Barcelonians can now use a new app designed to show pedestrians the shadiest routes to take to avoid extreme heat.
The app has a variety of features including showing users the most direct walking route, a more shady route or users can put the settings on "vampire mode" to completely avoid direct sunlight.
"We wanted to generate different options so you could pick faster or cooler routes and we calculated three different algorithms," Marc Montlleo, director of environmental projects at Barcelona Regional, said to The Guardian. "The vampire mode was made from our team who had a lot of beer the night before; It was for a bit of fun to totally avoid sunlight."
Cool Walks can also guide users to nearby drinking fountains, or areas that they can shelter from the sun, according to The Guardian.
The program utilizes a tool called Lidar that creates high-resolution models of the ground elevation. The scale is accurate within 10 cm. Cool Walks uses this information with data on the sun's path to calculate where shade is at any given time.
The average temperature in July and August in Barcelona is 84 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. In an attempt to mitigate increasing temperatures, the city of Barcelona created a 20-year tree master plan that lays out increasing the amount of land covered by trees from 25% to 30%.
"I don't know many cities that deal with pedestrian routing," Albert Carbonell, a developer of the app said to The Guardian. "It's nice for a public agency to work with data that the city gave to us, to demonstrate that it's feasible to come up with technological solutions to climate change."
So far, the app only maps out shady areas in one neighborhood of Barcelona, the hope is the data collected can be used to help the city adapt to extreme heat.
Each year, heat waves kill more people than other climate risks. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some studies estimate that more than 1,300 death each year are due to extreme heat.
According to C40, extreme heat can cause mortality increases of up to 14%. As of today, heatwaves affect around 200 million people in more than 350 cities globally — this number is expected to rise even if the Paris agreement's 1.5 C target is reached.
Howvere, if that target is missed, more than 1.6 billion people in 970 cities could be affected by excessive heat by the 2050s.
Additionally, the temperatures can lower workforce productivity and cause damage to infrastructure.
"I think we should view this particular kind of app as an interim measure to reduce the impacts of extreme heat … while cities rapidly invest in urban canopy cover and broader green infrastructure," Jon Burke, a former councilor for Hackney in London, who was responsible for a massive expansion of tree planting in the borough, said to The Guardian.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
- Dangerously High Temperatures in West Expected to Threaten ... ›
- Cities Face a Greater Risk of Heat Stress, Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
By Michael Allen
Last year was hot. NASA declared that it tied 2016 for the hottest year on record, and the Met Office of the United Kingdom said it was the final year in the warmest 10-year period ever recorded. Temperatures were particularly high in Siberia, with some areas experiencing monthly averages more than 10°C above the 1981–2010 average. Overall, Siberia had the warmest January to June since records began; on 20 June, the town of Verkhoyansk, Russia, hit 38°C, the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic Circle.
In a new article in Climatic Change, Andrew Ciavarella from the Met Office and an international team of climate scientists showed that the prolonged heat in Siberia would have been almost impossible without human-induced climate change. Global warming made the heat wave at least 600 times more likely than in 1900, they found.
Ciavarella said that without climate change, such an event would occur less than once in thousands of years, "whereas it has come all the way up in probability to being a one in a 130-year event in the current climate." Ciavarella and his coauthors are part of the World Weather Attribution initiative, an effort to "analyze and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events."
According to the Met Office, events leading to Siberia's prolonged heat began the previous autumn. Late in 2019, the Indian Ocean Dipole—the difference in sea surface temperature between the western and eastern Indian Ocean—hit a record high, supercharging the jet stream and leading to low pressure and extreme late winter warmth over Eurasia. This unseasonably warm weather persisted into spring and reduced ice and snow cover, which exacerbated the warm conditions by increasing the amount of solar energy absorbed by land and sea.
Cataloging the Past, Forecasting the Future
The resulting high temperatures unleashed a range of disasters. Most obvious were wildfires that burned almost 255,000 square kilometers of Siberian forests, leading to the release of 56 megatons of carbon dioxide in June. The heat also drove plagues of tree-eating moths and caused permafrost thaws that were blamed for infrastructure collapses and fuel spills, including one leak of 150,000 barrels of diesel.
The researchers compared the climate with and without global warming using long series of observational data sets and climate simulations. At the beginning of the 20th century, similar extremely warm periods in Siberia would have been at least 2°C cooler, they found. Global warming also made the record-breaking June temperature in Verkhoyansk much more likely, with maximum temperatures at least 1°C warmer than they would have been in 1900.
The team also looked to the future. They found that by 2050 such warm spells could be 2.5°C to 7°C hotter than in 1900 and 0.5°C to 5°C warmer than in 2020. "Events of precisely the magnitude that we saw, they will increase in frequency, and it wouldn't be unexpected that you would then see also events of an even higher magnitude as well," Ciavarella said.
Dim Coumou, a climate scientist at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, agrees that such an event would not have happened in a preindustrial climate. "With global warming summer temperatures are getting warmer, and therefore, the probability of heat waves and prolonged warm periods are really strongly increasing," he explained, adding that this pattern is particularly pronounced in Siberia, as the high latitudes are warming faster. Coumou was not involved in the new research.
In addition to local issues (like the health impact of heat exposure, wildfires, and the collapsing of structures built on thawing permafrost), we should also be concerned about the wider impact of heat events in Siberia, said Martin Stendel, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute. Stendel was not involved in the new research but has worked on other studies for World Weather Attribution. Thawing permafrost, for example, releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
"We should be aware that things may have global effects," he said.
This story originally appeared in Eos and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
- Siberian Forest Fires Increase Fivefold in Week Since Record High ... ›
- The Arctic Is Drastically Changing Due to Climate Change: Watch ... ›
Medically reviewed by Anna H. Chacon, M.D.
From eating foods for healthy skin to switching up your morning and routines, taking care of the largest organ in the body can get overwhelming. Recently, vitamin C has grown in popularity in the skincare world — but do the best vitamin C serums live up to the hype?
Vitamin C is not only an essential supplement for your immune system and overall health, but it's also a great skincare ingredient that can help limit inflammation, brighten skin, dull fine lines and wrinkles, fight free radicals, and reduce discoloration and dark spots.
Adding vitamin C to your skincare routine seems like a no-brainer, but before you start shopping for a serum, it's important to be aware that vitamin C is an unstable ingredient. Dermatologists say it's important to find legit and properly formulated vitamin C serums to capitalize on the benefits of the antioxidant. In this article, we'll help you find the right dermatologist-approved vitamin C serum to add to your routine.
Our Picks for the Best Vitamin C Serums of 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
- Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
- Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
- Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
- Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
Skincare Benefits of Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is present in the formation of collagen and that protects against aging, according to Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist with MyPsoriasisTeam. A vitamin C serum may be a solid addition to your skincare routine because it has a great safety profile, and it's safe for most skin types.
"Vitamin C serum restores and neutralizes environmental stressors that accelerate signs of aging and can be used morning and evening," Dr. Chacon says. However, she warns, "it does not come with sun protection, so additional use of sunscreen is recommended."
As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects skin cells from being damaged by free radicals from things like UV exposure, vehicle exhaust and cigarette smoke. It also hampers melanin production, which can help to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots and even out your skin tone.
6 Best Vitamin C Serums
Based on dermatologist recommendations and our market research, the following products are the best vitamin C serums available today.
Best Overall: ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating
Our overall recommendation for the best vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. The product contains 10% vitamin C, which has anti-aging properties and minimizes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and sunspots by promoting collagen production. "I have this in my bathroom," Dr. Chacon says. "It is gentle and non-irritating, and it leaves your skin radiant afterward."
Customer Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars with under 100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Along with L-ascorbic acid, this serum includes ingredients like Coenzyme Q10 for multi-layer antioxidant protection and plant-derived squalane for added hydration. ZO Skin Health's products are all cruelty-free.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
Made with plant- and vitamin-derived antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, peptides and CoQ10, Paula's Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum will help rejuvenate your skin. The formula fights dullness, enhances firmness and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with about 300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This product is paraben-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free, as it's not tested on animals. The container is 100% recyclable through TerraCycle, and it's formulated and manufactured in the U.S.
Best Budget-Friendly Serum: CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
CeraVe Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid offers high value at a reasonable price. It is a hydrating vitamin C serum that's fragrance-free, paraben-free, non-comedogenic and budget-friendly to boot. The formula uses 10% pure vitamin C to prevent free radical damage as well as soothing vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid to make the skin look smooth and create a moisture barrier for your skin.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 20,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Chacon calls CeraVe "a trusted, dermatologist-oriented brand" that comes at drugstore prices, so it's a great choice if you want to try out a budget-friendly vitamin C serum.
Best Cruelty-Free Serum: Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum
Timeless Skin Care's vitamin C serum promotes healthy cell turnover to help minimize the effects of hyperpigmentation and even out your skin tone. According to Dr. Chacon, "vitamin C, E and ferulic acid are all key ingredients that help to brighten skin, building up collagen and evening out tone." This product's formula is non-greasy and lightweight, so it absorbs quickly and clearly into the skin.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 1,700 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Timeless Skin Care formula is paraben-free, synthetic dye-free, fragrance-free and polyethylene glycol-free. The company doesn't test on animals, and the product is made in the U.S. from natural ingredients. It's also part of the TerraCycle recycling program.
Best Anti-Aging Serum: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment
Using dermatologist-approved ingredients, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is lightweight and helps to firm, smooth, and brighten the skin for a more youthful look. The formula utilizes 15% pure vitamin C as well as vitamin E and ferulic acid to protect against environmental damage from things like sunlight, ozone pollution and diesel engine exhaust. Plus, it helps firm the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 200 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment is one of the best vitamin C serums for anti-aging purposes. It has an oil-like formulation that goes on smoothly and works effectively without clogging pores.
Best Brightening Serum: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% is a topical form of vitamin C that's rich in antioxidants to target aging and brighten the skin. It uses a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid as well as hyaluronic acid spheres for skin hydration. The brightening serum helps enhance skin smoothness and radiance without being too harsh. However, to test skin sensitivity, it is always recommended to perform a patch test before a full application.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with over 4,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This vitamin C brightening serum is cruelty-free and vegan and does not contain alcohol, phthalates, gluten, fragrance, nuts, oil, silicone, parabens or sulfates. The moisturizing serum is good for all skin types, including acne-prone skin and dry skin.
FAQ: Best Vitamin C Serums
What vitamin C serum is the most effective?
Our top recommended vitamin C serum is the ZO Skin Health 10% Vitamin C Self-Activating serum. It is a dermatologist-approved antioxidant powerhouse, yet it is gentle, non-irritating and leaves you with glowing skin.
Should you use vitamin C serum every day?
Dermatologists recommend using vitamin C serum either every day or every other day. After you cleanse and tone your face, use your vitamin c product before applying moisturizer and reef-safe sunscreen with at least SPF 30.
Does vitamin C serum really work?
According to dermatologists, the best vitamin C serums work to protect against skin aging. However, if you do not purchase a doctor-recommended product, you run the risk of wasting your money on a low-concentration serum that won't give you any benefits.
What are the drawbacks of vitamin C serums?
Many vitamin C serums on the market, especially cheaper products, have nearly immeasurable concentrations of antioxidants, which makes them ineffective. Additionally, as with any skincare product, some individuals may have reactions to vitamin C serums including itchiness and redness.
Anna H. Chacon, M.D. is a dermatologist and author originally from Miami, Florida. She has authored over a dozen peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and has been published in JAAD, Archives of Dermatology, British Journal of Dermatology, Cosmetic Dermatology and Cutis.
Doctors Warn of Third-Degree Burns From Touching Pavement as Temperatures Soar and Grids Strain in West
Mutually worsening heat and drought, both fueled by climate change, are stifling the American West, stoking wildfire fears and straining electrical grids — and the worst is far from over.
"We could have two, three, four, five of these heat waves before the end of the summer," Park Williams, a UCLA climate and fire scientist, told the AP. A record-breaking heatwave trapped by an area of high atmospheric pressure, known as a heat dome, is pushing temperatures as much as 30°F above normal and subjecting 40 million people to temperatures over 100°F.
Doctors in Arizona and Nevada warned touching pavement could cause third degree burns. The extreme heat is also straining electrical grids. California grid operators called for voluntary demand reduction and, for the second time in four months, Texas grid operators are asking their customers to reduce their energy usage — including using less air conditioning and putting off cooking and washing their clothes — prompting jokes that Sen. Ted Cruz would soon be flying to Alaska.
The intense heat and drought are fueling wildfires across the region and stoking fears that more will come as the season is just starting. And so is the warming. "We're still a long way out from the peak of the wildfire season and the peak of the dry season," Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist, told The New York Times. "Things are likely to get worse before they get better."
Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan, agreed. "As bad as it might seem today," he told the Times, "this is about as good as it's going to get if we don't get global warming under control."
As reported by The Associated Press:
In the Southwest, the problem of burns from hot surfaces is growing as temperatures rise due to climate change and increasing urbanization.
And it shows up in emergency rooms like the one at the Arizona Burn Center in Phoenix, where director Dr. Kevin Foster said 104 people were admitted in June, July and August 2020 with serious burn injuries due to contact with scorching surfaces. Seven people died.
Many more received outpatient treatment.
"It doesn't take much time to get a full thickness or third degree burn when exposed to hot pavement," Foster said in a press briefing last week. "Because if you look at hot pavement or asphalt at two o'clock in the afternoon in direct sunlight, the temperature is usually somewhere around 170 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit."
For a deeper dive:
Heatwave: The New York Times, AP, The Washington Post, Reuters, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg, Axios; Burns: AP; Grid crunch: The Guardian, Bloomberg, Reuters; Ted Cruz memes: Buzzfeed; Fires in: North Dakota: AP; Montana: AP; Idaho: AP; Nevada: AP; Arizona: AP; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves; Drought; Wildfires
- Dangerously High Temperatures in West Expected to Threaten ... ›
- Climate-Fueled Drought Puts American West in Peril Ahead of ... ›
- Wildfires and Weather Extremes Result of Climate Change - EcoWatch ›
- Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires ... ›
- Records Break and Fires Rage as U.S. West Sees Third Heat Wave This Summer ›
- 17 States Under Heat Alerts as Fifth Summer Heat Wave in the U.S. Begins ›
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US said on Friday that July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded globally.
"July is typically the world's warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded. This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe," said Rick Spinrad, administrator of NOAA.
JUST IN: It’s official. #July was Earth’s hottest month on record. https://t.co/xKGLizOml4 via… https://t.co/MeV3JG7q03— NOAA (@NOAA)1628866411.0
How Hot Was It?
NOAA said the average global temperature this July was 16.73 degrees Celsius(62.07 degrees Fahrenheit), exceeding the previous record set in July 2016 by .01 degree Celsius.
The last seven Julys from 2015 to 2021 have been the hottest ever, in 142 years of recordkeeping, Sanchez-Lugo added.
Although temperature data released by the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service showed 2021 as third hottest July ever recorded, Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute, a California-based research center, told AFP news agency that data differences among agencies is not unusual.
"The NOAA record has more limited coverage over the Arctic than other global temperature records," he said.
'Clear Impact' of Climate Change
"Regardless of exactly where it ends up on the leaderboards, the warmth the world is experiencing this summer is a clear impact of climate change," Hausfather said.
"The extreme events we are seeing worldwide — from record-shattering heat waves to extreme rainfall to raging wildfires — are all long-predicted and well understood impacts of a warmer world. They will continue to get more severe until the world cuts its emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases down to net-zero," he added.
