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Archive for the ‘Climate change’ Category

Climate change the main cause for cold weather in Europe?

Posted by Lindy on February 9, 2012


The exceptionally cold weather characterized by chilling winds and temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius has been striking Europe for more than a week. According to a scientist Alfred Wegener from the Institute for Polar and Marine Research the main cause for this exceptionally cold weather is climate change, or to be more precise the huge loss of Arctic ice.

The effect is twofold, the Wegener scientists report.

First, less ice means less solar heat is reflected back into the atmosphere. Rather, it is absorbed into the darker ocean waters. Second, once that heat is in the ocean, the reduced ice cap allows the heat to more easily escape into the air just above the ocean’s surface.

Because warmer air tends to rise, the moisture-laden air near the ocean’s surface rises, creating instability in the atmosphere and changing air-pressure patterns, the scientists say.

One pattern, called the Arctic Oscillation, normally pushes warm Atlantic air over Europe and keeps Arctic air over the poles.

But in mid-January this year, the Arctic Oscillation abruptly changed, allowing the jet stream to plunge into Siberia and push cold and snowy weather over much of Europe.

Similar situations have emerged the past two years.

http://www.wcyb.com/weather/30391119/detail.html

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Posted in Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming, Hazards | Leave a Comment »

What Can Be Done to Slow Climate Change?

Posted by Lindy on January 15, 2012


For the full article go to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112193442.htm

This is a very interesting article, but if you are tempted to include in your GSCE exam, make sure you mention Shindell (of NASA) as it is so new, that many exam markers will not have come across it, and may think you have got confused.

The main idea behind what they are saying is that while CO2 has the main long term impact on climate change, it we want to have some effective short term impacts ( i.e. within 40 years) these are the best ways to go, as they don’t just reduce climate change but reduce the impacts on health and agriculture as well.

The 2 key elements are methane and black carbon.

Black carbon are specs that come from burning fossil fuels and wood, and are implicated in respiratory illness and climate change. If these specs are inhaled (e.g. by burning wood for cooking as happens in large parts of the LICs) then many get sick and/or die from it – in particular women and young children. Also black carbon absorb radiation form the sun and so raise the air temperature, darken the ice caps so increasing the heat they absorb and contribute to melting and also to changes in rainfall patterns.

Methane as we know is 20-30 times worse than CO2.

What are the specific actions Shindell thinks we should take?

For black carbon, reduce the emissions from cars by filtering, and even removing the worst offenders from the road, upgrading the cookers using wood, especially in LICs, and banning agricultural stubble burning.

For methane, change methods of production of rice so the paddies do not omit methane, capturing methane from landfill sites,making sure methane do not escape from oil and gas wells and managing animal/human manure more effectively.

Who will benefit?

Russia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan who have a lot of ice will be the prime winners.   Iran, Pakistan and Jordan would experience the most improvement in agricultural production. Southern Asia and the Sahel region of Africa would see the most beneficial changes to precipitation patterns.  The south Asian countries of India, Bangladesh and Nepal would see the biggest reductions in premature deaths as a result of chest infections.

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, Energy sources, Fragile environments, Global warming, management, Solution to problems, Weather | Leave a Comment »

World pays Ecuador not to extract oil from rainforest

Posted by Lindy on January 3, 2012


Friday 30 December 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/30/ecuador-paid-rainforest-oil-alliance

Governments and film stars join alliance that raises £75m to compensate Ecuador for lost revenue from 900m barrels. Supporters of the Yasuní ‘crowdfunding’ initiative say it could change the way important places are protected.

An alliance of European local authorities, national governments, US film stars, Japanese shops, soft drink companies and Russian foundations have stepped in to prevent oil companies exploiting 900m barrels of crude oil from one of the world’s most biologically rich tracts of land. According to the UN, the “crowdfunding” initiative had last night raised $116m (£75m), enough to temporarily halt the exploitation of the 722 square miles of “core” Amazonian rainforest known as Yasuní national park in Ecuador.

The park, which is home to two tribes of uncontacted Indians, is thought to have more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species than any other spot on earth. Development of the oilfield, which was planned to take place immediately if the money had not been raised, would have inevitably led to ecological devastation and the eventual release of over 400m tonnes of CO2.

Ecuador agreed to halt plans to mine the oilfield if it could raise 50% of the $7.6bn revenue being lost by not mining the oil. While the world’s leading conservation groups pledged nothing, regional governments in France and Belgium offered millions of dollars – with $2m alone from the Belgian region of Wallonia. A New York investment banker donated her annual salary and Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore all contributed.

The idea of asking people to pay for something not to take place was widely dismissed by national treasuries as holding the world to ransom. The German development minister, Dirk Niebel, said that the principle of paying for the oil not to be exploited “would be setting a precedent with unforeseeable referrals”. However, Germany has now contributed $48m in “technical assistance”. The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was widely criticised after he wrote off $51m of Ecuador’s $10bn external debt as Italy’s contribution. Other governments pledging support were Chile, Colombia, Georgia and Turkey ($100,000 each), Peru ($300,000), Australia ($500,000) and Spain ($1.4m).

