Air pollution is a problem. It won’t go away until politicians and the car industry come together with a plan to make truly clean travel possible for everyone. In the meantime we can protect ourselves and the ones we love by taking steps to reduce our exposure to air pollution. 
  1. Check the daily air pollution forecasts around where you live. There is a national map here and Londoners can sign up to pollution alerts here.
  2. Cycle or walk? Even when pollution is low it is still best to avoid polluted roads. Try to find quiet back roads. 
  3. Using pram covers can help to stop children being exposed to harmful particles. 
  4. Get informed - read the Government’s advice on what to do on high pollution days. You can find out if you should avoid exercising outdoors. There are recommendations that say to stay indoors - but only on extremely high pollution days.  
  5. Clean the air with gardening. Plants are fantastic for reducing toxins and some pollutants. Even NASA recommends them! Find out which air purifying plant is right for your home.
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When cycling and walking isn’t always an option. 
  1. If you have to drive, you can reduce exposure by not leaving your engine running when stationary (“idling”). 
  2. You can reduce traffic where you live by carpooling and combining trips. 
If you work at a nursery or school, or have children of your own - there are even more ways you can support national and local work to cut  down air pollution. 
  1. You can get children walking to school with walking buses. There’s an app which helps parents organise them
  2. Bring learning about air pollution into the classroom by encouraging your school to adapt these Clean Air Kits for schools and Greenpeace’s Teacher’s Pack
  3. Something as simple as greening’ can make a real difference to the air quality in the classroom and the playground. Growing trees and plants is a great activity for children, and it helps to naturally filter the air. 
  4. Don’t be afraid to speak up and talk to parents and teachers - get a clean air for kids conversation going! Waltham Forest Cares About Clean Air group are doing amazing things and they started with a conversation!
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  1. Want to go further? There are some great campaigns you can start; You can make a radical change like moving school entrances away from busy roads. If that isn’t possible, a campaign most people can get behind is reducing traffic and stopping idling around or outside schools. Ask your local council to invest in monitoring air around your nursery and schools.  
  1. source:greenpeace

Report Finds Global Investors Recognise Financial Risk Of Climate Change

For the first time a majority of global investor heavyweights recognise the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks.
But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk.
The AODP releases its fifth global index on Wednesday, ranking the world’s largest 500 asset owners and, for the first time, the 50 largest asset managers on their performance managing financial risks associated with climate change.
Asset owners and managers were scored on governance and strategy, portfolio carbon risk management and metrics and targets, and graded as leaders (A-AAA) rating), challengers (B-BBB), learners (C-CCC), bystanders (D-DDD) and laggards (X).
The index found that 40% of asset owners and just 6% of asset managers were classed as laggards, meaning they had a scored zero on the measures for managing and disclosing climate risks.
The report concluded that “the scales have tipped”, as 60% of asset owners are now taking some action.
Of the 500 asset owners, there are now 34 leaders, 34 challengers, 44 learners and 187 bystanders, an increase in all categories since the last year compared with laggards, which fell from 246 to 201 in number.
Australia and New Zealand were among the 10 best-performing countries, which were all in Oceania and Europe.

Asset owners in Australia and New Zealand average B compared with an average D across Asia. Australia’s Local Government Super ranked first among asset owners in the world and First State Super ranked third, both with a triple A rating.
But Hewson said there was still “enormous resistance” among Australia’s asset owners because they tend to “take a very short-term focus, and rely on short-term remuneration, so they won’t take a medium to long-term challenge on easily”.
Hewson said asset owners tended to have a “herd instinct” and many people saving for retirement haven’t focused on the risk of a climate-induced financial crisis and exercised their concern through choice of fund.
“The government downplaying the need to transition to renewables doesn’t help ... It’s not conducive to a serious assessment of risk, that’s for sure.”
The former Australian opposition leader warned a climate change-induced financial crisis would be a “global phenomenon and is a global risk”, agreeing with the former US secretary of the treasury Hank Paulson that the risks dwarfs even the US subprime mortgage crisis that precipitated the global financial crisis.
According to the AODP report, nearly one in five asset owners have staff focused on integrating climate risk into their investments, two in five (42%) incorporate climate change into their policy frameworks, and 13% of asset owners now calculate portfolio carbon emissions, up from 10%.
However assessing the risk of stranded assets is still quite an advanced tool used by only 6% of the index.
All three asset managers in Australia and New Zealand rated D. Macquarie, the sole Australian investment manager included in this index, rated a D.
The report said this was “a cause for concern giving its impending acquisition of the UK’s Green Investment Bank” and called on it to “dramatically improve its climate credentials”.

Hewson called for regulators to mandate disclosure of climate change risks, suggesting the Bloomberg taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures and other G20 processes will “inevitably” lead to such disclosure.
“The solution should be disclosure first, because once [asset owners and managers] admit this is the risk they’re running, naturally they’ll want to manage it.”
Hewson also praised the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for warningin March that individual directors may be financially accountable for failing to factor in losses from climate change, commenting “that’s shaken them up a lot”.
Three of Australia’s big four banks are currently reviewing their exposure to fossil fuels, including their lending practices to households and farmers, in response to climate change.
source:the guardian


The government has been ordered back to the high court to explain its last-minute bid to delay publication of the UK’s clean air plan.
Politicians and environmental groups had complained that ministers were “hiding behind the election” after they said they could not publish the proposals because of election purdah.
The high court said on Tuesday that there would be a new hearing on Thursday where ministers will have to defend their application.
James Thornton, CEO of the environmental lawyers ClientEarth, who brought the original case against the government, said they would present their response at the hearing on Thursday.
This is a public health issue and not a political issue. Urgent action is required to protect people’s health from the illegal and poisonous air that we are forced to breathe in the UK.
“This is a matter for the court to decide once the government has made its arguments because it is the government which has not met, and instead seeks to extend, the court’s deadline for the clean air plan, to clean up our air.”
Ministers had been under a court direction to produce tougher draft measures to tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, which is largely caused by diesel traffic, by 4pm on Monday. The original plans had been dismissed by judges as so poor as to be unlawful.
But after the announcement by Theresa May of a general election on 8 June, ministers lodged a lengthy application to the court late on Friday. It asked judges to allow them to breach the Monday deadline to “comply with pre-election propriety rules”.
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Politicians and environmental groups reacted with anger, claiming ministers were “hiding behind the election” to justify delaying publication of the government’s long awaited proposals instead of tackling the UK’s air pollution crisis. Healthexperts warned the lack of government action had potentially put thousands of lives at risk.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It is frankly outrageous that the government thinks it can continue to bury its head in the sand about the serious health impacts of air quality in London and across the country. The prime minister has once again missed this golden opportunity to show real leadership in tackling and improving the air we breathe, which should have been done well before the pre-election period.”
Andrea Leadsom, the environment secretary, was summoned to parliament on Monday to answer urgent questions. During the debate she said she was “personally deeply committed to the importance of ensuring clean air” but had been told by officials in the Cabinet Office that it would breach purdah rules to publish the plans in the run-up to the election.
The government has applied to publish draft plans on 30 June followed by the full policy in September, she said.
Leadsom, who also revealed that it was the second application to delay publication that her department had submitted to the courts, insisted the move would not postpone the rollout of the proposals.
The scale of the air pollution crisis was revealed in a joint Guardian-Greenpeace investigation this month showing hundreds of thousands of children were being educated within 150 metres of a road where levels of nitrogen dioxide from diesel traffic breached legal limits.

Last week figures obtained by Labour showed that more than 38 million people, representing 59.3% of the UK population, were living in areas where levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution were above legal limits.
Research consistently shows that exposure to traffic fumes is harmful to children and adults. Children are more vulnerable because their lungs are still developingand exposure to nitrogen dioxide reduces lung growth, causes long-term ill health and can result in premature death.
ClientEarth’s lawyers will attend the hearing, which has been listed by the court for Thursday at 10.30am. The court has set aside two and a half hours.
source :the guardian

A New Dawn : Britain's First Coal Free Day

Friday was Britain’s first ever working day without coal power since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid.
The control room tweeted the milestone on Friday. It is the first continuous 24-hour coal-free period for Britain since use of the fossil fuel began. West Burton 1 power station, the only coal-fired plant that had been up and running, went offline on Thursday.
The UK has had shorter coal-free periods in 2016, as gas and renewables such as wind and solar play an increasing role in the power mix. The longest continuous period until now had been 19 hours – first achieved on a weekend last May, and matched on Thursday.
A National Grid spokesman said the record low was a sign of things to come, with coal-free days becoming increasingly common as the polluting fuel is phased out. 

Coal has seen significant declines in recent years, accounting for just 9% of electricity generation in 2016, down from around 23% the year before, as coal plants closed or switched to burning biomass such as wood pellets.
Britain’s last coal power station will be forced to close in 2025, as part of a government plan to phase out the fossil fuel to meet its climate change commitments.
Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again.
“The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology.”
Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate and energy at WWF, called the first coal-free working day “a significant milestone in our march towards the green economic revolution”.

“Getting rid of coal from our energy mix is exciting and hugely important. But it’s not enough to achieve our international commitments to tackle climate change – we haven’t made anything like the same progress on decarbonising buildings and transport. Whoever forms the next government after the general election, they must prioritise a plan for reducing emissions from all sectors.” Redmond-King said.
Britain became the first country to use coal for electricity when Thomas Edison opened the Holborn Viaduct power station in London in 1882. It was reported in the Observer at the time that “a hundred weight of coal properly used will yield 50 horse power for an hour.” And that each horse power “will supply at least a light equivalent to 150 candles”.

Plastic Pollution and Climate Change:Why The Big Firms Need To Be Accountable

Everyone knows that plastic pollution is a massive problem. We’re all too familiar with seeing plastic bottles scattered along our beaches or washed up on riverbanks. 

But when it comes to tackling a problem of this scale, knowledge of the solutions is a bit fuzzier. It’s clear that to stop the flow of plastic into the ocean, we need to turn the tap off at source. This means ending the era of throwaway plastic. But that’s a pretty big ask. For those of us who live for practical to-do lists, how do we do that?

We’ve kicked off our campaign by calling for the companies that are responsible for selling single-use plastic bottles to us to commit to drastically reducing their plastic footprint, by ditching throwaway plastic. Studies estimate that 600 billion bottles will be produced globally this year - and Coca-Cola alone is responsible for a sixth of all plastic drinks bottles sold around the world. In the UK, 16 million plastic bottles will be dumped into our environment every day. 

But isn’t it up to individuals not to litter, and to make sure the plastic bottles they use are recycled? 

The answer is that we all have a responsibility to reduce our plastic footprint - individuals, businesses and governments. But there is such a huge amount of plastic flowing into the ocean - a rubbish truck’s worth every single minute - that we need to tackle this problem at source. 

Think about it like this: if your bath was overflowing, your priority would be to turn off the taps - you wouldn’t first start mopping up the excess water.

So to end ocean plastic pollution, we need to prioritise reducing the staggering amount of single-use plastic packaging that is being pumped out and sold to us in the first place. 

Our litter collection and recycling systems simply cannot keep up with the amount of plastic we’re using. It’s unacceptable that it’s so hard to avoid buying food and drinks in throwaway plastic packaging on your weekly shop. In fact, the 5p plastic bag charge in supermarkets is a great illustration of how individuals, governments and business can work together to make single-use plastic a thing of the past. 

Governments across the UK introduced the charge to give individuals an incentive to re-use bags, and businesses started creating more durable plastic bags to meet this demand. As a result, throwaway plastic bag use has dropped by 85% in England, and number of plastic bags washing up on British coastlines nearly halved between 2014 and 2015! 

So of course individuals are part of this change - you can try out our plastic calculator to test your own plastic footprint, and find out easy ways to reduce it. But even if you’re shocked by your results, I bet you’re a long way off the plastic footprint of major soft drinks companies like Coca-Cola. 

Whilst it’s important, it’s not enough that individuals simply recycle more, as the big drinks companies claim. Without drastic action from the industry itself as well, we won’t succeed halting the flow of plastic into the oceans.

These companies spend millions promoting themselves as eco-conscious, but we’ve revealed that Coca-Cola sells over 100 billion single-use plastic bottles every year. That means if Coke do take credible action to reduce their plastic footprint and embrace refillable packaging, that can make a massive difference to our oceans. 

They’ve done it before to tackle climate change, through reducing their carbon footprint. Coca-Cola used its influence across the soft drinks sector and its global supply chain to boost momentum for phasing out highly polluting greenhouse gases from its cooling units. Now it needs to do the same for its plastic footprint.

That’s why we’re encouraging people to demand change from these companies.Coca-Cola has already U-turned on its opposition to a deposit return scheme in Scotland this year after its own customer polling showed the majority supported this kind of scheme. 

You can now join over 46,000 people who’ve written directly to Coke’s European CEO to tell him that ocean plastic pollution must end - and that he can’t keep washing his hands of the problem. 

This problem isn’t going to go away unless companies like Coca-Cola drastically reduce their use of single-use plastic bottles, embrace reusable bottles and invest in ways of dispensing drinks based on re-use. 

source:green peace

Study Reveals Fall In Birth Weight In Areas With Coal-Fired Power Plants

Children in a region of the US were born smaller after the area switched from nuclear plants to coal-fired power stations, new research has found.
The study looked at of the impact of nuclear power plant closures in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979 – the most serious such accident in US history – in which one of the power station’s reactors underwent a partial meltdown.
“At the time policymakers thought they were protecting public health by scrutinising nuclear power plants, given the partial meltdown that happened in Three Mile Island,” said Edson Severnini, author of the research from Carnegie Mellon University in the US. “But they didn’t anticipate this indirect effect that happened through the relocation of electricity generation from nuclear to coal.”
While the study is based on a historical incident, experts say the results are pertinent given the shift from nuclear to coal power in Japan and Germany following the Fukushima accident in 2011, and the eagerness of the Trump administration to embrace coal.
Writing in the journal Nature Energy, Severnini describes how he sought to analyse a so-called “natural experiment” whereby a number of nuclear power plants were closed following country-wide inspections carried out after the Three Mile Island accident. Among them were Browns Ferry and Sequoyah in the Tennessee Valley area: both remained closed for several years after they were shut down in 1985.
The analysis of data from the US Energy Information Administration by Severnini reveals that the loss of nuclear energy following the two closures was made up almost entirely by an increase in energy production by coal-fired power plants in the Tennessee Valley area, although the increase varied across different plants.
The result was that particle pollution increased in areas where coal use rose. Around the Paradise plant, which accounted for almost a quarter of the rise in coal-fired energy, concentration of particulates increased by 27% in the 18 months after the nuclear shutdown.

At the same time average birth weight fell. After taking into account a host of factors relating to the child, county and mother, including her age and education levels – although smoking habits were not specifically probed – birth weight in areas with coal-fired plants declined by around 5.4% in the 18 months after the nuclear shutdown. The impact was greatest in the areas which showed the greatest boom in coal-fired power plant activity after closure of the two nuclear sites.
With previous research suggesting that air pollution could affect both the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies, Severnini carried out further analysis of the data, revealing that the rise in air pollution appears to be linked to both lower growth of the foetus and premature births. What’s more, he adds, the impact on birth weight only appears to occur in babies born at least three months after the nuclear shutdown. 
“If the mother is exposed only in the last three months of pregnancy it could be that the formation of the foetus is already advanced and then the effects might be lower – which is what I find,” he said.
But the impact, adds Severnini, goes further, with lower birth weights linked to lower incomes, shorter height and even a lower IQ: a drop of 5.4% in birth weight, he notes, suggests a 0.7% decrease in full-time earnings.
Jonathan Griggs, professor of paediatric respiratory and environmental medicine at Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved in the research, said the study chimes with previous research showing the impact of air pollution and traffic on birth weight. “What makes it interesting is it is a natural experiment,” he said of the latest research.
The study, he adds, could also have important implications for the US, with the Trump administration pledging to expand the coal industry. Marie Pederson from the Center of Epidemiology and Screening at the University of Copenhagen agreed.

“I think we have enough evidence to say we should not shift to coal-burning power plants, and really it could be good to push for more clean energy sources, not only for birth weight but for many other outcomes also,” she said, pointing out that air pollution has been linked to respiratory diseases such as asthma as well as health problems in pregnant women, including hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
While exactly how air pollution acts on the foetus is unclear and requires further research, said Griggs, but he added the latest findings are troubling. “If you have reduced organ development, both brain and other organs, our concern is that has a disproportionate effect over the whole lifespan,” he said. “What we want as clinicians, we want to maximise foetal development and anything that suppresses foetal development in any way is of concern.”

Study Links Life Satisfaction To Levels Of Pollution

The effect on wellbeing of exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a gas mostly produced in diesel fumes, is comparable to the toll from losing a job, ending a relationship or the death of a partner, research suggests.
The study found a “significant and negative association” between life satisfaction and levels of the pollutant, which causes lung problems . These effects were “substantive and comparable to that of many ‘big-hitting’ life events,” according to the researchers behind Can Clean Air Make You Happy?.
Sarah J Knight and Peter Howley of York University took life satisfaction data from the British Household Panel Survey and UK Household Longitudinal Survey and compared it with detailed air quality records from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Given that far more people are exposed to to nitrogen dioxide than suffer unemployment or end a relationship, Knight and Howley suggest that the benefits to society from reducing such emissions would be substantive.
The highest levels of nitrogen dioxide occur in London, with the lowest levels in parts of south-west England. The capital has the dubious honour of being home to the worst NO2 hotspot in Europe: Marylebone Road, which recorded the highest annual mean levels of the pollutant, more than double the legal EU limit.
Pollution from nitrogen oxides is responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths across Europe, with the UK suffering a particularly high toll. Much of the pollution is produced by diesel cars, which emit about six times more than allowed in the official lab-based tests.
The European Environment Agencysaid the UK had 11,940 premature deaths in 2013 from nitrogen dioxide. The number was down from 14,100 the previous year, but was still the second worst in Europe after Italy.

Modern diesel cars produce 10 times more toxic air pollution than heavy trucks and buses, according to European data released in January.
The European commission started legal action late last year against the UK and six other EU members for failing to act against car emissions cheating in the wake of the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal.
source:the guardian

Understanding Earth's Climate

Knowing Earth

Volcanos erupt. Wildfires rage. Floods swell and droughts parch. Weather events may be extreme, but over time affect Earth's climatic system. Changes in atmospheric circulation, for instance, can directly affect human life, from low-lying ozone and airborne dust-driven increases in respiratory distress among vulnerable populations, to alterations in precipitation patterns that affect crop yields, to wind-forced tidal surges.
Langley has been working for nearly 50 years to understand the complex systems driving changes to Earth's atmosphere and the environment that it sustains, devising better ways to measure and monitor those changes so that the resultant data can be translated into meaningful knowledge.
In the early 1970s, as Langley assessed the feasibility of a fleet of commercial supersonic airplanes, concerns over potential high-altitude pollutants led researchers to to study the environmental impacts of super-fast flight. Langley would eventually develop and manage ground-based, airborne and satellite sensors to provide high-resolution observations of regional air-quality and worldwide-temperature trends.
Since its first foray into atmospheric research, Langley has expanded its capabilities to include:
  • Study of the solar energy heating the planet
  • The amount of water diffused in the atmosphere
  • The role of clouds in global warming and cooling
  • The nature and extent of small airborne particles generated from burning, industrial processes and desertification
  • How the world's oceans interact with Earth's atmosphere.

Swelter or shiver?

Taking Earth's temperature was an early priority. Earth's climate system adjusts to maintain a balance between solar energy that reaches the planetary surface and that which is reflected back to space: a concept known to science as the "radiation budget." Clouds, dust, volcanic ash and airborne particulates also play a major role.

When the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite was launched in 1984 on Space Shuttle Challenger, it carried the first instruments for the Langley-managed three-satellite Earth Radiation Budget Experiment, or ERBE, designed to investigate how energy from the sun's energy is absorbed and then reflected back by the Earth, a process that is one of the principal drivers of terrestrial weather patterns. Although expected to have a life span of only a few years, ERBE provided key data for two decades.
The role of clouds in understanding global climate is essential. Low, thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation and cool the Earth's surface. High, thin clouds primarily transmit incoming solar radiation. At the same time, they trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation and radiate it back to the planet. Whether a given cloud heats or cools depends on several factors, including the cloud's altitude, size, and makeup of its formative particles.
A key finding from ERBE observations is that clouds on balance have a net cooling effect.
Also overseen by Langley is the ERBE successor known as the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES), in place since 1998. CERES monitors a variety of cloud properties, prevalence, altitude, thickness, and the size of cloud particles.
It also provides global data for evaluating the radiative effects and climatic impact of such natural events as volcanic eruptions and major floods and droughts. Five CERES instruments now fly on three satellites. Additional CERES sensors are slated for launch in 2017 and 2021.
More advanced space-borne instrumentation is in the planning stages. If they reach fruition, these instruments will look at the infrared part of the light spectrum to more accurately analyze how water vapor, greenhouse gases, clouds, snow cover, sea ice, land use and other factors are affecting changes in global temperatures.

Air today, air tomorrow

With increased attention paid to the environment has come concern about atmospheric composition and how what is – or is not – in the air may directly affect human health. More than 40 years ago, scientists realized that Earth's protective stratospheric ozone layer, which acts as a global sunscreen, was thinning. If that protection degrades beyond a certain point, the risk to planetary life of all kinds substantially increases.

The Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) FM6 instrument is scheduled for launch later this year on NOAA's JPSS-1 satellite. It will join five other CERES instruments on orbit. CERES monitors a variety of cloud properties, prevalence, altitude, thickness, and the size of cloud particles. Credit: Ball Aerospace.
Launched to monitor ozone and other atmospheric gases, Langley's Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) instruments were critical in understanding ozone photochemistry and the ozone "hole" that forms over the Antarctic in austral winter. SAGE also provided the first direct measurement of the cooling impact of volcanic aerosols.
The latest instrument in the series, SAGE III, launched to the International Space Station in February 2017 on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It makes use of a technique known as occultation, a type of measurement that involves looking at the light as it passes through Earth's atmosphere at the edge, or limb, of the planet. SAGE III uses both solar and lunar occultation to measure ozone and aerosols in Earth's atmosphere. Once fully commissioned, SAGE sensors will take occultation measurements about 15 or 16 times a day, during all seasons, and over a large portion of the globe.
Langley also oversees Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO), the first space-based instrument that will monitor major air pollutants across the North American continent hourly during daytime. TEMPO is scheduled for launch in 2019, sharing a ride on a commercial satellite as a hosted payload. It will orbit about 22,000 miles above Earth's equator. TEMPO will focus on highly accurate observations of tropospheric pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, and aerosols over the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Lighting up the skies

An essential enabling technology for climate monitoring is laser radar: light detection and ranging, or lidar, which scientists have used since the 1960s to study atmospheric particles and clouds. Lidar's short pulses of laser light detect particles or gases in the atmosphere much like radar bounces radio waves off rain in clouds. A telescope collects and measures the reflected laser radiation, generating a map of the atmosphere's structure. Researchers can then determine the location, distribution, and nature of atmospheric particles and clouds and, under special circumstances, molecular makeup.
Langley's first lidar in space, the Lidar In-Space Technology (LITE), flew aboard the space shuttle in 1994. The success of this two-week mission led to Langley's, and the world's, longest operating space lidar, the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite, which celebrated 10 years on orbit in April 2016. CALIPSO has contributed essential data to our understanding of the detailed vertical structure of the atmosphere, including the long-range transport of pollution and volcanic aerosols, and new details about thin clouds and their impact on the atmosphere.

As valuable as orbiting arrays of Earth-observing instruments are, so too are the NASA aircraft that monitor, measure and forecast global air quality. Missions are flown all over the world in partnership with industry, universities, or other government agencies, featuring unique sensors and devices that not only help to calibrate space-based equipment, but expand understanding of atmospheric composition nearer the ground.
The High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL), used in recent campaigns such as the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES), continues the development of Langley's lidar capability. The NAAMES project utilizes the airborne HSRL to measure aerosols, clouds and ocean properties. NAAMES data collection is part of a five-year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean-system functions, oceanic influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds, and the implications for climate.
Observations obtained during four targeted ship and aircraft measurement campaigns, combined with continuous satellite and in situ ocean-sensor records, will enhance improved predictive capabilities of Earth system processes, and inform those responsible for ocean management and assessment of ecosystem change.

Is It Acceptable To Challenge Climate Denial?

When does a social attitude become morally unacceptable enough that it is OK to challenge and confront it?
That is the question that motivated a new study conducted at the University of Exeter in which participants were given descriptions of people being confronted after expressing certain views. When the views expressed a disregard for racial equality, the confrontations were approved of. But challenging – even politely – a disregard for climate change was seen as carrying a social cost by the students taking part in the experiment. 
Participants in the study felt less warm towards the character in the scenario (and were less likely to want to be friends with them) when they challenged views dismissive of climate change.
The findings add to a long line of research showing the importance of social norms in guiding people’s attitudes and behaviours. But they might also tell us something important about the value of publicly debunking climate change contrarians.

Clearly, neither people nor the planet are well-served by accepting, propagating or ignoring myths and falsehoods. But the potential collateral damage caused by challenging climate denial is important to consider too. It is well known that what drives people’s views on climate change are values and political ideology rather than levels of knowledge about climate science. Dismissing climate change has become a social norm on the right of US politics – reaction to the Republican party’s dismantling of Barack Obama’s energy policies is the most vivid current example – and is present to a lesser extent in the UK.
What if debunking climate sceptics allows minor battles to be won, but risks losing the bigger fight for public opinion by stepping over invisible but powerful social lines? Bridging the ideological divide on climate change is essential. But that means changing the prevailing social norms – not ignoring them.
While a lot of attention has been given to communicating the scientific consensuson climate change and concerns raised about the fact that people consistently underestimate it, the social consensus may be just as important.
Several studies have shown that while most people in the UK are in favour of renewables, they don’t think other people are. Because of the continuing social silence around climate change and the space given to contrarian views in the media, the sense that other people don’t care is widespread – even when they do. Emphasising positive social norms is an important way of dispelling misconceptions around others’ views, and can help build momentum for a society to move towards lower carbon emissions.

A commitment to the truth is a non-negotiable component of any credible communication around climate change, but campaign strategies also need to go with the grain of human behaviour. And if the unsettling swing towards “post-truth” discourse has taught us anything, it is that being right is not the same thing as being persuasive. Climate communicators need to get better at doing both at the same time.