A very interesting and telling article in the Observer newspaper here in the UK by Marc Caputo, the Miami Herald’s political correspondent – The people of Miami know about climate change. We’re living it – looking at how rising sea levels are having a real effect on the city and it’s citizens and how people are increasingly starting to doubt the approach of the state Governor, Republican Rick Scott and Republican state senator Marco Rubio – both climate change sceptics – and the latter being a 2016 presidential hopeful to boot. Not comforting when your home is under threat of long term flooding with Marc saying “Politicians who refuse to acknowledge global warming should visit Florida where climate change is all too real”. Also in the Observer, a glaciologist Eric Rignot, also writing in the USA – also looks at global warming and explains we have reached a point of no return in West Antarctica after last week saw a ‘holy shit’ moment in climate change science. A landmark report revealed that the collapse of a large part of Antarctica is now unstoppable – and says that unabated climate warming of several degrees over the next century is likely to speed up the collapse of West Antarctica, but it could also trigger irreversible retreat of marine-based sectors of East Antarctica. Whether we should do something about it is simply a matter of common sense. And the time to act is now; Antarctica is not waiting for us and Eric asks – What happens next?
Guy Barter, the Chief Horticultural Advisor at the Royal Horticultural Society has said that 2014 is shaping up to be a bumper year for fruit – as well as warning that in the long term gardeners and farmers in the UK needed to take account of climate change. The RHS and Reading University have been looking at the impact of climate change on gardens – hot dry summers – and wet and stormy winters – and said gardeners need to plan ahead if they are planting for the future as the climate will be different 50 or 100 years from now – and that Southern Britain have a climate more like that which Northern Spain currently experiences.
The UK Met Office’s chief scientist, Dane Julia Slingo has appealed to all sides in the climate change debate to stop making personal attacks on each other. Her letter to the Times came after University of Reading scientist Lennart Bengtsson said he was forced to resign from the academic advisory council of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Forum after pressure from other academics – Professor Bengtsson believes the risk from global warming has been over exaggerated. Acknowledging the limitations of current models used to predict the impact of climate change, that Dame Julia says that “Science is all about seeking the truth and acknowledging the uncertainties in what we already know; it cannot be about subjective, unscientific beliefs and personal attacks of the kins that some of us have had to endure.”
The operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has started pumping groundwater into the Pacific ocean in an attempt to manage the large volume of contaminated water at the site. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it had released 560 tonnes of groundwater pumped from 12 wells located upstream from the damaged reactors. The water had been temporarily stored in a tank so it could undergo safety checks before being released, the firm added. More here.
Media storms attacking the science of climate change have only a fleeting effect on the public’s interest and do not appear to alter opinions, according to new research. Oxford University scientists used the Google Trends tool to track web searches related to global warming over the past decade but found that peaks of interest in major stories, such as the release of climate scientists emails in 2009 – dubbed “climategate” – disappeared within a few weeks. “We found that intense media coverage of an event such as ‘climategate’ was followed by bursts of public interest, but these bursts were short-lived,” said Greg Goldsmith at the University of Oxford. “This suggests no long-term change in the level of climate change scepticism.” More here.
Shell has hit back at claims that its multi-billion dollar investments in tar sands, fracking and other unconventional oil and gas exploration will create a “carbon bubble” which may backfire catastrophically because of expected global climate change legislation. Previous research by economists, campaigners, and MPs has suggested that the majority of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies, including Shell, are “unburnable” if the world is to have a chance of not exceeding global warming of 2C, the level governments have agreed to limit rises to. That is leading to a so-called carbon bubble, an overvaluation of oil companies’ financial value, they have said. But in a 20 page response to its shareholders who are meeting on Tuesday in The Hague, Netherlands, for the company’s annual meeting, Shell strongly refutes the criticism that it is vulnerable to such a bubble. More here.
The UK will have run out of oil, coal and gas in just over five years’ time, scientists have warned. According to a new report by the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), the country had 5.2 years of oil, 4.5 years of coal and just three years of gas remaining, which will increase our dependency on Norway, Qatar and Russia. This has sparked further calls for a Europe-wide drive to expand renewable energy, with Dr Aled Jones from the GSI claiming that heavily-indebted European economies are likely to be ‘increasingly threatened’ by rising energy prices ‘unless urgent action is taken’.
Office supplies and IT services firm Commercial Group has announced the launch of the first London-based fleet of hydrogen hybrid delivery vans. The fleet is the culmination of over two years’ work with hydrogen technology experts. Commercial Group will have six hydrogen vans operating across the Capital within the next six months.
Greenpeace has uncovered evidence that illegally logged timber is being sold on to buyers in the UK, US, Europe and China. Illegally logged timber in Brazil is being laundered on a massive and growing scale and then sold on to unwitting buyers in the UK, US, Europe and China, Greenpeace claimed. After a two-year investigation, the environmental campaign group says it has uncovered evidence of systematic abuse and a flawed monitoring system that contradicts the Brazilian government’s claims to be coping with the problem of deforestation in the Amazon. And ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Global sportswear brands Adidas and Nike have been rapped by Greenpeace for producing football merchandise containing high levels of hazardous chemicals. A recent investigation by the environmental organisation discovered hazardous substances in 33 items purchased across three continents – including boots, goalkeeper gloves and the official ‘Brazuca’ football. One product – Adidas’ iconic ‘Predator’ football boots – contained very high levels of perfluorinated chemicals (PFC), at 14 times the company’s own restriction limits.
Public support for fracking for shale gas in the UK has fallen below 50% for the first time, new polling suggests. Just 49.7% of people now say they think the controversial process should be allowed in the UK, marking the third fall in support since high-profile protests last summer in West Sussex which saw dozens of arrests including that of Green MP, Caroline Lucas and ongoing protests at a site in Salford.
And finally – here’s a lovely ten minute short film about our friends at ID&T – organisers of the Tomorrowland and Mysteryland festivals – and their move to be part of those who care for our planet – and promote brilliant – but sustainable events.