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Report maps perils of warming

Degree-by-degree breakdown of climate effects published. As the US Senate gears up to debate the latest incarnation of proposed climate legislation next week, a blue-ribbon panel has released what it hopes will be a definitive guide to the consequences of climate change for lawmakers and the public. In offering a degree-by-degree breakdown of the potential impacts of temperature change, the report aims to highlight the effects of stabilizing greenhouse gases at a chosen target level. Yet few are optimistic that the report will influence the fate of the scaled-back climate bill, which would cap emissions from electricity utility companies. The … Read more…

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Dying trees could exacerbate climate change

Forests could emit more carbon than they store if temperatures rise. Forestry experts have again warned that climate change could transform forests from sinks to sources of carbon. The carbon storing capacity of global forests could be lost entirely if the earth heats up 2.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a new report. The analysis by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) is a synthesis of existing information. “This is the first time it has been put together on a global scale,” says Alexander Buck, IUFRO deputy executive director, in Vienna. “It is the most thorough assessment … Read more…

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Climate change may alter malaria patterns

Malaria has long been endemic in Kenya’s humid lowlands and its tropical coast. But in recent decades there has been a spike in the number of malaria epidemics in the East African Highlands—an area where the people living there have little experience with the disease. The East African Highlands are high above sea level. Traditionally, the cool breezy climate has been inhospitable to mosquitoes. But in the late 1990s average temperatures in Kenya’s highlands were as much as 4 degrees higher than normal and the incidence of malaria jumped 300 percent. Many experts believe that climate change is fueling this … Read more…

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Permafrost that lives up to its name

Ancient Canadian ice survived previous warm periods. A 740,000-year-old wedge of ice discovered in central Yukon Territory, Canada, is the oldest known ice in North America. It suggests that permafrost has survived climates warmer than today’s, according to a new study. “Previously, it was thought that the permafrost had completely disappeared from the interior about 120,000 years ago,” says Duane Froese, an earth scientist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, who is the author of the study published today in Science. “This deep permafrost appears to have been stable for more than 700,000 years, including several periods that … Read more…

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The missing greenhouse gas

Growth of the electronics industry will boost emissions of a ‘hidden’ — but extremely potent — greenhouse gas. Our insatiable appetite for gadgets — mobile phones, MP3 players and flat-screen TVs — may be adding a hidden greenhouse gas to the Earth’s atmosphere. Countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol committed to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases: methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. But these aren’t the only climate-altering chemicals being produced by human activity. In the 13 years since the Protocol was first drawn up, scientists have discovered that other gases, such … Read more…