Climate News Network

Mass extinction 252 million years ago may be a warning for today

Forensic geologists have revisited the scene of one of the world’s great massacres to identify the means of death. The victims of the Permian era die-off found themselves increasingly in hot water, to die of overheating or suffocation.

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Arctic Dogs Are Disappearing Due to Rising Temperatures and Dwindling Ice

Greenland’s Arctic dogs, a key part of the massive island’s life and culture, are disappearing.

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The Latest Scary Evidence That Humans Have Created a New Geological Era: Roads

Never mind the formalities: a new planetary epoch, the Anthropocene, has already begun.

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Taxpayers Give Billions in Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Lose Trillions to Related Health Costs

Health campaigners said the energy policies of the world's richest countries are inflicting a double burden on their citizens, not only using their taxes to pay fossil fuel subsidies, but also loading huge health costs on them.

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Humans Have Created 9 Billion Tons of Plastic in the Last 67 Years

U.S. scientists have calculated yet another item on the human shopping list that makes up the modern world: plastics. They have estimated the mass of all the plastic bottles, bags, cups, toys, instruments and fabrics ever produced and tracked its whereabouts, as yet another index of the phenomenal change to the face of the planet made by recent human advance.

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Al Gore: Despite Paris Pull-Out, Trump Can't Derail Clean Energy Revolution

Donald Trump “cannot rewrite history”, and no matter what he says or does the Paris Agreement to limit climate change will survive and is even stronger as a result of Trump’s rejection. This is the verdict pronounced by a former U.S. vice-president turned climate campaigner as Al Gore spurns Trump for a failed attempt to derail the energy revolution.

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Permafrost Thaw Threatens Dangerous Flood of Emissions

Permafrost, the layer of permanently frozen ground that lies just beneath the Earth’s surface in the polar regions, has been found to be more sensitive to the effects of global warming than climatology had recognised.

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Why a Healthy Diet Is Better for the Climate

Scientists have worked out how to combat climate change and improve human health, one mouthful at a time.

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Extreme Wildfires Set to Increase by up to 50%

The conditions for extreme and catastrophic wildfires could increase by 20% to 50% as the world warms and the climate changes, according to new research.

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How the Cold War Spurred Arctic Research

On the agenda at the secret meeting of scientists and the top brass of the U.S. military was the increased melting of Arctic ice and changes in the climate.

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Agriculture Is Likely Cause of Rapid Surge in Methane Emissions That Threatens Paris Climate Agreement Targets

A little over a year ago, with huge relief, scarcely able to believe their achievement, world leaders finally agreed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

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Public Opposition to Fracking Grows Worldwide

Public opposition to pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract gas from shale—the technique known as fracking—is growing even in the countries whose governments are most in favor.

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Climate Impacts Double U.S. Forest Fires

Climate change has already doubled the number of  forest fires in the western U.S. since the 1980s—and it is a trend that will continue to increase, according to new research.

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Fossil Fuel Investment Takes a Nosedive

A revolution is taking place in the global energy sector, with investments in oil and gas declining by 25 percent in 2015 while energy produced from renewables rose by more than 30 percent.

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Your Gold Jewelry Is Killing Wildlife, Destroying Forests and Accelerating Global Warming

The collapse of the Soviet Union left Bulgaria achieving in the 1990s what the rest of the world is working hard to manage in the 2020s, a reduction in its carbon dioxide emissions of more than 45%.

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Sea Levels Rising at Fastest Rate in 3,000 Years

Sea levels in the 20th century rose faster than at any time in the last 3,000 years. And in the 21st century, the tides will climb ever higher—by at least 28 cms (11 inches) and possibly by as much as 130 cms (51 inches), according to two new studies.

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How 19th-Century Whaling Could Help Predict the Climate of the Future

People from all walks of life with an interest in climate change and Arctic marine mammals are working with maritime historians and scientists to examine records of polar weather.

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Breathing Fire: How 'Dragon Water' Could Help Power the Planet

An ambitious project is being launched to drill deep into the Earth’s crust to harness super-heated “dragon water” that would generate massive quantities of renewable energy.

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Rising Global Temperatures Threaten Survival of Birds and Reptiles

The gloriously-coloured forest birds of Hawaii may lose at least half their living space because of climate change, according to new research.

And soaring global temperatures mean that many of the world’s lizards could be in trouble by 2100, and could seriously compromise the loggerhead turtle, whose sex is decided by the heat of the day at the time of incubation.

The plight of lizards is highlighted by Elvire Bestion, an ecologist at the University of Exeter Environment and Sustainability Institute, U.K., and the Experimental Ecology Research Station at Moulis in France and colleagues in a report in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS Biology.

Greenhouse gases

They describe how they used a “Metatron” — a series of semi-natural enclosures in which temperatures could be turned up or down — to create two climates: one much like the present, the other 2°C warmer, the level at which the world’s nations wish to contain global warming by 2100, by limiting the combustion of fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

In the course of two years, they tested 18 populations of the common European lizard (Zootaca vivipara), and observed each for one year to see what a temperature change did to growth rate, reproduction and survival.

Lizards are cold-blooded reptiles, and only active in the warmth of the sun, so they might be expected to benefit from an average rise in global temperatures. But, once again, researchers have found otherwise.

“It leads to faster growth of juvenile lizards and earlier access to reproduction,” Dr. Bestion says. “It also leads to lower survival in adult individuals, which should endanger population survival.”

In fact, the prediction is that lizards at the southern end of their range will certainly feel the heat, and may have to leave life’s kitchen. Depending on how humans continue increasing carbon dioxide emissions and heating the atmosphere, this might threaten between 14-30 percent of Europe’s lizards.

Lizards are common and occupy a huge range, so there is no danger of wholesale extinction. There will be somewhere they can go, and northernmost species may even benefit.

The rarest birds of Hawaii’s forested mountains, on the other hand, are already at the limits of their range. And as the world warms, forest habitat is affected, and insect-borne pathogens gain in altitude, birds that already survive in dwindling numbers could disappear altogether.

Lucas Fortini, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and colleagues report in PLOS One that they looked into the future by matching sightings of the 20 rarest birds with climate projections and species distribution models. They report that 10 species may lose 50 percent of their range this century, and six of these may lose 90 percent of their range.

“As dire as these findings are, they do not mean that these bird species are doomed,” Dr Fortini says. “Instead, our findings indicate what may happen if nothing is done to address the primary drivers of decline: disease spreading uphill into the few remaining refuges.”

Most of the North Atlantic’s loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) start their life in one place: the beaches of Florida. Although the turtles have been around for 60 million years, they could also be about to feel the heat, as the sex of a turtle is determined not by inheritance but by nest temperature during incubation.

Mother turtles dig holes in the sand, deposit around 100 eggs, and then retreat. Sand temperatures — affected by rainfall as well as depth — determine whether the babies become Arthur or Martha. Males emerge from cooler locations, females from warmer. But survival is precarious, and at most only one in 2,500 reaches adulthood.

Nest temperatures

Biological scientists Alexandra Lolavar and Jeanette Wyneken, of Florida Atlantic University, report in the Endangered Species Research journal that they monitored the species for four seasons and found that, for most of each season, nest temperatures were not sufficiently cool to produce males.

“If climatic changes continue to force the sex ratio bias of loggerheads to even greater extremes, we are going to lose the diversity of sea turtles, as well as their overall ability to reproduce effectively,” Professor Wyneken says.

“Sex ratios are already strongly female biased. That’s why it’s critical to understand how environmental factors — specifically temperature and rainfall — influence hatchling sex ratios.”

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Floods Will Add to California’s Drought Woes

Drought in California could become more frequent and more extreme — but punctuated more frequently by extreme floods, according to new research.

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This Is the World’s First Solar-Powered Airport

More than 46,000 solar panels have been laid out across 45 acres of land to fuel the operations of Cochin International Airport, India’s fourth largest in terms of international passenger traffic.

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Earth Has Lost Half of Its Trees Since the Dawn of Civilization

An international collaboration of scientists has just completed the ultimate green census – by calculating that the planet is home to 3.04 trillion trees.

