Six Decades of a Warming Planet

About This Video: This visualization shows how global temperatures have risen from 1950 through the end of 2013.

NASA scientists say 2013 tied for the seventh warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 133-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which analyzes global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated report Tuesday, Jan. 21, on temperatures around the globe in 2013. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.

The visualization shows a running five-year average global temperature, as compared to a baseline average global temperature from 1951-1980.

Related Website: NASA | Six Decades of a Warming Earth

Climate Change Creating New Winter Weather Patterns

About This Video: New video couples interviews with two experts — Rutgers’ Jennifer Francis and Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters — to explore the ‘Why?’ of two years of mirror images of weather across North America

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Unseen: The Search For Sustainable Palm Oil

About This Video:

So what’s the problem with palm oil?

What do shampoo, ice cream, margarine, lipstick and candles all have in common? They all contain palm oil. Palm what? Palm oil. It’s the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet because it’s extremely versatile and cheap to grow. Some sources indicate that it is in about half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket. So what?

Palm oil grows in the same area as tropical rainforests, and the uncontrolled clearing of land for plantations has led to widespread loss of these irreplaceable forests. Palm oil has been linked to deforestation and of burning peat lands in Indonesia and Malaysia and has been blamed for the smoke haze that recently choked Singapore. Palm oil plantations have been connected to the destruction of the habitat of endangered species like orang-utans, rhinos, elephants and tigers and to indigenous people losing their land and livelihoods. Forest destruction contributes to climate change, as felled and burned vegetation release climate-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

So palm oil is a bad thing and I should avoid it, right? Actually, palm oil itself isn’t necessarily bad. It’s the most high yield vegetable oil there is, which means it needs less land to grow enough oil to help meet the world’s needs than other oils like soybean, canola or sunflower. Also it brings many economic benefits to communities and small farmers in producer countries. The real problem lies with where and how it’s grown. But it doesn’t have to be this way – the good news is that palm oil production can be environmentally responsible.

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