Australia Sets New Record High for Emissions Pollution
Australia's love affair with fossil fuels has it setting new records for carbon emissions, year after year, and seeing a decline in renewable energy sources, according to new research from Ndevr Environmental, an emissions-tracking organization, as the Guardian reported.
Once again, Australia set a new record for its greenhouse gas emissions, which was fueled by electricity generation. The increasingly hot summers in Australia has created an insatiable appetite for power that requires electricity to run. According to Ndevr's research, there was an 8.2 percent increase in emissions from the electricity sector between the December and March quarters — largely due to air condition and cooling systems.
The research paper shows that emissions have increased for four consecutive years. Emissions for the year to March 2019 increased to 561 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, up from 554.5 million tons the previous year and 551.2 million tons in 2017, as the Guardian reported.
Fugitive emissions, the escaped gasses and vapors during manufacturing and mining, particularly from the liquid natural gas sector was another large contributor to the rise in emissions.
There is "a lot of work to be done around offsetting and reducing emissions from the liquid natural gas sector," said Matt Drum, Ndevr's managing director, as the Guardian reported. "That's offsetting particularly through land-use projects, but also energy efficiency. And whether the carbon capture and storage nut can be cracked for that sector is going to be really important."
The Ndevr report on Australia's current emissions follows a bleak analysis by Climate Analytics that found Australia is currently responsible for 5 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but that number could rise to 17 percent by 2030, which is an extremely outsized share considering that Australia is home to only 0.3 percent of the world's population, as the New Daily reported.
"Australia is one of the highest per capita CO2 emitters in the world. On a per capita basis, Australia's carbon footprint, including exports, surpasses China by a factor of 9, the US by a factor of 4, and India by a factor of 37," Climate Analytics wrote in its research report, as Interesting Engineering reported.
Australia's current government is friendly to the fossil fuel industry, so it is reasonable to expect approval for most proposed coal developments and liquid natural gas projects in Western Australia. If those go through while other countries around the world implement policies to meet their requirements under the Paris climate agreement, then Australia will be responsible for nearly one-fifth of the world's carbon emissions.
"Australia is now the number one exporter of both coal and gas and we are scheduled to push that off the charts in the next 10 years. We are looking to become an emissions super-power," said Gavan McFadzean of the Australian Conservation Foundation, which funded the Climate Analytics study, as the Guardian reported. "We are fortunate to have many of our emissions counted elsewhere but that doesn't mean we're not responsible for them."
The trend of increasing emissions and opening up new coal mines and natural gas fields has conservationists alarmed. David Attenborough, the celebrated naturalist and host of the BBC Documentary Climate Change—The Facts, denounced the climate crisis deniers in power in Australia. "[It] is extraordinary because Australia is already facing having to deal with some of the most extreme manifestations of climate change," he said, as the Guardian reported.
Attenborough noted the bleached white sections of the Great Barrier Reef that died off due to rising sea temperatures and increased ocean acidity. He did not mention the sustained drought afflicting Australian farmers, nor the country's outbreak of wildfires, nor the record-breaking heat bearing down on Australia every summer.
"At the end of the day, participation in the emissions reduction fund is decreasing. Fewer projects, fewer contracts, less abatement," said Drum of the Australian Conservation Fund, who lamented his countries inaction to the Guardian. "Unless something happens, something significant, this government will just be presiding over quarter after quarter, year after year, of increasing emissions. It's as simple as that."
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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