Make Going Out In Nature a Family Affair

As a parent, worrying about our kids is part of our everyday – it goes hand in hand with parenthood. My worry list gets long, but my top two are their health and their happiness, and I bet it’s the same for you.

When it comes to your kids and nature, what worries you? If you’re like 65% of U.S. parents, it’s the fact that kids aren’t getting enough time outside.

The Nature Conservancy, with support from Disney, recently surveyed parents of kids between 3 – 18 in the U.S., Brazil, China, France and Hong Kong about kids and nature. This is the first global survey to capture how much time kids spend outside and parents’ perspectives on how much importance they place on nature.

My daughter Kareena enjoying some outdoor time at the beach. 

As it turns out, U.S. parents worry about getting their kids outside as much as they do about bullying, the quality of education and obesity. That is a big deal to me – nature is as important as these issues! Globally, this feeling is shared strongly by parents in Brazil and Hong Kong.  What’s more, 82% of U.S. parents view spending time in nature as “very important” to their children’s development – second only to reading as a priority. The message is clear; to parents, nature is not just “something to do,” it is a crucial part of growth.

So are parents right to worry about this? The answer – according to numerous studies – is a resounding yes. Fact: kids need nature. Studies repeatedly show that time spent outside in nature leads to better health and improvement in the classroom. Unfortunately, the time kids spend in nature declines as they get older. In the U.S., preschoolers spend 12 hours a week outside, but teens? Less than seven. In other countries except Brazil, the weekly average is far smaller. Admittedly, this winter has really been a challenge to getting outdoors. That said, my daughter Kareena probably spends about eight hours a week outside walking the dog, recess, playing in a lot of snow and playing sports.

So what’s keeping our kids indoors? Parents in all countries cite competing demands on their kids’ time, such as homework, time spent on electronic devices inside, or other after-school activities. Similar to study findings, homework and lots of activities including singing, swimming, basketball and playing with her dog, her friends and her devices take up Kareena’s time. With all that going on and all our daily responsibilities, it can be tough to make getting into nature a priority. 

But, connecting with nature is a critical part of Kareena’s development, so my husband and I work to fit it in where we can.   Working in the conservation field, I also think about the future. 

If kids don’t connect with nature now, who will care for the environment and support conservation in the future? Direct experience with nature is the most highly cited influence on conservation values and inspiring environmental stewardship.

What excites me about these findings is that parents want to do something about it – it’s risen in our consciousness to take action. So what can we do?

First, let’s recognize that we are the primary gatekeepers to nature. According to the survey, children are much more likely to be outside with a parent or guardian than a friend, teacher or extended family member. Nature is not just good for children – it’s good for everyone.

Second, get connected. 75% of parents use online resources to learn about nature and the outdoors. Our  Nature Rocks Activity Finder gives parents ideas on where to go and what to do with kids of all ages and in all types of weather, and it works great on any mobile device.

Finally, pledge to get outside! Walk to school. Hike at a nature preserve, or plan a weekend of camping as a family. Make sure your kids see how much fun you’re having.

Are you part of the 65% of American parents that worry that your child doesn’t spend enough time outside? Do you have any tips or tricks to share to work in more outdoor time to our family’s over-scheduled life? 

Source: Nature Rocks

Spider-Man 2 Honored For Environmental Efforts

Sony Pictures’ Environmental Efforts Recognized by Industry Standard

In advance of this summer’s highly anticipated motion picture The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Environmental Media Association proudly announces the film earned the EMA Green Seal for the high level of environmental efforts that went into the making of the film.

Throughout pre-production and principal photography, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 focused on implementing environmental best practices on set while giving the public sneak peeks of the efforts on social media as the production became the most eco-friendly tentpole in the history of Columbia Pictures.  From script to screen, everyone involved in the making of the film contributed, and limited their impact both individually and collectively.

The results of the efforts are significant.  Some highlights include:

  • The production achieved a 52% diversion rate from landfill
  • Recovered 49.7 tons of materials for donation or reuse on other films
  • Avoided 193,000 single-use plastic water bottles, and
  • Donated 5,861 meals to local shelters.

“I am excited for everyone to see all the heroic moments in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but this production was also a hero for the planet with a huge list of sustainable production practices,” said Andrew Garfield, who plays Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

“Creating the iconic world of Spider-Man on the scale of this film required enormous sets and set pieces, and yet, thanks to the contributions of everyone in the filmmaking process, we had a significantly lower impact,” said Marc Webb, Director of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. “With our on-location shoot in East River Park we helped restore benches and plant trees that had been devastated by Hurricane Sandy, leaving it a better place for the community than we found it.”

Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, the film’s producers, added, “We’re extremely proud of what we were able to achieve in the production of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, not just because we are delivering an exciting experience for audiences, but because we were able to do it in such a responsible way.  The results speak for themselves – it goes to show that you can make a film on this kind of epic scale while still being mindful of the planet.”

“Promoting sound environmental practices within the fast-paced production world, especially at the scale of a superhero tentpole film like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, takes a lot of hard work and dedication, so we are proud to recognize these efforts with our EMA Green Seal,” said Debbie Levin, President of the Environmental Media Association.

The production had a dedicated Eco Manager, who, with the support of studio executives, producers, cast and crew, engaged with every department in supporting the sustainability initiatives on set, started a “Green Crewmember of the Week” program to reward talent, crew, and extras for extraordinary eco efforts, compiled statistics and results in a detailed report, and communicated the eco efforts in real time through a dedicated Twitter handle @EcoSpidey.

The studio extended these communications efforts, creating an EcoSpidey “sizzle reel” featuring the behind-the-scenes eco efforts and developing an EcoSpidey Photo Hunt game, where users help Spider-Man defeat Electro by becoming a superhero for the planet.

“After years of working to implement sustainable practices on our productions, our efforts on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 resulted in estimated cost savings of over $400,000.  This is more proof that what’s good for the planet can also be good for the bottom line,” said Doug Belgrad, President of Columbia Pictures.

In addition, Sony Pictures Entertainment confirms it is purchasing carbon offsets that render the physical production of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as its publicity tour, carbon-neutral.  Every Columbia Pictures feature does a legacy project, usually planting trees in the locations where filming took place, so for this film the studio donated an additional 50 trees to East River Park after wrap. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be the first Sony Pictures film to have an end credit self-verifying that it completed the EMA Green Seal and a high level of the studio’s eco-friendly best practices.  The end credit states “Sustainable Efforts Made a Difference.”

Watch the EcoSpidey Sizzle Reel on behind the scenes sustainability efforts: http://bit.ly/EcoSpideySizzle

Follow the film’s environmental efforts on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ecospidey

Play the EcoSpidey Photo Hunt game on mobile, tablet or computer: www.ecospideygame.com

ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA ASSOCIATION

EMA mobilizes the entertainment industry in educating people about environmental issues, which in turn, inspires them to take action. A pioneer in linking the power of celebrity to environmental awareness, it was EMA who invented the ‘green carpet,’ launching the concept of taking a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle – not a limo – to high profile awards events and bringing the concept of alternative automotive technology to millions of previously unaware households. http://www.ema-online.org

ABOUT “THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2™

We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield).  For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone).  But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city.  With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.  Directed by Marc Webb.  Produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach.  Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner.  Screen Story by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jeff Pinkner and James Vanderbilt.  Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  The film will be released in theaters internationally beginning April 16, 2014, and domestically on May 2, 2014.

 ABOUT SONY PICTURES

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to: http://www.sonypictures.com.

Europe Launches First Environment Satellite!

Europe has launched the first in a constellation of hi-tech satellites designed to monitor Earth for climate change and environmental damage and help disaster relief operations.

Sentinel-1A, a satellite designed to scan the Earth with cloud-penetrating radar, lifted off on Thursday evening aboard a Soyuz rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

The satellite is the first of half a dozen orbital monitors that will be built and launched under the $5bn Copernicus project, a joint undertaking of the ESA and the European Union.

It will be followed by a partner, Sentinel-1B, due to be launched towards the end of next year, according to the AFP news agency.

Operating 180 degrees apart, at an altitude of about 700km, between them the pair will be able to take a radar picture of anywhere on Earth within six days.

Radar scanning has a range of uses, from spotting icebergs and oil slicks to detecting rogue logging and ground subsidence.

The data will be widely accessible to the public and is likely to have uses that go beyond the environment, such as in construction and transport.

Environmental disasters

By mapping areas stricken by flood or earthquake, the monitors will also be able to help emergency teams identify the worst-hit areas and locate roads, railway lines and bridges that are still passable, the ESA says.

The others in the series are Sentinel-2, which will deliver high-resolution optical images of forests and land use; Sentinel-3, providing ocean and land data, and Sentinels 4 and 5, which will monitor Earth’s atmospheric composition the basic component in fine-tuning understanding about greenhouse gases.

