New evidence that an extraterrestrial collision 12,800 years ago triggered an abrupt climate change for Earth : The Conversation


What kicked off the Earth’s rapid cooling 12,800 years ago?

In the space of just a couple of years, average temperatures abruptly dropped, resulting in temperatures as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit cooler in some regions of the Northern Hemisphere. If a drop like that happened today, it would mean the average temperature of Miami Beach would quickly change to that of current Montreal, Canada. Layers of ice in Greenland show that this cool period in the Northern Hemisphere lasted about 1,400 years.

This climate event, called the Younger Dryas by scientists, marked the beginning of a decline in ice-age megafauna, such as mammoth and mastodon, eventually leading to extinction of more than 35 genera of animals across North America. Although disputed, some research suggests that Younger Dryas environmental changes led to a population decline among the Native Americans known for their distinctive Clovis spear points.

Conventional geologic wisdom blames the Younger Dryas on the failure of glacial ice dams holding back huge lakes in central North America and the sudden, massive blast of freshwater they released into the north Atlantic. This freshwater influx shut down ocean circulation and ended up cooling the climate.

Some geologists, however, subscribe to what is called the impact hypothesis: the idea that a fragmented comet or asteroid collided with the Earth 12,800 years ago and caused this abrupt climate event. Along with disrupting the glacial ice-sheet and shutting down ocean currents, this hypothesis holds that the extraterrestrial impact also triggered an “impact winter” by setting off massive wildfires that blocked sunlight with their smoke.

The evidence is mounting that the cause of the Younger Dryas’ cooling climate came from outer space. My own recent fieldwork at a South Carolina lake that has been around for at least 20,000 years adds to the growing pile of evidence.

 

Source: New evidence that an extraterrestrial collision 12,800 years ago triggered an abrupt climate change for Earth : The Conversation

Ivory Coast law could see chocolate industry ‘wipe out’ protected forests | Environment | The Guardian


The crags of an ancient tree at Mont Tia forest reserve in Ivory Coast
The crags of an ancient tree, destroyed by a fire lit by the farmer who planted cocoa and banana trees around it, at Mont Tia forest reserve in Ivory Coast. Photograph: Ruth Maclean/The Guardian
 

The Ivory Coast’s dwindling rainforests could be “wiped out” under a new law that will see legal protections removed from thousands of square miles of classified forest and unprecedented power handed to industrial chocolate manufacturers.

Civil society groups, environmental campaigners and workers’ cooperatives have warned that the new forestry code, ratified by the National Assembly and currently being implemented, will encourage unsustainable cocoa production and legalise large-scale deforestation in already ravaged areas.

 

Source: Ivory Coast law could see chocolate industry ‘wipe out’ protected forests | Environment | The Guardian

Only 8 People in This Indigenous Tribe Still Speak Their Native Language. The Amazon Fires May Wipe It Out Completely. – VICE


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazil’s indigenous Manoki have been watching fires tear through their ancestral land for weeks, fearing the devastating damage to their forests may mean the end of their cultural heritage as well.

“The fires did irreversible damage to the places we hunt and collect medicine. Huge trees that took centuries to grow have been cut and burned,” tribe member Giovani Tapura, 38, told VICE News from the Amazon’s smaller Irantxe Indigenous Territory, where the Manoki live.

But just as much as their hunting grounds, Tapura and other Manoki fear the loss of their language. It was already on the cusp of extinction, between population loss from Portuguese massacres and disease, and missionaries forbidding Manoki to speak their language. Of the 400 remaining Manoki left in Brazil, only eight speak the tribe’s native language, also called Manoki, according to Tapura.

Holding onto their land is not just essential for their own survival — forests managed by indigenous groups like the Manoki sequester significant amounts of carbon, and indigenous people conserve an estimated 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

Read more: Bolsonaro is spreading conspiracy theories about the fires.

They are far from alone with this problem: There are nearly 1 million indigenous Brazilians living in the Amazon, speaking roughly 200 languages, and almost half are endangered. The Amazon fires encroaching on many of their territories are heightening fears that if indigenous groups are driven out of the Amazon and forced into cities, their languages will go extinct.

Indigenous groups say government policies — and lack thereof — have set them up for failure. “There are no government incentives to help revive our language, and the policies for indigenous people the government is suggesting will decimate our culture — the most valuable thing we have,” said Tapura.

Brazil’s current President Jair Bolsonaro has stated that indigenous peoples should be assimilated into Brazilian society by opening up their lands to large-scale agriculture and mining — a move that would be unconstitutional. But experts believe that many of the fires set this year – and the rapid deforestation that preceded them – are strongly linked to land-grabbing and criminal networks. Amid an international outcry over thousands of fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, Bolsonaro, during a meeting of state governors, criticized indigenous territories and suggested he would soon draft measures preventing more indigenous territories from having the formal borders drawn that would give tribes more land rights.

