Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.
The story: A recent study found that deforestation contributed to the rise in average daily temperatures in Europe, North America and Asia, Daisy Dunne reported for Carbon Brief on April 23. The combined impact in climate change of deforestation has been so large in some areas that, until around 1980, it played a greater role in hottest day temperature rise than greenhouse gas emissions.
The big picture: While people usually think of climate change as billowing smokestacks with greenhouse gasses, the study shows that people should be thinking about trees. “This study speaks to the local climate benefits of forests,” said Shyla Raghav, Conservation International’s climate lead. “Even though the approach to climate change is typically focused on global emissions reductions and stopping deforestation, we can’t forget the many additional benefits of conserving forests. For example, think about the feeling of standing in the shade of a tree on a hot day — trees provide that same cooling effect to the entire planet.”
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The story: Data from the Paris-based International Organization of Vine and Wine showed that wine production totaled 250 million hectoliters last year, down 8.6 percent from 2016 and the lowest amount since 1957, Reuters reported on April 24. A hectoliter represents 100 liters, or the equivalent of just over 133 standard wine bottles. The French government said production had hit a record low due to poor weather conditions including spring frosts, drought and storms that affected most of the main growing regions.
The big picture: The wine industry faces uncertainty in the changing climate. Lee Hannah, senior scientist on climate change and biology at Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science, produced the first global map of future suitability for wine production. Hannah found that rising temperatures, public perception of wine-growing regions, shifting market forces and China’s growing love of wine will change the wine industry over the next 50 years. “What we’ve learned about wine has important implications for agriculture, climate change and conservation in general,” Hannah said. “Just as it is moving wine-producing regions, climate change will be moving other agricultural areas, which may displace wildlife habitat.”
Read more here.
The story: As seas rise and coasts wash away, local governments are deciding who owns the land that goes underwater, Christopher Flavelle reported for Bloomberg Businessweek on April 25. This debate raises the question of whether climate change justifies seizing private property.
The big picture: These conflicts will only continue without a strategy, especially in the 30,000 low-lying islands and islets in the Pacific. Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, believes the country will soon “be uninhabitable” amid rising sea levels. “I recall being very fearful of being asked, ‘What have you planned for us?’ by my people, because at the time I didn’t have a credible response,” Tong said to Human Nature in 2015. “But over time, we have come up with a number of options, which include building up the islands. Not all of them, because we won’t have the resources to do that, but we must never allow the nation of Kiribati to go. Even if we are able to build up one or two islands, at least our homeland will still be there, if not all of it.”
Read more here.
Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.
- Figueres to European leaders: Climate action requires protecting forests
- Climate change puts the squeeze on wine production
- Small Islands, Giant Oceans: Q&A with President Tong of the Republic of Kiribati