Climate Change & Environment
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Toxic Smog Brings Nightmare 'White Christmas' to Beijing

Beijing residents woke up to a white Christmas Friday morning but with the sky obscured by thick toxic smog rather than snow after more than 100 million people across China had been warned to stay indoors.

The capital and surrounding parts of northern China are regularly blanketed in deadly pollution associated with heavy industry and an increase in coal consumption during the winter months.

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Three-Quarters of the UK's Butterfly Species have Declined in the Last 40 Years

More than three-quarters of the UK's native and migrant butterfly species have declined in the last 40 years - and climate change could be the culprit.

The alarming figures were released in a study jointly written by the Butterfly Conservation charity and the Center for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Oxfordshire.

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To Achieve Paris Climate Goals, U.S. Will Need New Laws

The climate agreement reached in Paris last weekend has been hailed as a landmark in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it could well turn out to be one.

But the accord’s lofty goals won’t be achieved without large corporations making big changes. And while many companies have welcomed the deal and voluntarily pledged to cut emissions, the sweeping reforms required to avert a sharp rise in global temperatures will almost certainly require substantial new government regulations.

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Paris Pact on Climate Change: What’s Fear Got to Do With it?

“Fear is not a good adviser,” says German leader Angela Merkel. She offered that advice recently about a fear in Europe of Muslim migrants. But she might as well have been talking about global warming. Take the climate-change accord reached Dec. 12 by every nation on Earth. It certainly was driven by heightened concerns about potential threats from a rise in global temperatures. But after 23 years of trying to achieve a pact for universal action, negotiators finally found a way to an agreement beyond fearmongering.

The 31-page document, hammered out over 13 days near Paris, relied not on a kind of coercion or shunning based on paranoia. Rather the talks began with an invitation for each representative to volunteer a plan for reducing greenhouse gas in their own country. The need was made clear: to hold warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). More than 180 countries responded to an expectation that progress was possible. Some set targets for 10 years, others 15 years.

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Ecological Economics

COWBOY or spaceman? A dilemma for a children’s party, perhaps. But also a question for economists, argued Kenneth Boulding, a British economist, in an essay published in 1966. We have run our economies, he warned, like cowboys on the open prairie: taking and using the world’s resources, confident that more lies over the horizon. But the Earth is less a prairie than a spaceship—a closed system, alone in space, carrying finite supplies. We need, said Boulding, an economics that takes seriously the idea of environmental limits. In the half century since his essay, a new movement has responded to his challenge. "Ecological economists", as they call themselves, do not want to fiddle at the margins of economics, but to revolutionize its aims and assumptions. What do they say—and will their ideas achieve lift-off?

To its practitioners, ecological economics is neither ecology nor economics, but a fusion of both. Their starting point is to recognize that the human economy is part of the natural world. Our environment, they note, is both a source of resources and a sink for wastes. But it is ignored in conventional textbooks, where neat diagrams trace the flows between firms, households and the government as though nature did not exist. That is a mistake, say ecological economists. The "natural capital" of the Earth provides important services, from water supply to pollination: in a landmark paper from 1997, researchers valued the annual supply of such "ecosystem services" at $33 trillion, or 1.8 times global GDP at the time.

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Requests to See Disappearing Mendenhall Glacier Up-close are Soaring

The U.S. Forest Service has awarded permits for thousands of guided tours at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor center, but had requests for three times as many trips as were available.

Visitors to the increasingly popular Mendenhall Glacier can watch climate change in action as icebergs calve from the face of the glacier and dot Mendenhall Lake.

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How Trees Try to Cope With Climate Change

Imagine that you’re lost in a desert, or some other inhospitable environment. You’ve got two choices. One is to stay in place and conserve supplies and water, in order to make them last. The other is to push on tenaciously and hope that you find a way out of your predicament.

As it turns out, trees are like that too, when it comes to coping with the hotter, drier environment created by climate change. In a new article in the journal Global Change Biology, University of Washington researchers studied two common tree species in southwestern Colorado, and found that each had developed a different survival strategy.

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Thousands of Plants Cut Production as Beijing Smog Persists

Beijing has ordered 2,100 factories to suspend or reduce production as part of its "red alert" measures to deal with smog, the government said Monday, as the city remained shrouded under toxic haze for the third consecutive day.

The Chinese capital imposed the highest tier of a four-color smog warning system for four days starting Saturday, the second time the red alert was applied since Beijing established the pollution precaution scheme in 2013.

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Beijing Chokes under Smog after Second Red Alert

Beijing choked under a thick layer of toxic smog Saturday, after the Chinese capital issued its second-ever red alert and put its emergency response plan into action.

The notice from the capital's environmental bureau ordered factories to close and pulled half of all private cars off the streets, among other measures, as extreme levels of pollution in the city's air were observed for the third time this month.

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Beijing Issues Second Red Alert ahead of Smog

Beijing issued its second-ever red alert for smog Friday ahead of severe pollution forecast to hit China's capital, weeks after putting its emergency response plan into action for the first time.

The notice from the capital's environmental bureau orders factories to close and pulls half of all private cars off the streets, among other measures, as bad air floods into the city for the third time this month.

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