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  • Aquaculture has proved to be the worst enemy of mangroves worldwide
  • Mangroves provide livelihoods, protect coastlines against storms and sea-level rise
  • Sustainable aquaculture along with mangrove conservation may be a solution

Read more: Aquaculture is main driver of mangrove losses

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An organic market in Paris: The planet needs even more far-reaching changes than this. Image: Sam Nabi, via Wikimedia Commons

Organic farming does not always benefit the environment in the ways people expect, and may not avert climate change effects, scientists say.

LONDON – US scientists who have examined the planetary food production menu recommend that, to save the planet, organic farming needs to be backed up by resolute action to persuade humans to skip the hamburgers and try the vegetarian option.

They also recommend that people who opt for the fish diet should choose the line-caught or seine-netted dishes. That is because the energy demand of dragging a trawl across the seabed imposes higher fuel costs and results in 2.8 times the release of greenhouse gases, compared with other fishery technologies.

And, they say, more “organic” methods of farming do not necessarily reduce the hazards of climate change. They checked the emissions from grain-fed versus grass-fed beef and came to an unexpected conclusion: grazing animals delivered more greenhouse emissions. 

And they found that, while organic farming systems used less energy, they offered no real advantage in lower greenhouse gas emissions. That is because extensive rather than intensive farming demands more soil, with higher levels of taint and pollution in the rivers and lakes, per unit of food produced.

Read more: Organic farming may not cut climate risk

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It’s brought down countless empires, as Anthony McMichael’s brilliant history recounts.

ccClimate Change and the Health of Nations: Famines, Fevers, and the Fate of Populations

Anthony J. McMichael with Alistair Woodward and Cameron Muir

Oxford University Press (2017)

Global-warming deniers have adopted a new tactic: “Of course the climate is changing,” they sigh, “because it has always changed. So what’s your point?”

Even without our assistance, climate change is actually a force that has shaped us for millions of years and killed millions in the process. It was bad enough until about 1800; climate used to change slowly over centuries, but now thanks to us it is changing in decades.

Anthony McMichael was an Australian epidemiologist who completed a draft of this book before his untimely death in 2014. Two colleagues revised it, and it now stands as an instant classic. We should read it as carefully and attentively as we would listen to our oncologist describe the progress of our cancer and our chances of recovery.

As McMichael shows in his enormously documented book, climate change drove us out of the trees and eventually out of Africa and across the planet. It also drove us out of a congenial and mobile hunter-gatherer ecological niche into the “Faustian bargain” of sedentary agriculture: We could support far more people, but at the cost of malnutrition, hierarchical societies, and recurrent epidemics of diseases acquired from our domestic animals.

We can now see the price of that bargain: early farming societies could support a lot of people as long as they were shorter and sicker than hunter-gatherers. If their land couldn’t support them, early farmers died or moved — or simply overthrew their ruling priests and warriors and bureaucrats.

Read more: How Climate Change Has Plagued the Health of Nations for Centuries

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The Asia Pacific region is the most vulnerable to climate change, but countries can reduce climate change-related risks by incorporating advanced technologies into infrastructure development, says ADB’s Kijin Kim.

Lopburi Solar Farm in Thailand. Using advanced technology when building or upgrading infrastructure can help reduce climate-related risks. Image: Asian Development Bank, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Climate change is a growing threat to prosperity in Asia and the Pacific. The region is the most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change. In fact, ADB estimates that from 2006 to 2015, extreme climate-related weather events caused an annual $46 billion in economic and social losses as well as over 330,000 fatalities in developing Asia.

Read more: Using high-tech infrastructure to fight climate change

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As the U.S. stands aside, India and China should up their game.

Step forward, China and India. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ever since the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Paris agreement, China and India have been hailed for firmly recommitting to the global emissions pact. The praise is fair: It’s good that two of the world’s three biggest greenhouse-gas emitters have renewed their promise to act. But if they really hope to lead on climate, they’ll have to be more ambitious.

Read more: How Asia Can Take the Lead on Climate

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A worker speaks as he loads coal on a truck at a depot near a coal mine from the state-owned Longmay Group on the outskirts of Jixi, in Heilongjiang province, China (October 24, 2015). Image Credit: REUTERS/Jason Lee

Asia’s sudden shift away from coal and toward renewable energy will have a global impact.

