Newsdesk – February 16

Love in the time of climate change – the Valentine’s traditions under threat. As lovers around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day on Thursday, few will be thinking of the environment. Climate change poses a threat to many romantic traditions. The romantic destinations such as Bali and the Maldives are under threat from rising seas. Plastic pollution is also affecting many island nations, with Vanuatu and the Seychelles introducing locally managed marine reserves or banning plastic bags and straws. Ocean warming is also causing coral bleaching and scientists say pollution and over-fishing could contribute to the loss of as much as 90 percent of global reefs by 2050. Paris is the quintessential city of love, but in recent years the famous cityscape has been regularly shrouded in smog. Air pollution is responsible for 48,000 deaths a year across France, making it the nation’s third biggest killer after smoking and alcohol consumption, according to a 2016 study by the French National Public Health agency.  As supermarket shelves groan under the weight of fancily wrapped boxes of chocolate ahead of Feb. 14, it is hard to imagine the world could ever run out.  Cocoa thrives in warmer weather but requires rainfall and shade to grow, and producers say deforestation and a changing climate are threatening world supplies of chocolate – Reuters.

  • Founding a Treevolution: Greening Africa – UN Environment.
  • Harrison Ford: ‘Elect people who believe in science’ – CNN.
  • This scary map shows how Climate Change will transform your city – WIRED.
  • Two sea level studies have some good news, bad news – Ars Technica.
  • World on track to miss emissions ‘turning point’ for tackling climate change – The Independent.
  • A New Mass Extinction Has Started, And Its First Victims Are Disappearing Fast – Science Alert.
  • A pioneer and a warrior in climate science to share 2019 Tyler Prize – The Daily Climate.
Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty Images

‘It is our future’: children call time on climate inaction in UK. Across the UK, thousands of children from schools and colleges took time out of their lessons to attend the nationwide climate change strike. They carried homemade placards, with slogans full of humour, passion and hope that the voices of thousands of children and young people would be heard. One of them, Lillia Adetoro, nine, told Manchester demonstrators: “Scientists across Europe say we have 12 years to get this right. The technology is there. The solutions are there. Brilliant minds across the world have been working on this for decades. And what they have said has been ignored.” Children like Lillia, who had been told not to miss school, defiantly attended the rallies anyway. Another young girl, Ten-year-old Hettie Ainsworth, in Brighton, had not been given permission by her primary school to join the protest, but such was her passion that her parents let her attend anyway. To her, the issue was personal. She said: “The government isn’t doing enough about it. It’s important because it’s our future and if we don’t start paying attention to climate change, there may not be one.” In the protest in London, there were more than 1,000 in attendance. Among them was former Labour leader Ed Miliband with his nine-year-old son, Daniel. “I am here because it is our future, and we need to protect it,” said Daniel. Another parent, a woman, said: “My 13-year-old daughter is in there somewhere. I am so proud of her” – The Guardian.

A Nasa graphic showing the global temperature anomalies between 2014 and 2018 – higher than the long term trend is shown in red. Credit: NASA

Climate change: World heading for warmest decade, says Met Office. The world is in the middle of what is likely to be the warmest 10 years since records began in 1850, say scientists. In 2015 the global average surface temperature was, for the first time, 1C above the pre-industrial level, and stayed around 1C level each year since then. The UK’s Met Office is predicting that the trend will likely continue over the next 5 years, which would result in the hottest decade ever on the record. Per the Met Office, it is even possible that within this decade the temperatures might be getting to 1.5C above the pre-industrial average. “But the fact that that can happen now due to a combination of general warming and the fluctuations due to things like El Niño events in the next few years does mean we are getting close to that threshold,” said Prof. Adam Scaife from the Med Office in interview with BBC News. Last October, United Nation scientists published a special report on the dangerous long-term impacts of a temperature rise of 1.5C. Higher temperatures at such levels would result in faster ice-melting (with enhanced warming predicted for areas like the Arctic) and more extreme weather events. “Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018,” said Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization. “Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate,” he said – BBC News.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

If Not the Green New Deal, Then What? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal has countless critics. The ambitious plan to fight climate change introduced by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey last week has been called everything from “brainless” to “delusional” by conservatives. Some Democrats have criticized the Green New Deal, too, saying that its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030 is unachievable. In addition to transitioning the country to 100 percent renewable energy, Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s resolution calls for universal health care, a federal job guarantee program, and affordable housing for all. It sounds like a call to reform American capitalism itself. Joseph Majkut, the director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center argues that a federal climate plan should stick to climate-specific policies. He advocates for a nationwide carbon tax; investment in “advanced research and development” for reducing carbon emissions from industry and agriculture. He does not believe that Green New Deal would achieve its goals. Ramez Naam, however, who lectures on energy and environment at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University argues that significant research investments in zero-carbon agriculture and zero-carbon manufacturing—along with government incentives for the technology that emerges—would be enough to achieve decarbonization – The New Republic.