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Study Finds Climate Change And Fake Weather Could Make Winter Olympics Dangerous

As the world’s climate continues to shift, the historic winter competition could be at risk. According to a new study, climate change is making conditions much more dangerous for Winter Olympic athletes and participants.

The study — released Tuesday — was written by researchers from the Sport Ecology Group at Loughborough University in London and Protect Our Winters UK, an environmental group.

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Beijing, the host of this year’s games that are set to kick off in nine days, will be using over 100 snow generators and 300 snow guns. It will be the first Winter Olympics to on virtually 100% artificial snow, which the study showed is a significant issue.

“This is not only energy and water-intensive, frequently using chemicals to slow melt, but also delivers a surface that many competitors say is unpredictable and potentially dangerous.”

“Navigating erratic snow seasons and rapid melt of low level resorts are now the norm for many competitors,” the report somberly stated.

Scottish freestyle skier Laura Donaldson explained in the press release that if freestyle super pipes are formed in poor winter conditions from snow-making machines, the walls of the ice are composed of solid, vertical ice, as is the pipe floor. “This is dangerous for athletes, some have died,” she said.

Another study by the University of Waterloo found that climate change is threatening potential future Olympic Game hosts because their locations would be too warm. If the world’s emission rates continue their current course, only one of the previous 21 host cities by the 2080s — Sapporo, Japan — would have the right conditions to host again.

In a low emission future that’s consistent with a successful Paris Agreement, meanwhile, 13 of the 21 cities could host by the 2050s, and 12 by the 2080s. When it comes to “climate sustainability,” Chaminx is deemed “high-risk” along with venues in France, Norway and Austria, while Vancouver, Sochi, and Squaw Valley in the U.S. are “unreliable.”

The risks to athletes are extremely apparent. The study notes that injury rates are higher in winter versus summer Games, while the last three winter Games — PyeongChang, Sochi, and Vancouver — possessed the highest incidence rates recorded among alpine skiing, snowboarding, and freestyle athletes.

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There are other impacts beyond the athletes’ health at play, as the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) notes. The water used for snow making has been reportedly taken away from local residents and farmers, while the artificial snow can cause erosion, landslides, and harm vegetation, adding onto the longer-term impact of building ski slopes in natural landscapes.

Biologists also raised concerns after planned ski runs were going to run through Songshan Nature Reserve, a protect forest ecosystem in Beijing. Damage could continue to be done if the venues are used long after the games finish.

The country has made some moves to produce sustainability. The games will have natural CO2 refrigeration systems in most of Beijing’s ice venues in an effort to decrease carbon footprints.

Organizers have also tried to ensure that water demand will have minimal effect on supply, and that the water needed for the Yanqing zone — where alpine skiing and sliding will occur — will account for just 1.6% of the water used in the area.

New Climate Data Shows Last 7 Years Have Been Warmest On Record For Earth

According to a new analysis from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, the last seven years have been the warmest on record for planet Earth. The Climate Change Service tracks global temperature changes and other climate change indicators as well. 

The analysis also found that Earth’s temperature is continuing to rise due to heat-trapping fossil fuel emissions, and 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record. 

Freja Vamborg, a senior scientist at Copernicus, said that while global temperatures are always expected to fluctuate due to large-scale weather and ocean patterns, – such as El Niño and La Niña – the larger issue of climate change and its impact on annual temperature changes is not to be taken lightly. 

“The really important thing is to not get hung up on the ranking of one particular year but rather kind of see the bigger picture of ever-warming temperatures, and that ever-warming doesn’t mean every year will be warmer than the next. But that was what we’ve seen so far with every decade warmer than the next — and this is quite likely to continue.”

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Copernicus reported that Earth’s average temperature is currently 1.1 degrees Celsius above average pre-industrial levels. Scientists have warned that Earth will feel the worst impacts of climate change if that threshold hits the 1.5 degree Celsius mark.

Kim Cobb, director of the Global Change Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said a “warming of 1.1 degrees Celsius is a conservative estimate.”

“It is very fair to say that 1.1 degrees Celsius is conservative, because the last half of the last decade has been warmer than the first half,” Cobb explained. 

Back in 2015 world leaders agreed that Earth’s temperature must remain under 2 degrees Celsius when compared to pre-industrial levels, with a preferred goal of not exceeding 1.5 degrees. While that level of temperature change may seem small, NASA scientists explained it’s similar to how a 1 or 2 degree increase in our internal body temperature can cause a fever.

