The EU is committed to a 40 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 (based on 1990 levels). The USA is committed to a 26 to 28 per cent reduction by 2025 (based on 2005 levels), while China aims to peak its carbon emissions prior to 2030, and to start reducing them as early as possible. Collectively, these countries are responsible for almost half of current annual emissions of greenhouse gases.These pledges – known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – are all precursors to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, where world leaders will be gathering in December to try and confirm a meaningful agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions and avoiding the most harmful effects of climate change. Commitments have also been made by Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, Gabon, Russia, Liechtenstein and Andorra.Unfortunately, the current INDCs are not enough. While the commitments made to date are forecast to reduce carbon dioxide … [Read more...] about Paris climate pledges lack ambition
What impacts climate change
In October last year, the winning image of the world’s most prestigious nature photography competition was unveiled to the world. It was a simple, yet startling photograph of a red fox holding freshly caught prey in its jaws. Described like that, the top prize winner of the 51st Wildlife Photographer of the Year award doesn’t sound particularly remarkable, but a closer inspection soon revealed that something wasn’t quite right. The blood soaked carcass of the fox’s kill was that of an all-white Arctic fox. This was the first time that a red fox had been seen and photographed in the act of killing an Arctic fox. Only in recent years has the red fox encroached into the territory of its smaller polar-dwelling cousin, a direct result, according to Earth scientists and conservationists, of warming temperatures in Arctic climates.The photographer, Canadian physician Don Gutoski, wasn’t aware of the significance of his image at the time; he was one of several … [Read more...] about Climate conflict: How to photograph climate change
As the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, with over 2,500 individual reefs across 348,000 sq km, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is undoubtedly an iconic landmark – even ambassador – for Australia. It has immense biodiversity, and is home to over 1,500 species of fish, 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusc, and 240 species of birds.But, of course, it is threatened. A 2012 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the reef had lost over half of its coral cover since 1985 – falling from 28 to 13.5 per cent – and is forecast to lose half again by 2022. The damage is predominantly being caused by both storms and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish, with coral bleaching also to blame for around one tenth of the damage.Additionally, a 2014 report by the GBR Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) found that the reef ‘continues to be at serious risk and the threats likely to affect it in the future are … [Read more...] about What will be the fate of the Great Barrier Reef?
We’ve come a very long way from the ill-fated debacle which brought the curtain down on COP15, when the world gathered in Copenhagen in 2009 with hopes high for rubber-stamping an official, legally-binding deal on global greenhouse emissions.With a cacophony of interested parties fighting to make themselves heard, destabilising progress on a final agreement, the summit ended in disarray. It was clear that significantly limiting the impacts of climate change could not be agreed upon without the involvement of representatives from beyond the traditional heartlands of the climate movement.Following many years of consultations on a global scale, COP21 will see thousands descend upon Paris for the latest chance to seal a deal to lead the way on creating a low-carbon future. The stakes are high, and the legacy of Copenhagen lingers. But with plummeting costs for renewable energy generation, self-assigned Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) being submitted by most … [Read more...] about COP21: The Political Climate
If you thought diving down from outer-space to check out a trail in Google Earth was wicked cool, try going into the future: Google Earth just added climate layers that can show you what your favorite hiking destinations might look like in years to come. The brainiacs at Google added Climate Change on Google Earth to coincide with the much-anticipated UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, December 7-18. Using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the video tutorials go through the various scenarios of what could happen in high and low emission situations. That's just the beginning: Google also plans on adding ocean level, water depletion, and polar ice sheet melting layers in the weeks to come. To up the ante, Google got everyone's favorite environmental champion, Internet inventor Al Gore, to narrate the videos. Here's what Google had to say about it: In collaboration with the Danish government and others, we are launching a series of Google Earth layers and … [Read more...] about Google Climate Future
Mt. Rainier is a hulking mass of ice and rock rising 14,410 feet into the sky. But recent weather patterns are carving it away, not gradually but in violent fits and starts. Our Northwest Editor takes his kids to see the peak he loves before its unrecognizable. “There’s absolutely no one out here,” I thought. It was October 2003 and I was taking a solo, three-day hike around Mt. Rainier National Park’s Northern Loop. Even in the wilderness of many national parks, seeing absolutely no one for days—conjuring a sense of this country’s wild edge before western settlement—is a rare gift. But for two clear, crisp autumn days I had the jaw-unhinging views of Mount Rainier and its meadows all to myself. Then the rain came. Throughout my second night, wind and water lashed at my shivering tent. In the morning, I set out in a downpour punctuated by wind-borne sheets of water that hit me as if hurled from a barrel. I crossed a slick log bridge over … [Read more...] about The Changing Mountain
Water is the new climate change. Well, not exactly. They’re related. But water scarcity is the greatest environmental concern, and one of the ways that climate change is rearing its ugly head. As the climate heats up, water sources like the Tibetan Plateau, which supplies half the water for 40% of the world’s population, is drying up. And we’re sucking down the world’s water with a giant straw. The water made to produce what we eat and wear, to run our lives, and the water we waste equals about 1058 gallons per day per person in North America and Europe. People living in Asia use about 320 gallons per day. How is this possible? Let’s see, it takes 37 gallons of water to produce a cup of coffee, 1800 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, and about 410 gallons per pound of rice and 160 per pound of wheat. That cotton dress shirt you’re wearing while you read this at work—it took 660 gallons of water to make it. Dyeing a tee shirt and … [Read more...] about Whats your Water Footprint?
Alaska is a place for pioneers, and no more so than today as the state faces this century's biggest challenges—energy development and climate change. Just as they did 30 years ago when the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System jump-started their oil economy, residents of the Last Frontier are surveying their options and reinventing themselves.Resource extraction still dominates the state, but citizens and politicians are now engaging in open discussions about how new mining, drilling, and pipeline projects will impact the environment. Damage from melting permafrost is proving that rising temperatures affect people and jobs as well as polar bears. Backpackers should pay attention to Alaska, and not only because its peaks and glaciers inspire those epic daydreams and once-in-a-lifetime trips. After all, the 49th state's immense wealth in energy and wilderness ensures that any decisions made up north will eventually flow down a pipeline or river valley and spill into the Lower 48. Finite … [Read more...] about What Will Alaska’s Future Look Like?
What do the Everglades and Wrangell-St. Elias–two iconic national parks at the far ends of North America–have in common? According to scientists, both face a grave future as temperatures rise. To see the impact up close, our reporter pushes deep into the backcountry, discovering landscapes both beautiful and threatened beyond his imagination.In August 1999, British artist Hamish Fulton set out on a long hike through the mountains of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, in southeast Alaska. Fulton's destination was Iceberg Lake, a crystalline body of glacier-dammed water in a remote valley above the Bagley Icefield. Fulton had a week of rough backpacking behind him when he crested a low pass on a sunny morning and paused for his first look at the lake. On the near side of the valley, a creek emerged from an alpine glacier. But instead of flowing into a blue lake, the stream meandered across a plain of gray mud, then vanished into a field of dripping icebergs.Although many of … [Read more...] about The Impact of Climate Change on Florida’s Everglades, Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias
Winter in Alaska isn’t what it used to be. Just ask Mark Bertram. Bertram, a wildlife biologist at the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge outside of Fairbanks, has been living in the state since 1986. To hear him tell it, the cold season there is getting warmer. “Back in the ‘80s and through the early ‘90s especially, it was very common to have multi-week periods of very cold weather. I’m talking about from 40, to 50, to 60 below,” he says. Bertram recalls the winter of January 1989 when Galena set its all-time record low, which according to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was a stunning 70 below. These days, he says, “very rarely does it get down to 40 below. Climate change in Alaska isn’t just anecdotal. According to recently released data from the National Weather Service, average temperatures last year at 14 of the agency’s monitoring stations in Alaska—from Annette down in the … [Read more...] about In Alaska, Climate Change is Already Affecting How People Play