Tag Archives: Global Warming

Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

By Common Dreams  Published 11-26-2022

Slump D is a massive retrogressive thaw slump on Herschel island., Yukon Territory. Photo: Boris Radosavljevic/flickr/CC

As our world continues to warm up, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that’s been trapped for up to a million years. This includes uncountable numbers of microbes that have been lying dormant for hundreds of millennia.

To study these emerging microbes, scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research have now revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old – a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

The team behind the study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie, says these ancient viruses are potentially a significant threat to public health, and further study needs to be done to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as the permafrost melts.

The researchers warned it may just be the tip of the iceberg:

“One-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost,” researchers wrote in the paper.

“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”

According to Global News:

In 2014, the same researchers unearthed a 30,000-year-old virus trapped in permafrost, the BBC reported. The discovery was groundbreaking because after all that time, the virus was still able to infect organisms. But now, they’ve beaten their own record by reviving a virus that is 48,500 years old.

“If the authors are indeed isolating live viruses from ancient permafrost, it is likely that the even smaller, simpler mammalian viruses would also survive frozen for eons,” virologist Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco told New Scientist.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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After COP27, all signs point to world blowing past the 1.5 degrees global warming limit – here’s what we can still do about it

 

Young activists have been pushing to keep a 1.5-Celsius limit, knowing their future is at stake.
AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

 

Peter Schlosser, Arizona State University

The world could still, theoretically, meet its goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level many scientists consider a dangerous threshold. Realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

Part of the problem was evident at COP27, the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

While nations’ climate negotiators were successfully fighting to “keep 1.5 alive” as the global goal in the official agreement, reached Nov. 20, 2022, some of their countries were negotiating new fossil fuel deals, driven in part by the global energy crisis. Any expansion of fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – makes keeping warming under 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times much harder. Continue reading

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PR firm accused of greenwashing big oil is helping organize COP27

The US agency has a “shameful track record of spreading disinformation” but has been hired by the Egyptian government

By Ben Webster  Published 10-21-2022 by openDemocracy

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27, taking place next month in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, is being promoted by PR firm Hill+Knowlton, which has been accused of greenwashing | Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

The US public relations firm helping Egypt organise COP27 also works for major oil companies and has been accused of greenwashing on their behalf, openDemocracy can reveal.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, which has worked for ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco, is managing communications for Egypt’s presidency of the UN climate conference, which will take place next month in Sharm El Sheikh. Continue reading

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US Gas Flaring Releases Five Times More Methane Than Previously Thought

“This study adds to the growing body of research that tells us that the oil and gas industry has a flaring problem,” said Jon Goldstein of EDF, which conducted related research on the practice.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-29-2022 by Common Dreams

Natural Gas flaring in West Texas oil field. Photo: Jonathan Cutrer/flickr/CC

Flaring, the process of burning natural gas escaping from fossil fuel wells, releases five times more methane than previously believed, according to an analysis of most U.S. operations, published Thursday in the journal Science.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Michigan, is based on data collected during 13 flights over three years at the Bakken oil and gas field in North Dakota as well as the Eagle Ford and Permian fields in Texas—which collectively have over 80% of all U.S. flaring operations. Continue reading

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Intense heat and flooding are wreaking havoc on power and water systems as climate change batters America’s aging infrastructure

Volunteers distributed bottled water after Jackson, Mississippi’s water treatment plant failed during flooding in August 2022.
Brad Vest/Getty Images

 

Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado Boulder

The 1960s and 1970s were a golden age of infrastructure development in the U.S., with the expansion of the interstate system and widespread construction of new water treatment, wastewater and flood control systems reflecting national priorities in public health and national defense. But infrastructure requires maintenance, and, eventually, it has to be replaced.

That hasn’t been happening in many parts of the country. Increasingly, extreme heat and storms are putting roads, bridges, water systems and other infrastructure under stress. Continue reading

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If you thought this summer’s heat waves were bad, a new study has some disturbing news about dangerous heat in the future

Parts of China suffered through a monthslong heat wave in summer 2022.
China Photos/Getty Images

David Battisti, University of Washington

As global temperatures rise, people in the tropics, including places like India and Africa’s Sahel region, will likely face dangerously hot conditions almost daily by the end of the century – even as the world reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, a new study shows.

