The Indian dipole

Global warming has been called by a number of different terms in recent years: global heating, climate crisis and Hothouse Earth, for example. These terms suggest that ‘warming’ might be too ’soft’ a term and may ignore the fact that in many places, there is a significant rise in temperature, hence ‘heating’. One example is the rise in temperatures in the Indian Ocean which may be linked to the bush-fires in Australia and flooding in parts of Africa. The Indian Ocean ...

Glacial streams as a carbon sink

Scientists have only recently discovered that Arctic/glacial meltwater streams take in atmospheric carbon at a faster rate than tropical rainforests. Previously scientists have assumed that rivers were a source of carbon rather than a sink. The results were based on tests carried out on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut territory, Canada, the Rocky Mountains and in Greenland. Scientists studied the effects of glacial meltwater running into rivers and lakes downstream. In temperate rivers high levels of organic matter in rivers leads to ...

More flooding is inevitable, says IPCC

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) extreme events that used to have a return period of once every century could be happening on some coastlines very year by 2050.They reported that serious impacts in the world’s oceans and ice caps are inevitable. However, they also point out that impacts could be even worse without a reduction in fossil fuel emissions, including sea level rises of over 4 metres by 2300. The oceans are under great threat from sea ...

Urban farming

Urban farming (also known as vertical farming) is an intensive form of agriculture which produces high quality crops year round. Crops are grown in an artificial environment in which temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. Up to 95% of water is recycled and nutrients are carefully provided. LED lighting provides the wavelengths that plants require so energy is saved. Insects are not present so pesticides are not required. Nevertheless, electricity bills are high and the threat of power cuts is a ...

Soil Conservation

Soil conservation measures 95% of the world’s food is produced on soil One-third of the UK’s soils are degraded One million hectares (36% of arable land in the UK is at risk from erosion. According to the UK environment secretary, Michael Gove, in some parts of the country, the UK’s soils may only be able to support farming for a further 30-40 years. Conservation agriculture aims to restore soil quality by increasing biodiversity, organic matter and soil fertility. It does not involve any ploughing of ...

Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in March 2019 affecting up to 2.6 million people. In Mozambique, some 1.85 million people have been affected and in Malawi around 900,000. Around 130,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique, and around 90,0000 in Malawi. The final toll of the cyclone will not be known for many months, perhaps ever. This was the worst cyclone to affect the area since February 2000 when the region was affected by three cyclone in just ...

Venezuela: How and Why Did It All Go So Wrong?

Venezuela was, until relatively recently, one of the richest countries in Latin America. Due to its vast oil reserves, and the revenue they brought in, they were able fund food subsidies health care and education programmes. Under the presidency of Hugo Chavez (1999–2013) unemployment and poverty halved and personal incomes doubled. Chavez nationalized the oil industry and used the profits for welfare programmes. Chavez dies in 2013 and was replaced Nicolas Maduro, who continued with the spending programme. However, the price ...

Falling Fertility – Good News or Bad News?

The global total fertility rate (the average number of children born to a woman during her reproductive life, at present rates) is now 2.4. According to Sarah Harper, former director of the Royal Institution, falling fertility is to be encouraged. She believes that artificial intelligence, automation (mechanisation) and a healthier, older population reduces the need for a large workforce for economic growth. In a post-industrial country (and even in industrial countries) machines do much of the work that manual labour used ...

Brumadinho Landslide in Brazil

The Brumadinho landslide occurred on 26 January 2019 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. To date, around 60 bodies have been recovered from the Brumadinho landslide but almost 300 are still missing. Although bodies were recovered it proved very difficult to identify them. The current disaster happened just three years after the collapse of another tailings (waste materials) dam, near the town of Mariana, also in the state of Minas Gerais. It killed 19 people, forced many people to ...

Burial in China

Around 10 million people die in China each year. Of these about 50% are cremated. The Chinese authorities have looked at ways of reforming burials in China, in order to deal with the lack of space and high prices of burials in certain areas. Each cremation releases around 160 kg of carbon dioxide, so around 800,000 tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year in China, as a result of cremations! As China’s population ages, this amount is likely ...