environment correspondent
Alister's Feed
Sep 15, 2015

Spread of deserts costs trillions, spurs migrants: study

OSLO (Reuters) – Land degradation, such as a spread of deserts in parts of Africa, costs the world economy trillions of dollars a year and may drive tens of millions of people from their homes, a U.N.-backed study said on Tuesday.

Worldwide, about 52 percent of farmland is already damaged, according to the report by The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD), compiled by 30 research groups around the world.

Sep 14, 2015

California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack estimated at 500-year low

OSLO (Reuters) – The snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains probably shrank to the lowest in 500 years this year and climate change may cause further declines, worsening water shortages in the drought-stricken state, a U.S. study said on Monday.

The snowpack in the mountain range this spring was just 5 percent of the average in the second half of the 20th century and scientists said the findings indicated “the 2015 low is unprecedented in the context of the past 500¬†years.”

Sep 11, 2015

Burning all fossil fuels could thaw Antarctica, raise seas: study

OSLO (Reuters) – Burning all the world’s fossil fuel reserves could thaw the entire Antarctic ice sheet and push up world sea levels by more than 50 meters (160 feet), over thousands of years, an international study said on Friday.

Such a melt, also eliminating the far smaller ice sheet on Greenland, is a worst case of climate change that would inundate cities from New York to Shanghai and change maps of the world with much of the Netherlands, Bangladesh or Florida under water.

Sep 10, 2015

Southern Ocean soaks up more greenhouse gases, limits warming

OSLO (Reuters) – The vast Southern Ocean around Antarctica has started to soak up more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in recent years, helping limit climate change, after signs its uptake had stalled, a study said on Thursday.

The Southern Ocean’s natural absorption of carbon roughly doubled to 1.2 billion tonnes in 2011 – equivalent to the European Union’s annual man-made greenhouse gas emissions – from levels a decade earlier, it said.

Sep 4, 2015

At U.N. climate talks, growing frustration at ‘snail’s pace’

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – The “snail’s pace” of progress on an accord to combat climate change caused widening unease at U.N. negotiations on Friday, with time fast running out before a Paris summit at which a global agreement is due to be reached.

The United Nations said the talks were still on track for that meeting in December following a week of discussions in Bonn to clarify options about everything from cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to ways to raise aid to poor nations.

Sep 3, 2015

On Arctic tip of Europe, Syrian migrants reach Norway by bike

OSLO (Reuters) – Some Syrian refugees have found a cheaper, safer, though much more roundabout way of reaching Europe than crossing the Mediterranean — heading to the Arctic Circle and entering Norway from Russia, sometimes even by bicycle.

As world attention focuses on migrants cramming into trains in Hungary or onto flimsy boats headed for Greece or Italy, Norwegian police say about 170, mostly Syrian, refugees have used the Storskog border crossing in the far north of Norway so far this year, up from just a dozen in all of 2014.

Sep 3, 2015

China slowdown needn’t hamper climate deal: U.N.

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – A slowdown in the Chinese economy that has alarmed global stock markets won’t cast a “dark cloud” over U.N. efforts to reach an accord to slow global warming by December, the United Nations’ climate chief predicted on Thursday.

Christiana Figueres also told Reuters that investments in renewable energies were rising despite some worries that a fall in oil prices, to about $50 a barrel, could brake a shift to cleaner sources of power.

Sep 2, 2015

National emissions plans too weak to limit climate change: study

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – National plans for limiting greenhouse gas emissions fall short of tough action needed to slow climate change under a United Nations agreement due in Paris in December, European researchers said on Wednesday.

The plans submitted so far to the UN by about 50 nations representing 70 percent of world emissions are too weak to keep temperatures below an agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times needed to avoid the worst effects of warming, they said.

Sep 1, 2015

Australia, New Zealand defend climate plans, say face high costs

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they faced unusually high costs to cut greenhouse gas emissions because of their respective dependence on coal and livestock, after criticism that they are doing too little to tackle climate change.

So far more than 50 nations representing 70 percent of world emissions have submitted strategies to the United Nations for curbs on emissions beyond 2020, meant to be the building blocks of a U.N. climate deal due to be agreed in Paris in December.

Aug 31, 2015

Climate change brings cyclone risk to Persian Gulf: study

BONN, Germany (Reuters) – Climate change is bringing small risks that tropical cyclones will form in the Persian Gulf for the first time, in a threat to cities such as Dubai or Doha which are unprepared for big storm surges, a U.S. study said on Monday.

Tampa in Florida and Cairns in Australia, two places where cyclones already happen, would be increasingly vulnerable to extreme storms this century, according to the report, based on thousands of computer models.