Table Of Contents

    A new study found that the United States could achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals if the country's consumers all substituted beef for beans in their diet. Photo courtesy of


    Climate Impacts and Air Pollution Are Harming Working-Class Communities Across the Sun Belt

    Rising temperatures are beginning to pose pronounced hazards to working-class individuals in the Sun Belt. Low-income households are highly vulnerable to extreme heat and poor air quality, as they often cannot afford air-conditioning or adequate health care. Members of these communities are also typically unable to afford to move or evacuate ahead of severe weather. Professor Robert Bullard with Texas Southern University said, “For too long, a lot of the climate change and global warming arguments have been looking at melting ice and polar bears and not at the human suffering side of it." In Galveston, Texas, landscaper Adolfo Guerra said, “I think about the climate every day, because every day we work, and every day it feels like it’s getting hotter.” In Houston, African-American neighborhoods have had to deal with toxic pollution emitted by the refineries and chemical plants disproportionately sited next to minority communities. Citing unfair industrial zoning practices, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) stated, "You can’t have freedom and justice in this country if you can’t breathe your air."

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    Tampa Bay Region Deemed Unprepared for the Next Big Storm

    Experts and urban planners are concerned that the greater Tampa Bay region on Florida's Gulf Coast may face severe damage if a hurricane were to make landfall there. Tampa Bay, home to four million residents, has been fortunate to avoid any major hurricanes since 1921. However, a recent risk analysis of the region estimated that a Hurricane Katrina-size storm could lead to $175 billion in losses. The World Bank has labeled Tampa Bay as one of the 10 cities on the planet at the greatest risk of flooding. A combination of sea level rise and the natural settling of the land has led to regular flooding in St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Clearwater following heavy rain. Despite such forecasts and warnings from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, efforts to assess the impacts of sea level rise and more severe storms brought about by climate change lag behind. Republican officials at the state and county level have been dismissive of climate-related threats and have resisted raising taxes to fund infrastructure improvements to better defend the city from natural disasters.

    For more information see:

    Washington Post


    Climate Change Strains Africa's Rural Communities as Fertile Land Diminishes

    Regions across Africa are facing a decline in arable farmland, as demand for quality land increases. The pressure on the land is derived from climate change, population growth, soil degradation, erosion, overuse, and fluctuations in global food prices. The land shortages are leading to mass migration and sparking conflict across Africa, including in Nigeria and Kenya. A recent study by NASA using satellite data revealed over 40 million Africans are trying to live off land whose agricultural potential is waning. According to the World Bank, 70 percent of Africa's population makes a living from agriculture. Meanwhile, the continent's population is expected to reach four billion people by 2100. Climate change is leading to more desertification, drought, and persistent hunger. In 2017 alone, more than 10 million people across Somalia, Nigeria, and Sudan are facing famine conditions. The urgent need to grow more food has led some farmers to exhaust the soil, rather than allowing it to replenish.

    For more information see:

    New York Times


    Himalayas Face Major Struggle, but Little Support, in Efforts Against Climate Change

    Conservationists are calling for increased support for the Himalayan region of India, which, like other regions of the country, is suffering from climate change, but has received far less attention and investment. More than half of India is considered “highly water-stressed,” with climate change further decreasing access to drinking water and increasing risks for food security. The Himalayas, where the existence of only one farming season makes crops especially vulnerable, have seen many local water sources dry up, placing the region’s “food, water, and energy security” at risk. Arun Sharma, the senior-most government official for the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas, warned, “There is no doubt there is a big water crisis here.” However, with most government and private efforts to combat the effects of climate change centered on the more fertile and densely populated plains regions, the Himalayan region remains at grave risk from climate change unless it receives improved water security measures.

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    Congress Puts “Stamp of Approval” on Trump's Anti-Climate Orders

    Following President Trump’s lead, Congressional Republicans are swiftly advancing legislation to roll back environmental protections in favor of oil and gas industries. Republicans know that once these laws are in place, it will take time for the next administration to repeal or rewrite them. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) has labeled these actions "a very slippery slope to government by fiat." On July 19, the House passed the “Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act,” which would prevent any future president from blocking pipelines or electric power projects within U.S. borders, while the “Transparency and Honesty in Energy Regulations Act” would allow policymakers to ignore the social costs of carbon when crafting regulations. The House has rushed to pass a repeal of clean water protections and to dilute environmental permit reviews. States and environmental groups are using the courts to challenge the Trump administration’s efforts to rescind regulations. However, with the public’s attention focused on health care and Russia, Scott Slesinger of the Natural Resources Defense Council says Congress’s actions are unfortunately “pretty much under the radar.”

    For more information see:

    InsideClimate News


    Bison Boom Faces Challenges from Climate Change, Yet Offers Solutions

    Bison, once on the brink of extinction, have made a remarkable comeback in recent years, primarily as a source of healthier and more environmentally-friendly meat. This growth led the National Bison Association to announce plans to increase the total number of bison in North America to one million by 2027, more than doubling the current population. However, this year’s meeting of the International Bison Conference noted that this booming industry is at significant risk from climate change and featured numerous presentations on potential threats, including how higher temperatures reduce the protein in grass, resulting in smaller bison. Other reporting suggested that raising bison and other ruminant animals can naturally restore grasslands and contribute to climate change mitigation. Although some scientists have raised concerns about the validity of these findings, Phil Baird, a member of the Lakota tribe and the Provost at Sinte Gleska University, noted that the role of bison in grassland revitalization isn’t new, but rather “a reformulation of what his people have been doing for centuries.”

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    Studies Find That 2 Degree Celsius Rise in Global Average Temperature Is Nearly Certain

    According to two new studies published in Nature Climate Change, the global average temperature is nearly certain to rise beyond two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. The first study concluded that there is a 95 percent chance that the planet will surpass the two degree threshold. The second study emphasized that even if greenhouse gas emissions were to cease today, the pollutants already in the atmosphere will still lead to a global temperature increase and could reach as high as three degrees Celsius. Researcher Adrian Raftery at the University of Washington cautioned, "Even if the 2C target isn’t met, action is very important. The more the temperature increases, the worse the impacts will be. We would warn against any tendency to use our results to say that we won’t avoid 2C, and so it’s too late to do anything. On the contrary, avoiding the higher temperature increases that our model envisages is even more important, and also requires urgent action."

    For more information see:

    Guardian, CNN


    Study: Lethal Heat and Humidity to Plague South Asia by Century's End

    According to a new study in Science Advances, South Asia's heat and humidity could become so extreme on some days that engaging in outdoor activities could prove deadly. The research examined "wet-bulb temperature," factoring in temperature projections, humidity, and the human body's ability to cool down in those conditions. Humans can withstand a wet-bulb temperature of up to 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), beyond which the body is unable to effectively cool itself, resulting in heat stroke or death. Today's wet-bulb temperatures rarely exceed 31 C. The affected regions of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are home to one-fifth of the world's population. Up to 30 percent of those people could be facing extreme humidity and heat waves by 2100, with anywhere from 2-4 percent of the region experiencing deadly wet-bulb temperatures, depending on whether measures are taken to curtail global warming. Professor Elfatih Eltahir, a study author at MIT, said, "Climate change doesn't look like an abstract concept if you look at India. This is something that is going to impact your most vulnerable population in ways that are potentially pretty lethal."

    For more information see:

    BBC, Associated Press


    Greenland’s Glaciers Are Melting Faster than Ever, Could Lead to Over Three Feet of Sea Level Rise

    An iceberg the size of three Manhattans recently broke off the ice shelf that supports the Petermann Glacier, which makes up almost 10 percent of the Greenland ice sheet. Greenland has already lost two of its four ice shelves in the past few decades, and scientists are concerned this loss is a bad sign for the rest of Greenland. Climate change is increasing both surface and ocean temperatures around Greenland, causing glaciers to melt on two fronts. Andreas Muenchow, a researcher at the University of Delaware, said, “It’s this year-round drip, drip, drip by the ocean underneath that really determines what's happening by weakening the ice shelf from below.” Researchers predict sea levels will rise three feet by the end of the century, though this could increase if glaciers continue to melt more rapidly. Glaciers in Greenland are currently melting five times faster than they were 25 years ago, and the Petermann Glacier alone could lead to one foot of sea level rise if it melts completely.

    For more information see:

    Scientific American


    Climate Change May Cause Widespread Protein Deficiencies in Crops by 2050

    Increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere could reduce the protein content of key crops, putting an additional 150 million people around the world at risk of protein deficiencies by 2050. Globally, more than 75 percent of people rely on plants for protein, and communities that already experience protein deficiencies, like those in Sub-Saharan Africa, will be the most vulnerable. In India alone, 53 million people could be at risk of not getting enough protein. According to researchers from Harvard University, protein levels in potatoes would be reduced by 6.4 percent, rice by 7.6, wheat by 7.8, and protein in barley would be reduced by 14.6 percent. Researchers discovered this after exposing plants in the field to high CO2 concentrations, though they’re not yet sure why this happened. One hypothesis suggests the CO2 may increase starch levels in plants, in turn decreasing protein levels. To reduce the possibility of protein deficiencies, the researchers suggest diversifying diets, breeding crops that will be less sensitive to CO2, and reducing carbon emissions.

    For more information see:

    Daily Nation, NPR


    Substituting Beans for Beef Could Have Significant Climate Impacts

    As the Trump administration seeks to rollback U.S. progress on climate change, researchers are now trying to determine how individuals can best mitigate environmental impacts on their own. According to researcher Helen Harwatt, replacing beef with beans in American diets could help keep the country on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Without having to become a vegetarian, this one substitution could have even more environmental impact than downsizing a car or conserving electricity. Livestock emit significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and 33 percent of arable land around the world is dedicated to growing animal feed, such as soybeans. Replacing beef with beans would reduce deforestation to grow feed crops and would free up 42 percent of U.S. crop land. For those worried about federal climate action, Harwatt says, “The real beauty of this kind of thing is that climate impact doesn’t have to be policy-driven. It can just be a positive, empowering thing for consumers to see that they can make a significant impact.”

    For more information see:

    The Atlantic



    Court Requires EPA to Enforce Rule to Reduce Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Sites

    EPA Ordered to Reverse Its Delay of Smog-Reducing Ozone Regulation

    Senators Object to President Trump's Proposal to Slash DOE's Advanced Research Program

    Survey Finds Climate Change and Terrorism Are the Two Leading Threats to Global Security

    Kenya's Melting Glaciers Are Causing Water Shortages and Conflict

    Study: Climate Change to Cause an Increase in Annual Air Pollution Deaths Globally


    Writers: Sara Tanigawa, James Stanish, and Erin Brown

    Editor: Brian La Shier