Climate Change ☀️
Judge blocks Trump rule to limit health studies in EPA regs
A federal judge has blocked a last-minute rule issued by the Trump administration to limit what evidence the Environmental Protection Agency may consider as it regulates pollutants to protect public health.

Former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the Jan. 6 rule was aimed at ending what he and other Republicans call “secret science.″ Some industry and conservative groups had long pushed for the change, saying public health studies that hold confidential and potentially identifying data about test subjects should be made public so the underlying data can be scrutinized before the EPA issues rules aimed at protecting public health.

Wheeler called the rule an attempt to boost transparency about government decision-making, but critics said it was hastily imposed and would threaten patient confidentiality and the privacy of individuals in public health studies that underlie federal regulations.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana ruled late Wednesday that the EPA had unlawfully rushed the regulation, saying its decision to make it final just two weeks before then-President Donald Trump left office was “arbitrary” and “capricious.” Morris delayed the rule until at least Feb. 5, giving the new Biden administration time to assess whether to go forward with it or make changes.

An EPA spokesman said Friday the agency is “committed to making evidence-based decisions and developing policies and programs that are guided by the best science.″

EPA “will follow the science and law in accordance with the Biden-Harris administration’s executive orders and other directives in reviewing all of the agency’s actions issued under the previous administration,″ including the so-called Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science rule, spokesman Ken Labbe said in a statement.

... But the change was so broadly written that it could limit not only future public health protections, but also “force the agency to revoke decades of clean air protections,” said Chris Zarba, former head of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.

... The change, which was made final without a required 30-day notice, came after hundreds of thousands of earlier objections from scientists, public-health experts, regulators, academics, environmental advocates and others in public hearings and written remarks, in some of the strongest protests of a proposed EPA rule change.

The new limits on considering scientific findings were among scores of Trump changes to roll back environmental regulations or hinder the ability of the Biden administration to impose new regulations. Other late-term rollbacks gutted protections for birds from unintentional killings by industry and aimed to open up formerly protected areas of the Arctic wilderness for oil and gas leasing. Both have been blocked by executive orders issued by President Joe Biden.

Many of the changes imposed by Trump face court challenges and can be reversed by executive action or by lengthier bureaucratic process. But undoing them will take time and effort by the Biden administration, which has set ambitious goals to fight climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions and lessen the impact of pollutants on lower-income and minority communities.
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Scientists resolved a controversial but key climate change mystery
Revised Holocene temperature record affirms the role of greenhouse gases in recent millennia.

Holocene temperature conundrum is a long-standing mystery, with certain cynics fighting that climate model predictions of future warming must be wrong. A new study challenges long-held views on the temperature history in the Holocene era.

Scientists from Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences have resolved this long-standing mystery, suggesting that today’s annual global temperature is the warmest of the past 10,000 years. Their study shows that the first half of the Holocene was colder than in industrial times. The reason behind this was the cooling effects of remnant ice sheets from the previous glacial period.
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Climate change is a ‘global emergency’, people say in biggest ever climate poll
Almost two-thirds of over 1.2 million people surveyed worldwide say that climate change is a global emergency, urging greater action to address the crisis, results from a new UN climate survey revealed on Wednesday.

Described as the biggest climate survey yet conducted, UN Development Programme (UNDP)’s “People’s Climate Vote” poll also showed that people supported more comprehensive climate policies to respond to the challenges. The survey covered 50 countries with over half the world’s population.

“The results of the survey clearly illustrate that urgent climate action has broad support amongst people around the globe, across nationalities, age, gender and education level,” Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator said in a news release.

The poll also showed “how” people want their policymakers to tackle the climate crisis.

“From climate-friendly farming to protecting nature, and investing in a green recovery from COVID-19, the survey brings the voice of the people to the forefront of the climate debate. It signals ways in which countries can move forward with public support as we work together to tackle this enormous challenge,” Mr. Steiner added.
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Climate litigation spikes, giving courts an ‘essential role’ in addressing climate crisis
A rise in climate litigation cases has made courtrooms increasingly important as a venue for addressing climate change around the world, according to a report released on Tuesday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The UNEP Global Climate Litigation Report: 2020 Status Review, finds that climate cases have nearly doubled over the last three years and are increasingly pushing governments and corporations to implement climate commitments, while setting the bar higher for more ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“Citizens are increasingly turning to courts to access justice and exercise their right to a healthy environment”, said Arnold Kreilhuber, Acting Director of UNEP’s Law Division.

According to the report, the background of plaintiffs is becoming increasingly diverse and includes non-governmental organizations, political parties as well as senior citizens, migrants and indigenous peoples.

Those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 are the same petitioners who are often most vulnerable to climate change – enduring extreme weather, rising sea levels and high levels of pollution.

“Judges and courts have an essential role to play in addressing the climate crisis”,
said Mr. Kreilhuber.
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Dealing With Climate May Not Be What You Think It May Be
The discussions of climate change are shifting from denial to what to do about it.

The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration reports that there were 22 natural disasters each costing more than $1 billion in 2020. Costing the US in total $95 billion and taking 262 lives. Climate change is making these disasters more frequent, more damaging, and more costly. The Federal Reserve, for the first time, named climate change as a risk to U.S financial stability. In its biannual financial stability report, the Fed said banks should be more transparent about how their assets are vulnerable to frequent and severe weather. Climate change is real, it is happening all around us, has become very costly, and it is a real and present threat to our health and prosperity.

