“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
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.