Climate Change

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© Ben Jennings
The Guardian, Nov.14.2018
Public doubt about the science is not an accident. People profiting from business-as-usual fossil fuel use are waging a campaign to discredit the science. Their campaign is effective because the profiteers have learned how to manipulate democracies for their advantage.
— James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (1981–2013), Cowards in Our Democracies: Part 1 (Jan.2012)

The window for action is closing. With every degree of temperature rise, ~1bn people will be pushed outside the climate niche in which they live and, as we have done for millenia, will migrate.[1]

The 10 Most-Respected Global Warming Skeptics. The media portrays climate scientists as having delivered a final verdict on global warming. They haven't. There remain some holdouts who say this consensus is little more than conformity to a politically correct idea. Perhaps even more surprising is that a few of these global-warming skeptics are actually respected! Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider, Jul.30.2009.
Excellent list of Climate Misinformers (to ~2013), link

You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Deal with it.
— Proverb

Can we afford to tackle Climate Change? (Video) The science of climate change is settled. So now the story is all about politics and economics. Guardian journalists and prominent authors, economists and campaigners, including Larry Elliott and Naomi Klein, explore the finance of keeping fossil fuels in the ground; some options; and a possible solution. The Guardian, Jan.19.2017.

The new UN climate report will contain very bad news. A much-awaited report from the U.N.’s top climate science panel will show an enormous gap between where we are and where we need to be to prevent dangerous levels of warming. Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis, Nuclear News, Oct.03.2018.

Global Warming

© Chris Madden, 2015. Used with kind permission.
ToDo: This lot needs to be gone through and put it in order, with KISS as the main principle.

|caption=© Chris Madden, 2015 (Need to pay £4 for this.)


  • Dec.01.2018: Fake eruption could dim sun and combat global warming. A scheme to dim the sun by mimicking the impact of volcanic eruptions will move a step closer next year with the first experiment in the stratosphere. Scientists hope to prove that spraying tiny particles 12 miles above the Earth’s surface could reduce global warming by reflecting some of the Sun’s rays back into space. Such proposals face fierce opposition from some scientists and environmental groups, who believe that they distract attention from the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions. There are fears that particle spraying would damage the ozone layer and disrupt rainfall patterns, causing droughts and famines in some regions. The $3m “stratospheric controlled perturbation experiment” (Scopex), partly funded by Bill Gates of Microsoft is being planned by a team from Harvard University. Ben Webster, The Times.
  • Jan.29.2018: Governing the Big Bad Fix? What to do about Geoengineering Geoengineering – large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s natural systems – is increasingly being presented as a strategy to counteract, dilute or delay climate change. Which international legal norms and agreements would contradict the different measures? Duncan Currie, Heinrich Boll Stiftung.
  • Jan.23.2018: Creating clouds to stop global warming could wreak havoc. To counteract global warming, humans may consider spraying sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere to form clouds — and artificially cool the Earth. The idea behind the process, known as geoengineering, is to keep global warming under control — with the ideal solution still being a reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, suddenly stopping that spraying would have a "devastating" global impact on animals and plants, potentially even leading to extinction... Doyle Rice, USA Today.
  • Nov.2017: The Big Bad Fix: The case against geoengineering. In the wake of the 2015 Paris Agreement adopting "well below 2°C" as the international goal to limit Global Warming, geoengineering is increasingly seriously being promoted as a technological means to counteract Climate Change or its effects. The "Big Bad Fix" provides a comprehensive overview of the key actors, technologies and fora relevant in the Geoengineering discourse. It opposes geoengineering as a technofix for Climate Change and as a threat to world peace, democracy and human rights. Heinrich Boll Stiftung.

