World faces food shortages: The world is eating more than it produces and food prices may climb for years because of expansion of farming for fuel and climate change, risking social unrest, an expert and a new report said on Tuesday. Biofuel expansions alone could push maize prices up over two-thirds by 2020 and increase oilseed costs by nearly half, with subsidies for the industry effectively constituting a tax on the poor, the International Food Policy Research Institute said. Global cereal stocks, a key buffer used to fight famines around the world, have sunk to their lowest level since the 1980s due to reduced plantings and poor weather, said the institute’s director general, Joachim von Braun. Reuters
China resists binding curbs on climate-change emissions: China on Thursday said it would not back any new proposals at a UN climate change conference that run counter to existing frameworks that exempt the booming country from reducing greenhouse-gas output. “We believe under current circumstances… we should not break away from the framework set by the United Nations Framework on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters. China, along with other booming developing countries such as India, is under strong pressure from Europe and others at the UN conference on the Indonesian island of Bali to agree to binding emissions cuts. Times of India
Bird species face extinction from global warming: Rachel Carson’s 1962 warning of a “Silent Spring” in a world without birds may partially come true within the next century due to climate change, not pesticides, according to a new study by group of Stanford University researchers. Up to 30% of all land-based bird species face extinction by 2100 unless global warming is halted or reversed, the researchers have found, in a new, alarming wrinkle to global-warming concerns. The key factor is how climate change affects plants that grow at different elevations — on which birds depend to survive. As the climate warms, some plants will grow at higher elevations or die out. Palo Alto online
Quest to make cattle fart like marsupials: Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say. Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas. While the usual image of greenhouse gas pollution is a billowing smokestack pushing out carbon dioxide, livestock passing wind contribute a surprisingly high percentage of total emissions in some countries. The Age
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Global warming puts Amazon at risk: The impact of climate change plus deforestation could wipe out or severely damage nearly 60 percent of the Amazon forest by 2030 — making it impossible to keep global temperatures from reaching catastrophic levels, an environmental group said Thursday. Several recent studies have suggested similar findings, but scientists say the size and complexity of the Amazon leaves many questions about the rain forest’s future open to debate. Brazil’s Environment Ministry did not respond this week to a request for comment. Associated Press