Protecting the Planet (a WEA course)


Protecting the Planet (a WEA course)


Week 7 Consequences of anthropogenic global warming:


Imagining Other Home Page


Protecting the planet Week 1: Introduction

Protecting the Planet Week 2 & 3: some key industries

Protecting the Planet Week 4: alternative strategies


Protecting the Planet Week 5: some possible solutions to environmental damage


Protecting the Planet Week 6: global warming (i) causes


Protecting the Planet Week 8: species decline


Protecting the Planet Week 9: energy policies


Protecting the Planet Week 10: the environmental movement




Summary: Other consequences of anthropogenic global warming:


1. carried over from last week: #CO2, #good news? #the media, #the anthropocene era   

2.  effects

2.1 is UK ready? #UK

2.2 weather #weather


- varied and unsettled weather becoming the norm, more severe hurricanes and storms (Kerry Matthew at MIT, National Trust, Forestry Commission)


2.3 consequences for wildlife #wildlife

birds migrating earlier (Edinburgh University), consequences when out of phase with food sources, species extinction (Al Gore)

2.4 ice melting #ice

glaciers melting – some communities depend on glacier water (NOAA, Al Gore), earthquakes where ice has melted (Bill McGuire at UCL)


2.5 sea levels #sea levels

- floods, e.g. Bangladesh migration away from coastal areas (World Bank)


2.6 Reefs #reefs

Great Barrier Reef, etc                 

2.7 health #health

spread of diseases and pests in warmer conditions, affecting trees, food crops – though crops could benefit provided no drought (Damian Carrington, The Guardian)


2.8 food #food

2.9 people and property #property

2.10 other #other

(forest fires, heritage sites...)     


1. Anthropogenic climate change and global warming. Points continued from previous week, (general introduction):


1.1 The current situation with regard to CO2 emissions:

From ‘Unearthed’ (Greenpeace online newsletter unearthed@greenpeace.org):

Global emissions have risen by 2% in 2017 after three years of near stagnation, according to a new forecast.

The levelling-off of global emissions was largely driven by China, where emissions were flat from 2013 to 2016 but are now forecast to rise by 3.5% after efforts to boost economic growth. 

The rise may prove temporary. A return of severe air pollution to Beijing and surrounding cities has led to factory closures and suspensions of new coal plant construction.

By contrast, India is projected to see a sharp slowdown in emissions growth, falling from 6% last year to just 2% in 2017, according to data from the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium.

In the US and EU the pace of emission reduction slowed, failing to offset the increase in carbon dioxide production by emerging economies, according to the forecast.

In the US, emissions are forecast to fall by just 0.4% as renewable energy partially replaced natural gas in power generation. EU emissions are forecast to fall by 0.2%.

1.2 George Monbiot: (3rd August 2016) on the media and global warming:

2016 has been hottest year on record, the previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century... (Damian Carrington 18th June 2016 quotes Adam Scaife at the Met Office: ‘The numbers are completely unprecedented.’)... but you can still hear people repeating the old claim, first proposed by fossil fuel lobbyists, that global warming stopped in 1998.

Arctic sea ice covered a smaller area than last winter than in any winter since records began. In Siberia an anthrax outbreak is raging ... because infected [reindeer] corpses locked in permafrost since the last epidemic in 1941 have thawed. India has been hammered by cycles of drought and flood... Southern and eastern Africa have been pitched into humanitarian emergencies by drought. Wildfires storm across America; coral reefs around the world are bleaching and dying.

Throughout the media these tragedies are reported as impacts of El Nino: a natural weather oscillation caused by blocks of warm water forming in the Pacific. But the figures show that it only accounts for one-fifth of the global temperature rise.

Donald Trump claims global warming is a ‘con-job’ and a ‘hoax’ ‘created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.’

The media treat global warming as not very relevant. At the US conventions... the Washington Post, the Atlantic and Politico were paid by the American Petroleum Institute to host a series of discussions at which climate science deniers were represented.’

1.3 Guardian editorial 24th Oct 2016: some good news!

The editorial reminds us of the Montreal Protocol, 1987, which banned CFCs because of damage to the ozone layer (after 20 years’ research). Now governments are agreeing to phase out HFCs (which were brought in instead of CFCs, but which are powerful greenhouse gases). Also the International Civil Aviation Organisation agreed to combat the impact of flying. And international shipping will also debate rules to cut its impacts. The Paris accords have been ratified, which makes it more difficult for nations to change their minds.  (This was before Donald Trump became US President).

1.4 The anthropocene era:

‘The impacts of human-caused climate change are no longer subtle – they are playing out in real time before us’ says Prof Michael Mann of Penn State University (D. Carrington 18th June 2016).

Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research: ‘We are catapulting ourselves out of the Holocene ... the geological epoch that human civilisation has been able to develop in because of the relatively stable climate. It allowed us to invent agriculture, rather than living as nomads. It allowed a big population growth, it allowed the foundation of cities... We know from Antarctic ice cores that go back almost a million years that CO2 was never even remotely as high as’ [it is now: over 400 parts per million].

India recorded its hottest day ever on 19th May. In Phalodi, Rajasthan it rose to 51C.

The temperature in Australia last autumn (2015) was 1.86C above the average (the highest before then was in 2005, at 1.64C above average).


2. Effects of global warming:


2.1 Is the UK ready for climate change?

12th July 2016, government Committee on Climate Change (CCC) issued a 2,000 page report, compiled by 80 experts over three years – it says the UK is poorly prepared for the inevitable impacts in the coming decades, including deadly annual heat-waves, water shortages and difficulties producing food, more widespread flooding and new diseases...

2.2 Weather:


National Trust’s review of 2016: Some creatures and plants did well, others suffered, as result of varied/unsettled weather, which is ‘becoming the norm.’ Winters have become milder, and the summer wetter – which is what scientists predict with climate change. (Matthew Oates, green expert for the National Trust. NT is the country’s biggest farmer, with 2,000 tenants and the biggest landowner after the Forestry Commission).


16th Oct 2016 (Observer New Review, Bill McGuire, UCL) Climate change and the weather:

Hurricanes vary year-on-year, and recently we have in fact not seen very many. One bad hurricane cannot be blamed on climate change, but there could be more of the most powerful and destructive kind (Kerry Matthew at MIT). There has been strong disagreement among experts, but ‘the weight of evidence looks to have come down on the side of a broad and significant increase in hurricane activity that is primarily driven by progressive warming of the climate.’ The trend is to more powerful and wetter storms, and rising sea temperature is the main factor.


25th July 2017, Kevin Rawlinson: Met Office warns of more winter flooding. 34% likelihood of records being broken.  Richard Allan, Univ of Reading: ‘the work complements evidence that warming of climate is already causing extreme weather events to intensify... extra moisture in the air will fuel increasing rainfall, causing a continued rise in the risk of damaging events into the future.’


Other possibilities (Bill McGuire loc cit): typhoons reduce atmospheric pressure, and this could trigger earthquakes... ‘Global temperatures have risen to more than 1 degree above pre-industrial levels, and in southern Alaska, which has in places lost a vertical kilometer of ice cover, the reduced load on the crust is already increasing the level of seismic activity.’ See Bill McGuire’s book: Waking the Giant: How a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.


2.3 Consequences for wildlife:


29th Dec 2016: Birds migrating earlier: Researchers at the University of Edinburgh who looked at hundreds of bird species across five continents, found that birds are reaching their summer breeding grounds on average one day earlier for every degree of increasing global temperatures. (Guardian.) The research is published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council. This has negative consequences when out of phase with food sources (Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth): Al Gore points out p 152 ff, that if the seasons change, then food (plants or insects) will not necessarily be available for creatures when they hatch – since hatching has been ‘timed’ for the point in the year when food is available.


May 2015: a ‘meta-study’ of 131 studies of the impact of climate change on biodiversity loss concludes that one in six species face extinction if nothing is done about global warming and the temperature rises by 4 degrees. If the rise in global temperature is kept back to 2 degrees then one in twenty species still face extinction. Most endangered: those that depend on Arctic ice.


(See also p 163 for charts showing the rate of loss...)


However, the rate of change is slow, so there may be time to mediate the effects.


7th Feb 2017 (Damian Carrington):

Warm winters have affected salmon in rivers Wye and Usk – high water temperatures in Nov/Dec 2016 led to ‘disastrous salmon fry numbers’ (Simon Evans, chief exec of Wye & Usk Foundation). Salmon population across the Wye fell by 50% from 1985 – 2004, despite cuts in water pollution. Stream temperatures have risen by 1C in that time.

Migratory white-fronted geese at Slimbridge wetland in Gloucestershire have fallen 98% in the last 30 years owing to warmer weather further north. This is likely to have knock-on effects for the rest of the wildlife.


2.4 Ice melting:


Evidence of glaciers melting: NOAA (US government National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration www.noa.gov).  This is the most visual proof of climate change, and see the pictures from Al Gore p 43 ff.

Some communities depend on glacier water (NOAA, Al Gore)

Earthquakes have occurred where ice has melted (Bill McGuire at UCL


21st Aug 2016: A Farewell to Ice by Peter Wadhams.

Reviewed by Horatio Clare (Observer):

We have been through ice ages and inter-glacial periods (the world may have been completely covered in ice three times) but now change is happening fast. Ice only grows in winter, but may melt all year round – so there is a possibility of unlimited melting. It functions as an air-conditioner, and a water-conditioner, as well as a thermostat – through its albedo effect means that it reflects solar radiation up to ten times more effectively than open water.

The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs blasted 4.5 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, but even after this the rate rise was slower than it is now.

Wadhams is especially concerned about the melting of ice covering the sea-beds, which is permafrost and contains massive amounts of methane. Methane is 23 times more effective in raising global temperature than CO2.