A report released by the UN last week issued a red alert for climate goals, are "nowhere close" to achieving the 1.5-degree target set during the Paris climate agreement.
Earlier this week during a heatwave in the Mediterranean region, a temperature of 48.8 degrees Celsius (119.8 degrees Fahrenheit) was reported in Sicily, which if officially confirmed, would be the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
The Texas power grid is expected to see its highest power demand of 2021 this week with extreme heat expected there and across the country.
The intense power demands raise concerns over the grid's ability to keep the lights on after thousands were plunged into deadly blackouts in February following the failure of the gas system.
Solar installations in Texas have doubled since last year. Daniel Cohan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, told Earther that solar installations could provide "a buffer on hot afternoons." Still, experts are unimpressed with steps taken by ERCOT and Gov. Greg Abbott to address the power grid's shortcomings.
"The governor's been caught with his pants down, and is desperately praying we get through the summer and the next winter and through the primary season," Ed Hirs, a professor of energy economics at the University of Houston, told Earther. "It's a real serious problem. Texans have paid billions of dollars, and we're going to see billions of dollars for these mistakes."
For a deeper dive:
The 2020 Summer Olympics kicked off in Tokyo on Friday and there are already signs the toughest part of the competition may just be the extreme heat and humidity in what is expected to be the hottest Olympics on record.
Temperatures in Tokyo this time of year are usually in the high 80's, but a heat wave is pushing temperatures into the 90s. The heat index on Saturday made it feel like 100°F and humidity levels were above 80% on Sunday. Temperatures in July and August are 5.15°F/2.7°C warmer than they were last time Tokyo hosted the games in 1964, and on average, there are eight more days of 95-plus-degree weather.
Athletes are feeling the heat already: ahead of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Russian Archer Svetlana Gomboeva collapsed during a qualifying event due to the heat. The Tennis tournament, which began Saturday, was also affected by the heat, as Russian player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova required a medical timeout after feeling dizzy due to the heat. Then, several athletes participating in the triathlon, which finished Monday morning, had to be helped off the track due to overheating.
Extreme heat is now the deadliest weather event, and it is only getting worse as the planet continues warming. Despite this, currently, the International Olympic Committee doesn't take climate change into consideration when selecting host cities. Japan's proposal to host the 2020 games, for example, claimed "this period provides an ideal climate for athletes to perform their best" because of its "many days of mild and sunny weather."
For a deeper dive:
Overview: The Wall Street Journal, Popular Science; Weather: NBC News, Axios, The Washington Post; Gomboeva: Yahoo, Reuters, AP; Tennis: Reuters, AP, Insider; Health: Vox; Commentary: Dan Wetzel, Yahoo
- The Health Risks of Our Sweltering Summers - EcoWatch ›
- 10 Ways to Tell if You're Dehydrated - EcoWatch ›
As this summer's extreme heat waves and floods have made devastatingly clear, the climate crisis is already deadly. And it is likely to get even deadlier if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, a study published in Nature Communications on Thursday has calculated exactly how many excess deaths we can expect per additional metric ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The figure, called the mortality cost of carbon (MCC), estimates that one person will die for every 4,434 metric tons of carbon dioxide in excess of the 2020 emissions rate. To put that in perspective, this is the same amount of emissions generated by 3.5 average U.S. residents over the course of their lives.
"One key takeaway is that there are a significant number of lives that can be saved by reducing emissions," study author and Columbia University Ph.D. candidate R. Daniel Bressler told NPR.
Using his calculations, Bressler estimated what would happen if we reduce emissions to zero by 2050 and what would happen if temperatures are allowed to rise to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The difference between the two, he found, is around 74 million lives.
The study also looked at issues of climate justice between nations. While it only takes 3.5 U.S. residents to emit enough for one death, it would take 25 Brazilians or 146 Nigerians to have the same effect, The Guardian reported. However, Bressler told The Guardian that he was less interested in individual emissions than the policies and infrastructure that surround them.
Specifically, the purpose of the research is to supplement something called the "social cost of carbon," a tool developed by economist William Nordhaus that calculates the financial cost of emitting a metric ton of carbon dioxide, considering factors such as agricultural productivity, energy use, biodiversity loss and human health. The metric is important because it is often used to help make policy decisions, and Bressler found it would be even higher if his MCC is taken into account.
"Nordhaus came up with a fantastic model but he didn't take in the latest literature on climate change's damage upon mortality, there's been an explosion of research on that topic in recent years," Bressler told The Guardian.
Nordhaus' model would put the 2020 social cost of carbon at $37 a metric ton. But Bressler found it increased by more than six times, to $258 a metric ton, when his mortality calculations were factored in. That means Bressler's tool could be a part of deciding whether or not to build a new coal plant, for example, considering that emissions from the average U.S. coal plant will cost 904 lives by the end of the century.
"It could well have a significant impact on climate change policies," New York University School of Law professor Richard Revesz, who was not involved with the research, told The New York Times of Bressler's figure.
There are still many uncertainties involved with the measurement, however. For one thing, Bressler based his calculations only off of excess heat deaths and did not include deaths from other extreme weather events, crop failures, civil unrest or the air pollution associated with greenhouse gas emissions, according to The New York Times and The Guardian. That means the true MCC could be either higher or lower.
"Based on the current literature," he told The New York Times, "this is the best estimate."
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By Lorena Gonzalez and Nate Shelter
World leaders are gathering in New York this week and next for the UN General Assembly meeting (UNGA76) and Climate Week. The two major events come at a critical moment for climate action.
The world is facing an emergency. Nearly every person on the planet felt the impacts of climate change this summer — from devastating flooding in China, Uganda, Nigeria, the United States and Western Europe; to extreme heatwaves and droughts across Africa and the Americas; to record wildfires in the United States, Canada, Russia and the Arctic; and heavy monsoon rains in India and the Philippines. The toll on people's lives and livelihoods keeps growing.
Meanwhile, the newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most authoritative scientific body on climate change, shows that these impacts are just the beginning. They will seem mild compared to what we will face if we do not act. The report finds that the world still has a narrow path to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) — the limit scientists say is necessary for avoiding the worst effects of climate change — but it will require rapid, transformational change this decade.
Governments and businesses — especially world's major emitters — must urgently step up their commitments to meet this challenge, and then rapidly move from commitments to action. Coming just six weeks before UN climate negotiations in Glasgow (COP26), where countries need to make major progress on climate action, UNGA and Climate Week are important opportunities for leaders to show their ambition on climate change.
Here are five critical areas we are watching for signs of progress:
1. Stronger National Climate Plans (NDCs)
UNGA presents a prime opportunity for major emitters to step up with more ambitious plans to reduce their emissions by 2030. This year, all countries are expected to submit updated national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), under the Paris Agreement. So far, 116 countries representing roughly half of global emissions have submitted updated plans. Yet only about half of these (67 countries), reflect higher ambition than their original plans submitted in 2015, and altogether these efforts are not nearly enough to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C.
Major emitters that have not yet announced new and more ambitious targets need to come forward by COP26 with serious offers to curb their emissions by 2030. At the G20 ministerial meeting in July, the G20 countries committed to submit new or updated NDCs by COP26. UNGA is a prime opportunity to come forward with those targets. A new paper by WRI and Climate Analytics finds that if all G20 countries set ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction targets and commit to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century, global temperature rise could be limited to 1.7 degrees C, keeping the 1.5 degrees C goal within reach.
The spotlight shines especially bright on China, the world's largest emitter, which has not yet announced a stronger emissions-reduction target for 2030. In order to get on track for its carbon neutrality pledge by 2060, it's imperative that China announces a more stringent NDC and stops international finance for coal, as South Korea and Japan (the other two major financiers of international coal) recently committed to do.
Other major emitters that need to step up include India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have yet to submit their updated NDCs, and Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia, which made no headway or backslid with the updated 2030 targets they submitted.
Vulnerable nations — many of which have submitted strong climate plans — are urging major emitters to take concrete, near-term action on climate change. Ensuring that major emitters raise their ambition by COP26 is one of the top priorities of the Allied for Climate Transformations 2025 (ACT2025) consortium, a group of organizations from vulnerable nations that are informing and influencing the COP26 negotiations. ACT2025 will soon release an Alliance Statement further crystalizing what must be delivered for COP26 to be both ambitious and just.
2. More Climate Finance From Wealthy Nations
A major issue to watch at UNGA is whether rich countries step up with new climate finance and other types of development assistance for developing countries. By COP26, developed countries need to show how they will meet and build upon their over-due commitment to jointly mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing nations. Addressing the climate finance gap is vital to COP26's success and to restoring trust with developing nations.
Indeed, the $100 billion annually is only a fraction of what vulnerable countries really need to decarbonize and build resilience to climate impacts, so it should be seen as a floor for climate finance. Developed countries should commit to deliver a minimum of $500 billion total over the 2020-2024 period, and should establish a more ambitious target to be agreed prior to 2025, to support developing countries.
The United States, especially, has not been contributing its fair share toward the global climate finance goal. Other rich countries lagging on contributions will also need to step up, including Italy, Canada, Australia, Spain and others. Will they do so during Climate Week?
Developed countries should also announce new pledges on finance for climate adaptation, especially for the Adaptation Fund, to ensure a balance of funding between mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation accounts for just 21% of overall climate finance. And developed countries need to improve access to climate finance and ensure it reaches the local level, which is a top priority for developing countries.
We will also watch for announcements on moratoriums for international financing for fossil fuels, including coal financing. At the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, its members reaffirmed their commitment to end unabated international coal finance by the end of 2021 and confirmed earlier pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
3. Creating More Equitable Food Systems
Alongside this year's General Assembly, the UN will host the world's first-ever Food Systems Summit to address inequities and inefficiencies in the food system and identify food-related solutions to fight climate change and achieve other development goals.
Countries and others should come forward with investments to produce food more sustainably; protect remaining ecosystems from agricultural expansion; reduce demand for land-intensive agriculture, such as by cutting food loss and waste; and restore degraded landscapes into productivity. By meeting these goals simultaneously, we can feed a growing world population while mitigating climate change, ensuring farmers and herders can adapt to the impacts of climate change, and lifting millions out of poverty.
4. Action From Non-State Actors
In addition to action from national governments, we'll need increased ambition from non-state actors, too, such as cities, businesses and more.
