vive the horse and buggy!

Australia must ban fossil fuel imports by 2020 if it hopes to cut greenhouse gas emissions, scientist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery says.

Commenting ahead of a speech at an ethanol industry conference in Melbourne, Dr Flannery said the Stern report into the world’s environmental state identified biofuel use as one of the cheapest methods to halt global warming.

The Age, 18 Apr 2007

can’t see the forest for the …

A modeling study published in the journal Nature last year describes a recent, rapid shift in extensive areas of African grassland and savanna to more densely vegetated, wooded states, a trend that is expected to accelerate in coming decades as atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rise.

Already there are signs that open-country animals like the cheetah are suffering as savanna becomes more wooded. This trend is not confined to Africa.

An Australian study released last month, which relied in part on satellite data, concludes that foliage cover in warm, arid areas worldwide has increased by about 11 percent in the last three decades due to higher CO2 levels.

environment360 13 Jun 2013

the case of the missing lakes

A whopping 125 lakes in the Arctic have disappeared in the past few decades, backing up the idea that global warming is working fiendishly fast nearest Earth’s poles.

Research into the whereabouts of the missing water points to the probability that permafrost underneath the lakes thawed out.

When this normally permanently-frozen ground thaws, the water in the lakes can seep through the soil, draining the lake, one researcher likened it to pulling the plug out of the bathtub.

When the lakes disappear, the ecosystems they support also lose their home.

Live Science, 16 Aug 2011

sour grapes

Areas suitable for growing premium wine grapes could be reduced by 50 percent — and possibly as much as 81 percent — by the end of this century, according to a study Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The main problem: an increase in the frequency of extremely hot days, according to Noah Diffenbaugh of the department of earth and atmospheric sciences at Purdue University.

CBS News, 10/7/06

disappearing pumpkins

This Thanksgiving, climate change may hit a little closer to home.

Libby’s Pumpkin, which supplies more than 85 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin, says an unusually rainy spring and summer will slash annual pumpkin yields by half this year.

This past June, Illinois got more than 9 inches of rain, more than 5 inches above average, according to Jim Angel, Illinois’s state climatologist.

Between May and July – critical growing months for processing pumpkins like those used in Libby’s cans – almost 2 feet of rain fell in Illinois, more than 10 inches above average.

Christian Science Monitor, 8 Oct 2015

fir trees make hay

Suspended 20 stories in the air, Ken Bible looks down on the crown of a 500-year-old Douglas fir and ponders a mystery.

The vantage point allows the University of Washington forest ecologist to study the upper reaches of this old-growth forest, where a reproductive orgy is under way.

“We’ve never seen anything like this here,” he says, reaching over the edge of the open-air gondola to grasp a limb laden with cones. He counts at least 30.

“Normally, a branch like this would have about three,” he says. “Why so many this year? We really don’t know.”

The work is part of a bigger effort to figure out what climate change, both natural and man-made, will mean for the Northwest’s iconic forests.

Seattle Times, 27 Nov 2007

forever in …

Almost everyone owns a pair of blue jeans.

But water shortages and drought are having an impact on cotton production, causing price fluctuations and even a shortage in denim.

According to a recent New York Times report, a pair of jeans uses 919 gallons of water during its life cycle, enough to fill 15 spa-size bathtubs.

“That includes the water that goes into irrigating the cotton crop, stitching the jeans together and washing them scores of times at home,” reports the Times.

Worried that water shortages could threaten the very existence of the jeans industry, Levi Strauss developed a nonprofit to teach farmers how to harvest rainwater for irrigation, introduced a brand that uses zero water during the stone-washing process, and is urging people to wash their jeans less.

For more earth-friendly jeans, choose organic brands—organic farming methods protect the soil, and healthy soil holds more water reserves to help in times of drought. Better yet, shop for used jeans.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

the end is high!

The Forcey family, of Sandringham, are keen bushwalkers, skiers and cyclists.

But lately they have made sacrifices for a new outdoor ritual — walking along Melbourne beaches waving an 11-metre pole that bears a dire warning.

They call it the global warming pole.

And it symbolises the concerns of Tim and Coni Forcey and their 16-year-old twins, Renee and Eric, about the planet’s future.

The pole’s red markers illustrate how far sea levels could rise if ice in Greenland and Antarctica continues to melt at the rate forecast by climate. The point of it is to catch people’s attention.

“For the most part, they are really interested and want to talk about global warming,” Mr Forcey said.

The Age, 28 Oct 2006

window closing

Sir Nicholas, a former World Bank chief economist, seeks to overturn conventional thinking by arguing that fighting climate change will save, not cost, money.

Whitehall sources told The Independent that the report was hard-headed.

“It didn’t deal in sandals and brown rice. It stuck to the economics.”

Insurance analysts said in evidence to Sir Nicholas that they feared insurance claims caused by storms, droughts and other natural disasters could exceed the world’s GDP.

Sir Nicholas believes a window of 10 to 15 years exists to save the global economy from severe damage – but after that it will be too late, Mr Swan said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Oct 2006

stirring the pot

Coffee is an early-morning staple. But it’s also threatened by all of the emissions we’re creating.

Coffee-selling giant Starbucks is doing its part to use less energy and water, including its announcement that all new retail stores will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Cutting emissions and protecting resources will help protect the coffee plantations the company depends on, those threatened by the uncharacteristic extreme heat, drought, and increase pest populations brought on by climate change.

Prevention, 12 Apr 2013

fashion statement

Climate change, the term given to trends in statistical weather patterns, is often closely linked to anthropogenic global warming, and it’s likely a large reason that U.S. climates are getting warmer each year.

But those hotter temperatures are also eroding the seasonality of your wardrobe; in other words, we’re wearing more of the same clothes, year-round. Your favorite pair of J.Crew cropped pants?

As a result of 2011’s no-show winter, you could wear them in September and February.

Huffington Post, 11 Aug 2012, What Climate Change Just Might Ruin