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The new cost of climate change !!
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The world will have to spend £300 billion, three times as previously thought, adapting to the effects of climate change, scientists have said.

The UN originally said it would cost just £25 to £105 billion, or the cost of about 3 Olympic Games per year to pay for the sea defences, increase in deaths and damage to infrastructure caused by global warming.

However a new study by leading scientific body the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London estimated it will cost more than triple that amount per annum.

The report found that the previous estimates by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change failed to take into account various factors including the increase in storms in previous years due to global warming, a number of diseases caused by warmer weather and "ecological services" such as rainfall and cloud cover provided by the rainforest.

Professor Martin Parry, a former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the earlier estimate missed out key sectors such as energy, manufacturing, retailing, mining and tourism. He said the cost will be even more when the full range of impacts of a warming climate are considered such as human migrations and refugees.

“Just looking in depth at the sectors the UNFCCC did study, we estimate adaptation costs to be two to three higher, and when you include the sectors the UNFCCC left out the true cost is probably much greater,” he said. Prof Parry said the UK alone would have to spend "several billion" on flood defence, rebuilding roads and upgrading houses against the heat.

"The UK alone is going to be several billion so the global numbers have to be more than the UN is currently talking about," he said. Prof Parry was talking 100 days before more than 90 countries meet in Copenhagen for a UNFCCC conference on climate change.

The meeting over two weeks is expected to come up with a new deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Rich countries are expected to make drastic cuts to carbon emissions in order to slow global warming but poorer countries are unlikely to agree to anything until they are confident the world will provide enough money for adaptation.

At the moment the Governments of developed countries have only committed to around £60 billion per annum. Prof Parry said a lot more money needs to be made available. “The amount of money on the table at Copenhagen is one of the key factors that will determine whether we achieve a climate change agreement,” he said. “But previous estimates of adaptation costs have substantially misjudged the scale of funds needed.”

US nuclear store stopped
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In the Nevada Desert, the US Federal government has spent the last 22 years hollowing out the inside of a mountain – but the whole project has been a complete waste of time. In a staggeringly expensive about turn, the Yucca Mountain project is about to be canned.

Yucca Mountain was meant to solve one of the country's main energy problems, but one of the most powerful men in the country appears to have put a stop to it – just one year before the site was due to open. His name is Senator Harry Reid.

Yucca Mountain was – and technically still is – the US's official repository for spent nuclear fuel rods. A series of tunnels 1,000 feet below the mountain surface has been carefully bored. The project, which was expected to cost $96bn (£58bn) over its lifetime, is situated in the most extensively studied piece of geology anywhere on the planet. It is also extremely controversial.

As nuclear power enjoys a renaissance all over the world, the problem of what to do with spent nuclear material is once again high on the agenda. The Yucca Mountain repository was expected to hold 77,000 tonnes of nuclear waste safely away from danger.

Located in a desert, the water table is deep and the area is sparsely populated. The mountain is also within the boundaries of the Nevada Test Site, where about 800 nuclear explosions have already taken place – including more than 20 tests by the British. The location appears ideal. In fact, given the area's past and the level of nuclear material already discharged in the area, some nuclear industry insiders have been surprised at the strength of the opposition.

Despite this, the new Obama administration is going to pull the plug. In effect, it already has. "Yucca Mountain is dead on arrival," Jim Riccio, a spokesman for Greenpeace in Washington, told The Sunday Telegraph. "It's DOA." The most vocal opponent of the project is now one of the most powerful men in America. Harry Reid, the senior Democratic Senator for Nevada is now the US Senate Majority Leader.

He believes that his 22-year battle to scrap the Yucca Mountain project is finally at an end. "I am proud that after over two decades of fighting the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, the project is finally being terminated," Senator Reid recently said. In his 2010 budget,

President Obama delivered the lowest funding level yet for the project, which eliminates all work on the design, construction and transportation infrastructure for the dump. However, despite Senator Reid's strong statements that the Yucca Mountain project has ended, the law establishing the site as the US's nuclear waste repository remains on the statute books.

