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Prince Charles warns climate crisis will dwarf virus impact

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
London (AFP) Sept 20, 2020 - Britain's Prince Charles warned Sunday that a climate change crisis will dwarf the impact of coronavirus, and urged the world to use the pandemic as an opportunity to act.

"Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to 'reset' for... a more sustainable and inclusive future," he said.

The comments will be included in a message to be played at the virtual opening of Climate Week in New York on Monday.

The heir to the British throne said the environmental "crisis has been with us for far too many years -- decried, denigrated and denied".

"It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic," he said.

The 71-year-old royal, who himself contracted coronavirus in March, has long been a champion for sustainability and action against climate change.

Richest 1%'s emissions twice that of poorest 50%: analysis
Paris (AFP) Sept 21, 2020 - The richest one percent of people are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the poorest half of the world's population -- 3.1 billion people -- new research showed Monday.

Despite a sharp decrease in carbon emissions due to the pandemic, the world remains on pace to warm several degrees this century, threatening poor and developing nations with the full gamut of natural disasters and displacements.

An analysis led by Oxfam showed that between 1990 and 2015, when annual emissions ballooned 60 percent, that rich nations were responsible for depleting nearly a third of Earth's carbon budget.

The carbon budget is the limit of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions mankind may produce before rendering catastrophic temperature rises unavoidable.

Just 63 million people -- the "one percent" -- took up nine percent of the carbon budget since 1990, research conducted for Oxfam by the Stockholm Environment Institute found.

Highlighting an ever-widening "carbon inequality", the analysis said the growth rate of the one percent's emissions was three times that of the poorest half of humanity.

"It's not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it's not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction," Tim Gore, head of policy, advocacy and research, told AFP.

"But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption."

"And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible," Gore added.

The 2015 Paris climate deal commits nations to limit global temperature rise to "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

But emissions have continued to rise since then, and several analyses have warned that without a thoroughly re-tooled global economy prioritising green growth, the pollutions savings due to Covid-19 will have an insignificant mitigating impact on climate change.

With just 1C of warming so far, Earth is already battling more frequent and intense wildfires, droughts and super storms rendered more powerful by rising seas.

Gore said governments must put the twin challenges of climate change and inequality at the heart of any Covid-19 recovery plan.

"It's clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity," he said.

"It's a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and (fixing) the climate crisis."

Commenting on the Oxfam report, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an environment activist and president of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, said that climate change could not be tackled without prioritising economic equality.

"My indigenous peoples have long borne the brunt of environmental destruction," said Ibrahim.

"Now is the time to listen, to integrate our knowledge, and to prioritise saving nature to save ourselves."

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Schwarzenegger says pandemic 'opportunity' for climate

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
Vienna (AFP) Sept 17, 2020 - Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday said the coronavirus crisis was a "tremendous opportunity" to rebuild devastated economies with clean energy.

Speaking virtually at a climate summit that his non-profit organisation holds annually in Austria, the Hollywood star said the pandemic, which has killed almost a million people and caused massive economic downturns worldwide, was "a window of opportunity to act right now".

"Forward-looking decisions are needed right now, right now as trillions of dollars and trillions of euros are being poured into rebuilding economies and infrastructure in the wake of the coronavirus," he said on screen, speaking from a podium surrounded by plants.

"These funds are so massive they are capable of remaking societies. We have a tremendous opportunity here."

Schwarzenegger said money should be invested into building "a clean energy economy", providing "sustainable jobs" and upgrading buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Schwarzenegger had intended to travel to his birth country Austria for the summit but cancelled his trip following the advice of doctors -- cheering on participants instead from an office with a poster of himself in younger days as a body-builder in the background.

Among other speakers at the Austrian World Summit, which was launched four years ago, were Austrian, Slovakian and Croatian leaders, as well as European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans and other international public figures.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen vowed Wednesday in her first annual State of the European Union address that Europe would lead the global search for a coronavirus vaccine while rebuilding its shattered economy with a green recovery plan.

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As wildfires rage, US voters still divided on climate

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
Washington (AFP) Sept 12, 2020 - Wildfires are burning out of control in the western United States, cities are choking on toxic air, and Hurricane Laura battered the Gulf Coast just weeks ago.

