Greenland Melts at Never-Before Seen Rates as Heat Wave That Baked Europe Moves North
Scientists say 2019's melt might be more extreme than the melt that broke records in 2012, when around 98 percent of Greenland's ice sheet experienced surface melting, The Washington Post reported. If the entire ice sheet melted, it would contribute 23 feet to global sea level rise.
That much melt won't happen right away. A recent study found that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue at current rates, it would still take a millennium for the ice sheet to melt entirely. That doesn't mean all of the consequences of today's melting will be delayed far into the future, however. The same study found the ice sheet would contribute as many as 63 inches to sea level rise in the next 200 years if emissions are not reduced, enough to flood Miami Beach, New Orleans and parts of New York and Boston, according to Grist.
And this summer's extreme melt could also have more immediate consequences. The fresh meltwater entering the North Atlantic could cause more storms in Northwest Europe, and the influx could raise global sea levels by more than one millimeter globally and two or more millimeters in the tropics, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland climatologist Jason Box told CNN.
"Whatever happens in Greenland radiates its impact down," Box said.
And what's happening in Greenland is unprecedented. Box told The Washington Post that two locations were recording more melt than in 2012. One, 75 miles east of the capital of Nuuk, had lost 8.33 feet of water as of Wednesday. The second, 497 miles north, had lost 7.38 feet, twice the average melt at that location over the last ten years.
Greenland's ice sheet measured its record surface temperature Wednesday and its record melt rate Thursday, losing 12.5 gigatons of ice, University of Liège polar scientist Xavier Fettweis tweeted.
Yesterday was the warmest day in recorded history on the Greenland ice sheet.— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) August 1, 2019
Today is its biggest melt day. More than 12 billion tons of water will have entered the ocean by tonight, permanently raising sea levels.
We are in a climate emergency.https://t.co/WUL0v2CW8O https://t.co/FnGMFZ1IsC
Polar researchers have posted some dramatic images of the heat wave on social media. Climate scientist Irina Overeem shared a video of meltwater rushing past a monitoring station she placed in Western Greenland eight years ago, as meteorologist Eric Holthaus reported for RollingStone.
"With the exceptional heat wave coming I have my fingers crossed for it not being washed away," she tweeted.
The Naujatkuat River in West Greenland running high in end of July, my gauging station is perched on the bedrock. With the exceptional heat wave coming I have my fingers crossed for it not being washed away. pic.twitter.com/JPofxDIELN— Irina Overeem (@IrinaOvereem) July 30, 2019
Meanwhile, researchers at Zackenberg Research Station in Northeast Greenland posted a photo of themselves in shorts, as temperatures passed a balmy 19 degrees Celsius Wednesday.
The recent #Greenland #heatwave has been felt most in the NE where very few peole live and we have very few observations, however the research station at Zackenberg is an exception - imporessive temperatures here! https://t.co/3wX2oIO5dx— Greenland (@greenlandicesmb) August 1, 2019
The heat and melting in Greenland is a frightening sign of the climate crisis: Ice core samples show that melt days like those seen this week occurred very rarely in the past thousand years, but global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels is making them more likely, Holthaus wrote.
"This melt event is a good alarm signal that we urgently need change our way of living," Fettweis told Holthaus.
But if we do change, there is still hope we can stop the worst from happening. Scientists say melt in Greenland won't become irreversible until global temperatures reach 1.5 to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"That means whether or not Greenland's ice sheet melts completely is almost entirely in human control: A full-scale mobilization — including rapidly transforming the basis of the global economy toward a future where fossil fuels are no longer used — would probably be enough to keep most of the remaining ice frozen, where it belongs," Holthaus concluded.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Ashutosh Pandey
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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Did you know that some snakes can fly?
The south Asian paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) can launch itself into the air and glide from one tree branch to another. And when it does, it moves its body in waves in something known as aerial undulation. Scientists have long known how the snakes moved. But they didn't know why. Until now.
The Cube is home to a 23-camera motion capture system. Jake Socha
The snakes wore 11 to 17 infrared-reflective markers, which gave the team high-resolution data while still allowing the animals to move freely. Jake Socha
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The oceans could look much emptier by 2100, according to a new study that found that most fish species would not be able to survive in their current habitat if average global temperatures rise 4.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, as The Guardian reported.
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For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.
What Is PTSD?<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">PTSD</a> can occur when someone is exposed to extreme exposure traumatic experience. Typically, the trauma involves a threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence. Along with war veterans, it happens to refugees; to victims of gun violence, rape and other physical assaults; and to survivors of car accidents and natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes.</p><p>PTSD can also happen by witnessing trauma or its aftermath, often the case with <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd" target="_blank">first responders</a> and <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-many-faces-anxiety-and-trauma/202006/invisible-wounds-the-frontline-heroes" target="_blank">front-line workers</a>.</p><p>All this adds up to tens of millions of Americans. Up to 30% of combat veterans and first responders, and 8% of civilians, <a href="https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/essentials/epidemiology.asp" target="_blank">fulfill the diagnostic criteria for PTSD</a>. And that criteria is not easily met: symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive trauma memories, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of reminders of trauma, negative emotions, and what we call "hyperarousal symptoms."</p>
Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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