At Climate Week, a group of mayors will issue a call to action urging national and subregional governments, companies and financial institutions to urgently ramp up policies and investments to support forest conservation, restoration and sustainable forest management. They are issuing their declaration through the Cities4Forests initiative, a coalition of 73 major cities committed to greater forest action. Evidence shows that city residents depend deeply on forests — even those that are far away — for clean air and water, reducing heat islands and flooding, and sequestering carbon.
WRI will join partners in launching a major new cities program named UrbanShift, aimed at transforming cities through inclusive, low-carbon development. The program will engage with more than 23 cities across nine countries, advancing local solutions to challenges like climate risks, gender inequity, urban sprawl and more.
Businesses should also be stepping up in this moment between UNGA and COP. There is big momentum: Nearly 2,000 businesses have committed or set science-based targets to reduce their emissions. And over 250 asset owners, asset managers and banks — together responsible for assets over $80 trillion — have committed to transition their portfolios to net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. They have agreed to use science-based guidelines to reach net zero emissions, cover all emission scopes, include 2030 interim targets and commit to transparent reporting and accounting.
Businesses should also use their influence to push national governments to take more ambitious climate action. Most immediately, U.S. businesses should publicly support the reconciliation package being considered by the U.S. Congress, which presents one of the best opportunities to meet U.S. climate goals — the CEOs of 12 environment and sustainability groups recently called on businesses to do just that.
5. Reducing Non-CO2 Gases
We are also expecting the United States and Europe to announce a major new global pledge to reduce methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030. Other countries will be invited to sign onto the pledge. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with a warming potential 87 times that of carbon dioxide over 20 years. Reducing methane emissions is vital to addressing climate change.
The Urgency of Action During Climate Week and UNGA76
We stand at a pivotal moment. The climate impacts we are seeing today will seem mild compared to future years if we do not act. We need to make rapid, radical shifts in the ways we use and make energy, produce food, manage land, and move people and goods around. The good news is that doing so will create a healthier, safer, more prosperous world. It will create much-needed jobs and economic benefits — and prevent a calamitous future.
As COP26 quickly approaches, now is the time for governments, businesses and other stakeholders to act with the ambition this moment calls for. World leaders should use the global stage at UNGA76 and Climate Week to show their citizens and peers that they recognize the urgency of the crisis. Their actions will determine our collective fate.
Reposted with permission from World Resources Institute.
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A new study identifies threats facing dozens of bat species in areas of the world that are predicted to get hotter and drier.
By Tara Lohan
The Isabelline Serotine bat (Eptesicus isabellinus) ranges across areas north of the Sahara and into the southern portion of the Iberian Peninsula. But it may be time for the species to start packing its bags.
A new study in Global Ecology and Conservation found that dozens of bat species living in parts of the world predicted to get hotter and drier with climate change will need to shift their ranges to find suitable habitat. For Isabelline Serotine bats that could mean a big move — more than 1,000 miles, the researchers determined.
They won't be the only ones.
The study looked at two areas with high drought risk — western North America and the Western Palaearctic, which stretches across North Africa and Europe. They studied 43 species using three climate models and three emissions scenarios to determine where bats could move to "climate refugia" to find more suitable habitat, and which species are at the greatest risk of population decline if that journey isn't possible or easy.
The news isn't great. "All future emissions scenarios led to an overall reduction in predicted bat richness in both continents by 2080," the researchers found. "Areas projected to support high species richness in the current climate coincided with greatest predicted species loss and greatest future drought risk."
Already numerous bat species face threats to their habitat from development and degradation. In North America things are particularly dire. White-nose syndrome, a fatal disease caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has decimated cave-dwelling bats there, including killing more than 90% of some populations in less than a decade.
Now climate change and changes to water resources pose a risk, too. All bats need water for basic survival, but some rely on aquatic prey or forage near the surface of water. Many species also roost or select foraging sites near water. And previous research has shown that reproduction declines dramatically during drought.
Scientists conduct bat surveys in Arizona's Kaibab National Forest. USFS
"While many species have evolved to survive in water-limited landscapes, an increase in the frequency, duration and severity of drought conditions may result in conditions too harsh for bat populations to persist, and is a threat to the long-term survival of many bat species," the researchers wrote.
For about half the species studied, the area with a suitable climate would shrink, they found.
Coastal Europe and North Africa currently support the greatest amount of species richness, but are likely to see the highest number of species needing to leave. In Western North America, the low-elevation regions of the southwest U.S. and Mexico were predicted to lose the most species.
Those that may be able to extend their range to find more suitable climates will need to move fast to keep up with the changing climate. Not surprisingly, bats that are adept at traveling long distances are apt to do better in finding new habitat.
The factors driving these relocations vary by region, too, with temperature being the biggest factor for the Western Palaearctic populations and precipitation changes driving changes for bats in Western North America.
As the planet warms, mountain and coastal areas where things will be cooler are likely to see an influx of species.
Higher-elevation areas are predicted to retain the most species, including the mountains of Portugal, northern Spain, northern Italy, Mexico's Sierra Madre, and mountainous areas of Arizona and New Mexico. Populations in some coastal areas were also expected to remain suitable, including coastal California and Mexico, and western France and southern England.
