Panera Bread customers now have the ability to make eco-conscious choices. The national soup and sandwich chain has partnered with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to label some of its menu items "Cool Food Meals," CBS News reported.
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Large methane leaks rose 32 percent in the first eight months of 2020, according to Paris-based data firm Karryos, as Reuters reported.
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Thirty of the world's largest investors, who together control $5 trillion in assets, have pledged to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of their portfolios by as much as 29 percent in five years.
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ExxonMobil plans to increase its annual carbon-dioxide pollution by more than 20 million tons per year over the next five years, Bloomberg reports.
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By Karen Charman
When President Donald Trump visited California on September 14 and dismissed the state Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot's plea to recognize the role of climate change in the midst of the Golden State's worst and most dangerous recorded fire season to date, he gaslighted the tens of millions of West Coast residents suffering through the ordeal.
Foxes Guarding the Henhouse<p>Before he assumed power, Trump attacked regulations as unnecessary barriers to freedom and economic prosperity. Since taking office, he has targeted anything enacted by the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and taken steps to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement, the international effort to combat climate change. He has also staffed heads of key agencies with climate deniers of various stripes, forced out career public servants and created a hostile work environment for those who don't profess loyalty to his deregulatory agenda.</p><p>Like Trump himself, some of his cabinet choices displayed an audacious penchant for <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage" target="_blank">self-dealing</a> and abusing their positions of authority. One example is Trump's first Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Scott Pruitt, who aggressively worked to overturn Obama's climate regulations, spent most of his time in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/trump-epa-head-steps-down-after-wave-of-ethics-management-scandals/2018/07/05/39f4251a-6813-11e8-bea7-c8eb28bc52b1_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">private meetings</a> with fossil fuel and chemical company executives, sidelined career EPA staff and reconfigured independent scientific advisory boards to make them more supportive of the industries EPA is charged with regulating. Dubbed "<a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-pruitt-leaves-20180705-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one of the most scandal-plagued Cabinet officials in U.S. history</a>," Pruitt resigned in disgrace after revelations about his multiple brazen abuses, including using the agency as his personal concierge service and piggy bank.</p><p>Pruitt's deputy, Andrew Wheeler, a <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/andrew-wheeler-acting-epa-administrator-former-number-two-before-scott-pruitt-resignation/" target="_blank">former coal industry lobbyist</a> and longtime Republican Washington insider, took over and has continued Trump's deregulatory agenda apace.</p><p>At the Department of Interior (DOI), a sprawling agency that oversees 75 percent of the country's public federal lands and includes the U.S. Geological Survey, which is tasked with evaluating natural hazards that threaten life and the health of our ecosystems, Trump installed another flamboyant anti-environmentalist to head the agency. Like Pruitt, Trump's first Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke aggressively attacked environmental regulations, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/05/07/epa-dismisses-half-of-its-scientific-advisers-on-key-board-citing-clean-break-with-obama-administration/" target="_blank">ditched more than 200 advisory panels</a>, and pushed to open up vast swaths of public land to oil and gas drilling. Described by one environmental group as "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/interior-secretary-zinke-resigns-amid-investigations/2018/12/15/481f9104-0077-11e9-ad40-cdfd0e0dd65a_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the most anti-conservation Interior secretary in our nation's history</a>," Zinke was forced out after numerous highly publicized conflict-of-interest scandals.</p><p>The DOI is now run by Zinke's deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, another longtime Republican Washington insider and former oil industry lobbyist who has also been the subject of <a href="https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/this-is-still-happening-david-bernhardt-trump-lincoln.html" target="_blank">several government ethics complaints</a> for various violations favoring polluting industries.</p><p>More recently, longtime climate change denier David Legates, a climatologist at the University of Delaware previously <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/19032015/u-delaware-refuses-disclose-funding-sources-its-climate-contrarian" target="_blank">funded by fossil fuel interests</a>, was hired for a <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/12/912301325/longtime-climate-science-denier-hired-at-noaa" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">top job</a> advancing weather modeling and prediction at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Legates has called for <a href="https://www.democracynow.org/2020/9/18/noaa_david_legates_climate_crisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">increasing carbon emissions</a>.</p><p>The Trump administration has done much more than stack government agencies with fossil fuel industry proponents. It has removed or diluted discussion of climate change from as many government platforms as it can and decimated independent scientific advisory boards that provide unbiased, fact-based information the government needs to enact policies that protect the public. It has also <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/482352-trump-budget-slashes-funding-for-epa-environmental-programs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slashed environmental agency staffing and budgets</a>.</p>
The Damage So Far<p>A September 17 <a href="https://rhg.com/research/the-rollback-of-us-climate-policy/" target="_blank">report</a> by the Rhodium Group calculates that 1.8 billion tons more greenhouse gases will be released over the next 15 years as a result of climate change rollbacks the Trump administration has achieved so far. These include repealing Obama's main climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to reduce dirty emissions from power plants; increasing pollution from cars by rolling back fuel economy standards and challenging California's longtime authority to set stricter emissions standards; targeting controls on hydrofluorocarbons, powerful greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigerators and air conditioners that also destroy the Earth's protective ozone layer; and allowing unreported and unregulated emissions of methane, another potent greenhouse gas, by oil and gas companies.</p><p>Besides these measures, Trump is also trying to gut core environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, all of which were enacted to protect human health and preserve a livable world.</p><p>The Paris agreement aims to keep the rise in average global temperatures at less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and hopefully cap it at 1.5 degrees C or lower. We are now at approximately 1.2 degrees C and counting.</p>
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World's Richest One Percent Are Producing More Than Double the Carbon Emissions as the Bottom 50 Percent
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.
