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Renewable Energy
District heating pipes in Germany. Mbdortmund / Wikimedia Commons

District Heating Warms Cities Without Fossil Fuels

By Paul Brown

Heating homes and offices without adding to the dangers of climate change is a major challenge for many cities, but re-imagined district heating is now offering an answer.

A district heating scheme is a network of insulated pipes used to deliver heat, in the form of hot water or steam, from where it is generated to wherever it is to be used.

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U.S. Coal Is on the Up—for Now

By Kieran Cooke

Donald Trump is not afraid of a touch of hyperbole, certainly when he talks about U.S. coal. "We've ended the war on beautiful, clean coal," he said recently.

As most of the world knows, the idea of clean coal is a contradiction in terms; no matter how you dress it up, coal is dirty.

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Renewable Energy
France's Flamanville: Late and over budget. schoella / Wikimedia Commons

Will Cheap Renewables Make Nuclear Power Obsolete?

By Paul Brown

Cheap renewables are mounting a serious challenge to nuclear power, which in 2017 has had a difficult year.

Key projects have been abandoned, costs are rising, and politicians in countries which previously championed the industry are withdrawing their support.

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Climate

Humidity Is the Real Heatwave Threat

By Alex Kirby

When the mercury climbs to extreme levels, it's the dangerous humidity produced by heat reacting with water-sodden air that can spell death, not just the heat alone.

U.S. researchers have warned yet again of the need to beware the risks of this combination. With fierce heat waves expected to become more common as the climate warms, they say humidity can greatly intensify the effects of the heat by itself.

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Climate
East Antarctica's Riiser-Larsen ice sheet. Ben Holt, NASA / Wikimedia Commons

New Research Confirms 'Catastrophic' Climate Threat: Global Sea Levels Could Rise 174 Feet From Melting East Antarctic Ice Sheet

By Tim Radford

New research has confirmed one of the worst nightmares of climate science: the instability of the East Antarctic ice sheet.

This vast mass holds enough water to raise sea levels by 53 meters (approximately 174 feet) worldwide. And researchers have confirmed that one stretch of the southern polar coastline has melted many times in the past: by enough to raise sea levels by three to five meters (approximately 10 to 16 feet).

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A storm cell dumps rain in rural western Illinios. Tom Gill / Flickr

Extreme Storms to Multiply, Intensify Across U.S., New Simulations Suggest

By Tim Radford

For the U.S., harder rain is on the way: America's summer thunderstorms are about to get stormier. Later this century, the notorious mesoscale convective storms of middle America will not just darken skies—they will also dump as much as 80 percent more water on the farms, highways and cities of the 48 contiguous states.

Mesoscale thunderstorms cover an area of around 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles): these have been on the increase, both in frequency and intensity, in the last 35 years and new research suggests that, as the world warms, their frequency could triple.

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Climate

New Climate Study: Most Severe Warming Projections Are Now the Most Likely

By Tim Radford

Global warming, under the notorious "business-as-usual scenario" in which humans go on burning fossil fuels to power economic growth, could by 2100 be at least 15 percent warmer than the worst UN projections so far. And the spread of uncertainty in such gloomy forecasts has been narrowed as well.

Climate scientists had worked on the assumption that there was a 62 percent chance that the world would have warmed on average by more than 4°C if no action was taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Electric vehicles are part of Shell's proposed green plan. Nick Birse / Wikimedia Commons

Shell’s Green Plan Underwhelms Critics

By Mitchell Beer

A leading producer of fossil fuels, which last month announced its intention to reduce its contribution to the global warming stoked by society's prodigal consumption of its products, may now be feeling more backlash than praise. Shell's green plan leaves some critics saying the group's figures don't add up very impressively.

Royal Dutch Shell pledged last month to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2035 and 50 percent by 2050, while investing $1-2 billion per year in renewables, and electric vehicles between 2018 and 2020.

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Climate
Autumnal mixed forest in Germany. Christian Hueller

Mixed Forests Are Healthier, But Can They Survive Climate Change?

By Tim Radford

German researchers have confirmed once again that a good forest is a mixed forest, a natural one, with a diversity of species. The more diverse the forest, the better it becomes at doing what forests do.

Forests with a greater number of species grow at a faster rate, store more carbon, and are more resistant to pests and diseases, according to a six-nation study of European woodlands.

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