Could we cure climate change? Geoengineering researcher Tim Kruger wants to try. He shares one promising possibility: using natural gas to generate electricity in a way that takes carbon dioxide out of the air. Learn more — both the potential and the risks — about this controversial field that seeks creative, deliberate and large-scale intervention to stop the already catastrophic consequences of our warming planet.
“At Parley for the Oceans, we want to establish the oceans as a fundamental part of the debate around climate change,” Gutsch said. “Our objective is to boost public awareness and to inspire new collaborations that can contribute to protect and preserve the oceans. We are extremely proud that Adidas is joining us in this mission and is putting its creative force behind this partnership to show that it is possible to turn ocean plastic into something cool.”
When Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment earlier this month, he faced some criticism from people who said religious leaders do not have the correct expertise to speak authoritatively about climate change.
Acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is not one of those people.
On Tuesday, the author and host of the late-night talk show StarTalk tweeted that despite being a religious figure, Pope Francis is more than qualified to talk about scientific issues. In a series of tweets, Tyson noted that the Vatican Observatory employs dozens of scientists who inform the pope on issues like climate change.
“Yes, it’s possible to be a supreme holy figure yet still know what you are talking about regarding the Climate,” he tweeted.
The Pope employs a dozen full time astrophysicists as part of the four-century old Vatican Observatory http://t.co/nIWzPHooDu
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) June 30, 2015
Yes, it’s possible to be a supreme holy figure yet still know what you are talking about regarding the Climate.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) June 30, 2015
This isn’t the first time a scientist has spoken in defense of the pope. Independent climate scientists who reviewed the encyclical following its publication found little to argue with in terms of its scientific language.
During that review, Rutgers University professor of environmental sciences Anthony Broccoli said the Pope’s status as a religious leader had nothing to do with whether he could get the science correct.
“Pope Francis doesn’t have to be a scientist to arrive at these conclusions,” he told ThinkProgress at the time. “All he would have to do is consult the extensive reports on climate change that have been written by the world’s climate scientists in a process organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These reports have been written to inform policymakers and stakeholders about the state of the science and they are a reliable source of information.”
Aside from having a cadre of scientists by his side, Pope Francis has his own science background, achieving a technician’s degree in chemistry before becoming a priest. Indeed, in his latest encyclical, Francis stressed that religion and science can enter into an “intense and productive dialogue with each other.”
Tyson seems to agree with that idea, too. Last year, while hosting the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Tyson drew attention for his implications that faith can help science blossom by producing “fantastic, world-changing ideas.“
According to a report released Monday by the Obama administration, doing nothing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions would cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands lives.
The findings come as part of an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to quantify the human and economic benefits of cutting emissions in an effort to reduce global warming. The report is the latest piece of President Obama’s recent climate push and provides a tool that he hopes to use in negotiations at the UN climate talks in Paris later this year.
The report, which was peer-reviewed, estimates that if nothing is done to curb global warming, by 2100, the US will see an additional 12,000 annual deaths related to extreme temperatures in the 49 cities analyzed for the report. In addition, the report projects an increase of 57,000 premature deaths related to poor air quality, annually. The economic costs would be enormous, as well. By 2100, climate inaction will result in:
- $4.2-$7.4 billion in additional road maintenance costs each year.
- $3.1 billion annually in damages to coastal regions due to sea level rise and storm surges.
- $6.6-$11 billion annually in agricultural damages.
- A loss of 230,000-360,000 acres of cold water fish habitat.
- A loss of 34 percent of the US oyster supply and 29 percent of the clam supply.
- $110 billion annually in lost labor due to unsuitable working conditions.
The EPA also used a number of charts to illustrate the difference between taking action to stop (or “mitigate”) climate change and continuing with business as usual (which the charts refer to as the “reference” case.)
For example, if we don’t mitigate climate change, temperatures will continue to skyrocket:
After literally 35 trillion gallons of water fell on Texas this month, washing away homes and killing at least 28 people, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz still would not talk about climate change. “At a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster,” the 2016 Republican presidential candidate said last week when asked about the role of climate change in the floods.
In a way, the “let’s not politicize this” response is similar to the familiar “I’m not a scientist” dodge — a way to avoid talking about the science that says human-made carbon emissions are warming the earth and screwing with natural weather patterns. Cruz, for his part, says he does not accept that science.
In the meantime, climate scientists across the country have been speaking outabout the climate implications of the Texas floods. And on Friday, ThinkProgress asked several of those scientists to weigh in on Cruz’s comments.
The overwhelming response: Talking about climate change after a weather tragedy is not political. In fact, it’s necessary.
“As a scientist, I think it is essential to connect the dots between climate change and the increasing risk it poses to our families and communities,” said Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University. “Keeping our mouths shut on what the data is telling us, even if it’s in fear of vicious reprisals, is like a physician not telling a patient they have a dangerous condition just because they’re afraid of the patient’s reaction.”
What the data is telling us, Hayhoe said, is that climate change is altering the risk of many weather extremes, flooding chief among them. These extremes “have always occurred naturally,” she said, but today’s warming caused by carbon emissions is making those extremes more likely and more severe than they were in the past. (Hayhoe just recently did a TEDx Talk about how this works. It’s worth watching).
When considering potential 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush, a casual observer might make a simple comparison: He’s probably just like his brother.
But so far, this hasn’t proved to be true on multiple fronts — and recently it’s become clear that it’s also not true when it comes to climate change. While Jeb, the former Republican governor of Florida, has been on a streak of statements questioning scientists’ knowledge of human-caused climate change, President George W. Bush was relatively progressive on the issue, basing his position on advice from respected institutes like the National Academy of Sciences and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
First, though, the similarities: Both George and Jeb have said the climate is changing and that something should be done about it. In Jeb’s case, this has made him look semi-moderate on the issue, if only because many of his potential Republican opponents don’t think climate change exists at all.
But saying climate change exists is a relatively benign statement that ignores humanity’s role and, thus, the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions. While Jeb Bush has called the science surrounding humanity’s role in warming “convoluted,” his brother George actually acknowledged warming was due to greenhouse gas increases caused “in large part [by] human activity.”
“Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space,” President Bush said in a 2001 address. “Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.”
President Bush did go on to say that the National Academy of Sciences was not sure exactly “how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming.” But he also called the Academy “highly-respected,” and urged it to “provide us the most up-to-date information about what is known and about what is not known on the science of climate change.”
“Shooting the messenger isn’t going to help you on climate change.”
Bill Nye is talking by phone on an early morning bus ride to Ithaca, N.Y., where his alma mater, Cornell University, is set to celebrate its 150th birthday and he’s scheduled to speak. It has been a busy week — including, most notably, a Wednesday trip with President Obama on Air Force One to visit the Florida Everglades on Earth Day — and Nye is answering the political critics who sniped at the visit.
“That it uses a lot of fossil fuel for the president to move around is a necessary evil at this time,” Nye responds. “Earth Day is not ‘stay home from work’ day. It’s ‘let’s change the world’ day.”
“Change the world!” is probably Nye’s trademark line — it was written in a 1992 “rules of the road” memo, he says, that he delivered to all incoming staff on the set of the 1990s PBS show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” telling them modestly what their goals were.
With that TV series, Nye captivated kids with scientific showmanship and humor. In the last few years, though, he has not only recaptured that now-grown-up audience but won an even larger one, with something quite different.
He’s still a jokester — but he’s also become someone who acts a bit like a science gladiator, willing to debate anyone who expressed skepticism about the science of evolution and climate change. He’ll do it on TV — or even at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where he famously debated creationist leader Ken Ham.