At present, California is in the middle of a drought. Despite the news calling this the ‘worse ever’, it isn’t. California has had far worse droughts in the past. Some lasting hundreds of years.
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The next 10 years will be decisive when it comes to the planet’s future — what we do (or don’t) will play out over geologic time.
It could, if we set our minds to it, be the decade when the planet’s use of fossil fuels peaks and then rapidly declines. We’ve built a movement that, for the moment, is starting to tie down the fossil fuel industry: from the tarsands of Alberta to the (as yet unbuilt) giant new mines of Australia’s Galilee Basin, the big players in coal, gas, and oil are bothered and even bewildered by a new strain of activist. They’re losing on the image front: when the Rockefeller family, the Church of England, and Prince Charles have begun divesting their fossil fuel stocks, you know the tide has turned.
And with it comes the sudden chance to replace that fossil fuel, fast and relatively easily. Out of nowhere the price of solar panels has fallen like an anvil from a skyscraper, dropping 75 percent in the last six years. Renewable energy is suddenly as cheap or cheaper than the bad stuff, even before you figure in the insane monetary cost of global warming. So in Bangladesh they’re solarizing 60,000 huts a month; the whole country may be panelled by 2020.
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About 70,000 years ago, a super volcanic eruption in Indonesia released more than 2,000 cubic kilometres of material, blocking out sunlight and reducing global mean temperature by about four degrees. This rapid change in climate may have had a catastrophic impact on our ancestors, possibly cutting the human population to only 10,000 survivors. Although the academic debate surrounding this hypothesis has not yet been settled, there is strong evidence that rapid warming or cooling episodes have caused multiple mass extinctions of other species over the past 500 million years.
China and India, the world’s first and third biggest greenhouse gas emitters, projected a united front on climate change on Friday with a rare joint statement that asked rich countries to step up efforts to reduce global carbon emissions.
The statement, issued by the two largest developing nations during Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China, asked wealthy countries to provide finance, technology and other necessary support to emerging countries to help reduce their own emissions.
This animation shows a sequence of images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 4, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers), in its RC3 mapping orbit. The image resolution is 0.8 mile (1.3 kilometers) per pixel.
In this closest-yet view, the brightest spots within a crater in the northern hemisphere are revealed to be composed of many smaller spots. However, their exact nature remains unknown.