Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports Global warming causes 300,000 deaths a year, says Kofi Annan thinktank.

    Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.

    It projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.

    Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year – more than all the present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.

    Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: “Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters … bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability”.

  2. Nature News reports Geological survey quantifies undiscovered gas and oil in the Arctic. “Around a third of the world’s yet-to-be discovered gas resources and 13% of its undiscovered oil reserves may lie north of the Arctic Circle,” according to research published in Science. The results “fills in details of preliminary mapping results announced last year by the US Geological Survey”.

    The estimates are based purely on geological data, and take no account of whether the oil and gas stores are technically recoverable or how much it would cost to exploit them. Nor do they address the environmental and cultural damage that might be inflicted by attempting to drill for oil or gas. Nonetheless, claims Donald Gautier, who led the research, “they give us insight into future petroleum resources, political relations, and places that environmental conflicts may occur”.

    The LA Times adds Arctic fossil fuel estimates are small in comparision. “The estimate is relatively small compared with known reserves in the major oil-exporting countries, but it is likely to greatly benefit Russia, which has the largest territory in the region, the researchers noted. However, they said, the most likely place for oil in the Arctic is off northern Alaska in the Chukchi Sea.”

    McClatchy notes that One-fifth of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in the world live on the coast of Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas. “Two-thirds of the world’s polar bears, including those along the coasts of Alaska and Russia, are projected to disappear” due to the “loss of vast expanses of polar sea ice” caused by climate change.

Four at Four continues with a timeout for wilderness exploitation, hard times for organic dairies, and Doctor Who squeeeee!

  1. The LA Times reports Obama team calls a timeout on logging in roadless areas. “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the yearlong order, which shifts decisions about development in roadless areas away from U.S. Forest Service officials and requires that he approve all new projects. It effectively blocks planned timber sales in Tongass National Forest in Alaska.” The order may be extended for a second year.

    “The Roadless Area Conservation Rule — which President Clinton issued shortly before leaving office in 2001 — had protected nearly 60 million acres of national forest land from logging and other development, largely in Western states… The George W. Bush administration let the Clinton rule stand but undercut it by exempting large areas from protections, including parts of the Tongass.”

    The Oregonian adds the announcement was “welcome news among opponents of logging or mining in the nation’s remaining undeveloped areas”.

    Upholding the roadless rule “was one of Obama’s major environmental promises during the campaign, and this is a down payment on it,” said Steve Pedery, conservation director for the group Oregon Wild.

  2. The NY Times reports Organic dairies watch the good times turn bad. “As the trend toward organic food consumption slows after years of explosive growth, no sector is in direr shape than the $1.3 billion organic milk industry. Farmers nationwide have been told to cut milk production by as much as 20 percent, and many are talking of shutting down.”

    “And while processors project growth of about 6 percent in organic milk sales this year (a decline from the 12.7 percent reported for 2008 by the OrganicTrade Association), some analysts say that forecast is far too optimistic. The United States Department of Agriculture says sales of organic whole milk in February were 2.5 percent lower than in February last year, with sales of organic reduced-fat milk 15 percent lower.”

  3. BBC News reports new Doctor Who assistant is unveiled. “Little-known actress Karen Gillan has been unveiled as the next assistant in Doctor Who. The 21-year-old will star alongside new Time Lord Matt Smith in the new series, to be broadcast next year.”

    Karen Gillan

    “I am absolutely over the moon at being chosen to play the Doctor’s new companion. – I just can’t wait to get started,” she said…

    Writer and executive producer Steven Moffat said they saw some “amazing actresses” but Gillan “walked through the door the game was up”.

    He described her as “funny, and clever, and gorgeous, and sexy. Or Scottish, which is the quick way of saying it”.


  1. and yes, she is awfully young.

    The actor they cast as the Doctor is too. Matt Smith is only 26. I feel old… very old.

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