So why isn't the threat of global warming dominating the election contest between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden?

Climate change has in fact risen near the top of Democrat voters' concerns since surveys first began two decades ago, but remains anchored to the bottom of Republicans' priorities, meaning that the candidates don't need to spend much time sparring over the issue.

Talking about it helps Biden connect with his party -- but this year green issues have been partly crowded out by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, as well as racial justice protests, experts say.

Jon Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University, told AFP that while the absolute number of people concerned by climate change was at its highest ever, it remained only one of several concerns.

"If he talks only about climate, he's hurting himself because he has to talk about other issues," he told AFP.

Trump, a famous climate-denier, has been silent on the issue.

There is little point in him using the issue to try to appeal to California, the state worst-hit by the fires, because it is so solidly Democratic.

If Biden has to weigh how much time he spends on climate change against other issues, and balance how an aggressive green agenda might turn off swing state voters in places like the Midwest, other Democratic lawmakers are more willing to go on the offense.

"It is just a fact that the Trump administration has the worst environmental record in history," New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, who is among the most green lawmakers in Congress, told AFP.

"The Trump administration stands with the special interests at the expense of everyone else," he continued, citing the president's withdrawal from the Paris agreement and axing of numerous environmental and wildlife regulations.

- Democrats greener than ever -

One group of voters who are particularly charged by climate issues is the left of the Democratic party, said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Among Democrats who call themselves liberal, it is now the second most highly ranked issue, while it's the eighth for moderate Democrats, according to Yale's latest survey published in April.

That's why every Democratic candidate in the primaries had to make a climate pitch during the party's primaries and vowed to re-enter the Paris accord.

Indeed, the Biden campaign's goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 would have been considered a radical idea when he himself was vice president, just five years ago.

Paul Bledsoe, a lecturer at the Center for Environmental Policy at American University, said it was notable that when Biden invokes the climate, he does so through the lens of economic opportunity in the form of a Green New Deal.

"When I think about climate change, the word I think of is 'jobs'" Biden said in July.

"So these issues have sort of merged, I think, in the public consciousness," said Bledsoe, who worked on former president Bill Clinton's climate task force.

- Republicans unmoved -

As for Republicans, it's not that they don't care about the environment -- it's that climate change in particular has become a wedge issue, a result of their increasing hostility to collective action and the influence of fossil fuel donors, say experts.

When Americans first became conscious of environmentalism in the late 1960s, it was a non-partisan cause -- indeed, it was under President Richard Nixon that the Environmental Protection Agency was created.

Basic goals like having clean air and clean water can still resonate today.

That's why, for example, Trump this week announced a decade-long ban on oil drilling off the Gulf Coast, a U-turn that surprised energy executives.

This was an objective shared by Republicans and Democrats in Florida, who feared the possible impact of oil spills on the state's tourism industry.

Francis Rooney, a Republican Congressman from Florida who is one of the few lawmakers from his party to proudly call himself an environmentalist and to back a carbon tax, said of Trump: "His environmental track record is not good at all."

"I have spoken with him about offshore drilling in Florida a lot, and I will say at least he gets that, he's decided that if he wants to win Florida, he needs to clearly oppose offshore drilling," he told AFP.

Rooney, who will stand down at the end of this term, said he was frustrated his party was no longer interested in environmental stewardship and said younger generations of conservatives were being turned off.

"I'm worried that we're going to lose. We're going to lose because we don't have a broad enough voting base," he said.

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Unraveling 66 million years of climate history from ocean sediments

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
Bremen, Germany (SPX) Sep 11, 2020 - "Our goal was to create a new reference of past climate over the last 66 million years, which not only incorporates the highest-resolution data but is also more accurately dated," explains first author Thomas Westerhold of MARUM. "We now know more accurately when it was warmer or colder on the planet and we also have a better understanding of the underlying dynamics."

"Our mathematical analyses revealed what is at first invisible in the sediment - the hidden relationships and recurring patterns in the climate," says Norbert Marwan of PIK. "So the view into the past is also a glimpse into the future. We can learn something about the staggeringly rapid anthropogenic changes of our present century from the slow natural climate fluctuations occurring over millions of years." The climatic changes of the past 66 million years can be studied like a colorful barcode.

