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Can Nuclear Energy Prevent Climate Change? by City Tech Blogger Sergio Carrillo

The United States of America relies heavily on foreign sources of energy to run the country. The issue has received much media attention due to the political and economic implications it will have in the near future. This problem could at least partially be solved by using technology that already exists, rather than relying heavily on fossil fuels that will come to an end. America’s energy woes – specifically its reliance on fossil fuels – can be solved by reviving nuclear energy with the use of politics to tackle perceived dangers, technological advancements to make them more feasible, and public outreach to promote acceptance.

Nuclear power has been around for decades and can be easily utilized to help meet America’s energy needs. With energy security and climate change being two of the many issues at the forefront of America’s problems, there is a growing need to find solutions as soon as possible. While alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal have enormous potential, they are technologies that still need to be refined and perfected. In contrast to that, nuclear energy has been around for decades and is already  utilized to a limited extent. Instead of relying on fossil fuels for our growing power needs, using past techniques may at least be part of the solution.

An example of the speediest drop in greenhouse gas pollution on record occurred in France in the 1970s and ‘80s, when that country transitioned from burning fossil fuels to nuclear fission for electricity, lowering its greenhouse emissions by roughly 2 percent per year. The world needs to drop its global warming pollution by 6 percent annually to avoid “dangerous” climate change. Although nuclear energy alone cannot be the entire solution, it can provide a substantial portion of the solution.

In the end, clean energy is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a swelling human population. Nuclear Energy is one of the technologies available today and with room for significant improvement and innovation. I personally think that the entire world should start acting in favor of this nuclear energy before we run out of fossil fuels. Future generations don’t have to pay for something they haven’t done. Let’s be fair and let’s expand the life of our wonderful planet.

 

 
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How Can Farmers Prepare For More Intense Droughts & Decrease the Effects of Climate Change? by Barnard Blogger Sophie Whitehouse

Amidst Madera County in Central California lies a city known as Chowchilla. Surrounding the city are acres of almond farms. Madera County produces over 100 million pounds of almonds per year and this number is always expanding. Between 2007 and 2014  approximately 23,000 acres of natural land in California’s agricultural region was converted to almond farms. Almonds are a very high water usage crop and with the ensuing boom in almond farms there are profound impacts on the water use in the region.

Overall, with California’s high agricultural productivity and high population, the state is experiencing extremely high water demand. Unfortunately, the state is facing a shrinking supply of water. Climate Change is significantly affecting the central valley precipitation levels, making the main rivers (Sacramento and San Joaquin) unreliable and triggering the droughts.

I have visited the Madera region twice in the last three years. I stayed at my best friend’s family’s farm outside Chowchilla where I experienced the life of a California almond farmer first hand. The first time in 2015 when 41% of California was experiencing exceptional drought and once again in 2016 when 35% of California was experiencing exceptional drought. While California has experienced droughts before they have been more dramatic in recent years due to climate change. With the increasing temperatures, air is capable of holding more water vapor thus more of the precipitation that falls on the ground is evaporated meaning less water gets into the soil or streams. Unfortunately, this has made California’s agricultural region and the almond farm outside of Chowchilla vulnerable to water scarcity.

One major impact of the droughts is the increasing cost of water. With the unreliable water supply many farmers are forced to pay out of pocket for water from the government. The droughts are pushing water prices to record levels. Prices in the most recent drought were approximately $3,000 per acre-foot, up from $60 in a normal year.

In recent years, many farmers did not gain any profit and had to fallow land just to ensure their farms would survive. Fortunately, 2017 did not see a drought in California. With climate change and the possibility of even more droughts, the questions now are: how can farmers prepare for even more intense droughts in the coming years? And how can they help decrease the effects of climate change?

Some farmers are attempting to combat climate change while others are looking for solutions to the issues associated with climate change induced droughts. In 2016, California actually saw a solar energy boom for California farmers. Many farmers invested in solar panels and renewable energy to combat climate change. Others invested in desalination plants, new irrigation techniques and storage options to ensure water independence during droughts. My friend’s farm invested in both. The almond farm which now uses an improved drip irrigation system and drainage ditches to decrease water use also has solar panels on unused land. In 2015 when I toured the farm they had a sprinkler irrigation system that sprayed the tree trunks. In 2016 they had shifted to an irrigation system that drips water into the almond tree roots. In 2016 they had also expanded their solar panels and were almost completely energy independent. When I visited in 2016 I did not see the importance of these changes, however with this research I realize that the farm is well set up for future droughts and is in fact reducing emissions and energy use to manage climate change. This approach of adaptation and mitigation is essential in the future and California is at the forefront of this strategy for the USA. The USA as a whole is a disappointment in terms of its climate change agenda. In leaving the Paris Agreement and joining Syria (the only other country not to sign), the USA endangers not only itself but the planet. Without accepting climate change and attempting to mitigate it the country and California will feel even more effects in the next decade. Droughts, heatwaves and weather variability will destroy the country’s agricultural productivity which could affect food accessibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Flooding Before and Now by City Tech Blogger Rabea Begum

 

Why we are facing various natural disasters worldwide? Flooding is one of them. We are concern about the increasing amount of flood. If we look at the flood history, we can see that most of floods take hours or even days to develop. Some flood gives residents enough time to prepare or evacuate. There are other types of flood that create so quickly and with little warning. These flash floods are dangerous, suddenly turning a babbling brook into a thundering wall of water and sweeping everything in its path downstream. Disaster experts classify floods according to their likelihood of occurring in a given time period. A hundred-year flood is destructive than regular. These flash food is expected to happen only once every century.  But this is a theoretical number. In reality, this classification means there is a one-percent chance that such a flood could happen. Over recent decades, we can see that hundred years flood are occurring more often. Our scientists and geologists are assuming it is due to global warming but they are unable to find any solution for those frightening floods. If we look at the recent floods in Houston, California. We can see the destruction of the flood. It is being more than two months but still, Houston could not move forward. Sam Brody, a flood impact expert in Houston said: according to data from 1960 to now Texas had more life loss and property loss from floods than any other state in US. Houston is near the Gulf coast so, expert saying it is in annual risk. In 2008, there was another hurricane what cost 34-billion-dollar damage in Houston and killed 112 people. In Houston water retaining grasses replaced by non-absorbent planes, so water flow downstream. Water has more destructive power. It is hard for bridges, houses, trees to withstand against the water overflows. Those carries off very easily, even it can have carried off dirt from under a buildings foundation.

In Bangladesh, this year mid of the August 16 villages went under water, there was nothing left for people. More than 50000 people had no home, they are living under tree.  Although we are inventing lot of new things to make our life easier but we are really unable to deal with the natural disaster. And these increasing every year. We can warn people and evacuate them before flooding but we cannot really prevent damages. According to National Geographic the United States, “where flood mitigation and prediction is advanced, floods do about $6 billion worth of damage and kill about 140 people every year.”  A 2007 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that coastal flooding alone does some $3 trillion in damage worldwide. From this we can understand that how flooding is effecting worldwide. If United States is suffering this what we can assume for third world country. We should more focus on flooding and we have to really work on to help the world from flooding. We have to save people from this damage.

 
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El Niño and Climate Change by City Tech Blogger Sergio Carrillo

It’s heart breaking when the occurrence of a natural disaster event leads you to understand the looming danger of nature. As hurricane Harvey down on the Texas coast, few people understood that Mother Nature needs to be treated with respect always.

Because of atmospheric emissions from human activity, the ocean waters from which Harvey drew its final burst of strength were much warmer than they ought to have been, most likely contributing to the intensity of the deluge. If the forecasts from our scientists are anywhere close to right, we have seen nothing yet. Major natural disasters are coming soon if we don’t act.

Every two to seven years, abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean causes an atmospheric disturbance called El Niño. It often makes extreme weather worse in various places around the world: greater floods, tougher droughts, more wildfires. Now scientists have new evidence indicating El Niño conditions might also add extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as well as lessen the ability of trees to absorb the greenhouse gas.

As a carbon booster, El Niño could hasten rising temperatures, bringing the world to dangerous thresholds sooner than thought. It could also enhance feedbacks between climate and vegetation that could reduce plants’ ability to absorb CO2 in non-Niño years as well. If bad droughts or wildfires kill many trees, for example, forests and their carbon sequestering potential may take centuries to recover, if ever.

Even in the absence of fire, El Niño might be killing trees. In northern Australia’s remote Gulf of Carpentaria, more than 18,200 acres of mangrove vegetation died during the last El Niño due to a convergence of severe drought and unprecedented high temperatures. Death by drought may threaten trees in the Amazon as well.

Climate change is affected by human activity as emission of greenhouse gases have increased threateningly since the industrial revolution. Stable climate is vital for human life. The effect of climate change in some fields are very dangerous, for example: Agriculture, climate change may cause floods and droughts that can hinder the essential elements for growing vegetation. Health, colder winters will lead to fewer deaths, mainly among elderly people, warmer climate also promote growth of disease carrying insects. Ocean acidification, a change in pH level of ocean is caused by additional CO2 being absorbed in the water, and may have severe destabilizing effects on the entire oceanic food chain. Economic, developing countries specially the ones who are embroiled in military conflicts, may be drawn into some larger and more protracted disputes over water, energy supplies or food, all of which may disrupt economic growth. It is widely accepted that the detrimental effects of climate change will be visited largely on the countries least equipped to adapt, socially or economically.

 
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IUCN Red List: Wild crops listed as threatened Essay by City Tech Blogger Frank Trapani

Wild crops are being threatened by intensive farming, deforestation and urbanization. Twenty different kinds of rice, wheat, and even yam plants have recently been  listed as threatened by the IUCN’s red list. IUCN is the International Union for Conservation of Nature that provides knowledge and tools to help us protect our environment. Commercial crops are losing their genetic diversity. They are affected by climate change and drought and disease. To help combat these effects , wild crops can be bred with modern crops to help boost their resilience and protect their food sources.

The wild wheat plants that are in danger are near or  in the Middle East, or in war torn regions that are off limits to conservationists.To help keep our crops alive and healthy, we need to make sure that there is an effort for the conservation of our wild plants so that they can breed with each other and  improve their genetics.The economic value of wild crops is 115 billion dollars a year to the global economy.  Yams are an important source of food, as they feed around 100 million people in Africa alone. Conservationists are making an effort to make sure wild yam plants are available to provide food and medicines worldwide. It’s very serious that we have people make an effort to preserve our earth so that it can still help us by producing food.


 

 

 
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