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Save The Sperm! China's Pollution Is Out To Get Them ("alternative population control program?")

Save The Sperm! China's Pollution Is Out To Get Them ("alternative population control program?") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it
With recent reports of schools closing due to smog, an 8-year-old diagnosed with lung cancer and an ever-darkening sky throughout its most polluted areas, present-day China is paying for prioritizing economics over the environment.

A frenzy over declining sperm counts broke out this week after the China Business Review published "Smog Can Impact Humans’ Reproductive Ability and Immune System." The article referred to a report released by the China Meteorological Administration and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which outlined growing climate change and measures for reducing China's unsustainable carbon footprint. The paper made only a passing reference to fertility, but enough to raise alarm.

Even if the report's findings were exaggerated for the sake of a headline, fertility is just one of myriad health concerns posed by poor air and water quality -- concerns that include lung cancer, immunodeficiency, cardiovascular disease and increased mortality.

In recent years, China has seen its pollution index grow exponentially. Thus far,setting limits to reduce coal use and the number of vehicles on the road has not worked. The Chinese government has even resorted to offering cash payouts to municipalities to reduce local pollution levels, but to little avail.

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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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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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Are You Ready to Drive on Solar Panel Roadways? ("the energy potential is simple awesome!")

Are You Ready to Drive on Solar Panel Roadways? ("the energy potential is simple awesome!") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Scott and Julie Brusaw are the founders of Idaho-based company Solar Roadways. They created a system of solar panels coated with bulletproof glass that can replace pavement. It's not an unprecedented idea: both the Netherlands and France are researching solar roadways. But they have not yet been tried in the U.S.

The Brusaws just installed their first pilot project in Sandpoint, Idaho. And they are working with the Missouri Department of Transportation on a project at a rest stop on Route 66. 

Brusaw: "We're hoping to be mass-manufacturing toward the end of next year and I expect to see them on residential roads probably in two to three years."

Skeptics worry about the durability of the panels and also the expense of producing and maintaining them. 

But the Brusaws said the roads will pay for themselves over time by generating clean energy that can be delivered and sold to consumers. 

Roads hold tremendous potential as sources of clean power. For example, the Brusaws said if every road in the U.S. was made of solar panels, we could produce three times more energy than we use as a country.

Bert Guevara's insight:
We should recognize a brilliant idea when we see one.

"Roads hold tremendous potential as sources of clean power. For example, the Brusaws said if every road in the U.S. was made of solar panels, we could produce three times more energy than we use as a country."
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Can Miami Beach Hold Its Ground vs King Tides? ("there is a limit to adaptation vs sea level rise")

Can Miami Beach Hold Its Ground vs King Tides? ("there is a limit to adaptation vs sea level rise") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

A city must decide whether to retreat or stand and fight when rising seas come crashing in.

Around this time last year, the Atlantic was gushing over Miami Beach’s seawalls and up through storm drains, turning low-lying Indian Creek Drive into a briny river. So-called king tides made headlines, and Al Gore famously said, “I was in Miami last fall during the supermoon, one of the highest high-tide days. And there were fish from the ocean swimming in some of the streets of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale and Del Rey. And this happens regularly.” 

Located on a barrier island off the southeastern coast of Florida, Miami Beach is ground zero for sea-level rise. This year, though, as seasonal king tides return, the city is hoping to stay dry while it demonstrates climate adaptation is possible with bricks, mortar, and human ingenuity. One can admire that kind of grit, but any long-term solution is still untested, and legitimate questions are surfacing: For how long should we keep fortifying infrastructure, and at what point do we pack up and leave? 

Miami Beach has so far spent about $150 million of the $400 million the city says it needs to save itself from the sea. Stormwater fees have increased twice during the past three years to raise the first $200 million. The funds are being funneled into elevating major roads and constructing seawalls on the island’s vulnerable western coast, in addition to installing water pumps and check valves, which were lacking last year. 

The buildings in neighborhoods that have the improvements will remain dry, says Bruce Mowry, Miami Beach’s city engineer, who came to Florida from California three years ago to tackle the flooding. “As long as we have a good power source and the electric pumps are running, I believe the city is safe for the time being,” he says. “If we get a hurricane, all that drops.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Nature has a superior way of showing who is boss. The crisis of seal level rise affords inhabitants few hard choices.

"Recent predictions by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact—a collaboration of government officials from Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties—indicate that by the end of the century, the sea could rise as high as six and a half feet above the 1992 mean level. That means up to 12 inches by 2030, and 34 inches by 2060. Even though those predictions fall on the conservative side, such changes would submerge the whole island."
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What’s good for the planet is good for health ("air we breathe is getting worse by 8%; not better")

What’s good for the planet is good for health ("air we breathe is getting worse by 8%; not better") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Stop and take a breath. No matter where you live in the world, the chances are great that the air filling your lungs is polluted. Worldwide, roughly 9 out of 10 people live in places where air quality levels exceed the World Health Organization’s safe limits.

Unfortunately, the air we breathe is getting worse not better. Between 2008 and 2013, air pollution levels increased by 8% among cities that monitored air pollution globally. Every year an estimated 6.5 million people die from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and heart disease associated with air pollution.

The devastating consequences of air pollution affect both the climate and health. They are seen everywhere from smog-encircled mega-cities to village dwellings filled with smoke from indoor cooking. Yet virtually all air pollution is man-made - and often excessive.

Climate change compromises the essential prerequisites for good health - safe water, secure shelter and food security. Without them tens of thousands of lives are needlessly lost each year. Between 2030 and 2050, WHO estimates climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from undernutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

Fortunately, climate change is headed for a course correction. Last year, the Paris Agreement marked a turning point for climate change, when more than 190 countries agreed to keep the global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius. 

However, much remains to be done to make this a reality.

As the Paris Agreement enters into force and parties to the Agreement meet in Morocco, “the right to health” must remain central to the climate actions implemented by all countries. If we look at history, the health sector provides the best evidence and arguments to sound the alarm and compel countries to take action.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The global struggle for clean air goes on, but we are not yet winning.

"Worldwide, roughly 9 out of 10 people live in places where air quality levels exceed the World Health Organization’s safe limits.
"Unfortunately, the air we breathe is getting worse not better. Between 2008 and 2013, air pollution levels increased by 8% among cities that monitored air pollution globally. Every year an estimated 6.5 million people die from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and heart disease associated with air pollution.
"The devastating consequences of air pollution affect both the climate and health. ..."
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The Methane Riddle: What Is Causing the Rise in Emissions? ("microbes in wetlands, rice paddies")

The Methane Riddle: What Is Causing the Rise in Emissions? ("microbes in wetlands, rice paddies") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

The cause of the rapid increase in methane emissions since 2007 has puzzled scientists. But new research finds some surprising culprits in the methane surge and shows that fossil-fuel sources have played a much larger role over time than previously estimated.

Until now, the world has not had a definitive answer to these questions. But in recent months, researchers believe they have finally begun to crack the problem — and the results are surprising. 

The amount of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled in the past 250 years. It has been responsible for about a fifth of global warming. But it has a confusing recent history. The steady rise of emissions stopped in the 1990s. Emissions were stable for almost a decade until 2007, but then abruptly resumed their rise. 

What has been going on? Fracking of natural gas in the U.S. and elsewhere has frequently been blamed for the resumed rise in emissions. But new studies are raising serious questions about that. 

Researchers are now saying say that, globally at least, the increase in recent years is due to the activities of microbes in wetlands, rice paddies, and the guts of ruminants. “Despite the large increase in natural gas production, there has not been an upward trend in industrial emissions,” says Stefan Schwietzke, of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colo., who is the lead author of one of the new studies. 

Yet that hardly exonerates gas fracking. It turns out that, all along, natural gas and other fossil fuels have been a bigger source of methane emissions than the industry has declared in submissions to governments and the UN. The companies may not have been deliberately lying; but the new studies prove that they were certainly and comprehensively wrong. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
Where is the spike in methane coming from?
Researchers are now saying say that, globally at least, the increase in recent years is due to the activities of microbes in wetlands, rice paddies, and the guts of ruminants.

"Methane lasts in the atmosphere only for about 12 years, much less than CO2; but while there, it packs a punch. Measured over a century, a molecule of methane warms the planet roughly 30 times more than CO2.
"For more than two centuries, rising methane emissions have resulted in steady increases in the concentration of the gas in the atmosphere. In fact, while CO2 concentrations have so far risen by only about 40 percent since pre-industrial times, methane levels have more than doubled, rising from 700 parts per billion to almost 1,800 ppb."
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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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China’s schools beat the smog with live-streaming ("actually, they still breathe dirty air at home")

China’s schools beat the smog with live-streaming ("actually, they still breathe dirty air at home") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

A total of 12 schools equipped with broadcasting facilities were giving lessons online on Tuesday, the first school day of 2017 and the third day of the city’s top level smog alert, said an official with the city’s educational bureau.

A total of 12 schools equipped with broadcasting facilities were giving lessons online on Tuesday, the first school day of 2017 and the third day of the city’s top level smog alert, said an official with the city’s educational bureau. 

At 18 minutes per session, classes include major teaching content of the current curriculum at various grades, said the official. 

All primary and high school students were encouraged to access the city teaching resource-sharing website. A local educational cable television has also been arranged for elite courses during the smoggy weather, he said. 

Xi’an City initiated the first level response for heavy air pollution at 6 p.m. on Sunday, requiring all schools and kindergartens to suspend classes.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Beijing is on its second day of red alert against air pollution. Schools send their students home and introduce learning online. 

But are the students getting cleaner air at home? Actually, there is no escaping dirty air; only minimizing the effects. 
This scenario may happen some day in the Philippines if we don't manage the problem seriously.
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How Climate Change Is Leading to an 'Ecological Recession' ("animals running out of habitats")

How Climate Change Is Leading to an 'Ecological Recession' ("animals running out of habitats") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Scientists have published a number of studies observing how plants and animals shift their range slightly toward cooler temperatures in response to global warming. The hope is that even as the global warms, wildlife may be able to adapt simply by moving. But new research published in the journal PLOS Biology suggests that nearly half of the species that attempt such a move wind up extinct in that area, unable to adapt fully to a new habitat. The results suggest that moving habitats may not be an effective adaptation method in the coming decades as the Earth continues to warm by several multiples of what has already occurred, researchers behind the study say.

The scientists found a pattern of extinction across a wide variety of climate and habitats, though the phenomenon harms some areas more than others. Tropical species are among the hardest hit with 55% facing local extinction following a move compared to just 39% of their counterparts in temperate environments, according the study.

Humans may be harming the ability of species to adjust beyond causing the planet to warm, the study says. Agriculture, man-made structures and other urban developments remove potential habitats and block potential paths to disperse. 

The study joins a growing list of research across the globe showing a decline in biodiversity, a measure of the different plant and animal species in a given area. A study published in the journal Science earlier this year found that biodiversity has fallen to unsustainable levels across more than half of the world’s surface.

Bert Guevara's insight:
There is a slow quiet disaster happening worldwide that is resulting in a massive extinction, especially in the tropics. Climate change is more than just typhoons, rains and drought.

“Decision-makers worry a lot about economic recessions,” said author Andy Purvis, a professor at the Natural History Museum in London, earlier this year. “But an ecological recession could have even worse consequences—and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we’re at risk of that happening.”
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Arctic, Antarctic sea ice at record lows ("what happens in the Arctic DOES NOT stay in the Arctic.")

Arctic, Antarctic sea ice at record lows ("what happens in the Arctic DOES NOT stay in the Arctic.") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Temperatures in the Arctic have soared recently, and sea ice in both Antarctica and the Arctic are at record lows for the first time.

For what appears to be the first time since scientists began keeping track, sea ice in the Arctic and the Antarctic are at record lows this time of year. 

"It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels," said Walt Meier, a research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who has tracked sea ice data going back to 1979.

The decline of sea ice has been a key indicator that climate change is happening, but its loss, especially in the Arctic, can mean major changes for your weather, too.

Temperatures in the Arctic have soared recently, and scientists are struggling to explain exactly why, and what the consequences will be. Air temperatures have been running more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) above average.

At the same time, sea ice in the northern latitudes is at a lower level than ever observed for this time of the year. October and November are typically a time of rapid ice gain for the Arctic region, as daylight hours become shorter and shorter and eventually non-existent during what's referred to as the "polar night." Air temperatures plummet to below zero degrees Fahrenheit and parts of the Arctic Ocean not covered with ice quickly become covered. But this year, those air temperatures are staying much warmer, closer to the freezing mark of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

To make matters worse, the water temperatures in the Arctic Ocean are several degrees above average, which is an expected result of having less sea ice. With less ice in the summer, more of the sun's rays can heat the darker water, as opposed to being deflected back into space by the white ice cover. The result is a feedback loop, and one that scientists have warned about for some time.

Bert Guevara's insight:
What happens in the Arctic DOES NOT stay in the Arctic. ... But what happens when the Antarctic behaves in the same way. Is the planet screwed?

"It's far too early to tell if what we are seeing in the Arctic, and now the Antarctic, is a sharp shift towards warmer poles with less ice. Scientists are quick to point out that weather in these regions can change quickly, but this is another expected result of climate change. And enough examples can become trends -- and trends can have consequences."
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Carbon Dioxide Emissions Close to Flat for Third Straight Year, Report Says ("mitigation succeeding?")

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Close to Flat for Third Straight Year, Report Says ("mitigation succeeding?") | Climate & Clean Air Watch | Scoop.it

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels around the globe remained steady last year and will only rise slightly in 2016.

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels around the globe remained steady last year and will only rise slightly in 2016, according to new research. Researchers behind the study, conducted at the Global Carbon Project and published in the journal Earth System Science Data, project that carbon dioxide emissions will rise 0.2% in 2016. That represents a small fraction of the average 2.3% annual growth in the decade prior to 2013. 

Countries around the globe have developed and implemented policies to slow emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary gas behind man-made climate change. The new research credits China’s efforts to decrease coal consumption as the primary cause of the emissions slowdown. The United States also continued to move away from coal power as natural gas and renewable generation comes online. 

Opponents on strong measures to address climate change have long-argued that emissions reductions would hurt the economy, but the slowdown reported in the new study comes despite global GDP growth that exceeds 3%.

“This is a great help for tackling climate change but it is not enough,” says study researcher Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia’s Global Carbon Project. “If climate negotiators in Marrakesh can build momentum for further cuts in emissions, we could be making a serious start to addressing climate change.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
The good news is that climate change mitigation efforts are gaining, at least for the last 3 years. But this is not enough to restore that which have been lost already. 
The damage to our oceans and polar caps will remain for decades.

"Countries around the globe have developed and implemented policies to slow emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary gas behind man-made climate change. The new research credits China’s efforts to decrease coal consumption as the primary cause of the emissions slowdown. The United States also continued to move away from coal power as natural gas and renewable generation comes online. 
"Opponents on strong measures to address climate change have long-argued that emissions reductions would hurt the economy, but the slowdown reported in the new study comes despite global GDP growth that exceeds 3%."
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