Global environmental challenges
We hear a lot of grim news about how sea ice has been melting more than usual in recent summers in the Arctic, how glaciers from the Himalayas to the Andes are melting or how winter sports such as ice hockey in Canada may be under threat from global warming.
Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.
A retrospective exhibit about the life and inventions of R. Buckminster Fuller (a.k.a. Bucky) is about to open at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City . Fuller was truly one-of-a-kind-an iconoclastic architect, inventor, engineer, and philosopher.
June 2-13 talks in Bonn on a new deal to widen the Kyoto Protocol after a first period ends in 2012 are ending on Friday with few agreements and many criticisms about a lack of progress.
The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society is working with the government of Madagascar to sell about 9.5 million tonnes of carbon credits to help save the Makira Forest, which contains 22 species of lemurs, hundreds of bird species and thousands of plants. Many of those species are found nowhere else on the planet.
At the U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Bonn, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being hailed as something of a hero. In what could be seen as an attempt to salvage both the talks and her own reputation as a champion of the environment, she announced millions of euros in handouts to help save the planet’s forests.
Campaigners fell over themselves praising her for setting an example. The physicist and former environment minister won credit last year for helping to broker EU and G8 deals to tackle climate change and some close to her insist the subject is close to her heart.
It’s not just that it’s disappeared from media headlines this year – shoved off by the credit crunch and natural disasters, for example. It can’t be ignored that 2007 came and went as another very warm year – the 7th hottest on record since 1850 according to the World Meteorological Organization.
But it wasn’t a record. In fact that was 1998, a full 10 years ago — the year of an exceptional El Nino, a Pacific weather pattern which heats the whole globe. So is global warming not living up to the hype?
A worldwide tree planting campaign is aiming to reach a total of 7 billion by the end of 2009 – that means just over one for everyone on the planet.
The United Nations says the campaign has exceeded expectations since it began in late 2006 with a goal of planting one billion within a year: two billion have been planted already. That means another 5 billion by late 2009.
According to a new list by nonprofit group Climate Counts, Nike ranked first among the world’s most climate-friendly companies.
In its second annual report, Climate Counts ranked companies based on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support of global warming legislation, public disclosure of their efforts to address climate change, and whether they measure their impacts on the environment.
It’s hard to imagine how big some of the cracks are on this link to satellite images of the Arctic ice during winter – dark lines hundreds of miles (km) long abruptly appear off the Canadian islands at the bottom right of the picture as the ice swirls through the winter.
At the top right, vast amounts of ice are flowing out of the Arctic basin southwards along the coast of Greenland.
Fewer cigarettes get lit indoors in bars and restaurants because of smoking bans from California to Ireland but something else is going up in smoke from a sidewalk in central Oslo – about $100,000 a year in extra outdoor heating bills.
The heated pavement, installed at a cost of about $400,000, may be the most extreme example of an environmental side-effect of smoking bans: rocketing power use.