• Rising forest density offsets climate change

    Rising forest density in many countries is helping to offset climate change caused by deforestation from the Amazon basin to Indonesia, a study showed on Sunday. The report indicated that the size of trees in a forest -- rather than just the area covered -- needed to be taken into account more in U.N.-led efforts to put a price on forests as part of a nascent market to slow global warming. "Higher density means world forests are capturing more carbon," experts in Finland and the United States said of the study in the online journal PLoS One, issued on June 5 which is World Environment Day in the U.N. calendar. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Deforestation in places from the Congo basin to Papua New Guinea is blamed for perhaps 12 to 20 percent of all emissions by human activities. The report, based on a survey of 68 nations, found that the amount of carbon stored in forests increased in Europe and North America from 2000-10 despite little change in forest area. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rains come to China drought stricken provinces

    China warned several central and southern provinces hit by a months-long dry spell on Saturday to prepare for heavy rain and even floods, though Premier Wen Jiabao said it was too early to call an end to the critical water shortage. Officials have said parts of China are enduring their worst drought in 50 years, with rainfall 40 to 60 percent less than normal, damaging crops and cutting power from hydroelectric dams. State television and the official Xinhua news agency said that the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangxi and Zhejiang would experience rain, thunderstorms and strong winds. "Rain in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River will be beneficial to replenishing water in reservoirs and lakes and to ameliorating the drought," Xinhua citied the China Meteorological Administration as saying. Provinces must be on alert for heavy rains and for possible landslides and other disasters, it said. >> Read the Full Article
  • Amazing new images from BBC Earth: Eating and living with Lions

    While diving into Life Is Human, we've cherished catching up with the Human Planet Production team via their blog. Traveling to eighty of the most remote locations on Earth, to gather incredible stories about man's remarkable relationship with the natural world... just was not enough! They decided to share their personal experiences too. Over the next few weeks we will be featuring some of the posts we've been bowled over by, and bringing them directly to you! This week, we're featuring Human Planet researcher Jane Atkins who tells the exceptional tale of the Dorobo tribe's hunter scavengers. Using skills passed down over 1000's of years, this ancient lifestyle is rapidly in decline, but is it the end of the Dorobo? Dive in to find out more. "You see, Lions and the Dorobo, we feed each other." "If we hunt a large animal, we take away as much as we can, but leave the rest for the lions to feed on. And sometimes the lions kill a really fat animal and we say, lets take this one. It is not simple, you have to track carefully and quietly. You are scared... thinking – will I be mauled?" "Once you make the decision to steal meat from lions, you have to be committed" Rakita says. "But when you are hungry and know lions have killed first - you take your chance. There are days when we eat only what the lion has killed. We live on those lion kills until we finally make our own kills." When we filmed 3 Dorobo hunters stride up to 15 lions to steal from their fresh kill our hearts were in our mouths. Courageous? Ingenious? Suicidal? All of these perhaps, but this one act is undeniably impressive. The Dorobo say they are hunters just like lions. They watch lions, and how they hunt. Just as lions do, the Dorobo watch every animal on the great plains – and study each individual. Like lions they observe which ones are wounded, slower, easier to pick off. They wait and wait until the time is right to hunt. And if the lion gets there first, well the Dorobo turn that into another opportunity. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Jersey to Withdraw from Climate Change Initiative

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced Thursday, May 26 that New Jersey would withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ("RGG"), a cap-and-trade initiative of 10 northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. New Jersey is the first state to withdraw from RGGI. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate Projections Don't Accurately Reflect Soil Carbon Release

    A new study concludes that models may be predicting releases of atmospheric carbon dioxide that are either too high or too low, depending on the region, because they don't adequately reflect variable temperatures that can affect the amount of carbon released from soil. >> Read the Full Article
  • Iceberg Fertilizer

    Iceberg are just frozen water. Water picks up other stuff when it freezes whether as dissolved or scraped up. Icebergs calving off of Antarctica are shedding substantial iron — the equivalent of a growth-boosting vitamin — into waters starved of the mineral, a new set of studies demonstrates. This iron is fertilizing the growth of microscopic plants and algae, transforming the waters adjacent to ice floes into teeming communities of everything from tiny shrimplike krill to fish, birds and sometimes mammals. Iron is a trace element necessary for photosynthesis in all plants. It is highly insoluble in sea water and is often the limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth. Large phytoplankton blooms can be created by supplying iron to iron-deficient ocean waters. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tornadoes Strike Massachusetts

    In one of the state's most bizarre weather events, Massachusetts was hit by several tornadoes yesterday, causing destruction, injuries, and the deaths of at least four people. The tornadoes occurred in several towns in the Springfield area including Westfield, West Springfield, Wilbraham, Sturbridge, Monson, Oxford, Charlton, Agawam, Brimfield, and Douglas. Massachusetts residents have been shocked by the extensive damage left in their wake. >> Read the Full Article
  • Germany's plan to shut down its nuclear plants will add 40 million tons of CO2 per year

    Germany's plan to shut all its nuclear power plants by 2022 will add up to 40 million tones of carbon dioxide emissions annually as the country turns to fossil fuels, analysts said on Tuesday. The extra emissions would increase demand for carbon permits under the European Union's trading scheme, thereby adding a little to carbon prices and pollution costs for EU industry. "We will see a pick-up in German coal burn," said Barclays Capital analyst Amrita Sen. "Longer term, they will be using more renewables and gas but this year and next, we should see a lot of support for coal burn." The phase-out is seen as more political than technical as German Chancellor Angela Merkel tries to capture anti-nuclear sentiment in the aftermath of Japan's Fukushima crisis. Environmentalists welcomed the shift, although some demanded a faster phase-out, hoping it would spur a shift to renewable energy which they view as less harmful by avoiding radioactive waste. >> Read the Full Article
  • Record carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

    Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency. >> Read the Full Article
  • In 1100's, temperatures in Greenland dropped 7 degrees F in 80 years; cause of Viking's departure?

    A cold snap in Greenland in the 12th century may help explain why Viking settlers vanished from the island, scientists said on Monday. The report, reconstructing temperatures by examining lake sediment cores in west Greenland dating back 5,600 years, also indicated that earlier, pre-historic settlers also had to contend with vicious swings in climate on icy Greenland. "Climate played (a) big role in Vikings' disappearance from Greenland," Brown University in the United States said in a statement of a finding that average temperatures plunged 4 degrees Celsius (7F) in 80 years from about 1100. Such a shift is roughly the equivalent of the current average temperatures in Edinburgh, Scotland, tumbling to match those in Reykjavik, Iceland. It would be a huge setback to crop and livestock production. >> Read the Full Article