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Climate change
June 12, 2019

A new study has found that the Pentagon emits more greenhouse gasses in one year than several industrialized countries, including Sweden and Portugal.

The Defense Department is the world's single largest consumer of oil, and in 2017, the Pentagon released 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the study states. "If it were a country, it would have been the world's 55th largest greenhouse gas emitter," writes study author Neta Crawford, a political scientist at Boston University.

Most of the Pentagon's energy consumption is related to maintaining 560,000 buildings at 500 military installations and the jet and diesel fuel used to move soldiers and weapons. Crawford said the military has been using more efficient vehicles, and it would make a huge difference if the Pentagon started rethinking certain missions and whether they are necessary. "There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions," Crawford said. Catherine Garcia

June 4, 2019

Most companies are preparing for increased costs as the planet warms, but some are ready to reap the profits that could come along with climate change, The New York Times reports.

In 2018, more than 7,000 companies submitted reports on the risks and opportunities climate change could create for their business to CDP, which used to be known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. Many firms know they could soon take a big financial hit unless they take proactive steps. For example, Hitachi Ltd., a Japanese manufacturer, said that increased rainfall and flooding in Southeast Asia could knock out some of their suppliers. Alphabet, Inc., Google's parent company, understands that rising temperatures could increase cooling costs in their "energy-hungry" data centers.

But Eli Lilly, a drug maker in the United States, pointed to research that shows how rising temperatures across the globe could drive the spread of infectious diseases, the Times reports. That would actually help the company financially.

The sentiment echoes the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently said that melting ice in the arctic could help open new trade routes. Read more about how companies are preparing for climate change at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

May 22, 2019

A new study warns that if nothing is done to curb carbon emissions, sea levels could rise by more than six feet by the end of the century, flooding major cities — including Shanghai, Miami, and Mumbai – and displacing about 200 million people.

As the Earth gets warmer, ice sheets are melting faster than previously predicted, the study's scientists said. Co-author Robert Kopp, director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Studies at Rutgers University, told NBC News there are many uncertainties when it comes to the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. For the study, 22 climate experts were asked to estimate the ice sheets' effect on sea level rise if temperatures rose by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and 9 degrees Fahrenheit, which is "consistent with unchecked emissions growth."

A 9 degree uptick was the worst-case scenario, and scientists predicted it would cause sea levels to rise by more than six feet by 2100, permanently flooding 700,000 square miles of land. If the temperature rose by only 3.6 degrees, melting ice sheets would add about two-and-a-half feet to sea level rise. Kopp said not all hope is lost, and "changing the course of emissions really can significantly affect this issue over the next 80 years." The study was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Catherine Garcia

May 20, 2019

A group of scientists from Stanford University have proposed a rather unconventional plan to fight climate change.

Their research, published on Monday in Nature Sustainability, concluded that converting methane into carbon dioxide could actually help reduce the warming of the Earth. Methane and carbon dioxide are both so-called "greenhouse gases" — in fact, carbon dioxide is largely responsible for the climate predicament we find ourselves in, the Los Angeles Times explained. But as it turns out, more carbon dioxide might not be as disastrous as we think.

Methane traps much more heat than carbon dioxide, "on a molecule-for-molecule basis." So by converting much of our atmospheric methane into carbon dioxide, we could dramatically reduce the impact of climate change. This process would eliminate about one-sixth of human-caused global warming, while only adding a few months' worth of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, researchers found.

Of course, the best case scenario would be to stop greenhouse gas emissions entirely, as many scientists have been saying for years. But since that hasn't been a very popular plan, this could be the next best thing. Converting methane into carbon dioxide "would not be a deal-breaker," said Rob Jackson, the study's lead author.

Further research will be required in order to determine whether this plan would be realistic to achieve, but the study's authors are "cautiously optimistic." Learn more at the Los Angeles Times. Shivani Ishwar

April 10, 2019

Meatless Monday might not be your only way to save the planet.

Livestock industries create 14.5 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, one of the major driving factors for continuing climate change, so environmental advocates have long suggested cutting down on the amount of meat you eat as a way to mitigate the effects of climate change. But a new study shows that you might not have to give up on meat at all, Carbon Brief reported. Instead, you could try changing the type of meat you consume.

While meat products are popular among people worldwide, certain parts of livestock animals are often passed over. The new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, shows that choosing those less popular parts of the animals, known as offal, can still help cut down on your carbon footprint.

The study took a look at the implications of various diet changes in Germany's population, finding that while halving the amount of meat consumed could cut the country's livestock emissions by 32 percent, even just eating these meat by-products like liver and tripe could still cut emissions by 14 percent.

Germany is the European Union's largest meat producer, so it's reasonable to think this study's findings could apply to other countries, too. Pursuing a combination of eating less meat and reducing meat waste could potentially cut the livestock industry's emissions by 43 percent.

Read more about this study at Carbon Brief. Shivani Ishwar

April 2, 2019

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday it's leaving the U.S. lobbying organization American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers (AFPM) because a review of Shell's industry ties uncovered "material misalignment on climate-related policy positions with this association." Among the disagreements cited was AFPM's lack of "stated support for the goal of the Paris Agreement," which Shell backs, and approval of President Trump's efforts to roll back auto mileage standards.

"The rupture signals how Shell and some other oil giants, largely headquartered in Europe, are moving more aggressively on climate than the petroleum industry as a whole," Axios explains. But of the 19 trade group memberships Shell reviewed, under a deal reached in December with green activist investors, the oil giant severed ties only with AFPM. Shell found "some misalignment" on climate policy with the top U.S. oil lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but it pledged only to "continue to engage further with these industry associations to promote climate-related policies that support the goal of the Paris Agreement." Peter Weber

February 24, 2019

Three senior Trump administration officials told The Washington Post the White House is planning on creating a working group comprised of specific federal scientists who will counter that the burning of fossil fuels is bad for the planet.

These are people who are skeptical about climate change and the impact humanity has on global warming, the officials said. The scientific consensus is that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving global warming, and if something isn't done to curb them, the planet won't be able to recover. This is an initiative of the National Security Council, and the group would not be subject to public records requests or have a representative membership, the Post reports. Catherine Garcia

February 1, 2019

The U.S. has been hit by a polar vortex. Australia is experiencing the polar opposite.

The Midwest is currently pulling out of a deadly cold week, where Chicago dropped to a low of 23 degrees below zero and Minnesota saw 77 degrees below zero with wind chill. Meanwhile, southern Australia has reached a record-breaking 121 degrees Fahrenheit, and things are only expected to get worse. That all makes for an incredibly dramatic contrast on the Dark Sky weather app, as posted by astrophysicist Grant Tremblay.

At least 21 deaths have been reported due to the cold weather, which can induce hypothermia and frostbite in minutes, per HuffPost. Temperatures largely broke their subzero streak Friday, and are expected to spike into the 40s over the weekend in Chicago.

Yet in Australia, the government started Friday with a warning that Melbourne "could see its hottest day in ten years." Months of excruciating heat has killed horses and millions of fish, and is estimated to have wiped out a third of the continent's bats. Things aren't expected to cool until Monday, and no human deaths have been reported yet.

And yes, this extreme weather is likely stemming from human-made climate change. Kathryn Krawczyk

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