Some people combat climate change by holding grand international conferences; others, by serving up a heaping lunch buffet of falafel, couscous, and beets to a cafeteria full of hungry soldiers.
Last week, at the Rena military base 90 miles north of Oslo, the Norwegian armed forces staged its first-ever “meat-free Monday" (on a Thursday, oddly enough) as part of a larger effort to decrease the military’s consumption of meat and protect the environment (in September, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that livestock supply chains are responsible for nearly 15 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions). In one of the more unlikely ecological experiments we’ve seen recently, the military plans to test out the concept at other bases over the next year—and estimates that it can cut its meat consumption by more than 330,000 pounds a year if it extends meatless Mondays to all units at home and abroad.
"It seems that people don’t think it’s possible to be an iron man as a vegetarian, it seems like they don’t think a good soldier can be a vegetarian, but we have a lot of soldiers who are vegetarian, so I know it’s possible," says Pal Stenberg, a nutritionist and navy commander who heads up the army’s catering division. "We have to use a lot of effort in communicating both the environmental benefits and the health benefits."
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Last year saw the worst wine shortfall in a half-century. And there’s little indication that world production can keep pace with the oenophilic hordes.
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What do Somali pirates have to do with climate change?
Not much, except that the threat of the machine-gun slinging bandits has ended critical oceanographic research on the seabed of the Indian Ocean—research that is crucial to our understanding of how and when, exactly, the world’s largest arid region dried out. Climate investigations off the Horn of Africa were suspended just weeks before September 11, 2001, after a scientific vessel, the Maurice Ewing, was attacked with rocket propelled grenades 18 nautical miles off the Somali coast.
But, amazingly, one final research vessel somehow passed through a phalanx of small-craft pirate boats in the Gulf of Aden unscathed.
Spurred by global warming, the insects have accounted for more than two dozen deaths in the country.
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The polar icecaps are melting faster than we thought they would; seas are rising faster than we thought they would; extreme weather events are increasing. Have a nice day! That’s a less than scientifically rigorous summary of the findings of the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released this morning in Stockholm.
Appearing exhausted after a nearly two sleepless days fine-tuning the language of the report, co-chair Thomas Stocker called climate change “the greatest challenge of our time,” adding that “each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than the past,” and that this trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
Pledging further action to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This isn’t a run of the mill report to be dumped in a filing cabinet. This isn’t a political document produced by politicians… It’s science.”
And that science needs to be communicated to the public, loudly and clearly. I canvassed leading climate researchers for their take on the findings of the vastly influential IPCC report. What headline would they put on the news? What do they hope people hear about this report?
Read more. [Image: NASA]
The world can expect more events like this in the future.
This past month was the hottest July in a hundred years of records for Shanghai, which had 31 straight days with temperatures above 95. Nationally, it’s been the hottest recorded summer since 1951.
What you see above is a Landsat image showing Shanghai’s heat island. Hot surfaces are yellow, with the brightest hues representing 104-degree heat. Pinkish areas indicate cooler zones.
Alexis Madrigal offers a quick, animated look at at where emissions come from on our planet
The pace of global warming is going to make it difficult if not impossible for species to find appropriate habitats.
Farmers in Brazil are more likely to invade each others’ land in years that are particularly wet or unusually dry. Americans honk their horns more at other cars when it’s hot outside. Countries in the tropics are more likely to have civil wars in years that are especially hot or dry.
They may seem random, but actually, these events are all connected. New research from Princeton University and UC Berkeley published today in Science reveals a link between big shifts in climate and precipitation and a rise in interpersonal violence, institutional breakdown, and especially inter-group violence, such as war. Not only does the paper shed light on past bouts of global conflict, it also offers a warning about the future. The world is expected to warm by at least 2 degrees Celsius over the next few decades, unless governments do something drastic, and the researchers say that increased bloodshed could be a serious side-effect of that trend.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]