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The latest news on Environment from Business Insider

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    solar panels

    LONDON (Reuters) - New global solar capacity will continue to grow this year, after lower costs drove it to record levels in 2016, and could surpass 80 gigawatts (GW), Europe's solar industry forecast on Tuesday.

    Solar photovoltaic (PV) module prices have fallen 80 percent since 2009 as capacity has risen and technologies improved.

    And a record 76.6 GW of new solar capacity was installed and connected to the grid last year, 50 percent up on 2015, solar power association SolarPower Europe said in a report.

    "There is a good chance that the market could even pass the 80 GW mark in 2017," James Watson, chief executive of SolarPower Europe, said in the report, which concluded that global capacity growth this year will mostly depend on China.

    China connected 34.5 GW of solar to the grid last year, representing nearly half of the world's new capacity and 128 percent more than in 2015.

    Although many experts say Chinese solar installations could slow this year, China has already commissioned 7.2 GW in the first quarter, slightly higher than what was installed in the first quarter of last year, the report said.

    "With further support mechanisms available....there is quite some upside potential in the world's largest market this year

    beyond the 29 GW anticipated in our medium scenario," it added.

    Installed solar photovoltaic capacity increased by a third to 306.5 GW by the end of last year, up from 229.9 GW in 2015.

    That could increase to 400 GW in 2018, 500 GW in 2019, 600 GW in 2020 and 700 GW in 2021, the report said.


    (Editing by Alexander Smith)

    SEE ALSO: Analysts: Solar energy is on the verge of a 'global boom'

    SEE ALSO: Here's how much of the world would need to be covered in solar panels to power Earth

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Former Navy SEAL commanders explain why they still wake up at 4:30 a.m. — and why you should, too

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    Narendra Modi

    BERLIN (AP) — India's prime minister says it would be a "crime" to spoil the environment for future generations as the world awaits a decision on U.S. climate policy.

    President Donald Trump says he will make a long-awaited decision this week on whether the U.S. stands by the 2015 Paris deal that aims to slow down global warming. Other leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers pushed the U.S. at a weekend summit to stay.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, a major emerging economy, didn't reply directly Tuesday when asked whether it would stick with the accord if Washington leaves.

    Modi said after meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "We do not have the right to spoil the environment for future generations ... that is, morally speaking, a crime on our part."

    SEE ALSO: The rise of Narendra Modi, India's prolific — and complicated — prime minister

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'Really?': A reporter calls out Huckabee's claim that 'countless' FBI employees were happy with Comey's firing

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    great barrier reef endangered

    The Great Barrier Reef can no longer be saved by existing plans to protect the ecological site, experts have warned, saying that efforts should shift to a lesser, backup plan of maintaining the reef's "ecological function" instead.

    Scientists have told an Australian government committee that the current strategy to protect the reef — the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan— is unachievable in light of recent mass bleaching events, especially since the plan doesn't include steps to counter climate change.

    The AU$2 billion Reef 2050 plan was launched in March 2015, with an aim of improving the "universal value" of the world's largest coral reef every decade leading up to 2050.

    But in a meeting last week, scientists warned the advisory committee that oversees the plan that the goal of improving the reef environment is unrealistic after back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, contributing to the worst coral die-off ever recorded.

    The latest figures on the coral death from recent bleaching events are also higher than predicted, with further coral decline expected in 2017, according to Russell Reichelt, Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

    The previously estimated 22 percent death of shallow water corals has now increased to 29 percent, based on the latest figures.

    In the face of this, experts said revising the plan to a more achievable goal of maintaining ecological function would be more realistic, while accepting that the overall health of the reef would decline with time, Michael Slezak reports for The Guardian.

    "The concept of 'maintaining ecological function' refers to the balance of ecological processes necessary for the reef ecosystem as a whole to persist, but perhaps in a different form," a spokesperson for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority explained, "noting the composition and structure may differ from what is currently seen today."

    That sounds pretty ambiguous (and fatalistic), but unless more substantial efforts to revise the Reef 2050 plan get underway soon — encompassing plans to directly address climate change in the strategy, as scientists have previously urged— it may well be the result we get.

    great barrier reef diving

    The warnings follow a communiqué issued by the Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel earlier in the month, which argued that reducing emissions of greenhouse gases must be central to protecting the reef, in addition to efforts to bolster coral resilience and reef ecosystems.

    "[I]n our lifetime and on our watch, substantial areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ecosystems are experiencing major long-term damage which may be irreversible unless action is taken now,"the panel writes.

    "The planet has changed in a way that science informs us is unprecedented in human history. While that in itself may be cause for action, the extraordinary rapidity of the change we now observe makes action even more urgent."

    According to Panel Chairman and former Chief Scientist of Australia, Ian Chubb, the Reef 2050 Plan needs a significant overhaul to directly address the elephant in the room: warming oceans, the main contributor behind coral bleaching.

    "We can't be passive bystanders in this. We're the custodians of the reef and its ecosystem for the world," he told Adam Morton at The Sydney Morning Herald.

    "We don't say toss out the plan and start from scratch — action on water quality, sediment, and fertiliser remain important — but events mean it needs to be shifted."

    SEE ALSO: The 21 best science movies and shows streaming on Netflix that will make you smarter

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what popular dog breeds looked like before and after 100 years of breeding

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    President Trump is expected to announce a US withdrawal from the landmark Paris Agreement on Thursday afternoon. The international accord, which was signed by every country except Nicaragua and Syria, lays out a framework for countries to reduce their fossil fuel emissions in order to keep the planet's overall temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.

    Since the industrial revolution, humans have had an unmistakable impact on Earth — one that has accelerated over time. This impact pops out in sharp relief when you look at this collection of images comparing what specific areas look like now to how they appeared roughly 70 years ago.

    In some cases, the images (mostly from NASA, unless otherwise noted) were taken as far as 50 years apart; in other cases, they were snapped with just 10-15 years in between.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how leaving the Paris Climate Agreement would affect the US

    DON'T MISS: Earth entered a new epoch on July 16, 1945 — and that's just the beginning of how humans have changed the planet

    Photographs from the 1940s to the 2000s show the drastic impact of climate change on our planet's glaciers. Here is a photo of Alaska's Muir Glacier, pictured in August 1941 (left) and August 2004 (right).

    Here's the snow that remained on Matterhorn Mountain in Switzerland in August 1960 (left), compared with August 2005 (right).

    Starting in the 1970s, NASA began using satellite images to document deforestation in several national parks around the world. Here's Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda in 1973 (left), compared with the park in 2005 (right).

