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News articles on climate change
Mongabay.com news articles on climate change in blog format. Updated regularly.
(08/08/2006) Palm trees on Florida's west coast appear to be dying more rapidly than in previous years because of sea level rise tied to global warming. University of Florida scientists who began monitoring a large coastal study area in North Florida in 1992 reported widespread deaths of palms and other trees in low-lying coastal areas in the past. But the latest survey of the waterfront area along the Gulf of Mexico reveals new and unsettling numbers: Of 88 large, mature palms that died at the rural Levy County site between 1992 and 2005, 66 percent, or 58, have died since 2000.
July was second-hottest month in U.S. history
(08/07/2006) July was second-hottest month in U.S. history according to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The average temperature for the 48 contiguous states was 77.2 degrees F and more than 2,300 daily temperature records were broken across the country.
Climate Change Threatens Pacific Ocean Mangroves
(08/07/2006) Action is needed to conserve mangroves in the Pacific amid concern that rising sea levels, linked with climate change, are set to drown large areas of these precious and economically important ecosystems.
Ancient bison teeth provide window on past Great Plains climate
(08/07/2006) A University of Washington researcher has devised a way to use the fossil teeth of ancient bison as a tool to reconstruct historic climate and vegetation changes in America's breadbasket, the Great Plains.
Cellulosic ethanol fuels environmental concerns
(08/06/2006) In recent months, high fuel prices and national security concerns have sparked interest in biofuels. Cellulosic ethanol, which can be derived from virtually any plant matter including farm waste, looks particularly promising. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that cellulosic conversion technology could reduce the cost of producing ethanol by as much as 60 cents per gallon by 2015. Green groups see cellulosic ethanol as a carbon neutral energy source that could be used to fight the build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide responsible for global warming.
Shell chairman calls for clean coal technologies to fight global warming
(08/04/2006) In a talk given last week at the prestigious Royal Society in Britain, the outgoing chairman of Shell Oil said that cleaner-burning coal technologies are urgently needed to minimize greenhouse gas emissions from the ongoing use of fossil fuels in the coming decades.
Exxon's PR firm using cheap-looking YouTube video to bash Gore
(08/03/2006) A Washington, D.C., public relations and lobbying firm whose clients include oil company Exxon Mobil may be responsible for a cartoon video that makes fun of Al Gore according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.
World's largest cities sign climate pact
(08/02/2006) While the Bush administration refuses to take legistlative steps to fight climate change, 22 of the world's largest cities joined forces Tuesday in a global warming pact aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Launched by former President Bill Clinton's foundation, the initiative will provide technical assistance to help cities become more energy efficient and allow them to pool their resources to reduce the cost of energy-saving product purchases.
Global warming link to hurricanes challenged
(07/31/2006) Last week a leading meteorologist challenged a proposed link between global warming and hurricane intensity, based on inaccuracies in the historical data used in the studies.
Global Warming to Have Significant Impact on California
(07/31/2006) A new report from the state of California warns that climate change could have a significant impact on the state's economy and the health of its residents. The release of the report comes on the day that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a climate pact agreeing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Primate evolution linked to global warming says new study
(07/31/2006) New research suggests the ancient climate change fueled early primate evolution.
Arguing climate change to an energy executive
(07/25/2006) Earlier this month I had the opportunity to make a pitch to "Mike," a top executive of a major energy company, about climate change and green energy. Mike said he didn't believe humans are influencing climate or that green energy is a key factor in the future business of his firm, "EnergyCo." I tried to persuade him otherwise, not by focusing on the science of climate change but on economics and market opportunities. It's not that science isn't important--I just didn't want to get caught up in an argument about core beliefs, which is akin to arguing over religion.
Global Warming Threatens Australia's Tropical Biodiversity
(07/25/2006) Global climate change will pose serious challenges for wildlife populations around the world in the coming decades. The findings of Dr. Stephen Williams (Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, James Cook University) suggest that endemic wildlife populations in Australia's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area will be particularly vulnerable to the local warming trend.
Sun, not carbon dioxide, primary driver of ice ages says new theory
(07/24/2006) A new theory says that carbon dioxide is only a secondary driver of ice ages. In a paper published online in the journal Climate of the Past, William Ruddiman, an environmental scientist with the University of Virginia, argues that "carbon dioxide is a driver of ice sheets only at the relatively small 23,000-year cycle, but not at the much larger ice-volume cycles at 41,000 years and approximately 100,000 years" according to a news release from the university.
Pine plantations may be contributing to global warming
(07/24/2006) The increasing number of pine plantations in the southern United States could contribute to a rise in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, a new study reports. This is important because carbon dioxide is a key greenhouse gas, one that is linked to global warming. Landowners in the South are turning stands of hardwood and natural pine trees into pine plantations because pine is a more lucrative source of lumber. But pine plantations don't retain carbon as well as hardwood or natural pine forests, said Brent Sohngen, a study co-author and an associate professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State University.
Bees and flowers disappearing together
(07/23/2006) The diversity of bees and of the flowers they pollinate, has declined significantly in Britain and the Netherlands over the last 25 years according to research led by the University of Leeds and published in Science this Friday (21 July 2006). The paper is the first evidence of a widespread decline in bee diversity.
NASA no longer seeks to 'understand and protect' Earth
(07/22/2006) The New York Times reports that NASA no longer seeks to 'understand and protect' Earth according to its mission statement. The Times found that the American space agency modified its mission statement in early February 2006, deleting the phrase 'to understand and protect our home planet'.
Bicycle riders worse for the environment than car drivers?
(07/22/2006) A new paper argues that bicycling may be more damaging to the environment than driving a car, but not for the reason you might think. Karl T. Ulrich, a professor at the Wharton School of the Business at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that there are environmental costs associated with increased longevity of those who engage in physical activity. Ulrich reasons that because cyclers live longer they will produce more carbon emissions over the course of their extended life.
Texas utility racing to build polluting coal-fired power plants
(07/21/2006) The Wall Street Journal today reported that TXU, a Dallas-based utility, is building 11 power plants that use pulverized coal. The paper notes that pulverized coal 'releases substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, the most worrisome of several heat-trapping gases widely blamed for global warming.' The 11 new plants would more than double the company's carbon-dioxide emissions, from 55 million tons in 2004 to more 133 million tons in 2011.
Economists ignoring threat of climate change says Royal Society
(07/20/2006) Economists need to play "a bigger and more constructive role in dealing with the threat of climate change" said Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, the academy of sciences of the United Kingdom.
Ocean floor gas may fuel global warming
(07/19/2006) Gas escaping from the ocean floor may provide some answers to understanding historical global warming cycles and provide information on current climate changes, according to a team of scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The findings are reported in the July 20 on-line version of the scientific journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles.
Map projects regional population growth for 2025
(07/18/2006) The number of people living within 60 miles (100 km) of a coastline is "expected to increase by 35 percent over 1995 population levels, exposing 2.75 billion people worldwide to the effects of sea level rise and other coastal threats posed by global warming," according to a new map showing projected population change for the year 2025. The map, developed by researchers at the Center for Climate Systems Research, a part of The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, shows "that the greatest increases in population density through 2025 are likely to occur in areas of developing countries that are already quite densely populated," according to a release from The Earth Institute.
Greenlanders looking forward to global warming
(07/18/2006) Some people in Greenland are looking forward to climate change according to an article in today's issue of The Wall Steet Journal. In 'For Icy Greenland, Global Warming Has a Bright Side', journalist Lauren Etter finds examples of global warming-induced changes that could benefit Greenlanders. She notes that the 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit rise in temperatures over the past 30 years has extended the growing season by two weeks while melting glaciers have exposed land for grazing and warmer seas enable fishermen to catch warm-water cod.
American cars heavier, less fuel efficient in 2006 than 1986 finds EPA
(07/18/2006) $3 gasoline no impact on American car sales finds EPA but agency takes a noteworthy stance on both climate change and energy security. Despite record nominal gas prices, American consumers continue to cars that are less fuel efficient than 20 years ago according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
War of words over new climate change report, 'hockey stick' model
(07/16/2006) Paleoclimatologist Michael Mann criticized a report challenging the familiar 'hockey stick' temperature record of the past thousand years. The report, commissioned by Texas Representative Joe Barton, chairman of the House Energy Committee, and championed in an op-ed piece appearing in last Friday's issue of The Wall Street Journal said that there is no evidence that the 1990s were the warmest decade in a millennium or that 1998 was the warmest year in the last 1,000.
Formation of clouds linked to air pollution
(07/13/2006) NASA scientists have determined that the formation of clouds is affected by the lightness or darkness of air pollution particles. This also impacts Earth's climate. In a breakthrough study published today in the online edition of Science, scientists explain why aerosols -- tiny particles suspended in air pollution and smoke -- sometimes stop clouds from forming and in other cases increase cloud cover. Clouds not only deliver water around the globe, they also help regulate how much of the sun's warmth the planet holds. The capacity of air pollution to absorb energy from the sun is the key.
Alps could lose 80% of glacier cover by 2100
(07/10/2006) The European Alps could lose 80 percent of their glacier cover by the year 2100, if summer air temperatures increase by three degrees Celsius according to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The research, based on modeling experiments by Swiss scientists, found that should in summer temperature rise more than three degree Celsius, only the largest glaciers and those on the highest mountain peaks could survive into next century.
Some corals can adapt to ocean acidification
(07/06/2006) While scientists warn that increasing ocean acidity will doom marine animals that build skeletons and structural elements out of calcium carbonate, new research has found that corals can change their skeletons, building them out of different minerals depending on the chemical composition of the seawater around them. However, the research provides further evidence that corals are extremely sensitive to rapid environmental change and will be negatively affected by increased carbon dioxide levels in the short-term.
Frog extinction crisis requires unprecedented conservation response
(07/06/2006) The world's leading amphibian experts are calling for dramatic steps, including the formation of an Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), to prevent the massive extinction of amphibians worldwide. Scientists say amphibians -- cold-blooded animals that include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians -- are under grave threat due to climate change, pollution, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease, which has been linked to global warming. According to the Global Amphibian Assessment, a comprehensive status assessment of the world's amphibian species, one-third of the world's 5,918 known amphibian species are classified as threatened with extinction. Further, at least 9, and perhaps 122, have gone extinct since 1980.
Climate change fuels more forest fires in the United States
(07/06/2006) New research says the frequency of large forest fires has increased in the western United States since the mid-1980s as spring temperatures climbed, mountain snows melted earlier and summers got hotter. The new findings, published in the July 6 issue of Science Express, suggest that climate change, not fire suppression policies and forest accumulation, is the primary driver of recent increases in large forest fires.
Increasingly acidic oceans damaging to marine life
(07/05/2006) Carbon dioxide emissions are altering ocean chemistry and putting sea life at risk according to a new report released today. The report, "Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Coral Reefs and Other Marine Calcifiers," summarizes known effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on marine organisms that produce calcium carbonate skeletal structures, such as corals. Oceans worldwide absorbed approximately 118 billion metric tons of carbon between 1800 and 1994 according to the report, resulting in increased ocean acidity, which reduces the availability of carbonate ions needed for the production of calcium carbonate structures.
1250 bird species may be extinct by 2100
(07/04/2006) Two new studies paint a mixed future for the world's bird populations, one suggesting that 12 percent of existing species could be extinct by 2100 and the other finding shifts in migration patterns among birds that migrate long distances. Researchers at Stanford University, Duke University and the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis examined the extinction record for birds and found that scientists have likely underestimated the number of extinctions.
Sea creatures may have role in global warming
(07/04/2006) Small sea creatures known as salps may have a role in global warming by locking up carbon in surface seas and sending it to the depths of the ocean. By prevening carbon from re-entering the atmosphere, these animals may have a small role in countering climate change resulting from increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Great flood disrupted ocean currents, cooled climate, finds new research
(06/29/2006) Ocean circulation changes caused at the end of the past glacial period were more extensive than previously thought, according to new research scientists at the University of East Anglia and Cardiff University. The findings, published in the June 30 issue of the journal Science, indicate that the catastrophic freshwater release from glacial lakes in North America slowed ocean circulation and cooled the climate some 8200 years ago.
Future crop yields lower than expected under higher carbon dioxide levels
(06/29/2006) Open-air field trials involving five major food crops grown under carbon-dioxide levels projected for the future are yielding signifcantly less than those raised in earlier enclosed test conditions. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign warn that global food supplies could be at risk without changes in production strategies.
Japan, China may be less affected by climate change
(06/28/2006) Temperature change in East Asian countries may be less significant than in countries bordering the North Atlantic, such as America and Great Britain, according to new research led by scientists at Newcastle University. Researchers examined pollen samples take from a Japanese lake sediment core and found moderate changes in temperature and precipitation during the period from 16,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago, a time that experienced climate change similar to what we expect in the near future.
Some earthquakes may be linked to climate change
(06/28/2006) Scientists say melting glaciers could induce tectonic activity. The reason? As ice melts and waters runs off, tremendous amounts of weight are lifted off of Earth's crust. As the newly freed crust settles back to its original, pre-glacier shape, it can cause seismic plates to slip and stimulate volcanic activity according to research into prehistoric earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Last 50 years 'unusually warm', tropical glaciers melting rapidly finds research
(06/27/2006) Researchers studying ancient tropical ice cores have found evidence of two abrupt climate shifts -- one 5000 years ago and one currently underway. The findings, published in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, may have important implications for immediate future since more than two-thirds of the world's population resides in the tropics.
Global Warming Fueled Record 2005 Hurricane Season Conclude Scientists
(06/22/2006) Global warming accounted for around half of the extra hurricane-fueling warmth in the waters of the tropical North Atlantic in 2005, while natural cycles were only a minor factor, according to a new analysis by Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The study will appear in the June 27 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union
Earth at Warmest in 400 Years
(06/22/2006) There is sufficient evidence from tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other proxies of past surface temperatures to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council. Less confidence can be placed in proxy-based reconstructions of surface temperatures for A.D. 900 to 1600, said the committee that wrote the report, although the available proxy evidence does indicate that many locations were warmer during the past 25 years than during any other 25-year period since 900. Very little confidence can be placed in statements about average global surface temperatures prior to A.D. 900 because the proxy data for that time frame are sparse, the committee added.
Madagascar's reefs escape damage from global warming
(06/22/2006) A survey of coral along Madagascar's northeast coast suggests that they island's reef may have so far escaped the damaging effects of warmer ocean temperatures attributed to global climate change. Researchers from conservation International (CI), a leading conservation group, found that the region's coral reefs have avoided the bleaching that has affected other Indian Ocean reefs. The scientists believe that cool water currents from adjacent deep ocean areas have helped offset the warming effects of climate change.
United States economy becomes more carbon efficient
(06/21/2006) The state of Nevada had the largest increase in carbon emissions between 1990 and 2001 according to mongabay.com's analysis of figures released by the Energy Information Administration. Carbon dioxide emissions climbed 47 percent during the period, while the state's economy grew by 85 percent and its population increased by 73 percent. The figures show that Nevada, like the rest of the United States, is becoming getting more out of its carbon dioxide emissions than it did in 1990. Overall the United States was about 20 percent more carbon dioxide efficient in 2001 than in 1990, with each metric ton of carbon dioxide generating from $1,614 to 1,724 worth of gross domestic product.
Warming could cause rain forests to release more carbon dioxide
(06/20/2006) Extra amounts of key nutrients in tropical rain forest soils cause them to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to research conducted by scientists at the University of Colorado (CU) - Boulder. Results of the research, conducted by Cory Cleveland and CU scientist Alan Townsend, are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Growth of cities can affect local weather
(06/19/2006) In the past half-century, cities have begun to expand in some of the Earth's most arid areas. While scientists have known for some time that the so-called "heat-island" effect of large cities such as Atlanta and Houston can affect their weather, they knew less about this effect and other processes in arid cities, such as Phoenix, which have experienced explosive population growth.
The tropics may be expanding due to climate change
(05/26/2006) A new study published in Science by scientists from the University of Utah and the University of Washington indicates that the tropics have expanded farther from the equator since 1979.Analyzing atmospheric temperature measurements by satellites, the researchers say that widening of the tropics amounts to 2 degrees of latitude or 140 miles but are not sure whether the expansion is the result of natural climate variation or by human-induced global warming due to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The researchers warm that the trend could expand some of the world's driest regions. "It's a big deal. The tropics may be expanding and getting larger," says study co-author Thomas Reichler, an assistant professor of meteorology at the University of Utah. "If this is true, it also would mean that subtropical deserts are expanding into heavily populated midlatitude regions."
Extreme global warming likely by end of century
(05/24/2006) Climate models predicting a 5.6 degrees Celsius increase in Earth's temperature by the end of the century may have underestimated the increase by as much as 2.3C according to researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.
2006: Expect another big hurricane year says NOAA
(05/22/2006) The 2006 hurricane season in the north Atlantic region is likely to again be very active, although less so than 2005 when a record-setting 15 hurricanes occured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On average, NOAA says the north Atlantic hurricane season produces 11 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including two major hurricanes. In 2005, the Atlantic hurricane season contained a record 28 storms, including 15 hurricanes. Seven of these hurricanes were considered major, of which a record four hit the United States. The warning from NOAA comes after a slew of studies have indicated that climate change could increase the frequency and intensity of powerful storms. Last year, two earlier studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Global warming may be worse than predicted
(05/22/2006) Climate change estimates for the next century may have substantially underestimated the potential magnitude of global warming says a new study from a team of European scientists. The paper, published in the May 26 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, says that warming may be 15-to-78 percent higher than estimates that do not consider the feedback mechanism involving carbon dioxide and Earth's temperature.
Bush Administration misleads public on deforestation effort
(05/21/2006) The Bush Administration is misleading the American public and the United Nations about its efforts to address tropical deforestation according to analysis by the Tropical Forest Group, an environmental advocacy group based in Santa Barbara, California. The Tropical Forest Group alleges that the US Tropical Forest conservation Act (TFCA), a key initiative to reduce carbon emissions and tropical deforestation, has been neglected for a year and a half despite recent claims by the Bush Administration that it was actively supporting the program.
Scientists endorse plan to save rainforests through emissions trading
(05/19/2006) The Association for Tropical Biology and conservation (ATBC), the world's largest scientific organization devoted to the study and wise use of tropical ecosystems, has formally endorsed a radical proposal to help save tropical forests through carbon trading. Under the initiative proposed by an alliance of fifteen developing countries led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, tropical nations that show permanent reductions in deforestation would be eligible to receive international carbon funds from industrial nations who could purchase carbon credits to help them meet their emissions targets international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol.
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