The sudden shift, years ahead of schedule, from coal toward renewables is remaking Asia’s energy economy – with repercussions to be felt across the world. The present – and future – does not look good for what, only a few years ago, seemed like a sure long-term bet: Coal.

“Solar is competing head to head with coal in India and winning… and in China coal use is declining, the solar market is booming. These are not temporary anomalies but rather seismic shifts,” said Nicole Ghio, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy Campaign.

If Asia’s developing countries can grow using less coal and more clean energy, it gives hope not only to the global climate, but could herald a new era of development in the region at the heart of the global economy.

Read more: Asia and the Fall of Coal

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People cooling off in Quetta, Pakistan. (Jamal Taraqui/European Pressphoto Agency)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Residents of Turbat, a remote town in southwestern Pakistan, have had to cope with punishingly hot weather for generations. But when the mercury climbed to 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit on May 28 — potentially the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia — relief proved elusive, partly because Turbat suffers from regular electricity shortages.

Read more: As Asian Scorchers Multiply, Records Fall and Attention Rises

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UN Photo/Marco Dormino

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • FAO and WMO signed an MoU to enhance cooperation on responding to climate variability and climate change.
  • FAO and World Food Programme issued a report titled ‘FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to Sri Lanka’.
  • FAO and Kyoto University convened an International Symposium on the Impact of Climate Change on Food and Agriculture.

22 June 2017: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) enhanced its collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Kyoto University, Japan, on responding to climate variability and climate change impacts on food security, among others.

On 19 June 2017 in Rome, Italy, FAO and WMO signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation on responding to climate change and variability, which “represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies, natural ecosystems and food security.” Under the partnership, FAO and WMO aim to: strengthen agro-meteorological services and make them more accessible to farmers and fishers; and improve global and region-specific monitoring for early warning and response to high-impact events such as droughts. [WMO Press Release]

Read more: FAO Collaborates with Partners on Climate Change Impacts on Food Security

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The US said climate change had “a range of implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights”, in a departure from recent diplomacy and Trump’s rhetoric.

Countries agreed that the human rights of children must be protected as they are particularly vulnerable to climate change (Pic: UNICEF)

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution that calls for the protection of human rights from the impacts of climate change, with the support of the US.

Two weeks of discussions began with much uncertainty regarding the role that the US would play after the decision by the US president Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

After intensive but constructive negotiations over the wording, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam proposed a resolution for adoption by all members of the Council on Thursday.

Addressing the Council as governments were about to consider the adoption of the text, US representative Jason Mack cleared any doubts about the US position on this resolution.

Read more: US joins UN resolution to protect human rights from climate change

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Even reptiles adapted to hot environments can succumb to heat stress, a concern as the world warms, experts say.

Death by desiccation may be unpleasant, but it makes for a lovely corpse.

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Such was the fate of an unlucky Indian chameleon that apparently died while trying to drink from a pipe that had been turned off. Writer and wildlife filmmaker Janaki Lenin witnessed the macabre scene recently in India.

According to Lenin’s posts, it seems the reptile expired while clutching the spigot, and was then quickly mummified by the intense tropical sun. Two tiny holes cut into the dried remains suggest that ants may have helped themselves to the animal's innards, completing the preservation process.

Even animals adapted to live in hot environments, like the chameleon, can succumb to heat stress, says Jeanine Refsnider, a herpetologist at the University of Toledo in Ohio. (Related: "Will Global Warming Heat Us Beyond Our Physical Limits?")

All animals “can handle temperatures up to a certain limit,” says Refsnider, “and if the temperatures get beyond that, your proteins actually start to unfold.”

“At the cellular level, your cells start to fall apart, and once that happens you can’t really reverse it.”

In what could be bad news for animals—and people—in already hot climates, heat waves are on the rise due to climate change. According to a new study, 30 percent of the world’s population is currently exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days per year or more. (Read: "Earth Hasn't Heated Up This Fast Since the Dinosaurs' End.")

Read more: Chameleon Mummified Alive by the Tropical Sun

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