Any threats to their land are a risk to the long-term existence of the Manoki as a cohesive community, said Bernat Bardagil Mas, a postdoctoral fellow specializing in Amazonian indigenous languages at the University of California, Berkeley. He added that their territory is “where the language revitalization efforts could be successful, where maintaining their traditions, their spiritual life, and their identity as Manoki is possible.”

“The fires did irreversible damage to the places we hunt and collect medicine.”

Without access to the Amazon rainforest, the community, surrounded on almost all sides by the steadily encroaching agricultural frontier in the southwestern edge of Mato Grosso state “would shift to a more and more urban type of life, moving progressively to the neighbouring cities of Brasnorte and Campo Novo do Parecís to find jobs and make living possible.” This would almost certainly drive their language to extinction.

Angel Corbera Mori, a linguist at the Institute of Language Studies at the University of Campinas, explained in an interview with Telesur that language itself is critical to the preservation of culture as a whole. “If a language is lost, so is the medicine, culinary, histories, traditional knowledge.”

The Manoki currently live on a much smaller territory than they did historically. The smaller Irantxe Indigenous Territory is adjacent to the larger Manoki Indigenous Territory in Mato Grosso, the state with the largest amount of fire alerts. The tribe has been awaiting official recognition of their land for nine years. It remains stalled because of appeals by squatters who illegally purchased land in indigenous territory. The Manoki and other tribes fear that outsiders are now emboldened by Bolsonaro’s pro-development and anti-indigenous rhetoric to invade their territory.

The environmental impact of the fires has been catastrophic, torching at least 130,000 acres of the rainforest — the equivalent to 72,000 soccer fields. The Amazon in its natural, humid state is essentially fireproof, but deforestation prepped it for the fires that some experts have suggested were in almost entirely all started by humans. Despite a ban issued by Bolsonaro against intentional burning at the end of August, the fires are still burning, and will likely continue through the dry season. Mato Grosso is currently the state with the highest number of fires detected by satellites.

 

Source: Only 8 People in This Indigenous Tribe Still Speak Their Native Language. The Amazon Fires May Wipe It Out Completely. – VICE

High-value opportunities exist to restore tropical rainforests around the world – here’s how we mapped them : The Conversation


The green belt of tropical rainforests that covers equatorial regions of the Americas, Africa, Indonesia and Southeast Asia is turning brown. Since 1990, Indonesia has lost 50% of its original forest, the Amazon 30% and Central Africa 14%. Fires, logging, hunting, road building and fragmentation have heavily damaged more than 30% of those that remain.

These forests provide many benefits: They store large amounts of carbon, are home to numerous wild species, provide food and fuel for local people, purify water supplies and improve air quality. Replenishing them is an urgent global imperative. A newly published study in the journal Science by European authors finds that there is room for an extra 3.4 million square miles (0.9 billion hectares) of canopy cover around the world, and that replenishing tree cover at this full potential would contribute significantly to reducing the risk of harmful climate change

But there aren’t enough resources to restore all tropical forests that have been lost or damaged. And restoration can conflict with other activities, such as farming and forestry. As a tropical forest ecologist, I am interested in developing better tools for assessing where these efforts will be most cost-effective and beneficial.

Over the past four years, tropical forestry professor Pedro Brancalionand I have led a team of researchers from an international network in evaluating the benefits and feasibility of restoration across tropical rainforests around the world. Our newly published findings identify restoration hotspots – areas where restoring tropical forests would be most beneficial and least costly and risky. They cover over 385,000 square miles (100 million hectares), an area as large as Spain and Sweden combined.

The five countries with the largest areas of restoration hotpots are Brazil, Indonesia, India, Madagascar and Colombia. Six countries in Africa – Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Togo, South Sudan and Madagascar – hold rainforest areas where restoration is expected to yield the highest benefits with the highest feasibility. We hope our results can help governments, conservation groups and international funders target areas where there is high potential for success.

 

Source: High-value opportunities exist to restore tropical rainforests around the world – here’s how we mapped them : The Conversation

Electric vehicle drivers at risk by charging from home mains supply | Technology | The Guardian


An inadequate public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the UK is forcing drivers to take risks by opting for highly dangerous alternatives at home, an electrical safety charity has warned.

Three-quarters of those who resort to charging from their home mains supply using a domestic extension lead even admit to risky “daisy-chaining” – using multiple extension leads plugged into one another – to reach their car, according to a survey by Electrical Safety First.

