By Kristin FalzonClimate  03:17PM EST
Chinese Officials Arrested for Stuffing Cotton Gauze Into Air Monitoring Equipment to Falsify Results

Environmental officials in China's northern city of Xi'an have been detained for altering air quality monitoring results in order to avoid penalties for high pollution in their area.

Lu Guang / Greenpeace

According to media reports, five officials—including He Limin, the chief of the Environmental Protection Bureau for the city—were arrested for their involvement in the deception.

The investigation revealed the deceptive acts began when the monitoring station in question was being relocated to the Xi'an University of Posts and Telecommunications back in February, according Global Times newspaper.

A China Business View report said the head of the station, Li Sen, made a copy of the key so employees could have access to the station during that time to stuff the sensors with cotton gauze. The alteration to the system's data as a result triggered an alert to the National Environmental Monitoring Center who sent out inspectors to examine the station. During their investigation, they discovered the surveillance videos for March had been deleted, according to the report.

China has been cracking down on pollution by enacting an environmental protection law last year giving officials the authority to punish businesses whose pollution levels are too high and anyone who participates in deceptive practices. Researchers estimate about 1.6 million people die each year in China due to pollution. In June 2015, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection reported seven cases of falsification of air quality data, according to Greenpeace East Asia.

"Reliable data is the very starting point of China's 'war on pollution,'" Dong Liansai, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia, said Tuesday. "[This] news should serve as a warning to officials around the country that the central government is serious about punishing environmental abuses."

By Al GoreClimate  02:36PM EST
Al Gore: First Amendment Rights Must Be Protected for Those Peacefully Opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline

I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have witnessed inspiring and brave acts by Native Americans and their allies who are defending and trying to protect their sacred sites and the safety of their sole source of water.

The fossil fuel industry—and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline in particular—have been proceeding with what appears to be a dangerous project in blatant disregard of obvious risks to the Missouri River and with disrespect to the Standing Rock Sioux.

Peg Hunter / Flickr

In the process, those trying to force completion of this pipeline have—according to independent news reports—been using oppressive practices against this community. In response, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault has requested that the Justice Department deploy observers to ensure that the First Amendment rights of those peacefully opposing this pipeline are protected. I hope his request is honored.

The non-violent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline is also one of the frontline struggles that collectively mark a turning point in the decision by humanity to turn away from the destructive path we have been following and aim instead toward a clean energy future for all.

The courage and eloquence of the Standing Rock Sioux in calling all of us to recognize that in their words, "Water is Life," should be applauded, not silenced by those who are driven by their business model to continue spewing harmful global warming pollution into our Earth's atmosphere.

This is also an opportunity to acknowledge and learn from the traditional values being expressed by the Standing Rock Sioux to protect life on Earth.

The effort to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are respected are not only issues of civil rights and religious freedom, but reflect the choice we must make to ensure a sustainable, just, fair and healthy future for all generations to come.

By Climate NexusClimate  09:06AM EST
Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Melting Rapidly as Ocean Waters Warm

Three glaciers in West Antarctica have undergone "intense unbalanced melting," risking their stability and further acceleration of sea level rise.

New research published in Nature Communications found that the Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers in the Amundsen Sea embayment collectively lost about 1,000 feet of ice from 2002 to 2009.

Map of flow speeds at the Smith, Pope and Kohler Glaciers.NASA

This rapid melt shows how glaciers are being eaten away from the bottom due to a large increase in ocean heat.

For a deeper dive:

Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, NPR, Climate Central, Mashable, Washington Post, TakePart, Xinhua, Gizmodo, Motherboard

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By Rainforest Action NetworkClimate  01:47PM EST
Exclusive Clip: DiCaprio's Climate Doc Exposes Destruction of Rainforest for Palm Oil as Huge Driver of Global Carbon Emissions

A new documentary produced and starring actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio premieres in Los Angeles today and will be broadcast globally in 45 languages in 171 countries on the National Geographic Channel starting Oct. 30, timed to air in advance of the November elections.

The film highlights the critical role forest destruction plays in driving carbon pollution into Earth's atmosphere and focuses specifically on how the rapid spread of industrial palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia are at the heart of this crisis. The film It is directed by Fisher Stevens who, like DiCaprio, is an Academy Award winner.

Watch the exclusive clip here:

The film captures DiCaprio's visit to the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, Indonesia, where extremely high rates of forest clearance have exacerbated the climate change dilemma. Indonesia is now one of the world's top carbon emitting countries, primarily due to the massive deforestation in the region. Before the Flood notes that as it was being filmed in late 2015, man-made fires in Indonesia were spewing more carbon pollution on a daily basis than the entire U.S. economy combined. These illegal fires are an annual occurrence as a method of clearing land for palm-oil plantations. And just more than a week ago, the Indonesian government again declared a national state of emergency due to the severe impacts caused by the out of control fires.

"This important film brings much needed attention to the destruction of rainforests for palm oil, which is a huge driver of global climate change. We must aggressively address the deforestation crisis in places like Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem," said Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. "With palm oil in roughly half of all packaged goods at the grocery store, it's up to all of us to demand major global brands like PepsiCo finally do the right thing and break the link between their products and tropical forest destruction."

DiCaprio met with Allen during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) to discuss the urgent situation facing the Leuser Ecosystem and the critical connection between deforestation and global carbon emissions.

Following his conversation with Allen, DiCaprio's trip to the Leuser Ecosystem caused an international uproar when the Indonesian government briefly threatened him with deportation following his social media posts that drew attention to the deforestation and destruction caused by palm oil expansion. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation later committed three years of major funding for local and international efforts to save the Leuser Ecosystem.

Watch the trailer for Before the Flood here:

By Lorraine ChowClimate  09:47AM EST
Watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s Climate Change Doc Online for Free

By now, you have probably heard that Leonardo DiCaprio has a new documentary about climate change coming out. So how can you watch it?

The Fisher Stevens-directed documentary will make its television debut on National Geographic's channel in 171 countries and 45 languages on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Additionally, in an unprecedented move, National Geographic also announced today that Before the Flood will premiere commercial free across digital and streaming platforms around the world as part of the network's commitment to covering climate change.

That means not only can you catch the critically acclaimed film on cable, from Oct. 30 through Nov. 6, you can also watch it on just about any website or device where you regularly stream online videos. The exhaustive list includes:, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Sony PlayStation, GooglePlay, VOD/Video On Demand (through MVPD set-top boxes), MVPD Sites and Apps, Nat Geo TV Apps (iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, Roku, Android phones, Xbox One and 360, Samsung Connected TVs) and more.

Here's DiCaprio himself making the announcement:

The idea behind this historic premiere is to educate as many people around the world about climate change and to also bring the topic to the forefront before the Nov. 8. election where a number of candidates seeking public office—including a certain orange-hued Republican—denies that climate change is even real.

"There is no greater threat to the future of our society than climate change, and it must be a top issue for voters this election season," said DiCaprio, an Oscar-winning actor-winning actor and prominent environmental activist. "Fisher and I set out to make a film to educate people around the planet on the urgent issues of climate change and to inspire them to be part of the solution. I applaud National Geographic for their commitment to bringing this film to as many people as possible at such a critical time."

"The level of support National Geographic is providing to create awareness about climate change is exactly what Leo and I were looking for when we made this film," Stevens added. "Climate change is real, and we are feeling its effects more and more every day; it's time we stop arguing its existence, and do everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront of people's minds so that real action is taken to combat climate change."

The documentary has already made its theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 21. It has also been shown at international film festivals, the United Nations and at the White House South By South Lawn event before President Obama.

The film is also screening at more 250 colleges and universities nationwide and being made available to churches and religious institutions via Interfaith Power and Light, National Geographic said. The network has partnered with Rock the Vote and theSkimm to allow people who attend screenings of Before The Flood to register to vote and to become informed on the issues.

"In our minds, there is no more important story to tell, no more important issue facing our planet than that of climate change," said Courteney Monroe, the CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. "At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and this unprecedented release across digital and streaming platforms is not only a first for our network but also in our industry, underscoring how exceptional we think this film is and how passionate we are about it. We are committed to ensuring as many people as possible see this film as we head into U.S. elections."

Before The Flood, as well as the award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, will kick off the National Geographic Channel's "Earth Week"—a week of programming starting Oct. 30 dedicated to bringing awareness to issues surrounding climate change.

Before The Flood depicts how Earth is changing due to rising temperatures and how individuals and society-at-large can help preserve our precious environment. DiCaprio travels around the world to interview a number of world leaders and experts about climate change, including President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Secretary-General Ki-Moon, Pope Francis, Elon Musk as well as top NASA researchers, forest conservationists, scientists, community leaders and other environmental activists.

The film was produced by DiCaprio, Stevens, Brett Ratner and James Packer and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. Watch the trailer here:

By Climate NexusClimate  08:20AM EST
Appeals Court: Animals Can Be Listed as Threatened Based on Climate Change Risk

A U.S. appeals court ruled that federal agencies can list species as threatened based on projections of how climate change will impact their habitats.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Oil companies and Alaska natives had challenged the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to list a seal species as threatened because of sea ice loss, but the court upheld the decision.

"The service need not wait until a species' habitat is destroyed to determine that habitat loss may facilitate extinction," Judge Richard A. Paez wrote.

For a deeper dive:

LA Times, AP, The Hill, Arctic Daily News, Gizmodo, IB Times, Climate Home

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By Climate NexusClimate  07:45AM EST
Renewables Overtake Coal as World’s Largest Source of Electricity Capacity

There was a record amount of new renewable energy installations globally in 2015, with 500,000 solar panels installed every day.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), total clean power capacity increased by 153 gigawatts, overtaking coal for the first time.

"We are witnessing a transformation of global power markets led by renewables and, as is the case with other fields, the center of gravity for renewable growth is moving to emerging markets," Dr. Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, said.

The agency also raised its five-year forecast for renewable energy by 13 percent and now expects renewables to be 42 percent of global energy capacity by 2021.

For a deeper dive:

Guardian, Reuters, Politico Pro, Financial Times, Bloomberg, PV Magazine, San Diego Union-Tribune, CNBC, BusinessGreen

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

By Climate News NetworkClimate  08:56AM EST
Humanity Has Entered New Climate Reality Era

By Alex Kirby

Humanity has now entered a new climate reality era, with carbon dioxide concentrations expected to remain above the level of 400 parts per million throughout 2016 and for many generations to come, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

The WMO—the United Nations system's leading agency on weather, climate and water—said the globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached "the symbolic and significant milestone of 400 parts per million" for the first time in 2015 and surged again to new records in 2016 on the back of the very powerful El Niño event.

CO2 levels reached the 400 ppm barrier for certain months during 2015 and in certain places, but they have never done so on a global average basis for the entire year. The WMO says in its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin that the growth spurt in CO2 was fueled by El Niño, which started in 2015 and had a strong impact well into this year.

This, it says, triggered droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of "sinks" like forests, vegetation and the oceans to absorb CO2. These sinks currently absorb about half of CO2 emissions, but there is a risk that they could become saturated, increasing the proportion of carbon dioxide which stays in the atmosphere.

Between 1990 and 2015, the bulletin says, there was a 37 percent increase in radiative forcing—the warming effect on the climate—because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.

"The year 2015 ushered in a new era of optimism and climate action with the Paris climate change agreement. But it will also make history as marking a new era of climate change reality with record high greenhouse gas concentrations," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "The El Niño event has disappeared. Climate change has not."

"The real elephant in the room is carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years and in the oceans for even longer. Without tackling CO2 emissions, we cannot tackle climate change and keep temperature increases to below 2 C above the pre-industrial era," added Taalas.

"It is therefore of the utmost importance that the Paris agreement does indeed enter into force well ahead of schedule on Nov. 4 and that we fast-track its implementation," said Taalas.

The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin provides a scientific base for decision-making and the WMO has released it ahead of the UN climate change negotiations to be held in the Moroccan city of Marrakech from Nov. 7-18. They will be seeking to translate the agreement into an effective way of coping with the new climate reality era the WMO has identified.

The bulletin says the pre-industrial level of about 278 ppm of CO2 represented a balance between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have altered the natural balance and in 2015 globally averaged levels were 144 percent of pre-industrial levels. The increase of CO2 from 2014 to 2015 was larger than the previous year and the average over the previous 10 years.

The bulletin says the last El Niño, as well as reducing the capacity of vegetation to absorb CO2, led to an increase in CO2 emissions from forest fires. According to the Global Fire Emissions Database, CO2 emissions in equatorial Asia—where there were serious forest fires in Indonesia in August-September 2015—were more than twice as high as the 1997-2015 average.

Drought also has a big impact on CO2 absorption by vegetation and scientists saw similar effects during the 1997-98 El Niño.

Methane is the second most important long-lived greenhouse gas and contributes about 17 percent of radiative forcing. About 40 percent of methane is emitted into the atmosphere by natural sources like wetlands and termites, with the rest coming from human activities like cattle breeding, rice growing, fossil fuel exploitation, landfills and biomass burning.

Atmospheric methane reached a new high of about 1,845 parts per billion in 2015 and is now 256 percent of its pre-industrial level. Nitrous oxide's atmospheric concentration in 2015 was about 328 parts per billion, 121 percent of pre-industrial levels.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.

By Climate NexusClimate  08:16AM EST
Here's What Trump Would Do in His First 100 Days

If elected president, Donald Trump promised he would immediately redistribute funds earmarked for UN climate change programs and channel them to domestic projects.

In a speech in Gettysburg, Trump said during his first 100 days in office he would also lift restrictions on energy production including oil, natural gas, and "clean coal" and green light projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline.

He said:

  • FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
  • SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
  • SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure

For a deeper dive:

Wall Street Journal, USA Today, LA Times, VOA News, Deutsche Welle, New York Post

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