Ice shelf on verge of collapse

Latest sign of global warming’s impact shocks scientists

A vast ice shelf hanging on by a thin strip looks to be the next chunk to break off from the Antarctic Peninsula, the latest sign of global warming’s impact on Earth’s southernmost continent.

Scientists are shocked by the rapid change of events.


An image of the Wilkins Ice Shelf disintegration taken from the
British Antarctic Survey’s Twin Otter aircraft reconnaissance flight.

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2008: The year of global food crisis

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IT IS the new face of hunger. A perfect storm of food scarcity, global warming, rocketing oil prices and the world population explosion is plunging humanity into the biggest crisis of the 21st century by pushing up food prices and spreading hunger and poverty from rural areas into cities.

Millions more of the world’s most vulnerable people are facing starvation as food shortages loom and crop prices spiral ever upwards.

And for the first time in history, say experts, the impact is spreading from the developing to the developed world.

More than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world”, according to WFP officials.

At the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that rising prices have triggered a food crisis in 36 countries, all of which will need extra help. The threat of malnutrition is the world’s forgotten problem”, says the World Bank as it demands urgent action.

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The bank points out that global food prices have risen by 75% since 2000, while wheat prices have increased by 200%. The cost of other staples such as rice and soya bean have also hit record highs, while corn is at its most expensive in 12 years.

Read more2008: The year of global food crisis

Storms destroy one tenth of China’s forests

China has lost about one tenth of its forest resources to recent snow storms regarded as the most severe in half a century, state media reported Sunday.A total of 43 million acres of forest have been damaged across China as the result of three weeks of savage winter weather, the China Daily website said, citing the State Forestry Administration.

More than half the country’s provinces have been affected, and in the worst-hit regions, nearly 90 percent of forests have been destroyed, according to the paper.

Read moreStorms destroy one tenth of China’s forests

Hungary to start the world’s first wild seed bank

The world’s first gene bank for wild plants is to be established in Hungary, reports geographic.hu, the online version of National Geographic magazine’s Hungarian edition. The collection would be stored at the Institute of Agrobotany in Tápiószele, Pest County, and store the genes of 85,000 types of cultivated plants, making it Europe’s fifth largest agrobotany gene bank.
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Colchicum hungaricum (Magyar kikerics), one of Hungary’s protected plant species that lives only on the highest hill in the Villány Hills, the Szársomlyó, in Baranya County.

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Warming could trigger insect food frenzy

Global warming could bring about a veritable insect explosion, if past performance is an indication of future gains.

Just such a buggy invasion swarmed parts of the northern United States during an abrupt global warming event more than 50 million years ago, a new study of leaf fossils shows.

The study’s findings, detailed in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that the same thing could happen during our current period of warming.

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This fossilized leaf shows where insects ate away at the plant some 50 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.

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Tens of thousands camp out after Indonesian quake: official

JAKARTA, Feb 21, 2008 (AFP) – Tens of thousands of people camped outside their homes on the Indonesian island of Simeulue after a 7.5-magnitude quake that killed three, an official said Thursday.

The quake hit just off the remote island located near Sumatra on Wednesday, triggering panic across the region lashed by the earthquake-triggered 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed 168,000 people in Indonesia.

Read moreTens of thousands camp out after Indonesian quake: official

Cyclone heads to Mozambique tourist area and Madagascar

MAPUTO, March 13 (Reuters) – The tropical cyclone that has lashed parts of Mozambique, killing 10 people, is expected to hit the southern tourist region of the country before gathering speed on its way to Madagascar, authorities said on Thursday.

Cyclone Jokwe struck ferociously last Friday, displacing 55,000 people, destroying electricity pylons and uprooting trees in the northern Nampula province.

“It is too dangerous for shipping. It is now over the Mozambique channel on its current course and is likely to strike both Mozambique and Madagascar again,” Mussa Mustafa, head of the National Institute of Meteorology, said in an interview.

Read moreCyclone heads to Mozambique tourist area and Madagascar

Climate change soon could kill thousands in UK, says report

Climate change could lead to a heatwave in the south-east of England killing 3,000 people within the next decade, a Department of Health report said today.It put the chances of a heatwave of that severity happening by 2017 at 25%.

Without preventative action, the report said that a nine-day heatwave, with temperatures averaging at least 27 degrees over 24 hours, would cause 3,000 immediate deaths, with another 3,350 people dying from heat-related conditions during the summer.

It predicted that there would be an increase in skin cancers due to increased exposure to sunlight and that, over the next half century, air pollution could lead to an extra 1,500 deaths and hospital admissions a year.

While malaria outbreaks were likely to remain rare, the report – Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2008 – said health authorities would need to be alert to the dangers posed by possible larger outbreaks of malaria in continental Europe.

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Eggborough power station, near Selby. The report says climate change
could lead to a heatwave in the south-east of England killing 3,000 people.
Photograph: John Giles/PA

Read moreClimate change soon could kill thousands in UK, says report