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New EU Satellites Boost Climate Research: This Week’s 14 Biggest Stories

Photo: European Space Agency
Photo: European Space Agency

Things are moving quickly as our planet makes the transition to a new, clean economy. You want to stay in the loop – but you’re busy, that’s why we keep an eye on the headlines for you!

Welcome to the 20 December 2016 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet with some of the biggest stories about climate change this week. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or

1. The climate science visualisations that went viral in 2016.

British climate scientist Ed Hawkins made perhaps the biggest impact in 2016 when he tweeted his now famous “spiral” animation back in May. Now the year is coming to an end, Hawkins looks back in a flurry of tweets at what he said was “quite a year for the climate,” the Daily Planet reports.

2. And here’s how you can green your holiday season in 6 innovative steps.

How do you keep up your sustainable lifestyle during the festive Christmas and New Year’s period? The Daily Planet has put together some innovative tips to keep you on track.

3. Europe’s Galileo satellites herald a new era for Earth and climate science.

Europe’s global satellite navigation system, Galileo, began beaming its first signals to receivers in smartphones and cars on 15 December, Nature reports, explaining that what most excites scientists is the prospect of combining signals from multiple satellite networks, which should enable new kinds of atmospheric and Earth-sciences research.

“Galileo will increase geo-localisation precision tenfold,” European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said according to Deutsche Welle. Data from space is also a valuable resource for companies that are building commercial solutions to help manage the impacts of climate change.

4. A new Google tool turns you into a deforestation analyst in just minutes.

By downloading free open-source software, you could be using satellite data to monitor global deforestation and land-use in general in just a matter of minutes, the Daily Planet reports.

5. A new supercomputer visualisation from NASA provides a 3D view of carbon dioxide spreading around the globe.

“It shows natural sources from wildfires in South America and Africa during summer, then industrial sources in the U.S., Europe and China take over. The carbon dioxide accumulates mostly in the northern hemisphere because that’s where most of it originates, and is then driven into the Arctic regions, producing the fastest-warming trends and most dramatic changes anywhere on Earth,” Bob McDonald writes for CBC news.

6. Climate scientists are organising ‘guerilla archiving’ events to save climate data from Trump.

Worried crucial climate change data could vanish under the Donald Trump presidency, scientists in the United States and around the world have begun an attempt to copy gigantic amounts of climate data onto independent servers to make sure it is safeguarded from any political interference, the Washington Post reports.

CBC news reported on a “guerilla archiving event” organised by the University of Toronto together with the University of Pennsylvania to preserve any climate and environmental data before Trump takes office.

Meterologist and Eric Holthaus explained it like this to NPR: “We’re acting out of an abundance of caution. It’s not because of something that we think will happen. It’s because we can’t honestly project what might happen anymore.”

7. Some are arguing that Europe should become a safe haven for American climate scientists.

The US Energy Department has received a request from incoming president Donald Trump’s transition team for the names of people who have worked on climate change and the professional society memberships of lab workers, Reuters reports.

It is news like this that prompted Tony Baldwinson, a manager at Reaseheath College in the UK, to write a blog post saying that “Europe must offer a safe harbour for EPA and NASA scientists.”

“For the next four years Europe needs to offer a safe harbour to these scientists, a programme base where they can continue their essential work as far as possible,” he writes.

8. Europe isn’t waiting for Trump when it comes to climate policy.

As US president-elect Donald Trump pledges to support industries blamed for global warming, the European Union is forging ahead with legislation meant to increase the cost of the dirtiest forms of energy, Bloomberg reports.

9. The EU has agreed on drastic new air quality standards to target the “invisible killer.”

“The new European air quality rules are a significant landmark in the fight against this invisible killer that is air pollution,” says EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella according to the Daily Planet. “Air pollution kills over 450.000 people in Europe each year. This is more than ten times as many as road traffic accidents,” Vella said.

10. “We need an Apollo-style programme to tackle climate change.”

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate-KIC chairman, was interviewed for the European Commission’s Horizon magazine. In one of his answers, Schellnhuber revives the idea for an Apollo-style programme to solve climate change.

“In order to get a real grip on the climate problem we need a strategic approach, something like an Apollo project, that focuses all available resources and potentials on a common goal,” he said.

11. Meanwhile, US solar power has smashed records in 2016.

US solar power has just had its biggest quarter in history, and it’s about to get even bigger according to Climate Home.

12. Why invest in sustainable cities? Michael Bloomberg and Patricia de Lille explain for CNN.

CNN has published an opinion piece by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille. Although it was published earlier this month, it is still doing the rounds on social media.

The pair explains that cities are growing at an unprecedented pace, and that “we need more buildings, more bridges, more public transport and more energy” to make it work. The piece is part of a PR effort to draw attention to the new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

13. Investment funds worth trillions are dropping fossil fuel stocks.

Investors controlling more than $5 trillion in assets have committed to dropping some or all fossil fuel stocks from their portfolios, according to the New York Times.

Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s tweeted about the news, praising “forward-looking investors around the world.”

14. Warm ocean water is melting the biggest glacier in East Antarctica.

Researchers have published a set of unprecedented ocean observations. The result is a troubling confirmation of what scientists already feared: that the Totten glacier is melting from below, the Washington Post reports.

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