Climate Change a Threat to Plant Species Diversity

Irish Times

NOT MANY people outside the world of science would be able to offer an explanation of systematics. It’s a botanical and biological specialism, the science of documenting and describing the diversity of living organisms, writes Harry McGee

Some of the world’s leading authorities in this area, in addition to experts in biology, botany and climatology, are at Trinity College Dublin this week to discuss the impact of climate change on the world’s biodiversity, such as changes in the distribution of species and threats of extinction.

The conference will hear that climate change will lead to “very large reductions” in the diversity of plant species across the globe. It will also lead to the extinction of plants and animals, and will shift habitats to cooler places, say some of the experts on botany and biology to speak at the conference.

The conference will draw together international experts in systematics who will discuss for the first time how global warming has affected biodiversity.

Speakers will include world authorities such as Dr Michael Donoghue of Yale University, Dr Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, London and Dr Ian Woodward of the University of Sheffield.

For systemists, trying to document all the world’s different life forms is a daunting task.

“We do not have a precise figure for how many species are on earth,” says Dr Trevor Hodkinson of the botany department at TCD, which is hosting this week’s conference.

Read on here.

U.N. Chief Warns Against Waiting for Climate Deal

GENEVA, Aug 31 (Reuters) – The world should not wait until next year to cobble together a new climate change pact, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday.

Ban, addressing diplomats and officials at a ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the U.N. climate panel, said countries negotiating a successor deal to the Kyoto Protocol should aim for a meaningful breakthrough in Poznan, Poland, in December.

Delaying major advances until the end of 2009, when a Copenhagen summit will aim to finalise an accord to tackle rising global temperatures, may be ill-advised, Ban said.

“We must fight the urge to postpone everything until Copenhagen. Surely we can make concrete progress on some issues,” the South Korean national said in Geneva.

“I would emphasise the need to make the most of the upcoming opportunity in Poznan (Poland),” he said. “It is my sincere hope that by the end of this year in Poznan parties to the climate change convention will have achieved a better understanding of a shared vision for long-term cooperative action.”

The Kyoto Protocol binds 37 developed nations to curb emissions of global warming greenhouse gases until 2012. Neither the United States nor China, the top two greenhouse gas emitters, have imposed limits under Kyoto.

Negotiations last week in Ghana, in which countries made commitments to help save tropical forests, were the latest of a series of international meetings meant to culminate in a new accord to counter the effects of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), formed in 1988, has warned global warming will cause rising seas, big storms, heatwaves and droughts. That U.N. panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore last year.

U.S. President George W. Bush, who has opposed the Kyoto accord, will leave office in January. But the slowing global economy may make it difficult for Washington and others to accept a climate change accord that could add to energy costs. (Reporting by Laura MacInnis; editing by Robert Hart)

Gov. Palin: Global Warming Not Man-Made

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Among the issues Sen. John McCain will have to smooth over with his new running mate: global warming.

In an interview for the September issue of the conservative magazine Newsmax, Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, said she does not believe climate change is caused by human behavior.

“A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made,” Palin said in the interview, which was posted online Friday.

McCain, R-Ariz., by contrast, has broken with his party’s dogma by supporting a mandatory program to cap carbon emissions — a point of pride for McCain as he burnishes his independent reputation.

Palin’s quote about global warming not being manmade is also at odds with the freshly approved GOP platform for 2008. That language — adopted by the party this week — marks the first time the Republican Party’s policy document addresses climate change.

“The same human activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere,” the document reads. “Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the earth.” 

A McCain campaign spokeswoman, Maria Comella, disputed suggestions that Palin does not recognize the reality of global warming. As governor, she created a new “sub-cabinet” agency last September, to advise her office “on the preparation and implementation of an Alaska climate change strategy.”   

She has also endorsed efforts to learn more about human impacts on climate change.

“Governor Palin not only stands with John McCain in his belief that global warming is a critical issue that must be addressed, but she has been a leader in addressing climate change,” Comella said.

Palin and McCain disagree on another key environmental issue: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Palin’s home state of Alaska. Palin is for it, while McCain wants to keep the refuge off-limits.

Read on here.

Handy Pocket Guide to Climate Change

Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun

Smart and easy to read, Annette Saliken’s Cocktail Party Guide to Global Warming (iUniverse, $16.95), may well be the ultimate pocket guide to climate change.