Carbon Capture and Storage

  • Apr.2015: Carbon Capture Scam (CCS). How a False Climate Solution Bolsters Big Oil. Many politicians and industry leaders refuse to let go of the combustion economy. Nothing epitomizes destructive political procrastination on climate more than promoting carbon capture for coal-fired power plants. The CCS myth posits that the economy could continue to burn fossil fuels without the harmful effect of global warming. CCS is regarded as the last hope for the coal extraction industry, even as the industry is loath to acknowledge the need to reduce carbon pollution. Electric utilities don't really care if CCS works or not, but they are willing to take public money to see if it does. Oil companies have proven a strong ally of carbon capture because it provides them with a ready source of subsidised CO2 that they can inject into reservoirs to extract more oil. Support for CCS delays the transition to renewables. Political and financial support for carbon capture hurts the climate. Tragically, the captured CO2 collected via carbon capture will become a catalyst for even more CO2 pollution. (long) Lu Guang, Greenpeace.


  • Jul.12.2018: Ireland becomes world's first country to divest from fossil fuels. The Republic of Ireland will become the world’s first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament. The state’s €8bn national investment fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat “as soon as is practicable”, which is expected to mean within five years. Norway’s huge $1tn sovereign wealth fund has only partially divested from fossil fuels, targeting some coal companies, and is still considering its oil and gas holdings. Damian Carrington, The Guardian.
  • Feb.07.2018: Carbon copy university. The University of Edinburgh has become the largest of 60 to bow to environmental campaigners, withdrawing about £5 million of investments from two multinational energy companies. Edinburgh has the third biggest endowment after Oxford and Cambridge, worth £527 million. It said the move "reflects our commitment to lower carbon investment products". The Times, '
  • Sept.28.2016: Executives up for big bonuses in Great Australian Bight oil rush. Potential AU$1.13m a year for Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP. BP’s annual report shows that all executive directors are entitled to bonuses if the company hits targets for “relative reserves replacement” – in other words if it grows its reserves faster than it depletes them. The report notes that BP did this faster than any other major oil company in the world in 2015-16. Tying executive bonuses to finding new reserves could lead them to make decisions that could lead to major oil spills. Dan Gocher, author of the Market Forces report, questioned the rationale of paying out bonuses to executives who oversee the expansion of oil reserves when the world is trying to phase out fossil fuels. 12 of Australia’s largest superannuation funds continue to vote overwhelmingly in favour of reserve-linked bonuses despite having made pledges that recognise the importance of climate action. In order to prevent the world warming by more than 2C, the limit agreed by world leaders, more than a third of proven reserves must stay in the ground. ... They looked at the gender, age, tenure, nationality and degree of experience outside the oil and gas industry of board members for six companies: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total. ... Under the 50/50 Climate Project, 50 institutional investors worth US$13tn are putting pressure on the 50 biggest energy companies to get serious on climate risk. Karl Mathiesen, Climate Home News. See also Exxon and Chevron prone to ‘groupthink’ on climate

Air Acidification

  • Feb.2018: Carbon dioxide toxicity and climate change: a major unapprehended risk for human health. As atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide continue to escalate and drive climate change, the issue of CO2 toxicity is not recognised as a global risk. The toxicity of CO2 for breathing has been well defined for high concentrations but it remains effectively unknown what level will compromise human health when individuals are perpetually exposed for their lifetime. There is evidence from the few studies of long-term low-level exposure that permanent exposure, to CO2 levels predicted by the end of the century, will have significant effects on humans. Other studies of slightly higher CO2 levels may offer clues to effects that may occur when humans experience lifelong exposure. Unhealthy blood CO2 concentrations have been measured from people in common office environments where reduced thinking ability and health symptoms have been observed at levels of CO2 above 600 ppm for relatively short-term exposures. Although humans and animals are able to deal with elevated levels of CO2 in the short-term due to various compensation mechanisms in the body, the persistent effects of these mechanisms may have severe consequences in a perpetual environment of elevated CO2. These include threats to life such as kidney failure, bone atrophy and loss of brain function. Existing research also indicates that as ambient CO2 increases in the near-future, there will be an associated increase in cancers, neurological disorders and other conditions. Research is urgently required to clearly identify the severity and proximity of this risk, associated with the primary human function of breathing, being a potential major aspect of climate change. Phil Bierwirth, Emeritus Faculty, Australian National University, Downloaded file is here: /Documents/CO2-Toxicity.pdf

