The US and China issue a joint statement saying they will work together to implement climate policy supported by the Paris agreement (Bloomberg Green)
Being one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, China has received criticism and pressure from other nations to take serious action against climate change. Last week, the US and China issued a joint statement supporting the goals of the Paris climate agreement, aiming to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Despite past US China tensions, the joint climate stance brings hope for a promising UN climate conference that is to occur in Glasgow later this year.
The UN Secretary General calls for urban centers and cities to invest in sustainable development (UN News)
Secretary General Guterres explained that cities and urban centers emit a majority of the world's greenhouse gases and also face the greatest risk of being affected by climate change. Guterres urges cities to be at the forefront of the climate action movement and recommends that they use their recovery time from the pandemic to invest in sustainable development. By designing cities more sustainably, converting to cleaner energy, and implementing green infrastructure and transport systems, cities will increase their living standards and help reach net zero emissions by 2050. Finally, Guterres mentioned the importance of phasing out coal as a primary energy source in order to decrease the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The world's remaining intact habitats, making up less than 3 percent of the Earth's land surface, have seen an increase in missing species (Independent)
A new study reveals that damage to species’ habitats across the globe is much more widespread than previously thought. Ecologically intact habitats make up about less than two percent of the Earth’s land surface and many of the most intact regions are managed by indigenous communities that have been key to maintaining ecological integrity of their surroundings. Researchers say it may be possible to increase ecological intactness through the targeted reintroduction of species.
For Earth Day, US government looks to enter crucial climate protection agreements with foreign countries (NY Times)
With Earth Day (April 22nd) fast approaching, the Biden administration is on the verge of finalizing climate agreements with the governments of Japan, South Korea, and Canada. Ultimately, US climate envoy John Kerry aims to prepare for a successful UN meeting this November in Glasgow, where it is expected that the hundreds of countries who have already joined the Paris Agreement will set more ambitious emission goals. However, at the same time, major carbon-emitting nations such as India and China are proving to be difficult for Biden to negotiate with. Especially with recent tense US-China relations, some fear China will not compromise quick enough. Furthermore, in Brazil, the conservative government has also been stubborn when it comes to negotiating preservation efforts for the Amazon rainforest.
Interactive Google Earth feature reveals the visible effects of climate change (Science Alert)
You can now launch a 3D satellite photo time lapse depicting how the Earth has changed over the past 37 years. You can explore the world freely, but the program itself has also generated key highlights (over 800 of them!), such as the retreating Columbia Glacier in Alaska and the shifting Massachusetts coastline.
Check it out for yourself here.
The global elite and lavish lifestyles they lead are major climate change contributors (BBC)
The UN reported that the top 1% of society produce more than double the carbon that the world's lower 50% do. Climate activists hope to discourage these "polluter elite" from driving SUVs and using air travel as frequently and encourage them to outfit their homes with more substantial insulation and solar panels. To add to the carbon emission disparities, wealthy businesses and individuals also hold political clout, and thus fully have the lobbying power to block the passage of much-needed climate reforms.
Read the full report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behavior Change.
What to buy instead of an SUV? Check out a list of the best eco-friendly cars as determined by USA Today.
Global winds carry microplastics through the atmosphere, perpetuating pollution (CNN)
Tiny pieces of plastic from human products, such as bottles and packaging, are floating in the atmosphere, traveling across continents, according to a new study. Data found that as much as 18% of plastic waste ends up in the environment. Those plastics break down into smaller particles that can be picked up by wind and into the air. Researchers collected data from the western United States and determined that 22,000 tons of micro-plastics are released in the U.S. each year. The eventual inhalation of plastic can damage the lungs and their tissue, as well as result in harmful diseases.
Increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases are decimating the environment (The Guardian)
3.6 million years ago, the last time carbon dioxide levels were at the current level, the ocean rose 20 meters higher and current ice plains were covered in forests. Where today coastal cities and tropics are home to human life, then those regions were uninhabitable due to extreme weather and climate. In the past year, methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times as strong as carbon dioxide, had increased levels that rose at a faster rate than any in the past 40 years. The extreme effects of climate change, brought on by the release of greenhouse gases, could once again create a world that is uninhabitable for human life.