Scientists have found a huge hole in the UK’s greenhouse gas accounts after research showed CO2 emissions from marshes and wetlands had not been counted properly. A report to ministers warns that these areas, rather than soaking up greenhouse gases, as official reports claim, are releasing 22m tons of CO2 into the air every year, mostly due to farming. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) said the extra emissions arose when bogs were drained and the peat soil was cultivated. Peat soil covers 7.4m acres, or 12% of the UK, but 78% of that has been ploughed or drained, according to a CEH study. A Committee on Climate Change report said that when such sources were included, UK emissions had hardly fallen. The UK is emitting the equivalent of 790m tons of CO2 now, only 7% below the 840m tons in 1990.
Times 22nd Sept 2019 read more »
Donald Trump will miss key climate summit talks at the United Nations on Monday in favour of chairing his own meeting on religious freedom, according to a UN official. The move is the latest indication the president has little interest in addressing climate change despite vast global climate protests, including 800 events held in the US. At the UN meeting next week, 60 representatives from around the world – including the UK prime minister – are set to be making pledges on climate action. A senior official confirmed to The Guardian the US president had booked a large meeting room relatively last minute on the same day for an event called Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom. Mr Trump has a poor record when it comes to the environment and has previously vowed to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement.
Independent 21st Sept 2019 read more »
Those who live and work on the UK’s coastlines have always had to accept the threat of storms, flooding and erosion. But the increasing frequency of extreme weather events has pushed the urgent need to predict and plan for what happens on and around our coastlines up the agenda. Events such as the storms of 2013 and 2014, which destroyed infrastructure including the main rail line at Dawlish in Devon, show how important it is to safeguard our coastal communities now, and understand the threats they face in the future, says Prof Paul Russell of the University of Plymouth’s Coastal Processes Research Group (CPRG). “Lots of people want to live in coastal zones and build infrastructure. But at the same time, we have rising sea levels and increasing storminess. The sea wants to claim more of this land, but humans want to inhabit the land on the coast and hold it firm. It’s a worldwide conflict.” The CPRG, led by Prof Gerd Masselink, is one of the world’s largest and most well-regarded groups specialising in coastal research. With direct access to some of the most dramatic stretches of coast in western Europe, its focus is on finding real-world solutions to the problems faced by coastlines. In practice, this usually means a lot of “extreme research”, as Russell puts it – going out and gathering data using the most up-to-date equipment, often in the teeth of a storm. Christopher Stokes, who leads the CMAR group, is now in the second year of a five-year project, also funded by NERC, to develop a coastal flood warning system for south-west England. Although the existing system can predict high water levels very well, it can’t predict how far waves will run up a beach, and how much water might flood over the top of it – which can be very bad for businesses on the seafront.
Guardian (accessed) 21st Sept 2019 read more »