Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Climate Snippets - 24 April

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Tasman Glacier to go in 20 years.

Climate change will see most of the Tasman Glacier in the Southern Alps melt away over the next 20 years, scientists say. "In the past 10 years, the glacier has receded a hell of a lot," said glaciologist Martin Brook. "It's just too warm for a glacier to be sustained at such a low altitude - 730 metres above sea level - so it melts rapidly and it is going to disappear altogether." The Tasman Glacier is the biggest in the Southern Alps and, at 29 kilometres, was one of the longest in the world's temperate zones. In 1973, there was no lake in front of the Tasman Glacier. New measurements taken last week indicate the lake at its foot is now 7km long, 2km wide and 245m deep.

NZ GHGs increase. Greens ask ‘when will we turn the corner?’

New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions rose less than 1 per cent between 2005 and 2006. Climate Change Minister David Parker said this was an improvement on the previous year's increase of 3 per cent. Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says ‘The key date is when our emissions will stop rising, level off and start to decline. That is what we must aim at. Every year we postpone that date makes it harder for us to meet our obligations in the future.’The Government and its own SOEs are responsible for much of the increase in emissions. Landcorp is clearing forests and converting them to dairy farms on behalf of other land owners. It is a cop out to say that if they didn't someone else would we expect better of government-owned companies, Government-owned Solid Energy is increasing coal mining, which also adds to emissions, and Government is putting far more capital into new motorways which encourage increased traffic, than into public transport which is a lower carbon alternative’., Ms Fitzsimons says.

I underestimated the threat, says Stern

Stern has warned that the gloomy predictions of his high-profile review of the future effects of global warming underestimated the risks, and that climate change poses a bigger threat than he realised. Stern said this week that new scientific findings showed greenhouse gas emissions were causing more damage than was understood in 2006, when he prepared his study for the government. He pointed to last year's reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and new research which shows that the planet's oceans and forests are soaking up less carbon dioxide than expected.

He said: "Emissions are growing much faster than we'd thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we'd thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates and the speed of climate change seems to be faster."

Oil reaches $117 for first time.

Oil prices crossed $117 a barrel for the first time after a militant group in Nigeria said it had attacked a Royal Dutch Shell-operated pipeline. Oil prices have notched up record highs almost weekly for months.

Freshening of deep Antarctic waters worries experts.

Scientists studying the icy depths of the sea around Antarctica have detected changes in salinity that could have profound effects on the world's climate and ocean currents. The scientists returned to Hobart on Thursday after a one-month voyage studying the Southern Ocean to see how it is changing and what those changes might mean for global climate patterns.

Greens “keep coal in the earth.”

Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons was in Christchurch to unveil her party's policy on coal. She presented a lump of coal - "a traditional gift at Christmas for naughty girls and boys" - to Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder scheduled to coincide with Earth Day. Announcing the party's coal policy, Fitzsimons said New Zealand had to "keep the coal in the hole" by introducing a moratorium on new coal mines, excepting specialist purpose coals for local use.

You can read Jeanette's speech here.

Private investigators still digging on West Coast.

Twelve months ago the government told state coal company Solid Energy that using paid informants to infiltrate environment groups was 'not acceptable' and that it had to stop. Solid Energy is adamant it has complied. The private investigators however appear to have defied the order. Christchurch man Rob Gilchrist was asked by Gavin Clark to work undercover for his private investigation company, Thompson and Clark Investigations (TCIL) spying on environment groups and other community groups for his company's corporate clients.

Morgan Williams ‘farming at a cross-roads.’

New Zealand’s former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is calling for a radical rethink of our farming sector in the face of potential famine from climate change and world shortages of food, water and good-quality soils.
Dr Morgan Williams, who now holds a chair at the University of Queensland’s School of Natural and Rural Systems Management, says that we are at a cross-roads. “New Zealand has a real opportunity here to do something really wonderful, to lead the world, but it requires leadership that we’re not seeing at the moment.” He said he was disappointed by a report in yesterday’s Carbon News that farming leaders were questioning whether climate change really was a problem. “If Federated Farmers still have members saying that it’s not going on, then we are in serious trouble,” he said.

In Brief

US carbon emissions to rise 23 percent over UN benchmark: IEA.

EU Commission says not dropping biofuels goal.

Flat Earth NZ chapter reaches out to climate sceptics.

Landcare defends West Coast dam report.

U.S. hybrid sales up 38% in 2007.

Carbon plan for Waikato V8s praised by Greens.

McCartney: Go vege.

Best of the Net

Spiderman climbs for the climate.

Grist’s third annual list of the year's goodies, oddities, and inanities.

A coal mining ditty.

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