ANOTHER PLANET?

ilva-steel-italy-The growing risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report. Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said. Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, the mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year; “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report declared. More on the New York Times here.

New research has revealed what’s causing sea level to rise. The study by scientists Sarah Purkey, Gregory Johnson and Don Chambers shows that sea level rise is half due to melting ice and half due to ocean warming, including 13% from the deepest oceans, a new paper has found. The researchers recognised that changes to sea levels are mainly caused by thermal expansion of ocean waters as they heat, changes to the saltiness of water, and an increase in ocean waters as ice melts and flows into the sea. More here.

Flytipping is on the up in the UK. The number of mattresses in hedgerows, old sofas on road corners and other illegally-dumped rubbish rose by a fifth in England last year, marking the first increase in flytipping in years. Government figures show that there are now more than three quarter of a million incidents in England, taking the amount of rubbish dumped on roadsides, in back alleys and on private land back above 2010 levels, in what campaigners said was a worrying increase.

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The state owned Swedish energy company Vattenfall is planning a sale of German coal operations. The sale of coal mines and power plants would enable the state-owned energy company to meet its emissions targets without reducing pollution at all.  Ahh targets, ill thought out rules and economics. Not a sensible way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenpeace said the sale of the coal mines and power plants, which includes the fourth largest CO2 emitting power station in Europe, would be an abdication of responsibility and would simply allow Vattenfall to meet its emissions targets without actually reducing pollution.

A new regreening programme hopes to restore one-sixth of Ethiopia’s land. Tbe ongoing tree and shrub-planting program has transformed degraded and deforested land across Africa, with Ethiopia planning to restore a further 15m hectares by 2030. Some regions are unrecognisable and an environmental catastrophe has been averted following the planting of many millions of tree and bush seedlings. Wells that were dry have been recharged, the soil is in better shape, fruit trees grow in the valleys and the hillsides are green again. More on the Guardian here.

bluefin-tunaIllegal fishing in the Meditteranean claims up to two tons of swordfish per boat per day according to an internal report by EU fishery inspectors. Inadequate controls and monitoring off Italian coast could lead to collapse of swordfish population in next three years, warn conservationists. Ilaria Vielmini, a marine scientist for Oceana, said that unless the EU introduced catch limits or quotas to protect the swordfish, the next scheduled stock assessment in 2017 could come too late to prevent a disaster.

pumpkins2It was the warmest ever Halloween in the United Kingdom with spooks and ghouls out ‘trick and treating’ in near summer temperatures.  The highest temperature of 23.6C (74.5F) was at Kew Gardens in London and easily broke the previous 1966 high of 20C (68F). London was warmer than Athens and Barcelona – and even Edingburgh topped 19C at the end of an unseasonally warm week right accross the UK. The good news for the National Grid and energy suppliers was that demand for energy was down, as households failed to turn on their heating.

lionsThe African lion faces extinction by 2050 if it continues to decline at its current rate. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has said that the lion is under threat and will seek to impose new rules to stop hunters returning to the USA with lion ‘trophies’. Hunting is still legal on special reservations in South Africa where lion, leopard, elephant and rhino populations are relativel stable. In Kenya hunting of all four species is illegal. A growing human population and a shrinkage of land available to lion has added to the decline.

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