Climate Change ☀️
Trump's assault on the environment is over. Now we must reverse the damage
The Biden-Harris administration can restart fundamental environmental policies and programs, and restore the federal commitment to environmental protection Now that the Trump administration’s four-year assault on environmental protection and conservation has crested, the work of restoration must begin. As professionals in the field of conservation, we watched with dread and dismay as the laws, policies, science and stewardship of waters, air, wildlife and public lands were systematically dismantled.

While the damage is profound, the Biden-Harris administration can reverse these harms, restart fundamental environmental policies and programs, and restore the federal commitment to environmental protection and lands and waters stewardship. What is needed is a tactical plan for restoration.


... Some of the “harms” are already being challenged in the courts, such as drastic reductions of both Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments. In other cases, the courts have ruled the Trump action as illegal, as in the replacement of the Clean Power Plan with one that did not protect air quality. The Biden-Harris administration can restore the boundaries of the two national monuments and issue a new, stronger plan for clean air.

The Trump administration rolled back a series of protections for the nation’s wildlife, mostly through policy directives within the interior department. The plan calls for the new interior secretary to restore protections for migratory birds that could be killed by industrial development, eliminate the practice of shooting female grizzly bears in their dens in Alaska, and prevent the shooting of polar bears by private companies exploring for oil in the Arctic national wildlife refuge.

... The detailed approaches required for restoration and outlined in the report – executive orders, policy changes, and prudent use of the Congressional Review Act– may seem mundane, but this is what we must do to restore what has been lost, threatened and harmed. Some of the actions will be easily completed in the first 100 days of the administration and others will take years to reverse, requiring patience and persistence. We recommend that the administration track and report to the American people progress on the accomplishments detailed in the plan.

The Restoration Project was written for the government as a tactical plan for progress. But it is also a call to action for a broader conservation movement that includes those working to restore civil rights, rural economies, public health, scientific integrity and environmental justice. The new administration should be supported in its progress, applauded for its successes – and held accountable when action is forestalled or lacking.
Read the full article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/01/trump-assault-on-the-environment-is-over-this-is-how-to-restore-it

Strange Magnetic Fossils Offer Peek Into Ancient Climate Change
Scientists announced Monday that they’ve come up with a new way to study rare magnetofossils without destroying them, allowing future researchers to carry on their work.

Discovered in marine sediments at Wilson Lake, New Jersey, these iron-based fossils are the remains of unknown bacteria that are only known to have occurred during periods of climactic upheaval — specifically warming oceans.

They are microscopic in size, 1/1000th the width of a human hair to be precise, and researchers hope these fossils can help fill in pieces of the climate-change puzzle.

The team believes these magnetic fossils could align themselves along the Earth’s magnetic pole, helping them efficiently ferret their favorite nutrients out of the ocean like a foraging camper combing the countryside with a compass.

Scientists may not know who left these strange fossils behind, but they have a pretty good idea as to how they functioned.

... Originally formed in the early Eocene period between 34 and 56 million years ago, the larger version of these magnetofossils grew some 20 times bigger than the average type, and formed unique shapes like needles, bullets, spearheads and spindles. These magnetofossils can provide valuable clues about past climate conditions because they only formed during periods when ocean temperatures were on the rise.

“Giant magnetofossils are the preserved remains of iron biomineralizing organisms that have so far been identified only in sediments deposited during ancient greenhouse climates,” explain the authors in the study. “Giant magnetofossils have no modern analog, but their association with abrupt global warming events links them to environmental disturbances.”

... By switching to an analysis technique called FORC (first order reversal curve) they were able to take high resolution magnetic measurements of the fossils, revealing a unique magnetic signature that can be applied to other sediment samples to reveal the presence of similar fossils.


“FORC measurements probe the reaction of magnetic particles to externally applied magnetic fields, enabling [us] to discriminate among different types of iron oxide particles without actually seeing them,” explained Ramon Egli, a researcher at the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna, Austria.

Researchers are still trying to piece together what type of bacteria formed these unique fossils, as no known organisms are believed to create them today. Because magnetic fossils are thought to have only been formed during periods of climate change and ocean warming, the team hopes that finding and studying more of them will unlock new clues as to what prompted their formation at those specific times.

“The organisms that produced these giant magnetofossils are utterly mysterious, but this leaves exciting research avenues open for the future” said Ioan Lascu, a geologist at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington.
Read the full article: https://www.courthousenews.com/strange-magnetic-fossils-offer-peek-into-ancient-climate-change/

What Does a Changing Climate Mean for the Fish on Your Plate?
Mercury is a heavy metal found naturally in air, water, and soil. It is also released into the environment through human industrial activities (such as burning coal or household trash, and through small-scale artisanal gold mining). Once mercury leaves a power plant, it lingers in the atmosphere and can travel for thousands of miles. Eventually, it falls into the ocean or other large bodies of water, where it can turn into a highly toxic form called methylmercury.

When methylmercury accumulates in fish, the consequences show up on our dinner plates and in our bodies. Mercury exposure is especially dangerous for young children and pregnant women, since it can affect the developing brain and nervous system.

... Climate changes impact the quality of soil and water, and the nutrients that are essential for us. You may have fish the same size, but how nutritious is it? It could look the same, smell the same, but not have the same nutritious quality.
Read the full article: https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2021/02/what-does-a-changing-climate-mean-for-the-fish-on-your-plate

Coffee companies pledge to tackle the bitter consequences of climate change
“It’s no secret that encouraging marketwide change takes time and consistency,” said Raina Lang, senior director of sustainable coffee markets at Conservation International. “The Sustainable Coffee Challenge continues to strive toward the goal of making coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product.”