Ocean Acidification

  • unknown: What is Ocean Acidification? When carbon dioxide (CO2) is absorbed by seawater, the seawater pH is reduced, carbonate ion concentraton is reduced, as is the aturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals. These chemical reactions are termed "ocean acidification". Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. Ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become undersaturated with these minerals, which is likely to affect the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units. This change represents approximately a 30% increase in acidity. Future predictions indicate that the oceans will continue to absorb carbon dioxide and become even more acidic. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on business as usual emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150% more acidic, resulting in a pH that the oceans haven't experienced for more than 20 million years. When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk. Increasing ocean acidification has been shown to significantly reduce the ability of reef-building corals to produce their skeletons. This could compromise the long-term viability of these ecosystems and perhaps impact the estimated one million species that depend on coral reef habitat. PMEL Carbon Proram.
  • Apr.07.2018: Ocean acidification: Global warming's evil twin. As CO2 dissolves in the oceans, it leads to a drop in pH. This change in seawater chemistry affects marine organisms and ecosystems in several ways, especially organisms like corals and shellfish whose shells or skeletons are made from calcium carbonate. Today, the surface waters of the oceans have already acidified by an average of 0.1 pH units from pre-industrial levels and we're seeing signs of its impact even in the deep oceans... John Cook, Skeptical Science.

World's Top 10 GHG Emitters

World Resources Institute's Climate Watch platform allows you to explore historical and projected emissions, countries' climate targets and their linkages with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. As countries implement their targets and policies and develop more detailed pathways to reduce their emissions, it’s important to fully understand our global emissions picture and how it has changed over time. In early 2017, WRI updated its CAIT Climate Data Explorer, on the world’s top greenhouse gas-emitting countries with the latest global data available (2013).[2]

Govt Policy

Spoiler: your govt lies to you. See also

  • Aug.14.2007: Fiddling the figures on renewable energy. ...statistical undermining of the target ... Emissions from British flights abroad are not counted, nor emissions from the ships that import and export so many of our goods. And now the emissions-trading scheme is operational, ministers are beginning to quietly drop reporting of emissions coming out of industry chimneys (rising) in favour of the emissions credits issued (falling). more Letters, The Guardian.
  • Aug.13.2007: Revealed: cover-up plan on energy target. Ministers urged to lobby for get-out on renewables. In contrast to the govt's claims to be leading the world on climate change, officials within the former Department of Trade and Industry have admitted that under current policies Britain would miss the EU's 2020 target of 20% energy from renewables by a long way. And their suggestion that "statistical interpretations of the target" be used rather than new ways to reach it has infuriated environmentalists. The paper suggests a number of ways ministers could wriggle out of specific commitments. It also suggests ministers lobby certain EU commissioners and countries. Ashley Seager, Mark Milner, The Guardian.

Species Impacts

  • Jun.03.2018: Eerie silence falls on Shetland cliffs that once echoed to seabirds’ cries. Climate change has caused a catastrophic drop in the numbers of terns, kittiwakes and puffins. Climate change has disrupted food chains in the North Sea and North Atlantic and left many seabirds without a source of sustenance. Seabirds rely heavily on sand eels for food, and this supply was severely depleted in northern waters by fishing – though this was eventually halted, allowing stocks to recover. However, these have now been disrupted again by global warming, triggered by rising carbon dioxide emissions from factories, cars and power plants that burn fossil fuels. Temperatures in the North Sea and North Atlantic have risen significantly as a result. Robin McKie, The Guardian.


  • Nov.14.2018: The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us. Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse. Soft aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. Only one of the many life support systems on which we depend – soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity – need fail for everything to slide. The problem is political - economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions. George Monbiot, The Guardian.
  • Nov.14.2018: G20 nations still led by fossil fuel industry, climate report finds. Coal, oil and gas subsidies risking rise in global temperatures to 3.2C, well beyond agreed Paris goal. The paper, by global partnership Climate Transparency, found 82% of energy in these countries still being provided by coal, oil and gas, a factor which has relied on an increase of about 50% in subsidies over the past 10 years to compete with increasingly cheap wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. Comparing the goals and policies of different countries, the paper found that only India was on course to stay below the upper limit set by the Paris agreement of 2C, while the worst offenders – Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – would take the world beyond 4C. China, the world’s biggest emitter, stabilised its releases of carbon for a couple of years by reducing dependency on coal, but this positive trend slipped last year. Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina have promised to cut deforestation but the destruction rate of forests shows no sign of reversing. Britain has made the fastest transition, with a 7.7% decline in the use of fossil fuels between 2012 and 2015, but the report warned that this could stall in the years ahead because the government had cut support for feed-in tariffs, energy efficiency and zero-carbon homes. Jonathan Watts, The Guardian.
  • Oct.14.2018: Target zero: UK aims to cut all emissions by 2050. Energy minister Claire Perry will announce tomorrow Britain plans to become the world’s cleanest country by cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The transport, aviation, farming and power industries will be ordered to comply. The UK emits about 500m tons of CO2 a year, mostly from using gas, petrol, diesel and coal, so reducing to zero would be a huge challenge. Cog.Diss. How does the 3rd Heathrow Runway expansion + forever building more roads, which increases the number of cars, fit into this plan? Jonathan Leake, The Times.
  • Oct.07.2018: Climate watchdog: halt global warming — ride an electric scooter. Britain must give up its love affair with the car and move to electric scooters, battery-powered bikes and other “low-carbon” transport, the Committee on Climate Change has warned. UK cities should have their streets “re-engineered” to replace cars with millions of “micro-vehicles”, perhaps even including electric skateboards, all powered by batteries. Although Britain has cut total emissions from 795m tonnes of CO2 in 1990 to 456m tonnes now, it has completely failed to cut transport emissions, which have stuck at 125m tonnes of CO2 a year since 1990. Britain has pledged to cut its total emissions from all sources to about 60m tonnes by 2040 — so tackling transport is essential. Stark believes the best emerging energy alternative is hydrogen. Jonathan Leake, The Times.
  • Aug.30.2018: Crop losses to pests will soar as climate warms, study warns. Rising temperatures make insects eat and breed more, leading to food losses growing world population cannot afford, say scientists. The UK is the worst affected of significant wheat producers, with pest losses expected to more than double from 5% to 11%. Insecticides and GM crops won't help. Damian Carrington, The Guardian.
  • May.26.2017: Planting trees will not slow global warming. Nothing, not even the creation of huge plantations of trees to absorb carbon dioxide, is a viable alternative to drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Humans cannot simply plant their way out of trouble: trees cannot absorb the ever-increasing quantities of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. “If we continue burning coal and oil the way we do today and regret our inaction later, the amounts of greenhouse gas we would need to take out of the atmosphere in order to stabilise the climate would be too huge to manage,” says Lena Boysen from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. If the forests were planted on productive land, then humans would lose the soils urgently needed to nourish a population of 9bn. If the trees were planted on less productive terrain, the necessary costs in water and nitrogen-based fertiliser would be devastating. Either way, natural ecosystems would be irreparably damaged. And then the trees grown to absorb carbon would have to be stored deep underground, to prevent the carbon returning to the atmosphere to accelerate global warming rather than limit it. The authors make the point that one option for biomass plantation would consume 10% to 25% of the world’s agricultural land, at the cost of 43% to 73% of the world’s annual calorie production. They supposed a world that abandoned all meat and dairy products, and “planted” all pasture: even that “would not result in substantial climate benefits”. That is because although grazing lands are greater than cropland, they are also less productive. The authors come back, again and again, to the need to reduce fossil fuel use. Tim Radford, Climate News Network.
  • Apr.26.2018: 'We're doomed': Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention. “We’re doomed,” says Mayer Hillman with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.” Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute, does say so. Hillman accuses all kinds of leaders – from religious leaders to scientists to politicians – of failing to honestly discuss what we must do to move to zero-carbon emissions. "I don’t think they can because society isn’t organised to enable them to do so. Political parties’ focus is on jobs and GDP, depending on the burning of fossil fuels." He fears it will be a long time before we take proportionate action to stop climatic calamity. "Standing in the way is capitalism. We're doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid." Patrick Barkham, The Guardian.
  • Apr.11.2018: Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show. Warm current that has historically caused dramatic changes in climate is experiencing an unprecedented slowdown and may be less stable than thought - with potentially severe consequences. Such a collapse would see western Europe suffer far more extreme winters, sea levels rise fast on the eastern seaboard of the US and would disrupt vital tropical rains. The new research shows the current is now 15% weaker than around 400AD, an exceptionally large deviation, and that human-caused global warming is responsible for at least a significant part of the weakening. Good map. Damian Carrington, The Guardian.
  • Mar.12.2018: Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war. The warnings about an unfolding climate catastrophe are getting more desperate, yet the march to destruction continues. We inherited a planet of beauty and wonders – and we're saying goodbye to all that. It can’t be so bad, we think: if a natural wonder were truly under threat, our politicians wouldn't simply stand aside and watch. Err... yes, they would.
    Climate change has not yet spurred an equivalent of the mutinies in France or the revolution in Petrograd or the uprising in Berlin. The stakes could not be higher. Lamps are going out all over the natural world ... and no one will ever see them lit again. Jeff Sparrow, The Guardian.
  • Jan.23.2018: Does Rising CO2 Benefit Plants? Climate change’s negative effects on plants will likely outweigh any gains from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Climate change skeptics assert rising CO2 levels benefit plants, so global warming is not a big deal. Is it true rising atmospheric CO2 will help plants, including food crops? ... Nitrogen shortage, drought, heat stress, faster growth leads to lower nutrient levels; cannot look at CO2 in isolation. Annie Sneed, Scientific American.
  • Jan.23.2018: The climate solution no-one in Davos will be talking about. Economists say a global carbon tax would efficiently shift the world to safer energy production. So why is it barely mentioned? In an influential 2017 proposal, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, led by Nobel-laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, put forward a globally coordinated carbon tax as the best policy to address climate change... Ian Lefond, Timmons Roberts, Climate Home News.
  • 2018.01.19: Govt told Parliament they intend to meet the targets without carrying forward banked carbon units, which means they are not on track to meet carbon budgets 4 and 5 according to latest EEP figures. @MaryCreaghMP
  • 2018.01.17: The Hold of Big Business and the Climate Crisis - Carne Ross. In the second interview with Carne Ross he talks about the contradictions inherent between his beliefs as an anarchist and his work dealing with national leaders and international power-brokers. He discusses the power of the business lobby and the the way in which the climate crisis may be a catalyst to systemic change. Real Media {ToDo: need a transcript of this} {See Carne Ross: From British Diplmat to Anarchist}
  • 2018.01.17: UK to miss legal climate targets without urgent action, official advisers warn Vague ambitions, such as banning new petrol cars by 2040, must be turned into solid plans, says the Committee on Climate Change. The Guardian
  • 2018.01.17: The UK will miss its legally binding climate goals without more ambitious policies, says the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). The UK’s official climate watchdog says the govt’s Clean Growth Strategy falls short, even when taking a “generous” view of the plans and policies it sets out. The strategy was published in Oct.2017 and is supposed to meet the UK’s 4th and 5th carbon budgets for 2023-2032. "Flexibility Rules" a major point of contention. Carbon Brief, Simon Evans
  • 2018.01.16: The UK saw clean energy investment decline 56% to $10.3bn (£7.5bn) in the face of changes in policy support in 2017. @CornwallInsight
  • 2018.01.11: Theresa May's speech on the environment - Greenpeace reaction. We need a 25-month emergency plan for nature, not a 25-year vision. Greenpeace UK
  • 2018.01.10: New York City sues Shell, ExxonMobil and other oil companies over climate change. The Washington Post, Chris Mooney, Dino Grandoni
  • 2018.01.03: Nuclear largest low carbon generator as UK fossil generation falls below 50%. Nuclear generated 70TWh, wind 49TWh, solar 12 TWh compared to coal 23TWh in 2017. Gas still leads but needs to fall in the long term to meet carbon objectives @JonathanWorldNu >> Low-carbon sources generated more UK electricity than fossil fuels in 2017 Carbon Brief, Simon Evans
  • 2018.01.01: Fighting Climate Change, One Laundry Load at a Time. Experts in the study of fungi are playing a bigger role in improving laundry detergents and, by extension, leading efforts to cut energy use, New York Times, Stanley Reed
  • Every year it's getting hotter because of human-caused #climate change. Every year climate scientists produces great graphics showing this (here's a sampling just from today). Every year, the politicians ignore us and the problem worsens. It's hard not to get discouraged. @PterGleick
    • 2017.09.18: What does climate change look like through the eyes of a politician? Green Alliance blog, Rebecca Willis
    • The big whiff: How corporate America missed the climate fix. The tanker disaster Exxon Valdez resulted in the "Valdez Principles", but applies only internally, ignores the larger issue. [...] Irony becomes thick here: it is entirely possible that these businesses could achieve 100% clean power while simultaneously ensuring that society fails to solve climate change. We now know with overwhelming certainty that by 2100, human emissions of carbon dioxide are hurtling us towards 4 degrees Celsius warming, and maybe beyond — a situation that is, in the words of Kevin Anderson, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, "incompatible with an organized global community." GreenBiz, Auden Schendler, Aug.25.2017
    • (more ...)


