What do termites have to do with climate change? Potentially a lot, according to research recently published in Science (subscription required to read the full text of the study). Through their excavations, termites actually change the composition of soil in the African savanna. The tunnels the termites create hold water better and the insects will add clay or sand to soil depending on whether its too loose or stiff, turning their mounds into “nutrient islands” where both vegetation and other animals thrive better than in the surrounding land. Even in times of low rainfall the researchers show that termite mounds keep vegetation while vegetation around the mounds decreases. And when rains return, the termite homes help bring vegetation back to the entire area. This means “that the termite mounds are an insurance policy against climate change, protecting the vegetation on them from water scarcity,” writes Science senior correspondent Elizabeth Pennisi about the research. The research suggests that if land with termite mounds is turned into farmland the resiliency the mounds offer could be lost as well, making it much easier for the landscape to become degraded for good.
Transformational adaptation – when climate change means business as usual is no longer possible
1. A lesson from the past Deep in the central Sahara, a crumbling mud-brick town sits at the edge of a dry lake bed. This is the medieval town of Germa, in southwestern Libya, one of a string of settlements along the Wadi al-Ajal, a valley defined by the towering dunes of the Ubari Sand Sea to the north, and the black cliffs of the Messak Settafet plateau to the south. Germa is romantic and impressive, but a more interesting settlement lies beneath it. Under medieval Germa, the remains of large stone buildings...
Study: Climate change could overwhelm U.S. electrical grid
Climbing temperatures associated with global warming could wreak havoc on the U.S. electrical grid, according to a new study on the economic and social costs of climate change. Published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, Stanford, and University of Michigan, the study says the country will need to spend at least $180 billion on the electrical grid by the end of the century to cope with peak consumption caused by rising temperatures. Because...
Changing climate changes soils
Varied predictions for soil organic matter as climate changes The hottest months. The snowiest winters. Catastrophic floods and droughts. Climate change impacts lives across the world in drastic and unpredictable ways. This unpredictability also extends to the more subtle – yet still important – effects of climate change. For example, it is uncertain how climate change will affect soils and their ability to support productive farms or healthy natural ecosystems. In a new study, researchers used...
Speaking the language of risk: climate change and the future of business
In an increasingly carbon-constrained economy, it is clear that an organization’s environmental, social and financial performance is dependent on climate action. The development of a thorough and goal-oriented sustainability program, one that integrates climate change impacts into risk management and takes into account the key role of private and public stakeholders, is critical to successful planning. At our Greener Horizons event in Vancouver, moderated by Nancy Wright of GLOBE Series, Bullfrog Power...
Agroforestry Mitigates Climate Change
Climate changes, as one of the biggest threats to a global food security, highly influence natural resources that are essential for crop production. Farming is not only affected by the impact of climate changes, but it’s also a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Intensive farm practices that include both farm production and change of land use, directly affect the global carbon, water, and nutrient cycles. Farming, as a direct driver for 80% of global deforestation, also releases...