Notes from a rare planet: US faces a Sputnik moment in green technology race

seven wind mills

US must invest urgently in research and innovation to keep pace with China and other countries

China’s New National Plan: Green by Necessity

  • China has to go green because it can’t support 1.3 billion people with its current lifestyle.

As diplomats debate, the climate doesn’t wait

  • “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems,” the U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded in a report last May.”
  • “There is now no doubt that Greenland ice losses have not just increased above past decades, but have accelerated.”

WOW: Earth could see 4 degrees Celsius warming in less than a lifetime

  • “By the time children born this year reach 50 years old, the Earth could be 4 degrees Celsius warmer (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warns a new study as governments meet in Cancun for this year’s UN climate summit, which is not expected to produce an agreement.”
  • “But what would a 4 degree rise mean in 50 years time?  In a series of papers, researchers paint a bleak picture, including widespread droughts and desertification; extreme stress on water supplies especially in drier places such as southern Europe and northern Africa; in addition, droughts in tropical forests—such as the one experienced in the Amazon this year—could lead to large scale loss of rainforests in South and Central America and parts of Africa, while the Congo basin may actually see expanding forest. Changes in crop survival could lead to further ecosystem loss with severe loss in global biodiversity, much of which is unlikely to be able to adapt quickly enough to warming. “
  • “The projected rise in sea levels would require massive sea walls costing an estimated $270 billion annually”

Killing of five endangered elephants hints at a greater conservation dilemma

  • “Five endangered Sumatran elephants have been found dead in Indonesia and authorities believe they were poisoned by farmers. With fewer than 3,000 individuals surviving in increasingly fragmented groups, the loss to the species is severe—and the latest example of a trend that threatens the elephant’s survival.”
  • “This conflict, caused by the dramatic loss of elephant habitat, has proven to be one of the greatest challenges to conservation. Across Sumatra, more than 80 percent of former elephant habitat has been converted into plantations.”