Screenshot of the U.S. White House web page on climate change, moments before it was deleted by the Trump forces after his inauguration on 20 January 2017. Photo: White House / Motherboard

By Jason Koebler
20 January 2017

(Motherboard) – At 11:59 am eastern, the official White House website had a lengthy information page about the threat of climate change and the steps the federal government had taken to fight it. At noon, at the instant Donald Trump took office, the page was gone, as well as any mention of climate change or global warming.

It’s customary for www.whitehouse.gov to flip over to the new administration exactly at noon, but the only mention of climate on President Trump’s new website is under his “America First Energy Plan” page, in which he vows to destroy President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which is a government-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. To reiterate: It is normal that the site is completely new; it is notable that climate change is not mentioned on any one of Trump's new pages.

“President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” the site says. A search of the website found no mention of "global warming," and the only mentions of "climate change" were archived pages that, after clicking on the links, led to scrubbed pages. [more]

[The President Obama site is archived here. –Des]

All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website

Environmental and indigenous rights activist Isidro Baldenegro López was the leader of Mexico's indigenous Tarahumara people. He was assassinated on 15 January 2017. Photo: Goldman Environmental Prize

By Natalie Gallón
19 January 2017

(CNN) – An indigenous activist who protested against illegal logging in Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains has been killed, highlighting the dangers that Latin American environmentalists face.

Isidro Baldenegro López, 51, a leader of the Tarahumara people and fervent environmentalist -- was shot dead Sunday at his uncle's home in the town of Coloradas de la Virgen in the state of Chihuahua, according to Mexican state-run news agency Notimex.

He was shot at least six times by a gunman, who fled the scene along with the weapon, the Chihuahua prosecutor's office said.

The police have launched an operation to capture the suspect.

In 2005, Baldenegro López won the Goldman Environmental Prize for his dedication in organizing peaceful protests against illegal logging.

"He was a fearless leader and a source of inspiration to so many people fighting to protect our environment and indigenous people's rights," the Goldman Environmental Foundation said in a statement Wednesday. […]

Global Witness, an organization that seeks to expose corruption and environmental abuse, said 2015 was the deadliest year on record, citing the "killings of land and environmental defenders -- people struggling to protect their land, forests and rivers."

A report from the group documented 185 killings across 16 countries in 2015. It found this figure was more than double the number of journalists killed in the same period. [more]

Prize-winning environmental activist shot dead in Mexico

In the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 programmers, scientists, archivists, and librarians race to save U.S. government climate data from the Trump administration, 14 January 2017. Photo: Naomi Waltham-Smith

By Zoë Schlanger
19 January 2017

(Wired) – At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.

Their undertaking, at the time, was purely speculative, based on travails of Canadian government scientists under the Stephen Harper administration, which muzzled them from speaking about climate change. Researchers watched as Harper officials threw thousands of books of aquatic data into dumpsters as federal environmental research libraries closed.

But three days later, speculation became reality as news broke that the incoming Trump administration’s EPA transition team does indeed intend to remove some climate data from the agency’s website. That will include references to President Barack Obama’s June 2013 Climate Action Plan and the strategies for 2014 and 2015 to cut methane, according to an unnamed source who spoke with Inside EPA. “It’s entirely unsurprising,” said Bethany Wiggin, director of the environmental humanities program at Penn and one of the organizers of the data-rescuing event. […]

At Penn, a group of coders that called themselves “baggers” set upon these tougher sets immediately, writing scripts to scrape the data and collect them in data bundles to be uploaded to DataRefuge.org, an Amazon Web Services-hosted site which will serve as an alternate repository for government climate and environmental research during the Trump administration. (A digital “bag” is like a safe, which would alert the user if anything within it is changed.) [more]

Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump

Prevalence of overweight in children under 5 years old in Latin america and the Caribbean (1990-2015), as a percentage. Graphic: FAO / Organización Panamericana de la Salud

19 January 2017 (United Nations) – Obesity and overweight are on the rise throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and are prevalent particularly among women and children, according to a new United Nations-backed report.

