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2019-10-14. How Climate Change Impacts Wine.

posted by Alan Gould

By Eric Asimov, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/14/dining/drinks/climate-change-wine.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: Wine, which is among the most sensitive and nuanced of agricultural products, demonstrates how climate change is transforming traditions and practices that may be centuries old. Around the wine-growing world, smart producers have contemplated and experimented with adaptations, not only to hotter summers, but also to warmer winters, droughts and the sort of unexpected, sometimes violent events that stem from climate change: freak hailstorms, spring frosts, flooding and forest fires, just to name a few. Farmers have been on the front line, and grape growers especially have been noting profound changes in weather patterns since the 1990s. In the short term, some of these changes have actually benefited certain regions. Places, like England, that were historically unsuited for producing fine wine have been given the opportunity to join the global wine world, transforming local economies in the process. In areas like Burgundy, Barolo, Champagne and the Mosel and Rhine Valleys of Germany, where great vintages were once rare, warmer growing seasons have made it far easier to produce consistently exceptional wines. ...The accelerating effects of climate change are forcing the wine industry, especially those who see wine as an agricultural product rather than an industrial beverage, to take decisive steps to counter or adapt to the shifts.... 

2019-10-11. Why Amazon Fires Keep Raging 10 Years After a Deal to End Them.

posted by Alan Gould

By Clifford Krauss, David Yaffe-Bellany and Mariana Simões, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/world/americas/amazon-fires-brazil-cattle.html] For GSS A New World View chapter 5. Excerpt: ...The immense scale of the fires in Brazil this summer raised a global alarm about the risks they posed to the world’s largest rainforest, which soaks up carbon dioxide and helps keep global temperatures from rising. ...A deal inked 10 years ago was meant to stop the problem, but the ecological arson goes on as the Earth warms. ...In 2009, the three biggest Brazilian meatpacking companies signed an agreement with the environmental group Greenpeace not to buy cattle from ranchers who raised their beef in newly deforested areas. The deal was meant to be a model for the world, a partnership between private industry and environmental activists that would benefit both. ...But the vows made by those three companies — JBS, Minerva and Marfrig, which handle about 50 percent of the beef raised in the Amazon — have been only partially kept, according to prosecutors, environmentalists and academics who study the cattle industry. The failure to fulfill crucial elements of the ambitious promise — which were always going to be a challenge to achieve — is one of the main reasons the Amazon is on fire. Cattle ranching has been responsible for 18,000 square miles of additional deforestation — equivalent to New Hampshire and Vermont combined — since the 2009 agreement between Greenpeace and the meatpackers, according to University of Wisconsin researchers....  

2019-10-10. Greenland's Dying Ice.

posted by Alan Gould

By Paul Voosen, Science Magazine [in Sermilik Fjord, Greenland]. [https://vis.sciencemag.org/greenlands-dying-ice/] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: This summer, as meltwater streamed off the Greenland Ice Sheet in record amounts, a ramshackle research ship, the Adolf Jensen, sat idling in this fjord, icebergs near its bow and a mystery below it. Two years earlier, oceanographers had moored a sensor in the fjord's depths to decipher how warm Atlantic Ocean waters are eroding Helheim Glacier, one of the ice sheet's largest tongues. But now they couldn't retrieve the 500-meter-deep mooring—or its crucial data. ...Some two-thirds of Greenland's ice loss comes not as meltwater, but as chunks of ice that detach, or calve, from its 300 outlet glaciers—fast-moving rivers of ice that end in long fjords. ... warm Atlantic water is penetrating Sermilik Fjord, which researchers once thought was dominated by Arctic waters. Here, it meets cold meltwater draining through channels beneath the ice. Straneo believes the emerging freshwater, buoyant because of its low salinity, mixes with the warm water and forms a plume that wells up against the glacier's front, causing more melting and fracturing. It's like the ice in your glass of whiskey, she says. "If you just put it in and don't stir, it lasts a long time. If you stir it, it melts really quickly."....

2019-10-10. These State Birds May Be Forced Out of Their States as the World Warms.

posted by Alan Gould

By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/climate/state-birds-climate-change.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: Each state in America has an official state bird, usually an iconic species that helps define the landscape. Minnesota chose the common loon, whose haunting wails echo across the state’s northern lakes each summer. Georgia picked the brown thrasher, a fiercely territorial bird with a repertoire of more than 1,000 song types. But as the planet warms and birds across the country relocate to escape the heat, at least eight states could see their state birds largely or entirely disappear from within their borders during the summer, according to a new study [https://climate.audubon.org/]....  

2019-10-10. The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America.

posted by Alan Gould

By Nadja Popovich and Denise Lu, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/10/climate/driving-emissions-map.html] For GSS Energy Use chapter 9. Excerpt: Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the United States today and the bulk of those emissions come from driving in our cities and suburbs. The map below shows a year’s worth of CO2 from passenger and freight traffic on every road in the [choose city] metro area.... 

2019-10-08. After 50-year conservation effort, songbird flies off U.S. endangered species list.

posted by Alan Gould

By Michael Doyle, E&E News. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/after-50-year-conservation-effort-songbird-flies-us-endangered-species-list] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 6. Excerpt: The Kirtland's warbler has required protections for as long as there has been an Endangered Species Act (ESA), but that's about to change. In what the Trump administration and some environmentalists are calling a regulatory and collaborative success story, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today announced it is removing the notably loudmouthed songbird from the endangered species list. "The Kirtland's warbler has responded well to active management over the past 50 years," FWS said. "The primary threats identified at listing and during ... development of the recovery plan have been managed, and commitments are in place to continue managing the threats." FWS cited, in particular, the work done by Michigan state and federal agencies to boost breeding habitat and combat brood parasitism by an unscrupulous competitor species.... 

2019-10-11. In the Sea, Not All Plastic Lasts Forever.

posted Oct 15, 2019, 10:22 AM by Alan Gould

By William J. Broad, The New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/11/science/plastics-ocean-degrade.html] For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7. Excerpt: A major component of ocean pollution is less devastating and more manageable than usually portrayed, according to a scientific team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution [https://www.whoi.edu/press-room/news-release/sunlight-degrades-polystyrene-faster-than-expected/] on Cape Cod, Mass., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [http://news.mit.edu/2019/renewlogy-plastic-waste-1010]. Previous studies, including one last year by the United Nations Environment Program [https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf], have estimated that polystyrene, a ubiquitous plastic found in trash, could take thousands of years to degrade, making it nearly eternal. But in a new paper [https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.estlett.9b00532], five scientists found that sunlight can degrade polystyrene in centuries or even decades.... 

2018. Biodegradable plastic: The unintended consequences.

posted Oct 15, 2019, 10:19 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated Oct 15, 2019, 10:20 AM ]

United Nations Environment Programme. [https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf] In an effort to reduce plastic pollution, many governments have outlawed conventional plastic bags, allowing only the use and production of “biodegradable” bags. Nonetheless, to limit leakage and damage to the environment, the presence of sound waste management systems are as relevant for the so- called bio-degradable options as for fossil fuel-based plastics. Often “biodegradable” plastic items (including single-use plastic bags and containers) break down completely only if exposed to prolonged high temperatures above 50°C (122°F). Such conditions are met in incineration plants, but very rarely in the environment. Therefore, even bioplastic derived from renewable sources (such as corn starch, cassava roots, or sugarcane) or from bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids (PHA) do not automatically degrade in the environment and especially not in the ocean.

2019-10-08. As Sea Levels Rise, So Do Ghost Forests.

posted Oct 9, 2019, 11:30 AM by Alan Gould

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff and Gabriella Demczuk (photographer), New York Times. [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/08/climate/ghost-forests.html] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: Saltwater is killing woodlands along the East Coast, sometimes surprisingly far from the sea. ... Up and down the mid-Atlantic coast, sea levels are rising rapidly, creating stands of dead trees — often bleached, sometimes blackened — known as ghost forests. The water is gaining as much as 5 millimeters per year in some places, well above the global average of 3.1 millimeters, driven by profound environmental shifts that include climate change. Increasingly powerful storms, a consequence of a warming world, push seawater inland. More intense dry spells reduce freshwater flowing outward. Adding to the peril, in some places the land is naturally sinking. All of this allows seawater to claim new territory, killing trees from the roots up.... 

2019-10-01. Human Activity Outpaces Volcanoes, Asteroids in Releasing Deep Carbon.

posted Oct 9, 2019, 11:26 AM by Alan Gould

By Kimberly M. S. Cartier, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/human-activity-outpaces-volcanoes-asteroids-in-releasing-deep-carbon] For GSS Climate Change chapter 7 and Life and Climate chapter 9. Excerpt: Of the 1.85 billion billion metric tons of carbon that exist on Earth, 99.8% exists belowground, according to new reports on deep carbon. The research estimates that human activity annually releases into the atmosphere around 40 to 100 times as much carbon dioxide as does all volcanic activity. That’s also a slightly higher rate of carbon emission than Earth experienced just after the asteroid impact that likely killed the dinosaurs, the researchers found. ...The new reports summarize 10 years of field data collection, lab experiments, and computer modeling of the origin of Earth’s carbon, how it circulates throughout the Earth system, and extreme events that can upset Earth’s carbon balance.... 

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