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Planet News !2021-04-29T16:37:17+01:00

Increasing Natural Disasters Are “Not So Natural” Afterall

Do you ever wonder why the news channels are always flashing news about a natural disaster raging in some or the other part of the world? The Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) states that the occurrence of natural disasters has hiked three-fold merely in the last four decades.  When the world is standing amidst a climate […] The post Increasing Natural Disasters Are “Not So Natural” Afterall appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

Understanding Ecology: A beginner’s handbook

Ecology, as we have all studied in our school times, is the study of organisms and how they interact with their surrounding environment. All living beings make up the biotic component while the nonliving things of our ecosystem comprise the abiotic component.  Changes occurring in the ecosystem due to different factors like increase in temperature, […] The post Understanding Ecology: A beginner’s handbook appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

Air Pollution: Is There Any way Out?

If you look at the world that we live in, you will see both luxury and misery. However, that’s just the surface level observation — beneath it all exists the misery that nature endures due to our luxury. Pollution and air pollution mainly is what we are talking about. We gave birth to it, and now […] The post Air Pollution: Is There Any way Out? appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

An Orwellian climate while Rome burns

 by Andrew GliksonThe definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein.As the world is trying to hopefully recover from the tragic effects of COVID-19, it is reminded there is no vaccine for the existential threat for its life support systems posed by global warming, nor for the looming threats of future wars and nuclear wars fueled by warmongers and $trillion preparations by military-industrial complexes.Between 1740 and 1897 some 230 wars and revolutions in Europe suggested war remained deeply ingrained in the human psyche and civilization. The question is whether the currently approaching catastrophes can be averted.No one wishes to believe in the projections made in the recent book ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’, except that these projections, made by David Wallace-Wells, are disturbingly consistent with the current shift in state of the climate toward +4 degrees and even +6 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as indicated by the current trends (Figure 1) and conveyed by leading climate scientists and the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Figure 1.. Global mean temperature estimates for land areas (NASA).Facing the unthinkable consequences of global warming is pushing climate scientists into a quandary. In private conversations, many scientists express far greater concern at the trend of global warming than they do in public. However, faced with social and psychological barriers, as well as threats of losing positions and jobs, in business, public service and academia, a majority keeps silent, displaying lesser courage than school children.According to James Hansen (2012), NASA’s former chief climate scientist: “You can’t burn all of these fossil fuels without creating a different planet”. According to Joachim Schellnhuber (2015), Germany’s chief climate scientist: ‘We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet’, and ‘If we don’t solve the climate crisis, we can forget about the rest’.Referring to a phenomenon he termed “scientific reticence”, James Hansen (2007) states: “I suggest that a “scientific reticence” (namely a reluctance to convey worrying news) is inhibiting the communication of a threat of a potentially large sea level rise”.According to Bajaj (2019): “when it comes to climate change, the need for excessive caution and absolute certainty of the results is manifesting as silence from the mainstream science on the worst yet probable consequences and the worst-case scenarios that are looking increasingly likely”. A paradox emerges where scientists who experience scientific reticence are still accused of being alarmists.This is because an evaluation of the probability of a risk needs to be related to the magnitude of the risk. For example, the inspection of the engines of a Jumbo Jet carrying 300 passengers need to be even more rigorous than that of a commuter van, or evaluation of the risk posed by a potential failure of a nuclear reactor even more critical than that of a conventional power plant, as is the absolute safety of a particle accelerator.By analogy with the dictum “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” projections of future climate trajectories need to take account of studies of the past behaviour of the atmosphere-ocean system. The pace of current global warming exceeds those of the last 2.6 million years by an order of magnitude, with calamitous consequences for biological systems.As indicated by the basic laws of physics, the principles of climate science and empirical observations in nature, under an increase of greenhouse gas concentrations by about 50 percent , global warming is inevitable. While modeled future climate change trajectories may vary, depending whether observations are based on recent measurements, paleoclimate data or models, the consequences of such an increase are inevitably catastrophic. Whereas IPCC models portray linear warming trends to 2300, other models take account of the flow of ice melt water from Greenland and Antarctica into the oceans and thereby irregular warming (Glikson, 2019).Given the warnings issued by leading climate scientists and the IPCC, while nations keep investing their dwindling $trillions in its military-industrial complexes in preparations for future war/s, our world is losing its last chance to save its planetary life support systems. Andrew GliksonDr Andrew GliksonEarth and Paleo-climate scientistANU Climate Science InstituteANU Planetary Science InstituteCanberra, AustraliaBooks:The Asteroid Impact Connection of Planetary Evolutionhttp://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400763272The Archaean: Geological and Geochemical Windows into the Early Earthhttp://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319079073Climate, Fire and Human Evolution: The Deep Time Dimensions of the Anthropocenehttp://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319225111The Plutocene: Blueprints for a Post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earthhttp://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319572369Evolution of the Atmosphere, Fire and the Anthropocene Climate Event Horizonhttp://www.springer.com/gp/book/9789400773318From Stars to Brains: Milestones in the Planetary Evolution of Life and Intelligencehttps://www.springer.com/us/book/9783030106027Asteroids Impacts, Crustal Evolution and Related Mineral Systems with Special Reference to Australiahttp://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319745442

Climate Change: How Did We End Up Here?

If we take our eyes off of the money and power for a moment, we are exposed to bigger issues that we have been ignoring for a long while now. Yes, we are talking about climate change.  It is probably the only matter that humans, as a race, should be really concerned about. After all, […] The post Climate Change: How Did We End Up Here? appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

Temperatures keep rising

Temperatures keep rising. Above image uses NASA data that are adjusted to reflect a 1750 baseline, ocean air temperatures and higher polar anomalies, while showing anomalies going back to September 2011, adding a blue trend going back to 1880 and a red trend going back to September 2011. The map below also shows that in November 2020, especially the Arctic Ocean, again was very hot. Anomalies in the above NASA image are compared to 1951-1980, while NOAA's default baseline for temperature anomalies is the 20th century average. In the Copernicus image below anomalies are compared to the 1981-2010 average. Using a different baseline can make a lot of difference. An earlier analysis pointed out that, when using a 1750 baseline and when using ocean air temperatures and higher Arctic anomalies, we did already cross  2°C above pre-industrial in February 2020.  Above Copernicus image shows temperatures averaged over the twelve-month period from December 2019 to November 2020. The image shows that the shape of the global anomaly over the past twelve months is very similar to the peak reached around 2016. This confirms that global heating is accelerating, because the peak around 2016 was reached under strong El Niño conditions, whereas current temperatures are reached under La Niña conditions. Furthermore, sunspots are currently low. The La Niña and the low sunspots are both suppressing temperatures, as discussed in a recent post. Future rise? By how much will temperatures rise over the next few years? Above image, from the U.N. Emissions Gap Report 2020, shows that growth in greenhouse gas emissions continued in 2019, with emissions reaching a total of 59.1 GtCO₂e. The commitments promised at the Paris Agreement in 2015 were not enough to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C and those commentments were not even met, said António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, calling on all nations to declare a state of Climate Emergency until carbon neutrality is reached. Earlier, António Guterres had said: "We are headed for a thundering temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century." What could cause a steep temperature rise over the next few years? A temperature rise of more than 3°C above pre-industrial could occur, and this could actually happen within a few years time. There are a number of reasons why the temperature rise could take place so fast, as described below.As said, the temperature is currently suppressed by the current La Niña and the currently low sunspots (Hansen et al. give the sunpot cycle an amplitude of some 0.25 W/m²). Such short-term differences show up more in the red trend of the image at the top, which uses a polynomial trend over a short period. Compensating for the fact that sunspots are currently low and the fact that we're currently a La Niña period can already push the temperature anomaly well over the 2°C threshold that politicians at the Paris Agreement pledged would not be crossed.  The above NOAA image and the NOAA image below illustrate that we are currently experiencing La Niña conditions.   How long will it take before we'll reach the peak of the next El Niño? NOAA says: El Niño and La Niña episodes typically last nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events may last for years. While their frequency can be quite irregular, El Niño and La Niña events occur on average every two to seven years. Typically, El Niño occurs more frequently than La Niña. There are further reasons why the temperature rise could strongly accelerate over the next few years. Loss of cooling aerosols is one such reason. Another reason is the growing frequency and intensity of forest fires, which come with high emissions of methane, of heating aerosols such as black carbon and brown carbon, and of carbon monoxide that causes hydroxyl depletion, thus extending the lifetime of methane and heating aeosols.  Map from earlier post. The vertical axis depicts latitude, the North Pole is at the top (90° North), the Equator in the middle (0°) and the South Pole at the bottom (-90° South). GHCN v4 land-surfaceair + ERSST v5 sea-surface water temperature anomaly. The Arctic anomaly reaches 4.83°C or 8.69°F vs 1951-1980, and 5.57°C vs 1885-1914.A hotter world will will also hold more water vapor, a potent greenhouse gas.   Furthermore, many tipping points affect the Arctic, e.g. more methane and nitrous oxide emissions can be expected to result from continued decline of what once was permafrost. The temperature rise is felt the strongest in the Arctic, as illustrated by the zonal mean temperature anomaly map on the right, from an earlier post.As one of the tipping points gets crossed in the Arctic, multiple feedbacks can start kicking in more strongly, resulting in multiple additional tipping points to subsequently get crossed.   At least ten tipping points affect the Arctic, as described in an earlier post, and it looks like the latent heat tipping point has already been crossed, as illustrated by the image below, from an earlier post, which shows two such tipping points.   [ from an earlier post ]Huge temperature riseWhen extending the vertical axis of the image at the top, a picture emerges that shows that a temperature rise of more than 13°C above 1750 could happen by 2026. The trend shows that 10°C is crossed in February 2026, while an additional rise of 3°C takes place in the course of 2026. The temperature could rise this much, in part because at 1200 ppm CO₂e the cloud feedback will start to kick in, which in itself can raise temperatures by an additional 8°C.And the rise wouldn't stop there! Even when adding up the impact of only the existing carbon dioxide and methane levels, and then adding large releases of seafloor methane, this alone could suffice to trigger the cloud feedback, as described in an earlier post. Of course, there are further warming elements, in addition to carbon dioxide and methane, and they could jointly cause a rise of 10°C by 2026 even in case of smaller releases of seafloor methane, as illustrated by the image below.   [ from an earlier post ] [ from an earlier post ]Above image illustrates how a temperature rise of more than as 10°C could eventuate as early as February 2026 when taking into account aerosol changes, albedo changes, water vapor, nitrous oxide, etc., as discussed in an earlier analysis. The joint impact of all warming elements, including the cloud feedback, threatens to cause a total rise of 18°C, as an earlier post warned, adding the image on the right. How high could the temperature rise? At a 3°C rise, humans will likely go extinct, while most life on Earth will disappear with a 5°C rise, and as the temperature keeps rising, oceans will evaporate and Earth will go the same way as Venus, a 2019 analysis warned. The situation is dire and calls for immediate, comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan. Links • Climate Planhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/climateplan.html• NOAA Global Climate Report - November 2020 https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/202011 • NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis - maps https://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/maps/index.html• What are El Niño and La Niña?https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ninonina.html• Multivariate El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Index Version 2 (MEI.v2) https://psl.noaa.gov/enso/mei• Copernicus - surface air temperature for Novmber 2020 https://climate.copernicus.eu/surface-air-temperature-october-2020 • NOAA ISIS Solar Cycle Sunspot Number Progressionhttps://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/solar-cycle-progression• Secretary-General's address at Columbia University: "The State of the Planet" https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2020-12-02/address-columbia-university-the-state-of-the-planet• U.N. Emissions Gap Report 2020 https://www.unenvironment.org/emissions-gap-report-2020• U.N. Climate Ambitions Summit, December 12, 2020https://www.climateambitionsummit2020.org/ondemand.php• U.N. Paris Agreement (2015)https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement• Why stronger winds over the North Atlantic are so dangeroushttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/02/why-stronger-winds-over-north-atlantic-are-so-dangerous.html • Feedbacks in the Arctic https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/feedbacks.html • September 2015 Sea Surface Warmest On Recordhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2015/10/september-2015-sea-surface-warmest-on-record.html • When will we die? https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/06/when-will-we-die.html • A rise of 18°C or 32.4°F by 2026?https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/02/a-rise-of-18c-or-324f-by-2026.html • Methane Hydrates Tipping Point threatens to get crossedhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/08/methane-hydrates-tipping-point-threatens-to-get-crossed.html • Arctic Hit By Ten Tipping Pointshttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/04/arctic-hit-by-ten-tipping-points.html • Crossing the Paris Agreement thresholdshttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/crossing.html • 2°C crossedhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/03/2c-crossed.html • Most Important Message Everhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2019/07/most-important-message-ever.html • Blue Ocean Eventhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2018/09/blue-ocean-event.html • Record Arctic Warminghttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/04/record-arctic-warming.html • There is no time to lose https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/11/there-is-no-time-to-lose.html • Temperatures threaten to become unbearable https://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2020/09/temperatures-threaten-to-become-unbearable.html • Warning of mass extinction of species, including humans, within one decadehttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2017/02/warning-of-mass-extinction-of-species-including-humans-within-one-decade.html• Extinctionhttps://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/extinction.html

Top Reasons Why We Should Properly Recycle E-Waste

We live in a “futuristic” digital era, driven by innovativeness and a forward-looking approach. Each day we witness the emergence of a new technology that discards the ideas from the past. This might seem fascinating but unknowingly, technology advancement is resulting into exponential amounts of electronic trash every year. As such, proper e-waste recycling has […] The post Top Reasons Why We Should Properly Recycle E-Waste appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

Benefits of Going ‘Solar’ at Home or Business

“Solar power is the last energy resource that isn’t owned yet – nobody taxes the sun yet” ~ Bonnie Rait. And before energy resources like coal and oil get exhausted from our Mother Earth, let’s save the mankind with solar power. Keeping in view the fast-paced depletion and overutilisation of natural resources today, the benefits […] The post Benefits of Going ‘Solar’ at Home or Business appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

Potentially Harmful Environmental Factors to Keep an Eye on

“It is our collective and individual responsibility…to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live” – Dalai Lama There exists constant interactivity between humans and a wide range of environmental factors. These interactions play a major role in affecting our health and quality of life. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), […] The post Potentially Harmful Environmental Factors to Keep an Eye on appeared first on Nature Talkies - We Talk about Nature.

Collaborating with the ocean is essential to addressing climate change and environmental justice

Collaborating with the ocean is essential to addressing climate change and environmental justice "The potential for the “blue economy” — one that combines more thoughtful stewardship of the ocean’s resources and economic opportunity with a more pragmatic, respectful approach to protecting coastal ecosystems — is vast. But with more than $1.5 trillion in annual economic value linked to ocean-based activities, the time is right to place the world’s seas at the center of a climate-centric post-pandemic recovery. This discussion will center on the role ocean solutions can play in addressing both climate change and systemic environmental justice issues. This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s VERGE 20, October 26-30, 2020. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/ve...   Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwW3...   OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/gree... Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz YanniGuo Mon, 11/09/2020 - 17:01 Featured Off

Biden-Harris: The work begins Joel Makower Sat, 11/07/2020 - 10:39 Whatever your political leanings, the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States increases the odds of bringing America back into the community of nations addressing the climate crisis. “Increases the odds” is the key phrase in the above sentence. There’s a lot of work to do, and not just by our elected representatives, to regain our footing on this issue — and to regain our standing on the global stage. Now, the hard work begins. There is public policy to enact and implement. There are new commitments to be made. There are fractured alliances to mend. But more important, there is leadership to project. Not just by the new president or Congress, but by us all. The new administration will need to know that we have their backs. If America is to be seen as the climate leader so many of us desperately want it to be, we’ll need to stand with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on climate (and environmental protection in general). We’ll need our voices to be loud and clear. We’ll need to push and prod them toward increasingly more ambitious action. The new administration will need to know that we have their backs. This is easier said than done. Most companies have been woefully silent on climate policy. Despite the explosion of net-zero commitments across the economy, there’s been relatively little hue and cry by business for national leadership on climate issues. Quite the opposite: Most companies have stood by as the current administration dismantled existing climate policies, which must now be pieced back together. It won’t be easy or quick, but nothing less will do. And getting back to where we were in 2016 is only the beginning. Elections are easy; governing is hard, particularly in this fractured age. But it’s heartening that the president-elect’s campaign website has a page dedicated to “a clean energy revolution and environmental justice.” It speaks to how addressing the climate crisis will lead to “a stronger, more resilient nation” as we take on “this grave threat.” It promises that “the development of solutions is an inclusive, community-driven process.” These are words, not deeds, but they nonetheless represent a welcome turnaround from current policy. All of us will need to hold the new administration to account on those lofty aspirations. There will be lots of obstacles overcome, by all of us. More to come on this. For now, it’s time to exhale, relax, savor the moment. But only for a moment. It's a new day. This is when the hard work actually begins. Pull Quote The new administration will need to know that we have their backs. Topics Policy & Politics Climate Change Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off JoeBiden.com

“This madness has to stop!” Indigenous Voices on the Destruction of the Amazon

By Teresa Millesi Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on Indigenous groups in Latin America, especially in Brazil, where the president Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed its severity, with his ministers calling it an “opportunity” for illegal logging in the Amazon. Horrifying videos of hospital corridors lined with corpses and pictures of mass graves in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, are a shocking indicator of the toll the pandemic has taken on Brazil and its people.

