The Daily Dose: Your Guide to the World Today – 13 August 09

Hurricanes in the Atlantic are more frequent than at any time in the last 1,000 years according to a study based on sedimentary trace deposits of wind-blown sand. Current storm activity is about the same as during the so-called medieval warm period, but whereas a prolonged El Nino weather pattern was the main cause then, warmer seas are seen as the main cause today, suggesting hurricanes will become more frequent as global warming increases.

Depletion of the ozone layer is lessening the uptake of CO2 in the Southern Ocean because a combination of less ozone and more greenhouse gases causes stronger winds which bring more carbon-rich deep water to the surface, restricting the ability of the ocean to absorb more CO2. Less ozone also increases acidification, researchers claim.

Australia’s parliament has, by a Senate vote of 42 to 30, rejected government plans for a carbon trading scheme to tackle global warming. The government will reintroduce the bill in three months time; another defeat could trigger a general election. Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the developed world and coal is its biggest export.

A US federal court has blocked an attempt by the Obama administration to overturn a Bush era rule that makes it easier for mining companies to dump mountaintop debris into valley streams, saying the government wrongly sought to bypass established procedures in moving to repeal the rule. 

The Chinese government says "controlling greenhouse gas emissions" will be an important part of its development plans, although talk was of adaptation rather than emissions cuts. However the announcement suggests China’s leaders are getting serious about climate change and worried about its impact – even if they’re insistent on doing things in their own peculiar way.

North-western India – including Delhi – will face severe water shortages if the water table continues to fall at its current rate of about 4cm (1.6 inches) per year – a rate that was determined from space, using Nasa’s gravity satellites. The data indicates current water use is unsustainable, regardless of rainfall.  

Ambassador Susan Rice says the United States has paid the price for "stiff-arming the UN" and spurning international partners and is now embarked on a new era of global engagement, citing an “extraordinary array” of global security challenges this century as the catalyst for the change in approach from the standoffish and sometimes antagonistic politics of the Bush era.

Royal Dutch Shell has become the first major oil company to enter a British government-sponsored race to build a carbon capture and storage facility in the UK.

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  • Posted on Aug. 13, 2009. Listed in:

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