Climate Letter #1144

What is happening to Earth’s wilderness areas, reviewed by Outside magazine with recommendations for means of remedy.  “Studies published in the last few years have arrived at the same blunt conclusion: the world’s last, big wildlands are disappearing, even faster than researchers expected”…..“Our calculation is that there will be no globally significant wilderness in 50 years time,” Watson told Outside recently. “There will be patches of green, but there will be nothing big, anymore.”
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Algae blooms on freshwater lakes are disastrous in more than one way.  Thanks to Mother Jones magazine for their report on a new scientific study (see below) which has some startling information on how these blooms contribute to the global output of carbon emissions.  Largely because of algae blooms, they found, “methane from the world’s lakes emits methane equivalent in greenhouse effect to about 20 percent of all the carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burned globally—about twice the level of previous assumptions….The greener or more eutrophic these water bodies become, the more methane is emitted, which exacerbates climate warming.”  In the future, even modest increases in eutrophication “could add methane to the atmosphere equivalent in greenhouse gas terms to 13 percent of the world’s current fossil fuel combustion.”  This is new information, elevating the importance of flawed agricultural practices which end up producing high volumes of greenhouse gas just like fossil fuel burning.  It will have to be dealt with in the same urgent manner if climate goals are to be realized.
–Here is a link to the full report, with open access.  You can see right away that it is a serious piece of work, backed by a long list of reference materials found in a link at the end.  I hope it gets more publicity.
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This team of researchers found an unusual way of demonstrating that global warming is real.  They have periodically made a careful count of the number of plant species observed on each of 302 European mountain tops over a total of 150 years.  The number of new arrivals has recently accelerated, attributed to their need to find cooler accommodations.
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Sodium-ion batteries are getting closer to commercialization.  Their biggest issue, a lack of long-term stability, appears to have been resolved thanks to the development of a new kind of material.  These batteries do not have the energy density of those made with lithium but have much lower production costs and are thus well-suited to large-scale storage applications in fixed locations, such as electric grids.
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There has also been an important breakthrough in the development of magnesium-metal batteries, which would have twice the density of lithium, ideal for vehicles, plus lower manufacturing costs.
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A portfolio of dramatic photographs of melting Arctic icebergs, purely for enjoyment.
Carl
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