Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Climate Snippets - 5 July

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

Satellite images of greenhouse gas clouds over New Zealand suggests methane from livestock may not be as big a problem as first thought.

Using measurements from a space sensor, researchers at Germany's Bremen University produced maps of greenhouse gas clouds hovering over the world based on readings between 2003 and 2005. The data indicated no detectable increase in methane over New Zealand, in contrast to the rest of the world. Allan Mountain and Christoph Kwintkiewicz of the Mt Maunganui-based energy consultants Key Energy believe the research from Germany's Bremen University may dramatically change the status of methane emissions from New Zealand animals and believe that if their theory proves true, the find could have major implications on taxpayers and the country's Kyoto responsibilities. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research says New Zealand emits too little to be detected from space, and monitoring since 1989 has shown methane levels growing.

Blocks of conservation land are to be offered by tender to commercial investors for so-called climate change projects.

Six pilot projects on about 40,000 hectares of land will be tendered by the Department of Conservation for climate change projects. Details of the projects are still being developed, but are likely to involve specific areas of conservation land for either replanting forests or controlling pests. Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, says it will enable companies to offset the carbon emissions of their businesses. While pest control measures are not Kyoto compliant, they can be traded on the international 'grey market' and they do comply with the ultimate objective of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Working towards a New Zealand Climate Change Institute

Victoria University of Wellington is to host a new interdisciplinary Climate Change Research Institute and is planning to invest an additional $300,000 per annum to supplement existing climate change research and to establish the Institute which follows widespread interest generated by the Climate Change and Governance Conference hosted last year by Victoria.

Victoria researchers Professors Peter Barrett and Jonathan Boston, and Associate Professor Ralph Chapman are currently talking with potential collaborators among New Zealand research institutions and organisations. The University will be inviting leaders of other organisations with research interests in climate change for a meeting next month to seek practical steps to establish the new Institute.

Meanwhile, Australia's first accredited post-graduate climate change program will begin this month at the University of the Sunshine Coast, in south-east Queensland.
The Graduate Diploma in Climate Change Adaptation deals with climate factors such as the drought, water supply and coastal management.

World Health Organisation estimates climate change has already directly or indirectly killed more than 1 million people globally since 2000

Rising temperatures are contributing to more landslides in Nepal, dengue fever cases in Indonesia and flooding in India, threatening to put an even greater strain on health systems across the Asia-Pacific region. Health officials from more than a dozen countries, ranging from tiny Maldives to China, met recently in Malaysia to outline health problems they are experiencing related to climate change. The World Health Organization estimates climate change has already directly or indirectly killed more than 1 million people globally since 2000. More than half of those deaths have occurred in the Asia-Pacific, the world's most populous region. Those figures do not include deaths linked to urban air pollution, which kills about 800,000 worldwide each year, according to WHO.

Scientists have predicted droughts will lower crop yields and raise malnutrition in some areas, dust storms and wildfires will boost respiratory illnesses, and flooding from severe storms will increase deaths by drowning, injuries and diseases such as diarrhea. Rising temperatures could lead to the growth of more harmful algae that can sicken people who eat shellfish and reef fish. People living in low-lying coastal areas will also face more storms, flooding, and saltwater intrusion into fresh groundwater that is vital for drinking.

UK public 'still sceptical on climate change'

The UK public remains sceptical about how much impact climate change will have on the country and believes the problem is being overstated by politicians and scientists, according to a poll out today. Research by Ipsos Mori shows that while most Britons recognise the problem of climate change and that humans have played a role in causing it, many are not convinced that the issue is as bad as the scientists and politicians claim. Although 45% of those questioned said climate change was the greatest threat to mankind, terrorism, crime, graffiti and even dog mess were all higher on the list of local concerns. Ipsos Mori interviewed 2,031 adults in their homes between June 14 and 20, and found that 56% believe scientists themselves are still questioning climate change and believe there is a live debate going on, when in fact there is virtual scientific consensus.

WWF: Ocean Iron Dumping Scheme 'Unacceptable'; Carbon Dioxide Absorption Could Trigger 'Domino Effect'

The World Wildlife Fund has announced its opposition to a plan by Planktos, Inc. to dump iron dust in the open ocean west of the Galapagos Islands. The experiment will dump up to 100 tons of iron dust this month in a 36 square mile area located approximately 350 miles west of the Galapagos Islands to induce phytoplankton blooms in the hopes that the microscopic marine plants will absorb carbon dioxide. Reports indicate that Planktos, Inc. is planning other large-scale iron dumping in other locations in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Most companies have no environment strategy: survey

Most companies in China, the United States, Canada and Britain have not laid out plans to improve their energy efficiency, despite growing concerns about global warming, a survey showed on Tuesday. Nearly two-thirds of the 420 senior business executives surveyed in these four countries said no one in their organization had been tasked with overseeing the company's energy strategy, according to a report by Hill & Knowlton consultancy. China led the pack with 82 percent saying there was no one responsible, followed by the U.S. at 70 percent.

UK's gadget-mania blamed for surge in emissions
The surging boom in new technology for home entertainment, from CD players and DAB radios to flat-screen televisions, is taking up huge amounts of energy and undermining the fight against climate change, a study from the Energy Saving Trust. reports. The consumer electronics sector is now only three years away from becoming the biggest single user of domestic electricity in Britain, according to the report - and in 2010 it will overtake lighting, and "white goods" such as fridges and freezers, in home energy use. By 2020, entertainment and computer technology in the home will account for an extraordinary 45 per cent of all electricity used in UK households, according to the This is equivalent to the output from 14 power stations, the report says, and undermines the battle to reduce C02 emissions - as well as costing the owners of the gadgetry £5bn a year.

In Brief

Greenpeace activists highlight Climate Change on Grounded Coal Carrier
Aussie farmers launch tree-felling protest against strict land-clearing laws designed to help the country curb its rising greenhouse gas emissions.

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