Friday, May 30, 2008

The illness in Planet Earth

Planet Earth is unwell, argues James Lovelock in The Green Room. Emissions of greenhouse gases and other environmental changes have, he says, brought humanity and the natural world to the edge of crisis.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, published in 2001, is one of the scariest documents you will ever read.

It talks about changes to the Earth by the end of this century which will be as great or greater than occurred between the end of the last Ice Age and the time when humans started changing the atmosphere; it is huge.

It alarms me, and it should alarm anyone. More >>>

Monday, May 26, 2008

UK Climate Committee unveils its plans

The new Committee on Climate Change set out its priorities for guiding UK climate policy on Wednesday.

The Committee on Climate Change will play a central role in UK climate policy once the new Climate Change Act comes into force. It will have responsibility for advising government on the mandatory emissions reduction targets for 2020 and 2050 and for proposing the levels of the interim five-yearly carbon budgets.

The committee published a document on Wednesday setting out its work plans and explaining the process it will go through when making decisions.

It divides its work into five areas:

  • setting the 2050 target
  • setting carbon budgets and emissions reduction trajectory up to 2020
  • deciding whether to include international aviation or shipping in the UK targets
  • deciding whether the targets should be for carbon dioxide or include other greenhouse gases
  • considering the implications for other issues such as fuel poverty and security of supply
  • More >>>

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Global Warming Sticker Shock

    WASHINGTON, DC, May 23, 2008 (ENS) - If global warming continues unchecked, by 2100, New York City will feel like Las Vegas does today and San Francisco will have a climate comparable to that of today's New Orleans. In 2100, Boston will have average temperatures like those in Memphis, Tennessee today.

    These higher temperatures will be uncomfortable financially as well as physically, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Tufts University, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC.

    Over the next 100 years, global warming will increase the average temperature across most of the United States by 13 degrees Fahrenheit and by 18 degrees in Alaska, the report estimates.

    "Some important impacts are priceless, so the real situation is worse than the numbers can convey," said the report's lead author, Frank Ackerman. "But the numbers, for those impacts we can put prices on, are bad enough. Climate change is on a collision course with the U.S. economy, long before the end of the century, unless we act now." More >>>

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Bay Area air regulators approve global warming fees

    SAN FRANCISCO: May 21, 2008 - Air pollution regulators in the San Francisco Bay area voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve new rules that impose fees on businesses for emitting greenhouse gasses.

    The Bay Area Air Quality Management District's board of directors voted 15-1 to charge companies 4.4 cents per ton of carbon dioxide they emit, an agency spokeswoman said.

    Experts say the fees, which cover nine counties in the Bay Area, are the first of their kind in the country. The new rules are set to take effect July 1.

    The modest fee probably won't be enough to force companies to reduce their emissions, but backers say it sets an important precedent in combating climate change and could serve as a model for regional air districts nationwide.

    "It doesn't solve global warming, but it gets us thinking in the right terms," said Daniel Kammen, a renewable energy expert at the University of California, Berkeley. More >>>

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Mangrove Removal Responsible for Much of Myanmar’s Devastation

    In Myanmar, Mangroves Out, Flooding In

    The destruction of huge areas of coastal mangroves around the Irrawaddy River delta in Myanmar in the last few decades amplified the flooding and worsened devastation there, according to a report and images released Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Organization.

    People have been pushing in closer to the coast, and the combination of dense new settlements and deforestation for fish ponds and farmland set the stage for the disaster, said Jan Heino, the F.A.O.’s assistant director general for forestry. The same trend is evident around the world, he added.

    Over all, the area of the Irrawaddy delta covered in mangrove forests has been halved since 1975. Wood harvesting has also reduced the density of the forests.

    “Healthy mangrove forests are particularly good at reducing the force of waves because of the resistance provided by stilt roots as well as the trees’ trunks and branches,” the report said. “Mangroves also trap and stabilize sediment and reduce the risk of shoreline erosion.” More>>>

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    U.N. chief says rich must fight global warming

    Fri May 16, 2008 - LONDON (Reuters) - Efforts to combat global warming risk running out of steam because rich, developed nations are failing to show the necessary leadership, Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N.'s climate change secretariat, said on Friday.

