Do You Drive?|Tips To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint



  • Alternatives to drivingWhen possible, walk or ride your bike in order to avoid carbon emissions completely. Carpooling and public transportation drastically reduce CO2 emissions by spreading them out over many riders.
  • Drive a low carbon vehicleHigh mileage doesn’t always mean low CO2 emissions. All vehicles have an estimated miles-per-gallon rating. Electric cars emit no CO2 if they’re charged with clean electricity.
  • Get a hitch-mounted cargo rackDon’t buy a minivan or SUV if you don’t need 4WD and/or will only occasionally need the extra space. A receiver hitch and a rack like this one only cost a few hundred bucks. Avoid roof-top boxes, which cost much more, increase aerodynamic drag, and decrease fuel economy.
  • Driving styleSpeeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage by up to 33%, waste gas and money, and increase your carbon footprint.
  • Tire inflation and other tuningProperly inflated tires improve your gas mileage by up to 3%. It also helps to use the correct grade of motor oil, and to keep your engine tuned, because some maintenance fixes, like fixing faulty oxygen sensors, can increase fuel efficiency by up to 40%.
  • Avoid trafficBeing stuck in traffic wastes gas and unnecessarily creates CO2. Use traffic websites and apps and go a different way or wait.
  • Misc.Combine errands to make fewer trips. Remove excess weight from your car. Use cruise control.

Sustainable Buildings Key To Fighting Climate change


Reducing pollution from the direct use of fossil fuels in buildings—such as burning natural gas, propane, and fuel oil in furnaces and water heaters—is critical to helping us stave off dangerous climate change and cut harmful pollution.
So finds a groundbreaking new NRDC report.
It lays out a bold yet achievable strategy for slashing U.S. carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, an amount that scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst effects of a warming planet.
The report spotlights the importance of "decarbonizing" direct energy use in buildings, and often overlooked, but critical strategy to reduce carbon pollution. It must be pursued much more aggressively as fossil fuel use in buildings represents about 28 percent of U.S. building energy-related emissions.
There are three main interrelated strategies for achieving deep cuts in carbon emissions from energy use in buildings

1. The first is energy efficiency aka smarter energy use. Better insulated buildings and more efficient equipment within them are critical to achieving the study's carbon goals. But these are not sufficient;
2. Second, switching from space and water heating equipment that burn fossil fuels to high-efficiency electric alternatives, such as heat pumps powered by clean electricity generated from renewable sources;
3. Third, cleaning up the remaining fuels still used in buildings by replacing them with renewable fuels, including sustainably produced biogas produced from landfills, wastewater treatment plants or farms; and synthetic natural gas (aka "power-to-gas") produced by using renewable electricity to electrolyze water and then converting the resulting hydrogen to methane.

Efficient electrification a key strategy
NRDC's Pathway scenario calls for roughly 90 percent of U.S. residential and commercial buildings to use electric space- and water-heating appliances by 2050, up from just under half today. The transition would occur as existing buildings are upgraded, and appliances reach their end life and can be replaced with a high-efficiency electric model.
We chose electrification as the primary strategy in buildings in our modelling of how to reach the "80 by 50" emissions reduction target because sustainable sources of biogas are limited, and power-to-gas is prohibitively expensive today—the prospects of renewable synthetic gas becoming competitive with electrification in buildings are possible, albeit a long shot. We, therefore, prioritized the use of scarce and more expensive biofuels and renewable synthetic fuels, in sectors that are more difficult to decarbonize than buildings, such as industrial boilers, long-distance trucks, and planes.
We recognize that this is not the only pathway to decarbonize buildings, and other routes that include higher use of renewable fuels in buildings may also be an option, depending on how technology and the market develop over the coming decades.
The NRDC report comes at a critical time. With President Trump recklessly shrugging off the urgent threat of climate change and rolling back the progress we have made in reducing carbon pollution, it has become imperative for cities, states and businesses to confront the crisis.