It is urging the government to expand the national network of public charging points as its findings reveal the growth rate of licensed plug-in vehicles is outstripping the number of charging points available.

 

Source: Electric vehicle drivers at risk by charging from home mains supply | Technology | The Guardian

Trump buildings face millions in climate fines under new New York rules | US news | The Guardian


Donald Trump’s reluctance to address climate change is set to cost his business empire millions of dollars in fines levied by New York City due to the amount of pollution emitted by Trump-owned buildings.

According to data shared with the Guardian, eight Trump properties in New York City do not comply with new regulations designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions. This means the Trump Organization is on track to be hit with fines of $2.1m every year from 2030, unless its buildings are made more environmentally friendly.

According to city officials, the president’s eight largest New York properties pump out around 27,000 tons of planet-warming gases every ear, the equivalent of 5,800 cars. The buildings that exceed the new pollution thresholds include Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, and the Trump Building on Wall Street.

The biggest potential offender is Trump International Hotel & Tower, a 583ft skyscraper that looms over the south-west corner of Central Park. The building is on course to be fined $850,871 a year if no improvements are made to its energy efficiency.

 

Source: Trump buildings face millions in climate fines under new New York rules | US news | The Guardian

Climate crisis: flooding threat ‘may force UK towns to be abandoned’ | Environment | The Guardian


Entire communities might need to be moved away from coasts and rivers as the UK takes urgent action to prepare for an average global temperature rise of 4C, the Environment Agency warned.

The agency said on Thursday that difficult decisions would have to be taken in the coming years to make sure the UK was resilient amid flooding that would not be held back by higher land defences.

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the agency, set out the regulator’s long-term strategy for tackling flooding and coastal change, which, she said, was a preparation for a 4C rise in global temperatures. The rise is far in excess of the target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels set in the legally binding Paris Agreement of 2015.

“The coastline has never stayed in the same place and there have always been floods, but climate change is increasing and accelerating these threats,” said Howard Boyd. “We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences. We need to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience in England that help communities better understand their risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond.”

The strategy text says the approach to flood protection and assessing risk had to change. “We need to act now without delay … we need to apply a different philosophy.”

 

Source: Climate crisis: flooding threat ‘may force UK towns to be abandoned’ | Environment | The Guardian

Why reducing carbon emissions from cars and trucks will be so hard : The Conversation


A growing number of cities, states and countries aim to dramatically reduce or even eliminate carbon emissions to avert catastrophic levels of climate change.

Ideas about how to get this done as soon as possible, including those Democratic lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have sketched out in the Green New Deal framework, vary. But most energy experts see two basic steps as essential.

First, stop relying on fossil fuels to generate most electricity. Second, the whole world should – sooner rather than later – use all that cleaner electricity to power transportation, agriculture and the heating and cooling of homes and businesses. The logical goal should be to get as many consumers to buy zero-emission vehicles as quickly as possible, right?

Maybe not. Our research on consumer behavior and the environmental impacts of automotive transportation leads us to expect that the transition to electric cars, trucks and ships will be dramatically harder that it sounds.

Tailpipe emissions

The roughly 250 million cars, SUVs and pickup trucks on U.S. roads today account for 60% of transportation emissions. The 11.5 million big trucks that move freight around generate another 23% and aircraft are responsible for 9% of those greenhouse gas emissions.

One reason why it will be hard if not impossible to convert all U.S. transportation to electric models within a decade or two is simple. Vehicles of all kinds are surprisingly durable.

 

Source: Why reducing carbon emissions from cars and trucks will be so hard : The Conversation

To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for Nature : The Conversation


Earth’s cornucopia of life has evolved over 550 million years. Along the way, five mass extinction events have caused serious setbacks to life on our planet. The fifth, which was caused by a gargantuan meteorite impact along Mexico’s Yucatan coast, changed Earth’s climate, took out the dinosaurs and altered the course of biological evolution.

Today nature is suffering accelerating losses so great that many scientists say a sixth mass extinction is underway. Unlike past mass extinctions, this event is driven by human actions that are dismantling and disrupting natural ecosystems and changing Earth’s climate.

My research focuses on ecosystems and climate change from regional to global scales. In a new study titled “A Global Deal for Nature,” led by conservation biologist and strategist Eric Dinerstein, 17 colleagues and I lay out a road map for simultaneously averting a sixth mass extinction and reducing climate change.

We chart a course for immediately protecting at least 30% of Earth’s surface to put the brakes on rapid biodiversity loss, and then add another 20% comprising ecosystems that can suck disproportionately large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. In our view, biodiversity loss and climate change must be addressed as one interconnected problem with linked solutions.

 

Source: To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for Nature : The Conversation