What’s Hot in Climate Change, 11 July 2016

Welcome to the inaugural semi, bi-weekly “What’s Hot in Climate Change” post (pun intended!).  The Climate Advisor pours over scores of climate change articles from various media outlets and reputable scientific sources almost daily, so it seemed that besides just twittering out these articles, it might be helpful if we directed readers to the best of the bunch from the past week or two.

So this will be a regular update of what this blog thinks are the best stories from the previous few weeks.  There may also be occasional book reviews and other fun and/or interesting stuff.  We will also have at least one item from each week that demonstrates how people, organizations and governments can adapt to climate change.  Of course, we will still write in-depth articles about how climate change impacts your life and what you can do about it.

With all that said lets jump right in.

First up this week, in California’s Sierra Mountains, over 40 million trees have died since 2010, 26 million alone since last October.  The pine beetle epidemic that has swept western forests from Mexico to Canada is mostly to blame.  That combined with the ongoing southwestern drought has decimated California’s forests.  The pine beetle epidemic has been ongoing for over a decade and has killed or is killing millions of acres of forest.  This pine beetle epidemic has been directly linked to climate change, because the cold winters that used to keep beetle populations in check, are much milder now, allowing the beetles to survive in greater numbers.  You can read an excellent book about it, here.  All the dead trees, plus the drought in the Southwest have made for an epic forest fire season in the Southwest so far this summer.

Map of tree deaths in the Sierra Nevada

On the up side, 2015 was a banner year for worldwide investment in alternative energy.  Developing countries surpassed industrial countries in investment for the first time, giving hope that many developing countries can skip over the stage of development where cheap, dirty energy powers their economies.  I think this is entirely possible.  I was in Ghana, Africa a few years ago and noticed that I had 5 bars of cell phone service nearly everywhere I went in that country (which is a damn sight better than I get in the US on most days!).  They had skipped copper wires and had gone straight to country-wide cell phone coverage.  In fact, most folks did their banking and other such tasks on their cell phones.  Pretty cool.  Hopefully, alternative energy will follow that same trend.  Switching to alternative energy is the single biggest thing any person, company or organization can do to prevent the worst of climate change.  And if you are ready to get alternative power, check out this blog post.

Worldwide alt energy investment soars (except for Canada :(

Here’s an interesting tidbit, Adidas made a pair of athletic shoes partly out of plastic recycled from the ocean.  This was done in partnership with the ocean conservation organization Parley for the Oceans.  Let’s hope this is more than a stunt — we need find a use for the millions of tons of plastic that end up in the ocean every year.

athletic shoes from ocean plastic!

Last, if you’ve ever wanted to be spoon fed in-depth, climate change knowledge while sitting in your jammies in the comfort of your own home, well now you can.  Coursera, an organization that hosts on-line courses from top universities and institutions around the world, has at least ten courses on various aspects of climate change.  Courses range from climate science, to sustainability, to water policy, to running your own climate model.  And the best thing is that all courses are free, unless you want official credit or recognition for your course.  Right now I’m taking a course on sustainable development from Columbia University.  It’s very good.

Well that’s all for now.  Have a great month, and stay cool!