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The real disappointment of the Rio+20 Conference
July 3, 2012 07:12 AM - EurActiv
World leaders attending the recent Rio+20 conference agreed to promote sustainable consumption and production, but analysts say getting businesses and buyers to do just that will require far more than words on paper. To the immense disappointment of environmental groups and even some multinational corporations, Rio+20 failed to produce binding commitments or a plan on how to strike a balance between consumer demand and the availability of natural resource. "The current deal on the Rio table is really scraping the barrel — with woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines," said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns. "It doesn’t come close to solving the planetary emergency we're facing."
Sea Turtles don't adapt well to hotter beaches
July 2, 2012 08:11 AM - ScienceDaily
For eastern Pacific populations of leatherback turtles, the 21st century could be the last. New research suggests that climate change could exacerbate existing threats and nearly wipe out the population. Deaths of turtle eggs and hatchlings in nests buried at hotter, drier beaches are the leading projected cause of the potential climate-related decline, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change by a research team from Drexel University, Princeton University, other institutions and government agencies. Leatherbacks, the largest sea turtle species, are among the most critically endangered due to a combination of historical and ongoing threats including egg poaching at nesting beaches and juvenile and adult turtles being caught in fishing operations. The new research on climate dynamics suggests that climate change could impede this population's ability to recover. If actual climate patterns follow projections in the study, the eastern Pacific population of leatherback turtles will decline by 75 percent by the year 2100.
The Story of Fair Trade Tea - Why it's so important
July 1, 2012 06:30 AM - Fair Trade USA, Triple Pundit
Pour a cup of tea, let it steep, and then take a sip as you ponder this fact: After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world, with 15,000 cups drunk per second. Tea is everywhere — in our cafes, our kitchens, our offices, schools and stores — but how many of us really know the story of each leaf as it travels from field to cup? The tea supply chain is a complex trade network with many different players. Each and every farmer, worker, exporter, importer, processor, auctioneer, buying agent, retailer, café worker and tea drinker in the chain played an important role in bringing you the world’s favorite beverage.
Africa's Savannas May Become Forests
June 29, 2012 06:43 AM - ScienceDaily
A new study published today in Nature by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa's savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.
Would more trees in the Arctic absorb carbon, or cause more to be released?
June 27, 2012 05:55 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online
Trees colonising formerly open tundra as the climate warms could cause Arctic ecosystems to release vast amounts of stored soil carbon into the atmosphere, a new paper argues. Many climate models have assumed that trees taking over the Arctic, and the enormous increase in plant biomass this would bring, would cause these landscapes to absorb much more carbon than they did before, helping restrain the effects of climate change. But this study suggests that's far from certain. In Scandinavia at least, when tundra heath turns into birch woodland it seems it could release much of the carbon stored in the soil into the air. This will more than counterbalance the fact that a forest holds around twice as much carbon in its biomass. So far from holding climate change in check, accelerated tree growth, and colonisation of treeless landscapes, could speed it up.
Sea Level Rise may continue for Centuries
June 26, 2012 04:35 AM - Staff, ClickGreen
Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several meters in coming centuries, if global warming carries on, according to new research. The study is the first to give a comprehensive projection for this long perspective, based on observed sea-level rise over the past millennium, as well as on scenarios for future greenhouse-gas emissions. "Sea-level rise is a hard to quantify, yet critical risk of climate change," says Michiel Schaeffer of Climate Analytics and Wageningen University, lead author of the study. "Due to the long time it takes for the world's ice and water masses to react to global warming, our emissions today determine sea levels for centuries to come."
Climate change threatens Botswana's main tourist attraction
June 23, 2012 06:18 AM - Justice Kavahematui, SciDevNet
Botswana urgently needs policies to facilitate climate change adaptation to protect the Okavango Delta, the country's most lucrative tourist attraction, according to a new study. Recent statistics from the Bank of Botswana show that tourism is the country's second largest source of income, contributing US$753 million to GDP in 2011. The Delta is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to the country. Wame L. Hambira, from the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, warned that unless government policies take account of current and forecasted climate shifts, the tourism sector could be badly damaged, with serious implications for the wider economy.
Rio+20 closing statement - opportunity to act on a sustainable future lost
June 22, 2012 06:35 AM - WWF
With negotiations at an end, WWF Director General Jim Leape today issued the following closing statement about the Rio+20 summit: "This was a conference about life: about future generations; about the forests, oceans, rivers and lakes that we all depend on for our food, water and energy. It was a conference to address the pressing challenge of building a future that can sustain us. Unfortunately, the world leaders who gathered here lost sight of that urgent purpose. With too few countries prepared to press for action, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff chose to drive a process with no serious content — to the planet’s detriment."
Will UN Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio make anyone happy?
June 21, 2012 06:43 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
As world leaders head to Rio de Janeiro for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, environmental and poverty groups are denouncing the last-minute text agreed on by dignitaries as "pathetic," (Greenpeace), a "damp squib" (Friends of the Earth), "a dead end" (Oxfam), and, if nothing changes, "a colossal waste of time" (WWF). "We were promised the 'future we want' but are now being presented with a 'common vision' of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests,“ the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said. "This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, it’s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model."
How to help to poorer Nations on Environment
June 20, 2012 06:15 AM - EurActive
World Bank President Lewis Preston called on rich donors to back a $5-billion (€4 billion) fund to help the world's poorest nations protect their environment and make economic development more sustainable. The year was 1992, just six months after the collapse of the Soviet Union and when the ink was barely dry on the European Union treaty. Preston’s "Earth increment" — unveiled at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro that June - was to provide low-cost environmental loans through the bank's International Development Association, a complement to the billions in aid promises made to help heal the economic and environmental rifts left by the Cold War. But Preston's plan would — like other commitments to help the ecology of disadvantaged nations in the two decades since the Earth Summit — never saw the light of day.