The Elephant

A resource for journalists, politicians, policy makers, activists and citizens interested in climate change and the environmental emergency

Source: PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science


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Articles from this source (50)

Enhanced weathering in the US Corn Belt delivers carbon removal with agronomic benefits | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2024-03-04 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Terrestrial enhanced weathering (EW) of silicate rocks, such as crushed basalt, on farmlands is a promising scalable atmospheric carbon dioxide rem...

  Tagged under: USA | Agriculture | Carbon Capture and Storage


The planetary commons: A new paradigm for safeguarding Earth-regulating systems in the Anthropocene | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2024-1-22 in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The Anthropocene signifies the start of a no-analogue trajectory of the Earth system that is fundamentally different from the Holocene. This new tr...


Just a moment...

  2024-01-14 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science


An even drier future for the arid lands | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2024-01-01 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

An even drier future for the arid lands


  2023-12-29 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science


Naming and shaming as a strategy for enforcing the Paris Agreement: The role of political institutions and public concern | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-09-27 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Enforcement is a challenge for effective international cooperation. In human rights and environmental law, along with many other domains of interna...

  Tagged under: Climate Change


Collapse, environment, and society

  2023-08-19 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

  Tagged under: Collapse


Farmland practices are driving bird population decline across Europe | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-07-26 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Declines in European bird populations are reported for decades but the direct effect of major anthropogenic pressures on such declines remains unqu...

  Tagged under: Farming


Evidence for massive methane hydrate destabilization during the penultimate interglacial warming | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-07-25 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The stability of widespread methane hydrates in shallow subsurface sediments of the marine continental margins is sensitive to temperature increase...

  Tagged under: Oceans | Methane


Recent and future declines of a historically widespread pollinator linked to climate, land cover, and pesticides | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-07-14 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The acute decline in global biodiversity includes not only the loss of rare species, but also the rapid collapse of common species across many diff...

  Tagged under: Climate Change | Bees | Insects | Collapse


Anthropogenic climate change impacts exacerbate summer forest fires in California | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-07-09 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Record-breaking summer forest fires have become a regular occurrence in California. Observations indicate a fivefold increase in summer burned area...

  Tagged under: Climate Change | Forest Fires | California | Climate Change Impacts | Trees


Scalable, economical, and stable sequestration of agricultural fixed carbon | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-05-26 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

We describe a scalable, economical solution to the carbon dioxide problem. CO2 is captured from the atmosphere by plants, and the harvested vegetat...


On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-05-22 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The observed increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) since the preindustrial era has most likely committed the world to a warming ...


Melt rates in the kilometer-size grounding zone of Petermann Glacier, Greenland, before and during a retreat | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-05-13 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Warming of the ocean waters surrounding Greenland plays a major role in driving glacier retreat and the contribution of glaciers to sea level rise....

  Tagged under: Oceans | Sea Level


Revisiting the social cost of carbon | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-05-08 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a central concept for understanding and implementing climate change policies. This term represents the economic ...

  Tagged under: Climate Change | Economics


Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-05-03 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Armed conflict within nations has had disastrous humanitarian consequences throughout much of the world. Here we undertake the first comprehensive ...

  Tagged under: Conflict | Climate Change | Africa


Predicting climate change impacts on poikilotherms using physiologically guided species abundance models | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-04-05 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Poikilothermic animals comprise most species on Earth and are especially sensitive to changes in environmental temperatures. Species conservation i...

  Tagged under: Predictions | Climate Change | Climate Change Impacts


Human responses to climate change will likely determine the fate of biodiversity | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-02-16 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Human responses to climate change will likely determine the fate of biodiversity

  Tagged under: Climate Change


Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-02-01 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Prudent risk management requires consideration of bad-to-worst-case scenarios. Yet, for climate change, such potential futures are poorly understoo...

  Tagged under: Climate Change


Rice yields decline with higher night temperature from global warming | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2023-01-25 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The impact of projected global warming on crop yields has been evaluated by indirect methods using simulation models. Direct studies on the effects...


Assessing effective radiative forcing from aerosol–cloud interactions over the global ocean | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-11-16 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

How clouds respond to anthropogenic sulfate aerosols is one of the largest sources of uncertainty in the radiative forcing of climate over the indu...

  Tagged under: Oceans | Climate Change


Climate change and the threat to civilization | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-10-6 in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Climate change and the threat to civilization

  Tagged under: Collapse


Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-09-09 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The term “tipping point” commonly refers to a critical threshold at which a tiny perturbation can qualitatively alter the state or development of a...

  Tagged under: Climate Change | Climate Change Impacts | Tipping Points


Global food security under climate change | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-08-07 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

This article reviews the potential impacts of climate change on food security. It is found that of the four main elements of food security, i.e., a...

  Tagged under: Climate Change | Climate Change Impacts


Wolf attacks predict far-right voting | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-07-19 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Does the return of large carnivores affect voting behavior? We study this question through the lens of wolf attacks on livestock. Sustained environ...

  Tagged under: Predictions | Wildlife


Environmental outcomes of the US Renewable Fuel Standard | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-07-01 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) specifies the use of biofuels in the United States and thereby guides nearly half of all global biofuel productio...

  Tagged under: Renewable Energy


Estimates of economic and environmental damages from tipping points cannot be reconciled with the scientific literature | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-05-22 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Estimates of economic and environmental damages from tipping points cannot be reconciled with the scientific literature

  Tagged under: Tipping Points


Marine anoxia linked to abrupt global warming during Earth’s penultimate icehouse | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-05-22 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Piecing together the history of carbon (C) perturbation events throughout Earth’s history has provided key insights into how the Earth system respo...


Global biodiversity loss from tropical deforestation | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-03-19 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Global biodiversity loss from tropical deforestation

  Tagged under: Deforestation


The number of tree species on Earth | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2022-02-01 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

One of the most fundamental questions in ecology is how many species inhabit the Earth. However, due to massive logistical and financial challenges...

  Tagged under: Trees


Supercell tornadoes are much stronger and wider than damage-based ratings indicate | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2021-12-14 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Tornadoes cause damage, injury, and death when intense winds impact structures. Quantifying the strength and extent of such winds is critical to ch...


Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts

  2021-12-14 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Nature is under siege. In the last 10,000 y the human population has grown from 1 million to 7.8 billion. Much of Earth’s arable lands are already in agriculture (1), millions of acres of tropical forest are cleared each year (2, 3), atmospheric CO2 levels are at their highest concentrations in more than 3 million y (4), and climates are erratically and steadily changing from pole to pole, triggering unprecedented droughts, fires, and floods across continents. Indeed, most biologists agree that the world has entered its sixth mass extinction event, the first since the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million y ago, when mor...

  Tagged under: Extinction Rebellion | Drought | Forest Fires | Insects | Trees


Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system

  2021-12-12 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The term “tipping point” commonly refers to a critical threshold at which a tiny perturbation can qualitatively alter the state or development of a system. Here we introduce the term “tipping element” to describe large-scale components of the Earth system that may pass a tipping point. We critically evaluate potential policy-relevant tipping elements in the climate system under anthropogenic forcing, drawing on the pertinent literature and a recent international workshop to compile a short list, and we assess where their tipping points lie. An expert elicitation is used to help rank their sensitivity to g...

  Tagged under: Tipping Points


Anthropogenic warming has increased drought risk in California | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2021-10-14 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

California is currently in the midst of a record-setting drought. The drought began in 2012 and now includes the lowest calendar-year and 12-mo pre...

  Tagged under: Extreme Weather | Drought | Climate Change | California


Global urban population exposure to extreme heat

  2021-10-04 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Increased extreme heat exposure from both climate change and the urban heat island effect threatens rapidly growing urban settlements worldwide. Yet, because we do not know where urban population growth and extreme heat intersect, we have limited capacity to reduce the impacts of urban extreme heat exposure. Here, we leverage fine-resolution temperature and population data to measure urban extreme heat exposure for 13,115 cities from 1983 to 2016. Globally, urban exposure increased nearly 200%, affecting 1.7 billion people. Total urban warming elevated exposure rates 52% above population growth alone. However, spatially heteroge...

  Tagged under: Extreme Weather | Climate Change | California | Climate Change Impacts


Collapse, environment, and society

  2021-09-28 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Historical collapse of ancient states poses intriguing social-ecological questions, as well as potential applications to global change and contemporary strategies for sustainability. Five Old World case studies are developed to identify interactive inputs, triggers, and feedbacks in devolution. Collapse is multicausal and rarely abrupt. Political simplification undermines traditional structures of authority to favor militarization, whereas disintegration is preconditioned or triggered by acute stress (insecurity, environmental or economic crises, famine), with breakdown accompanied or followed by demographic decline. Undue atten...

  Tagged under: Famine | Collapse | Sustainability


Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2021-08-23 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabil...

  Tagged under: Climate Change | Tipping Points


Observational evidence that cloud feedback amplifies global warming | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2021-07-21 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Global warming drives changes in Earth’s cloud cover, which, in turn, may amplify or dampen climate change. This “cloud feedback” is the single mos...

