Tag Archives: planet

2017 is officially one of the hottest years on record, surprising no one

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

It’s official: 2017 was one of the hottest years ever recorded on Earth. On Thursday, NASA reported that only 2016 was warmer.

Every year, NASA collects data on the planet’s temperature record and releases a report that explains climate trends. On average, the planet’s surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit during the last 100 years, a change that can be blamed on the increasing amount of human-made emissions, such as carbon dioxide. “[T]emperatures over the planet as a whole continue the rapid warming trend we’ve seen over the last 40 years,” Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies that conducted the study, said in a press release.

Notably absent in 2017’s climbing temperatures was the presence of El Niño, a weather pattern that warms up the Pacific Ocean and contributed to 2016’s record-setting heat. Still, in 2017, the U.S. spent a record $306 billion on climate-fueled catastrophes, including 16 billion-dollar disasters such as the California wildfires and Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also follows the Earth’s temperatures but uses a different method from NASA, concluded that 2017 was the third warmest year — after 2016 and 2015.

This new data means that 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have all occurred since 2001. “What we’re seeing is an increasing string of years of temperatures more than 1 degree above the pre-industrial era,” Schmidt told the New York Times, “and we’re not going to go back.”

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2017 is officially one of the hottest years on record, surprising no one

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The Great Lakes are having Great Snowstorms partly thanks to climate change.

It started with the cinematic, widely serenaded death of spunky little spacebot Cassini, closing out a 13-year mission to Saturn with a headlong dive into the planet’s gaseous atmosphere.

Meanwhile, back on a more familiar planet, an orbiting satellite named DMSP F19 quietly blinked out. The DMSP weather-tracking satellites have meticulously recorded Arctic sea ice coverage since 1978, which makes them one of our longest-running climate observations. But in 2015, Congress voted to mothball the last satellite in the series. Now, on the cusp of the biggest planetary shift humans have ever seen, we stand to lose one of our best means for understanding it.

Also this year, I started following LandsatBot, a project by Welsh glaciologist Martin O’Leary that tweets out random satellite views of Earth’s surface hourly. Like a geographic Chat Roulette, LandsatBot scratches the same imaginative itch that high-def images of Saturn’s rings do, but its alien views are all terrestrial. From satellite height, every landscape looks like an abstract painting, all fractal rivers and impressionist daubs of cloud.

These days, amidst an unending torrent of Game of Thrones gifs, signs of the end of democracy, and variations on that distracted boyfriend meme, I sometimes come across a Landsat image dropped without comment into the clutter. I stop and stare. Whether it’s an astroturf-green wedge of land somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago or the Crest-colored swirl of icy Antarctic seas, I try to imagine the world down there: A place I will probably never go, without landmarks or footprints, but irrevocably changed by us. Whether you recognize it or not, it’s home.

Amelia Urry is an associate editor at Grist.

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The Great Lakes are having Great Snowstorms partly thanks to climate change.

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Toxic masculinity is probably destroying the planet.

It started with the cinematic, widely serenaded death of spunky little spacebot Cassini, closing out a 13-year mission to Saturn with a headlong dive into the planet’s gaseous atmosphere.

Meanwhile, back on a more familiar planet, an orbiting satellite named DMSP F19 quietly blinked out. The DMSP weather-tracking satellites have meticulously recorded Arctic sea ice coverage since 1978, which makes them one of our longest-running climate observations. But in 2015, Congress voted to mothball the last satellite in the series. Now, on the cusp of the biggest planetary shift humans have ever seen, we stand to lose one of our best means for understanding it.

Also this year, I started following LandsatBot, a project by Welsh glaciologist Martin O’Leary that tweets out random satellite views of Earth’s surface hourly. Like a geographic Chat Roulette, LandsatBot scratches the same imaginative itch that high-def images of Saturn’s rings do, but its alien views are all terrestrial. From satellite height, every landscape looks like an abstract painting, all fractal rivers and impressionist daubs of cloud.

These days, amidst an unending torrent of Game of Thrones gifs, signs of the end of democracy, and variations on that distracted boyfriend meme, I sometimes come across a Landsat image dropped without comment into the clutter. I stop and stare. Whether it’s an astroturf-green wedge of land somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago or the Crest-colored swirl of icy Antarctic seas, I try to imagine the world down there: A place I will probably never go, without landmarks or footprints, but irrevocably changed by us. Whether you recognize it or not, it’s home.

Amelia Urry is an associate editor at Grist.

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Toxic masculinity is probably destroying the planet.

