Environment

Adapting cities to a hotter world: 3 essential reads

Adapting cities to a hotter world: 3 essential reads

Heat waves can be deadly, especially when they combine high temperatures with elevated humidity levels that make the air feel even hotter. The impacts can be especially strong in cities, which often are several degrees warmer than nearby rural areas due to the urban heat island effect. These three articles from The Conversation’s archives describe steps that communities can take to adapt as climate change makes heat waves more frequent and intense.

Arctic ice loss is worrying, but the giant stirring in the south could be even worse

Arctic ice loss is worrying, but the giant stirring in the south could be even worse

A record start to summer ice melt in Greenland this year has drawn attention to the northern ice sheet. We will have to wait to see if 2019 continues to break ice-melt records, but in the rapidly warming Arctic the long-term trends of ice loss are clear.

Reforesting an area the size of the US needed to help avert climate breakdown, say researchers – are they right?

Reforesting an area the size of the US needed to help avert climate breakdown, say researchers – are they right?

Restoring the world’s forests on an unprecedented scale is “the best climate change solution available”, according to a new study. The researchers claim that covering 900m hectares of land – roughly the size of the continental US – with trees could store up to 205 billion tonnes of carbon, about two thirds of the carbon that humans have already put into the atmosphere.

New Study Shows How Breaching “Carbon Threshold” Could Trigger Mass Extinction in Earth’s Oceans

New Study Shows How Breaching “Carbon Threshold” Could Trigger Mass Extinction in Earth’s Oceans

Between the scientific community, governments, humanitarian organizations, and even military planners, climate change is considered to be the single greatest threat facing humanity today. Between the increases in famine, disease, flooding, displacement, extreme weather, and chaos that result, it is clear that the way we are causing our planet to get warmer is having dire consequences.

High-value opportunities exist to restore tropical rainforests around the world – here’s how we mapped them

High-value opportunities exist to restore tropical rainforests around the world – here’s how we mapped them

The green belt of tropical rainforests that covers equatorial regions of the Americas, Africa, Indonesia and Southeast Asia is turning brown. Since 1990, Indonesia has lost 50% of its original forest, the Amazon 30% and Central Africa 14%. Fires, logging, hunting, road building and fragmentation have heavily damaged more than 30% of those that remain.

Sydney declares a climate emergency – what does that mean in practice?

Sydney declares a climate emergency – what does that mean in practice?

Late on Monday night, the City of Sydney became the first state capital in Australia to officially declare a climate emergency. With climate change considered a threat to human life, Sydney councillors unanimously supported a motion put forward by Lord Mayor Clover Moore to mobilise city resources to reduce carbon emissions and minimise the impact of future change.

Biodiversity helps coral reefs thrive – and could be part of strategies to save them

Biodiversity helps coral reefs thrive – and could be part of strategies to save them

Coral reefs are home to so many species that they often are called “the rainforests of the seas.” Today they face a daunting range of threats, including ocean warming and acidification, overfishing and pollution. Worldwide, more than one-third of all coral species are at risk of extinction.

We probed Santorini’s volcano with sound to learn what’s going on beneath the surface

We probed Santorini’s volcano with sound to learn what’s going on beneath the surface

The island of Santorini in the Mediterranean has attracted people for millennia. Today, it feels magical to watch the sun set from cliffs over the deep bay, surrounded by cobalt blue churches and whitewashed houses. This mystical place attracts about 2 million tourists per year, making it one of the top destinations in Greece.

Black plastic can’t be recycled – but we’ve just found a way to use the carbon in renewable energy

Black plastic can’t be recycled – but we’ve just found a way to use the carbon in renewable energy

The big problem with plastics is that though they last for a very long time, most are thrown away after only one use. Since plastics were invented in the 1950s, about 8,300 million metric tonnes (Mt) have been made, but over half (4,900 Mt) is already in landfill or has been lost to the environment. In 2010 alone, an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 Mt went into the oceans.

World Oceans Day 8 June: The ocean is the most important buffer for CO2 and global warming

World Oceans Day 8 June: The ocean is the most important buffer for CO2 and global warming

The annual World Oceans day is upon us. If we really want to do something about the effect of additional CO2 emissions on climate change we have to look at the oceans according to marine geologist, Professor Gert-Jan Reichart from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Utrecht University.

Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year – it’s time to protect them

Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year – it’s time to protect them

The news is grim: According to a report compiled by hundreds of scientists from 50 countries, Earth is losing species faster than at any other time in human history. Thanks to climate change, coastal development and the impacts of activities such as logging, farming and fishing, roughly 1 million plants and animals are facing extinction.