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Five for Friday: Anyone have a direct line for Captain Planet?

October 14, 2016

Happy Friday and that's the last good news I have to say to you because the environmental news this week is grim. In our weekly roundup we'll focus today on climate change, sustainability, and what we have wrought.

 

1. It was nice knowing you, Great Barrier Reef. Served up obit-style on Outside Magazine's website is a good-bye to the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living mass on the planet. While I'm usually against anthropomorphizing, this tactic makes for a pretty effective read, particularly the comment that while it's not clear if anything could have saved it, it's clear that no serious effort has been tried. (There was a great podcast episode on TED Radio Hour September 29 that talks in more detail about humans' impact on the planet.)

 

2. "If we're able to tap the brakes and figure out how to avoid a 6-foot rise in the oceans..." Preach, B-Rock. In an excellent interview on WIRED, the President takes on technology (including our perennial favorite on this blog, self-driving cars), artificial intelligence, and where there's hope for humanity (hint: it's in whether we can figure out how to save ourselves from climate change). 

 

3. A coffee crisis is percolating. In perhaps the worst news of the year (and yes, that includes the election), there's a major threat to coffee crops in Brazil which is the largest coffee producer in the world. As NPR reports, things look bleak and no, we can't just start growing coffee elsewhere because coffee-growing depends on the right amounts of rain and warmth. With rain disappearing and temperatures rising, it's looking like we all better start embracing tea. Or, you know, embracing climate change as a real issue that needs to be dealt with.

 

Good to the very last drop? 

 

4. HFCs in Rwanda are going to do us in. Vox had a great piece this week on the quietest climate news of the week--and it comes from Rwanda. I still remember learning the word chlorofluorocarbon when I was in elementary school as CFCs were tied to the hole in the ozone layer and being eradicated as quickly as possible. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were created as a safer alternative to CFCs, but it turns out they're not so great for the planet, either. Naturally, the right path forward is to get rid of them...but this could leave millions of people without something they desperately need: air conditioning. With hot countries (China, India, Rwanda, etc.) getting hotter and more populated, you see where the problems get really big really fast. 

 

5. Finally, a rebuttal for that uncle who denies climate change is "a thing". Climate change contrarians are often buoyed by pseudo-science that misinterprets data and tries to explain away the drastic changes in the environment. This week, the Journal of Climate published a report that debunks some of the biggest myths about how fast Earth is warming and where the models and satellites back it up. The Guardian has an excellent writeup on the actual-science and the conclusions. I think the best part of this article is that it's directed at Ted Cruz.

 

Everyone sufficiently depressed? I realize this post was a bit of a downer but it just goes to show why we need collaboration and foresight to effect change we desperately need. And maybe this will cheer you up: Planet Earth II is debuting soon on BBC. Let the Sir David Attenborough fangirling [re-]commence.

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