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    climate change

    Paris (AFP) - As President Donald Trump prepares to announce whether he will pull America out of the 2015 Paris Agreement sanctioned by his predecessor and nearly 200 other world leaders, the stakes on climate change have never been higher.

    Earth's average global temperature is scaling new heights, sea ice is retreating, extreme weather events have become more frequent and species are increasingly under threat, say scientists.

    A summary of the evidence:


    SEE ALSO: Trump has reportedly decided to withdraw from the Paris climate deal

    DON'T MISS: Here's what the US actually agreed to in the Paris climate deal

    1.1 degrees

    In 2016, Earth's average surface temperature hit a record level for the third consecutive year since records began in 1880.

    The global average temperature was about 1.1 degree Celsius (1.98 Fahrenheit) higher than the pre-industrial era. This is when mankind’s mass burning of coal, and later oil and gas, started hiking levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    The 21st century has already seen 16 of the 17 hottest years on record.

    Some of the world's biggest cities may be as much as eight degrees Celsius (14.4 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter by 2100, said a recent study.

    1.6 million square miles

    Arctic summer sea ice shrank to 4.14 million square kilometres (1.6 million square miles) in 2016 — the second-lowest after 2012, when it reached 3.39 million km2.

    The Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer as early as 2030. In parts of Arctic Russia, temperatures were 6 C to 7 C higher than the long-term average.

    On the other extreme of the world, Antarctica, sea ice last year hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites.

    High-altitude glaciers, meanwhile, declined in surface area in 2015 for the 36th year in a row.

    On the other extreme of the world, Antarctica, sea ice last year hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites.

    High-altitude glaciers, meanwhile, declined in surface area in 2015 for the 36th year in a row.

    400 parts per million

    The atmospheric concentrations of the three most potent greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) — all hit new highs in 2016. 

    For the first time on record, in 2015, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere averaged 400 parts per million (ppm).

    Most climate scientists agree that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere must be capped at 450 ppm of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) for a fighting chance to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

    This is the cap enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

    Fossil fuel-generated greenhouse gas emissions are thought to have remained stable in 2016 for the third consecutive year, even as the global economy grew. But to stay on target for 2 C, they need to decline.

    Meanwhile, scientists are also worried about a rise in levels of methane, which has a far more potent warming effect than CO2. 

    The rise is so far unexplained. But one feared source is melting Arctic permafrost, which could eventually release billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Steve Bannon and Ivanka Trump

    Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, and Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, have reportedly been waging war against the Paris climate deal and those within the White House who support it — a group led by the president's daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

    And they look poised to win their fight.

    Reports swirled on Wednesday that President Donald Trump had decided to withdraw from the agreement, which President Barack Obama entered the US into in 2015, along with nearly every country in the world, in an effort to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.

    The president said he would announce his decision at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

    While reporting in recent days has suggested Trump his made up his mind to withdraw from the deal, he had seemed undecided on the issue, reflecting a divide among his closest aides.

    While Bannon, Pruitt, and other conservative advisers and lawmakers have pressured Trump to pull out, Ivanka and Kushner have attempted to persuade him to remain in the agreement but modify it, according to recent reports in The New York Times and Politico.

    "You had the New Yorkers against it, and all the campaign loyalists for it," a Republican close to the White House told Politico of the push to withdraw. "When the New Yorkers get involved, it gets complicated for Trump and everyone else around him."

    Pruitt, who filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA while he was Oklahoma's attorney general, is a fierce opponent of the Paris accord, which he told coal miners last month would hurt the economy by undermining the fossil-fuel industry.

    Bannon sees a withdrawal from the agreement as a fulfillment of a key campaign promise — Trump ran on a pledge to "cancel" the deal.

    Like the president, who has called climate change "an expensive hoax," Pruitt and Bannon have publicly questioned the veracity of climate-change science.

    In April, Pruitt told Fox News the deal was "something we need to exit."

    Meanwhile, over the past several months, Ivanka has attempted to moderate their influence, inviting former Vice President Al Gore and other advocates for action on climate change to meet with her father.

    "Ivanka is doing what she can to get him to stay," a White House official told Politico. "But that doesn't mean he's going to do it."

    Bannon and Pruitt have brought in conservative leaders and Republican lawmakers to counter this viewpoint, according to Politico.

    "We made very much the economic message argument," David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, told Politico. His group wrote letters to the White House and spoke to senior staff about the deal.

    "It was bad for the US economy," McIntosh said of the arguments his group made. "It would stifle economic growth, and the United States should withdraw."

    Kushner has also advocated staying in the agreement while loosening the nonbinding regulations on emissions that the Obama administration devised, according to The Times.

    Kushner and others in his camp say that retreating from the agreement would harm the US's diplomatic relations with allies around the world. If the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement, the country would join Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations that have rejected the deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supports staying in the accord, according to The Times.

    The pro-Paris team has argued that Trump could leverage the support he would receive for remaining in the agreement to help redirect federal spending to the fossil-fuel industry. Several major oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil, which Tillerson ran, support staying in the agreement. The company called it "an effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change."

    Pope Francis also supports the agreement. Last week, during the president's visit to the Vatican, the pope gifted Trump a copy of his 2015 encyclical on protecting the environment. European leaders also pressed the US to remain in the accord during the Group of 7 meeting in Italy.

    Ivanka and Kushner hoped that the support for the agreement from other prominent world leaders and advisers would help sway Trump, according to Politico. And reports from earlier this year seemed to indicate that Bannon and other populists in the White House were losing influence with Trump.

    But Trump still appears to be siding with Bannon and his allies, and the chief strategist might be able to count this as a victory for his nationalistic method of governing.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Melania Trump swats Donald Trump's hand away as he attempts to hold it multiple times on his trip abroad

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    U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Groton, Connecticut, May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

    President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his intent to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

    "We're getting out, but we will start to negoatiate to see if we can make a deal that is fair," Trump claimed during a televised briefing from the White House.

    Trump's widelydenounced decision comes on the heels of the hottest year the world has seen since 1880— when scientists first started keeping global temperature logs — and the fifth annual heat record of the past dozen years.

    Overall, planet Earth has warmed 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.26 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial averages, which is dangerously close to the 2.7-degree-Fahrenheit (1.5-degree-Celsius) limit set by international policymakers for global warming. (Some argue this cutoff is arbitrary, though it could still rein in some of the most disruptive changes to human civilization.)

    "There's no stopping global warming,"Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist who is the director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, previously told Business Insider. "Everything that's happened so far is baked into the system."

