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Category: Climate change

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Ski president sorry for praising dictators and attacking ‘so-called’ climate change

Gian Franco Kasper said dictators make good event hosts75-year-old once said women shouldn’t ski jumpThe president of the International Ski Federation has apologised after an interview in which he questioned climate change and said he preferred countri…

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Forest Green Rovers named world’s first UN certified carbon neutral football club

Gloucestershire-based League Two club powered by renewable energy and endorsed by Vegan SocietyA British professional football club that is powered by renewable energy and serves vegan food to players, staff and fans has received a prestigious United N…

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Cricket is natural choice to be a world leader on climate change | The Spin

The sport has an bond with the land that few other field sports do and Thursday’s game at Lord’s can put the environment centre stageSign up for The Spin or re-subscribe hereIn September 2017 Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of Dominica, stood up …

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Cricket and golf join snowsports under threat from climate change

• Skiing industry in Scotland could be finished within 50 years• Cricket hit by increased rainfall while links suffer coastal erosionThe future of snowsports is under threat, according to a report into the impact of climate change on grassroots and eli…

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Cricket and golf join snowsports under threat from climate change

• Skiing industry in Scotland could be finished within 50 years• Cricket hit by increased rainfall while links suffer coastal erosionThe future of snowsports is under threat, according to a report into the impact of climate change on grassroots and eli…

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How green are electric cars?

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Dancing for a cause: Kiribati’s climate activist Olympic weightlifter

David Katoatau generated headlines in 2016 for his joyous performances in Rio – and for his deadly serious message

Few casual observers would recall the winner of the men’s 105kg weightlifting category at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Many, though, will remember the athlete with the broad smile who danced his way into a 14th-placed finish.

David Katoatau is an unlikely climate change activist. An affable weightlifter from Kiribati, a collection of atolls spread across an area of the Pacific Ocean the size of India, Katoatau never intended to become a global ambassador for his small country. Yet with rising sea levels posing an existential threat to the i-Kiribati (as inhabitants of Kiribati are known), the Olympian felt compelled to raise awareness.

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Rio 2016: Kiribati weightlifter dances to highlight climate change

David Katoatau, who lost his home in Pacific nation to extreme weather, draws cheers as he uses trademark moves ‘to tell people about Kiribati before it sinks’

A weightlifter who lost his family’s house in a cyclone danced off stage at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday to raise awareness of the threat climate change poses to his remote Pacific nation.

David Katoatau got more cheers than any other lifter, including a Brazilian, throughout the men’s 105kg B Group.

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Rio 2016: Kiribati weightlifter dances to highlight climate change

David Katoatau, who lost his home in Pacific nation to extreme weather, draws cheers as he uses trademark moves ‘to tell people about Kiribati before it sinks’

A weightlifter who lost his family’s house in a cyclone danced off stage at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday to raise awareness of the threat climate change poses to his remote Pacific nation.

David Katoatau got more cheers than any other lifter, including a Brazilian, throughout the men’s 105kg B Group.

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Cameron puts corruption on G7 agenda after Fifa bribery scandal

Prime minister to tell summit that leading nations must ‘break the taboo on talking about corruption’, calling it ‘arch-enemy of democracy and development’

David Cameron is preparing to warn fellow world leaders at the two-day G7 summit that starts in Germany on Sunday that the Fifa bribery scandal must be a trigger for international action against corruption.

The prime minister will criticise what he will call a widespread “taboo” in pointing the finger at corrupt institutions, and will say the Fifa scandal has shown how focusing on an organisation can provide the impetus for cleaning-up operations.

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Brazil struggles with drought and pollution as Olympics loom large

Pollution in Guanabara Bay, where Olympic sailing and windsurfing contests are scheduled to be held, is so bad that competitors have described it as an ‘open sewer’

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Grassroots sports at risk from heatwaves due to climate change, report warns

Extreme heat policies of sports such as tennis, Aussie rules and cricket will have to find ways to better protect the wellbeing of competitors as temperatures rise Continue reading…

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Brazil struggles with drought and pollution as Olympics loom large

Pollution in Guanabara Bay, where Olympic sailing and windsurfing contests are scheduled to be held, is so bad that competitors have described it as an ‘open sewer’

Amid what is normally considered the rainy season, Brazil, the home of the Amazon River, is suffering from a historic, punishing drought.

In a country accustomed to ample water supplies, neighbors are turning against neighbors and hoarding water as taps run dry while businesses close and protesters take to the streets. Some have even speculated that São Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities, is failing.

Related: Why Brazil’s megadrought is a Wall Street failure

Related: São Paulo – anatomy of a failing megacity: residents struggle as water taps run dry

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How F1 and champagne might help us solve global warming

Governments need to want it and to apply lessons learned from behavioural economics, French vintners and how to incentivise clever people

Pension saving is on the increase in Britain. The rise has nothing to do with George Osborne’s budget last week but is the result of employees being automatically enrolled in company schemes if they are over 22 and earn more than £9,440 a year.

Previously, employees had to opt-in to workplace schemes, so fewer did. Millions more will save for their retirement as a result of this relatively small change.

The former cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell is a strong believer in behavioural economics. He says, for example, that the Treasury could vastly increase its tax take with a small change to the self-assessment forms sent out by Revenue and Customs.

At present, an individual fills in the form and on completion signs the form. Lord O’Donnell says the warning that false declarations can lead to prosecution should be put in big block capitals at the top of page 1. That would immediately alert people to the risks involved in trying to cheat the taxman and lead to billions of pounds of extra revenue.

This is an example of “nudge” economics. A shove in a certain direction can often have dramatic results. Humans are complex and don’t always behave in the way economic textbooks say they should. Sometimes they override the rules of supply and demand. Sometimes they have to be persuaded by outside agencies to act in a certain way.

In France, there are around 15,000 growers of grapes for 66 champagne houses. The industry is geographically concentrated and the grapes vary little in quality. With this sort of homogenous product, you would expect each of the 66 houses to pay the same market price for its grapes.

Not so, according to a paper by Amandine Ody-Brasier of the Yale management school and Freek Vermeulen, of the London business school. The grape sellers have a certain idea of what a champagne house should look like, and are prepared to punish those that don’t match up to expectations with higher prices for their raw materials.

What the growers like are houses run by a descendent of the founder, those located in one of the traditional champagne villages with a long history of producing bubbly. What they don’t like are newcomers to the industry, those houses owned by a corporate group, those that supply supermarket brands, those that operate winemaking subsidiaries abroad, or those that try to buy their own vineyards. Moët & Chandon can expect to pay more for its grapes than Pol Roger because it is owned by the luxury brand conglomerate LMVH.

One grower quoted in the paper sums up the distaste for the arriviste houses. “Some of these firms, they come and go. Who knows for how long they’re here, where they’ll be in 5 or 10 years? They would leave tomorrow if they stopped making money. They don’t care about champagne.”

The paper shows that the price differences paid by champagne houses are quite substantial, with a gap of several euros at an average price of €9 (£7.5) per kilogram. Now, it could be argued that champagne is a special case. Global demand is rising and it can only be supplied from one area of France. Growers make tidy profit margins and can therefore afford to behave with Gallic disdain toward those for whom they do not care. But economics theory suggests that the growers will be seeking to maximise their profits rather than offering discounted prices to Krug simply because the house was founded in 1843. This is not the case, and it is the result of market forces being tempered by social norms rather than by a cartel. As the paper notes, “the prices different organisations are charged for their purchases depend substantially on whether they meet local expectations for who they are and what they do. Our qualitative evidence confirms that this differential pricing by growers occurs not through collusion but through a spontaneous bottom-up process.”

For some reason, a Formula 1 grand prix ends up with the winner being drenched in champagne and it is the motor racing industry that provides the second example of how economics works. This time, though, the lesson (provided courtesy of John Llewellyn of Llewellyn Consulting) is about how regulation can prompt innovation.

Three years ago, the F1 authorities announced big changes to the rules governing engine size and fuel capacity. By this year, 2.4 litre normally aspirated V8 engines had to be replaced by 1.6 litre turbo-charged engines – a one-third cut in capacity. Simultaneously, fuel consumption – hitherto unlimited but averaging 160kg per race – had to be reduced to 100kg.

Lots of smart technologists and engineers work for the F1 industry and the new regulations forced them to find ways of making cars more fuel efficient without loss of power. They recognised that in an internal combustion engine only around one third of the fuel used actually propels the car, and went about recovering some of the lost energy.

As a result, this year’s F1 cars have two new energy-recovery systems: kinetic energy released when Sebastian Vettel slams on the brakes is converted into electrical energy; and energy formerly lost through the exhaust is turned into electrical energy.

As Llewellyn notes, the boffins have done an amazing job. The old V8 engines produced more than 750 brake horsepower, but the one-third smaller V6 engines produce 600 bhp (only 20% less). In addition, the energy recovery systems are designed to provide an additional 160bhp for 33 seconds every lap. So the new engines will produce as much power as the old engines, using 40% less fuel.

This is not just a matter that should interest petrol heads. Llewellyn says applying this technology to everyday motor vehicles could cut global oil consumption by 2% or more a year. “But this F1 experience has a deeper significance: it shows what clever people can do when motivated.”

Sometimes the motivation is money. Sometimes it is just plain curiosity. But quite often, clever people have to be pointed in the right direction. “This typically requires that government be involved: to identify the problem; specify it; corral key people; offer the prize; provide funding. Witness the second world war, which on that basis produced radar, radio navigation, the jet engine, rocketry and nuclear energy,” Llewellyn says.

Could the same approach help in the fight against global warming? Yes, of course, but only under certain conditions. Governments have to be fully committed – as they are under war conditions and sometimes (the space race) in peace time too. They need to learn the lessons of auto enrolment, the champagne industry and F1. And be prepared to shove as well as nudge.

theguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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Climate change: surfers told to expect fewer large waves on east coast

Guardian Australia: Researchers say greenhouse gases will reduce the number of storms that generate big swells by 40%Oliver Milman

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Climate change: surfers told to expect fewer large waves on east coast

Guardian Australia: Researchers say greenhouse gases will reduce the number of storms that generate big swells by 40%Oliver Milman

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Climate change threatens the winter games | Former US hockey player Mike Richter

Scientific projections say that, at best, 10 out of the past 19 host locations are climatically viable to hold future Olympics

The Olympics are a rare moment in time when the world comes together in a celebration of human potential. The most compelling stories are the David and Goliath matches, like the 1980 “Miracle on Ice”, where the US ice hockey team beat the nearly undefeated Soviets 4-3, and then went on to win the gold. These achievements, often in the face of overwhelming obstacles, lift us and remind us of what is possible.

Now we face another compelling international challenge, one which threatens all sports, particularly the winter Games: climate change. And, like all great athletic contests, we are our toughest opponents. But just like we did on that rink in 1980, we can prevail – with great courage, effort and skill.

The short-term sacrifices we’ll make in order to meet this challenge pale in comparison to both the payback and the cost of ignoring the threat. A recent study estimated that the cost of climate change to the US alone will be $271bn per year by 2025, and more than $1.8tn per year by the end of the century. The threats to national security and human health are even more profound. No aspect of society is untouched, including sports.

The roots of my sport are in the frozen ponds, lakes, and rivers of North America. Though I grew up in Philadelphia, I skated outdoors as much as possible. But things have changed since I began skating; today, these same ponds, lakes and rivers are freezing later and melting earlier. Ice that lasts throughout the winter is, for the most part, a thing of the past. A recent McGill University study suggested that climate change may cause natural ice to disappear altogether, even across Canada, where some rinks now use expensive, artificial ice.

Now, every four years, winter Olympians ask: will there be enough snow? In 2011, the World Cup downhill in Europe was cancelled for lack of snow. Scientific projections say that, at best, 10 out of the past 19 host locations are climatically viable to hold future Olympics.

But it’s not a problem just for ice hockey and skiing. Extreme heat will continue to present huge hurdles for endurance sports; in short, every outdoor sport is at risk.

Our leaders are beginning to take notice: in November, representatives from every major American sports league – NBA, WNBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, and the US Olympic Committee (USOC) – met with Congress to discuss how climate change will affect the future of these sports – and to urge stronger action. As Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey points out:

Whether it’s the slow death of pond hockey or increasing heat for football practices, global warming is negatively affecting the games we play and the sports we love.

Why, then, is our country is considering an energy project that could have a huge impact on winter sports by accelerating global climate change?

President Obama will soon decide whether to approve the final section of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will pump the world’s dirtiest fuel from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to refineries in Houston, where it will be shipped overseas. The tar sands industry is already the fastest growing source of global warming pollution in Canada; each barrel of tar sands oil generates three times more global warming pollution than conventional oil. That’s a staggering amount of carbon. To make matters worse, producing this dirty oil requires clear-cutting giant swaths of ancient forest, sucking up water from rivers, and leaving behind lakes of toxic waste so large they can be seen from space.

The diluted bitumen mixture that will be pumped through Keystone XL is superheated, highly corrosive and therefore more likely to spill. Worse, industry lacks the technology to clean up once it does. Workers are still working to contain tar sands from the US’s largest inland oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan – and it’s been over three years. The proposed pipeline route crosses the most sensitive parts of our heartland, including the Ogalla aquifer – the water source for America’s breadbasket.

How many permanent jobs will Keystone XL pipeline generate? According to the State Department: 50.

A foreign, private company using eminent domain to ram through a project that will, if completed, in the words of NASA scientist James Hansen, mean “game over” for the climate makes no sense. 

President Obama himself promised to reject Keystone XL if it cannot pass the “climate test”. He must tell the world that we are serious about fighting climate change and helping American clean energy technologies thrive. If he does, we just might be able to save the winter games we love and set a new course for this nation we cherish.

We are quite literally on thin ice. This is a critical moment, and the decisions we make now will lock us into a climactic trajectory forever. The odds are against us, but we can overcome this challenge. We don’t need another study. We don’t need to get smarter. We just have to find the courage to say no to dirty fossil fuels. It’s time for another miracle.

