Many media outlets seized on an opportunity to persuade people into caring about climate change… by relating it to beer.
News dropped that a study by researchers from UC Irvine and other institutions claimed that beer prices could double because of the price of a malted barley. The study, published on Monday in the journal Nature Plants, showed that barley yields would decrease by an average of 17 percent due to climate change. One of the scientists even posted the results to Twitter:
Under higher-warming climate scenarios, we find 100-year drought and heat events occur every 3 years, decreasing barley yields by an average 17% in those years, and increasing the price of a 6-pack in the U.S. by $1-8. Another way climate change will suck. https://t.co/ZK5GhR0gwTpic.twitter.com/hPjL7LgzMV
The subject was even covered by The Daily Show, in which Trevor Noah said, “If you tell American’s in 10 years the Marshall Islands will be underwater, no one cares, but tell them Corona will cost more? Now they’re marching in the streets.”
The use of beer as a talking point on climate change has given the research more attention than it normally would have gotten. Steven J. Davis noted this fact:
Not sure what to make of the fact that in one day our paper on climate and beer has garnered considerably more attention than any of my previous work on energy transitions or even air pollution deaths. https://t.co/BktnKLEFWxhttps://t.co/ZK5GhR0gwT
Google analytics show that “beer” is a more common search term used in Google’s search engine than “climate change”. This could be a potential reason for the increased viewership.
This opens up an abundance of new positions of attack scientists can use to get the general public to care about climate change, but there will always be skeptics:
Another BS "it's about to happen" climate change article. Haven't we seen enough of these prove out to be completely false? You can't even classify the type of change correctly. Cooling, warming, changing? Yeah, it's changing, it's weather!
Hurricanes have made U.S. news a lot recently. Whether it be the destruction they have caused, the location they are damaging, or criticism of the government’s response, they have undeniably been a big issue over the past two years.
The United States is currently in the middle of hurricane season, which starts in the Atlantic on June 1 and ends on Nov. 30. There have been five hurricanes so far this season, with Hurricane Michael being the most recent as it is currently impacting the U.S.
In 2017, three major hurricanes, Irma, Harvey, and Maria, struck the United States. In 2018, there have been two major hurricanes, Florence and Michael.
Located below is a map that details where the hurricanes made landfall and the paths they traveled:
The United Nations released a special report on Monday that laid out a path that all societies must take in order to combat the effects of man-made global warming. Currently, most societies aren’t close to meeting the requirements that have been set out.
Although the world is on the verge of an environmental crisis, the U.S. government isn’t changing its course.
When asked about the U.N. report, President Donald Trump responded with, “It was given to me, & I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it, because I can give you reports that are fabulous & reports that aren’t so good.”
This response received a wide array of criticism, prompting the #DrewIt hashtag as an attempt to mock the terminology President Trump used to describe scientific data:
REPORTER: Have you read the alarming UN report about imminent, drastic climate change?
TRUMP: "It was given to me, & I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it, because I can give you reports that are fabulous & reports that aren't so good." #DrewItpic.twitter.com/qADyFlmI8i
Although the situation is humorous to some, the response of the President to environmental concerns matters.
Former Trump adviser Myron Bell was asked if there was any way the U.S. administration could be persuaded to take climate change more seriously. He responded with a simple, “No, I can’t.”
“Can you imagine anything the scientists would say that would persuade the US administration that it needs to take [climate change] more seriously?” Presenter Evan Davis puts that to former Trump adviser Myron Bell
Climate scientists have struggled to make their voices heard in the realm of politics. The past few weeks have demonstrated this struggle, leaving many scientists disheartened by the lack of progress. To add fire to the already warming world, the Trump administration displayed a cynical view of the environment that has rarely been seen before.
Sometimes, climate science is stifled by bureaucracy and foreign relations that lead scientists to be disheartened by the lack of progress. This is best demonstrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s governing body on climate change.
Drew Shindell, a climate expert at Duke University and one of the authors of the IPCC report, said, “The pledges countries made during the Paris climate accord don’t get us anywhere close to what we have to do. They haven’t really followed through with actions to reduce their emissions in any way commensurate with what they profess to be aiming for.”
At other times, important science is hidden in stacks of unnecessary paperwork. For example, the Trump administration’s EPA recently released a 500-page environmental impact statement in which it was projected that the planet would warm a disastrous 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
The latest move of the Trump administration has been to use climate data as a way to argue against environmentally-friendly policies. The administration used the 500-page report to take an anti-environment stance. Instead of issuing the 4 degrees Celsius projection as a warning against climate change, the Trump administration used it to make the argument that the fate of the planet is unchangeable.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration issued a draft statement that justified President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020, citing that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that the standards would cause isn’t enough to save the planet.
