Jane Goodall on Conservation, Climate Change and COVID-19: 'If We Carry on With Business as Usual, We're Going to Destroy Ourselves'
By Jeff Berardelli
While COVID-19 and protests for racial justice command the world's collective attention, ecological destruction, species extinction and climate change continue unabated. While the world's been focused on other crises, an alarming study was released warning that species extinction is now progressing so fast that the consequences of "biological annihilation" may soon be "unimaginable."
- Jane Goodall Institute Revolutionizes Chimpanzee Protection With ... ›
- These Jane Goodall Quotes Will Inspire You to Save the World ... ›
- Jane Goodall: COVID-19 Is Result of Our Unhealthy Relationship ... ›
By Jeff Berardelli
In recent weeks, our nation has been forced to come to grips with the variety of ways in which inequality harms minority communities, from the death of George Floyd at the hands of police to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19. A recent Harvard study concluded that air pollution — which is typically worse in areas with larger minority populations — is linked to higher coronavirus death rates, along with a slew of other health problems.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Irina Ivanova
The millions of Americans who are skipping their morning commute and working from home because of the coronavirus have drastically reduced smog over America's largest cities and otherwise benefited the environment. Yet the growing ranks of workers now plying their trade online using tools like Zoom and Slack are taking their own toll.
How Dirty Is the Cloud?<p>Indeed, the digital domain is hardly emissions-free. Manufacturing a smartphone, tablet or computer as well as the network that supports them consumes considerable resources — everything from <a href="https://cms.cbsnews.com/hub/cmsframework/reroute/content_article/56996486-e00f-41e8-ba81-aff54844d68e#link=%7B%22assetType%22:%22article%22,%22uuid%22:%2256996486-e00f-41e8-ba81-aff54844d68e%22,%22slug%22:%22how-clean-energy-demand-could-fuel-conflict-in-congo%22,%22linkText%22:%22mining%20rare%20minerals%22,%22href%22:%22https://cms.cbsnews.com/content/article/56996486-e00f-41e8-ba81-aff54844d68e/version/us%22,%22role%22:%22content_link%22,%22target%22:%22_blank%22,%22edition%22:%22us%22%7D" target="_blank">mining rare minerals</a> to laying undersea cables for high-speed internet. And of course it takes oodles of electricity to power the whole system. Electricity in the U.S. still comes <a href="https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3#link=%7B%22role%22:%22standard%22,%22href%22:%22https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3%22,%22target%22:%22_blank%22,%22absolute%22:%22%22,%22linkText%22:%22overwhelmingly%22%7D" target="_blank">overwhelmingly</a> from generators powered by fossil fuels, not wind or solar.</p><p>"When we're using our cars, we see that we're using gas … But when you use a computer or a smartphone, it is not so obvious that it's also responsible for greenhouse gas emissions," Hugues Ferreboeuf, project director at the Shift Project, a Paris-based think tank, recently told CBS News.</p><p>The Shift Project issued an alarming <a href="https://theshiftproject.org/en/article/lean-ict-our-new-report/#link=%7B%22role%22:%22standard%22,%22href%22:%22https://theshiftproject.org/en/article/lean-ict-our-new-report/%22,%22target%22:%22%22,%22absolute%22:%22%22,%22linkText%22:%22report%22%7D" target="_blank">report</a> last year that found digital technologies' energy demand was growing at an unsustainable rate. "The only chance to keep the [global] temperature increase to 2 degrees is to divide by two the greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years," Ferreboeuf said. "If we want to change things, there is no alternative to us reviewing the way we use digital." </p>
Big Data Gets Bigger<p>The silver lining is that, at least for now, the energy impact of cloud computing remains relatively modest. Over the past decade, data centers — often called the "brains" of the digital world — have massively increased the amount of information they process while increasing energy use only a little. Since 2010, such data crunching has jumped more than fivefold, while energy use rose only about 6%, according to a <a href="https://datacenters.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/Masanet_et_al_Science_2020.full_.pdf#link=%7B%22role%22:%22standard%22,%22href%22:%22https://datacenters.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/Masanet_et_al_Science_2020.full_.pdf%22,%22target%22:%22_blank%22,%22absolute%22:%22%22,%22linkText%22:%22paper%22%7D" target="_blank">paper</a> published this year in Science.</p><p>"We're consuming much more data than we used to for not that much more energy," said Masanet, the paper's lead author. </p><p>Here's why: Data center operators have become much better at heating and cooling their massive buildings, essentially limiting or even eliminating a function that hogged more energy than running the servers themselves. The trend toward larger centers and better servers over the last decade, led by cloud-computing giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, has also helped lower the energy-to-data ratio.</p>
Who Pays for Digital?<p>So has the coronavirus lockdown in the U.S. decreased carbon emissions overall? Scientists are currently exploring that question, and it will likely be months before they can come up with a definitive answer. Yet Masanet has a strong hunch the answer is "yes" — even taking into account the rise in binge streaming.</p><p>"Of course there's more electricity use from being online more, but the savings we get from avoiding our commutes dwarf any increase in electricity," he said. "My instinct is that, yes, electricity use is going up, but the savings we get nationally from avoided travel is much greater."</p>
- 6 Ways Traveling Professionals Can Cut Their Carbon Footprint ... ›
- Coronavirus Lockdowns Led to Record 17% Emissions Drop - EcoWatch ›
By Margaret Brennan and Kelsey Micklas
Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and since well before the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization has been tracing and analyzing the impact of how climate change is impacting public health.
But as the global community continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, top climate officials say our attention needs to shift to climate-related issues that directly impact our health.
Here Are Five Other Things to Know About How Climate Change Is Expected to Impact Public Health Worldwide:<p>1. <strong>Air pollution kills 7 million people a year throughout the world</strong></p><p><strong></strong>About <a href="https://www.who.int/airpollution/news-and-events/how-air-pollution-is-destroying-our-health" target="_blank">9 in 10 people</a> around the world are inhaling polluted air. Air pollution is a contributing risk factor for many other illnesses such as heart disease and respiratory illness. According to the World Health Organization, a third of the deaths from strokes, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution, and there is some evidence emerging out of the COVID-19 outbreak that suggests people living in areas with higher air pollution are more likely to be infected with the virus.</p><p>"We're getting the first indications that places with high levels of air pollution may also have high rates of death and disease from COVID-19," said Dr. Campbell-Lendrum. "It's not conclusive at the moment, but it's what we would expect and that's what we think we're starting to see."</p><p><strong>2. But air quality has largely improved due to the coronavirus outbreak</strong></p>
NASA Earth Observatory images, based on data from the European Space Agency's Copernicus satellite, show nitrogen dioxide emissions dramatically reduced over central China as the coronavirus outbreak brought cities to a standstill. NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY<p><br></p><p>While the coronavirus has had devastating impacts around the globe, it has also led to a <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-satellite-animation-shows-pollution-clearing-over-china-and-italy/" target="_blank">decrease in air pollution</a>. In the northeastern United States, air pollution dropped by 30 percent in March, and countries like China and Italy have experienced similar decreases. </p>
NASA Earth Observatory images, based on data from the European Space Agency's Copernicus satellite, show nitrogen dioxide emissions dramatically reduced over central China as the coronavirus outbreak brought cities to a standstill. NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY<p>"We would never want to say this is okay, because the human cost of COVID-19 is so great," said Dr. Campabell-Lendrum. "What we do want to make clear is that we should try and hang on to some of these gains as we come out of the COVID-19 crisis."</p>
- A 'Green Stimulus' Could Battle Three Crises: Coronavirus ... ›
- Pope Francis Says Coronavirus May Be Symptom of Climate Crisis ... ›
- Coronavirus Response Proves the World Can Act on Climate Change ›
By Jeff Berardelli
Herds of horses, bison and reindeer could play a significant part in saving the world from an acceleration in global heating. That is the conclusion of a recent study showing how grazing herbivores can slow down the pace of thawing permafrost in the Arctic.
- Researchers Warn Arctic Has Entered 'Unprecedented State' That ... ›
- The Past 5 Years Were the Arctic's Warmest on Record - EcoWatch ›
- A Siberian Town Just Hit 100 F Degrees - EcoWatch ›