Category: Earth & climate

Articles focusing on the current and future state of our planet and its climate. We explore the causes and consequences of anthropogenic climate change.

Why I will not read the new IPCC report

I have been extremely busy lately and therefore running completely behind on my writing schedule. If that was not enough, the IPCC decided to publish another of its so-many-hundreds-of-pages-counting reports on climate change. This time I decided to not even start reading the executive summary. Why, you ask? Because I am getting so damn tired of reports, press conferences, talks, climate summits, and what not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been dropping on us since the first global Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

The cover of the IPCC’s latest special report on global warming.

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What happens in the Arctic… does not stay in the Arctic

I just returned from a hiking trip through the North of Spain when sitting down to write this blog post. Besides the beautiful deciduous forests, mountains, and the refined kitchen of the Basque country, I also faced the ever burning sun. Once I crossed the mountains along the coastline and headed onto the plateau of Alava, no trees stood between me and the burning rays. At one particularly hot afternoon, my thoughts drifted off to cooler places. Maybe, I thought in the delirium of the moment, next year I go to the Arctic instead.

My dull train of thoughts came to a sudden stop. Travelling to the Arctic? yelled my inner voice outraged. Do you even realise what kind of impact that would have on such pristine environment?

Arctic ice is melting at an accelerating pace, as a result of warming at a speed twice as high as the global average.

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I love travelling and it’s ruining the planet

This week I am enjoying Greek salads with feta cheese, morning swims in the sea, and lazy afternoons in the sun. I am in Cyprus, a country whose tourism sector’s greenhouse emissions per capita are the sixths largest in the world. And it’s not the Cypriots who are to blame, rather the troops of tourists (including me) that fly into the Mediterranean island to enjoy their holidays in luxurious hotel rooms kept cool by batteries of air conditioners. Thanks to a new study, for the first time ever we now have a comprehensive overview of the footprint of global tourism. And it’s not a pretty picture, rather an inconvenient truth (to use Al Gore’s words).

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Ocean plastics: where to fight them first?

I am sure you all have seen those heart-sickening pictures of dead albatrosses on the beaches of the Galapagos Islands. Between what remains from their deck of feathers, plastic bottle caps are bulking out of their stomachs. The issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans is reaching alarming rates with far-reaching impacts. It seems that finally, the issue has reached the greater public thanks to mind-boggling footage in documentaries like the Plastic Ocean, and the renowned BBC series Blue Planet II. Better late than never. If the little sea turtles tangled up in an abandoned fisher net didn’t pull you over the line, the danger of microplastics building up in the fish on your plate surely should get you onboard the fight against ocean plastics. But you might be wondering… where to start?

The Philippines have a huge waste mismanagement problem, leading to tonnes of plastic being dumped into the ocean every year

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Meat the future

I get it. You love how the patty sizzles in the pan, how the fat seeps out of the meat, how the smell is an anticipation of the first bite, which gives the eater a glimpse of what’s beyond: heaven. At least, if I have to believe some of my carnivorous friends –I’m vegetarian– who get slightly poetic when defending their eating habits. And it’s not that I just happen to have very weird friends. Not a surprise that many vegetarian brands have tried to win meat lovers over with alternatives that promise to bring the full meat experience in a vegetarian or vegan version. Although most purists will claim we’re not yet there, some are admitting it’s getting pretty close.

For many people, the sizzling, the smell, and the bleeding of the meat is part of the burger experience

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Love, sex, and marriage in times of climate change

This Wednesday is Valentine’s day. Chances are high your thoughts are already floating off to your date night. Although it might seem as if there are few things further apart than love and climate change, I figured out they can affect each other in (sometimes scarily) significant ways.

You might not give a damn about rising seas and melting permafrost, but beware: hotter temperatures might affect action in the bedroom. What a bummer! In a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US a couple years back, three researchers found indications that exceptionally hot days lead to a reduction in birth rates nine months later. To put it in the authors own words: “Extreme heat could raise the physiological cost of coitus on a given fertile day, leading to a shift in coital frequency to some subsequent day(s).” In layman’s words: when it’s too hot to bang, people usually catch up later. But postponing the sex doesn’t make up entirely for the decline, as the study of US birth rates between 1931 and 2010 suggests.

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