    That means that even if carbon emissions were to drop to zero tomorrow, we'd still be watching human-driven climate change play out for centuries. And we all know emissions aren't going to stop. So the key thing now, Schmidt said, is to slow climate change down enough to make sure we can adapt to it as painlessly as possible.

    This is what the Earth could look like within 100 years if we succeed in curbing climate change with international agreements like the Paris climate accord (barring huge leaps in renewable energy or carbon-capture technology).

    Sarah Kramer wrote a previous version of this post.

    DON'T MISS: 25 photos that prove we're all stowaways on a tiny, fragile spaceship

    SEE ALSO: A huge crack in a 1,000-foot-thick Antarctic ice block has taken an alarming turn

    "I think the 1.5-degree [2.7-degree F] target is out of reach as a long-term goal," Schmidt said. He estimated that we will blow past that by about 2030.

    But Schmidt is more optimistic about staying at or under 3.6 degrees F, or 2 degrees C, above preindustrial levels. That's the level of temperature rise the UN hopes to avoid.

    Let's assume that we land somewhere between those two targets. At the end of this century, we'd be looking at a world that is on average about 3 degrees Fahrenheit above where we are now.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    President Trump has announced his intention to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement.

    If the US succeeds in withdrawing from the accord (a process that will take years), the consequences for the environment will be serious. But projections of the additional carbon dioxide (CO2) and global temperature rise that we should expect depend on what other countries decide to do as a result of the US decision.

    As the researchers at Climate Interactive have broken down in a detailed analysis, what the US does "matters a great deal," since through 2030, the US part of the agreement is responsible for more than a fifth (21%) of all emissions avoided.

    With the US abandoning its commitments, Climate Interactive calculates that by 2025, the country will emit 6.7 gigatons of CO2 per year instead of the 5.3 gigatons of CO2 per year that would be emitted following its current pledges. That would raise global emissions by 3%, with even bigger consequences by 2030 (Climate Interactive calculated 2025-2030 commitments based on the Marrakesh climate talks).

    If other countries stick to the pact but the US does pull out, Trump's decision is expected to warm the world an additional .3 degrees Celsius by 2100. But if the US decision puts other aspects of the Paris Agreement in doubt, the consequences are more complicated.

    What the US committed to

    When the US signed onto the Paris Agreement in December 2015, the country set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025, as my colleague Rebecca Harrington has explained.

    us goal paris climate agreement.JPG

    There are reasons for ambitious goals — the US is the biggest polluter in history, "responsible for almost a third of the excess carbon dioxide that is heating the planet,"according to the New York Times. These days, China emits more CO2 overall than the US, though US citizens still are responsible for more than twice as much CO2 per capita — the most of anyone in the world.

    The Paris Agreement is a commitment to try to keep global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — something climate experts say is necessary to avoid devastating and irreversible consequences, including rising sea levels, searing heat waves, and more.

    CI AP Graphic AP 2017 v2 768x762

    As the Climate Interactive analysis shows, the pledges countries (the US included) made because of the Paris Agreement alone are unlikely to achieve this goal. The agreement includes plans for countries to revisit their emissions goals periodically. If all countries reached "peak emissions" by 2030 and then cut them at a rate of 5% per year in developed countries and 3.5% per year in developing countries, Climate Interactive estimates that the 2 degree goal could be met.

    Consequences of a US departure

    With the US pulling out of the accord, the calculus changes.

    As of right now, it looks like a number of other countries are on track for hitting the goals they set as a result of the Paris Agreement. China and European allies have committed to sticking with the pact.

    However, part of the agreement also included the US and other countries helping fund efforts to reduce emissions in developing countries. Obama pledged $3 billion to a fund dedicated to this purpose, but only $1 billion has been transferred so far. In his June 1 announcement, Trump pledged to to drop those commitments. Countries including India (the third-biggest emitter), China, Brazil, and South Africa have issued a statement urging developed countries to honor their financial pledges in order to reduce emissions.

    If the US departure and financial pullback does wind up changing the commitments of other countries, here's what Climate Interactive calculates will happen to the environment:

    • If the US continues an emissions-as-usual strategy but other countries maintain their current pledges, Climate Interactive calculates that by 2025, the US would emit 6.7 gigatons of CO2 instead of the 5.3 gigatons of CO2 that would be emitted under its Paris agreement commitments. They calculate this would lead to a temperature 3.6 degrees C above pre-industrial averages by 2100 (uncertainty range 2.1 to 4.7 degrees C).
    • If all Paris pledges are followed by the world but not improved on, Climate Interactive calculates that by 2100, the world will be 3.3 degrees C warmer than in pre-industrial times (uncertainty range 1.9-4.4 degrees C).
    • If the world were to drop the Paris agreement altogether and follow current trends, Climate Interactive calculates the world would be 4.2 degrees C warmer by 2100 (uncertainty range 2.5 to 5.5 degrees C).
    • To keep temperatures from rising 2 degrees C by 2100, countries need to reach peak emissions by 2030 and then steadily cut emissions from there, investing in clean energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

    Despite Trump's decision to pull the US out of the agreement, there are other factors that could change the environmental calculus. State and local decisions, market trends away from fossil fuels, private efforts, and future political administrations may all attempt to achieve the original US pledge, especially if the rest of the world remains committed.

    SEE ALSO: Disease experts reveal their biggest worries about the next pandemic

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the apparent attack in Manchester, England, before his remarks alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

    President Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the 2015 international accord by which 195 nations agreed to limit greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

    However, the US has contributed more the problem of excess carbon dioxide than any other country on the planet. It wouldn't be wrong to say that climate change was "made in America."

    "In cumulative terms, we certainly own this problem more than anybody else does," David G. Victor, director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation and climate politics scholar, told The New York Times. And that's why a commitment from the US to reduce emissions and to help fund global emissions reductions is considered so important. 

    In the US, Americans started burning fossil fuels at higher rates than the rest of the world early, which means that the US is responsible for almost a third of the excess CO2 that's already in the atmosphere, despite having just more than 4% of the global population.


    It's true that now, China emits more CO2 overall, as this chart from the World Resources Institute shows.

    However, that's a recent change, and the US is still responsible for far more in terms of CO2 emissions per capita (more than twice as much as citizens of China, Japan, or Europe).

    CI AP Graphic AP 2017 v2 768x762

    It's for these reasons that reductions in US emissions (and US contributions) were considered so important for the Paris Climate Agreement. According to calculations by Climate Interactive based on the Paris and Marrakesh climate agreements, the US agreed to be responsible for more than a fifth of global emissions avoided as a result of the agreements. 

