“It’s not too late,” might as well be the subtitle of the third installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment report, released Monday. But only if the world acts soon.
Earlier in March, temperatures around the North Pole approached the melting point, right around the time of year that Arctic sea ice is usually most extensive. In some places, the Arctic was more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average. It’s part of an alarming trend; over the past 30 years the region has warmed four times faster than the rest of the globe. The shift is transforming the Arctic land- and seascape, causing sea ice to melt, glaciers and ice sheets to retreat, and permafrost to thaw. And while the Arctic is particularly vulnerable to climate change, it also has an outsized potential to contribute to global warming, as melting permafrost releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.
And yet, just when the climate scientists and governments across the eight Arctic states should be working together to understand and address the climate crisis, Russia’s war on Ukraine has forced the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental group of Arctic states and Arctic Indigenous Peoples, to suspend their joint activities in protest of Russia’s unprovoked aggression.
“It’s so crucial for us to not lose sight of accelerating climate change, and to be making as much progress as possible,” Marisol Maddox, a senior arctic analyst at the Polar Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, said. “And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is creating serious challenges to that within the Arctic context, because of the way that that’s manifested with the pause of the Arctic Council, and all of its subsidiary bodies.”
The devastating wildfires that ripped through California this year and last consumed nearly a fifth of the world’s giant sequoias, the largest trees on Earth by volume. According to official estimates, between 13 and 19 percent of the 75,000 sequoias over 4 feet in diameter were lost in just two years. While sequoias evolved with wildfire and need it to open their seed cones and to clear the forest floor so the seeds can germinate, the fires over the last two years—exacerbated by climate change-driven drought—were simply too hot.
Last August, the Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach—the arm of the land-grant university that works directly with farmers, business owners, and families on practical science applications—quietly informed 4-H members that canned goods made with recipes from the Ball Blue Book would no longer be accepted for exhibits at county fairs. A year later, the news that ISU Extension was no longer recommending the Ball Blue Book, not just to 4-H, but to any home canner, roiled the Canning subreddit, an online community with nearly 80,000 members.
Indoor farming is helping an isolated NASA crew thrive in Antarctica, and could reap future psychological benefits for space explorers.