By Jessica Corbett
This story was originally published on Common Dreams on September 19, 2020.
Some advocates kicked off next week's Climate Week NYC early Saturday by repurposing the Metronome, a famous art installation in Union Square that used to display the time of day, as a massive "Climate Clock" in an effort to pressure governments worldwide to take swift, bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rein in human-caused global heating.
<div id="0bde7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="002ce26d8d0c627f76d752e14d234d6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307397838884741121" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">LIVE: #ClimateClock about to go live at Union square replacing the atronomical clock, with a carbon countdown!… https://t.co/5OzxwUwWDf</div> — Greg Schwedock🌹(⧖) (@Greg Schwedock🌹(⧖))<a href="https://twitter.com/GregSchwedock/statuses/1307397838884741121">1600542909.0</a></blockquote></div><p>A mobile climate clock that Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg "now carries with her, as well as the larger Climate Clock project, was assembled by a team of artists, makers, scientists, and activists based in New York, and is part of the Beautiful Trouble community of projects," according to <a href="https://climateclock.world/" target="_blank">Climateclock.world</a>, which details the science behind the numbers displayed and how to install clocks in other cities.</p>
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By Betsy Mason
For decades, climate scientist David Keith of Harvard University has been trying to get people to take his research seriously. He's a pioneer in the field of geoengineering, which aims to combat climate change through a range of technological fixes. Over the years, ideas have included sprinkling iron in the ocean to stimulate plankton to suck up more carbon from the atmosphere or capturing carbon straight out of the air.
Solar geoengineering would involve injecting reflective aerosols from high-altitude planes into the layer of the upper atmosphere known as the stratosphere, which stretches between 10 to 50 kilometers (6 to 31 miles) above Earth's surface. The idea is that the aerosol particles would reflect a small amount of sunlight away from the planet, reducing the amount of heat trapped by greenhouse gases and mitigating some of the effects of climate change.
The planned Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment will send a balloon carrying scientific instruments in a gondola into the stratosphere. The instruments will release a small amount of material — likely ice or mineral dust — to form a kilometer-long plume of aerosol particles (left). Modified airboat propellers will allow the gondola to maneuver above the plume (middle) and lower instruments into the plume to take repeated measurements of how the particles spread through the stratosphere (right). ADAPTED FROM J.A. DYKEMA ET AL / PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY A 2014
David Keith envisions using multiple approaches to combat climate change. The red line shows how the impacts of climate change would worsen with a business-as-usual scenario of unabated burning of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emissions. Aggressively cutting emissions bends that curve, and removing carbon from the atmosphere offers further cuts, but there are still consequences from the already high levels of carbon dioxide. In this scenario, solar geoengineering would lessen the impact from existing atmospheric carbon dioxide, effectively carving the top off the curve.<p>Some people think we should use it only as a get-out-of-jail card in an emergency. Some people think we should use it to quickly try to get back to a preindustrial climate. I'm arguing we use solar geoengineering to cut the top off the curve by gradually starting it and gradually ending it.</p><p><strong>Do you feel optimistic about the chances that solar geoengineering will happen and can make a difference in the climate crisis?</strong></p><p>I'm not all that optimistic right now because we seem to be so much further away from an international environment that's going to allow sensible policy. And that's not just in the US. It's a whole bunch of European countries with more populist regimes. It's Brazil. It's the more authoritarian India and China. It's a more nationalistic world, right? It's a little hard to see a global, coordinated effort in the near term. But I hope those things will change.</p>
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Алексей Филатов / Getty Images
By Zebedee Nicholls and Tim Baxter
Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.
