Environment

Propping up glaciers to avoid cataclysmic sea level rise

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — As global warming outpaces efforts to tame it, scientists have proposed building massive underwater structures to prevent an Antarctic glacier the size of Britain from sliding into the sea and lifting the world’s oceans by several meters. The more modest of two engineering schemes — which is still on the scale of a Panama or Suez Canal — to shore up Thwaites Glacier would require […]

Even moderate warming could melt Antarctic ice sheet: study

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Moderate global temperature rises of just two degrees Celsius could still be enough to melt parts of the largest ice sheet on Earth and raise sea levels by several metres, experts warned on Wednesday. As the pace of climate change rapidly outstrips mankind’s attempts to rein it in, scientists delved into the distant past of glaciers in eastern Antarctica to predict what lay in store […]

Air pollution linked to higher risk of dementia: study

PARIS, France (AFP) — Urban air pollution, mostly from vehicles, is associated with an increased risk of dementia, according to research published Wednesday. The link remained even after heavy drinking, smoking and other well established risk factors for dementia were ruled out, the researchers reported in medical journal BMJ Open. Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the […]

Microplastics may enter foodchain through mosquitoes

  PARIS, France (AFP) — Mosquito larvae have been observed ingesting microplastics that can be passed up the food chain, researchers said Wednesday, potentially uncovering a new way that the polluting particles could damage the environment. Microplastics — tiny plastic shards broken down from man-made products such as synthetic clothing, car tyres and contact lenses — litter much of the world’s oceans. Hard to spot and harder to collect, they can seriously harm marine wildlife […]

Germany rolls out world’s first hydrogen train

BREMERVORDE, Germany (AFP) — Germany on Monday rolled out the world’s first hydrogen-powered train, signalling the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology. Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French TGV-maker Alstom, began running a 100-kilometer (62-mile) route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany — a stretch normally plied by diesel trains. “The world’s […]

Melting permafrost threatens climate rescue plan: study

by Patrick GALEY Agence France-Presse Global targets aimed at warding off runaway planetary warming could be breached sooner than expected, experts warned Monday, as gases released by melting permafrost threaten to undermine human efforts to avert climate disaster. Under the current rescue plan, outlined in the 2015 Paris climate treaty, countries have agreed to limit global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius, and 1.5C if deemed possible. That course of action assumes that […]

Researchers turn to oysters as pollution-tracking sentinels

by RĂ©gine LAMOTHE Agence France Presse ARCACHON, France (AFP) — French researchers hoping to get an early warning on pollution in the ocean have found an unlikely ally in a mollusk more often destined for the dinner table. Their findings reveal that much like canaries in a coal mine, oysters stationed near offshore oil platforms can detect minute amounts of hydrocarbons as each one constantly filters dozens of gallons of water every day. That could […]

NASA space lasers to reveal new depths of planet’s ice loss

by Kerry SHERIDAN Agence France Presse TAMPA, United States (AFP) — NASA is poised to launch Saturday its most advanced space laser ever, ICESat-2, a $1 billion dollar mission to reveal the depths of the Earth’s melting ice as the climate warms. The half-ton satellite, about the size of a smart-car, is scheduled to blast off atop a Delta II rocket on September 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The 40-minute launch window […]

Climate extremes ‘key driver’ behind rising global hunger: UN

  by Serene Assir / Isabel Malsang Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Extreme weather events were a leading cause of global hunger rising last year, with women, babies, and old people particularly vulnerable to the worsening trend, a UN report said Tuesday. Increasingly frequent shocks such as extreme rainfall or temperatures, as well as droughts, storms, and floods, helped push the number of undernourished people to 821 million in 2017, it said. That […]

California commits to 100% clean electricity by 2045

by Marlowe HOOD Agence France Presse LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — California Governor Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation Monday committing his state to a 100 percent clean electricity grid by 2045. At least 20 countries and twice as many large cities have made similar pledges, but California — the fifth largest economy in the world — is by far the biggest jurisdiction to do so to date. “This bill and the executive order put […]

The Ocean Cleanup project sails out to sweep Pacific plastic

  SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — A supply ship towing a long floating boom designed to corral ocean plastic has set sail from San Francisco for a test run ahead of a trip to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The ambitious project by The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch non-profit group, hopes to clean up half of the infamous garbage patch within five years when all systems are deployed. After five years of preparation and […]

Big wind, solar farms could boost rain in Sahara: study

by Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse TAMPA, United States (AFP) — Installing massive wind and solar farms in the Saharan desert could slow global warming, and also give a small but beneficial boost to rain in the dry African region, researchers said Thursday. The study in the journal Science used computer modeling to simulate the effect of covering 20 percent of the largest desert on the planet in solar panels and installing three million wind […]