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Saturday, Feb 06th

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Greenland's glaciers retreating at record speeds

Greenland glaciers recedingGreenland's glaciers are on retreat, shrinking at strikingly fast rates -- at least twice as fast as any time over the last 9,500 years.

Researchers with Columbia University's Earth Institute compared modern satellite data with records of glacier growth and decline gleaned from ice cores. Their findings were published last week in the journal Climate of the Past.

"If we compare the rate that these glaciers have retreated in the last hundred years to the rate that they retreated when they disappeared between 8,000 and 7,000 years ago, we see the rate of retreat in the last 100 years was about twice what it was under this naturally forced disappearance," study co-author William D'Andrea, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, explained in a press release.

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Climate draft deal reached at Paris conference

Climate deal draft agreed onNegotiators from 195 countries in Paris on Saturday agreed to a tentative deal to reduce global carbon emissions, CNN reported.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) posted a copy of the draft on its website and pledged to work through next week at the COP21 Paris conference to reach a final agreement.

Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, tweeted that the draft is “One more step in writing of history.”

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Massive natural gas storage leak alarms California residents, climate activists

Natural gas storage dangerIt’s the climate equivalent of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: the rupture of a natural gas storage site in California that is spewing vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere and is likely to go unchecked for three months.

The breach of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site, near Porter Ranch has forced the relocation of hundreds of families, who complained of headaches, nosebleeds and nausea from the rotten-egg smell of the odorant added to the gas to aid in leak detection.

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NYers fear gas pipeline near nuclear reactor could spell disaster

NYers fear gas pipeline near nuclear reactor could spell disaster.The school is just 400 feet from the path of a massive new pipeline expansion project that’s being carried out by Spectra Energy, an oil and gas infrastructure company based in Houston. The Algonquin pipeline expansion is one of at least 22 pipeline projects designed in recent years to transport natural gas from shale fields across the U.S. to distribution points in the Northeast.

But the noise isn’t the only thing troubling local residents like Williams. The pipeline will run within several dozen feet of electrical infrastructure necessary to operate Indian Point, an aging nuclear plant on the Hudson River. Residents worry that if the pipeline were to rupture, it could trigger a chain of events that might end in a nuclear meltdown, devastating their communities and turning New York City into a radioactive evacuation zone.

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Researchers: Greenland is melting away

Greenland meltingGreenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept towards the edge of a river that rushed downstream towards an enormous sinkhole.

If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 per cent,” said Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher.

But Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.

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BP supervisor pleads guilty to violating Clean Water Act; manslaughter charge dropped

BP Supervisor pleads guiltyA BP supervisor charged in the deadly 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has pleaded guilty to one misdemeanour count of violating the Clean Water Act, and involuntary manslaughter charges have been dismissed.

Donald Vidrine appeared in federal court Wednesday.

Vidrine and another defendant, Robert Kaluza, were charged with violating the act and 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter. But earlier Wednesday, prosecutors asked that the manslaughter charges be dropped. The judge agreed.

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Unearthing America's Deep Network of Climate Change Deniers

Climate change deniersThe American public has turned away from outright denial of climate change. Sixty-three percent of adults describe the problem as "serious" in the latest opinion poll from the Washington Post and ABC News, a dip from the 69 percent who held that view in June. The minority who remain skeptical of climate science—a group that includes presidential hopefuls and powerful lawmakers—can count on a dedicated network of several thousand professional supporters.

New research for the first time has put a precise count on the people and groups working to dispute the scientific consensus on climate change. A loose network of 4,556 individuals with overlapping ties to 164 organizations do the most to dispute climate change in the U.S., according to a paper published today in Nature Climate Change. ExxonMobil and the family foundations controlled by Charles and David Koch emerge as the most significant sources of funding for these skeptics. As a two-week United Nations climate summit begins today in Paris, it's striking to notice that a similarly vast infrastructure of denial isn't found in any other nation.

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