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Sweden Passes Bill To Become Carbon Neutral By 2045

Sweden Passes Bill To Become Carbon Neutral By 2045

Sweden is the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris accord in 2015. The country has passed a new bill committing to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045. New Scientist reports: The law was drawn up by a cross-party committee and passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament by 254 votes to 41. The legislation establishes an independent Climate Policy Council and requires an action plan to be updated every four years. Sweden had previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, having met its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule. To achieve carbon-neutral status, the country will focus on reducing emissions from transport by increasing the use of biofuels and electric vehicles. It plans to cut domestic emissions by at least 85 per cent, and offset remaining emissions by planting trees or investing in projects abroad.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
A Third Of the Planet's Population Is Exposed To Deadly Heatwaves

A Third Of the Planet's Population Is Exposed To Deadly Heatwaves

An anonymous reader shares a report: Nearly a third of the world’s population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it “almost inevitable” that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found. Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world’s population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible,” said Camilo Mora, an academic at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the study. High temperatures are currently baking large swaths of the south-western US, with the National Weather Service (NWS) issuing an excessive heat warning for Phoenix, Arizona, which is set to reach 119F (48.3C) on Monday. The heat warning extends across much of Arizona and up through the heart of California, with Palm Springs forecast a toasty 116F (46.6C) on Monday and Sacramento set to reach 107F (41.6C).

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Cats May Have Been Domesticated Twice

Cats May Have Been Domesticated Twice

sciencehabit writes: Cats may have been domesticated twice, once in Turkey around 10,000 years ago, and again in Egypt, thousands of years later. That’s the conclusion of a new genetic analysis of more than 200 ancient cats, including DNA extracted from Egyptian mummies. The scientists found evidence for an exodus of cats into the wider world from both ancient Turkey and ancient Egypt, but that these two waves of cats sported different genetic signatures. Whether or not the ancient Egyptians independently domesticated cats, their massive breeding programs appear to have further tamed the feline, turning cats from territorial and antisocial creatures into the lovable furballs we know today.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Scientists Declare End to Global Coral Reef Bleaching Event

Scientists Declare End to Global Coral Reef Bleaching Event

Scientists in the U.S. have announced Monday that a mass bleaching of coral reefs worldwide has finally ended after three years. “About three-quarters of the world’s delicate coral reefs were damaged or killed by hot water in what scientists say was the largest coral catastrophe,” reports Phys.Org. From the report: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a global bleaching event in May 2014. It was worse than previous global bleaching events in 1998 and 2010. The forecast damage doesn’t look widespread in the Indian Ocean, so the event loses its global scope. Bleaching will still be bad in the Caribbean and Pacific, but it’ll be less severe than recent years, said NOAA coral reef watch coordinator C. Mark Eakin. Places like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, northwest Hawaii, Guam and parts of the Caribbean have been hit with back-to-back-to-back destruction, Eakin said. University of Victoria, British Columbia, coral reef scientist Julia Baum plans to travel to Christmas Island in the Pacific where the coral reefs have looked like ghost towns in recent years. While conditions are improving, it’s too early to celebrate, said Eakin, adding that the world may be at a new normal where reefs are barely able to survive during good conditions.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Ethiopia's Coffee Is the Latest Victim of Climate Change

Ethiopia's Coffee Is the Latest Victim of Climate Change

According to a study published today in Nature Plants, by the end of this century, increasing temperatures could make it impossible to grow coffee in about half of Ethiopia’s coffee-growing regions. “That’s because Arabica coffee trees (which are grown in Ethiopia) require pretty mild temperatures to survive, ideally between 59 to 75 degree Fahrenheit,” reports The Verge. “Climate projections show that Ethiopia will generally become warmer and drier, and that means that 40 to 60 percent of areas where coffee is currently grown won’t be suitable to grow the beans, the study says.” From the report: In fact, climate change is already hurting Ethiopia’s coffee growers: days and nights are already warmer, and the weather is more unpredictable and extreme. Hot days are hotter and rainy days are rainier. That leads to more unpredictable harvests and it hurts the local economy. Ethiopia is Africa’s biggest coffee producer and the world’s fifth largest coffee exporter, with 15 million Ethiopians living off coffee farming. Climate change risks disrupting the country’s future. But there is a way Ethiopia can brace for its brewing troubles. The study found that rising temperatures will turn swaths of land at higher elevation into just the right places to grow coffee in the future. In fact, coffee farming could increase four fold if plantations are moved uphill, the study says. But to do that, the country needs to prepare: millions of farmers can’t just take their crops and move to land they don’t own. You need careful planning.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Coal Market Set To Collapse Worldwide By 2040 As Solar, Wind Dominate

