March 29 News: Report Targets Growing Threat To Humanity From Food Insecurity And Climate Change

Food insecurity and climate change are already inhibiting human wellbeing and economic growth throughout the world, and these problems are poised to accelerate,” John Beddington, who chaired the commission, said….

Other stories below: Fears grow over pollution risk from North Sea gas rig; Top 10 states for renewable power; Scientists warn of climate-change onslaught; Tim DeChristopher In Isolated Confinement

How to Fight Food Insecurity, Even in a Changing Climate

About 800 million people worldwide do not get enough food to eat, while about 1.5 billion are overweight. As the global population expands by an additional 2 billion people by 2050 and climate change alters traditional agricultural areas, scientists and policy makers are racing to figure out how to address both problems….

This uneven food landscape is not caused solely by government regulations or farming practices, but stems from many powerful forces—forces that are expected to keep increasing. “Several converging threats—from climate change, population growth and unsustainable use of resources—are steadily intensifying pressure on humanity and world governments to transform the way food is produced, distributed and consumed,” wrote the authors of a new report, published online March 28, from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change….

One of the major concerns worldwide is increasing production on ever-dwindling acres of farmable land. The world’s farms continue to put out some 2.2 percent more food each year, but that is hardly on pace to keep up with growing global demand. And, many experts argue, these expansions need to be done in a sustainable way if people are to be fed without dragging down the economy—or the environment.

Fears grow over pollution risk from leaking North Sea gas rig

Fears are growing that a naked flame on the top of a leaking gas rig could spark a massive explosion and lead to a major pollution incident in the North Sea.

Total, the operator of the Elgin platform 140 miles east of Aberdeen, confirmed that in addition to a growing methane gas “cloud”, a 4.8sq km sheen of oil “condensates” now covered the surface of the water near the platform. But the company played down risks of major marine or air pollution. “The situation is currently stable. We continue to take all possible measures to try to identify the source and cause of the leak and to bring it under control,” the company said in a statement.

According to Total, engineers are still trying to ascertain precisely where the gas and oil leaks are coming from. It is believed that the main reservoir at the base of the drill shaft has been closed off, but gas and condensates may be leaking from any one of many points above it.

Scientists warn of climate-change onslaught

Global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of deadly and costly weather disasters, an international panel of climate scientists said in a new report issued Wednesday.

The greatest threat from extreme weather is to highly populated, poor regions of the world, the report warns, but no corner of the globe — from Mumbai to Miami — is immune. The document by a Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists forecasts stronger tropical cyclones and more frequent heat waves, deluges and droughts.

The 594-page report blames the scale of recent and future disasters on a combination of man-made climate change, population shifts and poverty.

Weather Runs Hot and Cold, So Scientists Look to the Ice

Some people call what has been happening the last few years “weather weirding,” and March is turning out to be a fine example.

As a surreal heat wave was peaking across much of the nation last week, pools and beaches drew crowds, some farmers planted their crops six weeks early, and trees burst into bloom. “The trees said: ‘Aha! Let’s get going!’ ” said Peter Purinton, a maple syrup producer in Vermont. “ ‘Spring is here!’ ”

Now, of course, a cold snap in Northern states has brought some of the lowest temperatures of the season, with damage to tree crops alone likely to be in the millions of dollars.

Lurching from one weather extreme to another seems to have become routine across the Northern Hemisphere. Parts of the United States may be shivering now, but Scotland is setting heat records. Across Europe, people died by the hundreds during a severe cold wave in the first half of February, but a week later revelers in Paris were strolling down the Champs-Élysées in their shirt-sleeves.

Does science have a clue what is going on?

Breakthrough near in dispute over planes’ emissions, officials say

A dispute over whether U.S. airlines will have to offset the carbon they emit on flights to and from Europe may be inching closer to a diplomatic breakthrough, according to officials involved in the negotiations.

In January, the European Union began implementing an Emissions Trading Scheme, which compels airlines to buy carbon allowances for flights landing in and taking off from Europe. The U.S. government — along with the governments of 79 other countries — objects to the program.

The European Commission estimates the program could add between $2.66 and $15.96 to the cost of a ticket over the coming decade; airlines will start paying the fee in April 2013.

On Tuesday, Airlines for America, the trade group that unsuccessfully sought to block the program through European courts, dropped its legal appeal and said it hoped the Obama administration would continue to fight the policy through diplomatic measures.

