Climate Change ☀️
Senate Reinstates Obama-Era Controls on Climate-Warming Methane
The Senate voted to reinstate Obama-era controls on methane, a climate-warming pollutant. The Trump administration had wiped away the limits.

The rule, released in 2016, had imposed the first federal limits on methane leaks from oil and gas wells, requiring companies to monitor, plug and capture leaks of methane from new drilling sites. By reinstating it, Democrats have taken the first legislative step toward President Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/climate/climate-change-methane.html

People of Color Breathe More Hazardous Air. The Sources Are Everywhere.
Researchers uncovered stark disparities between white people and minorities across thousands of categories of pollution, including trucks, industry, agriculture and even restaurants.

Over the years, a mountain of evidence has brought to light a stark injustice: Compared with white Americans, people of color in the United States suffer disproportionately from exposure to pollution.

A new study found that people of color are exposed to more pollution from nearly every source, including trucks, industry and restaurants. The findings came as a surprise to the study’s researchers, who had not anticipated that the inequalities spanned so many types of pollution. They used data on more than 5,000 emission sources, including industry, agriculture, all manner of vehicles, construction, residential sources and even emissions from restaurants.

... They found that nearly all emissions sources caused disproportionate exposures for people of color, on average, as well as separately for Black, Hispanic and Asian people. Black people were exposed to higher-than-average concentrations from all major emissions groups, while white people were exposed to lower-than-average concentrations from almost all categories. The disparities were seen nationally, as well as at the state level, across income levels and across the urban-rural divide.

... “If you go to communities of color across this country and ask them, ‘What’s the source of the environmental problems?’ they can point you to every one: the highway, the chemical plants, the refineries, the legacy pollution left over from decades ago, in the houses, in the air, in the water, in the playgrounds,” he said. “Empirical research is now catching up with the reality: that America is segregated and so is pollution.”
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/climate/air-pollution-minorities.html

California's 'White Gold' Rush: Lithium In Demand Amid Surge In Electric Vehicles
As demand for electric vehicles heats up, there's concern about a shortage of the key minerals needed to make them. The Biden administration has called for boosting domestic production of such minerals, including lithium for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. And that has many hoping for big business in a desolate spot of California's Imperial Valley.

A few miles from the shores of California's Salton Sea, a construction crew is at work on the future site of Hell's Kitchen Lithium and Power. It's a geothermal facility, meaning it uses Earth's natural heat to create electricity.

That alone has fueled investment here for years. This facility, run by the Australian company Controlled Thermal Resources, will someday produce enough geothermal energy to power 1.1 million homes. And once it's fully operational, it will also be able to extract lithium from the geothermal brine under the ground.

"The sea has been receding for up to about 20-40 yards a month in the shallow lands down here," explains CEO Rod Colwell, pointing out the change on a windy day in Calipatria, near the man-made lake's southern edge.

This has created a public health issue as the exposed lakebed subjects nearby communities to toxic dust rising from its surface. But "it's been exposing some of the best known lithium and geothermal resources on the planet," Colwell says. "It's a really interesting crossroads in time."

It's also a boon for geothermal and lithium companies like his. Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg are among the many investors also hoping for payoff with projects around the Salton Sea.

The best part, according to Colwell, is that geothermal lithium is environmentally benign and produces very few carbon emissions. "It's 100% green," he says.

This process is in stark contrast to other types of lithium extraction across the globe. In places such as Canada and Australia, lithium is mined out of hard rock. In South American countries such as Chile and Argentina, it's concentrated through large evaporation ponds that take up lots of water.


"They're pumping the groundwater out, and that causes problems with the groundwater table. It's displaced farmers and llama herders in those countries," says Michael McKibben, associate professor of geology at the University of California, Riverside.

Lithium is in such high demand globally that it's now being called "white gold," says Mihri Ozkan, an expert on lithium batteries also at UC Riverside. She says this demand is driven mostly by electric vehicles.

In the U.S., California has pledged to phase out gas-powered vehicles. Last week, a dozen states including California asked President Biden to order all-zero-emission car sales by 2035. Earlier this year, General Motors said it aims to produce all-electric vehicles by then.

All this has companies racing to secure the raw materials needed for electric vehicles to avoid a shortage in a few years.
Read the full article: https://www.npr.org/2021/04/28/990867075/californias-white-gold-rush-lithium-in-demand-amid-surge-in-electric-vehicles

Inactive oil wells could be big source of methane emissions
Uncapped, idle oil wells could be leaking millions of kilograms of methane each year into the atmosphere and surface water, according to a new study.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists have linked to climate change. If the rate of methane leaks UC observed were consistent across all 102,000 idled wells in Texas, the 5.5 million kilograms of methane released would be equivalent to burning 150 million pounds of coal each year, according to an estimate by the magazine Grist and nonprofit news organization the Texas Observer.

... President Joe Biden's administration has pledged $16 billion in its infrastructure plan to cap abandoned oil and gas wells and mitigate abandoned mines. Hoschouer said it would be gratifying if their research could help regulators prioritize wells for capping.

In the meantime, regular inspections of inactive wells using infrared cameras to identify leaks could address the problem, the UC study suggested.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210428132941.htm

Seasonal water resource on the Upper Indus
Seasonally occurring fields of aufeis (icing) constitute an important resource for the water supply of the local population in the Upper Indus Basin. Geographers have now examined the spreading of aufeis and, for the first time, created a full inventory of these more than 3,700 aufeis fields. They are important for these high mountain areas between South and Central Asia, particularly with respect to hydrology and climatology.

In the semi-arid Himalaya regions of India and Pakistan, meltwater from snow and glaciers plays an essential role for irrigation in local agriculture and hydropower generation. In this context, aufeis has been given little attention. It appears as thin sheet-like layers of ice that form through successive freezing of water and can be several meters thick. This phenomenon occurs on a seasonal basis below springsheds, along rivulets or streams under conditions of frequent freeze-thaw cycles. "In individual cases, this process is deliberately fostered through the construction of stone walls. These artificial reservoirs are used in some valleys of Upper Indus tributaries as water harvesting measures to bridge the seasonal water shortage in spring. However, the amount of ice, size and number of natural aufeis fields have been unknown so far," underlines Prof. Dr Marcus NΓΌsser from the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210428132957.htm

Socially just population policies can mitigate climate change and advance global equity
Socially just policies aimed at limiting the Earth's human population hold tremendous potential for advancing equity while simultaneously helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, researchers say.

... The Earth's 7.7 billion people contribute to climate change in a variety of ways, primarily through the consumption of natural resources, including non-renewable energy sources, and the greenhouse gas emissions that result from industrial processes and transportation. The more people there are on the planet, the more potential they have for affecting climate.

... Examples of badly needed population policy measures include improving education for girls and young women, ending child marriage and increasing the availability of voluntary, rights-based family planning services that empower all people and particularly poor women, the researchers say.

"Three examples of countries in which improved education for girls and young women may have contributed to significant fertility rate declines are Ethiopia, Indonesia and Kenya," Ripple says. "Among those nations, specific education reforms included instituting classes in local languages, increasing budgets for education and removing fees for attending school. Ethiopia also implemented a school lunch program, large-scale school construction took place in Indonesia, and primary school was lengthened by one year in Kenya."

As part of an overall climate justice initiative, the scientists say, rich countries should do more to help fund voluntary family planning and educational opportunities for girls and young women in developing nations.

... "Social justice and the climate emergency demand that equitable population policies be prioritized in parallel with strategies involving energy, food, nature, short-lived pollutants and the economy," Ripple said. "With feedback loops, tipping points and potential climate catastrophe looming, we have to be taking steps in all of those areas and not ignoring any of them."
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210428135525.htm

Uncertainty of future Southern Ocean CO2 uptake cut in half
The Southern Ocean dominates the oceanic uptake of humanmade CO2. But how much carbon dioxide can it actually absorb in the future? This long-standing question remained unresolved as projections of different generation of climate models repeatedly showed a wide range of future Southern Ocean CO2 sink estimates. Climate scientists have now been able to reduce this large uncertainty by about 50 percent.

Anyone researching the global carbon cycle has to deal with unimaginably large numbers. The Southern Ocean -- the world's largest ocean sink region for human-made CO2 -- is projected to absorb a total of about 244 billion tons of human-made carbon from the atmosphere over the period from 1850 to 2100 under a high CO2 emissions scenario. But the uptake could possibly be only 204 or up to 309 billion tons. That's how much the projections of the current generation of climate models vary. The reason for this large uncertainty is the complex circulation of the Southern Ocean, which is difficult to correctly represent in climate models.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210428140855.htm

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