Some in Nevada do not believe the battle is over. "It is not dead yet," Deputy Attorney General Marta Adams said. The State officials argue that the licensing application had not been withdrawn by the Department of Energy or denied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

They believe Yucca Mountain could still go ahead – and on August 12 the state approved a further $10m in legal fees to continue to fight the battle. However, it really does appear that Yucca Mountain will not now open. This leaves the US without a long-term solution for disposing of nuclear waste.

Waste from old nuclear plants already exists – and it has to go somewhere. Sources close to the nuclear industry told The Sunday Telegraph that if Yucca is scrapped, then the US Department of Energy already has a little-known working waste repository in New Mexico. With nuclear new build gathering pace, disposal of nuclear waste is now a global issue.

Finland is building its own repository with widespread public approval, while Canada is getting to grips with the same problem. In the UK, we should find out next summer what the UK's disposal plan is, but industry insiders widely expect that a repository will be built at Sellafield.

Whatever happens, the UK government need to looks at what has happened in Nevada – and manage the process a lot more sensitively than the Department of Energy did. If new build is going to happen – and it looks like it is – a UK repository is not just likely, it is essential.

Italian diet best for the environment
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If the U.S. level of 800 kilograms of grain per person annually for food and feed, the 2-billion-ton annual world harvest of grain would support 2.5 billion people.

At the Italian level of consumption of close to 400 kilograms, the current harvest would support 5 billion people.

At the 200 kilograms of grain consumed by the average Indian, it would support a population of 10 billion.

In every society where incomes rise, people move up the food chain, eating more animal protein as beef, pork, poultry, milk, eggs, and seafood. The mix of animal products varies with geography and culture, but the shift to more livestock products as purchasing power increases appears to be universal.As consumption of livestock products, poultry, and farmed fish rises, grain use per person also rises.

Of the roughly 800 kilograms of grain consumed per person each year in the United States, about 100 kilograms is eaten directly as bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals, while the bulk of the grain is consumed indirectly in the form of livestock and poultry products.

By contrast, in India, where people consume just under 200 kilograms of grain per year, or roughly a pound per day, nearly all grain is eaten directly to satisfy basic food energy needs. Little is available for conversion into livestock products. 

Of the three countries just cited, life expectancy is highest in Italy even though U.S. medical expenditures per person are much higher. People who live very low or very high on the foodchain do not live as long as those in an intermediate position.

Those consuming a Mediterranean type diet that includes meat, cheese, and seafood, but all in moderation, are healthier and live longer. People living high on the food chain, such as Americans or Canadians, can improve their health by moving down thefood chain.

For those who live in low-income countries like India, where a starchy staple such as rice can supply 60 percent or more of total caloric intake, eating more protein-rich foodscan improve health and raise life expectancy.In agriculture we often look at how climate affects the food supply but not at how what we eat affects climate.

While we understand rather well the link between climate change and thefuel efficiency of the cars we buy, we do not have a comparable understanding of the climate effect of various dietary options.

Gidon Eshel and Pamela A. Martin of the University of Chicago have addressed this issue. They begin by noting that the energy used in the food economy to provide the typical American diet and that used for personal transportation are roughly the same.

In fact, the range between the more and less carbon intensive transportation options and dietary options is each about 4 to 1. With cars, the Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid, uses scarcely one fourth as much fuel as a Chevrolet Suburban SUV.

Similarly with diets, a plant-based diet requires roughly one fourth as much energy as a diet rich in red meat. Shifting from a diet rich in red meat to a plant-based diet cuts greenhouse gas emissions as much as shifting from a Suburban SUV to a Prius.

The inclusion of soybean meal in feed rations to convert grain into animal protein more efficiently, the shift by consumers to more grain-efficient forms of animal protein, and themovement of consumers down the food chain all can help reduce the demand for land, water, and fertilizer. This reduces carbon emissions and thus helps to stabilize climate as well.


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