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News articles on climate change
Mongabay.com news articles on climate change in blog format. Updated regularly.
(12/10/2006) When it is released in 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will report that man's impact on global climate is less than previously believed according to a story published in the Sunday edition of the UK-based Telegraph. The Telegraph says that the report will reduce its estimate of man's role in global warming by 25 percent. However, the IPCC will still project global temperatures to climb by 4.5 C druing the next century and rising sea levels, albiet by half the amount -- 17 inches instead of 34 inches by 2100 -- projected by the IPCC's 2001 report. It will also note that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have continued to climb over the past five years but that the overall human effect on global warming since the industrial revolution has been dampened by cooling caused by particulate matter and aerosol sprays, which accumulate in the upper atmosphere and reflect heat from the sun.
Past global warming suggests massive temperature shift in our future
(12/07/2006) If past climate change is any indication, Earth could be in store for some significant global warming according to research published in the December 8, 2006, issue of the journal Science. The work suggests that climate change skeptics may be fighting a losing cause. The study, led by Mark Pagani, associate professor of geology and geophysics at Yale, looked at an episode of rapid climate change that occurred some 55 million years ago. Known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the period was marked by a rapid rise in greenhouse gases that heated Earth by roughly 9 F (5 C), in less than 10,000 years. The climate warming caused widespread changes including mass extinction in the world's oceans due to acidification and shifts of plant communities due to changes in rainfall. The era helped set the stage for the "Age of Mammals," which included the first appearance of modern primates.
Global warming could reduce ocean productivity
(12/06/2006) Global warming could cause a rapid overall reduction in marine life resulting from diminished ocean productivity, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature. The researchers, led by Michael Behrenfeld of Oregon State University, say that the growth of phytoplankton -- the basis of the ocean food chain -- will likely be reduced by climate change.
Temperatures in European Alps at 1,300-year high
(12/05/2006) Temperatures in the European Alps are at the warmest point in 1,300 years according to the head of a European Union climate study.
Nairobi talks made progress on forest conservation for global warming emissions credits
(12/05/2006) Tropical deforestation is one of the largest sources of human-produced greenhouse gases yet it has no place in existing climate agreements. This has been a point of contention in negotiations as the United States has objected to some developing countries -- notably Brazil and Indonesia -- to be getting an apparent "free ride" on deforestation-related emissions in addition to emissions from fossil fuel sources. Recent negotiations have looked at this issue from a different perspective, one where developing countries would be paid by industrialized countries for reducing their deforestation rates. Globally the payoff could be immense, extending well beyond helping mitigate global warming emissions to safeguard biodiversity and important ecological services. Leading scientists have called such plans a "win-win" scenario for all parties and even the World Bank and U.N. have voiced support for the concept.
California crop production could plunge due to global warming
(12/05/2006) Higher temperatures could cause a 40 percent drop in some of California's most popular crops by mid-century according to new research in the journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. Almonds, walnuts, oranges, avocados and table grape could be especially affected.
Are old-growth forests storing more carbon than before?
(12/04/2006) Old-growth forests in China are storing more carbon than previously believed. The finding could have implications for fighting global warming through forest conservation, though some researchers caution that the results may not be representative of tropical forests as a whole.
Global-warming resistant crops under development by researchers
(12/04/2006) Researchers at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are working to develop climate-resilient agriculture to reduce the impact of global warming on food supplies. Climate change is expected to disproportionately affect the world's poorest regions most dependent on agriculture for economic sustenance.
Global warming increases flooding in India
(12/01/2006) Extreme rains are becoming more common in India as more moderate rains decline, increasing the risk of flooding, according to a study published in the journal Science. The study, conducted by scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, found that heavy rain events -- one where at least 3.9 inches (100 mm) of rain fell -- are more frequent and severe than they were in 1951. The increase in heavy rains is offset by a decline in moderate rains, leaving overall rainfall levels unchanged overall. However the increase in heavy rain events means catastrophic flooding and landslides are more common said B.N. Goswami, lead author of the research.
