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The latest news on Environment from Business Insider

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    The Qinghai province in China just used entirely renewable energy for seven days as part of a trial to prove that it is possible to just use green energy.

    From June 17 to 23, the 6 million people living in the region in Northwest China only used hydro, wind, and solar power as their energy source. Based on local news reports, the trial was used to prove that it was possible to switch from coal-based energy on a large scale. The province used 1.1 billion kilowatt hours of energy during the week, which is equivalent to the power from burning 535,000 tons of coal. It’s a test that suggests China is on a good track to transitioning to renewable energy, and that grid systems can handle fluctuating power sources.

    Clean energy is the ultimate way,” Han Ti, general manager of the Qinghai grid company told local news outlet Xinhua. “We need to reduce reliance on fossil fuel, improve our energy structure, and reduce carbon emissions.”

    The Qinghai province has 19.7 million kW of renewable energy installed, and makes up a little over 82 percent of all the energy production in the province. Qinghai is the fourth largest province in China, spanning the northeast part of the Tibetan plateau and has the headwaters of the two largest rivers in China, the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. Most of the energy during the test week was produced by hydro-electric power, thanks to the major rivers. Because of its renewable energy output, and the fact that it is one of the most sparsely populated regions of China, it is the ideal place to test the using only green energy.

    One of the main worries about relying on renewable energy is that the power available will fluctuate because renewable sources are not constant like coal plants. But companies in Quinghai didn’t feel ill effects during the test.

    ”There is no turbulence, it was a smooth process,” Li Yuzhong, general manager for the Juinpower solar panel manufacturing company in the region said to Xinhua when asked if his company felt any change in the power supplied during that week.

    The province plans to have 35 million kW installed by 2020, which could supply 110 billion kWh of renewable energy a year. By 2030, China plans to be able to produce twenty percent of its energy renewably. This test suggests that not only is that possible, but that the grid will be able to remain stable.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: See how geologists scoop molten-hot lava into a bucket for testing

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

    The 1,000-foot-thick, Delaware-sized iceberg that's getting ready to break off of Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf could calve within "hours, days, or weeks," researchers say.

    Scientists monitoring the ice shelf report that from June 24 to June 27, the outer end of the iceberg started to accelerate to the fastest speeds ever recorded at this location — a development they say is a"notable departure from previous observations." 

    As of May 31, the crack itself had just about eight miles to go before the iceberg would break free. The crack has not lengthened in the past month, so the ice is still attached. But that ice has suddenly started to move far faster than it ever has: more than 30 feet per day.

    Researchers can't say when the rift will cause the ice to break off the shelf, but when it does calve, that will remove 10% of the Larsen C shelf. The 2,000-square-mile iceberg would then become the third largest in recorded history.

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

    The increase in the iceberg's movement speed is "another sign that the iceberg calving is imminent," scientists from Swansea University in the UK wrote on the website for Project MIDAS, which is tracking the rift. 

    The researchers also warn that the break could destabilize the entire 19,300-square-mile shelf and eventually cause it to disintegrate. This happened with the Larsen B ice shelf after a similar iceberg calved from there in 2002.

    The Sentinel-1 satellite image data below illustrates the substantial change in ice speed from early June to late June.



    The Project MIDAS team said on June 24 that the rift has been widening about 6 feet per day since the end of May, but there has been no observable change in the length of the crack since then.

    When the iceberg does break free and sail into the Southern Ocean, it should not contribute to sea level rise, since it's already on the water. But if the full Larsen C ice shelf collapses, the land-based glaciers that it is holding back could have a significant impact on sea level.

    More details about the rift are available in our most recent feature about Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf

    Dave Mosher contributed reporting to this post.

    SEE ALSO: This new animation shows how close Antarctica is to losing an iceberg the size of Delaware

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A Canadian captured this spectacular view of an iceberg on his first drone flight

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    venice italy sinking sea level rise

    A new study published in Nature found that sea level rise shot up between 1993 and 2014 because of climate change.

    The authors of the study calculated that in those two decades, there was a 50% in the rate at which seas are rising — from about 2.2 millimeters per year in 1993 to about 3.3 millimeters per year in 2014.

    The biggest increase in contributions to that sea-level rise came from the melting of Greenland's ice sheet. In 1993, the ice melt was responsible for only 5% of the rate of sea level rise, but by 2014 that number had risen to 25%.

    The authors also suggested that another source of sea-level rise was "terrestrial water storage" associated with human activities. When we extract water from the ground for use in homes, industry, or irrigation, scientists estimate that about 80% of that extracted ground water later makes its way to the ocean. Deforestation and drainage of wetlands also contribute to this cause of sea-level rise.

    According to the report's authors, this new data "highlights the importance and urgency of mitigating climate change and formulating coastal adaption plans to mitigate the impacts of ongoing sea-level rise." In other words, the acceleration of sea-level rise can be seen as an important reason to work towards limiting climate change and making coastlines more resilient to flooding and other consequences of sea-level rise.

    However, President Trump's decisions to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement and initiate a review of Barack Obama's sweeping Clean Power Plan have made clear that climate change mitigation is not a priority for the administration. The new report, in fact, was published during the same week that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to roll back the Obama-era Clean Water Rule and defended a proposed 31% funding cut to the EPA's budget on Capitol Hill.

    SEE ALSO: Disturbing before-and-after images show what major US cities could look like in the year 2100

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Antarctica is melting more than scientists thought, and it’s creating giant waterfalls

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    lifeguard pool summer

    It's hot outside, and calling it a trend would be an understatement. The warming of the planet has been relentless, according to scientific surveys.

    Miserably hot summers are not the worst problem we face in the coming decades. Rising seas, an uptick in hurricanes and wildfires, and more invasive insects are already beginning to transform the United States. 

    Ali Sundermier contributed to an earlier version of this post.

    SEE ALSO: 9 important foods you aren't eating that you should be this summer

    DON'T MISS: This disturbing map reveals how climate change is already affecting your health, based on the state you live in

    As oceans get warmer and northern sea ice begins to melt, sea levels will rise, increasing the frequency of floods. Rising temperatures will also cause land ice, such as mountain glaciers and giant ice sheets, to melt.

    RAW Embed

    Sources: "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007," NASA

    Summers will be extreme, since climate change lengthens summer months and makes them hotter. By the 2050s, New York City could see as many as seven heat waves per year, with maximum temperatures at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for about two months' worth of days — twice what we currently experience.

    Sources: "Shifting Cities" by Climate CentralAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences

    As climate change drives up temperatures, wildfire seasons in the western US will begin earlier. Fires will also last longer and burn more intensely.

    Source: National Wildlife Federation

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Central Park

    There is no safe level of air pollution.

    That's the finding of a 12-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looking at health records from nearly 61 million people on Medicare combined with a databank of pollution readings.

    For every increase of 10 micrograms of a key type of pollutant known as PM2.5, death rates among seniors rose 7.3%. That's the equivalent of 120,000 deaths, said Qian Di, a doctoral student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and one of the study authors. The effects were the strongest for low-income Americans and people of color.

    To put that figure into perspective, the World Health Organization has recommended a guideline level of 20 micrograms worldwide, which is a massive reduction from many countries that regularly exceed levels of 70 micrograms or more. Over the course of the study, the average levels the researchers observed ranged from about 6 to 16 micrograms.

    Even in years when the concentrations of that pollutant in an area were low and approached levels considered "safe," the researchers saw a connection between exposure and death rates, Di and his colleagues wrote in their study.

    "It is clear from this study that there is not really a safe level of air pollution," said Brian Christman, who serves as vice chair of the department of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and was not directly involved in the research.

    For years, researchers have known about the close ties between exposure to high levels of pollutants and an uptick in death rates. They've also known that when regions manage to slash pollution levels, fewer people die.

    What they were less clear about, however, was how being exposed even to low levels of the particulates could have such drastic consequences over the long term.

    “When you have a large study that shows that the current level of air pollution is toxic — I hope that’s something we can do something about,” Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at Harvard and another author on the study, told The New York Times.

    In addition to studying the well-known pollutant PM2.5, which is known to be harmful because of its ability to penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs, the researchers also looked at ozone concentrations, and found a similarly worrisome scenario. For every 10 part-per-billion rise in ozone concentration, the mortality rate among the elderly rose by 1.1%, which amounts to roughly 19,000 deaths.

    To arrive at their conclusions, they drew from satellite and meteorological data, plus data gathered from close to 4,000 Environmental Protection Agency monitoring stations. Then, they followed their 60 million Medicare recipients and recorded nearly 23 million deaths over roughly a decade.

    Average levels of the first pollutant — PM2.5 — ranged from 6 to 16 micrograms over the course of the study, while ozone concentrations ranged from about 36 to 56.

    Given the stark findings they observed, the researchers concluded that current US policies are not strict enough to prevent pollution-related deaths. To make a bigger impact, policy makers need to further slash pollution.

    "The data indicates that additional effort ... would save lives," said Christman.

    SEE ALSO: A worrisome phenomenon suggests Earth might keep warming even as we pollute less — here's why

    DON'T MISS: Here are the countries with the cleanest cities

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This device turns air pollution and car exhaust into ink

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    bit rot project

    When your iPhone's battery dies or screen cracks, it can be tempting to throw it out and upgrade to a new phone, rather than repair it. It's just not easy for consumers to do simple repairs, and that contributes to a huge eco-waste problem around the world.

    That's according to a new report by the environmental nonprofit Greenpeace and tech repair company iFixit.

    Looking at 44 different smartphones, tablets, and laptops, they examined how easy it is to repair each device and gave them scores across several factors, including the difficulty level of taking it apart, and whether the company releases information on how to replace things like batteries and displays. The scores range from 0 to 10, with higher numbers indicating that it's easier to repair the device.

    Apple's iPad Pro 9.7" and iPad 5 both scored a 2, while the MacBook Pro 13" and Retina MacBook received a 1. Apple products do not come with repair guides, and the company does not sell spare parts to third party repair shops, the report said. iPad screens are also heavily glued to the rest of the device, greatly increasing the chances of damaging the glass during a repair. In Macbooks, the processors, RAMs, and flash memories are soldered to the motherboards, making these parts difficult to access for repair or replacing.

    Gary Cook, Senior IT Sector Analyst at Greenpeace USA, told Business Insider that these design decisions have huge implications for the environment. 

    "Today [June 29] is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. These things all fit in our hands and seem like they don't have a very big impact, because they're so small," said Cook. "But the impact is quite significant, both in terms of the chemicals used, the amount of energy that goes into manufacturing these products, the e-waste at the end-of-life ... And the repair-ability of the device ends up being critical."

    In contrast to iPads and Mac Books, the iPhone 7 received a 7 out of 10. In recent years, Apple has designed its phones to be easier to open, Cook said.

    Apple spokesperson Alisha Johnson told Business Insider that Apple is addressing the eco-waste problem. Customers can visit Apple stores for repairs, and the company launched a recycling program, called Apple Renew in 2016, she said.

    "Highly-integrated design allows us to make products that are not only beautiful, thin and powerful, but also durable, so they can last for many years. When repairs are needed, authorized providers can ensure the quality, safety, and security of repairs for customers. And when products do reach end of life, Apple takes responsibility for recycling them safely and responsibly," Johnson said. 

    "We’re also pioneering a closed loop supply chain where products are made using only renewable resources or recycled material to reduce the need to mine materials from the earth."

    Other tech products much higher than Apple devices. The Fairphone 2, known for its modular design, got a perfect score. Compared to the other phones, it has the most user-friendly battery, camera, screen, and microphone for replace-ability, since you don't need any tools to open it. The HP Elite x2 1012 G1 tablet and Dell Latitude E5270 laptop also scored a 10.

    In 2014, over40 million metric tons worth of smartphones, tablets, and computers ended up in toxic landfills. United Nations researchers expect the volume of e-waste to increase 21% to 50 million metric tons in 2018.


    SEE ALSO: Disturbing photos of the toxic graveyards where your old gadgets go to die

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Mount Everest is not the tallest mountain in the world

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    Hurricane Katrina

    Climate change is projected to cause higher mortality in many parts of the United States, according to a new report published in the journal Science.

    The report's authors calculated the expected change in mortality by county across the US and found the risks were distributed very unevenly.

    Their analysis suggests that the country as a whole could see about 5.4 more deaths per 100,000 people for every degree Celsius the temperature rises. But the South is expected to be hardest hit, with many counties in Texas and Florida seeing 20 to 40 more deaths for every 100,000 residents by the end of the century.

    "There are going to be as many additional deaths from climate change as there are car crashes, and possibly more," James Rising, a coauthor of the report from the University of California at Berkeley, told the news website Axios. "Of the sectors we looked at, the greatest costs by far to society are going to come from those additional deaths."

    That increase in mortality is due to several factors related to climate change — a 2012 report by the Climate Vulnerability Monitor cited flooding, heat waves, wildfires, and crop shortages as primary risk factors.

    Unlike the negative impacts on the South and the lower Midwest, northern counties along the east coast and counties in the Pacific Northwest could benefit from warming temperatures and see lower mortality rates, since temperatures there would become less cold.

    Screen Shot 2017 06 29 at 3.13.44 PM

    According to The New York Times, the researchers behind the new report based their analysis on existing climate science and economic data and scaled global climate models down to the county level.

    They concluded that rising mortality rates were far from the only way the South was expected to suffer. According to the report, the area will also see energy expenditures (because of heat) rise, agriculture yields fall, and weather damage costs spike in coastal regions. Ultimately, the report concludes the South will bear the brunt of the economic costs of climate change in the US.

    "Past models had only looked at the United States as a single region," Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers who was a lead author of the study, told The Times. Those models, he said, "missed this entire story of how climate change would create this large transfer of wealth between states."

    An interactive map of temperatures and emissions based on the report is available here.

    SEE ALSO: A group of prominent scientists says we have three years to save the planet from irreversible destruction

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: French president excoriates Trump in English over US withdrawal from climate deal

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    July hottest month

    It's no surprise that climate change will hit some places harder than others. Hot places will get even hotter while parts of the frigid north will become more temperate.

    For that reason, the overall economic effects of those changes for countries like the US have not always been clear.

    Now, in a study newly published in the journal Science, researchers have calculated economic and other effects of warming for the US down to the county level. And yes — certain regions will benefit.

    But the overall effect doesn't look good.

    climate economics county map

    The researchers predict that the unmitigated warming we can expect to see if global emissions continue as usual will cost the country approximately 0.7% of GDP for each degree Fahrenheit of warming.

    143945_webAt present emission rates, researchers think we'll see a global rise in temperatures of 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above 19th century levels by 2080 or so.

    That 0.7% per degree cost is an overall calculation that takes into account the benefits that northern and western states will see from warmer temperatures and increased agricultural yields.

    The poorest third of counties will suffer under this scenario, with many seeing losses of up to 20% of GDP.

    For the study, which was coordinated by the Climate Impact Lab, researchers ran 29,000 simulations, using economic models and research on the crippling effects of high temperatures to calculate county-specific effects.

    In many of the places that will suffer most, health is expected to worsen as heat and disease claim more lives, agricultural yields will fall, and energy costs will increase. Extreme heat will likely drive up violent crime and slow productivity. Plus, sea level rise and natural disaster risk is expected to increase in much of the Southeast.


    Factors not included in this model could somewhat change these calculations, outside economists not involved in the study told The New York Times. It's possible that people will leave places like Texas and Arizona and migrate to newly temperate northern states. International refugees or the collapse of ecosystems like coral reefs could worsen effects in some states.

    Still, the overall conclusion of the study is fairly clear.

    "Unmitigated climate change will be very expensive for huge regions of the United States," Solomon Hsiang, an associate professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a press release. "If we continue on the current path, our analysis indicates it may result in the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country's history."

    SEE ALSO: Two new cases of the plague have popped up — here's why it keeps appearing in the US

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Science says lasting relationships come down to 3 basic traits

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    scott pruitt press conference

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate denier, is launching an initiative at the agency to challenge scientists’ near-universal consensus on climate science by having experts debate scientific studies, E&E News reported Friday.

    The initiative will include “red team, blue team” exercises to perform “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” an anonymous administration official told E&E News.

    The term “red team, blue team” is used by the military to describe exercises aimed at finding vulnerabilities, and it was popularized as a way to debate climate science by Wall Street Journal columnist Steven Koonin.

    “The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals … provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,” the official told E&E News.

    Pruitt has previously said that he would support such a debate over climate science at the EPA, but this report is the first indication that he’s moving toward starting one. The agency did not immediately respond Friday to TPM’s request for comment.

    He told Breitbart News earlier in June that he would like to facilitate this type of debate at the EPA.

    “What the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2,” he said.

    Though Pruitt reportedly has started this initiative, it’s not clear that he’ll try to challenge the endangerment finding, the EPA determination that greenhouse gas emissions damage the climate, which the agency has used to justify regulation of greenhouse gases, per E&E News’ report. Pruitt vowed that he would not touch the endangerment finding during his confirmation hearing earlier this year.

    SEE ALSO: 7 of 45 new EPA top staff come from the coal, oil, and chemical industries

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: See how geologists scoop molten-hot lava into a bucket for testing

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    FILE PHOTO: Wind turbines are pictured in RWE Offshore-Windpark Nordsee Ost in the North sea, 30 km from Helgoland, Germany, May 11, 2015.  REUTERS/Christian Charisius/Pool

    BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany raised the proportion of its power produced by renewable energy to 35 percent in the first half of 2017 from 33 percent the previous year, according to the BEE renewable energy association.

    Germany is aiming to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2022. Its renewable energy has been rising steadily over the last two decades thanks in part to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) which was reformed this year to cut renewable energy costs for consumers.

    Germany has been getting up to 85 percent of its electricity from renewable sources on certain sunny, windy days this year.

