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News articles on climate change
Mongabay.com news articles on climate change in blog format. Updated regularly.
(05/10/2007) Scientists have lent support to a plan by developing countries to fight global warming by reducing deforestation rates. Tropical deforestation releases more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, though in some years, like the 1997-1998 el Nino year when fires released some 2 billion tons of carbon from peat swamps alone in Indonesia, emissions are more than twice that. Writing in the journal Science, an international team of scientists argue that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED) initiative, launched in 2005 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scientifically and technologically sound, and that political and economic challenges facing the plan can be overcome.
Global carbon cycle is key to understanding climate change
(05/09/2007) Despite its importance to mankind, the global carbon cycle is poorly understood. With concerns over climate change mounting, it becomes all the more imperative to understand how carbon is absorbed by the Earth's oceans, vegetation, and atmosphere.
NASA: U.S. may face extreme summer temperatures
(05/09/2007) A new NASA study warns that the eastern United States could experience extreme warming by 2080, with average summer temperatures rising 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Amazon rainforest locks up 11 years of CO2 emissions
(05/08/2007) The amount and distribution of above ground biomass (or the amount of carbon contained in vegetation) in the Amazon basin is largely unknown, making it difficult to estimate how much carbon dioxide is produced through deforestation and how much is sequestered through forest regrowth. To address this uncertainty, a team of scientists from Caltech, the Woods Hole Institute, and INPE (Brazil's space agency), have developed a new method to determine forest biomass using remote sensing and field plot measurements. The researchers say the work will help them better understand the role of Amazon rainforest in global climate change.
North Atlantic circulation may be more sensitive to Greenland melting than thought
(05/08/2007) According to two international-research studies on the last ice age, studies with the participation of Dr Rainer Zahn, research professor in the ICREA at the UAB Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), before the great ice sheets of the Arctic Ocean began to melt, early sporadic episodes of melting of the old ice sheet which covered the British Isles had already begun to affect the circulation of the ocean currents, which played a key role in the climatic stability of the planet. Based on this observation, scientists consider that the acceleration of the melting of the Greenland ice cap could play an important role in the future stability of ocean circulation and, hence, in the development of climate change.
Global warming will hurt migratory birds
(05/07/2007) 84 percent of migratory birds have the potential to be affected by climate change warned the United Nations Monday. Lowered water tables, changes in food supplies and prey range, rising sea levels, and increased storm frequency are the greatest threats to birds, said officials with the African Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), two United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-led Treaties for the conservation of wildlife.
Global warming is killing coral reefs
(05/07/2007) A new study provides further evidence that climate change is adversely affecting coral reefs. While previous studies have linked higher ocean temperatures to coral bleaching events, the new research, published in PLoS Biology, found that climate change may increasing the incidence of disease in Great Barrier Reef corals. Omniously, the research also shows that healthy reefs, with the highest density of corals, are hit the hardest by disease.
Tropical plants may be more adaptable to climate change
(05/07/2007) Tropical plants may be more adaptable to environmental change by extracting nitrogen from a variety of sources, reports a study published in the May 7 early online edition of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Mitigation
(05/04/2007) The following is an html version of the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Working Group III.
Cost of stabilizing climate 0.1% per year
(05/04/2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its long awaiting installment on climate change mitigation, arguing that the costs of offsetting global warming will be much lower than some claim. The IPCC estimates that emissions can be reduced rapidly using existing technology at a cost of 3 percent of GDP, or 0.12 percent per year over the next 25 years, though new technologies could further reduce this cost. While the projections are encouraging, they may be conservative. Some analysts, including the well-respected Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, have calculated that emissions targets that would stabilize the climate could be achieved at no net cost and possibly even a profit. Even McKinsey & Company, a leading management consulting firm, agrees, putting the net cost of reducing emissions by 46 percent at zero.
Climate change could dramatically change forests in Central America
(05/02/2007) Drought could cause dramatic shifts in rainforest plant communities in Central America, reports a new study published in the May 3 issue of Nature. The research shows that many rainforest plants are ill-equipped to deal with extended dry periods, putting them at elevated risk from changes in climate projected for the region.
Climate change leaving amphibians behind in extinction race
(04/30/2007) Despite surviving the age of dinosaurs and numerous bouts of severe climate change, amphibians are not keeping pace with the current rate of global change, reports a new study published in the journal Bioscience.
U.S. and China fight plan to slow global warming
(04/30/2007) Claiming that costs of fighting global warming will be higher than consensus estimates, China and the United States are fighting plans to slow climate change, according to the Associated Press (AP). The countries also say the impacts of climate change will not be as severe as projected and want to raise the emissions cap of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 430 parts per million (ppm) proposed by the European Union to 445 ppm. Current CO2 levels stand around 381 ppm.
Climate change may decimate Indonesia's food supplies, worsen fires
(04/30/2007) Climate change could worsen food shortages in Indonesia by delaying the onset of monsoon rains reports a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The findings suggest that the country could face increasing risk of drought and forest fire if nothing is done to control rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Arctic sea ice melting faster than previously thought
(04/30/2007) Arctic sea ice is melting far faster than previously believed reports a new study published in the May 1 issue of Geophysical Research Letters. A comparison of newly available observational data to advanced simulations reveals that Arctic sea ice has been disappearing about three times faster than the average rate of loss projected by computer models. The new research, conducted by Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and his colleagues, shows that September sea ice extent retreated at a rate of about 7.8 percent per decade during the 1953-2006 period, not the 2.5 percent projected by simulations. The basis for the new data--a combination of satellite measurements and early aircraft and ship reports--is considered more reliable than the earlier records.
Venus, Mars reveal climate change examples
(04/26/2007) Earth sits between two worlds that have been devastated by climate catastrophes. In the effort to combat global warming, our neighbours can provide valuable insights into the way climate catastrophes affect planets.
Volcanoes linked to massive global warming event
(04/26/2007) Scientists have linked a sharp spike in ocean temperatures 55 million years ago to massive volcanic eruptions that created the North Atlantic Ocean when Greenland and northwestern Europe separated.
To fight warming, Canada will ban incandescent light bulbs by 2012
(04/25/2007) In an effort to fight greenhouse gas emissions, Canada plans to ban use of incandescent light bulbs by 2012, said Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn. Canada follows Australia as the second country to announce a ban on the inefficient bulbs. California legislators have proposed a similar ban for 2012.
Mosquitoes are evolving in response to global warming
(04/23/2007) University of Oregon researchers studying mosquitoes have produced the first chromosomal map that shows regions of chromosomes that activate -- and are apparently evolving -- in animals in response to climate change
Biodiesel may worsen global warming relative to petroleum diesel
(04/23/2007) Biodiesel made from rapeseed could increase rather than reduce greenhouse emissions compared to conventional diesel fuels, reports a new study published in the journal Chemistry & Industry. Overall the researchers found that petroleum diesel and rapeseed biodiesel, presently the main biofuel used across Europe, have a similar environmental impact. The results suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change through the adoption of rapeseed biodiesel may be of little use beyond energy security.
Higher temperatures slow tropical tree growth
(04/23/2007) Climate change may be reducing growth rates of tropical rainforest trees, a development that could have widespread impacts for biodiversity, forest productivity, and even climate change itself, according to new research published in Ecology Letters.
Deep sea fish growing slower due to global warming
(04/23/2007) Changes in ocean temperature have altered the growth rates of commercially harvested fish over the past century, according to a new study published in this week's early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Global warming, not mass suicide, threatens lemmings
(04/20/2007) Lemmings, the rodents inaccurately believed to commit mass suicide by jumping off cliffs, are at real risk from climate change reports the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS). The Bronx Zoo-based group has just announced plans to study the impact of global warming on these creatures of the far North.
Frogs avoid damaging UV-B radiation, reducing extinction risk
(04/18/2007) Poison arrow frogs appear to make special effort to avoid exposure to damaging ultraviolet-B radiation, according to research published in the journal Biotropica. The findings are significant in light of increasing levels of UV-B radiation due to ozone depletion.
