Environment

Tiny bubbles of ancient air trapped in ice cores from Greenland suggest we’ve been seriously overestimating the natural cycle of methane, while vastly undervaluing our own terrible impact. Methane is an ‘invisible climate menace‘ – roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapper than carbon dioxide  – and while some of this atmospheric gas is
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The bushfires raging across Australia this summer have sharpened the focus on how climate change affects human health. This season bushfires have already claimed more than 30 human lives, and many people have grappled with smoke inhalation and mental health concerns. The changing nature of bushfires around the world is one of the tragic consequences
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Scientists in Antarctica have recorded a new record temperature of 20.75 degrees Celsius (69.35 Fahrenheit), breaking the barrier of 20 degrees for the first time on the continent, a researcher said Thursday. “We’d never seen a temperature this high in Antarctica,” Brazilian scientist Carlos Schaefer told AFP. He cautioned that the reading, taken at a
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Overlapping environmental crises could tip the planet into “global systemic collapse,” more than 200 top scientists warned Wednesday. Climate change, extreme weather events from hurricanes to heatwaves, the decline of life-sustaining ecosystems, food security and dwindling stores of fresh water – each poses a monumental challenge to humanity in the 21st century. Out of 30 global-scale
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Last month was the warmest January on record globally, while in Europe temperatures were a balmy three degrees Celsius above the average January from 1981 to 2010, the European Union’s climate monitoring system reported Tuesday. Across a band of countries stretching from Norway to Russia, temperatures were an unprecedented 6°C above the same 30-year benchmark,
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Permafrost in Canada, Alaska and Siberia is abruptly crumbling in ways that could release large stores of greenhouse gases more quickly than anticipated, researchers have warned. Scientists have long fretted that climate change – which has heated Arctic and subarctic regions at double the global rate – will release planet-warming CO2 and methane that has
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Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier hasn’t been doing so well. It’s close to irreversibly melting, it has a huge cavity growing underneath it, and it’s the poster child for everything wrong with our reliance on fossil fuels. But a robotic underwater vehicle called Icefin just snapped the first pictures of Thwaites’ foundations of the ocean floor, and
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A secret operation by specialist firefighters has saved the world’s last stand of Wollemi Pines, a prehistoric species known as “dinosaur trees”, from Australia’s unprecedented bushfires, officials said. Fewer than 200 of the trees exist in the wild, hidden in a gorge in the World Heritage Blue Mountains, northwest of Sydney, an area hit by
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The past decade has been the hottest on record, the UN said Wednesday, warning that the higher temperatures were expected to fuel numerous extreme weather events in 2020 and beyond.​ The World Meteorological Organization, which based its findings on analysis of leading international datasets, said increases in global temperatures had already had dire consequences, pointing
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It was a stormy Monday afternoon in North Carolina, and 21 students at the Union Intermediate School were huddled in the gymnasium for a ‘PE day’. Then, suddenly, and without warning, all hell broke loose. “We were playing basketball,” fifth-grader Chloe Brewer told WRAL Fayetteville, “and it just sounded like something exploded in there.” When
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Dozens of injured koalas arrive at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park’s makeshift animal hospital each day in cat carriers, washing baskets or clinging to wildlife carers. Injured in bushfires that have ravaged the wildlife haven off the coast of South Australia state, there are so many marsupials currently requiring urgent treatment that carers don’t have
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Exhausted firefighters said they had finally brought Australia’s largest “megablaze” under control Monday, as wet weather promised to deliver much-needed respite for countryside ravaged by bushfires. ​New South Wales firefighters said they finally had the upper hand in the fight against the vast Gospers Mountain fire on Sydney’s northwestern outskirts, which has been burning for
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Australia’s raging bushfires are so bad that satellites thousands of miles above Earth can easily spot their flames and smoke from space. The fires likely started naturally, though experts think human-caused climate disruption has exacerbated hot, arid conditions that fuel the growth of such blazes. Current estimates suggest eastern Australia’s bushfire crisis has scorched more
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The bushfires in Australia are now so big that they are generating their own weather, in the form of giant thunderstorms that start more fires, according to the Bureau of Meteorology in Victoria. “Pyro-cumulonimbus clouds have developed to altitudes over 16km in East #Gippsland this afternoon. These fire-induced storms can spread fires through lightning, lofting
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Things are pretty dire right now. Giant swaths of my country are burning as I write this, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Countless animals, including koalas, are perishing along with our life-supporting greenery. People are losing homes and loved ones. These catastrophes are being replicated around the globe ever more frequently, and we
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This year, I was on the judging panel for the Royal Statistical Society’s International Statistic of the Decade. Much like Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” competition, the international statistic is meant to capture the zeitgeist of this decade. The judging panel accepted nominations from the statistical community and the public at large for
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