Half of US bases worldwide threatened by Climate

Department of Defense says wild weather could endanger 1,700 sites in findings that run counter to White House views on climate.

The Pentagon survey investigated the effects of “a changing climate” on all US military installations worldwide, which it said numbered more than 3,500.

Assets most often damaged include airfields, energy infrastructure and water systems, according to military personnel at each site, who responded to the DoD questionnaire.

John Conger, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Climate and Security in Washington, said the report’s commissioning by Congress showed a growing interest by lawmakers into the risks that climate change poses to national security.

The study was published late last week and brought to public attention this week by the Center for Climate and Security.

Source: Climate change threatens half of US bases worldwide, Pentagon report finds

At-Risk Cities Are Least Energy Efficient

Miami, battered last year by Hurricane Irma, was the least energy-efficient in a sample of 15 cities, with its monthly energy consumption 25 percent above the national average, the data showed.

Such cities are “shooting themselves in the foot” because their immoderate energy consumption emits avoidable greenhouse gases that are heating up the planet and causing climate change, said a statement from Arcadia.

The Florida city averaged energy consumption per household of 1,125 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, far exceeding the 2016 national average of 897 kWh.

Miami’s above-normal usage could be due to the heavy reliance on energy-intensive air conditioning in the hot and human region, said Arcadia spokeswoman Natalie Rizk.

Source: https://www.voanews.com/a/cities-most-risk-climate-change-least-energy-efficient/4231638.html

Energy colonialism and Puerto Rico’s María crisis

She argues that the lifting of the 1920 Jones Act (the Merchant Marine Act) — which requires all goods to enter Puerto Rico’s ports on US-made, US-staffed, and US-flag-carrying ships — for ten days after Hurricane María still choked hurricane relief efforts, as supplies sat waiting to be distributed or were sent back to their points of origin. The article says this temporary waiver did little to alleviate the burdens created by Puerto Rico’s economic dependency on the US — but in fact, further demonstrates the high costs of this colonial relationship.

Operation Bootstrap is another focus of the paper, a policy it says continues to haunt Puerto Rico. Beginning in the 1940s, this industrialization-by-invitation initiative positioned Puerto Rico as a destination for wealthy investors and corporate polluters, including the fossil fuel industry, that became a modern-day master and overseer.

The third key policy outlined in the paper is the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA. Approved by President Barack Obama and the US Congress in 2016, it gave debt crisis management power to an undemocratically elected control board that has implemented a sweeping austerity agenda. The study argues that the debt situation and these efforts to ensure Puerto Rico’s US economic dependency have plunged local residents into poverty and increased unemployment.

Source: US energy colonialism a key cause of Puerto Rico’s Hurricane María crisis

Atlantic Ocean circulation affects rainfall

Research has found that changes in ocean currents in the Atlantic Ocean influence rainfall in the Western Hemisphere, and that these two systems have been linked for thousands of years.

The findings, published on Jan. 26 in Nature Communications, are important because the detailed look into Earth’s past climate and the factors that influenced it could help scientists understand how these same factors may influence our climate today and in the future.

“The mechanisms that seem to be driving this correlation [in the past] are the same that are at play in modern data as well,” said lead author Kaustubh Thirumalai, postdoctoral researcher at Brown University who conducted the research while earning his Ph.D. at the UT Austin Jackson School of Geosciences. “The Atlantic Ocean surface circulation, and however that changes, has implications for how the rainfall changes on continents.”

Source: Rainfall and ocean circulation linked in past and present

California’s vegetation at risk from climate stress

Current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are putting nearly half of California’s natural vegetation at risk from climate stress, with transformative implications for the state’s landscape and the people and animals that depend on it, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis.

However, cutting emissions so that global temperatures increase by no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) could reduce those impacts by half, with about a quarter of the state’s natural vegetation affected.
Source: Nearly half of California’s vegetation at risk from climate stress

Antarctic glaciers interaction may cause faster melt

The team also found that the Southwest Tributary of Pine Island Glacier, a deep ice channel between the two glaciers, could trigger or accelerate ice loss in Thwaites Glacier if the observed melting of Pine Island Glacier by warm ocean water continues down the ice channel. The results were published online in the Annals of Glaciology.

“This is a potentially really dynamic place between these two glaciers, and this is somewhere where further study is really warranted,” said lead author Dustin Schroeder, an assistant professor of geophysics at the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “If this tributary were to retreat and get melted by warm ocean water, it could cause the melt beneath Pine Island to spread to Thwaites.”

Source: Interacting Antarctic glaciers may cause faster melt and sea level contributions

Improved organic solar cell performance?

While there is a growing market for organic solar cells ¬¬- they contain materials that are cheaper, more abundant, and more environmentally friendly than those used in typical solar panels – they also tend to be less efficient in converting sunlight to electricity than conventional solar cells.

Now, scientists who are members of the Center for Computational Study of Excited-State Phenomena in Energy Materials (C2SEPEM) a new energy materials-related science center based at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), have solved a mystery that could lead to gains in efficiency.

Source: New discovery could improve organic solar cell performance

A Research Path to Sustainable Cities

In 1950, fewer than one-third of the world’s people lived in cities. Today more than half do. By 2050, urban areas will be home to some two-thirds of Earth’s human population.

“This scale and pace of urbanization has never been seen in human history,” states a new report, Sustainable Urban Systems: Articulating a Long-Term Convergence Research Agenda.

The document was authored by members of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education’s (AC-ERE) Sustainable Urban Systems Subcommittee, chaired by bioproducts and biosystems engineer and public affairs professor Anu Ramaswami of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Sciences at the University of Minnesota. It serves as a guide for the direction research on cities might take today and in the future.

Source: New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities

Climate change a pressing urban issue

A clear majority of mayors were prepared to confront President Donald Trump’s administration over climate change and felt their cities could be influential in counteracting the policies of the Republican president, who at times has called global warming a hoax and last year withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

“A striking 68 percent of mayors agree that cities should play a strong role in reducing the e?ects of climate change, even if it means sacrificing revenues or increasing expenditures,” a report accompanying the survey stated.

In all, 115 mayors of cities with at least 75,000 residents answered the fourth annual survey named for Thomas Menino, a longtime Democratic mayor of Boston who founded the university program before his death in 2014. The survey was sponsored in part by The Rockefeller Foundation and Citigroup.

Source: Survey: Mayors view climate change as pressing urban issue

Accurate estimation of biodiversity 

Policymakers are often concerned with the preservation of biodiversity at national, continental or global scales, but most biodiversity monitoring is conducted at very fine scales. This mismatch between the scales of our policies and of our data creates serious challenges, especially when assessing biodiversity change. In a new study, published in Ecological Monographs today, nearly the entire global research community addressing this problem was asked to put their techniques to the test by applying them to the same data set.

Source: Accurate estimation of biodiversity is now possible on a global scale