Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Climate Snippets 15 August

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World. To subscribe to regular Climate Snippet emails, contact climatechange@greens.org.nz with subscribe in subject line

Disappearing frosts a concern for NZ agriculture
Frosts in most of the North Island will be virtually "unknown" by the end of the century, a leading climate scientist, NIWA’s Jim Renwick says. "(Frost) tells things like fruit trees that they need to get ready to bud in the spring. They need to have winter chilling to do their whole life cycle properly, and a lot of animal and plant pests die off in winter because they get frosted. "If that doesn't happen then that makes it a lot easier for a lot of pests - especially subtropical species - to survive in New Zealand."

Since the 1950s there has been an average of three fewer frost days per decade. In South Island areas and at higher elevations the decline has been closer to 10 to 15 days per decade. "In another 50 years if we get a further degree of warming, which is what's expected, then you might see quite a decrease in the number of frosts. "In a lot of the low-lying parts of the North Island I would expect frosts to be unknown by later this century," Dr Renwick said.

Minister exercises call in powers
Minister Pete Hodgson announced he would ’call in’ Transpower’s proposal to build an electricity transmission line that would run from Waikato to Auckland saying “It warrants a rare intervention under the Resource Management Act.”

Greenpeace: Labour and National all sizzle no sausage
Greenpeace says in recent months, our politicians have been falling over each other to show they care about climate change. Prime Minister Helen Clark heralds a "carbon neutral" future for the country, while National Party leader John Key chants his '50 by 50' mantra. This sounds good on the surface but underneath the slogans lies very little substance and even less real action. They're talking the talk but not walking the walk. It's all sizzle and no sausage. That was the message Greenpeace delivered to the Beehive today during our solar-powered barbeque on parliament grounds.

Wolfowitz 'tried to censor World Bank on climate change
The Bush administration has consistently thwarted efforts by the World Bank to include global warming in its calculations when considering whether to approve major investments in industry and infrastructure, according to documents made public through the Government Accountability Project (GAP). On one occasion, Paul Wolfowitz, personally intervened to remove the words "climate change" from the title of a bank progress report and ordered changes to the text of the report to shift the focus away from global warming. The World Bank has come under fire from environmental groups for a number of decisions, including a recent grant to develop lignite mining and power plants in Kosovo. Lignite - or brown coal - pollutes the air heavily when burnt and is generally regarded as one of the dirtiest fuel sources on the planet.

UK Climate camp gears up
Environmental campaigners have assembled near Heathrow Airport, setting up a climate camp and are there not just to oppose a third runway for the airport but they are also keen to demonstrate that an alternative, more sustainable way of living is possible. Some 1,800 officers have been mobilised, almost matching the 2,000 campaigners who are expected over the coming week. All vehicles approaching the site are searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act and photographs are taken of anyone who enters. Campaigners - who insist their protest will be peaceful - complain that the police approach is heavy-handed.

So far only about 250 activists have gathered at the camp, but organisers are preparing for an influx they expect to join them as the week progresses. More than 100 workshopsare due to be held on subjects like carbon offsetting and building wind turbines. On Sunday - expected to be one of the airport's busiest days of the year - they plan "mass direct action", although all insist this will be non-violent and there will be no attempt to blockade runways.

Canada rejects Russia’s Arctic claim and plans to build two military facilities
Canada will build two new military facilities - a new army training centre and a deepwater port in the Arctic in a move to assert sovereignty over the contested region, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said. Harper said both installations will help back up Canada's ownership claim to the waters and natural resources of the Northwest Passage - a claim disputed by countries including the US, Japan, and the EU. "Canada's new government understands that the first principle of Arctic sovereignty is: Use it or lose it".

Five countries -- Canada, Russia, the US, Norway and Denmark - are competing to secure subsurface rights to the Arctic seabed. One study by the US Geological Survey estimates the Arctic has as much as 25 per cent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

Model approach to climate prediction
British researchers led by Doug Smith of the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre in Exeter have substantially improved the performance of a global climate model by adding observations about the actual state of the ocean and atmosphere. The results are of seminal importance for those trying to produce reliable short-term 'climate forecasts' on global and regional scales, experts say.

If the model is correct, in the next few years natural variability — mainly in factors affecting the heat content of the ocean — will offset some of the climate warming resulting from humanity's greenhouse emissions. But global warming will be taking only a brief breather: half the years from 2009 to 2014 will be warmer than 1998, which is currently the warmest year on record.

DiCaprio launches climate change documentary “The 11th Hour
Film star Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary The 11th Hour starts with a bleak outlook on issues like global warming, much of the roughly 90-minute movie suggests ways to heal the environment with human, government and corporate action. DiCaprio, who produced the film, acts as narrator asking questions, which are answered by experts ranging from physicist Stephen Hawking to former Soviet Union Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev. The 32-year-old star of Titanic said his concern for the environment dates to his childhood and watching documentaries about the destruction of rain forests and wildlife habitats. As an adult, he learned about global warming, filmed a TV special on climate change, grew frustrated with political bickering and ramped up his activism.

The New Zealand release date has not been set.

Best of the web

mockumentary on the opposition to offshore wind farms in the USA

Will Farel parodies Bush

Greenpeace ‘Grow up cool down’ video

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