  • Dec.12.2017: It’s Britain’s duty to help nations hit by climate change. The benefits of clean growth lay at the heart of our industrial strategy. But we must be at the forefront of the effort to keep global temperature rises at manageable levels. There is a clear moral imperative for developed economies such as the UK to help those around the world who stand to lose most from the consequences of manmade climate change. But by putting the UK at the forefront of efforts to cut carbon emissions and develop clean energy, we can also make the most of new economic opportunities. ...we would phase out unabated coal-fired power generation... Theresa May, The Guardian. One Planet Summit, Climate Finance Day
  • Sept.13.2017: The Great Nutrient Collapse. As CO2 levels keep rising, every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars. We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history ― an injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply. In agricultural research, it’s been understood for some time that many of our most important foods have been getting less nutritious. Measurements of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has measurably dropped over the past 50 to 70 years. Researchers have generally assumed the reason is fairly straightforward: We’ve been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and higher-yielding crops—whether broccoli, tomatoes, or wheat—tend to be less nutrient-packed. In 2004, a landmark study of fruits and vegetables found that everything from protein to calcium, iron and vitamin C had declined significantly across most garden crops since 1950. The researchers concluded this could mostly be explained by the varieties we were choosing to grow. Loladze and a handful of other scientists have come to suspect that’s not the whole story and that the atmosphere itself may be changing the food we eat. Plants need carbon dioxide to live like humans need oxygen. And in the increasingly polarized debate about climate science, one thing that isn’t up for debate is that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising. Before the industrial revolution, the earth’s atmosphere had about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Last year, the planet crossed over the 400 parts per million threshold; scientists predict we will likely reach 550 parts per million within the next half-century—essentially twice the amount that was in the air when Americans started farming with tractors. If you’re someone who thinks about plant growth, this seems like a good thing. But as the zooplankton experiment showed, greater volume and better quality might not go hand-in-hand. In fact, they might be inversely linked. As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also leads them to pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc. ... Scientists found that the protein content of goldenrod pollen has declined by 33% since the industrial revolution — and the change closely tracks the rise in CO2. Across nearly 130 varieties of plants and more than 15,000 samples collected from experiments over the past three decades, the overall concentration of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron had dropped by 8 percent on average. The ratio of carbohydrates to minerals was going up. The plants, like the algae, were becoming junk food.What that means for humans―whose main food intake is plants―is only just starting to be investigated. Researchers who dive into it will have to surmount obstacles like its low profile and slow pace, and a political environment where the word “climate” is enough to derail a funding conversation. Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico.


  1. ^ Where Will Everyone Go? roPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, have for the first time modeled how climate refugees might move across international borders. This is what we found. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, Jul.23.2020.
  2. ^ This Interactive Chart Explains World’s Top 10 Emitters, and How They’ve Changed. Johannes Friedrich, Mengpin Ge, Andrew Pickens, WRI, Apr.11.2017.