The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Climate change in Central America is affecting wildlife in profound ways, but few places have been as seriously affected as Guatemala’s Laguna Del Tigre National Park which suffered a devastating wildfire as the result of an El Niño in 1998.
More than 40 percent of the park was destroyed, meaning that jaguars, tapirs, and peccaries were scrambling to search for areas not touched by the fires. Animals that don’t move so fast, like reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates perished, Jeremy Radachowsky LiveScience notes.
A new paper, published in the journal Social Forces by sociologist Gordon Gauchat of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, goes much further in this regard. And what did it find? That to simply claim that conservatives distrust science, or that liberals love it, doesn’t really explain much at all.
In the study, Gauchat first gathered data from the General Social Survey on two key questions: How Americans feel about the use of scientific information to determine government policy, and how they feel about the extent to which it should be funded by the federal government. He then examined how people’s views on these issues relate both to their left-right ideological dispositions, but also to various other beliefs, psychological factors, and aspects of identity that may underlie political beliefs.
And — in sum — it looks like now we’re really getting somewhere when it comes to understanding the politics of science.
An analysis of changes to the climate that occur over several decades suggests that these changes are happening faster than historical levels and are starting to speed up. The Earth is now entering a period of changing climate that will likely be faster than what’s occurred naturally over the last thousand years, according to a new paper in Nature Climate Change, committing people to live through and adapt to a warming world. In this study, interdisciplinary scientist Steve Smith and colleagues at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory examined historical and projected changes over decades rather than centuries to determine the temperature trends that will be felt by humans alive today.
New research has highlighted the value of a modern logging technique for maintaining biodiversity in tropical forests that are used for timber production. Researchers at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent say that with over 4 million km2 of tropical forests harvested for timber worldwide, improving the way logging impacts on wildlife is essential for global biodiversity conservation.
Members of DICE conducted the most comprehensive study of Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL) to date, surveying wildlife communities over a five-year period before and after timber harvesting.
Natural forces have always caused the climate on Earth to fluctuate. Now researchers have found geological evidence that some of the same forces as today were at play 1.4 billion years ago. Fluctuating climate is a hallmark of Earth, and the present greenhouse effect is by far the only force affecting today’s climate. On a larger scale the Earth’s climate is also strongly affected by how the Earth orbits around the sun; this is called orbital forcing of climate change. These changes happen over thousands of years and they bring ice ages and warming periods.
Now researchers from University of Southern Denmark, China National Petroleum Corporation and others have looked deep into Earth’s history and can reveal that orbital forcing of climate change contributed to shaping the Earth’s climate 1.4 billion years ago.
Restoration of wetlands can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is shown in a report that has been written in part by researchers from the University of Gothenburg. Former wetlands that have been drained and which are currently used for forestry and agriculture give off 11.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That can be compared with Sweden’s total emissions of 57.6 million tons (when the land use sector is not included). But in Sweden’s report to the Climate Convention, emissions from drained peatland are not visible since they are included with forest growth.
New report from the Swedish Board of Agriculture shows the way The report Emissions of Greenhouse Gases from Peatland shows that drained peatlands should be restored into wetlands so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Devastating floodwaters such as those experienced during Iowa’s Flood of 2008 — which swamped many Iowa communities, along with ten square miles of Cedar Rapids — are notoriously difficult to predict. So a team of University of Iowa mathematicians and hydrologists collaborating with the Iowa Flood Center set out to gain a better understanding of flood genesis and the factors impacting it. They were able to do this by zeroing in on the impacts of certain rainfall patterns at the smallest unit of a river basin: the hillslope scale.
Established ways of measuring carbon emissions can sometimes give misleading feedback on how national policies affect global emissions. In some cases, countries are even rewarded for policies that increase global emissions, and punished for policies that contribute to reducing them. “We have developed a new method that provides policy makers with more useful information, in order to set national targets and evaluate their climate policies,” says Astrid Kander, Professor in Economic History at Lund University, and lead author of the study, published in the latest issue of Nature Climate Change.
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