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Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 4 2015. UNclimatechange / Flickr.

UN Urges World Leaders to Heed Climate Risk, Warns of More Severe Disasters

By Paul Brown

The hurricanes and wildfires that have severely damaged large areas of the U.S. in recent weeks have had no impact on President Donald Trump's determination to ignore the perils of climate change and support the coal industry.

In a deliberate denial of mainstream science, the Trump administration has issued a strategic four-year plan for the U.S. Environment Protection Agency that does not once mention "greenhouse gas emissions," "carbon dioxide" or "climate change" in its 48 pages.

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Starfish at low tide on Sanibel Island. Frank Kovalchek / Wikimedia Commons

Scientist Warns of Mass Marine Extinction

By Tim Radford

Mass marine extinction may be inevitable. If humans go on burning fossil fuels under the notorious "business as usual" scenario, then by 2100 they will have added so much carbon to the world's oceans that a sixth mass extinction of marine species will follow, inexorably.

And even if the 197 nations that agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to limit global warming in fact do so, then by 2100 humans will have added 300 billion tons of carbon to the seas. And a U.S. scientist has calculated that the critical threshold for mass extinction stands at 310 billion tons.

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Pacific Ocean sunset in San Diego. Michael Matti / Flickr

Global Warming ‘Hiatus’ Is Over

By Tim Radford

It is official. The world is warming according to expectations. The so-called and much debated "pause" in global warming is over. And the culprit that tried to cool the planet in spite of ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Blame it on the Pacific Ocean. It went into a not-so-hot phase, part of a long-term natural cycle, which has now come to an end. This explains the apparent slowdown in the rate of global warming. The verdict comes from the UK Met Office, which is host to the oldest continuous record of temperatures in the world, and which pioneered weather science.

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A windpower works in Kutch, India. The Danish Wind Industry Association/Flickr

Renewables Investment Would Boost Economy, Health for Both U.S. and Developing India

By Paul Brown

India and the U.S. would both benefit financially by phasing out coal-fired electricity production and investing in renewables.

Although the two countries are at completely different stages of development, they have both been seen as among the most problematical in matching their needs for electricity with the global attempt to avoid dangerous climate change.

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Rescue operations after Hurricane Harvey. Zachary West, Texas National Guard/Flickr

Flood Risk Increasing for Atlantic Coast Cities

By Tim Radford

Cities on the Atlantic coast are likely to see more flooding. It won't just be catastrophic inundation, delivered by hurricane: it could also be routine, fine weather nuisance flooding.

And that will happen not just because of sea level rise, driven by global warming, but by another factor: in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the coastal lands are sinking, declining by up to three millimeters (approximately .12 inches) a year, according to a new study in Scientific Reports.

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Researchers warn that unchecked fossil fuel emissions would raise global temperatures to catastrophic levels. Gerry Machen / Flickr

New Study: Global Warming Limit Can Still Be Achieved

By Tim Radford

Scientists in the UK have good news for the 195 nations that pledged to limit global warming to well below 2°C: it can be done. The ideal limit of no more than 1.5°C above the average temperatures for most of human history is possible.

All it requires is an immediate reduction in the combustion of fossil fuels—a reduction that will continue for the next 40 years, until the world is driven only by renewable energy.

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Ronald F. Billings / Texas Forest Service / bugwood.org

Killer Beetle Spreads Forest Destruction North

By Tim Radford

An unwelcome invader from the south has begun to infiltrate the U.S., destroying property and reducing income—and this time the blame can be securely pinned to climate change.

The southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) from Central America, one of the most voracious of tree-killing infestations, has already made itself at home in southern New Jersey and could infect the northern U.S. and southern Canada by 2080.

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Texas National Guard soldiers respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Ssg. Tim Pruitt

Intensity of Harvey's Devastation Linked to Warming

By Alex Kirby

Tropical storm Harvey is by any standard off the scale. Some parts of Texas have received in just over a week the rainfall they would normally expect in an entire year, and the storm is described as generating as much rain as would normally be seen only once in more than 1,000 years.

Exceptional as it is, Harvey is not a direct consequence of climate change, in the judgment of one leading climate scientist, professor Stefan Rahmstorf, co-chair of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany.

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Flooding in Carlisle, England. Wikimedia Commons

Overlooked Flood Risk Endangers Homeowners

By Paul Brown

With flood risks and damage from extreme events increasing across Europe, homeowners in areas of greatest risk are still not taking enough measures to protect themselves.

Researchers reported in the journal Risk Analysis their efforts to discover how to motivate people to keep themselves safe and protect their property from flood damage.

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