Wonder weed plans fail to flourish

Wonder weed plans fail to flourish

This week in Nature you can read the first (subscription) of four articles unpicking the business of biofuels. First up is jatropha – the shrub that promised to give drought-ridden countries boundless oil supplies. The reality has turned out to be somewhat different. After a period of hype and over enthusiasm, investments have dried up, somewhat like the promise of oil from arid land.  Read more

Sunburnt Southern Hemisphere in 2095

Sunburnt Southern Hemisphere in 2095

Global warming doesn’t just change the weather, it also affects the ozone layer. According to a detailed new modelling study, by 2095 the springtime UV index (UVI) could go up by as much as 20% on the southernmost section of the planet, as altered atmospheric circulation pushes more stratospheric ozone into the Northern Hemisphere. That’s nearly half the UVI increase caused by ozone-eating pollutants in the late twentieth century – but coming from climate change alone.  Read more

Interview: Dieter Helm

Interview: Dieter Helm

Oxford economist Dieter Helm co-edits an upcoming book, The Economics and Politics of Climate Change, that he says takes “a colder and harder look at the challenge”. In a Q&A on Nature Reports Climate Change this week, Helm gives his take on a long-term strategy for reducing emissions. Here’s an excerpt:  … Read more

Why a climate crisis is like an epileptic seizure

Why a climate crisis is like an epileptic seizure

Tipping points – those critical thresholds in a complex system where a small nudge can cause a catastrophic response – are perhaps the most fearsome threats to the Earth’s climate, but they also haunt ecosystems, financial markets, and even sufferers of medical conditions such as epilepsy and asthma. A fascinating review in Nature today (subscription) sketches out the mathematical patterns on which many of these instances seem to be based, and describes giveaway signs that might warn us to change course before the system tips.  Read more

Geoengineering report baffles reporters

Geoengineering report baffles reporters

Cross-posted from Geoff Brumfiel on The Great Beyond Yesterday the Royal Society, Britain’s premier scientific body, delivered its official view on geoengineering. Scientists analyzed a dozen different approaches and weighed their pros and cons. Then, being scientists, they plotted their results in a bizarre phase space that nobody could understand. Many a reporter, myself included, were scratching our heads when co-author Ken Caldeira popped this little gem up onto the screen: (Note: error bars are purely symbolic. Huh?) Now I want to be fair, the Royal Society report is actually very well written and it contains a lot of good  … Read more

Guardian launches 10:10 campaign

Guardian launches 10:10 campaign

Today The Guardian is unveiling their new 10:10 campaign, which pledges individuals, businesses and organizations to shrink their carbon footprints 10% in 2010. I’m heading down to Tate Modern to tweet the launch – follow @annabarnett, #1010.  Read more

The high cost of adaptation

Adapting to climate change will cost many times more than the UN has estimated, according to a report by former IPCC working group co-chair Martin Parry and colleagues, published by the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.  Read more