Tim DeChristopher In Isolated Confinement, Activists Report

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher has been placed in isolated confinement, nonprofit Peaceful Uprising reports.

DeChristopher has been held at Herlong federal prison in the Sierra highlands of northern California since September. A senior officer at the facility could not confirm whether DeChristopher had been moved from the prison’s minimum security area to its medium-security Special Housing Unit.

“The only information that I can give you is that he is here,” the senior officer said of DeChristopher. “We’re not authorized to comment on housing conditions.”

Shell Arctic Spill Response Plan Gets Approval

Federal offshore drilling regulators on Wednesday approved Shell Oil’s spill response plan for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea, drawing strong criticism from environmental groups that claim oil companies cannot clean up oil in ice-choked waters.

The announcement by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the decision followed the agency’s thorough review of the plan for Arctic Ocean waters off Alaska’s north coast. The agency in February approved Shell’s oil spill response plan for the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast.

Shell hopes to drill exploratory wells in both locations during the summer open-water season using separate drilling ships. Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said in an email that the approval is a major milestone.

The Green Elite: The Top 10 States for Renewable Power

When you step back and look at the country as a whole, the United States only generates just small fraction of its electricity from renewable energy sources — about 10.4 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s the entire contribution of hydro power, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and the other assorted green forms of energy that many hope our economy will transition to in the 21st century.

That fraction is growing, but slowly. The EIA expects non-hydro renewables to meet 9 percent of our electricity needs in 2035, up from 4 percent in 2010.

Sixteen states beat the national average of renewable electricity, and in the slideshow below, I’ve ranked the top ten, using the EIA’s recently released data for 2010. The number one producer (Hint: it begins with an “I” and rhymes with “Idaho”) generates a whopping 84 percent of its power needs from green energy sources.

Climate change tree test begins

European forestry scientists have begun a multi-national field trial to identify trees that will thrive as predicted climate change develops.

Thousands of trees are being planted in test plots from Portugal in the south to Scotland in the north.

The trees will be measured and monitored as they grow in the diverse environments.

The results are likely to have a marked impact on which species of trees are planted in the coming decades.

In Wales, a cleared area of the Crychan Forest about the size of five football pitches is being planted in a carefully mapped grid system.

41 Responses to March 29 News: Report Targets Growing Threat To Humanity From Food Insecurity And Climate Change

  1. prokaryotes says:

    United States
    The United States has been accused by Amnesty International and other international human rights organizations of using “extreme isolation and sensory deprivation … detainees confined to windowless cells … days without seeing daylight” along with other torture techniques with the approval of the George W. Bush administration.[21][22] The organization European Democratic Lawyers (EDL) has explicitly accused the United States of white torture: “Fundamental rights are violated on the part of the United States. In Guantánamo prisoners are held under sensory deprivation, ears and eyes covered, hands and feet tied, hands in thick gloves, held in cages without any privacy, always observed, light day and night: This is called white torture.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    The United States should be better than Iran when it comes to handling their own prisoners.

    Judge someone, how they treat their worst enemy…

  3. prokaryotes says:

    We should start planting trees (plus biochar) on thawing permafrost to channel the emerging methane bomb. Real threats -.-

  4. prokaryotes says:

    UBC students to battle B.C. premier Christy Clark on Enbridge pipeline

    Pipeline petitioners hope to give Clark a crude awakening

  5. prokaryotes says:

    Arctic sea ice may have passed crucial tipping point

    There goes our deflector shield, Lord Vader.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    Welcome to the Anthropocene

    A 3-minute journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to the Rio+20 Summit. The film charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes.

    The film was commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, London 26-29 March, a major international conference focusing on solutions.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    German Researchers Find Man Tipping the Scales Toward More Weather Extremes

    Even the Germans say so!

  8. Sailesh Rao says:

    Restating the obvious from the Beddington report, “The global demand for food will increase with population growth, but the amount of food per person that needs to be produced can be brought down by eliminating waste in supply chains, ensuring more equitable access to food and moving to more resource-efficient (and healthier) vegetable-rich diets.”

    A whole-foods plant-based diet is a stunningly obvious solution to the predicaments we face. This is why I am eagerly awaiting the results of the NY Times Ethicist’s contest calling all carnivores to detail why it is still ethical to eat meat.

    It would certainly be edifying.

  9. John Tucker says:

    “It is believed that the main reservoir at the base of the drill shaft has been closed off, but gas and condensates may be leaking from any one of many points above it.”

    I dont get this – it sounds like they still mean the casing. From the top of the deposit??

  10. prokaryotes says:

    After his weekly address from 17th of march, again a strong message about the fact that the taxpayer already pays twice to the oil companies. And that we have to advance clean energies!

  11. Byron Smith says:

    Tim DeChristopher update.

    1. He’s now back in minimum security, due to a public outcry over his being placed in solitary.

    2. The letter that got him into trouble with an unnamed Congressperson has been released (redacted) and is disturbingly unthreatening. He was put in solitary on the say-so of an elected representative for this?

  12. Anne van der Bom says:

    Tim DeChristopher moved out of isolation

  13. John Tucker says:

    Though you all would be interested in this article too:

    Total’s Gas Leak Shows Risks of High-Pressure Fields

    Total says the gas is leaking from a point some 4,000 meters (13,200 feet) below the seabed into a well bore that had previously been shut down. Total workers first detected problems four weeks ago but were forced to evacuate the Elgin platform Sunday after they lost control of pressure in the well and flammable gas and condensate spewed into the facility.

    A later report prepared by engineering consultants Highgoose Ltd. in 2005 for the U.K. Health and Safety Executive warned that despite industry successes in overcoming these technical challenges, “there remains a general concern that not all high pressure/high temperature hazards have been identified yet.”
    ( )

  14. John Tucker says:

    And also form that article, I have NO IDEA WHAT THIS MEANS BUT DONT LIKE THE SOUND OF IT:

    “In fields such as Elgin/Franklin, wells are exposed to multiple threats resulting from the large amount of depletion,” Mr. Bergerot wrote in a paper for the Society of Petroleum Engineers. As gas is pumped out of the reservoir, its pressure drops relative to the surrounding rock, unleashing powerful stresses.

  15. prokaryotes says:

    So what is the worst case situation with this gusher? Mega eruption and tsunami?

  16. Sasparilla says:

    Here’s an eye opening (and depressing) view of what is actually going on in the U.S. Senate with regards to getting legislation passed with current GOP minority.

    It becomes obvious while reading that until the GOP gets on the side of reality with climate change we aren’t going to get Federal Legislation passed (and even if they were on the right side of reality its not clear they would join the Dems in doing anything).

  17. John Tucker says:

    Who knows I guess. I wonder about the deep wells in the GoM too.

  18. Barry Saxifrage says:

    Obama administration is blowing hot air on the EU aviation cap-and-trade.

    The messaging from airlines and pro-aviation-pollution nations like USA is that aviation emissions are a “global problem” that require a “global solution through ICAO”. Nice try.

    The ICAO own data shows that just 6 nations cause 50% of aviation GHG. And 12 nations — the dirty flying dozen — cause over two thirds. Five of those dozen nations are in the EU. Combined, the following nations cause 75% of aviation emissions:


    These nations and their airlines have been hiding behind the ICAO insistence that any carbon limits be accepted by a global consensus of over 100 nations. It is a joke and smoke screen to avoid action.

    The EU already has foreign companies under cap-and-trade that operate in the EU economic sphere. EU has full rights to do the same for airlines. The airlines know this and that is why they are dropping their legal challenges.

    All that is left is to see whether the EU can force most of the rest of the global 1% to pay for their weather-damaging-jet-setting-spew or not.

    The USA has no “high road” to take on this.

  19. prokaryotes says:

    You can buy now “Biochar action T-Shirts” with glow in the dark effect. This is a pretty cool idea to spread the message about this high potential soil amendment and to support the Biochar Earth Network aka me.

  20. Sasparilla says:

    Saying what many of us have been thinking….something terrible about seeing it in print (and our suspicians confirmed) – its crazy this isn’t being picked up by major media.

    Some small snippets from the article:

    “The UN’s former climate chief”, Yvo de Boer, “on Tuesday said the global warming pledge he helped set at the Copenhagen Summit little more than two years ago was already unattainable.”

    “”We have to be honest with each other that we will not reach the two degrees target,” former IPCC head Bob Watson, now a scientific advisor to the British government, said on behalf of the laureates.”

    “On Sunday, 20 winners of the Blue Planet Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious green awards, said there was only a “50-50″ chance of limiting warming to 3 C (5.4 F).”

  21. prokaryotes says:

    Dear Daily Mail

    March 29, 2012
    Yesterday’s public statement by Dr. Zunli Lu indicated that his work on climate proxies and global temperature had been completely taken out of context and distorted by the Daily Mail, and in turn by the dozens of climate denial bloggers who had republished the bogus article.

    Contrary to the Daily Mail’s headline, Dr. Lu affirmed that “Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend. Reader Martin Lack has written to Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, to inquire as to how it is the paper sees fit to let falsehoods remain on their website.

    Dear Mr Dacre,

    Why is it that in addition to allowing your newspaper to become an anachronism, you also seem content to publish falsehoods even when the people (such as Dr Zunli Lu) whose views your journalists willfully misrepresent warn you against doing so. Will you, I wonder, publish a retraction/correction in an equally prominent place as your original misrepresentation of the research findings?

    I’ll report here if there is any response.

  22. prokaryotes says:

    D. R. Tucker: Mind Games Conservatives Play

    Is climate denial a cognitive disorder?

    There’s a compelling case to be made that those who reject scientific facts are a little, well, touched, and Chris Mooney’s outstanding and provocative new book The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science — and Reality (due out April 3) makes it. Mooney, whose 2005 bestseller The Republican War on Science called attention to the GOP’s intolerance for inconvenient information, delves deeper into the dynamic that causes the American right to express scorn for that which independents, moderates and progressives recognize as basic common sense.

    Mooney notes that the phenomenon of “motivated reasoning” — the belief in concepts that are manifestly false — plays a significant role in the right’s rejection of reason:

  23. prokaryotes says:

    Huge tornadoes discovered on the Sun

    Solar tornadoes several times as wide as the Earth can be generated in the solar atmosphere, say researchers in the UK. A solar tornado was discovered using the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly telescope on board the Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) satellite. A movie of the tornado will be presented at the National Astronomy Meeting 2012 in Manchester on Thursday 29th March.

  24. prokaryotes says:

    Today is a historic day! Today for the very first time, gasoline prices in germany climbed up to the mark of 1,70 Euro

    Great time if you own an electric vehicle and some solar shingles i guess… my new website about electric vehicle revolution ecarvolution has really a lot of visitors lately. A good sign for change i guess.

  25. prokaryotes says:

    RWE npower and E.ON abandon nuclear plant development

    The Government’s plans for a nuclear-power renaissance were in disarray
    tonight after two of the “big six” energy giants pulled out of a venture
    to build new reactors.

    The decision by RWE npower and E.ON not to go ahead with developing nuclear power plants at Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, threatened the creation of thousands of jobs and undermined UK energy policy, it was warned.

    The two German-owned companies said they were looking for a new owner for their venture Horizon Nuclear Power in the light of financial constraints.

    The venture was hit by the global economic crisis and Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power in response to the disaster at Fukushima following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last year, as well as the significant costs of the project.

  26. prokaryotes says:

    Tanker drivers’ strike talks to begin next week as panic buying continues to spread
    Police urge public not to panic buy fuel amid reports of congestion at petrol stations around the country and plans for talks next week

  27. prokaryotes says:

    Remember folks you already pay twice and the dirty oil companies rake in record profits too. Guess who is blocking the progress to prevent an economic breakdown?

  28. prokaryotes says:

    Just IMAGINE the economic possibilities with a country entirely powered by renewable energy – probably the most competitive in the entire world.

  29. prokaryotes says:

    We have to learn to survive in a world which will become a threat – very often. A different planet called Eaarth!!

    There is the possibility of total collapse of civilization and waves of anarchy.

    Who is to blame?

  30. Sasparilla says:

    You okay today? Your reply to me is a bit unusual compared to how you normally respond to me.

  31. prokaryotes says:

    No idea what you talking about. We do not reach the 2 degree target we change the “Eaarth” and chaos will unleash from it.

    Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we’ve waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We’ve created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.

  32. Paul Magnus says:

    What peak oil will look like soon?

    Anger erupts as drivers queue for hours in sweltering heat… and the strike hasn’t even begun yet!

    Across Britain in 70 degree heat, there were angry scenes as desperate drivers sought to fill up in case tanker drivers stage a walk out over Easter.