The Trump administration is targeting federal funding for studying and tracking climate change while boosting the continued burning of planet-warming fossil fuels. The White House's 2019 spending plan seeks to reduce or eliminate climate science programs across an array of federal agencies, from gutting efforts to track greenhouse gas emissions and research to eliminating funding for NASA satellites that study the impacts of climate change. Though President Donald Trump's budget unveiled earlier this week is highly unlikely to be adopted by Congress, it is a direct indicator of just how little weight his administration is giving to the increasingly dire warnings from climate scientists about longer droughts, stronger storms and rising seas. Trump has called climate change a "hoax" and appointed forceful advocates for increased oil, gas and coal production to lead key federal agencies overseeing environmental enforcement, energy production and public lands. In the 160-page budget … [Read more...] about Trump wants to gut climate science funding and NASA research and boost fossil fuel spending
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AROUND 2,000 Irish motorists are now driving battery-powered cars — but that figure is tipped to soar to 200,000 by 2020.With plans revving up to phase out petrol and diesel cars, we took the latest electric vehicle to hit the market for a test drive.As a commuter, I regularly clock up about 500 kilometres each week, and fork out around €100, including tolls, travelling from Kells, Co Meath, to Dublin.So is it finally time to forgo fossil fuels for good?Currently in the market for a new car, I decided to find out by putting the new Renault Zoe to the test.With 16in alloy wheels, heated seats and a 3D sound system, the fully electric car is a far cry from the battery-operated milk floats of the past.Given I barely remember to charge my phone though, how would I cope with plug-in wheels?In laboratory tests, the supermini promises to go an impressive 400km without conking out.Once the pedal’s to the metal however, the ‘real world range’ is closer to 300km, … [Read more...] about With plans revving up to phase out fueled cars, we take the latest electric vehicle to hit the market for test drive
When conservation scientists look around the world at the state of wild ecosystems, what they see is tragedy. In much of the world, remaining natural ecosystems are being degraded and destroyed. Species extinctions are occurring about a thousand times faster than the natural extinction rate. "The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has long had a Red List of threatened species. We're now working on a Red List of threatened ecosystems, to help prioritize where conservation action is most urgently needed," said Gerard Bos, head of IUCN's Geneva-based Global Business and Biodiversity Programme. Governments recognize the problem. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010 adopted an ambitious "Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020" and the "Aichi Biodiversity Targets" at a conference in Japan's Aichi Prefecture. But it's one thing to recognize a problem, and quite another to solve it. A big reason why stated conservation intentions and actual outcomes … [Read more...] about Funding a global nature reserve network
In January this year, 16 scientists wrote in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that they saw no scientific arguments supporting the need for urgent action to combat climate change. They included prominent climate skeptics like MIT Atmospheric Science professor Richard Lindzen as well as the scientists, and former ExxonMobil employees, Roger Cohen and William Happer. Even in Germany, where climate skeptics have less political influence than countries like the USA, a book called "Die kalte Sonne" (The Cold Sun) has been making waves since its publication earlier this year. The authors Fritz Vahrenholt und Sebastian Lüning, employees of Germany's second-biggest energy company RWE, maintain that less than half the world's warming to date is human-made. They say solar activity, sunspots and magnetic fields, which change in cycles, are responsible. As the sun is about to go into a cold cycle, they say, this will counteract global warming and we need not fear the worst. Calls for urgent … [Read more...] about How much skepticism can the climate take?
