As Australia stares at “a once-in-20 or 30-year heatwave”, with temperatures over 40 degrees, it is likely that more extreme weather events similar to this are in store for us. The probability of this occurring is well researched.
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European development groups have reported that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest scientific assessment of the phenomenon matches the observations and experiences of farming and other groups they partner in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The IPCC scientists, who acknowledge they often have only sketchy rainfall and temperature data for many areas in developing countries, say global temperatures have risen, extreme weather is more frequent and rainfall less predictable. If emissions are not cut dramatically, they say, the world can expect steady sea-level and temperature rises, more extreme weather and less certain rainfall.
"The latest climate science affirms what small-scale farmers around the world are telling us, that seasons are changing, weather is increasingly extreme and unpredictable making it tougher to feed their families," said Oxfam in a new briefing paper. "It is important to recognise that climate change is happening at the same time as vulnerabilities are changing drastically. Of the 3 billion people who live in rural areas in developing countries, 2.5 billion are involved in agriculture, and 1.5 billion live in small farmer households. Many are perilously exposed to changes in the climate, meaning that too much rain, or too little, can be the difference between having enough food or living in hunger."
A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s.
The report by the UN's climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change.
On the ground, in the air, in the oceans, global warming is "unequivocal", it explained.
It adds that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends.
The panel warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all aspects of the climate system.
To contain these changes will require "substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions".
The recently published Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century is a sobering read. Drafted by Anthony D. Barnofsky, Professor and Curator, Depertment of Integrative Biology and Museum of Paleontology at University California, Berkeley and signed by more than 200 leading scientists, it is a siren call to attend to and repair the ecological life-support systems of our planet before it’s too late.
Hunger is a justice issue, says Catherine d’Amato, President and CEO ofThe Greater Boston Food Bank. We should use the resources, technology and the science we have to make sure that hungry citizens have adequate food.
The idea that we don’t do this, because we are politically motivated, or because of policy or logistical limitations to get food from point A to point B, is extremely frustrating as this is a solvable problem.
As the crisis of tropical deforestation reaches a new level of urgency due to forest fires raging in Indonesia, an important question is how can the world satisfy the growing demand for forest products while still preserving forest ecosystems? This week, some of the world’s largest companies will join U.S. and Indonesian government officials in Jakarta at the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020) meeting to discuss this issue.
The meeting comes three years after the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a group of the world’s 400 largest consumer goods companies from 70 countries, announced their commitment to source only deforestation-free commodities in their supply chains and help achieve net-zero deforestation by 2020.
...the unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies – and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes. "Miami, as we know it today, is doomed," says Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. "It's not a question of if. It's a question of when."
Researchers and policymakers have a lot to learn in designing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies from smallholder farmers in the Amazon, says Miguel Pinedo-Vásquez, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Director of International Programs at the Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability at Columbia University.
“Traditional forest knowledge and practices are products of many years of local responses to hazards and opportunities produced by a variety of social, environment and economic changes,” said Pinedo-Vásquez, who co-authored a chapter on Amazonia inTraditional Forest-Related Knowledge with Christine Padoch, Director of Livelihoods research at CIFOR and professor Susanna Hecht from UCLA.
“This knowledge doesn’t provide perfect solutions, but it does provide practical options. We should therefore consider it as a resource that can be used in designing and implementing adaptation initiatives.”
Sticky labels on fruit may soon be in the past, thanks to the latest EU ruling which allows grocers and retailers to make laser marks on the skin of citrus fruit, melons and pomegranates. Laser branding, previously banned because of the use of iron oxides and hydroxides, was approved after three years of liaising between the EU and Laser Food- the company behind the technology. The new law will come into effect on 23 June.
Climate change abroad will have a more immediate effect on the UK than climate change at home, a report says.
Research by consultants PWC for Defra says the UK is likely to be hit by increasingly volatile prices of many commodities as the climate is disrupted.
It warns that global production of some foodstuffs is concentrated in a few countries.
These are likely to suffer increasing episodes of extreme weather. The report says there will be opportunities for the UK from climate change but these are likely to be far outweighed by problems.
What's interesting is that threats from climate change overseas appear an order of magnitude higher than domestic threats” ...
The biggest threats are increased volatility in food prices and protectionist measures over food, like India's ban on selling rice.
"What's interesting is that threats from climate change overseas appear an order of magnitude higher than domestic threats," PWC's Richard Gledhill told BBC News.
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made a bold and courageous decision this week to extend the country’s forest moratorium. With this decision, which aims to prevent new clearing of primary forests and peat lands for another two years, the government could help protect valuable forests and drive sustainable development.
Enacted two years ago, Indonesia’s forest moratorium has already made some progress in improving forest management. However, much more can be done. The extension offers Indonesia a tremendous opportunity: a chance to reduce emissions, curb deforestation, and greatly strengthen forest governance in a country that holds some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.
Deforestation in the Amazon region could significantly reduce the amount of electricity produced from hydropower, says a new study.
Scientists say the rainforest is critical in generating the streams and rivers that ultimately turn turbines.
If trees continue to be felled, the energy produced by one of the world's biggest dams could be cut by a third.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Safia Minney, the CEO of fair trade fashion brand People Tree, tells Amy Dawson how an environmentally-friendly approach to clothing can produce garments suitable for the red carpet.
I founded People Tree in Tokyo, where I’d moved with my husband in 1991. I’ve always been a green consumer and like to spend every penny on things that can be part of the solution not the problem. Working in marketing, I see a lot of money wasted on generating things that were unhealthy, in terms of body image, which didn’t put people and the environment first. I wanted a company that was dedicated to giving people in the developing world the right working privileges and to relink them with consumers.
While there were already fair trade organisations in other fields, particularly food, we were the first for fashion. It was interesting launching in Asia because the Japanese have an eye for quality and design – they won’t buy out of sympathy. So we found that people were buying it not because it was ethical but because it was great quality. It felt as if we could make it there we could make it anywhere.
Now we’re based in Britain and collaborate with retail brands such as Asos and John Lewis, as well as design names like Zandra Rhodes and people such as Emma Watson. So we’re working closely with big international players.
Species affected by rainforest fragmentation are likely to be wiped out more quickly than previously thought, scientists have warned.
A study found that some small mammal species on forest islands, created by a hydroelectric reservoir, in Thailand became extinct in just five years.
It also showed that populations in the fragmented habitats were also at risk from another threat - invasive species.
The findings have been published in the journal Science.
Ecovative Design, known for its high performance packaging made from the growth stage of mushrooms, has introduced the world's first Mushroom Surfboards.
Technically speaking, Ecovative’s Mushroom Surfboards are not made from the same kind of mushrooms you’d buy at the supermarket.
However, they come close enough. They are made from Ecovative’s Myco Foam, which is named after its foundational material, mycelium. Mycelium is the vegetative growth stage of mushrooms. Ecovative grows its Myco Foam on a medium of husks, seeds and other agricultural waste, rather than on manure or compost.
The advantages of using Bt cotton over non-Bt varieties are huge. Since introducing it over a decade ago, there has been an 80% reduction in the use of chemical pesticides previously required to control bollworms. This not only means safer working operations for growers but is beneficial for the environment as well.
But a recent US-French study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology indicates that harmful crop pests are becoming resistant to the most popular type of genetically-modified, insect-repellent crops.
The researchers reviewed data from 77 studies across eight countries and found five of 13 examined pest species have a degree of in-field resistance to the bacterial insecticide. In 2005, it was just one.
Illegal slash-and-burn ground clearance in Indonesia has blanketed neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia in choking smoke for days.
Indonesia's president has issued an apology.
"For what has happened, as president, I apologise and ask for the understanding of our brothers in Singapore and Malaysia."
Indonesian police on Monday arrested two farmers they accused of illegally starting fires.
They're the first detentions linked to the fires lit to clear land for palm oil plantations.
But police say neither of the farmers has ties to companies the government blames for Southeast Asia's worst air pollution crisis in years.
The air pollution has hit record levels considered life-threatening for the sick and the elderly.
Vancouver-based company Nanotech Security Corp. has created a anti-counterfeiting technology inspired by butterfly wings. Another example of biomimicry, GreenBiz reports that researchers imitated the way the Morpho butterfly's wings play with light to produce shimmering shades of blue:
"The phenomenon Nanotech employs is similar to the way some animals, including male peacocks, produce iridescent colors: instead of using proteins and other chemicals to produce a hue, the creature’s feathers or scales play with light, using very tiny holes that reflect different colors or wavelengths. The Morpho does this with complicated scales on its wing that produce shimmering blues and greens."
People in Indonesia, Singapore, and parts of Malaysia are currently suffering from debilitating levels of haze resulting from forest fires. Air quality levels in Singapore have deteriorated to the worst levels ever recorded on the island, while local airports in Indonesia and some schools in Malaysia have had to close. Almost all of the recent fires (June 12-20) have occurred in Sumatra, an island in western Indonesia.
While there’s been heated debate on the location, cause, and nature of the fires, WRI has compiled some initial data that reveals that there are some patterns. Relatively few fires have occurred in protected areas and selective logging concessions. Furthermore, half of the fires are burning on timber and oil palm plantations. Although it is illegal for companies in Indonesia to start forest or land fires, several companies have used fires for land clearing in the past. It will be important to gather more detailed information about the exact location of the fires and their causes, which could have important implications for the companies and government agencies involved.
Take a moment. Scrunch your eyes closed and imagine your ideal city. What do you want your city to look like in 50 years? Are you conjuring up images of tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly street-scapes enlivened with the sounds of kids, birds and restored streams? Are there more bikes than cars, is the air clean, and is food being grown nearby? In our experience, most people we ask imagine a healthy ecosystem as being part of an ideal, vibrant community. The question is--how do we get there?
The UK's recent run of damp summers could be down to a cyclical warming of the Atlantic Ocean.
That was the view of scientists and meteorologists who gathered at the Met Office to discuss the unusual weather patterns of recent years.
They said that this 10 to 20 year pattern of Atlantic warming was shifting the jet stream, leading to washouts in six of the last seven summers.
Walmart, which has endured a year of bad publicity around its US labour relations and working conditions in its overseas supply chain, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to dumping hazardous waste in numerous sites in California.
The retail giant will now pay a fine of $81m to settle misdemeanour charges around the issue, which also covers allegations of misdoings inMissouri. It brings an end to an investigation that has lasted nearly a decade.
Walmart admitted that it had negligently dumped pollutants into sanitation drains across California, and also tossed waste into local trash bins. Some material was also improperly taken to product return centers throughout the US without proper safety documentation.
Take a look around you. If you have been worrying about pandas, elephants, or other endangered species, it is time to start looking closer to home...because things could look quite different within your lifetime.
Just days after the Mauna Loa observatory recorded the first exceedance of 400 ppm carbon dioxide in earth's atmosphere, a report in the journal Nature Climate Change describes what we can expect if climate change continues unmitigated.
Dr. Rachel Warren, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, led a study that assessed 50,000 common species around the globe. The study's models showed more than half (57%±6%) of flora and one third (34%±7%) of fauna "are likely to lose ≥50% of their present climatic range by the 2080s."
Brazil's government insists that a severe drought will not lead to power rationing but analysts say the country's energy system is stretched to near capacity, reports BBC Brasil's Luis Barrucho.
Twelve years ago Brazilians across much of the country faced a stark choice: cut down on their energy use or be cut off completely.
The strict measures were part of the government's response to a severe drought that had led to a big drop in the production of hydroelectricity, Brazil's main source of energy.
And that stark choice might be looming again today, posing a big political headache for the government of President Dilma Rousseff.
Throughout most of human existence, population growth has been so slow as to be imperceptible within a single generation. Reaching a global population of 1 billion in 1804 required the entire time since modern humans appeared on the scene. To add the second billion, it took until 1927, just over a century. Thirty-three years later, in 1960, world population reached 3 billion. Then the pace sped up, as we added another billion every 13 years or so until we hit 7 billion in late 2011.
One of the consequences of this explosive growth in human numbers is that human demands have outrun the carrying capacity of the economy’s natural support systems—its forests, fisheries, grasslands, aquifers, and soils. Once demand exceeds the sustainable yield of these natural systems, additional demand can only be satisfied by consuming the resource base itself. We call this overcutting, overfishing, overgrazing, overpumping, and overplowing. It is these overages that are undermining our global civilization.