U.N.'s Ban urges climate deal, short of perfect
December 8, 2010 07:36 AM - Russell Blinch and Christopher Buckley, Reuters, CANCUN, Mexico

Saying the health of the planet is at stake, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged 190 nations meeting in Mexico on Tuesday to agree to steps to fight climate change that fall short of a perfect deal. "We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good," Ban told a first session of environment ministers at the November 29 to December 10 talks in the Caribbean resort of Cancun where rich and poor nations are split over cutting greenhouse gas emissions. After U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders failed to work out a U.N. climate treaty at a 2009 summit in Copenhagen, Ban repeatedly stressed lower ambitions for the Cancun talks despite calls by some nations for radical action.

Ocean acidification threatens fisheries, says UNEP
December 7, 2010 08:10 AM - Mohammed Yahia, SciDevNet

[CANCUN, MEXICO] The oceans are acidifying at probably the fastest rate for 65 million years — with unknown implications for the three billion people who depend on fish for protein, a report released at the 2010 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 16), in Mexico has said.

Colombia landslide kills 19, more than 100 missing
December 7, 2010 07:02 AM - Albeiro Lopera, Reuters, BELLO, Colombia

Rescuers pulled 19 bodies on Monday from a mudslide in northwestern Colombia where more than 100 people are still missing after weeks of heavy rain across the Andean nation. Relatives sobbed as rescue workers and neighbors used earthmovers, picks and shovels to dig through the mud after a sodden hillside collapsed on Sunday and buried 50 homes in Bello town, near Antioquia province's capital Medellin. "In total we have recovered 19 bodies and we are still searching," said Jorge Ivan Nova, sub-director of rescue operations at the Red Cross. "We are still working because there is hope we could find people alive."

Dear liars and statisticians: The case of the North Atlantic Oscillation
December 6, 2010 10:19 AM - Dr. Themistoklis G. Chronis, Guest Contributor

The North Atlantic Oscillation ranks among the dominant planetary scale phenomena that exert a strong climatological grip over most of the northern hemisphere (NH). Its main action centers form an approximate north-south atmospheric pressure dipole over the north Atlantic Ocean and act as a meteorological pinball machine; depending on their relative strength the prevailing westerly winds over the NH mid-latitudes are either weakened and deflected towards northern latitudes or strengthened and carry on undisturbed towards Europe and the Mediterranean. Model simulations, satellite and ground observations reveal that the NAO phase strongly regulates wintertime storm tracks hence precipitation, sea and air temperatures at various heights all the way from the U.S. east coast, the northern Atlantic ocean, Greenland and Europe. Since the late 1980‘s the NAO has been extensively studied and under no circumstances did it escape from the “global warming” context. A number of studies have shown that a possible link between the NAO, atmospheric greenhouse gases and the tropospheric warming of the NH may exist.

Smart logging in Mexico, the Jaguars approve
December 4, 2010 09:12 AM - Gerard Wynn, Reuters, NOH-BEC, Mexico

Community leaders managing a fragment of ancient Mexican jungle say their approach to logging precious hardwoods protects rare jaguar and may guide nearby U.N. climate talks seeking a forest blueprint. Community forest management means giving land ownership to local villagers, so that they harvest timber with an eye on the future and damage the forest less than industrial logging concessions which typically last 20 or 30 years. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries are gathered in Mexico's Cancun beach resort, 155 miles north of the Noh-Bec forest community, where they are trying to design an extra incentive to reward careful foresters.

Reflective Crops Could Cool the Planet
December 3, 2010 03:16 PM - Jessica Marshall, Discovery News

Planting more reflective versions of crops could cool regional temperatures in summertime, reducing the impact of increasing global temperatures in these areas, according to ongoing research. Increasing the reflectivity of crop plants by 20 percent could decrease temperatures in a given area by about one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), said Joy Singarayer of the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Bamboo can capture carbon fast, says report
December 3, 2010 08:40 AM - Alex Abutu, SciDevNet

[CANCUN, MEXICO] Bamboo, a wild grass that grows in Africa, Asia and Latin America, could help tackle climate change and provide income for local communities, a conference has heard. It can sequester carbon faster than similar fast-growing tree species such as Chinese fir and eucalyptus when properly managed, said Coosje Hoogendoorn, director-general of International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), based in Beijing, China.

Ocean acidification may threaten food security
December 3, 2010 07:10 AM - Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Reuters, CANCUN, Mexico

Acidification of the seas linked to climate change could threaten fisheries production and is already causing the fastest shift in ocean chemistry in 65 million years, a U.N. study showed on Thursday. Production of shellfish, such as mussels, shrimp or lobsters, could be most at risk since they will find it harder to build protective shells, according to the report issued on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Mexico. It could also damage coral reefs, vital as nurseries for many commercial fish stocks. "Ocean acidification is yet another red flag being raised, carrying planetary health warnings about the uncontrolled growth in greenhouse gas emissions," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

Polar bears 'spotted swimming with cubs on back'
December 2, 2010 07:50 AM - Editor, World Wildlife Fund, WWF

Polar bears have been spotted carrying their cubs on their backs while they swim through icy waters, according to an article in UK online newspaper the Telegraph. According to the article, the practice is thought to be the result of the bears having to swim longer distances in the sea because of recent reductions in the arctic summer sea ice.

Amazon deforestation slows in Brazil
December 2, 2010 06:56 AM - Raymond Colitt, Reuters, BRASILIA

Deforestation in the Amazon forest fell to its lowest level on record, the Brazilian government said on Wednesday, marking what could be a watershed in the conservation of the world's largest rain forest. The figures coincide with a United Nations global climate conference in Mexico. There, Brazil wants to showcase it is one of the few major economies significantly slashing its greenhouse gas emissions, which for it come mostly from burning or rotting trees. "We will honor the pledge we made and we don't need any favors. We do it because it's our obligation," said President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, adding that the developed world was failing to agree to ambitious cuts in greenhouse gases and was not transparent about financial aid to developing nations.

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