Newsdesk – October 21

Posters for the Swiss People’s Party in Lenk, Switzerland. In 2015, the far-right party won close to 30 percent of the vote.CreditDenis Balibouse/Reuters

Swiss Voters Appear to Deliver ‘Green Wave,’ Rebuking Far Right.  The left-wing Green Party and the Green Liberal Party had achieved significant gains in their share of the popular vote, winning enough parliamentary seats to become a significant force in the legislature. “It’s really spectacular,” said Pascal Sciarini, a political scientist at Geneva University. “We expected a Green wave but it’s a tsunami, almost.” The two Green parties nearly doubled their combined share of the popular vote from just short of 12 percent during the last election, in 2015, to nearly 21 percent now, which puts the Green Party in position to hold 28 seats in the 200-member lower house of Parliament, making them the chamber’s fourth-biggest party. The left-wing Social Democratic Party, the second-biggest party in the chamber, is set to win 16.6 percent of votes. Still, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party will remain the biggest party in Parliament. However, the party share of the vote appeared to have dropped to under 26 percent, wiping out gains it achieved in 2015. Although the Swiss People’s Party followed a familiar playbook of anti-migrant and anti-European Union rhetoric ahead of the vote, the campaign was dominated by concerns over the dramatic effects of global warming on Switzerland. Those concerns were partly prompted by environmental protests, some led by the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.  Dozens of climate activists last month staged a funeral on the rapidly melting Pizol glacier and at least 100,000 joined a rally in the capital, Bern, in September. The stronger Green presence in Parliament will inject new momentum into legislation to protect the environment. Switzerland has already committed to cut CO2 emissions to zero by 2050, but the Green parties will be pushing for tighter regulation of vehicle emissions, a proposal for taxing air travel and an overall shift to renewable energy – The New York Times

  • Extinction Rebellion’s right to protest must be respected – The Guardian
  • Four Ways Alaska’s Unending Warming Impacts Everyone – The Revelator
  • Why we’re rethinking the images we use for our climate journalism – The Guardian
  • After 11 days of civil unrest, Ecuador reinstates fossil fuel subsidies – Climate Home News
  • Queensland claims cabinet confidentiality to block release of climate protest details – The Guardian
  • Antarctica’s “Sudden Stratospheric Warming” Has Started Impacting Australia – Science Alert
  • Russia’s Thawing Permafrost May Cost Economy $2.3 Billion a Year – Bloomberg
Researchers say humanity risks potential ‘ecological collapse’ with seas becoming more acidic, as they absorb carbon emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas. Photograph: John Anderson/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ocean acidification can cause mass extinctions, fossils reveal.  Carbon emissions make sea more acidic, which wiped out 75% of marine species 66m years ago. Our seas absorb carbon emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas. In the latest research scientists are warning us that humanity is risking potential “ecological collapse” in the oceans, which produce half the oxygen we breathe. These researchers analyzed small seashells in sediment laid down shortly after a giant meteorite hit the Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs and three-quarters of marine species. Chemical analysis of the shells showed a sharp drop in the pH of the ocean in the century to the millennium after the strike, and this spike demonstrated it was the meteorite impact that made the ocean more acidic, effectively dissolving the chalky shells of many species. The researchers also found that the pH dropped by 0.25 pH units in the 100-1,000 years after the strike. “We show ocean acidification can precipitate ecological collapse,” said Michael Henehan at the GFZ German research centre for geosciences in Potsdam, who led the study. “Before we had the idea, but we did not have the empirical proof. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analysed sediments that Henehan encountered by chance, during a conference field trip in the Netherlands. The sediments, which straddle the moment of the meteorite impact, lie in caves that were used by people hiding from the Nazis during the second world war. “If 0.25 was enough to precipitate a mass extinction, we should be worried”, Henehan says. It has been estimated that the pH of the ocean will drop by 0.4 pH units by the end of this century if carbon emissions are not stopped, or by 0.15 units if global temperature rise is limited to 2C” – The Guardian

Op-ed: Natural gas vs. renewable energy — beware the latest gas industry talking points.  By keeping Americans focused on the climate benefits of gas vs. coal, industry seeks to delay a broader debate of the deficits of gas vs. renewables. This campaign is loaded with disinformation. The American Petroleum Institute is pushing gas as a “foundation for the future” because it is “clean.” A group called the Empowerment Alliance popped up last month to condemn the Green New Deal as “radical and unachievable.” The horizontal drilling of the fracking era is unlocking untold reserves. Despite the fact that New York banned fracking in 2014 for its feared health risks, USGS Director Jim Reilly called these reserves “crucial to ensuring our nation’s energy independence.” The Energy Department have rebranded natural gas as “freedom gas,” and as the White House recently rolled out its plans to eliminate methane standards for new gas and oil operations. The natural gas industry’s scheme is transparent. These are the facts.  First, the heat-trapping properties of methane are contributing to climate change, which is accelerating much faster than previously thought. Second, a growing number of U.S. cities and states are committing to 100 percent clean energy portfolios over the next 20 to 30 years, which means zeroing out gas use. The last point received an exclamation point last month in two groundbreaking reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute. Its researchers found that America has reached “a historic tipping point” where “combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response are now less expensive than most proposed gas power plant projects,” and will undercut the operating costs of existing gas plants within the next 10 to 20 years – Environmental Health News