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News about Climate Change and our Planet

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Climate change: Planet-warming power of cattle urine can be avoided by restoring farmland, study finds – The Independent

Scientists have found restoring cattle pastures brings an unlikely environmental benefit by cutting the greenhouse gas emissions from cattle urine.

The planet-warming power of methane gas emitted by cows is well known, but their urine is also a contributor to climate change.

When the animals urinate on pastures, they produce the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, which like methane has a far more powerful climate effect that CO2.

Previous research on the Somerset Levels in the UK has shown how adding cow urine to grassland stimulates gas production by adding nitrogen to the system and increasing soil water content.

In a new study, scientists investigated the levels of nitrous oxide coming from cow pastures across Latin America and the Caribbean after pouring samples of urine onto them.

1/8 Davos 2019: David Attenborough issues stark warning about future of civilisation as he demands ‘practical solutions’ to combat climate change

Sir David Attenborough has issued a stark warning about climate change to business figures gathered in Davos, telling them that “what we do now…will profoundly affect the next few thousand years”. On the eve of this year’s World Economic Forum, the renowned naturalist told the audience that the worlds of business and politics should “get on with the practical solutions” needed to prevent environmental damage. “As a species we are expert problem solvers. But we’ve not yet applied ourselves to this problem with the focus it requires. “We can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy, and fish stocks that will sustain us well into the future. But to do that, we need a plan,” he said. The broadcaster made his speech after receiving a Crystal Award, which is awarded by the forum to “exceptional cultural leaders”.

AFP/Getty

2/8 At least 60% of wild coffee species face extinction triggered by climate change and disease

Two decades of research have revealed that 60 per cent of the world’s coffee species face extinction due to the combined threats of deforestation, disease and climate change. The wild strain of arabica, the most widely consumed coffee on the planet, is among those now recognised as endangered, raising concerns about its long-term survival. These results are worrying for the millions of farmers around the world who depend on the continued survival of coffee for their livelihoods. As conditions for coffee farming become tougher, scientists predict the industry will need to rely on wild varieties to develop more resilient strains

Alan Schaller

3/8 Warming Antarctic waters are speeding the rate at which glaciers are melting

The Antarctic ice sheet is losing six times as much ice each year as it was in the 1980s and the pace is accelerating, one of the most comprehensive studies of climate change effects on the continent has shown. More than half an inch has been added to global sea levels since 1979, but if current trends continue it will be responsible for metres more in future, the Nasa-funded study found. The international effort used aerial photos, satellite data and climate models dating back to the 1970s across18 Antarctic regions to get the most complete picture to date on the impacts of the changing climate. It found that between 1979 and 1990 Antarctica lost an average of 40 gigatonnes (40 billion tonnes) of its mass each year. Between 2009 and 2017 it lost an average 252 gigatonnes a year. This has added 3.6mm per decade to sea levels, or around 14mm since 1979, the study shows

Nasa/Getty

4/8 Greater Manchester to ban fracking, paving way for confrontation with government over controversial industry

Greater Manchester is to effectively ban fracking, raising the prospect of fresh confrontation with the government over the controversial industry. All of the region’s 10 councils are to implement planning policies which create a “presumption” against drilling for shale gas in their areas, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has announced. Campaigners said the move was the latest sign that the tide was turning against fracking, which has been the subject of multiple legal battles across the country. Critics of fracking say it poses environmental and health risks. Drilling at the UK’s only operational fracking site, run by Cuadrilla in Lancashire, has repeatedly been halted due to earth tremors. But ministers support the industry and last year unveiled plans to accelerate the development of new drilling sites

Ross Wills

5/8 Japan confirms plan to resume commercial whaling in its waters from next year

Japan will resume commercial whaling next year for the first time in more than three decades, in a move that has provoked strong criticism from campaigners and the international community. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said his nation would leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume hunting the marine mammals in Japanese waters. However, he stated the activity would be limited to Japan’s territory and the 200 mile exclusive economic zone along its coasts. This means controversial “scientific” trips to Antarctica in which Japanese vessels killed hundreds of whales, as well as activity in the northwest Pacific, will stop in 2019

AP

6/8 COP24: Environmental groups criticise ‘morally unacceptable’ climate deal reached after major Poland summit