In addition to climate threats — which could shrink suitable coffee-growing areas by half within three decades — the coffee industry has also suffered from increased market volatility in recent years, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is pushing trade prices below the cost of production in countries such as Peru and Guatemala. This directly threatens the incomes of farming communities, which are already vulnerable to poverty, poor health conditions and child labor violations.

“To protect coffee, the industry must also protect those who grow and harvest it,” Lang said. “The more players working toward and advocating for sustainable practices, the better.”
Read the full article: https://www.conservation.org/blog/report-coffee-companies-pledge-to-tackle-the-bitter-consequences-of-climate-change

Climate change crisis: How oil and gas companies try to trick the public
In his first week in office, President Joe Biden committed to an all-of-government approach to tackle climate change, signing executive orders recommitting the US to the Paris climate agreement, pausing new leases for oil and gas companies on federal land, and stating his intention to conserve 30 percent of federal lands by 2030.

Yet while Biden’s climate actions have been lauded by many, there are some, often with connections to the fossil fuel industry, who strongly oppose taking stronger action on climate.

Many such detractors use common oil-industry talking points in their arguments — talking points that have been developed in collaboration with PR firms and lobbyists to undercut clean energy policies and prolong dependence on fossil fuels.


... Aware of the science but afraid of the impacts it might have on their returns, oil executives funded opposition research that “attacked consensus and exaggerated the uncertainties” on the science of climate change for many years with the goal of undermining support for climate action.

Their messaging has worked for so long because Big Oil has become really good at stretching the truth.

“What’s really important to keep in mind is that part of the reason that oil and gas propaganda is so effective is that there is always a grain of truth to it,” said Genevieve Guenther, the founder of End Climate Silence, an organization that works to promote accurate media coverage of the climate crisis.

“I call it ‘sort of true,’ where there’s something about the messaging that’s true, but that grain of truth gets developed into a whole tangle of lies that obscure the real story,” Guenther said.

As the Biden administration takes important steps to address the climate emergency, the fossil fuel industry and its allies in the media will be ramping up the misinformation campaign to skew public opinion and get in the way of climate policy. Fox News has already started.

Which is why it’s more important than ever to be aware of the tools oil and gas companies use to cloud the issue.

... People can recognize fossil fuel industry talking points by thinking about what they’re designed to do. In general, fossil fuel talking points are designed to do three things: make people believe that climate action will hurt them, and hurt their pocketbooks in particular; make people think we need fossil fuels; and try to convince us that climate change isn’t such a big deal.

... It is true that if we phase out the fossil fuel industry there are going to be people, and indeed whole communities, that will need to find their livelihood in different industries. That is absolutely true.

But two things about that: Number one, you can design policies so that those people don’t suffer, and number two, you can put incentives in place so that the new jobs are created in the geographical regions that are already depopulated and suffering economically, because the fossil fuel industry is not actually prosperous enough anymore to sustain a vibrant economy in those regions to begin with.

So, you can set up both: policies to ease the transition and policies to incentivize new investment so that the economy ends up more vibrant in these locations than it was before. Nothing is inevitable. The transition can be managed.


... We’ve got to keep climate change in the foreground of people’s attention. We’ve got to be clear about why we’re making this energy transition — it’s not just because it’s a new way to create jobs, and it’s not just because we like clean air and water.

It’s because if we don’t do it, we might actually destroy civilization.

We’re not going to change up everything unless we have to, and guess what? We have to. This is what an existential threat means.
Read the full article: https://www.vox.com/22260311/oil-gas-fossil-fuel-companies-climate-change

This is job one for Biden in the climate debate
If Biden can convince auto companies and autoworkers that they will prosper in a historic transition that replaces the internal combustion engine with zero-emission electric vehicles, that could allow him to build support for aggressive actions on the climate crisis across the industrial Midwestern states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota that remain key to the Democrats' political fortunes.

Such a consensus -- which took a giant step forward when General Motors last week set a goal of transitioning its entire line of cars and trucks by 2035 to vehicles that don't emit any greenhouse gases -- would reconfigure the map of the climate debate. Building support for a clean energy economy in the Midwest states pivotal for Democrats would isolate opposition mostly to the Plains and Mountain West states that produce the most fossil fuels -- which as a group worry Democrats less because most of them already lean strongly toward the GOP.

"As people around the country and the areas that have been producing cars understand that there's a lot of jobs to be created by producing electric cars, it changes everything," says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, who consulted with GM on its recent goal to go emission-free by 2035.

The challenge for Democrats is that organized labor, while agreeing that the shift toward electric vehicles is inevitable, still worries that their production requires much less labor than that of cars and trucks powered by the conventional internal combustion engine -- and fret that many of the key parts in EVs, particularly their batteries, are now manufactured almost exclusively abroad.

... Environmentalists argue that a complete accounting on the shift from the internal combustion engine to electrified vehicles will show a net increase in jobs.

"As cars go electric, beyond the car itself, there is this need to construct charging stations, [to generate] wind power, more solar energy," to power the cars, says Krupp. "It would be fair to look at the transition as a whole."

Electrifying municipal transit and school buses and van fleets for package delivery companies and utilities could also generate new manufacturing jobs that offset any losses in the direct production of cars and light trucks for consumers.


... Which means that in the climate debate, convincing the manufacturing states that they can thrive in a clean-energy future may be Biden's job one.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/02/politics/biden-climate-change-electric-cars/index.html

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