Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction: The destruction of Sumatra’s natural forests is accelerating global climate change and pushing endangered species closer to extinction, a new report warned today. A study from WWF claims that converting the forests and peat swamps of just one Sumatran province into plantations for pulpwood and palm oil is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands, and is endangering local elephant and tiger populations. The fastest rate of deforestation in Indonesia is occurring in central Sumatra’s Riau province, where some 4.2m hectares (65%) of its tropical forests and peat swamps have been cleared for industrial plantations in the past 25 years. Guardian

Hungry for change in a world gorged on profit: One of Richard Branson’s Virgin jets made an experimental trip to the Netherlands the other day. For the first time, the aircraft carried in its tanks a mix that contained biofuel. The self-advertising tycoon and the self-renewing energy source were doing their bit for the environment. Whether Branson also realised that going green could lead to millions going hungry went unmentioned. In Italy, meanwhile, national pride and a nation’s pockets are under strain as the price of pasta continues to rise. In France, the cost of the daily baguette has become absurd, they say. Here in Britain, a national staple is coming under threat: the basmati rice to accompany your curry has doubled in price. These are troubled times in the consumer paradise. The Herald

Doomsday seed vault kicks into action: Capable of withstanding everything from catastrophic climate change to nuclear attack, a new frozen seed vault – aptly nicknamed the ‘doomsday vault’ – has officially opened in Norway. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is dug deep into the frozen rock of an Arctic mountain. It is capable of storing up to 4.5 million seed samples, some 2.5 billion individual seeds in total, for hundreds if not thousands of years. The repository will eventually represent the most comprehensive and diverse collection of viable crop seeds in the world. Cosmos

Top US water utilities to study climate change: Eight of the top U.S. water utilities are joining forces to study how rising sea levels, droughts and other effects of global warming are taking a toll on supplies of drinking water, they said on Tuesday. The coalition, known as the Water Utility Climate Alliance, said water agencies need access to the best possible climate change research as they prepare to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure over the next 15 years. Reuters

Peter Fray

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