Republican EPA Chiefs Call for Action on Climate
Top environmental regulators for four Republican presidents told Congress this week what many Republican lawmakers won’t: action is needed on global warming.
In a congressional hearing organized to undermine Republican opposition to President Barack Obama’s environmental proposals, Senate Democrats asked the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency for Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan to discuss the risks from climate change and what should be done about it. Some Republicans dispute the science of climate change and have worked to unravel Obama’s steps to address it.
Action on Capitol Hill — where even a bland, bipartisan energy efficiency bill couldn’t get passed in May — has been in a deep freeze.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/republican-epa-chiefs-call-action-climate
Study Charts Rise, Fall of Prehistoric Penguins
A study of how penguin populations have changed over the last 30,000 years has shown that between the last ice age and up to around 1,000 years ago penguin populations benefited from climate warming and retreating ice. This suggests that recent declines in penguins may be because ice is now retreating too far or too fast.
An international team, led by scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Oxford, has used a genetic technique to estimate when current genetic diversity arose in penguins and to recreate past population sizes. Looking at the 30,000 years before human activity impacted the climate, as Antarctica gradually warmed, they found that three species of penguin; Chinstrap, Adélie and southern populations of Gentoo penguins increased in numbers. In contrast, Gentoo penguins on the Falkland Islands were relatively stable, as they were not affected by large changes in ice extent.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/study-charts-rise-fall-prehistoric-penguins
Pangaea’s Mountains Helped Earth Avoid Warming Last Time
Geochemists have calculated a huge rise in atmospheric CO2 was only avoided by the formation of a vast mountain range in the middle of the ancient supercontinent, Pangaea. This work is being presented to the European Association of Geochemistry’s Goldschmidt geochemistry conference.
Around 300 million years ago, plate tectonics caused the continents to aggregate into a giant supercontinent, known as Pangaea. The sheer size of the continent meant that much of the land surface was far from the sea, and so the continent became increasingly arid because of a lack of humidity. This aridity meant that rock weathering was reduced; normally, a reduction in rock weathering means that CO2 levels rise, yet in spite of this CO2 levels – which had been falling prior to the mountain formation- continued to drop, eventually undergoing the most significant drop in atmospheric CO2 of the last 500 million years. This phenomenon has remained unexplained, until now.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/pangaea%E2%80%99s-mountains-helped-earth-avoid-warming-last-time
The international climate community is focused on completing negotiations on a new global agreement to address climate change, which will be decided by the end of 2015. Unfortunately, all indications are that negotiators will seek to simply advance many of the tried-and-failed approaches of the previous decades. It’s time for a fundamentally new approach to global climate change; one that looks beyond the staid approaches of years past and directly attacks the core problem: making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels through proactive clean energy innovation policy.
Read complete report here: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/report-presents-framework-global-climate-policy
Climate Change May Explain Lack of Alien Encounters
Enrico Fermi, when asked about intelligent life on other planets, famously replied, “Where are they?” Any civilization advanced enough to undertake interstellar travel would, he argued, in a brief period of cosmic time, populate its entire galaxy. Yet, we haven’t made any contact with such life. This has become the famous “Fermi Paradox.”
So why don’t we see advanced civilizations swarming across the universe? One problem may be climate change. It is not that advanced civilizations always destroy themselves by over-heating their biospheres (although that is a possibility). Instead, because stars become brighter as they age, most planets with an initially life-friendly climate will become uninhabitably hot long before intelligent life emerges.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/climate-change-may-explain-lack-alien-encounters
Researchers: No Limits to Human Impact on Clouds
Understanding how clouds affect the climate has been a difficult proposition. What controls the makeup of the low clouds that cool the atmosphere or the high ones that trap heat underneath? How does human activity change patterns of cloud formation? Now, the research of the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ilan Koren suggests we may be nudging cloud formation in the direction of added area and height. He and his team have analyzed a unique type of cloud formation; their findings, which appeared recently in Science indicate that in pre-industrial times, there was less cloud cover over areas of pristine ocean than is found there today.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/researchers-no-limits-human-impact-clouds
Climate Not Responsible for Large Mammal Extinction
Was it mankind or climate change that caused the extinction of a considerable number of large mammals about the time of the last Ice Age? Researchers at Aarhus Univ. have carried out the first global analysis of the extinction of the large animals, and the conclusion is clear – humans are to blame.
