Every year, humpback whales migrate from polar regions to warmer waters, where they mate, give birth, raise their calves, and amaze whale watchers.
"It's about just seeing a whale, seeing some of the acrobatic surface activity, from breaching and tail slapping … to bulls chasing females, even calves being born in the area," says Olaf Meynecke of Australia's Griffith University Whales and Climate Research Program.
He says eastern Australia is a hotspot for seeing the majestic animals.
But as the climate warms, migration timing is changing. For example, in Queensland's Hervey Bay, humpbacks often arrive and leave earlier than in the past.
At the end of the season, tour boats sometimes have trouble even finding a whale.
"On top of that, we also of course have higher uncertainty in terms of weather," Maynecke says. "We actually started to get a lot more rain in the dry season because the ocean is still so warm."
That can make for a wet, uncomfortable day at sea.
Meynecke says whale-watching businesses will need to find ways to adapt – for example, by shifting the season dates or offering flexible bookings – so they can keep satisfying their customers, even as the climate warms.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By Richard Connor
Japanese cherry blossom lovers have been seeing their favorite time of year come ever earlier in recent times, with 2021 proving to be a record year.
The nation's favorite flower, called "sakura" — at one time very much an April phenomenon — has started to burst into bloom regularly in late March.
Peak bloom in the ancient capital of Kyoto was reached on March 26 this year, the earliest since the Japan Meteorological Agency started collecting the data in 1953.
The date is 10 days ahead of the 30-year average, with similar records set this year in more than a dozen cities across Japan.
The flowers have been a strong influence on Japanese culture for centuries. They are regularly used in poetry and literature and their fragility is viewed as a symbol of life, death and rebirth.
Hanami viewing parties, with picnics — often with alcohol — are often organized beneath the trees.
The Japanese government this week lifted a COVID virus state of emergency in the Tokyo area. However, city governor Yuriko Koike still warned residents to "avoid cherry blossom viewing parties" to prevent a coronavirus resurgence.
Indicator for Climate Change
Blossom-loving experts say this year's bloom is the earliest peak bloom ever in Kyoto, based on records from old documents, diaries and poetry books from the city.
Osaka Prefecture University environmental scientist Yasuyuki Aono told the AP news agency that he believed the earliest blooms before this year had been on March 27. Those had been in the years 1612, 1409, and 1236, although records are missing for some years.
The Japan Meteorological Agency tracks 58 "benchmark" cherry trees across the country. The trees are sensitive to temperature changes. The timing of their blooming can provide valuable data for climate change studies.
"We can say it's most likely because of the impact of the global warming," Shunji Anbe, an official at the agency's observations division, told the Associated Press.
Data shows that the average temperature for March in Kyoto has climbed to 10.6 degrees Celsius (51.1 F) in 2020 from 8.6 Celsius in 1953.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
- Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across the U.S. - EcoWatch ›
- Cherry Blossoms Are Blooming Across Japan. It's October. - EcoWatch ›
Throughout Texas, there are a number of solar power companies that can install solar panels on your roof to take advantage of the abundant sunlight. But which solar power provider should you choose? In this article, we'll provide a list of the best solar companies in the Lone Star State.
Our Picks for the Best Texas Solar Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Sunpro Solar
- Longhorn Solar, Inc.
- Solartime USA
- Kosmos Solar
- Sunshine Renewable Solutions
- Alba Energy
- Circle L Solar
- South Texas Solar Systems
- Good Faith Energy
How We Chose the Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when comparing and contrasting different solar providers. These are some of the considerations we used to evaluate Texas solar energy companies.
Different solar companies may provide varying services. Always take the time to understand the full range of what's being offered in terms of solar panel consultation, design, installation, etc. Also consider add-ons, like EV charging stations, whenever applicable.
When meeting with a representative from one of Texas' solar power companies, we would always encourage you to ask what the installation process involves. What kind of customization can you expect? Will your solar provider use salaried installers, or outsourced contractors? These are all important questions to raise during the due diligence process.
Texas is a big place, and as you look for a good solar power provider, you want to ensure that their services are available where you live. If you live in Austin, it doesn't do you much good to have a solar company that's active only in Houston.
Pricing and Financing
Keep in mind that the initial cost of solar panel installation can be sizable. Some solar companies are certainly more affordable than others, and you can also ask about the flexible financing options that are available to you.
To guarantee that the renewable energy providers you select are reputable, and that they have both the integrity and the expertise needed, we would recommend assessing their status in the industry. The simplest way to do this is to check to see whether they are North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certified or belong to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other industry groups.
Types of Panels
As you research different companies, it certainly doesn't hurt to get to know the specific products they offer. Inquire about their tech portfolio, and see if they are certified to install leading brands like Tesla or Panasonic.
Rebates and Tax Credits
There are a lot of opportunities to claim clean energy rebates or federal tax credits which can help with your initial solar purchase. Ask your solar provider for guidance navigating these different savings opportunities.
Going solar is a big investment, but a warranty can help you trust that your system will work for decades. A lot of solar providers provide warranties on their technology and workmanship for 25 years or more, but you'll definitely want to ask about this on the front end.
The 10 Best Solar Energy Companies in Texas
With these criteria in mind, consider our picks for the 10 best solar energy companies in TX.
SunPower is a solar energy company that makes it easy to make an informed and totally customized decision about your solar power setup. SunPower has an online design studio where you can learn more about the different options available for your home, and even a form where you can get a free online estimate. Set up a virtual consultation to speak directly with a qualified solar installer from the comfort of your own home. It's no wonder SunPower is a top solar installation company in Texas. They make the entire process easy and expedient.
Sunpro Solar is another solar power company with a solid reputation across the country. Their services are widely available to Texas homeowners, and they make the switch to solar effortless. We recommend them for their outstanding customer service, for the ease of their consultation and design process, and for their assistance to homeowners looking to claim tax credits and other incentives.
Looking for a solar contractor with true Texas roots? Longhorn Solar is an award-winning company that's frequently touted as one of the best solar providers in the state. Their services are available in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, and since 2009 they have helped more than 2,000 Texans make the switch to energy efficiency with solar. We recommend them for their technical expertise, proven track record, and solar product selection.
Solartime USA is another company based in Texas. In fact, this family-owned business is located in Richardson, which is just outside of Dallas. They have ample expertise with customized solar energy solutions in residential settings, and their portfolio of online reviews attests to their first-rate customer service. We love this company for the simplicity of their process, and for all the guidance they offer customers seeking to go solar.
Next on our list is Kosmos Solar, another Texas-based solar company. They're based in the northern part of the state, and highly recommended for homeowners in the area. They supply free estimates, high-quality products, custom solar designs, and award-winning personal service. Plus, their website has a lot of great information that may help guide you while you determine whether going solar is right for you.
Sunshine Renewable Solutions is based out of Houston, and they've developed a sterling reputation for dependable service and high-quality products. They have a lot of helpful financing options, and can show you how you can make the switch to solar in a really cost-effective way. We also like that they give free estimates, so there's certainly no harm in learning more about this great local company.
"Powered by the Texas sun." That's the official tagline of Alba Energy, a solar energy provider that's based out of Katy, TX. They have lots of great information about solar panel systems and solar solutions, including solar calculators to help you tabulate your potential energy savings. Additionally, we recommend Alba Energy because all of their work is done by a trusted, in-house team of solar professionals. They maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and they have rave reviews from satisfied customers.
Circle L Solar has a praiseworthy mission of helping homeowners slash their energy costs while participating in the green energy revolution. This is another company that provides a lot of great information, including energy savings calculators. Also note that, in addition to solar panels, Circle L Solar also showcases a number of other assets that can help you make your home more energy efficient, including windows, weatherization services, LED lighting, and more.
You can tell by the name that South Texas Solar Systems focuses its service area on the southernmost part of the Lone Star State. Their products include a wide range of commercial and residential solar panels, as well as "off the grid" panels for homeowners who want to detach from public utilities altogether. Since 2007, this company has been a trusted solar energy provider in San Antonio and beyond.
Good Faith Energy is a certified installer of Tesla solar technology for homeowners throughout Texas. This company is really committed to ecological stewardship, and they have amassed a lot of goodwill thanks to their friendly customer service and the depth of their solar expertise. In addition to Tesla solar panels, they can also install EV charging stations and storage batteries.
What are Your Solar Financing Options in Texas?
We've mentioned already that going solar requires a significant investment on the front-end. It's worth emphasizing that some of the best solar companies provide a range of financing options, allowing you to choose whether you buy your system outright, lease it, or pay for it in monthly installments.
Also keep in mind that there are a lot of rebates and state and federal tax credits available to help offset starting costs. Find a Texas solar provider who can walk you through some of the different options.
How Much Does a Solar Energy System Cost in Texas?
How much is it going to cost you to make that initial investment into solar power? It varies by customer and by home, but the median cost of solar paneling may be somewhere in the ballpark of $13,000. Note that, when you take into account federal tax incentives, this number can fall by several thousand dollars.
And of course, once you go solar, your monthly utility bills are going to shrink dramatically… so while solar systems won't pay for themselves in the first month or even the first year, they will ultimately prove more than cost-effective.
Finding the Right Solar Energy Companies in TX
Texas is a great place to pursue solar energy companies, thanks to all the natural sunlight, and there are plenty of companies out there to help you make the transition. Do your homework, compare a few options, and seek the solar provider that's right for you. We hope this guide is a helpful jumping-off point as you try to get as much information as possible about the best solar companies in Texas.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Climate change poses significant dangers to global food supplies as rising temperatures make storage more difficult, The Associated Press reports.
Food around the world is stored outside after harvest, before processing, but rising temperatures and other altered weather patterns threaten to drive prices higher as more food is lost and producers are forced to install costly equipment to protect food stores.
Rising temperatures will make it easier for insects and mold to destroy grain stores in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in Mecosta, Michigan, Brian Sackett was forced to spend $125,000 on a new refrigeration unit to protect what will become potato chips. Michigan potato farmers have long been able to rely on fans and cool air from the September harvest to late spring to keep their potatoes fresh. But the annual period in which outdoor air in the region is cool enough to store potatoes will likely drop by as much as 17 days in the next 30 years. "Our good, fresh, cool air is getting less all the time, it seems like," Sackett said.
For a deeper dive:
- How Urban Agriculture Can Improve Food Security in U.S. Cities ... ›
- On Climate and Food, What's the Lesson We Insist on Missing ... ›
- Half a Degree of Warming Makes a Big Difference to Global Food ... ›
- A Brief Guide to the Impacts of Climate Change on Food Production ... ›
By Ermias Kebreab and Breanna Roque
Methane is a short-lived but powerful greenhouse gas and the second-largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. And the majority of human-induced methane emissions comes from livestock.
About 70% of agricultural methane comes from enteric fermentation – chemical reactions in the stomachs of cows and other grazing animals as they break down plants. The animals burp out most of this methane and pass the rest as flatulence.
There are roughly 1 billion cattle around the world, so reducing enteric methane is an effective way to reduce overall methane emissions. But most options for doing so, such as changing cows' diets to more digestible feed or adding more fat, are not cost-effective. A 2015 study suggested that using seaweed as an additive to cattle's normal feed could reduce methane production, but this research was done in a laboratory, not in live animals.
We study sustainable agriculture, focusing on livestock. In a newly published study, we show that using red seaweed (Asparagopsis) as a feed supplement can reduce both methane emissions and feed costs without affecting meat quality. If these findings can be scaled up and commercialized, they could transform cattle production into a more economically and environmentally sustainable industry.
Ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep and goats, can digest plant material that is indigestible for humans and animals with simple stomachs, such as pigs and chickens. This unique ability stems from ruminants' four-compartment stomachs – particularly the rumen compartment, which contains a host of different microbes that ferment feed and break it down into nutrients.
This process also generates byproducts that the cow's body does not take up, such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Methane-producing microbes, called methanogens, use these compounds to form methane, which the cow's body expels.
We first analyzed this problem in a 2019 study, the first such research that was conducted in cattle rather than in a laboratory. In that work, we showed that supplementing dairy cows' feed with about 10 ounces of seaweed a day reduced methane emissions by up to 67%. However, the cattle that ate this relatively large quantity of seaweed consumed less feed. This reduced their milk production – a clear drawback for dairy farmers.
Our new study sought to answer several questions that would be important to farmers considering whether to use seaweed supplements in their cattle. We wanted to know whether the seaweed was stable when stored for up to three years; whether microbes that produce methane in cows' stomachs could adapt to the seaweed, making it ineffective; and whether the type of diet that the cows ate changed the seaweed's effectiveness in reducing methane emissions. And we used less seaweed than in our 2019 study.