Cobb explained that even though “we’ve just barely crossed the 1 degree threshold for warming, we are still reeling from a near-constant series of weather and climate extremes. With rare exceptions, these extremes can now be definitively linked to human-caused warming. Going forward, we should expect the frequency and severity of such extremes to increase, exacting an enormous toll on societies around the world.”

Copernicus also reported how almost every “corner” of the world felt the effects of climate change in 2021. Rain fell for at the summit of Greenland for the first time ever on record, and droughts throughout the Western US have caused a multitude of wildfires and water shortages. Several regions of the world also experienced above average temperatures last year. 

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Last summer in Europe was the warmest on record, and the continent also experienced its share of natural disasters such as flooding in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well as wildfires. 

Experts have continued to warn the world about global greenhouse gas emissions, as it’s currently expected that by 2030 emissions will be roughly twice as high as what’s necessary to prevent the planet from warming to that 1.5 degree mark. 

In 2021, emissions from methane, a greenhouse gas that’s about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, rose substantially. 

Vamborg stated that the report should serve as a reminder to the world that the rise in greenhouse gas emissions is “what fuels the planet’s rapid warming. The global temperature curve will continue to grow as we continue to emit greenhouse gases.”

Cobb explained how humanity still can stop the planet from crossing the 1.5 degree mark. “Choosing to limit fossil fuel emissions to that point could potentially cool the planet in the second half of this century.” 

“The idea that we might live to see a reversal of global warming is inspiring, as generations that have witnessed decade after decade of warming. It’s a future worth fighting for, and bringing to life, one energy choice at a time.”

Democrats Expected To Pass Biden’s $1.75 Trillion Climate And Social Spending Package This Week 

House Democrats are quickly trying to pass President Biden’s $1.75 trillion social and climate spending package this week. The package would give democrats a head start at making infrastructural changes before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The package has been extensively debated all summer and fall, mainly over the contents of the package and wear specific money will be allocated to. 

Democrats currently feel like they’re on the verge of a huge milestone in the House, where the passage of this package would be seen as a huge victory for the party. House moderate holdouts have promised to support the bill when it’s brought to the floor this week. 

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This Monday, Biden will be signing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill as well, so the administration in general is gearing up for pushback, and to get moving on the actual plans within the bills. 

Despite the possibility of new drama in the Senate, we’re confident Congress can send the package to Biden’s desk by the end of the year. I think we’ll get it passed before Christmas,” one senior Democrat, G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Biden and the democratic party in general have been under fire for a recent slew of economic changes, such as general inflation, labor shortages, and a supply chain “clog” that’s preventing our retail markets from thriving. These issues in combination with the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a lot of disagreements among our leaders. 

“Democrats need to reassess their strategy. We need to have legislation that actually, forcefully delivers for working people,”  said progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). 

Moderate Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is supportive of several key elements of the Biden package, such as “tackling climate change, extending the child tax credit and lowering prescription drug prices, but Democrats have failed to explain how the legislation will help struggling American families.”   

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“People are busy, they have jobs, they have lives, they have worries, they have kids, they have joys. If someone turns on the news and [hears] ‘We really need to make these major investments in human infrastructure,’ and they say, ‘There they go again. What the heck are those Democrats doing?’” 

“Now, if we’re saying, ‘I want to invest in the next generation of America’s children, and I want to do it by ensuring every kid goes to pre-K’ — like, that’s a different discussion, right?”  Spanberger stated. 

“I think this bill will make it over the finish line, but ultimately, this bill may not be identical to what we pass in the House when it does make it over the finish line.” 

Government officials also emphasized that the cost of not passing this bill will be much greater for lower to middle class Americans, who will be forced to deal with inflated costs for their everyday needs. 

“If we don’t act on Build Back Better … we won’t be able to cut child care costs. … We won’t be able to make preschool free for many families starting in 2022, saving many families $8,600. We won’t be able to get ahead of skyrocketing housing costs … and we won’t be able to save Americans thousands of dollars by negotiating prescription drug prices,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. 

“So our view is this makes a strong case for moving forward with this agenda. Because what we’re really talking about is the cost to American families.”

United Nations Reports Record High Greenhouse Gas Levels Throughout World 

The United Nations announced this week that greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere hit record levels in 2020, and the world is “way off track on capping rising temperatures.”