Supporters of the scheme argued that it could be a model for change in the way the world pays to protect important places. The money raised is guaranteed to be used only for nature protection and renewable energy projects. Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and other countries with oil reserves, have investigated the possibility of setting up similar schemes as an alternative to traditional aid.

The biological richness of Yasuní has astonished scientists. One 6sq km patch of the park was found to have 47 amphibian and reptile species, 550 bird, 200 mammal and more species of bats and insects than anywhere in the western hemisphere. According to Ecuadorean scientists, it would take in the region of 400 years to record Yasuní’s 100,000 or more insect and 2,000 fish species.

Posted in Amazon, Climate change, Energy sources, Fragile environments, International action, Solution to problems, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »

Shock as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas

Posted by Lindy on December 24, 2011


http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/shock-as-retreat-of-arctic-sea-ice-releases-deadly-greenhouse-gas-6276134.html#

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region. The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

Earlier they had found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This was  the first time that they had found continuous, powerful structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. Over a relatively small area they found more than 100. Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

Posted in Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming | Leave a Comment »

How can COP17 Durban be seen as a success?

Posted by Lindy on December 21, 2011


According to Jonathan Shopley at http://sustainablebusinessforum.com/paulraybould/55424/durban-s-indaba-delivers-deal-might-just-work

The full article can be found above. Here is a summary of what Jonathon believes are the main points:

All nations have agreed to a legally binding agreement by 2020 to cut 7 greenhouses gases ( including a new one NF3 – Nitrogen trifluoride –which is 17,000 x as bad as CO2) based on a agreement to finalized by 2015. This includes the USA, China and India , which was a major sticking point until now.

Also solid progress was made on the promised US$100bn/year Green Climate Fund to help with mitigation in developing countries such as Bangladesh and Tuvalu. Also some progress was made towards funding REDD+. In particular, with the move to allow private companies to fund forestry protection projects in developing countries

Some progress was made on the Clean Redevelopment Mechanism, which allow carbon capture, under strict conditions, to qualify. Other issues on CDM were put in the ‘too hard box’ and decisions were put off until COP18 in Doha.

[carbon capture are technological fixes that lock up CO2 underground in a secure way, e.g. removing CO2 from fossil fuel burning power stations in solid form].

Outstanding problems:

1. Action is being put off for 10 years when the scientists say we have not got that long.

2. These actions will miss the 20650 target of 2 deg C and are now aiming to keep temperature rises below 4 deg C for 2100.

3. Mitigation – action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk – has been too high up the list, when in reality we need to be working on adaptation – adjustment to the new or changing environment. This is because by delaying the mitigating activities to 2020, they well be too late to do more than reduce the long term risks – any thought of eliminating change completely is now past.

What has happened to the Kyoto Protocol?

Due to rum for another year, and with the hope before COP17 of it being extended, this opportunity has now been lost, as USA was never in, Canada and Russia are pulling out now, with every chance that New Zealand and Russia will follow suit, leaving just 15% of global emissions covered by it – a damp squib!

Posted in Climate change, International action | Leave a Comment »

Climate change will be good for Britain’s growers says Met Office but not for everyone else

Posted by Lindy on December 5, 2011


From an article by Louise Gray

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8935793/Climate-change-will-be-good-for-Britains-growers-says-Met-Office.html

05 Dec 2011

The report, which brings together for the first time climate change projections for 24 different countries, found that farmers in the UK, Germany and Canada could all benefit from global warming.  In these temperate climates, the increase in temperature will not kill plants but can make it easier to grow crops like wheat. The UK could benefit the most with an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land becoming more suitable for crops by 2100.

However Australia, Spain and South Africa will all see their crop production fall as the plants die in the hotter climate. More than 90 per cent of the land in these countries will become less suitable for agriculture. The report estimated that the production of staple food crops will decrease in parts of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India Russia, Turkey and the USA. A recent Oxfam have warned that food prices are already rising as a result of reduced crop yield around the world due to climate change and warned the problem could drive malnutrition in future.

The report also estimated the likelihood of water shortages and floods in different countries across the world. In the UK the number of households under ‘water stress’ will increase to almost a quarter of the population as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the south. This means that by 2100 18 million people will be at risk of ‘not having enough water to meet their daily needs’.

Water stress will be worse in South and South East, where there is already a problem providing the growing population with enough water. This winter water companies in Anglia, South East Water and Severn Trent have declared themselves in drought and are asking consumers to limit water use. It is expected the South East and Midlands will face a hosepipe ban next summer following the driest 12 months on record in some areas.

At the other end of the scale the risk of costal and river flooding will also increase because of rising sea levels and more heavy bursts of rainfall. The Met Office estimated that there will be a “general increase in flood risk for the UK”, although this will not apply everywhere. The projections ranged from a three and a half times greater risk of flooding to a decrease in flooding by a fifth.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that overall the impact of climate change could be extremely damaging for the UK and the world.

“This report highlights some of the very real dangers we face if we don’t limit emissions to combat the rise in global temperature. Life for millions of people could change forever, with water and food supplies being placed in jeopardy and homes and livelihoods under threat. This makes the challenge of reducing emissions even more urgent,” he said.

