Climate change impacts worse than expected, global report warns

Climate change impacts worse than expected, global report warns

SOURCE: National Geographic DATE: October 7, 2018 SNIP: The impacts and costs of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) of global warming will be far greater than expected, according to a comprehensive assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Sunday in Incheon, South Korea. The past decade has seen an astonishing run of record-breaking storms, forest fires, droughts, coral bleaching, heat waves, and floods around the world with just 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degrees Celsius) of global warming. “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health, and well-being,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Chair of the Global Centre for Environment and Energy at Ahmedabad University in India and co-author of the Special Report, in a statement. Such impacts include stronger storms, more erratic weather, dangerous heat waves, rising seas, and largescale disruption to infrastructure and migration...
Push to Burn Wood for Fuel Threatens Climate Goals, Scientists Warn

Push to Burn Wood for Fuel Threatens Climate Goals, Scientists Warn

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: June 24, 2018 SNIP: The European Union declared this week that it could make deeper greenhouse gas cuts than it has already pledged under the Paris climate agreement. But its scientific advisors warn that the EU’s new renewable energy policy could undermine that goal because it fails to fully account for the climate impacts of burning wood for fuel. By counting forest biomass, such as wood pellets used in power plants, as carbon-neutral, the new rules could make it impossible for Europe to achieve its climate goals, the European Academy of Sciences Advisory Council (EASAC) wrote in a strongly worded statement. The council said the renewable energy policy’s treatment of biomass is “simplistic and misleading” and could actually add to Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 to 30 years. [T]he [EU’s] renewable energy policy includes burning wood for fuel. Over a year ago, the EU’s science advisors published a comprehensive report debunking the logic behind treating all wood fuel as beneficial to the climate. Because burning wood gives off more CO2 than coal per unit of electricity produced, the climate math doesn’t add up, scientists say. Large-scale forest harvests have a climate warming effect for at least 20 to 35 years, said University of Helsinki climate and forest scientist Jaana Bäck, who noted that scores of evidence-based studies all say basically the same...
World’s great forests could lose half of all wildlife as planet warms

World’s great forests could lose half of all wildlife as planet warms

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: March 13, 2018 SNIP: The world’s greatest forests could lose more than half of their plant species by the end of the century unless nations ramp up efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new report on the impacts of global warming on biodiversity hotspots. Mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds are also likely to disappear on a catastrophic scale in the Amazon and other naturally rich ecosystems in Africa, Asia, North America and Australia if temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, concludes the study by WWF, the University of East Anglia and the James Cook University. The research in the journal Climate Change examined the impact of three different levels of warming – 2C (the upper target in the 2015 Paris agreement), 3.2C (the likely rise given existing national commitments) and 4.5C (the forecast outcome if emissions trends remain unchanged) on nearly 80,000 plant and animal species in 35 of the world’s most biodiverse regions. If governments fail to set more ambitious commitments than those currently on the table, the report projects devastating losses of more than 60% of plant species and almost 50% of animal species in the Amazon at a temperature rise of 3.2C. If countries lift their efforts sufficiently to reach the 2C goal, the outlook is improved – but still grim – with more than 35% of species at risk of local extinction in the region. If no actions are taken, the picture is apocalyptic, with a likely loss of more than 70% of plant and reptile species and a more than 60% decline of mammal, reptile and bird species...
The Importance of Keeping Forests Intact

The Importance of Keeping Forests Intact

SOURCE: Pacific Standard DATE: February 28, 2018 SNIP: When it comes to habitat quality and ecosystem services, research has shown that natural landscapes do it best. A new study, published recently in Nature, adds fodder to this argument, describing how intact forests are critically important for mitigating climate change, maintaining water supplies, safeguarding biodiversity, and even protecting human health. However, it warns that global policies aimed at reducing deforestation are not putting enough emphasis on the preservation of the world’s dwindling intact forests, instead relying on a one-size-fits-all approach that may end up doing more harm than good. Intact forests are large areas of connected habitat free from human-caused disturbance. From the Amazon rainforest in South America to the taiga that rings the Arctic, the Earth’s intact forests provide a diverse array of unbroken habitats for many—if not most—of the planet’s terrestrial wildlife. But intact forests are disappearing. An analysis released last year found that, overall, the world lost more than 7 percent of its intact forest landscapes in just over a decade, a trend that appears to be accelerating. Zooming in, the analysis reveals bigger losses for specific regions: 10.1 percent in Africa, 13.9 percent in Southeast Asia, nearly 22 percent in Australia. At the country level, Paraguay came out particularly bad, losing almost 80 percent of its intact forest landscapes between 2000 and 2013. [R]esearch has shown even small logging roads can open up a “Pandora’s box” of destructive repercussions that can threaten the integrity of a once-untouched forest. Such seemingly small, localized deforestation activities have resulted in a situation where the world’s forests have essentially been...

A destructive beetle has jumped the Rockies

SOURCE: Yale Climate Connections DATE: January 22, 2018 SNIP: Canada’s vast conifer forests are being destroyed by tiny beetles that are on the move. Mountain pine beetles are native to western North America, but as the climate warms, the beetle’s range is expanding. Six: “It’s actually jumped the Rockies and has spread across Alberta to Saskatchewan. That’s in the far north, it’s interior. It’s typically very, very cold, and in the past too cold for the beetle to survive there, but now it’s warm enough.” Diana Six is an entomologist at the University of Montana. She says that, as the beetles spread to these new locations, they are starting to kill a new type of tree: jack pine, which is a dominant species across much of Canada. Six: “Jack pine is what we call a naive host. It means it’s one that the beetle hasn’t co-evolved with and so that tree has never had to evolve defenses against the beetle.” She fears that the beetles could destroy vast areas of jack pine forests across Canada, and eventually even move into eastern pine forests. When dead trees decompose, they release stored carbon back to the atmosphere. So when millions of trees are destroyed by beetles, it is not just devastating for wildlife – it makes climate change...