The goldmine of data expected to be thrown up by the satellite constellation will be more accessible to the public than any previous Earth-monitoring programme.

The potential applications go beyond stewardship of the environment. They could help shipping firms, farmers and construction companies, too.

“Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date,” ESA said.

“It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.”

Copernicus replaces Envisat, one of the most successful environmental satellites in space history, whose mission ended in 2012.

It was named last year in honour of the 16th-century Polish astronomer who determined that the Earth orbited the Sun, and not the other way round, as convention had it at the time.

Source: Al Jazeera 

Can Technology Help Save the Environment? Jane Goodall Seems To Think So!

“Over my 80 years I’ve seen incredible change. Technology can be a force for conservation.”

It is hard for me to believe that I will have lived on planet Earth for 80 years. I was born on April 3, 1934 and the world has changed in almost all ways possible.

I write this article from a laptop computer while flying in an airplane to Nebraska, where I visit every year to see the migration of the majestic Sandhill cranes. My assistant is holding her cell phone and iPad. I Skyped with my son and grandchildren in Tanzania before breakfast, and sent emails to China, Australia and Nepal. All around me the world is tweeting, texting and using Facebook like crazy. It’s all about technology today.

Taken for granted now, such technology would have been considered science fiction when I was young. Televisions and computers hadn’t been invented. I still remember my first trip to Africa from my native England when I was only 23 years old; traveling for weeks in a boat that had no phones, let alone email.

When I first started studying the chimpanzees of Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, communication from Africa meant sending letters in the mail and waiting weeks for a response. There were telegrams but they were very expensive. Now I can be connected in seconds with people in some of the world’s remotest places.

While I analyzed my early field work by hand with the help of a slide rule, today conservationists use sophisticated computer software to determine things like the DNA profiles of wild chimpanzees. My organization, the Jane Goodall Institute, partners with innovative groups such as Google Earth, Esri, and others to use technological tools to map and monitor changes to chimpanzee habitat in real time. We are also employing local villagers to use Android tablets to record illegal activities in the forests where chimpanzees live. Advances like these are capable thanks to the explosive development of the human intellect — one of the characteristics that separates us from the chimpanzees.

Why is someone who turns 80 years old going on-and-on about technology? Because I believe strongly that it can — and must — be used as a force for advancing the work of environmental conservation.

I am often asked: “When will you retire?” The answer is I shall continue to carry my message as long as I am physically able to raise my voice in support of planet Earth. I still travel around the world some 300-days-per-year to raise awareness about the threats to our children’s future. I hope the fight to try to make this a better world for all — people and animals — will continue after I am long gone. But I need your help now and I’m increasingly inspired by the role technology — and especially young people’s mastery of it — can play to extend our voices and ideas in support of environmental stewardship.

From rural villages in Africa to megacities in Asia and everywhere in between, the damage that humans have inflicted on the natural world is apparent. We are seeing the sixth great extinction of animal species, chimpanzees are endangered, and many people are suffering the effects of pollution and climate change, which a new United Nations study this week says impacts every corner of the globe and threatens our future. The list goes on and on.

Why is it that the most intellectual creature to have walked the Earth — humans capable of amazing advances — are also destroying our only home? So many people, thinking of the mess we are in today, feel helpless and hopeless, so they do nothing. You can’t blame them.

Technology alone will not solve every problem, but it is part of the solution. Let’s use technology as a way to amplify our voices in support of the environment. Let’s turn to Facebook, Twitter and the myriad other ways to connect and strategize with likeminded individuals about how to make this world better. Let’s use technology to extend the reach of our personal influence in support of the planet we love.

You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you — for better or for worse. What you do makes a difference. Technology can help us all make a positive difference.

Source: USA Today

Give a Fish a Massage, Get Sustainable Caviar

This Vivace "no-kill" caviar was harvested from a Siberian sturgeon via a massage-based technique.  The fish didn't die. But did the taste survive?

Caviar was once the food of kings and czars — and for a sturgeon, it meant death.

But a new technique of massaging the ripe eggs from a female sturgeon — without killing or even cutting the fish open— could make caviar more abundant, more affordable, and more accessible to all.

Best of all, says Angela Köhler, the German scientist who has spent nine years developing the new production system, “no-kill caviar” — also being called “cruelty-free caviar” and “correct caviar” by the people marketing it — could help reduce demand for black market caviar and save endangered wild sturgeon from being hunted to extinction.