Among the actions presenting significant pollution reduction opportunities is a large-scale shift to high-efficiency electric alternatives over fossil fuel-fired equipment in residential and commercial buildings.
Remarkably, space heating constitutes the greatest portion of fossil fuel use in buildings, including roughly a quarter of household energy use, and it tends to influence the fuel choice for other domestic appliances such as water heaters, stoves, and clothes dryers. Hot water production is the second-largest component of home energy consumption at 13 percent.

In California, natural gas alone, when burned in furnaces and water heaters, is responsible for roughly half of all carbon emissions associated with energy use in buildings. This is due to both a high reliance on natural gas for heat in buildings and a relatively clean grid which makes electric and uses a smaller share of overall emissions than the national average.
We already have seen progress in making buildings and household appliances more efficient in California and elsewhere through building energy codes and efficiency standards. But we also can convert space and water heating systems that currently rely on fossil fuels for electricity generated by clean sources such as solar and wind power.

Super-high efficiency and flexible appliances
For example, heat pump water heaters are 2.5 to 3 times as efficient as conventional electric models and cut emissions by half or more compared to the most efficient gas water heaters.
Electric water heaters, both heat pumps and conventional models, also enable utilities to tap into their thermal energy storage capabilities, charging during off-peak usage times such as overnight and avoiding using grid electricity on-peak, to help balance the grid and integrate high levels of renewable energy. A growing number of utilities are offering tariffs where off-peak usage also means lower utility bills.
Building decarbonization represents a paradigm shift, as NRDC's report notes. But it's a shift that is both necessary and sensible. To achieve our decarbonization goals, NRDC's scenario calls for electricity to supply about 45 percent of all end-use energy, up from about one-fifth in 2015.

Market and policy barriers
Despite its potential to save energy and reduce carbon pollution, challenges remain to rapidly decarbonize buildings. They include low consumer awareness, limited contractor expertise, and higher upfront costs for high-efficiency products as compared with less efficient models.
In California, NRDC was among a diverse group of 27 organizations that asked the state Public Utilities Commission to revise a policy that currently restricts the use of energy efficiency incentives for projects that involve switching between types of energy; for example a rebate to help pay for switching from a minimum efficiency gas water heater to a super-efficient electric water heater. We're eagerly waiting for a decision.


The technology exists today to significantly reduce fossil fuel use inside buildings. But we must get to work right away. As the NRDC report notes, if we fail to act, we will lock ourselves into a dirtier energy system and may not be able to thwart the most dangerous impacts of fossil energy use to our health, our economy and our environment. The shift to cleaner energy promises to reduce harmful pollution, generate jobs, strengthen the grid, and save consumers money. It's really a no-brainer.

source:Pierre Delforge, Eco Watch

Quitting Coal Equivalent To Quitting Cigarettes, Alcohol And Fast Food



Imagine, for a moment, that climate change was not synonymous with doomsday scenarios, but rather presented an opportunity to radically transform society for the better. This is not an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the risks facing our climate. Rather, it is about reframing the choice we face, away from the prospect of bleak minimalism often associated with a low-carbon future.
Consider the following realities: the World Health Organisation estimates 7 million deaths are attributed to air pollution every year; and rates of obesity and chronic diseases are rising in nearly all regions of the world. Burning fossil fuels, especially coal, accounted for 78% of the total increase in carbon dioxide between 1970 and 2010, with deforestation comprising the balance of emissions. Burning coal also releases pollutants such as fine particulates, eg PM2.5, which are deadly to human health.
So, the irony is that strategies focused on greenhouse gas mitigation could, more immediately, save an estimated 1 to 4 million lives annually by mid-century from improved air quality. And health benefits could far outweigh the cost of clean energy investments. For example, in the United States, monetised health benefits associated with improved air quality can offset between 26% and 1,050% of the cost of US low-carbon policies. This is not surprising, given the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates a US$30 return for every dollar invested in reducing air pollution through the Clean Air Act.


Obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are rapidly rising throughout the world, as western lifestyles with automobile-dependent transportation and meat-based diets are being adopted. Herein lies even more opportunities for public health.
Major health co-benefits accrue from increased urban walking and cycling, so-called active travel. Active commuting in Shanghai, China, was associated with a reduction of colon cancer by 48% in men and 44% in women. American cities with the highest versus lowest levels of active transport had obesity and diabetes rates 20% and 23% lower respectively. Bicycling commuters in Copenhagen have a 39% reduction in mortality rate compared with non-cycling commuters.
A world focused on ending our addiction to fossil fuels would also experience fewer heat-related deaths – a significant achievement given that experts estimated 70,000 deaths were caused by the European heatwave in 2003, and 15,000 deaths in the Russian heatwave in 2010. Heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia over the past 100 years than any other natural event.
A reliance on a carbon economy and other polluting industries has contributed to many of these problems, directly or indirectly, and they will only get worse as we experience longer-term changes to our climate.
The experience of quitting carbon is not unlike that of quitting smoking: it is a necessary change that will make us healthier. Quitting presents challenges, but it would be foolish to only understand the process through that lens. The decision to quit smoking should not be something the individual does alone; it requires all kinds of support, as well as taking on an industry that profits from addiction to killer substances. But in the long run, we will all benefit from this kind of transformation. The same is true for quitting carbon.
In this context, the 28% clean energy target by 2030 proposed by Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel does not look too radical, but rather not ambitious enough. The Turnbull government needs to stop playing politics with Australians’ health and take the necessary steps to quickly reduce combustion of fossil fuels. The government’s addiction to coal – including the oxymoron of “clean coal” – must be broken.
The cost of solar is now well below the retail power prices in Australian capital cities, after dropping 58% in the past five years. What entirely eludes me is why, in a sun-baked country that has a national health campaign of “Slip, Slap, Slop, Seek, Slide”, the Australian government is not taking full advantage of the overabundance of sunlight to expand its renewal energy portfolio and avoid pollution-related deaths as a bonus.
The 21st century holds incredible promise for improving human health while simultaneously dealing with humanity’s most urgent problem: climate change. Subsequent improvements in air quality, along with walkable or bikeable communities to counter trends in obesity and chronic diseases will majorly boost the health of Australians – a result that will be hugely appreciated.
source:the guardiam


Polluters Should Pay For Destruction Of Nature, Not Taxpayers



Erik Solheim, the head of the United Nations' Environment Program, made an interesting point during a recent speech in New York: Companies, not taxpayers, should pay the costs of damaging the planet.
"The profit of destroying nature or polluting the planet is nearly always privatized, while the costs of polluting the planet or the cost of destroying ecosystems is nearly always socialized," Solheim said Monday, per Reuters, at the annual International Conference on Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
"That cannot continue," Solheim added. "Anyone who pollutes, anyone who destroys nature must pay the cost for that destruction or that pollution."
In a recent article, climate experts Peter C. Frumhoff and Myles R. Allen argue that companies like Exxon and other Big Oil and Gas giants—which purportedly knew about the link between fossil fuels and climate change for decades—should shoulder the billions of dollars in damages caused by extreme weather events such as hurricanes that are exacerbated by Earth's rising's temperatures.
Frumhoff and Allen write:

Using a simple, well-established climate model, our study for the first time quantifies the amount of sea level rise and increase in global surface temperatures that can be traced to the emissions from specific fossil fuel companies.
Strikingly, nearly 30% of the rise in global sea level between 1880 and 2010 resulted from emissions traced to the 90 largest carbon producers. Emissions traced to the 20 companies named in California communities'lawsuits contributed 10% of global sea level rise over the same period. More than 6% of the rise in global sea level resulted from emissions traced to ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, the three largest contributors.

