Global warming responsible for western droughts: The persistent and dramatic decline in the snowpack of the mountains of the West is caused primarily by human-induced global warming and not the result of natural variability of weather patterns in the region, researchers reported today.  Using data collected over the past 50 years, the scientists confirmed that the mountains are getting more rain and less snow, that the snowpack is breaking up faster, and that more rivers are running dry by summer. The study, published online today by the journal Science, looked at possible causes of the changes — including natural variability in temperatures and precipitation, volcanic activity around the globe and climate change driven by the release of greenhouse gases. Their computer models showed that the explanation that best fit the data was clearly climate change. Washington Post   

US study concludes major crop losses from climate change by 2030 in world’s poor areas: Changes in climate brought by global warming could cause major crop losses in many of the world’s poorest regions within the next two decades, environmental specialists reported Thursday. The findings foresee alarming consequences for many of the 1 billion poor people who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, largely because agriculture is the human activity that is most vulnerable to changes in climate. The worst affected areas were projected to be southern Africa and South Asia, already home to huge numbers of hungry people. IHT

Garrett powers back to climate change action: When Kevin Rudd created a Department of Climate Change the move was widely interpreted as a body blow to the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, who had apparently lost responsibility for the environmental issue of the day. But in the Canberra game of bureaucratic turf warfare Mr Garrett has clawed back considerable ground in recent weeks. The Prime Minister last week quietly changed his allocation of administrative responsibilities, giving Environment carriage of community and household climate change action, greenhouse gas abatement and energy efficiency. SMH

Green groups cry foul as UK claims progress towards Kyoto targets: Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell slightly last year as homes and offices used less fuel during the mild winter and recycled more waste. Overall, UK greenhouse gas emissions for 2006 dropped to 652.3m tonnes, a reduction of 0.5% on the previous year, figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs show. CO2 emissions, accounting for 85% of the total UK greenhouse gas output, dropped by 0.1% in the same period. The figures put Britain on course to meet legally-binding Kyoto targets to cut emissions by 12.5% of their 1990 levels in the five year period leading up to 2012. But they fall short of those needed to meet a self-imposed government target of 20% by the end of the decade and 60% by 2050. Guardian

Geese solve climate change issue: Thousands of geese have solved a climate change headache for one of Scotland’s turf growers in Fife. Duncan Forbes has noticed his grass has, unusually, been growing throughout the winter at his Loch Leven farm, which he blames on climate change. He has been unable to cut the grass because heavy machinery ruins ground in the winter as it is soft and muddy.  Now he has found the answer as lighter pink-footed geese have been feeding on the fresh grass and keeping it short. BBC 

Peter Fray

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