Tag Archives: Climate change

Scientists link weather to Arctic sea ice loss

An article in The Guardian has linked the loss of sea ice in the Arctic to changes in weather patterns. Many climate scientists have been saying that the effect of ice melt is much more severe than first thought but the comments have been played down by governments who are preoccupied with the economy. Why do they find it so hard to accept that climate change will have a far bigger impact than any of their supposed election winning strategies to improve economic growth?

We have got to the stage where climate change is affecting the whole world and yet nothing is happening to mitigate the effects. Consider just the weather in the UK for a moment; here, in the Peak District, the local council is still battling to clear 6.5m  (20ft) snow drifts. many roads not normally affected by winter snow were blocked for several days and towns and village were cut off. Many other areas of the UK affected yet it soon ceases to be news and attention shifts to the perennial short termism that afflicts UK politics.

Maybe climate change is just not a vote winner? maybe the issue is just too big and potentially too destructive for the government and the population to comprehend? Or are we still in denial, still have our collective heads in the sand? I know there are still climate change skeptics out there and they seem to be fulled by the ‘red top’ news papers who seem intent of following the line that it is all a myth or a plot dreamed up by the left.

So far individuals have taken steps to make changes to their life to reduce CO2 but we need all governments to take this issue very seriously and to do that NOW. And we need the help of all of the scietific community to work together. I have suggested this before but is it not time to look at research budgets and divert money into climate change mitigation? Dare I suggest that some large, prestige projets should be put on hold as what is the use of understanding what happened immediately after the big bang if we have messed up the very World we are trying to understand? maybe funding the the LHC and the Square killometre array should be diverted to climate change mitigation research so that we can understand and reduce the impact that we human beings have on the world we so cherish.


The time for change is now!

We are on the edge of a precipice; the Arctic ice cap and Greenland glaciers are melting at an increasing rate yet no government seems to either care or want to do anything about it.greenland-glacier-melt-nasa

Radical steps are needed to avert disaster on a scale unprecedented in human history yet governments are still spending billions on space research, building a new radio telescope and other esoteric research. It is time to suspend such projects and spend the money on ways to improve energy and food security.

The UK government pleads poverty and have recently said that climate change has to take second place to economic recovery. That makes me mad, very mad. They do not seem to recognise that the time to address these issues is NOW!

Energy security is relatively easy to tackle as Germany has shown by increasing the amount of electricity generated by renewables from 20% to 60% in 12 years. In the UK the government ended a scheme to support households installing PVs because it was popular and the small amount of money allocated was used up too quickly.

The tired old mantra that there is ‘no money in the pot’ is just a lie. There IS cash for free schools and an extra £100m for summer schools was announced a few months ago. All very laudable but what if the generation now going through school struggles to afford food or cannot find enough of it? Just think what £100m could do to help switch to renewables or help us to improve food security.

My conclusions are that administrations are not taking climate change seriously which amounts to a criminal failure to govern. It is time for really radical change: 1) stop space exploration and divert money to mitigating the effects of climate change. 2) Do not build the expensive ($100m) very large array radio telescope and divert the money  to projects to encourage more home renewables and domestic food growing. 3) Stop spending billions of politically motivated education follies like free schools and use the money to reintroduce horticulture to all UK schools.

That would be just the start of changing the way we live to one that fits the level of resources available to us. The irony is that this would produce a fairer and more ‘sustainable’ economy but it takes vision and foresight to see that, something sadly lacking these days.

What can we do? Grow more food; you knew I would say that. Reduce car journeys, use public transport more, develop an awareness of the hidden costs of everything you buy, buy less, recycle everything you can, make compost – particularly from nutrient rich kitchen waste. Finally, ask your MP, councillors, other political representative what they are doing about food security and energy security. Look at the response you get and it is not adequate tell them!

Find your district councillors, county councillor, MP, MEP.


‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgment on this generation’

That’s was the front page editorial in The Guardian today at the start of the Copenhagen climate conference. What made it unique was that 56 newspapers in 45 countries carried the same editorial.

It is also rumoured that when one US newspaper was approached they said: “This is an outrageous attempt to orchestrate media pressure. Go to hell.”  It’s the sort of reaction you would expect from the US and of course there is never any attempt to orchestrate media pressure in the US. No, never!

Why there’s no sign of a climate conspiracy in hacked emails

There is a really good article in New Scientist this week about the hacked climate change emails. The sceptics, and other oil company supporters, are hailing it as a victory and as proof that climate change does not exist. Having spent most of my working life in science and technology I do not share their optimism.

As a gardener I know that things have changed over the last 20 years. Spring is earlier and old weather patterns have changed. It used to be relatively easy to predict when pests would arrive e.g. carrot root fly had two periods of activity so it was possible to avoid, or reduce, attacks by planting at the right time. Now it is virtually impossible to predict when they will be around.

Summers might not always be warmer but the trend is for an increase in average temperatures year on year. We are also getting many more extreme weather events. What I have noticed is that rainfall patterns have changed and we also get lots of very heavy downpours now.

Much as I would like to believe that climate change is not happening, and that manmade CO2 is not contributing to, it that is just not true. I particularly remember some predictions from NASA some years ago that nobody wanted to believe. All  they said has now happened but actual measurements have far exceeded their predications.

There are challenges ahead for gardeners but we are a resourceful lot and will adapt and respond. The best advice is to find what works for you in your garden and keep records and if you are really keen record the weather.

UK food security threatened by climate change

Soaring food prices could leave UK consumers paying almost £6.50 for a loaf of bread and more than £18 for a pint of beer by 2030 unless urgent action is taken to avert dangerous climate change.

A Friends of the Earth study has suggested food supplies and prices will become radically unstable for basics like bread, rice and pasta in the next two decades, leaving millions hungry in the UK.

The report by Ray Hammond, who studies how future trends will affect society and business and is a visiting lecturer at Oxford University’s Institute for the Future of Humanity, warned food prices could rise well above inflation by 2030. He cited global food production, as “already precarious – and climate change threatens to tip it into disaster”.

The study found:

  • Yields of staple crops are predicted to fall as global temperatures rise.
  • There will be extra pressure on land and water with climate change seeing more droughts, floods and extreme weather events.

Under normal inflation, an 800g loaf of white bread which currently costs 72p would rise to £1.44. But climate change will see this rise to £6.48. litre of corn oil would rise from £1.99 to £17.91, a kilogram of basmati rice would increase from £1.69 in today’s prices to £15.21 by 2030, and 500g of cornflakes would shoot up from 78p to £7.20. Even beer would increase, with a pint of Pilsner lager rising from £2.05 to £18.45.

The findings are based on research on previous price hikes recorded by the World Bank and projections by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

The study comes after a map of the impacts of a 4C rise in global temperatures published by the Government warned rice yields could drop by up to 30% in China, India and Bangladesh and maize and wheat yields could fall by up to 40% in Africa, the Americas and Asia.

Friends of the Earth head of climate, Mike Childs said:

The root causes of the food crisis must also be tackled. We need urgent political action to create fair global food supplies and make farming planet-friendly – from field to fork our food currently creates up to half of all greenhouse gas emissions. […] This vision of life in 2030 shows that life with climate change won’t be pretty, it’ll be pricey – the cost of simple foods like bread and rice will rocket and millions more people will go hungry here in the UK alone.

The Organic Revolution: How We Can Stop Global Warming

“The heretofore unpublicized ‘good news’ on climate change, according to the Rodale Institute and other soil scientists, is that transitioning from chemical, water, and energy-intensive industrial agriculture practices to organic farming and ranching on the world’s 3.5 billion acres of farmland and 8.2 billion acres of pasture or rangeland can sequester 7,000 pounds per acre of climate-destabilizing CO2 every year, while nurturing healthy soils, plants, grasses, and trees that are resistant to drought, heavy rain, pests, and disease. And of course organic farms and ranches can provide us with food that is much more nutritious than industrial farms and ranches – food filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and essential trace minerals, free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), pesticides, antibiotics, and sewage sludge.”

-Ronnie Cummins, “The Organic Revolution: How We Can Stop Global Warming,” October 12, 2009

Is a 12 point plan enough to save the world?

Greenpeace have published a 12 point plan to save the world from climate change but is that enough? The plan focuses on reducing energy and moving to a zero carbon power sector but mentions nothing about food. Are we to assume that this is included in the plan somewhere? Or do some issues get drowned out by the focus on energy?

You could argue that reducing the energy used to produce food is all part of the equation but it will require some massive changes to produce zero carbon food. While I fully support the need to reduce emissions from the power sector I also feel that feeding people should be an absolutely crucial part of any plan to move to a post oil, post carbon world.

The Greenpeace 12 point plan.

Zero carbon. Guarantee that emissions from the UK power sector will be near zero by 2030, as recommended by the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change.

Cut coal. Immediately rule out all emissions from new coal-fired power stations, preventing any new unabated or partially abated coal plants.

Cut emissions 42% by 2020. Commit Britain to meeting the bolder emissions target recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.

Insulate Britain. Drastically cut energy wastage by retrofitting all existing buildings and ensuring all new buildings meet zero-emission standards.

Fair financing. Commit to help pay for low carbon development in developing countries, to stop deforestation and to protect the world’s poorest people from the impacts of climate change.

Repower Britain. Commit to ensuring that at least 15% of the UK’s total energy (including heat, electricity and transport) comes from renewables by 2020.

Rewire Britain. Ensure that the electricity grid is upgraded to harness wind power and build smart local grids to improve communities’ ability to generate their own clean energy.

Curb aviation. Stop all airport expansion, including Heathrow’s proposed third runway.

Invest in Britain. Properly fund reseach and development, develop new training programmes and support the manufacturing supply chain to help Britain compete in the global low carbon economy.

Bank on green. Set up a green infrastructure bank that would lend to major low carbon projects and harness the expertise of the financial sector.

Issue green bonds. Give investors and savers a secure new way to help fund green projects through government backed bonds.

Reform taxation. Refocus taxation onto pollution so that it can support new green industries and drive down emissions while strengthening the UK’s finances.

My 13 th point would be:

Reform agriculture and the food industry to: 1) move to a zero carbon food system and 2) secure the food supply in a time of increasing demand and world wide threats to food supplies.

It is Blog Action Day – click here for more info.

Agriculture’s role in climate change

This is by far one of the best pieces I have seen on climate change and agriculture.  It’s from Pesticide Action Network North America.

U.S. agricultural interests “are reading the science [of climate change] wrong” according to Newsweek. “Based on rationales from ‘climate change isn’t real’ to ‘it will increase crop yields so it’s a good thing’ to ‘it will cost us money’ most of the country’s farming sectors along with their elected officials have staunchly opposed taking action to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.” Meanwhile, climate science indicates that global warming will have, and in some cases is already having, disastrous effects on U.S. and global agriculture. Key among these are drought, more pests and bigger storms, all of which will lower rather than increase crop yields. Experts gathering for a workshop on climate change and sustainable agriculture in Anantapur, India — already intimately familiar with the myopia of industrial agriculture’s preoccupation with profit — are looking to leverage learnings from fifty years of a flawed “Green Revolution” into a climate-ready, sustainable agriculture. According to The Hindu article entitled, “Green Revolution left Soil Infertile,”  excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers have left over half the country’s cultivatable land so saline it can’t support food crops. Solutions for recovering from the Green Revolution identified at the workshop align with tactics for surviving climate change: a return to traditional, ecological organic farming methods.

And for those who continually say a new ‘Green Revolution’ i.e. GM is the only way forward this is from The Hindu:

Experts at a workshop on climate change and sustainable agriculture have opined that the Green Revolution has done more harm than good to the agriculture sector in the country from a long term perspective. They suggested the farmers to return to traditional practices in farming in order to make the vocation sustainable in future. [Read more]

The only way to respond to climate change is by moving to real sustainable agriculture. That means lower inputs and adaptations to new conditions. Any other response will starve the world not feed it.

Read more

Pesticide Action Network North America
– So Shall You Reap, “Many farming communities think global warming won’t hurt them. They’re wrong.”
The Hindu – ‘Green revolution turned soil infertile’

Climate change will destroy the economy of most countries

As politians from rich countries argue about how to stop climate change while maintaining their economic growth poorer countries face total devastation of their economies.

A new report says that the effects of climate change could destroy the economies of developing countries.

But now a new report from a coalition of insurers, banks and consultancies has calculated a startling fact – that climate change could reduce the GDP of less developed countries by up to 19%, by 2030. In other words, climate change could wipe out roughly a fifth of the economies of less developed countries within 20 years.

Food is a mjor part of all economies and will be hit from all directions. The way we produce, distribute and consume food has to change and quickly. (See previous post on sugar price rise.)

Currently the US government is sabotaging any chance of an agreement at the Copenhagen summit. They stubbornly refuse to accept binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions saying it would affect their trading position.

By holding out the US are condemning the lives of millions of people. ALL world leaders have to be bold and take difficult decisions because, simple, there is no other way.

What can we do? be in London in 5 December 2009, see this site for details.