Extreme temperatures keep affecting wheat production in Europe

Yet another year, climate change shows its effect more vividly on European summer. Extreme temperatures have devastated corn fields in North Europe, while a combination of droughts and high intensity rains on the Black Sea area have plunged production estimations, with the consequent potential of a price raise.

France, main EU producer, has also been experimenting extreme meteorological situations, which forced analysts to take their production estimations down to 34 million tons, almost 3 million less than last year.

As we follow harvest path to North Germany (second biggest corn producer in the European Union, right behind France), more and more evidence of damage on the crops arise, leading to a reiterative cut on the production forecasts for the EU joint corn output.

“Situation is catastrophic in northern Europe” recently said Andree Defois, president of Strategie Grains, the company of reference regarding grain and oilseed markets in Europe.

The consultancy cut off again few weeks ago its estimation for soft wheat’s harvest in Europe for the year, setting it under the 130 million tons, which is a six year minimum, and Defois confirmed that most likely it will be revised again.

Map of droughts in July 2018, JRC European Drought Observatory

Poland wheat production is also struggling: droughts at the beginning of summer and the effects of the recent heatwave mean that the country’s production may fall over 8%, to a total of 10.7 tons, according to Wojtek Sabarinski, analyst for Sparks Polska.

In the meantime, United Kingdom prays to have it better than its neighbours, has also estimated that this year’s output will be a 5 years low.

The Scandinavian and Baltic regions have not been able to escape this weather craziness either: for instance, Sweden’s production has fallen around a remarkable 40% so far.

European prices have risen over 15% in the last month, reaching its peak price in the last 4 years: 208.5 €/ton, in consonance with an increasing concern worldwide regarding wheat supply.

Thus, the repercussion of European situation it’s going to be noticed all around the globe. Considering that the EU as a collective is the main wheat producer in the world, and that the forecasts for production have fallen for the main four producers (France, Germany, UK and Poland), shortage in supply or a very noticeable increase on prices to readjust equilibrium may be expected.

The implications of this situation are very straight forward: the price rice in such a basic product as wheat will definitely be felt throughout the agro-alimentary sector. While clearly being bad news, both for Europe and for consumers, we can only hope governments take note of the “not-so-gentle” pushes that nature keeps on giving us. Global warming is becoming everyday a more tangible problem, and the longer we take to seriously tackle it the more it will cost us.

Climategate: Why we need more media support

Today the power of the media is so strong than ever before. Thanks to social networks, podcasts and off-line streaming services we are constantly hit by news from everywhere.

We can not deny the fact that the media have the power to shape people’s opinions about a certain fact. Moreover, the media coverage around an event decrease or increase the sense of priority we give to that particular event.

Now, we all know that climate change or global warming are on the top of the world’s priority, or at least they should be. But, how do media act with respect to these issues? Are the media giving enough importance to the environmental problems of our planet? Are they doing enough efforts to align people’s idea to what the entire scientific community so strongly is shouting?

The answer presented is not satisfying at all!

Last year, 2015, the biggest media, such as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox aired approximately 146 minutes of climate change coverage on their evening and Sunday news shows. Compared with 2014, there has been a 5% drop in coverage. This, despite the fact that 2015 has been a big year full of significant actions for climate change; Paris Summit, Pope Francis’ speak are just few examples.

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Okey, we can understand that maybe speaking about climate change does not increase TV audience, and that there are also other topics that must be covered. News media are a business and they must follow more attractive news; right?!

However, there is another huge problem here.

In 2015 Sunday Shows hosted more programs with climate science denial than in 2014. In 2014, the Sunday shows aired four segments that included climate science denial. In 2015, that number increased to six segments. Climate denial surfaced in 50 percent of the climate-related segments on NBC’s Meet the Press(three out of six segments), 17 percent of the climate-related segments on CBS’ Face the Nation (one out of six segments), and 14 percent of the climate-related segments on Fox News Sunday (two out of 14 segments). ABC’s This Week did not feature any climate science denial, but the program only addressed climate change in two segments all year.  [Media Matters, 1/28/15]

 

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Well, we live in a democratic world and people have the right to deny a fact even if is a scientific fact! Still, is unacceptable from a TV channel, watched by millions, to give more space and time to who deny these facts! In this way they are sowing doubts in people mind about climate change, when the scientific community at all agree that there is nothing to doubt at all.

