Medio ambiente

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveils the European Green Deal in December 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

In December 2019, the EU launched the European Green Deal, a comprehensive policy package which aims to make the continent carbon-neutral by 2050. It contains a wide range of legal and policy measures including support for restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, low-carbon mobility, and sustainable food systems and healthy diets.

Even though the UK has now left the EU, and the UK government has made clear that there will be no regulatory alignment and no rule-taking from the EU, this will affect Britain’s markets, trade negotiations and stance in global climate action.

The UK has essentially three choices in how to react.…  Seguir leyendo »

I read the other day that bumblebees are in sharp decline, victims of warming temperatures that raise their risk of extinction.

Researchers at the University of Ottawa and University College London, utilizing data from 550,000 observations, compared the distribution of 66 bumblebee species between the periods 1901 to 1974 and 2000 to 2014. The population fell 17 percent in Europe and plummeted a stunning 46 percent in North America.

The year 1974 happens to resonate with me. That’s when I departed for college and left my hometown for good.

The processing of the apocalyptic no doubt varies from person to person.…  Seguir leyendo »

Según datos de The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), las emisiones globales de CO₂ del transporte aéreo comercial representaron en 2018 algo más del 2,4 % de las emisiones mundiales debidas a combustibles fósiles.

De las 918 millones de toneladas (Mt) contabilizadas, el 81 % (747 Mt) correspondían al transporte de pasajeros y el resto al transporte aéreo de mercancías.

Según el Inventario Nacional de Gases de Efecto Invernadero (GEI), el transporte aéreo en España emitió 2,80 Mt de CO₂ en 2017. Esta cifra supuso un 3,2 % de todas las emisiones del sector del transporte en nuestro país. Un sector que contabilizó el 26 % del total de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en territorio nacional.…  Seguir leyendo »

Planting trees, even as many as a trillion, will never absorb the enormous amounts of fossil carbon emitted from industrial societies.Credit...Sean Gallup/Getty Images

One trillion trees.

At the World Economic Forum last month, President Trump drew applause when he announced the United States would join the forum’s initiative to plant one trillion trees to fight climate change. More applause for the decision followed at his State of the Union speech.

The trillion-tree idea won wide attention last summer after a study published in the journal Science concluded that planting so many trees was “the most effective climate change solution to date.”

If only it were true. But it isn’t. Planting trees would slow down the planet’s warming, but the only thing that will save us and future generations from paying a huge price in dollars, lives and damage to nature is rapid and substantial reductions in carbon emissions from fossil fuels, to net zero by 2050.…  Seguir leyendo »

De acuerdo con los sondeos de opinión, los españoles somos unos europeos singulares: nos preocupa y atendemos lo que no podemos resolver (por ejemplo, el clima) y no reformamos lo que podemos mejorar (por ejemplo, la calidad de nuestra democracia).

El Eurobarómetro de 2019 sitúa a España como el primer país de la UE con más elevada tasa de preocupación por la “emergencia climática” (el 67 por cien). Sin duda es el resultado de la intensa propaganda del gobierno secundado por el tradicional seguidismo acrítico de buena parte de los medios de comunicación.

Por el contrario, la calidad de la democracia, en la que España ocupa las últimas posiciones de la UE con más de un 75 por cien de descontentos con los partidos políticos y el gobierno, es un tema ausente del debate público.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una manifestación de pobladores de la zona del Río Sonora, realizada afuera de la Suprema Corte de Justicia el 5 de agosto de 2019. (Project PODER)

El 6 de agosto de 2014, las aguas del Río Sonora, en el norte de México, se tiñeron de marrón cobrizo por el derrame de 40 millones de litros de sulfato de cobre acidulado procedentes de las instalaciones de la mina Buenavista del Cobre, propiedad de Grupo México, una de las empresas mineras más grandes del país. Fue un día terrible para las más de 25 mil personas que habitan en los bordes del río y para el millón de habitantes de Hermosillo, capital del estado fronterizo de Sonora, que beben el agua de la presa El Molinito. Ese desastre, que durante años fue menospreciado por la empresa minera y las autoridades locales y federales, hoy está cerca de tener un buen desenlace para las comunidades afectadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Calle inundada tras el paso del huracán Irma por Florida. Shutterstock/FotoKina

A muchas personas les preocupa el problema del clima, desde investigadores a activistas. Sin embargo, el clima es un esquema intelectual humano que no existe en la naturaleza. Allí solo es real el tiempo atmosférico: sequías, inundaciones, fríos y calores, huracanes, tifones, tornados, rayos y relámpagos.

El clima es la estadística de todos estos fenómenos y no existe, de la misma forma en la que no existe el “estudiante promedio”.

Viajemos hasta cualquier zona del planeta, por ejemplo Almería. Esta fue deforestada en el siglo XIX y hoy llueve poco. Decimos entonces que su clima es “seco”, de la misma forma que podríamos establecer que la nota media de un instituto es 8.…  Seguir leyendo »

Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images Ember and thick smoke from bushfires, Braemar Bay, New South Wales, Australia, January 4, 2020

Australia is no stranger to bushfire. In 1994, in Sydney, I lost a house to one, and in 2002, just north of Sydney, I fought off another. But I’ve never experienced anything like the current fire season before. These bushfires have been burning since September, taking lives and property across the nation, but the worst came in late December, just as families were settling into their holidays.

The high summer period between Christmas and Australia Day (January 26) is Australia’s grandes vacances. Offices close and people resort to campsites and holiday shacks on the golden, unspoiled beaches so characteristic of our country, to fish, barbeque, and let the kids run wild.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahogany tree seedlings being taken to be planted out in the Amazon. Photo: Getty Images.

December’s UN climate talks held in Madrid were aptly titled ‘Time for Action’. While little progress was made at the conference in establishing an international framework that would help to instigate this, there is still much scope for action in 2020. The need for this has become all too apparent as the impacts of climate change are increasingly seen around the world.

One of the key areas where progress can be made in 2020 is in increasing the ambition of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), these being governments’ plans to take action in response to climate change. To date, 184 countries have submitted NDCs, yet the commitments that have been made fall far short of what is needed to avert catastrophic climate change.…  Seguir leyendo »

Río Segura a su paso por Murcia tras las intensas lluvias provocadas por el fenómeno DANA a principios de septiembre. Jose y yo Estudio/Shutterstock

La creación de una Vicepresidencia para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico es, de entrada, una noticia magnífica. Es además muy importante que la ostente una persona, Teresa Ribera, que lleva años trabajando sobre estos asuntos.

En el momento actual el planeta y España tienen que encarar retos muy acuciantes en materia ambiental. En algunas regiones han aumentado las sequías, con serias consecuencias: la desertización, la falta de agua y los incendios forestales.

En otros casos, y en los mismos y otros lugares, se repiten precipitaciones extremas que causan inundaciones con grandes pérdidas en cultivos, ganadería e infraestructuras, e incluso pérdida de vidas humanas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Clockwise from top left: Al Gore; the climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe; Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma; and Greta Thunberg.Credit...Illustration by The New York Times; Photographs by Katie Orlinsky, Joe Buglewicz, Mark Abramson for the New York Times, Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times, Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

Happy New Year! It’s 2020, and the forecast for this next decade is cloudy with an apprehension of doom. According to the United Nations, the world has only until 2030 to cut carbon dioxide emissions down to roughly half those of 2010 levels to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more ambitious target of the Paris Agreement. (The world has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since the 19th century.) The outlook, in the words of a United Nations report released in November, is “bleak.”

Daunting as the problem may be, millions of people still don’t accept the premise of its existence: Depending on how you ask, only about half to two-thirds of Americans believe that climate change is caused by humans, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The magnitude of these fires alone, apart from their human and environmental consequences, simply shows us that we now confront a new, more flammable world’ Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

The fire situation in eastern Australia continues to rapidly escalate.

At this stage we cannot predict when this will come to an end, but with losses of lives and property mounting on the south coast of NSW, eastern Victoria, South Australia, southwestern WA and Tasmania, we now have a nationally significant catastrophe that affects city and country alike.

The magnitude of these fires alone (about 5 million hectares and rapidly rising), apart from their human and environmental consequences, simply shows us that we now confront a new, more flammable world: a coupling of people, ecosystems and fire that is now irrevocably transformed.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Several difficult questions which were previously kept in the background – or indeed actively suppressed – by the environmental movement are becoming impossible to ignore.’ Photograph: John Lamparski/Getty Images

Will 2019 be remembered as the year in which climate change denial was defeated? The global climate strike, Greta Thunberg’s meteoric rise to international prominence, as well as several high-profile international conferences and reports – all contributed in putting climate skeptics on the back foot.

Even Donald Trump, who previously claimed that the climate crisis was a “hoax” invented by China to hold back American industry, has recently begun to brag about all his administration has done to address it. Following suit, the rest of his party is scrambling to develop a coherent environmental platform, more in line with their electoral base’s shifting views.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Mogote River in the Aysén region of Chile.Credit...Marcos Zegers for The New York Times

The rivers of Chilean Patagonia cascade from snow-capped mountains through sheer rock facades and rolling hills, radiating bright turquoise, deep blues and vivid greens. The Puelo. The Pascua. The Futaleufú. Each is as breathtaking and unique as the landscape it quenches.

