Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Peatfires - 15% of Climate Change!

You may hardly have heard of peatfires. You may vaguely remember a big one in Indonesia - in 1997 - which spread smoke halfway across Asia.

So you might be surprised to learn that that period of burning produced 13-40% of all the greenhouse gases emitted that year.

And that's not all. According to  Guillermo Rein, a Reader in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, "Smouldering megafires are the largest and longest-burning fires on Earth. They ... are responsible for 15% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. This is the same amount attributed to the whole of the European Union, and yet it is not accounted for in carbon budgets."

And they form part of a positive feedback loop. Their greenhouse gas emissions drive up temperatures and that makes more fires more likely.

Another thing to worry about.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Wasting the Water of Life

I want to recommend the work of Prof. Arjen Hoekstra, University of Twente.

Hoekstra invented the Water Footprint, similar to the carbon footprint, and has published vast amounts of data. He also has emphatic views:
In Europe, the average consumer’s domestic use is typically only 1 to 2 per cent of their total water footprint: the vast majority relates to the products you consume ... about 90 per cent of our global water footprint relates to food. About one-third relates to the production of feed for the animals we consume.
In California, for instance, the state’s biggest water use is for feed crops. Meanwhile, you have this drought going on, and all of the time the focus is on how terrible it is to have a drought. But the real focus should be on how stupid it is to have such a big water demand in a region where droughts are fully expected.
You can use less and less water per unit of production, but if your population is growing and your consumption booming, then that is simply not sufficient.

Because it imports so many goods, three-quarters of the UK’s water consumption is actually outside of its borders. And about half of that usage is not sustainable.  

We in northern Europe should realise that we are actually quite well off with water, and ask why we import water-intensive goods from water-scarce areas. It doesn’t make sense that we produce so little of our own food.
 All round the world we are mining water rather than recycling it. Ground water WILL run out and if we aren't ready we will all be in bad trouble.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

RIP Bramble Cay melomys

The Bramble Cay melomys has the distinction of being the first mammal to be driven to extinction by climate change.

The Bramble Cay melomys is, well was, a small rodent found on a single coral island in the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. When first recorded by Europeans there were many animals. Even in 1978 there were 'several hundred' but the melomys has not been seen since 2009 and is believed extinct.

According to a report by University of Queensland scientists the extinction was due to habitat loss caused by a combination of "severe meteorological events [and] anthropogenic climate change-driven sea-level rise". Sea levels rose particularly fast in this area and the area of vegetation shrank from 2.2 ha in 2004 to 0.065 ha in 2014.

The authors commented that “Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change”.


Did Kyoto work?

Not really.

That seems to be the conclusion of a new study Compliance of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in
the first commitment period. Climate Policy, doi.org/bjz4.

No time for more.