Tag Archives: climate change

US Only Country at G20 Not to Back Paris Climate Accord

President Donald Trump was the only person at the G20 summit in Argentina not to sign an agreement to uphold the Paris Climate Accord, but he and 19 other countries did sign an agreement committing to reform global trade.

It is well known that the president does not believe in climate change as shown by numerous tweets, but this is a firm committment to his campaign promise that said he would leave the agreement, which he did just last year.

However, in a huge win for the president, he was able to get an agreement on trade that more or less stated a need for reform. This agreement called for the reforming of the World Trade Organization. A topic of Trump’s campaign was that the United States has been treated unfairly by multiple countries in trade agreements.

The White House is treating the G20 as a victory for the president as he was able to achieve a better deal for the United States.

President Trump had to cut his visit short due to the death of former president George H.W. Bush on Friday.  He and the First Lady are planning on going to the funeral, which is to be held next week.

Trump has made it clear to the entire world that the United States will not be a part of the climate accord and the question now is: Will the Paris Climate Accord succeed without the United States?

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Trump Administration Releases Report on Climate Change

A new report on climate change released by the U.S. Government shows not only that climate change is very real but it is also going to have dire effects on our economy.

The report, which was released on Friday, was due in December but was released early as Americans were distracted by family, friends, shopping, and good food.

The report states that if the United States was unable to change its course, the economy could lose over 10% of its GDP in a worst-case scenario.

This report only comes days after a tweet from the President asking what happened to global warming after most Americans across the nation experienced record-breaking cold weather.

However, as explained in most reports, a “record-breaking weather event” like the one on Thanksgiving is nothing compared to the yearly average, which shows humans are dealing with warming conditions.

As of right now, the top countries in the world, better known as the G20, are not reaching climate targets, according to research done by Climate Transparency.

Without any serious prevention or attempts to reduce our greenhouse emissions, the average global temperatures will rise over 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century.

We know that rising temperatures can have negative effects on our farming production and our health. We will be unable to work some days due to temperatures being too high, which will result in deaths to the lack of food and water.

We have been taught this many times in science class, and it is up to us to make sure that our children have a planet to live on by 2100.

A new report links extreme weather to climate change

A new report called Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change written by the Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution links extreme weather to climate change. The report was pre-published recently and the final report will be available through the National Academies Press in spring 2016.

Working under Washington’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the researchers of climate from British and American universities laid out the reports findings Friday March 11 at a news conference.

The committee expresses that they have a strong belief that most events of extreme weather such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, and droughts are being affected or caused by climate change.

Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia
Could extreme weather such as hurricanes be caused by climate change? Graphic from Wikipedia

Prior to this report, scientists and researchers had a general consensus that the happenstance of extreme weather and climate change had no conclusive link.

The researchers gathered long-term data on extreme events which allowed them to outline how they were developing in severity as the impacts of climate change grew over time.

The committee members noted the heatwave in Russia that occurred in 2010, which prompted the nation’s most detrimental drought in about 40 years, and the loss of around 34,749 square miles of crops. They additionally pointed to the extreme rain in the United Kingdom that occurred in 2000, which led to the most damaging and widespread flooding since the 1940s.

According to researchers, they don’t quite have enough information to conclude that every event of extreme weather is due to climate change. However, as the research is expanded, they may be able to link wildfires, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, and tornados to climate change.

As these extreme weather events become more dangerous and more frequent, the repercussions will be taken out on the economy and individual’s lives.

In 2014, the World Meteorological Organization approximated that occurrences of extreme weather cost the human race over 2 trillion dollars and have killed over 2 million people, while devastating millions more.

The researchers hope that they can expand upon the reports findings through research in order for researchers and forecasters to eventually design better predictive models not just with respect to the understanding of climate, but with the conclusive understanding of the effect that climate change is having on Earth’s weather systems.

Climate change; libido killer

According to a study, global climate change that’s inflicting more sizzling hot days could be bringing down the birth rate within the United States.

Although the amount of births in the United States went up last year for the first time since 2007, the U.S. birth rate has been declining for a century, at least. The causes range from easier access to contraception to work opportunities for women to economic downturns.

Researchers used statistics and various sources to look at the amount of babies born about nine months after really hot days, which they defined as above 80 degrees, based on National Climate Center data from weather stations across the United States.

The study determined that there have been 0.4% fewer births (about 1,156 fewer babies) nine months after each day that raised over 80 degrees between 1931 and 2010.

Centered on climate change models that predict the number of these hot days will increase from the current number of about 30 to 90 every 12 months, this would mean around 100,000 fewer births in the United States every year.

Is climate change effecting your sex life? Photo from askmen
Is climate change effecting your sex life?
Photo from askmen

“I wouldn’t say it is the end of human civilization, but I would suggest it is going to add to the cost of climate change,” said Alan Barreca, associate professor of economics at Tulane University. Barreca is the lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a nonprofit economic research organization.

