Tag: climate change

Venezuela’s Humboldt Glacier Is Melting and Will Be Gone in the Coming Years

Glaciers don’t normally make the headline news. But that was before Venezuela’s last glacier is close to disappearing for good, according to a recent report. The country’s Humboldt Glacier in the Andes Mountains is melting at a rapid rate, and it’ll soon be gone before scientists can study the ice particles.

What does this recent report reveal about science?

Plenty Of Ice For Everyone

When Carsten Braun, a geography professor at Westfield State University, visited the Venezuelan Andes in 2009, he was amazed at the glaciers found in the Pico Humboldt, the country’s second-highest mountain peak. He measured the Humboldt Glacier with a GPS, knowing he would one day want his scientific recordings.

Well, he had no idea that day has finally arrived. Braun has visited the glacier several times since 2009, but now he has noticed drastic and upsetting changes in the glacier’s size.

It’s Shrinking

On a recent trip, Braun noticed the glacier is shrinking at a remarkable rate. He noted it looked like “draping a pancake over a slope.” The glacier is now a thin piece of ice no more than 65 feet thick. It would only take someone just one mile to walk around the glacier’s entire circumference.

But why exactly is the glacier shrinking and how soon will it be completely gone?

Sensitive To Climate Change

Climate change is occurring. That is a scientific fact. The debate that rages on to this day stems from those who do not understand the science behind the warming temperatures, melting ice sheets, increased severity of extreme weather events, and so on, while science has shown time and time again that these changes are due to manmade burning of fossil fuels releasing greenhouse gases into our atmosphere at a rate that is unprecedented in the history of our planet.

Venezuela has found itself nestled between this debate. Scientists are comparing the country’s glaciers to others, including ones found in China and Tanzania. But Venezuela’s Humboldt Glacier will be the first one to completely disappear for good due to the drastic changes in the climate’s heat. Glaciers are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than other environments.

Braun reported, “What we’re seeing now is maybe the last gasp of the Humboldt Glacier.”

Scientists expect the glacier to melt away in the next decade or two.

Why We Should Be Concerned

For the average person, losing a glacier probably isn’t a big deal. We have other glaciers, don’t we? Why are we concerned about Venezuela’s glacier?

Glaciers are more important than what you think. While their contribution to sea-level rise isn’t that significant, glaciers are a critical source of water— for drinking, hydropower, and agriculture purposes. It would be a drastic impact on our environment if we were to lose this valuable resource.

According to researchers, glaciers have been rapidly shrinking in size since the 1970s. Glaciers may have been stronger 30 years ago, but now the majority of them, Venezuela’s Humboldt included, have numerous cracks and meltwater.

“It looks sick,” said Maximiliano Bezada, a former geomorphology professor. “It will die very soon.”

Currently, Humboldt is vulnerable and at its smallest size ever reported. It will disappear very soon, that is an accepted fact. If scientists aren’t watching, the glacier will vanish right before their eyes.

That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

MORE: This problem isn’t exclusive to the warm, tropical regions close to the Equator. Glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate even at the coldest place on Earth.

WWF Reports Wildlife Populations Rapidly Declining Thanks To Human Behavior

The rate at which climate change is rapidly transforming the habitat of wildlife is eradicating rare and common species alike. Humans continue to contribute to carbon emissions, and plastic trash and acidification are ravaging the oceans. The most gentle and vulnerable of wildlife are unable to speak for their fate, struggling to survive in the face of humanity’s troubling impact on the planet.

Age Of Decline And Destruction

Humans may obsess over the threat of an extinction-level event posed by a meteor strike or some other cataclysmic disaster. Sadly, it is the actions of human beings that are more likely to bring about a gradually apocalyptic end to life on Earth as we know it. Wildlife is disappearing from this planet at an alarming rate.

Scientists and researchers have been keeping a closer watch on planetary changes, and the wildlife population has been drastically reduced by 60% since 1970. Due to human activity, the quality of waterways and land to support wildlife is quickly becoming unsustainable.

Mass Extinction Imminent

Things are in a dire state, and humans need to make sweeping global changes to become zero-emission and cease activities which destroy the habitats and food sources of wildlife. Humans, plants, marine life, and wildlife on the surface all share an intertwined destiny.

Humans are the only creatures on the planet that have so radically mismanaged natural resources, and thrown the equilibrium off balance to support all life. It is projected that by 2020, nearly 2/3 of the wildlife population will disappear forever because of human influence.

Race To Repopulate And Restore

The time to sound the alarm was decades ago, but we may be quickly approaching a point of no return. If enough biodiversity is removed and unable to recover, humans will soon feel a painful trickle-down effect.

This may be the last generation with the opportunity to reverse the damage that has harmed coral reefs and oceans, reduced the quality of soil, and made the air impossible to breathe in some places. Many people have spoken up to make efforts to repopulate and protect threatened wildlife, but a new Global Deal is sorely needed.

Most Vulnerable Creatures

Polar bears are being threatened by starvation, thanks to the loss of glacial ice that allows them to hunt seals. Animals such as the Orangutan and the Sumatran Rhino are critically endangered because of massive deforestation. Whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and many species of fish are having their once vast numbers, petering out into oblivion.

As much as humans depend on sustaining their life from the oceans and land, so too, do wildlife. Exploitation of the planet by human industry, uncontrolled consumer demand, pollution, and unsustainable practices are to blame.

Shifting Sights For Survival

This generation may be the last to protect the critically threatened and endangered wildlife on our planet. The time to develop and implement sustainable models for managing natural resources, and enact cleaner business policies is now.

Once enough wildlife are gone forever from our oceans, lakes, rivers, jungles, prairies, and savannahs, humans will be the next to follow suit. There is still time for humans to put a halt to the collapse of our fragile ecosystem, and restore it to balance.

MORE: These are the twelve most endangered animal species on Earth.

20 Shocking Facts About The Environment

What is happening to the Earth at the hand of humans is shocking, and not necessarily in a good way. Climate change is no longer a debate, at least not amongst scientists, where around 97 percent are sure that humans’ behaviors are causing global temperatures to increase at alarming rates. That being said, we are not doomed. Renewable energy could easily save us. All we have to do is use it. From the rapidly melting ice caps to the amount of geothermal energy in Australia alone, read on to find out some of the most mind-blowing facts about the envrionment today.

1. China Is Not Deemed A Safe Place To Live By European Air Standards

China has roughly 560 million residents in its cities, and only one percent of them breathe air that the European Union considers safe. Cancer due to air pollution has become the number one cause of death in China. Thick clouds of pollution constantly loom over Chinese cities to the point where some people have never even seen the sky.

2. The Sixth Mass Extinction Event Is Underway As We Speak

One-fourth of mammals are at risk of becoming extinct. Marine mammals’ numbers are even more grim, at one third. Humans are to blame, unlike the past five mass extinction events. Those were caused by natural events. Humans have stolen the animals’ habitats, polluted the earth, and we’ve also been eating them. If we do not make more effort to conserve the animal kingdom, the next 50 years will see so much extinction that it will take at least three million years for nature to recover.

3. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Over Three Times The Size Of Texas

Humans treat the Pacific Ocean like a great big landfill. There is a floating island of trash that has been coined the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). It expands for 600,000 square miles. What’s worse, it is continually growing. Plastic occupies about 79,000 tons of the GPGP, killing up to one million sea creatures every year. Based on previous reporting, that number is anywhere from four to sixteen times more plastic in the ocean than there was before.

4. Ocean Dead Zones Now Occupy A Space The Size Of Oregon

Dead zones in the ocean are areas not able to sustain life. Spanish researchers recently discovered that the ocean becomes uninhabitable at certain oxygen levels, and those levels are worse than they though. Farm fertilizers, automobile and factory emissions, as well as sewage and other pollution runoff causes too much nitrogen in the water, thereby causing the dead zones. Many dead zones are along continental coastlines that normally would support the fishing industry.

