It's Hot In Alaska
- The 4th of July was the hottest day ever recorded in Anchorage, Alaska — topping 90 degrees (and prompting a fireworks ban).
- At the same time, there are currently 120 wildfires burning across the state, which have already razed 650,000 acres.
- Temperatures in Alaska are rising at double the average rate globally.
- Globally, this past June was the hottest June in recorded history.
Robbing The National Parks Piggybank
- The Trump administration diverted $2.5 million from the National Parks Service budget to fund the White House's 4th of July extravaganza.
- The event has been dubbed "Salute to America" and featured jet flyovers, tanks, fawning about the greatness of the military, and a weird moment where Trump claimed the Americans "took over the airports" from the British during the Revolutionary War.
- The National Parks Service has a $16 billion backlog of needed repairs and maintenance in parks around the country.
- National Parks are still feeling the effects of this past winter's government shutdown.
- The Trump administration's 2020 budget proposal cuts the National Park budget by half a billion dollars, cutting funds for virtually every program not related to oil and gas extraction.
Keep It In The Ground
- According to a new study, even if we stop building power plants, factories, vehicles, and all other fossil fuel-producing infrastructure immediately, we will still fail to meet the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement.
- This is based on the normal lifespans of the existing infrastructure (think coal plants and cars).
- This means that not only can we not build anything new, we need to start shutting down existing coal and gas-fired power plants, as well as rapidly scaling up the use of renewables.
- Shutting down plants early will not sit well with fossil fuel companies, so carbon pricing or government enforcement will be necessary to make this happen.
- This paper is a followup to one published in 2010 that showed that infrastructure was already in place to blow past 1.3°C, and that the problem would continue to worsen unless "extraordinary efforts are undertaken to develop alternatives." We know how it's gone since then...
Trees Can Save The World
- A new study found that planting a trillion trees across the globe could reduce 2/3 of the emissions released from human activities.
- The researchers, who describe the amount of carbon that could be sequestered as "mind-blowing," found that 11% of the world's land is both treeless and plantable.
- The countries that hold the most "potential tree restoration" areas? Russia, the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China (in that order).
- Although the researchers excluded urban areas and farmland from their calculations of available land, and took into account environmental variables like climate, topography, and precipitation, they did not include whether land was publicly or privately held into their calculations. This may affect how much land is really available for restoration.
- Soil and forests are the cheapest, most effective, and fastest ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. They're also way more realistic than man-made carbon capture systems. However, planting trees alone will not solve climate change.
The Elephant In The Room
- Mozambique's Nissa park, Africa's largest wildlife reserve, has gone a full year without an elephant death from poaching.
- Elephant populations in the reserve had been declining for years due to poaching. Once a thriving population of 12,000, in 2016 numbers had decreased to 3,600.
- Nissa park enforced robust anti-poaching strategies in May 2018, including quicker responses by police force and a more rigorous ground and air patrol.
- It may take years for the elephant population to reestablish itself, but this is a huge win for the park and its conservation efforts.
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