Cattle produce more global warming gases than cars
(12/01/2006) Livestock-rearing generates more greenhouse gases than transportation according to a new report from the United Nations (U.N.), which adds that improved production methods could go a long way towards cutting emissions of gases reponsible for global warming. "Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," said Henning Steinfeld, a senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official and lead author of the report. "Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."
EU toughens rules on global warming
(11/29/2006) Wednesday the European Commission demanded stricter limits on climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions for the 2008-2012 period. According to a report from Reuters, only Britain's carbon dioxide cap was accepted by the commission, though other EU governments can challenge the Commission's ruling in court. Germany vocally objected to the decision with German Minister of the Economy Michael Glos calling it 'totally unacceptable.' France, Lithuania, and Slovakia also objected according to reports.
Supreme Court to decide on global warming issue
(11/29/2006) America's highest court will decide whether the U.S. government should regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The case, known as Massachusetts v. EPA pits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency charged with protecting the environment, with the auto and power industries and 10 states against a dozen mostly northeastern and western states and 13 environmental organizations. The EPA opposes regulation of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas scientists say contributes to global warming, arguing that CO2 is a naturally occurring gas that does not fit the U.S. Clean Air Act's definition of a pollutant.
Growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions doubles since 1990s
(11/28/2006) The growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions has more than doubled since the close of the 1990s as countries have failed to reign in use of fossil fuels, says a new report from the Global Carbon Project, a group involved in scientific research on the impact of carbon on the planet. The finding was announced at the Annual Science Meeting at Tasmania's Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station.
Fragmentation killing species in the Amazon rainforest
(11/27/2006) Forest fragmentation is rapidly eroding biodiversity in the Amazon rainforest and could worsen global warming according to research to be published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Rainforest trees can live for centuries, even millennia, so none of us expected things to change too fast. But in just two decades-a wink of time for a thousand year-old tree-the ecosystem has been seriously degraded." said Dr. William Laurance, a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and leader of the international team of scientists that conducted the research.
Global warming-fueled storms could devastate coral reefs
(11/23/2006) Australia's Great Barrier Reef and other coral ecosystems could suffer from increasingly powerful storms brought about by global warming according to computer models published by a team of Australian scientists in the journal Nature.
Atmospheric levels of key greenhouse gas stabilize, could begin to decline
(11/20/2006) Atmospheric levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas have leveled off for the past seven years according to scientists at the University of California, Irvine. Human sources of methane, which is twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, include production of oil and natural gas, mining, sewage and decomposition of garbage, changes in land use and deforestation, and livestock. About one-third of methane emissions come from oceans, wetlands, wildfires, and termites.
Migratory species threatened by global warming
(11/20/2006) Urgent action is need to prevent extinction of migratory species due to global warming says a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Forest fires may cool climate
(11/17/2006) Boreal forest fires may actually cool climate according to research published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science. Researchers at the Univerisity of California, Irvine (UCI), found that cooling may occur in regions where burned trees -- and reduced canopy cover -- exposes more snow, which reflects the sun's rays back into space. This effect may outweight the climate warming impact of the grenhouse gases released by forest burning.
Pollution could be used to fight global warming
(11/16/2006) A Nobel Prize-winning scientist caused a stir Wednesday at the U.N. climate conference in Nairobi when he said pollution could be used to help fight global warming. Paul J. Crutzen, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the hole in the ozone layer, said that injecting sulfur into the atmosphere could slow global warming by reflecting solar radiation back into space. The plan would use balloons carrying artillery guns to fire sulfates into the stratosphere. Unlike greenhouse gas emissions, which feature a lag-time in heating the globe, the climatic response from sulfate injection would take effect within six months and the reflective particles would remain in the stratosphere for up to two years.
Indonesia may seek rainforest conservation compensation to fight global warming
(11/16/2006) Indonesia may soon join the Coalition of Rainforest Nations in seeking compensation for rainforest conservation, according to a report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), a timber industry group.
Global warming reduces polar bear survival rate
(11/16/2006) Polar bear survival rates have dropped significantly in the past 20 years, probably due to melting sea ice caused by higher temperatures, according to a study released this week.
Ebola outbreaks may worsen with global warming
(11/15/2006) Ebola outbreaks are linked to wildlife and climate according to new research published in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Ebola, a deadly hemorrhagic fever made famous in Richard Preston's book The Hot Zone, periodically emerges to affect human populations in Central Africa. Until now, scientists had little understanding of the pattern behind Ebola outbreaks.
U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rise 0.6% in 2005 to new record
(11/15/2006) Emissions of heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, rose by 0.6 percent between 2004 and 2005 according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Since 1990, such greenhouse gas emissions have climbed by 16.9 percent. The Kyoto Protocol calls for a 7 percent reduction in emissions levels below 1990 levels by 2012.
Election results means U.S. climate action likely by 2010
(11/15/2006) "Enactment of mandatory U.S. climate action is plausible by 2008, and likely by 2010," says a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. The Pew Center, which brings together business leaders, policy makers, scientists, and other experts to discuss climate change, says that "the new Democratic congressional majority puts control of the agenda in the hands of policymakers who, to a large extent, favor climate action."
Species evolution not making up for extinction caused by climate change
(11/14/2006) Current global warming has already caused extinctions in the world's most sensitive habitats and will continue to cause more species to go extinct over the next 50 to 100 years says a new study published in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics by a University of Texas at Austin biologist. The study, Dr. Camille Parmesan, an associate professor of integrative biology, also showed that species are not evolving fast enough to avoid extinction.
Sweden doing most to fight global warming, Saudi Arabia the least
(11/14/2006) Sweden, Britain and Denmark top the list of countries doing the most to address global warming, while the United States, China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia rank as doing the least according to a new report released by environmental groups. Still, warns the report, even the best ranking countries are not doing enough to stave off climate change.
Global warming could doom many bird species
(11/14/2006) Up to 72 percent of bird species in northeastern Australia and more than a third in Europe could go extinct unless action is taken to address global warming said a report from environmental group WWF. The report, "Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report", reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds and identifies groups of birds at high risk from climate change: migratory, mountain, island, wetland, Arctic, Antarctic and seabirds. It says that species that can easily migrate to new habitats will likely thrive, while birds that live in niche environments may decline.
400% increase in carbon dioxide emissions growth since 1990s
(11/13/2006) Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion are currently increasing four times faster than they were in the 1990s said scientists meeting at the Beijing Conference on Global Environment Change. Scientists from the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) warned that growing emissions put the Earth at risk of catastrophic climate change and urged governments to take immediate action to reduce emissions.
Fleet of spacecraft could block catastrophic global warming
(11/09/2006) A space sunshield could be used to cool the Earth in an emergency scenario in which global warming reaches crisis levels, according to an astronomer at the University of Arizona. In a paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Roger Angel, Director of the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory and the Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics, proposes launching "trillions of small free-flying spacecraft a million miles above Earth" into the L-1 orbit, an orbit aligned with the sun.
United States acting unethically on global warming says new report
(11/08/2006) A new paper argues that ethics, human rights, and justice should be key components to international negotiations on global warming. It says that some countries, notably the United States, are currently taking positions that are "ethically problematic" and may violate basic human rights of people living in other countries.
Africa will suffer dearly from global warming
(11/06/2006) Already the world's poorest continent, Africa will suffer dearly from global warming unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut by an eventual 80 percent, according to a report from the U.N. issued on the eve of a global climate conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Carbon dioxide levels set record again
(11/04/2006) Atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide reached record levels in 2005 according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The U.N. organization said that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels now stand at 379.1 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53 percent from 377.1 ppm in 2004. WMO also found that atmospheric nitrous oxide concentrations, another heat-trapping gas, also reached record levels, up 0.19 percent 319.2 parts per billion (ppb) from 318.6 ppb. Methane levels remained stable at 1873 ppb, after rising slightly between 2002 and 2003.
Is Indonesia the third largest greenhouse gas polluter?
(11/03/2006) Is Indonesia the world's third largest producer of greenhouse gases? A new study by Wetlands International says it is, if the country's destruction of peat bogs is taken into account. A report released Thursday by Wetlands International and Delft Hydraulics, a Dutch research institute, estimates that emissions from Indonesia's destruction of its extensive peat bogs releases 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year -- about ten percent of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. For comparison, the United States, the world's largest emitter of heat-trapping gases, produces about 7.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year. 70 percent of emissions result from the burning of peatlands, while 30 percent result from drainage, according to the report, titled Peatland degradation fuels climate change.
Coral reefs can be saved from global warming
(11/03/2006) The outlook for coral reefs -- often termed the rainforests of the sea -- is dire. Overfishing, pollution, damage from anchors, mining for construction materials, and over-collection for the pet trade are all over-shadowed by climate change which could decimate reefs by higher water temperatures and increasingly acidic conditions which could render many coral species incapable of forming carbonate support structures. Nevertheless a new report from the World conservation Union (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy says that measures can be taken to help increase the survival chances for coral reefs. The report, "Coral Reef Resilience and Resistance to Bleaching", outlines strategies for helping reefs to be better adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Ancient climate record preserved in prehistoric plants
(11/02/2006) About 350 million years ago, at the boundary of the Devonian and Carboniferous ages, the climate changed. There was no one around to record it, but there are records nonetheless in the rocks deposited by glaciers and in tissues preserved in fossils of ancient life.
Shift toward toward service-based economy won't end global warming
(11/02/2006) The shift toward a service-based economy won't automatically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, a University of Minnesota researcher has found. His research contradicts assumptions about global warming often preferred by some economists and national policy experts.
Australia says global warming pact pointless without India and China
(11/01/2006) Australia said there is "no point" of Australia signing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming unless it applies to China and India too, according to the BBC News web site
Avoided deforestation could send $38 billion to third world under global warming pact
(11/01/2006) Avoided deforestation will be a hot point of discussion at next week's climate meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Already a coalition of 15 rainforest nations have proposed a plan whereby industrialized nations would pay them to protect their forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, last month Brazil -- which has the world's largest extent of tropical rainforests and the world's highest rate of forest loss -- said it promote a similar initiative at the talks. At stake: potentially billions of dollars for developing countries. When trees are cut greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere -- roughly 20 percent of annual emissions of such heat-trapping gases result from deforestation and forest degradation. Avoided deforestation is the concept where countries are paid to prevent deforestation that would otherwise occur. Policymakers and environmentalists alike find the idea attractive because it could help fight climate change at a low cost while improving living standards for some of the world's poorest people and preserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services. A number of prominent conservation biologists and development agencies including the World Bank and the U.N. have already endorsed the idea.
Global warming tops list of Americans' environmental concerns
(10/31/2006) Americans now rank climate change as the country's most important environmental concern according to a survey released today by MIT. The poll found that almost three-quarters of the respondents felt the government should do more to deal with global warming and 60 percent agreed that there's enough evidence to warrant some level of action. It also found that individuals were willing to contribute their own money to help prevent climate change - am average of $21 more per month on their electricity bill to "solve" global warming.
Greenhouse gas emissions from rich countries rising finds UN
(10/31/2006) A rise in greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized countries during the 2000-2004 period was called "worrying" by a United Nations report released today.
Blair: U.S. must act on global warming
(10/30/2006) Delaying action on global warming will take the planet into "dangerous territory" warns a new report released Monday by the British government. In The Sun Tony Blair, Britain's Prime Minister called the report "the important document on the future" he's read since becoming Prime Minister.
