Climate Change ☀️
Severe Drought, Worsened by Climate Change, Ravages the American West
Heat and shifting weather patterns have intensified wildfires and sharply reduced water supplies across the Southwest, the Pacific Coast and North Dakota.

Severe drought — largely connected to climate change — is ravaging not only New Mexico but the entire Western half of the United States, from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains.

Severe drought can also result in mass die-offs of trees, providing enormous quantities of fuel for any potential fire. The Forest Service reported one such die-off in April in Arizona, where up to 30 percent of the juniper trees across about 100,000 acres had died from the drought.

While wells and lakes are drying up, threatening the region’s agriculture system, the most dramatic and potentially deadly impact of the widespread drought is the large fires that are raging in California, New Mexico and Arizona. None has been fully contained, and this is well before the full blast of summer heat.


Officials are predicting when the fire season ends — if it ever does, as warming conditions have made fires possible year-round in some areas — the total could exceed last year’s of 10.3 million acres.

Many factors contribute to the frequency, intensity and duration of wildfires, including forest management practices and development. And water shortages are affected by population and economic growth, as well as pumping of groundwater for agriculture and other activities.

The warning comes as a new study found that zombie forest fires, which smolder throughout the wet, cold winters in far northern forests and pop up again in the spring, are on the rise.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/19/climate/drought.html

‘Zombie’ forest fires may become more common with climate change
Winter usually kills most forest fires. But in the boreal woods that encircle the far North, some fires, like zombies, just don’t die.

The first broad scientific look at overwintering “zombie fires” reveals these rare occurrences can flare up the year after warmer-than-normal summers and account for up to 38 percent of the total burn area in some regions, researchers report online May 19 in Nature. As climate change accelerates in boreal forests, the frequency of zombie fires could rise and exacerbate warming by releasing more greenhouse gases from the region’s soils, which may house twice as much carbon as Earth’s atmosphere.

Zombie fires hibernate underground. Blanketed by snow, they smolder through the cold, surviving on the carbon-rich fuel of peat and boreal soil and moving very slowly — just 100 to 500 meters over the winter. Come spring, the fires reemerge near the forest they previously charred, burning fresh fuel well before the traditional fire season starts. Until now, these zombie fires have remained relatively mysterious to science, known mostly from firefighter anecdotes.


... Zombie fires persist underground through winter, emerging the next spring near the previous year’s burn.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/zombie-forest-fires-climate-change

Biden Reappoints Climate Official Who Was Removed by Trump
The Biden administration has reappointed the scientist responsible for the National Climate Assessment, the federal government’s premier contribution to climate knowledge, after he was removed from his post last year by President Donald J. Trump.

The removal of the scientist, Michael Kuperberg, was part of an effort in the final months of the Trump administration to thwart the climate assessment, which compiles the work of hundreds of scientists and helps shape regulations.

Dr. Kuperberg was replaced last November by David Legates, an academic who had previously worked closely with climate change denial groups. Just days before Mr. Trump left office, Dr. Legates posted a series of debunked scientific reports bearing the logo of the executive office of the president.


The Trump administration also removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which helps coordinate the climate assessment. And it removed a third scientist involved in the previous version of the climate assessment after she resisted changes sought by the administration.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/19/us/politics/climate-scientist-biden.html

Ford F-150 Lightning Is a Major New Electric Vehicle Contender
Ford Motor has opened a major new front in the battle to dominate the fast-growing electric vehicle market, and it’s banking on one of the world’s most powerful business franchises.

In a splashy presentation Wednesday night at a Ford plant in Dearborn, Mich., the automaker unveiled an electric version of its popular F-150 pickup truck called the Lightning. Ford’s F-Series trucks, including the F-150, make up the top-selling vehicle line in the United States, and typically generate about $42 billion a year in revenue, according to a study commissioned by Ford — or more than twice what McDonald’s brought in last year.