Diplomats from around the world have agreed a major climate deal after two weeks of United Nations talks in Poland. But climate campaigners warned the deal – effectively a set of rules for how to govern the 2015 Paris climate accord – agreed between almost 200 countries lacked ambition or a clear promise of enhanced climate action. Activists cautiously welcomed elements of the plan, saying “important progress” had been made on ensuring that efforts to tackle climate change by individual nations can be measured and compared. But environmental groups were also highly critical of the agreement, warning it lacked ambition and clarity on key issues, including financing for climate projects for developing countries. The COP24 deal, which is aimed at providing firm guidelines for countries on how to transparently report their greenhouse gas emissions and their efforts to reduce them, was confirmed on 15 December, after talks overran

Reuters

7/8 ‘Unprecedented changes’ needed to stop global warming as UN report reveals islands starting to vanish and coral reefs dying

Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut almost in half by 2030 to avert global environmental catastrophe, including the total loss of every coral reef, the disappearance of Arctic ice and the destruction of island communities, a landmark UN report has concluded. Drawing on more than 6,000 scientific studies and compiled over two years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings, released this morning, warn enormous and rapid changes to the way everyone on Earth eats, travels and produces energy need to be brought in immediately. Though the scientists behind the report said there is cause for optimism, they recognised the grim reality that nations are currently nowhere near on track to avert disaster

AFP/Getty

8/8 Africa’s three biggest elephant poaching cartels exposed using DNA from illegal ivory shipments

DNA taken from massive shipments of ivory has been used to identify the three largest wildlife trafficking gangs operating at the height of Africa’s elephant poaching epidemic. Ivory tends to be shipped around the world from African ports in bulk, and scientists have used genetic evidence gleaned from intercepted batches to reveal their origins. Led by Dr Samuel Wasser from the University of Washington, they traced a number of these shipments to three cartels operating out of Kenya, Uganda and Togo. Evidence collected by Dr Wasser has already helped convict ivory kingpin Feisal Mohamed Ali, and as his team joins the dots between shipments they plan to shore up the cases against more of the continent’s most prolific smugglers

Art Wolfe

1/8 Davos 2019: David Attenborough issues stark warning about future of civilisation as he demands ‘practical solutions’ to combat climate change

Sir David Attenborough has issued a stark warning about climate change to business figures gathered in Davos, telling them that “what we do now…will profoundly affect the next few thousand years”. On the eve of this year’s World Economic Forum, the renowned naturalist told the audience that the worlds of business and politics should “get on with the practical solutions” needed to prevent environmental damage. “As a species we are expert problem solvers. But we’ve not yet applied ourselves to this problem with the focus it requires. “We can create a world with clean air and water, unlimited energy, and fish stocks that will sustain us well into the future. But to do that, we need a plan,” he said. The broadcaster made his speech after receiving a Crystal Award, which is awarded by the forum to “exceptional cultural leaders”.

AFP/Getty

2/8 At least 60% of wild coffee species face extinction triggered by climate change and disease

Two decades of research have revealed that 60 per cent of the world’s coffee species face extinction due to the combined threats of deforestation, disease and climate change. The wild strain of arabica, the most widely consumed coffee on the planet, is among those now recognised as endangered, raising concerns about its long-term survival. These results are worrying for the millions of farmers around the world who depend on the continued survival of coffee for their livelihoods. As conditions for coffee farming become tougher, scientists predict the industry will need to rely on wild varieties to develop more resilient strains

Alan Schaller

3/8 Warming Antarctic waters are speeding the rate at which glaciers are melting

The Antarctic ice sheet is losing six times as much ice each year as it was in the 1980s and the pace is accelerating, one of the most comprehensive studies of climate change effects on the continent has shown. More than half an inch has been added to global sea levels since 1979, but if current trends continue it will be responsible for metres more in future, the Nasa-funded study found. The international effort used aerial photos, satellite data and climate models dating back to the 1970s across18 Antarctic regions to get the most complete picture to date on the impacts of the changing climate. It found that between 1979 and 1990 Antarctica lost an average of 40 gigatonnes (40 billion tonnes) of its mass each year. Between 2009 and 2017 it lost an average 252 gigatonnes a year. This has added 3.6mm per decade to sea levels, or around 14mm since 1979, the study shows