Oregon dead zone event over, but cause still unknown
(10/30/2006) The hypoxic dead zone off the coast of Oregon has finally dissipated but researchers still don't know why it has formed each of the past summers.
Global warming could cause insect population explosion
(10/30/2006) Global warming may prove to be a boon to insects according to new research published in the October edition of the journal The American Naturalist.
Bacteria can generate renewable energy from pollution, help fight global warming
(10/26/2006) Currently, most energy production generates carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and local pollution. At the same time that carbon dioxide concentrations are rising in the atmosphere, fueling higher temperatures, burgeoning population growth of humans and livestock is producing ever-increasing amounts of organic pollution and waste. Now researchers at the Center for Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University are working on a way to solve both problems using bacteria to convert organic wastes into a source of electricity. Bruce Rittmann, Director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology at the Biodesign Institute, and his team of researchers are developing microbial fuel cells (MFC) that can oxidize organic pollutants and create electricity from pollution.
Global warming could put New York City at hurricane, flood risk
(10/25/2006) NASA researchers are investigating the potential impact of climate change on New York City using computer models to simulate future climates and sea level rise. Their studies, to date, forecast a 15 to 19 inch-increase in sea levels by the 2050s that could put the city at higher risk of flooding during storm surges.
Wood stoves in poor countries worse than expected for global warming
(10/25/2006) Wood stoves used in developing countries emit more harmful smoke particles and could have a much greater impact on global climate change than previously thought, according to research published in the Nov. 1 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study's lead authors, Dr. Tami Bond of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and graduate student Christoph Roden, estimate that some 400 million of these stoves are used on a daily basis for cooking and heating by more than 2 billion people.
World Bank says carbon trading will save rainforests
(10/24/2006) Monday the World Bank endorsed carbon trading as a way to save tropical rainforests which are increasingly threatened by logging, agricultural development, subsistence agriculture, and climate change itself. The World Bank report comes on the heels of a proposal by a coalition of developing countries to seek compensation from industrialized countries for conserving their rainforests to fight global warming. Brazil is expected to announce a similar plan at upcoming climate talks in Nairobi.
Global warming will threaten health through dirtier air, hotter days, and more natural disasters
(10/23/2006) Global warming will threaten human health through dirtier air, hotter days, and more natural disasters that will worsen water quality, stress emergency systems, and create environmental refugees, warns a public health physician.
Global warming could cause catastrophic die-off of Amazon rainforest by 2080
(10/23/2006) For the Amazon, there is an immense threat looming on the horizon: climate change could well cause most of the Amazon rainforest to disappear by the end of the century. Dr. Philip Fearnside, a Research Professor at the National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus, Brazil and one of the most cited scientists on the subject of climate change, understands the threat well. Having spent more than 30 years in Brazil and now recognized as one of the world's foremost experts on the Amazon rainforest, Fearnside is working to do nothing less than to save this remarkable ecosystem. Fearnside believes saving the Amazon will require a fundamental shift in perception where the Amazon is recognized as an asset beyond the current price of mahogany, soybeans, or cattle, where its value is only unlocked by its destruction. The Amazon is far worth more than this he says. It can play a key role in fighting climate change while providing economic sustenance for millions through sustainable agriculture and rational utilization of its renewable products. It can serve as a storehouse for biodiversity while at the same time ensuring reliable water supplies and moderating regional temperature and precipitation. In short, maintaining the Amazon as a viable ecosystem makes sense economically and ecologically -- it is in our best interest to preserve this resource while we still can.
Tremendous loss of ice in Greenland finds new NASA study
(10/19/2006) For the first time NASA scientists have confirmed that Greenland's ice sheet is shrinking. Using a new remote sensing technique that reveals regional changes in the weight of the massive ice sheet across the entire continent, researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center found that Greenland suffered a net loss of 25 cubic miles (101 gigatons) of ice per year between 2003 and 2005.
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