    The BEE reported on Sunday the overall share of wind, hydro and solar power in the country's electricity mix climbed to a record 35 percent in the first half.

    The government has pledged to move to a decarbonized economy by the middle of the century and has set a target of 80 percent renewables for gross power consumption by 2050.

    It aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in 2020 from 1990 levels and 95 percent by 2050.

    SEE ALSO: An entire region of China just ran on 100% renewable energy for 7 days

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: We drove a brand-new Tesla Model X from San Francisco to New York — here's what happened

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    sheep's meadow central park

    There's a global movement encouraging cities to grow more trees and plan more parks. But which ones have the most green space today?

    To find out, MIT's Senseable Lab partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to create Treepedia, a site with interactive maps that show the density of greenery in major cities around the world. 

    The researchers used information from Google Street View to determine what they call the "Green View Index," a rating that quantifies each city's percentage of canopy coverage based on aerial images. When the project launched in 2016, Treepedia featured 10 cities, but the team has since added 13 more to the list. 

    The goal of Treepedia is to make make urban planning more accessible to those outside the field, MIT's Carlo Ratti said in a press release.

    Check out the top-ranking cities (and their percentages of tree coverage) below.

    SEE ALSO: Kimbal Musk — Elon's brother — just opened a shipping container farm compound in New York City

    15. Tel Aviv, Israel — 17.5%

    Check out the interactive map of Tel Aviv

    14. Boston, Massachusetts — 18.2%

    Check out the interactive map of Boston

    13. Miami, Florida — 19.4%

    Check out the interactive map of Miami

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    flying ant

    If you've been in London or the South of England over the past few days, you've probably found yourself accidentally breathing in — and then coughing up — an increasing number of flying ants as the region has been plagued by swarms of the small insect.

    "GUYS I just walked through an entire colony of flying ants. They're out!! Remain in your houses, I repeat, REMAIN IN YOUR HOUSES!!"warned one Twitter user.

    Every year, the queen ants of colonies all over the region fly the nest to look for a male to mate with and begin a new colony. The end result is vast swarms of flying ants blanketing the region.

    It has become known as "Flying Ant Day."

    But why do all the ants decide to do this on the same day?

    Technically, flying ant day isn't just one day, it can be several days throughout the summer. According to The Independent, there were four flying ant days last year, and it's mostly related to the warm summer temperatures.

    Like humans, balmy temperatures put ants in the mood. There needs to be no chance of rain, no predators in the area, and of course, plenty of fertile ants. Global warming, however, has seen ant days arrive earlier and earlier in the year.

    wimbledon ant grass

    To make matters worse, ants don't keep their mating process to a confined space. The males and females all leave the nest at once their wings have developed. The female then separates from the males in order to avoid

    The female then separates from the males in order to avoid cross-breeding, and releases her pheromones into the air in order to attract new male suitors. Once a male has paid attention to her, she plays hard to get by flying away, leaving the male ant to chase her down — and us humans to avoid swarms of frisky, flirting ants.

    Not surprisingly, people in the south of England aren't taking too kindly to the infestations — and tennis players at Wimbledon were fighting them off on Wednesday afternoon.

    SEE ALSO: How to know if you have Lyme disease, which affects 300,000 Americans every year

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what happens when you get bitten by a black widow spider

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    A man fills up his car at a petrol station in Rome January 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Max Rossi

    France plans to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, the country's new environment minister has announced.

    Nicolas Hulot made the announcement as he unveiled a series of measures as part of French President Emmanuel Macron's plan to make France a carbon neutral country by 2050. 

    He recognised that the target would put pressure on France's car manufacturers but he said they had projects which "can fulfil that promise". 

    As part of the plan, poorer households will receive a premium so they can swap their polluting vehicles for clean alternatives.

    The announcement came after Volvo announced on Wednesday plans to build only electric and hybrid vehicles from 2019.  

    Speaking at a press conference, he told reporters France would stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022 and up to €4bn of investments are expected to boost energy efficiency. 

    The announcements are part of a five-year-plan to encourage clean energy and fulfil the country's commitments under the Paris Agreement. 

    Mr Hulot said the government wanted to maintain the country's "leadership" in climate policy. 

    "We want to demonstrate that fighting against climate change can lead to an improvement of French people's daily lives," he said. 

    France is not the only country which aims to ban combustion-powered cars. The Netherlands and Norway previously said they wanted to get rid of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2025 and Germany and India announced similar plans ahead of 2030. 