Two thirds of Americans (67%) have stopped the misplaced denial and think the US government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change according to Pew Research. The discussion is shifting to which solutions are the most cost-effective.

... Now that we have a federal administration that understands science and uses a science based approach to address the true needs of the country we need to put aside the silly, factually incorrect fear-mongering and get to work making a better, cleaner future for everyone.
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Hurricanes Are Hitting Maximum Strength Closer to Land
The storms are also migrating to higher latitudes

Hurricanes are evolving as the world warms—and they’re changing in alarming ways.

They’re getting stronger and are strengthening faster. In some places, they’re moving more slowly and dumping more rain.

And now, scientists have discovered, they’re creeping closer to coastlines all over the world.

... Research has found that tropical cyclones are migrating farther from the equator and closer to the poles. The finding has sparked concern that hurricanes could start to threaten coastal communities in regions that don’t have much experience preparing for major storms.

The new study found that tropical cyclones are also shifting westward in many regions around the world. The combination of poleward and westward migration may be part of the reason that hurricanes are inching closer to land.

... These shifts seem to be driven by changes in wind patterns over the oceans. Some of them may be linked to natural climate cycles. But human-caused global warming may also be playing a role.

In particular, some experts believe the migration of hurricanes may be connected to the Earth’s expanding tropics. Research has shown that the Earth’s tropical zone—a warm belt around the middle of the planet—is swelling poleward, a phenomenon that some studies suggest is driven by atmospheric changes linked to climate change.
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GM Pledges to Eliminate Gas-Powered Vehicles by 2035
The move is part of the automaker's plan to become carbon neutral by 2040 and to join the Business Ambition Pledge for 1.5⁰C, in which companies promise to go carbon neutral in time to limit global warming to only 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world," GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole."

To make this happen, GM has promised to invest $27 billion in autonomous and electric vehicles in the next five years. The company said that by 2025 it would offer 30 global electric models and that 40 percent of its U.S. models would be electric. It plans to offer the new vehicles across a range of price points.

GM's pledge also includes a promise to power all of its U.S. sites with renewable energy by 2030 and all of its global locations by 2035. Any carbon emissions GM cannot cut from its business model it plans to offset.
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Human activity caused the long-term growth of greenhouse gas methane
Methane (CH4) is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2). Its concentration in the atmosphere has increased more than twice since the preindustrial era due to enhanced emissions from human activities. While the global warming potential of CH4 is 86 times as large as that of CO2 over 20 years, it remains in the atmosphere for about 10 years, a much briefer span than CO2, which can remain in the atmosphere for centuries. It is therefore expected that emission control of CH4 could have beneficial effects over a relatively short time period and contribute quickly to the Paris Agreement target to limit the global warming well below 2 degrees.

A study by an international team, published in Journal of Meteorological Society of Japan, provides a robust set of explanations about the processes and emission sectors that led to the hitherto unexplained behaviors of CH4 in the atmosphere. The growth rate (annual increase) of CH4 in the atmosphere varied dramatically over the past 30 years with three distinct phases: the slowed (1988-1998), quasi-stationary (1999-2006) and renewed (2007-2016) growth periods (Fig. 1). However, there is no scientific consensus on the causes of CH4 growth rate variability. The team, led by Naveen Chandra of National Institute for Environmental Studies, combined analyses of emission inventories, inverse modeling with an atmospheric chemistry-transport model, and global surface/aircraft/satellite observations to address this problem.

... These findings highlight key sectors (energy, livestock and waste) for effective emission reduction strategies toward climate change mitigation. Tracking the location and source type is critically important for developing mitigation strategies and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The study also emphasizes the need for more atmospheric observations with space and time densities greater than existing analyses.
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To Reduce Climate Impacts, the Building Industry Must Change
It’s easy to see the impact of certain kinds of environmental problems—the exhaust coming from the tailpipe of the car in front of you or the smog surrounding a factory off the highway. But neither cars nor factories are the largest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. Buildings are. Residential and commercial buildings combined account for nearly 40% of total U.S. energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration. Their construction and operation uses 36% of the world’s energy.

Even our homes are to blame. Research from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that residential buildings are set to soon become the largest consumer of electricity globally. The Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating this trend, increasing electricity usage as more people work from home. But rising residential energy use was a problem even before Covid due to the proliferation of new devices, like electric vehicles, that depend on the grid.

Consumer behavior should change, but whatever individuals do, the building industry has to commit to act and achieve zero carbon by 2050 to keep global warming below 2°C and meet the goals set forth by the Paris Agreement, which President Joe Biden just rejoined. To effect this change, the federal government and the private sector will need to work together to make a significant investment in green technology.

... There are large gains to be made by digitizing building infrastructure. Digital technologies enable buildings to understand where people are, what they need, and what they don’t need. An end-to-end digital architecture will give us the potential to reduce our buildings’ impact on the environment by an average of 30% by reducing carbon emissions and lowering energy usage. The best way to achieve this is by integrating onsite renewable energy with active energy management throughout building systems. These investments will help make buildings active partners in our climate-change work and not just passive spaces.

... With a commitment to investing in new green technology and partnering with the new presidential administration, the building industry has the tools needed to make going carbon neutral by 2050 a reality.
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Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations