Quantcast
First look at new NASA satellite map reveals global carbon dioxide hotspots. NASA

Planet Breaches 410 ppm for First Time in Human History

By Lauren McCauley

The amount of carbon in the Earth's atmosphere is now officially off the charts as the planet last week breached the 410 parts per million (ppm) milestone for the first time in human history.

"It's a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that's trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate," wrote Climate Central's Brian Kahn. "Carbon dioxide hasn't reached that height in millions of years."

The milestone was recorded Tuesday at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii by the Keeling Curve, a program of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego. Since the planet reached the dangerous new normal of 400 ppm last year, scientists have warned that that the accelerated rate at which concentrations of CO2 are rising means that humanity is marching further and further past the symbolic red line towards climate chaos.

What's more, as Aarne Granlund, a graduate student researching climate change at the University of the Arctic, pointed out, the recording was taken before carbon levels are expected to reach their annual peak, meaning they could soon notch even higher.

But despite the unprecedented threat, climate action has ground to a halt in the U.S. under the leadership of President Donald Trump and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, forcing campaigners and concerned citizens to take to the streets in droves to prompt the government to do something to address the threat of planetary devastation.

Saturday's March for Science saw tens of thousands of people rally in Washington, DC and across the world to send a message to the Trump administration that governance should be based on research and facts—not ideology.

Speaking at the march in San Diego, Ralph Keeling, director of the CO2 program at Scripps whose father founded the Keeling Curve, gave an impassioned speech on why legislators need to abandon the partisan effort to stymie environmental legislation, declaring: "The climate change debate has been over for decades."

Now, infused by the energy of the March for Science, campaigners are gearing up for next weekend's Peoples Climate March with a week of action that centers on creating a just transition away from fossil fuels.

"The Peoples Climate March is the next step for the March for Science, a call to get more engaged in our political system, to confront power and to demand solutions," explained May Boeve, executive director of 350.org.

"The demands we will put forward—respect for Indigenous peoples, investments in communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, transitioning from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy economy that works for all and more," Boeve continued, "highlight the intersections between our different struggles and the common solutions we can work for together."

Dubbed "From Truth to Justice: Earth Day to May Day 2017," the more than 50 events in the lead-up to Saturday will include strategy sessions, a massive youth convergence, the introduction of a 100 percent Clean Energy Bill in Congress and non-violent direct actions.

On Friday, activists will form "Mother Earth's red line" on the Capitol lawn to symbolize the multiple lines that must not be crossed by corporations and governments in the increasingly severe climate crisis, organizers said.

"This is about strength in unity; diverse groups of people are coming together like never before and are creating a red line of protection against capitalism, militarism and racism," said Kandi Mossett, Indigenous energy and climate campaign organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the group's organizing the direct action. "We are here to push for solutions like Indigenous rights, divestment and renewable energy as we continue to fight for a just transition away from a fossil fuel based economy."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Keep reading... Show less

Scientists Worldwide Speak Truth to Power

Tens of thousands of people celebrated Earth Day Saturday by taking to the streets in a historic day of action for science and truth. A massive March for Science took place in Washington, DC, and more than 600 sister marches took place in other cities around the world.

"We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and our prosperity," Bill Nye, honorary co-chair of the March for Science, told the crowd in DC.

Saturday's March for Science was the perfect launching pad to a week of action that will culminate in the Peoples Climate March in Washington, DC, on April 29. As Ploy Achakulwisut, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Science at Harvard University, put it, "the Science March is about respecting science, the People's Climate March is about acting on it."

The week of action, dubbed "From Truth to Justice: Earth Day to May Day 2017," will feature more than 50 events, including the launch of visionary clean energy legislation, a speak-out of the 21 young people suing the U.S. government, massive youth convergence, direct actions and more.

"Scientists have not been eager to get politically involved, but in the face of unceasing attacks and organized denial, they're putting their credibility to good use," Bill McKibben, 350.org co-founder, said. "Now the rest of us can back them up next weekend when everyone gets to march!"

May Boeve, 350.org executive director, shared the same sentiment.

"The Peoples Climate March is the next step for the March for Science: a call to get more engaged in our political system, to confront power and to demand solutions," she said.

"The demands we will put forward—respect for Indigenous peoples, investments in communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, transitioning from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean energy economy that works for all, and more—highlight the intersections between our different struggles, and the common solutions we can work for together."

In addition to the march in DC this weekend, there will be hundreds of sister marches in cities across the globe.

Check out these amazing tweets from the March for Science:

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

'The Science March Is About Respecting Science, the People's Climate March Is About Acting on It'

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."

Keep reading... Show less

David Suzuki: Why We Must March for Science

Science isn't everything. But it is crucial to governing, decision-making, protecting human health and the environment and resolving questions and challenges around our existence.

Those determined to advance industrial interests over all else often attack science. We've seen it in Canada, with a decade of cuts to research funding and scientific programs, muzzling of government scientists and rejection of evidence regarding issues such as climate change.

We're seeing worse in the U.S. The new administration is proposing drastic cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and others. Information about climate change and environmental protection is being scrubbed from government websites, and scientists are being muzzled. Meanwhile, the government is increasing spending on military and nuclear weapons programs.

There's nothing wrong with challenging research, developing competing hypotheses and looking for flaws in studies. That's how science works. But rejecting, eliminating, covering up or attacking evidence that might call into question government or industry priorities—evidence that might show how those priorities could lead to widespread harm—is unconscionable. It's galling to me because I traded a scientific career for full-time communication work because good scientific information helps people make the best decisions to take us into the future.

Many scientists prefer to work quietly, letting their research speak for itself. But recent attacks are galvanizing scientists and supporters throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. The March for Science on Earth Day, April 22, has been building steam for months. The main march will take place in Washington, DC, but more than 425 marches are planned around the world. That kicks off a week of action, culminating in the Peoples Climate March on April 29—also focused on Washington but with satellite marches throughout the world.

The March for Science website says organizers are "advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science."

The group's 850,000-member Facebook page is inspiring, with "advocates, science educators, scientists, and concerned citizens" sharing personal testimonials about their reasons for marching and why science is important to them, along with ideas for posters and slogans, questions about the march, articles about science and exposés of climate disinformation sent to schools and science teachers by the anti-science Heartland Institute.

March participants are a wide-ranging group, from a neuroscientist who is marching "for the thousands of people suffering from spinal cord injury" to sci-fi fans who are marching "Because you can't have science fiction without science!" to a scientist marching to honor "the many, many women and young girls interested or involved in science" to those marching "because we know climate change is real."

Celebrating and advocating for science is a good way to mark Earth Day. I'll be in Ottawa, where a march is also taking place. David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington and I will launch our new book, Just Cool It!, at an Ottawa Writers Festival event that also features award-winning Nishnaabeg musician, scholar and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

Climate change is one area where anti-science rhetoric and actions at the highest levels of society are endangering human health and survival. Our book is a comprehensive look at the history and implications of climate science, the barriers to confronting the crisis and the many solutions required to resolve it.

It's discouraging to witness the current attacks on science, and the ever-increasing consequences of climate change, diminishing ocean health and other human-caused problems, but seeing so many people standing up for science and humanity is reason for optimism. Of all the many solutions to global warming and other environmental problems, none is as powerful as people getting together to demand change.

Every day should be Earth Day, but it's good to have a special day to remind us of the importance of protecting the air, water, soil and biodiversity that we all depend on for health and survival. Politicians are supposed to work for the long-term well-being of people who elect them, not to advance the often short-sighted agendas of those who pay large sums of money to get their way regardless of the consequences. Standing together to make ourselves heard is one of the best ways to ensure they fulfill their responsibilities.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

'First Protest in Space' Slams Trump With Astronaut's Famous Quote

As President Donald Trump takes aim at Earth science with his proposed NASA cuts, the Autonomous Space Agency Network (ASAN) has launched the "first protest in space."

The independent space agency, which advocates for DIY space exploration, launched a weather balloon 90,000 feet above Earth carrying a rude tweet directed at Trump's frequently used Twitter handle, literally taking the act of protesting the president to new heights:

"@realDonaldTrump LOOK AT THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCH"

The ballon lifted off on April 12, or Yuri's Night, named for Yuri Gagarin, the first human to launch into space.

The missive was in reference to the words of the late Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut and sixth person to walk on the moon, who once said about his humbling experience in space:

"From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"

ASAN's feat was also in solidarity with the upcoming March for Science on April 22, Earth Day.

In case you are wondering, it does not actually cost that much to send a tweet to space. The whole operation only set back ASAN $750 for two helium tanks, 160 cubic feet of helium, a camera and a balloon.

Trump's reaction, if he were to see the suborbital slam, is sure to be priceless.

Watch the whole execution here:

Keep reading... Show less
Average carbon dioxide concentrations, Oct. 1 - Nov. 11, 2014, measured by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite. Photo credit: NASA

NASA Launches Satellite to Watch Earth Breathe From Space

In an effort to understand how climate change is altering the carbon cycle, a project between the University of Oklahoma and NASA is headed to space. Orbiting 22,000 miles above Earth's surface, this host of instruments will track carbon as it flows through the Earth delivering real-time data and helping scientists quantify just how much humans are affecting the planet.

The carbon cycle is an inconspicuous, but vital, system in all ecosystems, including marine habitats, forests and even deserts. All plants need carbon to complete photosynthesis, and when they die, that carbon is either released back into the atmosphere, or buried deep under ground to create fossil fuels over thousands of years. As we are seeing today, the carbon cycle plays a huge role in temperature fluctuation and weather patterns and unfortunately, the more carbon we trap in the atmosphere, the more unpredictable these fluctuations become.

The University of Oklahoma is calling the mission the Earth Venture Mission, and the payload (the part that will attach to one of Earth's satellites) is called the Geostationary Carbon Observatory, or GeoCarb. Although it may seem like an extreme measure to take, scientists believe it is necessary. The increase of carbon in the atmosphere well surpassed the point of no return—or carbon threshold—in 2016 and has continued to steadily rise above 400 parts per million. This is rapid warming compared to the 280 ppm that persisted for thousands of years before the industrial revolution. Scientists say we've reached a state of unknown, and launching the GeoCarb is our best bet in being able to predict where we go from here.

From 1958 to 2017, carbon has been shy rocketing. Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The GeoCarb will rotate in tandem with Earth at 85 degrees west longitude where it will be able to record human activity in developed nations from urbanized areas to agricultural lands. It will take measurements of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide once or even twice daily. It will also measure solar induced fluorescence, which is the light that plants can't absorb and is therefore repelled from Earth. This measurement will be closely tied to the rate of photosynthesis, and will help map out where carbon sinks exist. The map will also help scientists understand where there is a natural release in carbon, such as when a plant dies and decays, versus when human-induced carbon is released. It will be the first time scientists are able to watch the Western Hemisphere breathe in and out every day.

"Knowing what fraction of these changes is caused by human activities is important for understanding our impact on the planet, and observing and measuring it is essential to any conversation about strategies for reducing CO2 emissions," Berrien Moore, director of the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma, told The Conversation.

"These observations, along with direct measurements of photosynthetic activity from SIF observations, will raise our understanding of the carbon cycle to a new level."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

Debunking Koch-Funded Group's Efforts to Deny Climate Science

By Brenda Ekwurzel

I have had the thrill of sharing the latest discoveries in the classroom with students who asked probing questions, when I was a faculty member of a university. That journey of discovery is one that parents and family members delight in hearing about when students come home and share what they have found particularly intriguing.

What if the information the student shared was not based on the best available evidence? Misinformation would begin to spread more widely. If corrected, the student might distrust the teacher who may have not known the source material was compromised.

This scenario is not fiction. It has happened and may still be occurring in some U.S. schools. Anyone concerned about this can learn more with an update forthcoming from those who keep track—the National Center for Science Education (NCSE).

According to the NCSE, during October 2013 educators received a packet chock full of misinformation about climate change. The report includes an abbreviation that looked similar to a highly respected source—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—for international climate assessments.

It has happened again (starting in March 2017). Many teachers found a packet in their mailbox with a report from the same group that spread the misinformation back in October 2013. This report has a "second edition" gold highlight with a cover image of water flowing over a dam and a misleading title.

The report runs counter to the agreement among scientists who publish on climate change in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. More than 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activities.

The Heartland Institute is infamous for its rejection of climate science and unsavory tactics. According to a reported statement by the CEO of Heartland Institute, they plan to keep sending out copies to educators over the weeks ahead.

If you see any student or teacher with this report or DVD please let NCSE know about it and share what you have learned to help stop the spread.

Brenda Ekwurzel is a senior climate scientist and the director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Keep reading... Show less

Bill Nye: 'See You in Washington'

The March for Science has announced three honorary national co-chairs for the April 22 march in Washington, DC.

They are: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and key whistleblower of the Flint water crisis, Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a biologist who made critical contributions to how bacterial cells could be used to generate insulin, and Bill Nye, beloved science educator and CEO of The Planetary Society.

According to a Planetary Society blog post, Nye is marching to "celebrate science," "advocate for space" and "inspire unity."

"The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity," the post stated. "We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest."

"See you in Washington, and around the world," the Science Guy signed off.

Thousands of scientists and science advocates plan to descend on the nation's capital this Earth Day. More than 400 satellite rallies have also been organized around the country.

The march has grown into an international movement since it was first hatched in January but it was not without its share of controversies.

A recent Buzzfeed News report highlighted concerns over diversity as well as the mixing of political goals with scientific goals.

As Buzzfeed reported, "As recently as last week, Nye was slated to be the march's first honorary co-chair. But after a fresh round of complaints that the group was not taking diversity issues seriously enough, Hanna-Attisha and Villa-Komaroff, both women of color who have long fought for science to serve communities it has traditionally left behind, were added to the lineup."

Hanna-Attisha is a first-generation Iraqi immigrant who has spoken out about the Trump administration's proposed immigration restrictions. Villa-Komaroff is a Mexican American who co-founded the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans (SACNAS).

"Science, and our society, are stronger when the people doing science reflect our society as a whole," Villa-Komaroff said.

Keep reading... Show less

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox