Earth system models and various climate proxy sources indicate global warming is unprecedented during at least the Common Era1. However, tree-ring proxies often estimate temperatures during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950–1250 CE) that are similar to, or exceed, those recorded for the past century2,3, in contrast to simulation experiments at regional scales4. This not only calls into question the reliability of models and proxies but also contributes to uncertainty in future climate projections5. Here we show that the current climate of the Fennoscandian Peninsula is substantially warmer than that of the medieval period. This highlights the dominant role of anthropogenic forcing in climate warming even at the regional scale, thereby reconciling inconsistencies between reconstructions and model simulations. We used an annually resolved 1,170-year-long tree-ring record that relies exclusively on tracheid anatomical measurements from Pinus sylvestris trees, providing high-fidelity measurements of instrumental temperature variability during the warm season. We therefore call for the construction of more such millennia-long records to further improve our understanding and reduce uncertainties around historical and future climate change at inter-regional and eventually global scales.
The judge who heard the US’s first constitutional climate trial earlier this year has ruled in favor of a group of young plaintiffs who had accused state officials in Montana of violating their right to a healthy environment.
The challengers’ lawyers described the ruling as a “game-changer” and a “sweeping win” which campaigners hope will give a boost to similar cases tackling the climate crisis.
In a case that made headlines around the US and internationally, 16 plaintiffs, aged five to 22, had alleged the state government’s pro-fossil fuel policies contributed to climate change.
In trial hearings in June, they testified that that these policies therefore violated provisions in the state constitution that guarantee a “clean and healthful environment,” among other constitutional protections.
On Monday, Judge Kathy Seeley said that by prohibiting government agencies from considering climate impacts when deciding whether or not to permit energy projects, Montana is contributing to the climate crisis and stopping the state from addressing that crisis. The 103-page order came several weeks after the closely watched trial came to a close on 20 June.
“My initial reaction is, we’re pretty over the moon,” Melissa Hornbein, an attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center who represented the plaintiffs in the 2020 lawsuit said, reacting to the news. “It’s a very good order.”
Julia Olson, who founded Our Children’s Trust, the non-profit law firm that brought the suit alongside Western Environmental Law Center and McGarvey Law, said the case marks the first time in US history that the merits of a case led a court to rule that a government violated young people’s constitutional rights by promoting fossil fuels.
“In a sweeping win for our clients, the Honorable Judge Kathy Seeley declared Montana’s fossil fuel-promoting laws unconstitutional and enjoined their implementation,” she said. “As fires rage in the west, fueled by fossil fuel pollution, today’s ruling in Montana is a game-changer that marks a turning point in this generation’s efforts to save the planet from the devastating effects of human-caused climate chaos.”
The challengers had alleged that they “have been and will continue to be harmed by the dangerous impacts of fossil fuels and the climate crisis.” Similar suits have been filed by young people across the US, but Held v Montana was the first case to reach a trial.
Among the policies the challengers targeted: a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act barring the state from considering how its energy economy climate change impacts. In 2011, the legislature amended the law to prevent environmental reviews from considering “regional, national or global” environmental impacts – a provision the original complaint called the “climate change exception”.
This year, state lawmakers amended the provision to specifically ban the state from considering greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews for new energy projects. The state’s attorneys said that should have rendered the lawsuit moot, but Seeley rejected the argument.
The verdict sets a positive tone for the future of youth-led climate lawsuits.
“This is a huge win for Montana, for youth, for democracy, and for our climate,” said Olson. “More rulings like this will certainly come.”
Youth-led constitutional climate lawsuits, brought by Our Children’s Trust, are also pending in four other states. One of those cases, brought by Hawaii youth plaintiffs, is set to go to trial in June 2024, attorneys announced last week.
A similar federal lawsuit filed by Our Children’s Trust, 2015’s Juliana v United States, is also pending. This past June, a US district court ruled in favor of the youth plaintiffs, allowing that their claims can be decided at trial in open court, but a trial date has yet to be set.
Number of vessels able to pass through each day limited because lower availability of water
Commercial ships are facing long queues and delays to travel through the Panama Canal as a lengthy drought in the Central American country has led to a cut in the number of vessels able to pass through one of the world’s most important trading routes.
In a fresh demonstration of the impact of the climate crisis on global business and trade, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), which manages the waterway, introduced restrictions on the number of transiting vessels as a result of the drought.
[... ... ...]
Weather-related problems have been building at the canal for some time, prompting the ACP to pledge to save water during the rainy months, although it said that the economic impact was unavoidable.
The return of the El Niño hot natural weather pattern is also making Panama and the surrounding region warmer and drier.
Peter Sand, the chief analyst at the freight market analytics firm Xeneta, said disruption at the canal could push short-term shipping rates higher and “prompt shippers to alter their supply chains”.
There are also concerns about the impact of dry weather on the Rhine in Germany, one of Europe’s key shipping routes. In recent months, the water level measured at Kaub, west of Frankfurt – a particularly narrow point where the navigable channel is shallower than elsewhere on the river – has been lower than usual and, in late July, fell to its lowest level of the year.
Analysts are fearful that a repeat of 2022, when some larger vessels were forced to reduce their loads in order to continue using the river, could hit growth in Europe’s largest economy.
An extended dry season has reduced the availability of water, required to allow vessels to pass through the canal’s locks, which has triggered a logjam of ships awaiting their turn.
In the USA the business-oriented right is pushing the line that while climate change is real, "it won't be so bad" and we can keep burning fossil fuels relying on internal combustion engines for transportation. Might want to get the government to protect large scale developments along the coast and prop up the coal industry but otherwise there's no cause for alarm.
That's the sense that I get as well. And If fighting climate change isn't profitable (I'm assuming it isn't, or they'd be all over it) what's the point for America's oligarchs?
If fighting climate change isn't profitable (I'm assuming it isn't, or they'd be all over it) what's the point for America's oligarchs?
Quote:If fighting climate change isn't profitable (I'm assuming it isn't, or they'd be all over it) what's the point for America's oligarchs?
It is profitable, just not for the players with skin in the existing fossil fuels game, so they resist; terrified of stranded assets. Even in the EV field Toyota is being left behind by the manufacturers who were 'born electric' because it is such a different approach (in spite of their claims that they haven't committed to electric only because Lithium prices will make EVs way more expensive)
It is well known that many large vertebrate species went extinct during the late Pleistocene in most regions of the world. What caused these extinctions remains debated, although both climate change and human impacts have been implicated. O’Keefe et al. used the extensive fossil record created by the entrapment of animals in the La Brea tar pits in conjunction with nearby core samples and found a clear relationship between an increase in fire—and fire-related ecosystems—and large mammal extinction. The authors argue that this increase in fire may have resulted from climate change–induced warming and drying in conjunction with increasing impacts of humans in the system. —Sacha Vignieri
On a recent summer evening in central Paris, a handful of people trickled into a trendy Brazilian bar blasting bossa nova, passed customers toasting with caipirinhas and headed for a wooden staircase in the back. They emerged into a small room featuring a table strewn with large printed cards that showed charts explaining the science behind climate change.
“Welcome,” a young man said. “We’re going to have fun.”
For the next three hours, the group used the cards to recreate the chain of global warming, frowning as they tried to understand phenomena such as radiative forcing and ocean acidification. Then, they debated limiting energy-hungry air travel and developing nuclear power.
The group was taking part in a “Climate Fresk,” a workshop run by a nonprofit of the same name, that teaches the basics of global warming and highlights possible solutions. The events have become a trendy night out in France, with more than a million participants.
The popularity of the Climate Fresks, named for the “fresco” that participants create with the cards, comes as much of Europe faces hotter summers associated with climate change. (France is expected to experience its strongest heat wave of the summer this weekend.)
Since they began in 2018, Climate Fresks have increasingly been adopted by public and private organizations to spur people to take environmental action. As France has committed to reduce carbon emissions and drastically cut waste, major universities, companies and even some government departments are sending more and more students, employees and civil servants to the workshops.
The workshops are also expanding beyond France. They has been translated into some 50 languages, and about 200,000 people abroad have participated, including in the United States.
Some green activists and environmental experts criticize the workshop for not going far enough and for not questioning the political and economic decisions that have accelerated climate change.
Cédric Ringenbach, creator of the Climate Fresk, said the workshop focused on the science behind climate change and let participants make up their minds.
“It’s not the fresco that challenges the political-economic paradigm,” he said, “It’s the participants themselves who come to these conclusions.”
“We’re here to pave the way,” he added.
An engineer by training and a longtime lecturer on climate change, Mr. Ringenbach said that he had imagined the workshop as a way to better engage his students.
“I wanted them to piece together the climate change chain by themselves,” he said. “It’s much more powerful from an educational point of view, because you’re not just passively listening to a lecture — you’re an actor.”
The workshop, which is based on reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, uses 42 cards representing the various stages of climate change, from the use of fossil fuels to the melting of glaciers. With the help of a facilitator, participants are asked to arrange the cards on a large sheet of paper to represent the causes and consequences of climate change.
Around her, participants debated the process of disruption of the water cycle, their faces contorting with concern as they placed cards showing chilling pictures of flooding and droughts. They drew arrows between the cards to illustrate the links between deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions and called their fresco “The Map of Awareness.”
“We feel so small in front of this map,” Ms. Prin said. “And yet we also feel empowered, because we’ve learned so much.”
The popularity of the Climate Fresk workshops echoes a growing interest in France in understanding the environmental changes affecting the country, whether raging wildfires in the south or rising waters eroding D-Day’s beaches in Normandy. The best-selling book in France last year was a comic book about the climate crisis, “Le Monde Sans Fin” — or “World Without End” — which sold over half a million copies.
Several participants said the workshop had prompted them to take action, such as cutting down on their consumption of meat, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and lobbying their employers to institute greener practices.
The Climate Fresk workshop has grown so quickly thanks also to its relative ease and accessibility: Card templates are available free online, and training to become a facilitator takes just a few hours.
Interest in the workshops has been such that it is now a fixture of introductory courses at several elite French universities and is taught at major companies such as the bank BNP Paribas. The French government is also considering including it in a plan to train the country’s 25,000 most senior civil servants in the green transition by the end of next year.
Claire Landais, who as the government’s secretary general is one of France’s top civil servants, said the stakes were high in training her colleagues, because they were the ones who would be putting climate policies in place. She underwent an initial training last year that included a Climate Fresk, which she described as “a very rich and dense” workshop.
“Until then,” Ms. Landais said, “I had never been trained in these topics.”
Mr. Ringenbach said his goal was to “reach the winning triangle” — citizens, businesspeople and politicians — to create enough momentum to speed up the fight against climate change.
Critics warn that the workshop could be used by companies for greenwashing, offering an easy way to profess concern for climate change while actually doing little to address it.
BNP Paribas, for example, has boasted of using the workshop to train thousands of employees but remains one of the world’s biggest funders of fossil fuel projects, according to a 2022 report by nongovernmental groups.
“The Climate Fresk has become a bit of a simplistic way of tackling these environmental issues,” said Eric Guilyardi, a climate scientist and president of the Office for Climate Education, a United Nations-linked group that promotes climate education in schools around the world.
“It’s like saying, ‘OK, I’m aware of the issue, I’ve done my part,’” he added.
Stéphane Lambert, a Climate Fresk development officer at BNP Paribas, said the accusations were unfounded, arguing that the workshop had helped the bank’s plans to move away from fossil fuels. BNP Paribas said in May that it would reduce its financing of oil exploration and production 80 percent by 2030.
As the workshop in the Brazilian bar in Paris drew to an end, the group gathered for a photo. They stood behind their fresco, a colorful poster covered with drawings that expressed both hope and fear: lush forests and flooded buildings, seas teeming with fish, and a tornado.
“Should we smile?” Ms. Prin asked. “Or should we cry?”