The Guardian reports that Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe. The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level. Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year. “It’s been about 20C warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean, along with cold anomalies of about the same magnitude over north-central Asia. This is unprecedented for November,” said research professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers university.
A bear shot in the frigid expanse of northern Canada is believed to be a grizzly-polar bear hybrid, a consequence of the increasing interactions between the two imposing bear species caused by climate change.
Barack Obama’s administration is rushing through conservation safeguards for large areas of public land ahead of Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, presenting a conundrum for the new president’s goal of opening up more places for oil and gas drilling. The US Department of the Interior banned gold mining on 30,000 acres of land near the northern entrance of Yellowstone national park. This follows announcements that barred drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and a brokered settlement that cancelled 32,000 acres of mining leases on Montana land considered by the Blackfeet tribe as “like a church, a divine sanctuary”. Many thibk that Donald Trump presidency will be a ‘disaster for the planet’ and the Obama’s administration has also cancelled 25 oil and gas leases in Colorado since Trump’s election win and further executive action is expected before the real estate magnate takes office in January. Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favour of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. probably sensible in the circumstances as there wont be much left on Earth by then if Trump insists fuelling economic growth by burning fossil fuels and stripping resources from the planet. But a glimmer of better news – Donald Trump has said he has an “open mind” over US involvement in the Paris agreement to combat climate change, after previously pledging to withdraw from the effort. Have a look at this article: China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump’s triumph – and note that one of Trump’s team thinks that the US should completely quit the United Nations forum to tackle climate change in order to quickly exit the Paris climate agreement, according to a conservative lawyer who is part of Donald Trump’s transition team. Steven Groves, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said exiting the UNFCCC would be the “most practical” way for the US to drop its climate change commitments. Groves is part of the state department transition team for the president-elect. A growing number of environmentally friendly American businesses – including major airlines and banks, as well as energy, tech and pharmaceutical companies – are pushing back against the president-elect’s attempts to dismiss climate change concerns and are planning to take the lead in the drive to make the US a worldwide leader at slowing or reversing the damage.
A new study has found that higher water temperatures have ravaged the Great Barrier Reef, causing the worst coral bleaching recorded by scientists. In the worst-affected area, 67% of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University study found.
Peru has declared a state of emergency in seven districts in the north of the country where forest fires have killed two, injured four and burnt nearly 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of land, including five protected natural areas.
Four of the world’s biggest cities are to ban diesel vehicles from their centres within the next decade, as a means of tackling air pollution, with campaigners urging other city leaders to follow suit. The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced plans on Friday to take diesel cars and vans off their roads by 2025. Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, led the initiative at the C40 conference of mayors on climate change, taking place in Mexico this week. She said: “Mayors have already stood up to say that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes, particularly for our most vulnerable citizens.” More here.
The number of plastic carrier bags found on UK beaches has dropped by almost half, according to conservationists. The Marine Conservation Society said the introduction of a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the past five years was instrumental in the reduction.
Also in the UK, the government is being forced to deliver an effective plan to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis within eight months, after a high court judge rejected a longer timetable as “far too leisurely”. Environmental lawyers ClientEarth inflicted a humiliating legal defeat on ministers earlier in November – its second in 18 months – when the high court ruled that ministers’ plans to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in many UK cities and towns were so poor they were unlawful. The government subsequently refused to agree to the eight-month timetable proposed by ClientEarth for a new plan, saying it needed until September next year. But on Monday, Mr Justice Garnham ordered the government to produce a draft plan by until 24 April 2017 and a final one by 31 July 2017.
Princess Cruise Lines will pay a US$40m penalty after pleading guilty to seven federal charges in an illegal ocean pollution case that involved one ship’s use of a so-called magic pipe to divert oily waste into the waters. Miami US attorney Wifredo Ferrer told a news conference the penalty was the largest ever of its kind. A plea agreement filed in federal court also requires Carnival, the UK and US-listed parent company of the Princess line, to submit 78 cruise ships across its eight brands to a five-year environmental compliance programme overseen by a judge. Ferrer said the illegal practices came to light when an engineer aboard the Caribbean Princess discovered the “magic pipe” in 2013 off the coast of Britain and told investigators about it.
A remote tropical island has catapulted itself headlong into the future by ditching diesel and powering all homes and businesses with the scorching South Pacific sun. Using more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla power packs the tiny island of Ta’u in American Samoa is now entirely self-sufficient for its electricity supply – though the process of converting has been tough and pitted with delays