Weak Federal Powers Could Limit Trump’s Climate-Policy Rollback

A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa. The wind power industry is booming in the United States, with wind-farm technician projected to be the country’s fastest-growing occupation over the next decade. Credit Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Image: A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa. The wind power industry is booming in the United States, with wind-farm technician projected to be the country’s fastest-growing occupation over the next decade. Credit Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

nytimes.com - January 2nd 2017 - Justin Gillis

With Donald J. Trump about to take control of the White House, it would seem a dark time for the renewable energy industry. After all, Mr. Trump has mocked the science of global warming as a Chinese hoax, threatened to kill a global deal on climate change and promised to restore the coal industry to its former glory.

So consider what happened in the middle of December, after investors had had a month to absorb the implications of Mr. Trump’s victory. 

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The world today looks ominously like it did before World War I

Industrial Age factory and railway engraving. (Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Image: Industrial Age factory and railway engraving. (Washington Post illustration; iStock)

washingtonpost.com - December 29th 2016 - Ana Swanson

A backlash to globalization appears to be gaining strength around the world. U.S. politicians on both the right and left have called for curbing free trade deals they say benefit foreigners or the global elite. President-elect Donald Trump has championed tariffs on imports and limits on immigration, and suggested withdrawing from international alliances and trade agreements. 

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Report: Food Stocks Low in Southern Haiti in Wake of Storm

submitted by John Carroll

           

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2016 file photo, banana and coconut trees are bent and broken along a southern coast road near the town of Roche-a-Bateau, Haiti, left behind by Hurricane Matthew. Hundreds of thousands of people in southern Haiti are facing food shortages three months after the storm destroyed crops and livestock in the region, international aid organization Oxfam said Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)  (The Associated Press)

Associated Press - January 4, 2017

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti –  Hundreds of thousands of people in southern Haiti are facing food shortages three months after Hurricane Matthew destroyed crops and livestock in the region, an international aid organization said Wednesday.

A "very poor" harvest is expected over the next two months in the South and Grand Anse departments of the southern Haitian peninsula, an area where most people depend on subsistence farming to survive, Oxfam said in a report calling for more support for a U.N. assistance fund.

The U.N. announced it would provide $139 million in assistance to the region, but that program is underfunded by 38 percent, the aid group said.

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Mexico’s Climate Migrants are Already Coming to the United States

           

Guanajuato, Mexico - Russ Bowling

grist.org - by Amy McDermott - December 29, 2016

 . . . Mexico’s climate story reflects a growing global problem. Worsening droughts, floods, wildfires, and rising seas will drive millions from their homes, all around the world.

From Mexico to China, Bangladesh to Senegal, climate migrants everywhere will relocate to the nearest safe place, says sociologist Cristina Bradatan, also of Texas Tech. Sometimes that means crossing borders . . .

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Haiti Receives 82 Tons of Urgently Needed Medical Aid

           

Direct Relief staff stage hundreds of pallets bound for Haiti in the organization’s Santa Barbara warehouse on Dec. 20, 2016. The shipment, valued at $39.9 million, is the largest in the organization’s 69-year history.

directrelief.org

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Dec. 28, 2016 – Direct Relief today airlifted 82 tons of medical aid to Haiti to help treat cholera and other diseases that have spread widely since Hurricane Matthew struck in October, incapacitating the country’s already overstretched health care system.

Direct Relief’s warehouse staff worked through the holidays to prepare 258 pallets of essential medications and supplies with a wholesale value of $39.9 million. The shipment – the largest by value in Direct Relief’s 69-year history – traveled by a chartered cargo jet from Los Angeles to Port-au-Prince.

Dozens of health care companies that support Direct Relief’s humanitarian health efforts contributed the supplies, augmented by funds contributed by donors to Direct Relief specifically for Hurricane Matthew assistance.

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Atmospheric levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, are spiking, scientists report

Cows graze in a farm near Chascomus, Argentina, on Nov. 10. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

Image: Cows graze in a farm near Chascomus, Argentina, on Nov. 10. (Marcos Brindicci/Reuters)

washingtonpost.com - Chris Mooney - December 11th 2016

The best news about climate change that we’ve heard lately is that for three years straight, the world’s energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, have been flat. The gas has continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, but emissions haven’t gone up, even as economies have continued to grow.

But now we learn that there’s a major dose of bad news to accompany that: What’s true for carbon dioxide is not at all true for methane, the second most important greenhouse gas. Atmospheric concentrations of this gas — which causes much sharper short-term warming, but whose effects fade far more quickly than carbon dioxide — are spiking, a team of scientists reports in an analysis published Sunday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

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El Niño and Global Warming Blamed for Zika Spread

           

A female Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on a human host. Credit: James Gathany CDC

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Global risk model for vector-borne transmission of Zika virus reveals the role of El Niño 2015

scientificamerican.com - by Kavya Balaraman - December 21, 2016

Mosquito-borne diseases like Zika can be extremely sensitive to climatic changes

The combination of climate change and last year’s El Niño phenomenon likely created the perfect playground for the Zika virus to spread rapidly across South America, a new study finds.

Both the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that carry it have been present in different parts of the world for a while. But several factors, including specific climatic conditions, could have catapulted the disease to public health emergency status, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool.

