Archive by date | April 2009

IHDP: No time for pessimism, says small islands leader

IHDP: No time for pessimism, says small islands leader

A group of ambassadors from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) stopped by the IHDP conference yesterday and held a panel discussion on dealing with the leading edge of dangerous climate change. For AOSIS countries that stand to be swallowed by rising seas or devastated by droughts and storms, their continued existence is on the line in this year’s climate negotiations. At the UN meeting here in Bonn in March, the group issued a statement saying, “The survival of the small island states should be the benchmark for the success of the Copenhagen agreement.” I nabbed AOSIS chair Dessima Williams of Grenada for a quick interview on the island states’ agenda.  Read more

Wilkins ice shelf collapse continues

Wilkins ice shelf collapse continues

Cross-posted from The Great Beyond Following the collapse on April 4 of a narrow ice bridge that had connected the Wilkins ice shelf with a small island off the Antarctic Peninsula, the northern ice front of the ice sheet is beginning to disintegrate. A high-resolution radar image taken on April 20 by the German TerraSAR-X satellite shows large icebergs being released from a rift zone near Latady Island. Scientists expect up to 3,400 square kilometretres of the Wilkins Ice Sheet to break into icebergs before a new stable ice front will form. Quirin Schiermeier  … Read more

IHDP: From London to Ibadan, ‘it’s not our problem’

Yesterday I caught a speedy summary of the climate vulnerability of Nigerian cities that included a glimpse into public perceptions there. Felix Olorunfemi of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research surveyed 300 people door-to-door in the city of Ibadan and found that awareness of climate change was low, that it was seen as a complex and abstract problem, and that knowledge of such environmental problems wasn’t correlated with action taken to address them.  Read more

IHDP: Blasé economics

Popping up at the IHDP conference are signs of a certain gap in perception of climate change risks – one that economist Frank Ackerman pointed to in a letter to NRCC recently. “Climate change can’t be both a fundamental threat to the conditions that support human life, according to scientists, and a mid-sized policy puzzle that can be solved by an adjustment in tax rates, according to economists,” Ackerman wrote.  Read more

IHDP: should 90% of climate change research be social science?

I’m in the hall that once housed the West German Parliament, a glass-covered fish tank of a building on the Rhine, which nowadays has become the Bonn World Conference Centre. For the next four days, the politicians’ microphone-studded desks will be lined by experts in the field of ‘human dimensions of global change’ – given the impressively broad nickname ‘human dimensions’ among this crowd. About 1,200 participants are here to give 800 talks that make up the Open Meeting of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), a research arm of the UN.  Read more

Bad news: Aerosols are good for plants

The aerosol story just keeps getting more interesting. In addition to ongoing research about the direct impact of various aerosols on climate and temperature (see here and here, for example), there’s also the indirect impact on photosynthesis and carbon uptake. A study in this week’s Nature explores the latter phenomenon with regard to sulphur dioxide and comes up with some startling results.  Read more

EGU: China’s carbon sink – it’s large

EGU: China's carbon sink - it's large

China’s forests, shrublands and soils have absorbed a third or so of China’s fossil fuel emissions from 1980 to 2000. Sequestering up to 260 million tonnes of carbon per year, the Chinese land sink is more than twice as large than that of geographic Europe, and comparable in size to that of the United States.  Read more