2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #32B

Ancient kings fight climate change

Thousands of such centuries-old reservoirs are spread through Sri Lanka’s dry but agro-rich areas mainly in the Northern, North Central, North Western, Eastern and Southern provinces.

Now researchers say they can be an effective tool against fluctuating rain patterns caused by climate change.

Ancient Kings Fight Climate Change by Amantha Perera, International Press Service (IPS), Aug 8, 2013

Cameroonians See REDD

Uncertainty over property rights and access to forest land is potentially a major stumbling block for implementing the United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in Cameroon.

In Adjab, an indigenous village in the southern region of Cameroon, Chief Marcelin Biang told IPS he feels the present regulations are pushing locals to damage the forest in order to establish their claim to it.

Following a land dispute between Adjab residents and a timber company, a piece of their land was given back to them – but on condition that the villagers “show proof” they are using the land to sustain their livelihoods.

Cameroonians See REDD by Monde Kingsley Nfor, International Press Service (IPS), Aug 8, 2013

Carbon cycle gets more extreme as climate changes

Forests in Earth's northern latitudes have been thickened by migrating plant species and younger growth, driving a stronger gyration in the amount of carbon that cycles between land and the atmosphere each year, a new study suggests.

The net rise in seasonal exchange of carbon between land and air cannot be explained solely by increased burning of fossil fuels, more wildfire or changes in the way the ocean cycles carbon, according to the study published online Thursday in Science. Researchers suspect major ecological changes are behind the trend in an area of the globe that is expected to bear the brunt of climate change.

Above the 45th parallel that marks most of the U.S.-Canada border, the seasonal flux of carbon absorbed and released has increased about 50% over a half century, the researchers found. Lower latttudes did not exhibit as steep a change.

Carbon cycle gets more extreme as climate changes by Geoffrey Mohan, Science Now, Los Angeles Times, Aug 8. 2013

Earth scientists pin climate change squarely on 'humanity'

The weather is one of those topics that is fairly easy for people to agree on. Climate, however, is something else.

Most of the scientists who study the Earth say our climate is changing and humans are part of what's making that happen. But to a lot of nonscientists it's still murky. This week, two of the nation's most venerable scientific institutions tried to explain it better.

Earth Scientists Pin Climate Change Squarely On 'Humanity' by Christopher Joyce, NPR, Aug 6, 2013

Forecasters could not predict ‘erratic’ flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan 

Heavy monsoon flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan caused damage to cities and villages last week, washing away homes and causing more than 130 fatalities. The unexpected surge in rains halted activity in Karachi, Pakistan, home to 18 million people.

The flooding and clean-up efforts coincided with the conclusion of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr earlier this week, putting a damper on the holiday.

This most recent flood event is part of a pattern of increasingly extreme and unpredictable rainfall in South Asia, which may be attributed to global climate change.

Forecasters could not predict ‘erratic’ flooding in Pakistan and Afghanistan by Emily Saari, TckTckTck, Aug 9, 2013 

How much should you worry about an Arctic methane bomb?

Recent warnings that this greenhouse gas could cost us $60 trillion have received widespread publicity. But many scientists are skeptical.

How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb? by Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, Aug 8, 2013

Infectious disease could become more common

Climate change will make it easier for many infectious diseases to spread. Human beings will be able to adapt — or at least the richer ones will. But biodiversity will suffer as parasites and bacteria find a more welcoming environment.

Infectious Disease Could Become More Common in a Warmer World — Especially for Plants and Animals by Bryan Walsh, Time magazine, Aug 8, 2013

Large trees play key role in tropical forest biomass storage

large-scale study has found that a handful of big trees store up to half the above-ground biomass in tropical forests, raising implications for forest management and climate change mitigation.

Trees remove carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, storing it in leaves, woody tissue, roots and organic matter in soil, and playing a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate and mitigating climate change.

Calculating above-ground biomass — which comprises all living biomass, or organic material, above the soil, including stem, stump, branches, bark, seeds and foliage — helps scientists measure the role of forests as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change.

Large trees play key role in tropical forest biomass storage – study by Mark Foss, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 6, 2013

Ozone hole causing global warming?

The hole in the Earth's ozone layer may be shifting wind patterns and cloud cover in a way that triggers slightly warmer global temperatures, a new study suggests. 

A lot of people mix up the ozone hole and global warming, believing the hole is a major cause of the world's increasing average temperature, researchers said. 

Scientists, on the other hand, have long attributed a small cooling effect to the ozone shortage in the hole. 

Now a new computer-modelling study suggests that the ozone hole might actually have a slight warming influence, but because of its effect on winds, not temperatures. 

Ozone hole causing global warming?, Business Standard, Aug 10, 2013

Rebranding climate change as a public health issue

Why medical professionals may be the best messengers for global warning right now.

Rebranding Climate Change as a Public Health Issue by Courtney Subramanian, Time, Aug 8, 2013 

U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012

In a first, wind energy became the No. 1 source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity in 2012, according to a report released by the Energy Department on Tuesday. 

Wind energy accounted for 43% of new electric additions last year, adding more than 13 gigawatts of new wind power capacity to the U.S. grid, the report said. 

That's double the capacity installed the year before. 

But Energy Department officials warn that future growth is uncertain and they are urging an extension of production tax credits that have helped spur wind energy production and manufacturing.

U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012, report says by Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times, Aug 6, 2013

Why the World Bank shies away from energy efficiency projects

Decentralised renewable energy projects are highly effective at reducing energy poverty. Energy conservation and efficiency improvements are the cheapest way to close the gap between energy demand and supply. Too bad such measures don’t fit the business model of the World Bank, the world’s most important energy financier.

Why the World Bank shies away from energy efficiency projects by Peter Bosshard, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 8, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 10 August, 2013

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