Author: Dominique Mosbergen

As Scott Pruitt Denies Climate Science, Atmospheric CO2 Rises At A Record Rate

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt may not believe that carbon dioxide is to blame for global warming, but most scientists say the evidence is clear. And now new data shows the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased at a record pace for the second year in a row. “As we twiddle our thumbs, CO2 just keeps going up and up,” Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps Institute for Oceanography’s carbon dioxide monitoring program, told Scientific American Tuesday. Climate scientists have long agreed that the carbon dioxide that humans pump into the atmosphere is the primary driver of climate change, he added. Atmospheric CO2 levels measured at the Mauna Loa Baseline Atmospheric Observatory in Hawaii, the world’s marquee site for carbon dioxide monitoring, soared by a record-breaking 3 parts per million in both 2015 and 2016, according to data that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released on Friday. Carbon dioxide concentrations measured at the facility hit 405.1 parts per million last year, the agency said, adding that similar observations had been recorded at dozens of other sites all over the world. Carbon dioxide (#CO2) levels rose at record pace for 2nd straight year at Mauna Loa Observatory: via @NOAAResearch — NOAA (@NOAA) March 10, 2017 Pieter Tans, lead scientist at NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, said that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have increased at least...

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Donald Trump's EPA Pick Sued Over Thousands Of Undisclosed Records

When the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee convened last week to vote on Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, 10 out of 21 committee members were conspicuously missing. All of the committee’s Democrats boycotted the vote, citing concerns that Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, had not adequately responded to their questions during his confirmation hearing. They said Pruitt had also failed to fulfill open records requests regarding his ties to the fossil fuel industry, which has provoked anxiety among conservationists and public health experts. The committee’s Republicans advanced Pruitt’s nomination despite the boycott, and he’s expected to face a full Senate vote next week. But Pruitt may not be off the hook just yet.  The media watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy, with legal representation from the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against Pruitt in an Oklahoma court on Tuesday seeking to force Pruitt to respond to nine open records requests. The requests were filed as far back as January 2015. The suit is also seeking the release of communications between Pruitt’s office and the energy industry, including corporations like Koch Industries, Peabody Energy and the National Coal Council.  CMD said in a statement that Pruitt had “yet to turn over a single document,” despite acknowledging last year that his office had “3,000 emails and other documents” relevant to the requests. “We are doing this because these...

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Trump's Hiring Freeze Could Imperil Breakthrough Discovery On Bees

Julia Fine was all set for the next chapter. She’d packed her bags and moved out of her apartment, and was days away from making the drive from Pennsylvania to Utah, where she planned to start work as a postdoctoral scholar with the Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agency. “I had made all the plans,” said Fine, a bee researcher who recently completed her doctorate in entomology at Pennsylvania State University. “I was supposed to start as soon as possible.” But on Jan. 23, just three days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the 28-year-old researcher got a perturbing phone call. The president had ordered a sweeping employment freeze for the federal government. Her position at the research service — and the funding that was going to allow her to continue her research into why honeybees are dying at abnormally high rates ― could be in jeopardy. “I was told that my position was frozen for an indefinite amount of time,” Fine said. A USDA spokesperson told The Huffington Post the agency could not comment on how the freeze might affect individual researchers. When pressed on how the order had affected employees at the USDA, the spokesperson sent this memorandum about the directive, which outlined guidelines and possible exemptions. As of Sunday, Fine said she remained “confused” as to whether she could qualify for any of the exemptions.  Much is...

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Greenland’s Vast Ice Sheet Is Way Less Stable Than We Thought, And That’s Bad News For The World

Joe Raedle/Getty Images. A researcher observes a canyon created over time by a meltwater stream on the Greenland’s ice sheet, July 16, 2013. If the ice sheet that blankets most of Greenland should melt, it would be catastrophic because sea levels would rise more than 20 feet. This would submerge coastal cities worldwide and threaten land that’s home to at least 15 million Americans. Scientists had believed that the world’s second largest ice body had been relatively stable during the recent geological past. Even during periods of warming, the massive mantle of ice had remained largely intact, they thought. But new research suggests that this assumption may be grossly off the mark. The Northern European country’s ice sheet appears to have melted nearly completely at least once in the not-too-distant geological past, according to a groundbreaking study published on Thursday in the journal Nature. By studying a sample of bedrock taken from beneath Greenland’s ice deposit, researchers found that the autonomous Danish territory was ice-free (or “deglaciated”) for “extended periods during the Pleistocene epoch,” stretching from 2.6 million years to 11,700 years ago. Researchers estimate that the ice sheet shrunk to less than 10 percent of its current size and stayed that way for at least 280,000 years. Greenland’s mighty ice sheet, it seems, may not be as impregnable as previously believed. “Unfortunately, this makes the Greenland ice sheet look highly unstable,” said study co-author Joerg...

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