5. In The Last 50 Years, The Population Has Risen More Than It Did In 4 Million Years

In the early 1800s, the human population reached one billion. In 1965, it was at 3.5 billion. As of 2017, it was already at 7.5 billion. Around 74 million people are added every year, maybe more. With humans’ carbon footprint already causing problems, not to mention our exhaustion of resources, this looks like trouble.

6. An American’s Carbon Footprint Is At Least Double The Average Non-American’s

If you are an American and you don’t pay attention to things like your carbon footprint, yours is probably much higher than double the rest of the world’s. In order to be sustainable, Americans would have to reduce their carbon emissions by about 83 percent. That’s actually pretty doable if the country has a shift toward renewable energy and really puts an effort into conservation.

7. Australia Has Enough Geothermal Power Potential To Last 26,000 Years

Geothermal power is one of the lower cost options in renewable energy. In Australia alone, just one percent of their unused geothermal power potential could provide energy for 26,000 years. The ability to tap into that resource is not currently an option, but eventually, it will be if the government invests in it.

8. Not Even One Percent Of Earth’s Freshwater Is Readily Available to Use

Contamination and pollution are a major cause for why water that is safe to use is diminishing. By the middle of this century, the world might be fighting over water. Today, so much water is wasted, especially in the US and Australia. For example, almost 90 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture, but because of inept watering systems, up to 60 percent of it is wasted.

9. The Arctic May Be Ice-Free By The Summer of 2040

Global warming means the ice caps are melting, and it also means summers in the region will become quite balmy. Some predictions say there will be no ice in the Arctic region by 2040, others 2060, others 2105, the last a hopeful number. Unfortunately, such a quick melt will cause the heating of the oceans at an even faster rate than it would have just by air temperature increase.

10. In 10 Years Time, 20 Percent Of America’s Power Could Come From Wind

Theoretically, North Dakota, which is not even the state with the greatest potential for this renewable resource (Texas is), could power twenty-five percent of the US. Wind turbines placed offshore may very well be able to produce the same amount of energy as every power plant in the US. In order to do this, the technology would have to be modernized to harness wind energy, but it would only take about 10 years.

11. If We Recycled All Newspapers, 250 Billion Trees A Year Would Be Saved

Sunday newspapers require 500,000 trees to be cut down every week. Recycling the Sunday New York Times alone would save 75,000 trees a week. Americans would only have to recycle one in ten of their newspapers to save 25 million trees every year. No one’s saying print journalism has to die. All we need to do to save the trees is recycle.

12. Just A Tiny Part Of The Wall Street Bailout Money Could End World Hunger

About $700 billion dollars was charged to taxpayers from the Wall Street bailout. Even with only four percent of that, world hunger could become a thing of the past by putting in place agricultural programs that cost about $30 billion per year.  With one out of seven people in the world starving, it seems like we should reallocate those bailout funds to something more valuable.

13. 50 Million Acres Or More Of Rainforest Are Destroyed Every Year

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal because most people don’t live in rainforests, but tell that to the 50 percent of all living creatures that do live there. Around 100 species a year are already disappearing. Humans deforest tropical regions for agricultural purposes. Aside from all the animal extinctions, it causes carbon dioxide to remain in the atmosphere, actively worsening the rate of climate change.

14. Waste From Electronics Totals Up To 50 Million Metric Tons Per Year

The lead, zinc, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and polyvinyl chlorides from the electronics we throw away are absorbed into the earth, water, and atmosphere. Electronic waste is the stream of waste that is growing the fastest and is one of the most dangerous. Think of all the cell phones and computers alone that people get rid of daily. Meanwhile, the chemicals from their disposal is toxic and cancer-causing.

15. Average Global Temperatures Might Be 12 Degrees Warmer By The Year 2100

It has taken the planet 15,000 years to warm 7.2 degrees, and now it might warm even more in one single century. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are the primary culprit for global warming. Scientists predict that even if the earth warms by only 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, this would cause global catastrophe. Hundreds of species would go extinct, there would be water and food shortage crises worldwide, and widespread floods would create a massive refugee crisis.

16. The US Produces A Sickening Amount Of Trash

In an hour, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles, which ends up at 22 billion plastic bottles a year. About 570 disposable diapers are tossed out every second. In a day, the weight of US trash amounts to the same as the Empire State Building, and in a year, our garbage stacked up could make it halfway to the moon.

17. Recycling Saves The World From Astronomical Amounts Of Waste

Recycling is ridiculously important for the health of the world and human beings. For instance, one ton of paper recycled saves seventeen trees, sixty pounds of air pollution, two barrels of oil, about three cubic yards of space in a landfill, and over 4,000 kilowatts of energy. Recycle one aluminum can (which can be recycled over and over) and power a television for three hours.

18. By 2030, Climate Change Could Be Irreversible

If the world does not come together and act soon, global warming and its devastating effects on the planet and humankind could be inevitable. Scientists are predicting that the cutoff for widspread, massive action could be the year 2030. The coral reefs are already diminishing, but they could be completely wiped out. Extreme heat, drought, and immense flooding at the hands of climate change may very well be imminent.

19. $5.6 Trillion Was Spent On The Iraq War

Imagine a world where $5.6 trillion was spent on solar power, pollution clean up, universal healthcare, mass transit, and cancer research. Perhaps the nearly inevitable upcoming crises climate change will cause would have been evaded. Perhaps cancer already be cured.

20. 35 Percent Of Landfills Consist Of Packaging Materials

Almost everything we buy comes in packaging. So really, it should come as no surprise how much space packaging materials take up in landfills. Your plastic water bottles, single-use coffee cups, toothpaste tubes, individually wrapped snacks, makeup containers — you name it, they are all packaged.

Scotland Is Going To Use 100% Renewable Energy By 2020. Can The Rest Of The World Keep Up?

Everyone loves the Scottish: They’re friendly, they have amazing accents, and they know how to rock a kilt. Now, there’s one more thing you can add to that list: They’re eco-friendly. Sources say Scotland is on-target for 100% renewable energy by the year 2020.

Scotland’s Ambitious Goals

A leading climate change academic recently announced that Scotland is on target to meet their goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020. That’s an ambitious goal by any standardso how did they get here?

In 2009, the Scottish government created a group of renewable energy targets for 2020. The end goal was for the equivalent of 30% of Scotland’s heat, transportation, and electricity consumption to be provided by renewable sources by 2020.

So far, they’re crushing it. The country has met its emission targets five years early, and their energy supply now comes 60% from renewable resources (that’s up from 10% over the last 15 years).

Their success can largely be credited to an unprecedented level of cross-party supportand a little help from the whiskey industry. The Scotch Whiskey Association set its own goals back in 2009, hoping to increase the use of green fuels by 20% across the entire industry. As of 2018, they’re sourcing 21% of their energy from green sourcesplus, water use has fallen by 29%.

As one of the largest industries in Scotland, their efforts set an amazing precedent for others.

How They’re Making It Happen

In the past decade, Scottish Power (one of the top 6 power companies in the UK) has closed all of its coal plants and has 2,700 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity operating or under construction.

To get the public behind the effort, the government steered clear of politics. Instead of pitching renewable energy as an environmental effort, or talking about global warming, they discussed a more sustainable future.

Still, many locals were opposed to unsightly wind farms cluttering up their land. To help get them on board, they were offered a share in the developmentsand the strategy worked. Over 75% of the Scottish public are now in favor of measures to go green.

One thing that’s surprised everyone involved is how little the efforts have affected the economy. There has been a longstanding assumption, all over the world, that renewable energy is more expensive to source and maintain than fossil fuels. But, despite dismal predictions at the outset, the switch to renewables has been achieved without any economic hardship.

How Do Other Countries Stack Up?

In 2015, representatives of 195 nations signed the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. Under the deal, each country put forth its own goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Results haven’t been fantastic. No major industrialized nation is on track to meet its pledge. The United States has stated that it’s going to back out of the agreement entirely by 2020. And while Scotland is making valiant efforts to up green energy, the EU as a whole is falling short.

Still, there is hope. The UK just became the first country to examine its Paris Agreement commitments and create a solid plan for meeting them. Perhaps the rest of the world will follow suit.