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News - Climate Change

Five years to act on climate: report 11 November 2011 The world has just five years to make ''urgent and radical policy changes'' or lock in dangerous climate change, the world's leading energy agency has warned, sparking a debate about whether Australia should shift to gas or renewable energy.

Carbon tax bills pass Senate 8 November 2011
The Gillard government declared victory for a "historic economic reform" today after the Senate finally passed a carbon tax - laws that have created political havoc for four years and have been debated for more than a decade. The government won the historic vote in the upper house 36 to 32.  More climate change news.

Greenhouse emissions exceed worst case scenario 5 November 2011
The global output of carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the US Department of Energy has calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.  The new figures for last year mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst-case scenario outlined by climate experts four years ago. The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That's an increase of 6 percent.

Burning trees for energy puts Canadian forests and climate at risk 2 November 2011
Greenpeace released a science-based report today that highlights the dangers of the large-scale use of wood and tree harvesting for heating, electricity generation or liquid biofuels. The report, entitled ‘Fuelling a Biomess’, argues that burning woody biomass on an industrial scale could severely harm Canada’s public forests and further contribute to the global climate crisis.

Arctic polar ice cap rapidly disappearing 25 October 2011
In September, the sea-ice cover on the Arctic Ocean melted all the way back to the record-low level recorded in September 2007. At 4.4 million square kilometres, it was the smallest ice cover since satellite observations began 40 years ago, with 40 per cent less ice than in the 1970s and 1980s. If this continues, we will probably see an ice-free North Pole within the next 10 to 20 years.
Production of biofuel from forests will increase greenhouse emissions
23 October 2011 The largest and most comprehensive study yet done on the effect of biofuel production from U.S. West Coast forests has concluded that an emphasis on bioenergy would increase carbon dioxide emissions from these forests at least 14 percent, if the efficiency of such operations is optimal.
The findings are contrary to assumptions and some previous studies that suggest biofuels from this source would be carbon-neutral or even reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this research, that wasn't true in any scenario.

Global Warming confirmed by 'independent' study
21 October 2011 The Earth's surface really is getting warmer, a new analysis by a US scientific group set up in the wake of the "Climategate" affair has concluded. The Berkeley Earth Project has used new methods and some new data, but finds the same warming trend seen by groups such as the UK Met Office and Nasa. Comment from Michael Mann.

With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Key Climate Protectors 1 October 2011 Across millions of acres, the pines of the northern and central Rockies are dying, just one among many types of forests that are showing signs of distress these days. Moreover, the devastation extends worldwide.

New study shows thinning forests for biomass is not a climate win-win 26 September 2011 Demand for biomass is growing rapidly, as power companies come under increased pressure to find alternatives to fossil fuels like coal. One of the main sources they are targeting is trees harvested as part of wholesale thinning operations. The results of a new report from researchers at Oregon State University strongly suggest that even if thinning needs to be done for non-climate reasons, there’s a price to pay in terms of climate pollution, not the win-win claimed by industry.

New NRDC video animation shows risks of burning trees for energy 7 September 2011 Unfortunately, power companies are increasingly turning to our forests for fuel, and they try to get away with it by claiming that trees are a “sustainable” and “carbon neutral” source of biomass.  But trees are not the same as perennial grasses or harvest residues that can either regrow quickly, would otherwise be burned in the field, or are not needed for other purposes. We need trees.  And we need full grown trees because saplings require decades of care before they can absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide as full grown trees.

Al Gore calls on world to burn less wood and fuel to curb 'black carbon'
28 April 2011 Soot from engines, forest fires and partly burned fuel is collecting in Arctic and causing north pole to warm at alarming rate. The world must burn less diesel and wood, Nobel peace prize-winner Al Gore said yesterday, as the soot produced is accelerating the melting of ice in polar and mountainous regions.

Climate change from black carbon depends on altitude
14 April 2011
Black carbon particles, emitted from diesel engines and burning wood among other sources, are believed to be among the largest man-made contributors to global warming because they absorb solar radiation and heat the atmosphere. New research from Carnegie's Long Cao and Ken Caldeira, along with colleagues George Ban-Weiss and Govindasamy Bala, quantifies how black carbon's impact on climate depends on its altitude in the atmosphere. "We showed that black carbon near Earth's surface has the greatest effect on global warming. Unfortunately, this is exactly where we are putting most of the black carbon that we add to the atmosphere," Caldeira said. "This black carbon also often causes health problems, so cleaning up these emissions would help both the environment and human health."

Mother Earth to be given same rights as humans
12 April 2011
Bolivia wants the U.N. to recognise the Earth as a living entity with equal rights to humans, including the right to life, to pure water and clean air.

Climate change a threat to health
7 April 2011
The CSIRO's Greenhouse 2011 conference in Cairns has heard Climate Change threatens us with not just more natural disasters and food scarcity.
There are also direct heath risks, ranging from mosquito-borne diseases to air pollution.

Black Carbon - the dark horse of climate change 1 April 2011
Dubbed “short-lived climate forcings” (SLCFs), namely, black carbon particles, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and tropospheric ozone—are even more powerful than CO2 in terms of their warming potential. But they persist in the atmosphere for much shorter durations than CO2. Reducing their emissions along with CO2 is necessary in order to prevent global temperatures from crossing a dangerous threshold. Doing that would offer health benefits too because SLFCs are also toxic air pollutants.

Curbing soot could slow climate change: U.N. 18 February 2011
Strict curbs on soot and ozone air pollution would limit global warming by 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 F) in a step toward achieving tough world climate goals.

Pollution and global warming: Climate change in black and white 17 February 2011
When air pollution hurts people’s health and heats up the climate it makes sense to do something about it. But what about pollution that cools the planet?

2010 Warmest on record 12 January 2011
Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis by researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. Global Climate Report 2010.