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report that showed carbon dioxide levels surged to 413.2 parts per million in 2020, which shows an exponential rise in the rate of emissions last year when compared to the rest of the decade. There was, however, a temporary decline in emissions during the initial phase of Covid-19 lockdowns. 

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said “the current rate of increase in heat-trapping gases would result in temperature rises far in excess of the 2015 Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average this century.

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“We are way off track. We need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life. We need a dramatic increase in commitments from our world’s nations.”

Glasgow, Scotland hosted the climate talks where the UN met to discuss capping the global warming rates on Earth at the 1.5-2 degrees Celsius upper limit originally set out in the Paris Agreement. 

“It is going to be very, very tough this summit. I am very worried because it might go wrong and we might not get the agreements that we need and it is touch and go, it is very, very difficult, but I think it can be done,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a news conference.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia claimed that the nation will be aiming to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2060, adding that they also plan on doubling emission cuts within the next decade alone. 

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The nation of Ottawa offered an official plan where they would have developed nations donate up to $100 billion a year to poorer countries to tackle climate change by 2023. This plan calls on more developed nations to put in more effort when it comes to helping poorer nations. 

According to a poll performed by Reuters, economists found that hitting the Paris Agreement goal of net-zero carbon emissions will require more investments from richer countries. If the world continues on as it is, the average global temperature will increase by “1.6C, 2.4C and 4.4C by 2030, 2050 and 2100 respectively, which would also result in 2.4% lost output by 2030, 10% by 2050 and 18% by 2100,” according to the median replies to the poll.

In London, climate activists are taking action into their own hands by blockading major roads and disrupting traffic in the city’s financial district; similar protests are occuring all throughout Europe as well. 

“Greenhouse gas emissions are provoking climate catastrophes all over the planet. We don’t have time. It’s already late and if we don’t join the action against what’s happening, we won’t have time to save what is still left,” said Alberto, 27, a sociologist who took part in a sit-in protest in Madrid which blocked off one of the largest shopping streets in the city.

How The Real Estate Industry Is Working To Combat Climate Change

Real estate accounts for nearly 40% of the energy-related carbon emissions in the world. Investors are now focusing on cutting emissions to net zero by refurbishing old properties and avoiding new projects.

California Wildfires Growing At Rapid Pace, National Forests Close As A Result 

Millions of acres of national forest space in Northern California are being closed due to dangerous conditions created by wildfires that have already destroyed hundreds of homes. The US Forest Service announced this week that it would be closing nine national forests stretching from Lake Tahoe to the Six Rivers National Forest. 

The Eldorado National Forest has already been closed due to the Caldor Fire which greatly damaged over 100 square miles of land. In two days the wildfires in California have grown 10 times their original size. 

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25,000 Californians are currently under evacuation orders due to the fires as well. More than 650 firefighters and 13 helicopters were recently battling a deadly blaze near Lake Tahoe.

“The hope is with the additional resources and personnel on scene, we can really start to build that box around this fire and start the containment,” said Keith Wade of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“The fire wants us bad because it’s made every attempt it can to get out of that canyon and up this way,” Thurman said. “So they keep beating it down. And it’s just … it’s resilient, it’s stubborn, it won’t go away. That’s all we can do,” said Thurman Conroy and his wife, Michele, who stayed behind to protect their house and their business, Conroy General Store. 

Evacuees from the Caldor fire found refuge in places like the Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, where a multitude of tents and trailers have been set up. Over a dozen fires have been threatening thousands of homes, and the recent heat waves in America have forced small communities to evacuate into safer spaces away from the fire’s path. 

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More than 10,000 firefighters have been deployed throughout the state to minimize the damage. Authorities claim the Dixie Fire, which began on July 13th in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades area, has spread over 1,060 square miles and has only been 35% contained. 

The fire completely gutted the town of Greenville two weeks ago, destroying over 1,200 buildings, including 649 homes, according to ongoing damage assessments from the state. 

So far no deaths have been reported in these fires but a handful of injuries have come up. One small but destructive fire completely burned through a mobile home park, destroying about 50 homes. 

Climate change in general has made the West coast much warmer and drier within the past couple of decades, which makes it much easier for these fires to start and spread uncontrollably. Scientists claim the weather will only continue to become more destructive as climate change continues to worsen and be ignored by our government. 

The US Forest Service has contacted Canada, Mexico, and Australia for wildfire assistance, however, all of their services are currently being occupied by their own climate disasters and wildfires.