Wind shear could reduce future hurricane activity
(04/17/2007) The debate over the impact of global warming on hurricane intensity rages on with a new study published April 18 in Geophysical Research Letters. The research, conducted by Gabriel A. Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Brian J. Soden of the University of Miami, suggests that an increase in vertical wind shear in the tropical Atlantic and East Pacific Oceans could inhibit the formation and intensification of hurricanes. The authors note that increased vertical wind shear has historically been associated with reduced hurricane activity and intensity.
Bush administration praises record level of global warming emissions
(04/17/2007) The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the 0.8 percent growth in greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 showed the Bush Administration was serious about addressing climate change.
Bad news for frogs; amphibian decline worse than feared
(04/16/2007) Chilling new evidence suggests amphibians may be in worse shape than previously thought due to climate change. Further, the findings indicate that the 70 percent decline in amphibians over the past 35 years may have been exceeded by a sharp fall in reptile populations, even in otherwise pristine Costa Rican habitats. Ominously, the new research warns that protected areas strategies for biodiversity conservation will not be enough to stave off extinction. Frogs and their relatives are in big trouble.
Icy places first feel the effects of global warming
(04/16/2007) Inuit hunters are falling through thinning ice and dying. Dolphins are being spotted for the first time. There's not enough snow to build igloos for shelter during hunts.
Climate change will worsen drought, hunger in Africa
(04/10/2007) Africa will suffer the brunt of climate change reports the latest installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC says that the projected increases in greenhouse gas emissions will put up to 1.8 billion more Africans at risk of water stress this century. Modest rises in temperature will reduce water availability in parts of the continent.
Could global deforestation fight climate change?
(04/09/2007) While many climate change mitigation schemes rely on reforestation schemes to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, those located in temperate regions may actually be warming the planet, worsening global change, reports a new study published in the April 9-13 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Surprisingly, the research suggests that global-scale deforestation would produce a net cooling effect, but that forest preservation efforts and reforestation in the tropics is more effective in cooling the planet.
Indonesia and Australia sign deforestation pact
(04/09/2007) Indonesia and Australia have agreed to reduce deforestation in southeast Asia according to Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Water Resources. Turnbull was in Jakarta meeting with the Indonesian Minister for Forestry, M. S. Kaban, and the Minister for the Environment, Rachmat Witoelar.
Climate report warns of drought, rising sea levels, species extinction
(04/05/2007) Global warming is likely to have wide-ranging impacts on the world's ecosystems, water availablity, and sea levels warned the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest installment. It said that mitigation and adaption strategies are the best way to reduce and prepare for the coming changes.
Climate change could turn Southwest into 'Dustbowl'
(04/05/2007) Global warming threatens to create a dustbowl in the American Southwest according to a new study published in the journal Science.
Arctic sea ice extent second lowest on record
(04/04/2007) Winter sea ice in the Arctic was the second smallest area on record, narrowly missing the 2006 mark, according to scientists from the University of Colorado's National Sea and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
Can penguins be used as bio-indicators of climate change?
(04/04/2007) Scientists at the University of Birmingham are working to determine whether the king penguin can be used as a bio-indicator for global warming.
Palm oil doesn't have to be bad for the environment
(04/04/2007) As traditionally practiced in southeast Asia, oil palm cultivation is responsible for widespread deforestation that reduces biodiversity, degrades important ecological services, worsens climate change, and traps workers in inequitable conditions sometimes analogous to slavery. This doesn't have to be the case. Following examples set forth by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and firms like Golden Hope Plantations Berhad, a Malaysian palm oil producer, oil palm can be cultivated in a manner that helps mitigate climate change, preserves biodiversity, and brings economic opportunities to desperately poor rural populations.
Eco-friendly palm oil could help alleviate poverty in Indonesia
(04/03/2007) The Associated Press (AP) recently quoted Marcel Silvius, a climate expert at Wetlands International in the Netherlands, as saying palm oil is a failure as a biofuel. This would be a misleading statement and one that doesn't help efforts to devise a workable solution to the multiplicity of issues surrounding the use of palm oil.
Protected areas must be adapted to survive global warming
(04/03/2007) Protected areas can play an important role in reducing biodiversity loss due to global warming, reports a new study published March 30 in the journal Frontiers in Environment and Ecology (FREE). The research says that conservation efforts must factor in shifts in species' ranges to be successful.
2007 hurricane season will be 'very active' but not due to global warming
(04/03/2007) Developing La Nina conditions, not global warming, should make the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season 'very active' according to a top U.S. hurricane forecaster. William Gray of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University said he expects 17 named storms this year, including 9 hurricanes. He says there is a 74 percent chance that a category 3, 4, or 5 hurricane will hit the U.S. coastline (the historic average for the past century is 52 percent) and a 49 percent chance that such a storm would hit the Gulf Coast of the United States (versus an average of 30 percent for the past century).
Supreme Court rebukes Bush Administration on global warming rule
(04/02/2007) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Bush Administration in a landmark case with global warming implications. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that (1) state governments and environmental groups have the right to sue the EPA, and (2) the EPA has the right to regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. On a third point, where the EPA can choose not to regulate CO2 emissions, the Supreme Court directed the agency to "reconsider its refusal based on the factors set forth in the law."
Global warming could hurt salmon fisheries in Pacific Northwest
(04/02/2007) Global warming could cause Chinook salmon populations in Washington state to decline 20-40 percent by 2050 according to a new study published in the online early edition of PNAS. The researchers urge policymakers to focus on restoration of lower elevation habitats in order to reduce the expected impact of climate change on salmon populations.
Some corals may survive acidification caused by rising CO2 levels
(03/29/2007) Several studies have shown that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are acidifying the world's oceans. This is significant for coral reefs because acidification strips carbonate ions from seawater, making it more difficult for corals to build the calcium carbonate skeletons that serve as their structural basis. Research has shown that many species of coral, as well as other marine microorganisms, fare quite poorly under the increasingly acidic conditions forecast by some models. However, the news may not be bad for all types of corals. A study published in the March 30 issue of the journal Science, suggests that some corals may weather acidification better than others.
Non-CO2 gases also cause global warming
(03/29/2007) While most of the focus in developing a policy to fight global warming has been on carbon dioxide, other gases also contribute to climate change. The effect of these gases is still poorly understood and should be the subject of further research say two climate scientists writing in the March 30 issue of the journal Science.
U.S. can cut oil imports to zero by 2040, use to zero by 2050
(03/29/2007) The United States could dramatically cut oil usage over the next 20-30 years at low to no net cost, said Amory B. Lovins, cofounder and CEO of the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, speaking at Stanford University Wednesday night for a week-long evening series of lectures sponsored by Mineral Acquisition Partners, Inc.
CO2 levels tightly linked with climate change over past 420 million years
(03/28/2007) New research shows that sensitivity of Earth's climate to changes in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) have been relatively consistence for at least 420 million years, suggesting that presently rising levels of carbon dioxide resulting from fossil fuel use will indeed produce higher temperatures in the future.
Hundreds of millions at risk from rising sea levels
(03/27/2007) Hundreds of millions are at risk from cyclones and rising seas resulting from climate change reports a new study by researchers from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in the UK, the City University of New York, and Columbia University.
Extinction, like climate change, is complicated
(03/26/2007) Extinction is a hotly debated, but poorly understood topic in science. The same goes for climate change. When scientists try to forecast the impact of global change on future biodiversity levels, the results are contentious, to say the least. While some argue that species have managed to survive worse climate change in the past and that current threats to biodiversity are overstated, many biologists say the impacts of climate change and resulting shifts in rainfall, temperature, sea levels, ecosystem composition, and food availability will have significant effects on global species richness.
Climate change will cause biomes to shift and disappear
(03/26/2007) Many of the world's local climates could be radically changed if global warming trends continue, reports a new study published in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors warn that current climates may shift and disappear, increasing the risk of biodiversity extinction and other ecological changes.
Congo rainforest was dry savanna 25,000 years ago
(03/25/2007) Scientists from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and University of Bremen in Germany have created the first detailed temperature record for tropical central Africa over the past 25,000 years. Their results confirm the thought that the Congo basin has been considerably drier than it is today.
China may top U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions in 2007
(03/23/2007) China's carbon dioxide emissions may exceed those of the United States in 2007, making the country the world's largest greenhouse gas polluter, according to analysis of Chinese energy data.
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