Tag: Climate Change

Global Warming is Threatening the Survival of UK Wildlife

by Arun

The ongoing climate crisis is having an effect on all facets of life, such as politics, business, and daily lifestyle, and global leaders have taken notice of their trend and are starting to prioritize the fight against global warming in their agenda. Beyond humans and Earth-preservation, the largest victim group of human-induced climate change is perhaps the wildlife. This is exemplified in the United Kingdom (UK), where new research shows that warming temperatures have outpaced wildlife adaptation time and the survival of several wildlife species is now on the edge of extinction.

According to The Guardian, research suggests that “researching and connecting species-rich wild habitat across 30% of Britain’s land and sea by 2030 could save a fifth of species from climate-driven habitat loss, decline, or extinction.” Furthermore, organizations have common together to support the cause and help fight back against the at-risk wildlife by relocating them to cleaner areas. However, these organizations observe that large scale and sustained impact is impossible without lasting and extended support, which is not all-so-present currently.

One of these organizations, Rewilding Britain, “is proposing a network of rewilding areas in native forests, peat bogs, moorlands, heaths, grasslands, saltmarshes, and living reefs, without any loss of productive farmland.” Through this process, the organization hopes to make existing land without a more densely populated wildlife, in a manner that does not coincide with human processes.

The steps made by British organizations are clearly in the right direction as the country is working together and carrying out tangible tasks in an effort to effectively mitigate global warming and support the preservation of wildlife. The outcomes are promising, but the organizations can not do it alone. Widespread support and action, they say, are the keys to effectively combat global warming. Without everyone coming together, global warming simply can not be addressed.

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US Department on Energy makes Statement Regarding Emissions of Electric Vehicles

by Kaushal Kumar

Recently, the US Department of Energy put to bed the myth that electric vehicles are worse, or not any better for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles. This statement was made in response to a mass internet campaign claiming that due to the amount of energy and resources needed to form batteries for electric vehicles and the complications that come with disposing of them or re-using them, and that electric vehicles are not any better for the environment than gasoline power vehicles. An example of this campaign is a Facebook post, claiming that a 1000 pound electric battery requires 500,000 pounds of raw material to create, therefore making the vehicle it is placed in just as damaging to the environment. However, this claim has recently been proven false. The US Department of Energy recently compared the lifecycle emissions of fully-electric, hybrid, and gasoline-powered vehicles, finding that electric vehicles do, in nearly all cases, have fewer emissions than a gasoline-powered car. 

However, this barrage of misinformation does not only include internet memes and popular Facebook posts. In 2019, a German study claimed that the Tesla Model 3, a fully electric car, emitted just as much CO2 into the atmosphere as a Mercedes C-Class vehicle with a diesel engine. This was recently proven to be false with the co-author of the new study, Auke Hoekstra explaining, “A Tesla Model 3 currently emits 65% less CO2 than a Mercedes C-Class.” 

The disinformation regarding electric vehicles is an obstacle that will forever be a challenge to the renewable energy automobile industry. Critics and skeptics will continue to attack these new vehicles with factless claims and arguments. As the popularity of electric vehicles increases, so will the volume of this slander. 

Even the idea that the US Department of Energy felt that they had to make a statement on this proves the difficulty of our battle against climate change. A fact that seemed so obvious is something that people are willing to discredit and lie about. The fight against climate change is very much one about the battle for truth, with one side claiming they have the truth and the other side proving that they do. Ultimately, it is the role of the reader to sift through the lies and exaggerations of the deniers and find for themselves what the science supports.

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China Looks to Achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2060

by Sudhit Rao

In a recent United Nations General Assembly, Xi Jinping, president of China, the largest polluter of greenhouse gases in the world today, announced that he plans for China to go carbon-free by the year 2060. He detailed a “green revolution,” and came out with plans to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and slowly reduce them by 2060. 

China is responsible for a large portion of pollution although it is also a global leader in renewable energy. He stated, “China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures. We call on all countries to pursue innovative, coordinated, green, and open development for all.” 

Although many climate activists were excited to hear the announcement, they were more adamant that Xi lives up to his pledge and execute this decades-long plan. Jennifer Morgan, a well-known climate activist with Greenpeace International responded on Twitter saying that Xi’s plan “is an important signal that responding to the climate crisis is top of mind and top of agenda for China.”

As for the plan itself, consultancy Wood Mackenzie, detailed that the process would take an enormous investment of $5 trillion to accomplish. According to them, solar, wind, and energy storage would each have to increase tenfold by the 2050s to around 5,040 gigawatts of energy. Concurrently, coal and gas power would have to decrease by about half to get close to the goal. Moreover, Prakesh Sharma, head of markets and transitions, states how the world must change socially too saying, “The most challenging part of the shift is not the investment or magnitude of renewable capacity additions but the social transition that comes with it.”

While Xi’s plan leaves us optimistic about China, the question remains whether the US will follow in China’s steps. Fighting climate change is a global effort, and currently, there is no concrete plan by the United States detailing how US carbon emissions will reduce.

Image: https://media.wired.com/photos/5c05d69be02cdf2d57026ba4/16:9/w_2400,h_1350,c_limit/chinaemissions-625667906.jpg

Antarctic Melting Will Threaten the Lives of Millions in the Near Future

by Kaushal Kumar

During the world’s current battle against climate change, we always hear the impacts that global warming is having on the Arctic. We hear the concerns of environmental scientists on the melting of large amounts of ice in the North and the ramifications that come with it like rising oceans and the release of gas that has been trapped within the ice for centuries, but a recent study shows that global warming may also create “practically irreversible” melting in the Antarctic as well.

According to this report, climate change has and will continue to impact the speed at which the ice at the South Pole will melt. Experts claim, however, that not all warming will lead to the loss of ice, but actually, a small amount of warming will lead to an increase in the amount of ice in the South. This is caused because the increased temperature will speed up the evaporation of seawater, adding more moisture to the air. This extra moisture will create more snowfall in the Antarctic and this increase in snowfall will actually overpower the impact that the small amount of warming has on the speed that the ice melts. 

However, this does not hold up for many more than a small amount of temperature gain. Scientists believe that any more than a rise in temperature of 2 degrees Celsius will have major impacts on the rate that the ice in the Antarctic will melt. With a change of only 2 degrees, they expect sea levels to rise by 2 meters, which the globe is on track to hit by 2100. Even worse heating of 6-9 degrees Celsius could cause ocean levels to rise by as much as 40 meters just from the melting of the ice sheets in the Antarctic alone.

While 2 meters may not seem like much, the impacts that this will have on human life are immense. Today, an estimated two-thirds of the entire human population lives at least 100km from a coast. More than 600 million people live on land that is below 30 feet above sea level and two-thirds of the world’s largest cities (populations over 5 million) are also in these regions. A rise of only 7 feet could displace tens of millions of people, and cause trillions of dollars in damage. With the rate of the warming of the globe only rising, scientists are unsure if we will beat the clock or be forced to adapt to the quickly rising oceans.

Image: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/Travel/2020/January/budget-bucket-antarctica-(1).jpg

California Governor Newsom Officially Phases Out Gas-Powered Cars by 2035

by Arun

This past week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will phase out gasoline-powered cars in order to reduce fossil fuel demand. By this executive order, all sales of passenger vehicles must be zero-emission by the year 2035. This move came with the intention of shifting the state away from being fossil fuel dependent and exposed to renewable energy.

Though the ruling seems extreme, it appears to be proportionally justified. In California, the transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog pollution, and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions (Source: gov.ca.gov). Banning the sale of these pollution-causing vehicles is a surefire way to reduce what is responsible for half of California’s pollution.

In wake of this ruling and with the rising share of electric vehicle (EV) companies, many car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford, among others, are embracing this change and are involved in the design and production of electric vehicles to meet the new market. With the regulation set in place for 15 years from now, it gives companies plenty of time to master and mass produce these electric vehicles to make them both convenient and affordable.

It is key to note, however, the fine print of this ruling. The ruling bans the sale of passenger cars, but not the use of cars. Cars purchased after 2035 must be electric, though existing cars can remain. With the extended lifetime of cars with the help of modern technology and maintenance, it will be a while until we truly see a zero-emission landscape.

It is ambitious, though Governor Newsom states that it “is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change.” In addition to providing support from the effect climate change has been having on California in the wake of the wildfires that have devastated the state and surrounding regions, Governor Newsom states that “cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”

Through this order, California joins the 15 other countries that have committed to phasing out gasoline-powered cars that pollute their nations. The regulations set rules and standards that other states can follow to address climate change on a large scale. With incentivizing and promoting renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, Governor Newsom shows his commitment to the environment among recent events that have devastated areas of California.

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Tech Industry Plays Growing Role in Fight Against Climate Change

by Anshul Dash

The tech industry has played a significant role in the fight against climate change through many actions, such as following zero-carbon footprints and pushing for use of data to encourage efficiency of energy.

