What’s the word in environmental news this week?
Listen to this week’s Green Divas myEARTH360 Report before digging into all the environmental news headlines below. (Correction: I mis-spoke! It’s the Intergovernmental Panel—not Planetary!—on Climate Change. For past reports, click here.
From climate change and ridiculous amounts of plastic pollution… to encouraging news about bees, whales and even climate change, carry on.
The UN’s New Focus: Surviving, Not Stopping, Climate Change
The United Nations’ latest report on climate change contains plenty of dire warnings about the adverse impact “human interference with the climate system” is having on everything from sea levels to crop yields to violent conflicts.
But the primary message of the study isn’t, as John Kerry suggested on Sunday, for countries to collectively reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead, the subtext appears to be this: Climate change is happening and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future. As a result, we need to adapt to a warming planet—to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits associated with increasing temperatures—rather than focusing solely on curbing warming in the first place. And it’s businesses and local governments, rather than the international community, that can lead the way.
“The really big breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about managing climate change,” Chris Field, the co-chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study, said this week, adding that governments, companies, and communities are already experimenting with “climate-change adaptation.” Read the full story…
For more about the IPCC Report, click here.
For 13 climate action tips from the IPCC, click here.
Ocean Garbage Pollution Steals Spotlight from Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Search.
In the desperate search for clues about the fate of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, information about a global environmental issue has unexpectedly come to light. Multiple times in the past week, search and rescue teams have been disappointed when debris spotted from the air or satellite has turned out to be “ordinary garbage”.
This revelation highlights the fact that so much trash has been dumped or spilled into the world’s oceans that they now resemble plastic soup. Like so many environmental problems, the build-up of pollution in the ocean is a gradual catastrophe that doesn’t often make headlines. But according to one recent estimate, twenty million tons of plastic waste enters the marine environment every year, accumulating in the five major swirling currents, called gyres, but also referred to as “garbage patches”. Read the full story…
U.S. Navy Implicated in New Mass Stranding of Whales
While the U.S. and other navies played war games somewhere offshore, Cuvier’s beaked whales began stranding along the southern coast of Crete. Those on the scene knew right away what they were dealing with, for yesterday’s strandings were only the most recent in a line of similar calamities in the region, going back two decades. And in this case, as in the previous ones, all signs point navy.
Cuvier’s beaked whales are a remarkable species. They have the deepest recorded dives of all marine mammals, some descending an astonishing 3000 meters below the water’s surface before coming up for air. Favoring deep water, they don’t strand nearly as often as coastal species, and they don’t strand in number, and they don’t strand alive.
Yet that is exactly what happened yesterday. Beginning around noon, three Cuvier’s beaked whales came ashore in one spot along the Cretan coast, two others beached some 17 kilometers further west, and two more turned up nearby. All were alive when they stranded. Read the full story…
Bags of Mountain Air Offered in Smog-Addled Chinese City
Proving that China’s fight against pollution has moved decisively into the realm of parody, bags containing mountain air were shipped into one particularly smog-addled city over the weekend.
No, it wasn’t a scene from Spaceballs. According to the organizer, a Henan-based travel company, 20 bright blue bags of air were shipped to Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan province, as a special treat for residents. The air originated from Laojun Mountain, some 120 miles away from the city, and was brought as part of a promotional gimmick to show oxygen-deprived city residents what they’re missing. Read the full story…
Andrew Grieve, who is the senior air quality analyst at King’s College, London, talks to Carol Kirkwood about pollution levels in the city. High levels of air pollution will continue to affect parts of the UK on Thursday, experts have warned. Watch the video…
The tipping point seems to have been dust from storms in the Sahara. Normally it settles in the countries of southern Europe – Spain, Malta and Greece, for example.
However, winds from the south and east have brought the dust to the UK, along with industrial pollution from Europe. And because those weather conditions are stable and not changing, those particles are not being dispersed.
But that is only part of the problem. Most air pollution in the UK comes from road transport and residential emissions. Read the full story here.
Look on bright side of climate change, says IPCC report author
Doom and gloom about the impacts of climate change risks preventing effective action being taken to tackle it, one of the lead scientists in a major UN report into the impacts of global warming has said.
Chris Field, co-chairman of the working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called for more positivity about the “really exciting opportunities” to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
In a report to be released today, the IPCC warns of flooding, droughts, heatwaves and food shortages that are likely to result from rising temperatures and extreme weather patterns.
“It’s true we couldn’t find very many benefits of climate change,” he said. “I believe that’s because there aren’t that many.”
However, he urged policymakers to approach the issue with more positive thinking.
“Climate change is as rich with opportunity as it is with danger,” he said
Helping America’s beleaguered bees could start with something as humble as planting a shrub.
Here in California’s Central Valley, researchers are trying to find assortments of bee-friendly plants that local farmers and ranchers can easily grow, whether in unusable corners and borders of their land or on acreage set aside with government support.
Bees could certainly use the assist. Since 2006, the commercial beekeepers who raise honeybees and transport them across the country to pollinate crops have reported losing a third of their colonies each year, on average. Read the full story…
U.N. Court Orders Japan to Halt Antarctic Whaling
The decision to ban Japan’s annual whaling drive off Antarctica, handed down by the United Nations’ highest court on Monday, was a hard-won victory for conservationists who long argued that Tokyo’s whaling research was a cover for commercial whaling.
The ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague halts a Japanese program that has captured more than 10,000 minke and other whales in the Southern Ocean since 1988 in the name of biological research. Read the full story…
According to NRDC, “The Navy is prepared to kill nearly 1,000 whales and other marine mammals during the next five years of testing and training with dangerous sonar and explosives.”
Click HERE to tell Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to direct the Navy to adopt commonsense safeguards that will protect marine mammals during routine training without compromising military readiness.
For more on this, it is my pleasure to present the sexy Pierce Brosnan: