Transition Brockville archive

Category : Big picture (569)

Peat fires will become more common in Canada

CBC News / Sonya Buyting, Emily Rendell-Watson / 01 August 2020

As a result of climate change, peatlands are becoming hotter and drier, and thus more susceptible to the type of blazes we’re witnessing in Siberia.

“We now know that peatlands around the world, from the Arctic all the way to the tropics, are indeed vulnerable to wildfire,” said [ecosystem ecologist Merritt] Turetsky.

Calling peat-burning one of the most important environmental topics, Turetsky said “the Arctic literally has a fever and is literally on fire.”

Peat fires not only release CO2, but other, more potent greenhouse gases such as methane, as well as particulate matter, “which is the stuff that gets into our lungs, it can cause respiratory disease and asthma attacks,” said Turetsky.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Loss of bees causes shortage of key food crops, study finds

The Guardian / Oliver Milman / 29 July 2020

A lack of bees in agricultural areas is limiting the supply of some food crops, a new US-based study has found, suggesting that declines in the pollinators may have serious ramifications for global food security.

Species of wild bees, such as bumblebees, are suffering from a loss of flowering habitat, the use of toxic pesticides and, increasingly, the climate crisis. Managed honeybees, meanwhile, are tended to by beekeepers, but have still been assailed by disease, leading to concerns that the three-quarters of the world’s food crops dependent upon pollinators could falter due to a lack of bees.

The new research appears to confirm some of these fears.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Collapse: a helpful guide for the perplexed

Small Farm Future / 27 July 2020

I won’t attempt anything but a cursory description of the literature analysing potential collapse, though I’d be interested to hear other people’s suggestions for worthy contributions to it. Inevitably, that literature varies from the learned to the loopy. One of the cornerstones of collapse literature in modern times has been the Limits to Growth report emerging from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and first published in 1972. Despite its academic pedigree, critics have long sought to position the report as more loopy than learned, but with increasing difficulty over the years as actual trends have pretty much tracked the ones modelled by the LTG authors (see this, for example, or this). Meanwhile, various new currents of thinking have emerged around energy, climate and economic futures that take forward the ‘business as usual is not an option’ package of LTG.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Best and worst case scenarios less likely than thought

The Guardian / Jonathan Watts, Graham Readfearn / 22 July 2020

Doomsayers and hopemongers alike may need to revise their climate predictions after a study that almost rules out the most optimistic forecasts for global heating while downplaying the likelihood of worst-case scenarios.

The international team of scientists involved in the research say they have narrowed the range of probable climate outcomes, which reduces the uncertainty that has long plagued public debate about this field.

Their increased confidence about the sensitivity of the climate should ease the job of policymakers and diminish the scope for scepticism but it is far from reassuring for the future of the planet.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

The great climate migration

New York Times / Abrahm Lustgarten / 23 July 2020

For most of human history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, that band is suddenly shifting north. According to a pathbreaking recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1 percent of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing one of every three people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years. Many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger and political chaos, but others will be forced to move on.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Strong efforts could still leave 710 million tons in environment

CBC News / Nicole Mortillaro / 24 July 2020

The authors looked at different pathways ranging from business-as-usual, where no effort is made to reduce plastic pollution, to the best-case scenario, where multiple efforts are implemented, both upstream (at the production level) and downstream, like recycling and waste management.

With business-as-usual, 29 million tons of plastic would be produced annually up until 2040. In the best-case scenario, that falls to 5 million tons. Put another way, it’s the difference between a total of 761 million tons by 2040 or 1.8 billion tons.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

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The Transition Framework

Resilience is the ability of a system or community to withstand impacts from outside. An indicator is a good way of measuring that. Conventionally, the principal way of measuring a reducing carbon footprint is CO2 emissions. However, we firmly believe that cutting carbon while failing to build resilience is an insufficient response when you’re trying to address multiple shocks such as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis together.

— Transition U.S.
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