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November 2020

In 2020, Record-Breaking Hurricanes Arrived Early—and Often The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has truly been one for the record books. With 28 named storms, it is currently tied with 2005 for the most storms in a single season. (Named storms are those that reach at least tropical storm strength, meaning they have wind speeds of 39 miles per hour or higher.) Forecasters already used up this year’s official storm name list, just as they did in 2005, which means they had to move to the supplementary Greek alphabet. Those two years are the only ones in which this has ever happened.  
Scientific American
Steering iceberg armadas Science is theoretically objective, but biases and paradigms often originate from something as fundamental as field site accessibility, data density, or publication date. Such biases may be at the heart of an enduring paradigm in paleoceanography and paleoclimatology—that changes in cold dense water production in the North Atlantic Ocean forced millennial-scale (<1000 year) global climate changes during the past ∼50,000 years. These changes were first identified in Greenland ice cores >30 years ago  
SCIENCE
Past climates inform our future Anthropogenic emissions are rapidly altering Earth’s climate, pushing it toward a warmer state for which there is no historical precedent. Although no perfect analog exists for such a disruption, Earth’s history includes past climate states—“paleoclimates”—that hold lessons for the future of our warming world. These periods in Earth’s past span a tremendous range of temperatures, precipitation patterns, cryospheric extent, and biospheric adaptations and are increasingly relevant for improving our understanding of how key elements of the climate system are affected by greenhouse gas levels.  
SCIENCE
An Underappreciated Danger of the New Space Age: Global Air Pollution The space industry is growing and innovating at a pace not seen since the days of the moon landings. Fifty years ago, nearly everything related to space was a government-sponsored project.  
Scientific American
Tackling poor air quality: Lessons from three cities How can countries grow their economies and keep air pollution in check at the same time? A new World Bank report explores that tricky question, looking at the kinds of policies and actions three leading cities have taken to tackle poor local air quality, providing lessons for other cities. As we mark World Cities Day on October 31, this research seems more timely than ever.  
World Bank
Cemex goes global with carbon-neutral concrete Success in Europe with inorganic polymeric binder leads to worldwide launch.  When it comes to construction, concrete is king, but making it releases a lot of CO2—around 8% of global emissions. Demand for lower carbon emissions is creating a market for concrete with a smaller carbon footprint. The concrete maker Cemex is addressing that trend with what it says is the first net-zero CO2 concrete to be available worldwide.  
Science
Role of export industries on ozone pollution and its precursors in China This study seeks to estimate how global supply chain relocates emissions of tropospheric ozone precursors and its impacts in shaping ozone formation. Here we show that goods produced in China for foreign markets lead to an increase of domestic non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) emissions by 3.5 million tons in 2013; about 13% of the national total or, equivalent to half of emissions from European Union.  
NATURE
Lead Pollution Reflects Dramatic World Events Ice cores from Greenland and the Russian Arctic show an ever changing amount of airborne lead pollution that has wafted northward from Europe, Asia and North America each year. Lead levels tracked monumental events in human history, including Phoenicia’s expansion in 1,000 B.C., the Roman Empire’s rise, terrible plagues and the industrial revolution. From antiquity to the 1800s, emissions came primarily from smelting silver-bearing lead. The COVID-19 pandemic may not leave much of a mark, because many economies are largely deleaded.  
Scientific American
Urban and air pollution: a multi-city study of long-term effects of urban landscape patterns on air quality trends Most air pollution research has focused on assessing the urban landscape effects of pollutants in megacities, little is known about their associations in small- to mid-sized cities.  
NATURE
Evidence for massive emission of methane from a deep‐water gas field during the Pliocene A major uncertainty in the sources of atmospheric methane is the role of geologic seepage from petroleum-bearing sedimentary basins. Hydrocarbon seeps located onshore, shallow offshore, and coastal areas can play a major role. Methane released by deep ocean seeps typically does not reach the atmosphere. Here, we provide evidence for a single, large, and sudden expulsion of methane from a deep‐water reservoir during the Pliocene. We use geophysical evidence and fluid-flow modeling to estimate that this single event would have amounted to ∼10% of present‐day annual natural methane emissions. Although no ultraseepage events, such as this one, have been documented in modern times, the relatively common geologic circumstances of this type of event suggest that they are not exceptional.  
PNAS
Creating value from plastic waste Plastic waste presents a number of environmental problems (1–3). Although only a small fraction of it enters rivers, lakes, and oceans, it can be transformed there into micro- and nanoplastics that are harmful to aquatic organisms. When plastic waste is buried in landfills or incinerated, it generates heat and carbon dioxide. However, plastic waste also offers great opportunities if its economic value can be increased substantially through upcycling processes that convert it into more valuable chemical products.  
SCIENCE
Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability Global biodiversity policy is at a crossroads. Recent global assessments of living nature . and climate show worsening trends and a rapidly narrowing window for action. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has recently announced that none of the 20 Aichi targets for biodiversity it set in 2010 has been reached and only six have been partially achieved. Against this backdrop, nations are now negotiating the next generation of the CBD’s global goals [see supplementary materials (SM)], due for adoption in 2021, which will frame actions of governments and other actors for decades to come. In response to the goals proposed in the draft post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) made public by the CBD, we urge negotiators to consider three points that are critical if the agreed goals are to stabilize or reverse nature’s decline.  
SCIENCE
Protect the Antarctic Peninsula — before it’s too late Banning fishing in warming coastal waters and limiting tourism and construction on land will help to protect marine mammals and seabirds. Among the windswept glaciers and icebergs of the western Antarctic Peninsula is an oasis of life. Threatened humpback and minke whales patrol the waters. Fish, squid and seals swim alongside noisy colonies of chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguins on the shore. It’s a complex web of life. All these species feed on small, shrimp-like crustaceans called Antarctic krill. And many are themselves prey for leopard seals, killer whales and predatory seabirds such as skuas and giant petrels.  
NATURE
The World Needs to Ramp Up Solutions for Greener Cooling A proliferation in traditional air conditioning meant to protect people from intense heat could also exacerbate warming. Air conditioning and other cooling systems are widely recognized as integral to protecting people from the sometimes deadly impacts of extreme heat, which are intensifying in step with climate change. Yet according to a study, published yesterday in Nature Sustainability, there remains a “global blind spot” when it comes to handling the already exorbitant demand for cooling and indoor air conditioning, which alone is projected to triple by 2050. That’s a stark reality, the report warns, given that many cooling systems are carbon-intensive—and contribute to global warming themselves.  
Scientific American
Impacts of discriminated PM2.5 on global under-five and maternal mortality Globally, it was estimated that maternal and under-five deaths were high in low-income countries than that of high-income countries. Most studies, however, have focused only on the clinical causes of maternal and under-five deaths, and yet there could be other factors such as ambient particulate matter (PM).  
NATURE


MARIO MOLINA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES ON ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
CDMX