This Week on Earth

Week In Review – July 22nd

June 18, 2016 – As climate change continues to affect our planet, the question of whether to remain at home and take your chances, or and leave and find a new, safer place to live is one that is being asked by millions of people. In particular, responses to sea-level rises fall under the three broad categories, defense, accommodate and retreat. Homes in the frontline of the ocean and waves are valuable property, but attempts to fortify them are met with resistance from ecologists and other beach users, who say the houses should not have been built there in the first place. June 19, 2016 – The United Nations new report shows that of the drylands which cover about 41% of the world’s land surface, 1.1 billion hectares are forest, accounting for more than one-quarter of the global forest area. These trees are essential for life through the food, wood, and protection that provide for people. Fighting global hunger requires sustainable development, which is why the UN agency is urging the need to restore drylands to better cope with the effects of drought, desertification and land degradation. June 19, 2016 – Germany, the country considered Europe’s champion for renewable energy, has voted to limit the expansion of renewable power. This mirrors the problems the United States is facing as renewables are pushing nuclear power, the main source of zero-carbon electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy. The worrisome development in the combat against climate change is that renewables may not be able to do the job alone. “If it doesn’t work, the climate doesn’t have time for a do-over.” June 20, 2016 – In an unsurprising though worrisome move, the Republican Party released its 2016 platform that calls for pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, ending all renewable energy incentives and demoting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (which was actually set up by Richard Nixon) to a commission. While we are used to Republicans denying climate change as a political move, if this extremist platform were ever actually implemented, it would imperil clean air and clean water for all Americans. June 20, 2016 – In 2010, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured spilling 20,000 barrels of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. Six years later, Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership has received a fine of $177 million. Even five years after the spill, the river’s ecology had not fully returned. This fine is no more than ‘a slap on the wrist’, demonstrating what the US governments believes is important. fire June 21, 2016 – From 2011-2014, Greenland lost over 1 trillion tonnes of ice. Not only is the rapid melting and loss of ice and issue, but that fact that no one has noticed until now is also worrisome. Scientists estimate that this ice loss has contributed to up to 10 percent of all the sea-level rise that’s been documented since the 1990s. The good news from this study, however, is that the satellite techniques used will give scientists a holistic view of how the ice sheet on Greenland as a whole is changing, and a better idea of the processes that are causing the changes.