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Environment

The Amazon is burning because the world eats so much meat

CNN reports: While the wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest may constitute an “international crisis,” they are hardly an accident. The vast majority of the fires have been set by loggers and ranchers to clear land for cattle. The practice is on the rise, encouraged by Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s populist pro-business president, who is backed by the country’s so-called “beef caucus.” While this may be business as usual for Brazil’s

Global leaders urged to divert Brazilian government from ‘suicide’ path as Amazonian rainforest burns

The Guardian reports: International pressure may be the only way to stop the Brazilian government from taking a “suicide” path in the Amazon, one of the country’s most respected scientists has said, as the world’s biggest rainforest continues to be ravaged by thousands of deliberate fires. The large number of conflagrations – set illegally to clear and prepare land for crops, cattle and property speculation – has prompted the state

Climate change may change the way ocean waves impact 50% of the world’s coastlines

By Mark Hemer, CSIRO; Ian Young, University of Melbourne; Joao Morim Nascimento, Griffith University, and Nobuhito Mori, Kyoto University The rise in sea levels is not the only way climate change will affect the coasts. Our research, published today in Nature Climate Change, found a warming planet will also alter ocean waves along more than 50% of the world’s coastlines. If the climate warms by more than 2℃ beyond pre-industrial

Fires in the Amazon, the planet at risk

Tierra Curry writes: In Brazil, the Amazon rainforest is now burning at a record rate. The greedy, short-sighted policies of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro are jeopardizing indigenous peoples and countless plants and animals. Indeed, in the midst of a climate emergency, Bolsonaro’s policies to slash environmental protections and develop the Amazon for mining, ranching and farming jeopardize the future of life on Earth as we know it. North America

Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate, research center says

CNN reports: Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. The fires are burning at the highest rate since the country’s space research center, the National Institute for Space Research (known by the abbreviation INPE), began tracking them in 2013, the center said Tuesday. There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil

How the auto industry is challenging Trump’s effort to weaken pollution regulations

The New York Times reports: The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump’s auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more companies from joining California. Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors were all summoned by a senior Trump adviser to a White House meeting last month where he pressed them to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to

Amazon deforestation and Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s attack on science

Doug Boucher writes: Science is always a potential threat to authoritarian rulers, because it uncovers truths that contradict their lies. Recently we’ve seen a dramatic example of this conflict in Brazil, where the director of the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has been fired by the country’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, for releasing data showing a substantial increase in Amazon deforestation. INPE has been providing the world with measurements

Huge wildfires in the Arctic and far North send a planetary warning

Smoke from wildfires in Siberia drifts east toward Canada and the U.S. on July 30, 2019. NASA By Nancy Fresco, University of Alaska Fairbanks The planet’s far North is burning. This summer, over 600 wildfires have consumed more than 2.4 million acres of forest across Alaska. Fires are also raging in northern Canada. In Siberia, choking smoke from 13 million acres – an area nearly the size of West Virginia

Nations gather to tackle the world’s sixth mass extinction

The Guardian reports: From giraffes to sharks, the world’s endangered species could gain better protection at an international wildlife conference. The triennial summit of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), that began on Saturday, will tackle disputes over the conservation of great beasts such as elephants and rhinos, as well as cracking down on the exploitation of unheralded but vital species such as sea cucumbers, which clean ocean

The latest threat to endangered species: The Trump administration

Carl Safina writes: Endangered species come on lists. But lists obscure relationships. What can it mean that a few mussels, some snails we’ve never heard of, obscure crayfish in marginal headwaters and some island-confined songbirds are vanishing? Some 1,650 species of animals and plants in the United States are listed under federal law as endangered or threatened. But when they are reduced to a line item on a list, their

Restoring soil can help address climate change

No-till farming conserves soil by greatly reducing erosion. USDA NRCS South Dakota/Eric Barsness, CC BY-SA By David R. Montgomery, University of Washington It’s time to take soil seriously. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states with very high confidence in its latest report, land degradation represents “one of the biggest and most urgent challenges” that humanity faces. The report assesses potential impacts of climate change on food production and

It’s raining plastic: Microscopic fibers fall from the sky in the Rocky Mountains

The Guardian reports: Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee’s mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. “I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,” said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled “It is raining plastic”, raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating

Trump administration significantly weakens Endangered Species Act

The New York Times reports: The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law and making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats posed by climate change. The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step

To halt warming and ensure food supplies, land-use practices must change

E&E News reports: What’s good for the planet’s climate is also good for its food systems. Halting global warming and feeding the world’s rapidly growing population both require major overhauls to the way that humans manage the land they live on, according to a much-anticipated report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, released this morning, tackles the broad connections between climate change and land. With contributions from

A quarter of humanity faces looming water crises

The New York Times reports: Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth’s population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water. From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday. Many are arid countries to begin with;

We must change food production to save the world, says leaked report

The Guardian reports: Attempts to solve the climate crisis by cutting carbon emissions from only cars, factories and power plants are doomed to failure, scientists will warn this week. A leaked draft of a report on climate change and land use, which is now being debated in Geneva by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless