IFCE Global Environmental Weekly Events [9/6 - 9/13/2018]
1. Large-scale wind and solar power 'could green the Sahara
Installing huge numbers of solar panels and wind turbines in the Sahara desert would have a major impact on rainfall, vegetation and temperatures, researchers say. The scientists modelled what would happen if 9 million sq km of the Sahara desert was covered in renewable energy sources. They focused on this area because it is sparsely populated, and it is also exposed to significant amounts of sun and wind and is close to large energy markets in Europe and the Middle East.
According to authors' calculations, a massive installation in the desert would generate more than four times the amount of energy that the world currently uses every year.
Previous studies have shown that installing wind and solar can have an impact on temperatures - but the key difference with this research is the impact on vegetation.
"Our model results show that large-scale solar and wind farms in the Sahara would more than double the precipitation, especially in the Sahel, where the magnitude of rainfall increase is between 20mm and 500mm per year," said Dr Yan Li, the lead author of the paper from the University of Illinois, US.
2. Pacific leaders seek US return to Paris Agreement, criticise Australia
Pacific island nations declared climate change to be their “single greatest threat”, urging the United States to return to the United Nations sponsored Paris Agreement on climate change.
Australia, which has backed away from its own commitment to Paris Agreement without exiting the pact, was among the 18 nations of the Pacific Islands Forum that made the call at a meeting of leaders on the tiny island state of Nauru.The demand for action over the low-lying islands of the Pacific, seen as the front line of global climate change, comes as rising sea levels and other climate-related crises force residents to move to higher ground.
Against this backdrop, China’s vocal support for tackling global warming aids its drive to win allies and influence in the strategically US President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, announced last year the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, saying it favoured other countries and put the US at a disadvantage.
Climate change is domestic political dynamite in Australia, one of the world’s largest coal exporters, which has also sought to push back against China’s influence in the Pacific.
3. Report warns air pollution ‘biggest environmental health risk’ in Europe
The European Union Court of Auditors has found air pollution is now “the biggest environmental risk” to public health in Europe but governments are failing to adequately deal with the crisis.
Europe’s air pollution limits are “much weaker” than World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, and most EU countries do not comply with them anyway, according to the report. Reuters News agency reports the damning EU report warns governments are failing to tackle the crisis that causes 1000 early deaths a day. However, the United Kingdom’s Conservative led government has been in breach of EU air quality limits since 2010 and now faces multi million pound fines at the European court.
The EU court calls for Europe’s air quality laws to be brought in line with WHO standards, which are at least twice as exacting for particulate (PM2.5 and PM10) emissions and six times stricter for sulphur dioxide (SO2).
Reuters reports the auditors’ paper advises a reassessment of Europe’s funding priorities, and a speeding up of the current six to eight year delay before referring violations of law on to the European court.The auditors also observed widely diverging standards for pollution monitoring stations.
4. UN chief warns world has until 2020 to avoid climate change disaster
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a stark warning about climate change, labelling it as the “defining issue of our time“. With 2018 shaping up as the fourth hottest year on record, Mr Guterres warned that the world must take action in the next two years to avert the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change.
World leaders who signed the UN sponsored Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015 committed to a series of measures to limit global temperature rises to less than two degrees Celsius and to below 1.5°C by the end of the century.
AFP reports that recent studies show the world is off track and likely to miss that target. United States President Donald Trump dealt a setback to the UN push for climate action when he announced last year that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, an action that takes four years to complete.
AFP reports UN officials fear backsliding from other countries such as Australia, one of the world’s worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters, which has scrapped plans to enshrine targets for reducing carbon emissions into law.
The UN chief described the upcoming COP24 summit in the Polish city of Katowice as a “key moment” when leaders will be asked to “show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”
5. Cloud computing' takes on new meaning for scientists
Clouds may be wispy puffs of water vapor drifting through the sky, but they're heavy lifting computationally for scientists wanting to factor them into climate simulations. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and Columbia University have turned to data science to achieve better cumulus calculating results.
"Clouds play a major role in the Earth's climate by transporting heat and moisture, reflecting and absorbing the sun's rays, trapping infrared heat rays and producing precipitation," said co-author Michael Pritchard, UCI assistant professor of Earth system science. "But they can be as small as a few hundred meters, much tinier than a standard climate model grid resolution of 50 to 100 kilometers, so simulating them appropriately takes an enormous amount of computer power and time."
Our study shows a clear potential for data-driven climate and weather models," Pritchard said. "We've seen computer vision and natural language processing beginning to transform other fields of science, such as physics, biology and chemistry. It makes sense to apply some of these new principles to climate science, which, after all, is heavily centered on large data sets, especially these days as new types of global models are beginning to resolve actual clouds and turbulence."
Source: Science Daily
6.Kavanaugh’s views on EPA’s climate authority are dangerous and wrong
Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, accepts that human activities result in global warming. Also, he believes that we need to stop it. However, he hopes to lessen the authority of Environmental protection Agency (EPA) because of distrust in experts at EPA.
Brett Kavanaugh thinks the Congress should take care of climate change issues instead of EPA. He accuses that the Clean Power Plan, which was published by EPA, does not address green gas and climate change issues. However, the initiative of establishing EPA is that building a professional institution to solve different and complex environmental problems. Meanwhile, the Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to address various ecological pollutions.
As the Act’s text notes: “the growth in the amount and complexity of air pollution brought about by urbanization, industrial development, and the increasing use of motor vehicles, has resulted in mounting dangers to the public health and welfare.”
The true is the Congress also need to address the climate change issue. Nevertheless, Brett Kavanaugh should not ignore severe legislation and weak EPA’s authority.
Source: The Guardian
7.Climate change could affect human evolution. Here's how.
The biological evolution has been affected by global warming, including Homo sapiens evolutionary change. Climate change may influence our inside bodies and our appearance.
There are three main effects of climate change on human evolution. At first, our inside bodies. Some tropical diseases spread from the tropical zone to temperate region. Thus, our immune system will be forced to change. Meanwhile, our digestive system will be affected by the climate change. Secondly, external change. Climate change will trigger massive migrations, leading to human gene flow. According to the World Bank’s report, climate change will lead 1.4 trillion people to movements.
Finally, climate change will give rise to the color of human skin. After five or ten generations, there will be less black and white skins but more brown and olive complexion. What’s more, there are more people with dark skin and light eyes.
Source: NBC News
8.UK could be carbon neutral by 2050 says ambitious new report
The Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society report that UK could be carbon neutral by 2050 via Greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGR). Adisa Azapagic, the professor at the University of Manchester's School of Chemical Engineering & Analytical Science, mentioned that the UK government should take top priority to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Meanwhile, the annual removal of CO2 is at least 130 megatonnes.
Furthermore, this report states that other countries should cooperate with the UK government by utilizing GGR technologies for achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement. At the end of this century, Biological solutions, such as planting trees, will have a limited effect on reducing CO2 emission. Thus, GGR technologies will play a more significant role in the removal of greenhouse gas in the future.
9.Europe’s renewable energy strategy will destroy forests and harm climate, scientists warn
European officials define wood as a renewable resource. Scientists accuse that this decision will destroy forests and harm climate which increasing the greenhouse gas emissions.
The foundation of forests is not only maintaining the biological diversity but also absorbing the CO2 which is one of main greenhouse gas. Thus, forests are a significant tool for reducing the greenhouse effect. However, Furthermore, the large-scale deforestation of forests releases a number of greenhouse gases, aggravating the greenhouse effect. Meanwhile, Europe’s renewable energy strategy will destroy forests biological diversity by cutting forests. Also, scientists believe that other nations may follow Europe’s decision to damage forests, such as Brazil and Indonesia.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the professor at the Universite catholique de Louvain, said Europe’s renewable energy strategy would bring more serious environmental problems, increasing deforestation and carbon emissions. European will suffer from this strategy, and the summer will become hotter.
10.Poll: 6 in 10 People Worldwide Satisfied With Efforts to Preserve Environment
Last year, six in 10 people satisfied with the efforts by their government to protect the environment, based on the Gallup worldwide poll.
According to a Gallup poll, the satisfaction of efforts to preserve environment increased from 53% to 60%. Meanwhile, the dissatisfaction rate declined from 42% to 36%. Furthermore, satisfaction varies in the different geographical region. The highest satisfaction, occurring in Southeast Asia, is 76%. The second satisfaction is 73% of people in South Asia, responding they satisfied with the efforts of their government to protect the environment.
China's satisfaction was 68% in 2017, which is never under the 63% since 2013. On the contrary, Brazil’s happiness is never over 55%, which been consistently low. In 2017, there are two-thirds of people in Brazil dissatisfied with the efforts by their government to protect the environment.