The mid-latitudes, including the U.S., will also face increasing risks. There, the number of dangerously hot days, marked by temperatures and humidity high enough to cause heat exhaustion, is projected to double by the 2050s and continue to rise.

In the study, scientists looked at population growth, economic development patterns, energy choices and climate models to project how heat index levels – the combination of heat and humidity – will change over time. We asked University of Washington atmospheric scientist David Battisti, a co-author of the study, published Aug. 25, 2022, to explain the findings and what they mean for humans around the world. Continue reading

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Climate Crisis Pushing Up to 1 in 6 US Tree Species Toward Extinction: Study

“Understanding the current state of trees within the U.S. is imperative to protecting those species, their habitats, and the countless communities they support.”

By Julia Conley   Published 8-23-2022 by Common Dreams

Black ash trees are among the tree species identified in a new study showing that up to one in six tree species are being pushed toward extinction. Photo: Eli Sagor/flickr/CC

New research published Tuesday reveals both how chronically under-studied tree populations are in the U.S. and how the lack of resources devoted to trees has pushed as much as 16% of all tree species toward the threat of extinction.

After five years of study, a coalition of scientists from Botanic Gardens Conservation International, NatureServe, the U.S. Botanic Garden, and other groups revealed that as many as one in six U.S. tree species are in danger of becoming extinct due largely to disease and invasive insects—both of which have been quietly made more devastating to trees in recent years by the climate crisis. Continue reading

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90% of Marine Species Face Extinction Under Emissions Status Quo: Study

While the research predicts “a potentially bleak future for many marine species,” the authors say it “also measures how much our oceans and the life within them stand to benefit from both climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

By Julia Conley  Published 8-22-2022 by Common Dreams

Various fish including bigscale soldierfish / ‘ū’ū (Myripristis berndti), Moorish idols / kihikihi (Zanclus cornutus), and a masked angelfish (Genicanthus personatus) swim in a small outcropping of coral on a reef in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Andrew Gray for NOAA/flickr/CC

A new study details the disastrous consequences that would result for marine life across the world’s oceans if current levels of fossil fuel emissions are maintained, with up to 90% of ocean species facing extinction.

Daniel Boyce, a research scientist at Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, Canada, led the study examining 35,000 species of marine flora and fauna as well as bacteria and protozoans, devising a new analytical tool called the Climate Risk Index for Biodiversity (CRIB). Continue reading

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Death Valley Floods Deemed a ‘1,000-Year Event’

“With climate change models predicting more frequent and more intense storms, this is a place where you can see climate change in action,” said the park superintendent.

By Kenny Stancil  Published 8-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Three cars at the Inn at Death Valley pushed together by flash floods are towed on August 6, 2022. (Photo: National Park Service)

Last week’s historic rainfall and flash flooding that caused widespread damage and left hundreds of staff and tourists stranded in Death Valley National Park is another clear sign of how extreme weather is being intensified by the fossil fuel-driven climate emergency, experts say.

The otherwise bone dry landscape between California and Nevada was pummeled by multiple downpours last week. Friday’s storm dumped an estimated 1.46 inches of rain at Furnace Creek—75% of the annual average total for the park, where less than two inches of precipitation per year is typical—in just three hours. Continue reading

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Indigenous-Led Blockade Demands Biden Declare Climate Emergency, End Oil Leasing

“Native land back in native hands, we are not your sacrifice zones!”

By Jake Johnson   Published 8-1-2022 by Common Dreams

A demonstrator is suspended from a tripod structure in front of the Interior Department in Washington, D.C. on August 1, 2022. (Photo: About Face: Veterans Against the War/Twitter)

An Indigenous-led blockade outside the U.S. Department of Interior early Monday morning called on President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and halt all new fossil fuel projects, a demand that came as the White House and Senate Democrats are pushing legislation that could unleash a flurry of drilling activity on public lands and waters.

“Native land back in native hands, we are not your sacrifice zones!” declared the Ikiya Collective, which helped organize the direct action. Continue reading

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