environment correspondent
Alister's Feed
Mar 20, 2015

Forests shrink; 70 percent now less than 1 km from edge

OSLO (Reuters) – Farms, roads and towns are fast slicing up the world’s wilderness, leaving 70 percent of the world’s remaining forested land less than one km (half a mile) from a forest edge, a U.S.-led study showed on Friday.

The report, by two dozen researchers on five continents and using data the covers the past 35 years, said a rising human population was putting more pressure on forest animals and plants, which suffer greater risk of extinction as their habitats become fragmented.

Mar 19, 2015

Arctic sea ice covers record low extent this winter

OSLO (Reuters) – Arctic sea ice has set a new winter record by freezing over the smallest extent since satellite records began in 1979, in a new sign of long-term climate change, U.S. data showed on Thursday.

The ice floating on the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole reached its maximum annual extent of just 14.54 million square kms (5.61 million sq miles) on Feb. 25 – slightly bigger than Canada – and is now expected to shrink with a spring thaw.

Mar 18, 2015

Amazon rainforest soaking up less carbon as trees die young: study

OSLO (Reuters) – The Amazon rainforest’s ability to soak up greenhouse gases from the air has fallen sharply, possibly because climate change and droughts mean more trees are dying, an international team of scientists said on Wednesday.

The world’s biggest rainforest has soaked up vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Plants use the heat-trapping gas to grow and release it when they rot or burn, but the report said that role in offsetting global warming may be under threat.

Mar 13, 2015

Arctic eclipse alert: hotels full, it’s cold, polar bears prowl

OSLO (Reuters) – The Norwegian Arctic islands of Svalbard are discouraging last-minute visitors for a rare solar eclipse next week, warning that hotels are full, it will be freezing cold and polar bears are on the prowl.

Christin Kristoffersen, mayor of Svalbard’s main settlement Longyearbyen, told Reuters an expected 1,500 visitors for the eclipse, on top of about 2,500 residents, meant the usually welcoming archipelago had reached a maximum safe limit.

Mar 12, 2015

Oil price fall may aid long-term Arctic exploitation-Norway

OSLO, March 12 (Reuters) – A fall in oil prices may help
long-term exploitation of fossil fuels in the Arctic by averting
a short-lived “gold rush” into the vulnerable icy region,
Norway’s Foreign Minister Boerge Brende said on Thursday.

Exploitation of oil and gas required long planning to
safeguard the fragile environment, which is heating up faster
than the world average because of global warming, he said.

Mar 12, 2015

Oceans yield 1,500 new creatures, many others lurk unknown

OSLO (Reuters) – Scientists identified almost 1,500 new creatures in the world’s oceans last year, including a humpbacked dolphin and a giant jellyfish, and reckon that most species of marine life are yet to be found.

The experts publishing their findings on Thursday listed a total of 228,450 marine species worldwide, ranging from seaweeds to blue whales, and estimated that between 500,000 and 2 million more multi-celled marine organisms were still unknown.

Mar 10, 2015

Darwin’s Galapagos birds share rare taste for flowers – study

OSLO (Reuters) – Scientists have for the first time discovered a general shift in diets across an entire group of animals while studying birds on the Galapagos islands that once helped inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The Spanish-led team observed 19 of the 23 species of Galapagos land birds visiting flowers to eat nectar and pollen, apparently because their preferred foods of seeds or insects are in short supply on the remote Pacific islands off Ecuador.

Mar 5, 2015

India, Bangladesh, China most at risk from river floods: study

OSLO (Reuters) – India, Bangladesh and China are most at risk from river floods, with an increasing number of people threatened because of climate change and economic growth in low-lying regions, a study said on Thursday.

The U.S.-based World Resources Institute think-tank and four Dutch research groups estimated that some 21 million people worldwide were affected by river flooding in a typical year.

Mar 2, 2015

EU’s 2050 green goals will need radical policy shifts: report

OSLO (Reuters) – The European Union will need radical new policies to reach goals for safeguarding the environment by 2050 after limited progress in curbing pollution and climate change, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Tuesday.

“We need to start now,” Hans Bruyninckx, head of the EEA, told Reuters of a five-yearly environmental report that said “profound changes” in technologies, policies and lifestyles were necessary to achieve long-term green targets.

Feb 27, 2015

Switzerland first to submit climate plan for Paris U.N. deal

OSLO (Reuters) – Switzerland became the first nation on Friday to submit a plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020 as a basis for a U.N. deal to limit climate change due to be sealed in December.

Some other countries – including China, the United States and the 28-nation European Union – have outlined their domestic plans for slowing global warming beyond 2020 but have not yet formally handed details to the United Nations.