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A Week of Firsts: new MIT pavement research and rain on a Greenland ice cap

The Clim8

08.15.21-08.21.21

Photo Credit: Jim Wilson via The New York Times

Alaskan court blocks mass drilling operation (NY Times)

This operation, pioneered by oil giant ConocoPhillips and commonly known as “Willow,” was approved by the Trump administration and legally backed by the Biden administration. Environmental groups sued, citing the potential damage that the drilling could have on Alaskan wildlife and that the burning of the oil would have on global warming. The Biden administration’s decision to not object to the plan was an extremely controversial one, as it had previously pledged a commitment to combating climate change.


Read Judge Sharon L. Gleason’s opinion here.

Photo Credit: via UN News

Rising food insecurity rates in Madagascar (UN News)

In recent years, climate change has led to extreme droughts, sandstorms, and crop failures across Madagascar. These phenomena have driven millions of people across the nation to hunger. Take a town like Amboasary Atsimo alone, where about 75% of its population is facing severe hunger and 14,000 more are on the brink of famine. In areas significantly affected by sandstorms, their farmlands have been compromised and crops struggle to grow. To quote Issa Sanogo, the UN Resident Coordinator in Madagascar, these communities are “suffering daily from the disastrous consequences of a crisis they did not create.”

Photo Credit: Marlene Jacobsen

Impacts of this summer’s German floods (Climate Change News)

In Germany, a nation rocked by a mass wave of floods just a month ago, debris remains piled high on the streets. Between July 12th and 18th, similar floods swept through neighboring Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In part, the timing of these floods is what made them so dangerous. Often, the worst of the flooding came at night, putting all sleeping at the time at an increased risk. Furthermore, the floods came in the summer months, where -- unlike in the winter months -- reservoir operators are not required to leave space in the chance of heavy rainfall. Thus, when the floods came last month, reservoirs were fuller than ever before for the month of July, and could not handle the excess water volume.

Photo Credit: via MIT News

Research finds pavement material choice can mitigate climate change (MIT News)

Through a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island” effect, surfaces such as pavements can absorb solar radiation and then heat up the cities they are in by releasing that energy back into the air as heat. However, researchers at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub have begun to study a different type of surface, known as a “cool pavement,” which could reflect more solar radiation and emit less heat than normal city pavements.

Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski via Getty Images

Warmer global temperatures causing more high-intensity hurricanes (CNN)

With global temperatures growing warmer, the intensity of hurricanes has also become higher. Jim Kossin, senior scientist with the Climate Service, says that these stronger hurricanes come as a result of “greenhouse warming increas[ing] the maximum wind intensity that tropical cyclones can achieve.” As global temperatures continue to rise, scientists expect for a larger percentage of storms to reach higher hurricane categories.

Photo Credit: Ulrik Pedersen via NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Greenland ice cap experiences rain as a result of higher temperatures (The Guardian)

As the Greenland ice cap experiences rain for the first time on record, the effects of climate change are further revealed. The precipitation occurred “during an exceptionally hot three days in Greenland when temperatures were 18C higher than average in places.” While Greenland experienced melting due to higher temperatures, “carbon emissions from human activities” are particularly at fault.

Photo Credit: via CNS/AFP/Getty Images

UNICEF report finds about a billion children are extremely vulnerable from climate crisis (The Guardian)

A Unicef report launched by youth climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, portrayed the risks and impacts of climate change on children around the world. Unicef’s executive director explained that children are more affected by pollution and food insecurity due to the climate crisis because they require more agricultural resources per unit of body weight compared to adults. The report also points out that the majorly impacted countries contribute to a minority amount of worldwide emissions.

Photo Credit: via Yale Climate Connections

Climate change has led to a concerning increased in the number of extreme weather related deaths (CNN)

The studies found a 74 percent increase in heat related deaths from 1980 to 2016 and a 31 percent increase in extreme cold related deaths since 1990. An environmental epidemiologist explained that death by extreme weather is “sneaky” because it isn’t as physically destructive or noticeable as a hurricane or tsunami. The publishers of these studies hope that heat will no longer be overlooked as a health concern, especially because, in the next 80 years, almost half the world will be vulnerable to heat related illnesses.

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