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Climate Change

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Social life in the Norwegian village of Longyearbyen — hemmed in by mountains, a glacier and a fjord on a remote Arctic island — has long revolved around its only church. Founded for and by coal miners, Svalbard Kirke is literally a beacon in the dark – its sanctuary and fireplace-warmed lounge stay open 24/7 even in winter, when the sun never rises this close to the North Pole. As climate change impacts the Svalbard archipelago faster and deeper than the rest of the world, its pastor is helping the community of miners and environmentalists grapple with transformation in this unforgiving, awe-inspiring wilderness.

President Joe Biden persuaded Democrats in Congress to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change. Now comes another formidable task: enticing Americans to buy millions of electric cars, heat pumps, solar panels and more efficient appliances.

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New research shows climate misinformation has been flourishing on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the platform last year. Analysts at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue find searches for information about climate change turned up recommendations for content that denied the reality of climate change or made misleading claims about efforts to mitigate its effects. On Facebook owner Meta, the researchers identified thousands of ads paid for by fossil fuel companies that criticized renewable energy and the need to act on climate change. Scientists and environmental advocates say such content undercuts public support for climate policies while showing tech companies are failing to enforce their own policies against climate misinformation.

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The warming of the waters off the East Coast has brought the loss of microscopic organisms that make up the base of the ocean’s food chain. Maine-based scientists who recently reported the results of a years-long, NASA-funded study about the subject say the increasing warmth and saltiness of the Gulf of Maine is causing a dramatic decrease in the production of phytoplankton. The tiny plant-like organisms are vital for ocean health. Potential loss of phytoplankton has emerged as a concern in recent years in other parts of the world's oceans, such as waters off Alaska.

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New ice core data shows Greenland is the warmest it's been in more than 1,000 years. Until Wednesday's study, scientists didn't have recent ice core data. The last ice core was from 1995. This newer data from 2011 shows a spike in temperatures between 1995 and 2011. Scientists say warming in Greenland in the past may have been masked by local weather variability. But not any more. Climate change is blowing that away. The study's lead author says this a clear signal of climate change. It also matches increased ice melt run-off from Greenland.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told political leaders at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, that supplies of Western weapons must come quicker than Russia’s attacks. Zelenskyy, speaking by video link from Kyiv, is urging the world to move faster in its decision-making because “tragedies are outpacing life; the tyranny is outpacing democracy.” He spoke Wednesday after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the world as being in a “sorry state” because of interlinked challenges including climate change and Russia’s war in Ukraine. The gloomy messages came on the second day of the elite gathering of world leaders and corporate executives in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

As humans fiddle with the planet's thermostat, scientists are piecing together Greenland's history by drilling ice cores to analyze how the climate crisis has impacted the island country over the years. The further down they drilled, the further they went back in time, allowing them to separate which temperature fluctuations were natural and which were human-caused.

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The once-controversial idea of relocating an imperiled species to another island, country or continent for conservation is gaining increasing acceptance among scientists as a measure of last resort. Yet the potential danger — and scientific debate — lies in what humans can’t predict. Recently scientists have moved Tristram's storm petrel chicks from beaches being submerged by rising sea levels to shores they've never bred on, 500 miles away on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Such relocations are still rare, but wildlife officials in the U.S. have drafted a proposal to guide scientists in deciding when it’s appropriate to deliberately move a threatened species outside its historical range.

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A new study says Exxon Mobil’s scientists were remarkably accurate in their predictions about global warming. But at the same time, the company made public statements that contradicted its scientists' conclusions. The study in the journal Science looked at research that Exxon funded. The research forecast the coming warming with precision equal to or better than government and academic scientists. This was during the same time that the oil giant publicly doubted that warming was real and dismissed climate models’ accuracy. Exxon says its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.

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President Joe Biden,  Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are seeking to downplay their frustrations with one another on migration and trade as they meet for the North American Leaders Summit. The leaders are offering a unified front despite tensions that have put a strain on their relationships even as Biden has made repairing alliances a cornerstone of his foreign policy agenda. As they closed Tuesday's summit in Mexico City with a joint new conference, the leaders offered an optimistic outlook. Biden said, “We’re true partners the three of us,” and “We share a common vision for the future, grounded on common values.”

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Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador is challenging U.S. President Joe Biden to end an attitude of “abandonment” and “disdain” for Latin America and the Caribbean as the two leaders meet in Mexico City. His comments made for a brusque opening to a summit of North American leaders, also including Justin Trudeau of Canada. The comments were a contrast to the public display of affection between López Obrador and Biden shortly before, as they smiled and embraced and shook hands for the cameras.  López Obrador challenged Biden to improve life across the region. Biden responded by defending the billions of dollars that the United States spends in foreign aid around the world, saying “unfortunately our responsibility just doesn’t end in the Western Hemisphere.”

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