Climate

Ladybugs Changed Color in Response to Climate Change
November 30, 2011 05:22 PM - Sara Reardon, Science AAAS

Thirty years ago, if you were walking along the coast of the Netherlands and picked a two-spot ladybug off the leaf of a European lime tree, chances were that the bug would be red with black spots. If you were farther inland, you'd have had a good chance of finding a bug that was black with red spots. In the past 3 decades, however, researchers have been finding more red bugs inland. The reason, they believe, is that a warming climate and fewer sunny days might be driving a shift in ladybug color.

Another record breaker: 2011 warmest La Niña year ever
November 30, 2011 12:39 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

As officials meet at the 17th UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa, the world continues to heat up. The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that they expect 2011 to be the warmest La Niña year since record keeping began in 1850. The opposite of El Nino, a La Niña event causes general cooling in global temperatures. Despite La Niña, it was a very, very warm year to the point that it is the warmest decade on record," explained WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud during a press briefing in Geneva.

Walnut Trees Survival
November 30, 2011 09:39 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Walnut trees are deciduous,30–130 feet of the species Juglans. The 21 species in the genus range across the north temperate Old World from southeast Europe east to Japan, and more widely in the New World from southeast Canada west to California and south to Argentina. Warmer, drier summers and extreme weather events considered possible as the climate changes would be especially troublesome - possibly fatal - for walnut trees, according to research at Purdue University.

Travel special: Has the ski industry got its head in the snow about climate change?
November 29, 2011 08:57 AM - Ben Hudson, Ecologist

Every year, one million skiers take to the slopes from the UK alone, while a staggering five million Brits consider themselves to be skiers even if they don't actually make it to the mountains. Europe is home to thousands of ski resorts, with Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy among the most popular. The Alps alone has more than 600 resorts with more than 10,000 pipes, half pipes and ski lifts catering for 85 per cent of the UK's skiers. But what impact does the annual influx of tourists have on mountainous regions' delicate eco-systems? And what effect is climate change having on the ski business itself?

Kyoto Protocol a "Thing of the Past", says Canada
November 29, 2011 07:02 AM - David Ljunggren, Reuters, OTTAWA

Canada dismissed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change on Monday as a thing of the past, but declined to confirm a media report it will formally pull out of the international treaty before the end of this year. Although the Conservative government walked away from its Kyoto obligations years ago, a formal withdrawal would deal a symbolic blow to global talks to save the agreement, which opened in Durban, South Africa on Monday. Canada says it backs a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but insists it has to cover all nations, including China and India, which are not bound by Kyoto's current targets. Although Japan and Russia share Canada's view, and the United States never ratified Kyoto, no nation has yet formally renounced the treaty. "Kyoto is the past," Environment Minister Peter Kent told reporters in Ottawa, describing the decision by Canada's previous Liberal government to sign on to the protocol as "one of the biggest blunders they made." The Conservatives - who green groups say are recklessly pushing development of the Alberta oil sands and ignoring the environment - complain the Liberals signed Kyoto and then did nothing to stop the country's emissions from soaring.

Can the Kyoto Protocol be saved?
November 28, 2011 06:36 AM - Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, DURBAN

Countries will make a last ditch effort to save a dying Kyoto Protocol at global climate talks starting on Monday aimed at cutting the greenhouse gas emissions blamed by scientists for rising sea levels, intense storms and crop failures. Kyoto, which was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005, commits most developed states to binding emissions targets. The talks are the last chance to set another round of targets before the first commitment period ends in 2012. Major parties have been at loggerheads for years, warnings of climate disaster are becoming more dire and diplomats worry whether host South Africa is up to the challenge of brokering the tough discussions among nearly 200 countries that run from Monday to December 9 in the coastal city of Durban. There is hope for a deal to help developing countries most hurt by global warming and a stop-gap measure to save the protocol. There is also a chance advanced economies responsible for most emissions will pledge deeper cuts at the talks known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP 17.

Mexican farmers suffer worst drought in 70 years
November 26, 2011 08:01 AM - Noe Torres, Reuters, MEXICO CITY

Mexico is being battered its worst drought in seven decades, which has devastated farm life and is expected to continue into next year. The lack of rainfall has affected almost 70 percent of the country and northern states like Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas have suffered the most acute water shortage. Due to the drought and a cold snap at the start of the year, the government has cut its forecast for corn production two times in 2011. It now expects a harvest of 20 million tonnes compared to a previous estimate of 23 million. Crops that cover tens of thousands of acres have been lost this year and roughly 450,000 cattle have died in arid pastures. Crucial dams, typically full at this time of year, are at 30 to 40 percent of capacity. "This is very serious," Ignacio Rivera, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told Reuters. "Statistics on precipitation in the country show us that this year has been the driest in the last 70 years." The country has total arable land of 22 million hectares (54.4 million acres) that can be tilled over two planting seasons while the national cattle herd last year was just over 32.6 million.

UN Climate Chief warns Science, not politics must drive Durban climate talks
November 23, 2011 06:52 AM - Frank Jack Daniel, Reuters, NEW DELHI

Global climate talks need to focus on the growing threat from extreme weather and shift away from political squabbles that hobble progress toward a tougher pact to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the head of the U.N. climate panel said. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries meet in Durban, South Africa, on Monday for two-week talks, with minimal expectations of major progress toward an agreement that will eventually bind all major economies to emissions caps. Rajendra Pachauri warned the latest round of talks risked being bogged down by "short-term and narrow political considerations." "It is absolutely essential that the negotiators get a continuous and repeated exposure to the science of climate change," Pachauri told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday. "If we were to do that it will definitely have an impact on the quality and outcome of the negotiations, after all these are human beings, they have families, they are people also worried about what is going to happen to the next generations."

The Chevrolet Carbon Stories, Part 3 Metrolina Greenhouse
November 22, 2011 04:50 PM - R Greenway, ENN

It's no secret that all buildings, whether residential or business, need energy for heat. No building is a better example than a greenhouse, which traditionally uses fossil fuels to create enough heat to grow plants. That's a lot of energy expended. But what if we can substitute fossil fuel for biomass, especially waste wood or tree trimmings / waste from forests in place of fossil fuels? As part of its Carbon Reduction Initiative, Chevrolet is supporting Metrolina Greenhouse in North Carolina. Metrolina grows over 70 million plants a year and is one of four greenhouse projects from the same developer that is utilizing biomass burners for heating the greenhouse instead of fossil fuel burners. The greenhouses grow plant materials that are shipped all over the U.S. The biomass fuel is mostly wood that would otherwise be destined for the landfill, or low value wood from forest thinnings. This type of biomass meets the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism’s "Definition of Renewable Biomass." This project will reduce fossil fuel consumption, divert waste from landfills and improve the quality of air for the community surrounding it.

Economic woes no excuse for climate inaction, says China
November 22, 2011 07:15 AM - David Stanway, Reuters, BEIJING

Economic problems in Europe and elsewhere should not get in the way of a new pact to fight global warming, China's top climate official said on Tuesday ahead of major climate talks in South Africa. Delegates from nearly 200 countries meet from Monday till Dec 9 in Durban as part of marathon U.N.-led negotiations on a broader pact to curb growing greenhouse gas emissions as the world faces rising sea levels and greater weather extremes. "After the financial crisis, every country has had its problems, but these problems are just temporary," Xie Zhenhua, vice-director of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters on Tuesday. Officials in Beijing have suggested economic turmoil in Europe and political unrest in North Africa have pushed climate change far down the list of global priorities, overshadowing next week's talks and undermining plans to provide cash and technical support to poor nations to adapt to climate change.

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