Climate change was never fully addressed at the 2016 debates

The three presidential debates are officially over, and not one question was asked of the two major party presidential candidates about climate change. Needless to say, climate activists are frustrated and believe it would have come up with different moderators.

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Ice detectives race against time as climate change destroys evidence of itself
Threatened glaciers store many of Earth’s fading prehistoric memories, including valuable temperature information about climate change

Scientists scrambling to understand current climate and pollution trends are peering centuries into the past, long before the dawn of the industrial age. Late this past summer researchers and engineers from France, Italy and Russia extracted three ice cores from France’s Col du Dôme Glacier in a race to preserve valuable information about climate change before rising temperatures wash it away.

There is ample reason for concern. According to NASA’s September 2016 climate data, the previous 10 months have been the hottest on record for each of those months out of the last 136 years—since modern weather recording started. In fact, for a few days in July 2015, the Col du Dôme’s surface temperature rose above freezing, causing alarm among weather scientists.


How This Town Produces No Trash

In 2003, the local government in Kamikatsu, Japan decided to require that all residents comply with a new, rigorous recycling program - perhaps the most rigorous in the world.

Since then, the town composts, recycles, or reuses 80% of its garbage. It may not technically be 100% zero waste, as the remaining 20% goes into the landfill, but it’s a remarkable achievement for an entire community, in such a short amount of time. The impacts have been positive - cutting costs for the community drastically, as well as improving the conditions of the lush and beautiful environment that surrounds the town in Southeast Japan.

Read more: http://skr.cm/21uc0qk

Grab the rosé: Global warming doesn’t bode well for wine production
Global wine production is down for 2016 as a result of “climatic events.”

World wine production is down to the lowest levels in 20 years because of “climatic events,” a sign that global warming may impact the availability of your favorite rosé or malbec.

The International Organization of Vine and Wine found that this year’s estimated wine output will be 259.5 billion litres, down 5 percent from last year. Particularly impacted are Chile and Argentina, where adverse weather has decreased grape production.

Say it ain’t so. 

If You’re Looking To Save The Planet, Start By Saving Its Predators

In the battle against climate change, one tactic is to improve how oceans and forests store harmful greenhouse gases. That’s because emissions like carbon dioxide can get into the atmosphere and drive up global temperatures.

Scientists call this tactic “carbon sequestration.” Oswald Schmitz, a professor of population and community ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental studies, says forests and oceans can be good at it. 

But an environment’s ability to store carbon is only as strong its individual ecosystems. And the health of many ecosystems is directly related to the efficacy of its top predators. WNPR spoke with Schmitz about how conservationists can leverage predators to help keep carbon emissions in check.

When folks like me think about global warming we’re often thinking about plants or microbes and the role they play in capturing carbon emissions. But you’re saying, in addition to that, we probably should be thinking of animals and predators, too – why?

The reason why it matters – top predators and the impact they have on herbivores – is because the herbivores can change what they consume. It’s actually these multiplier effects that happen because one species is interacting with another and the effects of that propagate as you go down the food chain.

Pull out an example for me where we can talk about a specific predator and the impact it can have on an ecosystem – and how that can affect carbon emissions.

Wolves can prey on moose. And the moose, which normally eat vegetation, then have a changed impact on the vegetation. In a boreal system, for example, the boreal forest is a really important sink for carbon. Mainly because it’s a cold environment. As trees shed their bark, needles, and branches, – it just stays in the soil as organic matter. It’s slow to become decomposed because it’s a cool environment.

If herbivores are highly abundant, like moose or deer, they can eat up a lot of the vegetation, so it doesn’t end up in the soil. If you add wolves to that story, then wolves keep the moose populations in check – the moose eat less and so more of that biomass ends up in the soil. The wolves, by virtue of affecting what the moose do to the vegetation, can change how much carbon is actually stored in the boreal forest.

We have to be careful not to run with this idea yet. There’s a lot more science that needs to be done to really calculate how much carbon [gets sequestered] - and what the benefits are. But it’s certainly pointing to a huge untapped potential – in a sense, using animals as geoengineers - rather than relying solely on technology.

You gave the example in a paper you wrote for Yale Environment 360 about sea otters and the impact they’ve had on kelp forests. Talk a bit about that.

You’ve got kelp forests on the western sea coast running from southern United States all the way up into northern Alaska. In the absence of sea otters, sea urchins explode in abundance. Sea urchins are herbivores that eat up the kelp forests.

That was discovered sort of by accident because sea otters were over exploited in the fur trade. The loss of the sea otters led to a loss of kelp forests that could sequester the carbon.

People like Jim Estes actually discovered that [by] reintroducing sea otters, you actually saw luxuriant growth in the kelp forests. It’s the sea otters feeding on the sea urchins and lowering their abundance, which then lowered how much damage the urchins caused on the kelp forests.

This was one of the early examples showing top predators could even affect ecosystems, and it’s been the impetus for doing more and more work exploring the top predator effects in ecosystems.

How do you translate a finding like that to the conservation community? To get that message to them that while animals can be victims of climate change, they are also drivers of it …

I think part of the problem in conversation right now is we’ve focused on iconic species. Wildebeest. Sea otters. Lions. Tigers. We try to protect those, but we tend not to think about how they’re interdependent with other species as part of an ecosystem.

I think the fundamental message is that these species belong to something bigger. Conservation needs to move away from just thinking about protecting species to protecting the interdependence those species have with other species. Because that’s what keeps ecosystems resilient. It’s what protects those important services like carbon sequestration. So it’s shifting the mindset in conservation from one of thinking about species to one of thinking about the environmental services that come with a collection of species that are organized into a food chain.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

(Image Credits: National Park Service: Ken Conger, Neal Herbert / Creative Commons: Gregory Slobirdr Smith, kdee64)


The Earth’s axis is tilting thanks to climate change, NASA scientists say

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have determined climate change is actually causing the tilt of the Earth’s axis to change. Using satellite data, the scientists found as global climate change causes ice sheets across the planet to melt, releasing their water weight, the Earth’s polar motion has stopped wobbling toward Canada and is now wobbling toward England. Here’s what the dramatic change means for the Earth.

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Adding seaweed to cattle feed could reduce methane production by 70%
That's equivalent to taking India’s CO2 emissions off the map.
By Bec Crew

If we add dried seaweed to 2 percent of sheep and cattle feed, we could cut methane emissions by more than 70 percent, scientists have found.

With livestock responsible for 44 percent of all human-caused methane - a gas that has 36 times the global warming potential of CO2 - this could cut a huge chunk of the 3.1 gigatonnes these animals release into the atmosphere each year in burps and farts.

To put that 3.1 gigatonnes of methane into perspective, the entire European Union releases just over that amount of CO2 each year.

And if we cut that 3.1 gigatonnes by 70 percent by adding seaweed to livestock feed, we’d be clearing 2.17 gigatonnes of methane released into the atmosphere by livestock every year.

That’s almost the amount of CO2 the entire country of India emits every year.

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tumblr is so great when it comes to social justice and equality but once someone mentions the meat industry you’re all fucking sticking your fingers in your ears because it actually requires you to get up and do shit about it instead of just sitting behind your lousy computer screens agreeing with that one thing that one person just posted