The scientists point out: "It may take tens to hundreds of billions of dollars to support disaster relief and recovery among Gulf coast communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP have collectively pledged only $2.75m."
During his comments in New York, Solheim noted that economic growth and environmental preservation are not mutually exclusive. In India, for example, the promotion of renewable energy is bringing human health and environmental benefits as well as spurring the economy.
"Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi realized he can electrify the villages and provide any number of green jobs—he can provide high economic growth, he can take care of his people, and take care of the planet by the same policies," said Solheim.
Solheim said that a "pollution-free planet" is achievable but the world must take immediate action to meet that goal.
"Change is happening," he said. "Economic-wise, we are on the right track, but we need to speed up because the challenge is so big."
source:eco watch

Rapid And Consistent Warming Of Earth’s Oceans|What Does This Mean?



We’ve known for decades that the Earth is warming, but a key question is, how fast? Another key question is whether the warming is primarily caused by human activities. If we can more precisely measure the rate of warming and the natural component, it would be useful for decision-makers, legislators, and others to help us adapt and cope. Indeed, added ocean heat content underlies the potential for dangerous intense hurricanes.
An answer to the “how fast?” question was partly answered in an Opinion piece just published on Eos.org, the daily online Earth, and space science news site, by scientists from China, Europe and the United States. I was fortunate enough to be part of the research team.
To measure how fast the globe is warming, we focused on the extra heat that is being trapped in the climate. The key to measuring the extra heat is by comparing the incoming and outgoing energy – just like you watch your bank account, keeping track of income and expenses to tell whether your bank balance will increase or not.
Okay so how do we measure these incoming and outgoing flows? In our view, the best way is in the oceans. We know that the oceans absorb almost all of the excess heat – so, perhaps we can detect energy increases in ocean waters?
Measuring the oceans is challenging. They are vast and they are deep – measurements can be noisy. Detecting a long-term trend (a signal) within the noise can be a challenge. But this challenge is exactly what we focused on. We wanted to know how large the signal-to-noise ratio is for ocean heat measurements because this would tell us how many years of data are needed to detect warming. Can we detect global warming with one year of measurements? With a decade? Or do we need multiple decades of measurements to be sure the climate is changing?
Our work shows that scientists need less than 4 years of ocean heat measurements to detect a warming signal. This is much shorter than the nearly three decades of measurements that would be required to detect global warming if we were to use temperatures of air near the Earth’s surface. It is also slightly better than the nearly 5 years of sea level rise data that are needed for detecting a long-term trend. This means that the warming is not natural but rather stems from the human-induced climate change, primarily from increases in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
This finding should help change the way we talk about global warming. Normally scientists and the public wait for the official annual “global temperatures” to be released (every January or February) by major research groups like Nasa, Noaa, and the Hadley Centre in the UK. Avid consumers of global warming news often use these air temperatures to “prove” or “disprove” global warming. If it was hot last year, “its global warming!” If last year was cool, “global warming is over!” 
But the year-to-year fluctuations of air temperatures are predominantly associated with El NiƱo and weather variability and mislead those who use any one year as climate-change proof. We saw the impact of fluctuations over the past two decades where a slowing of the rise of global surface temperatures led to false claims that global warming had “stopped” or that there was a “hiatus.” No such cessation occurred for ocean heat content.
Hence global ocean heat content data isn’t so noisy. It represents the total thermal energy in the ocean waters and is now known with a high degree of certainty (see the figure below), in part because scientists have improved ocean temperature sensing methods and increased the number of sensors throughout the ocean waters. 
According to our analysis, the top 10 warmest years of ocean heat content are all in the most recent decade (following 2006) with last two years being the hottest. The heat storage in the ocean corresponds to 3×1023 Joules (a 3 with twenty-three zeroes after it) since 1960. Prior to the 1980s, values are not as well known, and the global record is unreliable prior to about 1960.
In the most recent 25 years, the Earth has gained approximately 0.7 Watts for every square meter of surface area. That may not sound like much but think about how many square meters are required to cover the surface of the Earth. To put these numbers in perspective, the heat increase in the oceans since 1992 is about 2000 times the total net generation of electricity in the USA in the past decade.


We believe, and argue, that ocean heat content is the key to quantifying how fast the climate is changing, and it has important implications for regional patterns of climate. According to Trenberth:
source:the guardian

OFFSHORE WINDPOWER NOW CHEAPER THAN NUCLEAR POWER FOR FIRST TIME



This is huge. The price of offshore wind power has just dropped to a record breaking low, coming in cheaper than nuclear power for the first time.
New auction results out today show that the price of new offshore wind has fallen by more 50% since 2015, and it’s now significantly cheaper than nuclear. It’s very likely that offshore wind power will keep getting cheaper too.
But while this good news is splashed all over the media, the government’s energy policy still hasn’t quite caught up.  
Even though the government says it supports offshore wind, right now, the Prime Minister still plans to commit billions of pounds of bill payers’ money to nuclear, and she still backs a big roll out of fracked gas.
We must urgently remind Theresa May that she should listen to the evidence about proven, lower-cost renewables, and respect what the public wants . That means backing clean, sustainable energy, not more nuclear and fossil fuels.
Around the world, renewables have become cheaper and scaled up faster than anyone predicted. In the UK, offshore wind beat its own cost reduction target four years early – thanks to huge innovation and increases in turbine efficiency. UK offshore turbines are already generating enough electricity to match the needs of four million homes, and the industry currently provides full time employment for around 10,000 people.
At moments like these, when clean energy is headline news, the government should be feeling the pressure to change course on its energy policy. So can you help turn up the pressure? Almost 100,000 people have called on the Prime Minister to back clean power in the UK. 
building a world that’s free from the threat of climate change is at the heart of so many campaigns we’ve worked on together. Over the years, Greenpeace supporters and activists have helped to block new coal plants and stand up to the fracking industry. But today’s wind power breakthrough is a chance to show the government that they can – and must – choose a better path. Let’s make sure they can’t ignore this.
source:greenpeace

Can Democracy Facilitate Stop To Climate Change ?



Although individual action to protect the environment – consuming less, recycling more, reducing one’s carbon footprint – might be a contribution if enough people did it, the battle to minimise human-induced climate change has to be a worldwide endeavour among cooperating states. The outcome of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference was one of the most optimistic and encouraging steps hitherto achieved in that battle – that is, until Donald Trump said he intended to withdraw the US, the biggest climate polluter in history, from the agreement. The Paris agreement and President Trump’s decision illustrate the two ends of the spectrum of effort and concern. Our planet cannot be protected from a warming atmosphere – with melting ice caps, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, famines and migrations of desperate populations – without vigorous joint effort by the world’s states.
It is thought that climate catastrophes caused turmoil in the past – perhaps at the beginning of the fourth millennium BCE, and in the early 12th century BCE, when entire civilisations in the Mediterranean and Near East collapsed in rapid succession into centuries of dark ages. Only this time – today, in our present world, with a global population of over seven billion that is growing ever faster – any such catastrophe will be many orders of magnitude greater.
That is the situation that makes concerted international effort imperative. At the other end of the spectrum, President Trump’s announcement illustrates the fragility of international cooperation. It takes just one large rogue elephant in the herd to negate the endeavour. Any one of the US, China, India and the EU could undermine the sacrifice and determination demanded by the Paris agreement.
It is a desperately sad move by any one large polluting economy if it refuses to cooperate. Such a decision condemns – actually condemns, not merely threatens to condemn – hundreds of millions of people to suffering, and almost certainly the whole planet to new dark ages.
Democracy is, as has been well said, the least bad of a lot of bad systems. But it pays a high price for the noble ideal of locating political authority in the consent of the people. Tyrants can make and act on quick decisions. Democracies debate and disagree, and move slowly. Tyrannies are efficient to the point of mercilessness. Democracies are inefficient to the point of ineffectiveness at times. The very nature of the political process in democracies means that leaders are reluctant to burden the populace with restrictions and sacrifices, lest they are voted out of office.

