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Reading Recommendations

June 2019

Safety margins and adaptive capacity of vegetation to climate change

Vegetation is composed of many individual species whose climatic tolerances can be integrated into spatial analyses of climate change risk. Here, we quantify climate change risk to vegetation at a continental scale by calculating the safety margins for warming and drying across plants sharing 100 km × 100 km grid cells (locations).


The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response

Critics of the Green New Deal ask if we can afford it. But we can’t afford not to: our civilisation is at stake. –Joseph Stiglitz


The Guardian

Rising methane: A new climate challenge

In 2007, the amount of methane in the atmosphere (CH4) began to rise after a 7-year period of near-zero growth. Recent research shows that a second step change occurred in 2014. From 2014 to at least the end of 2018, the amount of CH4 in the atmosphere increased at nearly double the rate observed since 2007. Because CH4 is a potent greenhouse gas, rising atmospheric CH4 presents a major challenge to achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, an international consensus to limit temperature increase to 2°C or, if possible, to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.



Global change drives modern plankton communities away from the pre-industrial state

The ocean—the Earth’s largest ecosystem—is increasingly affected by anthropogenic climate change. Large and globally consistent shifts have been detected in species phenology, range extension and community composition in marine ecosystems. However, despite evidence for ongoing change, it remains unknown whether marine ecosystems have entered an Anthropocene state beyond the natural decadal to centennial variability.



Limited capacity of tree growth to mitigate the global greenhouse effect under predicted warming

The relationship between productivity and longevity has not yet been described for trees growing under industrial and pre-industrial climates. We conclude, the interdependence between higher stem productivity, faster tree turnover, and shorter carbon residence time, reduces the capacity of forest ecosystems to store carbon under a climate warming-induced stimulation of tree growth at policy-relevant timescales.



Climate change mitigation potential of carbon capture and utilization in the chemical industry

Carbon dioxide (CO2) drives climate change when released to the atmosphere. Alternatively, CO2 could be captured and utilized as carbon source for chemicals. Here, we provide a global assessment of the technical climate change mitigation potential of carbon capture and utilization (CCU) in the chemical industry. We develop an engineering-level model of the global chemical industry representing 75% of current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.



Nudging out support for a carbon tax

A carbon tax is widely accepted as the most effective policy for curbing carbon emissions but is controversial because it imposes costs on consumers. An alternative, ‘nudge,’ approach promises smaller benefits but with much lower costs. However, nudges aimed at reducing carbon emissions could have a pernicious indirect effect if they offer the promise of a ‘quick fix’ and thereby undermine support for policies of greater impact.


Nature Climate Change

Put equity first in climate adaptation

Focusing on the bottom few per cent, not averages, is the best way to tackle poverty. Poor people face a double burden of inequality — from uneven development and climate change. In Mozambique, for example, two-thirds of the population lives in extreme poverty, on less than US$1.9 per day. In March, the nation was hit by Cyclone Idai, followed by Cyclone Kenneth in April. Idai alone killed 1,000 people and left 3 million in need of help. Most were in poor, isolated rural communities and coastal settlements that were cut off from emergency responses.



Smelly algae invasion threatens Mexico’s prized beaches

Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast brings in half of the country’s tourism revenues, but the algae explosion could cripple the local economy. The vast mats of algae, called sargassum, is one of the more visible climate-change events quietly altering the tourist trade.



Do transportation network companies decrease or increase congestion?

This research examines whether transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, live up to their stated vision of reducing congestion in major cities. Existing research has produced conflicting results and has been hampered by a lack of data. The findings provide insight into expected changes in major cities as TNCs continue to grow, informing decisions about how to integrate TNCs into the existing transportation system.



The impact of human health co-benefits on evaluations of global climate policy

The health co-benefits of CO2 mitigation can provide a strong incentive for climate policy through reductions in air pollutant emissions that occur when targeting shared sources. However, reducing air pollutant emissions may also have an important co-harm, as the aerosols they form produce net cooling overall. Nevertheless, aerosol impacts have not been fully incorporated into cost-benefit modeling that estimates how much the world should optimally mitigate.



In “Vicious Cycle,” Snowmelt Fuels Wildfires, and Wildfires Melt Snow

This feedback poses major concerns for Western water resources and wildfire risk. With spring in full bloom, winter’s last stores of snow are beginning to melt. As they do, they’ll release much-needed fresh water into streams or the surrounding soil, fueling plant growth and replenishing drinking resources for communities.


Scientific American

Multiplatform evaluation of global trends in wind speed and wave height

Ocean winds blowing harder. Two frequently asked questions about how climate warming will affect the environment are whether windiness might change and what effects that might have on ocean waves. Young and Ribal analyzed global satellite data over the period from 1985 to 2018 to determine if there are any trends in oceanic wind speed and wave height.



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