    Mr Hulot also announced plans to end the importation of products such as palm oil and unsustainably grown soja, which contribute to deforestation around the world and particularly in the Amazon's forest, South-East Asia and in Congo. 

    The former journalist and wildlife TV presenter said deforestation was contributing to 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

    He said it would be "schizophrenic" to encourage industrials and manufacturers to reduce their emissions while accepting that millions of trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, are being dug up.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Scientists overlooked a major problem with going to Mars — and they fear it could be a suicide mission

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    jerry brown

    On July 6, California Gov. Jerry Brown will announce that San Francisco will hold its own global climate action summit in September 2018 — with or without President Trump.

    According to The New York Times, Brown plans to issue a global invitation via a video address at a festival in Hamburg, Germany. A preview of the video was obtained by the Times.

    "Look, it’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change," Brown will say in the address. 

    He will also invite "the whole world" to attend the summit, including "entrepreneurs, musicians, mathematicians, and professors."

    The festival where his video will be shown was organized by the nonprofit Global Citizen. It will feature big-name music acts like Coldplay and Shakira, as well as leaders like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Argentina's President Mauricio Macri. Thousands are expected to attend the event, which is meant to pressure governments to address poverty and inequality.

    Brown's summit announcement will come about a month after Trump vowed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The accord, which includes nearly 200 countries, aims to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and support clean energy projects.

    In response to the president's decision, over 100 mayors, governors, scientists, university presidents, and local leaders have vowed to uphold the US' Paris Agreement goals. The California summit would be part of a larger effort to support the United Nations' climate change negotiations in the US.

    "Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America," Brown will say in the video. "We in California and in states all across America believe it’s time to act."

    SEE ALSO: A group of prominent scientists says we have three years to save the planet from irreversible destruction

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: California governor: 'If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite'

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

    • Antarctica is about to lose a very large iceberg that could calve "within days" or hours.
    • New satellite data shows that when it breaks off, the iceberg will rival the volume of Lake Michigan.
    • Human activity likely isn't responsible for this event, but carbon emissions are driving other worrisome changes to Antarctic ice.

    A widening, meandering crack in an Antarctic ice shelf is about to birth a colossal iceberg, and new satellite imagery gives the best sense yet of the object's mind-boggling size.

    A research group in the UK previously estimated the iceberg's area as roughly that of Delaware. However, Europe's ice-monitoring satellite CryoSat recently took the most precise measurements to date of the ice block's thickness, allowing scientists to gauge its total volume.

    Researchers noticed the distinctive crack in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf in 2010, but that rift has been growing rapidly since 2016. Now only a few miles of ice is keeping the chunk of ice connected to Larsen C.

    When the crack splits open, the resulting iceberg entering the Southern Ocean will be about 620 feet (190 meters) thick and harbor some 277 cubic miles (1,155 cubic kilometers) of ice, Noel Gourmelen, a glaciologist at the University of Edinburgh, said in a European Space Agency press release.

    That's big enough to fill more than 460 million Olympic-size swimming pools with ice, or nearly all of Lake Michigan — one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world.

    Gourmelen and the ESA on Wednesday released this 3D animation that shows the iceberg's dimensions:

    And here's Lake Michigan for a size comparison:

    lake michigan google maps

    The iceberg could break off of Antarctica "within days," researchers previously said. When it does, scientists aren't sure what will happen.

    "It could, in fact, even calve in pieces or break up shortly after. Whole or in pieces, ocean currents could drag it north, even as far as the Falkland Islands," Anna Hogg, a glaciologist at the University of Leeds, said in the ESA release. (Those islands lie more than 1,000 miles away from Larsen C in Antarctica.)

    A block of ice thousands of years in the making

    larsen c ice shelf diagram antarcticaAntarctica's Larsen C ice shelf is one of the largest such shelves in the southern continent.

    According to a tweet from the Impact of Melt on Ice Shelf Dynamics and Stability, known as Project MIDAS, "most of the ice that calves off fell as snow on the ice shelf in the past few hundred years, but there's an inner core that's a bit older."

    Project MIDAS announced in early June that satellite images showed the rift had split, turned north, and begun moving toward the Southern Ocean.

    Adrian Luckman of Swansea University in the UK, who has been closely monitoring Larsen C with his colleagues at Project MIDAS, released an animation of the rift's rapid growth (below) that shows how it "jumps" as it slices through bands of weak ice. The ocean is shown in emerald green (top right), the Larsen C ice shelf is the light-blue patch, and the glacier behind it is depicted in white.

    It's impossible to say precisely when the rift will snap the ice off, but recent satellite images have upped the stakes for the iceberg's eventual calving.

    "New Sentinel-1 data today continues to show the rift opening more rapidly. We can't claim iceberg calving yet, but it won't be long now," Martin O'Leary, another glaciologist with Project MIDAS, tweeted from the group's account on June 30.

    According to the latest measurements by the Sentinel-1 satellite, the crack needs to grow just 3 more miles to cut off the giant iceberg.


    Are humans behind this?

    When the iceberg calves, it won't noticeably raise sea levels, since it's already floating in the ocean and displacing that water. But Luckman and O'Leary said that once Larsen C loses the iceberg, the rest of the shelf "will be less stable than it was prior to the rift."

    Put another way: There's a very slim chance that this break could cause the entire Larsen C ice shelf, and an ancient glacier behind it, to slowly disintegrate and fall into the sea.

    The chaos wouldn't be unprecedented. In 2002, a neighboring ice shelf called Larsen B collapsed and broke up in the Southern Ocean. This animation captures that event unfolding from January 31 through April 13, 2002:

    If Larsen C and its accompanying glacial ice collapse, some scientists think sea levels may rise by up to 4 inches.

    However, experts on Antarctic ice say that such a loss is exceedingly unlikely and would mostly be due to natural processes.

    "Large calving events such as this are normal processes of a healthy ice sheet, ones that have occurred for decades, centuries, millennia — on cycles that are much longer than a human or satellite lifetime,"Helen Amanda Fricker, a glaciologist who studies Antarctic ice for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, wrote in The Guardian last month. "What looks like an enormous loss is just ordinary housekeeping for this part of Antarctica."

    Buy Fricker warned that we shouldn't be complacent about climate change, which is mostly being driven by human activity.

    "Antarctic ice shelves overall are seeing accelerated thinning, and the ice sheet is losing mass in key sectors of Antarctica," she said. "Continuing losses might soon lead to an irreversible decline."

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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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    texas wind turbines

    Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, are quickly becoming as cheap—even cheaper—than their carbon-intensive counterparts like coal.

    New research from Morgan Stanley estimates that renewables will be the cheapest source of power in the world in less than three years.

    “Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation,” the bank said in a note.

    “A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020. The price of solar panels has fallen 50% in less than two years (2016-17).”

    Even if President Trump succeeds in withdrawing the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the country could still cut more emissions than it had previously pledged to alongside 194 other countries.

    “For example, notwithstanding President Trump's stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in US 2005-level carbon emissions by 2025,” the bank said.

    What’s behind the sudden drop in renewable costs?

    Wind turbine blade lengths have increased dramatically in recent years thanks to stronger materials and design. Even a small lengthening of the windmill blades can increase output exponentially, as the "swept area" is a function of the square of the turbine's radius. Remember that high school geometry?

    On the solar front, Morgan Stanley says there has been oversupply of solar panels, which is pushing production prices down. Solar installation grew 50% last year, but capacity is still 28% above installations.

    The bank sees two possible benefits (beyond helping the environment) for utility companies that invest in low-cost renewables:

    “First, the ability to lower customer bills from utilizing low-cost renewables can improve utilities' regulatory environment and provide related investment opportunities in grid modernization initiatives,” writes the bank.

    “Second, for utilities with large, competitive renewable development businesses, investment in renewable energy projects can generate attractive risk-adjusted returns.”

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    NOW WATCH: Barclays strategist: You can expect a major department store to fail in the next 18 months

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    california wildfire

    SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) —  Wildfires barreled across the baking landscape of the western U.S. and Canada, destroying a smattering of homes, forcing thousands to flee and temporarily trapping children and counselors at a California campground.

    A pair of wildfires egged on by record-breaking heat in Southern California quickly spread, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations at a popular lakeside campground and a summer camp.

    In Northern California, a Butte County wildfire swept through grassy foothills and destroyed 10 structures, including homes, and led to several minor injuries.

    california wildfire

    Firefighters were contending with nearly 200 wildfires burning in British Columbia that had destroyed dozens of buildings, including several homes and two airport hangars.


    The fire that started early Saturday afternoon in Santa Barbara County had spread to both sides of Highway 154 and was "completely out of control," county fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said. About 90 children and 50 counselors were struck at the Circle V Ranch and had to take shelter there until they could be safely evacuated.

    In other parts of the West, evacuation orders were lifted in Colorado and Montana towns threatened by wildfires, while air and ground crews battled a growing grass fire in northwestern Colorado.

    california wildfire

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    The wildfires in California are so bad that when the nearly full moon rose on Friday night, it looked like it was engulfed in flames:

    california wildfire

    Of course, the moon was merely reflecting the flames. Mike Eliason, public information specialist for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, took the photo of the Alamo fire on a hilltop off Highway 166 east of Santa Maria, California.

