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.
Climate change is more than a tech problem, so we need more than a tech solution
At the COP 21 climate convention in Paris at the end of 2015, leaders from 194 nations agreed to pursue actions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming within 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial conditions. Meeting this goal will avoid continued and increasing harm to people and ecosystems around the world caused by a changing climate, and it is also a great opportunity to turn the world into a place that embodies our collective and pluralistic values for the future. Neverthele...
Climate change to worsen drought, diminish corn yields in Africa
Original story at MIT News Nearly 25 percent of the world’s malnourished population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 300 million people depend on corn, or maize, as their main food source. Maize is the most widely harvested agricultural product in Africa and is grown by small farmers who rely heavily on rainwater rather than irrigation. The crop is therefore extremely sensitive to drought, and since 2015 its production has fallen dramatically as a result of record-setting drought conditions...
Financing urban adaptation to climate change
Municipalities across Europe increasingly acknowledge the need to adapt to climate change and have begun to adopt various measures. Meeting the costs of adaptation measures for climate change is, however, a major challenge. Municipalities have found innovative ways to overcome that challenge and have started implementing measures. These solutions could be relevant for other cities, towns and smaller municipalities too, and examples are collected and presented in this publication as an inspiration. It offers...
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...