Polar bears continue to move inland as ice melts, creating danger for people


Polar Bear
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Elyse Gabor | November 21, 2022

As the ice melts in arctic regions, polar bears are pushed onto land. Their territories will now range into small towns. Researchers in Churchill, Manitoba, also known as the polar bear capital of the world, have begun to explore how to detect the animal’s presence in remote areas through radar technology. The instruments could be in use by next summer.  

Due to polar bears’ aggressive and dangerous nature, they pose a threat to civilization. By using technology that costs thousands of dollars, the animals can be tracked, helping to prevent any unwanted conflict. 

Senior director of conservation and staff scientist, Geoff York, said, “If we’re asking people to conserve a large predator like a polar bear, we have to make sure people who live and work with them are safe.” 

According to York, “Churchill is unique in that bears come to shore, depending on the year, from July to August, and they’re on land until this time of year.” Churchill has around 800 polar bears that roam its shores.  

As rising temperatures and global warming continue to melt ice, polar bears spend more time on land. It’s predicted that a larger number of polar bears will be forced on land and near the town. So, the response program will help to ensure people’s safety.  

Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria are released from melting glaciers


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Grace Smith | November 18, 2022

Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria are being released annually into the air through melting glaciers in the northern latitudes, a study in the Communications Earth & Environment reported. Glaciers melting because of global warming could cause a release of 650,000 tons of carbon a year for the next 80 years in the northern hemisphere. 

Scientists from the journal collected data from eight glaciers across Europe and North America and found that tens of thousands of microbes are in each milliliter of water. This data helped the researchers to estimate that the bacteria being swept through streams and water would be 650,000 tons of carbon a year. 

“We are seeing the glaciers die before our eyes, affecting the microbes that are there, with implications for us locally and globally,” Dr. Arwyn Edwards, a member of the study team told The Guardian. “The mass of microbes released is vast even with moderate warming.”

Edwards said the researchers don’t have enough data to determine the threat of the organisms, but they will continue conducting data to assess the risk of each microbe.

90 percent of U.S. counties have experienced a natural disaster since 2011


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Grace Smith | November 17, 2022

90 percent of counties in the U.S. have experienced a wildfire, a hurricane, a flood, or another form of natural disaster, from 2011 to the end of 2021, per a report released on Nov. 16. The report also said that over 700 counties in the U.S. have encountered over five natural disasters. Five states have suffered 20 natural disasters since 2011. 

From 2011-2021, California had 25 federal disasters, the highest number in the country, which included numerous wildfires, a large number of earthquakes, and more. 58 counties in the state have had recent disasters, and Butte County received the most post-disaster financial assistance — over $183 million. The lowest number of federal disasters occurred in Nevada with three. 

Iowa had 21 total disasters, the fourth-highest number of natural disasters in the nation. Every county in the state experienced a natural disaster from 2011-2021. Iowa has received $717 million in post-disaster assistance and is still receiving aid for a storm in 1977.

These natural disasters have caused states and counties large amounts of money. Louisiana had the highest per capita support at $1,736 for each person. In addition, the median payout for all states in the U.S. was $97 per capita. In total, $91 billion had to be put toward post-disaster aid and assistance for states from 2011-2021. The states who needed the most financial support included New York, Texas, and Florida.

Carbon emissions have risen since pandemic


Pollution
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Elyse Gabor | November 16, 2022

As 2022 comes to an end, record high amounts of carbon dioxide emissions remain. According to a report, the Earth has less than 10 years to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed by about 200 countries. Although cuts in emissions production have been made, it is not enough to prevent global warming. The Global Carbon Project and its’ scientists estimate that global warming will rise one and a half degrees Celsius.  

A climate modeler at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and author of the study, Pierre Friedlingstein, said, “This is more evidence that time is running out.” Other climate organizations have concluded similar results from their studies. According to Friedlingstein and his team, if carbon dioxide stays the same, in nine years, the planet will likely rise one and a half degrees.  

Just this year, around 40.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide have been put into the atmosphere, similar to the number of levels in 2019. Due to the pandemic causing a slower pace of life, emission levels lowered, but since have risen.  

Russia-Ukraine War is causing large releases of greenhouse gases into the air


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Grace Smith | November 15, 2022

The Russia-Ukraine War has released 33 million tons of greenhouse gases into the air, according to Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine’s environmental protection minister. The number of climate-warming gases that have been released is equivalent to adding 16 million cars to the UK’s roads for two years. 

“Russia is doing everything to shorten our and your horizons,” Strilets said at the United Nations COP27 Climate Summit on Nov. 14. “Because of the war, we will have to do even more to overcome the climate crisis.”

The number of emissions was calculated by counting all emissions including forest and agricultural fires and the oil burnt after attacks on storage depots. Strilets also said at the conference that 49 million more emissions are expected to be released into the air during the process of rebuilding Ukraine. As of Nov. 14, 2,200 environmental damage cases have been recorded. 

Strilets also said the war is harming animals immensely. According to BBC, 600 animals and 750 plants and fungi are under threat. Over 700 dolphins in the Black Sea have died since the war. Scientists said the dolphins are having trouble communicating with one another and struggling to find food and navigate. 

Along with impacts on the environment and animals, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February resulted in large food and gas shortages, causing surrounding countries to increase production to compensate.

Rainfall caused drought to withdraw in some parts of Iowa


Drought
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Elyse Gabor | November 14, 2022

After a hot, dry summer and fall, drought conditions are retreating in most parts of Iowa. Last week, the Southern part of the state saw heavy rainfall, reducing drought conditions. The most rain seen was 4.3 inches with the lowest amount around 2 inches.  

The state had been in the worst drought in nine years and desperately needed rain, with northwest Iowa receiving the brunt of the effects. The rain missed this part of the state, not reviving any of the stress the drought has caused. Currently, two-thirds of the state is still suffering from the drought 

According to the Drought Monitor, above 10 percent of the state is listed as being in extreme drought or more severe. The area in extreme drought expands from Humboldt to Sioux City.  

Climate change is threatening ‘the things America values most’


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Grace Smith | November 11, 2022

The U.S. must slow down the use of greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the risk of the threatening of water supplies and and public health throughout the nation, per a federal government release on Monday.

“The things Americans value most are at risk,” the National Climate Assessment authors wrote in the draft, that contained 1,695 pages. “Many of the harmful impacts that people across the country are already experiencing will worsen as warming increases, and new risks will emerge.”

Over the past 50 years, America has warmed 68 percent faster than the rest of the world as a whole. Climate change disasters, such as wildfires, have caused communties around the nation to be displaced. If current conditions continue, the report says millions more Americans could be displaced from their homes. 

In addition, climate change has impacted infrastructure and the economy. On average, the U.S. has experienced eight $1 billion disasters each year for four decades, but has seen a large increase over the past five years with 18 catastrophes. 

The authors of the report offered fast solutions to taking America off the track of destruction it is on, such as increasing public transit, quickening low-carbon technologies, improving agricultural management, and incentivizing renewable energy options such as vehicles.

One million more Iowa birds found with bird flu


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Grace Smith | November 10, 2022

Avian influenza, a deadly virus caused by infection, was confirmed in two more Iowa bird flocks, consisting of over one million egg-laying chickens in Wright County, per an Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship report on Monday. The bird flu was also detected in 17 birds in Louisa County.

Monday’s confirmation of the bird flu is Wright County’s second outbreak. On Oct. 31, 1.1 million egg-laying hens were infected with the flu. Four flocks in Iowa are now confirmed to have been infected with avian influenza. This year, 23 flocks have been affected by the bird flu. Over 15.4 million birds in Iowa have died from the bird flu or were killed to minimize infection, making Iowa the hardest-hit state by the bird flu than any other state this year.

“Migration is expected to continue for several more weeks and whether you have backyard birds or a commercial poultry farm, bolstering your biosecurity continues to be the best way to protect your flock from this disease,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in a statement. “Our coordinated response team, comprised of state and federal professionals working with the affected producers, will continue to move swiftly to limit the spread of this virus.”’

End of harvest season is approaching as state experiences worst drought in nine years


Harvest
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Elyse Gabor | November 9, 2022

Harvest season is coming to an end in some parts of Iowa. Despite last week’s heavy rainfall, Northwest Iowa is almost done harvesting as that part of the state continues to face a lengthy drought.  

In total, around 90 percent of corn harvest has been completed while just under 100 percent of soybeans have been harvested. The almost complete harvest season is over a week ahead of schedule compared to the past five years.  

According to State Climatologist Justin Glisan, the heavy rainfall seen last week in south-central Iowa equaled over four inches with an inch of rain seen in the eastern part of the state.  

The rain was much needed as the state is the driest it has been in nine years, said the U.S. Drought Monitor. Northwestern Iowa, affected most by the drought, saw little to no rain.  

‘We’re on a highway to climate hell,” U.N. Secretary-General says at COP27


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Grace Smith | November 8, 2022

United Nations secretary general António Guterres warned the world at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference on Nov. 7 that the world is headed to a “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.” The COP27 Summit began on Sunday, Nov. 6, and world speakers addressed climate issues and gave speeches in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

The climate conversations are the 27th of the Conference of Parties to the U.N. convention. Over 44,000 gov. Representatives, business groups, and civil society groups are registered to attend the conference.

Guterres’ speech about the state of the world’s climate began after talking about a release of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) data on Sunday stating that the world has most likely witnessed the warmest eight years on record. According to the data, the rate of sea-level rise has doubled since 1993, and the past two-and-a-half-years have accounted for 10 percent of sea-level rise in the past 30 years.

“The greater the warming, the worse the impacts. We have such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now that the lower 1.5°C of the Paris Agreement is barely within reach,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas. “All too often, those least responsible for climate change suffer most – as we have seen with the terrible flooding in Pakistan and deadly, long-running drought in the Horn of Africa. But even well-prepared societies this year have been ravaged by extremes – as seen by the protracted heatwaves and drought in large parts of Europe and southern China.” 

At this year’s COP27 summit, “funding arrangements” for vulnerable countries are on the agenda. Guterres spoke Monday strongly urging attendees at the summit to help vulnerable countries like Pakistan. An estimate between $290 billion to $580 billion is required for countries per year by 2030.