Two Of The World’s Largest Countries Are Joining Forces To Fight Climate Change | ThinkProgress

by Ari Phillips Posted on June 30, 2015 at 2:43 pm

CREDIT: AP/Jacquelyn Martin

On Tuesday, Brazil and the United States announced a joint effort to address climate change and boost renewable energy during a visit by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the White House.

Specifically, both countries pledged to increase renewable energy targets to 20 percent by 2030. The target excludes hydropower, an especially contentious power source in Brazil, where large and valuable ecosystems can be flooded out to make way for reservoirs.

Brazil also committed to restore and reforest 12 million hectares — an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania — and to eliminate illegal deforestation.

“The environmental agenda is absolutely key and essential for our two countries,” Rousseff said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. She also vowed to fight for an “ambitious” climate agreement when international leaders and negotiators gather in Paris for a climate summit at the end of the year.

…(read more).

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Western Europe sizzles in first heatwave of summer, with no end in sight for some places


euronews (in English)

Published on Jun 30, 2015

Western Europe is sweltering in the first big heatwave of the summer, with several days of +30 degree temperatures or more in many places, while in some areas the end cannot be predicted.

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EUROPE HEATWAVE – France and UK issue heat warnings as temperatures rise


FRANCE 24 English

Published on Jul 1, 2015

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New Research Warns Of Catastrophic Food Shortages Due To Unchecked Climate Change

by Joe Romm Posted on June 23, 2015 at 10:55 am

CREDIT: Shutterstock

New research supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office and insurer Lloyd’s of London finds that, absent major changes, humanity risks a catastrophic collapse in its ability to feed itself by mid-century, due in significant part to human-caused climate change.

Last year, the United Nations’ “highly conservative” IPCC climate panel warned that humanity is risking a “breakdown of food systems linked to warming, drought, flooding, and precipitation variability and extremes” on its current path of unrestricted carbon pollution. Many studies in the last 12 months have strengthened the scientific case (see this, for instance).

The new research is from the Global Resource Observatory, a project of Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) partnering with the UK government’s Foreign Office; Lloyds of London; a “coalition of leaders from business, politics and civil society”; the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries; and both the Africa and Asian Development Banks.

The GSI group does business-as-usual forecasting using system dynamics modeling — arguably the only type of modeling that treats feedbacks and time delays well enough to even approximate what is coming. GSI Director Aled Jones explains that the group “ran the model forward to the year 2040.” The results were stunning:

“The results show that based on plausible climate trends, and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses, and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots. In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.”

…(read more).

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The West Is Literally On Fire, And The Impacts Could Be Widespread | ThinkProgress

by Natasha Geiling Posted on July 1, 2015 at 8:00 am

As expected, the 2015 wildfire season has meant more bad news for drought-stricken Western states. As of June 30, 45 wildfires large active wildfires burned from Alaska down to Arizona and as far east as Colorado. Wildfires in Southern California had driven thousands from their homes, while fires in Alaska have burned more than one million acres this year.

Separate from human interference, wildfires are a completely natural occurrence that help a forest ecosystem with regeneration and growth. But decades of fire suppression tactics combined with climate change have provided wildfires with an abundance of dry, dead fuel, leading to more fires and a longer fire season. Fighting wildfires also comes with a large price tag, with an average of $1.13 billion spent on wildfire suppression each year. With climate change, that price could increase to $62.5 billion annually by 2050.

But wildfires impact more than just forests and the economy — they can have far-reaching impacts on public health, water quality, and climate change.

“These cascading impacts are the things that keep me up at night,” Jason Funk, a senior climate scientist for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told ThinkProgress. “We haven’t been looking at them so much.”

Fires Can Cause Choking Pollution That Rivals Beijing

Wildfires come with smoke — and as residential developments continue to blur the boundaries between forest and urban, communities are increasingly facing health risks associated with smoke pollution.

“In the West, we have a lot of development and people living in the wildland-urban interface, and they’re in a position to be exposed to smoke and wildfire risk when it happens,” Funk said. “It’s rather difficult to predict where these smoke plumes are going to end up.”

…(read more).

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All-Time Heat Records Broken in France; London Breaks U.K. July Heat Record; Europe Heat Wave Continues – weather.com

This post has been updated.

A dangerous pattern of long-term heat is setting up over Europe this week, and forecast models suggest it could stretch beyond the weekend. Temperatures are running up to 30 degrees above average and long-term heat records are falling in the U.K and France.

The unusual aspect of this heatwave is not only how early it’s coming — heat of this magnitude is more typical later in the summer — but how long it seems likely to last.

England experienced its hottest July day on record Wednesday as the temperature at London Heathrow soared to 98.1 degrees (36.7 Celsius) according to the U.K. Met Office, breaking the previous record set in 2006.

…(read more).

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California’s Drought Is Part of a Much Bigger Water Crisis

The problems are as much structural and systemic as they are natural

By Abrahm Lustgarten, Lauren Kirchner, Amanda Zamora and ProPublica | June 26, 2015

California drought, if it’s the Colorado River that we’re “killing”?
Pretty much every state west of the Rockies has been facing a water shortage of one kind or another in recent years. California’s is a severe, but relatively short-term, drought. But the Colorado River basin—which provides critical water supplies for seven states including California—is the victim of a slower-burning catastrophe entering its 16th year. Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California all share water from the Colorado River, a hugely important water resource that sustains 40 million people in those states, supports 15 percent of the nation’s food supply, and fills two of largest water reserves in the country.

The severe shortages of rain and snowfall have hurt California’s $46 billion agricultural industry and helped raise national awareness of the longer-term shortages that are affecting the entire Colorado River basin. But while the two problems have commonalities and have some effect on one another, they’re not exactly the same thing.

…(read more).

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