Newsdesk – June 8

An artist’s rendering of the mass extinction of life that occurred toward the end of the Permian Period, about 250 million years ago.
Lynette Cook/Science Source

The ‘Great Dying’ Nearly Erased Life On Earth. Scientists See Similarities To Today. The biggest extinction the planet has ever seen, some 250 million years ago, was largely caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Now scientists are beginning to see alarming similarities between this event and what’s currently happening to our atmosphere. At the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., it’s explained in the exhibit’s section on the Great Dying. About 250 million years ago or so, an enormous volcanic field erupted in what is now Siberia. It spewed lava that burned through limestone and coal beds and filled the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and pollution, possibly for millions of years. That, in turn, warmed the planet, made the oceans acidic and robbed them of oxygen. More than 90% of species in the oceans died out as did two-thirds of those on land. And 250 million years after the catastrophe, Smithsonian notes often in its exhibit that the current warming of the planet is déjà vu all over again. Scott Wing, research geologist and curator of paleobotany, says: “We can learn from studying the past.” “They’re also the processes that are being observed by Earth scientists today.” Wing added, “We have exceeded the frame of our own history. Because we are so powerful, we are basically a geologic force now as well as a human force” – NPR

  • Europe’s largest solar plant unveiled amid Spanish renewable rebirth – Climate Home News
  • The heat is on: Earth is getting ‘very, very close’ to crossing tipping point, scientist warns – Today Online
  • Urgent Climate Action Could Prevent Many Heat-Related Deaths – Scientific American
  • Theresa May will legally commit to ending Britain’s global warming contribution by 2050 – without caveats – Independent
  • Public concern over environment reaches record high in UK – The Guardian
  • Can the U.S. lead the world on climate again? These candidates think so – Grist
  • Sea Level Rise May Reactivate Growth of Some Reef Islands – EOS

Inuit plan says climate change can’t be separated from social issue. The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska.  A strategy document is to be released today by Canada’s Inuit, explaining how climate change affects all parts of life in the North and why any plan to deal with it must be just as wide-ranging. Natan Obed, head of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which wrote the strategy, said: “It is a life-and-death situation for people who are still inextricably linked to the environment.” Obed is to release a 48-page outline that says climate change can’t be tackled without addressing many of the other problems Inuit face. This document says that “The climate risks we face compound the social and economic inequities we have endured for generations.” McKenna acknowledged the document, noting that “It is everything from health and well-being to food to infrastructure to energy. And that is a much smarter way of going to tackle a really challenging problem.” The plan in the document includes specific recommendations to reform building codes and practices in the North to incorporate Inuit knowledge. It also calls for spending on air and marine transport and improved telecommunications and asks for power utilities, designed and controlled by Inuit, that build on renewable energy such as hydro, solar and wind. It would take at least a decade to follow through on all the plan’s recommendations, Obed said. But some items are more pressing –

Credit: Anton Petrus Getty Images

Climate Change Is a Fourfold Tragedy.  The “tragedy of the commons” is only one of them.  Climate change is tragic in a few distinct ways. Its devasted effects include the loss of coastal cities ancient and modern, the impact on biodiversity (the coral reef ecosystems are going now), and the geopolitical disruption and human suffering. Climate change is also tragic because it is in some ways inevitable. This was even suggested by Marco Polo back in the 13th century: “Concerning the black stones that are dug in Cathay, and are burnt for fuel. Climate change features tragic irony in that the audience—us—knows full well what the situation is and what the risks are. These disaster factors are all bundled up in the fourth tragedy, the tragedy of the commons. Not only was global warming discovered in the 19th century, but the majority of greenhouse gas emissions have also taken place since 1980 during a period of intense focus on solutions. The solutions, renewable energy and carbon charges, appear to be fully up to the task, making the whole thing look tragically preventable. Today, climate change is generally viewed as a global, intergenerational tragedy of the commons – Scientific American