Sustainable Arlington

Envision Arlington/Mass. Climate Action Network (MCAN) Chapter


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This page includes content from the Climate Change News blog, which is maintained daily by David Landskov, and content from our old SA blog archives.

  • Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find

    Climate Change News Feb 21, 2019 | 06:08 am

    Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university. The research, presented at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington, D.C., argues that planting additional trees is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. Trees are “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change,” Crowther told The Independent. Combining forest inventory data from 1.2 million locations around the world and satellite images, the scientists estimate there are 3 trillion trees on Earth — seven times more than previous estimates. But they also found that there is abundant space to restore millions of acres of additional forests, not counting urban and agricultural land. “There’s 400 gigatons [of CO2 stored] now in the 3 trillion trees,” Crowther said. “If you were to scale that up by another trillion trees, that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out.” Tree planting is becoming an increasingly popular tool to combat climate change. The United Nations’ Trillion Tree Campaign has planted nearly 15 billion trees across the globe in recent years. And Australia has announced a plan to plant a billion more by 2050 as part of its[…]

  • Paris Agreement Has Gone Up In Smoke, New Paper Says

    Climate Change News Feb 21, 2019 | 06:00 am

    Paris Agreement Has Gone Up In Smoke, New Paper Says Forget about us only having “12 years to reverse climate change” — the slogan picked up from a recent report — a new paper says that we are already too late to stop 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.  That is, if we’re hoping countries somehow live up to the commitments made under the Paris climate agreement. And while that’s no big surprise to climate wonks, it nonetheless ranks high in the most-depressing-things-ever contest. The paper in Nature Climate Change focuses on the Paris agreement’s targets for “land use change.”  Translation: farming in ways that sequester carbon, growing new trees and stopping deforestation.  This stuff really matters because lots of countries’ pledges depend on these efforts.  The European Union’s member states, for instance, rely on land use change for “up to 40 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” the authors pointed out. (Just as an aside, this paper was published as a “perspective,” which means it’s more of an evidence-based viewpoint.  It’s not all-caps FACT, but it is a persuasive argument by scientists backed up with tons of citations.) It’s no surprise that the voluntary commitments made in 2015 might not save the world.  And commitments on land use are especially tricky because they take a long time to work. It takes decades to grow a forest.  And the authors of this paper point out that it also takes a long time to put policies in place and get the locals who manage the land to sign on.  For[…]

  • Wednesday 20

    Climate Change News Feb 21, 2019 | 04:50 am

    Wednesday 20

  • Monday 18

    Climate Change News Feb 20, 2019 | 22:59 pm

    Monday 18

  • Climate Change Makes Summer Weather Stormier Yet More Stagnant

    Climate Change News Feb 20, 2019 | 06:45 am

    Climate Change Makes Summer Weather Stormier Yet More Stagnant Study finds rising temperatures feed more energy to thunderstorms, less to general circulation. Climate change is shifting the energy in the atmosphere that fuels summertime weather, which may lead to stronger thunderstorms and more stagnant conditions for midlatitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia, a new MIT study finds. Scientists report that rising global temperatures, particularly in the Arctic, are redistributing the energy in the atmosphere:  More energy is available to fuel thunderstorms and other local, convective processes, while less energy is going toward summertime extratropical cyclones — larger, milder weather systems that circulate across thousands of kilometers.  These systems are normally associated with winds and fronts that generate rain. “Extratropical cyclones ventilate air and air pollution, so with weaker extratropical cyclones in the summer, you’re looking at the potential for more poor air-quality days in urban areas,” says study author Charles Gertler, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).  “Moving beyond air quality in cities, you have the potential for more destructive thunderstorms and more stagnant days with perhaps longer-lasting heat waves.” Gertler and his co-author, Associate Professor Paul O’Gorman of EAPS, are publishing their results this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more at Climate Change Makes Summer Weather Stormier Yet More Stagnant