    Without the involvement of the US, Climate Interactive calculates that the world can expect to see an additional .3 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. If other countries decide to drop out of the accord due to the Trump decision, that number could be even higher. 

    In order to avoid catastrophic effects of climate change, most experts think we need to limit warming to less than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Doing so would require more intense cutbacks than the Paris Agreement established. That was just considered a starting point. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Stanford neuroscientist reveals something 'puzzling' in people who are extremely successful

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    Mark Cuban

    The billionaire businessman Mark Cuban tweeted some advice for Democrats after President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he would pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    Cuban told Democrats to "call his bluff" and "put him on the spot" in response to Trump's comments on Thursday that he would be open to renegotiating the agreement and getting "a deal that's fair."

    The owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC's "Shark Tank" said Democrats must call for "immediate meetings" with Trump to figure out how to "get back in" the climate pact.

    Here's Cuban's tweetstorm after Trump's announcement:

    Several prominent business leaders, such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook, had pressed Trump to stay in the climate deal. After Trump's announcement, Musk said he would step down from the two White House advisory councils he sits on.

    Cuban, who has teased reporters about making a run for the presidency himself in 2020, backed Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, during the 2016 general election. He has remained mostly critical of Trump since he took office in January.

    SEE ALSO: MARK CUBAN: 'There will be no Russian-Trump collusion' proven

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    NOW WATCH: Here are the 6 best memes from Trump's first trip abroad

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    trump obama

    Former US President Barack Obama on Thursday slammed President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, implying his decision would hurt rather than help the US economy.

    Obama didn't directly name Trump in his statement, but he made clear that he didn't agree with Trump's decision.

    "Simply put, the private sector already chose a low-carbon future," Obama said. "And for the nations that committed themselves to that future, the Paris Agreement opened the floodgates for businesses, scientists, and engineers to unleash high-tech, low-carbon investment and innovation on an unprecedented scale."

    The Paris Agreement, negotiated in part by the Obama administration and signed by 195 countries in December 2015, aims to cap the increase in the planet's overall temperature at less than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

    Trump said on Thursday afternoon in the Rose Garden that he would be open to "renegotiating and rejoining" the agreement, though France, Germany, and Italy issued a statement afterward saying the agreement couldn't be renegotiated.

    "The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created," Obama said. "I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack."

    The US joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries that aren't signatories to the international agreement. Even North Korea, one of the most isolated countries, has signed on.

    But Obama added a hopeful sentiment.

    "Even in the absence of American leadership, even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future, I'm confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got," Obama said.

    Donald Trump with coal miners

    The Climate Mayors, a group of 61 mayors of US cities, released a joint statement on Thursday afternoon saying they would commit to upholding the Paris Agreement despite the federal government's withdrawal.

    "If the president wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we'll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks," the group said.

    The Climate Mayors' statement echoes a call in November by Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, for the 128 US mayors who are part of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to join the Paris Agreement in the federal government's place.

    John Kerry, who was a secretary of state under Obama, also issued a forceful condemnation of Trump's decision in an interview with NBC News on Thursday.

    "The president was not truthful with the American people today, and the president who talked about putting 'America first' has now put America last," Kerry said. "This is an extraordinary moment of fake news, because the economy he described is not the economy of America."

    Kerry added: "He's made us an environmental pariah in the world, and I think it is one of the most self-destructive moves I have ever seen by any president in my lifetime."


    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Melania Trump swats Donald Trump's hand away as he attempts to hold it multiple times on his trip abroad

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    Donald Trump

    In a speech in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump laid out his reasons for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, an international effort to reduce global warming, which he called a "self-inflicted major economic wound" that weakens US sovereignty and doesn't do much for the environment.

    The president argued that the 2015 agreement, which nearly every country in the world signed onto, "hamstrings" the US economy, particularly the manufacturing and fossil fuel industries, hurts American workers, and empowers countries that pollute almost as much or more than the US.

    "The bottom line is that the Paris agreement is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States," Trump said.

    He claimed that the agreement would impose "draconian financial and economic burdens," costing America $3 trillion in domestic economic activity and 6.5 million industrial and manufacturing jobs.

    "The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries," Trump said, arguing the deal would "transfer" American coal jobs to China and India.

    Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the agreement would result in "economic carnage."

    In line with his "America First" motto, the president argued that the deal would put international interests ahead of American needs.

    "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said.

    Vice President Mike Pence claimed Trump's decision proves his commitment to "forgotten" Americans, particularly those in communities that voted heavily for Trump in November.

    "Our president is choosing to put American jobs and American consumers first," Pence said. "Our president is choosing to put American energy and American industry first. And by his action today, President Trump is choosing to put the forgotten men and women first."

    And as Business Insider's Josh Barro pointed out, the climate agreement is non-binding in nature, so therefore Trump's withdrawal from it is largely symbolic.

    But US and international corporations, including major oil companies Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and BP, support the Paris agreement, arguing that climate change is a threat to their businesses and that rejecting the deal would harm the international relations their global operations rely on. Dozens of other CEOs have similarly argued that pulling out of the deal will hurt the US economy.

    Still, Trump emphasized his claim that the accord imposes harsher restrictions on the US than on other big polluters, putting America at a "permanent disadvantage." He suggested that countries around the world are celebrating the deal because it gives them an economic edge over the US. 

    Although he called out China and India, the two largest polluters besides the US, Trump did not mention that the US, home to about 4% of the world's population, is responsible for almost one third of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. While China, which makes up 20% of the world's population, emits more CO2 now, historically, the US has polluted more than any other country. 

    As for the impact of the accord on global warming, Trump argued the deal would only lead to a "tiny" reduction in global temperatures.

    Trump has long criticized the Paris deal, promising to "cancel" it on the campaign trail, and is an outspoken climate science skeptic, calling climate change "an expensive hoax."

    SEE ALSO: Trump's withdrawal from the Paris accord is performative isolationism

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    NOW WATCH: WATCH: Putin reacts to Trump firing FBI Director James Comey

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    Paris Climate COP21 Accord

    Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement was a political message, according to Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who led the talks that created the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015. But it wasn't a decision with any legal implications.

    "[T]here isn't any legal basis for what we heard [today], it is fundamentally a political message, period — actually I would call it a vacuous political melodrama," Figueres said on a press call organized by the World Resources Institute.

    Trump said today that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris agreement and that he might be open to the possibility of renegotiating things in the future. But there's no legal basis for the US to just step out of the agreement in this way, Figueres explained.

