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Davos Forum: Leaders Call for Green Economy

International leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland say U.S. businesses must pressure the federal government to work toward an energy-efficient economy before China reaches one first.

U.N. climate chief Christina Figueres said Thursday that China “is going to leave us all in the dust” if Western countries don’t begin to act on climate change, AP reports.

Figueres said the Chinese “are not doing it just because they want to save the planet. They are doing it because it’s good for the economy.”

European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard called for U.S. businesses to change their perspective on energy efficiency, saying they should realize that “it’s bad business to not be among the front-runners” in the race for a green global economy.

The annual conference is held in a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.

Posted in Effects, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Finance, Accounting, & Investment, Global Warming, Globalization & Free Trade, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

Superstorm Poses Threat to California, Scientists Say

A potential “superstorm” could dump up to 10 feet of rain on California in a catastrophic flood, scientists and emergency planners predict.

Federal and California officials on Friday discussed the plausible consequences of such a storm, using advanced flood mapping and atmospheric projections with data from California’s historic storms.

A research team of over 100 scientists said in a scenario released by the U.S. Geological Survey this week that California faces the risk of massive floods caused by an “atmospheric river” (AR) of moisture flowing into the state.

The report estimates that the flooding would last up to 40 days, affecting almost one-fourth of California’s homes and causing up to $300 billion in damage.

The scientists, engineers, lifeline operators, emergency planners and insurance experts working on the project named the event “ARkStorm,” after an intense atmospheric river moving water at the same rate as 50 Mississippi rivers discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico, ABC News reported.

The Pacific moisture-filled air current would overwhelm California’s flood protection system, inundate the Central Valley, and trigger hundreds of landslides.

In a conference held by the United States Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Emergency Management Agency, officials convened to outline new strategies to limit the flood’s devastation.

“Our storms really are as bad as hurricanes in the amount of rain that they can bring,” USGS Director Marcia McNutt said, according to ABC. “Without that type of labeling, we haven’t recognized that our storms are that bad and we risk underestimating emergency response (to storms).”

Climate scientists have long linked rising temperatures to intense weather events like the potential ARkStorm. As the earth’s atmosphere gets hotter, it stores more energy, setting off more extreme weather events with greater frequency.

Scientists say they are able to monitor the ARs with satellite imagery that has improved in the last few years, the New York Times reports.

They estimate that the AR that set off an intense storm over California last month moved water at 20 times the rate of the Mississippi River discharging water into the Gulf.

“Floods are as much a part of our lives in California as earthquakes are,” said Lucy Jones, the chief scientist for the United States Geological Survey’s multi-hazards initiative, according to the New York Times. “We are probably not going to be able to handle the biggest ones,” she added.

Posted in Atmospheric Science, Effects, Global Warming, Precipitation & Water Cycle, Water, Ecosystems & Agriculture0 Comments

Penguins Hampered by Tagging, Scientists Say

Tagging wild penguins with flipper bands threatens their chances of survival and has skewed data on the effects of climate change, biologists said Wednesday.

Researchers at the University of Strasbourg in France followed 50 banded adult King penguins and 50 non-banded penguins with under-the-skin transponders for 10 years.

Conducting their research on a French island in the southern Indian Ocean between Africa and Antarctica, they found the flipper-banded penguins had 39 percent fewer chicks and were 16 percent likelier to die than their untagged counterparts.

Study author Yvon Le Maho theorizes that the metal bands, which are tied around the top of the flipper, increase drag on the penguins when they swim.

“The picture is unambiguous,” Le Maho told news agency AFP. “Among banded penguins, the least-fit individuals died out in the first five years of the study, which left super-athletic birds.

“In the remaining five years, the mortality rate between the two groups was the same, but the reproductive success of banded penguins was 39 percent lower on average.”

Le Maho said this is the first study showing the long-term detriments of penguin tagging practices, and disproves the long-held assumption that the birds adjust to the bands.

He said banded birds respond differently to the climate, arriving later (16 days later on average) on the island to breed. This tardiness endangers the survival of their offspring, because late chicks face harsher weather conditions and more predators.

Consequently, studies that use banded penguins to measure the impact of global warming on marine life need to be reviewed, researchers said. Although climate change is still harming penguin populations, the data may be skewed.

“…[W]hen there was a rise in sea temperature and food was less abundant, the penguins had to swim farther, and banded penguins stayed longer at sea to forage compared with non-banded birds,” said Claire Saraux, like Le Maho a member of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), according to AFP.

The findings were published in Wednesday’s edition of the Nature science journal.

Posted in Aquatic Life, Birds, Conservation, Ecosystems, Effects0 Comments


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