The tech industry has a huge influence on most people. It currently dominates areas in politics, the economy, and culture. Because of this, the industry’s role in climate change could have huge, positive impacts. Big tech giants such as Amazon and Shopify have recently invested $2 billion and 5$ billion, respectively, into environmental companies such as CarbonCure Technologies, which stores CO2 in concrete, and Pachama, which uses artificial intelligence to save and preserve forests. Through these investments, tech giants are earning credibility for contributing to the fight against climate change.

However, big tech companies are receiving criticism from the public regarding their own carbon footprints, which are very high numbers. Tech giants are also receiving backlash for partnering with major oil and gas companies, which contributes to the overall carbon footprint through the extraction of fossil fuels. Based on the criticism, many of these companies are reforming their policies. For example, Microsoft partnered up with oil company BP to reduce its oil/gas emission. Google proclaimed that it aims to run all of its data centers on carbon-free power by 2030. 

Out of the fight against climate change, an association called the Digital Climate Alliance was formed. The Alliance aims to include digital solutions as a part of climate policy. The Alliance, led by Johnson Controls and Intel, will try to negotiate with Congress to add a digital title into their developing climate policy. According to the organizers of the group, at least one oil company is likely to join. 

One way that the tech industry is planning to become environmentally friendly is to shift web searches and data centers to places where electricity is wasted. It also plans to further assess emissions up close by studying specific fossil fuels and buildings. Digitizing data can have a hugely positive effect on cutting carbon emissions.

The Climate Crisis You Haven’t Heard Of— The Melting of Himalayan Ice Sheets

by Saarang Kashyap

Everyone knows what’s happening in the North and South pole: the ice caps are melting. Ask a little more and they might tell you that this phenomenon is due to runaway climate change. They may also mention that at some point in the following decades, sea levels will rise and low-lying places like Florida and Venice will disappear. However, not many know about the Hindu Kush Himalayan Ice Sheet, better known as the Third Pole, and how this third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain is diminishing rapidly.  

According to a landmark report, the melting of this ice sheet will have serious consequences for almost 2 billion people. Even if carbon emissions are dramatically and rapidly cut and succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5C, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range will have been gone by 2100. If emissions are not cut, the loss soars to two-thirds, the report found. As stated in the TheGuardian, The glaciers are a critical water store for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, and 1.65 billion people rely on the great rivers that flow from the peaks into India, Pakistan, China, and other nations.

Since the 1970s, about 15% of the ice in the HKH region has disappeared as temperatures have risen. But the HKH range is 3,500km long and the impact of warming is variable. Some glaciers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are stable and a few are even gaining ice, most probably due to increased cloud cover that shields the sun in addition to changing winds that bring more snow. But even these glaciers will start crumbling with future warming.

Political tensions between neighboring nations such as India and Pakistan could add to the difficulties. “There are rocky times ahead for the region. Because many of the disasters and sudden changes will play out across country borders, conflict among the region’s countries could easily flare up,” said Eklabya Sharma, the deputy director general of Icimod.

The report also highlights how vulnerable many mountain people are, with one-third living on less than $1.90 a day and far away from help if a climate disaster strikes. We can support the native people who rely on the Himalayan Ice Sheet by educating ourselves on how we, in our own communities, can mitigate climate change.

Global Response to COVID-19 Not Enough to Delay Climate Change

by Saarang Kashyap

While emissions of CO2 have plummeted during the lockdown, concentrations of the long-lasting gas have continued to rise in the atmosphere. The period from 2016 to 2020 will likely be the warmest five years on record, a new study reports.

The United in Science report, as mentioned in BBC News, brings together experts from a large number of international organizations, including the UN and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), to give an updated snapshot of the state of the global climate. The study shows that global lockdowns had a significant and immediate impact on emissions of greenhouse gases, with daily levels in April 2020 falling by 17% compared with 2019.

Similar upward trends in CO2 have been observed from other parts of the world. At the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, the amount of CO2 measured in air samples has increased from 411 parts per million (ppm) in July 2019 to 414ppm in July this year. Similarly, at Cape Grim monitoring station in Tasmania, concentrations were also up from 407 to 410ppm in the year to July.

