Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Antarctica’s ice loss is on the rise

Inside Climate News reports: The floating ice shelves along the edges of West Antarctica that slow the flow of its vast glaciers are under assault from all directions, and they’re becoming more vulnerable to collapse, scientists warn. Warmer water has started creeping in under them, eating away at the ice from below. Warmer air—and, in places, more rain—is melting the surface, creating ponds that can drain deep down and then

We are running out of unpolluted air

The Atlantic reports: Officials have implored the people of New Delhi to stay inside, indefinitely. Five million children in India’s capital have been handed face masks. Everyone is to keep windows closed. Contrary to the most fundamental medical advice, the city’s chief minister urged residents this week to “avoid outdoor physical activities.” News images seem cut from an apocalyptic outbreak film. One of India’s holiest rivers is covered in toxic

Indigenous people and illegal miners are engaged in a fight that may help decide the future of the planet

Jon Lee Anderson writes: One day in 2014, Belém, a member of Brazil’s Kayapo tribe, went deep into the forest to hunt macaws and parrots. He was helping to prepare for a coming-of-age ceremony, in which young men are given adult names and have their lips pierced. By custom, initiates wear headdresses adorned with tail feathers. Belém, whose Kayapo name is Takaktyx, an honorific form of the word “strong,” was

How Trump’s war on California tries to paint a progressive state as an environmental laggard

Inside Climate News reports: As fierce Santa Ana winds whipped the wildfires outside of Los Angeles, stirring exactly the kind of infernos that scientists expect in a hotter, drier California, President Donald Trump was gloating over the new allies he has won in his epic battle to block that state’s efforts to fight climate change. California has been a world innovator in crafting environmental policy, and its pioneering approach to

The EPA disbanded our clean air science panel. We met anyway – and found that particle pollution regulations aren’t protecting public health

Vehicles are a major source of particulate air pollution. Deliris/Shutterstock By H. Christopher Frey, North Carolina State University Since 1980, emissions of six common air pollutants have decreased by 67%, thanks largely to government regulation. At the same time, U.S. gross domestic product has increased by 165%. While some assert that regulation acts as a drag on the economy, this record indicates that environmental protection does not have to undercut

EPA set to revoke restrictions on toxic metals poisoning drinking water

The New York Times reports: The Trump administration is expected to roll back an Obama-era regulation to limit dangerous heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury from coal-fired power plants, according to two people familiar with the plans. With a series of new rules expected in November, the Environmental Protection Agency will move to weaken the 2015 regulation by relaxing some of the requirements on power generators and also exempting

The devastating environmental impact of technological progress

Wired reports: For decades, David Maisel has been photographing places where humans are changing the environment so dramatically that the impact can be seen from the sky. For his latest project, Desolation Desert, the San Francisco-based visual artist spent two weeks in and around South America’s Atacama desert, where humankind’s insatiable demand for copper, lithium and rare-earth metals to fuel the consumer electronics and electric vehicle industries is reshaping the

Ocean acidification can cause mass extinctions, fossils reveal

The Guardian reports: Ocean acidification can cause the mass extinction of marine life, fossil evidence from 66m years ago has revealed. A key impact of today’s climate crisis is that seas are again getting more acidic, as they absorb carbon emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Scientists said the latest research is a warning that humanity is risking potential “ecological collapse” in the oceans, which produce half

How ballooning carbon emissions will impact trees

Daniel Grossman writes: Apart from the experts, few people realize that climate change could be worse. Every year, trees, shrubs, and every other kind of plant absorb 9 billion tons of CO2—one quarter of what we let loose from our tailpipes and smokestacks—and help slow the gas’s accumulation in the atmosphere. If not for the world’s photosynthesizers, the concentration of CO2 in the air, along with Earth’s temperature, would be

Trump wants to erase protections in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a storehouse of carbon

Inside Climate News reports: The Trump Administration wants to allow logging in previously off-limit areas of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the U.S. Forest Service announced Tuesday, a move that could turn one of the nation’s largest carbon sinks into a source of new climate-changing emissions. The old-growth temperate rainforest contains trees that are centuries old and play a crucial role in storing carbon. In a state that is synonymous with

Global warming threatens two-thirds of North American bird species

National Geographic reports: As they soar through the sky, birds seem blissfully impervious to the stresses of Earth. Indeed, their ability to migrate makes them more resilient to habitat disruption than less dynamic creatures. That makes the most recent annual report produced by the National Audubon Society, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting birds and their habitat, particularly startling. Released this week, the report predicts that if Earth continues to warm

What the Bureau of Land Management shake-up could mean for public lands and their climate impact

InsideClimate News reports: The changes underway at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management might not seem like much: A few hundred employees are being relocated from offices near the White House and dispersed throughout the West, while agency leaders move in next door to energy companies in newly leased headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado. But along with the appointment of a self-described Sagebrush Rebel as acting director, the shuffling of

‘If you pour poison unremittingly onto the land for 70 years — which is what we’ve done — you’re going to kill everything’

  One in seven British species is threatened with extinction, according to a new report by the country’s main wildlife and conservation charities. The study shows there have been strong or moderate declines in 41% of all species since 1970.

As Amazon fires burn, Pope convenes meeting on the rainforests and moral obligation to protect them

Georgina Gustin reports: Pope Francis convened nearly 200 bishops, climate experts and indigenous people from the Amazon on Sunday for an unprecedented meeting in Rome to discuss the fate of the Amazonian rainforests and the world’s moral obligation to protect them. The meeting, or Synod, is the first of its kind to address an ecosystem, rather than a particular region or theme. It comes as fires continue to consume the

For Rachel Carson, wonder was a radical state of mind

By Jennifer Stitt In 1957, the world watched in wonder as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, into outer space. Despite Cold War anxieties, The New York Times admitted that space exploration ‘represented a step toward escape from man’s imprisonment to Earth and its thin envelope of atmosphere’. Technology, it seemed, possessed the astonishing potential to liberate humanity from terrestrial life. But not all assessments of

Radical warming in Siberia leaves millions of Russians living on unstable ground

From Zyryanka River in Russia’s Siberia, the Washington Post reports: Andrey Danilov eased his motorboat onto the gravel riverbank, where the bones of a woolly mammoth lay scattered on the beach. A putrid odor filled the air — the stench of ancient plants and animals decomposing after millennia entombed in a frozen purgatory. “It smells like dead bodies,” Danilov said. The skeletal remains were left behind by mammoth hunters hoping