A steer eats alfalfa pellets as equipment measures his gas emissions, including methane. Breanna Roque / CC BY-ND
Better Growth With Less Feed
For the study, we added 1.5 to 3 ounces of seaweed per animal daily to 21 beef cows' food for 21 weeks. As with most new ingredients in cattle diets, it took some time for the animals to get used to the taste of seaweed, but they became accustomed to it within a few weeks.
Cattle in the study adjusted quickly to seaweed supplements in their food. Breanna Roque / CC BY-ND
As we expected, the steers released a lot more hydrogen – up to 750% more, mostly from their mouths – as their systems produced less methane. Hydrogen has minimal impact on the environment. Seaweed supplements did not affect the animals' carbon dioxide emissions.
We also found that seaweed that had been stored in a freezer for three years maintained its effectiveness, and that microbes in the cows' digestive systems did not adapt to the seaweed in ways that neutralized its effects.
We fed each of the animals three different diets during the experiment. These rations contained varying amounts of dried grasses, such as alfalfa and wheat hay, which are referred to as forage. Cattle may also consume fresh grass, grains, molasses and byproducts such as almond hull and cotton seed.
Methane production in the rumen increases with rising levels of forage in cows' diet, so we wanted to see whether forage levels also affected how well seaweed reduced overall methane formation. Methane emissions from cattle on high-forage diets decreased by 33% to 52%, depending on how much seaweed they consumed. Emissions from cattle fed low-forage diets fell by 70% to 80%. This difference may reflect lower levels of an enzyme that is involved in producing methane in the guts of cattle-fed low-fiber diets.
One important finding was that the steers in our study converted feed to body weight up to 20% more efficiently than cattle on a conventional diet. This benefit could reduce production costs for farmers, since they would need to buy less feed. For example, we calculate that a producer finishing 1,000 head of beef cattle – that is, feeding them a high-energy diet to grow and add muscle – could reduce feed costs by US$40,320 to $87,320 depending on how much seaweed the cattle consumed.
Global methane sources include fossil fuel and biomass combustion, agriculture (mainly livestock), the breakdown of waste in landfills and natural decomposition in wetlands. Jackson et al., 2020, CC BY
We don't know for certain why feeding cattle seaweed supplements helped them convert more of their diet to weight gain. However, previous research has suggested that some rumen microorganisms can use hydrogen that is no longer going into methane production to generate energy-dense nutrients that the cow can then use for added growth.
When a panel of consumers sampled meat from cattle raised in our study, they did not detect any difference in tenderness, juiciness or flavor between meat from cattle that consumed seaweed and others that did not.
Commercializing seaweed as a cattle feed additive would involve many steps. First, scientists would need to develop aquaculture techniques for producing seaweed on a large scale, either in the ocean or in tanks on land. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have to approve using seaweed as a feed supplement for commercial cattle.
Farmers and ranchers could also earn money for reducing their cattle's emissions. Climate scientists would have to provide guidance on quantifying, monitoring and verifying methane emission reductions from cattle. Such rules could allow cattle farmers to earn credits from carbon offset programs around the world.
Ermias Kebreab is an Associate Dean and Professor of Animal Science. Director, World Food Center, University of California, Davis.
Breanna Roque is a Ph.D. Student in Animal Biology, University of California, Davis.
Disclosure statement: Ermias Kebreab receives funding from the Foundation for Agricultural Research, Elm Innovations, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Grantham Foundation. He advises feed additive companies such as Blue Ocean Barns and Mootral. Breanna Roque does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
By Bud Ward
"Meltdown" – a new documentary featuring renowned art photographer Lynn Davis and climate communications expert Anthony Leiserowitz, made its online debut February 12. Shot on location in Greenland and directed and produced by Academy Award nominees Fred Golding and Mike Tollin, the 67-minute video differs significantly from many other videos on Greenland, its glaciers, and ice sheet.
"It's not a scientific documentary. It's not an advocacy film. It's not a Hollywood disaster movie," Leiserowitz says.
He describes it instead as "an intimate exploration of art and science, beauty and tragedy, the personal and the global, set amidst the massive and spectacularly beautiful icebergs breaking off of Greenland at an accelerating rate."
The film is available for rent and/or purchase on a number of streaming services, including Amazon, Apple iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity, and other cable networks nationwide (not on Netflix). Rental and purchase prices vary somewhat among those services. The official trailer, embedded below, is available on YouTube.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
By Iman Ghosh
- From 1880, the Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 0.07°C every decade.
- Evidence shows that key historical developments such as industrial revolutions contributed significantly to global warming.
- These events are linked to the mass burning of fossil fuels to meet an increase in human demand.
For several years now, average surface temperatures have consistently surpassed 1.5°C above their pre-industrial values. Visual Capitalist
Since 1880, the Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 0.07°C (0.13°F) every decade. That number alone may seem negligible, but over time, it adds up.
In addition, the rate of temperature change has grown significantly more dramatic over time—more than doubling to 0.18°C (0.32°F) since 1981. As a result of this global warming process, environmental crises have become the most prominent risks of our time.
In this global temperature graph, climate data scientist Neil R. Kaye breaks down how monthly average temperatures have changed over nearly 170 years. Temperature values have been benchmarked against pre-industrial averages (1850–1900).
What is Causing Global Warming?
The data visualization can be thought of in two halves, each reflecting significant trigger points in global warming trends:
Overlaps with the Second Industrial Revolution
Low-High range in global temperature increase: -0.4°C to +0.6°C
Overlaps with the Third Industrial Revolution
Low-High range in global temperature increase: +0.6°C to +1.5°C and up
The global temperature graph makes it clear that for several years now, average surface temperatures have consistently surpassed 1.5°C above their pre-industrial values. Let's dig into these time periods a bit more closely to uncover more context around this phenomenon.
Industrial Revolutions and Advances, 1851–1935
An obvious, early anomaly on the visual worth exploring occurs between 1877–1878. During this time, the world experienced numerous unprecedented climate events, from a strong El Niño to widespread droughts. The resulting Great Famine caused the deaths of between 19–50 million people, even surpassing some of the deadliest pandemics in history.
In the first five rows of the global temperature graph, several economies progressed into the Second Industrial Revolution (~1870–1914), followed by World War I (1914-1918). Overall, there was a focus on steel production and mass-produced consumer goods over these 80+ years.
Although these technological advances brought immense improvements, they came at the cost of burning fossil fuels — releasing significant amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It would take several more decades before scientists realized the full extent of their accumulation in the atmosphere, and their resulting relation to global warming.
The Modern World in the Red Zone, 1936–2020
The second half of the global temperature graph is marked by World War II (1939-1945) and its aftermath. As the dust settled, nations began to build themselves back up, and things really kicked into hyperdrive with the Third Industrial Revolution.
As globalization and trade progressed following the 1950s, people and goods began moving around more than ever before. In addition, population growth peaked at 2.1% per year between 1965 and 1970. Industrialization patterns began to intensify further to meet the demands of a rising global population and our modern world.
The Importance of Historical Temperature Trends
The history of human development is intricately linked with global warming. While part of the rise in Earth's surface temperature can be attributed to natural patterns of climate change, these historical trends shed some light on how much human activities are behind the rapid increase in global average temperatures in the last 85 years.
The following graph from Reddit user bgregory98, which leverages an extensive data set published in Nature Geoscience provides a more dramatic demonstration. It looks at the escalation of global temperatures over two thousand years. In this expansive time frame, eight of the top 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the last decade alone.
This graph looks at the dramatic escalation of global temperatures over 2000 years. Visual Capitalist
Click here to view the full graph animation.
Global warming and climate change are some of the most pressing megatrends shaping our future. However, with the U.S. rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and the reduction of global carbon emissions highlighted as a key item at the World Economic Forum's Davos Summit 2021, promising steps are being taken.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
By Tara Lohan
2020 was so bad that even disasters outdid themselves. Last year the United States alone experienced at least 16 weather and climate disasters with losses topping $1 billion each. That's more than twice the long-term average.
What's worse: Expensive disasters are on the rise. 2020 was the sixth year in a row that the United States saw 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. And as climate change supercharges storms, wildfires and droughts, this trend will continue to climb.
To stave off the worst outcomes, scientists say we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will require steadfast effort from elected officials, policymakers and businesses.
But since there are no quick fixes for the climate changes already underway, there's one group of experts we'll also need to call on: emergency managers. Unfortunately, although they're tasked with making sure communities are prepared to respond to disasters, they're often left out of conversations about climate change.
Samantha Montano, an assistant professor of emergency management at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and a "disasterlogist," has been working to change that. She's also been calling for emergency management professionals, including government agencies like FEMA, to put the climate crisis and environmental justice at the forefront of their work.
We spoke to Montano about why we need emergency managers involved in climate conversations, whether disasters are on the rise, and how we prepare for a future with climate-supercharged storms.
We often think of emergency management as responding to "natural disasters," but as you wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post, that term is a bit fraught.
Disaster experts don't really use the term "natural disaster" because it's a bit of a misnomer. When we're talking about disasters, we're talking about the actual human toll that they take. Is it the fact that a river, which naturally overflows its banks, has caused the disaster? Or is it that we have built homes right next to the river; that we have not maintained the levees that are meant to protect those homes from flooding; that the people who live in that neighborhood and don't have a lot of money aren't able to evacuate; that there aren't government programs there to help people recover quickly?
All of those things are not natural, right? Those are the human decisions that have ended up making a situation into a disaster. So while a river overflowing its banks may be natural, the fact that it has led to a disaster isn't. So that term "natural disaster" helps to obscure the role of human responsibility in disasters. If everything that happens are just these natural events that we have no control over, then some people may think we can't do anything about it.
This thinking isn't new in disaster research, but it has gotten a bit more attention in recent years as folks try to understand how climate change fits into all of this. The new term that we hear people using is "climate disaster," which runs into a similar problem.
Climate change may be a factor that is contributing to a disaster that happened, but it's certainly, again, not the only factor. But if we understand the root causes better, then we can make different decisions and prevent disasters from happening.
There's ample evidence that climate change is supercharging a lot of weather events. Are emergency managers included in conversations about how to fight climate change?
Within the broader climate change conversation, most of the focus is on carbon emissions and that's very important. And more recently we've seen an uptick in conversations about climate adaptation, which is also important as we begin to experience the consequences of climate change.
But we hear much less about the pretty significant overlap between climate adaptation and what we in emergency management call "hazard mitigation." It feels sometimes from an emergency management perspective like we're reinventing the wheel a little bit.
Flooding and wildfires aren't new. We in the emergency management community have been dealing with these hazards for a very long time and we have a lot of knowledge about them. We want to make sure that, especially because of the urgency of the climate crisis, we are pulling from this base of knowledge and experience that we have.
How much emergency management is integrated into conversations about climate change varies greatly across the country. Maine, for example, just released their plan for a statewide climate council and emergency managers were all on that committee and helped to produce the plan.
This is a great example of trying to bridge emergency management and adaptation work. But there are other places in the country where you have a part-time emergency manager working in a rural community and they don't have the resources or they're not a part of those climate conversations. There's definitely more work that needs to be done to help bring emergency management and climate adaptation work together.
Climate change can help fuel short-term hazards, like a hurricane, or lead to slow-moving threats such as sea-level rise. How do you differentiate between these from a management perspective?
We think about hurricanes, wildfires — these more acute events — as ones that emergency management is very obviously on the front line of managing. But issues like sea-level rise, and even longer-term chronic issues like droughts, are areas emergency management is still involved in because it still has an impact on our overall risk.
Something like an earthquake, which seems pretty far removed from climate change itself, is actually impacted by climate change. Because when we think about the vulnerabilities in our communities that climate change exacerbates, that has an effect on how people are, or aren't, able to respond to an earthquake or the resources that can go toward preparing for an earthquake or mitigating damages.
So even these events that seem more chronic, or don't seem like they have this direct link to climate change, are actually pretty significantly affected from an emergency management perspective.
It seems there's a new disaster almost every day. Are there really more now? And is climate change to blame?
It's pretty difficult to find any part of the country that has been untouched by disaster in the past few years. I also think that the way we consume media now also makes them feel more present.
We watch these disasters unfold live on television in front of us. We get alerts sent to our pockets when a disaster happens. So it's everywhere.
Climate change, though, I think is a huge part of that. I heard people joke around about not being able to wait until 2020 ends. And I get that. It was a really bad year. But these disasters aren't just going to go away. We're not making the changes we need to be to lessen those disasters or prevent those disasters from happening. We're in this for the long haul until we start making some different choices.
The coronavirus pandemic is a different kind of disaster than a weather-related event. What were the biggest lessons you'll take away from our response to it?
