#federalcarbontax; #Made-in-OntarioEnvironmentPlan; #fightclimatechange
Toronto, May 9 (Canadian-Meda): Ontario's government for the people is fighting the job-killing federal carbon tax to help more than 470,000 small-and medium‐sized businesses in communities across the province by creating an environment where they can grow and thrive, media reports said.
Small businesses are already burdened by the federal carbon tax, which came into effect on April 1, 2019, and it is predicted their annual heating costs will rise by an average of $1,000 in 2022.
Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, were at Drewry's Variety Convenience today to talk about how the federal government's carbon tax threatens jobs and small businesses in the province.
Federal Carbon tax. Image credit: canada.ca
The federal carbon tax is a job-killer. It will increase overhead costs on Ontario's small businesses, and put the brakes on their growth," said Smith.
"Our government is committed to keeping our province open for business and open for jobs...and why we released a Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to protect the environment without imposing a carbon tax on the hard-working families and small businesses of Ontario, said Phillips."
"Our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan serves as proof that you can both oppose a carbon tax and continue to do more to fight climate change - you don't have to choose," concluded Phillips. "Ontario deserves both a healthy environment and a healthy economy."
"We're on the precipice of an affordability crisis for small businesses," said Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. "In fact, 84 per cent of small businesses in the four affected provinces say they can't afford the federal carbon tax...We are asking the federal government to cancel the federal carbon tax and work with the four provinces on approaches to climate change that do not negatively affect small businesses."
The government remains committed to fighting the federal government's carbon tax on the people of Ontario. Ontario's case challenging the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax was heard by the Court of Appeal earlier this month and the decision has been reserved.
#Earth'sbiodiversity; #hydropowerprojects; #climateChange
McGill Univ, May 8 (Canadian-Media): Almost two in three of Earth's longest rivers have been severed by dams, reservoirs or other man made constructions, severely damaging some of the most important ecosystems on the planet, researchers said today, published in the journal Nature, Science X Newsletter reports said.
Image Credit: Day's Edge Productions / WWF-US: Aerial view of where the Araguaia River splits into the Coco River (to the left) in Brazil.
Using the latest satellite data and computer modelling software, the international team looked at the connectivity of 12 million kilometres of rivers worldwide, providing the first global assessment of human impact on the planet's waterways.
They found that out of the 91 rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) in length, just 21 retained a direct connection between source and sea.
Just a little over a third (37 percent) of the 242 longest rivers had retained their free flow, something experts said was having a profound effect on Earth's biodiversity.
"The world's rivers form an intricate network with vital links to land, groundwater and the atmosphere," said Gunther Grill from McGill University's Department of Geography and lead author.
"Free-flowing rivers are important for humans and the environment alike, yet economic development around the world is making them increasingly rare."
Most of the remaining free-flowing rivers were confined to remote parts of the Arctic, the Amazon and the Congo basins, the study found.
This week the UN's panel on biodiversity released a summary of its devastating assessment on the state of Nature.
The underlying report, which will be made public in the coming weeks, found that 50 percent of rivers "manifest severe impacts of degradation" from human activity.
Wednesday's study, published in the journal Nature, laid bare in intricate detail just how drastically man made activity is impacting our waterways.
It estimated there was now a total of 60,000 large dams at least 15 metres tall severing rivers, out of a total of 2.8 million worldwide.
The blocking or damming of rivers disrupts the flow of nutrients vital to replace those lost through agriculture, and diminishes the amount of river-bourne species that can complete their life-cycles.
3,700 hydropower projects
It also lessens the sediment flows river deltas provide coastal regions with, which currently help to protect millions of people against sea level rises.
Less than a quarter of free-flowing rivers now connect to oceans, depriving estuary environment from vital nutrients and sediments.
The team warned that dams had already led to a significant fall in river fish, which provide nearly all the animal protein eaten by close to 160 million people.
