The hottest year in recorded history is coming to a close with a wave of extreme weather and ecosystem shifts, from unprecedented flooding in the United Kingdom to dangerous deluges in South America. Looking back at 2015, it’s clear that such extremes are not the exception, but the rule for the last year and beyond.
Ten Weather Extremes That Defined Hottest Year Ever Recorded
The hottest year in recorded history is coming to a close with a wave of extreme weather and ecosystem shifts, from unprecedented flooding in the United Kingdom to dangerous deluges in South America. Looking back at 2015, it is clear that such extremes are not the exception, but have been the rule for the past 365 days and beyond. Such weather is linked to this year’s exceptionally strong El Niño, which is tied to human-made global warming.
The Most Intriguing Environmental Stories of 2015
From the Paris Agreement to the accelerating clean energy revolution, 2015 was a big year for stories on energy and the environment, including its status as perhaps the last year in human history to see atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below 400 parts per million. Here are the leading stories published by Scientific American this year
Review Of Global Trends In 2015 And Prospects For 2016
Jon Kofas, Countercurrents.org
Top events in 2015 that shaped the world and are very likely to continue doing so include the economic slowdown not just in China and India, but in most of the world outside the US. Globalization under the neoliberal model of development continued to devastate the middle class in 2015 as it has in the last three decades, especially in countries where monetarist austerity combined with neoliberal policies took effect. Combined with a fiscal structure that favors corporations and the wealthy, monetarism and neoliberal policies had the effect on a world scale of slowing consumption spending owing to downward pressure on wages, forcing some governments to increase capital spending, especially in the defense sector, to stimulate growth.
Five energy surprises for 2016: The possible and the improbable
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Many energy analysts like to make predictions at the end of the year for the coming year. Instead, I’ll point to five possible surprises in energy–surprises because few people expect them to happen. I am not predicting that any of the following will happen, only that there is an outside chance that one or more will occur. Naturally, these surprises would move markets and policy debates in unexpected directions.
Bengaluru may have to be evacuated in a decade if water crisis persists
The Times of India
“The average annual rainfall in Karnataka is 1,248 mm. But the estimated 20 lakh borewells in the state draw almost three-and-a-half times of he amount (rainfall) received to recharge the groundwater. Hence, it’s no surprise that most borewells have gone deeper, even up to 1,000 feet, and the ones which aren’t as deep have run dry,” said a senior hydrologist with the state government. “Water tables in urban areas are depleting due to increasing population and expansion of piped drinking water. And it is declining in rural areas because of the reduction in recharge areas as a result of lakes and ponds dying,” he added.
Liberalised land leasing through government Land Bank can ease exit of distressed farmers
Opening farmland for ‘liberalised leasing’ through government-run ‘Land Banks’ can be a ‘win-win reform’ in the Indian farm sector, stated the latest report of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog taskforce on agricultural development. The report said it will ease the exit of those farmers who find farming unattractive or non-viable and economically strengthen those farmers who want to stay and raise the scale of operational holdings.
Kerala takes an important step in post Paris action: Prof M S Swaminathan
The Kerala Government is to be complemented for establishing an International Research and Training Centre for Below Sea Level Farming at Moncompu in Kuttanad. Kuttanad is both a Ramsar site as well as a Globally Important Agriculture Heritage System (GIAHS). The Institute will undertake national and international capacity building programmes in both adaptation and mitigation. It will be formally inaugurated on Feb 6th by the Chief Minister of Kerala at Moncompu.
China Proposes A Fix For Its Crashing Housing Market: “Transplant” 100 Million Farmers Into Its Cities
Beijing is hoping to “transplant” 100 million farmers into registered urban residents, who no longer being migrant workers, will rush to buy real estate in the process soaking up some of the millions of vacant square meters of excess capacity real estate. At least that’s how the thinking goes: “attendees of the meeting agreed that rural residents that move to urban areas should be allowed to register as residents, which would encourage them to buy homes in the city. Property developers have been advised to reduce home prices, according to the statement.”
U.S. Christmas Lights Burn More Energy Than Some Nations In A Year
The Huffington Post
Christmas lights suck up a tiny fraction of all the electricity Americans use annually, but it’s more than some developing nations consume in an entire year, researchers have found. El Salvador, Cambodia and Tanzania are some of the countries that use less power than the seasonal lights Americans string up, according to the Center for Global Development.
Loss of monkeys and birds in tropical forests driving up carbon emissions
Large fruit-eating monkeys and birds in tropical forests have been revealed as surprising climate change champions, whose loss to over-hunting is driving up carbon emissions. This is because their seed-spreading plays a vital role in the survival of huge, hard-wooded trees. Tropical forests store 40% of all the carbon on the Earth’s surface and the slashing of trees causes about 15% of the greenhouse gases that drive global warming. Long-lived, thick and hard-wooded trees are especially good carbon stores, but they have large seeds that can only be dispersed via defecation by large animals. These big creatures have suffered huge losses from subsistence hunters, meaning hardwood trees are being replaced with softwood trees, which have smaller seeds but store less carbon.
To meet Paris temperature targets, make fossil fuel producers ‘take back’ their carbon
Myles Allen, The Ecologist
How to reconcile the Paris Agreement’s target to deliver a temperature rise ‘well under 2C’, with its wholly inadequate mechanisms? Easy: Make fossil fuel producers ‘take back’ their carbon so as to fit within a global carbon budget. And for fossil fuel producers in the rich world, that means there is no time to lose – specially to meet a 1.5C target.
Why big NGOs won’t lead the fight on climate change
The cowardly response of prominent climate organizations like 350.org and Avaaz to the protest ban during COP21 demands accountability. It also exposes a long-standing divide between mainstream NGOs and grassroots groups in the climate justice movement and highlight conflicts about how the movement negotiates with power and demonstrates solidarity in the face of crisis. With time running out to secure a livable planet and many more high-stakes decisions to be made going forward, we cannot afford to let these conflicts continue to go unresolved. It is clear now that the movement requires nothing short of an internal revolution.
The Most Important Number in Climate Change
David Biello, Scientific American
Among all the numbers commonly bandied about global warming, the most important one in climate change is not 400 (parts-per-million CO2 in the atmosphere), two degrees Celsius (average warming of global temperatures), one trillion tons (of carbon budget), or even $100 billion (in climate adaptation funding per year). It’s not even a single number, it’s a range: 1.5 degree C to 4.5 degree C, according to the most recent effort of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning IPCC.
The global warming “hiatus”
Dawn Stover, Bullettin of Atomic Scienstists
If humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, creating a greenhouse effect that decreases the amount of heat radiating from the Earth into space, why haven’t global temperatures risen in lockstep with carbon dioxide increases during the past 15 years or so? The notion that global warming has gone on “hiatus” is the most popular and persistent myth that climate skeptics and their adherents have asserted (and asserted) in recent years. (Also read: Study drives a sixth nail in the global warming ‘pause’ myth)
Tibet’s plea: fix the roof of the world before it’s too late
Lobsang Sangay, The Guardian UK
Tibet’s glaciers are melting, and the world needs to notice. Its permafrost is degrading, and the world needs to care. Tibet is suffering from massive deforestation and damming projects, and the world needs to act. Why now? Because as world leaders gather in Paris this December for the United Nations COP 21 meetings on climate change, Tibet needs to be on the climate change agenda. It is an environmentally strategic area and its importance to the sustainability of the world’s fragile ecosystem cannot be overstated. At an average elevation of 4,000 metres above sea level, and with an area of 2.5m sq km, Tibet is the world’s highest and largest plateau.