A: The Clean Power Plan was finalized on August 3, 2015 by the Obama administration and established target emissions levels for each state and would have reduced emissions due to electricity generation by 32% by 2030. In March 2017, President Trump moved to dismantle the Clean Power Plan by putting under the EPA (headed by Scott Pruitt)’s review. and dismantled by the Trump Administration’s EPA, headed by Scott Pruitt. Over twenty states, all of which have major stakes in the coal, gas, and/or oil economies, sued the original plan on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. In order for it to be repealed, however, it must be replaced by the new administration. More at The Guardian and The New York Times
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A: The answer to this question is a lot simpler than the solution: cut carbon emissions. Sea level rise is a delayed reaction dependent on temperature rise, which is a delayed reaction dependent on rising carbon emissions. The only way to prevent the continuing increase in the rate at which sea levels are rising and to prevent the possibility that they rise further than current projections is to cut net carbon emissions to zero, preferably negative, as quickly as possible.
As Professor Peter Clark of Oregon State University explained, “It’s like heating a pot of water on a stove; it doesn’t boil for quite a while after the heat is turned on – but then it will continue to boil as long as the heat persists.” Clark’s new research asserts that a short window spanning only the next few decades exists to get climate change under control before ensuring commitment to catastrophic climate change that will last millennia. More at Carbon Brief
A: Traditionally, geoengineering has encompassed two very different things: sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky so the atmosphere will trap less heat, and reflecting more sunlight away from the planet so less heat is absorbed in the first place. More at MIT’s Technology Review
A: John Englander in his blog says that even if we immediately banned all plastics worldwide, or even made them “illegal”, the rate of global temperature increase, melting polar ice sheets, or rising sea level rise would not change in any detectable way.
By far the major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature increase comes from the burning of fossil fuels mostly from power generation, transportation, industry, home energy use, outdoor lighting, powering computers and other electronics, etc. To slow the rise in greenhouse gases, the energy use for those needs would need to be reduced or switched to renewable sources (non-fossil fuel based). This is quite unrelated to the use of plastics. More at John Englander
A: Companies like Carbon Engineering and Climeworks are searching for ways to capture carbon to tackle climate change. There is a great deal of pushback, expressed simply by 350.org: “To keep warming below 1.5 degrees or less, we first need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, period. Negative emissions of any kind, natural or technological cannot offset our current carbon trajectory.” More at Greenpeace
A: Carbon capture describes the removal of carbon dioxide from the air, which many think is our only hope for meeting climate goals like those established in the 2015 Paris Accord. The technology to do this is still in its infancy, but Climeworks launched their first carbon capture plant in Zurich in May 2017, which will pull carbon from the air and reuse it as fertilizer. Another hope for carbon capture is reforestation, or the expansion of natural forests, which act as natural carbon sinks and pull carbon from the atmosphere. More at Climate Central
A: Bren Smith is a former cod fisherman in Connecticut who now grows groves of kelp. He explains that too much carbon in our waters is creating acidification, and that kelp farms soak up to five times more carbon than land-based plants, filter nitrogen out of the water column, function as an artificial reef so species can come and hide and thrive, and acts as storm surge protectors for most local communities. A recent World Bank study found that a network of kelp farms spanning just under 5 percent of the U.S.’ oceans could remove the carbon equivalent of almost 95 million cars from the ocean each year. More at Greenwave
A: Trees consume carbon dioxide and if there are enough of them, they can do a lot of good. When Felix Finkbeiner was 9 in Germany, he planted his first tree. Today, Finkbeiner is 19 — and Plant-for-the-Planet, the environmental group he founded, together with the UN’s Billion Tree campaign, has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. The group has also pushed the planting goal upward to one trillion trees — 150 for every person on the Earth. More at National Geographic
A: The land and the oceans together absorb 55% of CO2 produced by human activity. Planting billions of trees is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Research shows that a worldwide planting could remove 2/3 of all the emissions remaining in the atmosphere today. More at the Guardian