This “unstoppable” view of climate change is dangerous. NASA has stated that some of the effects that can be expected from climate change are the loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.
Other organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have noted further effects of climate change on life. WWF noted that the impacts of climate change vary in different kinds of forests, with Sub-Arctic boreal forests being put in the most danger. The EDF took a different route, arguing that climate change can have a significant impact on human life: damaging agriculture, polluting the air and destroying transportation infrastructure.
The WWF has also released climate change ads focused on protecting wildlife from its impacts:
The IPCC states, “Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”
On Thursday news broke that the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to remove its Office of the Science Advisor. The science advisor serves as a counsel to the EPA administrator to update them on scientific research focused on health and environmental regulations, and to make sure the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies. The decision has not officially been made public.
John Konkus, a spokesman for the EPA, emailed the New York Times a statement from the current science adviser, Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, in which she said that the decision to dissolve the office would “combine offices with similar functions” and “eliminate redundancies”.
Many people took to Twitter to disagree with the proposed plans:
The foundation of the EPA rests upon scientific data and now Trump wants to dissolve the position that would ensure that top quality science is integrated when devising policy so he can continue his corporate agenda. And still silence from @RepBrianFitz. https://t.co/qEbK182Xno
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, a senior post that was created to counsel the E.P.A. administrator on the scientific research underpinning regulations…
On Tuesday the EPA placed Dr. Ruth Etzel, the head of the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health, on administrative leave. Etzel was asked to give up her badge, keys and cellphone. The EPA has declined to comment on personal matters.
In an email obtained by BuzzFeed, Etzel said, “I appear to be the ‘fall guy’ for their plan to ‘disappear’ the office of children’s health. It had been apparent for about 5 months that the top EPA leaders were conducting ‘guerrilla warfare’ against me as the leader of OCHP, but now it’s clearly official.”
Dr. Etzel has received an abundance of support, including calls to reinstate her to her position:
Today’s revelations come after the initial announcement on September 13 that Long and Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen clashed with each other over Long’s travel home to North Carolina. Long was the target of an ongoing DHS inspector general investigation into Long’s potential misuse of government vehicles when traveling to his home from Washington.
FEMA faced a lot of scrutiny in the days leading up to Hurricane Florence, and it is continuing to face it.
Researchers recently released an article that suggests the development of a pipeline network to enable the United States to capture, utilize, and store greater amounts of Carbon, reducing the amount of CO2 released into the environment. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper proposes a pipeline network that can transfer carbon dioxide from ethanol refineries across the American Midwest.
“Without government finance, we find that a network earning commercial rates of return would not be viable,” wrote Edwards and Celia.
The tax credit that was recently passed by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 initially gave the authors the motivation to propose their pipeline network, and suggest that the new tax credits are one of the most significant policies incentivizing carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS).
Edwards and Celia decided to focus on ethanol biorefineries, because the excess gas produced is 99 percent carbon dioxide, and ethanol refineries in the Midwest produce 43 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Tony Iallonardo of the National Wildlife Federation told ProRepublica, “It’s inevitable that as pipelines age, as they are exposed to the elements, eventually they are going to spill. They’re ticking time bombs.”
Most notably, an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian oil sands through Mayflower, Arkansas, broke and spilled an estimated 210,000 gallons of Canadian crude oil onto the homes of 29 people. Reporters who covered the incident were threatened with arrest because Exxon wanted to release the daily updates covering the spill.
“Keep in mind, Duke sent their samples to their in-house lab. Until you have a third-party analysis, any analysis should be taken with a grain of salt,” said Kemp Burdette of Cape Fear River Watch.
Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group that had a boat on the river, took pictures of gray slicks in the water and they rinsed off a turtle they found caught in the muck.
Duke Energy recently reported that arsenic and metal concentrations in the Cape Fear River has been slightly elevated following the Sutton flooding, but noted that there was no indication of coal ash entering the river.
Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in groundwater, and it is highly toxic when in its inorganic form. Duke Energy’s study on the Cape Fear River gave a test result of 1.11 thousandths of a milligram per liter of water. Although this doesn’t come close to reaching the concentration limit set by the state, 50 thousandths of a milligram, it is still higher than normal.
The levels of metals found in the river were more manageable, at 2.2 milligrams per liter on Friday when the dam was breached. Other contaminants found in the river included selenium, chromium, oil and grease; however, Duke noted that the contamination of these chemicals was well below permitted regulatory limits.