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Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

By Justin Gillis from The New York Times

The issue can be overwhelming. The science is complicated. Predictions about the fate of the planet carry endless caveats and asterisks.

We get it.

And so, as the Paris climate talks get underway, we’ve provided quick answers to often-asked questions about climate change. You can submit your own questions here.

 

1. How much is the planet heating up?

1.7 degrees is actually a significant amount.

How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain

By Gretchen Reynolds from The New York Times

A walk in the park may soothe the mind and, in the process, change the workings of our brains in ways that improve our mental health, according to an interesting new study of the physical effects on the brain of visiting nature. Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago. City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show.

3 Key Takeaways From This Week's UN Climate Summit. A new global strategy on climate change? Not yet, but there was news.

By Elizabeth Shogren from National Geographic

This week's United Nations Climate Summit didn't forge a new global strategy to stave off the most alarming effects of climate change, such as dramatic sea-level rise and extreme weather. But no one was expecting such a sweeping development from the Tuesday event.

EPA includes Lyme disease data in climate change report

News release from the US Environmental Protection Agency, May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the third edition of a report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States. The report pulls together observed data on key measures of our environment, including U.S. and global temperature and precipitation, ocean heat and ocean acidity, sea level, length of growing season, and many others. With 30 indicators that include over 80 maps and graphs showing long-term trends, the report demonstrates that climate change is already affecting our environment and our society.

 

What We Know: The Reality, Risks, and Response To Climate Change

By The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

The overwhelming evidence of human-caused climate change documents both current impacts with significant costs and extraordinary future risks to society and natural systems. The scientific community has convened conferences, published reports, spoken out at forums and proclaimed, through statements by virtually every national scientific academy and relevant major scientific organization — including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) — that climate change puts the well-being of people of all nations at risk.

In The World's 'Sixth Extinction' Are Humans The Asteroid?

From NPR.org

The dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction — which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. Now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the Sixth Extinction and this time, human activity is the culprit. As one scientist put it: We're the asteroid.

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the new book The Sixth Extinction. It begins with a history of the "big five" extinctions of the past, and goes on to explain how human behavior is creating this sixth one — including our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change.

Is It Too Late To Prepare for Climate Change?

By Elizabeth Kolbert from THENEWYORKER.COM

Late last week, a Web site that claims that there is no scientific consensus on global warming published a leaked draft report on the impacts of global warming. The leak was apparently intended to embarrass the authors of the report, which is the latest installment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, it seems mostly to have had the opposite effect: what the leaked document shows is just how dire the impacts are likely to be.

As CO2 Concentrations Near Ominous Benchmark, Daily Updates Begin

From Scientific American, by Stephanie Paige Ogburn

Most people can mark their time on Earth by significant world events: the landing of a man on the moon, say; the dismantling of the Berlin Wall; or, more negatively, the 9/11 attacks. Another significant event is impending. Scientist Ralph Keeling wants this generation to remember when atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 400 parts per million, because of humans. “I hope that many people out there in the decades to come will say, ‘Gosh, I will remember when it crossed 400,’” he said.

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