  • For a Warming World, a New Strategy for Protecting Watersheds

    Climate Change News Feb 20, 2019 | 06:00 am

    For a Warming World, a New Strategy for Protecting Watersheds In increasingly arid regions such as the western U.S., water managers are learning that careful management and restoration of watershed ecosystems, including thinning trees and conducting prescribed burns, are important tools in coping with a hotter, drier climate. Long before an aspen tree fell on a power line in New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains in June 2011, triggering the biggest wildfire in the state’s history, fire managers knew that New Mexico’s forests were vulnerable.  Climate change-induced drought and higher temperatures had dried out the trees and soil.  And after more than a century of fire suppression, areas that supported 40 trees per acre in the pre-European era now were blanketed with up to a hundred times as many.  This profusion of trees — as many as one per square yard — weakened all of them, and rendered them defenseless against megafires. Even so, the fire managers weren’t prepared for the astonishing power of the 2011 conflagration, known as the Las Conchas Fire.  During its first 14 hours, it sent walls of flame hundreds of feet high as it consumed nearly an acre of forest per second and threatened the city of Los Alamos.  By the time it was extinguished five weeks later, it had burned an area nearly three times as big as the state’s largest fire before it, and left behind nearly 100 square miles so severely burned that even seeds to regenerate the forest were destroyed. But the fire’s full impact didn’t register until nearly two months later, when[…]

  • Arctic Bogs Hold Another Global Warming Risk that Could Spiral Out of Control

    Climate Change News Feb 20, 2019 | 05:10 am

    Arctic Bogs Hold Another Global Warming Risk that Could Spiral Out of Control As warming brings earlier spring rains in the Arctic, more permafrost thaws, releasing more methane in a difficult-to-stop feedback loop, research shows. Increasing spring rains in the Arctic could double the increase in methane emissions from the region by hastening the rate of thawing in permafrost, new research suggests. The findings are cause for concern because spring rains are anticipated to occur more frequently as the region warms.  The release of methane, a short-lived climate pollutant more potent than carbon dioxide over the short term, could induce further warming in a vicious cycle that would be difficult if not impossible to stop. "Our results emphasize that these permafrost regions are sensitive to the thermal effects of rain, and because we're anticipating that these environments are going to get wetter in the future, we could be seeing increases in methane emissions that we weren't expecting," said the study's lead author, Rebecca Neumann, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Washington.  The study appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists specializing in the thawing of the permafrost have been warning for years that this kind of feedback loop, which both results from and accelerates global warming, has not been taken into account in the comprehensive climate assessments that drive worldwide climate policies. As a result, they say, the Paris climate agreement signed in 2015 was probably not ambitious enough in its goals for avoiding the worst effects of warming. Read more at Arctic Bogs Hold Another Global Warming Risk[…]

  • 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Cheers 'Beginning of Great Changes' as Climate Strike Goes Global

    Climate Change News Feb 18, 2019 | 07:30 am

    16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Cheers 'Beginning of Great Changes' as Climate Strike Goes Global Because "present and future on this planet are at stake," say teen climate activists, "we won't be silent any longer" The world may be edging toward "environmental breakdown"—but 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sees signs for hope. Pointing to global walkouts planned for March 15, Thunberg—whose "school strikes for climate" helped galvanized similar actions worldwide—said, "I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful." "I think enough people have realized just how absurd the situation is," she told the Guardian.  "We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it." In a sign of that realization, thousands of students from dozens of communities across the United Kingdom skipped class on Friday to join the ranks taking part in the weekly climate actions. In fact, it's "incredible" that the movement "has spread so far, so fast," she told "Good Morning Britain." Read more at 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Cheers 'Beginning of Great Changes' as Climate Strike Goes Global

  • Predicting Climate Change

    Climate Change News Feb 18, 2019 | 06:45 am

    Predicting Climate Change Understanding carbon cycle feedbacks to predict climate change at large scale. Thomas Crowther identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.  He will describe how there is room for an additional 1.2 trillion new trees around the world that could absorb more carbon than human emissions each year.  Crowther also describes data from thousands of soil samples collected by local scientists that reveal the world's Arctic and sub-Arctic regions store most of the world's carbon.  But the warming of these ecosystems is causing the release of this soil carbon, a process that could accelerate climate change by 17%.  This research is revealing that the restoration of vegetation and soil carbon is by far our best weapon in the fight against climate change. Read more at Predicting Climate Change

  • Toon of the Week - Global... Climate... Change... Is... A... Hoax

    Climate Change News Feb 18, 2019 | 06:00 am

    Toon of the Week - Global... Climate... Change... Is... A... Hoax 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #7