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Arctic Methane Release Due To Climate Change Could Cost Global Economy ... - Huffington Post

Arctic Methane Release Due To Climate Change Could Cost Global Economy ... - Huffington Post | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
The Guardian
Arctic Methane Release Due To Climate Change Could Cost Global Economy ...

"The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb," said Gail Whiteman, an author of the report and professor of sustainability, management and climate change at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.
"In the absence of climate-change mitigation measures, the model calculates that it would increase mean global climate impacts by $60 trillion," said Chris Hope, a reader in policy modelling at the Cambridge Judge Business School, part of the University of Cambridge.
That approaches the value of the global economy, which was around $70 trillion last year.
The costs could be even greater if other factors such as ocean acidification were included, the study said, or reduced to some $37 trillion if action is taken to lower emissions.

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Climate & Clean Air Watch
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Small Change in Average, Big Change in Extremes ("balancing climate elements is difficult")

Small Change in Average, Big Change in Extremes ("balancing climate elements is difficult") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

A small increase in average temperature leads to a big increase in extreme heat.

To understand what’s happening, we need to get a little geeky and take you back to Stats class. The classic bell curve represents the distribution of all temperatures at a location. The bulk of temperatures — those close to average — sit near the middle of the curve. Record temperatures, which are rare, sit on the fringes, with hot on right and cold on the left. As the world warms from the increase in greenhouse gases, the whole curve shifts to the warmer side, the right. This shift results in a large jump in the number of extremely hot days and a drop in the number of extremely cool days. It also means heat records are more likely to be set than cold records. And it is these extremes that impact our lives.

The increase in extreme heat has repercussions for health, farming, and the energy grid that we rely on to stay cool in the summer. More extreme heat raises the risk of heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion, and allows insects to move into new areas, potentially increasing the spread of vector-borne diseases. It stresses crops accustomed to a milder climate and can worsen drought. Extreme heat is also associated with air stagnation, which traps pollutants and can worsen respiratory illnesses like asthma. The additional heat raises the demand for air conditioning, increasing cooling costs and straining the electric grid.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Why are scientists so concerned with a 2-deg C increase in average global temperature? How much will it affect us?

"The increase in extreme heat has repercussions for health, farming, and the energy grid that we rely on to stay cool in the summer. More extreme heat raises the risk of heat-related illnesses, like heat exhaustion, and allows insects to move into new areas, potentially increasing the spread of vector-borne diseases. It stresses crops accustomed to a milder climate and can worsen drought. Extreme heat is also associated with air stagnation, which traps pollutants and can worsen respiratory illnesses like asthma. The additional heat raises the demand for air conditioning, increasing cooling costs and straining the electric grid."
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World’s First Commercial CO2 Capture Plant Goes Live ("conversion to fertilizer is a brillant idea")

World’s First Commercial CO2 Capture Plant Goes Live ("conversion to fertilizer is a brillant idea") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The world's first commercial direct carbon capture plant is set to begin operations this week in Switzerland.

A Swiss company on Wednesday is set to become the world’s first to commercially remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere and turn it into a useful product. 

Climeworks, which will begin operations at a facility near Zurich, Switzerland, plans to compress the CO2 it captures and use it as fertilizer to grow crops in greenhouses. The company wants to dramatically scale its technology over the next decade, and its long-term goal is to capture 1 percent of global annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2025.

The technology to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, including planting new forests and building facilities that directly remove and capture climate pollution from the air, is in its infancy. It has never been tried at a large scale, and nobody knows if it can be used worldwide to remove enough carbon dioxide to slow warming. 

The Climeworks plant represents the beginning of an industry that is attempting to perfect the technology. Other companies, such as British Columbia-based Carbon Engineering, are also working on direct-air capture plants that will commercially suck carbon dioxide from the air.

“It’s important to note that they will not be permanently storing the CO2 that will be captured,” she said. “Instead, it will be used for greenhouses, producing synfuels, etc. No negative emissions will be generated.” 

Negative emissions can only occur when the captured carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and then locked away forever, she said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
There are many attempts globally to set up large-scale carbon capture plants, but few have gotten off the ground. This carbon-to-fertilizer technology looks promising and the world is eager for it to succeed.

"Climeworks, which will begin operations at a facility near Zurich, Switzerland, plans to compress the CO2 it captures and use it as fertilizer to grow crops in greenhouses. The company wants to dramatically scale its technology over the next decade, and its long-term goal is to capture 1 percent of global annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2025."
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Liverpool's doctors demand urgent action to tackle city's "lethal" air quality (zeroing in vs diesel")

Liverpool's doctors demand urgent action to tackle city's "lethal" air quality (zeroing in vs diesel") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

City region's Metro Mayor candidates told to make clean air a top priority.

Top doctors and medical experts from around Liverpool are demanding urgent action to tackle the region’s “lethal” air pollution crisis. 

The doctors from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), among other institutions, have sent a letter to candidates taking part in next week’s Metro Mayor election urging whoever wins to use their new powers to make sure the Liverpool City Region meets legal limits for air pollution as soon as possible. 

In the letter, the medics warn: “From Wirral to St Helens, legal limits of air pollution are broken in every single local authority in the Liverpool City Region. But, it doesn’t have to be like this. We have the technology and the tools to clean our air. Now we need our leaders to act.”

One of the signatories, Dr Jamie Rylance, senior clinical lecturer in respiratory medicine at LSTM, told the ECHO: “Everyone is exposed to the potentially lethal effects on their hearts and lungs, especially the most vulnerable: young children, the elderly and people with chronic health problems. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and action at a local level must be taken to protect our communities.” 

The letter cites official figures that estimate almost 270,000 people on Merseyside suffer from chronic health conditions that put them at increased risk when pollution levels are high. 

The letter comes in the wake of a recent High Court ruling that will force the Government to publish an action plan to tackle the deadly levels of pollution in Britain’s major cities. The Government had wanted to put off the publication of its Air Quality Plan until after the election, but the High Court has ruled that the Government must now publish its draft plan by May 9.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Doctors have raised clean air as a major election issue and they are centering on diesel engines that emit nitrogen oxide.

“Everyone is exposed to the potentially lethal effects on their hearts and lungs, especially the most vulnerable: young children, the elderly and people with chronic health problems. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and action at a local level must be taken to protect our communities.”
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The World's Biggest Solar Energy Storage Farm Is Set to Launch in Australia ("330MW of renewable energy")

The World's Biggest Solar Energy Storage Farm Is Set to Launch in Australia ("330MW of renewable energy") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

You are my sunshine.

Construction will soon be underway on a gigantic solar farm in South Australia that's set to be the biggest of its kind in the world – thanks to 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million individual batteries. 

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, at which point the huge plant should outdo all other solar farms in terms of overall battery capacity – although other solar facilities are larger in terms of land area.

Overall capacity will be 330 megawatts (MW) of power, enough to keep the lights on in tens of thousands of homes, with at least 100 MW of storage capacity for holding energy, according to the site's developer, the Lyon Group. 

"Projects of this sort, renewable energy projects, represent the future," South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill told reporters after the announcement of the solar farm last week. 

Once finished, the plant will cover 4,000 square metres (43,056 square feet) and cost an estimated $1 billion to construct, the Australian Associated Press reports. 

The facility will then be able to provide roughly 330 MW power for just over 18 minutes, or 100 MegaWatts of power for 1 hour - handy bursts of electricity that will help get the state through any future blackouts.

The use of renewable energy in South Australia is a much-debated issue right now locally, with recent blackouts prompting new discussions over how the area should meet its energy needs in the years ahead.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Australia has invested in the sun to solve its power blackouts. They are going solar big time.

"Overall capacity will be 330 megawatts (MW) of power, enough to keep the lights on in tens of thousands of homes, with at least 100 MW of storage capacity for holding energy, according to the site's developer, the Lyon Group."
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Doctors warn climate change is harming our health ("this is the clearest motive for climate action")

Doctors warn climate change is harming our health ("this is the clearest motive for climate action") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

In a new report, Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health doctors say climate change is harming our health.

They announced the formation of a new organization, the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health — made up of family physicians, pediatricians, obstetricians, allergists, internists and other medical experts — and are meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss their concerns. More than half of all U.S. doctors are members of one of the participating groups, which include the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

They’ll also present a new report, “Medical Alert! Climate Change is Harming Our Health,” which includes scientific evidence and accounts from doctors who see climate change exacerbating a wide range of health issues, including: 

- Heart and lung diseases associated with air pollution and wildfires 

- Heat-related health dangers 

- The spread of infectious disease 

- Flood and extreme weather-related physical and mental health problems 

“More than 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening,” the report states. 

“It’s not only hurting polar bears, it’s hurting us,” said Dr. Mona Sarfaty, the director of the new consortium and a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is also director of the Center for Climate Change Communication there.

Bert Guevara's insight:
“More than 97 percent of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening,” the report states. ... “It’s not only hurting polar bears, it’s hurting us,” ...

"... In turn, she said doctors are seeing an uptick in heat-related illnesses; worsening chronic conditions such as asthma; injuries and deaths from extreme weather like floods; infectious diseases spread by increasing populations of mosquitoes and ticks (including those that spread Lyme disease); illnesses stemming from contaminated food and water; and mental health problems like aggression and anxiety."
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Vulnerable Countries from Asia-Pacific Meet to Invest on Climate Action ("economy tied to CC action")

Vulnerable Countries from Asia-Pacific Meet to Invest on Climate Action ("economy tied to CC action") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

inance ministers and senior officials from 15 developing economies across Asia and the Pacific met at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila to discuss enhanced economic and financial responses to climate change.

Finance ministers and senior officials from 15 developing economies across Asia and the Pacific met today at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila to discuss enhanced economic and financial responses to climate change.

"Climate-vulnerable countries such as the Philippines fought to enshrine a 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming limit in the Paris Agreement not only to survive but also to thrive. We have to transition to clean energy-powered economies not just because it will save the climate but also because it will produce more jobs and pump prime the economy," said Philippine Senator Loren Legarda, who opened the consultation. 

Led by the Philippines when it was established in 2015, the V20 has expanded to 43 developing economies from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The 15 participating countries in the Asia-Pacific consultation include Ethiopia (the current V20 Chair), Bangladesh, Barbados, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Kiribati, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Palau, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Viet Nam.

“If not managed well, disasters can roll back years of development gains and plunge millions of people into poverty,” said Olivier Mahul, Program Manager for Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program, the World Bank Group. “Today, on International Women’s Day, let us not forget that women are among the vulnerable after a disaster, as the economic devastation exacerbates gender equality.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
While they are still debating on the reality of climate change in the US, Asia-Pacific countries are talking about investing in climate action, as if their economies depended on it.

“If not managed well, disasters can roll back years of development gains and plunge millions of people into poverty,” said Olivier Mahul, Program Manager for Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Program, the World Bank Group. “Today, on International Women’s Day, let us not forget that women are among the vulnerable after a disaster, as the economic devastation exacerbates gender equality.”
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Air pollution in Asia is wafting into the USA, increasing smog in West

Air pollution in Asia is wafting into the USA, increasing smog in West | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Over the past 25 years, air pollution from China, India and several other Asian countries has wafted across the Pacific Ocean to create rising levels of smog in the western U.S., a new study reports.

Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, is harmful to human health, because it can exacerbate asthma attacks and cause difficulty breathing. It also harms sensitive trees and crops. It's different than the "good" ozone up in the stratosphere, which protects life on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

Asian air pollution was, by far, the biggest contributor to smog in the West, the researchers found. The team also looked at other factors, such as wildfires and methane from livestock. Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65% of the western U.S. ozone increase, while wildfire emissions supplied less than 10% and methane about 15%. 

Since 1992, Asia has tripled its emissions of smog-forming chemicals such as nitrogen oxides. Though China and India are the worst offenders, North and South Korea and Japan also contribute, said Lin, who is also a research scholar at Princeton University. 

The smog levels in the western U.S. have increased each year despite a 50% reduction in U.S. emissions of smog-forming pollutants. 

"Twenty years ago, scientists first speculated that rising Asian emissions would one day offset some of the United States' domestic ozone reductions," said Owen Cooper, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado and NOAA, who was not directly involved in the study. Now that prediction has come true, he said. 

Asian pollution only slightly contributes to smog in the eastern U.S., the study found. Levels there typically spike during intense summer heat waves.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Dirty air is one problem we can't solve independently. Smog and air pollution knows no boundaries.

"Asian air pollution was, by far, the biggest contributor to smog in the West, the researchers found. The team also looked at other factors, such as wildfires and methane from livestock. Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65% of the western U.S. ozone increase, while wildfire emissions supplied less than 10% and methane about 15%.
"Twenty years ago, scientists first speculated that rising Asian emissions would one day offset some of the United States' domestic ozone reductions," ...
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Ethanol-infused fuel can cause problems, but don’t expect it to disappear ("know the issues & decide")

Ethanol-infused fuel can cause problems, but don’t expect it to disappear ("know the issues & decide") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

We’ve looked at the myths and facts about ethanol in our road fuel, and found some legitimate beefs, particularly when the mixture is used in marine engines and motorcycles.

THE MARINE PROBLEM

According to Mercury’s report, “Several issues were discovered in this study from an exhaust emissions and an engine durability standpoint as a result of running E15 fuel in outboard marine engines. Run quality concerns were also identified as a result of the lean operation on the carbureted engine.” 

Additionally, the report raises concerns about leaving ethanol-mixed fuel in long-term storage due to ethanol’s well-known tendency to absorb water from the air. Because boats are often stored in humid areas near salt water, water absorption can be more pronounced than in other areas. 

Finally, the report also expresses concerns about the effect of ethanol on the lubrication system of a two-stroke marine engine. These engines use oil in the fuel to lubricate the bearings and cylinder walls, and ethanol may reduce the oil’s lubrication ability. 

MOTORCYCLE ISSUES WITH ETHANOL

Motorcycle owners should also be cognizant of ethanol damage. Motorcycle manufacturers continued to use fuel system parts susceptible to ethanol damage after automakers changed over. Further, many more older motorcycles are still on the road, since motorcycles typically see less mileage and far less bad weather than cars do. 

Ethanol’s tendency to create higher cylinder head and exhaust temperatures are also a bigger issue with air-cooled and two-stroke motorcycles than in automobiles, so many of the wear tendencies observed in boat and small garden engines also apply to bikes. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
What does it all mean? 

This is all pretty dry research, and the reports themselves are quite detailed. What it all means to you is simple – and it comes down to a few easy-to-follow recommendations: 
- Use ethanol-free E0 fuel in your boat or motorcycle and you won’t have any problems. 
- Don’t store ethanol-mixed fuel in your small engines. Empty them and clear the carburetors after every use, or use E0 fuel. 
- If your car was made after 2001, don’t worry. If it’s older than 1990, either update the fuel system or run E0 ethanol-free premium gas. If your car was made in the 90s, it’s probably OK, but check to see if it’s having any degradation to its rubber components. 
So, while there are legitimate issues with ethanol in classic cars, inboard and outboard boat engines, motorcycles and small garden engines, those issues are easy to avoid with a little care. 
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Oceans Are Losing Oxygen. Here’s Why That’s a Big Problem (ocean warming is causing oxygen loss")

Oceans Are Losing Oxygen. Here’s Why That’s a Big Problem (ocean warming is causing oxygen loss") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Oceans across the globe are slowly losing oxygen, a new study has found. That poses a major problem for every living marine animal.

A new Nature study published this week found that oxygen levels in worldwide oceans have dipped by more than 2% in the last half-century. While the change may seem small, scientists say even subtle shifts in gas levels can alter entire ecosystems. 

“It’s significant,” said Rob Dunbar, an Earth science professor at Stanford University. “Anything with a gill is going to care and notice.” 

Dunbar, who studies climate change in the tropics and Antarctica seas but who was not part of the Nature study, said the oxygen drop can have rippling effects across the deep blue. Larger marine animals, like sharks, require more oxygen, especially to carry out high-energy activities like feeding. Dropping oxygen levels create “no-go zones” for some sea creatures, leaving them fewer areas to eat and reproduce, Dunbar said. 

“It’ll be harder for organisms to make a living in the ocean,” he said. 

Coastal economies and fisheries, already stressed by overfishing and pollution, also take a hit when oceans lose oxygen. The gas-level shift poses “potentially detrimental consequences,” according to the Nature study, which was conducted by the Germany-based GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research. It can be difficult for scientists to determine the consequences for specific ocean animals, because they are also affected by human activities, including fishing and dumping.

Gas levels in the ocean are controlled in part by the temperature of the sea. Gases — like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide — disappear from the ocean when water heats up. “If you boil water to make tea, one of things you’re doing is de-gassing that water,” Dunbar said. “It’s just based on simple chemistry.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Dropping oxygen levels create “no-go zones” for some sea creatures, leaving them fewer areas to eat and reproduce.
“It’ll be harder for organisms to make a living in the ocean.”

"Gas levels in the ocean are controlled in part by the temperature of the sea. Gases — like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide — disappear from the ocean when water heats up. “If you boil water to make tea, one of things you’re doing is de-gassing that water,” Dunbar said. “It’s just based on simple chemistry.” 
"The same idea can be applied when thinking about massive bodies of water. Dunbar said oxygen will leave oceans as the water becomes warmer from a hotter atmosphere. “Global warming is happening in the oceans,” he said. “The fact remains, independent of the cause, oceans are heating up.”
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Car ban fails to curb air pollution in Mexico City - BBC News ("need more direct action vs pollution")

Car ban fails to curb air pollution in Mexico City - BBC News ("need more direct action vs pollution") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Banning cars on Saturdays in a heavily polluted city hasn't made the air any cleaner, according to new research.

"I looked at a whole bunch of pollutants, mean levels, maximum levels, every hour of the day, but I couldn't find any evidence that the programme improved air quality," Dr Lucas Davis from the University of California, Berkeley, who carried out the study told BBC News. 

"The thinking was it was supposed to get people to take public transportation but if you look at data, they didn't and anecdotally people say they don't take the subway on the day they can't drive, they get a family member to drive them or they take taxis." 

Public transport in Mexico City is inexpensive the author says, but often overcrowded. He also believes there are cultural factors behind the reluctance to give up the car. 

"Driving is a real status symbol in Mexico City, and once a family have raised enough money to buy a car, there's a status associated with private vehicles that's tough for people to break. There's a bit of a cultural or socio-economic resistance to taking public transport." 

Despite this study, other experts believe that Mexico has made significant strides towards improving the environment while both the population and the economy have expanded and hundreds of thousands of new vehicles have come on to the roads. 

"Alongside driving restrictions, Mexico City has made massive investments in public transport to provide cleaner alternatives to driving," said Mark Watts, executive director of C40, the global network of cities dedicated to improving the environment and fighting climate change.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The number coding and public transportation systems do not seem enough to make a significant dent in air pollution, based on Mexico City studies.
We have to go back to the war room and dig deeper into our creative strategies. We cannot breathe dirty air forever.

"You have to go more directly after pollution," says Dr Davis. 
"So that means increasing the cost of driving, and that means higher gas prices, or congestion pricing or parking and it also means more emissions testing and making it more stringent."
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Climate Change: Images of Change: Older, thicker Arctic sea ice declines ("pictures speak volumes")

Climate Change: Images of Change: Older, thicker Arctic sea ice declines ("pictures speak volumes") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The area covered by Arctic sea ice at least four years old has decreased from 718,000 square miles (1,860,000 square kilometers) in September 1984 to 42,000 square miles (110,000 square kilometers) in September 2016. Ice that has built up over the years tends to be thicker and less vulnerable to melting away than newer ice. In these visualizations of data from buoys, weather stations, satellites and computer models, the age of the ice is indicated by shades ranging from blue-gray for the youngest ice to white for the oldest.

Bert Guevara's insight:
If you understand the delicate balance of life on earth, then you will be alarmed at what the loss of the ice caps will mean for the planet and man's survival.
Open the page and find out for yourself.
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Beijing creates anti-smog police to tackle air polluters ("polluters are now chased like criminals")

Beijing creates anti-smog police to tackle air polluters ("polluters are now chased like criminals") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Force will patrol streets looking for rules violations including open-air barbecues, rubbish burning and dusty roads

Beijing will create an environmental police force aimed at tackling deadly smog, after the Chinese capital spent the first week of 2017 mostly shrouded in a thick haze of pollution. 

The new law enforcement outfit will patrol the streets, eyes peeled for open-air barbecues, trash burning and dusty roads that violate regulations, the city’s acting mayor Cai Qi said at the weekend. 

Beijing will also shut its last coal-fired power plant and reduce coal consumption by 30% this year, Cai said according to state media. Officials will shut 500 factories and 300,000 older vehicles will be taken off the road. 

“There is still a long way to go to meet the expectation of the public,” he added, admitting he wakes up every morning and checks the air quality, along with the weather report. 

The capital is frequently beset with toxic smog and levels of harmful air pollution in 2015 were more than eight times those recommended by the World Health Organization. 

China declared a “war on pollution” in 2014, but has struggled to deliver the sweeping change many had hoped to see and government inspections routinely find pollutions flouting the law.

Last week, inspection teams from the environment ministry found some companies resuming operations despite a government ban, known as a “red alert”, aimed at curbing smog. More than 500 construction sites and businesses and 10,000 vehicles violated measures to reduce air pollution. 

But Beijing’s new police squad may do little to help residents breathe easy.

Bert Guevara's insight:
If Pres. Duterte declared an all-out war vs illegal drugs, China declared a war vs air polluters. Both illegal drugs and air pollution kill!
But this is the first time I heard of air pollution cops.

"China declared a “war on pollution” in 2014, but has struggled to deliver the sweeping change many had hoped to see and government inspections routinely find pollution flouting the law."
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Ian Lin's curator insight, January 25, 4:51 PM
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Plants appear to be trying to rescue us from climate change ("nature compensating for man's excess")

Plants appear to be trying to rescue us from climate change ("nature compensating for man's excess") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Carbon-hungry plants are sucking more man-made pollution out of the atmosphere than ever. But why? And will it last?

The experts were puzzled. Human activity was still polluting the air, but the amount of man-made carbon that lingered there appeared to be in decline. “That portion that stays in the atmosphere – that’s called the airborne fraction," said Trevor Keenan, co-author of the report, "and that has reduced by about 20% over the last 15 years.” The reduction is clearly visible in this next chart, where the airborne fraction thins out after 2002, breaking with the historical upward trend.

So what's going on? Humans haven't stopped emitting huge amounts of noxious gases, and carbon dioxide hasn't stopped accumulating in the atmosphere – it's just that lately, strangely, the rate at which it accumulates is slowing down, or at least holding steady. 

The reasons for this aren't yet quantified, say the team at Berkeley Lab. One thing we do know is that as global warming drove up levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past century, plants appear to have responded to the increase by photosynthesizing faster. 

And it's not just that they're working harder: the world's flora is also spreading further afield. Scientists at Boston University have reported a worldwide "fertilization" effect, after satellite surveillance showed that somewhere between a quarter and half of the world's vegetated areas were becoming significantly greener, most worryingly in hitherto ice-encrusted territories such as the Arctic.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Surprise! 
“That portion that stays in the atmosphere – that’s called the airborne fraction ... that has reduced by about 20% over the last 15 years.” ... the airborne fraction thins out after 2002, breaking with the historical upward trend.

"One thing we do know is that as global warming drove up levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past century, plants appear to have responded to the increase by photosynthesizing faster."
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Why California's Climate Change Fight Is Also About Public Health ("the issue goes beyond economics")

Why California's Climate Change Fight Is Also About Public Health ("the issue goes beyond economics") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

In California, addressing climate change isn't just about saving the world from rising sea levels, intense heat and extreme weather

Thanks to its sprawling cities, heavy reliance on cars and an enormous agriculture industry, California has long been among the most polluted states in the nation. Today, eight out of ten Californians live in a county with toxic air that contributes to a range of health problems such as asthma, heart disease and even lung cancer. 

The connection is straightforward: the same sources of emissions that cause global warming also produce pollutants that damage human health. Targeting those sources, like power plants, factories and vehicles, fights climate change and also improves human health. And no place in the country stands to benefit more than California.

"In California, we need to address our climate pollution problem, and we need to address our air quality problem," says Adrian Martinez, an attorney at the environmental law firm Earthjustice who works on clean air enforcement. "The goals go hand in hand. We need to drastically decrease the amount of fossil fuels we combust."

In the more than 25 years since California launched its program, the prospect of embracing zero-emissions vehicles on a large scale has become increasingly possible. In places without California’s pollution problem, global warming has led policymakers to move away from the internal combustion engine. A range of countries from Norway to China have set electric vehicle targets. And, with the writing on the wall, automakers have pushed ahead with technological advances to meet the demand.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Progress doesn't have to go linear towards more pollution. There are other ways to progress! This message is not only for America, but for all other cities and nations that are striving for faster economic growth, including the Philippines.

"The connection is straightforward: the same sources of emissions that cause global warming also produce pollutants that damage human health. Targeting those sources, like power plants, factories and vehicles, fights climate change and also improves human health. And no place in the country stands to benefit more than California."
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Tom Schueneman's curator insight, June 17, 4:56 PM
A direct connection between climate and human health? Of course.
 
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WATCH: Almost everything you know about clean energy is outdated ("different world from 3 years ago")

WATCH: Almost everything you know about clean energy is outdated ("different world from 3 years ago") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

At least, that was the message at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Summit in New York City last week. In his must-see keynote talk, BNEF founder and chair Michael Liebreich explained that if…

BNEF has been at the forefront of documenting the clean energy revolution, which continues to be ignored or misreported by major media outlets like the New York Times. 

At last year’s summit, Leibreich debunked the myth promoted by Bill Gates and others that we needed a clean energy miracle to solve the climate problem, in a keynote titled “In Search of the Miraculous.”

Over the past four decades, for every doubling in scale of the solar industry, the price of solar modules has dropped roughly 26 percent. Thanks to sustained long-term deployment programs, “we’ve seen the costs come down by a factor of 150 since 1975. We’ve seen volume up by [a factor of] 115,000,” Liebreich said. 

“How much more miracle-y do you need your miracles to be?” he asked. 

This year, Liebreich’s message was that the “miracle” has gone mainstream.

Last April, the cheapest contract for unsubsidized solar was 3.6 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), Liebreich said. A year later, it has fallen 25 percent to just 2.7 cents/kWh. Last year, unsubsidized offshore wind was going for 5.3 cents/kWh. Now it is 4.9 cents/kWh. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. 

“These are the record prices,” Liebreich noted, “but nonetheless, they’ve become the normal prices shortly after.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
The odds have tilted in favor of renewable energy, or haven't you heard?

"Average global prices dropped so sharply in the last year — 17 percent for solar generation, 18 percent for onshore wind, 28 percent for offshore—that even though renewable energy investment was down last year, the total renewable installations were up."
The fact that investment in renewables continues to top that for fossil fuels by two to one led Liebreich to say, “I keep telling people, this is not ‘alternative energy’. This is just mainstream, power-generating technology.”
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Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas ("big footprinters can matter")

Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas ("big footprinters can matter") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Project Gigaton is kind of like getting every Canadian to sign a strict sustainability pledge.

But what Walmart does matters. 

It’s hardly the first example of a business charging ahead on climate change mitigation while governments dither. Pretty much every giant corporation has made a commitment to reduce its emissions: food titan Unilever, everything maker General Electric, and IKEA (where you get your OMLOPPs), and on and on.

The company is such a behemoth that its policy changes trigger transformation around the globe. Walmart is the 10th largest economic entity in the world, after Canada, so this effort, dubbed “Project Gigaton,” is akin to every Canadian signing on to a strict sustainability plan. 

Most of Walmart’s environmental footprint comes from other businesses extracting raw materials to manufacture Walmart’s products. So it will be pushing its suppliers to clean up their act, aiming to slash a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain. 

The Environmental Defense Fund has been working with Walmart to cut its emissions for years, and so there’s a track record here. In 2010, Walmart pledged to cut 28 million metric tons (like removing 6 million cars from the road), then surpassed that goal in five years. Now, they’re aiming to meet a goal 35 times larger, by 2030.


Bert Guevara's insight:
Big Business can make a dent in improving the climate because it can make giant steps that they can implement easier. Pretty much every giant corporation has made a commitment to reduce its emissions: food titan Unilever, everything maker General Electric, and IKEA (where you get your OMLOPPs), and on and on. 

"But what Walmart does matters. The company is such a behemoth that its policy changes trigger transformation around the globe. Walmart is the 10th largest economic entity in the world, after Canada, so this effort, dubbed “Project Gigaton,” is akin to every Canadian signing on to a strict sustainability plan.
"The Environmental Defense Fund has been working with Walmart to cut its emissions for years, and so there’s a track record here. In 2010, Walmart pledged to cut 28 million metric tons (like removing 6 million cars from the road), then surpassed that goal in five years. Now, they’re aiming to meet a goal 35 times larger, by 2030."
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Daily CO2 ("almost nobody believes we can ever go below the 400ppm level ever again, that's bad news")

Daily CO2 ("almost nobody believes we can ever go below the 400ppm level ever again, that's bad news") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Updated March 30, 2017, with daily readings for atmospheric CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. Data by NOAA and Scripps.

When available, daily average values for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are posted here as a year-over-year comparison. Measurements are made by two independent CO2 monitoring programs (NOAA and Scripps) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, about 3400 metres above sea level. 

CO2.Earth presents a year-over-year comparison of recent daily readings for public education purposes. Tracking these readings can provide opportunities for in-the-moment learning about the seasonal cycle and trend for atmospheric CO2. See the "notes" tab on this page for important information about the daily CO2 data reposted here.

Bert Guevara's insight:
At the rate the world is emitting carbon, almost nobody believes we can ever go below 400ppm. That is bad news for the planet, not only to man.
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Carbon Dioxide Is Rising at Record Rates ("the 400ppm mark will be surpassed permanently, what next?")

Carbon Dioxide Is Rising at Record Rates ("the 400ppm mark will be surpassed permanently, what next?") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide concentrations rose at a record-fast clip.

For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide concentrations as measured at Mauna Loa Observatory rose at a record-fast clip, according to new data released by the Environmental System Research Laboratory (ESRL). The annual growth of 3 parts per million in 2016 is the slightest shade below the jump in 2015 of 3.03 ppm. Both years mark the first time carbon dioxide has risen more than 3 ppm in a single year in ESRL’s 59 years of monitoring.

An exceptionally strong El Niño helped kick the numbers up a bit, but ever-increasing carbon pollution is the main driver behind the uptick. The annual growth rate has increased since record keeping began in 1960 from just under 1 ppm in the 1960s to more than 2.4 ppm through the first half of the 2010s. The past two years have set a record for the fastest annual growth rate on record.

Those seemingly incremental increases bely the major changes taking place. The atmosphere hasn’t experienced anything like this in a long, long time.

“The rate of carbon dioxide growth over the last decade is 100 to 200 times faster than what the Earth experienced during the transition from the last Ice Age,” Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist at ESRL, said in a press release. “This is a real shock to the atmosphere.”

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide stood at roughly 280 ppm. Since then, human activities have committed a massive amount of carbon pollution to the atmosphere. It has driven carbon dioxide levels to record highs year after year.

Bert Guevara's insight:
We can only look back and mutter to ourselves, what have we done to our future?

Last year marked a milestone, with levels passing the 400 ppm mark permanently. This year scientists expect carbon dioxide to briefly reach 410 ppm this spring before the seasonal cycle of northern plant growth brings it back down a bit, continuing the ever-rising seesaw.
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Air pollution leads to more drug resistant bacteria, study finds ("poor traffic enforcers & drivers")

Air pollution leads to more drug resistant bacteria, study finds ("poor traffic enforcers & drivers") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Research shows how black carbon affects bacteria in humans’ nose, throat and lungs, possibly affecting their ability to beat the immune system.

Black carbon found in air pollution can increase the resistance of bacteria that cause respiratory disease, research has found. 

The discovery could lead to a greater understanding of the effects of air pollution on human health, according to the lead scientist of the University of Leicester study.

The four-year investigation focused on how pollution in the air, which is thought to be responsible for millions of deaths each year, affects bacteria in the nose, throat and lungs of humans. 

It found black carbon, produced when diesel, biomass and biofuels are burned, changes the way bacteria grow, possibly affecting their ability to survive and beat human immune systems. 

The study concluded that the resistance of communities of Streptococcus pneumoniae – a major cause of respiratory diseases – to penicillin was increased by black carbon. It also caused this pathogen to spread from the nose down the respiratory tract, allowing disease to develop.

The university’s Prof Paul Monks, a leading expert on air pollution, said: “The lead investigators have brought together their expertise in genetics, microbiology and air pollution chemistry to provide truly multidisciplinary, ground-breaking insights. 

“This research has significant potential to initiate a global research effort to understand a hitherto unknown effect of air pollution and provide significant additional impetus to the control of pollution.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
If traffic enforcers, drivers, public utility riders and pedestrians knew about this, they will realize how toxic (and maybe fatal) is their urban environment.
The question is: who will clean up the air?

"It found black carbon, produced when diesel, biomass and biofuels are burned, changes the way bacteria grow, possibly affecting their ability to survive and beat human immune systems."
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Railway stations across India to go solar ("the result when a sunny nation thinks big renewable!")

Railway stations across India to go solar ("the result when a sunny nation thinks big renewable!") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

India’s railways – the leading consumer of power – are to become the nation’s largest producer of solar energy

According to plans laid out in India’s latest union budget, almost every railway station in the country will soon be powered by solar. 

Addressing House members, India’s Finance Minsiter Arun Jaitley said that the project “is proposed to feed at least 7,000 stations with solar power in the medium term.” 

As of the end of March 2015, India had 7,137 railway stations – according to data released by the Minister of Railways, Suresh Prabhu. 

The move is a part of the Indian Railways’ mission to harness 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy by 2020. 

Minister Jaitley revealed that work had already begun on 300 stations, with the number expected to increase to 2,000 soon. 

Under the project, stations will be fitted with rooftop solar power systems in addition to the setting up of solar power plants through developer mode along with a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) by the railways. 

Furthermore, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the government intends to expand the country’s sourcing of solar power. 

In 2016, Indian Railways announced its partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to set up 5 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity on top of its plans to launch a tender for 150 MW of rooftop systems.

Bert Guevara's insight:
India's railway network has refocused and switched to solar and wants to be the largest.
How about the Philippines? Can we not retool our ageing PNR?

"Minister Suresh Prabhu stated that Indian Railways can play a key role in India achieving renewable energy targets and decreasing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. 
"Earlier this month, a new report revealed that if the cost of renewable energy and storage continues to fall at current rates, India could phase out coal power completely by 2050 – significantly outperforming its commitments under the Paris Agreement."
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German government agency bans meat from official functions ("like banning hamburgers from fastfood")

German government agency bans meat from official functions ("like banning hamburgers from fastfood") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

German cuisine might be most famous for its sausages and schnitzels, but a new government rule means attendees at official Ministry of Environment government functions held will see a lot more…

Earlier this week, Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s environment minister, announced that the government would be instituting a ban on meat at official functions held by the Ministry of Environment, citing the environmental burden of meat production as the reason for the ban.

Animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change and environmental degradation globally. Livestock like cattle produce methane as a byproduct of digesting their food, and methane is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas — 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. Globally, the livestock sector alone accounts for 14.5 percent of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s not just the methane from cow burps or manure that contributes to animal agriculture’s carbon footprint, it’s the fossil fuels required to ship, process, package, and refrigerate the meat as well.

China, one of the fastest growing markets for meat in the world, recently released dietary guidelines instructing residents to limit their daily intake of meat and eggs, and to prioritize proteins like fish and chicken over red meat. In 2016, the Dutch government did something similar, releasing dietary guidelines that urged residents to eat no more than two servings of meat per week. Similar guidelines have been released in the U.K. and Sweden, and both countries have cited the environmental impact of meat production in their reasoning for the guidelines. And last summer, the mayor of Turin, Italy, said that she wanted to make the city the first “vegetarian city” in the world by promoting restaurants and producers that specialize in vegetarian and vegan diets.

Bert Guevara's insight:
What if somebody calls for a NO HAMBURGER DAY at fast food outlets, in the name of the environment? Will there be a silent protest or loud people power?
Sometimes being prescriptive has its negative side. Instead of getting allies; this approach breeds resentment.

“We’re not tell anyone what they should eat,” the environment ministry said in a statement published by the Telegraph. “But we want to set a good example for climate protection, because vegetarian food is more climate-friendly than meat and fish.”
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OPEC’s Top Producer Is Turning to Wind and Solar Power ("they made the most common sense decision")

OPEC’s Top Producer Is Turning to Wind and Solar Power ("they made the most common sense decision") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The nation most identified with its massive oil reserves is turning to wind and solar to generate power at home and help extend the life of its crucial crude franchise.

Starting this year, Saudi Arabia plans to develop almost 10 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2023, starting with wind and solar plants in its vast northwestern desert. The effort could replace the equivalent of 80,000 barrels of oil a day now burned for power. Add in natural gas projects set to start later this decade, and the Saudis could quadruple that number, according to consultant Wood MacKenzie Ltd. That could supplant all the crude burned in the kingdom during its winter months.  

The effort goes hand-in-hand with a drive by the royal family to broaden the economy following two years of budget deficits tied to low oil prices. More industry, though, means more energy, with the amount of power used at peak times growing by 10 percent in the last year alone. 

“Renewable energy is not a luxury anymore,” said Mario Maratheftis, chief economist at Standard Chartered Plc., in an interview. "If domestic use continues like this, eventually the Saudis won’t have spare oil to export.’’

In all, Saudi Arabia is seeking $30 billion to $50 billion worth of investment in renewables, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said this month. The ministry will set up a division to handle the tenders until the country establishes a new independent buyer for all power supplies. 

“The terms on renewable contracts will be motivating so that the cost of generating power from these renewable sources will be the lowest in the world,” Al-Falih said at a news conference in Riyadh. The kingdom will award its first tenders to build 700 megawatts of solar and wind energy in September, Al-Falih said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
When a country has so much sun and wind, why not use it using the money earned from oil? This is the smartest direction chosen by an oil-rich nation, who admits that oil is a consumable resource.

“Renewable energy is not a luxury anymore,” said Mario Maratheftis, chief economist at Standard Chartered Plc., in an interview. "If domestic use continues like this, eventually the Saudis won’t have spare oil to export.’’
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Oklahoma hits 100 ° in the dead of winter, because climate change is real ("crazy weather is here!")

Oklahoma hits 100 ° in the dead of winter, because climate change is real ("crazy weather is here!") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Two years ago this month, in a well-publicized and much lampooned political stunt, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) brought a snowball to the Senate floor to highlight the “unseasonable” cold and cast doubt…

Oklahoma just endured a spell of exceptionally hot weather. Mangum, Oklahoma saw temperatures close to 100º F, setting a state record. The average February high in Mangum is 56º F.

It is extremely unusual to see such sweltering temperatures in the dead of winter, but climate change is loading the dice for record-breaking heat. Here, the human fingerprint is clear. Carbon pollution traps heat, warming the planet. This, in turn, shifts the entire distribution of temperatures.

Cold days become more rare, while warm days become routine. The hottest days — the ones that break records — are almost invariably linked to human influence. In this new climate system, extreme heat is far more likely than extreme cold. Over the last year, the United States has seen more than four times as many record high temperatures as record lows. The heat in Oklahoma is just the latest example.

Many people may welcome a temperate day in February, but warm weather in normally cold months disrupts ecosystems. Trees may bloom after an unseasonably balmy spell — and then suffer frost damage when cold weather returns. Flowers may blossom and shed their petals before bees arrive to pollinate them. These minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna, and the industries built around them.

Bert Guevara's insight:
When the climate undergoes significant changes, then natural cycles may get confused and go through a period of adaptation. The period of adaptation may get painful.

"Many people may welcome a temperate day in February, but warm weather in normally cold months disrupts ecosystems. Trees may bloom after an unseasonably balmy spell — and then suffer frost damage when cold weather returns. Flowers may blossom and shed their petals before bees arrive to pollinate them. These minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna, and the industries built around them."
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92% of us are breathing unsafe air. This map shows just how bad the problem is

92% of us are breathing unsafe air. This map shows just how bad the problem is | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new research revealing which places are most – and least – affected by air pollution.

An estimated 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds safety limits, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has released new research showing where the worst – and least – affected places are. 

Interactive maps highlight the magnitude of the problem: swathes of the world are coloured yellow, orange, red and purple, meaning air quality breaches WHO limits.

Parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, India, China and the Middle East are the biggest regional danger spots. The WHO says almost all air pollution-related deaths (94%) occur in low- and middle-income countries. 

Large areas of developed countries including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavian nations meet safety guidelines. But, as the map shows, much of Europe is breathing dirty air. 

Even within countries, levels of air pollution can vary. In Italy, for example, air quality in the industrial north is particularly bad.

The WHO’s latest research is its most detailed to date on outdoor air pollution by country. It shows around 3 million deaths globally are linked to pollution from vehicles, power generation and industry.

However, indoor air pollution caused by smoke from cooking stoves or fires can be just as deadly, the WHO says. Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution were associated with the deaths of an estimated 6.5 million people worldwide in 2012. That’s 11.6% of all global deaths – more than the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Even if you clean your air, you cannot escape the pollution coming from a far-away neighbor because we only have one blanket of air on the planet.
Would you believe that? 

"An estimated 92% of the world’s population lives in areas where air pollution exceeds safety limits ...
"However, indoor air pollution caused by smoke from cooking stoves or fires can be just as deadly, the WHO says. Together, outdoor and indoor air pollution were associated with the deaths of an estimated 6.5 million people worldwide in 2012. That’s 11.6% of all global deaths – more than the number of people killed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and road injuries combined."
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East Antarctica is Melting From Above and Below ("why should we worry with ice caps so far away?")

East Antarctica is Melting From Above and Below ("why should we worry with ice caps so far away?") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Warm water and air are both cutting into ice in a previously stable part of Antarctica.

East Antarctica is remote even by Antarctic standards. Harsh winds and ocean currents have largely cut off the region from the rest of the world. 

That’s left its massive stores of ice largely intact, especially compared to West Antarctica where a massive meltdown is underway that could raise seas by 10 or more feet in the coming centuries. But as carbon pollution warms the air and the ocean, there are signs that the region’s stability is under threat. Two new studies of different ice shelves — tongues of ice that essentially act as bathtub plugs — have seen major melting that could portend a less stable future for the region.

So first, about those ice shelves. They are indeed like bathtub plugs. Except instead of keeping water in a tub, they keep ice on the continent of Antarctica. That’s good because when it ends up melting into the ocean, it causes seas to rise. East Antarctica contains about two-thirds of all the ice in Antarctica so its stability is crucial for the world’s coastal areas. 

But strange things have been happening recently. During a 2014 flyover of the Roi Baudouin ice shelf, scientists noticed a curious depression more than a mile wide in the undulating ice. When they finally investigated it in January this year, they found walls that were about 10 feet high and meltwater pouring into moulins — features that funnel surface meltwater into the heart of the ice.

The moulins were just one sign of melt happening on the surface. When scientists drilled a hole in the ice and lowered a camera, they found an otherworldly blue lake stretching more than half a mile across.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Why should we in the Philippines be worried about the remote Antarctic ice situation?
Because we have one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the planet because of our location. Those living along the coasts should worry.

"East Antarctica contains about two-thirds of all the ice in Antarctica so its stability is crucial for the world’s coastal areas.
“Given the strong response of surface meltwater production and extent of meltwater processes on the shelf to summer temperature, we can expect that in a warmer climate, these ice shelves might be vulnerable to instability that is driven by meltwater hydrofracturing.”
This on its own would be distressing news for the planet’s coastal communities.
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