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Final Trial Results Confirm Ebola Vaccine Provides High Protection Against Disease

                                               

who.int

23 DECEMBER 2016 | GENEVA - An experimental Ebola vaccine was highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea, according to results published today in The Lancet. The vaccine is the first to prevent infection from one of the most lethal known pathogens, and the findings add weight to early trial results published last year.

The vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, was studied in a trial involving 11 841 people in Guinea during 2015. Among the 5837 people who received the vaccine, no Ebola cases were recorded 10 days or more after vaccination. In comparison, there were 23 cases 10 days or more after vaccination among those who did not receive the vaccine.

The trial was led by WHO, together with Guinea’s Ministry of Health and other international partners.

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CLICK HERE - The Lancet - Efficacy and effectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine in preventing Ebola virus disease: final results from the Guinea ring vaccination, open-label, cluster-randomised trial (Ebola Ça Suffit!)

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World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind

           

Emerging markets are leapfrogging the developed world thanks to cheap panels.

bloomberg.com - by Tom Randall - December 15, 2016

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. 

This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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President Obama Bans Oil Drilling in Large Areas of Atlantic and Arctic Oceans

           

Hundreds of kayaktivists protest drilling in the Arctic and the Port of Seattle being used as a port for the Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via Associated Press)

washingtonpost.com - by Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin - December 20, 2016

President Obama moved to solidify his environmental legacy Tuesday by withdrawing hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned land in the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil and gas drilling.

Obama used a little-known law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia. In addition to a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic, removing the canyons from drilling puts much of the eastern seaboard off limits to oil exploration even if companies develop plans to operate around them.

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Birth Defects Among Fetuses and Infants of US Women With Evidence of Possible Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy

jamanetwork.com - December 13, 2016 - doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19006

In this report based on preliminary data for pregnant women in the USZPR with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection, 6% overall had a fetus or infant with evidence of a Zika-related birth defect, and among women with timing of possible Zika infection exclusively during the first trimester, 11% had a fetus or infant with a birth defect. The birth defects primarily involved included microcephaly with brain abnormalities, such as intracranial calcifications. Preliminary estimates from the USZPR were within the range of 1% to 13% risk of microcephaly following first-trimester maternal Zika virus infection modeled on the outbreak in Bahia, Brazil, lending support to the credibility of these estimates.

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Arctic Heating Up at Twice as Fast as Rest of Globe

           

Arctic Sea Ice Disappearing

CLICK HERE - NOAA - Arctic Report Card: Update for 2016

cnn.com - by Mayra Cuevas and Max Blau - December 14, 2016

The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world -- triggering a "massive decline in sea ice and snow," according to a new federal report.

On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 11th annual Arctic Report Card, which compiles data from 61 scientists in 11 countries.

"Rarely have we seen the Arctic show a clearer, stronger or more pronounced signal of persistent warming and its cascading effects on the environment than this year," Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA's Arctic Research Program, said in a statement.

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CLICK HERE - NASA - Scientific Visualization Studio - Weekly Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Age with Graph of Ice Age By Area: 1984 - 2016

CLICK HERE - VIDEO - NASA - Older Arctic Sea Ice Disappearing

 

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Negative Effects Of Zika During Pregnancy More Common Than Realized

           

Juan Pedro, who has microcephaly and turned one-year-old on December 4, sits in a specially designed chair to keep him upright as he is kissed by his sister Jennifer Karine on December 12, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. As many of the babies with microcephaly, believed to be linked to the Zika virus, turn one-year-old in Recife, doctors and mothers are adapting and learning treatments to assist and calm the children. Many of the children are suffering a plethora of difficulties including vision and hearing problems with doctors now labeling the overall condition as 'Congenital Zika Syndrome'. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

CLICK HERE - STUDY - NEJM - Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women in Rio de Janeiro

forbes.com - by Tara Haelle - December 14, 2016

The rate of birth defects, disability and brain irregularities in babies exposed to the Zika virus is considerably higher than was previously believed — regardless of the mother’s symptoms or the trimester she had the infection — found a new study . . .

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Aleppo Battle: Calls to Spare Lives as Fighting Nears End

           

There are very few medical facilities for people in the rebel-held area.  Reuters

The UN and Red Cross have appealed for civilians to be protected, as fighting in Syria's Aleppo nears its end.

bbc.com - December 13, 2016

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said people had "literally nowhere safe to run".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced alarm "over reports of atrocities against a large number of civilians".

Thousands of people are trapped in just a handful of rebel-held districts, which are facing intense bombardment as government troops advance.

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ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLE HERE - Syrian forces push Aleppo rebels to brink as city nears ‘total collapse’

 

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Colombia Reports Major Rise in Birth Defect Amid Zika Crisis

CLICK HERE - CDC - MMWR - Preliminary Report of Microcephaly Potentially Associated with Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy — Colombia, January–November 2016

CLICK HERE - Columbia - INSTITUTO NACIONAL DE SALUD - Zika

nytimes.com - by Donald G. McNeil, Jr. - December 10, 2016

Colombia, which suffered a Zika epidemic that peaked in February, has reported four times as many cases of babies born with microcephaly this year as it did in 2015, providing more proof that the Zika virus causes brain damage in infants.

Because births of microcephalic infants peaked five months after the epidemic did, at about nine times the numbers of the previous July, scientists feel sure that the greatest risk is to babies whose mothers were infected during their first trimesters or early in their second.

The numbers were reported in a study released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted jointly by scientists from the C.D.C. and Colombia’s national health institute.

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