The Blind Side of Climate Change Economics

by Rachel Ashton Lim

How accurate are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) economic estimates of Climate Change-induced damage? A post-Paris agreement review of its Fifth Assessment Report (Stern, 2016) calls for an imperative revision to its economic model. The review’s main suggestion is for the social science to become better integrated with the natural sciences in order to accurately evaluate the economic consequences of Climate Change, which are direr than is currently estimated. However, the review also suggests that the benefits of transitioning to low-carbon growth are underestimated in the report and must be evaluated more holistically. Combined, these two factors will enable the public, private and non-profit sectors to make decisions that will drive the world into the net-zero carbon economy it must achieve within this century. Continue reading

The Blind Side of Climate Change Economics

by Rachel Ashton Lim

How accurate are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) economic estimates of Climate Change-induced damage? A post-Paris agreement review of its Fifth Assessment Report (Stern, 2016) calls for an imperative revision to its economic model. The review’s main suggestion is for the social science to become better integrated with the natural sciences in order to accurately evaluate the economic consequences of Climate Change, which are drier than is currently estimated. However, the review also suggests that the benefits of transitioning to low-carbon growth are underestimated in the report and must be evaluated more holistically. Combined, these two factors will enable the public, private and non-profit sectors to make decisions that will drive the world into the net-zero carbon economy it must achieve within this century. Continue reading

Blooms at Lower pH Levels Could Upset Ocean’s Acidification Cycle

by Max Breitbarth

Ocean acidification—the absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean—has increased due to anthropogenic emissions of CO2, resulting in growing concentrations of CO2 in our oceans. Flynn et al. (2015) created models based on projections of increasing ocean acidity to explore the effects of algae blooms at decreasing pH levels and the effects of these blooms on phytoplankton populations that keep the ocean’s acidity within a manageable spectrum. Continue reading

Big Fish With a Bigger Problem: The Yellowtail Tuna Faces Difficulty in More Acidic Oceans

by Max Breitbarth

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have resulted in increased concentrations of CO2 in ocean waters that subsequently result in ocean acidification. Bromhead et al. (2015) explored the effects of elevated CO2 levels on the development of yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares in their March 2015 Deep-Sea Research article. Tuna represent some of the largest predators in the ocean, and cover vast expanses across several of the earth’s oceans—meaning the effects of ocean acidification could have ramifications for the species and their ecosystems around the world. The researchers found that ocean acidification levels have a strong negative effect on growth, hatch time, and larval survival in the experimental trials. These findings show that future ocean conditions may reduce the survivability of this fish in the future and lead to drastic marine ecosystem changes—as well as affect fishing practices by humans around the world that currently depend on yellowtail as a main source of food. Continue reading

Demand For Sustainability Drives Tesla To Faux Leather Seats

by Maya Gutierrez

What has caused Tesla to follow other companies in adopting more environmentally friendly options that can decrease their carbon footprint? Diane Cardwell discusses consumers’ increasing demand for more sustainable and animal-friendly materials and its effects on Tesla’s product offerings. She notes an accelerating trend amongst car manufacturers to appear more environmentally conscientious, something people have not traditionally associated with the auto industry. This can be viewed as a response to broader consumer demand for sustainable practices. Just as veganism and its high profile public endorsement by A-list celebrities has driven the food industry and restaurants to cater to the vegan lifestyle, the auto industry now sees value to incorporating sustainable practices in their product offerings. Well-known car companies have already begun to incorporate plant-based products into their cars, but now prospective buyers of Tesla cars, already known as a luxury car brand that has proven eco-friendly does not mean performance-challenged, are demanding that Tesla take their sustainable practices one step further. Continue reading

Continuing Ocean Acidification Makes Finding Food Harder For Sharks

by Max Breitbarth

Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have already directly affected corals, algae and other low-trophic level organisms in our oceans through the process of ocean acidification—the absorption of around 25% of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean. The increasing acidity has made forming calcified exoskeletons more difficult for corals, destroying localized ecosystems. The effects of a declining coral population have climbed up the food chain to threaten even predators near the top of the list. But what about the primary predators of the oceans…the feared, fascinating and ferocious sharks that have provided insight on marine feeding patterns, inspired tales like the one shown through the film Jaws, and are recognized by most as the biggest, baddest fish in the sea? Dixson et al. (2016) were interested in observing whether higher levels of ocean acidification sharks and rays, specifically their enhanced olfactory organs. Continue reading

Improving Food Yield in Africa

by Tyler Dean

According to an article in Appropriate Technology in 2014, climate change is predicted to increase the number of malnourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa by nearly forty percent by 2050, from the current 22 million, to 355 million. In East and Central Africa, suitable areas for growing beans could decline up to eighty percent, while areas suitable for growing bananas could decline twenty-five percent. In aggregate, climate change will severely lower crop yields by adversely affecting the length of the growing season and rainfall. It is crucial for African farmers to switch to “climate- smart agriculture”(CSA). CSA will increase resilience by allowing farmers to adapt to climate change and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The government has implemented monitored subsidy programs, consultants and aggregators in order to improve production and instill confidence in Africa’s farmers. Continue reading