Guest's blog

February's Global Temperature Spike is a Wake-Up Call

By Steve Sherwood, UNSW Australia and Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Global temperatures for February showed a disturbing and unprecedented upward spike. It was 1.35℃ warmer than the average February during the usual baseline period of 1951-1980, according to NASA data.

This is the largest warm anomaly of any month since records began in 1880. It far exceeds the records set in 2014 and again in 2015 (the first year when the 1℃ mark was breached).

In the same month, Arctic sea ice cover reached its lowest February value ever recorded. And last year carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere increased by more than 3 parts per million, another record.

What is going on? Are we facing a climate emergency?

Confusion and Fear in North Carolina As State Ends Drinking Water Safety Warning

This is a guest post by Rhiannon Fionn,  an independent investigative journalist and filmmaker in post-production on the documentary film “Coal Ash Chronicles.” 

“I’m fighting for my kids and my neighbors,” says a determined Amy Brown.

Brown and hundreds of other North Carolina residents have been using only bottled water for the better part of a year now for cooking, drinking, hygiene and even for their pets. Like Brown, most of those residents live near impoundments of coal ash — the waste product created when coal is burned for electricity.

Now residents are learning that the “do not drink” orders placed on their well water supplies have been lifted by state officials. That decision has provoked fear and confusion among residents and some experts about the safety of their water supply. “This news makes me feel like we’re not getting anywhere,” said Brown, before her voice wavered with emotion.

In April 2015, the state began notifying residents their water wells were contaminated, many with the carcinogen hexavalent chromium and vanadium, which is known to harm kidneys and affect blood pressure.

Residents were issued the “do not drink” notices by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundments were suspected as the cause of the contamination and the company was compelled by the state legislature to provide bottled water.

But last Monday, March 7, during a county commission meeting in rural Lee County, state officials announced most of the “do not drink” orders were being withdrawn.

Should Kids Be Able to Sue For a Safe Climate? This Federal Court is About to Decide

This is a guest post by Clayton Aldern, originally co-published by BillMoyers.com and Grist.

EUGENE, OREGON — Courtrooms usually aren’t jovial places, but with 21 youth plaintiffs and two busloads of supporting junior high-school students in tow, the air in the US District Courthouse here on Wednesday felt more field trip than federal court.

The occasion for the youthful energy was a hearing on a complaint filed on behalf of the plaintiffs, aged 8–19, by Oregon nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. The kids’ lawyers assert that their clients, and the younger generation as a whole, have been deprived of key rights by their own government. By failing to act on climate change, they argue, the United States government — including President Obama and a baker’s dozen federal agencies — has valued its own generation more than future generations, who will bear a greater burden with respect to the climate crisis.

Emissions From Global Food Production Threaten To Overwhelm Efforts To Combat Climate Change

Rice fields in the Kashmir region

By Pep Canadell, CSIRO and Hanqin Tian, Auburn University

Each year our terrestrial biosphere absorbs about a quarter of all the carbon dioxide emissions that humans produce. This a very good thing; it helps to moderate the warming produced by human activities such as burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.

But in a paper published in Nature today, we show that emissions from other human activities, particularly food production, are overwhelming this cooling effect. This is a worrying trend, at a time when CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are slowing down, and is clearly not consistent with efforts to stabilise global warming well below 2C as agreed at the Paris climate conference.

To explain why, we need to look at two other greenhouse gases: methane and nitrous oxide.

Here's Why Even The World's Largest Coal Company Is Teetering On Bankruptcy

This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest

Peabody Energy, the largest private coal company in the world, is one of the last remaining coal majors to still be floating above the bankruptcy tidal-wave that has hit the industry. But it now looks like that even this coal behemoth will likely go under. Languishing under the same over capitalization and changing market structures that have plagued the entire industry (more on that below) Peabody's stock has dropped 30% just since the final fiscal quarter of last year.

Peabody is now $6.3 billion in debt. Its Gateway Pacific terminal, just north of Bellingham, WA, (which if built would be the largest facility of its kind in North America) has been in a holding pattern as local communities weigh whether a project like this is in the collective interest. 

Coal's demise has been well-reported. Once the standard bearer of our power grid, coal has dropped from providing a substantial 50% of the nation’s electricity to 29%. Just last week, the Oregon legislature passed a bill to transition off coal power completely. The result of this downturn is that many domestic coal companies were becoming heavily dependent on exported coal (and exports have been falling since 2012)—carried by train through American cities and towns—to make up the difference.

Will Cap-And-Trade Slow Climate Change?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

The principle that polluters should pay for the waste they create has led many experts to urge governments to put a price on carbon emissions. One method is the sometimes controversial cap-and-trade. Quebec, California and the European Union have already adopted cap-and-trade, and Ontario will join Quebec and California’s system in January 2017. But is it a good way to address climate change?

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Guest's blog