps not terribly surprising. While science teachers who receive the booklet will be able to easily see through the flimsy reasoning and distorted facts, it’s troubling to think of other educators or students who might stumble across the publication without the background to analyze its credibility. That’s why educational organizations are encouraging teachers who receive the report in the mail to toss it straight into the trash . Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Knitty Marie

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Koch-backed group distributes 25,000 insane climate change conspiracy booklets

Dead Sea salt reveals drought on a scale never recorded – and it could happen again

March 29, 2017 by  
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Thick layers of Dead Sea salt found 1,000 feet below the sea bed holds clues to our planet’s past – and a warning. The salt reveals during warm periods in Earth’s history, the region – the Dead Sea is bordered by Palestine, Jordan, and Israel – suffered from drought with no known precedent. The salt, scrutinized by an international team of researchers led by Yael Kiro of Columbia University , doesn’t just offer a history lesson, but a caution climate change could seriously dry the region again in the future. Crystalline salt from beneath the Dead Sea reveals 120,000 and 10,000 years ago, rainfall in the area was a fifth of modern levels. These dry periods were naturally caused. But human-caused climate change today could potentially dry the region – which is already struggling – more than we realized. Right now the Middle East’s fresh water per capita availability is 10 times less than the world average, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Related: Dramatic Video Captures Rebirth of the River Zin in Israel’s Negev Desert Back in 2010, scientists drilled 1,500 feet into the Dead Sea bed’s deepest part. They obtained a cross-section that provided 200,000 years of climate history in the area. Alternating layers of salt and mud showed dry and wet times. Only recently, however, did scientists analyze the core in great detail. The region suffered from what Columbia University called epic dry periods. Kiro said in a statement, “All the observations show this region is one of those most affected by modern climate change, and it’s predicted to get dryer. What we showed is that even under natural conditions, it can become much drier than predicted by any of our models.” The journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters published the research in an early online edition . Six other scientists from institutions in Israel and Spain also contributed to the study. Via The Guardian and Columbia University Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Dead Sea salt reveals drought on a scale never recorded – and it could happen again

Trump’s new executive order to undo Obama climate action

March 28, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s onslaught on the environment continues. He is set to sign a new executive order today that would undo the Clean Power Plan and slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by one third. The White House claimed this move will boost job creation even as clean energy jobs swiftly outpace fossil fuel jobs . Trump could cancel some of Barack Obama’s actions on climate change with his executive order, which could tell federal regulators to rewrite rules aimed at curbing carbon emissions and lift a federal coal leasing moratorium. Trump has claimed some of these rules, which have placed restrictions on the fossil fuel industry, hurt the economy, and the White House said his steps would “help keep energy and electricity affordable, reliable, and clean in order to boost economic growth and job creation.” Never mind that renewable energy prices have been falling , or that burning fossil fuels pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Related: Trump to purge climate change from federal government The Washington Post quoted an anonymous senior administration official who spoke to reporters on Monday and said, “This policy is in keeping with President Trump’s desire to make the United States energy independent . When it comes to climate change, we want to take our course and do it in our own form and fashion.” Will the executive order create jobs ? Trump supporters say yes, as the order would liberate oil and gas industries. Opponents say the new jobs will be for lawyers, according to the BBC, as some environmental organizations have announced their intention to sue. But one person the BBC referred to as a green source said the Trump administration wants delay; lawsuits could give the Trump administration what it wants. The executive order doesn’t address the 2015 Paris climate agreement . Via the BBC and The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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9 fun things you can do during Earth Hour!

March 25, 2017 by  
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Today at 8:30 pm , WWF’s Earth Hour will begin. Started in 2007 , Earth Hour is a symbolic act to get us thinking about our planet and our impact on it. But more than that, it’s also part of a simple idea to start an environmental resolution — this is not only about one hour in the dark, it’s about creating a brighter future. Even though you’re switching off your lights and electronic appliances for the environment, you don’t have to sit twiddling your thumbs in the dark. There is still a lot you can do without using a watt of electricity. Earth Hour can be as fun as it is good for the planet, and if you’re looking for some entertaining ways to spend it you’re in luck because we’ve rounded up 9 fun activities that are sure to deliver a good time completely off-grid! Candlelight dinner via Shutterstock Have a candle-lit dinner using menus from celebrity chefs Celebrate the hour with your partner, friends or family and have a candlelit dinner with your own tasty dishes based on WWF’s Livewell principles, which has been created for healthy people and a planet with a brilliant future. Get inspired by celebrity chefs who support the Livewell principles . Board Game Pieces and Dices via Shutterstock Invite friends around for a quiz and board games by candlelight WWF’s Earth Hour is all about people coming together to celebrate our world. If you’ve decided to invite friends over, the Earth Hour team has created a fantastic Quiz to download to make the most of the night while the lights remain off. The night sky via Shutterstock Take a wildlife walk or go star-gazing Get closer to nature while doing something for your health and well-being by taking a night walk or going star-gazing. And if you don’t have a telescope, don’t worry. Just darkness, a blanket and hot drinks will be enough for a perfect star-gazing hour. San Antonio Texas River Walk at night via Shutterstock Go for a nightime city walk If you are a “city animal”, why not take a walk around town and see what has switched off in your city? In past years, many landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, the Tour Eiffel and Big Ben switched off their lights in honor of Earth Hour. This year is sure to find more participants, so be sure to check out what else is happening. Silhouette of biker at sunset via Shutterstock Go for a nighttime bike ride Cycling is not a trend, it’s part of a sustainable lifestyle. Everyday more people decide to leave their car at home and start cycling. And once you’ve started cycling, you can’t stop. So why not go for a ride during the hour? Yoga exercise via Shutterstock Try candle-lit yoga or exercise “Mens sana in corpore sano,” says the famous Latin quotation. WWF’s Earth Hour is a moment for appreciating the brilliant world we all share, and how we need to protect it. Use this time to pursue a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Playing the Guitar via Shutterstock Have an unplugged jam session at home Invite your friends over and unplug while you enjoy some in-house music. Children reading via Shutterstock Read a bed time story Light a candle to create a cozy atmosphere, and transform your favorite bedtime story into a fantastic journey of the imagination. Make a green energy resolution WWF has lots of resources to help you be green every day. Check out their resources for making a lifestyle change  and then plan with your family and friends how you will change things up even when it isn’t Earth Hour. + WWF EARTH HOUR 

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China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

March 24, 2017 by  
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Sea levels are creeping up as temperatures get hotter here on Earth , and China’s State Oceanic Administration just revealed worrying information about its threat to the country’s coasts. Sea levels in 2016 in China rose 1.3 inches in just one year, a trend that could have challenging consequences. NASA data cited by International Business Times shows sea levels are rising by 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters (mm) to 0.14 inches (3.6 mm) every year at coasts, but the statistics are far worse in China according to their oceanic administration. Sea levels are rising swiftly in China due to climate change , El Niño, and La Niña, according to the agency. Not only did sea levels rise dramatically from 2015 to 2016, but 2016 sea levels were also 3.2 inches (82 mm) higher than the average level between 1993 and 2001. In a statement, the administration said, “Against the background of global climate change, China’s coastal air and sea temperatures have soared, coastal air pressure has fallen, and sea levels have also soared.” Related: Climate change will be the demise of US national parks 38 mm may not seem like much, so oceanographer Huang Gang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics put that in perspective, telling the South China Morning Post, “A few millimeters rise may seem small, but if you think about how big the ocean is, the changes make a huge difference when sea water hits the ground. The adverse impacts could come earlier if sea levels rise faster.” The administration said vulnerable coastal areas should start preparing with infrastructure updates like repairing drains or constructing dams or dykes. They warned such actions must happen soon to avoid damage. According to International Business Times, there are two main factors in climate change-caused rising sea levels: warmer ocean surface temperatures, which causes waters to expand, and melting glaciers. According to Reuters , sea temperatures between 1980 and 2016 increased by around 0.21 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade. Via International Business Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Trump’s cuts would have ‘devastating impact’ on NY, says NY Attorney General

March 24, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund program would have a “devastating impact” on New York State, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared at a rally at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn earlier this week. Joined by activists and lawmakers on Tuesday at what is widely considered to be the nation’s most polluted waterway, Schneiderman blasted the president’s calls to slash the agency’s funding by more than 30 percent, noting that the move would stymie the progress of cleaning up America’s most contaminated sites. “President Trump’s proposed budget cuts would have a devastating impact on New York—delaying and obstructing environmental projects around the state,” Schneiderman said. “Decades of hard work have helped clean up New York’s air, water, and environment. But President Trump’s budget threatens to unravel those gains and send us back to the bad old days of choking smog and rampant pollution.” Once a bustling cargo-transportation hub, the 1.8-mile-long Gowanus Canal is now a cesspool of raw sewage, carcinogenic sludge, and oil slicks. It floundered in political limbo for decades before the EPA designated the canal a Superfund site in 2010. Related: Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal gets Superfund status Dredging work was supposed to begin in earnest later this year, but Trump’s “blueprint” to bring the EPA’s budget to $5.7 billion—its lowest level in 40 years when adjusted for inflation—could grind the already glacial progress to a halt. Schneiderman says he isn’t above taking legal action against the White House, if necessary. “As we’ve made clear: if the Trump administration won’t meet its legal obligations to ensure basic access to a clean, safe, and healthy environment, we won’t hesitate to act to protect New Yorkers,” he said. + Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Via WNYC Photos by bobistraveling

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