Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
"The Quantum Factor" – Apr 10, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Galaxies, Universe, Intelligent design, Benevolent design, Aliens, Nikola Tesla (Quantum energy), Inter-Planetary Travel, DNA, Genes, Stem Cells, Cells, Rejuvenation, Shift of Human Consciousness, Spontaneous Remission, Religion, Dictators, Africa, China, Nuclear Power, Sustainable Development, Animals, Global Unity.. etc.) - (Text Version)

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“… 4 - Energy (again)

The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!

Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much….”

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change

Obama unveils landmark regulations to combat climate change
In a bid to combat climate change, US President Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan on Monday, marking the first time power plants have been targeted by mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in the US.
Google: Earthday 2013

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Controversial climate change boss uses car AND driver to travel one mile to office... (but he says YOU should use public transport)

MailOnline, by Simon Parry, Last updated at 1:48 AM on 31st January 2010

He is the climate change chief whose research body produced a report warning that the glaciers in the Himalayas might melt by 2035 and earned a Nobel Prize for his work – so you might expect Dr Rajendra Pachauri to be doing everything he can to reduce his own carbon footprint.

But as controversy continued to simmer last week over the bogus ‘Glaciergate’ claims in a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which he heads – Dr Pachauri showed no apparent inclination to cut global warming in his own back yard.

On Friday, for the one-mile journey from home to his Delhi office, Dr Pachauri could have walked, or cycled, or used the eco-friendly electric car provided for him, known in the UK as G-Wiz.

Leaving his footprint: Dr Pachauri being driven in his 1.8-litre Toyota Corolla

But instead, he had his personal chauffeur collect him from his £4.5million home – in a 1.8-litre Toyota Corolla.

Hours later, the chauffeur picked up Dr Pachauri from the office of the environmental charity where he is director-general – The Energy and Resources Institute – blatantly ignoring the institute’s own literature, which gives visitors tips on how to reduce pollution by using buses.

Dr Pachauri – who as IPCC chairman once told people to eat less meat to cut greenhouse gas emissions – was driven to an upmarket restaurant popular with expatriates and well-off tourists just half a mile from his luxurious family home.

As he waited outside the institute office for Dr Pachauri, the chauffeur said: ‘Dr Pachauri does use the electric car sometimes but most of the time he uses the Toyota.’

The electric car might be kinder to the environment and more suitable for short trips, explained the chauffeur – who has worked for the environmentalist for 19 years – but it was simply too small for Dr Pachauri and a driver to share. ‘When he uses it, he has to use it by himself,’ he said.

At his office, Dr Pachauri has at his disposal four electric cars obtained by the institute last year from REVA – the Indian company that makes the G-Wiz cars seen in many British cities.

The institute bought the battery-powered cars with the express aim of reducing pollution on short trips by staff around town. One of those cars has been set aside for his personal use.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri's work earned him a Nobel Prize

The chauffeur said Dr Pachauri’s family owned or ran a total of five cars. Dr Pachauri used three: the company Toyota, the REVA and an older ‘Ambassador-style car’ – a reference to the smoke-belching, Indian-made Hindustan Ambassador car, based on the vintage British Morris Oxford, that is a common sight at taxi ranks in Delhi.

The family’s two other cars are owned by Dr Pachauri’s wife and his grown-up son, also a scientist.

The five-star lifestyle and considerable wealth of Dr Pachauri – who is said to wear suits costing £1,000 each – has come under growing scrutiny since he was forced to acknowledge the error of the claims in an explosive 2007 IPCC report that the Himalayan glaciers might melt within 25 years.

The humiliating climbdown over the report, which was masterminded by Dr Pachauri and which led to the organisation sharing the Nobel Prize with Al Gore, was followed by calls for him to step down from the UN panel, which he has chaired since 2002.

On Friday, at the institute’s swish city-centre offices, where the foyer walls are covered with pictures of Dr Pachauri meeting politicians and dignitaries and receiving awards for his environmental work since he took up his role as its head in the Eighties, he declined to comment on recent calls for his resignation. He said: ‘I am very tied up – I am just too tied up to talk to you just now.’

His company’s manager for corporate communications, Rajiv Chhibber, later said: ‘Dr Pachauri is really stressed at the moment. The past two weeks have been very rough on him.

‘We have about 250 interview requests and he has to do all his usual work as well. We have the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit coming up in February and he has got a lot of work to catch up on.’

Another concern for Dr Pachauri could be the questions being asked about his portfolio of business interests in bodies that have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations – including banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds involved in carbon trading.

His institute is said to have received £310,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the lion’s share of a £2.5million EU grant after citing what have now been found to be the bogus Glaciergate claims in grant applications.

And there are signs in Delhi that Dr Pachauri – once fawned over by politicians and celebrities alike as a climate change luminary – is losing the support of some of his most powerful allies, including, critically, Indian government officials who previously used him as a key adviser.

Reports in Delhi last week suggested Dr Pachauri had been quietly dropped as head of a solar-power campaign being prepared by the prime minister.

Collecting dust: The electric car sits idle in the car park

The Golf Links area in Central Delhi where Dr Pachauri lives is named after the nearby Delhi Golf Course and is one of the most expensive residential areas in India. Every home in this gated community has its own security guard and it enjoys round-the-clock police patrols to protect its wealthy residents.

Dr Pachauri’s neighbours include a former prime minister’s son and senior Indian business leaders. Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man with an estimated £10.8billion fortune, owns a home in the same area.

Currently, homes of a similar size to Dr Pachauri’s are being advertised at prices of around £6million.

Explaining the area’s sky-high property prices, the director of an international property broker told India’s Economic Times: ‘This area has a certain snob value attached to it. Buying a house here means announcing to the world that one has arrived in life.’

Despite heading the UN body on climate change, Dr Pachauri has no background in environmental science. He began his career as a railway engineer, graduated in engineering and gained his doctorate in industrial engineering.

In an attack on Dr Pachauri in a Delhi magazine article on Friday, headlined The Great Climate Change Fraud, Indian commentator Ninad D. Sheth said: ‘Mr Pachauri has no training in climate science yet he heads the pontification panel which spreads the new gospel of a hotter world. How come?’

Yesterday, in a statement from Mr Chhibber, Dr Pachauri insisted that he would not resign over the Glaciergate controversy – and, ironically, urged people to use public transport to help reduce global warming.

Dr Pachauri said people should take ‘practical lifestyle steps’ including ‘use of energy-efficient transport, including public transport – and in general become conscious of our carbon footprints as individuals’.

Asked why Dr Pachauri used a chauffeur-driven car, Mr Chhibber said: ‘He does use the REVA electric car whenever he can and he encourages the staff to use the other electric cars when they drive around town. He also encourages all his staff to pool cars when we can.

‘But sometimes the REVA is not practical. It may be he has to pick up other people. There is not so much room inside.’

When Mr Chhibber was asked why Dr Pachauri left the REVA in the car park on Friday, he replied: ‘I cannot comment on that.’

Related Articles:

Top Climate Scientist Cleared of Massaging Data

UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article

Officials were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC's report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers. (Photo: GETTY)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Seoul to Get a Giant 131 Acre Green Roof

Fastcompany, by Ariel Schwartzt, Thu Jan 28, 2010

What is it with South Korea these days? First we learned about the planned Ecorium, a giant nature reserve featuring eco domes, an education center, and an environmental think tank. And now Samoo Architects and Engineers, the same firm behind the Ecorium, has announced plans to build a 131 acre green roof on top of an old wholesale market.

As part of the Garak Wholesale Market's redesign, Samoo plans to build in "ecotubes" that bring daylight and ventilation from the top of the market to the lower floors. The green roof will also feature promenades, and a public park that captures rainwater runoff for later use. The roof will also be used to insulate the market below.

Samoo's green roof, which is significantly larger than the biggest green roof in NYC, makes us wonder: How long until the sprawling roofs become more commonplace? There can never be enough green spaces in a city, and urban planners are finally beginning to catch on.

Friday, January 29, 2010

U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer responds to an AP reader

AP / Facebook, 29 Jan 2010, 12:54

The AP's Angela Charlton had a chance to ask an AP reader's question during her interview with U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer at the World Economic Forum on Friday.

Joseph Abeles had noted the climate change skepticism after the recent admission that a report warning Himalayan glaciers could be gone by 2035 was hundreds of years off, and by leaked e-mails from University of East Anglia's climate science unit. Abeles asked: "Post-East-Anglia, whom are we to believe? ... A nagging concern is the enduring and pervasive use of the term "consensus" to describe experts' conclusions."

Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, speaks during a session on climate change at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday Jan. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

De Boer said "What's happened, it's unfortunate, it's bad, it's wrong, but I don't think it has damaged the basic science." He was unequivocal about the fact that global warming is real and is a clear threat to the planet. He said skeptics of such beliefs should not be claiming victory just because of the recent scandals.

"Concluding that the Himalayan glaciers are going to disappear later is like being happy about the fact that the Titanic is sinking more slowly than we had originally feared, even though it's still going to sink," he said.

De Boer also said he was "depressed" after the December climate talks in Copenhagen failed to produce a binding accord to cut global carbon emissions and pay poor countries to deal with higher sea levels.

Click here for AP's full story on climate talks at the forum, where participants are discussing ways that governments, big business and activists can work together to find a path that is effective environmentally but won't break the bank.

Related Articles:

RI submits emission cuts target to UN

Indigenous people get ‘20%’ REDD money

Green light for CO2 storage under Dutch town

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Environmentally-friendly artificial grass?

Imagine a lawn or a sports field made from artificial grass. It's hard to imagine something more unnatural, but Desso, a major Belgian-Dutch carpet manufacturer, is planning to introduce completely recyclable, environmentally-friendly artificial grass this year.

Desso's managing director Stef Kranendijk explains why artificial grass is better for the environment than the natural stuff:

"A vast amount of expensive water is necessary to keep playing fields green. And then there's the pesticides and herbicides used to get rid of the weeds, that's a real assault on the environment. You can also play far fewer matches on natural grass. If you are planning a competition, you need at least five playing fields; that uses five times the water and pesticides."


The artificial grass industry focuses primarily on the sports market. The walls of the reception centre at the Desso factory in Dendermonde is resplendent with shirts from well-known clubs, including the Spanish national football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, Arsenal and Anderlecht FC, that have all bid natural grass playing fields farewell.

Mr Kranendijk says the company has still got a lot to achieve: "Just eight percent of the sports fields in the European Union are artificial grass, so we've got a long way to go".

Unfortunately artificial grass is made of plastic, or to be slightly more precise, polyethylene. And until now, when it wore out, that huge plastic carpet ended up in an incinerator or was dumped on a rubbish tip. But things are changing: Desso is planning to develop a grass carpet that is completely recyclable; when the plastic playing field has worn out, it will be returned to the factory and entirely reused without any loss of quality.

The principle is called Cradle-to-Cradle or C2C. It was originally a US recycling philosophy, but the principle is winning more and more adherents in the Netherlands. It's hardly a surprising phenomena as 100 percent recycling is good for the environment, cheaper in the long run and gives companies a very valuable green image. It's a win-win situation all round. Mr Kranendijk is the first to admit that his clients are prepared to pay extra for a super-environmentally-friendly product.


Just because 100 percent C2C is not yet possible doesn't detract from the basic idea. It is still impossible to expect that the plastic for the artificial grass will be created from plants - futuristic biopolymers - or that the vehicles transporting the carpet will run on green electricity, but that is the ultimate aim: 100 percent recyclable and zero percent pollution.

Desso is making a valiant attempt: the electricity that runs the factory is water-generated. It's not perfect, after all, reservoirs and dams also damage the environment, but the electricity generated is far cleaner than the electricity generated by coal, gas or nuclear power plants. A significant proportion of the water is also re-claimed and re-used and the company hopes to raise that proportion to 100 percent in the near future.


And then there is the recyclable artificial grass itself. Understandably, Mr Kranendijk refused to reveal exactly how Desso plans to make it, as competition is stiff. However, he did say that the blades of grass and the backing will be created from the same material. It is far from simple and has taken years of research as the two components perform very, very different functions and must fulfil other requirements. However, success is on the horizon and once the playing field has worn out, the entire grass carpet will be taken up and melted down into new polyethylene granules and used to make another artificial playing field.

At the moment, C2C artificial grass is in the final phase of development and the company hopes to lay the first 100 percent recyclable sports field in April, where athletes can train to their hearts’ content, happy in the knowledge that it's made of eco-plastic.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Green light for CO2 storage under Dutch town

NRC International, 27 January 2010 12:41, By our news staff

In spite of residents' protests, Dutch parliament approved the construction of an experimental underground carbon dioxide storage facility beneath the town of Barendrecht on Tuesday.

Who can guarantee their houses won’t lose value? Or their foundations shift? Could people die in explosions, or even suffocate, if carbon dioxide escapes from its underground storage?

The people of Barendrecht, a town of 45,000 south of Rotterdam, are scared and furious the Dutch government has designated two depleted natural-gas fields below a residential area to serve as a trial for storing carbon dioxide. On Tuesday parliament approved the trial, which is seen as a prelude to large scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the Netherlands.

Emission reduction goals

CCS under land and sea is seen as an effective way to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The UN climate change panel IPCC predicts 20 to 45 percent of all CO2 emission could be stored by 2050. The Netherlands has high hopes the technology will help it meet its emission reduction goals and the government has commissioned Shell oil company to capture ten million tonnes of carbon dioxide from one of its oil refineries and pump it 1,800 metres below Barendrecht before it will allow storage in the larger gas fields in the north of the country.

Parliament's approval comes with some conditions. Junior coalition party ChristenUnie demanded proof from the responsible ministers that the trial is absolutely necessary for the country to reduce its carbon dioxide emission by 30 percent in 2020, compared to 1990. Environment minister Jacqueline Cramer and economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven have three months to supply the evidence.

Barendrecht mayor Jan van Belzen, in response to Tuesday's decision, said the condition imposed by parliament shows "huge question marks linger" over the need for the trial in his town.

'Not under our backyard'

In December, hundreds of furious Barendrechters attended an information session with Cramer and Van der Hoeven to show they did not want the storage under their backyard. Despite the ministers assurance, backed by several studies, that the trial is perfectly safe, residents wonder how a densely populated residential area could have been chosen as the site for the experiment. Why not use the empty gas fields in depopulated parts of the country’s north or even under the North Sea?

The answer is that Barendrecht lies on top of two fields that are nearly exhausted, while the northern gas fields are still in operation. Besides, it is close to a major industrial hub, Pernis, where Shell conducts much of its operations. The Dutch-British oil giant only wanted to participate in the project if the fields under Barendrecht were made available. Residents and politicians have said the national government is being "held hostage" by the company.

To temper Barendrecht’s worries, the government has instituted a fund to compensate for any damage arising from the project. The question remains if this will prove enough to mollify the anger expressed by one resident at December's meeting. "If this goes wrong, I'll know where to find you," he yelled at minister Van der Hoeven.

Indonesia Plans $1 Billion Green Investment Fund

Jakarta Globe, January 26, 2010

The fund is intended to provide equity to help environmentally-friendly
 projects get bank loans. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Indonesia plans a $1 billion green investment fund this year to drive infrastructure developments that aid growth and help cut greenhouse gas emissions, a finance ministry official said on Tuesday.

Indonesia has promised to slash its emissions by at least 26 percent from business as usual levels by 2020 but recently re-elected President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also vowed to boost economic growth to 7 percent or more by 2014.

At global climate talks in Copenhagen last month, Yudhoyono announced a plan to develop the Indonesia Green Investment Fund, which will catalyse infrastructure development that could speed economic growth, boost food and clean water production and also help cut emissions blamed for global warming.

Indonesia's sovereign wealth fund the Government Investment Unit will put $100 million into the fund and a further $900 million will come from foreign governments including Norway and Australia, plus institutional investors, said Edward Gustely, a senior adviser to the Ministry of Finance.

"We're in the initial stages but the target is to have this fund operational within this year," Gustely told Reuters, adding the fund would rival Brazil's Amazon Fund in size and scope. "There's no reason why this can't, in the next five years, scale to $5 billion or more."

Brazil launched its Amazon Fund last year to promote sustainable development and scientific research in the world's largest rain forest, with donations from European countries and the first projects unveiled last month.

Indonesia last year became the first country to launch a legal framework for a U.N.-backed scheme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, allowing polluters to earn tradeable carbon credits by paying developing nations not to chop down their trees.

Indonesia's green investment fund will not offer loans or grants but rather top-up funding needed for projects where a bank lender is seeking an additional equity injection.

"Many technology providers and project sponsors don't have the balance sheet to top up the required equity needed to secure financing," said Gustely. "We would come in and play a catalyst role to ensure good projects with good asset quality, with good expertise and proper management, can be deployed and proceed."

The Copenhagen talks failed to achieve a legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but projects like the Indonesia Green Investment Fund were a way for countries to take initiative at home, said Gustely.

"This is driven by how to create more food, water and energy in a sustainable fashion while trying to achieve Indonesia's growth objectives," he said.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, climate change programme director for WWF Indonesia, welcomed the fund but said more needed to be done to reduce Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Indonesian government heavily subsidies fossil fuels, but investment in renewable energy sources is too expensive. The government must help the private sector by making investment in renewable energy sources cheaper, which will address the problem. But at the moment coal plants continue to be built, which does not help," he said.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Biodiversity loss is 'wake-up call', warns UN

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Berlin

The Giant Jewel of West Africa is threatened by loss of forest

The UN launches the International Year of Biodiversity on Monday, warning that the ongoing loss of species affects human well-being around the world.

Eight years ago, governments pledged to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, but the pledge will not be met.

The expansion of human cities, farming and infrastructure is the main reason.

Dignitaries including German premier Angela Merkel will speak at the launch in Berlin, with a video message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr Ban is due to say that human expansion is wiping out species at about 1,000 times the "natural" or "background" rate, and that "business as usual is not an option".

The Secretary-General is expected to argue that the failure to protect biodiversity "should be a wake-up call", leading to effective ways of protecting forests, watersheds, coral reefs and other ecosystems.

The UN says that as natural systems such as forests and wetlands disappear, humanity loses the services they currently provide for free, such as the purification of air and water, protection from extreme weather events and the provision of materials for shelter and fire.

The rate of species loss leads some biologists to say that we are in the middle of the Earth's sixth great extinction, the previous five stemming from natural events such as asteroid impacts.

Cash log

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was agreed at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, alongside the climate change convention.

But it acquired its key global pledge during the Johannesburg summit of 2002, when governments agreed to achieve a "significant reduction" in the rate of biological diversity by 2010.

Conservation organisations acknowledge that despite some regional successes, the target is not going to be met; some analyses suggest that nature loss is accelerating rather than decelerating.

Nature loss 'dwarfs bank crisis'

"We are facing an extinction crisis," said Jane Smart, director of the biodiversity conservation group with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"The loss of this beautiful and complex natural diversity that underpins all life on the planet is a serious threat to humankind now and in the future."

A large on-going UN-sponsored study into the economics of biodiversity suggests that deforestation alone costs the global economy $2-5 trillion each year.

In his speech at Monday's event, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner is due to highlight problems caused by invasive species, and the potential for ecosystems such as forests and wetlands to absorb and store carbon from the air.

The UN hopes some kind of legally-binding treaty to curb biodiversity loss can be agreed at the CBD summit, held in Japan in October.

One element is due to be a long-awaited protocol under which the genetic resources of financially-poor but biodiversity-rich nations can be exploited in a way that brings benefits to all.

However, given the lack of appetite for legally-binding environmental agreements that key countries displayed at last month's climate summit in Copenhagen, it is unclear just what kind of deal might materialise on biodiversity.

Political football

The UN has been pursuing new ways of raising public awareness on the issue, including a collaboration with the Cameroon football team taking part in the African Nations Cup finals.

Many environment organisations will be running special programmes and mounting events during the year.

"The big opportunity during the International Year of Biodiversity is for governments to do for biodiversity what they failed to do for climate change in Copenhagen," said Simon Stuart, a senior science advisor to Conservation International and chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission.

"They have the chance to make a major difference; and key to this will be halting species extinctions, the most irreversible aspect of biodiversity loss."

WWF is highlighting 10 species it considers especially threatened, ranging from commercially significant ones such as bluefin tuna to the Pacific walrus and the monarch butterfly.

In the UK, the Natural History Museum (NHM) is asking every citizen to "do one thing for biodiversity" in 2010.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The mini ice age starts here

Mail Online, by DAVID ROSE, 11:17 AM on 10th January 2010

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.

The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise.

They say that their research shows that much of the warming was caused by oceanic cycles when they were in a ‘warm mode’ as opposed to the present ‘cold mode’.

This challenge to the widespread view that the planet is on the brink of an irreversible catastrophe is all the greater because the scientists could never be described as global warming ‘deniers’ or sceptics.

However, both main British political parties continue to insist that the world is facing imminent disaster without drastic cuts in CO2.

This image of the UK taken from NASA's multi-national Terra satellite on Thursday shows the extent of the freezing weather

Last week, as Britain froze, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband maintained in a parliamentary answer that the science of global warming was ‘settled’.

Among the most prominent of the scientists is Professor Mojib Latif, a leading member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been pushing the issue of man-made global warming on to the international political agenda since it was formed 22 years ago.

Prof Latif, who leads a research team at the renowned Leibniz Institute at Germany’s Kiel University, has developed new methods for measuring ocean temperatures 3,000ft beneath the surface, where the cooling and warming cycles start.

He and his colleagues predicted the new cooling trend in a paper published in 2008 and warned of it again at an IPCC conference in Geneva last September.

Last night he told The Mail on Sunday: ‘A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles – perhaps as much as 50 per cent.

'They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. Summers will also probably be cooler, and all this may well last two decades or longer.

‘The extreme retreats that we have seen in glaciers and sea ice will come to a halt. For the time being, global warming has paused, and there may well be some cooling.’

As Europe, Asia and North America froze last week, conventional wisdom insisted that this was merely a ‘blip’ of no long-term significance.

Though record lows were experienced as far south as Cuba, where the daily maximum on beaches normally used for winter bathing was just 4.5C, the BBC assured viewers that the big chill was merely short-term ‘weather’ that had nothing to do with ‘climate’, which was still warming.

The work of Prof Latif and the other scientists refutes that view.

On the one hand, it is true that the current freeze is the product of the ‘Arctic oscillation’ – a weather pattern that sees the development of huge ‘blocking’ areas of high pressure in northern latitudes, driving polar winds far to the south.

Meteorologists say that this is at its strongest for at least 60 years.

As a result, the jetstream – the high-altitude wind that circles the globe from west to east and normally pushes a series of wet but mild Atlantic lows across Britain – is currently running not over the English Channel but the Strait of Gibraltar.

However, according to Prof Latif and his colleagues, this in turn relates to much longer-term shifts – what are known as the Pacific and Atlantic ‘multi-decadal oscillations’ (MDOs).

For Europe, the crucial factor here is the temperature of the water in the middle of the North Atlantic, now several degrees below its average when the world was still warming.

But the effects are not confined to the Northern Hemisphere. Prof Anastasios Tsonis, head of the University of Wisconsin Atmospheric Sciences Group, has recently shown that these MDOs move together in a synchronised way across the globe, abruptly flipping the world’s climate from a ‘warm mode’ to a ‘cold mode’ and back again in 20 to 30-year cycles.

'They amount to massive rearrangements in the dominant patterns of the weather,’ he said yesterday, ‘and their shifts explain all the major changes in world temperatures during the 20th and 21st Centuries.

'We have such a change now and can therefore expect 20 or 30 years of cooler temperatures.’

Prof Tsonis said that the period from 1915 to 1940 saw a strong warm mode, reflected in rising temperatures.

But from 1940 until the late Seventies, the last MDO cold-mode era, the world cooled, despite the fact that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continued to rise.

Many of the consequences of the recent warm mode were also observed 90 years ago.

For example, in 1922, the Washington Post reported that Greenland’s glaciers were fast disappearing, while Arctic seals were ‘finding the water too hot’.

It interviewed a Captain Martin Ingebrigsten, who had been sailing the eastern Arctic for 54 years: ‘He says that he first noted warmer conditions in 1918, and since that time it has gotten steadily warmer.

'Where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended into the sea they have entirely disappeared.’

As a result, the shoals of fish that used to live in these waters had vanished, while the sea ice beyond the north coast of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean had melted.

Warm Gulf Stream water was still detectable within a few hundred miles of the Pole.

In contrast, Prof Tsonis said, last week 56 per cent of the surface of the United States was covered by snow.

‘That hasn’t happened for several decades,’ he pointed out. ‘It just isn’t true to say this is a blip. We can expect colder winters for quite a while.’

He recalled that towards the end of the last cold mode, the world’s media were preoccupied by fears of freezing.

For example, in 1974, a Time magazine cover story predicted ‘Another Ice Age’, saying: ‘Man may be somewhat responsible – as a result of farming and fuel burning [which is] blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the Earth.’

Prof Tsonis said: ‘Perhaps we will see talk of an ice age again by the early 2030s, just as the MDOs shift once more and temperatures begin to rise.’

Like Prof Latif, Prof Tsonis is not a climate change ‘denier’. There is, he said, a measure of additional ‘background’ warming due to human activity and greenhouse gases that runs across the MDO cycles.

But he added: ‘I do not believe in catastrophe theories. Man-made warming is balanced by the natural cycles, and I do not trust the computer models which state that if CO2 reaches a particular level then temperatures and sea levels will rise by a given amount.

'These models cannot be trusted to predict the weather for a week, yet they are running them to give readings for 100 years.’

Prof Tsonis said that when he published his work in the highly respected journal Geophysical Research Letters, he was deluged with ‘hate emails’.

He added: ‘People were accusing me of wanting to destroy the climate, yet all I’m interested in is the truth.’

He said he also received hate mail from climate change sceptics, accusing him of not going far enough to attack the theory of man-made warming.

The work of Profs Latif, Tsonis and their teams raises a crucial question: If some of the late 20th Century warming was caused not by carbon dioxide but by MDOs, then how much?

Tsonis did not give a figure; Latif suggested it could be anything between ten and 50 per cent.

Other critics of the warming orthodoxy say the role played by MDOs is even greater.

William Gray, emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University, said that while he believed there had been some background rise caused by greenhouse gases, the computer models used by advocates of man-made warming had hugely exaggerated their effect.

According to Prof Gray, these distort the way the atmosphere works. ‘Most of the rise in temperature from the Seventies to the Nineties was natural,’ he said. ‘Very little was down to CO2 – in my view, as little as five to ten per cent.’

But last week, die-hard warming advocates were refusing to admit that MDOs were having any impact.

In March 2000, Dr David Viner, then a member of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, the body now being investigated over the notorious ‘Warmergate’ leaked emails, said that within a few years snowfall would become ‘a very rare and exciting event’ in Britain, and that ‘children just aren’t going to know what snow is’.'

Now the head of a British Council programme with an annual £10 million budget that raises awareness of global warming among young people abroad, Dr Viner last week said he still stood by that prediction: ‘We’ve had three weeks of relatively cold weather, and that doesn’t change anything.

'This winter is just a little cooler than average, and I still think that snow will become an increasingly rare event.’

The longer the cold spell lasts, the harder it may be to persuade the public of that assertion.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

New wind farm zones are announced

More offshore wind turbines could soon be seen around the UK

Successful bids for nine new offshore wind farm zone licences within UK waters have been announced.

A consortium including Npower and Norway's Statkraft won the licence for the biggest zone, in Dogger Bank, which could produce nine gigawatts of energy.

Turbines in the nine zones could generate up to 32 gigawatts of power, a quarter of the UK's electricity needs.

The winners have signed exclusive agreements with the Crown Estate, which owns the UK seabed.

Proposals for the wind farms will now go through planning and consent stages.

It will create one of the biggest infrastructure projects for wind energy in the world, with construction beginning in 2014 at the earliest.

The second largest zone, with a potential energy yield of 7.2 gigawatts, is at Norfolk Bank. The wind farm licence there has been won by a consortium of Scottish Power Renewables and Sweden's Vattenfall Vindkraft.

Speaking on behalf of the joint venture, Keith Anderson said the companies were "delighted" to have been awarded the development rights.

"It will be a major engineering challenge, but the combined experience of both partners acquired over decades in the energy business will help us deliver a project that will deliver enough green power to meet the equivalent annual electricity demand of more than five million homes in the UK," he said.

This is the third time companies have had a chance to bid for zones.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government's policies to support offshore wind energy had put the UK ahead of other countries.

"This new round of licences provides a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity," he added.

"The offshore wind industry is at the heart of the UK economy's shift to low carbon and could be worth £75bn and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020," he said.

The turbines will be erected in water depths of up to 60m, compared with 25m for previous rounds. They will be positioned up to 205km off the coast, compared with 25km currently.