Climate impacts ‘overwhelming’ – UN

The impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”, a major report by the UN has warned.

Scientists and officials meeting in Japan say the document is the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.

Some impacts of climate change include a higher risk of flooding and changes to crop yields and water availability.

Humans may be able to adapt to some of these changes, but only within limits.

An example of an adaptation strategy would be the construction of sea walls and levees to protect against flooding. Another might be introducing more efficient irrigation for farmers in areas where water is scarce.
Natural systems are currently bearing the brunt of climatic changes, but a growing impact on humans is feared.

Members of the UN’s climate panel say it provides overwhelming evidence of the scale of these effects.

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Financial value of carbon in world’s forests may be underestimated by £481bn

The financial value of carbon stored in the world’s forests may have been seriously underestimated, according to the findings of a new survey.

Using a pioneering approach, the survey firm Carbomap has produced a three-dimensional carbon map of a forested region in Costa Rica.

“Our technology could be considered like an MRI scanner for forests”, Prof Iain Woodhouse, founder and CEO of Carbomap, said.

With experimental NASA technology, the team can work out how much carbon is stored in forested areas.

Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow, Woodhouse added, “[A tree is] your classic ‘carbon based life form’, and for plants, the carbon comes from CO2. Through photosynthesis, the leaves of a tree are able to turn air and water into wood.Since forests harvest CO2 they are the original carbon capture and storage device. 

“The carbon that makes up coal originated in the carbon of plants that photosynthesised the CO2 out of the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago.

“Along with other fossil fuels, we are now returning that carbon back to the atmosphere at a perilous rate.”   

Comparing their data to data gathered using traditional satellite methods, Carbomap calculated that the actual above-ground carbon content of the Costa Rican forest is at least 19.8m tonnes. This is 22% higher than the average of previous estimates.

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Which car has the lowest carbon footprint?

Which new vehicle sold today has the lowest overall carbon footprint over its lifetime? It’s the battery-electric Nissan Leaf, according  to a study set to be released this spring.

Which new vehicle sold today has the lowest overall carbon footprint over its lifetime?

The answer, according to Automotive Science Group (via InsideEVs), turns out to be the Nissan Leaf battery-electric car.

In a study to be released this spring, The Automotive Peformance Index: Redefining Value in the North American Automotive Marketplace, ASG offers consumers “information to make responsible purchasing decisions” based on a car’s environmental impact and its maker’s record of social responsibilty.

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The organisers of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games are under pressure for reneging on commitments to deliver a long-term environmental legacy for the sporting spectacle and for backing off from assessing the impact of the event on the climate.

The organisers of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games are under pressure for reneging on commitments to deliver a long-term environmental legacy for the sporting spectacle and for backing off from assessing the impact of the event on the climate.

A representative of the ­organising body CG2014 has confirmed there are now no plans to calculate the carbon footprint of the Games, and efforts are instead being aimed at reducing carbon emissions during the 11-day event this summer.

The confession has been ­criticised by Dr Richard Dixon, head of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who said early talks to find ways of compensating for climate damage caused by Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games had quickly been abandoned by green groups as a “waste of time”.

Dr Dixon has estimated the Games will cause more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, 20,000 tonnes attributable to the air travel of 6500 competitors and officials. The construction of the athletes village is likely to have contributed 2300 tonnes, and much of the rest will come from visitors flying to spectate, he said.

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Attention, Mothers: The Procter & Gamble Company Wants to Clean Your Clothes and the Environment

The Procter & Gamble Company  (NYSE: PG  )  has announced that it will remove phosphates from all of its laundry detergents sold worldwide within the next two years. Phosphates are used to soften hard water, thus making laundry detergents more effective. While everyone loves fresh clothes, the softening agent can suffocate fish populations, cause deadly algae blooms, and contaminate the drinking and bathing water of millions of people in developing nations when released into the environment. Luckily, the company, which sells one out of every four bottles of laundry detergent on Earth, has created new formulations of its famous product lineup that protect the environment without sacrificing cleaning power.

Distancing itself from phosphate usage marks another major step toward greening up supply chains for the personal-care and consumer-products industries; bolstering the company’s own internal sustainability goals and following commitments from Johnson & Johnson  (NYSE: JNJ  ) , Colgate-Palmolive  (NYSE: CL  ) , and Unilever  (NYSE: UL  ) . How and why is Procter & Gamble making the switch now? Does any of this matter to you or your portfolio (or laundry room)?

Late to the party, but he’s bringing the chips Procter & Gamble won’t be the first company to remove phosphates from its detergents. In fact, the company is simply copying the precedent set by smaller global companies such as Ecover and Seventh Generation in 1980 and 1988, respectively. Phosphate will be replaced by a mineral called zeolite, which allows detergents to be just as effective while significantly reducing their environmental impact. Rather than question why the world’s largest supplier of laundry detergent didn’t make the move sooner, consumers and investors should look forward to the large-scale environmental benefits of the switch.

But why make the switch now? It’s not as if management at Procter & Gamble suddenly woke up one day and decided to save fish and drinking water in developing nations. Large multinational companies usually only make all-encompassing decisions when there’s an economic benefit involved. Here, it’s likely the rising price and shrinking supply of phosphates, as sustainability contributor Erica Gies noted for The Guardian.

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Sainsbury launches competition to cut energy use

Sainsbury is calling on energy firms to help it tap into solar energy on all its properties as part of its plan to become the UK’s greenest grocer.

Aim for carbon-neutral 2050, ‘Elders’ group says

A panel of senior statesmen known as the Elders on Friday called for renewed efforts to conclude a world climate pact by the end of 2015 and appealed for a “carbon-neutral” planet by 2050.

“Given the compelling weight of evidence, it can be hard to understand why anyone is still dragging his or her feet on the coordinated action needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the group said in a statement.

“Every year the world fails to act brings us closer to the tipping point when scientists fear that climate change may become irreversible.

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