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DiCaprio-Funded Study: Staying Below 1.5ºC is Totally Possible
Climate change has been called the biggest challenge of our time. Last year, scientists with the United Nations said we basically have 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5ºC to avoid planetary catastrophe.
Amid a backdrop of rising global carbon emissions, there's a real case for pessimism. However, many scientists are hopeful of a way out.
Now, a new climate model shows that we can achieve and even beat the 1.5ºC threshold by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and implementing natural climate solutions.
The "One Earth Climate Model"—presented Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos—is a compilation of two years of research by scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the German Aerospace Center and the University of Melbourne. The research was funded by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
"With the pace of urgent climate warnings now increasing, it's clear that our planet cannot wait for meaningful action," actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio said in a press release for the study. "This ambitious and necessary pathway shows that a transition to 100 percent renewable energy and strong measures to protect and restore our natural ecosystems, taken together, can deliver a more stable climate within a single generation."
Using state-of-the-art computer modeling, the researchers present a pathway of how each unique region in the world can stay below 1.5ºC using currently available resources and technologies.
One Earth Climate Model
Karl Burkart, the director of Innovation, Media & Technology at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation delved deeper into the new study:
Some have doubted that a transition to 100 percent renewables is even possible. To explore the potential, the scientists at UTS created the most sophisticated computer model of the world's electrical grids to date—with 10 regional and 72 sub-regional energy grids modeled in hourly increments to the year 2050 along with a comprehensive assessment of available renewable resources like wind and solar, minerals required for manufacturing of components, and configurations for meeting projected energy demand and storage most efficiently for all sectors over the next 30 years.
The researchers focused their study on six major energy and conservation measures to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, including advancement in renewables and energy storage; improvements in energy efficiency; major global electrification; re-purposing the existing fossil fuels-based infrastructure; a just transition from fossil fuels jobs to ones in renewable energy; and forest reforestation.
University of Technology, Sydney
"The main barrier is neither technical nor economic—it's political," lead author Sven Teske, research director at the UTS's Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures, told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Teske added "it's not too late" to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, the lower target of the Paris climate agreement.
The estimated to cost of the proposal is approximately $1.7 trillion per year, which is quite the sum but "pales in comparison" to the $5 trillion a year that governments currently provide to the fossil fuels industry, the press release noted.
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Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
By Dipika Kadaba
We've known for more than 50 years that smoking cigarettes comes with health hazards, but it turns out those discarded butts are harmful for the environment, too. Filtered cigarette butts, although small, contain dozens of chemicals, including arsenic and benzene. These toxins can leach into the ground or water, creating a potentially deadly situation for nearby birds, fish and other wildlife.
By Wenonah Hauter
Five years ago this week, an emergency manager appointed by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made the devastating decision to save money by switching Flint's water supply over from Detroit's water system to the Flint River. Seen as a temporary fix, the new water supply was not properly treated. High levels of lead leached from the old pipes, poisoning a generation of Flint's children, and bacteria responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease killed more than a dozen residents.
Did you know that more than a third of food is wasted or thrown away every year? And that only 25 percent of it would be enough to feed the 795 million undernourished people in the world? That's why today is Stop Food Waste Day, a chance to reflect on what you can do to waste less of the food you buy.