  Tagged under: Climate Change


On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: Formidable challenges ahead

  2021-07-04 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The observed increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) since the preindustrial era has most likely committed the world to a warming of 2.4°C (1.4°C to 4.3°C) above the preindustrial surface temperatures. The committed warming is inferred from the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates of the greenhouse forcing and climate sensitivity. The estimated warming of 2.4°C is the equilibrium warming above preindustrial temperatures that the world will observe even if GHG concentrations are held fixed at their 2005 concentration levels but without any other anthropogenic forc...

  Tagged under: Oceans | Arctic | Greenhouse Gases | IPCC | Climate Change | Sea Level | Climate Change Mitigation | Tipping Points


Renewable CO2 recycling and synthetic fuel production in a marine environment | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2021-04-12 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

A massive reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning is required to limit the extent of global warming. However, carbon-based liquid fuels...

  Tagged under: Renewable Energy | Fossil Fuels


Constraining the atmospheric limb of the plastic cycle

  2021-04-12 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Microplastic particles and fibers generated from the breakdown of mismanaged waste are now so prevalent that they cycle through the earth in a manner akin to global biogeochemical cycles. In modeling the atmospheric limb of the plastic cycle, we show that most atmospheric plastics are derived from the legacy production of plastics from waste that has continued to build up in the environment. Roads dominated the sources of microplastics to the western United States, followed by marine, agriculture, and dust emissions generated downwind of population centers. At the current rate of increase of plastic production (∼4% per year)...

  Tagged under: Microplastics and Nanoplastics


Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2020-06-03 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

The ongoing sixth mass species extinction is the result of the destruction of component populations leading to eventual extirpation of entire speci...


Future of the human climate niche | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2020-05-05 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

All species have an environmental niche, and despite technological advances, humans are unlikely to be an exception. Here, we demonstrate that for ...


Nutrient dilution and climate cycles underlie declines in a dominant insect herbivore

  2020-04-25 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Parsing variation in long-term patterns underlying insect abundances and assigning mechanisms are critical in light of recent reports of dramatic insect declines. Grasshopper abundances in a North American prairie exhibited both 5-y cycles and >2%/y declines over the past 20 y. Large-scale climate oscillations predicted the cycles in grasshopper abundances. Moreover, plant biomass doubled over the same period—likely due to changes in climate and increasing atmospheric CO2—diluting the concentrations in plant tissue of key nutrients which in turn predicted the declines of a dominant herbivore. Nutrient dilution, li...

  Tagged under: Predictions | Climate Change | Insects | Insect Populations


Oil and gas companies invest in legislators that vote against the environment

  2020-02-26 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Do campaign contributions from oil and gas companies influence legislators to vote against the environment, or do these companies invest in legislators that have a proven antienvironmental voting record? Using 28 y of campaign contribution data, we find that evidence consistently supports the investment hypothesis: The more a given member of Congress votes against environmental policies, the more contributions they receive from oil and gas companies supporting their reelection.

  Tagged under: US Politics


The material footprint of nations

  2020-01-25 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

This original research paper addresses a key issue in sustainability science: How many and which natural resources are needed to sustain modern economies? Simple as it may seem, this question is far from trivial to answer and has indeed not been addressed satisfactorily in the scholarly literature. We use the most comprehensive and most highly resolved economic input–output framework of the world economy together with a detailed database of global material flows to calculate the full material requirements of all countries covering a period of two decades. Called the “material footprint,” this indicator provides...

  Tagged under: Economics | Consumption | Sustainability


Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050

  2020-01-22 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Achieving a rapid global decarbonization to stabilize the climate critically depends on activating contagious and fast-spreading processes of social and technological change within the next few years. Drawing on expert elicitation, an expert workshop, and a review of literature, which provides a comprehensive analysis on this topic, we propose concrete interventions to induce positive social tipping dynamics and a rapid global transformation to carbon-neutral societies. These social tipping interventions comprise removing fossil-fuel subsidies and incentivizing decentralized energy generation, building carbon-neutral cities, div...

  Tagged under: Greenhouse Gases | Climate Change | Fossil Fuels | Tipping Points


Global reconstruction of historical ocean heat storage and transport | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2019-02-19 (or before) in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Most of the excess energy stored in the climate system due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions has been taken up by the oceans, leading to th...

  Tagged under: Oceans | Greenhouse Gases


Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2018-8-14 in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabil...

  Tagged under: Tipping Points


Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

  2015-10-27 in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

Rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions are anticipated to drive change to ocean ecosystems, but a conceptualization of biological change derived from q...


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