Nearly 360 million people, or 58 per cent of the inhabitants of the region, are overweight with the highest rates observed in the Bahamas at 69 per cent, Mexico at 64 per cent and Chile at 63 per cent, according to a news release on the Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security in Latin America and the Caribbean report, compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“The alarming rates of overweight and obesity in Latin America and the Caribbean should act as a wake-up call to governments in the region to introduce policies that address all forms of hunger and malnutrition and to do this by linking food security, sustainability, agriculture, nutrition and health,” said FAO Regional Representative Eve Crowley.

The report said that overweight affects more than half the population of all countries in the region, except for Haiti at 38.5 per cent, Paraguay at 48.5 per cent and Nicaragua at 49.4 per cent.

The report also noted obesity affects 140 million people, or 23 per cent of the region’s population, and that the highest rates are to be found in the Caribbean countries of Barbados at 36 per cent, and Trinidad and Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda at around 31 per cent each.

The increase in obesity has disproportionately impacted women: in more than 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the rate of female obesity is 10 percentage points higher than that of men.

PAHO’s Director Carissa F. Etienne explained that: “the region faces a double burden of malnutrition. This needs to be tackled through balanced diets that include fresh, healthy, nutritious and sustainably produced food, as well as addressing the main social factors that determine malnutrition, such as lack of access to healthy food, water and sanitation, education and health services, and social protection programmes, among others.”

The FAO/PAHO report points out that one of the main factors contributing to the rise of obesity and overweight has been the change in dietary patterns. Economic growth, increased urbanization, higher average incomes and the integration of the region into international markets have reduced the consumption of traditional preparations and increased consumption of ultra-processed products, a problem that has had greater impact on areas and countries that are net food importers.

To address this situation, FAO and PAHO call for the promotion of healthy and sustainable food systems that link agriculture, food, nutrition and health.

Processed foods drive surge in obesity rates in Latin America and Caribbean – UN-backed report

Comparison of electricity generation from coal in IEA scenarios and IPCC 2C scenarios, with and without carbon capture and storage (CCS), projected to 2050.  Graphic: Ecofys

Brussels, Belgium, 14 April 2016 (Ecofys) – Event the most efficient coal plants are not compatible with the global climate change goals, a new study reveals. As world leaders prepare to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change next week, a report [pdf] from Ecofys published today shows that any coal-fired power generation will take the world off course from the internationally agreed target of keeping temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

“The future of coal-fired power plants, even of ‘efficient’ ones, looks bleak due to the drastic CO2 emission reductions in the power sector that are needed to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C, let alone the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris,” commented David de Jager, Principal Consultant at Ecofys.

“This report discredits claims from the coal industry and governments such as those of Japan, Germany, South Korea, Australia and Poland that efficient coal plants are compatible with climate action. It is clear that in a post-Paris world, there is quite simply no role for coal, however ‘efficient’,” said Sebastien Godinot, Economist at WWF’s European Policy Office, which commissioned the report.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), emissions from the global electricity sector need to rapidly reduce and be close to zero by 2050 in order to stay well under 2°C.

Even if all coal plants used the most efficient available technology – so-called ‘high efficiency low emissions’ (HELE) technology – the sector’s emissions would still be over those levels, the Ecofys study, ‘The incompatibility of high-efficient coal technology with 2°C scenarios’, shows.

WWF concludes that governments need to end public financial support for coal immediately, and phase out all coal plants by 2035 in OECD countries and 2050 globally to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“With the G7 meeting in Japan, some of the biggest coal nations have a unique opportunity to begin to phase out coal subsidies and coal use”, said Godinot.

This conclusion was reached through an assessment of scenarios from the IPCC [1] and IEA[2]. Currently, 2,300 new coal power plants - 1,400 GW of capacity – are planned worldwide.

[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 5th Assessment Report.
[2] International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2015.

Contact

Sarah Azau
Climate & Energy Communication and Media Officer
WWF European Policy Office
sazau@wwf.eu
Phone: +32 2 743 88 06 / Mobile: + 32 473 57 31 37
Website: www.wwf.eu Twitter: @WWFEU

Even ‘most efficient’ coal puts global climate goals out of reach – report

Aerial view of devastation wreaked in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Photo: Logan Abassi / MINUSTAH / OCHA 

18 January 2017 (United Nations) – While the number of Haitians facing hunger in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew has declined steadily in the three months since the deadly storm ripped through the tiny island nation, more than 1.5 million people nevertheless remain food insecure, the United Nations said today.

The UN World Food Programme released findings from a joint assessment conducted in December with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Haiti’s National Coordination for Food Security (CNSA).

“The results of the assessment show the very positive impact of our collective efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, but also the pressing need to continue and redirect assistance to new areas with higher levels of food insecurity, as well as initiate recovery interventions,” said Ronald Tran Ba Huy, WFP’s Representative in Haiti.

Findings showed that people in the southern areas of Grande-Anse and Sud, the hardest hit areas of the country, are better off. An estimated 400,000 face hunger and food insecurity, as compared with one million shortly after Matthew hit.

The Government and UN partners have been providing food to these areas, along with seeds, tools, and financial resources.

Meanwhile, areas in the west – such as Artibonite, Nippes, and La Gonave – even though the impact of the hurricane there was smaller, are worse off. The insecurity is blamed on cycles of drought and flooding which preceded the hurricane by three years.

Noting the uneven improvements as a result of the different interventions, Nathanaël Hishamunda, FAO’s representative in Haiti, said that there is now a need to “consolidate the gains made by working hand in hand with the Government, with the goal of reinforcing our interventions in the most vulnerable communities.”

Given the ongoing needs, the humanitarian community in Haiti has requested $113 million to support food security and agriculture for this year.

Three months after Hurricane Matthew, 1.5 million Haitians face hunger – UN agencies report

The planet’s long-term warming trend is seen in this chart of every year’s annual temperature cycle from 1880 to 2016, compared to the average temperature from 1980 to 2015. Record warm years are listed in the column on the right. Graphic: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory

18 January 2017 (NASA) – Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2016 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data.

Because weather station locations and measurement practices change over time, there are uncertainties in the interpretation of specific year-to-year global mean temperature differences. However, even taking this into account, NASA estimates 2016 was the warmest year with greater than 95 percent certainty.

“2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.”

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year – from January through September, with the exception of June – were the warmest on record for those respective months. October, November, and December of 2016 were the second warmest of those months on record – in all three cases, behind records set in 2015.

Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the upper tropical Pacific Ocean and cause corresponding variations in global wind and weather patterns, contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño event was in effect for most of 2015 and the first third of 2016. Researchers estimate the direct impact of the natural El Niño warming in the tropical Pacific increased the annual global temperature anomaly for 2016 by 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.12 degrees Celsius).

Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year. For example, both NASA and NOAA found the 2016 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record. In contrast, the Arctic experienced its warmest year ever, consistent with record low sea ice found in that region for most of the year.

NASA’s analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations. These raw measurements are analyzed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heating effects that could skew the conclusions. The result of these calculations is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.

NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but with a different baseline period, and different methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures.

GISS is a laboratory within the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. The agency develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. NASA shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

The full 2016 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculation are available at:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp

The slides for the Jan. 18, news conference are available at:

https://go.nasa.gov/2016climate

For more information about NASA's Earth science programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/earth

Contact

Sean Potter
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1536
sean.potter@nasa.gov

Michael Cabbage / Leslie McCarthy
Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York
212-678-5516 / 212-678-5507
mcabbage@nasa.gov / leslie.m.mccarthy@nasa.gov
Last Updated: 18 January 2017
Editor: Karen Northon

NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally

Scott Pruitt, Trump nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has sued the EPA 13 times. Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Chris Kahn and Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Matthew Lewis
17 January 2017

(Reuters) – More than 60 percent of Americans would like to see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's powers preserved or strengthened under incoming President Donald Trump, and the drilling of oil on public lands to hold steady or drop, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The results could foretell stronger-than-expected public opposition to Trump's plans to boost energy development by slashing environmental regulations, an agenda shared by some of his top Cabinet picks slated for Senate confirmation hearings later this week. Trump takes office on Friday.

Some 39 percent of Americans would like to see the EPA, the nation's top environmental regulator, "strengthened or expanded," while another 22 percent hope for it to "remain the same," according to the poll. Just 19 percent said they would like to see the agency "weakened or eliminated" and the rest said they "don't know."

Among Republicans, 47 percent wish for the EPA either to "remain the same" or be "strengthened or expanded," while 35 percent want it "weakened or eliminated".

