Climate Change and Human Development

by Bryan Walker on August 15, 2014

It has been clear for some years that climate change is affecting poorer populations sooner and more gravely than it is economically developed societies. There is little sign that the wealthy nations are much disturbed by this fact, and no sign that it has any braking effect on the inexorable drive to find and exploit fossil fuel reserves. But there are some who care and they can show a dogged persistence in demanding that we take notice of how drastically the climate change for which we are responsible is threatening the lives of people with few defences against it.

Hannah Reid, a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London, has written a book Climate Change and Human Development which falls into that category of the doggedly persistent. She draws much of her material from a wide range of NGOs’ contact with affected communities and individuals. The book contains numerous short reports of what is happening to people in many parts of the globe, particularly Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Island states. It brings the reader close to the struggles of people like the tribal community elder in Pakistan who describes the disappearance of birds, the advent of mosquitos, the eroding flash floods and concludes: “Our options for survival are shrinking day by day”.

[now read on…]

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In my column at The Daily Blog this week — Dragon breath and the Age Of Consequences — I take a look at the latest news on Arctic methane. It’s not good, as Jason Box demonstrated by not mincing his words about the seriousness of the threat. For an idea of the consequences, I strongly recommend finding half an hour to look at the video above. Max Wilbert interviews some of the top scientists in the field (including East Siberian Shelf methane expert Natalia Shakova), and the result is a good overview of the pace of change up North and the sheer scale of the permafrost carbon threat.

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Coffee is more than just a hot beverage: consumption of the bitter liquid made by steeping the ground roast beans of an Ethiopian plant is an obsession for many. In this interesting short video from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, coffee researchers explain how they are monitoring climate changes and its impacts on coffee plants in their native environment too work out how to keep the crop — which supports as many as 100 million farmers around the world — viable as the planet warms. If nothing is done, coffee could become extinct in the wild within the next 70 years. (Via Climate Central)

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People talking’ #17

by Gareth on August 1, 2014

It being the weekend that truffle growers from all over New Zealand meet to discuss their trade and to eat the fruits of their endeavours, I will be absent from the Hot Topic helm for the next few days. Please use the occasion to discuss anything and everything climate-related, from the state of the climate to bizarre holes in Siberian tundra that may be caused by dragon breath… Keep it polite, please.

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TSB Today: Broken English

by Gareth on July 30, 2014

In my post at The Daily Blog today — Broken English, broken government, broken climate — I take a look Bill English’s unguarded comments on climate change. Apparently, it’s a non-issue. As you might expect, I am somewhat less than impressed…

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This article by Jim Salinger, University of Auckland; Blair Fitzharris, University of Otago, and Trevor Chinn, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, was first published at The Conversation. The photo at left shows the calving face of the Tasman Glacier in Dec 2013.

A third of the permanent snow and ice of New Zealand’s Southern Alps has now disappeared, according to our new research based on National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research aerial surveys. Since 1977, the Southern Alps’ ice volume has shrunk by 18.4 km3 or 34%, and those ice losses have been accelerating rapidly in the past 15 years.

The story of the Southern Alps’s disappearing ice has been very dramatic – and when lined up with rapid glacier retreats in many parts of the world, raises serious questions about future sea level rise and coastal climate impacts.

The Southern Alps’ total ice volume (solid line) and annual gains or losses (bars) from 1976 to 2014 in km3 of water equivalent, as calculated from the end-of-summer-snowline monitoring programme. [now read on…]

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Adventures in the Anthropocene

by Bryan Walker July 28, 2014

Science journalist Gaia Vince left her desk at Nature and spent two years visiting places around the world, some of them very isolated, where people were grappling with the conditions of what is sometimes described as a new epoch, the Anthropocene. It dates from the industrial revolution and represents a different world from the relatively […]

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Hot Air: the sorry tale of climate policy in New Zealand

by Gareth July 23, 2014

This guest post is by Alister Barry, producer and co-director of the new documentary Hot Air, which will be premiered in Wellington next week. Hot Air is screening in the New Zealand International Film Festival around the country over the next month. Hot Air is a story of compromise, broken promises and corporate pressure, of […]

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Barry Brill and Anonymous: U R A Fraud

by Gareth July 22, 2014

People send me things. Brightening my email inbox last week was a pithy little email, headed U r a fraud. It didn’t have much to say. Here it is, in its entirety, exactly as it appeared: Please take down your posts about barry brill or Anonymous may have to Make some “unauthorized” changes to your […]

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Labour’s dodgy drilling policy avoids climate reality

by Bryan Walker July 17, 2014

In his interview on TV3’s The Nation last weekend David Shearer declared a Labour Party policy on oil and gas drilling which, like the Government’s, fails to confront the reality of climate change. Drilling will continue. The approval processes will be improved, the regulations will be tight, the money gained will be used well, but […]

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