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Is the Australian Open tennis feeling the heat of climate change? | Graham Readfearn

As tennis players complain and collapse due to the heat, scientists say climate change is driving a rise in extreme temperatures across Australia

Did climate change conspire to burn Serbian tennis player Jelena Jankovic’s bum during this year’s Australian Open Tennis Championships?

Was global warming a conspirator in causing Canadian player Frank Dancevic to hallucinate a cartoon dog shortly before collapsing on court six?

As the Australian Open continues in Melbourne, so does the heat wave and the scorching temperatures of 41C and over.

Today will likely be the third day straight that the Olympic Park thermometer gets above 41C.  The forecast today for Melbourne is a ball-dropping 44C.

Dancevic said it was “inhumane” to ask players to continue in the relentless heat. British star Andy Murray commented it was a bad look for the sport to have ball boys and girls, players and spectators collapsing.

But does human-caused climate change have anything at all to do with the water bottle-melting heat being endured by the players?

First for the usual caveats.  Melbourne gets hot, and it has always experienced extremely hot days.

You can’t blame climate change entirely for hot weather, but you can say that it increases the risk of extreme hot weather events occurring. The planet’s atmosphere has been loaded with extra greenhouse gases, which gives the analogy of loading the weather dice to increase the chances of you rolling a six – or in this case, experiencing extremely hot days or seeing Snoopy.

Blair Trewin, a senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre, told me that over the long term, Melbourne experiences 1.3 days above 40C every year.

But he says that between 2001 and 2013, the average across all those years was 1.9 days above 40C.

“Despite what people would have you believe, 40-degree days in Melbourne are not particularly common, and the city has gone as long as five years (1968 to 1973) without having any,” he told me by email.

He says that when it comes to “single day extremes” there is a clear increase for the south east of the country, although it is much harder to see any trends in heat waves.

Dr Sarah Perkins is a researcher at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales and specialises in studying heat waves.

I asked her if human-caused climate change was contributing to charred bums and Snoopy sightings at the tennis.

“It’s contributing,” she says. “In Melbourne we are seeing an increase in the amount of extreme heat – there’s a disproportionate change when compared to the 1C increase we’ve seen in the average temperature for Australia.

“We are also seeing an increase in heat waves not just in Melbourne, but across Australia.

“Of course, summer is naturally hot and extreme temperature events will occur at this time of year. But we’re now seeing much more of these events, that last longer, and are hotter. It’s this trend that’s concerning.

“Because of the background warming that’s already there, there is a greater risk now of us seeing these events happen – so in that respect, it’s game, set and match.

“Perhaps the bums wouldn’t have been charred quite so much if there was no background warming trend”.

She says her studies have shown that since 1980, Melbourne is now experiencing an average of between one and two extra “heat wave days” every year. A heat wave day is a day that can contribute to a string of hot days.

While an extra day or two doesn’t sound like much, Perkins says the average heat wave days per year before 1980 was only between five and six.

Perkins also says there are generally three natural climate phenomena related to extreme heat in the south east of the country.

None of these three “modes”– El Nino, the Indian Ocean Dipole and the Southern Annular Mode – were currently in cycles associated with higher extreme temperatures, says Perkins.

“We are seeing extreme events at times when natural variability alone can’t explain what’s happening.”

Perkins has also created a website – scorcher.com.au – which tracks heat waves across Australia almost as they happen (there’s a two-day lag time). 

The Bureau of Meteorology has also launched a pilot heat wave service to forecast extreme conditions and help the community, including health agencies, prepare.

Plainly, there is a clear health risk when people are exposed to extreme heat.  The young and elderly, the socially isolated and people with existing health problems are especially at risk.

The advice from health professionals is to avoid physical activity, drink lots of water and seek shade or air-conditioning.

Avoiding physical activity obviously isn’t an option for the tennis players, but they can look forward to cooler temperatures from Friday.

If we’re asking if there’s a link between Jelena Jancovik burning her bum on a seat and human-caused climate change, then the answer seems likely to be yes.

As for the future, it seems likely that the chances of more heat during the Australian Open are on the rise. A report from the independent Climate Council says in the future, the number of heat waves in Australia will “increase significantly“.

Organisers might need to start thinking about some climate adaptation measures – including remembering to put a towel on Jelena Jankovic’s chair.

Look. Snoopy!

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Can I fly with a clear conscience? | Ethical living

I’d like to travel by plane, but it seems iniquitous that air fares are so low. Can you offer me any reasons why I might fly with a clear conscience?It is time for the aviation industry to pay the ferryman. Hitherto flying has soared above climate chan…