“Our results strongly underline the fact that human expansion throughout the world has meant an enormous loss of large animals,” says Postdoctoral Fellow Søren Faurby, Aarhus Univ.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/climate-not-responsible-large-mammal-extinction
EU Reports Lowest Emissions on Record
The European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions continued to fall in 2012, as a 1.3 percent decrease cut emissions to 19.2 percent below 1990 levels, according to official data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). This puts the EU within reach of its 20 percent reduction target, with eight years to go until the 2020 deadline.
The findings come from final EU greenhouse gas emissions for 2012, reported to the United Nations. Emissions have decreased by 1,082 metric tons in the EU since 1990, which is more than the combined 2012 emissions of Italy and the UK. As a result, the EU was already very close to reaching its 2020 Climate and Energy Package target through domestic measures alone.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/06/eu-reports-lowest-emissions-record
Phoenix stands at a parched crossroads. Global scale climate change is forecast to bring hotter summers and more extreme heat to the Valley, but regional urbanization also will impact temperatures experienced by residents.
So how should Phoenix grow knowing that such growth could cause temperatures to increase in the future and bring added health risks? Should the city deploy mitigating technologies to help fight summer’s heat? Would adopting a low-growth strategy reduce the adverse health consequences of hot weather?
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/urbanization-linked-future-heat-related-mortality
Drop in Global Malnutrition Depends on Climate
Global malnutrition could fall 84 percent by the year 2050 as incomes in developing countries grow — but only if agricultural productivity continues to improve and climate change does not severely damage agriculture, Purdue Univ. researchers say.
"The prevalence and severity of global malnutrition could drop significantly by 2050, particularly in the poorest regions of the world," says Thomas Hertel, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics. "But if productivity does not grow, global malnutrition will worsen even if incomes increase. Climate change also adds a good deal of uncertainty to these projections."
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/drop-global-malnutrition-depends-climate
Fingers Crossed: NOAA Predicts Slow Hurricane Season
Federal forecasters are expected to predict a slower than usual hurricane season this year.
Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gathered in New York today to release the agency’s outlook for the six-month storm season that officially begins June 1. Colorado State Univ. researchers have forecast nine named storms in 2014, with just three expected to become hurricanes and one major storm with winds over 110 mph.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/fingers-crossed-noaa-predicts-slow-hurricane-season
Southern Plant Thrives in North Because of Climate Change
Can plants and animals evolve to keep pace with climate change? A study in PNAS shows that, for at least one widely-studied plant, the European climate is changing fast enough that strains from Southern Europe already grow better in the north than established local varieties.
Small and fast-growing, Arabidopsis thaliana is widely used as the “lab mouse” of plant biology. The plant grows in Europe from Spain to Scandinavia and because Arabidopsis is so well-studied, there is a reference collection of seeds derived from wild stocks across its native range. Originally collected from 20 to 50 years ago, these plants have since been maintained under controlled conditions in the seed bank.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/southern-plant-thrives-north-because-climate-change
Belgrade Braces for Deadly Flood
Belgrade braced for a river surge Monday that threatened to inundate Serbia’s main power plant and cause major power cuts in the crisis-stricken country as the Balkans struggle with the consequences of the worst flooding in southeastern Europe in more than a century.
At least 35 people died in Serbia and Bosnia in the five days of flooding caused by unprecedented torrential rain, laying waste to entire towns and villages and sending tens of thousands of people out of their homes, authorities say.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/belgrade-braces-deadly-flood
Studies Say Climate Change Worsens Wildfires
The devastating wildfires scorching Southern California offer a glimpse of a warmer and fierier future, according to scientists and federal and international reports.
In the past three months, at least three different studies and reports have warned that wildfires are getting bigger, that man-made climate change is to blame, and it’s only going to get worse with more fires starting earlier in the year. While scientists are reluctant to blame global warming for any specific fire, they have been warning for years about how it will lead to more fires and earlier fire seasons.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/studies-say-climate-change-worsens-wildfires
Loss of West Antarctic Glaciers Appears Unstoppable
A new study, by researchers at NASA and UC Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.
The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/05/loss-west-antarctic-glaciers-appears-unstoppable