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    Page Updated:
    March 5, 2023


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    Canada Braces for
    Another Season of Flames

    -New York Times
    March 4, 2024
    Canada’s emergency preparedness minister is warning that this year’s wildfire season will be worse than the record-breaking season of 2023, when thousands of fires burned tens of millions of acres and set off massive plumes of smoke that enveloped major U.S. cities, including New York and Washington.
    This year’s fires could be especially bad in two of the country’s most fire-prone provinces, where nearly 150 of the blazes that started during last year’s season are still burning this winter, under snow-covered ground.
    While so-called “zombie fires,” a term recently popularized in the Canadian media, are an annual phenomenon in parts of the country, never have so many fires been reported in a single winter, raising fears that many of them may flare up again above ground.
    The “zombie fires” persist during winter because porous peat and moss ground cover in northern areas act as underground fuel for them.
    The risk of wildfire in Canada has grown because of climate change, which increases the hot, dry and gusty conditions that have caused drought, according to research published last summer by World Weather Attribution, a group of scientists who model how climate change impacts extreme weather.

    Greenland's Melting Ice Sheet is
    Being Replaced by Vegetation

    February 14, 2024
    An estimated 11,000 sq miles or 28,707 sq kilometers of Greenland's ice sheet and glaciers have melted over the last three decades, according to a major analysis of historic satellite records.
    The total area of ice loss is equivalent to the size of Albania, and represents about 1.6% of Greenland's total ice and glacier cover. Where there was once ice and snow, there is now barren rock, wetlands and areas of shrub.
    A team of scientists from the University of Leeds, who have tracked the changes across Greenland from the 1980s through to the 2010s, say warmer air temperatures are causing the ice to retreat, which in turn is having an impact on the temperature of the land surface, greenhouse gas emissions and the stability of the landscape.
    Permafrost—a permanently frozen layer below the Earth's surface—is being "degraded" by the warming and in some areas, scientists warn that it could have an impact on the infrastructure, buildings and communities that exist above it.
    Their findings are published in an article titled "Land cover changes across Greenland dominated by a doubling of vegetation in three decades" in the journal Scientific Reports.

    Turning Tons of Tires
    into Synthetic Gas

    --the Inside Climate News
    January 3, 2024
    The mayor and city council have enacted a one-year moratorium after the EPA raised multiple environmental justice concerns, from toxic air to hazardous waste.
    Officials in Youngstown, Ohio, have dealt a setback to a company’s plan to build and operate a recycled tire waste-to-energy plant near the center of the city and adjacent to a neighborhood of predominantly Black residents, enacting a one-year moratorium on such industrial processes.
    Mayor Jamael Tito Brown signed the ordinance Dec. 26.
    The developer, SOBE Thermal Energy Systems, has proposed turning discarded tires, plastic waste and used electronics into energy at 30 locations, starting with the Youngstown plant situated next to a jail, a Youngstown State University dormitory and a neighborhood where there’s already environmental justice concerns. The plant would turn the tires into a synthetic gas to be burned to produce steam for heating and cooling buildings.
    But those plans in Youngstown have stirred a robust opposition from local and state environmental and citizens groups, and pushback from some national groups, including Beyond Plastics, a nonprofit activist organization based at Bennington College in Vermont.

    What the Cop28 Agreement Says
    and What it Means

    -the Guardian
    December 13, 2023
    The decision text from Cop28 has been greeted as “historic”, for being the first ever call by nations for a “transition away” from fossil fuels, and as “weak and ineffectual” and containing a “litany of loopholes” for the fossil fuel industry. An examination of the text helps to explain this contradiction.
    Reducing fossil fuel use The text states the huge challenge with crystal clarity: Limiting global warming to 1.5C [above pre-industrial levels] with no or limited overshoot requires deep, rapid and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of 43% by 2030 and 60% by 2035 relative to the 2019 level and reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. [Countries] further recognise the need for deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in line with 1.5C pathways.
    The problem is that carbon emissions are not plunging as required – they are still rising. So the text on action is vital. The previous draft suggested measures that countries “could” take. The final agreement is somewhat stronger and “calls on” countries to do the following:
    Tripling renewable energy capacity globally and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

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