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Reading Recommendations

September 2018

Nearly Every Ecosystem on the Planet Will Be Transformed By Climate Change


If nations fail to rein in their greenhouse gas emissions, nearly every terrestrial ecosystem on the planet — from forests to grasslands to marshland —will undergo “major transformations” that will completely change the world’s biomes, warn a team of 42 scientists from around the globe in the journal Science. This will have consequences for everything from food and water security to public health.


Yale 360

Tackling transport congestion will strain rights and freedoms

Nick Butler

Transport is both the most important part of the energy transition story and the most resistant to change. Cars, freight lorries, aircraft and the rest account for almost 30 per cent of energy use and 45 per cent of global oil demand. Since 2000, demand for oil from transportation has risen by a third. There are some 450m more cars and vans on the world’s roads and some 60m more lorries. Almost all run on oil.


Financial Times

Global carbon intensity of crude oil production

Mohammad S. Masnadi et al.

Producing, transporting, and refining crude oil into fuels such as gasoline and diesel accounts for ∼15 to 40% of the “well-to-wheels” life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of transport fuels. Reducing emissions from petroleum production is of particular importance, as current transport fleets are almost entirely dependent on liquid petroleum products, and many uses of petroleum have limited prospects for near-term substitution. Better understanding of crude oil GHG emissions can help to quantify the benefits of alternative fuels and identify the most cost-effective opportunities for oil-sector emissions reductions.



Estimating global agricultural effects of geoengineering using volcanic eruptions

Jonathan Proctor, Solomon Hsiang, Jennifer Burney, Marshall Burke & Wolfram Schlenker

Analysis of the El Chichón and Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruptions suggests that solar radiation management strategies using stratospheric sulfate aerosols would do little to counterbalance the effects of climate change on global crop yields.



Mexico’s mega city advances the fight for cleaner air

Dawn Lee

Mexico City, home to more than 8.8 million people, the point of greatest concentration of human activity in the country, joins the BreatheLife campaign on the Inter-American Day of Air Quality (Día Interamericano de la Calidad del Aire) 2018.


CCA Coalition

Divergent global-scale temperature effects from identical aerosols emitted in different regions

Geeta G. Persad & Ken Caldeira

The distribution of anthropogenic aerosols’ climate effects depends on the geographic distribution of the aerosols themselves. Yet many scientific and policy discussions ignore the role of emission location when evaluating aerosols’ climate impacts. Here, we present new climate model results demonstrating divergent climate responses to a fixed amount and composition of aerosol—emulating China’s present-day emissions—emitted from 8 key geopolitical regions.



Particulate pollution’s impact varies greatly depending on where it originated

Carnegie Institution for Science

Aerosols are tiny particles that are spewed into the atmosphere by human activities, including burning coal and wood. They have negative effects on air quality — damaging human health and agricultural productivity. New research demonstrates that the impact these fine particles have on the climate varies greatly depending on where they were released.


Science Daily

The case for keeping fuel efficiency standards


Last week, the Trump administration announced its intent to roll back fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks sold in the United States through 2026, and to eliminate states’ authority to set their own, more stringent pollution standards. The move is backward looking for American business, consumers and the environment.


The Hill

California’s Zero-Carbon Bill Aims To Set Climate Example

By Bobby Magill

California lawmakers want to prove that one of the world’s largest economies can wean its electric power sector off of fossil fuels, using a bill expected to receive a final vote before the end of August. If enacted, Senate Bill 100 would make California the second state to adopt a 100 percent renewables mandate. Hawaii became the first state to set that target, in 2015.



Marine heatwaves under global warming

Thomas L. Frölicher, Erich M. Fischer & Nicolas Gruber

Marine heatwaves (MHWs) are periods of extreme warm sea surface temperature that persist for days to months and can extend up to thousands of kilometres. Some of the recently observed marine heatwaves revealed the high vulnerability of marine ecosystems and fisheries to such extreme climate events. Yet our knowledge about past occurrences15 and the future progression of MHWs is very limited.



Here’s How to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Without Taxing Them

By Justin Gillis and Jameson McBride

Congress should require the share of electricity from low-polluting technologies to increase steadily over time.


NY Times

How does climate change influence extreme weather? Impact attribution research seeks answers

Stephen Ornes

For decades, climate researchers using computer models have predicted that the warming ocean and atmosphere would likely increase the intensity of such natural disasters. More recently, though, high-resolution datasets and more sophisticated models have allowed researchers to find the fingerprint of climate change in individual weather events. Such analyses are exceedingly tricky, and not all experts the field agree on the best approach.



We’re dangerously unprepared for the heat crisis from climate change

By Irwin Redlener and Jackie Ratner

Well, if you live in one of the many US cities where official heat emergencies have been declared, or if you live in California, suffering the worst wildfires in the state’s history, the answer is obvious. Extreme heat creates terrible conditions. And for many vulnerable individuals those conditions can be — and often are — deadly.



Halfway to boiling: the city at 50 °C

by Jonathan Watts and Elle Hunt

It is the temperature at which human cells start to cook, animals suffer and air conditioners overload power grids. Once an urban anomaly, 50C is fast becoming reality


The Guardian

Quantifying population exposure to air pollution using individual mobility patterns inferred from mobile phone data

Nyhan M, et al

A critical question in environmental epidemiology is whether air pollution exposures of large populations can be refined using individual mobile-device-based mobility patterns.



New geological age comes under fire

Paul Voosen

Last month, the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), the bureaucracy that governs geological time, declared we are living in a new geological age. No, it’s not the Anthropocene, the much-debated proposal for a geological division defined by human impact on Earth. The new age anointed by ICS is called the Meghalayan, based on signs in the rock record of a global drought that began about 4200 years ago.



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