The online poll of 9,935 people was conducted Dec. 16 to Jan. 12 and has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 1.1 percentage points. […]

A Trump transition team official declined to comment.

Trump campaigned on a promise to drastically reduce environmental regulations in order to create jobs and pave the way for more oil, gas, and coal development. He has said he would refocus the EPA on its core mission to protect air and water quality. [more]

Unlike Trump, Americans want strong environmental regulator - Reuters/Ipsos poll


By Dominique Mosbergen
17 January 2017

(The Huffington Post) – President-elect Donald Trump has made no secret of his hostility toward the Environmental Protection Agency. He has repeatedly called for its elimination, telling Fox News in 2015 that the environment would be just “fine” without it.

Activists say Trump has followed through on those threats in nominating Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA, a man who has sued the agency 13 times as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Pruitt, a climate change denier with close ties to the fossil fuel industry, has a long record of attacking the EPA and undermining environmental regulations. On his LinkedIn page, Pruitt refers to himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization. “It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.”

The EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment by issuing regulations and enforcing the nation’s environmental laws. Under President Barack Obama, the EPA created the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon pollution from power plants. It also issued new guidance for the Clean Water Act to protect thousands of waterways and wetlands, and introduced measures to limit emissions from heavy-duty trucks and reduce smog and mercury emissions from industrial sources. [more]

Scott Pruitt Has Sued The Environmental Protection Agency 13 Times. Now He Wants To Lead It.

Growth of global incomes by decile, 1988–2011. The difference between the absolute growth in income of the different deciles is, however, highly unequal – far more than the simple rates of growth would suggest – even after taking into account the economic shock to incomes post-2008, as shown by the blue line on this figure. The incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by $65 between 1988 and 2011, equivalent to less than $3 extra a year, while the incomes of the richest 1 percent increased 182 times as much, by $11,800. Oxfam's research has revealed that over the last 25 years, the top 1 percent has gained more income than the bottom 50 percent put together, and almost half (46 percent) of total income growth went to the richest 10 percent. Graphic: Oxfam

[If you’re wondering about the rise of far-right, ultra-nationalist politics around the world, you need look no further than this report to understand why. –Des]

15 January 2017 (Oxfam) – The gap between rich and poor is far greater than had previously been estimated, with big business and the super-rich fueling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages, and using their power to influence politics.

According to Oxfam’s new report [pdf] ahead of the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. It is time for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.

Public anger with inequality is already creating political shockwaves around the globe, as seen recently with the election of Donald Trump here in the US, and Brexit in the UK.  But rather than moving forward with a constructive vision to unrig the rules, we are seeing dangerous, often xenophobic approaches, which blame inequality on the very people who bear its greatest burdens and empowers special interests to rig the rules even more.

Inequality is a daily reality for millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, which is part of a global trend that has seen the wealthy profit from an unfair political system as everyone else is left behind. In the US, the 1% control 42% of wealth. Between 1988 and 2011 the poorest 10% of Americans saw their incomes grow by an average $427 while the richest 10% saw their income increase by $13,490 on average.

From Nigeria to Bangladesh, from the UK to Brazil, people are fed up with feeling ignored by their political leaders and millions are mobilizing to push for change. Seven out of 10 people live in a country that has seen a rise in inequality in the last 30 years. Between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest 10 percent increased by just $65, while the incomes of the richest 1 percent grew by $11,800 – 182 times as much.

But instead of attacking such dramatic inequalities, President-elect Trump and some in Congress seem to want to respond to the outcry by giving massive tax cuts to the rich, dismantling protections for workers, and punishing refugees and immigrants. It is concerning that to lead the agencies that protect workers, the environment, and human rights, President-elect Trump has nominated individuals who have spent their careers attacking the rules, undermining protections, and resisting progress.

Together we must demand that world leaders, including President-elect Trump and Congress take urgent action to reduce inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth. We are calling on them to:

  1. Stop offshore tax dodging which costs the US and developing countries more than $100 billion each year.
  2. Raise the minimum wage so that working families can make a living wage.
  3. Fight discrimination of all kinds and ensure equal pay for equal work.
  4. Build and invest in a social safety net for everyone.
  5. Ensure every person has access to affordable, high quality healthcare and education.

Just 8 people now have the same wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion

 

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