News update

Lester Brown: ‘Vast dust bowls threaten tens of millions with hunger’
The Guardian, UK
Vast tracts of Africa and of China are turning into dust bowls on a scale that dwarfs the one that devastated the US in the 1930s, one of the world’s pre-eminent environmental thinkers has warned. Over 50 years, the writer Lester Brown has gained a reputation for anticipating global trends. Now as Brown, 80, enters retirement, he fears the world may be on the verge of a greater hunger than he has ever seen in his professional lifetime

As Antarctica Melts Away, Seas Could Rise Ten Feet Within 100 Years
Common Dreams
Rapid melting of Antarctic ice could push sea levels up 10 feet worldwide within two centuries, “recurving” heavily populated coastlines and essentially reshaping the world, the Associated Press has reported. The Antarctic Peninsula, including the vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet, is the region of the continent warming fastest because the land juts out in the warmer ocean. According to NASA, it is losing 49 billion tons of ice each year.

Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change
The New York Times
Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers have said that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011. The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

Seeing is believing as scientists trace greenhouse effect
Climate News Network
Government scientists in the US say they have directly observed for the first time the greenhouse effect in action. Their measurements, taken over a period of 11 years in Alaska and Oklahoma, confirm predictions made more than 100 years ago, and repeatedly examined: there is a greenhouse effect, and the greenhouse gas that most helps the world warm is carbon dioxide.

The Paradox of Oil: The Cheaper it is, the More it Costs
Samuel Alexander, Simplicity Institute
The only reason oil can be considered ‘cheap’ is because the environmental costs of oil consumption are ‘externalised’. If the costs of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and resource depletion were built into the price of oil, there is no way it would be ‘cheap’. And what of the social and economic costs that will be borne by future generations? This is the paradox of oil: the cheaper it is, the more it costs.

Peak fossil fuel won’t stop climate change – but it could help
Gary Ellem, The Conversation
Fossil fuels are ultimately a finite resource – the definition of non-renewable energy. Burning of these fuels – coal, oil and gas – is the main driver of climate change. So could the peak of fossil fuels help mitigate warming? The short answer is maybe … but perhaps not how you might think. In a paper published this month in the journal Fuel, my colleagues and I suggest that limits to fossil fuel availability might take climate Armageddon off the table, although we will still need to keep some fossil fuels in the ground for the best chance of keeping warming below 2C.

Big Oil Drop Project
BBC news
The BBC has launched its Big Oil Drop project, a series of interconnected online articles and data packages, alongside broadcast pieces. The idea is a pretty simple one. Every now and again – amid all the swirling reports and breaking news – it is worth taking a pause and bringing together what we know about the most important resource in the world. Read sample article: Oil: Shocking how vital it still is

Who controls our food?
Nick Dearden, New Internationalist blog
‘It’s a nice idea, when you can afford it’ sums up the approach of many people to organic farming. But extending these principles of production to the whole food system? It just doesn’t seem practical. But a new report from Global Justice Now, From The Roots Up, shows that not only can small-scale organically produced food feed the world, but it can do so better than intensive, corporate-controlled agriculture.