Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Climate Snippets 16 January

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Antarctic's ice vanishing faster than expected, scientists discover.

Parts of the ice sheets covering Antarctica are melting faster than predicted, and the loss of ice has probably accelerated in recent years because of global warming, a study has found. A satellite survey between 1996 and last year found that the net loss of ice from Antarctica rose by about 75 per cent as the movement of glaciers towards the sea speeded up. Scientists say the West Antarctic ice sheet lost about 132 billion tonnes of ice last year, compared with a loss of 83 billion tonnes in 1996.

Campaign to switch off Christchurch’s lights.

On Saturday, March 29, Christchurch will join cities around the world to take a stand against one of the planet's biggest threats - climate change. Cities such as Sydney,
Melbourne, Toronto, Chicago and Manila will switch off their lights for one hour to mark the first global Earth Hour.

Tata reveals World's cheapest car – the Nano – is it World’s biggest nightmare?

India's Tata Motors on Thursday unveiled the world's cheapest car, a 100,000 rupee /$US 2,500 four-door subcompact the company promises will revolutionize the auto industry by bringing car ownership within reach for tens of millions of people. India consumed nearly 120 million tons of petroleum products in 2006-2007, according to the Petroleum Ministry, up from 113 million tons the previous year. The idea of such a low-cost vehicle has environmentalists petrified, conjuring images of traffic jams at midnight, hours-long commutes and rolling clouds of pollution. Chief U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize, said last month "I am having nightmares" about the car.

Digital Tools Help Users Save Energy, Study Finds

The results of the research project by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the U.S. Energy Department, suggest that if households have digital tools to set temperature and price preferences, the peak loads on utility grids could be trimmed by up to 15 percent a year. Over a 20-year period, this could save $70 billion on spending for power plants and infrastructure, and avoid the need to build the equivalent of 30 large coal-fired plants, say scientists at the federal laboratory.

The EU has admitted that changes are needed to its biofuels policy.

Studies have suggested that some biofuels barely reduce carbon emissions, while the production of others can lead to rainforest destruction and higher food prices. A Bill requiring a rising percentage of biofuel to be part of New Zealand's petrol and diesel sales is currently before Parliament. However, the Green Party has already highlighted the issues now being raised by the European Union. The EU says that new guidelines will be developed to ensure that the target for road fuels from plant sources is not damaging.

The EU at present has a target of replacing 5.75 percent of fossil fuels with biofuels in transport by 2010. But a study part-funded by the European Commission has said that between 14 and 27 percent of EU agricultural land would be needed if all that amount of biofuels was home produced. As this is clearly unrealistic, large amounts of biofuels will have to be imported into Europe, including from countries which strip rainforests for land to grow biofuel crops.

In Brief

How 'green' are the world's banks?
Britain will push ahead with nuclear power.

Kunstler’s Ten Ways to Prepare for a Post-Oil Society.

Time's up for petrol cars, says GM chief.

Low-energy light bulb health warnings.

A £1m prize fund has been put up for grabs in a bid to unlock the public's creativity and tackle climate change.

Chicken waste could fuel Northern Ireland.

Green campaigners furious as Britain's first coal-fired power station for 20 years is approved.

Butter sculpture to power buses.

Chocolate expedition reaches goal.

Human Body Heat to Heat Green Building in Sweden

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