Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘This Is the Video Future Generations Will Be Wishing Everyone Watched Today’

Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio has advocated for a number of worthy causes, from fighting climate change to the importance of conservation. Now, with a single tweet, the planetary steward shines a light on the colossal environmental impact of animal agriculture. In his tweet, DiCaprio included a link to a stunning video from Mercy For Animals, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals, and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.

“This is the video future generations will be wishing everyone watched today.” via

The 4-minute clip, with the tag-line “This is the video future generations will be wishing everyone watched today,” starts by showing the awe-inspiring, grandeur of our living, breathing planet Earth as well as its incredibly vast biodiversity. It then turns dark as footage rolls of crumbling glaciers and disappearing coastlines, and links these global catastrophes to mankind’s insatiable appetite for meat. The video points out that animal agriculture and meat consumption is the number one cause of environmental destruction, species extinction and ocean “dead zones.” The agricultural industry has consumed one-third of all fresh water and has destroyed 91 percent of the Amazon. The video, however, ends on a good note. Its message, “She is our mother, there is only one, she is dying, she can be saved,” urges us all to help save our struggling ecosystems before it’s too late.

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Source: Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘This Is the Video Future Generations Will Be Wishing Everyone Watched Today’

Climate guru James Hansen warns of much worse than expected sea level rise | Environment | The Guardian

The current rate of global warming could raise sea levels by “several meters” over the coming century, rendering most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable and helping unleash devastating storms, according to a paper published by James Hansen, the former Nasa scientist who is considered the father of modern climate change awareness. The research, published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, references past climatic conditions, recent observations and future models to warn the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will contribute to a far worse sea level increase than previously thought. Sea level rise is accelerating; how much it costs is up to us.

Without a sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the global sea level is likely to increase “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years”, the paper states, warning that the Earth’s oceans were six to nine meters higher during the Eemian period – an interglacial phase about 120,000 years ago that was less than 1C warmer than it is today. Global warming of 2C above pre-industrial times – the world is already halfway to this mark – would be “dangerous” and risk submerging cities, the paper said. A separate study, released in February, warned that New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai will be among the cities at risk from flooding by 2100. Hansen’s research, written with 18 international colleagues, warns that humanity would not be able to properly adapt to such changes, although the paper concedes its conclusions “differ fundamentally from existing climate change assessments”. The IPCC has predicted a sea level rise of up to one meter by 2100, if emissions are not constrained. Hansen, and other scientists, have argued the UN body’s assessment is too conservative as it doesn’t factor in the potential disintegration of the polar ice sheets. Hansen’s latest work has proved controversial because it was initially published in draft form last July without undergoing a peer review process. Some scientists have questioned the assumptions made by Hansen and the soaring rate of sea level rise envisioned by his research, which has now been peer-reviewed and published.

read more Source: Climate guru James Hansen warns of much worse than expected sea level rise | Environment | The Guardian

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry | The Nation

Global warming is, in the end, not about the noisy political battles here on the planet’s surface. It actually happens in constant, silent interactions in the atmosphere, where the molecular structure of certain gases traps heat that would otherwise radiate back out to space. If you get the chemistry wrong, it doesn’t matter how many landmark climate agreements you sign or how many speeches you give. And it appears the United States may have gotten the chemistry wrong. Really wrong. There’s one greenhouse gas everyone knows about: carbon dioxide, which is what you get when you burn fossil fuels. We talk about a “price on carbon” or argue about a carbon tax; our leaders boast about modest “carbon reductions.” But in the last few weeks, CO2’s nasty little brother has gotten some serious press. Meet methane, otherwise known as CH4. In February, Harvard researchers published an explosive paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Using satellite data and ground observations, they concluded that the nation as a whole is leaking methane in massive quantities. Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere. To the extent our leaders have cared about climate change, they’ve fixed on CO2. Partly as a result, coal-fired power plants have begun to close across the country. They’ve been replaced mostly with ones that burn natural gas, which is primarily composed of methane. Because burning natural gas releases significantly less carbon dioxide than burning coal, CO2 emissions have begun to trend slowly downward, allowing politicians to take a bow. But this new Harvard data, which comes on the heels of other aerial surveys showing big methane leakage, suggests that our new natural-gas infrastructure has been bleeding methane into the atmosphere in record quantities. And molecule for molecule, this unburned methane is much, much more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. The EPA insisted this wasn’t happening, that methane was on the decline just like CO2. But it turns out, as some scientists have been insisting for years, the EPA was wrong. Really wrong. This error is the rough equivalent of the New York Stock Exchange announcing tomorrow that the Dow Jones isn’t really at 17,000: Its computer program has been making a mistake, and your index fund actually stands at 11,000. These leaks are big enough to wipe out a large share of the gains from the Obama administration’s work on climate change—all those closed coal mines and fuel-efficient cars. In fact, it’s even possible that America’s contribution to global warming increased during the Obama years. The methane story is utterly at odds with what we’ve been telling ourselves, not to mention what we’ve been telling the rest of the planet. It undercuts the promises we made at the climate talks in Paris. It’s a disaster—and one that seems set to spread.

Read more here: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry | The Nation

We had all better hope these scientists are wrong about the planet’s future – The Washington Post

An influential group of scientists led by James Hansen, the former NASA scientist often credited with having drawn the first major attention to climate change in 1988 congressional testimony, has published a dire climate study that suggests the impact of global warming will be quicker and more catastrophic than generally envisioned. The research invokes collapsing ice sheets, violent megastorms and even the hurling of boulders by giant waves in its quest to suggest that even 2 degrees Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels would be far too much. Hansen has called it the most important work he has ever done. The sweeping paper, 52 pages in length and with 19 authors, draws on evidence from ancient climate change or “paleo-climatology,” as well as climate experiments using computer models and some modern observations. Calling it a “paper” really isn’t quite right — it’s actually a synthesis of a wide range of old, and new, evidence. [The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future] “I think almost everybody who’s really familiar with both paleo and modern is now very concerned that we are approaching, if we have not passed, the points at which we have locked in really big changes for young people and future generations,” Hansen said in an interview. The research, appearing Tuesday in the open-access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, has had a long and controversial path to life, having first appeared as a “discussion paper” in the same journal, subject to live, online peer review — a novel but increasingly influential form of scientific publishing. Hansen first told the press about the research last summer, before this process was completed, leading to criticism from some journalists and also fellow scientists that he might be jumping the gun. Humans’ staggering effect on Earth View Photos Images of consumption are the theme of the book, “Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot.” It addresses environmental deterioration through subjects including materialism, consumption, pollution, fossil fuels and carbon footprints. What ensued was a high-profile debate, both because of the dramatic claims and Hansen’s formidable reputation. And his numerous co-authors, including Greenland and Antarctic ice experts and a leader of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were nothing to be sniffed at. After record downloads for the study and an intense public review process, a revised version of the paper has now been accepted, according to both Hansen and Barbara Ferreira, media and communications manager for the European Geophysical Union, which publishes Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Indeed, the article is now freely readable on the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics website.

read more here…

Source: We had all better hope these scientists are wrong about the planet’s future – The Washington Post

for Hansen et al’s original article, go here:

http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/16/3761/2016/acp-16-3761-2016-discussion.html

Biologist says we need to make half the Earth a wildlife reserve to stave off extinction | Public Radio International

President Barack Obama last month designated three new national monuments in the California desert: Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains. All in all, the new monuments protect nearly two million acres of sand dunes, lava flows, snow-capped peaks and Native American trading routes. Player utilities PopoutShare 00:0000:00 download Listen to the Story. But if you add it all up, the tally of protected land in the US is still only about 14 percent; worldwide, it’s about the same. And that, argues Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson, isn’t nearly enough to stave off another mass extinction of the world’s biodiversity. If we want to preserve our wildlife, Wilson says, we need to set aside at least half of the world’s lands and seas.  “At one half,” Wilson says, “we are now very roughly in a position of moving the extinction rate … down to 10-20 percent over what’s going to happen if we leave it alone.” Wilson argues that setting aside half of the Earth for preservation is not as difficult as it sounds.

Source: Biologist says we need to make half the Earth a wildlife reserve to stave off extinction | Public Radio International

Drugs, Dams, and Power: The Murder of Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres

EARLY IN THE MORNING on March 3, in La Esperanza, Honduras, unidentified men broke into the home of the environmental activist Berta Cáceres and murdered her. Cáceres was the cofounder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Movements of Honduras (COPINH) and the 2015 winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, and her murder has prompted an international outcry as well as investigations supported by the United Nations and the FBI. The Mexican environmental activist Gustavo Castro, who was staying in Cáceres’s home in hopes of deterring violence against her, witnessed the murder and was subsequently detained by Honduran authorities. Amnesty International has warned that Castro, who was shot twice in the attack, is in “grave danger.”Cáceres’s activism spanned several issues, including indigenous rights, feminism, LGBT rights, and environmentalism, but recently, “more than anything,” her sister Agustina Flores told me, “it was Agua Zarca,” a proposed hydroelectric dam project, which was to be built on the territory of the indigenous Lenca people. Flores, a retired teacher, says that Cáceres had received repeated death threats related to her work. The threats were so serious in recent months that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights repeatedly called on the Honduran government to provide her with protection. Her sister said that protection was never provided. “We have feared for her life for a long time,” Flores said in a telephone interview, adding that in November, Cáceres told her she was being “seriously harassed” by three local politicians who she believed were acting at the behest of Desarrollos Energéticos, SA (DESA), the private energy company behind the Agua Zarca dam.DESA is partially controlled by the controversial Honduran Atala family, whose members are involved in a variety of business ventures and suspected by many of having backed the 2009 coup. Best known among them is billionaire Camilo Atala, president of Banco Ficohsa, a regional bank that in 2014 acquired most of Citibank’s assets in the region, making it the largest bank in Honduras.

Source: Drugs, Dams, and Power: The Murder of Honduran Activist Berta Cáceres

Welcome to the climate emergency: you’re about 20 years late | Graham Readfearn | Environment | The Guardian

CO2 is still building upThe vast majority of the extra carbon dioxide and heat being added into the Earth’s biosphere ends up in the oceans, where heat has been building up since the early 1970s.What the ocean doesn’t take up, is left to accumulate in the atmosphere.There are two long-term records of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, measures as parts of CO2 per million parts of the atmosphere (ppm).Instruments at Mauna Loa in Hawaii have been showing the accumulation of CO2 since the 1950s.Last year though saw the biggest jump ever since records started. CO2 is now above 400ppm there.Australia holds the other long-term record of CO2 in the atmosphere – taken at the aptly-named Cape Grim, in Tasmania.Here, the very latest readings for February 2016 show CO2 at 398.71ppm. At some point in the coming months, the Cape Grim data will also tip above 400 ppm.If you want records, then these readings in Hawaii and Tasmania have been breaking them pretty much year on year for decades.

Source: Welcome to the climate emergency: you’re about 20 years late | Graham Readfearn | Environment | The Guardian