Climate Letter #1097

Researchers show how acidification is harmful to coral reefs.  Coral skeletons can still grow but then do not thicken properly, making them more vulnerable to other destructive forces.  (Plastic waste was recently added to the list of those forces—see yesterday’s letter.)
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Mammals and birds have the best chance of surviving a major global extinction event.  It’s because they have the most capacity for adapting to new and different habitats.  Being warm-blooded is an essential part of that advantage.
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Climate models are warning Europeans about future increases in river flooding.  Paris has been hit hard twice in the last two years as the Seine overflowed.  Warming temperatures cause heavier overall amounts of rainfall which then become more concentrated in some particular regions.
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Another patch of pristine rainforest is about to be destroyed by road building.  “The Peruvian Congress recently approved a bill declaring it in the national interest to construct new roads in the Madre de Dios region.”  The roadbuilding will be followed by an influx of money and people involved in extractive activities.  “Nowhere on Earth can you find more species of animals and plants than in this corner of the Amazon that rubs up against the feet of the towering Andean mountains. These forests are also home to a culturally diverse human population, many of whom still live in voluntary isolation from the rest of humanity.”  What is the true meaning of “national interest”?
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Simple types of geoengineering can reduce extreme temperatures by 2-3 C in populated areas.  A study looks at methods that have already been proven, mostly by reducing the albedo of various structures and by changing the way cropland is managed.  The procedures are affordable and have low risks.
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The CEO of a major utility is extremely bullish about future cost reductions for the generation of electric power from renewables.  In a conference call to investors, “Robo predicted that by the early 2020s, it will be cheaper to build new renewables than to continue running existing coal and nuclear plants. That’s … crazy.”  David Roberts, writing for Vox, fills in the amazing details, and wonders what things will be like for the coal business in following decades.
Carl
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