Additionally, global sea levels are rising much faster than previously recorded. Between 2016 and 2020, the rate of increase was 4.8mm per year, an increase over the 4.1mm recorded between 2011 and 2015. The extent of sea-ice in the Arctic has continued to decline, at a rate of 13% per decade.Why might the rise of climate change be a much bigger problem than COVID-19? As stated in GatesNotes, “Within the next 40 years, increases in global temperatures are projected to raise global mortality rates by the same amount—14 deaths per 100,000. By the end of the century, if emissions growth stays high, climate change could be responsible for 73 extra deaths per 100,000 people. In a lower emissions scenario, the death rate drops to 10 per 100,000.” These numbers prove that climate change, although initially illusive, is a dangerous threat when you consider it on a long term scale.

Climate Change’s Hand in the Cause of Hurricane Laura and the California Wildfires

by Kaushal Kumar

In August of 2020, the United States has faced some of the most powerful weather systems that it has ever run into. Hurricane Laura struck the Southern Coast with storm surges over 20 feet tall, with reports claiming that in hotspots the storm would be “unsurvivable.” On the other side of the United States, we see roaring wildfires displacing thousands and covering the Silicon Valley with a thick layer of smoke. All of this while the world faces the Coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of more than 180,000 Americans in less than a year. Climate scientists believe these patterns are here to say and the growing impact of climate change is partially to blame for the unprecedented wildfires and hurricanes.

When Hurricane Laura touched ground in the US it was classified as a Category 4 hurricane, with the potential of storm surges of over 20 feet and winds over 150 mph. It is expected to be one of the 10 greatest hurricanes to ever reach American land according to CNN. Hurricane Laura forced the evacuation of thousands of residents living on the southern coast and left another 400,000 Americans in the Southern Louisiana-Texas region without power.

With the increasing temperature of our globe scientists expect record-setting storms like Laura to become more common. The warmer weather and water are like “recharging batteries” for hurricanes and will cause future storms to be stronger than the ones in the past. Scientists also believe that the change in climate will cause more rain during the storms, which could lead to increased flooding and damages.

But climate change is not only affecting hurricanes, it also may be partially to blame for the extent of the wildfires scorching Northern California, which have burned close to a million acres of forest and still are not close to being fully contained.

Wildfires have always been a part of the Californian ecosystem, but recently fires have been becoming stronger and creeping into areas where fires rarely go. This is due to the heat and reduced moisture that we are seeing in the air and the forests in the state, greatly due to global warming. Becky Bolinger, Colorado’s assistant state climatologist explained, “When you have warmer temperatures and you’re lengthening the warm season, you’re also lengthening the time when wildfires have a chance to start and grow.”

These unusual and dangerous weather patterns seem to be just the tip of the iceberg on what may become the new normal if the world does not begin to take serious action against climate change.

The Impacts of Climate Change on the Healthcare Sector

by Anna Subbanna

Older generations have always thought of the effects of climate change as an abstract idea that will occur far in the future. Apologies for the wake-up call, but the future is now. Many different sectors have already seen the negative consequences of climate change and are calling for immediate action. 

The Immediate Effects of Climate Change

As global temperatures continue to rise, emergency medicine sees an increase in cases, especially among the older generations. Cases of heat strokes have been spiking in areas that experience unusually high temperatures. In many cooler areas, patients do not consider heat strokes a possibility and consequently do not make it to the hospital in time. Moreover, the increased pollutants and pollen in the air lead to increased respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or severe allergies. The WHO approximated 250,000 annual deaths from 2030 to 2050 that could be attributed to “climate change-related increases in heat exposure in elderly people, as well as increases in diarrheal disease, malaria, dengue, coastal flooding, and childhood stunting” (Haines, Andy, and Kristie, “The Imperative for Climate Action to Protect Health”).

How Rising Temperatures Affect Medical Care

One of the most prominent sectors affected by climate change is healthcare. As global temperatures rise, natural disasters, such as forest fires and hurricanes (Climate Change and Law Collection), see a significant increase. Many states, like California, shut off electricity in high-risk areas to prevent wildfires. However, around 250 Californian hospitals have had their power shut off due to this practice (Salas, “The Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice). Vital medical equipment such as ventilators, MRIs, and electrical oxygen tanks have to rely on backup generators to operate properly. Thus, a blackout puts all patients that are dependent on these kinds of technology at risk. It is especially harmful to limited-resource hospice patients that get medical treatment in their houses, as most of them do not have access to a backup generator and must find other ways to ensure their survival. Additionally, the increased hurricanes can lead to destructions of hospitals and more power shortages across the impacted area. Although it may not be discernible to the naked eye, if one looks further, climate change is very harmful to physicians ability to care for at-risk patients 

The effects of climate change are far-reaching and have already begun to metastasize into different parts of the medical sector. The noticeable consequences are only the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, policies will change before the medical community experiences the rest.