Climate Change News

Archive of daily updates on climate change news from May 2017 Environmental Progress Newsletter published by Warm Heart Environmental Program

May 2017

May 31, 2017

climate change news

We Have Some Interesting New Info On Why Antarctica Is The Slower-Warming Pole

By Tim Radford

Scientists believe they have settled one of the great polar puzzles − why Antarctica is warming at a rate so much slower than the Arctic region. And the answer is a simple one: Antarctica is so much higher.

To ram the point home, they used a computer simulation to hammer the entire southern continent until it was no more than a metre above sea level. At which point, in their simulation, warming at the South Pole became much more dramatic.

The two poles are very different: the Arctic is an ocean almost entirely surrounded by land, while Antarctica is a vast continent entirely surrounded by frozen ocean.

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May 30, 2017

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A ramble through some solutions for the Anthropocene

By Diana Gitig

To say that David Biello’s new book, The Unnatural World (Amazon US / Amazon UK), is not uplifting would be an understatement. Its upshot is that we have seriously f—ed up this planet, along with all of the organisms and ecosystems residing on it, and the situation is likely to get much, much worse. But that’s hardly news at this point.

Biello knows that something must be done to keep ourselves from putting yet more CO2 into the atmosphere and to counter or adapt to the effects of all the CO2 we’ve spewed thus far. His book is an attempt to explore our options for doing so. But the resulting book is rambling, disorganized, and disjointed, filled with belabored, needlessly complicated sentences like “China is living in the future past, a Dickensian steam punk sci-fi drama in Mandarin, complete with high heels and disfigured orphans.”
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May 29, 2017

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300 days of sun: How one Indian entrepreneur is making a killing

By Rishi Iyengar

Ketan Mehta is nothing if not ambitious. He wants to “shape the future of energy” for 1.3 billion people.
The 28-year old entrepreneur co-founded Rays Power Infra six years ago with an eye on India’s enormous potential for solar energy.

“Earth has been receiving trillions of units of energy every day from morning to evening but we’ve never been able to use it,” Mehta said. “Now, we have a chance.”

Rays Power Infra develops, builds and operates solar projects across India, ranging from 400-acre “solar parks” for government and industry to panels on the rooftops of individual homes.

“You will see in the next three to four years, that every building becomes a powerhouse. They don’t need to rely on the grid,” the young CEO said.

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May 28, 2017

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Sustainable Manufacturing Is the Wave of the Future

By Mark Crawford

An increasing number of manufacturers are recognizing the significant financial and environmental benefits from sustainable business practices. The U.S. Department of Commerce defines sustainable manufacturing as “the creation of manufactured products that use processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers and are economically sound.”

The aim for sustainable manufacturing is to enable manufacturers to maximize revenues and global leadership, while conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Essential to sustainable manufacturing is technology investment—automation, robotics, software, IT, and sensor technologies—all of which are the foundation for the Internet of Things (IoT), and necessary for sustainable manufacturing operations.

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May 27, 2017

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Barack Obama on food and climate change: ‘We can still act and it won’t be too late’

By Barack Obama

During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority, because I believe that, for all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century more dramatically perhaps than the others. No nation, whether it’s large or small, rich or poor, will be immune from the impacts of climate change. We are already experiencing it in America, where some cities are seeing floods on sunny days, where wildfire seasons are longer and more dangerous, where in our arctic state, Alaska, we’re seeing rapidly eroding shorelines, and glaciers receding at a pace unseen in modern times.

Over my eight years in office, we dramatically increased our generation of clean energy, we acted to curtail our use of dirty energy, and we invested in energy efficiency across the board. At the 2015 climate change summit in Paris, we helped lead the world to the first significant global agreement for a low-carbon future.

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May 26, 2017

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A field of solar panels at Cochin International Airport in southern India CIAL

India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low

By Ian Johnston

India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – with the price for solar electricity “free falling” to levels once considered impossible.

