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From the Opinion Section
The West’s delusion of energy independence
America must secure the raw material needed to create clean energy, write Dennis C. Blair Jr. guest essay.
A new United Nations report has declared it a “global wildfire crisis.” And, As I reported this past weekAccording to the organization, many societies are not thinking in the right way about the problem.
According to the report, government spending is biased toward firefighting and not improving forest management or understanding what fires are likely beyond our control. “Public opinion in many places favors putting out fires at all costs.”
Quotable: “The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.
Numbers:The report estimates that even in a moderate climate, the probability of catastrophic fires could rise by as much as a third by 2050, and by as much 52 percent by 2100.
California’s drought appears set to drag on
Californians could be forgiven for thinking a few months ago that the state’s drought might finally be coming to an end. A wet autumn had caused reservoir levels to be higher than usual and deep snowpack was present in the Sierra Nevada.
What a difference six week makes. The outlook has been drastically changed by a dry January and more of the same in February’s first half. According to forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), another year of drought seems likely. However, conditions may not be quite as severe as last.
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Water supply is decreasing. The world’s glaciers may They contain less water than we thought., suggesting that freshwater supplies could peak sooner than anticipated for millions of people worldwide who depend on glacial melt for drinking water, crop irrigation and everyday use.
Measurements of emissions from space. A satellite from Europe shows which sites are located in the United States, Russia and Central Asia. “ultra emitters” of methane, a potent planet warming gas. These data could be used to combat climate change.
There is little hope for relief from drought elsewhere in the West.
As I wrote last week in an article, forecasters say that La Niña, a cooling of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific that affects the jet stream and can influence weather around the world, is likely to keep much of the region warm and dry through May. Only part of the Pacific Northwest, where La Niña typically brings wetter conditions, is expected to see much improvement.
Numbers:According to the U.S. Drought Monitoring, 99.6 per cent of California is experiencing some form of drought. But the percentage where drought is rated “extreme” or “exceptional” has fallen drastically since last summer, to a little more than 1 percent from nearly 90 percent.
Here’s an amazing fact: Peatlands, soggy ground like bogs and fens, make up just 3 percent of land on Earth, but they store twice as much planet-warming carbon as all the world’s forests combined.
Peatlands are often considered a nuisance by humans. They’re too soft to build houses, too wet for agricultural crops and they make an excellent home for mosquitoes. In certain climates, this can increase the risk of malaria. As a result, about 15 percent of the world’s peatlands have been drained.
That’s a problem because damaged peatlands, rather than storing carbon, can become major emitters of greenhouse gases. It’s All of this is explained in this articleSabrina Imbler is a reporting fellow at The Times.
How can we protect these unsung heroes of carbon capture? Ruth Maclean is our West Africa bureau chief. She traveled to the Congo Basin in search of answers. This area contains a large tropical peat swamp that is larger than England. Despite the fact that there is very little infrastructure, the peat there is still relatively intact. However, there are threats. Read her article and see the stunning photos taken by Nanna Heitmann. Please follow this link.
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