The debate over climate change is everywhere. It's in the newspapers we read, on the TV shows that we watch and it's happening all around us. But while many people generally agree that the global temperature is rising, what is more contentious are the reasons why. Life Links spoke to two young people to find out their views: Isaac Orr is a climate change skeptic. It's something that used to drive his ex-girlfriend nuts, he says. He believes that global warming is to with normal fluctuations in the earth's temperature, irrespective of CO2. The 27-year-old also thinks that the use of fossil fuels just makes economic sense. Isaac is a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, a US-based think tank that ran a counter event to the COP21 Paris Climate Conference. Hasnaa Benlafkih believes that climate change is manmade and that something needs to be done to stop it. The 26-year-old is a program manager with the Global Diversity Foundation, which works to “protect biocultural … [Read more...] about Climate change: Skeptics and believers
DW: Since Germanwatch was set up in 1991, how have you seen this issue change over time? Christoph Bals: When we started, climate change was discussed but only in scientific circles, so we needed to get it on the political agenda. Now, we really have to implement it, we are in a totally different phase. At the end of 2015 there was much celebration for the Paris climate agreement. Do you think it was a milestone? I think it was definitely a milestone. It was the first global agreement with commitments from all nations in the world, and it was even more ambitious than expected. But we also must see the very important but limited role of such a climate agreement. You can bring the ball to the penalty box, but the scorers have to come from government, from investment, from civil society - that's our task now. So how are we doing, and where do we have to go in 2016? In the last two to three years we have seen lots of positive developments at the international level. In 2014 we had … [Read more...] about Bals: Refugee crisis underlines urgent need for climate action
The shockwaves from Donald Trump's surprise election victory are echoing around the world. One place where it has particular resonance this week is in Marrakesh, Morocco, where the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is taking place. On the agenda is how to translate last year's Paris Agreement into concrete policy measures. However, it is feared Trump's win could threaten the accord. The president-elect has in the past referred to global warming as a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese to make US manufacturing uncompetitive, and promised during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. Lutz Weischer is among the horde of thousands of government officials, corporate and NGO executives, and journalists attending COP22, as it's known to insiders. Weicher is team leader for international climate policy at Germanwatch, a leading German non-government think-tank focused on … [Read more...] about Strong German climate policy needed in wake of Trump victory
Germany's ambitious greenhouse gas reduction plans are facing a major obstacle: an apparent addiction to coal. Germany has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent until 2020, and to halving emissions from energy production by 2030. Experts warn there is only one way to reach these targets: moving from fossil fuels to renewable energies. But in Germany, the mining company RWE is planning the expansion of some of Europe's biggest coal mines - Garzweiler and Hambach. Lignite, also called brown coal, is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels with relation to carbon dioxide emissions. And mining company RWE is Europe's largest CO2 emitter. Next to the Garzweiler lignite mine, activists have been occupying an ancient forest that is soon to be cut down for the Hambach mine expansion. The controversial question remains: Will Germany ever be ready for a total phase-out of coal power production? And if so, how far is it from becoming a reality? The Hambach protest has become the … [Read more...] about How far is Germany from a complete coal exit?
Don't let his title fool you. The "Head Cheese" of the Lunar Embassy is a clear-thinking, straight-shooting kind of guy. At least he appears that way over a shaky cellphone line from Nevada to Bonn, Germany. And so if you ask Dr. Dennis M. Hope to tell you who he thinks owns space, he'll answer with a simple: "I do!" That's right: Hope and his customers (or are they followers?) own all the planetary bodies in our solar system. And they intend to defend and ultimately profit from them. "In 2001, I had 163,000 emails from different customers around the world that wanted to know how on Earth we were ever going to protect the properties that the Lunar Embassy was selling," says Hope. "And after due consideration, the only answer we could come up with was that we needed to form a democratic republic government. So we created the Galactic Government." Lunar loophole All this started in November 1980. Hope was going through a divorce, hadn't worked in a year and was almost out of cash. He … [Read more...] about Who owns space? A guy called Dennis
DW: Why have environmental issues been largely absent from the political debate? Niklas Höhne: The issue that has been quite prominent is around 'Dieselgate' - so the issue of cars and their emissions. But other than that, climate change and other issues have been quite absent. I assume that is simply because other topics, like the refugee crisis and our education and social security, have been more prominent and basically put the environment in the backseat. Which environmental issues are most important for German voters? I think right now, because of the diesel scandal, the most important one is air pollution, and being able to breathe in cities. But I think after that comes climate change, because it deals with so many things we do today. What effect do you think 'Dieselgate' will have on the election? I think it will have quite a significant impact. Transport is one of the important areas within climate policy that need to be tackled, and this diesel scandal … [Read more...] about Why isn’t the environment a German election issue?