But saving the planet requires restrictions and sacrifices. Leaders are reluctant
to burden business with extra costs on emissions and other good environmental practices, lest they damage the economy, and again in consequence lose office. Tyrants have no such anxieties: they worry only about the assassin or eventual rebellion.
Democracy, accordingly, is not a natural ally of the tough measures required to combat climate change. And yet populations of democracies will be the first to punish their political leaders when the disastrous effects of climate change start hitting home.
What is required for democracies to become fully engaged in the fight to save the planet is that their citizens should be informed and thoughtful, and willing participants in the required sacrifices. Given the realities, say cynics, is not this a vain hope?
Efforts to inform are manifold, but they are undermined by deniers and sceptics, among them Mr Trump. Efforts to encourage thoughtfulness and sacrifice among the people meet with the age-old reluctance on the part of too many people to attempt either.
Short-termism, self-interest, lack of real understanding, a head-in-the-sand attitude and several kinds of laziness and self-indulgence make us humans our own worst enemies: and in a democracy we all feel entitled to be all these things as a right.
There is nothing new in this. Plato, two and a half millennia ago, criticised democracy precisely because of this. But this is now a major life-threatening dilemma for our time.

Driving home the dangers

The international order is effectively an anarchy if any of its members – sovereign states – refuse to play ball with the rest, or refuse to adhere to agreements previously made. What is the sanction against, say,
the US if indeed it does withdraw from the Paris agreement? The international order is itself a loose form of democracy, and suffers the same deficits.
This fact illustrates where the nub of the problem lies: a lack of a sense of binding obligation to act for the benefit of others. Short-termism and self-interest are endemic weaknesses both of democracies and those who live in them. And these are precisely the things that have already wrought so much damage to the world’s climate, and threaten the people of the world with ever-increasing danger.
Human survival is of course not the only, though it is the most obvious, point at issue in the climate emergency we are facing. Peace, stability, human rights, the welfare of children – these will all collapse before the survival issue becomes the only one left.

Now, not one of us should or would, I hope, seek to overturn democracy. But every one of us should, I hope, bend our thoughts vigorously to the problem of how to make the saving of our planet consistent with democracy. For surely, democracy and survival do not have to be in conflict. There have to be ways in which democracies can be full, compassionate, sensible partners with each other – indeed with everyone, no matter what the political system – in rescuing the planet from the peril that our historical self-indulgence and exploitation have already placed it in.
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To ensure that the aims of the Paris agreement are met, there therefore
has to be another effort alongside the drive for far greater sustainability in industrial-commercial activity. This is an overwhelming, unceasing drive to educate and re-educate every single individual on the planet about climate change.
The real and imminent dangers to lives and societies have to be driven home. People have themselves to become the goads driving politicians and governments to act. If the world’s people can be mobilised, then the short-termism and self-interest of the political classes in democracies will be addressed. Measures will be taken that people can understand are genuinely in their own real interests, as well as the interests of their fellows in the human story around the world.
Many are cynical about the potential of education to achieve anything like what is required here. Time and again, dreamers and idealists have launched themselves into education to better the world. But in the face of how things are in both national and international politics, other than climate-induced civilisational collapse itself, education is the only thing that has a hope of changing minds. It is all we have. But with massive effort we can make a difference, and perhaps enough of one to save our lives. We have to teach ourselves into freedom from this danger: nothing less can or will do.
source:the guardian

CLIMATE CHANGE COULD DROP COFFEE PRODUCTION BY 80%



This is serious: climate change could put your caffeine supply at risk. Coffee is notorious for being picky about its climate conditions, with the most popular varieties only growing at specific altitudes in the tropics. That alone makes coffee susceptible to climate change, but the plants are also fussy about their pollinators, which will also be affected by the changing climate.
A new analysis suggests that climate change on its own could cause coffee producing areas in the Americas to drop production by roughly 80 percent. But the remaining productivity might drop even further unless we ensure the crops have access to pollinators.