It was one of the most anticipated introductions of a new car and invited comparisons to Ford’s Model T, the car that made automobiles affordable to the masses. Ford has a lot at stake in the new vehicle’s success. If it can turn the F-150 Lightning into a big seller, it could accelerate the move toward electric vehicles, which scholars say is critical for the world to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Tailpipe pollution from cars and trucks represents the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and one of the largest in the world. But if the Lightning does not sell well, it could suggest that the transition to E.V.s will be far slower than President Biden and other world leaders need to achieve climate goals.


“The F-150 will put electric vehicles in a totally different realm,” said Michael Ramsey, a Gartner analyst. “It’s huge for Ford, but also huge for the whole industry. If you’re going to electrify the whole vehicle fleet in the United States, the F-150 going electric is a big step in that direction.”

The F-150 Lightning signals a shift in the auto industry’s E.V. push, which has been aimed at niche markets, so far. Tesla has grown rapidly for several years by selling flashy sports cars to the affluent and early adopters. It sold close to 500,000 cars globally last year, a little more than half as many F-Series trucks Ford sold. Other electric models that have sold well have been small cars, such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf, that appeal to environmentally minded consumers.

The F-150 Lightning, in contrast, is aimed at small businesses and corporate customers such as building contractors and mining and construction companies that buy lots of rugged pickups. These buyers typically care not just about the sticker price of a truck but also how much it costs to operate and maintain. Electric vehicles tend to cost more to buy but less to own than conventional cars and trucks because they have fewer parts and electricity is cheaper than gasoline or diesel on a per mile basis.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/19/business/ford-electric-vehicle-f-150.html

Biden Addresses U.S. Coast Guard Academy Graduates

President Biden gave the keynote speech at a graduation ceremony for the United States Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday. In the speech, he praised the Coast Guard’s role during the Covid-19 pandemic and its efforts to combat global warming.

The world is changing. We’re at a significant inflection point in world history. And our country and the world, and the United States of America has always been able to chart the future in times of great change. We’ve been able to consistently renew ourselves, and time and again, we’ve proven there’s not a single thing we cannot do as a nation when we do it together. And I mean that, not a single, solitary thing. This is particularly important in this moment of accelerating global challenges. Hybrid threats that don’t stop at our border. We have to meet them on the land and the sea, wherever we find them. And that’s where the Coast Guard excels. Pandemic response would not necessarily been considered a Coast Guard mission until there are more than 250,000 stranded cruise passengers who needed to be safely disembarked during Covid-19. Disaster response has long been part of the Coast Guard’s mission. But with the pace of climate change accelerating, we’re seeing more frequent, more intense storms that call for you to respond. Last year was the most active hurricane season on record — 30 named storms. And the Coast Guard was always there to respond, even at the height of the pandemic. But you’ve also been a part of our response to wildfires in the West, record flooding in the heart of the country. These patterns are only going to get worse if we fail to take immediate, ambitious actions on climate.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000007771052/biden-coast-guard-commencement.html

‘Tree farts’ contribute about a fifth of greenhouse gases from ghost forests
If a tree farts in the forest, does it make a sound? No, but it does add a smidge of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

Gases released by dead trees — dubbed “tree farts” — account for roughly one-fifth of the greenhouse gases emitted by skeletal, marshy forests along the coast of North Carolina, researchers report online May 10 in Biogeochemistry. While these emissions pale in comparison with other sources, an accurate accounting is necessary to get a full picture of where climate-warming gases come from.

A team of ecologists went sniffing for tree farts in ghost forests, which form when saltwater from rising sea levels poisons a woodland, leaving behind a marsh full of standing dead trees. These phantom ecosystems are expected to expand with climate change, but it’s unclear exactly how they contribute to the world’s carbon budget.


“The emergence of ghost forests is one of the biggest changes happening in response to sea level rise,” says Keryn Gedan, a coastal ecologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the work. “As forests convert to wetlands, we expect over long timescales that’s going to represent a substantial carbon sink,” she says, since wetlands store more carbon than forests. But in the short term, dead trees decay and stop taking up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, “so that’s going to be a major greenhouse gas source.”
Read the full article: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/ghost-forest-tree-farts-emissions-greenhouse-gases

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