Climate change headlines and global warming news for December 2008

December 31 - 2008 - the year of natural disasters
One of the world's biggest re-insurance companies has said the impact of natural disasters during 2008 has been one of the most devastating ever and has suggest that climate change was boosting the destructive power of natural phenomena such as hurricanes and flooding. Read more.

December 29 - Australia and climate change refugees
In a paper prepared by the Lowy Institute for a Australian senate inquiry into economic and security challenges in the Pacific, the government has been urged to acknowledge the vulnerable position of island nation neighbours threatened by global warming and welcome climate change refugees. Read more

December 28 - Home coal heating making a comeback
With oil and natural gas prices subject to huge swings in recent years, many US home owners are switching back to coal heating, sparking concerns of additional pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Read more

December 27 - Massive tree die off in the USA
a coalition of 23 state forest agencies estimates 22 million acres of USA forest will die off over the next 15 years due to a combination of factors including drought, warming temperatures and an invasion of beetles. Read more

December 23 - USA to suffer abrupt climate change soon
A new government report states USA could feel the effects of abrupt climate changes within decades. The report paints an even grimmer picture than the IPCC study of 2007 due to the availability of new information such as the accelerated melting of polar ice sheets and the seaward flow of ice from Greenland picking up momentum. Read more

December 21 - Garnaut blasts Australian government
Professor Ross Garnaut, the Australian Government's own climate adviser, has strongly criticised compensation offered to heavy greenhouse gas polluters in the recently released government carbon reduction white paper. Read more

December 20 - Netherlands to spend billions on dykes
The Dutch government has recently tabled plans for a mult-billion dollar project to reinforce dykes on their coastline to protect the Netherlands from rising sea levels. In September, a study the Netherlands would need to spend more than 100 billion euros over the next hundred years on on dyke upgrades and coastal expansion. Read more

December 18 - Ice melt prompts sea level rise revision
According to NASA, between 1.5 trillion and 2 trillion tons of ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted since 2003, according to NASA scientists, who also say that sea levels will rise an estimated 18 to 36 inches by the end of the century. Read more

December 17 - Arctic past the point of no return?
Scientists have found air temperatures in the Arctic are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice. This was not expected to be seen for at least another 10 or 15 years and points to the possibility of the Arctic already passing the climatic tipping-point. Read more

December 16 - Australia announces pitiful carbon target
The Australian government has finally released it's 2020 targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions - a paltry 5%, which could rise as high as 15%; but only if all other developed nations agree to cuts by at least the same amount. Australia is the biggest carbon polluter in the developed world on a per capita basis. Read more

December 13 - Russia may back out of climate deal
Moscow has indicated that Russia may not participate in a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has indicated it will implement it's own national mid-term carbon reduction target in 2009. The deputy head of the Russian delegation at the Poznan conference has stated their country's ambition is to stabilize emissions at 30 percent below 1990 levels, with possible further reductions. Read more

December 12 - California gets tough on emissions
Regulators in California have implemented the USA's first comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 15% from current levels. The new plans will decrease the state's carbon footprint over the next 12 years by a total of 174 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Read more

December 11 - World's corals face extinction
According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 20% of the world's coral reefs have died or been destroyed and what is left is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. If nothing is done to curb carbon dioxide emissions, the Network predicts major coral extinctions. Read more

December 10 - India/China water spat
As China's deserts grow due to climate change and poor agricultural practices, the nation is looking to divert huge amounts of water from the Yalong Tsangpo river to run through arid regions - possibly leaving India's northeast parched. Read more.

December 9 - The first climate change related extinction?
Scientists fear the rare white lemuroid possum, a native to the Daintree forest in Australia has become the first mammal to be pushed to extinction through global warming. The possum hasn't been sighted for 3 years. Read more

December 7 - Over 24 million climate refugees in 2008
According to an estimate made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 24 million people, more than the population of Australia have become climate refugees already and that figure will more than double by the end of the decade. Read more

December 6 - Global warming - it's not the sun
Sceptics of climate change  often point to natural and cyclical variations of the energy of the sun responsible for the Earth's current warming. Speaking at the Australian Institute of Physics national congress in Adelaide, Scientist Marvin Geller of Stony Brook University states that while scientists agree the sun affects climate, they are unable to account for recent warming trend without including human influences. Read more

December 5 - Arctic beyond warming tipping point?
A new study completed by a team of US, Norwegian and German researchers points to the possibility that climate change in the Arctic could already have reached the point of no return. There could be a complete disappearance of ice in the region during the summer months in the near future, a harbinger of irreversible global climate change. Read more

December 4 - US emissions increase by 1.4%
According to the US federal Energy Information Administration, national greenhouse gas emissions increased to over 7.28 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent last year, 1.4% more than 2007 and mostly attributable to the the burning of fossil fuels. Read more

December 3 - Obama on the "green path"
President-elect Barack Obama is seriously contemplating a wide range of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while stimulating a faltering US economy now in recession. Possible programs include public transit to reduce fares and expand service, the purchase and scrapping of old polluting cars, and $900 million to help weatherize 1 million homes. Read more

December 3 - UK prepares for tough carbon cuts
Electric cars will be commonplace in the UK by 2020, with electric and hybrid vehicles forming up to 40 per cent by then, according to the head of the Committee on Climate Change. The prediction comes as Britain prepares to engage in a series of measures to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The cost of electricty and gas for heating and powering homes will also rise dramatically by 2020 because of increasing reliance on more expensive renewable sources. Read more 

December 3 - Brazil commits to deforestation action
After it was recently revealed that deforestation in the Amazon had escalated considerably in the last year, the Brazilian government has committed to to reduce clearing of the  rain forest by half by 2018. The Amazon forest, host to a wide variety of unique species, is also a major carbon sink and is a key tool in the battle to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Read more

December 3 - Australia reneges tabling reduction targets
In Bali climate talks last year, Australia was the darling of the event when it came in from the cold and agreed to ratify Kyoto. This year's presence at the UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland is a different story with Australia now reneging on a commitment to present a 2020 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Read more