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Geoengineering Could Create More Problems Than It Could Solve

By Tim Radford

Geoengineering—the untested technofix that would permit the continued use of fossil fuels—could create more problems than it could solve.

By masking sunlight with injections of sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere, nations could perhaps suppress some of the devastating hurricanes and typhoons that in a rapidly warming world threaten northern hemisphere cities. But they could also scorch the Sahel region of Africa, to threaten millions of lives and livelihoods, according to new research.

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Climate

More Harvey-Sized Hurricanes Likely to Hit Texas

By Tim Radford

The probability that some city in the U.S. state of Texas will be hit again by Harvey-sized hurricanes, rainstorms that will dump half a meter of water in a short space of time, has increased sixfold in this century and will have increased 18-fold by 2100, thanks to climate change driven by global warming.

In the late summer of 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped 65 cms of water on the city of Houston in Texas. It was the start of the largest natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina pounded New Orleans in 2005. Harvey claimed an estimated 70 lives, and created more than $150 billion in damage.

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Climate
NASA

World Is Set to Warm 3.4°C By 2100

By Alex Kirby

By approaching 2100, a world set for 3.4˚C will, on present trends, probably be the reality confronting our descendants—slightly less warm than looked likely a year ago, analysts think. That's the good news, you could say.

But the bad news is twofold. First, this improvement in planetary prospects will still leave the global temperature increase more than twice as high as the internationally agreed target of 1.5˚C. And secondly, it depends largely on the efforts of just two countries—China and India.

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Renewable Energy
Windorah's Solar Farm dishes taken from the roadside (Diamantina Developmental Road) on a hot summer day. Aaronazz / Wikimedia Commons

100% Renewable Electricity to Power the World by 2050? It's Happening, Study Says

By Alex Kirby

If you think a world powered by 100 percent renewable electricity—and significantly cheaper than today's—is an impossible dream, there's a surprise in store for you. A new study says it's already in the making.

A global transition to 100 percent renewable electricity, far from being a long-term vision, is happening now, the study says. It is the work of Finland's Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG), and was published at the UN climate change conference, COP23, which is meeting here.

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Food
Sorghum, anyone? The right crop in the right place will grow more food. Tomascastelazo / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists: Strategic Crop Growth Based on Climate Change Could Feed 825 Million More

By Tim Radford

Scientists in the U.S. and Italy have worked out a strategy to feed an extra 825 million people—by rearranging where crops are grown. Their new menu for the global table could serve up 10 percent more calories and 19 percent more protein, while reducing the use of rainwater by 14 percent and cutting irrigation by 12 percent.

The secret: shift the patterns of crop growth to make the best of climate change, in a rapidly warming world in which rainfall patterns could become less predictable and drought and heat waves will become more frequent and more intense.

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East Africa faces persistent drought as the three warmest years recorded unfold. Oxfam East Africa / Wikimedia Commons

2017 Ranks Among 3 Warmest Years on Record

By Alex Kirby

For all of us, as 2017 proves to be one of the three warmest years on record, climate change presents a greater risk of sickness or death than it did four decades ago, the United Nations says. And for some of the world's poorest people, the consequences of unpredictable weather caused by changing climate mean devastating disruption to their daily lives.

The news comes from the World Meteorological Organization, the UN system's leading agency on weather, climate and water, which has published its 2017 report on the state of the global climate. Much of it makes somber reading.

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Climate
Two centuries of eruptions by Mt Takahe altered the ancient Antarctic climate considerably. NASA ICE / Flickr

How the Ancient Antarctic Explains Today’s Warming World

By Tim Radford

Deep in the last Ice Age, 17,700 years ago, the ancient Antarctic suddenly began to warm. Climate change, unexpectedly, made itself felt in the Southern Hemisphere.

Glaciers in Patagonia and in New Zealand began to retreat. Lakes in the Bolivian Andes began to swell with meltwater. Rain fell in the desert of Australia, and the gusts of dust that normally leave a trace in polar snows began to diminish.

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Forests cleared for oil palm plantations in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace

Better Land Use Can Achieve 30% of Carbon Cuts by 2030

By Tim Radford

Land use is often a forgotten priority, yet those of us who wish to contain global warming and avert catastrophic climate change have a natural ally: the land.

As nations plan to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, an international team of scientists has calculated just how much the natural and farmed world could contribute to future stability by absorbing ever more carbon dioxide.

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Energy
An electric bus in London. Domdomegg / Wikimedia Commons

Electric Bus Was Killed Off 100 Years Ago

By Kieran Cooke

The electric bus would have let Londoners enjoy clean air early in the twentieth century, saving millions of people from breathing problems and premature death, but dishonesty and double-dealing promoted the internal combustion engine instead.

The world is only now slowly waking up to the scale of the problem. Air pollution caused by fumes from the hundreds of thousands of vehicles on our roads is one of the big killers of the modern age, especially in cities, and is, along with climate change, a serious threat to the future of the planet.

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