    Technically under the terms of the Paris agreement, the US can formally announce its intention to withdraw from the agreement three years after it went into effect. That would be November 5, 2019, according to Figueres. But even then, the agreement requires that the US give one year's notice, meaning that the US departure couldn't go into effect until November of 2020.

    It's also entirely possible the US wouldn't meet emissions reductions standards that it committed to in the first place — even if it had stayed in the agreement. Those were voluntary, and the effort by the Trump administration to roll back environmental regulation could make it hard to hit those goals. But under the terms of the agreement, it's not possible to simply announce that the nation is leaving, at least not without leaving other senate-approved treaties, which would also take time.

    As for "renegotiating" the deal, that doesn't look like it's likely to happen either. If the US were to withdraw officially in 2020, it could then announce intentions to re-enter the agreement, said Figueres, but it wouldn't be a simple negotiation. The world would need to agree.

    "This is in essence a multilateral agreement, and no one country can unilaterally change the conditions," said Figueres. Already, France, Germany, and Italy have announced that the Paris accord could not be renegotiated.

    The US might eventually see the international growth in clean energy markets and want to catch up in 2020 or 2025, but that might not be easy to do, and other countries might impose trade penalties in the meantime.

    International treaties don't work the same way as some of other deals Trump has been involved in previously, said Mindy Lubber, President and CEO of the nonprofit Ceres, on the same call.

    "This is not a real estate deal," she said.

    SEE ALSO: Trump just pulled out of the Paris Agreement — but the US has contributed more to climate change than any other country

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    NOW WATCH: Scientists figured out why a giant crack in Antarctica is growing so fast, and it points to an even bigger problem

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    Donald Trump

    On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that he would begin pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The accord, signed by all but two countries, aims to keep the world from warming by more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, a threshold that scientists say could save the planet from the worst-case scenarios of climate change.

    During a White House news conference, Trump outlined his reasons for leaving the agreement. Many of them, however, were based on questionable data. Here are some of Trump's main arguments for exiting the pact — and what the numbers say about them.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement — here's what that could do to the environment

    Job losses

    Trump suggested that US compliance with the Paris accord could "cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to the National Economic Research Associates."

    The report on which that claim is based has been widely criticized by environmental groups. As the World Resources Institute pointed out, the NERA study uses a scenario in which the US industrial sector is forced to reduce the country's overall emissions by nearly 40% in 20 years. That calculation doesn't take into account the role of other sectors in reducing emissions.

    The WRI also faults the NERA report for assuming a low rate of clean-energy innovation. That rate was calculated by the Department of Energy as a minimal case that "may underestimate advances." What's more likely, the National Resources Defense Council suggests, is that the development of clean energy technologies will accelerate. Even since 2016, solar costs have decreased by about 8%.

    Today, solar jobs vastly outnumber those in coal, and those numbers continue to grow — a recent report from the International Renewably Energy Agency estimated that employment in the solar industry expanded 17 times as fast as the US economy overall in 2016.

    Just a tiny temperature decrease

    Trump also suggested that the Paris Agreement would lead to only a minuscule reduction in global temperature.

    "Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree — think of that, this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100," he said. "Tiny, tiny amount."

    A detailed analysis of the impact of the Paris goals by Climate Interactive suggests those numbers are off.

    The global temperature will rise — there is no scenario in which there will be an overall reduction. But let's assume that Trump meant a reduction from the projections of temperature increases that would happen without the Paris Agreement.

    Under a "business as usual" scenario in which past trends continue, the expected temperature increase in 2100 is 4.2 degrees Celsius (7.6 degrees Fahrenheit). If all nations fully achieve their Paris pledges, however, the average global surface temperature in 2100 is expected to be 3.3 degrees. That means the accord would lead to a reduction of nine-tenths of one degree, not two.

    Nine-tenths of a degree on a global scale is huge. Since the industrial revolution, global temperatures on average have risen 0.99 degrees Celsius, according to NASA. That's not so far from .90, and we're already seeing plenty of dramatic changes around the planet. Even a reduction of two-tenths of a degree would not be "tiny"— it would be 20% of the increase we've already seen.

    Trump went on: "In fact," he said, "14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America — and this is an incredible statistic — would totally wipe out the gains from America's expected reductions in the year 2030."

    That claim also does not appear to be accurate. With the US abandoning its commitments, Climate Interactive calculates that by 2025, the country would emit 6.7 gigatons of CO2 a year instead of the 5.3 gigatons of CO2 a year that the US would emit under the agreement.

    As of 2013, China emitted 9.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year— which comes out to 0.025 gigatons a day. Fourteen days' worth would be 0.35 gigatons — far less than the annual US decrease.

    A negative economic impact on the US

    In his speech, Trump suggested that remaining in the agreement would cost the US economy "close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income, and in many cases, much worse than that."

    Trump didn't cite a source for that statistic, but he suggested in a speech on April 29 that the cost would be $2.5 trillion — and the nonpartisan website looked into that claim.

    White House spokesman Steven Cheung told that the number came from a report published by the conservative Heritage Foundation in April 2016. ran Heritage’s analysis by Roberton C. Williams III, a resource economist at the University of Maryland who is a senior fellow at the economic-analysis nonprofit Resources for the Future. Williams said the Heritage estimate was correct based on the methodology the foundation used — the analysts estimated a carbon tax rate of $36, which would increase by 3% each year from 2015 to 2035. With those numbers, the US gross domestic product would take a hit of 0.55% annually through 2035.

    But according to calculations done by Resources of the Future, the US could reach its Paris goals with a much lower carbon tax rate over less time (either a constant rate of $21.22 a year until 2025 or a rate that starts at $16.87 and increases by 3% each year in the same period). By those numbers, the US GDP would be negatively affected by about 0.10% to 0.35% a year from now until 2025.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Even before the Paris Agreement was signed in December 2015, market forces and policy measures were starting to tilt the world toward a lower-carbon future.

    U.S. carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2007, and Chinese emissions may have peaked in 2014. Solar energy, wind and energy storage are expanding rapidly.

    Yet as a climate scientist and a climate policy scholar, I know market forces and current policies are far from adequate to limit the rise in global temperatures, as envisioned in the Paris Agreement.

    And so the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement could have a range of consequences for the United States and for humanity. But how broad will these impacts be?

    Part of the uncertainty stems from how the climate system will respond to humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions. If we are lucky, the climate will be less sensitive than scientists think is most likely; if we are unlucky, it will be more sensitive. But most of the uncertainty arises from how the 194 other signatories of the Paris Agreement and the global economy will respond to Trump’s decision.

    The optimist’s case

    women beach vacation swimming water summer suntanThe Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2.0 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial temperatures, or about 0.5 to 1.0 degrees C (0.9 to 1.8 degrees F) above the current global average temperature.

    Current policies in the U.S., even without the power plant regulations proposed by the Obama administration, are adequate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to about 16 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. But significant new policies at the federal and state level are necessary to meet the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement to lower its emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Largely independent of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, his obstruction of federal policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions means these targets are not likely to be met.

    Meanwhile, however, China and Europe appear to be ready to take up the mantle of climate leadership that the U.S. is abdicating. And so if the U.S. departure from the Paris Agreement does not disrupt international progress, then Trump’s move may prove largely symbolic. (Indeed, under the terms of the Paris Agreement, the departure will not take effect until November 4, 2020– a day after the next presidential election.) Nonetheless, U.S. industry may suffer and the U.S. reputation as a reliable diplomatic partner certainly will.

    But the planet will not notice much. Over the five years between 2020 and 2025, the U.S. will emit a total of about 2.5 billion more tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases than it would if it got on a path to meet its 2025 goal. That’s about the same as a 6 percent increase in one year’s worth of global carbon dioxide emissions.

    Until recently, the federal government used an estimate of the social cost of carbon dioxide– one way to calculate the damage caused by climate change – of about US$40/ton. Based on that estimate, the additional emissions caused by the U.S. failing to meet its Paris commitment would cause about $100 billion of damage to the global economy – not an insignificant number, but small in comparison to the size of the global economy. If state governments in California and elsewhere pick up some of the slack left by federal abdication, as some governors are pledging they will, the damage will be less.

    If, after Trump, the U.S. rejoins a healthy global climate regime and shifts with a few years’ delay on to an emissions trajectory consistent with Paris’ long-term goals, then the climate will not be much harmed by any transient U.S. lethargy. The main damage will have been to U.S. leadership, in the clean energy industry and in the world at large.

    The pessimist’s case

    winterHowever, the Paris Agreement would not have happened without U.S. leadership. Perhaps, despite the efforts of China and Europe, it will fall apart without the U.S.

    President Trump has talked often about reopening coal mines. This is unlikely to happen without significant subsidies – coal is in general no longer competitive as an electricity source with natural gas or, increasingly, solar or wind energy.

    But if Trump’s vision of a “canceled” Paris Agreement and booming coal economy were to be realized, an analysis my colleagues and I did shows that the costs to the U.S. could be severe. As I wrote in August:

    By the middle of the century, climate models indicate that global mean temperature would likely be about 0.5-1.6 degrees F warmer than today under the Paris Path, but 1.6-3.1 degrees F warmer under the Trump Trajectory. The models also show that, by the last two decades of this century, temperatures would have stabilized under the Paris Path, while the Trump Trajectory would likely be about 4.4-8.5 degrees F warmer.

    Sea-level projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by our researchgroup and byothers indicate that global average sea level at the end of the century would likely be about 1-2.5 feet higher under the Paris path than in 2000.

    Emerging science about the instability of the Antarctic ice sheet suggests it might be around three to six feet higher – or even more – under the Trump trajectory. And, due to the slow response of the ocean and ice sheets to changes in temperatures, the Trump trajectory would lock in many more feet of sea-level rise over the coming centuries – quite possibly more than 30 feet.

    Quantitative risk analyses show that warming would impose costs on human health, on agriculture and on the energy system. It would increase the risk of civil conflict globally. And rising seas would reshape coastlines around the U.S. and around the world.

    The ultra-pessimist’s case

    gas station damagedThe pessimist’s case assumes that future catastrophes will come from the climate and its effects. The ultra-pessimist looks elsewhere.

    The Paris Agreement is a milestone agreement within a cooperative system of global governance in which organizations like NATO, the United Nations and the European Union play key roles – a system which some of President Trump’s key advisers seek to undermine.

    If isolationist policies, including pulling out of the Paris Agreement and weakening the Western alliance, lead to a global trade war and thence to an economic depression, the shutdown of significant chunks of the economy could lead to a larger reduction in greenhouse gas emissions than any careful, deliberate decarbonization policy.

    The U.S. saw a small version of this between 2007 and 2009, when the economic downturn was the primary driver of a 10 percent drop in U.S. emissions. Most economic models, including those used to produce projections of future greenhouse gas emissions, are not capable of modeling abrupt changes such as these.

    Ironically, Trump’s decision to withdrawal from global governance, including the Paris Agreement, would in this scenario lower emissions. But global depression is one of the most harmful ways possible to do that – one that would inflict great hardship on the American workers Trump purports to help.

    's title is Professor, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, and Director, Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience Initiative, Rutgers University. Robert Kopp does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

    SEE ALSO: I visited Greenland, and now I'm freaking out about climate change

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    NOW WATCH: 'We're getting out': Watch Trump announce the US' withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord

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    In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Kellyanne Conway refused to answer whether or not Trump thinks climate change is a hoax. Following is a transcript of the video.

    George Stephanopoulos: Does the president still believe global warming’s a hoax?

    Kellyanne Conway: The president believes in a clean environment, clean air, clean water. He’s received awards as a businessman in that regard, and he made very clear yesterday what he doesn’t believe, which is that the US government should stay in an agreement that gives us too much of the financial burden, too much risk to these industries, where the coal miners, people who work in cement and paper, people who he looked in the eye in place after place and city after city while he was running for —

    GS: But does he believe global warming’s a hoax?

    KC: He believes in clean air, clean water, a clean environment, and he believes that we have to negotiate better deals for this country and that there’s a balance between environmental protection and economic growth.

    GS: I’ll ask it one more time: does he believe global warming’s a hoax?

    KC: You should ask him that. And I hope you have your chance.

    GS: I do, too. Thank you for coming in.


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    antarctica larsen c ice shelf rift crack nov 2016 john sonntag nasa gsfc.JPG

    • A giant crack in one of Antarctica's largest ice shelves is about to break off a Delaware-size block of ice.
    • The crack in the ice shelf, called Larsen C, has forked toward the Southern Ocean and is growing rapidly.
    • Scientists think a glacier behind the ice block could destabilize after the calving event.

    An Antarctic ice shelf that has existed for thousands of years is about to shed a 1,000-foot-thick block of ice that's roughly the size of Delaware.

    New satellite images show that an enormous crack or rift in the Larsen C ice shelf has suddenly forked and accelerated toward the Southern Ocean. Scientists can't say exactly when the rift will snap off the block, which makes up about 10% of Larsen C's total area. However, Dan McGrath, a scientist with the US Geological Survey, says it won't be long.

    "I would expect it to occur quite rapidly, within days or weeks," McGrath, who researches Larsen C, told Reuters on Thursday.

    Adrian Luckman and Martin O'Leary, both scientists with Swansea University in the UK, say the crack lengthened 11 miles from May 25 to May 31, and that less than that — 8 miles of ice — is all that stands between the birth of an enormous iceberg.

    "The rift tip appears also to have turned significantly towards the ice front, indicating that the time of calving is probably very close," Luckman and O'Leary wrote on Wednesday in a blog post for the Impact of Melt on Ice Shelf Dynamics and Stability project, or MIDAS. "There appears to be very little to prevent the iceberg from breaking away completely."

    What's more, Luckman and O'Leary say, the larger swath of the Larsen C ice shelf that sits behind the soon-to-calve iceberg "will be less stable than it was prior to the rift" and may rapidly disintegrate like a neighboring ice shelf did in 2002. Such an event could quickly raise sea levels by several inches.

    The scientists' latest update came one day before President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

    A growing rift

    larsen c ice shelf diagram antarctica

    Larsen C ice is the leading edge of one of the world's largest glacier systems. A single large crack in the ice shelf has grown in spurts since 2010, lengthening to about 120 miles.

    But sometime between January 1 and May 1, the crack forked in two directions. One fork continued traveling parallel to the Southern Ocean, while the other turned northward toward the water.

    That 6-mile fork has increased by another 11 miles, leaving precious little ice holding back a catastrophic calving event.

    "When it calves, the Larsen C ice shelf will lose more than 10% of its area to leave the ice front at its most retreated position ever recorded," Luckman and O'Leary wrote in a blog post on May 1. They say that the slab's breaking off "will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula."

    The Larsen C ice shelf is located off of Antarctica's prominent peninsula and is called a shelf because it floats on the ocean. It's normal for ice shelves to calve big icebergs as snow accumulation pushes old glacier ice out to sea.

    However, the size of the pending Larsen C iceberg and the speed at which it has developed has alarmed some researchers, who suggest that the consequences of it splitting off could be huge.

    An iceberg for the record books

    antarctica larsen c ice shelf rift nov 2016 john sonntag nasa gsfcThe piece of floating ice in question is colossal. It's at least 1,100 feet thick at the edge — it thickens inland — and roughly 2,000 square miles. It's destabilizing quickly, a process accelerated by human-caused climate change.

    Previous satellite images suggest that the crack in Larsen C opened around 2010 and had lengthened by dozens of miles by June 2016. In November, a team of scientists in NASA's Operation IceBridge survey flew over the rift and confirmed it was at least 80 miles long and 300 feet wide.

    Then in January, MIDAS revealed that the entire block of ice had just 12 miles of unfractured ice. Luckman began sounding the alarms.

    "If it doesn't go in the next few months, I'll be amazed," he said in a January 6 press release. "It's so close to calving that I think it's inevitable."

    This graphic shows the crack's progression to May 31 using data from the USGS's Landsat-1 satellite and the European Space Agency's Sentinel-1 InSAR satellite.

    larsen c ice hslef lenght may 31 2017 a luckman swansea university midas

    Other satellite images show just how quickly the ice is moving relative to land.

    In the two Sentinel-1 satellite pictures below, from February and April and May 2017, the white, hot pink, and magenta areas show where the ice's surface is moving the fastest — and where the ice block is threatening to break off.

    Red and orange show relatively quick speeds, while the slowest speeds are shown in yellow, green, and blue.

    antarctica larsen c ice shelf crack midas sar rift map february april may 2017 luckman midas swansea labeled

    Luckman and O'Leary say it's difficult to get an exact read on the crack's progress because it's winter in Antarctica, making it tough to see.

    NASA's Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite, or ICESat, was used to provide more current, year-round views of Antarctic ice. But that mission ended in 2009, so researchers now have to fly over the region to confirm estimates of the crack.

    The next similar satellite, ICESat-2, isn't scheduled for launch until 2018. Trump's transition team suggested in December that the administration might strip NASA of funding for such earth science missions, which date back to the formation of the space agency 59 years ago.

    "Rifting of this magnitude doesn't happen so often, so we don't often get a chance to study it up close,"Joe MacGregor, a glaciologist and geophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, previously told Business Insider in an email. "The more we study these rifts, the better we'll be able to predict their evolution and influence upon the ice sheets and oceans at large."

    NASA's program to fly over the ice with airplanes is funded through 2019 and (poetically) called IceBridge.

    The big breakup

    When it breaks off, the block could be the third-largest in recorded history.

    MacGregor said it would then "drift out into the Weddell Sea and then the Southern Ocean and be caught up in the broader clockwise ... ocean circulation and then melt, which will take at least several months, given its size."

    Computer modeling by some researchers suggests that the calving of Larsen C's big ice block mightdestabilize the entire ice shelf, which is about 19,300 square miles— roughly two times as large as Massachusetts — via a kind of ripple effect.

    However, while MacGregor and Luckman acknowledge the possibility, they haven't expressed confidence that this will happen.

    "We would expect in the ensuing months to years further calving events, and maybe an eventual collapse — but it's a very hard thing to predict, and our models say it will be less stable," Luckman said in the January 6 release, adding that it wouldn't "immediately collapse or anything like that."

    However, a rapid ice-shelf collapse would not be unprecedented.

    "Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbor Larsen B," Luckman and O'Leary wrote in their blog post on Wednesday.

    In 2002, a large piece of the nearby Larsen B ice shelf snapped off, but within a month — and quite unexpectedly — an even larger swath of the 10,000-year-old feature behind it rapidly disintegrated. The rest of Larsen B may splinter off by 2020.

    If there's any good news about the rift in Larsen C, it's that the ice shelf "is already floating in the ocean, so it has already displaced an equivalent water mass and minutely raised sea level as a result," MacGregor had said. In other words, when the iceberg melts, it won't cause the sea level to rise any further.

    The bad news is that if all of Larsen C were to collapse, the ice it holds back could add about 4 inches to sea levels over the years — and it's just one of many major ice systems around the world affected by climate change.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what Earth might look like in 100 years — if we're lucky

    DON'T MISS: 25 photos that prove we're all stowaways on a tiny, fragile spaceship we call Earth

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    NOW WATCH: Scientists figured out why a giant crack in Antarctica is growing so fast, and it points to an even bigger problem

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    Donald Trump

    With one sentence, President Donald Trump placed Pittsburgh at the center of a post-Paris climate battle.

    "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," he said during his Thursday Rose Garden speech announcing that he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate deal, which aims to prevent global warming. Trump later mentioned Detroit, Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh as cities he was putting "before Paris, France" by ditching the agreement that nearly every country in the world has signed on to.

    It was a clear reference to Pittsburgh's past as a steel and industrial titan, an image that has given way over the past 30 years to its current status as a growing healthcare and tech hub located in the Rust Belt.

    Trump was making a pitch familiar to many who followed his presidential campaign, claiming that by pulling out of Paris, cities such as Pittsburgh would see a boon of coal, energy, and factory jobs — the kind of jobs that were synonymous with Pittsburgh when its streets looked like this:

    Many close to the city didn't see things quite the same way as Trump, including Pittsburgh's mayor, Bill Peduto.

    "I started getting a lot of questions about his reference to the city of Pittsburgh," Peduto, a Democrat, said on CNN. "The city of Pittsburgh voted for [Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton with nearly 80% of the vote. He may be talking about all of Western Pennsylvania, but it's a far cry from being Pittsburgh."

    "Pittsburgh in the last 30 years has come back from a depression," he added, noting the mass exodus of coal and steel jobs in the 1970s, which led to a "very, very bad economy" with high unemployment. "But at the same time, we didn't invest in our past, we invested in our future. We are the example of what the Paris Agreement could mean for jobs and the economy in the United States. And for him to use Pittsburgh as an example, I can only say it was a far stretch at best."

    Peduto issued an executive order on Friday signifying that the city would still follow the Paris Agreement. Peduto said in a statement that "for decades" the city "has been rebuilding its economy based on hopes for our people and our future, not on outdated fantasies about our past."

    Even over the course of the past decade, Pittsburgh has been able to replace manufacturing job losses with significant growth in the healthcare and tech sectors.

    pittsburgh jobs by industry v2

    That growth has led to the metro area's unemployment rate falling to pre-financial crisis levels.

    pittsburgh unemployment rate

    And as The Washington Post noted, Pittsburgh had more people working in renewable energy fields in 2016 than it did in iron and steel manufacturing or the coal industry.

    "Trump has no clue re Pittsburgh," former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, tweeted. "It transformed itself by cleaning its environment. It went from old industrial city to high tech Mecca!"

    But Trump's message did resonate with some voters in the area. Although Clinton did overwhelmingly win within city limits and in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, Trump beat her in the seven-county Pittsburgh metro area by nearly 60,000 votes. If Clinton had defeated Trump by 60,000 votes in the metro area, she would have carried Pennsylvania.

    To help rally supporters around Trump's "Pittsburgh" speech line, Trump's campaign promoted the Virginia Republican Party's "Pittsburgh not Paris" event supporting the president's move to withdraw from the Paris pact.

    John Fetterman, the Democratic mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, a town 20 minutes east of Pittsburgh, summed up the differences in how Trump's "Pittsburgh, not Paris" line was received by different groups.

    "You/Me: Climate terrorist and international embarrassment," the mayor, who ran for Senate in 2016, tweeted of Trump. "Guy in a BuyHere/PayHere pickup, Jack+Diane Town, USA: He stuck up for me."

    SEE ALSO: 'Call his bluff': Mark Cuban tells Democrats how to punch back after Trump pulls out of Paris climate deal

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    NOW WATCH: 'Melania needs to get with the program’: Ian Bremmer explains the biggest takeaways from Trump’s first foreign trip

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    FILE PHOTO - An array of solar panels are seen in Oakland, California, U.S. on December 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

    In early 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that, starting that year, the world would add just 50 gigawatts of added solar energy capacity per year. And in 2017, solar's growth rate would level out and start to decline.

    But as one clean energy researcher points out, the IEA may have gotten it wrong about solar's potential for growth — not just this year, but every year since 2002.

    The IEA publishes annual projections about the growth rate of solar energy in its World Energy Outlook. Auke Hoekstra, a head researcher at the Technical University of Eindhoven in The Netherlands, says these forecasts are too conservative when compared to solar energy's track record.

    On Twitter, he summed it up in one chart, first spotted by Mother Jones. It compares the IEA's predictions about solar energy adoption (measured in gigawatts of capacity added annually) and historic data about solar energy adoption since 2002:

    Every year, the organization assumes that solar's growth rate will be linear, rather than increasing exponentially as it largely has for over a decade.

    As the Guardian reported in March, the amount of new solar power installed worldwide in 2016 increased by about 50%, reaching 76 gigawatts. China and US spearheaded the surge in solar — both countries nearly doubled the amount of PV panels they added in 2015. 

    Globally, there is now approximately 305 gigawatts of solar power capacity, partly due to the fact that the cost to install solar panels has dropped significantly worldwide in recent years. Since 2011, it has declined 67%, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). If the price of solar continues to decline, adoption of the renewable energy source will likely become even more common — which doesn't match up with the IEA's flatlining projections through 2030.

    "In my work with other radical innovations ... experts are simply very conservative in their own field," Hoekstra tweeted. "A conservative mindset makes it possible to reject empirical data that suggests radical change."

    SEE ALSO: Pittsburgh plans to power itself with 100% renewable energy

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    NOW WATCH: I wear these computer glasses every day even though I have perfect vision — here's why

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    protest climate change marcher

    Conservative think tank The Heartland Institute has been mailing tens of thousands of US science teachers a book that challenges the scientific consensus on climate change, Buzzfeed and The New York Times report.

    The book, "Why Scientists Disagree About Climate Change," is a 136-page work that proposes human-driven climate change has been overblown as a threat to global stability in the coming decades.

    However, the most recent surveys find at least 97% of the scientific community agree the Earth is getting warmer due to the growing presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    In response to the Heartland Institute's efforts, four Democratic US senators — Sheldon Whitehouse, Edward Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Brian Schatz — sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos alerting her to the misinformation being spread to the nation's educators.

    "I'm appalled at the Heartland Institute's gall to think we are dumb enough to buy into this," Cheryl Manning, a science teacher at Evergreen High School in Colorado, told Buzzfeed.

    Manning was one of eight science teachers at the school to receive the book.

    Despite the overwhelming agreement that Earth's temperatures are rising, getting more erratic on a seasonal timescale, and disturbing the natural rhythms of plants and animals, the politics surrounding climate change have made it a contentious issue.

    "What people 'believe' about global warming doesn't reflect what they know," Dan Kahan, a Yale researcher who studies political polarization, told the Times. "It expresses who they are."

    SEE ALSO: California's governor signs a climate agreement with China

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    NOW WATCH: Economist: Climate change won’t be the only major concern if Trump pulls out of the Paris Accord

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