Spend 10% of pandemic stimulus to save climate says study, why the US election could decide the battle against climate change, and a record breaking bird
Photo of the week: Autumn leaves
Welcome to this week’s news roundup. As always we’ll be mixing it up - there’ll be some good news stories, some not so good news stories, and maybe some stories you won't have seen elsewhere!
Hope you enjoy!
“For most of us, the colourful, otherworldly marinescapes of coral reefs are as remote as the alien landscapes of the moon. We rarely, if ever, experience these underwater wonderlands for ourselves – we are, after all, air-breathing, terrestrial creatures mostly cocooned in cities. It is easy, therefore, not to notice the perilous state they’re in: we’ve lost 50% of coral reefs in the past 20 years; more than 90% are expected to die by 2050 according to a presentation at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Diego, California earlier this year. As the oceans heat further and turn more acidic, owing to rising carbon dioxide emissions, coral reefs are tipped to become the world’s first ecosystems to become extinct because of us.
From coral farming to 3D printing, scientists are using novel methods to save a vital part of our ecosystem.”
“The world could get on track to avert catastrophic climate change by investing a tenth of a planned $12 trillion in pandemic recovery packages in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, according to a study published on Thursday. With the stimulus representing about 15% of global gross domestic product, or three times the commitment after the 2008 financial crisis, scientists say the money could prove pivotal in meeting the temperature goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. “It makes absolute sense not just to keep your economy alive with palliative care, but to restructure your economy so it’s future-ready,” Joeri Rogelj, a climate scientist at Imperial College London, and a co-author of the paper, told Reuters.”
What if space could cool the Earth? (Washington Post)
New technologies may allow us to use the atmosphere itself to vent excess heat from Earth directly into space. Video story.
“The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are intertwined: Storms and wildfires are worsening while as many as one million species are at risk of extinction. The solutions are not small or easy, but they exist, scientists say. A global road map, published Wednesday in Nature, identifies a path to soaking up almost half of the carbon dioxide that has built up since the Industrial Revolution and averting more than 70 percent of the predicted animal and plant extinctions on land. The key? Returning a strategic 30 percent of the world’s farmlands to nature. It could be done, the researchers found, while preserving an abundant food supply for people and while also staying within the time scale to keep global temperatures from rising past 2 degrees Celsius, the upper target of the Paris Agreement.”
The not so good:
“Scientists studying climate change say that the re-election of Donald Trump could make it "impossible" to keep global temperatures in check. They're worried another four years of Trump would "lock in" the use of fossil fuels for decades to come - securing and enhancing the infrastructure for oil and gas production rather than phasing them out as environmentalists want. Joe Biden's climate plan, the scientists argue, would give the world a fighting chance. In addition to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement - the international pact designed to avoid dangerous warming of the Earth - President Trump's team has worked hard to remove what they see as obstacles to efficient energy production.”
“A government report into the action being taken to fight biodiversity loss in the UK paints a grim picture of the natural world and the finances available to restore and preserve ecosystems. Using 24 key biodiversity indicators, the report found 14 are in long-term decline, including UK habitats of European importance, the abundance and distribution of priority species, farmland and woodland birds, and fish size classes in the North Sea. The report also reveals just 0.02% of UK GDP now goes towards funding biodiversity after cuts in public sector investment in conservation amounted to a real-terms fall of 33 per cent in just five years. Dr Richard Benwell, chief executive of the Wildlife and Countryside Link - an umbrella organisation comprised of institutions including the National Trust, RSPB, the Marine Conservation Society, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth - told The Independent funding cuts had resulted in “relentlessly bad results for habitats and species”.
And something a bit different:
“A bird said to have the aerodynamic build of a “jet fighter” has been tracked flying more than 12,000km (7,500 miles) from Alaska to New Zealand, setting a new world record for avian non-stop flight. The bar-tailed godwit set off from south-west Alaska on 16 September and arrived in a bay near Auckland 11 days later, having flown at speeds of up to 55mph. The male bird, known as 4BBRW in reference to the blue, blue, red and white rings fitted on its legs, also had a 5gm satellite tag harnessed on its lower back to allow scientists to track its progress. It was one of four to leave together from the Alaskan mudflats where they had been feeding on clams and worms for two months. The male bar-tailed godwit, whose standard weight is between 190gm and 400gm, can double in size before a long flight but is able to shrink its internal organs to lighten the load.”