There are climate stories in the news almost every day. Here are three that I thought were especially interesting this week.
Men’s Journal provided a balanced discussion of GMOs and their place in agriculture. I’m not going to discuss the GMO controversy (other than to note that this is a topic that, like vaccination and climate change, is often a place where political beliefs and science collide). However, I thought it was interesting that the speaker in favor of using GMOs pointed out the climate benefits from using genetically modified crops as a way to keep more carbon in the soil from reduced tillage and protected more land from going into production by increasing yields. You can read the article here.
NBC News posted an article about some recent work done in looking at the climate of 56 million years ago and its implications for our climate. The study of past climates is called paleoclimatology and it can provide important clues to how the earth has behaved in the past under varying climate scenarios. The climate of 56 million years ago was similar to what we are experiencing now in that carbon dioxide was increasing rapidly in the atmosphere and temperatures were also going up rapidly. A quote from the article:
“The good news, the researchers say, is that most of the species around at the time survived the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, although many had to migrate. The bad news: It took nearly 200,000 years for the Earth to recover from that warming, in which temperatures rose by 9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 8 Celsius).
And the scientists found evidence of two carbon releases, with a bigger one following the first, a possible sign of a triggering mechanism.”
The second burst was linked to the potential melting of methane deposits which were frozen at the bottom of the ocean (we have them now, too, and they are a source of concern for future climate scenarios).
The third article is from the Huffington Post on the impacts that rising sea level and temperatures have had on a remote Arctic village (link). Waves from storms in recent years have washed away chunks of the land around their village, leading them to consider moving the entire village to another location, with all the disruption that entails. As sea levels continue to rise, more coastal communities are going to have to deal with the effects of increased storm flooding, including movement of people and infrastructure. Most communities have barely begun to think about this, but it could cause tremendous adjustments to coastal areas.