If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to email@example.com
Methane is a shorter-lived greenhouse gas - why do we average it out over 100 years? By doing so, do we risk emitting so much in the upcoming decades that we reach climate tipping points?<p>The climate conversation is often dominated by talk of carbon dioxide, and rightly so. <a href="https://www.livescience.com/58203-how-carbon-dioxide-is-warming-earth.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon dioxide</a> is the climate warming agent with the biggest overall impact on the heating of the planet.</p><p>But it is not the only greenhouse gas driving climate change.</p>
Comparing Apples and Oranges<p>For the benefit of policy makers, the climate science community set up several ways to compare gases to aid with implementing, monitoring and verifying emissions reduction policies.</p><p>In almost all cases, these rely on a calculated common currency - a carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO₂-e). The most common way to determine this is by assessing the global warming potential (<a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">GWP</a>) of the gas over time.</p><p>The simple intent of GWP calculations is to compare the climate heating effect of each greenhouse gas to that created by an equivalent amount (by mass) of carbon dioxide.</p><p>In this way, emissions of one gas - like methane - can be compared with emissions of any other - like carbon dioxide, nitrous dioxide or any of the myriad other greenhouse gases.</p><p><span></span>These comparisons are imperfect but the point of GWP is to provide a defensible way to compare apples and oranges.</p>
Limits of Metrics<p>Unlike carbon dioxide, which is relatively stable and by definition has a GWP value of one, methane is a live-fast, die-young greenhouse gas.</p><p>Methane traps very large quantities of heat in the first decade after it is released in to the atmosphere, but quickly breaks down.</p><p>After a decade, most emitted methane has reacted with ozone to form carbon dioxide and water. This carbon dioxide continues to heat the climate for hundreds or even thousands of years.</p><p>Emitting methane will always be worse than emitting the same quantity of carbon dioxide, no matter the time scale.</p><p>How much worse depends on the time period used to average out its effects. The most commonly used averaging period is 100 years, but this is not the only choice, and it is not wrong to choose another.</p><p>As a starting point, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/anthropogenic-and-natural-radiative-forcing/" title="IPCC AR5 Ch. 8" target="_blank">Fifth Assessment Report</a> from 2013 says methane heats the climate by 28 times more than carbon dioxide when averaged over 100 years and 84 times more when averaged over 20 years.</p>
Many Sources of Methane<p>On top of these base rates of warming, there are other important considerations.</p><p>Fully considered using the 100-year GWP and including natural feedbacks, the IPCC's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/anthropogenic-and-natural-radiative-forcing/" title="IPCC AR5 Ch. 8" target="_blank">report</a> says fossil sources of methane - most of the gas burned for electricity or heat for industry and houses - can be up to 36 times worse than carbon dioxide. Methane from other sources - such as livestock and waste - can be up to 34 times worse.</p><p>While <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2018GL079826" title="Understanding Rapid Adjustments to Diverse Forcing Agents" target="_blank">some uncertainty remains</a>, a <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2016GL071930" title="Radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide: A significant revision of the methane radiative forcing" target="_blank">well-regarded recent assessment</a> suggested an upwards revision of fossil and other methane sources, that would increase their GWP values to around 40 and 38 times worse than carbon dioxide respectively.</p><p>These works will be assessed in the IPCC's upcoming <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/" target="_blank">Sixth Assessment Report</a>, with the physical science contribution due in 2021.</p><p>While we should prefer the most up to date science at any given time, the choice to consider - or not - the full impact of methane and the choice to consider its impact over 20, 100 or 500 years is ultimately political, not scientific.</p><p>Undervaluing or misrepresenting the impact of methane presents a clear risk for policy makers. It is vital they pay attention to the advice of scientists and bodies such as the IPCC.</p><p>Undervaluing methane's impact in this way is not a risk for climate modellers because they rely on more direct assessments of the impact of gases than GWP.</p>
Tipping Points<p>The idea of climate tipping points is that, at some point, we may change the climate so much that it crosses an irreversible threshold.</p><p>At such a tipping point, the world would continue to heat well beyond our capability to limit the harm.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252" title="Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene" target="_blank">many tipping points</a> we should be aware of. But exactly where these are - and precisely what the implications of crossing one would be - is uncertain.</p>
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By Pep Canadell and Rob Jackson
The Paris climate agreement seeks to limit global warming to 1.5℃ this century. A new report by the World Meteorological Organization warns this limit may be exceeded by 2024 – and the risk is growing.