Layers of sediment on the ocean floor have been cored across the world for more than five decades through internationally coordinated scientific ocean drilling expeditions of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and its predecessor programs (DSDP, ODP, IODP). By studying these sediments and the microfossils within, scientists are able to reconstruct and analyze global climate changes into the distant past.

They examine the evidence preserved in oxygen and carbon isotopes, which provides information about the past deep-sea temperatures, global ice volumes and the carbon cycle. These clues are stored in the shells of microorganisms that once lived on the sea floor. They represent an archive of past climate conditions that researchers use to draw comparisons between the past, present and future.

The framework of a global climate reference curve has existed since 2001, although the data coverage older than 34 million years was generally poor. Since that pioneering work, however, the climate records obtained from many new sediment cores have improved, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Particularly over the past two decades, scientific drilling programs have targeted their drilling into older geological strata. Researchers therefore now have access to higher quality, more complete sediment archives, and are able to reconstruct global climate in much more detail than ever before.

The new climate reference curve, called CENOGRID (CENOzoic Global Reference benthic foraminifer carbon and oxygen Isotope Dataset), is a reconstruction of the Earth's climate since the last great extinction 66 million years ago, which introduced a new Era, the Cenozoic. "It is a tremendous joint effort by many colleagues internationally to recover the sample material, analyze it and compile it into an integrated curve," explains Westerhold.

The age model is the key component of the new reference curve. Recurring patterns in the sediment cores, called Milankovi? cycles, reflect changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun. Like a metronome, these fluctuations have dictated the cyclic patterns of climate change. By identifying these astronomical cycles, the climate of the past 66 million years has now been timed continuously for the first time, allowing it to be dated much more accurately than ever before.

"We have radically improved the data and age models for the time older than 34 million years in particular," says Westerhold. This is important because paleoclimate research is always concerned with finding parallels in the past to our current climate. "We want to understand what climate conditions existed in the past, what processes lay behind them, and how they proceeded. The time from 66 to 34 million years ago, when the planet was significantly warmer than it is today, is especially interesting."

Innovations in drilling strategy and technology in the early 90's helped over the past few decades to recover the high quality sediment archives required to produce a detailed global climate dataset. With new statistics, the CENOGRID makes it possible to apply advanced procedures for analyzing complex data. In the study, these are now making a significant contribution toward determining and better understanding the climate conditions and dynamics of the past.

"We can thus show that there were four predominant climatic modes in the Cenozoic - hothouse, warmhouse, coolhouse and icehouse," explains Marwan. "In broad terms, this classification has been known for some time, but it was only through data analysis that we were able to identify the fundamental states with statistical precision and reveal their characteristic dynamics."

The key to this is the advanced statistical method of recurrence analysis. "Recurrence analysis reveals the dynamics of the complex climate system, including changes and hidden patterns," according to Norbert Marwan.

"This, therefore, goes far beyond the direct data analyses from the drill cores." This kind of analysis also makes it possible to draw inferences about the probability of events, provided there is a large amount of data and long data series. The long time span of 66 million years is advantageous for various reasons, "because only then can we investigate whether climatic events or patterns recur and are therefore determined by natural processes. Or whether they are anomalous and therefore a cause for concern."

In the future, the new climate reference curve CENOGRID can serve as a basis for researchers worldwide to accurately correlate their data within the context of climate history. With more data, it is now possible to not only further refine the picture of the climatic past, but also to identify regional intricacies. The authors emphasize that this is fundamental for testing the reliability of climate models for the future.

Research paper

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Cooperate on climate or 'we will be doomed': UN chief

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
London (AFP) Sept 8, 2020 - World powers must pull together and retool their economies for a green future or humanity is "doomed", UN chief Antonio Guterres has warned, telling AFP that failure to control the coronavirus pandemic illustrates the danger of disunity.

Before the virus struck, 2020 was billed as a pivotal year for the plan to dodge the bullet of catastrophic global warming, with high profile summits planned to catch a wave of public alarm over the future of the planet.

The coronavirus crisis may have shunted climate into the sidelines as nations launched unprecedented shutdowns to try to slow its spread, but Guterres said the need for climate action was more urgent than ever.