Flows, Histories, and Politics of Pollution in Europe (17–20 Century)

Conference Report Dates: 28–29August, 2020. Organizers: Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) Conveners: Andrei Vinogradov (RCC) and Professor Julia Herzberg (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München). The online workshop started with welcome remarks by the conveners, who outlined the key methodological framework of the event. Pollution...

Super-enzyme breaks down plastic bottles in ‘a matter of days’

From BBC Science Focus Magazine:

Professor John McGeehan, director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at the University of Portsmouth Professor John McGeehan at work

The enhanced protein is made up of two enzymes produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles.

A so-called “super-enzyme” that eats plastic could be “a significant leap forward” in finding solutions to tackle the pollution crisis, scientists hope.

The enhanced protein is made up of two enzymes produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles, known as Ideonella sakaiensis.

Professor John McGeehan, director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at the University of Portsmouth, said that unlike natural degradation, which can take hundreds of years, the super-enzyme is able to convert the plastic back to its original materials, or building blocks, in just a few days.

“Currently, we get those building blocks from fossil resources such as oil and gas, which is really unsustainable,” he said. “But if we can add enzymes to the waste plastic, we can start to break it down in a matter of days.”

He said the process would also allow plastics to be “made and reused endlessly, reducing our reliance on fossil resources”.

In 2018, Prof McGeehan and his team accidentally discovered that an engineered version of one of the enzymes, known as PETase, was able to break down plastic in a matter of days.

As part of their current study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of […]

Global climate goals ‘virtually impossible’ without carbon capture – IEA

capturing CO2 cartoon

Up to $160 billion needs to be invested in the technology by 2030, a ten-fold increase from the previous decade, it added. “Without it, our energy and climate goals will become virtually impossible to reach,” the IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement.

A sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology is needed globally if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets designed to slow climate change, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.A growing number of countries and companies are targeting net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around the middle of the century in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

To reach that, the amount of CO2 captured must rocket to 800 million tonnes in 2030 from around 40 million tonnes today, the IEA, which advises industrialised nations on energy policies, said in a report.

Up to $160 billion needs to be invested in the technology by 2030, a ten-fold increase from the previous decade, it added.

“Without it, our energy and climate goals will become virtually impossible to reach,” the IEA head Fatih Birol said in a statement.

The global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic risks delaying or cancelling projects dependent on public support, the IEA said.

An oil price slide had also reduced revenues for existing CCUS facilities selling CO2 for so-called enhanced oil recovery (EOR). However, the IEA added: “Economic recovery packages are a unique window of opportunity […]

Studying Scientists in their Natural Habitat

By Melissa Haeffner Growing up in a small suburb in the United States, my dream was to move to the big city, to agilely navigate through shoulder-to-shoulder masses of humanity and revel in the clashes between cultures. I didn’t pay attention to the “environment” or “nature,” and it was not a central part of my sociology studies in college.

Noticing Tiny Things

By Ghislaine (Platell) Small I have always been drawn to the environment and to understanding how living things work. My parents are both plant molecular biologists, and I had a limited understanding and familiarity of DNA and photosynthesis long before it was taught to me at school.

How the climate crisis will crash the economy

How the climate crisis will crash the economy Joel Makower Mon, 09/14/2020 - 02:11 The chickens are coming home to roost. Even before the western United States became a regional inferno, even before the Midwest U.S. became a summertime flood zone, even before an annual hurricane season so bad that the government is running out of names to attach to them, even before Colorado saw a 100 degrees Fahrenheit heatwave swan dive into a 12-inch snowstorm within 48 hours. Even before all that, we’d been watching the real-world risks of climate change looming and growing across the United States and around the world. And the costs, financially and otherwise, are quickly becoming untenable. Lately, a steady march of searing heat, ruinous floods, horrific wildfires, unbreathable air, devastating hurricanes and other climate-related calamities has been traversing our screens and wreaking havoc to national and local budgets. And we’re only at 1C of increased global temperature rise. Just imagine what 2C or 3C or 4C will look like, and how much it will cost. We may not have to wait terribly long to find out. It’s natural to follow the people affected by all this: the local residents, usually in poorer neighborhoods, whose homes and livelihoods are being lost; the farmers and ranchers whose crops and livestock are withering and dying; the stranded travelers and the evacuees seeking shelter amid the chaos. And, of course the heroic responders to all these events, not to mention an entire generation of youth who fear their future is being stolen before their eyes, marching in the streets. So many people and stories. But lately, I’ve been following the money. The financial climate, it seems, has been as unforgiving as the atmospheric one. Some of it has been masked by the pandemic and ensuing recession, but for those paying attention, the indicators are hiding in plain sight. And what we’re seeing now are merely the opening acts of what could be a long-running global financial drama. The economic impact on companies is, to date, uncertain and likely incalculable. The financial climate, it seems, has been as unforgiving as the atmospheric one. Last week, a subcommittee of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a report addressing climate risks to the U.S. financial system. That it did so is, in itself, remarkable, given the political climes. But the report didn’t pussyfoot around the issues: "Climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy," it stated, adding: Climate change is already impacting or is anticipated to impact nearly every facet of the economy, including infrastructure, agriculture, residential and commercial property, as well as human health and labor productivity. Over time, if significant action is not taken to check rising global average temperatures, climate change impacts could impair the productive capacity of the economy and undermine its ability to generate employment, income and opportunity. Among the "complex risks for the U.S. financial system," the authors said, are "disorderly price adjustments in various asset classes, with possible spillovers into different parts of the financial system, as well as potential disruption of the proper functioning of financial markets." In other words: We're heading into uncharted economic territory. Climate change, said the report’s authors, is expected to affect "multiple sectors, geographies and assets in the United States, sometimes simultaneously and within a relatively short timeframe." Those impacts could "disrupt multiple parts of the financial system simultaneously.” For example: "A sudden revision of market perceptions about climate risk could lead to a disorderly repricing of assets, which could in turn have cascading effects on portfolios and balance sheets and therefore systemic implications for financial stability." Sub-systemic shocks And then there are “sub-systemic” shocks, more localized climate-related impacts that "can undermine the financial health of community banks, agricultural banks or local insurance markets, leaving small businesses, farmers and households without access to critical financial services." This, said the authors, is particularly damaging in areas that already are underserved by the financial system, which includes low-to-moderate income communities and historically marginalized communities. As always, those least able to least afford the impacts may get hit the hardest. This was hardly the first expression of concern about the potentially devastating economic impacts of climate change on companies, markets, nations and the global economy. For example: Two years ago, the Fourth National Climate Assessment noted that continued warming "is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts." It placed the price tag at up to 10.5 percent of GDP by 2100. Last month, scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said that while previous research suggested that a 1C hotter year reduces economic output by about 1 percent, "the new analysis points to output losses of up to three times that much in warm regions." Another report last month, by the Environmental Defense Fund, detailed how the financial impacts of fires, tropical storms, floods, droughts and crop freezes have quadrupled since 1980. "Researchers are only now beginning to anticipate the indirect impacts in the form of lower asset values, weakened future economic growth and uncertainty-induced instability in financial markets," it said. And if you really want a sleepless night or two, read this story about "The Biblical Flood That Will Drown California," published recently in Mother Jones magazine. Even if you don’t have a home, business or operations in the Golden State, your suppliers and customers likely do, not to mention the provenance of the food on your dinner plate. Down to business The CTFC report did not overlook the role of companies in all this. It noted that "disclosure by corporations of information on material, climate-related financial risks is an essential building block to ensure that climate risks are measured and managed effectively," enabling enables financial regulators and market participants to better understand climate change’s impacts on financial markets and institutions. However, it warned, "The existing disclosure regime has not resulted in disclosures of a scope, breadth and quality to be sufficiently useful to market participants and regulators." An analysis by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure found that large companies are increasingly disclosing some climate-related information, but significant variations remain in the information disclosed by each company, making it difficult for investors and others to fully understand exposure and manage climate risks. The macroeconomic forecasts, however gloomy, likely seem academic inside boardrooms. And while that may be myopic — after all, the nature of the economy could begin to shift dramatically before the current decade is out, roiling customers and markets — it likely has little to do with profits and productivity over the short time frames within which most companies operate. Nonetheless, companies with a slightly longer view already are considering the viability of their products and services in a warming world. Consider the recommendations of the aforementioned CFTC report, of which there are 20. Among them: "The United States should establish a price on carbon." "All relevant federal financial regulatory agencies should incorporate climate-related risks into their mandates and develop a strategy for integrating these risks in their work." "Regulators should require listed companies to disclose Scope 1 and 2 emissions. As reliable transition risk metrics and consistent methodologies for Scope 3 emissions are developed, financial regulators should require their disclosure, to the extent they are material." The Financial Stability Oversight Council "should incorporate climate-related financial risks into its existing oversight function, including its annual reports and other reporting to Congress." "Financial supervisors should require bank and nonbank financial firms to address climate-related financial risks through their existing risk management frameworks in a way that is appropriately governed by corporate management." None of these things is likely to happen until there’s a new legislature and presidential administration in Washington, D.C., but history has shown that many of these can become de facto regulations if enough private-sector and nongovernmental players can adapt and pressure (or incentivize) companies to adopt and hew to the appropriate frameworks. Finally, there is collaboration among the leading nongovernmental organizations focusing on sustainability reporting and accountability. And there’s some news on that front: Last week, five NGOs whose frameworks, standards and platforms guide the majority of sustainability and integrated reporting, announced "a shared vision of what is needed for progress towards comprehensive corporate reporting — and the intent to work together to achieve it." CDP, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board, the Global Reporting Initiative, the International Integrated Reporting Council and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board have co-published a shared vision of the elements necessary for more comprehensive corporate reporting, and a joint statement of intent to drive towards this goal. They say they will work collaboratively with one another and with the International Organization of Securities Commissions, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation, the European Commission and the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council. Lots of names and acronyms in the above paragraph, but you get the idea: Finally, there is collaboration among the leading nongovernmental organizations focusing on sustainability reporting and accountability. To the extent they manage to harmonize their respective standards and frameworks, and should a future U.S. administration adopt those standards the way previous ones did the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, we could see a rapid scale-up of corporate reporting on these matters. Increased reporting won’t by itself mitigate the anticipated macroeconomic challenges, but to the extent it puts climate risks on an equal footing with other corporate risks — along with a meaningful price on carbon that will help companies attach dollar signs to those risks — it will help advance a decarbonized economy. Slowly — much too slowly — but amid an unstable climate and economy we’ll take whatever progress we can get. I invite you to follow me on Twitter, subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz, and listen to GreenBiz 350, my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote The financial climate, it seems, has been as unforgiving as the atmospheric one. Finally, there is collaboration among the leading nongovernmental organizations focusing on sustainability reporting and accountability. Topics Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience Policy & Politics Climate Change Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

