Observatory: Desert Rats Finding Meals Less Palatable

As the climate warms, wood rats in the Mojave Desert are less able to tolerate toxins in the creosote bushes they rely on for food, a new study finds.

Something to Remember: Key Climate Milestones in 2015

Began with the warmest winter on record globally. Hottest year on record globally. Toronto had the hottest Christmas Eve on record for a Canadian city, with the thermometer reaching 15.4 degrees C. 2015 was last year we’ll see atmospheric CO2 concentrations below 400 parts per million, above which the global climate starts getting wacky. The average global temperature increase averaged 1 degree C above pre-industrial times for the first time. Tropical cyclone Patricia went off the hurricane category scale with winds of over 320 km per hour. The Arabian peninsula was hit by two consecutive cyclones, unprecedented in the region. After four years of drought California was the driest it has been in 500 years. Jurisdictions such as B.C. and Alberta had their worst-ever wildfire seasons. Record flooding hit…

Electric mobility contributes decisively to climate protection

The transportation sector has the capacity to nearly halve its carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and, hence, to contribute far more than previously thought to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Realizing this would require further efficiency improvement and, especially, promotion of public transport in cities, alongside with a large-scale shift to electric cars, concludes a recent study.

Climate deniers attack NASA scientist dying of cancer

Readers of The New York Times were treated to a deeply touching essay this week by Piers Sellers, a NASA astronaut and climate scientist who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Sellers wrote: This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position. I’ve spent much of my professional life thinking about the science of climate change, which is best viewed through a multidecadal lens. At some level I was sure that, even at my present age of 60, I would live to see the most critical part of the problem, and its possible solutions, play out in my lifetime. Now that my personal horizon has been steeply foreshortened, I was forced to decide how to spend my remaining time. Was continuing to think about climate change worth the…

Vegetarian and ‘healthy’ diets could be more harmful to the environment, researchers say

Following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas emissions per calorie, say researchers. A new study measured the changes in energy use, blue water footprint and GHG emissions associated with US food consumption patterns.

These bacterial communities are heating up the desert

Do you ever feel like this is a microbial world, and that we’re just living in it? It seems like every day, scientists are discovering new ways that these invisible communities are manipulating our health, impacting the climate, keeping ecosystems in check, and (maybe) occasionally killing off more than 70 percent of all species on Earth. Well, now we can add one more thing to their resume: heating up the desert. According to a new paper published in Nature Communications, bacterial communities that form on arid soil can increase surface temperatures by as much as 10 degrees C. They do this by secreting a kind of “sunscreen” that, while protecting the microbes themselves from harmful ultraviolet light, actually absorbs sunlight that would otherwise reflect off the soil…

Meet the Strati: A 3D Printed Electric Car

Electric Cars | Future Technology | Transportation3D Printing is all the rage these days, so it’s no surprise someone has printed a complete and functional electric automobile, appropriately named the Strati (Italian for “layers”). 18 months ago, Phoenix Arizona company Local Motors teamed up with Cincinnati Incorporated to develop a neighborhood electric car. The project is open source; members are encouraged […]