person holding a green plant

DAILY DOSE: GOP proposes planting trillions of trees as it seems to admit climate change is real; Wildfires in Greece forces evacuation of thousands.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the Republican party have proposed a plan to address climate change by planting a trillion trees, arguing that it could be an effective way to absorb carbon dioxide. This idea is part of their broader efforts to navigate climate policy without completely abandoning fossil fuels. Their stance promotes American-produced energy and includes advocating for increased domestic production of oil, gas, and coal. The party’s recent climate legislation, the “Lower Energy Costs Act”, encourages US energy production and is said to reduce emissions as domestic fossil fuels are generally cleaner than those produced overseas. However, the plan has faced criticism from scientists who assert that it distracts from the necessary reduction in fossil fuel emissions. It is also noted that planting a trillion trees would require a huge amount of space and potentially increase wildfire risks. Some Republicans still deny the need to address climate change, leading to friction within the party. (Associated Press)


High winds and extreme heat caused wildfires near Athens, Greece, prompting thousands to evacuate seaside resorts, homes, and a children’s camp. Two significant fires, one near Lagonisi and another near the resort town of Loutraki, necessitated the evacuation of at least six seaside communities. Difficult terrain and shifting winds complicated firefighting efforts. Evacuees sought refuge along the coastline or in schools and hotels, with coast guard vessels on standby for support. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged the difficulty of managing wildfires in the face of climate change, which has led to fires of increasing intensity. After a recent four-day heatwave, southern Greece is on high alert for wildfires, with more high temperatures anticipated later in the week. Local officials confirmed extensive property damage due to the fires. (Associated Press)


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New research suggests that over half of the world’s oceans have significantly changed in color over the past 20 years due to climate change, with equatorial regions shifting to a greener hue. This change is attributed to a shift in the ecosystem, particularly the phytoplankton population. These marine algae play a critical role in the food web and carbon absorption, with oceans estimated to absorb 30% of human-produced CO2, mainly due to these organisms. Scientists analyzed data from NASA’s Aqua satellite, finding that 56% of the oceans, mostly in tropics and subtropics, had experienced color shifts from 2002 to 2022. The trend aligns with a 2019 model simulating the impact of added greenhouse gases, suggesting human-induced climate change as the cause. The specific mechanism behind this change remains uncertain, but rising temperatures affecting nutrient distribution could be a key factor. (Smithsonian Magazine)


Phoenix, Arizona, grappling with extreme heat for the third consecutive week, is utilizing innovative strategies to deal with increasing heat-related illnesses and mortality. The use of body bags filled with ice is proving particularly effective in treating heatstroke victims, cooling the body twice as fast as traditional methods. This is vital as rising global temperatures, due to climate change, increase heat-related mortality, particularly among vulnerable populations such as people of color, low-income communities, and outdoor workers. Extreme heat can lead to mass casualty events, with emergency departments being overcrowded during prolonged periods of intense heat. Vulnerable individuals include the young, elderly, pregnant, those with chronic diseases or mental illnesses, and those taking heat-sensitivity increasing medications. A new project, Climate Resilience for Frontline Clinics, is working to provide resources and training for clinics, particularly those serving underinsured and uninsured patients, to better deal with heat emergencies. The tool provides alerts and information to ensure adequate preparation ahead of heat waves. Furthermore, plans are underway to introduce air conditioning as a prescribed aid for those lacking it in their homes. (STAT)


A new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution has revealed that insects have been using the same genetic adaptation for over 300 million years to resist plant chemical defenses and insecticides. This survival strategy may have helped diverse insect groups flourish. The genetic modification affects a protein known as a GABA receptor, key in both insects’ and humans’ nervous systems. It can interfere with insecticides and other toxins, offering insects a survival advantage. The research involved examining thousands of insect genomes, finding that many insects had multiple copies of the gene variant responsible for this mutation, suggesting its significance long before man-made pesticides. Notably, evolution of such resistance coincided with plants developing new chemical defenses. The study’s findings highlight a recurrent pattern in evolution and support the notion of an “arms race” between plants and insects, akin to predator-prey and parasite-host dynamics. (Science)

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)

IMAGE CREDIT: Akil Mazumder.


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