Scitech  Bees, trees, malaria

T he Beijing Weather Modification Office fired shells loaded with silver iodide into the skies in northern China, inducing an additional 16 million tonnes of snowfall. The office’s chief explained that the action was necessary to end a drought that had been afflicting the region for several weeks. At least 32 people died and 15,000 buildings collapsed in the snowstorms. A report in the journal Science urged the Obama administration to categorically ban mountaintop coal mining due to its immediate regional health effects. For the first time since World War Two, more U.S. cars were scrapped than sold, and auto sales reached their lowest point since 1982. Scientists estimated that species in U.S. waterways are going extinct at 1,000 times the natural rate. Up to 30 per cent of species worldwide face increased risk of extinction with a temperature rise of 1.5 to 2.5°C, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Scientists continue to debate the cause of the precipitous decline in North American honey bee populations. A study by the University of Colorado at Boulder found that the carbon uptake of trees will be diminished as the climate warms. Rising temperatures are also causing increasing levels of methane – which is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 – to be released from the Arctic seabed. A report released by the United Nations Population Fund stated that women will disproportionately bear the costs of climate change globally. Researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute concluded that climate change will expose millions more people to the risk of malaria, as the parasite thrives in temperatures warmer than 18°C. Climate negotiations in Copenhagen failed to produce a binding agreement.

Every month in this space, Niko Block reviews climate change around the globe.