January, 2024

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Mind the Gaps: How the UN Climate Plan Fails to Follow the Science

Yale E360

The U.N. climate conference in Dubai agreed on a plan to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees C and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. But researchers are warning that these pledges are not grounded in sound science and will fail to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

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Neuralink: What do brain implants do and why is Elon Musk making them?

New Scientist

Elon Musk's Neuralink company is conducting its first human trials, implanting a tiny chip into the surface of a person's brain to allow them to talk directly with computers

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The Beleaguered Whitebark Pine Is in Trouble. Can It Be Saved?

Yale E360

Once common in the West, whitebark pine is being wiped out by a deadly fungus, ravaging beetles, and climate change. Scientists hope advances in gene sequencing and a recent federal listing as threatened will speed the hunt for trees that can be replanted and seed the future.

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Spencer’s Shenanigans

Real Climate

A recent sensible-sounding piece by Roy Spencer for the Heritage foundation is full of misrepresentations. Let’s play spot the fallacy. Comparing climate models to observations is usually a great idea, but there are some obvious pitfalls to avoid if you want to be taken seriously. The most obvious one is to neglect the impacts of internal variability – which is not synchronized across the models or with the observations.

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Manufacturing Sustainability Surge: Your Guide to Data-Driven Energy Optimization & Decarbonization

Speaker: Kevin Kai Wong, President of Emergent Energy Solutions

In today's industrial landscape, the pursuit of sustainable energy optimization and decarbonization has become paramount. Manufacturing corporations across the U.S. are facing the urgent need to align with decarbonization goals while enhancing efficiency and productivity. Unfortunately, the lack of comprehensive energy data poses a significant challenge for manufacturing managers striving to meet their targets.

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7 Reasons California Should Get Tougher on Methane from Dairies

Legal Planet

Photo: USDA Even though California aims to decrease the emissions of methane, dairy operations are rewarded for creating, and capturing, more and more of the planet-warming super pollutant in the form of manure-derived biogas. Today, California lawmakers declined to correct that perverse incentive, but they still have opportunities to rethink the state’s embrace of digesters as its primary mitigation tactic.

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With the World Stumbling Past 1.5 Degrees of Warming, Scientists Warn Climate Shocks Could Trigger Unrest and Authoritarian Backlash

Inside Climate News

Most of the public seems unaware that global temperatures will soon push past the target to which the U.N. hoped to limit warming, but researchers see social and psychological crises brewing. By Bob Berwyn As Earth’s annual average temperature pushes against the 1.5 degree Celsius limit beyond which climatologists expect the impacts of global warming to intensify, social scientists warn that humanity may be about to sleepwalk into a dangerous new era in human history.

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Modern humans were already in northern Europe 45,000 years ago

New Scientist

DNA from bones found in a cave in Germany has been identified as from Homo sapiens, showing that our species endured frigid conditions there as they expanded across the continent

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No Free Parking: An Urban Reform Movement Takes Hold

Yale E360

In cities across the U.S., planners are pushing to eliminate mandates requiring parking spaces in new buildings. The reforms, along with adding street parking meters, reduce car dependency, create public spaces, cut down on heat-island effects, and lower housing costs.

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Not just another dot on the graph?

Real Climate

As the climate monitoring groups add an additional dot to their graphs this week, there is some disquiet among people paying attention about just how extraordinary 2023 really was. First, it’s been obvious for months that 2023 would be a record year – in temperatures (at the surface, troposphere and in the ocean), in Antarctic sea ice, in the number of big climate disasters etc.

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Judicial Activism and Climate Change: An Unhealthy Combination

Legal Planet

An Oregon federal judge has convinced herself that climate change is a constitutional issue. After what promises to be a lengthy trial, Judge Aiken plans to decide whether U.S. energy policy passes constitutional muster. While I have no doubts about her sincerity and good intentions, her opinion itself shows why her courtroom is not the right place for climate policy to be made.

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Implementing D.E.J.I. Strategies in Energy, Environment, and Transportation

Speaker: Antoine M. Thompson, Executive Director of the Greater Washington Region Clean Cities Coalition

Diversity, Equity, Justice, and Inclusion (DEJI) policies, programs, and initiatives are critically important as we move forward with public and private sector climate and sustainability goals and plans. Underserved and socially, economically, and racially disadvantaged communities bear the burden of pollution, higher energy costs, limited resources, and limited investments in the clean energy and transportation sectors.

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International Community Wants Biden to Act on LNG

NRDC

Allies from key countries around the world came out resoundingly in support of the Biden administration's decision to pause permitting of new liquefied natural gas export facilities.

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Renewable Power Set to Surpass Coal Globally by 2025

Scientific American

Renewable energy will surpass coal power by 2025 and, with nuclear energy, will account for nearly half the world’s power generation by 2026, the International Energy Agency forecasts

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Wind Industry Activity Strongly Correlated With Whale Deaths, New Study Finds

Environmental Progress

Download the Full Report “An Investigation of Large Whale Mortality and Offshore Wind Development Activity in the U.S. Since 2015.” LISA LINOWES and ERIC TURNER on behalf of the SAVE RIGHT WHALES COALITION Since 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared three Unusual Mortality Events (UME) involving large whale species in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Rethinking Monarchs: Does the Beloved Butterfly Need Our Help?

Yale E360

The Eastern monarch butterfly has long been thought to be in peril, but new studies indicate that its U.S. populations are not in decline. Scientists say the biggest threat the species faces is from well-meaning people who breed the butterflies at home and release them.

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Shaping a Resilient Future: Climate Impact on Vulnerable Populations

Speaker: Laurie Schoeman Director, Climate & Sustainability, Capital

As households and communities across the nation face challenges such as hurricanes, wildfires, drought, extreme heat and cold, and thawing permafrost and flooding, we are increasingly searching for ways to mitigate and prevent climate impacts. During this event, national climate and housing expert Laurie Schoeman will discuss topics including: The two paths for climate action: decarbonization and adaptation.

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Traces of ancient life reveal a 3.4-billion-year-old ecosystem

New Scientist

Chemical analysis of rocks found in South Africa shows that ancient microorganisms sustained themselves in a variety of ways, adding to evidence for an early origin of life on Earth

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Groundwater Levels Around the World Are Dropping Quickly, Often at Accelerating Rates

Inside Climate News

Rapid declines are most common in aquifers under croplands in drier regions, including California, the most extensive analysis of groundwater trends so far shows. By Liza Gross Groundwater supplies are dwindling in aquifers around the world, a groundbreaking new study found, with the rates of decline accelerating over the past four decades in nearly a third of aquifers studied.

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Fossilized Finances: Oil and Gas Subsidies in the Permian Basin

NRDC

A new NRDC report shows how, despite the need to curb fossil fuel production, outdated tax giveaways incentivize further extraction in the country's largest oil and gas region.

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Cute Little Tardigrades Are Basically Indestructible, and Scientists Just Figured Out One Reason Why

Scientific American

Tardigrades are microscopic animals that can survive a host of conditions that are too extreme to ever occur on Earth—and scientists want to learn their secrets

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Sustainability at Retail

Sustainability impacts every nation, company, and person around the world. So much so that, in 2015, the United Nations (UN) issued a call for action by all countries to work toward sustainable development. In response to this and as part of a global Sustainability at Retail initiative, Shop! worked collaboratively with its global affiliates to address these critical issues in this white paper.

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Capping Oil and Gas Emissions: We Have the Framework, Now Where Do We Go From Here? 

Enviromental Defense

Two years after Prime Minister Trudeau first promised to limit and reduce Canada’s oil and gas emissions, the federal government finally released a regulatory framework at COP 28, in December 2023. The framework is by no means perfect. However, it is a much-awaited step in the right direction as the federal government moves to cap greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the highest polluting industry in Canada.

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How DNA from Museums Is Helping Boost Species on the Brink

Yale E360

Historical and ancient DNA from museum specimens is enabling scientists to establish baselines of genetic diversity for species now in decline. Biologists are using that information to decide how best to protect imperiled wildlife, from Galápagos tortoises to African rhinos.