But those places could see additional climatic changes, too.
"While our models predict montane and coastal areas in both regions to remain climatically suitable for the majority of bat species it should be noted that these 'refugia' may be influenced by additional climate effects such as sea level rise (coastal areas) and increased incidence and severity of wildfires (montane areas)," the researchers wrote. "At the highest emissions scenarios, very few lower latitude areas retained their full complement of species."
When it comes to shifting ranges, the researchers found that on average, bat species in the Western Palaearctic will have to move farther and faster than those in western North America.
For some species, there won't be a lot of options.
The study found that 4-6 species in the Western Palaearctic are likely to have little overlap between current and future suitable areas, which could lead to population declines or extinction. Two of them, Mehely's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi) and the greater noctule bat (Nyctalus lasiopterus), are already identified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. In Western North American, 1-3 species face similar concerns, including Myotis thysanodes, which is likely to lose 44% of its range and for which models show population declines of more than 90% by 2086.
Specialized bats that feed on nectar may also face additional threats in a changing climate, including landscape changes from wildfire.
"Additional factors that may determine the ability of bats to remain in landscapes with changing climates or colonize new areas include dispersal barriers, competition between species, prey and food plant availability, roost requirements, habitat fragmentation, disruption of migration phenology and influence of pathogens," the study showed.
There are some things that can help ensure greater bat conservation success. Areas of refugia and water sources need to be identified — and protected. We also need to continue to strengthen global efforts to protect biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers say.
"Land managers can prioritize conservation and management activities to enhance existing protected areas and promote connectivity between current and future bat habitats," the authors wrote. "Therefore, a commitment by world governments to significantly reduce carbon emissions should be urgently sought in order to avoid further deterioration of bat communities and the important ecosystem services that they provide."
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.
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By Julia Conley
The Tucson, Arizona-based non-profit group Humane Borders said Tuesday that amid the Southwest's extreme heatwave last month, an unusually large number of migrants' human remains were found in the desert near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The group, which maps the recovery of human remains using data from the Pima County medical examiner and operates stations scattered throughout the borderlands where migrants can access water, said its volunteers counted 43 human bodies in June.
At least 29 of the people whose remains were found were confirmed to have died last month, as Arizona officials recorded the hottest June on record. Temperatures reached above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix, which typically has similar weather to the Sonoran Desert, where migrants make perilous journeys throughout the year after crossing the border.
The Pima County medical examiner's office listed exposure to the elements as the most common cause of death among the people whose bodies were found.
The unusually high number of migrant deaths in the desert last month follows the discovery of 127 bodies in the border region in the first half of 2021, compared to 96 bodies that were recovered in the same period last year.
According to the Associated Press, the Brooks County Sheriff's Department in southern Texas, which also experienced extreme heat last month, reported 36 migrant deaths in the first five months of this year, surpassing the total number found in 2020.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the high temperatures have had a lot to do with it," Mike Kreyche, Humane Borders' mapping coordinator, told the AP last December when the newswire reported that 214 bodies were documented by the group for the year—a 10-year record which may be broken again this year.
At the online magazine Atmos, Yessenia Funes wrote on Monday about how the historic heat wave last month made an already treacherous journey more dangerous for migrants — and how the trend is likely to continue.
Funes wrote that along the U.S.-Mexico border since last October, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) "has conducted nearly 7,000 rescues—35% more than its last fiscal year," yet appears to have made "no clear plans" for avoiding mass casualties in the desert as the climate crisis worsens.
"Helping those in distress is good, but preventing them from entering such dangerous situations would be better," wrote Funes. "At the moment, the agency's only attempt to stop folks from migrating is through a militarized border and, well, telling them not to."
"What we must remember is that none of this is necessary. People shouldn't have to brave extreme desert climates to reach the United States," she added. "We should be able to offer them safe and legal pathways to find the help they seek. The fact that the U.S. doesn't is a choice our leaders make."
On social media, Funes noted that her parents trekked across the desert in the Southwest four decades ago.
@DrAriBernstein hearing about this rattles me. my parents came to the US by making that journey some 40 years ago.… https://t.co/ZMJQJt6clp— 𝕪𝕖𝕤𝕤𝕖𝕟𝕚𝕒 𝕗𝕦𝕟𝕖𝕤 (@𝕪𝕖𝕤𝕤𝕖𝕟𝕚𝕒 𝕗𝕦𝕟𝕖𝕤)1626097902.0
"It was treacherous then—but the Earth is a lot hotter now in the 1980s," Funes wrote. "And the border is a lot more militarized, too, so migrants are taking riskier routes to avoid border patrol."
"All of this will only grow more and more urgent and dangerous as the world grows hotter, countries in the Global South become more unstable, and more folks head north," Funes said.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
By Hannah Thomasy
From 2014 to 2016, the Gulf of Alaska experienced the worst marine heat wave of the decade. From single-celled organisms to top predators, practically no level of the ecosystem was left unscathed. During the Pacific marine heat wave, tens of thousands of dead seabirds washed up on beaches, unusually low numbers of humpback whales arrived in their summer habitats, and toxic algal blooms spread along the West Coast of North America.