    In an interview, De Boer said goodwill and political desire remain strong after scientific reports last year on the climate crisis produced an agreement in December to try for a new global climate deal, but that little is happening in practice.

    "We need leadership on the part of the rich nations and money on the table that will make it possible for developing countries to do things that are not realistic within their economic growth and poverty eradication parameters," he said. More >>>

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

    15/05/2008 - The Prince of Wales has warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless urgent action is taken to save the rainforests.

    In one of his moMore >>>st out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a £15 billion annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences.

    "We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall," he said. "We are asking for something pretty dreadful unless we really understand the issues now and [the] urgency of them." The Prince said the rainforests, which provide the "air conditioning system for the entire planet", releasing water vapour and absorbing carbon, were being lost to poor farmers desperate to make a living. More >>>

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Giant study pinpoints changes from climate warming

    May 14 2008 - WASHINGTON, May 14 (Reuters) - Human-generated climate change made flowers bloom sooner and autumn leaves fall later, turned some polar bears into cannibals and some birds into early breeders, a vast global study reported on Wednesday.

    Hundreds of previous studies have noted these specific changes and most suggested a link to so-called anthropogenic global warming, but a new analysis published in the journal Nature correlated these earlier studies with changes in temperature, the study's lead author said.
    There was a close relationship between temperature shifts between 1970 and 2004 and changes in plants, animals and the physical world, such as the retreat of glaciers and the water level in desert lakes, the study found. More >>>

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Climate change chief says optimistic

    Mon May 12 - LONDON (Reuters) - Adair Turner, the head of the new Climate Change Committee, sees some tough times ahead guiding the government towards legal carbon reduction goals but says he is quietly confident of success.

    The committee that will become a legal entity when the Climate Change Bill becomes law later this year will have to decide what cuts should be achieved by 2050, set five-year carbon budgets and monitor government progress annually.

    "A lot of the progress we have made in reducing carbon dioxide emissions so far has been down to circumstances -- the end of the deindustrialisation of Britain in 1990 and the dash for gas replacing coal in power generation," he said. More >>>

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Climate Justice = A Human Right

    May 9, 2008 - As the estimated death toll in Burma rises to 100,000, it’s hard not to reflect on the incredible injustice of the situation.

    Cyclone Nargis, considered a once-in-500-year storm, struck the Irrawaddy Delta this past Saturday, pushing a wall of water through a largely deforested mangrove swamp and inundating some of the most densely populated parts of the low-lying country.

    Initially, experts estimated the death toll to be in the tens of thousands, but revised the number as it became clear that despite international aid efforts, families were starving and that many had perished in the surging waters. In addition, recent reports show the ruling military Junta, which a few months ago brutally cracked down on peaceful opposition demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, seized recent UN and international aid shipments intended for those affected by the storm and subsequent floods. In response, the UN has temporarily suspended direct aid to Burma, citing corruption and theft of donated food and supplies.
    More >>>

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Before cyclone hit, Burmese delta was stripped of defenses

    May 9, 2008, BANGKOK: May 9, 2008: When Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, it pushed a wall of water through the Irrawaddy Delta, a low-lying, densely populated area that had been stripped of its protective trees.

    The delta had lost most of its mangrove forests along the coast to shrimp farms and rice paddies over the past decade. That removed what scientists say is one of nature's best defenses against violent storms.

    It was the first time such an intense storm hit the delta, said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Web site Weather Underground. He called it "one of those once-in-every-500-years kind of things." More>>>

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    '£1.6bn must be spent on climate change'

    May 8 2008 -The government has been warned that it must spend all of a £1.6bn windfall on new technology to combat climate change.
    • Biofuel crops 'increase carbon emissions'
    • Poor hit hardest by climate change, says report
    • '1bn climate change refugees by 2050'
    The money will come from the auction of carbon emission permits over the next four years aimed at cutting CO2 emissions. The government has been urged to tackle climate change by developing green technologies. Under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) the government sells permits to industry which sets a limit on the amount of emissions. If they exceed their allowance they have to buy extra permits from other companies.
    The organisers of the cap-and-trade scheme, set up in 2005, hope that it will halt and then progressively lower CO2 emissions across Europe. More >>>

