Climate Change This Week: The Coral Canary, a Windy US Future, and More!

Today, the Earth got a little hotter, and a little more crowded.

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Another Reason To Save Africa’s Forests – its butterflies, such as these glass winged butterflies. Source http://www.zendegi993.blogfa.com

Forests: the cheapest way to store carbon

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Bizarre and Beautiful Congo Wildlife, which includes this red river hog, are declining due to failed conservation policies. Source http://www.sdzsafaripark.org

OO Congo, Africa: Rainforest Protections Aren’t Working
For People Or Wildlife
says a new report. Despite huge influxes of conservation money, eco-guards have been assigned to enforce a the total restriction on hunting and big reduction in farming on indigenous communities; human abuses have been reported. The result is furtive hunting to supply communities who distrust the guards, and a decline in wildlife.

OO Cambodia’s Forests Are Declining Due to Illegal Logging via corrupt government officials, the 2016 Goldman winner Ouch Teng has chronicled; it has also displaced nearly a million Cambodians who live in them.

When we harm forests, we harm ourselves.

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Save The Forest, Save Its Wildlife – such as this mountain bongo antelope in Kenya besides storing carbon. Source wikimedia commons

OO Kenya Aims To Reverse Deforestation, Plant 20 Million New Trees

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Source Mongabay.com

Hidden Trading in the Forest – despite all that leafy growth above, underground fungi can help trees exchange among themselves up to 40% of the carbon they sequester.

OO Underground Carbon Trade Among Tall Trees In A Temperate Forest – up to 40% of a tree’s carbon can be exchanged with its neighbors, researchers have found – probably via symbiotic root fungi, already known to exchange other nutrients among plants.

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THE PLANETARY CORAL CATASTROPHE: DANGEROUS CLIMATE CHANGE

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Christmas Island’s Coral Reef Dies – 80% of it is now dead, browned with algal growth, and much of the rest may not survive. Credit Kristina Tietjen

OO Why Dead Coral Reefs Could Mark
The Beginning Of ‘Dangerous’ Climate Change
– the devastating coral die-off suggests we may already be missing our climate goals.

The threshold of “dangerous” climate change – that is, the point at which climate is causing widespread, damaging, and likely irreversible events on Earth – may have been breached as massive coral die-off occurs around the planet this year.

In this case, the coral reef ecosystem could be a harbinger of further catastrophic ecosystem collapses to come.

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@@ The Great Barrier Reef Goes Deathly White as 93% of it experiences the worst bleaching in recorded history.

OO Climate Change Disables Coral Bleaching Protection On The Great Barrier Reef
Just 0.5 C (1 F) additional warming could see corals of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lose their in-built tolerance to bleaching, a new study warns.

The GBR corals have developed a protective mechanism to adapt to sharp increases in sea surface temperatures in recent decades. But further increases in temperature may result in this tolerance being lost, which may speed destruction of the GBR.

Related Headlines:

OO Warming Threatens The Great Barrier Reef Even More Than Thought – the iconic reef depends on protective pulses of warm water to boost its heat tolerance. Climate change may eliminate these “practice runs” says a new study.

Bleaching, sparked by this year’s El Niño and worsened by global warming, has overwhelmed the reef—even in areas that had steeled themselves to the impact after earlier “practice runs.”

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Death Scene at the Great Barrier Reef – a rainbow of life reduced to white and brown. Source XL Catlin Seaview Survey

OO Great Barrier Reef Corals Could Collapse If Sea Temperatures Rise By 0.5°C, scientists warn. There, corals are likely to lose their ability to adapt with just half a degree of warming above current temperatures, already predicted to happen in the next 40 years on current trends.

A new analysis of 27 years worth of data shows corals are more prone to bleaching – and less able to recover once they pass that threshold.

OO This Year’s Severe Bleaching Of The Great Barrier Reef Is Only The Beginning as temperatures keep rising, denying corals any chance to even partially adapt.

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LATE BREAKING: OVER HALF OF AMERICANS BREATHE DANGEROUS AIR POLLUTION

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OO More Than Half US Population Lives Amid Dangerous Air Pollution, report warns.

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HOT NEWS

OO March Was Earth’s 11th-Straight Warmest Month On Record since recording began in 1891.

@@ Climate Change 101: Why Care?
What You Need to Know
– Bill Nye tells it all in five minutes amid graphic, dynamic, engaging, compelling imagery. Check it Out!

