I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
NEWS
+
VIEWS
April 15 2021

The Guardian reports that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have reached record levels. This is not a surprise given the rate of emissions, and even the drop in economic activity during the pandemic did not prevent the rise. The speed of this change (“like a human meteorite hitting the earth” according to one scientist quoted in the article), is sometimes hard to grasp.

In an outstanding article in the Atlantic, science writer Peter Brannen gives a wonderful but sobering description of our climate at different periods in the Earth’s past, providing a perspective on how large a change we have initiated. His compelling descriptions help one understand the meaning of our altered atmosphere, and how the Earth’s ecosystems are only slowly responding to the heat that the carbon-rich atmosphere is now capturing on the planet. As things accelerate, the world will change drastically, as the record of past climates documents. The urgency of stopping this change by immediately reducing the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is viscerally apparent throughout this excellent piece.

An article in the Guardian reports that, as U.S. Forests recover from recent fires, new trees are not always growing back. In many cases, this occurs because the climate is now different than when the forest grew originally, and the new climate will not support regrowth of the trees. A hotter climate, more insects and other factors have resulted in a doubling of the tree mortality rate in some temperate and tropical forests. The author notes that “the changes being observed today — in which slow-growing trees that have survived for hundreds of years are dying in a drought or wildfire — cannot be undone in our lifetimes,” and this is “prompting a broad and looming sense of disquiet” among those aware of the magnitude of this change. An op-ed at CNN notes that saving intact forests (not cutting them down nor replanting with monocultures) is the way to make sure that forest uptake of carbon from the atmosphere remains significant…

read more
March 31 2021

solving the climate crisis pays for itself, the growth of offshore wind, reality of sea level rise strikes North Carolina, the enormous carbon footprint of food waste, University of Michigan divests from fossil fuels

The Guardian reports on a study that documents the pervasive and deadly impact of air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. Globally, the death toll from fossil-fuel burning exceeds the combined total of people who die each year from malaria and smoking tobacco. These effects derive mainly from the impact of PM2.5 — the particles produced by combustion that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These particles, once inhaled, lodge in the lungs and can cause a variety of health problems. An article in Grist argues that the Centers for Disease Control should add a code to its official list of causes of death that can be used to identify air-pollution fatalities, as one does not currently exist. In another article, the Guardian documents how the fossil-fuel industry understood the impacts of particulates and fossil-fuel combustion products. However, just like in the case of tobacco and climate change, the industry hid its knowledge and attempted to sow doubt in the public sphere about the health impacts. The costs to health from fossil fuels are so large that eliminating them by transitioning to renewable energy will more than pay for the costs associated with the transition (in other words, saving ourselves from the climate crisis pays for itself).

Yale e360 examines the growth of the offshore-wind industry in the U.S. Several large wind farms are under construction off the Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Virginia, and these will begin generating large amounts of electricity in the next few years (a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists provides an update on the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts, one of the first major offshore projects that is set to be approved by the Biden Administration). As the industry has matured (particularly from experience in Northern Europe), costs have come down, and state policies for purchasing renewable electricity have contributed to solid projections of future demand. Thousands of jobs are being created, and this corps of workers will expand as the industry spreads south along the Atlantic coast, where strong winds and relatively shallow offshore waters combine to create excellent conditions for wind power…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES
 

NEWS
+
VIEWS
I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
April 15 2021

The Guardian reports that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have reached record levels. This is not a surprise given the rate of emissions, and even the drop in economic activity during the pandemic did not prevent the rise. The speed of this change (“like a human meteorite hitting the earth” according to one scientist quoted in the article), is sometimes hard to grasp.

In an outstanding article in the Atlantic, science writer Peter Brannen gives a wonderful but sobering description of our climate at different periods in the Earth’s past, providing a perspective on how large a change we have initiated. His compelling descriptions help one understand the meaning of our altered atmosphere, and how the Earth’s ecosystems are only slowly responding to the heat that the carbon-rich atmosphere is now capturing on the planet. As things accelerate, the world will change drastically, as the record of past climates documents. The urgency of stopping this change by immediately reducing the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is viscerally apparent throughout this excellent piece.

An article in the Guardian reports that, as U.S. Forests recover from recent fires, new trees are not always growing back. In many cases, this occurs because the climate is now different than when the forest grew originally, and the new climate will not support regrowth of the trees. A hotter climate, more insects and other factors have resulted in a doubling of the tree mortality rate in some temperate and tropical forests. The author notes that “the changes being observed today — in which slow-growing trees that have survived for hundreds of years are dying in a drought or wildfire — cannot be undone in our lifetimes,” and this is “prompting a broad and looming sense of disquiet” among those aware of the magnitude of this change. An op-ed at CNN notes that saving intact forests (not cutting them down nor replanting with monocultures) is the way to make sure that forest uptake of carbon from the atmosphere remains significant…

read more
March 31 2021

solving the climate crisis pays for itself, the growth of offshore wind, reality of sea level rise strikes North Carolina, the enormous carbon footprint of food waste, University of Michigan divests from fossil fuels

The Guardian reports on a study that documents the pervasive and deadly impact of air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels. Globally, the death toll from fossil-fuel burning exceeds the combined total of people who die each year from malaria and smoking tobacco. These effects derive mainly from the impact of PM2.5 — the particles produced by combustion that are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. These particles, once inhaled, lodge in the lungs and can cause a variety of health problems. An article in Grist argues that the Centers for Disease Control should add a code to its official list of causes of death that can be used to identify air-pollution fatalities, as one does not currently exist. In another article, the Guardian documents how the fossil-fuel industry understood the impacts of particulates and fossil-fuel combustion products. However, just like in the case of tobacco and climate change, the industry hid its knowledge and attempted to sow doubt in the public sphere about the health impacts. The costs to health from fossil fuels are so large that eliminating them by transitioning to renewable energy will more than pay for the costs associated with the transition (in other words, saving ourselves from the climate crisis pays for itself).

Yale e360 examines the growth of the offshore-wind industry in the U.S. Several large wind farms are under construction off the Atlantic coast from Rhode Island to Virginia, and these will begin generating large amounts of electricity in the next few years (a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists provides an update on the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts, one of the first major offshore projects that is set to be approved by the Biden Administration). As the industry has matured (particularly from experience in Northern Europe), costs have come down, and state policies for purchasing renewable electricity have contributed to solid projections of future demand. Thousands of jobs are being created, and this corps of workers will expand as the industry spreads south along the Atlantic coast, where strong winds and relatively shallow offshore waters combine to create excellent conditions for wind power…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES