President Biden takes climate action on his first day in office (Scientific American)
On the first day of Biden’s presidency, he made plans to rejoin the Paris Climate agreement; the US will officially rejoin the agreement on February 19th. Biden also pulled a permit for a controversial oil pipeline set to be built under the Trump administration and has promised to reevaluate a wide array of the previous administrations regulations that supported industries with high emission rates.
Why we should stop burning biomass (The New Yorker)
Scientists and studies advise people to stop burning materials considered biomass because of the large amount of carbon that processes such as wood combustion produces. McKibben’s article also brings to light the Break Free from Plastic Pollution act, a piece of legislation that could help reduce the use one of the most harmful and visible pollutants in the world.
Elon Musk creates carbon capture prize (NBC News)
Elon Musk pledges to donate a $100 million prize to the creators of the best carbon capture technology as an incentive for innovation targeted at reducing global carbon emissions. He’s announced on twitter that more details about his donations will surface next week.
Reducing air pollution will save thousands of lives (The Guardian)
Each year over seven million people die due to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Illnesses connected with air pollution are often spread in cities where crowds gather. Europe contains a number of highly populated cities, and adhering to the WHO’s advised level of air pollution can prevent over 50,000 annual deaths for the continent.
Amazon produced 465 million pounds of plastic waste in 2019 (Now This)
With seven billion annual packages, Amazon is responsible for roughly 22.4 million pounds of plastic waste pollution in freshwater and marine ecosystems in 2019, according to a report by Oceana. The study calculated that the company’s plastic air pillow waste alone the seven billion Amazon packages delivered each year could wrap the earth over 500 times. While the company has pledged to reduce plastic use and move towards a more eco-friendly path of production, the report states that the damage already done is irreversible.
Microplastics discovered in human placentas (Now This)
Researchers in Rome analyzed the placentas of four women who had normal pregnancies and births under a plastic-free protocol. For the first time on record, microplastic particles, which were small enough to flow through the bloodstream, were found in human placentas. The researchers only examined 4% of the placenta, and say additional research is necessary to gather information on how placental microplastics could affect the fetus.
The adaptation plans necessary for our “New Climate Reality” (UN News)
The United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) recently-published, annual Adaptation Gap Report reveals the urgency countries need to act with in order to combat climate change. Even if the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement are met, certain countries will still face extreme effects and damage as a result of increasing temperatures. It has been estimated that countries will need to put hundreds of billions of dollars (upwards of $500 billion by 2050) towards “adaptation plans:” commitments to decreasing the impact of climate change on more vulnerable countries by increasing the funding for renewable and nature-based solutions.
Global rain patterns are shifting (CBS News)
A new study, conducted by the “Nature Climate Change” journal, found that over the next few decades Earth’s tropical rain belt will shift drastically, putting billions of lives at risk. In the tropical rain belt (also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ), strong warmth and winds converge to create an area of intense rainfall and humidity. The belt is expected to shift to cover almost two thirds of the globe, raising fears of unprecedented flooding and food insecurity for much of the world’s population, especially impacting those in Africa and Asia.