A separate assessment last year from conservation group WWF said freshwater species had experienced the most pronounced decline of all vertebrates over the past century, falling on average 83 percent since 1970.
The study also identified more than 3,700 hydropower projects either planned our currently under construction, including some on rivers offering vital life support for the human populations who live along them.
While hydroelectric power are significantly cleaner in terms of emissions than oil, gas or coal, the team stressed that mega power projects involving dams and reservoirs could have unforeseen negative effects.
"Hydropower certainly has more complex environmental impacts than the often-cited positive effects of avoiding fossil fuels," Bernhard Lehner, a professor at McGill, told AFP.
"While hydropower inevitably has a role to play... countries should focus on sustainable options like solar and wind which can have less detrimental impacts on rivers and the communities, cities and biodiversity that rely on them."
The health of Earth's rivers will also be impacted as climate change accelerates, affecting flow patterns and water quality, as well as bringing more invasive species, the authors said.
#globalemissions; #ParisClimateAgreement; #climateChange
United States, May 8 (Canadian-Media): The price tag for cutting global emissions may seem expensive, until the human toll of deaths from air pollution and climate change are factored in, a new study published in Nature Communications says, Science X Newsletter reports said.
Image Credit: Vitaly Vlasov, Pexels
The new study in Nature Communications reports that immediate, dramatic cuts in carbon emissions—aggressive enough to meet the Paris Climate Agreement—are economically sound if human health benefits are factored in.
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also reduce deaths from air pollution in communities near the emissions reductions," says Mark Budolfson, co-lead author from the University of Vermont. "These health 'co-benefits' of climate change policy are widely believed to be important, but until now have not been fully incorporated in global economic analyses of how much the world should invest in climate action."
By adding air pollution to global climate models, Budolfson and colleagues find that economically, the optimal climate policy would be more aggressive than previously thought, and would produce immediate net benefits globally.
The health benefits alone could reach trillions of dollars in value annually, depending on air quality policies that nations adopt, to help offset climate investments.
The study helps to justify immediate investments in global emission reductions by showing they will benefit the current generation of citizens while also helping to address climate change for future generations.
"We show the climate conversation doesn't need to be about the current generation investing in the further future," says Budolfson, a Fellow of the Gund Institute for Environment from UVM's College of Arts of Sciences. "By making smart investments in climate action, we can save lives now through improved air quality and health."
The team's work builds on the RICE climate model, which was developed by Yale Economist William Nordhaus, who recently recieved the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Researchers considered the costs and benefits of air pollutant emissions, which produce aerosols. Aerosols have never been fully incorporated into this type of modeling, and are important for two reasons. Aerosol pollution worsens human health, but aerosols also act to cool the earth, counterbalancing some of the warming generated by greenhouse gases.
By factoring in these additional co-benefits and co-harms, the researchers identified a climate policy that would bring immediate net benefits globally, both in health and economic terms. The strongest potential near-term health benefits are in China and India, which face among the highest death rates from air pollution.
"Some developing regions have been understandably reluctant to invest their limited resources in reducing emissions," said Noah Scovronick, a co-lead author from Emory University. "This and other studies demonstrate that many of these same regions are likely to gain most of the health co-benefits, which may add incentive for them to adopt stronger climate policies."
The researchers find that the dramatic efforts needed to meet the Paris Agreement targets of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees C (or 3.6 degrees F) is economically defensible. This is because the health benefits resulting from air pollution reductions can offset the near-term costs. Prior economic studies on this issue did not support such a strict climate target.
"The climate problem has several features that make it particularly difficult to solve," said Marc Fleurbaey of Princeton University. "Here, we show that accounting for the human health dimension alleviates many of these difficulties: Health benefits begin immediately, occur near where emissions are reduced, and accrue mainly in developing regions with less historical responsibility for climate change. The finding that climate policy may not in fact entail an intergenerational trade-off could completely change the framing of the debate."
#UnitedNations; #AU; #UN2030AgendaforSDGs; #AfricanUnion’sAgenda2063;
#|ClimateChange; #UN Climate Action Summit
United Nations, May 6 (Canadian-Media/UN) United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a “quantum leap” in funding for development and climate change for Africa, speaking to journalists on Monday, following the plenary meeting of the latest United Nations-African Union (AU) Conference, which took place in New York.
Image Credit: World Bank/Dana Smillie: Rows of solar panels at the Ain Beni Mathar thermo-solar power plant in Morocco. (file 2010)
Guterres declared that the Organization’s work to promote peace and security, human rights, development and climate action, can only progress in Africa if the UN works hand in hand with the AU.
The UN chief emphasised the “alignment” between the UN’s and African Union’s respective plans to ramp up inclusive and environmentally responsible economic development: the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The common battle they face, he continued, is to secure the necessary financing for development, particularly for Africa. Mr. Guterres said that development there is a “fundamental precondition” for a more peaceful world, and for well-managed migration, and, therefore, that improved funding is “in the interests of the whole international community.”
With regard to climate change, the Secretary-General warned that more ambition is needed, because “we are not winning the battle,” and Africa is disproportionately affected: “the African continent practically does not contribute to climate change, but the African continent is one of the areas of the world where the impact of climate change is more dramatic and devastating.”
A joint communiqué released on Monday by the UN and African Union welcomed the “strong cooperation and collaboration between the two organizations”, and committed to continue to work closely together in addressing peace and security issues, and achieving sustainable development issues in Africa.
he communiqué described the UN Climate Action Summit, which will take place in September, as “critical to mobilize the needed partnerships, resources” necessary to achieve international climate action goals, and noted the agreement of the leaders of both organizations to further strengthen their cooperation on adaptation for climate change ahead of the Summit and beyond.
Washington (U.S.), May 3 (Canadian-Media): Arsenic is a deadly poison for most living things, but new research shows that microorganisms are breathing arsenic in a large area of the Pacific Ocean, a study by a University of Washington team said.
Image credit: Noelle Held/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Jaclyn Saunders (far right) fixes the line on a McLane instrument that pumps large volumes of seawater in order to extract the DNA. The instrument on the left measures properties such as temperature, salinity and depth and collects smaller samples of seawater.
"Thinking of arsenic as not just a bad guy, but also as beneficial, has reshaped the way that I view the element," said first author Jaclyn Saunders, who did the research for her doctoral thesis at the UW and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We've known for a long time that there are very low levels of arsenic in the ocean," said co-author Gabrielle Rocap, a UW professor of oceanography. "But the idea that organisms could be using arsenic to make a living—it's a whole new metabolism for the open ocean."
The researchers analyzed seawater samples from a region below the surface where oxygen is almost absent, forcing life to seek other strategies. These regions may expand under climate change.
"In some parts of the ocean there's a sandwich of water where there's no measurable oxygen," Rocap said. "The microbes in these regions have to use other elements that act as an electron acceptor to extract energy from food."
Image Credit/Wikimedia: A purple arsenic atom surrounded by four oxygen atoms is arsenate (left). An arsenic atom surrounded by three oxygen atoms is arsenite (right). The study found evidence of marine organisms that can convert one to the other to get energy in oxygen-deficient environments.
The most common alternatives to oxygen are nitrogen or sulfur. But Saunders' early investigations suggested arsenic could also work, spurring her to look for the evidence.
The team analyzed samples collected during a 2012 research cruise to the tropical Pacific, off the coast of Mexico. Genetic analyses on DNA extracted from the seawater found two genetic pathways known to convert arsenic-based molecules as a way to gain energy. The genetic material was targeting two different forms of arsenic, and authors believe that the pathways occur in two organisms that cycle arsenic back and forth between different forms.
Results suggest that arsenic-breathing microbes make up less than 1% of the microbe population in these waters. The microbes discovered in the water are probably distantly related to the arsenic-breathing microbes found in hot springs or contaminated sites on land.
