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Tue11202018

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Climate Change

Rogue geoengineering could 'hijack' world's climate

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altThe world's climate could be hijacked by a rogue country or wealthy individual firing small particles into the stratosphere, claims a warning that comes not from a new Hollywood movie trailer but a sober report from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The deployment of independent, large-scale "geoengineering" techniques aimed at averting dangerous warming warrants more research because it could lead to an international crisis with unpredictable costs to agriculture, infrastructure and global stability, said the Geneva-based WEF in its annual Global Risks report before the Davos economic summit later this month. It also warned that ongoing economic weakness is sapping the ability of governments to tackle the growing threat of climate change.

"The global climate could, in effect, be hijacked. For example, an island state threatened with rising sea levels may decide they have nothing to lose, or a well-funded individual with good intentions may take matters into their own hands," the report notes. It said there are "signs that this is already starting to occur", highlighting the case of a story broken by the Guardian involving the dumping of 100 tonnes of iron sulphate off the Canadian coast in 2012, in a bid to spawn plankton and capture carbon.

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2012 second wettest year on record for UK

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alt2012 was the second wettest year on record in the UK and the wettest ever in England, the Met Office announced on Thursday.

The downpours that caused more than 8,000 homes and businesses to suffer flooding led to a total of 1,330.7mm of rain for the year, just 6.6mm short of the wettest UK year recorded in 2000 (1337.3mm).

Analysis by the Met Office also suggests that the UK may be getting increasingly wetter as climate change causes warmer air to carry more water. Days of extreme rainfall – downpours expected once every 100 days – occurred every 70 days in 2012.

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Lisa Jackson's legacy at the Environmental Protection Agency

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altAs Lisa Jackson gets ready to step down as head of the EPA shortly after the president's inauguration later this month, she is being hailed by environmentalists for pushing through the toughest new air and water pollution rules in over two decades, and speaking out on climate change in an administration that has largely avoided confronting the issue head-on.

Jackson is admired even by some of her critics. Republican James M Inhofe of Oklahoma, a leading Senate opponent of environmental legislation, referred to the charming Jackson as "my favorite bureaucrat".

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How will climate change impact on fresh water security?

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altFresh water is crucial to human society – not just for drinking, but also for farming, washing and many other activities. It is expected to become increasingly scarce in the future, and this is partly due to climate change.

Understanding the problem of fresh water scarcity begins by considering the distribution of water on the planet. Approximately 98% of our water is salty and only 2% is fresh. Of that 2%, almost 70% is snow and ice, 30% is groundwater, less than 0.5% is surface water (lakes, rivers, etc) and less than 0.05% is in the atmosphere. Climate change has several effects on these proportions on a global scale. The main one is that warming causes polar ice to melt into the sea, which turns fresh water into sea water, although this has little direct effect on water supply.

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China and US hold the key to a new global climate deal

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altChina and the US are to be the clear focus of the next year of climate change negotiations, following a hard-fought climate conference that ended in Doha on Saturday night.

The world's two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases hold the key to forging a new global agreement on climate change, that for the first time would bind both developed and developing countries to cut their emissions. But both face severe political problems that will make the talks for the next few years extremely difficult.

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