Climate - May 14
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The Only Thing That Will Stop Global Warming Is A Massive Economic Downturn
Liz Klimas, Business Insider
A new report from the University of Michigan starts off its press release with a not so optimistic phrase: “It’s a message no one wants to hear.”
Just what message is this?
That it would take an extreme economic downturn to slow the effects of global warming.
The research conducted by José Tapia Granados and Edward Ionides of U-M and Óscar Carpintero of the University of Valladolid in Spain is considered the first to assess fluctuations in carbon dioxide based on measurable levels, instead of less accurate carbon emission estimates.
“If ‘business as usual’ conditions continue, economic contractions the size of the Great Recession or even bigger will be needed to reduce atmospheric levels of CO₂,” Tapia Granados, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research, said in a statement (via Science Daily).
(7 May 2012)
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Plant study flags dangers of warming world
Nina Chestney, Reuters
Plants are flowering faster than scientists predicted in response to climate change, research in the United States showed on Wednesday, which could have devastating knock-on effects for food chains and ecosystems.
Global warming is having a significant impact on hundreds of plant and animal species around the world, changing some breeding, migration and feeding patterns, scientists say.
Increased carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels can affect how plants produce oxygen, while higher temperatures and variable rainfall patterns can change their behaviour.
"Predicting species' response to climate change is a major challenge in ecology," said researchers at the University of California San Diego and several other U.S. institutions.
They said plants had been the focus of study because their response to climate change could affect food chains and ecosystem services such as pollination, nutrient cycles and water supply.
The study, published on the Nature website, draws on evidence from plant life cycle studies and experiments across four continents and 1,634 species. It found that some experiments had underestimated the speed of flowering by 8.5 times and growing leaves by 4 times.
(2 May 2012)
An Inconvenient Lawsuit: Teenagers Take Global Warming to the Courts
Katherine Eliison, The Atlantic
Alec Loorz turns 18 at the end of this month. While finishing high school and playing Ultimate Frisbee on weekends, he's also suing the federal government in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The Ventura, California, teen and four other juvenile plaintiffs want government officials to do more to prevent the risks of climate change -- the dangerous storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, and food-supply disruptions that scientists warn will threaten their generation absent a major turnabout in global energy policy. Specifically, the students are demanding that the U.S. government start reducing national emissions of carbon dioxide by at least six percent per year beginning in 2013...
While skeptics may view the case as little more than a publicity stunt, its implications have been serious enough to attract the time and resources of major industry leaders. Last month, Judge. Wilkins granted a motion to intervene in the case by the National Association of Manufacturers, joined by Delta Construction Company, Dalton Trucking Inc., Southern California Contractors Association, and the California Dump Truck Owners Association.
"At issue is whether a small group of individuals and environmental organizations can dictate through private tort litigation the economic, energy, and environmental policies of the entire nation," wrote National Association of Manufacturers spokesman Jeff Ostermeyer in an email. Granting the plaintiffs' demands, he added, "would carry serious and immediate consequences for industrial and economic productivity -- increasing manufacturing and transportation costs and decreasing global competitiveness."...
(9 May 2012)
Bonn talks aim to build on “Durban Platform”
James Murray, Business Green
Diplomats from around the world are meeting in Bonn from today in an attempt to reignite long-running climate change negotiations following the qualified success delivered by last year's Durban Summit.
The two week-long talks represent the first formal meeting of climate change negotiators since the 11th hour agreement of the "Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" – a deal hailed by the UN as a "remarkable new phase" in global efforts to tackle climate change...
The next two weeks are expected to focus on thrashing out the detail surrounding the various agreements reached in Durban.
In particular, diplomats will be tasked with developing a timeline for the new Durban Platform to ensure a binding agreement is reached by 2015, establishing which countries will sign on to a new Kyoto commitment period and how the extended treaty will work, and finalising the membership and remit for the new adaptation committee.
However, observers are concerned that the talks could again be disrupted by a number of fault lines that have dominated the negotiations for years...
(14 May 2012)