The scoop: Two billionaires flew into space this week, neither of which contributed to scientific research. We want to know... how much carbon does a space plane emit?
Key talking points:
- traditional rocket fuel depletes the ozone, but bezos used a liquid form of hydrogen and oxygen that is more sustainable.
- one atmospheric scientist reported that bezos's rocket emitted nothing more than "water and some combustion products".
Bottom line on billionaires in space: It's not necessarily a climate problem, but the world is in no shape to spend that much money on vanity projects.
Dig deeper → 1 min
A scientific process called desalination could help solve a looming water crisis.
With a higher demand for freshwater, a growing population will continue to pressure natural freshwater resources. Today, 1 in 9 people already lack access to safe water. If current water consumption trends persist, the demand for water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030.
Only 0.7% of Earth’s water is readily accessible as freshwater and 96.5% of it is saltwater. Through the process of desalination, scientists can turn saltwater into safe, drinking water. This process is either thermal-based (solar desalination) or membrane-based (reverse osmosis).
Why not implement desalination worldwide? There are environmental and economic challenges. For example, brine, the concentrated salt byproduct of desalination plants, is known to disrupt ocean ecosystems. But path to more sustainable alternatives exist.
If global water scarcity worsens, sustainable desalination plants can help provide fresh, potable water to vulnerable populations across the world.
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What to know Congress passed the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA) in 1955, which funded federal air pollution research but did not require or give power to the federal government to regulate air pollution.
The Clear Air Act of 1963 permitted the government to control air pollution in certain capacities. In 1999, several citizens, conservation, and environmental groups filed a petition for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air pollution under this act.
The EPA denied the petition, and Massachusetts and several other states filed a class action lawsuit against the EPA to fight for the American people’s right to live in safe environments with clear air.
After a lengthy debate over the ambiguity of the Clean Air Act’s language, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts in a 5-4 decision.
Key Takeaways The EPA cannot decline to issue emission standards for motor vehicles based on policy considerations not specifically enumerated in the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Some of the progressive rules that resulted from this case, such as the Clean Car and Clean Truck Standards, were recently minimized by the Trump administration in the beginning stages of the pandemic.
Bottom line The government will continue its ableism (discrimination in favor of able-bodied people) without public pressure and scrutiny, so we must come together to vote and advocate for accelerated climate change action.
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What to know
- Over 332 active fires are burning over 1.6 million hectares of land in Siberia
- Parts of the Arctic Circle have been burning since July 2019
- These wildfires originated from a combination of natural causes including temperatures reaching 30 ℃, wind, and dry thunderstorms
- The cost-benefit ratio of saving these ecosystems indicates that Siberia should let the wildfires burn until rain comes because most of them are not directly endangering civilization
- These fires are so humongous their smoke blew across the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea to reach Oregon, Alaska, and Canada
- Wildfires are destroying valuable ecosystems in the Arctic Circle
- High temperatures melted the permafrost early, releasing the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trapped underneath and contributing to climate change
- Temperatures in the Arctic Circle reached record highs within the past six months, only exacerbating the fires
- Human-caused climate change intensified these fires in a variety of ways
- We must act on climate change before other extreme weather events begin to seriously affect a greater number of humans
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The scoop Whales accumulate carbon throughout their lifetime and die with it on the ocean floor. So they save around 33 tons of carbon from the atmosphere each.
Why it matters Today, whales number approximately 1.3 million, and conservation efforts to return them to their 4-5 million pre-whaling population could significantly reduce the greenhouse effect by lowering atmospheric carbon dioxide. However, they are constantly at threat of being hunted.
Big picture Recovering the global whale population to even half its original size is no easy feat, but we must do all in our power to multiply whale species’ populations in all of Earth’s oceans. Regardless of whether a high-tech carbon sequestration tool becomes widely available, harnessing the carbon-capturing power of these beautiful creatures will always positively enhance our atmosphere and marine ecosystems.
Dig deeper --> 3 min read