While in South Carolina last weekend, Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reiterated a burn he’s been feeling for decades: the vested interests of the fossil fuel industry. He told the crowd climate change “is already causing devastating problems all over this world,” and the fossil fuel industry, Koch brothers specifically, are doing everything they can do keep this out of the public’s attention. At one point he directly called out Republican candidates to basically man up, grow a backbone and stop lying.
Philipp Pattberg, a professor of transnational environmental governance and policy at VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, focuses on the study of global environmental politics, with a focus on climate change governance and biodiversity. Here, he gives a talk about more than 20 years of international climate change diplomacy, from the successful negotiation of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Amber Rudd, the UK’s Secretary of Energy and Climate Change, announced the government’s new plan to generate clean and cheap energy. Rudd says the Britain will add more nuclear power, explore for shale and, most strikingly, replace all coal fired plants with gas.
Starting November 30, the world’s leaders will meet in Paris at the UN summit for climate change to discuss a common framework to reduce carbon emissions at a global level. Most countries already have plans set in motion to reduce emissions, either by using energy efficiency and new technology to lower the carbon footprint of their own operations, or use legislation to compel residents and companies to do the same. A lot of big and sizable corporations in the United States have taken matters into their own hands, however, by buying more clean energy and less fossil fuel derived energy, regardless of what the government suggests or coerces.
Improvements in aircraft design, air traffic management and changes to airline operations could effectively slash US airline emissions by as much as 50%.
The Amazon basin is home to the world’s great biodiversity. You’ll find more plant and animal species per square foot than anywhere else in the world. It’s truly one of the wildest and life teeming places in the universe, which given humans’ habit of meddling makes it one of the most vulnerable as well. The huge 6-million-square-kilometer rainforest area remains mostly unstudied, due to the roughness and inaccessibility of the land. But making their way through the outskirts are the chainsaws and sawmills; and they’re moving fast. Since 2000 an area equal to 50 football pitches has been destroyed every minute in the Amazon rainforest, satellite imagery revealed.
After five years long of pondering, the FDA finally gave the green light for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon variety. This is the first food animal that was genetically modified that the FDA approved for human consumption and farming. The salmon has genes from another salmon species, as well as an eel-like fish, which allows it to grow to market size in half the time it would usually take. This means it saves twice as much time and resources as conventional salmon, with no nutritional or health drawbacks, the FDA says.
Some 360 million years ago, the oceans were teeming with big fish, some as big as a school bus. Then something terrible happened, the causes of which still escape scientists today: the Hangenberg Event. This was the last peak in a streak of mass extinctions known as the Late Devonian extinction which exterminated 97% of all marine vertebrate species. In the aftermath, it paid to be small a new study suggests. The researchers at University of Pennsylvania found that small fish dominated the ecological niches for nearly 40 million years. This tremendous rebound time is relevant today when overfishing is threatening countless large fish species. Once these disappear, it might be a very long time before we get tuna-sized fish back on our plates.
At the U.N. summit on climate change held in Paris soon, world leaders will join in an attempt to curb their emissions in order to avoid warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius past the industrial age. We’re already 0.9 degrees warmer and by the looks of the pledges filed by member states ahead of the talks, a more realistic target seems like 3 degrees. In other words, the framework – which will not be legally binding – will only have moderate effects, when more ambitious action is required. One big part of the problem is fossil fuel subsidies, which last year amounted to $452 bn. in total for all G20 member states. Oppositely, renewable energy – a field which actually deserves to be subsidizes since its new tech and isn’t mature yet – was subsidized by only $121 bn. or four times less.
MIT’s Climate CoLab has an innovative approach to the huge problem of climate change: breaking it up into smaller, manageable problems and crowdsourcing a way out.