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Kimchi and artisan cheeses can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria

New Scientist

Fermented food such as artisan cheeses or kimchi made with unpasteurised milk or starter cultures that haven't been properly screened can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria

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Another Hot, Dry Summer May Push Parts of Texas to the Brink

Inside Climate News

Some areas are starting the year with low water reserves, and forecasters don’t expect substantial relief from the weather. By Dylan Baddour Two consecutive summers of brutal heat and drought have left some parts of Texas with notably low water supplies going into 2024.

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Liquefied Natural Gas has Limited Impact in Displacing Coal Emissions

NRDC

The fossil fuel industry is selling a false narrative that liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion is a “climate solution” because it displaces coal consumption globally. This claim doesn’t stand up against the facts. U.S. LNG has no or very limited.

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Your Body Has Its Own Built-In Ozempic

Scientific American

Popular weight-loss and diabetes drugs, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, target metabolic pathways that gut microbes and food molecules already play a key role in regulating

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Time to Prepare: COP28 Outcome a Warning Sign for Canada’s Reliance on Fossil Fuels

Enviromental Defense

At COP28, countries agreed to transition away from fossil fuels and accelerate action within the decade to achieve our global climate goals. Additionally, a new work programme, the Just Transition Work Programme (JTWP), was set up to find ways to make the transition equitable for all. This welcome progress on climate change is an important signal for Canada to take note of; the world is transitioning away from one of our main exports.

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At Solar Farms Planted with Native Vegetation, Insects Flourish

Yale E360

To reach its climate goals, the U.S. will need to build solar arrays on some 15,000 square miles of land, an area larger than Maryland. Growing native plants at these sites could give a much-needed boost to imperiled insects, a new study finds.

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Early fossil identified as new species of Tyrannosaurus

New Scientist

A dinosaur known only from a partial skull has been dubbed Tyrannosaurus mcraensis, adding a new twist to long-running debates about putative relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex

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Once Known for Its Pollution, Pittsburgh Becomes a Poster Child for Climate Consciousness

Inside Climate News

The National Climate Assessment shines a light on the city’s “innovative” plans to curb flooding based on projections for heavier, climate-amplified precipitation. By Jon Hurdle The City of Pittsburgh’s incorporation of climate-change projections into its stormwater-control regulations have been highlighted by the latest National Climate Assessment as an example of how a city can prepare itself for the bigger, more frequent rain storms produced by the changing climate.

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DEP: Shale Gas Operator Found Responsible For Water Supply Contamination After Investigation Documents Chemical Contamination Spread Across 3 Townships In Greene County

PA Environment Daily

On December 28, 2023, DEP posted an inspection report for the Mohr A and B shale gas well pads in Cumberland Township, Greene County operated by Greylock Production LLC-- formerly Energy Corporation of America-- saying-- “This administrative inspection is being conducted of the Mohr A and B locations well sites to document violations related to impacts to a private water supply.

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Ancient Jewelry Shows Ice Age Europe Had 9 Distinct Cultures

Scientific American

Prehistoric artifacts used in jewelry, such as beads made from shells, amber and ivory, have shed light on the cultural groups that were present in Europe tens of thousands of years ago

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Death by a Thousand Cuts: Ontario’s Dismantling of the Endangered Species Act

Enviromental Defense

In Ontario, there are currently over 200 species of plants and animals at risk of extinction. These species are the most vulnerable and require species-specific conservation efforts to survive. Unfortunately, changes to regulations in recent years clearly highlight Ontario’s lack of effort to protect these species. Policies that had been put in place to protect species at risk have since been whittled down, most notably by the current provincial government, as a way to prioritize development.

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When Species Names Are Offensive, Should They Be Changed?

Yale E360

Amid a wider social justice reckoning, some scientists are calling for scrapping species names that honor people considered objectionable, including dictators and enslavers, or use offensive words. Others question whether such a monumental effort is worthwhile or even possible.

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Vast submerged area near Australia may once have hosted 500,000 people

New Scientist

An area of the seabed north of Australia has been mapped in detail for the first time, revealing that large numbers of people could have lived there until it was inundated by rising seas

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