In the 1950s, the world was crisscrossed by some 25 million annual tourists (i.e., overnight visitors). In 2014, according to the Center for Responsible Travel, that number ballooned to nearly 1.2 billion—about a 4,000 percent increase—contributing $7.6 trillion (almost 10 percent) to the world's GDP.
But the sad and inescapable fact is that all our flying, driving and trampling about has also contributed to the destruction of the environment, harming wildlife, historical sites and the livelihoods of indigenous societies around the globe.
As the largest global service industry, tourism can—and should—play a significant role in conservation and environmental sustainability. That was the message that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon delivered on World Tourism Day in 2012. “One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well‐placed to promote environmental sustainability, 'green' growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy," he said.
Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the world Scouting movement, was an early proponent of not only treading lightly when you travel, but also doing some good while you're there. In his last message before his death in 1941, Baden-Powell neatly summed up his philosophy: “Leave this world a little better than you found it.” It's a sentiment that anchored the "Leave No Trace" outdoor/camping ethos that took root in the 1960s and it can easily serve as a motto for ecotourists and ethical travelers alike.
Thinking about a travel destination in North America that shares your green philosophy? Here are 10 of the best to consider.
1. Earthship Rentals (Taos, New Mexico)
Taos, a desert town in the New Mexico high desert situated at the edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and known for its historic Native American adobe buildings and its artist colony, has long been a destination for eco-minded free spirits. It's also the location of a small collection of unique eco-friendly buildings called Earthships.
Constructed from natural and recycled materials, including tires packed with dirt, Earthships are passive solar houses, meaning their entire structures—including windows, walls and floors—are designed to collect solar energy. The first Earthship was designed in the 1970s by the architect and environmental activist Michael Reynolds, who calls his unique practice Earthship Biotecture.
Ecotourists can enjoy the sites of Taos while staying at Earthship Rentals, which offer a unique taste of sustainable, off-grid living, including growing your own food and using water provided by cisterns that collect rain and snow. Plus, they are dog-friendly, so bring Fido along. You can also enjoy the amenities of modern life, such as Wifi and TV. But why boob-tube it when you're surrounded by a gorgeous landscape that has attracted and inspired artists for over a century? Earthships can transport you while not moving at all—the perfect opportunity to unplug and recharge.
2. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (British Columbia)
Winston Churchill once said, "There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada." Unfortunately, the world's second largest nation hasn't been protecting that mighty expanse all that well. According to its 2015 annual report, the nonprofit Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) found that the nation is lagging on its commitment to protect at least 17 percent of its land and fresh water by 2020—and is behind the global average.
“Based on our assessment of progress since Canada endorsed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity 10-year plan in 2010, it would take us 50 years from today, not five, to meet our commitment to protect at least 17 percent of our land and fresh water,” said Alison Woodley, nation director of CPAWS’ parks program.
One of the places that has been protected is an eco-resort tucked away in the remote wilderness of Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia, Canada. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort offers the best of both worlds, from river kayaking, horseback riding, hiking through old-growth forest and surfing on a secluded beach, to five-star dining, spa treatments and as its website notes, "great white tents with their fluffy duvets and antiques."
The all-inclusive, summer-only luxury resort isn’t just about pampering guests and offering great adventures in a pristine landscape—it's also playing an important role in the region’s sustainability and environmental stewardship. The resort has invested in the protection of the area's wild salmon, working with the nonprofit Wild Fish Conservancy, based in neighboring Washington state, to protect the fish stocks against the threats of overfishing and climate change.
Clayoquot has also partnered with the Ahousaht First Nation to restore indigenous land, share the Ahousaht’s cultural legacy with visitors and build relationships that foster economic development within the local community.
The late Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr, who found creative inspiration in the indigenous people who lived along the Pacific Northwest coast, said, "It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw." Clayoquot offers that raw grandeur—just with fluffy duvets.
3. Sian Ka'an (Tulum, Mexico)
Located on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Sian Ka’an is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. The reserve is so pristine and biodiverse that, in 1986, it was designated Biosphere Reserve. And the following year, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which works with nations to secure the world's cultural and natural heritage. Sian Ka'an is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.
There’s no shortage of eco-friendly activities here, from exploring Mayan ruins to diving in the deep cenotes (crystalline pools of freshwater connected by an intricate network of underground rivers) or simply enjoying the gorgeous white sand beaches and swimming in the Caribbean. You’d never guess that just two and half hours north is Cancun, a hyper-touristic spot that has been overrun by college students on spring break.
Sian Ka'an is committed to protecting its fragile ecosystem—and its esteemed World Heritage Site status. As it says on its website, "Sian Ka'an is one of the most spectacular and ecologically diverse places on Earth—and we want to keep it that way."
4. Nurture Through Nature (Denmark, Maine)
Located deep in the rugged heart of western Maine’s Lakes and Mountains region, Nurture Through Nature is the state's first green-certified, Earth-friendly retreat center and has been providing individuals, couples and groups an environmentally conscious getaway since 1999.
Visitors can explore the retreat's 33 forested acres nestled along the lower slopes of Pleasant Mountain along a maze of private hiking trails that lead to a spring-fed mountain brook and sweeping views of Mount Washington and the White Mountains. This is an ideal place to reconnect with nature.
Nurture Through Nature’s stated mission is to "offer a healing, Earth-friendly retreat space for reflection, contemplation and connection with your true self and the living Earth.” That connection is encouraged by yoga classes, guided meditation, a private sauna, massage therapy, healing arts classes and holistic life coaching—all within a green-certified off-the-grid getaway that uses solar power, compost, renewable heat sources and non-toxic cleaning products.
With 1.3 million residents, Maine is the least densely populated state east of the Mississippi River. And as far as states go, it's not that popular of a tourist destination, ranking 44th in a 2014 survey conducted by HotelsCombined, a hotel booking site. Still, for a state with a GDP at around $54 billion, tourism fuels a tenth of the economy, providing more than 94,000 jobs—about 14 percent of the state’s total employment. "Given that Maine’s economy pivots on 22 million tourists who spend as much as $6 billion a year, the state’s challenge is to balance one of its main sources of income with the preservation of its ecosystem," writes Kay Tang in USA Today. "Ecotourism could be Maine’s win-win solution to this dilemma."
5. The Stanford Inn by the Sea (Mendocino, California)
For many years, Mendocino County, located on California's north coast, has lured visitors to its lush redwood forests, breathtaking coastline and vineyards famous for producing some of the nation's best wine. That it has also become a top destination for travelers interested in environmentalism and sustainability is no surprise: In the 1970s, the county was a hippie magnet, attracting free spirits seeking independence, experimentation, communal living and a direct connection with nature.
Today, in the face of industrial logging, large-scale agriculture and urbanization—and a surging population that is expected to double by 2050—it's a challenge for the county to maintain its sustainable roots. One oasis from the area’s rapid growth is the Stanford Inn by the Sea, a pet-friendly eco-resort situated on Mendocino's coast that opened its doors to eco-conscious travelers more than three decades ago.
Guests can take advantage of a wide range of therapeutic, eco-friendly activities, from canoeing and biking to enjoying the cuisine of The Ravens, the inn’s vegan restaurant featuring local and organic food, including produce from the Stanford Inn’s own California-certified organic farm and wine from certified organic vineyards.
The inn also hosts wellness retreats, bringing in nutritionists, vegan chefs and health coaches to teach guests about healthy living. “Moving here in 1980, we were changed by the creative and healing energies of the land,” say founders Joan and Jeff Stanford, on their website. "The inn manifests our commitment to live mindfully so that all might live well."
6. Omega Institute (Rhinebeck, New York)
Since 1977, the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies has been on a mission to "provide hope and healing for individuals and society through innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit."
Famous for its yoga and meditation retreats—as well as workshops covering everything from creativity and mindfulness to sexuality and life coach certification—Omega Institute is dedicated to healthy, green living and sustainable lifestyles.
Spread across nearly 200 acres in the quiet town of Rhinebeck in upstate New York, Omega has a dining hall, café, bookstore, meditation hall and the Ram Dass Library, named after the famed spiritual teacher and author of the seminal 1971 book Be Here Now, who Omega notes has served as one of their “trusted guides.” The campus also includes the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, a solar-powered education center and water reclamation facility.
On its website, Omega calls itself “the nation's foremost educational retreat center.” Considering its history, as well as its growing list of of A-list speakers—which includes Al Gore, Maya Angelou, Jane Goodall and Thich Nhat Hanh, among many others—it’s a claim they have little problem backing up.
7. Hotel Terra Jackson Hole (Teton Village, Wyoming)
Nestled between the Teton Mountain Range and the Gros Ventre Range in Wyoming, Jackson Hole is a low-lying valley that was settled in the late 1800s by Native Americans, fur trappers and homesteaders. Later, dude ranches sparked tourism to the region. Today, ecotourism is taking hold. Eco-Tour Adventures offers wildlife tours in Grand Teton committed to the Leave No Trace ethic. The Grand Teton Lodge Company, an authorized concessionaire of the National Park Service, buys wind credits to offset its energy use and diverts half of its waste—including food waste, aluminum cans and even horse manure—into reuse and recycling.
One hotel that gets high marks on its eco-scorecard is Hotel Terra Jackson Hole in Teton Village, located at the base of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
And while the first LEED-certified hotel in Wyoming gets the big things right—like offsetting energy use by purchasing solar, hydro and wind power and using native landscaping that needs no irrigation—Terra also considers the small things: its hot tubs use a natural substitute for chlorine, while every bathroom features countertops and soap dishes made of reclaimed glass and 100 percent organic linens.
Plus, what could feel better after a day hitting slopes and elk-watching than a detox organic blueberry body wrap in the hotel’s Chill Spa? It’s no wonder that last year, Gayot named Terra one of America's Top 10 Green Hotels.
8. Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge (Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska)
Located on a remote beach in Alaska's Kachemak Bay State Park, about 10 miles by boat from Homer (the "Bear Viewing Capital of the World"), Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge gives visitors a unique way to experience the wilderness lifestyle that only the Last Frontier state can offer.
Open year-round, Sadie Cove was transformed from a private home hand-built from driftwood into an eco-lodge in 1981, completely powered by hydro and wind power. With only five private guest cabins and accessible only by boat, helicopter or float plane, Sadie Cove gives new meaning to "getaway." As the owners Keith and Randi Iverson note on their website, “At Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge you can surround yourself in wilderness, not tourists.”
Hiking trails of Kachemak Bay State Park, kayaking, beach combing, clam-digging and fishing for salmon are some of the year-round activities for lodge guests. Bring your binoculars, because wildlife viewing here is a special treat, with whales, orcas, seals, sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles, mountain goats, moose and bears all making their home in the park's lush environs.
A National Historical Landmark known as much for its stunning granite facade as its beautiful interiors, Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly Ahwahnee Hotel) is considered one of North America’s most distinctive luxury lodges. The site of the 123-room hotel was chosen for its stunning views of Glacier Point, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.
Completed in 1927 and designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood, Ahwanee is considered a masterpiece of "National Park Service rustic" (a.k.a "parkitecture"), a style of architecture developed in the first half of the 20th century through the National Park Service's efforts to create buildings that would exist in harmony with the natural environment.
Majestic Yosemite Hotel definitely takes advantage of its natural environment: One of the reasons the site was picked was to maximize sun exposure, which provides natural, fossil-free heating.
A member of the Green Hotels Association, Majestic Yosemite also participates in the GreenPath program, an environmental stewardship program ensuring that business decisions incorporate environmental considerations.
10. Jumbo Rocks Campground (Joshua Tree National Park, California)
This list has some pretty pricey eco-lodges that wouldn't look out of place on your bucket list. But it wouldn't be complete without a recommendation for roughing it in the great outdoors. And since we've covered Alaska—and you've either been to the Grand Canyon or it's already on your bucket list—Jumbo Rocks Campground in Southern California's mind-blowingly gorgeous Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert gets the nod (not least because this pristine and primal landscape is less than a three-hour drive from Los Angeles).
Located near the aptly named Skull Rock by the park's western border, Jumbo Rocks features 124 campsites that include picnic tables, fire rings and pit toilets. Biking, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding are just some of the eco-friendly activities that will wear you out and get you ready for cowboy songs by the campfire, under the stars. Plus, there's a remarkable abundance of wildlife to watch (and avoid) in this dry place: bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats, coyotes and black-tailed jackrabbits come out at night, while daytime widlife watchers can enjoy spotting birds, lizards and squirrels.
Reservations are not accepted, meaning it's first come, first served. And since it's pretty close to LA, you'll want to come early and preferably on a weekday to put up sticks before the weekenders arrive. Make a note that there's no potable water, so bring more than you think you'll need, especially if you're bringing your pet. And if you need camping essentials like a tent, sleeping bags, backpacks and hiking shoes, check out Inhabit's "Top Eco-Friendly Camping Gear for Conscientious Outdoor Enthusiasts."
No matter what your next travel destination is, getting there can be a big burden on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Consider more local and regional destinations that are accessible by bus or train. If you have to drive, use a fuel-efficient car, like a hybrid or an EV or find a carpool. And if you simply must fly, choose coach (yes, it's smaller, but less carbon-intensive than first or business class), select an efficient airline (check Atmosfair’s airline ranking) and consider reducing your air travel carbon footprint by purchasing carbon offsets, which are offered by most domestic airlines and many international carriers.
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Image: Stuart Rankin via Flickr
By Tim Radford
Scientists poring over military and satellite imagery have mapped the unimaginable: a network of rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and even a waterfall, flowing over the ice shelf of a continent with an annual mean temperature of more than -50C.
In 1909 Ernest Shackleton and his fellow explorers on their way to the magnetic South Pole found that they had to cross and recross flowing streams and lakes on the Nansen Ice Shelf.
Now, U.S. scientists report in the journal Nature that they studied photographs taken by military aircraft from 1947 and satellite images from 1973 to identify almost 700 seasonal networks of ponds, channels and braided streams flowing from all sides of the continent, as close as 600km to the South Pole and at altitudes of 1,300 meters.
And they found that such systems carried water for 120km. A second research team reporting a companion study in the same issue of Nature identified one meltwater system with an ocean outflow that ended in a 130-meter wide waterfall, big enough to drain the entire surface melt in a matter of days.
In a world rapidly warming as humans burn ever more fossil fuels, to add ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, researchers expect to observe an increase in the volume of meltwater on the south polar surface. Researchers have predicted the melt rates could double by 2050. What isn't clear is whether this will make the shelf ice around the continent—and shelf ice slows the flow of glaciers from the polar hinterland—any less stable.
"This is not in the future—this is widespread now, and has been for decades," said Jonathan Kingslake, a glaciologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who led the research.
"I think most polar scientists have considered water moving across the surface of Antarctica to be extremely rare. But we found a lot of it, over very large areas."
The big question is: has the level of surface melting increased in the last seven decades? The researchers don't yet have enough information to make a judgment.
"We have no reason to think they have," Dr Kingslake said. "But without further work, we can't tell. Now, looking forward, it will be really important to work out how these systems will change in response to warming, and how this will affect the ice sheets."
Many of the flow systems seem to start in the Antarctic mountains, near outcrops of exposed rock, or in places where fierce winds have scoured snow off the ice beneath. Rocks are dark, the exposed ice is of a blue colour, and during the long days of the Antarctic summer both would absorb more solar energy than white snow or ice. This would be enough to start the melting process.