Now, a new study in Scientific Reports casts doubt on whether Gulf ecosystems will be able to return to their pre–heat wave conditions. This study—a collaborative effort between researchers at NOAA and several other government and research organizations—combined dozens of data sets to build a detailed picture of how many heat wave–induced changes have persisted. Thanks in part to long-term monitoring efforts by Gulf Watch Alaska, a program established in 2012 to assess the ongoing effects from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists were able to compare pre–heat wave and present conditions in several different sections of the ecosystem.
"We were able to show these impacts—from the intertidal out to the pelagic [open ocean] ecosystem, and from algae and phytoplankton on up to whales and commercial fisheries, and a lot of different species in between," said Robert Suryan, a NOAA marine biologist and lead author of the study.
Shannon Atkinson, a professor in the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who was not involved in this study, said it's very important that we understand the changes taking place in the Gulf of Alaska. "The ecological significance is huge," she said. "We've seen such dramatic changes in the Far North…it really has made Alaska like a ground zero for climate change."
In addition to impacts on the animals that make their homes in the Gulf of Alaska, changes in the Gulf ecosystem could have major implications for the livelihoods of many Alaskans as well. This region supports subsistence fisheries, commercial fisheries, and a major tourism industry.
For some animals, the heat wave was devastating. Most metrics showed a decline in sea stars, herring, and Pacific cod; their populations today generally remain lower than pre–heat wave measures. Numbers of sea lion pups trended downward, and some areas had fewer nesting seabirds like common murres and kittiwakes.
But, Suryan pointed out, as some species suffered, others thrived. For example, researchers saw a major decrease in the amount of brown algae in the intertidal zone. That's bad news for species like herring, which lay their eggs on the algae. But as algae cover decreased, "that opened up space" for other organisms in the intertidal zone, explained Suryan. "In tidal communities, there's a lot of competition for space, so there was an increase in barnacles and mussels.… So that's a benefit to communities that rely more on those particular species."
Similarly, there have been positive and negative effects on different fisheries in the region. Although the Pacific cod fishery has suffered in the years during and since the heat wave, Suryan said that juvenile sablefish have been surviving and growing at greater rates than usual, so sablefish fisheries will likely do well in the coming years.
As ecosystems change, we as humans need to change how we interact with and manage them, researchers said. "With these types of studies, we're hopeful that we can really benefit the management of natural resources," said Suryan. "[We're] thinking about the communities in the region and the industries in the region—how can we help inform their adaptation to this change?"
An Uncertain Future
This study is just the beginning. Suryan looks forward to more focused research on the mechanisms by which these changes are occurring. Why do some species do better than others? Even within the same species, why do some age groups thrive while others decline? By understanding such mechanisms, he said, we will be better able to predict how the changing climate will affect the future of these important ecosystems.
In addition to measuring the number of animals in the population, Atkinson said that measuring things like reproductive rates and biomarkers of stress can also be valuable indicators of how well a group of animals is faring in a changing environment.
Unfortunately, climate change may not be the only threat these animals face. Atkinson said it's important to determine how animals will respond to cumulative stressors (including climate change, disease, and pollution) to predict how well populations will survive in the coming years.
This story originally appeared in Eos and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
The new report, released Monday, found that the climate is already changing in ways that are unprecedented in thousands to hundreds of thousands of years and that some effects, such as a certain amount of sea level rise, are already irreversible. It also warned that temperatures will likely spike beyond 1.5 to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century unless greenhouse gas emissions are widely and rapidly reduced.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the report a "code red for humanity," in a UN press release.
"The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk," Guterres said.
The report is officially titled IPCC Working Group I report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis. It is the first part of the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report, which is due in full in 2022. This initial publication comes less than three months before the next UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, as NBC News pointed out. The report will likely inform debate as world leaders are expected to arrive with ambitious pledges to reduce emissions by 2030.
The IPCC was first formed in the late 1980s and gathers thousands of scientists from 195 countries who review the latest scientific findings on climate change. Their reports are generally considered a scientific consensus on the issue. This latest report is the work of 230 authors and confirms that the climate crisis is largely human caused, is getting worse and will only be stopped with dramatic action.
The report concluded that the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming since 1850-1900. Further, since 1970, global temperatures have risen faster than in any other 50-year period over the last 2,000 years, according to BBC News.
"It is a statement of fact, we cannot be any more certain; it is unequivocal and indisputable that humans are warming the planet," report author professor Ed Hawkins, from the University of Reading, told BBC News.
This warming is already causing impacts such as more frequent and intense heat waves and more rainfall and flooding across the world, as evidenced by extreme weather events this summer such as heat-fueled wildfires in the U.S. West and deadly floods in Belgium and Germany.
"Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming," IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai said in the press release.
All of this is set to accelerate in the future. The report authors found that the world would hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2040 in all emissions scenarios run by the authors, and this could happen even earlier if emissions are not reduced, according to BBC News.
However, the report authors said that they thought the temperature rise could be paused and reversed if emissions are halved by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050. They also said that it was still possible to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but this is likely the last report that will be released while this is still the case."This report shows the closer we can keep to 1.5C, the more desirable the climate we will be living in, and it shows we can stay within 1.5C but only just – only if we cut emissions in the next decade," director of research at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London and IPCC lead author Joeri Rogelj told The Guardian. "If we don't, by the time of the next IPCC report at the end of this decade, 1.5C will be out the window."
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