Coffee and climate

Only two varieties of coffee are cultivated. One is called "robusta;" as its name implies, it's more tolerant of heat and holds up better to insect pests, so it can be grown across a lot of the tropics. Unfortunately, robusta is uniformly acknowledged to not taste that great. Complicating matters further, its caffeine content is high enough to set off heart palpitations at nearly double the levels found in the other major coffee variety.
That variety is "arabica," which provides the rich, complicated flavor most of us associate with coffee. But arabica is extremely fussy about its conditions. At the equator, it only grows at altitudes above a kilometer, and it can tolerate a variety of rainfall patterns. Farther from the equator, it grows at altitudes between 500 meters and a kilometer, and it relies on specific rainfall patterns.
A few robusta-arabica hybrid strains have been developed, but plants take roughly four years to start producing beans, so improving the crop through breeding is a long-term endeavor.
Obviously, for a crop this sensitive to climate variations, climate change poses a challenge. In most of the existing growing regions, rising temperatures would push the crop uphill. Obviously, there's less land as you go up a mountain, so this means less land available for the crop. That problem would be partly offset by areas farther from the equator that warm up enough to allow the arabica to grow there. But, overall, global analyses have suggested the area where arabica could be cultivated would be cut in half by the middle of the century.
High resolution + bees
The new analysis extends the earlier work by focusing on the Americas and massively increasing the resolution. The team used two different emissions scenarios (RCP 4.5 and 8.5 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The future climate, averaged between the years 2040 and 2060, was analyzed using a total of 36 different climate models. Nineteen different climate variables—things like temperature and precipitation—that influence coffee production were extracted from the models. And, critically, the analysis was performed at a very high spatial resolution, with the landscape broken up into squares one kilometer on a side.
This higher resolution makes a big difference. Rougher estimates suggested that the amount of coffee-producing land would drop by about 30 percent. But the new work suggests that the numbers are much higher, with suitable land going down by more than 70 percent and perhaps as much as 88 percent at higher levels of warming.
Coffee is also dependent upon pollinators. While domesticated bees are important contributors to coffee pollination, past studies have shown that having access to more pollinator species increases the yield. Many of the local bee species are sensitive to climate change, so the researchers included them in the analysis.
Here, the news was a bit better. Across South America, the species diversity of bees goes down considerably due to the changing climate. Only about five percent of the continent sees an increase in species diversity; it drops in 65 percent of the terrain. But coffee-growing regions happen to start with very high diversity, with an average of 13 different species. While climate change causes that number to drop slightly, crops will still have plenty of pollination options; even the worst-hit regions will still have at least five bee species that like the climate.
What the authors suggest is that pollinators could become critical in areas that haven't previously supported coffee production. As farmers expand into these areas, they could engage in practices that create good habitats for wild bees.
Aside from the obvious worries about the global coffee supply, the analysis indicates that there may be some specific national issues. Countries like Honduras and Nicaragua, for example, already grow coffee on the highest parts of their terrain. As the planet warms and optimal growing areas move uphill, there will be almost no place for them to go here. And as coffee is a major source of income for small farmers in these countries, it'll be important to adjust policy well in advance of crop failures.
source:Ars Technica