“Despite the fact that prior studies have supported the notion that heat directly impacts fertility, one of the advances of the current study is that it asks the question whether fertility ramps back up when temperatures cool down,” he said.

Studies also state that high temperatures can negatively influence reproductive health, by weakening sperm function, lowering testosterone levels and hindering menstruation.

“The fact that birth rates drop nine months after temperatures spike suggests that hot weather is having a direct effect on fertility,” Barreca said.

However factors such as the sort of work people, along with salary levels and food costs, do have had more of an impact on decreasing the U.S. birthrate.

Three strange things scientists want you to know about climate change

Climate change is becoming a huge issue that even some of the biggest skeptics are starting to accept as fact. As scientists scramble to find a solution, or to at least prepare the world for the effects of climate change, there are a few key pieces of information that scientists are stressing to the public.

1. New York City is almost certainly screwed.

sandy-hurricane-1
“In 2012 when Hurricane Sandy reeked havoc in New Jersey and New York City, most of the cities underground transportation tunnels were flooded.”

In 2012 when Hurricane Sandy reeked havoc in New Jersey and New York City, most of the cities underground transportation tunnels were flooded. This flooding was unlike anything NYC had seen before, and way more than they were prepared to deal with. Researchers have been analyzing the soil layers to determine how climate has changed in the area. In a news release, Andra Reed, one of the lead researchers said, “In the pre-anthropogenic era, the return period for a storm producing a surge of 2.81 meters (9 feet) or greater like Sandy at the Battery would have been about 3,000 years. We found that, in the anthropogenic era, the return period for this same storm surge height has been reduced to about 130 years.”

Hurricane Sandy has motivated researchers to figure out how much time NYC has to prepare for another disaster like Hurricane Sandy. However, as hurricane season has two more months, there are plenty of worries as to what the city can withstand.

2. Even with global calls for reduced greenhouse gases, we’re still screwed.

Every country except for India has prepared a plan to reduce emissions to present at the United Nations in December. The hope is that with a global deal to reduce emissions, countries will be able to hold each other accountable in their efforts to save the planet.

However, scientists believe that even with these deals, it may be too far gone. The global average temperature will still rise by 6 degrees Fahrenheit, analysts say. This could cause mass extinctions of animal and plant life, and will certainly cause mass food shortages. In short, this increase would be catastrophic.

In 2010, a goal was set to lower the expected global temperature rise to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the New York Times. Although this rise in temperature would still allow significant levels in sea rise, agricultural issues and obviously harm the environment, it wouldn’t be nearly as catastrophic.

3. Melting ice is revealing some scary relics.

Along with well-preserved Woolly Mammoths and fossils of never-before-seen creatures, melting permafrost is revealing some giant viruses.

These “giant” viruses are called such because they are the size of bacteria. Although many of these viruses are harmless to modern-day species, scientist worry that we could potentially re-awaken viruses such as smallpox. There’s little known about what can be found under the permafrost. Scientists worry that as the permafrost melts, we could face a global crisis, much like the plague.

Overall, climate change has many negative effects. Scientists are still fighting to save the planet, but we also must be prepared for the possibility that it’s too late and we need to be prepared.

 

Bill Nye and GMOs

For many of us who grew up with Bill Nye the Science Guy as our mentor and guide through the scientific world, he remains an influential and nearly faultless voice of reason. Whether or not you agree with all his opinions, his more recent capacity in the public eye as an activist for climate change and evolution has had him in the spotlight once again.

In Nye’s Nov. 2014 book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation,  he devoted a chapter to his opinions on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the relatively recent movement towards their domination of our foods. An outlier in the scientific community, he reiterated his skepticism towards GMOs during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything):

Bill Nye as prophet. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Bill Nye as prophet. Graphic by Katie Gibson

“I stand by my assertions that although you can know what happens to any individual species that you modify, you cannot be certain what will happen to the ecosystem. Also, we have a strange situation where we have malnourished fat people. It’s not that we need more food. It’s that we need to manage our food system better. So when corporations seek government funding for genetic modification of food sources, I stroke my chin.”

Therefore, it has struck many by surprise that in February Nye stated in a video backstage on “Real Time with Bill Maher” that he is now “in love” with GMOs.

Some have expressed anger or have criticized Nye’s sudden change of heart, citing theories of bribes or threats. However, the great thing about science is that you are allowed — encouraged, really — to change or strengthen your opinion with every new piece of evidence you receive.

Nye declares that after visiting Monsanto (a corporation that has become all but synonymous with GMOs) and working closely with the scientists there to learn about the work being done with GMOs and food, he has found evidence for his about-face. Details of this are expected to be revealed further in his revised book (to be released next fall).

Now, although Nye says his opinion on GMOs has changed and indicates that they’re safe for human consumption, he still may be skeptical about the impact on ecosystems where GMOs have been introduced.

The argument for GMOs is that they allow more food, potentially better food, to be cultivated by farmers more easily. Scientists simply pick and choose the traits which food evolves with instead of waiting for natural selection to take its course — speeding the process up dramatically. And while this unnatural evolution makes many uncomfortable — including Nye until recently — there’s no current evidence that it’s any more dangerous than waiting a few hundred years for nature to take its course. Although it isn’t mandatory for GMOs to be tested for human health risks, all those currently on our shelves have volunteered to undergo review.

We may never see the day when we have a full understanding of the effects of GMOs, but at least we have the capacity, as an intelligent species, to seek out information and form our own opinions.

Florida needs a psych eval

The existence of climate change has been a hotly debated issue in the not-too-distant past. At least, that’s how it went for most of the world. Unfortunately, headlines have been telling a different story about Floridian politicians.

You can’t sound more ridiculous than shouting the world is flat. Why? It isn’t because every person has walked completely around the entire world to test the theory. We trust our scientists to do their research and fact check one another. After enough of a percentage say they tested it and found that they were able to disprove the flat earth theory, the popular belief is that the world isn’t flat.

But despite this, Florida’s own DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) has gone and created a censorship on climate change.

Barton Bibler, an employee of Florida’s DEP, was required by his administration to take a leave of absence and complete a mental health evaluation for using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a presentation on March 2.

Apparently, Bibler was unaware of the off-the-record ban on both of the terms, which has been enforced since Governor Rick Scott took office in 2011. When asked about the reason for Bibler’s punishment, Scott’s office stated that there’s no such policy and Bibler had been reprimanded due to his performance, insubordination, and behavior which was not becoming of an employee of the DEP. However, a former DEP attorney stated that more than a dozen complaints had been reported by DEP employees on this topic in the last five years.florida

Another attorney, Christopher Byrd, gave this statement: “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability.’ That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Regardless of the proof of a real policy or simply an atmosphere of fear and hostility in Florida’s DEP, the state should be concerned about how the reality of climate change is affecting them. Miami Beach alone is victim too unusual flooding and dying coral reefs — which are a major tourist attraction and source of revenue. And, despite being nicknamed the Sunshine State, Florida is behind dreary, cold Massachusetts, as well as California and Nevada, in solar power. In fact, it’s illegal for homeowners to rely entirely on individually produced electricity.

Bibler’s punishment for his presentation — whether due to his use of censored terms or not — is a wake up call for the state. If Florida’s DEP is afraid to talk about climate change, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the state.

Climate change and coffee

Attention coffee lovers: climate change is dramatically affecting the world’s coffee supply. For those of you who may not know, coffee beans come from five regions of the world — East and Central Africa, Indonesia, India and Latin America. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the effects of climate change, such as higher temperatures, long droughts and uncharacteristic rain patterns, are dramatically reducing these areas’ abilities to produce coffee.

There is also a huge problem with coffee berry borers, a pesky beetle that infests the coffee plants. Usually, the regions in which coffee grows are inhabitable by the insect, but with changing temperatures they’re flourishing. Another issue is coffee rust, a deadly fungus wreaking havoc on coffee plantations.

Coffee berry borer beetle on a coffee bean. Photo from Creative Commons.

What does that mean for the devout coffee addicts? Prices rising 25%. With the supply suffering in the three biggest coffee producers — Costa Rica, Ethiopia and India — prices must rise to deal with the losses. But as college students, we can’t afford that. We can barely afford Ramen.

I’ll be honest — I’m a true coffee snob and buy the more-expensive-than-normal organic brands anyway, but for regular coffee consumers, this price hike hurts. I allot my pricey coffee in my monthly budget by going without other things because it’s something I care about. Many people don’t have that luxury.

The effect of climate change on the coffee supply doesn’t just hurt the consumer, it devastates the farmers’ livelihood. Even with the supply being completely normal, they live in poverty. Many retailers don’t even pay the farmers a living wage. That’s why the Fair Trade movement has surged. The problems for the farmers are so great in normal conditions, I’m concerned for their future if the crops dwindle.

There are a few solutions to this problem.

As a consumer, we have the power of the purse. We need to do our research and only purchase from companies who practice sustainable farming and provide the farmers with a better life because with no farmers comes no coffee. Global Exchange has a great list of Fair Trade coffees to choose from.

Do you drink fair trade coffee? Photo from Creative Comons.

Another is to actually get involved in the political aspect of climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists suggests writing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to address the severity of climate change. It’s on everybody’s mind, but on few politicians’ political agendas. Another great way to participate is to vote. Check up on the environmental impacts a candidate’s political actions have made and show up on Election Day.

Greening up your life is a very small but significant step to help fight climate change. Start recycling and driving less, turn off the lights when they’re not needed and get outside to maximize the sun’s potential, be a smart consumer and only buy what you need (preferably made from eco-friendly materials).

From one coffee lover to another — we can’t let a preventable situation deplete the world’s coffee supply.