National Geographic cartographers recognize the existence of a fifth ocean (National Geographic)
Scientists have long distinguished the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica from the existing four oceans; the body of water surrounding Antarctica is defined by its unique current: the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. National Geographic hopes that this recognition helps conserve and brings attention to the Southern Ocean’s unique marine ecosystems.
Norway plans to continue drilling for oil despite climate concerns (Phys)
Norway is known to be one of Western Europes’ largest oil producers and shows no signs of cutting back on oil production. This position has received international criticism and is compared to neighbor Denmark’s vow to end oil exploitation to help reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Norway claims that its efforts to reduce deforestation and reduce transportation greenhouse gas emissions will help them reach close to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Scientists find that just under half of global plastic litter comes from takeout food and drink (BBC)
After analyzing over 12 million pieces of litter across the globe, scientists found that takeout plastic overwhelmingly contributes to plastic litter. Researchers say that efforts to reduce plastic use must target more than plastic straws and drink stirrers.Journals like Nature Sustainability recommend regulatory bans on plastic use and a switch to more biodegradable materials.
Why we must treat climate change and biodiversity loss as two sides of the same issue (NY Times)
A newly-released report revealed that these two issues are far more interconnected than previously thought, and by only looking at or creating a policy to address just one of them, one misses a big part of the story. Some current measures proposed to address climate change, such as mass reforestation of a certain, singular species of trees, have even been found to hurt attempts at increasing the Earth’s biodiversity.
Climate change beginning to impact retirement plans (CNBC)
As the world warms, the elderly are feeling the effects. Extreme weather events, such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and freezing temperatures, that have increasingly been plaguing certain regions, are forcing soon-to-be retirees to rethink their post-work plans. Rising prices of homeowner’s insurance due to new coverage costs for intense weather are deterring retirees from flocking to certain areas, mainly coastal ones such as Texas and North Carolina.
Global lakes’ oxygen levels rapidly decreasing, putting aquatic species at risk (Smithsonian)
Year by year, our summers have been growing noticeably hotter and longer. These abnormal weather patterns create a bigger temperature disparity in the waters being heated at the surface of our world’s lakes and their cooler, deeper waters. This discrepancy decreases the likelihood of the upper and lower level waters mixing, causing less-frequent introductions of oxygen into the deeper waters. This shift, known as “stratification,” is hurting aquatic species and food webs, both of which rely on dissolved oxygen to exist.
Further reading: Check out this in-depth study on the deoxygenation of our Earth’s lakes.
G7 summit battling two wars: The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the global environment (The Guardian)
The devastating impacts of the pandemic could include the detriment of the planet’s natural state, if global leaders do not act now. New data determined that carbon dioxide is more abundant in the atmosphere than in the past four million years. If the world is to maintain a global heating under 1.5℃, it is crucial that the G7 summit implements and enforces sustainable action as the global population exits the pandemic.
Unexpected change: Early lockdowns of the pandemic led to a significant reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions (NASA)
Nitrogen oxide (NOx) creates ozone, which poses serious risks to both the climate and humans. For example, if inhaled on the ground-level, NOx can cause respiratory damage and health problems for humans. During quarantine, global emissions of NOx decreased by 15% and local reductions were as high as 50%. The data presented examples that the decrease of human activity, as brought about by lockdown, greatly benefitted the state of climate change.