• Coastal retreatClimate change: we need to start moving people away from some coastal areas, warns scientist

    By Luciana Esteves

    Climate change has forced a paradigm shift in the way coastal flooding and erosion risks are managed. In areas of lower risk, adaptation plans are being devised, often with provisions to make properties and infrastructure more resilient. Adaptation may involve requiring raised foundations in flood-prone areas or the installation of mitigating measures, such as sustainable drainage systems. Building codes may also be established to make structures more disaster-proof and to control the types of constructions within risk zones. But such adaptation options are often of limited use or unsuitable for high-risk areas. In such areas relocation is the only safe climate-proof response.

  • Climate threatsParis climate targets may be exceeded sooner than expected

    A new study has for the first time comprehensively accounted for permafrost carbon release when estimating emission budgets for climate targets. The results show that the world might be closer to exceeding the budget for the long-term target of the Paris climate agreement than previously thought.

  • Mitigating climate threatsEither cover 89 percent of the U.S. with trees, or go solar

    How many fields of switchgrass and forests of trees would be needed to offset the energy produced by burning coal? A lot, it turns out. While demand for energy isn’t dropping, alarms raised by burning fossil fuels in order to get that energy are getting louder.

  • Climate threatsCalifornia: New planning tools to prepare state for devastating climate change impact

    Warning that two-thirds of Southern California’s beaches could completely disappear and the average area burned by wildfires could nearly double by 2100, the State of California the other day released California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which details new science on the devastating impacts of climate change and provides planning tools to support the state’s response.

  • Climate litigationStrategies in U.S. climate litigation

    The courts have played a central role in climate change policy, starting with a landmark Supreme Court case that led to the mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States. How do the courts address climate cases today? Who wins, who loses and what kinds of strategies make a difference in the courtroom? Pro-regulatory litigants more likely to win renewable energy and energy efficiency cases than those involving coal-fired power plants.

  • Food securityEnvironmentally friendly farming can increase productivity

    A major new study, measuring a global shift towards more sustainable agricultural systems that provide environmental improvements at the same time as increases in food production, shows that the sustainable intensification of agriculture, a term that was once considered paradoxical, delivers considerable benefits to both farmers and the environment.

  • TsunamisClimate change, sea level rise to cause more devastating tsunamis worldwide

    As sea levels rise due to climate change, so do the global hazards and potential devastating damages from tsunamis, according to a new study. Even minor sea-level rise, by as much as a foot, poses greater risks of tsunamis for coastal communities worldwide.

  • WildfiresClimate change and wildfires – how do we know if there is a link?

    By Kevin Trenberth

    Once again, the summer of 2018 in the Northern Hemisphere has brought us an epidemic of major wildfires. These burn forests, houses and other structures, displace thousands of people and animals, and cause major disruptions in people’s lives. To many people, it has become very clear that human-induced climate change plays a major role by greatly increasing the risk of wildfire. There is huge complexity and variability from one fire to the next, and hence the attribution can become complex. The way to think about this is from the standpoint of basic science – in this case, physics: Global warming does not cause wildfires, but it exacerbates the conditions which make wildfires more likely, thus raising the risk of wildfire.

  • Climate threats & nuclear plantsWhat are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats?

    By John Vidal

    Flooding can be catastrophic to a nuclear power plant because it can knock out its electrical systems, disabling its cooling mechanisms and leading to overheating and possible meltdown and a dangerous release of radioactivity. At least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built just a few meters above sea level could be threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. More than 20 flooding incidents have been recorded at U.S. nuclear plants since the early 1980s. A number of scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that climate change will impact coastal nuclear plants earlier and harder than the industry, governments, or regulatory bodies have expected, and that the safety standards set by national nuclear regulators and the IAEA are out of date and take insufficient account of the effects of climate change on nuclear power.

  • GeoengineeringBlocking sunlight to cool Earth won't reduce crop damage from global warming

    Injecting particles into the atmosphere to cool the planet and counter the warming effects of climate change would do nothing to offset the crop damage from rising global temperatures, according to a new analysis. “Shading the planet keeps things cooler, which helps crops grow better. But plants also need sunlight to grow, so blocking sunlight can affect growth. For agriculture, the unintended impacts of solar geoengineering are equal in magnitude to the benefits,” said the study’s lead author.

  • Climate threatsPlanet at risk of heading towards “Hothouse Earth” state

    An international team of scientists has published a study showing that keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed, and that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says.

  • Climate threatsIt’s official: 2017 was one of three warmest years on record

    It is official: 2017 was the third-warmest year on record for the globe. The planet also experienced record-high greenhouse gas concentrations as well as rises in sea level. The concentration of greenhouse gasses — including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide – reached new record highs. The 2017 average global CO2 concentration was 405 parts per million, the highest measured in the modern 38-year global climate record and records created from ice-core samples dating back as far as 800,000 years.

  • Water securityGroundwater recharge project helps California’s sustainability efforts

    The depletion of California’s aquifers by over-pumping of groundwater has led to growing interest in “managed aquifer recharge,” which replenishes depleted aquifers using available surface waters, such as high flows in rivers, runoff from winter storms, or recycled waste water. At the same time, there is growing concern about contamination of groundwater supplies with nitrate from fertilizers, septic tanks, and other sources. Study shows how collecting storm-water runoff to replenish depleted groundwater supplies can be coupled with a simple strategy to reduce nitrate contaminants.

  • Food securityClimate taxes on agriculture may lead to more food insecurity than climate change itself

    New research has found that a single climate mitigation scheme applied to all sectors, such as a global carbon tax, could have a serious impact on agriculture and result in far more widespread hunger and food insecurity than the direct impacts of climate change. Smarter, inclusive policies are necessary instead.

  • Food securityHow climate change will alter our food

    By Renee Cho

    The world population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. With 3.4 billion more mouths to feed, and the growing desire of the middle class for meat and dairy in developing countries, global demand for food could increase by between 59 and 98 percent. This means that agriculture around the world needs to step up production and increase yields. But scientists say that the impacts of climate change—higher temperatures, extreme weather, drought, increasing levels of carbon dioxide, and sea level rise—threaten to decrease the quantity and jeopardize the quality of our food supplies.