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Too Warm, Too Few Fish: Health Warning for World’s Oceans

The world’s oceans — covering nearly two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, and on which much of human life depends — are under severe pressure, a report says.

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Another Year of Record Temperatures Is Further Proof of Global Warming

LONDON− Last year was the warmest year on record, according to two separate analyzes by two giant US government organizations.

The findings, which confirm a conclusion that meteorologists confidently predicted last November, mean that 14 of the warmest years on record have happened this century, and nine of the 10 warmest years have been since 2000.

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Astronauts Throw New Light on Earth’s Energy Budget

German scientists have identified a new way to measure the planet’s energy budget: the brightness of the city lights.

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Climate Change Threatens Cape Canaveral Launch Site

Climate change has begun to make its mark on one of America’s most iconic sites – the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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Hi-Tech Mirrored Glass Can Help Keep Cities Cool

A new material – and a new science called nanophotonics – could offer a revolutionary way to cool down the baking cities of tomorrow.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that greater extremes of heat will become the norm, and also that as temperatures rise to potentially dangerous levels, the energy costs of new air conditioning investment will significantly feed back into yet more global warming.

But Aaswath Raman, research associate in the Ginzton Laboratory at Stanford University, California, reports with colleagues in Nature journal that seven layers of hafnium oxide and silicon dioxide on a roof could do something very surprising.

Release warmth

They could directly reflect 97% of the sunlight away from the building, and at the same time release warmth in exactly the right infrared frequency to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere as if it wasn’t there.

In outdoor daytime tests that lasted for five hours, the temperatures in the structure below the new material fell to 4.9°C below the temperatures outside. And this effect was achieved without any use of electricity.

This new technique, which the scientists call photonic radiative cooling, could offer new ways of preserving food, chilling vaccines and saving lives in impoverished tropical regions far from any electrical supply.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases absorb infrared light, and thus store heat from fossil fuels − but not at the wavelengths of between 8 and 13 micrometres.

Since this “transparency window” in the atmosphere can be exploited to radiate the heat directly into space, the authors say: “The cold darkness of the universe can be used as a renewable thermodynamic resource, even during the hottest hours of the day.”

The relatively new science of new materials – and the unexpected properties of old materials when made in layers only a few atoms thick – continues to surprise.

The science has already delivered photovoltaic cells that turn light directly into current, smart metals that can detect their own fractures, and also water-repelling fabrics that stay permanently clean.

The Stanford researchers started with layers of hafnium oxide – an inert material already used in semiconductors and optical coatings – and silicon dioxide, a compound also known as silica or quartz, and widely used both in microelectronics and as a food additive.

Unexpected properties

From these, they were able to fashion, on a thin silver base, an ultrathin film that carried with it two unexpected properties: it was a near-perfect reflector of visible light, and an efficient emitter for infrared light. The fabric is just 1.8 microns thick – a micron is a millionth of a metre – and could be sprayed onto structures.

There are problems yet to be solved. The first practical one is how to get the heat from inside the building into its new, super-efficient exterior coating. The second is to find ways to make the stuff in industrial quantities, and then work out how to use it most effectively. But it offers a new way of thinking about energy efficiency.

“Every object that produces heat has to dump that heat into a heat sink,” said Professor Shanhui Fan, Stanford scientist and one of the report’s authors. “What we’ve done is create a way that should allow us to use the coldness of the universe as a heat sink during the day.” 

Global Warming Could Create a 50% Increase in Lightning Strikes

LONDON — Climate scientists foresee a brighter future for America − but no one will thank them for it, as global warming is expected to increase the total number of lightning strikes across the US this century by 50%.

David Romps, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, and colleagues report in Science journal that they looked at predictions of rainfall, snow, hail and cloud buoyancy in 11 different climate models. They concluded that the outcome could only be more atmospheric electrical action.

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How Climate Change Could Increase Pollen Levels by 200 Percent

A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, U.S., report in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS One that as manmade carbon dioxide and low-level ozone levels rise, so will grass pollen production and allergen exposure, by up to 200 percent.

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