OO To Curb Climate Change, ‘We Need To Move Everything’ Sustainable investment experts say that to meet the goals of a new global agreement to tackle climate change will require:

  • social change on an almost unprecedented scale;
  • shifting trillions of dollars each year into renewable energy (2015: only340+ billion invested)
  • making everything from transport to agriculture and consumer products much greener very quickly

“We would each throw ourselves in front of a bus if it was coming at our child, regardless of our politics,” Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a U.S.-based business sustainability group, said.

“We have got to change this debate so people understand… climate change is that bus.”

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MELTDOWN

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The Deep Blue Canyon one of many melt formations on Greenland these days.Credit James Balog

OO Early Record Onset of Greenland Melt Season Stuns Scientists – in Greenland a record-breaking level of melt for so early in the season is occurring; the melt season has started nearly 2 months early.

Related Headlines:

OO Greenland Heatwave Triggers Record Early Start To Ice Melt Season

OO Greenland’s Melt Season Started Nearly Two Months Early

OO Scientists Are Watching In Horror As Ice Collapses – ice is disturbingly fragile, even in Antarctica.

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SEA RISE

THE BEGINNING OF THE US DELUGE

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OO Sinking Atlantic Coastline Meets Rapidly Rising Seas especially in North Carolinia, where a region several hundred miles long has coastal residents coping with severe changes that few Americans have yet to endure.

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Gone Forever to Our Grandchildren? Sea levels are rising fast enough so that the beaches you enjoy today may be gone forever to your grandchildren or great grand children.

OO This Is How Far Seas Could Rise Thanks To Climate Change Picture your favorite beach – or any beautiful beach. Got it? Now picture it gone. Forever.

This really hits me hard, folks, because I grew up near a beach: my happiest childhood memories were all those beautiful days riding the waves and walking the beach, collecting sea shells and other marine wonders. I became a marine biologist because of it.

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Credit Matthew Clayfield

OO Vietnam’s Lowlands To Submerge With Climate Change bank report says, and Ho Chi Minh City is one of the world’s 10 most vulnerable cities.

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How High, How Fast? Source http://www.washingtonpost.com

OO Since 1970, Carbon Pollution Has Driven Sea Level Rise predominantly; previously, it was mostly from natural causes.

“There are thresholds we could well cross during the 21st century, which would lead to multi-metre sea-level rise unless there is urgent and significant mitigation”, said John Church, a sea-level rise expert.

Related Headlines:

OO Carbon Pollution Seen As Key Driver Of Sea Level Rise – Greenhouse gas emissions became the main cause of sea level rise during the late 20th century, accounting for two-thirds of sea level rise between 1970 and 2005, says new research. Natural forces caused two-thirds of rises detected between 1900 and 1950.

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SPEAKING OUT

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OO Church Of England Uses Shareholder Power To Sway Oil Giant On Climate Change If the shareholder vote is won by the church, it will be the first climate change proposal approved by Exxon shareholders, who rejected a request last year to appoint a climate change expert to the board.

OO 100+ US Christian & Jewish Groups Call For More International Climate Funding

OO Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Pollution From US Aircraft

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Tweet That, Climate Change Doubter! – NASA is ready to pounce when doubters on facebook start misrepresenting NASA’s stance on climate change. Credit NASA/GISS

OO NASA Smacks Down Climate Change Doubters In Facebook Discussion

OO 21 American Kids Sue Government Over Global Warming Inaction the 21 young Americans span in age 8 from 19.

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GENERATING POWER – BY WORKING ON THE RAILROAD

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OO “New” Technology Tackles Grid-Scale Energy Storage Mechanically:
Via the Railroad
– The idea is simple: the railroads use electricity to power their loads uphill – but they could give power back to the grid as those loads generate electricity going downhill. One company claims the efficiency of the system would be 85% – not bad!

A new startup has just been granted a “right of way” lease from the US BLM to build a 50 MW project based on this strategy. Depending on how you look at it, the project will make railroads more energy efficient, represent a new source of clean energy for the grid, and/or allow railroads to “store” energy via pushing a great weight uphill.

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SOCIAL REPERCUSSIONS

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Two Thirsty Giants – China and India risks facing severe water shortages due to a perfect storm of economic growth, climate change, and demands of fast growing populations by mid century. And they own nuclear weapons.

OO By 2050 Asia At High Risk Of Severe Water Shortages says a new MIT Study.

Daily Climate Editor Pete Myers notes: “Severe water shortages in a region with three countries possessing nuclear weapons. Not a good idea.”

AFRICA

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Drought, Dry Well, Dry Crops are driving hunger in Camaroon, on top of the terrorism that impedes farming. Credit Fajong Joseph Lereh

OO Camaroon: Boko Haram Violence, Climate Change Drive Hunger In North – Climate change is gradually rendering the traditional agricultural calendar unreliable, besides the danger of farming under the threat of guerrilla warfare.

OO Climate Change Hits Hard In Zambia, A Former African Success Story – which is now struggling to pay its own civil servants and has reached out to the International Monetary Fund for help.

OO Enduring Somalia Drought Puts Hundreds Of Thousands At Risk UN Warns. Although the severe drought in Ethiopia has made headline news. But it has also scorched northern Somalia, a region far less able to cope with the impact.

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OO Sierra Nevada Snow Won’t End California’s Thirst – climate change and the proliferation of trees have led to less of a natural reservoir of melting snow coming down the mountains.

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GOOD CLEAN NEWS

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OO US Rooftop Solar Panels Could Provide Nearly Half Of Our Power

OO A US Clean Energy Policy Pays Off:
Renewable Portfolio Standards Drive 60% of US Clean Energy Boom
– Most of the additional capacity to meet RPS requirements has come from wind, but in recent years, solar energy is gaining traction.

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OO Major US Midwest Utility Invests $3.6 Billion More Into Wind to become 85% powered by renewable energy.
We have a dream to deliver 100 percent renewable energy to our customers,” a MidAmerican Energy spokesman said.

OO Community Choice Aggregation
A Way To Create Clean Powered Communities,
Spreads to New York
– the 7th state to use this strategy.

States enact options for communities to bundle their purchase of energy from sources of their choosing.

This allows communities to use their bulk buying as a leverage to get the best price – of clean energy, if they so choose, and many communities are.

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Credit Mary Ellen Harte

OO Why Major US Companies Are Buying So Much Wind Power – it makes financial sense, argues Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s chief executive of America Wind Energy Association. “These corporations are buying because it’s affordable and it’s clean … This is a good business proposition for them.”

Who’s buying? Google Energy, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, as well as more traditional companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Wal-Mart and Dow Chemical, among others.

The U.S. wind energy industry had a memorable 2015, installing thousands of new turbines across the US and supporting a growing number of jobs.

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OO Paris Climate Deal Seen Taking Effect Two Years Ahead of Plan as many countries commit to officially agree to participate in the plan on Earth Day 2016. This increases the chances of meeting the pact’s ultimate goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since industrialization began.

OO Ford Announces Massive Facilities Transformation
A Massive Energy Conservation Move
– relocating 30,000 employees into primarily two campus locations; it expects to cut energy use in half, in addition to reducing water use, and will include a new zero-waste, zero-energy, zero-water “sustainability showcase” building, which will produce more energy than it consumes.

That building will include geothermal heating and cooling and solar energy, and aims to meet Living Building Challenge standards, “the highest level of sustainability possible today” Ford said.

OO Japan’s CO2 Emissions Fall To Three-Year Low In 2014/15 Fiscal Year

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CLIMATE CHANGE LEADERSHIP

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OO Bernie Sanders Calls for National Fracking Ban“Do Washington politicians side with polluters over families?” asks Susan Sarandon in an ad. “They sure do, because Big Oil pumps millions into their campaigns. Bernie Sanders is the only candidate for president who opposes fracking everywhere.”

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GOOD IDEAS

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A Coal Tax Ex-Miners Could Like if the revenues help them transition to new jobs.Source http://www.bizjournals.com

OO Taxing Coal to Help Communities Taxed By Its Decline is an idea that could find traction.

OO How Your Toilet Could Fuel The Future Researchers have developed a battery that runs on urine: as part of breaking down waste, bacteria pull electrons off urine molecules, and then are forced to put them on a carbon electrode that siphons them off to generate electricity.

Now the researchers are working out how to scale this up.

People already mine methane out of waste to fuel vehicles, but this battery is a vast improvement: burning methane still creates emissions, and leakage of this potent climate changing gas into the atmosphere also detracts from its “clean” image.

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OO Game Theory Might Help Solve The Problem Of Climate Change – Applying the mathematical principle of studying models of conflict and cooperation between groups could help us rein in global warming.

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FOSSIL FUEL FOLLIES

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OO Texas Fracking Numbers Are Mind-Boggling,
But What The Frack
Do They Really Mean?
Environmental groups have analyzed the data and here are some takeaways:

  • 10 billion pounds of chemicals — many of them carcinogenic — were injected underground.
  • 120 billion gallons of water have been used since 2005;
  • 15 billion gallons of wastewater was produced in 2014;
  • at least 2.5 billion pounds of methane, a potent climate changing gas, were released just in 2014.

Had enough numbers? The take-home message: fracking is very expensive – for the Texans who have to live with the mess, and for the rest of humanity, who will have to cope with continuing climate change.

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Actually, Exxon KNEW They Were Charring the Earth… but greed won. Credit Tom Toles at the Washington Post

OO Just How Long Did Big Oil Know
The Fossil Fuel/Climate Change Connection? 50 Years
– new documents show CO2’s role in global warming has been on the oil industry’s radar since the 1960s.

OO Australian Oil And Gas Lobby Spent Millions
Advocating Against Climate Action
– spending almost $4 million last year trying to “obstruct” more ambitious climate change policy, a new report reveals. Why am I not surprised?

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Remind Me Why I Should Be Sad About Coal’s Decline… Credit Tom Toles at the Washington Post

OO Coal Slump Sends Mining Giant Peabody Energy Into Bankruptcy

OO The Bad News? Coal Is Being Replaced by Cheap “New Coal”:
Natural Gas
– financial analysts note that cheap and plentiful natural gas, and an oversupplied market of inexpensive coal – not environmental regulations – are the primary forces behind coal companies’ bankruptcies.

The really bad news is that natural gas, a very potent climate changing gas, is being released in significant leaks to the atmosphere when it is mined and distributed.

OO Natural Gas Undermines Progress in Tackling Climate Change – as new data indicates that the mining and distribution of this very potent climate changing gas leaks significantly large amounts of it into the atmosphere, at a time when it is crucial that cuts are made in the emissions of such gases.

Natural Gas = the “New Coal”

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ELECTION YEAR:

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If You Don’t Vote For Climate Action, You Can Forget The Rest – in a climate-changing world of famine, drought, rising seas, giant storms and heat waves, there will be no security in jobs, health, wealth, or national safety. There will be chaos ensuing from increasing crises and disasters. Vote.

OO Global Warming Policies We Set Today Will Determine The Next 10,000 Years – of global warming, a new study shows — and whether our civilization survives or not: history shows that harmful climate change has destroyed civilizations before.

This time, it could be worldwide. Let’s keep “The Hunger Games“ in the realm of fiction.

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If we do not grow sustainably,
Our children will die inhumanely.

@@ How Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Teen childbearing cost US taxpayers $9+ Billion in 2010
And the costs of raising a child usually ensures decades, if not a life, of poverty for its mother.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Help prevent unintended pregnancies in your community:
publicize where women can access affordable contraception.

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They can go here to find locations:

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And there are many more actions you can do, right here.

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SOLAR KEEPS FLYING

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OO Solar Impulse 2, The Solar Airplane,
Is Ready to Finish Its Round-the-World Flight
– having repaired the batteries fried from flying its longest leg, 5 days nonstop, from Japan to Hawaii.

OO Texas Solar Shoppers Seeing Lowest Prices in the US

OO French Solar Capacity to Nearly Triple by 2023

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Another Record in Solar Cell Efficiency Is Made…

OO Another Solar Power Breakthrough by Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where researchers claim their hybrid solar cells can convert up to 25.5 % of solar energy, beating the previous record of 22.8 % set last September 2015.

OO Australian Utility Pairs Household PV With Large-Scale Storage

OO Solar Power Sets New British Record By Beating Coal For A Day – and soon it will be 2 days… every little bit helps.

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Check it out here, right now!

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WHY WE SHOULD ACT NOW: RISING RISKS

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Daily Climate Change: Global Map of Unusual Temperatures, Apr 25, 2016

How unusual has the weather been? No one event is “caused” by climate change, but global warming, which is predicted to increase unusual, extreme weather, is having a daily effect on weather, worldwide.

Looking above at recent temperature anomalies, much of the US and the waters surrounding it are experiencing warmer than normal temperatures: El Nino driven precipitation to California has not been adequate to bring it out of drought.

Much of the areas surrounding the North Pole are experiencing much warmer than normal temperatures – not good news for our Arctic thermal shield of ice. Hotter than usual temperatures continue to dominate human habitats.

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There is, of course, much more news on the consequences and solutions to climate change. To get it, check out this annotated resource list I’ve compiled, “Climate Change News Resources,” at WordPress.com here. For more information on the science of climate change, its consequences and solutions you can view my annotated list of online information resources here.

To help you understand just what science does and does NOT do, check thisout!

Every day is Earth Day, folks, as I was reminded by this incredible wildflower I photographed one spring in South Africa. Making the U.S. a global clean energy leader will ensure a heck of a lot more jobs, and a clean, safe future. If you’d like to join the increasing numbers of people who want to TELL Congress that they will vote for clean energy candidates you can do so here. It’s our way of letting Congress know there’s a strong clean energy voting bloc out there. For more detailed summaries of the above and other climate change items, audio podcastsand texts are freely available.

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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