The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, who says “in the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory”. This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. July was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat. But Nasa said that records of temperature that go back far further, taken via analysis of ice cores and sediments, suggest that the warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium. More here on RT.
Continents and oceans in the northern hemisphere began to warm with industrial-era fossil fuel emissions nearly 200 years ago, pushing back the origins of human-induced climate change to the mid-19th century. The first signs of warming from the rise in greenhouse gases which came hand-in-hand with the Industrial Revolution appear as early as 1830 in the tropical oceans and the Arctic, meaning that climate change witnessed today began about 180 years ago. Researchers in Australia found evidence for the early onset of warming after trawling through 500 years of data on tree rings, corals and ice cores that together form a natural archive of Earth’s historical temperatures.
A group of 130 institutions that control US$13tn of investments have called on G20 nations to ratify the Paris agreement this year and accelerate investment in clean energy and forced disclosure of climate-related financial risk. More here from the Guardian.
Barack Obama has created the world’s largest marine protected area by expanding an existing ocean reserve off Hawaii to cover 582,578 square miles, providing what’s likely to be the grandest, and final, chapter in the president’s conservation legacy. The sweeping move quadruples the size of the Papahānaumokuākea marine national monument, which was originally designated by George W Bush in 2006 and was declared a World Heritage site in 2010. The monument, which is now now double the size of Texas, stretches outward from the north-western Hawaiian islands and includes Midway Atoll, famed for its former military base and eponymous battle that was crucial in the US defeat of Japan in the second world war.
President Obama has also given two major speeches on climate change in the space of a day, one in Nevada and another in Hawaii, after Air Force One managed to safely dodge two hurricanes lurking in the Pacific. “No nation, not even one as powerful as the United States, is immune from a changing climate,” Obama told an audience of Pacific island leaders in Honolulu. “I saw it myself in our more northernmost state of Alaska, where the sea is swallowing villages and eating away at shorelines, where the permafrost thaws and the tundra is burning. Where glaciers are melting at a pace unprecedented in modern times. It’s a preview of our future if the climate changes faster than our efforts to address it.”
Cosmetics companies must be banned from using plastic microbeads in scrubs, toothpaste and beauty products because of the marine pollution they are causing, say a group of MPs. Members of the environmental audit committee have called for a ban within 18 months after hearing that trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain. About 86 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone, they were told. Microplastic pollution comes from the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic waste, small synthetic fibres from clothing and the microbeads used in cosmetics and other products. The microbeads in scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes are an avoidable part of this plastic pollution problem. A single shower could result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean, said the committee chair, Mary Creagh.
A group of researchers has published a study in the science journal Elementa in which they describe various models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns. What they found was that the carrying capacity—the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely by the resources of an ecosystem—of the vegan diet is actually less substantial than two of the vegetarian diets and two out of the four omnivorous diets they studied. https://www.elementascience.org/articles/116
If Italian MP Elvira Savino has her way, parents in Italy could go to jail for forcing their children to follow a vegan diet. Savino, who used to work in public relations and now holds a position as deputy for the Forza Italia party, believes that parents should be prosecuted for imposing such “reckless and dangerous eating behavior” on children 16 and under. Treehugger has more.
More than 3,500 churches across Britain have moved their electricity supply to renewables, or are planning to do so, according to data released on Thursday. Those switching away from fossil fuels include the majority of the Salvation Army’s sites, about a third of Quaker meeting houses, and about 2,000 churches belonging to 16 Catholic dioceses which are running entirely on renewable energy. But the number represents a relatively small proportion of the 50,000 Christian churches estimated to be active across the UK.
Australia is the worst country among the G20 when it comes to action on climate change, according to a comprehensive assessment before the G20 summit in China. Under China’s leadership, this weekend’s G20 in the eastern city of Hangzhou has had a strong focus on climate-related issues. By analysing the policies and actions of each of the 20 countries, which together produce 75% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Climate Transparency produced a report, scorecard and series of country profiles detailing their findings, revealing Australia was not pulling its weight. On the scorecard, Australia was the only country to receive a rating of “very poor” in a majority of categories.