"What I think is the coolest thing about these arsenic-respiring microbes existing today in the ocean is that they are expressing the genes for it in an environment that is fairly low in arsenic," Saunders said. "It opens up the boundaries for where we could look for organisms that are respiring arsenic, in other arsenic-poor environments."
Biologists believe the strategy is a holdover from Earth's early history. During the period when life arose on Earth, oxygen was scarce in both the air and in the ocean. Oxygen became abundant in Earth's atmosphere only after photosynthesis became widespread and converted carbon dioxide gas into oxygen.
Early lifeforms had to gain energy using other elements, such as arsenic, which was likely more common in the oceans at that time.
"We found the genetic signatures of pathways that are still there, remnants of the past ocean that have been maintained until today," Saunders said.
Arsenic-breathing populations may grow again under climate change. Low-oxygen regions are projected to expand, and dissolved oxygen is predicted to drop throughout the marine environment.
"For me, it just shows how much is still out there in the ocean that we don't know," Rocap said.
Saunders recently collected more water samples from the same region and is now trying to grow the arsenic-breathing marine microbes in a lab in order to study them more closely.
"Right now we've got bits and pieces of their genomes, just enough to say that yes, they're doing this arsenic transformation," Rocap said. "The next step would be to put together a whole genome and find out what else they can do, and how that organism fits into the environment."
London (U.K.), May 2 (Canadian-Media): For the first time, researchers at King's College London, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk, have found a diverse array of chemicals, including illicit drugs and pesticides in UK river wildlife, the study published today in Environment International reveals.
Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain
This study looked at the exposure of wildlife, such as the freshwater shrimp Gammarus pulex, to different micropollutants (chemicals found at exceptionally low levels) and the levels of these compounds in the animals.
Consumer products, medicines and drugs can end up in rivers after use and comprise thousands of different chemicals which have the potential to cause environmental harm. The team collected samples from five catchment areas, and 15 different sites across the county of Suffolk. Surprisingly, cocaine was found in all samples tested, and other illicit drugs such as ketamine, pesticides and pharmaceuticals were also widespread in the shrimp that were collected.
Lead author, Dr. Thomas Miller from King's College London said: "Although concentrations were low, we were able to identify compounds that might be of concern to the environment and crucially, which might pose a risk to wildlife.
"As part of our ongoing work, we found that the most frequently detected compounds were illicit drugs, including cocaine and ketamine and a banned pesticide, fenuron. Although for many of these, the potential for any effect is likely to be low."
Professor Nic Bury from the University of Suffolk said: "Whether the presence of cocaine in aquatic animals is an issue for Suffolk, or more widespread an occurrence in the UK and abroad, awaits further research. Environmental health has attracted much attention from the public due to challenges associated with climate change and microplastic pollution. However, the impact of 'invisible' chemical pollution (such as drugs) on wildlife health needs more focus in the UK as policy can often be informed by studies such as these."
Dr. Leon Barron from King's College London added: "Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising. We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments. The presence of pesticides which have long been banned in the UK also poses a particular challenge as the sources of these remain unclear."
Columbia, May 2 (Canadian-Media): In an unusual new study, scientists say they have detected the fingerprint of human-driven global warming on patterns of drought and moisture across the world as far back as 1900, Columbia University research shows.
Rising temperatures are well documented back at least that far, but this is the first time researchers have identified resulting long-term global effects on the water supplies that feed crops and cities. Among the observations, the researchers documented drying of soils across much of populous North America, central America, Eurasia and the Mediterranean. Other areas, including the Indian subcontinent, have become wetter. They say the trends will continue, with severe consequences for humans. The study appears this week in the leading journal Nature.
Image credit: Adapted from Marvel et al., Nature, 2019: Regions projected to become drier or wetter as the world warms. More intense browns mean more aridity; greens, more moisture. (Gray areas lack sufficient data so far.) A new study shows that observations going back to 1900 confirm projections are largely on target.
In general, scientists agree that as global warming progresses, many now dry regions will become drier, and wet ones will become wetter. Some recent studies suggest that human-induced warming has intensified droughts in particular regions, including a now near 20-year ongoing drought in the southwestern United States. However, the last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says confidence in attributing specific ongoing events directly to humans is still chancy.
The new study combines computer models with long-term observations to suggest that systemic changes in what scientists call the hydroclimate are already underway across the world, and have been for some time. The researchers looked not simply at precipitation, but rather soil moisture, a more subtle measure that balances precipitation against evaporation, and is the quality most directly relevant to farming and forestry. They used tree rings going back 600 to 900 years to estimate soil moisture trends before human-produced greenhouse gases started rising, then compared this data with 20th-century tree rings and modern instrumental observations, to see if they could pick out drought patterns matching those predicted by computer models, amid the noise of natural yearly or decadal regional weather variations.
Image Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio: Global ‘drought atlas’ data derived from tree rings running from 1400-2005. Green is wetter and brown is dryer. No titles. Note that the timing of the frames slows during the years 1900-2005.
"We asked, does the real world look like what the models tell us to expect?" said study coauthor Benjamin Cook of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "The answer is yes. The big thing we learned is that climate change started affecting global patterns of drought in the early 20th century. We expect this pattern to keep emerging as climate change continues."
Lead author Kate Marvel, a climate modeler at Goddard and Columbia University, said, "It's mind boggling. There is a really clear signal of the effects of human greenhouse gases on the hydroclimate."
Soil moisture is a complex issue, because precipitation and evaporation can work with each other, or against each other. Warmer air can carry more moisture, and thus more rain or snow. But warmer air can also evaporate more moisture from soil and carry it away, outweighing precipitation. That is probably the factor now at work in the drying western United States, and possibly other locations that have seen recent big droughts. "Precipitation is just the supply side," said study coauthor Jason Smerdon, a Lamont-Doherty paleoclimatologist. "Temperature is on the demand side, the part that dries things out." Which part predominates depends on complex factors including wind patterns, seasons, clouds, topography and proximity to the moisture-giving oceans.
The scientists identified three distinct periods in their study. The first was 1900 to 1949, when they say the global-warming fingerprint was the most obvious. During this time, as predicted by models, drying was seen in Australia, much of central America and North America, Europe, the Mediterranean, western Russia and southeast Asia. At the same time, it got wetter in western China, much of central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia and central Canada.
#UnitedNations; #non-indigenous; #invasiveaquaticspecies; #UNDP; #IMO;
United Nations, May 2 (Canadian-Media/UN): A plan to protect the global marine environment from the dangers of non-indigenous invasive aquatic species has been launched by the United Nations (UN) Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO), UN reports said.
Image Credit: IMO/Lee Adamson: A cleaning operation is being undertaken to remove organisms which have built up on a ship's hull. (1 June 2016)
The transfer of sea life including plants, crustaceans and micro-organisms - largely on the hulls of ships - from one part of the world to another, has increased alongside the growth of the global shipping industry.
But now the UN has got together with a number of countries in an attempt to prevent what is called ”bio-fouling”, an issue which not only effects the marine ecosystems but also the communities which depend on those environments for their livelihoods.
Image Credit: Photo: Biofouling Solutions | A commercial diver undertakes an in-water vessel inspection using surface supply with communications and a CCTV camera. (25 April 2011)
The transfer of Invasive Aquatic Species (IAS) through biofouling is a global environmental problem which requires intervention at multiple levels.
Biofouling is described as the undesirable accumulation of microorganisms, algae, plants, and animals on submerged structures - particularly ships’ hulls. Biofouling often leads to the introduction of IAS into new areas and is considered to be one of the greatest threats to the world’s freshwater, coastal, and marine environments.
A multitude of marine species may survive transit and go on to establish a reproductive population in new host environments, becoming invasive, out-competing native species, and multiplying into harmful proportions.