Illegal And Dangerous Levels Of Air Pollution Plague The UK



The UK government is “flouting” its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens from illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution, according to the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights related to toxic waste.
Baskut Tuncak issued his warning after a fact-finding mission to the UK in January at the invitation of the government in a report that has been shared exclusively with the Guardian before it is presented to the UN human rights council this week.
“Air pollution continues to plague the UK,” he said. “I am alarmed that despite repeated judicial instruction, the UK government continues to flout its duty to ensure adequate air quality and protect the rights to life and health of its citizens. It has violated its obligations.”
Such harsh international criticism will be embarrassing for the government, whose air pollution plans have already been ruled illegally poor twice. The latest plan forced by the courts was released in July but condemned as “woefully inadequate” by city leaders and “inexcusable” by doctors.
Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths every year in Britain and was declared a “public health emergency” by MPs in 2016. Air pollution is worst overall in London, but many other places have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide emitted by diesel vehicles, such as Leeds, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Northampton. Ipswich has higher levels of particulate matter than London.
London breached its nominal annual air pollution limits five days into 2017 at Brixton Road in south London. Other known pollution hotspots in the capital include Putney High Street in west London, Oxford Street, Kings Road in Chelsea and the Strand.
In his report for the UN, Tuncak assessed how well the UK protects human rights that are infringed by pollution, such as the rights to life, health and safe housing.
Vulnerable groups were worst affected by air pollution, he said: “Children, older persons and people with pre-existing health conditions are at grave risk of mortality, morbidity and disability, with magnified risks among the poor and minorities.”
A government spokeswoman said Brexit represented an opportunity to improve the UK’s air quality standards. “EU policies, from the common agricultural policy to vehicle emissions tests, have damaged the environment. Our £3bn air quality plan will address the dirty air caused by the EU’s failed testing regime, and in ending the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, the UK is more ambitious than most EU member states including Germany.
“We now have an opportunity to deliver a green Brexit, ensuring the UK is a global leader in environmental protection,” she said.
Anna Heslop, at ClientEarth, the lawyers who have twice defeated the government on air quality standards, said: “This damning report with regard to air pollution is unsurprising but no less shocking for that. The UK has illegal levels of air pollution and successive governments have fought us in the courts rather than tackling it effectively.
“We are glad the report says the government must listen to the experts, including its own, and develop a national network of clean air zones to keep the worst polluting vehicles out of the most polluted areas of our towns and cities. This should happen as soon as possible.”
A new, wide-ranging ClientEarth report argues the government’s claim that all EU environmental laws will be retained after Brexit is misleading. It also criticises the government over other aspects of environmental policy “loopholes” in fracking regulation; the loss of environmental staff due to austerity which has resulted in “serious governance gaps”; and the risks to environmental safety posed by Brexit.
Tuncak also warned of the risk that fracking, soon to start in Lancashire, poses to safe water. “UK regulations on fracking are complex, split between several regulators and do not appear to be sufficiently stringent,” he said. “Fragmented policymaking allows for loopholes.”
All the UK’s environmental regulators have suffered due to budget cuts, he found: “The decreasing financial, technical and human resources due to austerity have created serious governance gaps.” The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has lost a third of its staff compared with 2007.
Another consequence of austerity was Defra’s ending in March of capital grants to local councils for cleaning up contaminated land sites, which the UN report said posed “potentially serious health risks”.
Tuncak warned that unless the UK’s future green standards equalled those of the European Union, “the UK could risk becoming a haven for ‘dirty’ industries and a dumping ground for products failing to meet EU regulations”.
Labour MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the environmental audit committee, said: “It is vital the government passes a new environmental protection act as soon as possible to protect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.” Tuncak backs that call in his report.
The committee warned in January that Brexit could result in key environmental protections being left as ineffective “zombie legislation”. Creagh said the UN report highlighted the “government’s lack of clarity about the future of environmental issues after Brexit and how they will stop the UK from becoming a dumping ground for dirty industries and a haven for bad practice”.
Tuncak’s report also asks the UK government to “reconsider national plans to increase reliance on nuclear energy, considering that long-term storage of nuclear waste is uncertain and poses significant risks to the population”. He criticised the UK’s cuts to legal aid and protection from legal costs which make it “extremely challenging” for victims of environmental harm to seek redress in the courts.
source:the guardian

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