Climate change news and global warming headlines for May 2009
May 31: Yosemite National Park's giant tree die off
Yosemite's glaciers are disappearing and so are its giant trees. Data collected from the 1930s to 1990s has shown that the numbers of giant, old-growth trees have plummeted by 24 percent. Of the 14 species studied, the forest density of 11 declined. The research team involved with the study says climate change is an "important driver" of the decrease.
May 30: Climate change killing 300,000 a year
The findings of report from an organization headed by form UN Secretary General Kofi Annan states that every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US$125 billion. 4 billion people are vulnerable, and 500 million people are at extreme risk.
May 28: Bush fire smoke trapped over Antarctica
Smoke haze from February bushfires in Australia has become trapped in the atmosphere above Antarctica. The layer of smoke is between about 14 kilometres and 20 kilometres above the surface of the continent and is expected to have an impact on climate.
May 27: Antarctic: hot or not?
The Antarctic in relation to climate change has been subject to fierce
debate lately. Some say a small area of the Antarctic is warming up, but
the larger remainder is actually cooling.
A new study has found that warming in West Antarctica has been more than one-tenth of a degree Celsius per decade for the last 50 years and
has more than offset the cooling in East Antarctica. Read
May 26: India - big on population, light on carbon
Despite an economic growth rate of 7.5%, India remains one of the least carbon intensive countries in the world. In 2008, the carbon intensity (tons of CO2 emissions per USD 1000) of United States and Russia was 21.5 and 15.9 respectively compared to 5.7 and 1.9 for China and India respectively.
May 23: China's coal emissions growth to slow
According to China's Energy Research institute, After 2010, the coal
industry will have a very slow growth rate in the country. Increase in
power generation from that point will mainly come from nuclear and
renewable energy and natural gas-fired power plant. China's carbon dioxide emissions could hit a peak by 2030 - about 8 billion tonnes of Co2 in a year.
May 20: Warming could double previous projections
According to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Earth's median surface temperature could rise 9.3 degrees F (5.2 degrees C) by
2100; more than double than suggested by a 2003 study. The differences in
the newer projections were based on better economic modeling and fresher
economic data than in previous scenarios. Read
May 19: When the generals talk... climate change
It's not just green groups warning about the need to cut carbon emissions
in order to avoid climate change. A panel of retired US admirals and
generals says the fragility of US energy supplies and the likely impact of
climate change pose a serious security threat to the nation. Read
May 17: What is cap and trade?
The term "cap and trade" is being increasingly bandied about
with more countries looking at implementing such programs as a way to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A primer on cap and trade can be viewed here
(text) or here
May 16: Solastalgia and global mourning
A psychoterratic illness is an environment-related mental illness, where both nostalgia and solastalgia are examples of people
becoming emotionally unwell through the severing of healthy links between themselves and their home or
territory - and this could include the impacts of climate change. Read
May 15: Carbon reduction and the rebound effect
A study has shown that "rebound effects", where efficiency improvements are offset by behaviour
changes, could potentially slash future carbon and energy savings by half.
May 12: Suburbs without cars
Passenger cars account for 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe
and can be far more in some places in the USA. A new
district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the Swiss border, has
effectively banned passenger cars; creating a community where much of day
to day needs are within walking distance. Read
May 10: Thailand announces massive tree planting
In order to help offset carbon emissions, Thailand's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has
set a goal to increase forest coverage to 40% of the country's area within eight years.
To help in the effort Thai citizens will be provided with saplings free of
May 8: Bioelectricity vs. ethanol and carbon
The energy from an acre of switchgrass used to power an electric vehicle would prevent or offset the release of up to 10 tons of CO2 per
acre compared to a gas power car, more than double if the switchgrass were converted to ethanol and used in a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.
May 7: Climate change threatens Tibetan railway
According to China Meteorological Administration, temperatures in Tibet have climbed an average of 0.32 degrees Celsius every decade since records began in 1961. Officials say such a degree of warming could cause permafrost to melt and threaten the plateau railway linking Tibet with Qinghai province.
May 5: Carbon cap and trade will save families money
A cap and trade system to battle climate change wouldn't cause great
expense to the average American family, in fact it could start saving
families hundreds of dollars within the next few years according to a new
May 4: Australia delays emissions trading scheme
After pressure from all corners, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has
delayed the rollout of an emissions trading scheme until 2011 and has
increased the range of its emissions reduction target to up to 25 per cent
of 2000 levels by 2020; pending international co-operation. Read
May 3: Fossil fuel and carbon emission targets
According to two studies recently published in the journal Nature, under
25% of the world's remaining proven reserves of fossil fuels can be burnt if the world wants to avoid a high risk of dangerous levels of global
warming. According to the research, humanity can emit no more than one trillion tonnes of carbon to avoid the likelihood of a global temperature rise of two degrees
Celsius. The world has already burned over half that since the beginning of the industrial age and the remaining half will be combusted within 40 years at current rates.
May 3: Lake Bakail threatened by climate change
The world's largest and most biologically diverse lake, Siberia's Lake
Baikal, is faced with severe ecological disruption as a result of climate change.
Among the threats, shorter durations of ice cover and changes in the ice's transparency may
adversely affect the Baikal seal, the world's only exclusively freshwater seal.
May 3: The moral decadence of a lawn
English lawns will become a label of "social and moral decadence" in the next
10 years as climate change makes it harder to maintain traditional
gardens. According to Professor Geoff Dixon of the University of Reading's
Centre for Horticulture and Landscape watering a lawn will be seen as an extravagance only experienced by the rich.
May 3: Palm oil's link to climate change
Palm oil is everywhere - we eat it and it's a component of so many
products these days. In order to supply the burgeoning palm oil industry,
forests are being razed. Destroying peat forests for palm oil releases
colossal quantities of CO2. Read