Climate Solutions

Climate news quiz: Rock dust and heat-ready cities

Test your knowledge about ways the climate is changing
Illustrations by Michael Parkin for The Washington Post

All right: Time to see if you’ve been paying attention to The Washington Post’s climate-related coverage. If you have, this quiz should be an easy A.

1. Some scientists say spreading rock dust on agricultural land is a straightforward, practical way to pull what pollutant out of the atmosphere?

Answer: A. Researchers argued in a recent study that spreading silicate or carbonate materials — rock dust — on farms could pull carbon from the air and store it indefinitely.

2. Farmers and agricultural experts are worried that this process of “extreme rock weatherization” could harm soil health and disrupt food production as a result. True or False?

Answer: B. Scientists say that applying rock dust to agricultural fields could help restore deteriorating soil in many parts of the world while also reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

3. Which are the three countries with the greatest potential for “enhanced rock dust weatherization,” according to researchers at the University of Sheffield’s Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation and the university’s Energy Institute.

Answer: D. If China, the United States and India — the three countries that emit the most CO2 — adopted the practice on a large scale, they could collectively clear about 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air, the researchers say.

4. Each year, more Americans die from extreme heat than are killed by storms, floods and wildfires combined. Which of the following ailments can be attributed to prolonged exposure to high temperatures:

Answer: C. The human body has built-in mechanisms for surviving in high temperatures. But without water, shade and a chance to cool off, those systems can be overwhelmed. Extreme heat can cause heat cramps, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. In some cases, these can be deadly.

5. In Arizona’s Maricopa County, home to Phoenix and the surrounding communities, the record was broken last year for the number of deaths associated with heat. The total number of heat-related deaths in 2019 was:

Answer: C. Public health experts say heat-related deaths are largely preventable. But as the average temperatures in Phoenix continue to rise in part because of climate change, the number of heat-related deaths in Maricopa County is also on the rise. In 2019, 197 deaths were attributed to the heat, up from 182 in 2018 and 179 in 2017. As of July 14, there have been five confirmed heat-related deaths so far in 2020, with another 114 under investigation, according to the county health department.

6. The burden of living in America’s hottest city is not shared equally in Phoenix. For instance, at night, it’s hotter in Edison-Eastlake, a low-income neighborhood, than it is in wealthier parts of town. According to scientific surveys, how much hotter can it be?

Answer: C. Edison-Eastlake is as much as 10 degrees hotter at night than some of the wealthier neighborhoods in Phoenix. Just 5 percent of Edison-Eastlake has tree shade, which means the neighborhood of mostly Black and Latino residents, is largely paved with asphalt, which absorbs instead of reflects heat from the sun, creating a “heat-island effect.” Efforts are underway to plant trees and shrubs, build more shade structures and install more public water fountains. The city is also experimenting with a new type of paving material that reflects the sun.

7. Maricopa County, Ariz., is one of many hot spots around the globe where the average surface temperature has increased at least 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. That’s the point beyond which experts warn about dangerous and irreversible changes to the planet. So while other places have warmed less than 2 degrees, this county in the desert has exceeded that threshold. How much has the annual surface temperature there increased?

Answer: C. The average annual temperature in Maricopa County is 3.4 degrees higher than it was in 1895, according to a Post analysis of records going back more than 100 years. That translates into summers that are hotter, longer and drier.

8. The U.S. House is poised to approve the Great American Outdoors Act, a historic investment that would help the National Park Service fix much of the maintenance work around the country that has been deferred for years. What’s the dollar amount of all that deferred maintenance?

Answer: A. The National Park Service estimated that in fiscal 2018, there was more than $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance and repairs needed for more than 5,690 miles of paved roads, 21,000 miles of trails and 25,000 buildings. From sinkholes on the George Washington Parkway in Virginia to a leaking water pipeline at the Grand Canyon, federal parks around the nation need a serious infusion of cash.

9. President Trump agreed to sign the legislation after two of its champions, GOP Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Steve Daines (Mont.) told Trump that he would be compared to which other president:

Answer: B. Gardner and Daines, who are both facing competitive reelection campaigns and want to bring home a legislative win to their states, met with Trump in early March at the White House in the Roosevelt Room — named for the GOP’s most famous conservationist. Gardner later told reporters that they showed Trump pictures of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, and told him he could be remembered like Roosevelt. Pointing to a picture of Roosevelt on the wall, they said: “This could be the biggest accomplishment [on conservation] going back to Teddy Roosevelt,” Gardner recounted.

10. What relevance does the Great American Outdoors Act have to climate change?

Answer: C. The legislation will provide about $900 million over 10 years for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will preserve forests — which act as a carbon “sink” while also supporting to restore coastal areas ravaged by the effects of climate change and sea-level rise.

0 to 3 questions correct

Climate novice: You’ve still got a lot to learn about climate change. But that’s okay: We’ve got you covered. Got a question? Ask us here.

4 to 7 questions correct

Climate curious: Hey, not bad! You know a thing or two about climate change. But there’s still more to learn, and we’ve got you covered. Got a question? Ask us here.

8 to 10 questions correct

Climate expert: Well done! You’re super climate-literate. You probably already know that one of the most important things you as an individual can do to combat climate change is to spread the word. Go ahead: Brag a little, share this quiz with your friends, and find out who knows the most about climate change.

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