Watch What You Breathe

Tiago Rachelson:

New studies reveal that one of the most deadly forms of nature in the world is just the air you breathe. 3 million people die annually to air pollution all around the world. “By 2050, it could be 6.6 million premature deaths every year worldwide, a new study predicts.” The study links air pollution to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and even worse–lung cancer. My CNN source reads, [ “The total number of deaths due to HIV and malaria is 2.8 million per year,” said Jos Lelieveld, a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and lead author of the study. “That’s half a million less than the number of people who die from air pollution globally.”] This number is so astonishing to me that I find it almost non-realistic. As a believer in science, which shouldn’t even be called a “believer”, I think we need to start making some changes to our every day life style. All around the world, we must stop using cheap fuel for our cooking, heating, and waste disposal. We may have to cut down on our fertilizers because it is linked to Ammonia. The main solution is to reduce agriculture emissions, and the article says we have to cut our traditional ways before we focus heavily on new technology to save our souls.

Source: CNN article- http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/16/health/air-pollution-deaths-rising/index.html

How Low Will the Arctic’s Summer Sea Ice Go?

Scott Butler

Article url: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-low-will-the-arctic-s-summer-sea-ice-go/

Reflection:

The arctic sea is already melting significantly despite the fact that it hasn’t reached its annual minimum coverage. After reaching its annual maximum coverage, the Arctic sea ice extent has declined steadily, it has been declining below average from 1981 to present day. While the rate of Arctic retreat was rapid through the first half of April, it has significantly slowed down. The ice breakup was early in Bering Sea which made it difficult for gold operations and seal hunters in that region. In the Antarctic Ice decreases daily at a rate of 11,700 miles per day. In 2007 the coverage met an all time low at around 300,000 below average but recently it has reached 230,000 below average and it has not yet met its minimum.

chart

100 Percent of California Now in Highest Stages of Drought

Holly Schwartz

5/16/14

The article I read was about the drought in the Southern Plains and especially California. The U.S. Drought Monitor showed 100 percent of the state was now in one of the three worst stages of drought. The situation in California has been building up for years and was supposed to have improved during the winter season which is supposed to be its wet season. The heat wave occurring in California has contributed to the acceleration of the drought and started several wild fires. The wild fires are fueled from the hot dry conditions of dry vegetation. Officials are hoping that an El Nino over the summer will bring much-needed rainfall. El Nino is a naturally occurring event in the equatorial region which causes temporary changes in the world climate. The El Nino can result in fluctuating droughts, floods, and crop yields in varying regions of the world. The excessive rain could be very helpful with getting the Southern Plains out of the terrible drought. I found this article very alarming and have made me more aware of climate issues in other parts of the country. I wasn’t aware how bad the Southern Plains were being affected from the terrible drought.

www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/elnino.asp (El Nino)

http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/california-drought-20140516 (Article Link)

Dried and cracked earth is visible on an unplanted field at a farm near Mendota, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dried and cracked earth is visible on an unplanted field at a farm near Mendota, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Melt of Key Antarctic Glaciers “Unstoppable”

Antarctica's Twaites Glacier

This article describes how a massive portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, that was once home to some of the fastest-growing glaciers on the continent has since retreated and melted to the point that it is “unstoppable,” two new studies have found. The entire ice sheet worries scientists because it has enough ice to raise sea levels up 10 to 13 feet. This is because the ice is bound to land and would displace the water, kind of like what happens when you put ice cubes into a glass of water. The main concern is the glacier’s grounding line, which is the point where the glacier meets the ocean and floats atop of it. Because thanks to climate change, most of the water in the area is warmed up due to high winds pushing warm water to the South Pole, which will melt the ice faster. Essentially, the circulation of water is quickly removing the ice from Antarctica and into the ocean. The studies have been done by the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

– Sean Sabogal-

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/melt-of-key-antarctic-glaciers-unstoppable/

Rich nations’ greenhouse gas emissions fall in 2012, led by U.S.

Industrialized nations’ greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.3 percent in 2012, led by a U.S. decline to the lowest in almost two decades with a shift to natural gas from dirtier coal. A report issued by Reuter to the United Nations showed that about 40 nations dropped about 10 percent below their emission levels in 1990.  The main success story is that the United States has been successful in dropping emissions, Europe is in fact mixed because only some countries were able to shift away from coal. U.S. emissions fell 3.4 percent in 2012 to 6.5 billion tonnes, the lowest since 1994, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on April 15. The fall was linked to low natural gas prices, helped by a shale gas boom and a shift from coal, a mild winter and greater efficiency in transport. European emissions dropped only 1.3 percent in the same time. Road transport emissions declined in some EU nations such as Italy, Spain and Greece that are suffering prolonged economic downturns. While emissions rose in Germany and Britain, with more coal used to generate electricity. Among other major nations, emissions dipped in Canada in 2012 but rose in Russia, Japan and Australia.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rich-nations-greenhouse-gas-emissions-fall-in-2012-led-by-us2/

– Sean Sabogal –

 

Natural Variation: Warm North Atlantic Ocean promotes extreme winters in U.S. and Europe

According to a new study done by the University of California Irvine have shown that a phenomenon known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) which is a natural pattern of variation in the North Atlantic sea surface temperatures that switches between a positive and negative phase every 60-70 years can affect an atmospheric circulation pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) that handles the precipitation and temperature in the Northern Hemisphere during winter time. During winter time, AMO is in its positive phase making North Atlantic oceans warmer, which promotes the negative phase of NAO, which makes it cold in the U.S. and Europe. The AMO has been in a postitive stages since the 1990’s, causing the extreme winters of recent years. The melting of ice caps and concentrations of greenhouse gases may be changing the AMO, because they have noticed that the AMO was weak last year, and so it turned more positive than negative, which led a mild winter in Europe. More studies will be done to prove this further.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401210414.htm

– Sean Sabogal –

As Temperatures Climb So Does Malaria

Increasing temperatures are now found to be increasing the size of the malaria infected areas, pushing the disease father uphill. Malaria infects about 300 million people per year and it can occur judging on the temperature, rainfall, vectors, parasites, human movement, standard of human health or economics. That would mean that in order to stop the disease scientists would have to try to eliminate all those types of causes, but they have trouble figuring out which ones actually cause it the most. Recent research suggests that temperature only plays a minor role on the mosquito-borne illness or that it wouldn’t cause an increase of the disease in different parts of the world. But another research project found that the Plasmodium parasite that causes it reproduces faster when it’s warmer and that the Anopheles mosquito that infects people with it thrives in higher temperatures. They also found a pattern that the occurrence of malaria infections going uphill into communities increases in hotter times of the year, but decreases in colder times. The main problem is that with climate change, cities that are settled in the mountains, like most in Asia, South America and Africa, will see more malaria problems.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/as-temperatures-climb-so-does-malaria/

– Sean Sabogal –