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Monday, Jan 20th

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Children, young adults cannot sue U.S. government over climate change: ruling

Children against climate

A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday threw out a lawsuit by children and young adults who claimed they had a constitutional right to be protected from climate change, in a major setback to efforts to spur the U.S. government to address the issue.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs, who were between the ages of 8 and 19 when the lawsuit began in 2015, lacked legal standing to sue the United States.

Circuit Judge Andrew Hurwitz said the majority reached its conclusion “reluctantly,” given “compelling” evidence the government had long promoted fossil fuels despite knowing they could cause catastrophic climate change, and that failing to change policies could hasten an “environmental apocalypse.”

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2019 ended Earth's warmest decade since record-keeping began, scientists say

global warming

The last decade was the warmest on record, federal climate scientists announced Wednesday, with 2019 becoming the second-warmest year on record.

Global temperature records began more than 140 years ago, in 1880. The warmest year recorded was 2016, which was just .07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than last year.

Scientists from NOAA and NASA made the announcement at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Boston.

NASA and NOAA are two keepers of the world's temperature data and independently produce a record of Earth's surface temperatures and changes based on historical observations over oceans and land.

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Dark smoke from Australia fires is circling the Earth, NASA says

Australia fires smoke circling globe

The unprecedented masses of smoke created by bushfires in Australia returned to their continent of origin after drifting across the Pacific Ocean and circumnavigating the globe, NASA said.

Google Earth images from the agency show the trail of brown smoke as it made its way around the world. According to NASA, the smoke had traveled halfway around the Earth and across South America by Jan. 8.

Fire-induced thunderstorms provided a pathway for the smoke to enter the stratosphere, traveling thousands of miles from Australia and affecting atmospheric conditions on a global scale.

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It’s Winter, and Cherry Blossoms Are Pink in Central Park

Cherry blossoms in NYC in winter

A spokesman for the Central Park Conservancy said the Weeping Higan Cherry, now blooming in the park and elsewhere in the city, has flowered during warm spells in winter before, and shouldn’t be harmed by doing so now.

Some scientists have been tracking the schedule of spring cherry tree blooms in Washington, D.C., and Kyoto, Japan, to see how a trend toward earlier flowering may be related to climate change.

In the area including New York City and Long Island, the average daytime high for January hit 40 degrees last year, after trending up about 2 degrees overall since 1895, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Australia's Wildfires Are Releasing Vast Amounts Of Carbon

Australia's fires are emitting vast amounts of carbon Smoke from the ongoing firestorm in Australia is obscuring skies halfway around the world. Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show a haze from the deadly fires spreading over South America. The swirling plume is nearly the size of the continental United States.

All fires emit smoke — a combination of thousands of compounds, including climate-warming greenhouse gases. But the sheer scale of the emissions, and the severity of the fires causing them, are concerning climate scientists around the world.

Already, atmospheric watchdogs say, the fires have pumped hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into Earth's atmosphere.

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Magnitude 5.9 earthquake rocks Puerto Rico and causes landslide in Peñuelas

Puerto Rico experiences new earthquake

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake shook Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, causing a landslide in the southern municipality of Peñuelas.

The quake at 8:54 a.m. local time struck 8 miles southeast of Guanica at a shallow depth of 3 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It is the most recent in a string of quakes and aftershocks that have left thousands on the island without power and water.

Preliminary reports by the USGS said the quake was a magnitude 6.0 at a depth of 6 miles.

The quake caused outages across the island, including areas of Lares, Adjuntas, Ponce and San German, according to Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority. The department was evaluating the extent of the damage.

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Puerto Rico declares emergency after strongest earthquake in 102 years

PR earthquake

Powerful quakes are rare in Puerto Rico, and Tuesday’s 6.4 was the strongest in more than a century, the island’s seismology office Red Sismica said. On Oct. 11, 1918, a 7.3 magnitude quake and tsunami killed 116 people, according to Red Sismica data.

The U.S. territory is still recovering from a pair of devastating 2017 hurricanes that killed about 3,000 people and destroyed a significant amount of infrastructure. Puerto Rico is also working through a bankruptcy process to restructure about $120 billion of debt and pension obligations.

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