The report warned that if the world does not limit temperature rise to 2C by cutting carbon emissions then the majority of countries are projected to see an increase in river and coastal flooding, putting 49 million more people in danger by 2100.

The Lib Dem minister arrived at the United Nations talks in Durban yesterday (Monday) to try and persuade the rest of the world to sign up to ambitious carbon emissions, despite the fact that his own Government is being criticised for rowing back from climate change back home.

Mr Huhne wants the world to agree to work towards a legally binding deal by 2015 that would commit all countries to cutting emissions. But at the moment the US, China and India are refusing to sign up, raising fears that the talks could collapse.

“The UK wants a legally binding global agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2C,” he said. “If this is achieved this study shows that some of the most significant impacts from climate change could be reduced significantly. By the end of the week we need to see progress to move towards this goal.”

Posted in Climate change, Food supply, Water, Weather | Leave a Comment »

Ghana Global Human Development Still Needs Improvement

Posted by Lindy on November 25, 2011


A summary by an article by Helena Selby

23 November 2011

http://allafrica.com/stories/201111240800.html

The development of people or humans in the world is expected to increase as the years goes by, however, due to environmental issues, and how people choose to live their lives, bearing in mind that with every action they take concerning the environment, it has a future consequence on people around them. Human development is all about expanding the livelihood of people, in terms of freedom, to cope with the environment in a positive manner.

If people of the world really want to make the world a better place to live for generations to come, there is the need to understand the link between environmental sustainability and equity. According to the United Nations report on human development for 2011, there have been remarkable progresses in human development over recent decades. The report aims at taking a bold step towards the reduction of environmental risk and inequality in the world.

According to the Administrator of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, as a way of the UN achieving its aim on human development, the report identifies pathways for people, local communities, countries and the international community to promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutual reinforcing ways.

What is Human Development?

The report defines human development as the expansion of people’s freedom and capabilities to lead lives that they value and have reason to value. It is about expanding choices. But promoting human development requires addressing sustainability. Locally, nationally and globally, this should be done in ways that are equitable and empowering. By means of sustaining human development, there was the need to expand the substantive freedom of people today, while making reasonable efforts to avoid seriously compromising those of the future generation.

What is Human Development Index (HDI)

HDI is a combined measure of life expectancy, access to education and the standard of living.

Even though good progress has been made in basic education and health, the standard of livng in many countries is still lagging behind.

Unfortunately, much development has taken along side increasing environmental degradation – globally, nearly 40% of land is degraded due to soil erosion, reduced fertiliser and overgrazing. Land productivity is declining, with estimated yield loss at 50% in most cases. Agriculture accounts for 70-85 percent of water use, and an estimated 20 percent of global grain production uses water unsustainably, imperilling future agriculture growth. Desertification threatens the dry lands that are home to about a third of the world’s people, and some areas like the sub Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable.

Today, around 350 million people, many of them poor, live in or near forests, on which they rely for subsistence and income. Around 45 million people, at least 6million of them women, fish for a living, and are threatened by over fishing and climate change. To the extent that women in poor countries are disproportionately involved in subsistence farming and water collection, they face greater adverse effect of environmental degradation, the report stressed.

Posted in Climate change, Human geography, Sahel | Leave a Comment »

How is this for a one-liner?

Posted by Lindy on November 19, 2011


The new IPCC report on extreme weather disasters and climate change highlights that 95% of deaths from such disasters occur in the developing world, while most of the economic losses occur in the developed world. We lose stuff, they lose their lives.

Posted in Climate change, Weather | Leave a Comment »

A really neat way to look at things

Posted by Lindy on November 19, 2011


Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Development, Energy sources, Global warming, Recycling, Renewable, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »

Mexico To Earn Royalty On Light Bulb Carbon Credits

Posted by Lindy on November 18, 2011


http://planetark.org/wen/63813

08-Nov-11 – from an article by  Sonali Paul

Mexico will earn a royalty on carbon credits generated from energy-saving light bulbs through a world-first deal that could pave the way for other developing countries to fund emissions cuts. Under the project, an Australian company, Cool nrg International will distribute 45 million energy efficient light bulbs to 6.5 million low-income households in Mexico City. The aim is to generate energy savings of 33,000 gigawatt hours, cutting annual emissions by the equivalent of about one-third of car emissions in a city renowned for its smog. In total, the project aims to reduce 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, over 10 years.

Every tonne of CO2 saved will generate a credit, or certified emission reduction (CER), which will be sold to companies in rich nations, which will incur huge fines if they overstep their limits and do not buy in carbon credits to cover any shortfall.

The project is seen as a possible model for other developing countries looking for ways to fund the promotion of energy saving and less-polluting technologies.

While complex to carry out and monitor, the Mexican project could result in significant emissions cuts, help low-income households save money on energy and generate funds for the government too as they receive commission from light bulb company.

A light-bulb project by Cool nrg and its partners in 2009 was the first of its type to be approved under an expanded form of the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism. The CDM allows clean energy project developers to earn CERs from projects in poorer countries.

Posted in Climate change, Energy sources, Global warming, Solution to problems | Leave a Comment »