German high court ruling, plastic-polluted rivers, and the importance of forests

The Clim8

4.25.21-5.01.21

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In a victory for youth protesters, Germany’s highest court sets plan for net zero emissions by 2050 (NY Times)

The German high court expanded a previous goal of merely reducing emissions by 2030, enforcing a defined timeline and clearer plan. The ruling came after nine youth climate activists challenged Germany's current legislation, claiming that their future years would be at stake should the government not take any more definitive action towards combatting climate change.

Photo Credit: via Phys.org

Rather than absorbing our carbon emissions, the Amazon Rainforest is beginning to release this carbon (Phys)

In a recent study published by the Nature Climate Change journal, it was revealed that over the past decade, Brazil's Amazon Rainforest emitted 20% more carbon dioxide than it absorbed. The study also revealed that deforestation in the region increased by exponential amounts in 2019. If the government fails to enact new climate protection legislation, scientists fear we will soon reach a point of no return, where the Amazon will have permanently become an emission source (rather than a sink).

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UNEP offers suggestions on how to treat the Earth amidst the current “planetary emergency” (UN News)

The UN Environment Programmes report, Making Peace With Nature, highlights the kind of changes needed to stop further destruction of the planet. The report included Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which address climate change, poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation and emphasize creating a sustainable future. Making Peace With Nature also highlighted the need for coordinated action between social and economic systems, the government, and the public. You can watch the UN’s broadcast, “Nations United”, which presents the problems currently plaguing the earth and claims to offer “urgent solutions for urgent times'', here.

Photo Credit: Afrianto Silalahi via Barcroft Media/Getty Images

New research finds that over 1000 rivers carry 80 percent of plastic waste to the ocean (National Geographic)

Scientists previously estimated that just 10 to 20 of the worlds largest rivers carried a majority of the world plastic waste, and cleaning up those rivers would greatly reduce the amount of plastic waste traveling to the ocean. New research shows that there are over 1000 rivers carrying a majority of our plastic waste, most of which are small rivers that run through urban areas. These new findings dampen the impact of river cleanup on the world's largest rivers and complicates current solutions and ideas for stopping the spread of plastic waste. Scientists think that the solution to protecting marine ecosystems will be to contain plastic waste on land.

Photo Credit: via TAE Technologies

Nuclear fusion reactors have the ability to produce large amounts of clean energy (CNBC)

Nuclear fusion is the process by which the sun and other stars create energy. Companies have begun to try developing a way to recreate this type of production of energy but nuclear fusion reactors are costly, heavy, and highly advanced pieces of technology. Recently, a fusion company named TAE Technologies has created their own fusion reaction design and may have a way to create usable energy from this nuclear process. Along with its ability to reach over 50 million degrees Celsius, TAE Technologies, Norman reactor, seems to be simpler to build, and less costly than other existing nuclear fusion reactors. The company hopes to build a new reactor called Copernicus. Copernicus will reach over 100 million degrees Celsius in order to produce net energy, unlike Norman which uses the energy it produces to sustain its reaction.

Photo Credit: via The Guardian

Sacrifices for a better future: Elders and adults urged to combat climate change to protect their children from future strife over resources (The Guardian)

Vice-President of the EU commission, Frans Timmermans, warned that a lack of intermixing between social policy and climate policy will lead to people fearing the loss of jobs of income. A cross over between the two policies would look like a fair distribution of the costs and benefits of establishing a low-carbon economy. Without regulations to prevent discontent and greed, today’s children could face future wars for food and water. Timmermans encourages that older generations make sacrifices now, having one’s house renovated to meet low-carbon standards, consuming less meat or making a charge to electric transport, to help younger generations later.

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The key to the natural world: Forests are at the global forefront of rehabilitating the human relationship with nature (UN News)

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammad declared that the planet is at a “make-or-break moment” in the circumstances of the climate, action against global warming and the lack there-of. Mohammad informed that forests have crucial roles in the natural world, including their function as a protector of fresh water sources and biodiversity. She urged the need for universal aid in protecting forests, as a failure to do so would push rising carbon emissions. Roughly one million species are in danger of going extinct, and a growth of forests by 3% could create a safe environment for biodiversity and protect those who face extinction.

Photo Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast via AP

An immediate reduction of methane emissions could decelerate the effects of climate change by as much as 30 percent (Washington Post)

Methane, a greenhouse gas approximately 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, comes from a number of sources, including the gas produced by livestock and emissions released during the process of extracting fossil fuels. A study determined that a global effort towards reducing the methane in the environment could lower its emissions to half by 2030. New technology is not needed to work towards this goal. The beneficial effects of methane reduction would be preventing dangerous sea level rise, limiting global warming to below two degrees, and averting climate change’s harmful effects on ecosystems.

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