In a searing assessment of the international response, Guterres said the pandemic should sharpen governments' focus on cutting emissions, urging them to use the crisis as a springboard to launch "transformational" policies aimed at weaning societies off fossil fuels.

"I think the failure that was shown in the capacity to contain the spread of the virus -- by the fact that there was not enough international coordination in the way the virus was fought -- that failure must make countries understand that they need to change course," he told AFP.

"They need to act together in relation to the climate threat that is a much bigger threat than the threat of the pandemic in itself -- it's an existential threat for our planet and for our lives."

The UN chief said "pollution and not people" should be taxed and called for nations to end fossil fuel subsidies, launch massive investments in renewables and commit to "carbon neutrality" -- net zero emissions -- by 2050.

"We need to have a number of transformational measures in relation to energy, in relation to transportation, in relation to agriculture, in relation to industry, in relation to our own way of life, without which we would be doomed," he said.

His comments come as the landmark Paris climate deal goes into effect this year in a bid to cap the rise in temperature to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The accord was already on a knife edge before the pandemic, with doubts over commitments from major polluting nations and concerns that it is still far short of what science says is needed to avert disastrous climate change.

US President Donald Trump shocked the world in 2017 when he said the United States -- history's largest emitter -- was withdrawing from the Paris deal. It is due to leave on November 4, just after the country's presidential election.

The pandemic has further dented hopes that diplomatic pressure could sweep foot-dragging nations into announcing bold climate action plans, as major summits were postponed and nations focused inwards.

Guterres said there was currently no clear sign that a United States government recovery policy would align with Paris goals, but he expressed hope that states, businesses and individuals "will compensate for the lack of political commitment that exists at the present moment".

He said much now rests on the actions of major emitters, China, the US, Europe, Russia, India and Japan, in interviews with AFP and other members of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of news outlets committed to increased climate coverage.

"We have never been as fragile as we are, we never needed as much humility, unity and solidarity as now," he said, blasting "irrational demonstrations of xenophobia" and the rise of nationalism.

"Either we are united, or we will be doomed," he added, ahead of a largely virtual UN General Assembly this month.

- 'Wake up'-

Climate change warnings are no longer predictions of a distant future.

Earth's average surface temperature has gone up by one degree Celsius since the 19th century, enough to increase the intensity of droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones.

Burning fossil fuels has been by far the main driver of rising temperatures, with concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere now at their highest levels in around three million years.

The last five years were the five hottest on record, while ice sheets are melting at a rate that tracks scientists' worst-case scenarios, prefiguring devastating sea level rises.

"The expectations that we have in relation to the next five years about storms, about drought and about other dramatic impacts in the living conditions of many people around the world are absolutely terrible," Guterres said, ahead of a multi-agency climate report on Wednesday.

The United Nations says it is still possible to reach a safer goal of a 1.5C cap in temperature rise, but to get there global emissions must fall 7.6 percent annually this decade.

While the shutdowns implemented during the pandemic could reduce global emissions by up to eight percent in 2020, scientists have warned that without systemic change in how the world powers and feeds itself, the drop would be essentially meaningless.

- 'A different world' -

There are also concerns that massive Covid-19 stimulus packages being devised by governments could provide a crutch to polluting industries.

Guterres has urged Japan, India and China to drop their continued reliance on coal.

China -- the world's biggest polluter -- has invested heavily in renewable energy, but it has also reportedly stepped up coal production.

The UN head said he was hopeful the EU would make good on its green commitments, after it announced its 750-billion-euro ($885 billion) stimulus plan that aims in part to reach carbon neutrality targets.

He said the pandemic had demonstrated society's capacity to adapt to transformation.

"I don't want to go back to a world where biodiversity is being put into question, to a world where fossil fuels receive more subsidies than renewables, or to a world in which we see inequalities making societies with less and less cohesion and creating instability, creating anger, creating frustration," he added.

"I think we need to have a different world, a different normal and we have an opportunity to do so."

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UK police charge 51 over Extinction Rebellion protest

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
London (AFP) Sept 7, 2020 - British police have charged 51 people after a protest by Extinction Rebellion outside a printing works that caused delays to the deliveries of several national newspapers.

Hertfordshire Police said the protesters were all charged with obstruction of the highway after the protest in Waltham Cross, north of London, on Friday night.

One woman was remanded in custody to appear in court on Monday. The others were bailed until a hearing on November 27, it said in a statement late on Sunday.

Extinction Rebellion, which is conducting 10 days of protests, accuses the newspapers' owners of "failing to report accurately on the climate and ecological emergency".

Protesters blocked the road with vehicles and chained themselves to obstacles to prevent delivery lorries leaving the plant.

Deliveries of newspapers including The Times and its tabloid stablemate The Sun were affected.

A separate protest at another plant in northwest England saw 26 people charged with aggravated trespass, Merseyside Police said on Sunday.

The Times and The Sun are owned by News Corp, controlled by media magnate Rupert Murdoch who has been accused of denying climate change.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a former newspaper reporter and columnist, led criticism of the protests, accusing demonstrators of trying to stifle free speech.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has reportedly ordered a review of legislation including the possibility of reclassifying Extinction Rebellion as an organised crime group.

She wrote in the Daily Mail on Monday that activists should "face the full force of the law" because of "guerrilla tactics" that disrupt daily life.

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NEWS CORPORATION

Daily Mail

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Climate activists disrupt UK newspaper deliveries

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
London (AFP) Sept 5, 2020 - Climate change protesters in Britain blockaded two printing presses Saturday, disrupting the distribution of numerous national newspapers as they step up 10 days of protests demanding action on environmental issues.

Activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) targeted both the plants, just north of London and near Liverpool in northwest England, causing delays to deliveries of papers including The Times, the Daily Telegraph and The Sun.

Dozens of activists blocked roads outside the sites using vehicles and by attaching themselves to other obstacles, "to expose the failure of these corporations to accurately report on the climate and ecological emergency".

XR said it was aiming to disrupt newspapers that are part of News Corp., controlled by Rupert Murdoch's family, as well as right-wing titles The Daily Mail and The London Evening Standard.

"The groups are using disruption and their consistent manipulation of the truth to suit their own personal and political agendas," it added in a statement.

Police said they had so far made 72 arrests at the two locations.

Newsprinters, which runs the plants, said printing had been transferred to other sites and apologised to customers for "late deliveries".

The Times also apologised to readers unable to buy copies and said on Twitter it was "working to get newspapers delivered to retailers as soon as possible".

- 'Completely unacceptable' -

The blockade prompted an immediate backlash from across the British political establishment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was "completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public's access to news in this way".

"A free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account on issues critical for the future of our country, including the fight against climate change," he said on Twitter.

His fiance Carrie Symonds, a former head of communications for the ruling Conservative party before becoming an environmental campaigner, also waded into the controversy.

"I care about climate change and biodiversity a massive amount but preventing a free press to spread this message further is just wrong," she tweeted.

"Not to mention all those small businesses that rely on being able to sell newspapers."

The main opposition Labour Party's international trade spokesperson Emily Thornberry called the disruption "worrying", noting elderly people could miss out on newspaper deliveries.

A spokeswoman for Newsprinters said the action had impacted many workers within the industry.

"Overnight print workers, delivery drivers, wholesale workers and retail newsagents have faced delays and financial penalty," she added, noting it was "a matter for the police" and government.

- 'Dear Mr. Murdoch' -

Dee Patel, 41, who runs a small convenience store in Sevenoaks, southeast of London, said around 120 newspapers had failed to arrive, costing him hundreds of pounds in refunds for the papers and delivery fees.

"Customers keep calling, it's a big pain and disruption. They're upset," he told AFP.

"It's not the right way to protest - they should be trying to meet the government or something."

XR said on Twitter it was sorry for disruption caused to newspaper retailers but was unrepentant about its targeting of the media conglomerates.

"Dear Mr. Murdoch, we are absolutely not sorry for continuing to disrupt your agenda this morning," it added.

The group, which formed in Britain in 2018 before becoming a global protest movement, kicked off 10 days of renewed demonstrations across the country on Tuesday.

In its third major wave of UK protests in a year, it has targeted Westminster and several other sites so far this week, and is vowing to continue with further demonstrations in the coming days.

Police have been taking a tougher approach towards the group during this round of protests, imposing restrictions at sites and making hundreds of arrests.

Last year, more than 1,700 people were arrested during its 10-day "Autumn Uprising", which saw major disruption across the UK and large parts of central London blocked off.

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Daily Mail

NEWS CORPORATION

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Extinction Rebellion begin 10-day UK protest

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
London (AFP) Sept 1, 2020 - Climate change protesters converged on the British parliament on Tuesday, kicking off 10 days of demonstrations to be held across the country by activist group Extinction Rebellion.

Various protests are planned between September 1 and 10, including a "walk of shame" close to the Bank of England, a "carnival of corruption" close to government finance buildings and a silent demonstration outside Buckingham Palace.

Police imposed tough conditions on the protests on Tuesday, restricting where and when activists could demonstrate and banning vehicles.

"The reason we have implemented these conditions is that we know these protests may result in serious disruption to local businesses, commuters and our communities and residents, which I will not tolerate," said Metropolitan Police commander Jane Connors.

She said that anyone breaching the conditions could be arrested.

Last year, more than 1,700 people were arrested during a similar 10-day "Autumn Uprising" organised by Extinction Rebellion, which saw major disruption across the UK and large parts of central London blocked off.

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Deadly weather more likely to spur local climate policy changes

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
Washington DC (UPI) Aug 31, 2020 - On their own, natural disasters aren't enough to prompt local climate policy changes.

According to a new study, published this month in the journal Policy Sciences, climate action in response to extreme weather depends on a number of influencing factors, including the number of fatalities and the unusualness of the event.

Because extreme weather is predicted to become more common and increase in intensity as the climate continues to warm, researchers wanted to find out how extreme weather events will influence the local climate change policies.

"There's obviously national and state-level climate change policy, but we're really interested in what goes on at the local level to adapt to these changes," lead study author Leanne Giordono, a post-doctoral researcher at Ohio State University, said in a news release. "Local communities are typically the first to respond to extreme events and disasters. How are they making themselves more resilient -- for example, how are they adapting to more frequent flooding or intense heat?"

Scientists looked at 15 extreme weather events that struck communities in the United States between March 2012 and June 2017. The events included flooding, blizzard, extreme heat, tornadoes, wildfire and a landslide.

To better understand why some communities enacted climate-related policies in response to extreme weather, while others did nothing, researchers analyzed the characteristics of each event, as well as the political atmosphere in the places where they struck.

Researchers found two ways in which extreme weather can lead to local climate policy changes.

"For both recipes, experiencing a high-impact event -- one with many deaths or a presidential disaster declaration -- is a necessary condition for future-oriented policy adoption," Giordono said.

In Democrat-leaning communities, extreme weather events featuring significant fatalities and sustained media coverage triggered local climate policy changes, such as bolstering emergency preparedness plans.

In Republican-leaning communities with a history of uncommon weather events, extreme weather events with significant death tolls prompted policy discussions preparing for future disasters, but without mention of climate change.

All of the documented policy changes were what researchers deemed "instrumental" changes -- damage control strategies, like building fire breaks or levees.

"As opposed to being driven by ideology or a shift in thought process, it's more a means to an end," Giordono said. "'We don't want anyone else to die from tornadoes, so we build a shelter.' It's not typically a systemic response to global climate change."

Researchers found no evidence that extreme weather events motivated local efforts to limit carbon emissions.

Giordono and her colleagues hope their ongoing research can identify strategies for encouraging local climate policy changes.

"What about the vast majority of communities that don't experience a high-impact event -- is there a way to also spark interest in those communities?" Giordono said. "We don't want people to have to experience these types of disasters to make changes."

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Fossil leaves prove elevated CO2 triggered greening 23M years ago

Terra Daily - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:56
Washington DC (UPI) Aug 20, 2020 - The links between rising carbon dioxide levels, global warming and greening trends have been confirmed by fossilized leaves from a 23 million-year-old forest.

The leaves were found preserved in the sediment layers that once formed the bottom of a New Zealand lake.

Paleontologists previously unearthed a diversity of plants, algae, spiders, beetle, flies and fungi from the ancient lake bed, found inside an ancient crater called Foulden Maar.

Scientists previously postulated that ancient increases in atmospheric CO2 during the early Miocene allowed plants to perform photosynthesis more efficiently. But the latest research, published Thursday in the journal Climate of the Past, is the first to confirm the link between CO2 and greening in the fossil record.

"The amazing thing is that these leaves are basically mummified, so we have their original chemical compositions, and can see all their fine features under a microscope," lead author Tammo Reichgelt, an adjunct scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said in a news release.

"Evidence has been building that CO2 was high then, but there have been paradoxes," said Reichgelt, an assistant professor of geosciences at the University of Connecticut.

Lab experiments have shown increases in CO2 can boost photosynthesis, and recent satellite surveys suggest rising CO2 levels are responsible for greening patterns across the planet, including Arctic and drylands ecosystems.

The latest research suggests that greening trends are likely to continue as CO2 levels approach those recorded during ancient period of warming.

But not all plants can easily increase photosynthesis rates, scientists warn. Greening patterns are also dictated by the availability of water and nutrients.

According to the new study, increases in photosynthesis rates won't be able to keep up with current rates of human-caused carbon emissions. In addition, previous studies suggest increases in rates of photosynthesis can prevent staple crops from absorbing calcium, iron, zinc and other minerals important for human health.

Until now, scientists have been confused conflicting paleoclimate signatures found in Miocene deposits. Though previous studies showed temperatures during the period were 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, the chemical signatures trapped among the remains of marine organisms showed CO2 levels were just 300 parts per million -- less than expected.

Leaves from the ancient lake bed sediment cores showed CO2 levels were significantly higher. By comparing the fossilized leaf structures, including microscopic veins, stomata and pores, to those of modern leaves, researchers designed a model to more accurately predict CO2 levels.

Their analysis showed atmospheric CO2 levels rose as high as 450 parts per million during the Miocene.

The analysis also showed trees in the Foulden Maar forest were able to absorb larger amounts of CO2 without requiring the same levels of water absorption, allowing them to grow in marginal areas -- places previously too dry to host large plants.

Today, CO2 levels in the atmosphere measure 415 ppm. By 2040, they will likely reach 450 ppm. Researchers suggest the latest study will help climate scientists improve the accuracy of their models.

"It all fits together, it all makes sense," said study co-author William D'Andrea, a paleoclimate scientist at Lamont-Doherty. "This should give us more confidence about how temperatures will change with CO2 levels."

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How lockdown birds sang to a different tune

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 19:34
It's official, bird song did sound different during lockdown, according to a scientific study.
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UK can be 'Saudi Arabia of wind power' - PM

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 16:16
The UK prime minister says the UK holds extraordinary potential for wind power.
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Sir David Attenborough joins Instagram to warn 'the world is in trouble'

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 15:20
The broadcaster gained more than 200,000 followers within an hour of posting his first video.
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Mysterious beaked whale smashes mammal diving record

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 15:06
A Cuvier's beaked whale stays under water for almost four hours, leaving scientists puzzled.
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Ministers 'seek alternatives' for UK sat-nav

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 14:48
The government says it is after all ideas for a sovereign satellite-navigation system post-Brexit.
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Man dies from eating more than a bag of liquorice a day

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:51
The 54-year-old construction worker ate a bag-and-a-half of black liquorice every day, doctors say.
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Low tax on heating is bad for climate, report says

BBC Technology - Thu, 09/24/2020 - 00:12
The rich benefit most from a de facto subsidy for home heating, a report says.
Categories: Online News

Pringles and Cadbury 'failing on recycled packaging'

BBC Technology - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 23:11
KitKats and Babybel are among other big brands that did badly in the Which? recycling test.
Categories: Online News

Coronavirus: Climate action cannot be another Covid victim - PM

BBC Technology - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 21:46
Boris Johnson will urge leaders to "look ahead to how we will rebuild" after the global pandemic.
Categories: Online News

M87*: History-making supermassive black hole seen to do a shimmy

BBC Technology - Wed, 09/23/2020 - 14:06
Scientists trace a wobble in the brightness around M87* - the first black hole ever to be imaged.
Categories: Online News
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