Circularity 20 Closing: Where do we go from here?

Circularity 20 Closing: Where do we go from here?   Lauren Phipps, Director & Senior Analyst of the Circular Economy at GreenBiz Group, discusses what's next in her closing thoughts. Holly Secon Mon, 09/07/2020 - 11:42 Featured Off

Greenpeace petitions UK Government to ban supertrawlers catching 7,000 tons of fish

A YouGov poll, commissioned by Greenpeace, has shown that more than 4 in 5 members of the British public believe supertrawlers, factory trawlers over 100m long, should be banned from fishing in the UK’s Marine Protected Areas. 81% said supertrawlers should be banned from fishing in protected areas, with just 4% saying they should be permitted to fish in them.

This comes after an investigation revealed that supertrawlers spent almost 3000 hours fishing in UK Marine Protected Areas in 2019, more than double the number of hours they spent fishing in UK protected areas in 2018. Marine Protected Areas exist to protect vulnerable ecosystems and marine life, like porpoises and reefs.

The Dutch-owned Annelies Ilena supertrawler in UK waters The Dutch-owned Annelies Ilena supertrawler in UK waters

A Greenpeace petition calls on the government to ban supertrawlers from protected areas, and has already gathered 125,000 signatures, including those of Sir Michael Palin, Joanna Lumley, Gillian Anderson Green MP Caroline Lucas, Alison Steadman and the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Philip Evans, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said “This polling makes absolutely clear that the public is united behind our call for a ban on supertrawlers fishing in protected areas. After a decade of political division, our call cutting across the political divide should send a firm message to the government that enough is enough. Supertrawlers must be banned from our protected areas.

“Britain’s departure from the EU’s Common Fisheries […]

The drive to plant one trillion trees by 2030

From TIME Magazine, an announcement by Jane Goodall and Howard Benioff (excerpt):

“By far the most cost-effective of all the big solutions to climate change is to protect and restore forests. Forests extract and store CO2 from the atmosphere and produce the oxygen we breathe. But these complex ecosystems have been systematically destroyed. We have already lost nearly half the world’s trees, most within the last 100 years. And most of the remaining trees—about 3 trillion—are still under threat, even though they are a critical tool in the fight against climate change.