For anyone who wants to be part of the most important conversation going on today, this slim volume is required reading.

Whether you want to return a volley to the lout who claims the main source of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is cow patties, not fossil fuels, or you just want to have an informed conversation about global warming, you will love this book.

Since its debut a few weeks ago it has shot up Amazon.ca’s bestseller list, snagged two publisher’s awards and received a personal endorsement from David Suzuki.

The kudos from Suzuki, who hails it as “the classic martini of climate change books” hold special meaning for the author.

“He really knows his facts,” said Saliken, a marketing and communications expert who did her MBA on global warming and alternative energy.

Read on here.

Mayor Johnson Unveils Secret Weapon In War on Climate Change: The Roof Garden

To some they are a rural escape in the centre of the city, to others they are a chance to test their green fingers and design skills. Now London mayor Boris Johnson has found a new use for urban roof gardens – as a key weapon on the front line against global warming.

An increase in the number of rooftop gardens to soak up rainwater across the capital is among a series of measures suggested by Johnson yesterday, as part of efforts to prepare London for the effects of climate change.

The mayor’s adaptation strategy, billed as a world first, aims to address the challenges of flooding, extreme temperatures and drought. It calls for compulsory water metering, greater awareness of flood risks and more tree planting, alongside stronger efforts to resist attempts by local authorities and insurance companies to fell existing urban trees.

The mayor’s team said they were also looking to copy a heatwave emergency plan used in US cities, including Philadelphia, where old and vulnerable people are collected in air-conditioned buses and taken to cool public buildings, such as libraries, shopping centres, churches and offices.

Despite previously attacking the Kyoto Protocol – which regulates international carbon emissions – as “pointless” and saying that anxiety over climate change was “partly a religious phenomenon” Johnson now admits that the 2006 Stern review on the issue had convinced him of the need to act. “When the facts change, you change your mind,” he said.

Launching the strategy at the Thames Barrier, in east London, he said: “We need to concentrate efforts to slash carbon emissions and become more energy efficient in order to prevent dangerous climate change. But we also need to prepare for how our climate is expected to change in the future. The strategy outlines in detail the range of weather conditions facing London, which could both seriously threaten our quality of life, particularly that of the most vulnerable people, and endanger our pre-eminence as one of the world’s leading cities.”

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Democratic Nominee Obama Vows to Defeat Climate Change

DENVER, Colorado, August 29, 2008 (ENS)

Climate change has made Senator Barack Obama’s list of “threats of the 21st century” alongside terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty, genocide, and disease.

 

Accepting the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night before 75,000 supporters at Denver’s Invesco Field, Obama said he would “build new partnerships” to defeat these threats.

“And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president – in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East,” he declared.

 

“Washington’s been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them,” said the senator from Illinois of his Republican opponent.

“In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.”

“Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close,” said Obama.

“As president,” he promised, “I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.

“I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America,” he said. “I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars.”

Read on here.

Gore Hailed, Warns Against Climate Change

By Thomas Ferraro

DENVER (Reuters) — Al Gore, who lost the 2000 election but has become a world leader on the environment, was embraced at the Democratic Party’s convention on Thursday as a comeback hero — with a warning against John McCain and climate change.

 

An estimated crowd of 75,000 roared approval as the former vice president, who became a Nobel Peace Prize-winning crusader against global warming, strode on stage to promote Barack Obama‘s White House bid in the November 4 election.

 

“We face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because (Republican presidential candidate) McCain … is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them,” Gore said.

 

“Hey, I believe in recycling, but that’s ridiculous,” Gore said, drawing cheers and laughter.

 

While many unsuccessful White House contenders have quietly faded away, Gore, 60, has become a bona fide star in the Democratic Party.

 

“We love Al Gore. We believe he was cheated in the 2000 election and that he would have been a great president,” said Sandie Dodd, a convention delegate from California. “We’re proud that he keeps on serving this country and the world.”

 

After losing one of the closest U.S. elections in history, Gore regrouped. He won an Academy Award for a documentary based on the slide show, “An Inconvenient Truth,” as well as the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Gore said he believed this year’s election was close “mainly because the forces of the status quo are desperately afraid of the change Barack Obama represents.”  Continued…