Analyst Tim Buckley said the shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel and towards solar in India would have “profound” implications on global energy markets.

According to his article on the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis’s website, 13.7GW of planned coal power projects have been cancelled so far this month – in a stark indication of the pace of change.

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May 25, 2017

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Uriel Sinai | Getty Images


Tackling climate change will boost economic growth, OECD says

By Anmar Frangoul

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that the integration of measures to fight climate change into economic policy will aid economic growth, both in the medium and long term.

The report – Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth – stated that “strong fiscal and structural reform combined with coherent climate policy” would help governments generate growth that would both lessen the risks of climate change and provide “near-term economic, employment and health benefits.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the OECD added that bringing together growth and climate agendas could add one percent to “average economic output” in G20 nations by the year 2021, and boost output in 2050 by as much as 2.8 percent.

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May 24, 2017

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Photo by Torsten Blackwood/Pool/Getty Images

Why Scientific Consensus Is Worth Taking Seriously

By Faye Flam

Yes, collective missteps happen. But if anything, history shows how hard it is to get scientists to agree in the first place.

Following the pack is not part of the scientific method. The point is to follow the evidence. And that leaves room for ambiguity in interpreting the survey results showing that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is real and that human-generated greenhouse gases are a major cause. The National Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society and other relevant scientific organizations all agree, too.

For some, this consensus proves that climate change is real and that humans must take immediate action against it. But others, citing history, say the consensus view has been wrong before. Why should we believe it now? For example, scientists once believe the earth was headed into an ice age. So why should we trust them when they say the globe is warming?

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May 23, 2017

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21+ Astounding Reasons Why You Should Plant a Tree Today

By Rinkesh

Trees have numerous benefits and it can hardly be overstated. They support the environment in various ways and without them; life on earth would be impossible. For instance, think of the increasing global temperatures. It is simply a result of destruction and cutting down of trees because trees act as carbon sinks. Trees also continue the water cycle, control soil erosion, and have significant economic value.

Since the beginning of evolution, trees have been a symbol of wisdom, fertility, life, and culture across the world. Accordingly, planting trees is a necessity so as to safeguard and improve our environment. Here is a list of 21+ astounding reasons why you should plant a tree today.

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May 22, 2017

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(Credit: David Gill/Conservation International)

How to save the ocean while protecting local people

By Michelle Ma-Washington

Marine conservation experts call for the adoption of a code of conduct for ocean conservation that takes into consideration local populations and their concerns about land, food, and their livelihoods.

The research, summarized in the journal Marine Policy, reflects discussion at last year’s International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress―the world’s largest recurring conservation event.

A code of conduct for marine conservation would help prevent human rights violations that might occur during conservation and promote fair, socially responsible decision-making when planning and carrying out actions to protect the ocean.

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May 21, 2017

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World’s Commitment to Paris Agreement Remains Strong as Bonn Climate Talks End

By Climate Nexus

Two weeks of climate talks in Bonn, Germany wrapped up Thursday with a reminder from Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, whose nation will lead COP23 this fall, that “no-one, no matter who they are or where they live, will ultimately escape the impact of climate change.”

Bloomberg reported that the possibility of the U.S. pulling out of the Paris agreement galvanized delegates to work together at the “unusually cooperative” talks. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the U.S. delegation in Bonn “quietly” worked to promote long-term U.S. climate interests as they “walked a fine line” between unclear policies from Washington and participating in the talks with allies.

“The uncertainty swirling around the United States’ participation in the Paris agreement did not slow progress in Bonn,” Paula Caballero, global director of the Climate Program at World Resources Institute, said.

“If anything, countries were emboldened to move forward with more determination and show that international climate action will not be swayed by the shifting political winds of any one country.”

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May 20, 2017

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Credit: UAntwerp/KU Leuven

Device Purifies Air and Creates Energy All at the Same Time

By Tracy Staedter

A small innovation could have a big impact on air pollution. In Belgium, researchers have engineered a device that uses sunlight to purify polluted air and produce hydrogen gas that can be stored and used for power.

“We couple both processes together in one device,” Sammy Verbruggen, a professor of bioscience engineering at the University of Antwerp, told Live Science. “Hydrogen production on one side and air purification on the other side.”

Verbruggenis working with two teams of researchers who had been separately investigating both processes for years. At the University of Antwerp, the scientists had been testing different ways of combing light energy with nanomaterials to purify air.

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May 19, 2017

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Scientists Found a Low-Cost Way to Produce the World’s Cleanest Energy Source

By Karla Lant

Scientists have discovered a low-cost, efficient catalyst for splitting water to create hydrogen. This means that the world’s cleanest form of energy, hydrogen, may be more easily and cheaply produced.

SPLITTING H2O

Physicists at the University of Houston have discovered a low-cost, efficient, and easily available catalyst that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The catalyst is far more efficient than other options that have previously been employed, and because it is grown from ferrous metaphosphate on a conductive nickel foam platform, it is both more durable and cheaper to produce.

“Cost-wise, it is much lower and performance-wise, much better,” lead author and Anderson professor of physics Zhifeng Ren, M.D. told the University of Houston News. “Some catalysts are outstanding but are only stable for one or two hours. That’s no use.”
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May 18, 2017

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A climate change solution beneath our feet

Content from UC Davis

There’s too much carbon in the atmosphere and not enough in the ground where it’s useful. Healthy soil can help flip the picture.

When we think of climate change solutions, what typically comes to mind is the transportation we use, the lights in our home, the buildings we power and the food we eat. Rarely do we think about the ground beneath our feet.

Kate Scow thinks a lot about the ground, or, more precisely, the soil. She’s been digging into the science of how healthy soils can not only create productive farmlands, but also store carbon in the ground, where it belongs, rather than in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
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May 17, 2017

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Image credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc | Getty Images

The Future Is Green and Growing Fast

By Sherry Gray

Demand for sustainable solutions at global scale is an enormous entrepreneurial opportunity.

Even as President Donald Trump repeals environmental “job-killing” regulations and promises to double down on fossil fuels, jobs in sustainability-related fields rank near the top of the list for fastest-growing professions in the United States. Solar and wind-industry jobs are growing at a rate of about 20 percent per year — 12 times faster than the general economy.

Solar power currently employs more than twice as many people as the coal industry, and entry-level jobs pay a much higher wage than average. There’s a solid argument that coal workers could be retained to work in solar jobs. Given aging coal plants and the long, steady decline of the industry, putting coal miners to work in less-hazardous jobs seems both practical and appealing.

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May 16, 2017

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Why even 1°C of global warming matters

By RENÉE JULIENE KARUNUNGAN

The planet has already warmed 1°C from the pre-industrial period. But the question many people still ask is why does it matter? Isn’t 1 degree just small a number to be worried about?

“The scales of the planet is different from the temperature scales we experience on a daily basis,” said Gavin Schmidt, director for NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, at the Congress International de Cambio Climatico (International Congress on Climate Change) held in Huelva, Spain last May 10-12.

“One degree of warming matters. It is similar to one quarter of the ice age of 20,000 years ago to pre-industrial change,” Schmidt added.

The difference of global temperature between the pre-industrial period and the last ice age is about 4-5 degrees celsius. However, 20,000 years ago, in the last quarter of the ice age, ice thawed because of an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which warmed the planet. This is according to a paper published in Nature. This warming caused the last deglaciation and within a few hundred years, seas have risen to as much as 10 meters in some areas, and frozen land in Asia, Europe, and North America ceased to be so.

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May 15, 2017

She Left Her Career In Finance To Make Candles That Literally Help Light Up The World

By HEATHER CICHOWSKI

“We can give back in little yet impactful ways each and every day.”

Sterling McDavid used to work at Goldman Sachs, a career most would be envious of. But after an eye-opening trip to Southeast Asia, she found her passions lie elsewhere. In Vietnam, she saw how under-resourced the communities were, and started to think of ways she could help.

For her, providing solar energy was the answer.

To do this, she quit her job in finance and started The Starling Project in 2015. The Brooklyn company produces soy-based, hand-poured candles that do so much more than light up your home and make it smell nice. By selling candles to raise money for humanitarian organization such as UNICEF, The Starling Project helps provide solar energy to communities, such as Chad and Rwanda. So far, they have raised over $150,000 for their cause.
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May 14, 2017

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Photo: iStockphoto

Satellites find ‘hidden forests’ helping fight against global warming

By Umberto Bacchi

Milan: Vast tracts of land previously considered barren are actually covered by forests “hiding in plain sight”, scientists said on Friday, a discovery that could help the fight against climate change and desertification.

An international team of researchers led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) used new technology to analyse high-resolution images from Google Earth and map forest coverage in drylands worldwide.

They found that trees like baobab and acacia shade 467 million more hectares of land than previously thought—an area roughly equal to half the size of the United States—increasing estimates of global forest cover by at least 9%.

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May 13, 2017

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(Photo: Andrea Egan)

How climate change changed the way people cook in developing countries

By Sonja Puzic

When we think of climate change, images of natural disasters like wildfires and floods are usually the first ones that come to mind.

But climate change also affects the way millions of people around the world eat and produce their food. Rising global temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall have made farming around the world more difficult.

In developing countries with limited agricultural and technological resources, climate change has reduced the availability of many staple crops. More recently, severe droughts in parts of Africa have scorched harvests, leaving many people dead or on the brink of starvation.

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May 12, 2017

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IMAGE: GLOBAL OPPORTUNITY EXPLORER

U.N. launches digital platform to help entrepreneurs save the world

BY MATT PETRONZIO

With their dollars and reach, entrepreneurs and investors have significant leverage to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. A new tool shows them how — and that it’s good for business, too.

The Global Opportunity Explorer details out 300 ways companies can engage in “sustainable innovation,” leading to better societies as well as new business opportunities.

The platform’s purpose is to inspire entrepreneurs and investors around the world to see big challenges — like world hunger, water scarcity, and gender equality — not as risks, but as potential markets.

Built after five years of research with 18,000 business leaders and 17 expert panels, the Global Opportunity Explorer is categorized by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — the United Nations’ blueprint to make a better world by the year 2030. The site covers 10 business sectors, including food, health, transportation, and technology, which you can pair with an SDG to find tangible solutions.

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May 11, 2017

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Photo credits: whatsupwiththat.com

China Finally Has a Plan to Save Its Citizens From the Country’s “Toxic Air”

By Dom Galeon

Industrialization on a massive scale brought wealth and prosperity to China, even in towns that were previously considered remote. But the industrial boon has been a double-edged sword, particularly for a culture where health and prosperity are valued equally. Heavy industry has made China the world’s largest contributor of greenhouse gasses, which emit from its many coal-fired plants and huge steel mills.

However, the winds of change are already blowing in China.

According to reports, approximately 1.1 million people in China die every year as a result of the country’s polluted air — a figured matched only by India. Other reports estimate that 3.5 million people die worldwide yearly due to air pollution, mostly from pollution created by huge manufacturing countries like China.

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May 10, 2017

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Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Obama Sees New Front in Climate Change Battle: Agriculture

By STEPHANIE STROM

MILAN — Michelle Obama has long been one of the world’s best-known advocates for healthier food production and better eating, but it was her husband who showed up here on Tuesday to talk about climate change and the challenges it presented to feeding the world’s growing population.

Former President Barack Obama gave his first speech outside the United States since leaving office at the Seeds & Chips conference, an annual gathering of policy makers, investors and technology entrepreneurs focused on innovations to improve the food chain.

His brief speech was devoted to agriculture’s role in climate change, noting that after energy, agriculture is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Now, he said, those emissions are starting to take their toll on food production itself. “Our changing climate is already making it more difficult to produce food,” he said. “We’ve already seen shrinking yields and rising food prices.”

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May 9, 2017

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If You Believe You Can Affect Climate Change, You Will

By Janice Wood

New research has found that if we believe we can personally help stop climate change with individual actions, such as turning the thermostat down, then we are more likely to make a difference.

According to Dr. Jesse Preston, a researcher at the University of Warwick in the UK, people are often stricken with climate change helplessness; the belief that climate change is so massive and terrifying that it is out of our personal control, and that our actions are too small to help.

This feeling of helplessness, however, makes people less likely to bother with individual eco-friendly actions and actually leads to higher energy consumption, she noted.

In one study, researchers tested a group of more than 200 people, giving different members of the group varying messages about climate change.

Some were given a High Efficacy Climate Change message that personal actions do make a difference in the fight against climate change, while others were given a Helpless Climate Change message that personal actions make no difference. The remaining members — the control group — were given no message at all.

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May 8, 2017

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Global Warming and the Story of the Frog in the Pot

By BILL AYRES

The frog is thrown into a pot of hot, but not boiling, water. The frog could jump out, but it does not. Soon enough the frog is cooked. It is too late.

Nowhere is this story more relevant than in regard to global warming. It is not too late for us to get out of the pot, but so far we as a nation have not decided to jump.

Is it because we see the consequences as too far in the future? Do we believe there is some technological fix that can come in and save us at the last minute? Have we bought into the argument that we need to concentrate on making our society more “productive” NOW, fixing our economy and creating more jobs at present, and worry about climate change later?

Let’s start with what is already happening and the present effects of global warming. The science is clear. Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around the earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing temperatures to rise every year — right now. Most of this is caused by human intervention: toxic emissions from vehicles, burning of coal, gas and oil from plants, businesses and homes. Almost all scientists agree.

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May 7, 2017

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Here’s what you can do to fight global warming, beyond changing lightbulbs

By GEOFFREY SUPRAN AND PLOY ACHAKULWISUT

As scientist-activists who work on climate science and renewable energy, the question we get asked the most is, “What can I do about climate change?”

Here’s our evolving take – a synthesis of what we think are the three most impactful ways to contribute in the face of such an urgent and systemic problem. (To avoid catastrophic climate change, global greenhouse gas emissions have to start falling, now, faster than they have risen for the past 160 years.)

Our “theories of change” are informed by our understanding of climate science and clean energy, by our journey from scientists to scientist-activists, and, most of all, by the insights of other academics and activists.

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May 6, 2017

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Photograph: Ace Stock Limited/Alamy

Disturbing turtle video drives UK pub chain to clamp down on plastic straws

By Oliver Balch

When the boss of UK pub chain Oakman Inns, Peter Borg-Neal, was shown a YouTube video (warning: graphic content) of a turtle in obvious pain as a plastic straw is removed from its nostril, he reflected on his company’s own straw consumption: 100,000 per month.

At least that was the figure until last week, when the company announced it was restricting the use of plastic straws across its 17 pubs and called on other businesses in the hospitality sector to follow suit. Customers at Oakman Inns will no longer receive a straw automatically, but a supply will be available for those that specifically ask for one.

“My response when I saw the video was the same as anyone else. It’s appalling and horribly unnecessary,” says Borg-Neal. “Those straws simply should not be in the sea.”

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May 5, 2017

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How to Reverse Global Warming

By Tom Goreau

Today’s CO2 atmosphere concentrations will lead to devastating increases in global temperatures and sea level over the thousands of years that cold deep ocean waters warm up, even if no more fossil fuel CO2 is added.

Long-term impacts shown by climate records are much greater than IPCC projections, which are politically mandated to only include short-term initial responses. They ignore 90% or more of the long-term climate impacts that will affect future generations for millions of years unless CO2 is rapidly reduced to pre-industrial levels, giving policy makers a false sense of security.

Even complete emissions reductions cannot remove the existing CO2 excess already in the atmosphere, only increased carbon sinks can do so, and only soil has the capacity to store it in time to avert runaway climate change. CO2 can be reduced to safe levels in decades if

1) current carbon farming sequestration practices are applied on a large scale,

2) lifetime of soil carbon storage is increased with biochar, and

3) with large scale restoration of coastal marine wetland peat soils, especially using new electrical stimulation methods. Regenerative Development strategies to reverse climate change by increasing soil and biomass carbon need to be implemented by UNFCCC.

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May 4, 2017

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TeenVogue Spotlight: Melati and Isabel Wijsen

By TeenVogue

These Indonesian sisters were just 10 and 12 years old when they founded the NGO Bye Bye Plastic Bags, which has a presence in nine countries. “My sister and I had a lesson in class about positive world leaders, like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Lady Diana,” said Melati. “We went home thinking, ‘OK, what can we do as kids?’”

“Growing up on the island surrounded by ocean, we saw the heavy negative impact plastic has. There’s no escaping it here,” she added. Their solution was to begin raising awareness around waste from plastic bags. That impulse soon turned into a campaign to get the sisters’ native Bali to become plastic bag–free.

In June 2015, just two years after founding their initiative, they got confirmation from the governor that Bali would be plastic bag free by 2018. ”We’re doing everything we can with our team to make sure that the commitment really follows through. We send handwritten and printed letters to the government’s office every two weeks, and emails too, so they cannot forget the promises they have made,” Melati said.

The best part of being an activist, though, is not just seeing your goals come to fruition, says Melati: “We love the idea that we have the ability to inspire and awaken the changemaker within some of the brightest young minds out there. Us kids may only be 25% of the world’s population, but we are 100% of the future.”

May 3, 2017

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The Progress Toward Sustainability

By Steven Cohen, Executive Director, Columbia University’s Earth Institute

The integration of economic development, modern management and environmental protection created the field of sustainability management. The effort to ensure that humans could continue to benefit from the miracle of this planet, and increase the distribution of those benefits to all of humanity is well underway.

In some sense, it is a race against time as we learn how to reduce the impact of economic development on the planet’s ecological systems. Some environmental damage is irreversible, and in some cases remediation is extremely expensive.

While the damage continues, I also see progress and I believe the momentum behind sustainability will increase. Human ingenuity, changing global culture and the health impacts of environmental destruction are factors that are leading to progress in the transition to a sustainable economy.

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May 2, 2017

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Andres Cozar

Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG

The world’s oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic — bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles — and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic.

In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, a group of researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions show that a major ocean current is carrying bits of plastic, mainly from the North Atlantic, to the Greenland and Barents seas, and leaving them there — in surface waters, in sea ice and possibly on the ocean floor.

Because climate change is already shrinking the Arctic sea ice cover, more human activity in this still-isolated part of the world is increasingly likely as navigation becomes easier. As a result, plastic pollution, which has grown significantly around the world since 1980, could spread more widely in the Arctic in decades to come, the researchers say.

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May 1, 2017

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Big Island Beaches Covered in Plastic…

By Crystal Richard

Hawaii Wild Life volunteers and island residents are out cleaning the southern beaches here on the Big Hawaii Island today as part of a monthly cleanup and in honor of International Mother Earth Day, April 22, 2017.

In early April, pictures of trash covering Big Island beaches began to circulate through social media.

Don Elwing posted pictures he took on a regular beach cleanup along the southern shores.

“Only a small amount of people actually get to see the pollution washing up because of its remoteness and inaccessibility,” explained Elwing.

Elwing makes art with rubbish he collects.

“I decided to try to bring the plastic pollution to the masses through my Awareness Art and UPCYCLE as much as possible,” said Elwing. “Last year, I upcycled over 600 pounds of plastic and net to several mainland artists.”

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