Greenhouse Gases Rise as CO₂ Emissions Slow<p>Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O), have all increased over the past decade. Current concentrations in the atmosphere are, respectively, 147%, 259% and 123% of those present before the industrial era began in 1750.</p><p>Concentrations measured at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory and at Australia's Cape Grim station in Tasmania show concentrations continued to increase in 2019 and 2020. In particular, CO₂ concentrations reached 414.38 and 410.04 parts per million in July this year, respectively, at each station.</p>
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂0) from WMO Global Atmosphere Watch.<p>Growth in CO₂ emissions from fossil fuel use slowed to around 1% per year in the past decade, down from 3% during the 2000s. An unprecedented decline is expected in 2020, due to the COVID-19 economic slowdown. Daily CO₂ fossil fuel emissions declined by 17% in early April at the peak of global confinement policies, compared with the previous year. But by early June they had recovered to a 5% decline.</p><p>We estimate a decline for 2020 of about 4-7% compared to 2019 levels, depending on how the pandemic plays out.</p><p>Although emissions will fall slightly, atmospheric CO₂ concentrations will still reach another <a href="https://theconversation.com/carbon-dioxide-levels-over-australia-rose-even-after-covid-19-forced-global-emissions-down-heres-why-144119" target="_blank">record high</a> this year. This is because we're still adding large amounts of CO₂ to the atmosphere.</p>
Global daily fossil CO₂ emissions to June 2020. Updated from Le Quéré et al. 2020, Nature Climate Change.
Warmest Five Years on Record<p>The global average surface temperature from 2016 to 2020 will be among the warmest of any equivalent period on record, and about 0.24℃ warmer than the previous five years.</p><p>This five-year period is on the way to creating a new temperature record across much of the world, including Australia, southern Africa, much of Europe, the Middle East and northern Asia, areas of South America and parts of the United States.</p><p>Sea levels rose by 3.2 millimeters per year on average over the past 27 years. The growth is accelerating – sea level rose 4.8 millimeters annually over the past five years, compared to 4.1 millimeters annually for the five years before that.</p><p>The past five years have also seen many extreme events. These include record-breaking heatwaves in Europe, Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, major bushfires in Australia and elsewhere, prolonged drought in southern Africa and three North Atlantic hurricanes in 2017.</p>
Left: Global average temperature anomalies (relative to pre-industrial) from 1854 to 2020 for five data sets. UK-MetOffice. Right: Average sea level for the period from 1993 to July 16, 2020. European Space Agency and Copernicus Marine Service.
1 in 4 Chance of Exceeding 1.5°C Warming<p>Our report predicts a continuing warming trend. There is a high probability that, everywhere on the planet, average temperatures in the next five years will be above the 1981-2010 average. Arctic warming is expected to be more than twice that the global average.</p><p>There's a one-in-four chance the global annual average temperature will exceed 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels for at least one year over the next five years. The chance is relatively small, but still significant and growing. If a major climate anomaly, such as a strong El Niño, occurs in that period, the 1.5℃ threshold is more likely to be crossed. El Niño events generally bring warmer global temperatures.</p><p>Under the Paris Agreement, crossing the 1.5℃ threshold is measured over a 30-year average, not just one year. But every year above 1.5℃ warming would take us closer to exceeding the limit.</p>
Global average model prediction of near surface air temperature relative to 1981–2010. Black line = observations, green = modelled, blue = forecast. Probability of global temperature exceeding 1.5℃ for a single month or year shown in brown insert and right axis. UK Met Office.
Arctic Ocean Sea-Ice Disappearing<p>Satellite records between 1979 and 2019 show sea ice in the Arctic summer declined at about 13% per decade, and this year reached its lowest July levels on record.</p><p>In Antarctica, summer sea ice reached its lowest and second-lowest extent in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and 2018 was also the second-lowest winter extent.</p><p>Most simulations show that by 2050, the Arctic Ocean will practically be free of sea ice for the first time. The fate of Antarctic sea ice is less certain.</p>
Urgent Action Can Change Trends<p>Human activities emitted 42 billion tons of CO₂ in 2019 alone. Under the Paris Agreement, nations committed to reducing emissions by 2030.</p><p>But our report shows a shortfall of about 15 billion tons of CO₂ between these commitments, and pathways consistent with limiting warming to well below 2℃ (the less ambitious end of the Paris target). The gap increases to 32 billion tons for the more ambitious 1.5℃ goal.</p><p>Our report models a range of climate outcomes based on various socioeconomic and policy scenarios. It shows if emission reductions are large and sustained, we can still meet the Paris goals and avoid the most severe damage to the natural world, the economy and people. But worryingly, we also have time to make it far worse.</p>
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By Kenny Stancil
The city of Hoboken on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against multiple Big Oil players—including ExxonMobil, incorporated in New Jersey—joining an increasing number of state and local governments using litigation in efforts to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for defrauding the public about foreseen climate crisis damages and to make companies "pay their fair share" of the costs of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a warming planet.
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New technology could produce a better, cheaper beer that's also good for the planet.
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