Other stories below: Countries Must Plan for Climate Refugees; Rivals Hammer Romney for Global Warming Uncertainty
Winter droughts have become increasingly common in the Mediterranean region, particularly over the past 20 years, and a new study finds that global warming has driven at least half of the change.
Drought conditions in this politically explosive region are expected to grow more severe over the course of the century unless countries begin to significantly reduce their emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, many researchers say.
Those emissions come from burning fossil fuels, as well as from land-use changes.
Winter storms historically have delivered most of the annual rain and snowfall to the already arid Mediterranean region. Yet precipitation measurements from the region and modeling studies point to a relatively rapid shift in the winter rain and snowfall trends that began in the 1970s, according to the study.
That change could signal that the region “has moved into a new climate regime,” says Martin Hoerling, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., and the study’s lead author.
For more background, see “Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts.”
The world’s governments and relief agencies need to plan now to resettle millions of people expected to be displaced by climate change, an international panel of experts says.
Resettlement is already occurring at the rate of some 10 million people a year, said the report’s lead author, Alex de Sherbinin. Climate-related resettlement projects are under way in Vietnam, Mozambique, on the Alaskan coast, the Chinese territory of Inner Mongolia and in the South Pacific.
If global temperatures rise, as predicted, by as much as 7.2 degrees F (4 degrees C) this century, “resettlement would become virtually unavoidable in some regions of the world,” the scientists wrote in the journal Science late last week.
Warming of this magnitude would have a dramatic impact on water availability, agricultural productivity, ecosystems and sea level — all of which in turn affect where and how humans can live.
Planning for millions of refugees will be challenging, but it is vastly better than the alternative, de Sherbinin said by telephone from The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York.
The U.K. government proposed a reduction of as much as 55 percent for the price paid for solar power, part of an effort to keep a lid on electricity costs and reflect lower costs for panels.
Feed-in tariffs granting above-market rates would be scaled back at least 51.5 percent for solar projects installed starting Dec. 12, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said in an e-mailed statement today. The new rates come into effect in April. Existing plants and those built before the date will get current rates for 25 years.
“Urgent action is needed to put the solar industry on a steadier, clearer and sustainable growth path, avoid boom and bust and protect the feed-in tariff scheme,” Energy Minister Greg Barker said today in the statement. “The plummeting costs of solar means we’ve got no option but to act so we stay within budget and not threaten the whole viability of the scheme.”
By sounding a note of skepticism about climate science, Mitt Romney has prompted a fresh wave of attacks from opponents who branded the change in tone as the latest in a long string of policy shifts by the former Massachusetts governor.
On Friday, the liberal website ThinkProgress posted footage of Romney at a campaign event during which the former Massachusetts governor hedged his prior position that mankind has contributed to global warming. “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” Romney said, in response to a questioner in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
He argued that reducing carbon emissions through legislation such as cap-and-trade would throttle job growth and stifle the economic recovery. ”The idea of America spending massive amounts, trillions of dollars to somehow stop global warming is not a great idea,” Romney said. “It loses jobs for Americans and ultimately it won’t be successful, because industries that are energy intensive will just get up and go somewhere else. So it doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Air pollution in Beijing reached “hazardous” levels on Monday, the US embassy said, as thick smog blanketed the city for the third day running, forcing the closure of highways and cancellation of flights.The Chinese capital is one of the most polluted cities in the world, mainly due to its growing energy consumption — much of which is still fuelled by coal-fired power stations — and the high number of cars on the road.
A “hazardous” rating by the US embassy, whose evaluation of the city’s air quality often differs markedly from the official Chinese rating, is the worst on a six-point scale and indicates the whole population is likely to be affected.
The embassy has rated Beijing’s air quality as hazardous on several occasions this month. On October 9, the reading was listed as “beyond index”, meaning it went above measurable levels.
By contrast, China’s environment ministry said Beijing’s air was just “slightly polluted” on Sunday — the most recent data available — sparking a debate in China’s state-run media and on the Internet.
Even the usually nationalist Global Times newspaper on Monday demanded an explanation for the disparity, urging the government to “be cooperative in avoiding confusing information” about air pollution.
“Figures by some local governments show the air pollution index is dropping in some cities, such as Beijing… But some Beijing citizens complain the figures do not match their experience,” it said in an editorial.