US and China Accept Climate Treaty; Antarctic Ice in Massive Meltdown; Ecuador Going 100% Renewable
September 4, 2016
The Climate Reality Project & Futurism.com & TheCivilEngineer.org
The US and China -- which together make up about 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions -- have become the first major economies to formally accept the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, alarmed researchers report nearly 8,000 polar lakes have appeared across Antarctica between 2000 and 2013 -- a sign of potential ice-sheet collapse. In a hopeful sign, Ecuador continues to produce more than 99% of its electrical energy from renewables -- for a third year in a row.
Special to Environmentalist Against War
The US and China Formally Accept the Paris Climate Agreement
The Climate Reality Project
(September 3, 2016) -- We have some exciting news: The US and China have formally accepted the Paris Agreement!
When 175 countries and parties officially signed the Paris Agreement on Earth Day this year, it marked a critical moment in the fight to end climate change. But signing the agreement in front of the cameras at the UN was only the first step.
For the Paris Agreement to go into effect, it needs to be formally approved by at least 55 countries that, together, contribute 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Which means the world’s biggest emitters, like the US and China, need to get on board.
And now they have.
Today, the US and China -- two nations that together make up about 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions -- have become the first major economies to formally accept the Paris Agreement.
The significance of this move to formally accept the Paris Agreement goes beyond each country’s emissions. As the first two large nations to formally accept the Paris Agreement, the US and China have set a model for other countries -- both developed and developing -- around the world to follow.
There’s still more work to be done, as both countries now have to translate their nationally determined commitments in the agreement into action, including legislation and regulation. But today’s announcement is a big deal -- and a big step forward for the planet.
We hope that you’re as excited as we are. With the US and China accepting the agreement, signs are that other major economies will soon begin following suit. To stay connected and hear the latest developments as more nations accept the Paris Agreement, follow Climate Reality on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Statement on US-China Paris Climate Agreement
Ken Berlin / The Climate Reality Project
(September 3, 2016) -- Ken Berlin, president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project, issued the following statement regarding today's announcement by the United States and China of formally joining the Paris Agreement.
"Nearly two years ago, the United States and China stood shoulder to shoulder to proclaim their commitment to solving climate change, kickstarting the process that culminated in a worldwide climate agreement in Paris. Now, the world’s two largest emitters and two largest economies have taken the next step by formally joining the Paris Agreement.
This continued cooperation and leadership on the eve of the gathering of the G20 sets a bold precedent for the rest of the world’s major economies to follow and highlights the interrelationship between expanding economic prosperity and solving the climate crisis.
Now it's time for the rest of the world to follow the US and China, formally accept the Paris Agreement, and get to the hard work of implementing and increasing their commitments to solving climate change."
Nearly 8,000 "Strange Blue Lakes" Have Appeared in Antarctica
Langhovde Glacier. Source: Hokkaido University
Oftentimes, the sight of spectacularly blue water is enough to make anyone happy. Unfortunately, not in this case.
Scientists studying East Antarctica, the largest ice mass on Earth, have discovered blue lakes sprouting like summer blooms on the Langhovde Glacier, an outlet glacier located at the Soya Coast.
From 2000 through 2013, scientists have been using satellite imagery to study East Antarctica's Dronning Maud Land. And in a new study published in the Geophysical Research Letters, researchers state they've observed close to 8,000 lakes appearing on the surface of glaciers across the region.
Since the water is found on top of the glaciers, they are distinguished as "supraglacial." Essentially, they are formed when the increasingly warm summer air heats the surface of an ice sheet. These lakes were first seen spreading across Greenland and serve as beautiful, yet ominous, evidence of global climate change.
Collapsing Ice Shelves
One of the results of the lakes' formation is the drainage from the lake traveling and weakening the more vulnerable parts of the glacier. Researchers believe this drainage caused the shattering of the Larsen B ice shelf on the warmer Antarctic Peninsula in 2002, among possible other events.
This occurring now in East Antarctica is a signal of the further consequences of rising temperatures. "That's the part of the continent where people have for quite a long time assumed that it's relatively stable, there's not a huge amount of change, it's very, very cold, and so it's only very recently that the first supraglacial lakes, on top of the ice, were identified," Stewart Jamieson, one of the study authors and a glaciologist at UK's Durham University, told The Washington Post.
Scientists are quite concerned about the long-term consequences of increased melting. In an email to Gizmodo, lead study author Emily Langley stressed the importance of monitoring "these in the future to see how they evolve with surface air temperature changes."
References: Washington Post, The Washington Post, Geophysical Research Letters, NASA Earth Observatory
Costa Rica Goes 100% Renewable This Year!
(September 3, 2016) -- In 2007, the Costa Rican government set a goal for the country to become carbon neutral by 2021. The target seems achievable, as the tropical climate with the heavy rainfalls, the mountainous inland and the relatively small population of 4.8 million, give the country a comparative advantage in the exploitation of renewables.
Moreover, back in 2004, 47% of energy production was already based on them. The last two years, the nation managed to produce 99% of its electricity from renewables, and the first trimester of 2016, this figure remained at 97%.
Hydroelectric power plants generated 66% or the total energy, whereas wind farms contributed 16%, geothermal 14%, biomass 2% and solar 0.02%. Power companies used thermal plants to generate just under 3% of the country’s electricity needs during this period.
Costa Rica’s high concentration per capita of rivers and dams along with the frequent rainfalls result in approximately 80% of the electricity being produced by hydropower. Apart from hydro, the electricity matrix also consists of wind, geothermal (due to the active volcanoes), biomass and solar (sources).
The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) now considers fossil fuels only as a backup energy generation source. However, water is considered an insecure resource at this high a percentage of the power mix and large scale hydropower can also have a negative impact on the environment and local communities.
That’s why Costa Rica should diversify its renewable electricity system and further focus on sustainable technologies, such as solar, small wind turbines, and biogas from organic waste. To this direction is the new program launched last April that allows consumers who install solar panels or other renewable generation systems to store their surplus power in the national grid.
It is worth mentioning that Costa Rica has limited heavy industry, and its economy is mainly based on tourism, agriculture (mostly coffee and banana) and a production plant of Intel making microprocessors. Also, the crude oil deposits that have been found remain untouched, in order to not change the energy policy and pollute the environment.
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