Food, innovation and resilience 

STANDING IN THE barn-red shed to avoid the pelting rain, Nick Pate looks out the door at his struggling raspberry patch. “They’re dying a slow death,” he says.

In past summers, berry lovers have visited Raising Cane Ranch on the banks of the Snohomish River for the juicy U-pick raspberries. But the plants started to die in 2012 because the soil is too wet, Pate says. If the farm is even open for raspberry pickers this summer, it possibly would be for fewer days.

“I’m bummed,” says Pate, in a knit cap and rain jacket. “The patch was fun. We liked it when people came out.”

He has planted cider apple trees — still small, in blue protective tubes — amid the berries, in hopes they will do better. “You have to be dynamic about meeting your needs,” he says.

Pate also planted blackberries where some of the raspberries died, and they’re doing well. In addition to berries, he offers beef, lamb and honey. Apples, currants and nuts are in the works.

Source: Food, innovation and resilience in the face of climate change

Americans Who Accept Climate Change Outnumber Those Who Don’t 5 to 1

The share of Americans who think climate change is happening has increased seven percentage points since March 2015. Their certainty has increased 12 percentage points in three years, with 49 percent of the U.S. now “extremely” or “very sure” it is happening, according to the new survey.

Americans are increasingly linking global warming to extreme weather events, the survey shows. Six in ten Americans surveyed said they think climate change is affecting U.S. weather. Four in ten said they have personally experienced the effects of climate change, an uptick of 10 percentage points since 2015.

Yet few Americans, 6 percent, say they believe nations can and will successfully combat climate change. One in five survey participants said humans won’t reduce global warming because people are unwilling to change their behavior.

Source: Americans Who Accept Climate Change Outnumber Those Who Don’t 5 to 1

Will the science of persuasion change the politics of climate change?

Taylor spent years as a professional climate denier at the Cato Institute, arguing against climate science, regulations, and treaties in op-eds, speeches, and media appearances. But his perspective slowly began to change around the turn of the century, driven by the arguments of several economists and legal scholars laying out the long-tail risks of global warming.

Now he’s president of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian-leaning Washington, DC, think tank he founded in 2014. He and his colleagues there are trying to build support for the passage of an aggressive federal carbon tax, through discussions with Washington insiders, with a particular focus on Republican legislators and their staff.

A small but growing contingent of fiscal conservatives and corporate interests are arguing for similar policies in the United States.

Source: How the science of persuasion could change the politics of climate change

Climate Change Results in Emerging Diseases

Mosquitoes—and the viruses that they carry—are pushing up the incidence of malaria globally and causing periodic explosive outbreaks of Rift Valley fever, which first brings on flulike symptoms but can turn into a severe hemorrhagic fever akin to Ebola. Bluetongue virus, a ruminant virus spread by midges that was once confined to tropical areas, has reached as far as Norway. Studies have shown shifts in cholera transmission with recent climate variability. As emerging diseases migrate to new areas, they encounter new species, making outbreaks even more difficult to manage.

Source: Our Planet, Ourselves: How Climate Change Results in Emerging Diseases

Climate variability destabilizes West Coast ecosystems

Climate is increasingly controlling synchronous ecosystem behavior in which species populations rise and fall together, according to the National Science Foundation-funded study published in the journal Global Change Biology.

Climate variability is of concern given that extreme events, such as prolonged drought or heatwaves, can disproportionately impact biology, reduce resilience and leave a lasting impact. An increase in the synchrony of the climate could expose marine and terrestrial organisms to higher risks of extinction, said study co-author Ivan Arismendi, an aquatic ecologist and assistant professor at Oregon State University.

Source: Extreme climate variability destabilizing West Coast ecosystems

Algae, forestry, and bioenergy: A novel approach to negative emissions

“Algae may be the key to unlocking an important negative-emissions technology to combat climate change,” said Charles Greene, Cornell professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a co-author of new research published in Earth’s Future, by the American Geophysical Union.

“Combining two technologies – bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, and microalgae production – may seem like an odd couple, but it could provide enough scientific synergy to help solve world hunger and at the same time reduce the level of greenhouse gases that are changing our climate system,” Greene said.

Based on an idea first conceptualized by co-author Ian Archibald of Cinglas Ltd., Chester, England, the scientists call the new integrated system ABECCS, or algae bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. The system can act as a carbon dioxide sink while also generating food and electricity. For example, a 7,000-acre ABECCS facility can yield as much protein as soybeans produced on the same land footprint, while simultaneously generating 17 million kilowatt hours of electricity and sequestering 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Source: Algae-forestry, bioenergy mix could help make CO2 vanish from thin air

A Crucial Ocean Current Is Weakening 

Europe and the east coast of North America benefit from a massive system of circulating seawater called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current.

Sunlight might be most intense at Earth’s equator, but ocean circulation pushes that tropical heat toward the poles. When the currents transporting that heat change, it can have major impacts.

And now new evidence suggests that climate change is already weakening this massive ocean circulatory system. In a pair of papers published Wednesday in Nature, two sets of independent researchers used very different techniques to reach the same startling conclusion.

Both studies found that melting ice from Greenland has spilled huge quantities of freshwater into the North Atlantic, diluting the dense salinity of North Atlantic currents and weakening the AMOC by 15 percent. However, the results disagree on when the changes started.


Source: Climate Change Is Weakening a Crucial Ocean Current

Cities Leading The Way On Climate Change

If the local health benefits of climate action are so large and obvious, why aren’t more cities mobilizing to take advantage of them?

Some cities have made a good start, at least rhetorically: More than 7,500 local jurisdictions have signed on to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, each with the promise of specific steps aimed at achieving the steps toward carbon neutrality enshrined in the Paris Accords. The question is whether mayors can sustain their commitments, and turn them into actual policy, in the face of a federal government, lead by the president, who assail the need for any action at all.

Part of the challenge is in translating the rapidly emerging science on health benefits into information that can be used by the public and local decision makers. Scientists don’t always communicate their findings in clear, broadly accessible language. They need to do better, as do the journalists covering this issue. Too often the media focuses on melting glaciers, rising sea levels and the increased severity of storms, leaving unsaid the positive benefits of acting on climate now.

Source: How Cities Are Leading The Way On Climate Change

A start-up firm wants to revitalize climate change research

Where the Trump administration sees waste, the small but rapidly expanding Silicon Valley climate services firm Jupiter Intel sees opportunity. Jupiter announced Monday it is launching a community science program to invest in academic climate research, the same kind of research the president’s fiscal 2017 and 2018 budgets placed on the chopping block.

In an intriguing demonstration of what may become a more common funding model in coming years, Jupiter named Columbia University as its initial collaborator.

Jupiter, which offers tools to help customers manage the risks of climate change, is funding several projects at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, whose research evaluates many of these same risks. The two parties said they believe the collaboration will build a mutually beneficial partnership, while putting society in a better position to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Source: How a small start-up firm wants to revitalize climate change research

Shell foresaw climate change

Shell’s working group knew three decades ago that the change was real and formidable, warning that it would affect living standards and food supplies and have social, economic and political consequences. It also warned that rising sea levels could impair offshore installations, coastal facilities, harbors, refineries and depots.

The documents contrast with Shell’s former public stance on climate change, at least for a period of time in the 1990s. The company was a member of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry group that raised doubts about the science of climate change and opposed the Kyoto Protocol. However, Shell withdrew from the group in 1998.

The 1988 report estimated that in 1981, 44 percent of carbon dioxide emissions came from oil, 38 percent from coal and 17 percent from natural gas.

“With fossil fuel combustion being a major source of CO2 in the atmosphere, a forward-looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable, seeking to play its part with governments and others in the development of appropriate measures to tackle the problem,” the report said.

Source: Shell foresaw climate change | Business | Journal Gazette