Iceland’s Aurora Borealis


U.N. climate talks: Four countries behaving badly


Grist

There have been more disappointments than encouraging signs at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, which have just passed the halfway mark. They’re intended to lay the groundwork for a new global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, but it’s not going well so far. Rich countries are not outlining how they will fund the planned $100-billion-a-year Green Climate Fund. Discussions involving agriculture have been taken off the table, even though farming reforms could substantially reduce global carbon emissions. And nobody can agree on how best to protect carbon-soaking forests.

But of the 190 countries that have sent delegates to Warsaw, four in particular have been the target of international anger over recent announcements, acts of obstructionism, and failure to commit to protect the world from global warming.

Japan

Japan is the fifth biggest greenhouse gas polluter, but it had committed to reducing its carbon emissions 25…

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Deforestation makes for a super-depressing time-lapse video


Grist

We’re spoiled: Most time-lapse videos give an awe-inspiring look at the aurora borealis, or a tour of Iceland, or a nighttime view of America’s great spaces. Not this one, which fits more in the category of “eye-opening yet depresses the hell out of you.” Ringing endorsement, right? Who’s ready to see Earth’s forests disappear?!

The time-lapse maps are from new research published in Science last week, illustrating forest growth and demise from 2000 to 2012. According to the New Republic, 888,000 square miles of trees vanished over those 12 years.

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Looks like the Arctic has been heating up even faster than we thought


Grist

Exhaustive efforts to calculate temperatures around the world based on satellite and weather station data may have missed a spot: the Arctic.

The area around the North Pole is warming faster than anywhere else in the world, but there’s been a shortage of temperature data from the region. New research suggests that efforts to fill in those data gaps over the last 16 years using calculations and assumptions have underestimated the rate at which temperatures are rising.

That could help to explain why the apparent increases in global temperatures have been slightly lower than forecast by climate models — and slightly lower than had been the case before 1997.

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Climate Change Driving Weather off the Charts


Grist

By Janet Larsen

Meteorologists are calling the typhoon that slammed into the Philippines with 195-mile-an-hour winds on November 8, 2013, the most powerful tropical storm to make landfall on record. Super Typhoon Haiyan had gusts reaching 235 miles per hour and a storm surge swelling as high as 20 feet, so the destruction it left behind matched that of a tornado combined with a tsunami.

Three days later, at the opening of the United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland, the lead delegate from the Philippines, Yeb Saño, spoke of the “hellstorm” that left “a vast wasteland of mud and debris and dead bodies.” He continued: “Despite the massive efforts…in preparing for the onslaught of this monster of a storm, it was just a force too powerful and, even as a nation familiar with storms, Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has…

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Logging on the rise again in the Brazilian Amazon


Grist

Buried amid the bleak news in a forest study that we told you about last week was a glimmer of hope: Analysis of satellite images taken from 2000 to 2012 revealed that deforestation was slowing down in Brazil.

But new Brazilian government figures, from August 2012 to July 2013, indicate that bad news is back: Amazonian deforestation over that period increased by 28 percent compared to the preceding 12 months. The Guardian reports:

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Want a climate deal? Rich nations will have to pay up to help poor ones


Grist

It’s helpful to understand game theory if you want to know why it’s so difficult to reach an international deal to reduce climate emissions. Everyone will be better off if everyone does their part, but if one country gets away with doing nothing while the others reduce their emissions, that country would be the biggest winner of all, enjoying the benefits of averted catastrophe without any of the costs. That calculation could lead to a lot of countries bailing out. No one wants to be the sucker who cuts emissions but still doesn’t prevent catastrophic climate change because no one else participated.

So making a deal and sticking to it will require countries to place a lot of trust in one another. And that trust has to be painstakingly built.

When the world’s richest countries say — as they did at the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark — that…

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