Thu Feb 6 16:31:52 GMT 2014

FEATURES

Climate sceptics play a cynical game on global warming
Climate sceptics have an unlikely ally in the articulate Danish author, Bjorn Lomborg
‘The emission of greenhouse gases . . . is causing global warming at a rate that is simply unsustainable in the long term," said former UK prime minister Tony Blair. "And by long term I do not mean centuries ahead. I mean within the lifetime of my children certainly; and possibly within my own."

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Disappearing Arctic ice sounds climate alarm
You wouldn’t expect to find robins as far north as the Arctic Circle. Neither would the Inuit, who have lived there for thousands of years. There is no word for robin in their language, Inuktitut, although this bird has now become a regular visitor to this once-frozen terrain.
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Are CO2 emissions goals tough enough?
There are some lines you don’t want to cross. For our planet’s climate system, the Rubicon we dare not step over is that global average temperatures would exceed two degrees C above pre-industrial levels.
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Sustainable production can end food shortages
If the food crisis illustrates one thing, it’s that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The era of cheap food is at an end. Ahead lies the epic battle to feed a rapidly growing population in a heavily degraded, water-stressed world. It would however be a mistake to describe the current crisis as an absolute world shortage of food; your local supermarket shelves are no doubt still bulging.
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Vital lessons from the Ozone hole battle
There are some challenges that are just too big for individuals, even individual countries to try to tackle alone. When it comes to climate change, one huge political challenge, as identified by the Danish climate minister, is the US. "Until the US changes its position, we will not have China and other growing economies on board," said Connie Hedegaard. The US is, she added, the key.
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Big business edging towards a green future
HENRY FORD is best known for bringing motoring to the masses, with his famous Model T. What really set Ford apart from his peers was his attitude to wealth. The Ford Motor Company paid its workers well above the going rate, and he passed on price cuts direct to customers. "I do not believe that we should make such awful profits on our cars," he once said. "A reasonable profit is right, but not too much."
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Climate to pay price for low-cost flying
Irish-based airlines have reacted with outrage to attempts by the European Union to extend its environmental levy to include aviation. Aer Lingus has written to all Irish MEPs and TDs urging them to oppose the "potentially disastrous" measure. Ryanair described the move as "a scam by the EU to steal money from our passengers".
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Power at our fingertips – but at what cost?
Imagine having squads of servants to provide for your every whim. If this sounds like something only the Beckhams could aspire to, you might be surprised. Each of us has, in fact, the equivalent of about 20 "energy slaves" working around the clock for us.
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Coral reef destruction threatens human as well as marine life
The inherent beauty and vivid colours of coral have made it a highly sought gemstone in the fashion world. Wearing genuine red coral is believed to warn of impending ill health, protect the bearer from evil spirits, and prevent bad dreams and nightmares.
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Changing the Conversation
By now it’s pretty clear that our planet home is in deep trouble and that means that people like you and me and our current way of living are in big trouble too. As participants in the complex, interdependent web of life in which everything is connected to everything else, every industry and profession is implicated. No one is immune to the consequences of the radical changes under way in the natural world.
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China’s economic dragon set to consume the world
Sichuan province was recently rocked by the most severe earthquake to hit China in 32 years.
The country’s coordinated response to the disaster, with 50,000 troops quickly dispatched to help in the rescue effort contrasts with the shambolic response of neighbouring Burma to the cyclone that recently battered it.
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A new world lies beyond Peak Oil
Some call it the devil’s excrement. To others, it’s the blood of the Earth. One thing is certain: nothing in the last 500 years has had a more profound effect on human history than the discovery and exploitation of oil.
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Global water crisis deepens
‘Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’. Coleridge’s line from the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ has, in the opening years of the 21st Century, an altogether new resonance. Despite its apparent abundance on the planet’s surface, a global water crisis now threatens the livelihoods and lives of millions.
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In the grip of the Sixth Extinction
“An Armageddon is approaching at the beginning of the third millennium. But it is not the cosmic war and fiery collapse of mankind foretold in sacred scripture. It is the wreckage of the planet by an exuberantly plentiful and ingenious humanity”. That’s the verdict of celebrated naturalist, Professor E. O. Wilson of Harvard University.
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Global fisheries nearing the end of the line
‘There’s plenty more fish in the sea’. That’s a phrase often used to ease a broken heart. But what if in fact it’s literally no longer true?

Oceans, rivers and lakes cover well over two thirds of the face of the earth. The great oceans are so vast that it has long been felt that nothing we could do could possibly have any serious long-term impacts on these enormous systems.
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Time for the marketers to think it out again?
The conclusions of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) affect every human being, in every walk of life and will fundamentally redefine ‘success in business’ this century, with profound implications for business-as-usual and the financial bottom line.
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Bracing ourselves for a ‘global health catastrophe’
In early 1855, a cholera epidemic was sweeping through the Soho district of London, and the death toll was rising daily. A local doctor John Snow, observed that most of the cases of cholera seemed to be clustered in the vicinity of one public water pump in Broad Street.
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Public attitudes to climate change and the lessons of Pompeii
This is not meant to be an environmental scare story. Rather, unfortunately, it’s reality. In the year 2008AD, we live in what for some is a prosperous world. However, let us roll back the clock nearly 2,000 years so as we may reflect on the past and see what we may learn. For the purposes of this article we will go to the city of Pompeii.
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Can the hand that rocks the cradle save the world?
The future of the planet is an important but abstract issue for all of us, but the arrival of a new baby is probably the one event in all our lives which will make us really stop and take stock in relation to the protection of the world which the next generation will inherit.
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Consumed by consumption
We live in extraordinary times. In the 10,000 years of recorded human history, there has never been an age like the modern era, and there was never a century remotely like the 20th Century. For us as individuals, living day to day, change may not be easy to discern, as one year may vary only slightly from the previous one. To see just how much has really changed, and how quickly, you need to take a birds-eye view.
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Have you tried the low-carbon diet?
As we face into the New Year, we could all do with shedding a few pounds… for 2008, how about seeing if you can lose a few hundred kilos instead? The weight we really need to shed this year is the carbon (CO2) that is created by our high-energy lifestyles.
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Can History Help Us with Global Warming?
It is prudent to accept that the atmosphere and oceans are indeed warming, as the evidence tells us, and that this trend will accelerate in the decades ahead. While we do not and cannot know just how much warming will occur how fast, we can safely say that the rapidity of warming currently, and in all likelihood what the next decades hold, has few precedents in the history of the earth and none in the history of civilisation…
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Water: waste not, want not
As our world becomes more and more populated, and with increasing numbers of people choosing to live near big urban areas, the task of providing a clean, safe and reliable supply of water is one which is going to cost each and every Irish householder dearly over the coming years…
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Global Environmental History in the Age of Fossil Fuels
This article aims to give an overview of global environmental history over the past 200 years. It considers two of the main forces promoting environmental change, population and energy use, and their history since 1800, which in both cases is one of unprecedented expansion…
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Why geothermal?
Mention the word ‘geothermal’ in civilised company these days and you are more than likely to be treated to a wide range of opinions and information on the merits, or otherwise, of installing a home heating system that takes heat from deep underneath the surface of the earth…
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The gathering storm
Imagine a world in which environmental change threatens people’s health, physical security, material needs and social cohesion. This is a world beset by increasingly intense and frequent storms, and by rising sea levels. Some people experience extensive flooding, while others endure intense droughts…
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Running on sunshine
When most of us think of solar panels, we think of warm sunny Continental climates rather than our own dull and rather damp Irish weather. However, the amount of solar energy reaching Ireland is roughly the same as other countries in Northern Europe…
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Driving ourselves to disaster
Everyone loves their car. Probably no one possession signals success, freedom and independence than having ‘your own set of wheels’. Just ask any 17 year old with their first provisional licence…
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The world is not enough
Is the world big enough for anything other than humans? At first glance, this sounds a pretty preposterous question. After all, we’ve always share the planet with millions of other species of plants and animals.
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Degrees of danger
The generally accepted starting point for climate measurement is the average global temperatures in the mid 19th Century. At this time, while the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, its impact had not yet been felt in planetary temperatures. The global temperature at this time translates to roughly 280 parts CO2 per million in the atmosphere, and this level of carbon has remained fairly constant for the last 1,000 years or so.
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Why the big deal about Climate Change?
Typing the phrase ‘climate change’ into the Google search engine returns over 96 million results. Clearly, this topic is big, and not just online. How big? Well, that depends on who you believe. The received wisdom is that yes, it’s a problem, no doubt about it, but there are plenty more pressing problems – poverty, inequality, terrorism, racism – in the world, so surely that’s where our effort would be best focused.
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Climate change Denial
Trainee doctors are taught this handy little acronym – DABA – when helping patients come to terms with bad news. ‘D’ is for Denial, the classic human response to unwelcome news, such as a cancer diagnosis. This is most powerfully expressed when the symptoms may not yet seem that serious to the patient.
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