Climate Change

Kids' lawsuit alleges government has known of climate change risk for 50 years

The TV show Sixty Minutes ran a segment this weekend on a lawsuit making its way through the courts in the Pacific Northwest.  Titled "Juliana vs. United States," the suit seeks to have the government stop supporting fossil fuel use.  The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by Oregon lawyer Julia Olson on behalf of 21 children —the "climate kids" — that she recruited from environmental groups around the country.  The plaintiffs submitted evidence indicating that as early as 1965 the government had information on the cumulative dangers of fossil fuel usage, and ignored it.

Here's some background on the program.  

The big meltdown: How climate change is unraveling the Antarctic ecosystem

A sobering National Geographic story about the effects of climate change in Antarctica.

The warming is yanking apart the gears of a complex ecological machine, changing what animals eat, where they rest, how they raise their young, even how they interact. At the same time, the shrimplike krill upon which almost all animals here depend for food are being swept up by trawlers from distant nations....So much here is changing so fast that scientists can’t predict where it’s all headed." 

Climate change causing huge loss in tropical insect invertebrate population

The Washington Post reports on a "hyperalarming" study showing dramatic loss of insects in pristine American tropical forest.  The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The Post story notes that 35% of the world's plant crops require pollination by bees, wasps and other animals, so that if pollinators go extinct so will many plant species.  

Sobering U.N. Report on Climate Change

A couple of days ago, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, representing 91 top climate change researchers from 40 countries, released their long-awaited report on global climate change and the possibilities for topping rising temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.   This was a report that some vulnerable nations had requested after a larger UN meeeting in Paris in 2015 had resulted in the 2016 Paris Agreement committing participating nations to put best efforts to hold global temperature rise in this century to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.  Those nations were concerned about the consequences of even a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase.  

Here's a good summary of and response to the Panel's findings, which  indicate that the consequences of a 1.5 degree increase are still quite severe, and that they may come as soon as 2040.  Click the following link for the Panel's headline findings:  Download UN panel headline findings

One of the Panel's key suggestions for staving off such a global temperature increase turns on a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.   This is a policy recommendations developed by climate economist William Nordhaus.  Probably not coincidentally, the day after the climate report was released, Nordhaus was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Economics.