Coal Market Set To Collapse Worldwide By 2040 As Solar, Wind Dominate

Jess Shankleman reports via Bloomberg: Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast. That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India. The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come. The report also found that through 2040:
-China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
-The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
-At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
-Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Life On Mars: Elon Musk Reveals Details of His Colonisation Vision

Life On Mars: Elon Musk Reveals Details of His Colonisation Vision

Elon Musk has put his Mars-colonization vision to paper, and you can read it for free. SpaceX’s billionaire founder and CEO published the plan, which he unveiled at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, in the journal New Space. From a report: The paper outlines early designs of the gigantic spacecraft, designed to carry 100 passengers, that he hopes to construct. “The thrust level is enormous,” the paper states. “We are talking about a lift-off thrust of 13,000 tons, so it will be quite tectonic when it takes off.” Creating a fully self-sustained civilisation of around one million people — the ultimate goal — would take 40-100 years according to the plans. Before full colonisation takes place, though, Musk needs to entice the first pioneers to pave the way.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Multi-Million Dollar Upgrade Planned To Secure 'Failsafe' Arctic Seed Vault

Multi-Million Dollar Upgrade Planned To Secure 'Failsafe' Arctic Seed Vault

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The Global Seed Vault, built in the Arctic as an impregnable deep freeze for the world’s most precious food seeds, is to undergo a multi-million dollar upgrade after water from melting permafrost flooded its access tunnel. No seeds were damaged but the incident undermined the original belief that the vault would be a “failsafe” facility, securing the world’s food supply forever. Now the Norwegian government, which owns the vault, has committed $4.4 million to improvements. [T]he vault’s planners had not anticipated the extreme warm weather seen recently at the end of the world’s hottest ever recorded year. “The background to the technical improvements is that the permafrost has not established itself as planned,” said a government statement. “A group will investigate potential solutions to counter the increased water volumes resulting from a wetter and warmer climate on Svalbard.” One option could be to replace the access tunnel, which slopes down towards the vault’s main door, carrying water towards the seeds. A new upward sloping tunnel would take water away from the vault. An initial $1.6 million will be spent on investigating ways to improve the access tunnel, with the group’s conclusions delivered in spring 2018. “They are going in with an open mind to find a good solution,” said Aschim. “$4.4 million is for all the improvements we are doing now.” The vault cost $9 million to build.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
Entrepreneurs Fight Air Pollution With CO2-Reducing 'CityTrees'

Entrepreneurs Fight Air Pollution With CO2-Reducing 'CityTrees'

CNN is reporting on “CityTree”, a unique 10-foot tall mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air.” An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees. But the CityTree isn’t, in fact, a tree at all — it’s a moss culture. “Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants,” said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.
The huge surfaces of moss installed in each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. The installation is autonomous and requires very little maintenance: solar panels provide electricity, while rainwater is collected into a reservoir and then pumped into the soil… “We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” Wu said. Its creators say that each CityTree is able to absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter a day and contributes to the capture of greenhouse gases by removing 240 metric tons of CO2 a year… Wu also argued that the CityTree is just one piece of a larger puzzle. “Our ultimate goal is to incorporate technology from the CityTree into existing buildings,” he said.
So far they’ve installed 20 CityTrees — each of which costs about $25,000.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth
The US Can't Leave The Paris Climate Deal Until 2020

The US Can't Leave The Paris Climate Deal Until 2020

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times:

Last week, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is November 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump’s current term… Nov. 4, 2019 is the earliest date that the United States can submit a written notice to the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the Paris deal — exactly three years after it came into force. As soon as that happens, the United States can leave the accord in exactly one year… If a new president enters the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, he or she could easily submit a written notice to the United Nations that the United States would like to rejoin the Paris accord. Within 30 days, the United States could re-enter the agreement and submit a new pledge for how the country plans to tackle climate change.
The article also acknowledges “a growing coalition of states, cities and companies that are pledging to do as much as they can to meet the United States’ climate goals on their own.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, earth