This Company Is Using New Technology With Nature To Combat Excessive AC Use

The heat waves in the US have become more and more common as climate change has worsened in recent years. SkyCool Systems is a relatively new company attempting to combat the harmful greenhouse gases emitted from excessive air conditioning use throughout the country through new technology. 

“Our planet naturally cools itself by sending heat out in the form of infrared light or radiation. We’re using that effect to essentially radiate heat out during the day and at night, even under direct sunlight.” 

Eli Goldstein is SkyCool’s co-founder and CEO who explained that this process is known as radiative cooling. SkyCool uses rooftop panels made using nanotechnology and optical film that radiates infrared light and cools itself in the process. 

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According to the company these panels work in the opposite way that traditional solar panels do by reflecting about 97% of the sunlight that hits them, and cooling the surface below. 

The SkyCool model involves an embedded network of pipes that are below the panels. These pipes are filled with water that’s kept cool by the panels and then can flow into a refrigeration or air conditioning system. The goal is to take pressure off the AC or fridge cooling systems which can use a lot of energy. 

The panels also cool themselves naturally and don’t require any external power to function, which helps the entire house use less electricity during times of extreme heat. 

Jesus Valenzuela is the store manager at a grocery outlet store in Stockton, California which recently adopted the SkyCool system technology. 

“After we had our SkyCool system installed, our electricity company increased their rates on us. We actually didn’t see our bill go up at all. In fact, we saw it go just a little bit down. I estimate that the panels have saved the store roughly $3,000 a month.”

Goldstein’s co-founder and UCLA professor Aaswath Raman is one of many scientists who have been researching the benefits of radiative cooling for years now. Raman is an expert in the field who claims that while several similar solutions have appeared in recent years, there have also been challenges, like how well the technology works without sunlight. 

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“Our technology works best in hot, dry climates where the sky is clear, so when you have clouds, that blocks that radiative cooling window. In the same way that [carbon dioxide] blocks light and sort of has that heat trapping effect, water vapor also will block infrared light.”

“The biggest obstacle to making the technology ubiquitous is its relatively high cost. Most radiative cooling solutions suffer from a high manufacturing cost and large-scale production limits,” researchers at China’s Fudan University wrote in a paper published in the journal Nature.

Goldstein claims that SkyCool’s panels do cost more than solar panels, but didn’t disclose the actual cost. 

“New technologies like radiative cooling are often more expensive. People are very sensitive to first cost, and so that is another barrier to getting new things out there.”

“Much of that is because of low production volumes. Scaling up production could help bring the cost down, particularly for developing countries in Asia and Africa where we hope to eventually expand. For now, we’re focused on commercial applications of the technology, though we hope to start installing panels on the roofs of individual homes.”

“We’re just excited to be able to use this new technology for good,” Goldstein said.

Bottled Water

Bottled Water Impacts The Environment ‘3,500 Times Greater Than Tap Water,’ Research Shows 

Scientists have found that the impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water. 

The research specifically examined the impact of bottled water in Barcelona, where the demand for single-use bottled water has increased in popularity in recent years despite the city’s improvements to their tap water quality. 

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The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that if the city’s entire population drank bottled water, the city would be paying 3,500 times more on resource extraction than if they all drank tap water; it costs about $83.9 million a year. 

The impact of bottled water on ecosystems is also 1,400 greater than tap water. 

The lead author of the study, the ISGlobal researcher Cristina Villanueva, said: “Health reasons don’t justify the wide use of bottled water. Yes, strictly speaking, drinking tap water is worse for local health, but when you weigh both, what you gain from drinking bottled water is minimal. 

“It’s quite obvious that the environmental impacts of bottled water are higher compared to tap water.”

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In the US, about 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce the plastic needed to meet the annual bottled water demand. Bottled water in the UK is also 500 times more expensive than tap water. 

“I think this study can help to reduce bottled water consumption, but we need more active policies to change that.”

“For example, in Barcelona, we could have more education campaigns to make the public aware that the health gains from drinking bottled water are minor compared to the environmental impacts. We need to improve access to public water, to public fountains, to public buildings where you can bring your own bottle and don’t need to buy one,” Villanueva explained. 

“We need to facilitate access to public water in public streets. People trust bottled water because advertisers have done a good job of convincing people it’s a good option, so we need the effort on the other side.”

Wildfires

 California Sheriff’s Office Issues Intense Wildfire Warning For Northern Residents

Thousands of residents in Northern California were forced to evacuate their homes this week as US Fire officials continue to fight around 96 large and active fires raging through 2 million acres of forest land. 