At this moment in time, massive fires have yet again erupted around the world, from California to the Congo Basin to the Amazon. Far too many of these fires are intentionally set because agricultural profits have been prioritized over the health of our planet. A call to stop deforestation is more important than ever before.”

View of the Congo river, Odzala national park View of the Congo river, Odzala National Park Republic of Congo

A new World Economic Forum (WEF) initiative, the Trillion Tree challenge (1T.org), has been launched in an effort to bring together old and new partners to add momentum to the regreening of our planet and plant 1 trillion trees around the world by 2030. Companies joined by NGOs and youth movements as well as a number of governments, such as the U.S., have pledged their support for this solution. Those involved will be able to share best practices, […]

Scottish officials raised concerns that Shell’s £5m tree-planting scheme would be seen as “greenwashing”

Glen-Garry-in-Lochaber-ScotlandAs a result of UK Freedom of Information requests, internal emails seen by The Ferret investigative blog have revealed that, in the run-up to an announcement by Shell last October that it was funding a new £5m tree-planting initiative, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) officials raised a number of concerns.

In August 2019, Jo Ellis, FLS head of planning and environment, noted “I do think we need to be cautious about how we communicate this…I don’t want us to come across as falling for the greenwashing. The fact remains that mitigation work such as tree planting will not be sufficient to offset carbon emissions for the long term (we need to be reducing the use of fossil fuels).”

“The tiny amount Shell is putting into green initiatives is dwarfed by what it is still spending on investigating new oil and gas reserves, and in blocking initiatives to set legally binding emissions reductions targets.” she added.

“What we should actually be doing is reducing emissions – e.g. stop using petrol, which Shell is not planning to do. But until such time as technology moves us to a low emissions, projects that sequester carbon such as this one will buy us time.”

Ellis continued: “Personally I would have a problem with them saying anything that implies that this is going to make what they do environmentally friendly. This is all about reducing the harm that they do, not about them doing good.”

FLS director of land management, […]

Why does earth smell so wonderful after rain ?

rain falling on grass in sunlightThat wonderful smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather is called Petrichor – a heady mixture of plant oils, bacterial spores and ozone.

In 1964, two Australian scientists, Isabel Joy Bear and R. G. Thomas, determined that one of the main causes of this distinctive smell is a blend of oils secreted by some plants during arid periods. When a rainstorm comes after a drought, compounds from the oils—which accumulate over time in dry rocks and soil—are mixed and released into the air.

In moist, forested areas in particular, a common substance is geosmin, a chemical produced by a soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes. The bacteria secrete the compound when they produce spores, then the force of rain landing on the ground sends these spores up into the air and the moist air conveys the chemical into our noses.

Actinomycetes image showing their beautiful filaments

Actinomycetes can be found almost everywhere and are often called “Nature’s pharmacists”. They are remarkable filamentous organisms responsible for producing an estimated 70% of the antibiotics used in human therapy (making them the most robust natural source of antibiotics). They have key role in composting, in that their filaments stretch through the soil and work together to control harmful or unwanted soil bacteria.
 
And the final, important ingredient in […]

Pulling carbon dioxide from the air by farming

Basalt columns along the Snake River Gorge, Twin Falls, Idaho, USAExciting news as ‘rock weathering’ experiment pulls carbon dioxide from the air and boosts crop production by 12%.

The Working Lands Innovation Center (WLIC) has been partnering with farmers, ranchers, government, the mining industry and Native American tribes in California on some 50 acres of cropland soil amendment trials and their experiments have yielded results that may be another important step in fighting climate change.

Rock chemistry

Many processes weather rocks on Earth’s surface, influenced by chemistry, biology, climate, and plate tectonics. The dominant form of chemical weathering occurs when carbon dioxide combines with water in the soil and the ocean to make carbonic acid.

About 95% of Earth’s crust and mantle – the thick layer between the planet’s crust and its core – is made of silicate minerals, which are compounds of silicon and oxygen.

When carbonic acid comes in contact with certain silicate minerals, it triggers a chemical process known as the ‘Urey reaction’. This reaction pulls gaseous carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and combines it with water and calcium or magnesium silicates, producing two bicarbonate ions. Once the carbon dioxide is trapped in these soil carbonates, or ultimately washed into the ocean, it no longer warms the climate

Now, emerging science – including at the California Collaborative for Climate Change Solutions’ (C4) WLIC – shows that it is possible to accelerate rock weathering rates.

Enhanced rock weathering could both slow global warming and improve soil health, making it […]

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