Archive for the tag “species extinction”

News update

India pledges 33-35% cut in carbon emission intensity by 2030
Livemint.com
India has said it aims to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, and achieve 40% of its cumulative electric power of around 350GW installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources, mainly renewable power. The statement comes ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris in December 2015, where countries would try to forge a new global climate agreement based on “climate justice” and principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Our seas are being degraded, fish are dying – but humanity is threatened too
Callum Roberts, The Guardian UK
Last week the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Zoological Society of London issued their most comprehensive look at the state of life in the sea. The report makes uncomfortable reading. Taking in more than 1,000 species worldwide and 5,000 populations of fish, turtles, marine mammals and a host of others, it draws the bleak conclusion that there is only half the amount of wildlife in the sea today as in 1970. Although 1970 is their baseline year and seems long ago, life in the sea has been in decline for much longer. In short, that means the picture is worse than the report suggests.

Are Nomads a Climate-Change Weathervane?
Tom Hart, New Internationalist blog
Urban civilizations have done their best to curtail nomadism. It’s a life that doesn’t fit well with owning vast tracts of land and an ordered, well-administered state. What states have failed to achieve deliberately might be finished by climate change accidently. Ironically, the moment in history when states more or less tolerate nomadism could also be the very moment when the environmental basis for the phenomenon could be undermined.

Emphasizing co-benefits motivates people to take action on climate change
The Guardian UK
A new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change provides encouragement that people can be motivated to act on climate change. The title of the paper is, “Co-benefits of Addressing Climate Change can Motivate Action Around the World.” Lead author Dr. Paul Bain and his colleagues wanted to know if emphasizing co-benefits when talking about climate change would motivate people to take action. They found that in many cases, the answer is yes.

Why Johnny cant understand climate: functional illiteracy and the rise of unpropaganda
Ugo Bardi
The problem with the literacy scale has to do with the debate on climate change. Here, we see the development of a communication technology that exploits the lack of functional literacy of a large fraction of the public. We may call this technology unpropaganda. Traditional propaganda (literally, what is to be propagated) aims at passing a message by eliminating or hiding all contrasting information. Unpropaganda, instead, aims at stopping a message from propagating by presenting a lot of contrasting information to a public unable to fully evaluate it.

Global Extinction Rates: Why Do Estimates Vary So Wildly?
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
Most ecologists believe that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. Humanity’s impact on nature, they say, is now comparable to the five previous catastrophic events over the past 600 million years, during which up to 95 percent of the planet’s species disappeared. We may very well be. But recent studies have cited extinction rates that are extremely fuzzy and vary wildly.

Forget developing poor countries, its time to de-develop rich countries
Jason Hickel, The Guardian UK
Orthodox economists insist that all we need is yet more growth. More progressive types tell us that we need to shift some of the yields of growth from the richer segments of the population to the poorer ones, evening things out a bit. Neither approach is adequate. Why? Because even at current levels of average global consumption, we’re overshooting our planet’s bio-capacity by more than 50% each year.

Whatever Happened to Peak Oil?
Jan Mueller, Jeremy Gilbert, John Kingston, Steve Andrews The Energy Exchange
Whatever happened to “peak oil” – the assertion that the rate at which oil is extracted from the Earth is nearing a maximum or peak level? With falling oil and gasoline prices and a boom of new oil development in the United States and elsewhere, concern about global oil supplies have faded from public view. But have concerns about peak oil really disappeared? What key factors have changed in the oil industry, and what challenges remain? Are we entering a new era of “abundance” or are the risks of the world’s dependence on oil rising?

Backyard Carbon Sequestration Is Something Nearly Everyone Can Do
Ecological Gardening
Anyone who owns or rents a little land on which plants grow can, him or herself, sequester carbon, and may even be doing so at this very moment without even realizing it. It’s not hard. Healthy soil does this naturally. All we have to do is help nature along. And as we do so, we can help improve ecosystems, improve soil fertility, and even help endangered species survive.

News update

Continued destruction of Earths plant life places humans in jeopardy
Science Daily
Unless humans slow the destruction of Earths declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years, said the studys lead author, John Schramski, an associate professor in UGAs College of Engineering. The suns energy is stored in plants and fossil fuels, but humans are draining energy much faster than it can be replenished.

Worlds Oceans Could Rise Higher, Sooner, Faster Than Most Thought Possible
Common Dreams
If a new scientific paper is proven accurate, the international target of limiting global temperatures to a 2°C rise this century will not be nearly enough to prevent catastrophic melting of ice sheets that would raise sea levels much higher and much faster than previously thought possible. According to the new study—which has not yet been peer-reviewed, but was written by former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 other prominent climate researchers—current predictions do not take into account the feedback loop implications of what will occur if large sections of Greenland and the Antarctic are consumed by the worlds oceans.

Heat is Piling Up in the Depths of the Indian Ocean
Climate Central
The world’s oceans are playing a game of hot potato with the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists have zeroed in on the tropical Pacific as a major player in taking up that heat. But while it might have held that heat for a bit, new research shows that the Pacific has passed the potato to the Indian Ocean, which has seen an unprecedented rise in heat content over the past decade.

Nonlinear: New York, London, Shanghai underwater in 50 years?
Kurt Cobb
Those under the impression that climate change is advancing at a constant and predictable rate dont understand the true dynamics of the issue. The rate of increase of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, went from 0.75 parts per million (ppm) per year in 1959 to about 1.5 ppm each year through the 1990s, to 2.1 ppm each year from 2002 to 2012, and finally to 2.9 ppm in 2013. The fear is that the ability of the oceans and plants to continue to absorb half the carbon dioxide human civilization expels into the atmosphere each year may have become impaired. That means more carbon dioxide is remaining in the atmosphere where concentrations are building at the fastest rate ever recorded in the modern era.

Climate change: world’s wealthiest understand, but only half see it as threat
The Guardian UK
People living in the world’s wealthiest nations generally understand what climate change is but in many countries just half perceive it to be a threat, new research has found. The analysis of perceptions in 119 countries found living standards and relative wealth are “poor predictors” of whether someone considers climate change to be a severe risk. While more than 75% of people in Australia, the US, UK and most of the rest of Europe were aware of climate change, far fewer considered it to be detrimental to themselves or their families.

Nine Reasons Why Low Oil Prices May “Morph” Into Something Much Worse
Gail Tverberg
It looks to me as though we are heading into a deflationary depression, because the prices of commodities are falling below the cost of extraction. We need rapidly rising wages and debt if commodity prices are to rise back to 2011 levels or higher. This isn’t happening. Instead, we are seeing commodity prices fall further and further. Let me explain some pieces of what is happening.

Hardins tragedy of the commons explained with a practical example: a tourist trap in Florence
Ugo Bardi
Garrett Hardins idea of The Tragedy of the Commons has become well known, but not always really understood. In my case, I can say that I have big troubles in having my students grasping its mechanism; that is the interplay of individual advantage versus public goods; the basic factor that leads to what we call overexploitation. So, let me propose a different example for the mechanism of overexploitation, based on a real event that happened to me. Maybe it can explain the concept better.

Resilience: A New Conservation Strategy for a Warming World
Jim Robbins, Yale Environment 360
Resilience, in a nutshell, means preserving options — no one can predict the climate future with any certainty and how the biodiversity deck will be reshuffled. So that means protecting landscapes that maintain as wide a variety of characteristics to preserve as many species as possible, in order to maintain both ecological function as the world changes and the ability to recover from disturbance.

Shashank Kela: Some notes on the ecological crisis in India

Who cares about the environment? Some notes on the ecological crisis in India

Shashank Kela

The past few months have been exceptional, in one respect at least, for the Indian press: a serious structural problem has actually been given the attention it deserves. The Economic Times continues to play a prominent part in discussing air pollution in Delhi – there is no other city in the world where it is so bad. Nor is this all: including Delhi, India now boasts thirteen out of twenty cities with the worst air. More recently, the uproar over supposedly high levels of lead in a brand of junk food led to a (very) few articles on groundwater contamination: after all, the reason why lead and other poisons get into food is because they are present in the soil in which crops grow. Another piece, in the Guardian this time, speculated that the recent Sahelian heat wave in the Deccan might be a symptom of climate change (an “extreme” climate event of the kind likely to become all too common).[1]

These stories are only a tiny fraction of those that could be reported, for we are already in the throes of an unprecedented environmental crisis. Large swathes of our agricultural soils are contaminated or saline. Pesticide residues and heavy metals form part of our food. The air of our major cities is unfit to breathe. Freshwater availability is declining; most rivers, especially in the south, do not flow at all, or only seasonally, since their runoff is impounded in dams and used for irrigation (with very high rates of seepage and evaporation loss). Groundwater tables are falling as a consequence of over extraction and the disappearance of vegetative cover enabling percolation. The pattern of weather is being reset with gaps and lags – the available evidence indicates that the onset of the monsoon is changing and precipitation becoming more uneven. Our offshore seas are denuded of marine life thanks to trawler fishing at ever greater distances. Himalayan glaciers are shrinking with obvious long-term consequences for the hydrology of river systems dependent upon snow-melt. Sudden, destructive floods, exacerbated by embankments and dams, the building over of river valleys and floodplains, have become a regular occurrence. Read more…

News update

Will Teslas home battery really transform our energy infrastructure?
The Guardian UK
“The goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world,” Tesla founder Elon Musk told reporters as he launched the electric car company’s new home power storage battery. “This is actually within the power of humanity to do. It is not impossible.” Electricity storage is the “missing link” in weaning the economy off fossil fuels, said the entrepreneur with characteristic understatement.

Audi has successfully made diesel fuel from carbon dioxide and water
Science Alert
German car manufacturer Audi has reportedly invented a carbon-neutral diesel fuel, made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable energy sources. Audi has now set up a pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, operated by clean tech company Sunfire, which will pump out 160 litres of the synthetic diesel every day in the coming months.

India: Solar Will Be the Most Competitive Energy Choice
Tobias Engelmeier
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just published its new “Energy Technology Perspectives” outlining the global trends until 2050 (refer). Here are some of the key findings and the implications they might have for India. (Also read: A New Tariff Policy to Accelerate Indias Renewables Growth)

Overview of Our Energy Modeling Problem
Gail Tverberg
We live in a world with limits, yet our economy needs growth. How can we expect this scenario to play out? My view is that this problem will play out as a fairly near-term financial problem, with low oil prices leading to a fall in oil production. But not everyone comes to this conclusion. What were the views of early researchers? How do my views differ?

As Planet Warms, One in Six Species Face Total Extinction: Study
Common Dreams
One in six of all animal and plant species on Earth could become extinct from impacts related to climate change if human society does not dramatically reduce its emission of greenhouse gases, according to new research published in the journal Science. Mark Urban, the lead author of the new study, says its most worrying findings are not set in stone but should come as a warning to humanity and world leaders that action on climate must come soon if the planet is to maintain its existing biodiversity and ability to support life.

Vatican convenes major climate-change meeting
Nature
On 28 April, scientists, religious figures and policymakers will gather at the Vatican to discuss the science of global warming and the danger posed to the world’s poorest people. The meeting comes as Francis prepares an encyclical letter to bishops on climate change for release this summer, ahead of United Nations climate negotiations in December. The Pope’s strong feelings on the matter are apparent: in January he said that people were “mostly” responsible for recent warming and that they have “slapped nature in the face”.

War and Peace and the Steady-State Economy
Herman Daly
Peace is necessary for real progress, including progress toward a steady state economy. While peace should be our priority, might it nevertheless be the case that working toward a steady state economy would further the goal of peace? Might growth be a major cause of war, and the steady state a necessity for eliminating that cause? I think this is so.

News update

Green energy: Unrealistic targets
Pandurang Hegde, Deccan Herald
Recently the Minister of Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal reassured the commitment of the Central government in achieving the target of 1,75,000 MW of green energy by 2022. The performance of green energy projects needs to be assessed in the light of ground level experiences and the targets need be set realistically. By setting up unrealistic targets, the green energy is bound to attract those who are keen to reap the windfall profits rather than generating power.

A ‘Dashboard’ for the Indian Energy Sector (PDF)
Ashok Sreenivas, Rakesh K. Iyer EPW
A first approximation of a multidimensional index assessing the energy sector in India would be a dashboard that would measure trends through fi ve summary dimensions. Such a dashboard provides revealing insights, even in their condensed form.

Japan uses climate cash for coal plants in India, Bangladesh
Cadillac News
Despite mounting protests, Japan continues to finance the building of coal-fired power plants with money earmarked for fighting climate change, with two new projects underway in India and Bangladesh, The Associated Press has found. The AP reported in December that Japan had counted $1 billion in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, angering critics who say such financing should be going to clean energy like solar and wind power.

The hidden reasons behind slow economic growth: Declining EROI, constrained net energy
Kurt Cobb
the growth in net energy appears to have slowed while EROI of fossil fuels continues to fall. That has led to greater competition for the available net energy and a general rise in fossil fuel prices from 2000 onward. There have been fluctuations, sometimes violent ones, tied to the so-called Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 and to the softening of the world economy in the past year which led to steep declines in oil prices (something which may be telling us there is another recession in the offing).

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?
Cheryl Katz, Yale Environment 360
The main reason soaring greenhouse gas emissions have not caused air temperatures to rise more rapidly is that oceans have soaked up much of the heat. But new evidence suggests the oceans’ heat-buffering ability may be weakening.

Despite decades of deforestation, the Earth is getting greener
The Conversation
While the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade. Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and Southeast Asia, we found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Species extinction and the Competitive Exclusion Principle
Ron Patterson, Peak Oil Barrel
The competitive exclusion principle usually describes the competition of animals for a particular niche. But humans are animals also. We have been in the competition for territory and resources for thousands of years. And we have been winning that battle for thousands of years. But it is only in the last few hundred years that our complete dominance in this battle has become overwhelming. We are winning big time, we are quite literally wiping them off the face of the globe.

It’s Time to Get Serious About Systemic Solutions to Systemic Problems
Gar Alperovitz
It’s getting harder and harder to be an optimist. A deep economic crisis has given way to a profoundly unequal recovery. Climate catastrophe is steadily unfolding across the globe. All of this in an age of unprecedented technological progress, which has manifestly failed to keep its promises. If there is one saving grace, it is that the pain caused by these interconnected failures make it possible — for the first time in modern history — to pose the question of system change in a serious fashion, even in the United States, the faltering heart of global capitalism.

Post Navigation