The River Fire is what officials are calling the fire that has now raged in Nevada and Placer counties in California. An estimated 40 building structures have been damaged or completely destroyed since Wednesday, when the fires initially began. CalFire Deputy Chief Jim Hudson claimed that the fire has already torn through 1,400 acres of land and was uncontainable Wednesday evening. 

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Nearly 2,400 residents are under evacuation in Placer County alone, and in Nevada County 4,200 residents have now been placed under an evacuation order, according to Sheriff Shannan Moon. 

California’s largest active wildfire — the Dixie Fire — has already torn through Greenville, a town in Plumas County, also in the state’s northern region. “The Dixie Fire pushed into Greenville Wednesday and early indications are there has been significant damage,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesman Brian Ferguson said. 

“Right now, there are still a lot of people unfortunately in Greenville that did not evacuate. And so, we are having to deal with that … and get all those folks out,” said Jake Cagle, the operations sections chief for California’s Incident Management Team.

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Currently there are 11 large active fires throughout California and over 420,000 acres of land have been destroyed. Wildfires throughout the US have been fueled by extreme drought, global warming, and low humidity. 

The US Forest Service recently announced it will no longer be using the “let it burn” strategy when it comes to wildfires. Even Governor Gavin Newsom recently spoke out against this strategy in a call to President Joe Biden where he claimed the Forest Service has “a culture that too often is wait and see.”

“We need your help to change the culture in terms of the suppression strategies in this climate literally and figuratively to be more aggressive on these federal fires,” Newsom told Biden.

“The 2021 fire year is different from any before. In short, we are in a national crisis. At times like these, we must anchor to our core values, particularly safety,” said US Forest Service Fire Chief Randy Moore.

“We are in a ‘triage mode’ where our primary focus must be on fires that threaten communities and infrastructure. There is a finite amount of firefighting resources available that must be prioritized and fires will not always get the resources that might be requested,” Moore wrote. 

Climate

Climate Emergency Scientists Claim The Earth Is In Dire Need Of Our Help 

The Covid-19 pandemic initially helped combat climate change in America due to the lack of human activity in major metropolitans, where things like pollution are common. Now, climate scientists are warning that the climate crisis has worsened exponentially within the past decade, and this year was no different. 

In November of 2019, an article co-signed by over 11,000 scientists was published in a journal that declared a global climate emergency. This Tuesday, the same journal released an update in which they claimed a few improvements have been made to our environment thanks to the pandemic, but ultimately much more systemic work needs to be done if we want to see a real change in our planet’s health. 

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“A major lesson from COVID-19 is that even colossally decreased transportation and consumption are not nearly enough and that, instead, transformational system changes are required, and they must rise above politics.” 

“Given the impacts we are seeing at roughly 1.25 degrees Celsius (°C) warming, combined with the many reinforcing feedback loops and potential tipping points, massive-scale climate action is urgently needed,” the article reads.

Ecology professor William Ripple and forest ecosystem researcher Christopher Wold were some of the lead authors on the article update, and they cited catastrophic flooding, wildfires, and record-breaking heat waves that have been impacting America. 

The data published shows a Covid-related dip in air travel led to a decrease in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, however, record levels of methane and carbon dioxide were still recorded in the atmosphere, which has increased acidification in the Earth’s oceans, and led to the melting of major ice sheets. 

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“Global gross domestic product dropped by 3.6% in 2020 but is projected to rebound to an all-time high,” Ripple said in a statement. 

“Likely because of the pandemic, fossil fuel consumption has gone down since 2019, as have carbon dioxide emissions and airline travel levels. All of these are expected to significantly rise with the opening of the economy.

The article update sent a very similar message as its original, calling on the government for an elimination of fossil fuels, air pollutants, a switch to mostly plant-based diets, a more sustainable economy, and a means of stabilizing the human population. 

“As long as humanity’s pressure on the Earth system continues, attempted remedies will only redistribute the pressure. But by halting the unsustainable exploitation of natural habitats, we can reduce zoonotic disease transmission risks, protect carbon stocks and conserve biodiversity, all at the same time,”  Wolf said. 

“We need to quickly change how we’re doing things, and new climate policies should be part of COVID-19 recovery plans wherever possible. It’s time for us to join together as a global community with a shared sense of cooperation, urgency and equity.”