    The Alamo fire now spans over 23,000 acres with only 10% of it contained. It's the largest of 14 wildfires currently burning across the state. On Sunday, 5,000 firefighters were battling blazes on over 56,000 acres, Pacific Palisades Patch reported.

    The fires have forced hundreds of Californians to flee their homes. Kids and staff at a summer camp in Santa Barbara had to seek shelter until firefighters could rescue them.

    Even though California's crippling drought finally ended in April, fire season is still expected to be bad this summer because it's been so hot.

    SEE ALSO: Wildfires whip across the US and Canada

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    After US president Donald Trump decided to pull the country out of the Paris Climate Agreement, many expected a reduction in the nation’s efforts to transition to clean and sustainable energy.

    That hardly seems the case now, however, as a number of US states and even private institutions have decided to pursue initiatives that reinforce those outlined in the international climate deal.

    In "Renewable Energy: What Cheap, Clean Energy Means for Global Utilities," a report published Thursday by financial services firm Morgan Stanley, analysts confirm that renewable energy is fast becoming the cheapest option.

    "Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation," the report noted. "A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020." The report continued:

    By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics, rather than government policy, will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels. For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.

    A cheaper, better alternative

    Indeed, the cost of renewables — particularly solar — has recently decreased significantly, with the price of solar panels dropping by 50 percent in just two years, according to the report.

    qinghai china solar

    This certainly makes reaching the carbon emission limits set by the historic climate accord much easier, and the increased affordability is helping major polluters like India and China step up their renewable energy efforts.

    The impact of renewable energy adoption extends beyond the environment — it also benefits the economy.

    Renewables are providing better investment opportunities for utility companies while lowering costs for consumers.

    "The ability to lower customer bills from utilizing low-cost renewables can improve utilities’ regulatory environment and provide related investment opportunities in grid modernization initiatives," the analysts wrote. Aside from this, renewables are also generating more jobs than their fossil fuel counterparts — in the US, they account for even more jobs than tech giants Google, Apple, and Facebook combined.

    So, despite the US officially withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Morgan Stanley analysts believe that industries in the country will continue to see renewable energy as the more economically attractive and environmentally sound alternative to fossil fuels. Not even politics can stop this trend.

    SEE ALSO: 'We are in a geopolitical environment that is extremely dangerous for Europeans'

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    Anika Bhagavatula, a 14-year-old student from Wilton, Connecticut, is one of the national finalists in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge — a science and engineering competition for middle school students that earns the winner a $25,000 award as well as title of "America's Top Young Scientist."

    Bhagavatula's project uses unconventional materials — what some people would consider garbage — to absorb oil and perhaps one day, become a new, better way to clean up oil spills.

    We spoke with her about how she came up with this idea and how she conducted her research. The following is a transcript of the video.

    The reason why I wanted to pinpoint oil spills was because there has been a lot of talk about the Dakota pipeline. And the reason why people don't want this is because oil spills are a huge issue which can occur, obviously, from pipelines. And these oil spills can contaminate drinking-water sources and harm wildlife.

    Hi, my name is Anika Bhagavatula, and I am 14 years old, and I am in eighth grade.

    And so I wanted to find a natural sorbent which could clean up these oil spills and would replace harmful remediation solutions, which, while effective, can damage the environment. Right now, this is the sorbent that I use to clean up oil from oil spills.

    So I wanted to focus on using the parts of fruit or natural materials that are typically thrown away. I tested different types of sorbent materials — banana peels, pomegranate husks, and orange peels — and I found that pomegranate husks and orange peels were the most effective.

    So I first tested the amount of time it took to remove the oil from the water. Then I wanted to find the optimal weights of the sorbents.

    I also wanted to find the optimal mix, since pomegranate husks worked better in freshwater and orange peels worked better in salt water. Then I tested the sorbent in motor oil, and I found that it was very effective, absorbing two to three times its own weight.

    Depending on the size of the oil spill, different types of different sizes of sorbents can be used, and maybe they should be targeted for more pipeline spills, which are smaller.

    And since this is adsorption — so what that means is the oil is coated on the outside of the peels — it can be assumed that with high-pressure compression, oil can be extracted from the sorbent, and then it can be reused since the composition hasn't been changed.

    The next step that I would like to do with my mentor is to find a biodegradable material to put the filling or put the sorbent in so that the whole product would be biodegradable and can be used for oil spills as a natural material.


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