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Climate Crisis Weekly: Planting a trillion trees, scientists to get trapped in Arctic ice, more

In this edition of Climate Crisis Weekly:

  • A study finds a massive worldwide reforestation effort could be the best way to mitigate emissions.
  • Scientists plan to trap their ship in the Arctic ice to study climate change.
  • The hottest June on record, and record heat in Alaska.
  • Climate change could cost the global economy $69 trillion by 2100.
  • Antarctic sea ice hits record lows.
  • And more…

Could planting a trillion new trees be the best way to mitigate carbon emissions and the effects of climate change? That’s the belief of scientists who published a study in Science magazine about the benefits of a massive worldwide reforestation effort.

Trees can absorb and store carbon dioxide emissions, but the new study found that such a program could “remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities,” as per the Guardian.

The program calls for more than a trillion native saplings to be planted on 1.7 billion hectares of treeless land — an area the size of the US and China combined. Researcher Tom Crowther of Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research, told the Guardian:

This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one. What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.

It could cost $300 billion to plant the trees — but that’s a lot more inexpensive than other massive efforts would be. While this study is welcome news, it must be known that it can’t be done in lieu of reducing emissions by transitioning away from fossil fuels and to clean energy and electric vehicles. It’s all necessary.

There are already efforts looking at natural solutions for mitigating climate change. We can plant trees now, and the benefits are greater than most even considered. Let’s get planting.

A new Arctic mission will find researchers from 17 nations… getting stuck in the ice, on purpose, to study climate change. They’ll take an icebreaker on a yearlong mission that is said to be “unprecedented in scale and ambition.” From the Associated Press:

Scientists plan to sail the ship into the Arctic Ocean, anchor it to a large piece of sea ice and allow the water to freeze around them, effectively trapping themselves in the vast sheet of white that forms over the North Pole each winter.

The scientists will also build temporary research camps on the ice, which should allow them to perform tests that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

We just had the hottest June ever recorded across the globe, boosted by Europe’s recent heat wave, which was measured as high as 115F:

Anchorage, Alaska, set its own temperature record on the Fourth of July at 90F:

A new study by Moody’s Analytics called “The Economic Implications of Climate Change” finds that “global economic damage is estimated to be $54 trillion in 2100 under a warming scenario of 1.5C and $69 trillion under a warming scenario of 2C.”

Another week reveals another dismaying report about ice loss, this time in the Antarctic. While another recent analysis noted “extraordinary” ice thinning on Antarctica, a new study published in PNAS shows ice loss at the bottom of the globe is even worse than that in the Arctic:

The satellite record reveals that a gradual, decades-long overall increase in Antarctic sea ice extents reversed in 2014, with subsequent rates of decrease in 2014–2017 far exceeding the more widely publicized decay rates experienced in the Arctic. The rapid decreases reduced the Antarctic sea ice extents to their lowest values in the 40-[year] record, both on a yearly average basis (record low in 2017) and on a monthly basis (record low in February 2017).

The latest update on the Oregon cap-and-trade climate bill (after GOP lawmakers left the state, and Dems gave in, and a whole bunch of other stuff happened) is that Governor Kate Brown (D-OR) said she’d use her executive powers to pass a climate bill, as the Oregonian reports. Which is exactly what she should do. If one party shows no interest in adhering to rules or “norms,” why should everyone else throw up their hands and give in to minority rule? At least someone is showing some fight — we’ll see what comes of it.

The Democratic National Committee is now considering a separate climate debate for its presidential candidates. Reportedly. Supposedly. We’ll see.

Leonardo DiCaprio and billionaire investors/philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth are creating a new environmental organization that takes aim at climate change, the Associated Press reports.

Earth Alliance “will work globally to protect ecosystems and wildlife, ensure climate justice, support renewable energy, and secure indigenous rights to the benefit of all life on Earth.”

Check out our past editions of Climate Crisis Weekly.

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