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IPCC report: Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind


The view from Burrow Mump, Somerset Levels in 2014. Photograph: Matilda Temperley

A United Nations report raised the threat of climate change to a whole new level on Monday, warning of sweeping consequences to life and livelihood.

The report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters.

And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

Motorists in Albany, New York, and across the US north-east were forced to dig out their cars from the heavy snowMotorists in Albany, New York, and across the US north-east were forced to dig out their cars from the heavy snow. February 2014

Monday’s report was the most sobering so far from the UN climate panel and, scientists said, the most definitive. The report – a three year joint effort by more than 300 scientists – grew to 2,600 pages and 32 volumes. (more…)

Flooding and the impact on wildlife


Dabbling ducks struggling in floodsPintails feed by dabbling

Wildlife organisations are being very careful in assessing the impacts of the recent flooding on species and the environment.

“We are not saying this is a disaster or this is something where wildlife has really suffered,” Grahame Madge from the RSPB told me, keenly aware that when people’s lives and homes are being threatened by rising waters, concerns about animal life comes a distant second.

Certainly the December storms and tidal surges had potentially very serious implications for many coastal habitats and species.

A report drawn up by Natural England showed that over 40 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England had been affected. (more…)

Climate change policy at risk because of denial and fear, Ed Davey warns


Climate change policy at risk because of denial and fear, Ed Davey warnsEd Davey says ‘climate change denying conservatism’ could create a diabolical cocktail that threatens the structure of UK climate change and energy policy. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Britain’s climate change policy is under threat from a “diabolical cocktail” of nimbyism, denial of science and fear of Europe from politicians on the right, the energy secretary will say on Thursday.

Amid growing warnings about a potential link between global warming and extreme UK weather, Ed Davey will raise concerns that the political consensus about the need to tackle climate change is in danger of breaking down as some in the Conservative and Ukip parties try to discredit the science.

He will say that the actions of climate deniers are “undermining public trust in the scientific evidence for climate change” and that “we can see around us today the possible consequences of a world in which extreme weather events are much more likely”.

In his speech at the IPPR thinktank on Thursday, Davey will criticise those who seize on “any anomaly in the climate data to attempt to discredit the whole”. (more…)

UK storms: Aid effort under way for deluged farmers


UK storms: Aid effort under way for deluged farmersFarmers including James Winslade have had to move cattle from their land

Farmers have been among those worst hit by the effects of devastating flooding in Somerset. On Tuesday David Cameron announced a £10m fund to support their recovery, but other practical offers of help are already arriving by the lorry load.

From all around England the aid is starting to trickle in.

The tractors from Yorkshire are bringing silage, hay and straw, while hundreds of tonnes of sugar beet from Cambridgeshire are already being delivered to those most in need.

Farmers from Lincolnshire and Shropshire are also donating what they can to help those whose land has been drenched during the wettest January on record.

The aid is being sent to Sedgemoor livestock market, in Bridgwater, which has become the makeshift distribution centre. (more…)

Fierce debates as Britain sinks further underwater


Fierce debates as Britain sinks further underwaterA local resident cycles through the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames, England, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Tuesday that money is no object in the battle against the widespread flooding that has engulfed parts of England. Canceling a visit to the Middle East to oversee flood-fighting efforts, he told journalists that “whatever money is needed for this relief effort will be spent” as Britain deals with some of its wettest weather in 250 years. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

LONDON (AP) — Soggy Britain is being soaked again.

The River Thames has burst its banks, rail lines have been washed away, villages have been turned into islands and soldiers are out on the front lines filling sandbags. As residents battled to save their homes — and British politicians battled one another — yet another storm hit the U.K on Wednesday, pummeling the west coast with torrential rain and wind gusts up to 106 mph (170 kph).

Here’s a look at the nation’s exceptionally wet and wild weather.

WHAT CAUSED THE FLOODS?

Rain, rain and more rain. England has had its wettest January since records began almost 250 years ago. Since December, the country has been lashed by waves of wind and rain connected to a faster-than-usual jet stream, which flows from west to east across the Atlantic. Britain’s weather agency, the Met Office, says “there’s no definitive answer” on the role played by climate change in the recent weather. But it says there’s “an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense” — likely due to a warming world. (more…)

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