Weekly Headlines 9/10/21

Study Officially Links Rising Temperatures as the Cause of Polar Vortices (Science, AP, Bloomberg, The Conversation)

  • A study published this week in Science has finally shown how Climate Change is responsible for Polar Vortices, such as the one that killed over 150 people in Texas this past February.

  • As the Arctic warms up, its climate is rapidly destabilizing. The Polar Vortex, a complex pattern of winds and energy transfer, is usually responsible for keeping cold air above the arctic. However, it sometimes shifts and stretches further South, bringing the cold air with it.

  • These Southern ventures by the Polar Vortex have more than doubled since the 1980’s and are driven by rapid warming within the Arctic itself.

Over 300 Oil Spills Reported in the Gulf of Mexico Following Hurricane Ida (New York Times, EcoWatch, NPR)

  • As of Monday September 6th, the U.S Coast Guard is investigating over 300 oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, including a 10 mile long spill off the coast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana.

  • The spill, about 2 miles off the Louisiana coast, was most likely caused by a pipeline along the ocean floor belonging to Talos Energy.

  • Talos Energy has stated that the pipeline is not theirs, but they are paying for the overall cleanup of the spill.

Study finds that US Solar Industry can Provide 40% of Electricity by 2030 (Boston Globe, Reuters, CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal)

  • A new report by the DOE has found that the solar industry can grow to provide 40% of all the United States’ electricity by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

  • This number coincides with the Biden administration’s goals. A key takeaway from the study is that not only is this transition possible, but that it is affordable. The economic benefit of a transition like this would be an estimated $1.7 trillion, mostly from job creation and reduced health costs associated with air pollution.

  • Achieving this goal will require solar friendly policy from the government, as well as a small amount of government funding.

World’s Largest Carbon Capture Plant Begins Operation in Iceland (Washington Post, Gizmodo, Reuters)

  • The world’s largest carbon capture facility, built by Swiss company Climeworks, has begun operation in Iceland and increased our ability to suck carbon out of the atmosphere by 40%.

  • Carbon Capture works by drawing carbon out of the air and essentially burying it deep below ground.

  • This plant, dubbed Orca, runs fully on geothermal electricity which makes it entirely emissions free.

Ida Causes Chaos in Northeast with Unprecedented Rainfall (AP, New York Times, Gizmodo, Climate Signals)

  • Ida dropped 3-4 inches of rain per hour along the East Coast from Pennsylvania to Connecticut this past week, creating dangerous conditions for the unprepared region.

  • There were more than 45 confirmed deaths before Labor Day weekend, with many people drowning in their cars, homes or basement apartments.

  • Climate Change has continued to make extreme weather events like this much more common. The warming temperatures allow air to hold more water molecules and add energy to storm systems, often resulting in freak storms such as Ida.

Research finds Warm Blooded Animals “Shape Shift” in Response to Climate Change (The Guardian, CNN, Smithsonian Magazine)

  • A recent study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution has found that in response to warming climates, warm blooded animals (including birds, mice, rabbits and bats) are growing larger appendages (like bills, ears & tails).

  • Appendage size helps the animals regulate their body temperature, which is crucial to survival as the climate warms.

  • Researchers say that it is difficult to pinpoint climate change as the sole cause of this shift but it was a consistent factor in the geographic areas the study focused on.

  • Researchers reiterated that these shifts do not indicate that these animals are coping with climate change, simply that they are evolving to survive.

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