Crikey intern Laura Griffin writes: This week the United Nations are holding a climate change conference in Bangkok. The first of three UN climate change conferences this year, participants will try to improve on the (somewhat haphazard, having been rushed through in the conference’s dying moments) agreements reached in Cancún last year.
The conferences’ ultimate goal is to get countries to commit to cutting down their greenhouse gas emissions by securing a successor (new, and hopefully improved) to the Kyoto protocol, which expires at the end of next year.
Australia’s major newspapers and magazines have largely ignored the Bangkok conference this week. In fact, climate change-related coverage has been basically limited to the carbon tax scrap fighting and CSIRO’s report that global warming could see less cyclones and other storms, but the future cyclones are predicted to be more intense.
Wondering whether other countries’ (albeit, only English speaking because of my short-comings) media had covered climate change related issues in light of the Bangkok conference, I went on a little snoop around the interwebs.
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The Economist posted an interview with IPCC’s Chris Field. Dr Chris Field, co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC (which is assessing climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability), discussed the role of the IPCC and their recent findings.
He corrected the insinuation that the IPCC has political or other agendas outside their mandate of providing information about climate change that is policy relevant not prescriptive.
He also said that, “Agriculture, and food security more broadly, are kind of at the center of what I think of as a perfect storm.”
He explained that increases in the human population, the number of people with meat based diets, use of land for bio-fuel production and climate change were all affecting food production. He also warned scientist cannot accurately predict every effect of climate change or continued effectiveness of the Earth’s natural carbon sinks.
He also alluded to the fact that the IPCC will evaluate geo-engineering possibilities in next report (due in 2013).
Paul Krugman’s latest column in The New York Times focuses on one of the two scientists (the other ‘experts’ were an economist, a lawyer and a marketing professor) that the Republicans invited to testify went ‘off script’ at the Congressional hearing on climate science. He said that world is warming.
Said scientist is Professor Richard Muller, a physicist who was leading the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, whose backers (including evangelical Catholic, organisation the Koch foundation) hoped it would contradict other global warming findings.
But, Professor Muller reported that his group’s preliminary results in fact supported them, much to Koch’s and the Republicans’ disappointment.
Krugman calls the entire hearing a “farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence.”
The Economist posted another article elaborating on Professor Muller’s findings.
Dr Muller, they explain, is an astrophysicist, not a climate scientist, which influenced his research methodology. So, “[r]ather than look at carefully (and similarly) selected subsets of the data it would look at everything available, just as astrophysicists frequently seek to survey the whole sky. Rather than using the judgement of climate scientists to make sense of the data records and what needed to be done to them, it would use well designed computer algorithms.”
More specifically, they compiled 2% of all the records the Berkeley group has access to at random over time. Because the enormous number of sites, this has proved to be quite reliable. They concluded the Earth has warmed by about 0.7°C since 1957.
On the possible effects of climate change, The New York Times summarised on issues regarding global biodiversity. The news is not good; they highlight that scientists are warning that humans may be ushering in a mass extinction.
Studies they draw from track the changing habit ranges for thousands of species. It is likely that an increasing number of species probably will not be able to adapt to such changes to their habit and its range.
They also discuss a study by Melbourne University scientists who have found that brown butterflies are coming out earlier each decade from their cacoons as temperatures increase.
This week The Guardian examined the findings of Project Clamer, a collaboration of 17 institutes in ten European countries that is synthesising research from nearly 300 EU-funded projects over the past 13 years that concern climate change and the northern hemisphere’s waters.
They have found the increased amount of fresh water released by melting ice caps and land ice (via rivers) is ‘likely to flush out of the Arctic Ocean and into the Atlantic’ leading to unforeseeable affects on the oceans’ currents and air circulation. This year marked another new record low for sea ice covering ocean area.
The Washington Post posted a blog about the Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets.
They are melting faster than previously thought, and this rate has increased over the last 18 years. These claims were confirmed by two distinct methods of measuring the ice sheets.
The Guardian published a really useful breakdown of the Bangkok UN climate conference, including the number of participants (1,500), where they’re from (business, industry and environmental organisations and research institutions from 173 countries), the outcomes of the previous conference, hopes for this conference, some hurdles and the outlook.
In the Australian newspapers’ defence, The Age did run a piece on Monday about mangroves being a valuable, natural carbon sink that need to be protected.
They reported that an international team of researchers examined the carbon content in 25 mangroves scattered across the Indo-Pacific region and found that they absorb carbon dioxide from the air just as well as land-based rain forests, and even better under the water line.
If you find any other interesting articles, please comment or post a link (I don’t want to be one of those climate-change ignoramouses Professor Garnaut warned against on ABC News).