Nasa/Getty

4/8 Greater Manchester to ban fracking, paving way for confrontation with government over controversial industry

Greater Manchester is to effectively ban fracking, raising the prospect of fresh confrontation with the government over the controversial industry. All of the region’s 10 councils are to implement planning policies which create a “presumption” against drilling for shale gas in their areas, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has announced. Campaigners said the move was the latest sign that the tide was turning against fracking, which has been the subject of multiple legal battles across the country. Critics of fracking say it poses environmental and health risks. Drilling at the UK’s only operational fracking site, run by Cuadrilla in Lancashire, has repeatedly been halted due to earth tremors. But ministers support the industry and last year unveiled plans to accelerate the development of new drilling sites

Ross Wills

5/8 Japan confirms plan to resume commercial whaling in its waters from next year

Japan will resume commercial whaling next year for the first time in more than three decades, in a move that has provoked strong criticism from campaigners and the international community. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said his nation would leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to resume hunting the marine mammals in Japanese waters. However, he stated the activity would be limited to Japan’s territory and the 200 mile exclusive economic zone along its coasts. This means controversial “scientific” trips to Antarctica in which Japanese vessels killed hundreds of whales, as well as activity in the northwest Pacific, will stop in 2019

AP

6/8 COP24: Environmental groups criticise ‘morally unacceptable’ climate deal reached after major Poland summit

Diplomats from around the world have agreed a major climate deal after two weeks of United Nations talks in Poland. But climate campaigners warned the deal – effectively a set of rules for how to govern the 2015 Paris climate accord – agreed between almost 200 countries lacked ambition or a clear promise of enhanced climate action. Activists cautiously welcomed elements of the plan, saying “important progress” had been made on ensuring that efforts to tackle climate change by individual nations can be measured and compared. But environmental groups were also highly critical of the agreement, warning it lacked ambition and clarity on key issues, including financing for climate projects for developing countries. The COP24 deal, which is aimed at providing firm guidelines for countries on how to transparently report their greenhouse gas emissions and their efforts to reduce them, was confirmed on 15 December, after talks overran

Reuters

7/8 ‘Unprecedented changes’ needed to stop global warming as UN report reveals islands starting to vanish and coral reefs dying

Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut almost in half by 2030 to avert global environmental catastrophe, including the total loss of every coral reef, the disappearance of Arctic ice and the destruction of island communities, a landmark UN report has concluded. Drawing on more than 6,000 scientific studies and compiled over two years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings, released this morning, warn enormous and rapid changes to the way everyone on Earth eats, travels and produces energy need to be brought in immediately. Though the scientists behind the report said there is cause for optimism, they recognised the grim reality that nations are currently nowhere near on track to avert disaster

AFP/Getty

8/8 Africa’s three biggest elephant poaching cartels exposed using DNA from illegal ivory shipments

DNA taken from massive shipments of ivory has been used to identify the three largest wildlife trafficking gangs operating at the height of Africa’s elephant poaching epidemic. Ivory tends to be shipped around the world from African ports in bulk, and scientists have used genetic evidence gleaned from intercepted batches to reveal their origins. Led by Dr Samuel Wasser from the University of Washington, they traced a number of these shipments to three cartels operating out of Kenya, Uganda and Togo. Evidence collected by Dr Wasser has already helped convict ivory kingpin Feisal Mohamed Ali, and as his team joins the dots between shipments they plan to shore up the cases against more of the continent’s most prolific smugglers

Art Wolfe

They found that while the urine inevitably produced greenhouse gases, up to three times as much came from grassland that suffered from overgrazing and low soil quality.

With degraded land covering 150 million hectares of Latin America, this finding adds a further incentive to restore these pastures to their former quality. 

“Degraded pastures are bad in so many ways,” said Dr Ngonidzashe Chirinda, a researcher at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture and the study’s lead author. 

“This study adds to the case for land restoration. Degraded pastures not only affect food security and the livelihood of farmers today, but affects the livelihood of future farmers because they emit more gases that cause global warming.”

Farm emissions are a major contributor to climate change, releasing CO2, methane and nitrous oxide that accounts for 10 per cent of emissions in the UK alone.