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Spineless – Juli Berwald

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Spineless

The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Juli Berwald

Genre: Nature

Price: $13.99

Publish Date: November 7, 2017

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


A former ocean scientist goes in pursuit of the slippery story of jellyfish, rediscovering her passion for marine science and the sea's imperiled ecosystems. Jellyfish are an enigma. They have no centralized brain, but they see and feel and react to their environment in complex ways. They look simple, yet their propulsion systems are so advanced engineers are just learning how to mimic them. They produce some of the deadliest toxins on the planet and yet are undeniably alluring. Long ignored by science, they may be a key to ecosystem stability. Juli Berwald's journey into the world of jellyfish is a personal one. Over a decade ago she left the sea and her scientific career behind to raise a family in landlocked Austin, Texas. Increasingly dire headlines drew her back to jellies, as unprecedented jellyfish blooms toppled ecosystems and collapsed the world's most productive fisheries. What was unclear was whether these incidents were symptoms of a changing planet or part of a natural cycle. Berwald's desire to understand jellyfish takes her on a scientific odyssey. She travels the globe to meet the scientists who devote their careers to jellies, hitches rides on Japanese fishing boats to see giant jellyfish in the wild, raises jellyfish in her dining room, and throughout it all marvels at the complexity of these alluring and ominous biological wonders. Gracefully blending personal memoir with crystal-clear distillations of science, Spineless reveals that jellyfish are a bellwether for the damage we're inflicting on the climate and the oceans and a call to realize our collective responsibility for the planet we share.

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Spineless – Juli Berwald

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Sea creatures may be eating all that plastic because it tastes delicious.

Poor dumb turtles and fish, always chomping on the ubiquitous plastic in the water by accident — or so the story went, until a handful of recent studies suggested sea creatures may actually be choosing to eat plastic.

In one of these experiments, researchers took single grains of sand and particles of microplastic — both around the same size and shape — and dropped them onto coral polyps. The tiny creatures responded to the plastic the same way they would to a tasty piece of food, stuffing the bits of trash into their mouths like so many Snickers Minis.

“Plastics may be inherently tasty,” Austin Allen, a study coauthor and marine science doctoral student at Duke University, told the Washington Post.

Coral polyps rely on chemical sensors — taste buds, essentially — to determine whether something is edible or not. And they were repeatedly chosing to swallow plastic during the study. Only once in 10 trials did a polyp make the same mistake with sand. In fact, the cleaner and fresher and more plastic-y the plastic was, the more readily the coral gulped it down.

While the long-term effects of the plastic-saturation of the planet are still unknown, this research suggests that accidentally tasty microplastics could pose an extra hazard to already beleaguered corals around the world.

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Sea creatures may be eating all that plastic because it tastes delicious.

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The Clean Power Plan’s health benefits are better than ever, Trump’s EPA discovers.

Poor dumb turtles and fish, always chomping on the ubiquitous plastic in the water by accident — or so the story went, until a handful of recent studies suggested sea creatures may actually be choosing to eat plastic.

In one of these experiments, researchers took single grains of sand and particles of microplastic — both around the same size and shape — and dropped them onto coral polyps. The tiny creatures responded to the plastic the same way they would to a tasty piece of food, stuffing the bits of trash into their mouths like so many Snickers Minis.

“Plastics may be inherently tasty,” Austin Allen, a study coauthor and marine science doctoral student at Duke University, told the Washington Post.

Coral polyps rely on chemical sensors — taste buds, essentially — to determine whether something is edible or not. And they were repeatedly chosing to swallow plastic during the study. Only once in 10 trials did a polyp make the same mistake with sand. In fact, the cleaner and fresher and more plastic-y the plastic was, the more readily the coral gulped it down.

While the long-term effects of the plastic-saturation of the planet are still unknown, this research suggests that accidentally tasty microplastics could pose an extra hazard to already beleaguered corals around the world.

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The Clean Power Plan’s health benefits are better than ever, Trump’s EPA discovers.

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National parks could get a lot more expensive in 2018.

The demonstrations call on households, cities, and institutions to withdraw money from banks financing projects that activists say violate human rights — such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and efforts to extract oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The divestment campaign Mazaska Talks, which is using the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe, began with protests across the United States on Monday and continues with actions in Africa, Asia, and Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven people were arrested in Seattle yesterday, where activists briefly shut down a Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

The demonstrations coincide with a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, involving a group of financial institutions that have established a framework for assessing the environmental and social risks of development projects. Organizers allege the banks have failed to uphold indigenous peoples’ right to “free, prior, and informed consent” to projects developed on their land.

“We want the global financial community to realize that investing in projects that harm us is really investing in death, genocide, racism, and does have a direct effect on not only us on the front lines but every person on this planet,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer, said in a statement.

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National parks could get a lot more expensive in 2018.

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Climate change is gonna be freakin’ expensive, government office warns.

The demonstrations call on households, cities, and institutions to withdraw money from banks financing projects that activists say violate human rights — such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and efforts to extract oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

The divestment campaign Mazaska Talks, which is using the hashtag #DivestTheGlobe, began with protests across the United States on Monday and continues with actions in Africa, Asia, and Europe on Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven people were arrested in Seattle yesterday, where activists briefly shut down a Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo.

The demonstrations coincide with a meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, involving a group of financial institutions that have established a framework for assessing the environmental and social risks of development projects. Organizers allege the banks have failed to uphold indigenous peoples’ right to “free, prior, and informed consent” to projects developed on their land.

“We want the global financial community to realize that investing in projects that harm us is really investing in death, genocide, racism, and does have a direct effect on not only us on the front lines but every person on this planet,” Joye Braun, an Indigenous Environmental Network community organizer, said in a statement.

More here – 

Climate change is gonna be freakin’ expensive, government office warns.

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10 Ways to Get Plastic Out of Your Kitchen

Plastics seem to invade every aspect of our lives, and the kitchen is no exception. From cooking to storage to packing food for on the go, there are places that we can ditch the plastic in favor of safer, more Earth-friendly materials. Take some time to inventory the plastic in your kitchen and see if your kitchen can go plastic-free. It’s easier than you think!

Plastic is no good for the planet, and it’s no good for people, either. Plastic pollution is a serious environmental problem. It pollutes our waterways, causing ocean dead zones and killing countless numbers of aquatic life. You don’t want plastic coming in contact with your food, either, especially hot or acidic foods. Plastic cooking utensils and food storage containers can leach toxins into the food that it touches. No, thank you!

10 Ways to Get Plastic Out of Your Kitchen

Luckily, there are lots of simple ways to get plastic out of your cooking processes. One word of caution: if you’re getting rid of plastic that you already have, like ladels or tupperware, see if you can come up with crafty or creative ways to reuse them elsewhere, rather than sending them to the landfill. That plastic still exists, even if it’s not in your home!

Ready to ditch the plastic in your kitchen? Here are 10 tips to get you going!

1. Store your food in glass or metal. Instead of plastic Tupperware containers, chose metal or glass food storage. Glass Mason jars are great for storing bulk items like beans, grains and nuts. You can also check retailers like The Container Store. I’ve seen some great glass and metal food storage options there.

2. No more baggies! When you’re packing lunch, choose reusable glass or metal containers instead of plastic baggies or plastic Tupperware containers.

3. Choose reusable. You don’t need plastic forks and spoons in your lunchbox! Grab metal utensils from your own utensil drawer instead. If you want something that’s just for lunch, check out these cute, reusable wooden utensils!

4. Get rid of plastic cooking utensils. Ditch the plastic tools like spatulas and serving spoons in favor of metal ones.

5. Skip the processed food and produce in plastic bags. Processed food almost always means disposable plastic packaging, so choose whole foods wherever you can. When you’re hitting the produce section, don’t buy fruits and veggies in plastic wrap or those plastic mesh bags.

6. Forget bottled water. Chances are you already don’t buy bottled water, but just in case there are any hold outs out there, this is a no-brainer. Bottled water is expensive and the plastic bottles are unhealthy. Choose filtered tap water in a reusable glass or BPA free metal bottle instead.

7. Bring your own bag to the grocery store. You probably also already have reusable grocery bags, but what about when you’re in the bulk or produce aisle? Skip the single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable produce bags instead.

8. Buy dishwasher detergent that comes in a cardboard box. Dishwasher detergent often comes in a plastic container. Skip the plastic and opt for the powdered stuff in a cardboard box. Even better? Make your own dishwasher detergent!

9. Make your own dish soap. No need to buy dish soap in a plastic bottle, either. You can make your own dish soap at home! I know, the Dr. Bronner’s in this recipe comes in a plastic bottle, but many co-ops offer bulk refills of Dr. Bronner’s, so at least you only have to buy the one bottle. If anyone has suggestions for getting around this one, I’d love to hear them!

10. Skip the nonstick. Did you know that the nonstick coating on pots and pans is actually plastic? Instead of nonstick, choose cast iron or stainless steel so you can cook plastic free!

How do you keep the plastic out of your kitchen?

Related:
Cast Iron 101: Cooking, Cleaning and Seasoning
13 Natural Ingredients to Clean Almost Anything
Your Kitchen Sponge is Gross. Here’s How to Change That.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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10 Ways to Get Plastic Out of Your Kitchen

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How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

One year ago, my husband and I sat down at the dinner table with coffee in hand?to chat about the possibility of pursuing zero waste in our home. I had recently read an article on?’living your values’?by?the lovely Lauren Singer, and felt extremely convicted to better manage my own environmental impact?and carbon footprint.

My life has never been the same since.

If there is one thing that going zero waste over this past year has taught me, it is that most issues of sustainable living?can be solved by pursuing a daily posture of mindfulness.?What do I mean by that? To me, mindfulness, or living consciously, means recognizing that every action I?take?large or small?has a direct impact on the health of the planet and our global community as a whole.

In?The Art of Power, Thich Nhat Hanh explains:

Everything is related to everything else. Your well-being and the well-being of your family are essential elements in bringing about the well-being of your business or of any organization where you work. Finding ways to protect yourself and promote your own well-being is the most basic investment you can make. This will have an impact on your family and work environment, but first of all it will result in an improvement in the quality of your own life.

In other words,?intentionally stepping out of my?natural, autopilot-like way?brings about goodness?in both my own life?and that of my?community. This is the very root of mindful?living.

What Daily Mindfulness Looks Like for a Zero Waster

As every zero waster will tell you, going zero waste is not easy.?Every day, I make the conscious choice to go against the grain, defy cultural norms and accept inconveniences for the sake of the greater good.

For example, today I:

Brought a (spotless) mason jar to our local juice bar and asked them to fill it in place of a much more convenient styrofoam cup.
Turned down the opportunity to enjoy?free lunch at work because?doing so would have meant tossing a pile of trash, when I had a perfectly suitable lunch already waiting for me at home.
Asked?for dairy-free milk in my coffee because going vegan makes me feel good in more ways than one.

These small, daily?decisions may seem inconsequential, but over a lifetime their impact adds up. Had I chosen to go through my day on autopilot, I likely would have tossed the styrofoam cup, taken every freebie thrown at me, at the expense of the planet and left Starbucks with a stomachache and?a side of guilt. That’s no way to live!

So, I ask you this: What conveniences are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of the greater good? What changes can you make in your own life that will put you on the path toward contentment and happiness? What can you do to live a more mindful, conscious life?

Putting it into Practice

Moving yourself toward a fuller state of mindfulness is not something that happens overnight.?It will require a conscious effort that involves education, meditation and reflection. Ready to pursue more conscious living? These tips will help you get started!

1. Question everything.

The easiest way to step out of autopilot mode is to confront everything in your life with a critical eye. Do you really need that plastic straw to enjoy your drink? Would you be better off walking a few blocks to the grocery story, rather than driving your car? Question your choices and start making more intentional ones.

2. Educate yourself.

It’s hard to make a good decision when you aren’t yet equipped with the facts. These documentaries and books are a great place to start. Curious about transitioning to a plant-based diet? Do your research, then make the choice based on what you’ve learned. Want to experience?a stronger reaction to issues of waste? Look into?the detriments of using and throwing away plastics. You’ll never be the same!

3.?Start meditating.

When you wake in the morning, meditate on powerful ideas?like love, respect, empathy and interconnectedness. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes (or light a candle if you need a focal point to maintain focus) and consider how you fit into the big picture.?To get the most out of your?meditation, set clear, specific intentions?or try one of these exercises.

4. Equip yourself.

It’s so much easier to make good, conscious decisions when you have a sustainable alternative in front of you. Carry a?travel mug with you in your bag so that when the opportunity arises you can use it in place of a disposable cup. Equip yourself with the tools you need to be successful and you will be.

5. Practice empathy.

Cultivating your ability to understand (and subsequently feel) the feelings of another is an important step toward living your life more consciously. What do you think the people who live in the shadow of our landfills are experiencing? What about those who drink water contaminated by industrial?runoff driven by human consumption? Asking questions?like these will help you to greater identify with those outside your personal experience and help you form an emotional attachment to issues of sustainability.

How do you practice mindfulness and conscious living in your daily life? Do you have any tips for this community? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Related:
10 Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Home
How to Host a Zero Waste Dinner Party
10 Ways to Start Living Zero Waste

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

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