The Daily Dose: Your Guide to the World Today – 31 August 09

A new study suggests that relatively small variations in sunspot activity might result in changes in climate, primarily by influencing the amount of rain that falls on the ocean. However the international team that produced the study emphasised the findings cannot be used to explain recent global warming.

Having won a landslide victory, Japan’s Democratic Party is expected to radically revise the country’s emissions targets, create a mandatory emissions trading scheme, and set a renewable energy target of 10% of primary energy by 2020.

Protecting societies against the impacts of climate change will be two or three times more expensive than previously believed, according to a new analysis which says the IPCC under-estimated impacts and omitted important factors in coming up with their figure of between $49-171 billion needed per year in 2007.  

Hybrid vehicles and wind turbines are green tech successes – but worldwide demand for the rare earths they use in manufacture is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tons annually in a few years unless major new production sources are developed. Currently, China is the world’s major supplier, but may soon be using all its sources internally.

Has climate change “hijacked” the environmental agenda? The BBC’s environment correspondent, Richard Black, discusses this question with several leading environmentalists, identifying concerns over lack of action on eg biodiversity, fisheries, and water supply due to climate change being (ironically) a “more convenient truth” for politicians to deal with.  

A five-day UN conference beginning now in Geneva is to look at adaptation to cope with climate change, including creation of a global framework to ensure early warnings of events such as tsunamis and hurricanes reach all those potentially affected.

The European Commission has published a roadmap for developing new environmental and social indicators to measure the real prosperity and wellbeing of nations beyond traditional GDP. Among the five primary initiatives planned by the EU executive are developing a comprehensive environmental index and improving quality-of-life indicators.

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  • Posted on Aug. 31, 2009. Listed in:

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