• New climate risk classification created to account for potential 'existential' threats

    A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity.

    These categories describe two low-probability but statistically significant scenarios that could play out by century’s end, in a new study by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and his former Scripps graduate student Yangyang Xu, now an assistant professor at Texas A&M University.

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  • Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

    Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges, provided they can find space and a clear trajectory among our urban developments and growing cities.

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  • Cost of U.S. Solar Drops 75 percent in Six Years, Ahead of Federal Goal

    The Trump administration has announced that a federal goal to slash the cost of utility-scale solar energy to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020 has been met early. The goal, set by the Obama administration in 2011 and known as the SunShot Initiative, represents a 75 percent reduction in the cost of U.S. solar in just six years. It makes solar energy-cost competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels.

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  • Latin America Could Lose Up to 90 Percent of its Coffee-Growing Land by 2050

    Studies have previously estimated that the amount of land worldwide suitable for growing coffee could shrink by an estimated 50 percent by 2050 as global temperatures rise, rain patterns change, and ecosystems shift due to climate change. But a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts a far worse situation for Latin America, the world’s largest coffee supplier: The region could lose nearly 90 percent of its coffee-growing land by mid-century.

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  • Hatching an idea

    Backyard chickens are permitted in a number of Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse and some boroughs of Montréal.

    Wanda Martin would like to see Saskatoon on that list.

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  • New Model of Climate-Change Effects on Coffee Availability and Bee Pollinators

    Areas in Latin America suitable for growing coffee face predicted declines of 73-88 percent by 2050. However, diversity in bee species may save the day, even if many species in cool highland regions are lost as the climate warms. The research, co-authored by David Roubik, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, will be published in an early online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences edition between Sept. 11-15.

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  • Taking the Long View: The 'Forever Legacy' of Climate Change

    A century or two from now, people may look back at our current era — with its record-breaking high temperatures year after year, rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and gradually rising sea levels — as part of a much cooler and far more desirable past. The spate of extreme weather events in the past month — which have devastated America’s fourth-largest city, Houston; spawned a massive hurricane that tore through the Caribbean and Florida; and swamped large swaths of India and Bangladesh — may well be a prelude to more monster hurricanes, Biblical rain events, and coastal inundations brought about by extreme weather and vastly higher sea levels.

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  • Air pollution cuts three years off lifespans in northern China

    There are currently an estimated 4.5 billion people around the world exposed to levels of particulate air pollution that are at least twice what the World Health Organization considers safe. Yet the impact of sustained exposure to pollution on a person’s life expectancy has largely remained a vexingly unanswered question—until now.

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  • Fishing in the Arctic

    As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the range and distribution of at least some fish stocks found in places like the Bering Sea will likely extend northward. That could bring some big changes to the region. More than 60 percent of all seafood caught in the United States comes from the waters off Alaska and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

    As previously ice-covered areas of the Arctic become seasonally ice-free, there will be pressure to expand US fishing north of the Bering Strait. That can’t happen under the Arctic Management Plan, established in 2009, which prohibits commercial fishing until scientists and fisheries managers understand what’s going on with the ecosystem.

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  • Your Tap Water Probably Contains Plastic Fibers

    Plastic pollution remains a major issue around the world, and now a new study suggests that microplastics have invaded our drinking water.

    An investigation conducted by Orb Media and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health examined over 150 water samples from 14 countries across five continents — all in search of microfibers.

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