But these rivers, like many worldwide, have been threatened by dam projects that aim to provide power for distant cities and mining operations. Only one-third of the world’s 177 longest rivers remain free flowing, and just 21 rivers longer than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) retain a direct connection to the sea.

If we are to arrest global climate change, prevent the toxifying of freshwater sources and do right by all those who depend on rivers for survival, we must return more rivers to their natural state.…  Seguir leyendo »

Greta Thunberg en Plymouth, Inglaterra, antes de partir en yate hacia Nueva YorkCredit...Tom Jamieson para The New York Times

Siempre he tenido una conexión profunda con el mundo natural.

Antes de tomar una cámara, primero fui, principalmente, un estudioso de la madre naturaleza. Durante el bachillerato pasé veranos estudiando la biología de la vida salvaje con School for Field Studies, un programa de estudios sobre el medioambiente en el extranjero. Conforme aprendía acerca de los ungulados en Kenia y de las focas en Alaska, desarrollé una fascinación perdurable por la naturaleza. Aunque abandoné el campo de la ciencia ambiental para dedicarme al cine, el asombro profundo que me produce nuestro planeta sigue influyendo en todos los aspectos de mi trabajo.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstrator with a mask attends a climate rally in Sydney last Wednesday as bushfire smoke choked the city and the Australian government used the COP25 Madrid climate talks in Spain to push for dodgy accounting tricks to halve its climate effort. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

I’ve been at the climate summit in Madrid for the past two weeks. The question I was constantly asked was: “What will it take for Australia to treat the climate crisis seriously?” International friends, colleagues and strangers looked on in horror at the effects of the bushfires and outright amazement at the Morrison government’s denial of the link between the fires and Australia’s coal industry, and seeming lack of concern at this extreme impact of climate change.

Morning after morning I woke to check the news and the “fires near me” app. Seeking updates from friends. Was the Katoomba fire close enough to force evacuation of one?…  Seguir leyendo »

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres on Wednesday at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Madrid.Credit...Cristina Quicler/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As the United Nations’ annual climate conference in Madrid winds to a close, it has become clear that climate summits are stuck in a rut. The job of cutting global emissions is actually getting harder, and not just because the planet keeps warming.

Climate summits have become festivals at which leaders talk about leadership. But leadership doesn’t matter without followership. And that’s the problem in addressing the climate crisis. There aren’t enough followers.

In 1990, when the United Nations first began diplomatic talks on climate change, the countries, cities, states and provinces poised to become leaders in climate policy accounted for about 34 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and industrial operations, according to my research.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sea ice in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in June.Credit...Christopher Miller for The New York Times

Delegates from nearly every nation spent the last two weeks here at a United Nations climate summit struggling to chart a course to meet the extraordinarily difficult goal of net zero emissions of carbon dioxide by the year 2050.

Yet long before then, the effects of global warming could spin out of control. As the United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, warned in opening the meeting: “The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the Arctic. The surface air there is warming at twice the global rate and temperatures over the past five years have exceeded all previous records since 1900.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando estamos siendo testigos de la COP25 en Madrid el debate en torno al cambio climático y las cuestiones medioambientales en general está ocupando un gran espacio mediático.

Estamos hablando de cosas que nos afectan a todos: la calidad del aire que respiramos, la limpieza de los mares y de los ríos donde nos bañamos -o nos deberíamos poder bañar sin recelos- y donde viven los peces que comemos, la calidad de los alimentos vegetales y animales que tomamos, la ausencia en ellos de sustancias que puedan afectar negativamente a nuestra salud.

Nadie que tenga sus necesidades básicas cubiertas puede ignorar sensatamente la importancia que tiene el cuidado del medio ambiente, nadie puede ser neutral con respecto a si respira un aire limpio o uno sucio, a si come peces con o sin metales pesados, animales con o sin hormonas o antibióticos, o vegetales con o sin pesticidas.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Global Carbon Project estimates nearly 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be added to the atmosphere this year, driven by increased use of oil and natural gas. Credit Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Trump administration recently began the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, citing “the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses and taxpayers” by the United States’ pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, expressed similar sentiments: “Australia won’t write a blank check with its economy” to fight climate change, “which requires action from around the globe.”

What does “fair” mean in the case of greenhouse gas emissions? As citizens of the United States and Australia, two countries heavily invested in fossil fuels, we took a look.

We’re part of the Global Carbon Project, a group of scientists who monitor the global carbon cycle.…  Seguir leyendo »