The way that we normally approach emergency management in these acute disasters is with help converging from neighboring communities, the state and the federal government. This March, however, was the first time that every single emergency agency in the country at all levels of government was activated simultaneously. So we didn't have the mutual aid, expertise and funding that we can usually send to places in a crisis because everyone was in the middle of their own crisis.
That has never happened before in the United States. It was a unique situation to see the strain on our systems and to start doing research and analyzing the effect that it has had on the response.
I draw the parallel there to climate change. Not that there is going to be a flood happening in every single state at one time, but as we see our risk increase, we'll see these disasters increase. In 2017 we saw hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria all happening nearly at once.
When that happens, what is our ability to meet all of those needs? How does the capacity of the emergency management system handle that? I think COVID has given us a little bit of a window into the future.
As a researcher I'm really hopeful that by studying how emergency management agencies specifically have responded to COVID we'll be able to take that data and take those findings and use it to inform policy changes for emergency management as we go into the climate crisis.
You have a book coming out this summer about climate change and emergency management. Who do you hope it reaches?
The book I'm writing is a combination of my experience going to different disasters and pulls from the disaster research to help the public understand what emergency management is and all that is involved in disasters. But it's also a pretty stark warning about the problem that we are barreling headfirst into in terms of how the emergency management system is unprepared to address the consequences of the climate crisis.
It's a book that will hopefully inspire people to some kind of action, whether locally or nationally, to make sure that disaster survivors across the country, who are the ones on the front lines of the climate crisis, are getting the help that they need. And that we're doing everything we can to prevent those disasters from happening. I'm hoping that it's really an empowering book that gives people the language and the education that they need to play a more active role in their community.
Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
Researchers at UC-Riverside are investigating how barley, a key ingredient in beer, survives in such a wide variety of climates with hopes of learning what exactly makes it so resilient across climates.
Barley was first grown domestically in Southwest Asia about 10,000 year ago and is grown around the world, from Egypt to Minnesota.
Barley's prime growing regions have shifted northward in recent decades as global temperatures have risen due to climate change caused by human extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.
Chuck Skypeck, technical brewing projects manager for the Brewers Association located in Boulder, Colorado, told E&E climate change's effects are impacting the brewing industry.
"Certainly dynamic growing conditions, water scarcity, extreme weather events, growers' planting decisions can all affect both pricing and availability of brewers' supply of malted barley," he told E&E News.
For a deeper dive:
Air quality scientist Tracey Holloway wants her children, nine month old Henry and 11 year old Peter, to be able to look back at the 2020s as the time when the U.S. and the world turned a corner on tackling climate change.
That's why she has joined forces with other climate scientists to launch Science Moms. It's a nonpartisan group working to educate mothers about climate change and inspire and empower them to raise their collective voices to advocate for action.
Holloway, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said she is optimistic that things can improve and that mothers are a good group to focus on because they care about their children's future.
"When it comes to climate, there are so many ways to reduce our carbon emissions," such as implementing more renewable technology, Holloway said. "The barrier is the public will to push decision-makers at every level to adopt the solutions that are sitting on the shelf and waiting to be deployed."
Science Moms, working in partnership with the Potential Energy Coalition of marketing industry firms, wants to break down that barrier. The group is involved in an approximately $10 million advertising campaign that includes videos produced by the coalition that are airing in various media markets for at least six months.
Part of the Science Moms awareness effort is clearing up myths about climate change, such as that that there is nothing we can do about it and that it's far off in the distant future.
"This is not a future thing, this is a now thing," said oceanographer and climate modeler Joellen Russell, another founding science mom. Russell, professor at the University of Arizona, pointed to Tucson having its hottest summer on record, which sometimes made it difficult for her children, aged 10 and 13, to enjoy playing outside.
"It's moms particularly who are worried about the environmental conditions for small people," Russell said. "We worry about this all the time. And, when you extend it to worrying about the conditions on our planet, it's not a big leap for us" to be concerned about climate change.
Melissa Burt is a climate modeler and the assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering at Colorado State University. Science Moms
"We want moms to bump [climate change] up their list of worries," she added. Russell said she knows that's a big ask in the middle of a pandemic but that there is a big opportunity for change. She said moms can help in many ways, including talking about climate change with their family and neighbors, taking personal measures like buying energy-efficient cars, and contacting elected officials.
It's important to reach out to other mothers because "moms trust moms," added climate modeler Melissa Burt, mother of a four-year-old daughter and professor at Colorado State University.
For Burt, a woman of color, being a founding science mom also is important for increasing the visibility of scientists of color and for reaching out to communities disproportionately affected by climate change. "If I can connect with other moms, and in particular Black moms, to say that they have a role in tackling the climate crisis, that's one of the reasons that I'm involved with Science Moms," Burt said.
Randy Showstack is a contributing reporter for EcoWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @RandyShowstack.
Nory Yamileth Hernández lost nearly everything when Hurricanes Eta and Iota flooded her home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
She and her three teenage children live in a tent under a bridge on the outskirts of the city, struggling to survive after the storms destroyed the inventory for her door-to-door lingerie sales business, as well as her customers' ability to pay for items purchased with credit.
Hernández, her children, and untold numbers of others like them are trapped in a cycle of extreme storms fueled by climate change, economic desperation, and gang violence, the AP reports.
Of Honduras' 10 million people, an estimated 4 million were impacted by Hurricanes Eta and Iota, and 3 million face food insecurity — six times higher than before the hurricanes, according to the World Food Program.
The climate-fueled cycle is compounded by dehumanizing Trump administration policies, including family separation and its so-called "remain-in-Mexico" asylum policies, all of which the Biden administration is working — at varying speeds — to undo.
Biden also ordered a study on how to address the growing number of people displaced by climate change last week.
"There's no one way to address this issue — it's so complex," Kayly Ober, told E&E.
Ober works with Refugees International, which released a report on Thursday identifying the wide range of domestic and international policies the Biden administration could take to address the issue.
For a deeper dive:
Spring is coming. And soon, tree swallows will start building nests. But as the climate changes, the birds are nesting earlier in the spring.
"It's getting warmer overall. They're thinking, OK, it's a good time to breed, to lay my eggs," says Lily Twining of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany.
She says that despite recent warming, late-season cold snaps remain common. Those cold snaps can harm newborn chicks.
Hatchlings cannot regulate their body temperature, so they are vulnerable to hypothermia. And the insects they eat stop flying in cold weather, potentially leaving the chicks to starve.
"These chicks are growing very, very fast," Twining says. "They have very high energy demands, so… if they don't get a lot of that good high-quality food during this pretty specific time… that's when these cold weather events seem to be most devastating."
For example, data from Ithaca, New York, shows that a single cold snap in 2016 killed more than 70% of baby tree swallows.
"And there have been more and more of these severe cold weather die-off events for these tree swallows as they've been breeding earlier and earlier over the past 40 or so years," Twining says.
So for these songbirds, earlier springs can come with devastating consequences.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across the U.S. - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts - EcoWatch ›
- The Unsettling Reason Why We're Seeing More Snowy Owls ... ›
Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.
The survey found that 64 percent of people think climate change is a global emergency and only 10 percent think world leaders are doing enough to address it. The number of people who considered climate change an emergency was even higher – 69 percent – among those ages 14 to 18.
The survey also asked respondents to rank 18 specific policies to address climate change, and found that the most popular policies were restoring forests, using renewable energy, and using climate-friendly farming techniques. "There is a groundswell of people that are saying even during a pandemic that climate change is an emergency and here's how we want to solve it," Cassie Flynn, UNDP's strategic adviser on climate change and head of its Climate Promise initiative, told Al Jazeera.
As reported by The Independent:
More than 30 million invites to the survey were issued to people when they played a popular mobile game – such as Words With Friends, Angry Birds, Dragon City or Subway Surfers.
The findings were weighted by polling experts at Oxford University to be as representative as possible for each country.
Cassie Flynn, the UNDP's strategic adviser on climate change, told The Guardian: "The voice of the people is clear – they want action on climate change.
"If 64 per cent of the world's people are believing in a climate emergency then it helps governments to respond to the climate crisis as an emergency.
"The key message is that, as governments are making these high-stakes decisions, the people are with them."
For a deeper dive:
- Guardian/Vice Poll Finds Most 2020 Voters Favor Climate Action ... ›
- Climate Change Seen as Top Threat in Global Survey - EcoWatch ›
- The U.S. Has More Climate Deniers Than Any Other Wealthy Nation ... ›