Conservation Update - December 2014

2014 on Track to Becoming One of Hottest on Record
Fifteen of the warmest years on record will have occurred in the 21st century. “The year 2014 is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to preliminary estimates by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This is largely due to record high global sea surface temperatures, which will very likely remain above normal until the end of the year. High sea temperatures, together with other factors, contributed to exceptionally heavy rainfall and floods in many countries and extreme drought in others.” Read more here:
Warm Water Melting Antarctica’s Ice Shelves Faster than Predicted
Two papers released earlier this year show that warmer ocean water not accounted for in most climate modeling is speeding up the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet beyond current predictions. These new papers predict that “several glaciers on the West Antarctic ice sheet will collapse completely in the next 200 to 1000 years, raising sea levels by about 60 centimeters.”  Read more here:
EPA Releases New Energy Star Tool for Homeowners
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is launching an online tool called the Energy Star Home Advisor, which is designed to help Americans save money by improving their energy efficiency and optimizing their resources. This tool can be especially helpful in the coldest and hottest months, when energy efficiency is incredibly important. Read more here:
Surveys Find Less Marine Microplastic Than Expected
Plastic in the ocean has been a growing conservation issue as we realize its sheer volume and the extent to which it harms marine life. In a recent study, researchers found  “more than 5 trillion plastic pieces, with a combined mass of more than 250,000 tons, are floating in the ocean.” While this is clearly a lot of plastic, it is a much lower estimate than expected, and is the equivalent of only 1% of the annual global production of the material.  Read more here:
John Kerry Appeals to Climate Negotiators in Lima to Focus on Reaching a Deal
At climate negotiations in Lima, Peru,  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged all nations to reduce their environmental impact on the world, regardless of their situation.  Kerry acknowledged that the world’s biggest carbon emitters, like the United States, need to “contribute more than other countries,” but, he said, “that doesn’t let other countries off the hook...Ultimately, every nation on Earth has to apply current science and make state-of-the-art energy choices if we’re going to have any hope of leaving our future to the next generation to the safe and healthy planet that they deserve.” The United States is making headway on reducing our emissions, but as a nation and a planet, we have a long way to go. Read more here:
Effects of Global Warming
Global warming is expected to have far-reaching, long-lasting and, in many cases, devastating consequences for planet Earth. More than 197 international scientific organizations agree that global warming is real and has been caused by human action. Check out this article for details about these long-lasting consequences,including extreme weather events, ice melt, rise in sea levels, ocean acidification, and negative effects on social and ecosystems. Read more here:
Lincoln Electric System Announces Major Renewable Energy Purchase
Lincoln Electric System, the customer owned electric utility serving residents in Lincoln, NE, announced that it plans to buy 73 megawatts of wind energy by 2016 from Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center in northeastern Nebraska and 100 megawatts from the Buckeye Wind Energy Center in north-central Kansas. With LES also stating they plan to add five megawatts of solar power by 2016, their renewable energy portfolio is up to 48%. While Nebraska utilities are making strides on their investments in renewable energy, much more can be done. By next year, renewables will still only account for about 14% of the state’s electricity generation. Omaha Public Power District has a long-term goal of generating 30% of its electricity from wind, while Nebraska Public Power District only has a goal of  generating 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Read more here:
Gorgeous Photos of a Backyard Wilderness Worth Saving
Wade Davis, an ethnographer, studies the land in the North Woods in Canada to raise the question: How do we balance the growing world’s need for fuel while maintaining the beauty of the natural world? This beauty is no farther than our back yard. Just because land is not nationally protected does not mean it has any less value. Watch this twenty minute TED Talk that will leave you inspired: