Climate change: snow, fish, flights and food crops

Posted by Laura Grant on February 13, 2009
Posted in Green News


A garden in London in early February

If you’re wondering how there can possibly be “gobal warming” when you see images on the news of snow storms in Britain and we’ve hardly seen the sun in Jo’burg for what seems like weeks, well, it’s probably La Niña’s fault, say the experts. But read this article on Scientific American for an explantation of what global warming means.


Warming seas at the tropics will cause fish stocks to move towards the poles in the next 50 years, a study of more than 1,000 fish species projects. The fish are likely to swim an average of about 200km either north or south to escape warmer water, the study says. Countries in the tropics are likely to suffer the most from reduced catches, William Cheung, the lead author of the study, from the University of British Columbia and the University of East Anglia, was reported as saying. But, he said, it would be more a “reshuffling” of the fish catches in the world’s oceans, the total fish catches would be little changed. Species at high risk of extinction would be those that thrive in cold waters that would have no where to go. [Reuters via Planet Ark]

Four airlines – Air France/KLM, Cathay Pacific, BA and Virgin Atlantic – have called for airline pollution to be included in the broader climate change treaty that is being negotiated to replace the Kyoto Protocol, Reuters reports. This is the first time airlines have moved to join the debate and it is a bid to try and steer the debate on an emissions deal rather than having one imposed on them, the report says. The aviation industry contributes about 2 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions. [Reuters via Planet Ark]

A study on the impact of climate change on crop yield and undernutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa has identified regional hotspots where early intervention may avert future hunger and improve food security. The study indicates that while some regions may be able to withstand the most severe impacts of climate change – and South Africa, Uganda and Ghana, may experience increased crop yields – most sub-Saharan countries will continue to experience a decline in per capita food availability. It is critically important that adaptation strategies be developed and implemented soon, particularly in the area of improved crop selection, extending crop area and increasing yield through improved water and fertiliser management, the study says. It suggests that countries such as Congo, Gabon, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique and Sudan may suffer from lower crop yields. But the most important conclusion from this study, says Dr Steffen Fritz of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, is that “although overall crop yields may not decline, due to the projected increase in population and stagnating purchasing power, hunger will remain or even worsen if no drastic adaptation measures are taken”. The research was published in the recent Special Issue of Global and Planetary Change. [Via :: Polity]


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