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    Multinationals make billions in obscene and immoral profit out of growing global food crisis

    Speculators blamed for driving up price of basic foods as 100 million face severe hunger - Sunday, 4 May 2008 -

    Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry. The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world's richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn. More >>>

    Shock report forecasts huge increase in aviation’s global environmental impacts

    Climate change emissions, airport noise and local air pollution all head alarmingly upwards: suppressed report uses US, European and UK Government-linked regulator databases

    A report submitted to the 7th US/Europe ATM R&D Seminar held in Barcelona last summer has recently surfaced, following research by the AEF.

    The technical report uses date forecasts from authoritative Government regulator research sources (1). The report was submitted to the Seminar organisers but not accepted and remains unpublished - until today!The headline global figures are as follows:

    * Airport noise - 24 million people affected by noise in 2000 rising to 30.3 million by 2025
    * Local Air Quality - NOx pollution around airports and at altitude rises from 2.5 million tonnes in 2000 to 6.1 in 2025
    * CO2 emissions - 572 Mt in 2000 rising to 1229 Mt in 2025

    Jeff Gazzard, AEF spokesman, said: “This suppressed report forecasts shocking and continually rising impacts from aviations’ major environmental impacts on a region by region basis. Noise above WHO guideline levels is set to rise from impacting 1.4 million people in 2000 across Western Europe to 3.98 million in 2025 - an intolerable public health burden dumped unasked and unwanted on airport communities.

    And with forecast local air quality impacts from NOx levels around airports rising too, the report itself acknowledges these “may lead to adverse health effects.”

    ” The projected rise in aviation’s climate change impacts shows they are simply out-of-control! CO2 emissions globally are forecast to rise from 572 Million tonnes in 2000 to a staggering 1228 million by 2025. Aviation emissions on this scale run a severe risk of overwhelming all CO2 reduction targets. More >>>

    Saturday, May 3, 2008

    Wheels start to turn on climate change

    New Zealand - May 4th 2008 - It's been an important week in the climate change debate. Thanks to a flurry of reports and political comment, we are starting to see where compromises might be made in the emission trading system and related policies.

    Some of the compromises will be good and beneficial but others will be bad and harmful thanks to lobbyists and politicians pandering to various constituencies.

    Worryingly, we're running the risk of making more bad decisions that we can ill afford to, thanks to serious failures in some of the latest analysis. Some of the reports, like most of the previous ones from business lobbyists, exhibit a lot of short-term, ill-informed, unrealistic and ultimately damaging thinking. More >>>

    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Nick Stern Outlines Global Deal On Climate Change

    British economist and academic Lord Nicholas Stern has published a set of proposals (PDF) for a global deal on climate change at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the school reports.

    Inspired by a number of discussions with international policymakers, financiers and academics, “Key Elements of a Global Deal” has several contributors, with participants from HSBC, IdeaCarbon, and Lehman Brothers.

    It suggests a set of proposals to advance the climate change debate on the road to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009. More >>>

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Climate Change Chokes Oceans

    May 01, 2008 - Rising temperatures have caused oxygen-starved swaths of ocean to expand over the last half-century -- a disturbing trend that, if it continues, could wreak havoc on global fisheries.
    Led by University of Kiel oceanographer Lothar Stramma, researchers analyzed 50 years of ocean oxygen data. The findings, published today in Science, dovetail with predictions made by earlier climate models. Two mechanisms are responsible for the drop. As water warms, it holds less oxygen. More significantly, Earth's oceans are oxygenated in large part by cold waters that sink at high latitudes, then ride deep-sea currents to the equator. But water becomes buoyant as it warms: it no longer sinks so readily into this cycle.
    "The surface warmer getting warmer means it's harder for oxygen to mix down, to the deeper parts, and that's the dominant effect," said study co-author and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher Greg Johnson.
    More >>>