Odds And Ends
Here are some of the stories that slipped through the cracks this week. For starters, California is the first state in the US to mandate Solar power be built into every home from 2020.
The California Building Standards Commission voted unanimously to add energy standards approved last May by another panel to the state building code, bolstering the vote taken in May by the California Energy Commission.
"These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said structural engineer and Building Standards Commissioner Kent Sasaki, "(It's) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels."
California builds more than 100,000 new homes per year.
Scientists identified a layer of blubber in the fossilized remains of an ichthyosaur, a giant fish-lizard creature that swam in the oceans during the Jurassic Period some 180 million years ago. In modern sea mammals, blubber exists to help them preserve heat; thus the blubber in the ancient creature suggests that it was a warm-blooded lizard, something extremely rare in the life of this planet.
"We cannot possibly predict the future of our planet without understanding the past," said Johan Lindgren, a senior lecturer at Lund University in Sweden and author of the report in the journal Nature. "That is where all the data lie. Understanding how animals functioned in their past environments sheds light on how they might adapt to our own changing planet."
And the planet is changing...
Between China's coal use and the global demand for cars, CO2 emissions from human activity rose 3 percent to an all time high. The research from the the Global Carbon Project (GCP) says use of renewable is up, too, but not enough to keep pace with the bad stuff.
"For the past two years, the Chinese government has boosted the economy and the economy is based on construction and heavy industry, coal and steel. When you boost the economy you actually see a rise in emissions," said lead researcher Professor Corinne Le Quere from the University of East Anglia.
A colder than average winter in the US also contributed.
New research shows that the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster now than at any point in the last 350 years. The period between 2004 and 2013 experienced "a more sustained and greater magnitude of melt than any other 10-year period", according to the report in the journal Nature. It's the single largest contributor to rising sea levels, and it's getting worse.
"Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet has gone into overdrive," said lead author Luke Trusel, a glaciologist at Rowan University's School of Earth and Environment, "As a result, Greenland melt is adding to sea level more than any time during the last three and a half centuries, if not thousands of years."
Poor diets - unhealthy food, or not having enough food - has landed among the top causes of ill health globally. The researchers behind the latest Global Nutrition Report says the problem accounts for nearly one in five deaths.
"Diets are one of the top risk factors of morbidity and mortality in the world - more than air pollution, more than smoking," said Jessica Fanzo, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a lead author. "What we're eating is killing us. So something needs to get us back on track with our food system," she added.
Fanzo blames a lack of education about healthy food, prices that make healthy foods unaffordable to many people, and poor supply chains for the problem.