The Antarctic is already losing ice, as giant floating shelves suddenly fracture and drift north. There is a theory that meltwater could be part of the fissure mechanism, as it seeps deep into the shelves.
But the companion study, led by the polar scientist Robin Bell of the Lamont-Doherty Observatory suggests that drainage on the Nansen Ice Shelf might help to keep the ice intact, perhaps by draining away the meltwater in the dramatic waterfall the scientists had identified.
"It could develop this way in other places, or things could just devolve into giant slush puddles," she said. "Ice is dynamic, and complex, and we don't have the data yet."
This time, the Department of Energy (DOE) has significantly altered its websites on renewable energy, removing references on how clean energy technologies can reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and help lower climate-changing emissions.
The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy—which could face deep funding cuts under Trump's budget proposal—has made "extensive changes and reorganizations" on websites for the Bioenergy Technologies Office, the Wind Energy Technologies Office and the Vehicle Technologies Office, according to the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), a coalition of academics and nonprofits that has tracked changes to federal websites ever since Donald Trump took office.
Environmental Data and Governance Initiative
As The Washington Post explained:
"Under the Obama administration, these offices' websites emphasized the importance of cutting down on U.S. carbon emissions and reducing the nation's dependence on fossil fuels—a message in keeping with President Barack Obama's push to address climate change.
"But with the Trump administration de-emphasizing climate change and looking to promote climate-friendly and carbon-intensive energy sources—an agenda that coincides with a broad attempt to eliminate regulations on fossil fuels and particularly on coal—the priorities outlined on these offices' Web pages have been shifting since the inauguration."
For instance, on the wind technology office page, this sentence was entirely removed:
"Wind power is an emission-free and water-free renewable energy source that is a key component to the Administration's renewable electricity generation goals."
Instead, the new wording emphasizes the potential of wind for U.S. jobs and economic growth. For example, this sentence was added:
"Wind energy currently supports more than 100,000 U.S. jobs, and wind turbine technician is the nation's fastest-growing occupation. According to industry experts, the U.S. wind industry is expected to drive over $85 billion in economic activity from 2017 to 2020, and wind-related employment is expected to reach 248,000 jobs in all 50 states by 2020."
This, of course, is true. The renewable energy sector has been a major boon to the nation's job growth and even the DOE can't ignore that.
However, the Rick Perry-led agency gives little weight to the clear environmental benefits of renewable energy.
Take the wind technology office's "WHY IT MATTERS" description. The EDGI noticed that the wording changed from how wind can "help the nation reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, diversify its energy supply, provide cost-competitive electricity to key regions across the country, and reduce water usage for power generation" to how wind "helps the nation increase its competitiveness, diversify its energy supply, increase energy security and independence, reduce emissions of air pollutants, save water that would otherwise be used by thermal power generation, and provide cost-competitive electricity across the country."
Another subtle change was, "creating long-term, sustainable skilled jobs" to "creating long-term skilled jobs." Notice the difference?
As the Washington Post puts it:
"Together, the changes collectively downplay the climate benefits of each form of technology and distance the agency from the idea that they might be used to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, instead emphasizing their economic advantages. It's a move that's well in line with the Trump administration's generally dismissive attitude toward the issue of climate change."
"We are in a race against time to save our coast, and it is time we make bold decisions," Edwards said. "The Louisiana coast is in a state of crisis that demands immediate and urgent action to avert further damage to one of our most vital resources."
More than half of Louisiana's 4.65 million residents live on the coast. "Parts of our state remain unprotected from or vulnerable to future hurricane and flood events," Edwards emphasized, and estimated that 2,250 square miles of coastal Louisiana will be lost in the next 50 years unless immediate action is taken.
Edwards attributed the problem to factors including climate change, sea level rise, subsidence, hurricanes, storm surges, flooding, disconnecting the Mississippi River from coastal marshes and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Louisiana is still reeling from last August's historic flooding, which killed 13 people and caused more than $8 billion in damage. The Shreveport Times reported in January that Edwards was vigorously seeking more federal flood recovery funding beyond the $1.6 billion, which was finally made available last week.
According to The Advocate, Edwards "is seeking $2.2 billion in additional federal flood aid, nearly half of which would go toward homeowner assistance programs."
Also on Wednesday, Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority approved the 2017 Coastal Master Plan and the 2018 Annual Plan, in which spending priorities for restoration and protection were identified.
America's Wetland Foundation praised Edwards' announcement and said it could expedite federal help needed to enact coastal restoration projects.
"This declaration of emergency could greatly speed up the process and eliminate delays in permitting for some of these crucial projects," said King Milling, the foundation's chairman. "We urge President Trump to act on this declaration now."
According to the state of emergency announcement:
"Louisiana and its citizens have suffered tremendously as a result of the catastrophic coastal land and wetlands loss, and the threat of continued land loss to Louisiana's working coast threatens the viability of residential, agricultural, energy, and industrial development, and directly affects valuable fish and wildlife production that is vital to the nation;
Louisiana continues to experience one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion in the world, and this complex and fragile ecosystem is disappearing at an alarming rate—more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."
New Orleans Public Radio WWNO reported that Edwards has written letters to Trump and to Congress, and if Louisiana is to get more federal aid, it could take months.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has an urgent message for Americans, especially for some of our most powerful politicians.
Alongside the video post, Tyson wrote:
"Dear Facebook Universe, I offer this four-minute video on 'Science in America' containing what may be the most important words I have ever spoken. As always, but especially these days, keep looking up."
The video shows how the U.S. rose from—as Tyson calls it— a "backwoods country" to "one of the greatest nations the world has ever known" because of science.
"But in this, the 21st century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems to me that people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not," he laments.
"When you have an established scientific emergent truth it is true, whether or not you believe in it," he says. "And the sooner you understand that, the faster we can get on with the political conversations about how to solve the problems that face us."
The video then shows debates on heated scientific topics, including GMOs, climate change and vaccines, as well as a clip of Vice President Mike Pence, then a congressman, saying on the House floor, "Let us demand that educators around America teach evolution not as fact, but as theory."
Tyson says this shift in attitudes is a "recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy."
Watch the video here:
This Saturday's March for Science is inherently connected to the April 29 People's Climate March, climate scientists and environmentalists say: one march is about listening to science, the other is about acting on it.
The March for Science, taking place on Earth Day, will march in defense of truth and scientific fact. A week later, these values will manifest at the People's Climate March where movements for climate, jobs and justice will put forward a vision to build bold solutions that tackle climate change, create and retain fair jobs, and bring forth justice truly for all.
"The Science March is about respecting science, the People's Climate March is about acting on it," said Ploy Achakulwisut, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Science at Harvard University.
"Science has helped us understand the climate crisis, now we need to demand political action to help solve it. The March for Science calls for science-based policymaking, and the People's Climate March puts this value into practice by opposing Trump's reckless anti-climate agenda, defending the integrity of climate science and democracy, and standing up for justice."
The March for Science and People's Climate March will bring the fight for truth and justice right to the doorstep of the Trump administration. The week of action, dubbed "From Truth to Justice: Earth Day to May Day 2017," will see more than 50 events, including: climate education opportunities and the launch of visionary legislation, youth speak-outs and convergences, direct actions and more.
A series of climate education videos have been developed for use during the "Truth to Justice" week of action. The videos feature 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, actor and activist Maggie Gyllenhaal, renowned climate scientist James Hansen, longtime head of the EPA Environmental Justice program Mustafa Ali, and top atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe.
Many of the organizers and participants of the March for Science have backgrounds in climate science, and many have been advocating for bold climate action well before the election of Donald Trump.
"The March for Science and the People's Climate March go hand-in-hand," said MIT and Harvard renewable energy modeler Dr. Geoffrey Supran.
"Because attacks on science don't just hurt scientists, they hurt scientists' ability to protect the people, and climate change epitomizes that. When politicians cater to fossil fuel interests by denying the basic realities of climate science and pursuing anti-science climate policy, they endanger the jobs, justice, and livelihoods of ordinary people everywhere. The People's Climate March is about scientists and citizens uniting to protect the people and places we love by demanding that evidence, not ideology, inform policy."
The United Kingdom's grid operator just announced an incredible prediction—April 21 is probably going to be the country's first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution.
"Great Britain has never had a continuous 24 hour period without #coal. Today is looking like it could be the first," according to a tweet from the National Grid's Electricity National Control Centre.
The National Grid confirmed with the Mirror that Friday is on track to be "the first time the UK has been without electricity from coal since the world's first centralized coal fired generator opened at Holborn Viaduct in London in 1882."
"The first day without coal in Britain since the industrial revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition," Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, told the Guardian. "A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years' time our energy system will have radically transformed again."
"The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritize making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology," Martin added.
Great Britain's use of
renewable energy has vastly expanded in recent years and the country is now a world leader in offshore wind. And last month, the nation's large expanse of solar fields and rooftop panels reached a milestone when the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses was lower in the afternoon than at night.
Solar power turned the country's grid demand "upside down," Duncan Burt, National Grid's head of real time operations, explained in a tweet at that time.
Retreat of the Columbia Glacier, Alaska, USA, by ~6.5 km between 2009 and 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey
The photos appeared in the new paper "Savor the Cryosphere," published in the peer-reviewed GSA Today, a publication of the Geological Society of America. The cryosphere is the Earth's frozen waters.
"We have unretouched photographic evidence of glaciers melting all around the globe," co-author Gregory Baker, adjunct professor of geology at the University of Kansas, said.
"That includes the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica—they're reduced in size. These aren't fancy computer models or satellite images where you'd have to make all kinds of corrections for the atmosphere. These are simply photos, some taken up to 100 years ago, and my co-authors went back and reacquired photos at many of these locations. So it's just straightforward proof of large-scale ice loss around the globe."
Baker's research career centers on geophysical imaging of Earth's subsurface and geoscience education.
Stein Glacier, Switzerland, retreat of ~550 m from 2006 to 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey
Photographer James Balog, who was featured in the Emmy Award winning climate change documentary, Chasing Ice, contributed photographs from the Extreme-Ice Survey.
Other co-authors of the paper include Richard Alley, an American geologist who was invited to testify about climate change by Vice President Al Gore; Patrick Burkhart of Slippery Rock University; Lonnie Thompson of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University; and Paul Baldauf of Nova Southeastern University also contributed to the paper.
The team hopes the paper will raise awareness about the world's melting glaciers.
"We have all heard of the impact of melting ice on sea level rise, but the public also need to be aware that places around the world depend on glaciers for their water and are going to come under increasing stress, and we already see how water shortages lead to all kinds of conflict," Baker said.
"The other critical point often overlooked is that when glaciers melt we're losing these scientific archive records of past climate change at specific locations around the Earth, as if someone came in and threw away all your family photos."
Solheimajokull, Iceland, retreat of ~625 m from 2007 to 2015. Credit: James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey
"Glacier ice contains fingerprint evidence of past climate and past biology, trapped within the ice," Baker continued.
“Analyzing ice cores is one of the best ways to analyze carbon dioxide in the past, and they contain pollen we can look at to see what kind of plant systems may have been around. All of this information has been captured in glaciers over hundreds of thousands of years, and sometimes longer—Greenland and Antarctica cover perhaps up to a million years. The more that glacial ice melts, the more we're erasing these historical archives that we may not have measured yet in some remote glaciers, or deep in ice caps, that can tell us the history of the Earth that will be gone forever."
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