The idea is to turn the caviar farming industry into something more akin to the commercial production of poultry, eggs or milk. The new method, being practiced at a small farm in Loxstedt, Germany, called Vivace GmbH, involves first viewing a sturgeon’s eggs by ultrasound. If they are deemed ready, a signaling protein is administered to the sturgeon several days before the egg harvest.

This, Köhler says, “induces labor” and releases the eggs from a membranous sack in the belly cavity. At that point, the eggs can be pumped from the belly with gentle massaging. Köhler says the process can be repeated every 15 months or so throughout a sturgeon’s lifetime, which may last decades.

The method is considered by some an improvement over so-called “C-section caviar” production, which requires making a small incision in the female fish to access her eggs. The operation allows the producer to harvest the roe without using any chemicals to induce egg-laying. But C-sections subject a sturgeon to the risk of fatal infection and can damage the fish’s ovaries, reducing future roe yields.

“[The Vivace method] will make caviar production more financially reasonable,” Köhler says. “It doesn’t make much sense to take a fish that needs seven or eight years to mature and then, when it has its first eggs, kill it.”

The Vivace farm in Loxstedt produced only about 1,100 pounds of caviar last year, Köhler says. If demand grows, output could eventually rise to 10 tons per year.

That’s still just a tiny fraction of current global output. But if enough other caviar farms adopt her method — which would involve paying money for proprietary information about the process — Köhler says caviar farming could become a relatively cheap endeavor. Supply could increase as prices dive. In the end, low-priced no-kill caviar could undercut the market for illegally produced wild sturgeon caviar.

But some skeptics doubt that no-kill caviar will catch on.

Geno Evans, owner of Anastasia Gold Caviar, in Pierson, Fla., has tried making caviar without killing his fish. He wasn’t impressed. In order to massage the roe from the fish’s body cavity, he explains, you have to wait until a sturgeon is nearly ready to lay her eggs. For Evans, this resulted in overly oily, soft caviar.

“[The eggs] were mushy,” he tells The Salt. “It was gross. It wasn’t caviar.”

Köhler’s method addresses this texture issue by rinsing the tender, overripe roe immediately in a calcium-water solution. This makes the oil-rich pearls durable enough to undergo salting and curing without breaking.

It also improves the texture, according to Deborah Keane, owner of the California Caviar Company, in Sausalito, Calif., currently the only American importer of Vivace no-kill caviar.

“You get what chefs call the ‘Caspian pop’ — a very firm snap in your mouth as you bite each egg,” says Keane.

Wesley Holton, the executive chef of Rose. Rabbit. Lie. in Las Vegas, is among several American chefs using the product. He says Vivace caviar tastes about the same as traditional caviar, but withstands heat better. (The traditional stuff tends to wilt when cooked.)

The Salt sampled the Vivace caviar alongside more traditional styles at Keane’s tasting room. The traditional caviar from Acipenser baerii, the Siberian sturgeon, was creamy and buttery, with a pronounced flavor of brine, sardines and smoked salmon.

A similar product made from the eggs of A. transmontanus, the white sturgeon of Western North America, was also buttery smooth, with a salty flavor and an interesting finish of pond water and river fish.

The Vivace A. baerii caviar was entirely different. The tiny black eggs did not melt in the mouth but, rather, popped. Flavor was faint and subdued, with quiet hints of salt marsh and catfish. It was not our favorite of the three.

And then there’s the question of price.

For now, an ounce of Vivace will run you $125 to $135 in Keane’s shop, compared to $105 an ounce for conventional caviar of the same species. A custom-packed jar of Vivace “golden caviar,” taken from albino fish, will fetch up to $800 per ounce.

But Keane argues that if more farms adopt the Vivace method, no-kill caviar could eventually become “an everyday indulgence,” bringing costs down to $20 or $30 per ounce.

Which brings us to the ultimate question, as raised by Sacramento, California-area sturgeon farmer Michael Passmore.

“Why would producers of caviar want prices to continue to drop?”

Source: NPR

Uncover Your Eyes, London’s Gherkin Goes Green!

CHIA_Gherkin, Illustrations from Jorge Chapa and Jill Fehrenbacher, Inhabitat April Fools, April Fools Joke, Green Gherkin, Chia Gherkin

Under pressure from other more sustainable buildings popping up around the world, London’s Gherkin Tower, designed by Norman Foster, has recently begun testing an innovative vegetated facade panel which promises to change the face of building design forever. This new “Green wall” product, known as the Core Hydraulic Integrated Arboury panel, promises to bring the benefits of green roofs to any exterior surface of any skyscraper.CHIA_Gherkin, Illustrations from Jorge Chapa and Jill Fehrenbacher, Inhabitat April Fools, April Fools Joke, Green Gherkin, Chia Gherkin

The panel works by soaking up moisture from the air and funneling it through its specialized membranes, which are able to generate enough water for plant growth. The plants, mostly a mixture of lichens and grasses, are expected to grow out of the panel and envelope the facade. Needless to say, the benefits of the panels are many: shading, increased internal daylighting, thermal insulation, reduced water consumption, energy generation for the entire building, recycling of materials, reduction of toxicity in the interior spaces, acceptance of the Kyoto treaty by the countries which have yet to sign, world peace, and a rise in property rental income.

IVG Asticus, the owners of the tower, are excited about their property. “The tower is expected to use less than half the energy consumed by air-conditioned office towers.”

Source: Inhabitat

APRIL FOOLS! 

UN Sounding The Alarm on Climate Change

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — If the world doesn’t cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral “out of control,” the head of a United Nations scientific panel warned Monday.

And he’s not alone. The Obama White House says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying “the costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that issued the 32-volume, 2,610-page report here early Monday, told The Associated Press: “it is a call for action.” Without reductions in emissions, he said, impacts from warming “could get out of control.”

One of the study’s authors, Maarten van Aalst, a top official at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, “If we don’t reduce greenhouse gases soon, risks will get out of hand. And the risks have already risen.”

Twenty-first century disasters such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the United States, droughts in Australia and deadly flooding in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan highlight how vulnerable humanity is to extreme weather, according to the report from the Nobel Prize-winning group of scientists. The dangers are going to worsen as the climate changes even more, the report’s authors said.

“We’re now in an era where climate change isn’t some kind of future hypothetical,” said the overall lead author of the report, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential.”

Nobody is immune, Pachauri and other scientists said.

“We’re all sitting ducks,” Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, one of the main authors of the report, said in an interview.

After several days of late-night wrangling, more than 100 governments unanimously approved the scientist-written 49-page summary — which is aimed at world political leaders. The summary mentions the word “risk” an average of about 5 1/2 times per page.

“Changes are occurring rapidly and they are sort of building up that risk,” Field said.

These risks are both big and small, according to the report. They are now and in the future. They hit farmers and big cities. Some places will have too much water, some not enough, including drinking water. Other risks mentioned in the report involve the price and availability of food, and to a lesser and more qualified extent some diseases, financial costs and even world peace.

“Things are worse than we had predicted” in 2007, when the group of scientists last issued this type of report, said report co-author Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University in Bangladesh. “We are going to see more and more impacts, faster and sooner than we had anticipated.”

The problems have gotten so bad that the panel had to add a new and dangerous level of risks. In 2007, the biggest risk level in one key summary graphic was “high” and colored blazing red. The latest report adds a new level, “very high,” and colors it deep purple.

You might as well call it a “horrible” risk level, said van Aalst: “The horrible is something quite likely, and we won’t be able to do anything about it.”

The report predicts that the highest level of risk would first hit plants and animals, both on land and the acidifying oceans.

Climate change will worsen problems that society already has, such as poverty, sickness, violence and refugees, according to the report. And on the other end, it will act as a brake slowing down the benefits of a modernizing society, such as regular economic growth and more efficient crop production, it says.

“In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans,” the report says.

And if society doesn’t change, the future looks even worse, it says: “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.”

While the problems from global warming will hit everyone in some way, the magnitude of the harm won’t be equal, coming down harder on people who can least afford it, the report says. It will increase the gaps between the rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old, and men and women, van Aalst said.

But the report’s authors say this is not a modern day version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Much of what they warn of are more nuanced troubles that grow by degrees and worsen other societal ills. The report also concedes that there are uncertainties in understanding and predicting future climate risks.

The report, the fifth on warming’s impacts, includes risks to the ecosystems of the Earth, including a thawing Arctic, but it is far more oriented to what it means to people than past versions.

The report also notes that one major area of risk is that with increased warming, incredibly dramatic but ultra-rare single major climate events, sometimes called tipping points, become more possible with huge consequences for the globe. These are events like the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would take more than 1,000 years.

“I can’t think of a better word for what it means to society than the word ‘risk,’” said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the study’s main authors. She calls global warming “maybe one of the greatest known risks we face.”

Global warming is triggered by heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, that stay in the atmosphere for a century. Much of the gases still in the air and trapping heat came from the United States and other industrial nations. China is now by far the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter, followed by the United States and India.

Unlike in past reports, where the scientists tried to limit examples of extremes to disasters that computer simulations can attribute partly to man-made warming, this version broadens what it looks at because it includes the larger issues of risk and vulnerability, van Aalst said.

Freaky storms like 2013′s Typhoon Haiyan, 2012′s Superstorm Sandy and 2008′s ultra-deadly Cyclone Nargis may not have been caused by warming, but their fatal storm surges were augmented by climate change’s ever rising seas, he said.

And in the cases of the big storms like Haiyan, Sandy and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the poor were the most vulnerable, Oppenheimer and van Aalst said. The report talks about climate change helping create new pockets of poverty and “hotspots of hunger” even in richer countries, increasing inequality between rich and poor.

Report co-author Maggie Opondo of the University of Nairobi said that especially in places like Africa, climate change and extreme events mean “people are going to become more vulnerable to sinking deeper into poverty.” And other study authors talked about the fairness issue with climate change.

“Rich people benefit from using all these fossil fuels,” University of Sussex economist Richard Tol said. “Poorer people lose out.”

Huq said he had hope because richer nations and people are being hit more, and “when it hits the rich, then it’s a problem” and people start acting on it.

Part of the report talks about what can be done: reducing carbon pollution and adapting to and preparing for changing climates with smarter development.

The report echoes an earlier U.N. climate science panel that said if greenhouse gases continue to rise, the world is looking at another about 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius) of warming by 2100 instead of the international goal of not allowing temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius). The difference between those two outcomes, Princeton’s Oppenheimer said, “is the difference between driving on an icy road at 30 mph versus 90 mph. It’s risky at 30, but deadly at 90.”

Tol, who is in the minority of experts here, had his name removed from the summary because he found it “too alarmist,” harping too much on risk.

But the panel vice chairman, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, said that’s not quite right: “We are pointing for reasons for alarm … It’s because the facts and the science and the data show that there are reasons to be alarmed. It’s not because we’re alarmist.”

The report is based on more than 12,000 peer reviewed scientific studies. Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, a co-sponsor of the climate panel, said this report was “the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline.”

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who wasn’t part of this report, said he found the report “very conservative” because it is based on only peer reviewed studies and has to be approved unanimously.

There is still time to adapt to some of the coming changes and reduce heat-trapping emissions, so it’s not all bad, said study co-author Patricia Romero-Lankao of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

“We have a closing window of opportunity,” she said. “We do have choices. We need to act now.”

Source: The Huffington Post

Paris Bans 50% Of Cars From The Roads

Paris smog outskirtsCC BY 2.0 Damián Bakarcic

Thanks to severe levels of air pollution for 5 consecutive days, Paris has just put in place a day-to-day ban on about 50% of cars, motorcycles, and trucks. Electric cars, hybrid cars, taxis, and cars including 3 or more passengers are exempt.

Using a system commonly used in China, vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers are banned from the roads today. Tomorrow, it switches to those ending with even numbers. The length of the ban will depend on the change in pollution levels.

D€NNI$/CC BY-NC 2.0

The key type of pollution driving the ban (no pun intended) is PM10 particles, which are each fewer than 10 micrometers in diameter. “The safe limit is 80 microgrammes of PM10 particulates per cubic metre, but on Friday, the level peaked at 180 microgrammes prompting authorities to urge people to stay indoors as much as possible and to leave their cars at home,” The Guardian writes.

To try to cut pollution levels, the government also offered free trips on public transit over the weekend and until the ban is over.

To implement the ban, which is the first such ban in Paris since 1997, 700 police officers at 60 checkpoints are being deployed. Nonetheless, many people opposed to the ban have said that they aren’t going to respect it and would rather pay the fine (€22), or have their employers pay the fine, than spend a much longer time commuting to their jobs or elsewhere.

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Aside from vehicles, PM10 particles are caused by industry and heating. Additionally, cold nights combined with warm days keep the pollution from dispersing. Respiratory problems, such as asthma attacks, and heart problems are common health problems that result from such pollution.

Business Green notes that there is a lot of pressure being put on London Mayor Boris Johnson to find a way to reduce similar smog in London. In response to the Paris ban, Green Party London Assembly member Baroness Jenny Jones tweeted, “Paris taking emergency action this wkend. Boris Johnson can’t even be bothered to alert schools to smog threat.”

Source: Tree Hugger