The United Nations’ latest report on climate change contains plenty of dire warnings about the adverse impact “human interference with the climate system” is having on everything from sea levels to crop yields to violent conflicts. But the primary message of the study isn’t, as John Kerry suggested on Sunday, for countries to collectively reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Instead, the subtext appears to be this: Climate change is happening and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future. As a result, we need to adapt to a warming planet—to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits associated with increasing temperatures—rather than focusing solely on curbing warming in the first place. And it’s businesses and local governments, rather than the international community, that can lead the way.
“The really big breakthrough in this report is the new idea of thinking about managing climate change,” Chris Field, the co-chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study, said this week, adding that governments, companies, and communities are already experimenting with “climate-change adaptation.”
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A recent decline in the rate of increased worldwide temperatures is masking the brow-sweating temperatures of the future.
The warming climate is predicted to bring punishing rainstorms.
One of the warmest Winter Olympics in history is getting warmer.
Temperatures reached the low-60s today in Sochi, and they’re expected to stay there on Thursday and Friday. For some perspective, the weather in the coastal resort is now roughly as warm as it was during certain days of London’s Summer Games in 2012. According to Forecast.io, the average temperature for the Sochi Olympics so far has been45 degrees Fahrenheit,three degrees lower than the average during the previous Warmest Winter Olympics Ever: the 2010 Vancouver Games. But Sochi’s highs have been higher than Vancouver’s. And Vancouver’s daily average never rose above 50 degrees, while Sochi’s has surpassed that level several times.
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"Scientists have known for a while that the warming atmosphere is changing the global food chain, and that these alterations can starve seabirds. But a team of researchers that has been monitoring penguins since the 1980s alleges that more extreme weather is directly responsible for killing these birds, mainly through abnormal heat and powerful rainstorms. These worsening environmental stresses can decimate as much as half of a penguin-chick population in a year, they say in a new study in PLOS ONE.”
[Image: Dee Boersma/University of Washington]
It’s amazing what we can do when everybody works together.
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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.