2019-2020 Academic Year

News and Highlights in June 2020

The 2019-2020 Australia bushfire season sent smoke 19 miles into the air and charred 13.6 million acres, reports Smithsonian Magazine. The plumes of smoke created never-before-seen wind patterns, giving insight into what to expect from other catastrophes. RCI Affiliate Alan Robock, who studies the climatic consequences of nuclear conflict, reports, “nature has done the experiment to validate our models.”

The newest tool to call attention to climate change may be comedy, writes RCI Affiliate Lauren Feldman in her book A Comedian and an Activist Walk into a Bar: The Serious Role of Comedy in Social Justice.

A recent Michigan dam break demonstrates how climate change strains infrastructure, reports Yale Climate Change Connections. RCI Affiliate Jennifer Francis explains that a warming climate leads to the atmosphere holding more moisture and an increase in heavy rainfall, “very directly related to climate change.” In addition, human development of naturally vegetated land leaves areas vulnerable to flooding.

Mosquito season is starting earlier reports the Asbury Park Press. RCI Affiliate Dina Fonseca notes that cases of mosquito-borne diseases in New Jersey are on the rise as New Jersey lacks “the hard frosts that tend to kill off the adults” due to the warming climate.

A large swatch of Siberia was 13 degrees F warmer than usual in May of 2020, reports Mashable. “We have an overall warming trend which is primarily a response to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere,” reports Anthony Broccoli. This remarkably warm spot is estimated to be the result of human-caused warming of the planet and warmer weather systems, which are growing increasingly warm. The warm spot resulted in melting permafrost, causing a tank holding 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel to collapse into a Russian river.

Anthony Broccoli has been named the Alpha Zeta Barbara Munson Goff Teacher of the Year by the George H. Cook Chapter of Alpha Zeta.

The Board of Education has mandated New Jersey K-12 school curricula to include climate change, NJ.com reports. New standards require a variety of climate change related-lessons taught through an interdisciplinary lens. This new curriculum will prepare students for a future in which climate change affects all parts of society, says First Lady Murphy.

A federal ruling has limited states’ rights to deny energy projects over concerns of water quality impact, reports NJ Spotlight. The Trump administration has limited states’ usage of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to determine a proposed energy project’s impact on waters, a section recently used by New York to block construction of a 120-mile pipeline ending in Mercer County.