The fight against climate change has always had its biggest opponents in climate change deniers, and they have not been  defeated yet. Not to forget, is very likely that United States may have as next president a climate change denier too! What is more scary?

 

Luckily, if mainstream media tend to be cautious and prefer not to take a strong commitment in the climate change battle, there are good news. Many big voices out there have spoken out loud in favour of the climate change battle, from politicians to singers, from writers to actors, there is an increasing number of people even not involved in governments that have taken action. And is to them we have to give the merit that more people are environmental concerned.

If the media do not want to raise public awareness about climate change, it is time for us to do that. Speak to your  neighbours, share a video or an article on your Facebook timeline, anything can be useful, because if you can just reach one person today, he/she is going to make a huge difference in this fight.

Paris Agreement: how we reached a milestone

On the 5th of October the Paris agreement has entered into force, as enough countries has ratified the document. As India, China and United States ratified the agreement, the participating nations went well above the 55% threshold of emissions, mandatory for the agreement to take effect.

The Paris agreement often as “the most comprehensive international agreement ever to combat man-made climate change” (Time, Oct. 2016), it is the first real step towards a global response to the threat of climate change,  by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Crucial has been the ratification by the European Union. President Jean-Claude Juncker said“Today the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action. The Paris Agreement is the first of its kind and it would not have been possible were it not for the European Union.  Today we continued to show leadership and prove that, together, the European Union can deliver.”

What’s next?

In one month time, exactly on the 4th November 2016 the agreement will come into force for each nations. For the EU members state, they will ratify the Paris Agreement individually, in accordance with their national parliamentary processes.

We have already spoken about Cop21 and its agreement: http://steamgreen.unibo.it/2015/12/13/whats-in-your-climate-agreement; but we want you to remind the main points of the Climate Change Agreement:

  • a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels;
  • to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change;
  • on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries;
  • to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science.

Governments also agreed to:

  • come together every 5 years to set more ambitious targets as required by science;
  • report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets;
  • track progress towards the long-term goal through a robust transparency and accountability system

However, the agreement still has to doubts to cast away; for example among the top emitters there is China, 20% total Co2 emissions, which however is still consider as a developing country, racing a lot of questions about equity. Moreover, questionable is the fact that the CO2 reduction commitments in the agreement would not apply until 2020. By that time much more CO2 will have been pumped into the atmosphere, maybe making the agreement useless.

Anyway, last Wednesday will be sure remembered as an historical day for the fight against Climate Change.

Well done Montreal!

Montreal 1989, does it remeber anything to you?

Back in that year Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date” (Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations) was signed.
Today 27 years later its effects are visible to everyone.

Yes!

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The Montreal Protocol effects

The Protocol (for who does not remeber) banned the use of CFC, chlorofluorocarbons, and other ozone-depleting substances (ODS), to help the ozone layer to restore itsself.

Recently, a MIT study confirmed that the ozone hole is shrinking. The size of the ozone hole above Antarctica each September has shrunk from about 20m square kilometres to 16m square kilometres since 2000.

It is now clear that banning CFCs through the Montreal Protocol almost 30 years ago was the right decision. The ozone hole is starting to recover, perhaps to close completely by the 2050s.

This confirm the theory that if we act altogether we can achieve great results. Is cooperation the answer to the man-made climate change problem? Defintely YES!

The successes and  lessons of  the Montreal Protocol are instructive in the context of global climate change discussions. Clearly, a multilateral agreement with strong, science-based and legally binding limits is what we need.  

If we act collectively we can do and achieve more!

Remeber togheter we stand divided we fall!

El Nino… a kid actor in the Climate Change

Between 2015 and 2016 the world has witnessed the strongest El Nino since 65 years. The effects have been catastrophic, producing massive drought in Africa and Australia and destructive floods in South America.

Step by step…What El Nino is? 

The Peruvian fishermen gave name to this climate phenomena, calling it El Nino (the kid); exactly El Nino and his counterpart La Nina, are part of a alternating warm and cold events in the tropical Pacific. It is a naturally occurring ocean-atmosphere interaction which results in a 2 to 7 years cyclical fluctuation of atmospheric and oceanic temperature and circulation patterns in the Pacific Ocean.

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Normally the difference between high and low atmospheric pressure between Eastern Pacific and Oceania causes trade winds from East to West. The temperature of the Ocean rises about 0.5 Celsius degree, causing warm water flowing eastwards from Indonesia. This prevents the upwelling of cold nutrient-rich water essential to biological production and thus reduces fish catches in Peru and Ecuador.

Indeed, the economic effect of this whether oscillation are really huge; a University of Cambridge Working Paper shows that while Australia, Chile, Indonesia, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa face a short-lived fall in economic activity in response to an El Nino shock, other countries may actually benefit from it, for instance, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and the United States. The IMF estimates a significant El Niño can boost the GDP of the United States by about 0.5% (due largely to lower heating bills) and reduce the GDP of Indonesia by about 1.0%.

El Nino counterpart, is his sibling El Nina that produces the opposite effects, lower water temperature which as a result can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others in the Pacific Ocean.

 

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What is alarming is that the scientific evidences show that the twentieth-century El Nino events are stronger and more frequent compared with the previous events over the past 130.000 years!!!

El Nino and global warming… Any need to worry?

Although we need more data, because is too early to conclude that recent global warming is the cause of the more frequent and intense events observed recently. However, if more and stronger El Nino are coming this would have a significant and devastating impact on agriculture and ecosystem in Australia, Southeast Asia, East Africa and India. There could be greater global uncertanty for rain-fed crops, fisheries, drinking water supplies and other economic activities.

Moreover, extreme El Nino events reduces oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide, weakening our challenge to CO2 reduction in the atmosphere, as the whether conditions the phenomena creates  not only limit the ability of forests to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere but also trigger huge fires around the globe that inject extra carbon into the air.

Extreme weather is due to Climate Change. Really?!

Every once in a while, I meet someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. They say that all the changes are happening since the beginning of the time and will continue to be so it is quite normal for the Earth to be so warm or to be so cold. Well, I always partially agree with them. But since last century we can see more and more storms all over the world. Maybe 2 of them you might think as a normal phenomenon but we saw in UK,China and India among other countries made it clear that it is indeed happening due to Climate Change.
If you still do not agree, read this post where the scientist in UK did some research and Carbon Brief did further research on that research and then followed up some Question and Answers session to understand these disasters happening all over the world. Why I can a storm a disaster? Well, it completes ruins your city and daily routine and not to mention the financial problem it causes the government in the matter of days.

A series of storms – first Desmond, then Eva, and finally Frank – dumped 230mm of rain on the UK during December, triggering flooding across much of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland. The preliminary results – from three different approaches – indicate the human impact on climate was as large, or even larger, than the impact of natural fluctuations in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean – even during a strong El Niño event. Climate change and ocean variability each made the record rainfall totals 50-75% more likely, the researchers say, and doubled the chances of such a warm month. Random variability in weather also contributed to the severe conditions.

Do you still feel that Climate Change isn’t happening? Is Yes, then I am sure you believe that Santa Claus exist too!

Source: Carbon Brief, Climate Prediction

Reduction in consumption of meat might be a good idea!

I know that the post image might tempt people to eat some meat right now. But as I have written few posts before about how the meat industry is kind of more responsible for the pollution around the world. Documentaries like ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘Food Inc’ are worth watching for some reason. Deforestation is done also because of meat industry. According to some assumption, the demand for meat is going to be higher in the future. If this happens, the 2 degree target is well of the table.

If you read this article on Carbon Brief, there is strong evidence that reduce in meat might really reduce the pollution. I really have reduced my consumption of meat since Jan 2015. I intended to completely quit it but I will be honest, I can’t quit it 100%. Ever since I have started eating more veggies, my cooking skills have improved as I can try to cook different types of vegetables ( going off the topic now).

 

These two images taken from the article shows how the current consumption is happening around the globe. If you do not wish to quite it, no need as long as you reduce a little.

Read the article for more details.

 

Source: Carbon Brief.

The wired wild – data is the key

Some weeks ago the World Wildlife Fund WWF organized the fuller symposium event, bringing together leaders in science, policy business and development to talk about innovative technologies and the promises it give when it comes to face the challenges on our planet. Even if you are not a big fan of WWF, you can check out the “WIRED IN THE WILD – Can technology save the planet?” agenda because it offers some interesting point of views, TED-talks, videos and many more, just click on the link above to get there.

There are some several outcomes of this summit, one is collaboration. Collaboration is crucial to bring together scientist from various fields to guarantee that a mix of different technologies gives a more accurate view on what is happening in the big picture but not only. In fact without community participation and the support of local communities  and their data “from the ground” very often it would not be possible to guarantee that the outcome of the research reflects what is really happening in the “real” world. Here technology is key because without sensors and technologies that gather information and that are positioned in strategic points and possibly with some kind of real-time information. With an everyday growing level of connectivity this could be possible and should help to get the big-data that is necessary to do some high quality research in many fields, from climate change to pollution and renewable energy consumption and many more.

Check it out!

Paris Summit 2015 – Each country’s pledge

Carbon Brief has been following each country’s pledge towards the Paris 2015 summit. Here on this post you will find more details on how each country pledged in the upcoming summit. While for some countries, the pledges seem a big task however it will be interesting to see if they manage to achieve the target.

For instance, Mexico – the first developing country to come forward – includes a section on adaptation, while the EU is silent on the topic. Switzerland’s pledge of a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions looks high compared to the EU’s “at least 40%”, until you realise they plan to use international carbon credits where the EU will make all reductions on home soil.

These pledges are also known as “intended nationally determined contributions”, or INDCs. You can find more details of each country’s INPC on UNFCCC. If the INDCs fall short – as they are widely expected to do – there is no official mechanism in place to ratchet them up before Paris. This is where they will be incorporated into the agreement, and likely take on some element of legal force.

I have my skepticism too but let’s wait for this event to happen!

Source: Carbon Brief

Myths vs. Facts on Global Warming

This article might upset few people or maybe we might learn a thing or too. Before I go on about the Myths or facts bout global warming, I would like to make my stand clear. According to me Global Warming is indeed a real thing happening caused by us. More population, more consumption, more production and more pollution in turn. However, I can’t ignore some of the pointers I read on the internet. Even though some of them are explained by a simple logic ( not saying that logic holds any truth) or some of the facts are backed up by some scientific research ( I have not read those scientific papers either) but here I would like to mention few and rest you can find on the link given below.

Myth 1: Earth’s climate was changing even before industrialization, so humans can’t be responsible for today’s global warming.

Science: Climate changes in the past suggest that our climate reacts to energy input and output, such that if the planet accumulates more heat than it gives off global temperatures will rise. It’s the driver of this heat imbalance that differs.

Currently, CO2 is imposing an energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Past climate change actually provides evidence for our climate’s sensitivity to CO2.

Myth 2 : Global warming has stopped and the Earth has begun to cool.

Science: The last decade, 2000-2009, was the hottest on record, according to Skeptical Science. Big blizzards and abnormally chilly weather often raise the question: How can global warming be occurring when it’s snowing outside? Global warming is compatible with chilled weather. “For climate change, it is the long-term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming,” according to Skeptical Science.

Myth 3: Rick Santorum, GOP presidential nominee, summed up this argument in the news when he said: “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,” he told the Associated Press.

Science: While it is true that plants photosynthesize, and therefore take up carbon dioxide as a way of forming energy with the help of the sun and water, this gas is both a direct pollutant (think acidification of oceans) and more importantly is linked to the greenhouse effect. When heat energy gets released from Earth’s surface, some of that radiation is trapped by greenhouse gases like CO2; the effect is what makes our planet comfy temperature-wise, but too much and you get global warming.

Myth 4: Ice covering much of Antarctica is expanding, contrary to the belief that the ice cap is melting due to global warming.

Science: The argument that ice is expanding on Antarctica omit the fact that there’s a difference between land ice and sea ice, climate scientists say. “If you are talking about the Antarctic ice sheet, we expect some gain in accumulation in the interior due to warmer, more moisture-laden air, but increased calving/ice loss at the periphery, primarily due to warming southern oceans,” climate scientist Michael Mann, of Pennsylvania State University, told LiveScience. The net change in ice mass is the difference between this accumulation and peripheral loss. “Models traditionally have projected that this difference doesn’t become negative (i.e. net loss of Antarctic ice sheet mass) for several decades,” Mann said, adding that detailed gravimetric measurements, which looks at changes in Earth’s gravity over spots to estimate, among other things, ice mass. These measurements, Mann said, suggest the Antarctic ice sheet is already losing mass and contributing to sea level rise.

Now for sea ice, this type of ice is influenced by year-to-year changes in wind directions and changes in ocean currents. For sea ice, it’s tricky to identify a clear trend, Mann said.

Source: Energy, OSS foundation, Live Science