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Two sobering reports on global warming were released last week, warning that the planet is heating up faster than previously forecast. One report is about our “carbon budget”—the amount of carbon we can burn and still have a 50-50 chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which was the goal of the Paris Agreement set in 2015. According to the new study, we may not have as much time as we thought. The British and Austrian authors said that we effectively have just six years to stay within that budget and get to net zero carbon emissions, which is about three years earlier than had been projected.
Hurricane Otis hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast as a ferocious category 5 storm on October 25, 2023, breaking regional records for the strength and speed of its intensification. | Credit: NASA
Humans are making Earth’s air, soil, and fresh water saltier, which poses an existential threat to biodiversity and ecosystem vitality if the trend continues. A study by the University of Maryland shows that mining and land development along with agriculture and road treatments are rapidly accelerating the planet’s natural “salt cycle.” The research described how salinization affected about 2.5 billion acres—about the size of the U.S.—and during the last 50 years has increased in streams and rivers. Additionally, as lakes dry in some regions, plumes of saline dust are sent into the air.
The natural salt cycle is characterized by the uplifting of salts to Earth’s surface and the weathering and transport of salts to the oceans. Humans accelerate these natural processes through mining and resource extraction, which also sends more saline dust into the atmosphere. | Credit: University of Maryland
Ever heard of the food additive brominated vegetable oil or BVO? It’s been an ingredient in sodas and fruit juices for decades but last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed revoking a regulation that had authorized it.
Credit: SMC/Creative Commons
Hope is still alive to avert climate disaster and it might start on your dinner plate. A new study from Stanford University has found that simple swaps in food choices could help cut carbon emissions significantly.
The climate warning label shows an image of a deforested area with factory smoke in the distance and warning text | Credit: Durham University