Mrs Thatcher admired Wadhams’ work, but since then no prime minister has done anything about melting Arctic ice.

He suggests ‘direct air capture’ of CO2, which has not been invented...


Reviewed by John Burnside, New Statesman:

Figures from Wadhams: between 1976 and 1987 there was a 15% loss of thickness in the ice layer; now the Northwest Passage is easily navigable. In September 2012 sea ice covered 3.4m sq kilometres – down from 8m in the 1970s. ‘Today, from space, the top of the world in the northern summer looks blue instead of white... It is man’s first major achievement in reshaping the face of his planet.’


14th Oct 2016: Siberian ice. (Alec Nune)

Buildings are starting to collapse in Norilsk, a nickel-producing centre, which is 180 miles inside the Arctic circle, and has 177,000 inhabitants. 60% of buildings have been affected, and more than 100 residential buildings have been evacuated. Pollution and building e.g. sewers contributes to warming the tundra, but climate change is making it worse. Large craters have appeared, probably due to thawing letting methane escape which then explodes. Anthrax has also been released – a 12-year-old boy died in Salekhard in August.

More than 100,000 people live in ‘critical’ areas (Dmitry Streletsky of George Washington University, Washington).

Arctic islands and the coastline – where there have been research stations – are disappearing, as sea ice melts and wave action increases.

Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising faster than anywhere else – more than 2C since 1900. Soil temperatures have increased by 1C between 1999 and 2013.


8th Jan 2017 (Observer, Steve Connor): Arctic ice is not only shrinking (covering less ground) but getting thinner and younger. The winter maximum is in March, and the summer minimum in September. Thicker multi-year ice is being replaced with thinner ice formed over one year. The thinner ice could be damaged by storms, and ‘a completely ice-free summer in the Arctic [is] increasingly likely.’ This could occur in the next 10 to 15 years. Usually ice accumulates in the Beaufort Gyre, a circular region off the coast of northern Alaska and Canada – but ice is now melting here. Since 2,000 it has been moving faster, indicating it is breaking up.

In the 1980s, thicker ice made up 20% of Arctic sea ice – now it is 3%. The thicker ice is three to four metres thick, and less prone to melting in the summer (Walt Meyer, sea ice specialist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, Greenbelt, Maryland). The thick ice is more fragmented now, and winds break it up more easily. Polar bears hunt seals on the sea ice, and of course it reflects the sun’s heat.


15th June 2017. Arctic: scientists in Canada have been forced to abandon an expedition to Hudson Bay to research the impact of climate change because perilous conditions off Newfoundland caused by rising temperatures!  Ice up to 8 metres thick had trapped boats and ferries – an icebreaker the scientists were on could not get through. Much of the ice was ‘multiyear’ typically seen in the high arctic. ‘It’s not something we’ve seen before’ said David Barber, of University of Manitoba – ‘We’re very poorly prepared for climate change. Our systems are unprepared for it.’


24th Sep 2017 (The Observer): Arctic ice contains plastic, melting ice affects wildlife:

As the ice melts, more plastic is being revealed. Microplastics are being carried into the region by the number of rivers that empty into the Arctic basin.

Some projections indicate that the entire Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in summer by 2050.

As the ice changes, how will this affect the animals that communicate by sound: arctic cod, beluga whales, ringed seals, walruses? Narwhals emit 1,000 clicks per second, hunting a mile below the surface.

(Prof Steve Simpson, Exeter Univ expert in bioacoustics and noise pollution – quoted by Jamie Doward)

1st Sep 2017 changes in seabed life (see next week on biodiversity), and moss has been growing four times more quickly than in 1950, changing the surface colour of the Antarctic to green (Jonathan Watts)


1st Nov 2017 a British Antarctic research station (Halley VI) is being shut for the winter for the second time recently, owing to cracks in the 150-metre-thick Brunt ice shelf on which it stands. The original Halley station was set up in 1956, and Halley VI has been operational since 2012, but it had to be towed 15 miles to prevent it being cut off should the ice cracks grow.


2.5 Sea levels à Floods and erosion:


May 2015, Guardian: ‘Already in Bangladesh 50,000 people migrate to the capital every month because rising sea levels have made their villages uninhabitable and have destroyed their arable land.’ Migration away from coastal areas in Bangladesh (World Bank)


2nd Nov 2016 (Damian Carrington): more than 5 million people in England are at risk from flooding.  A cross-party committee (environment, food and rural affairs, chaired by Neil Parish, Conservative) has criticised the government for not being ready for floods. Recommended measures include planting trees and putting logs into rivers, paying farmers to store flood water, building houses that are resilient to flooding. The government’s National Flood Resilience Review accepted that floods were going to be more common, owing partly to more severe rainfall (also from poor farming practices, loss of woods, and urban development, leading to more run-off) but the report lacked an effective flood risk strategy.  The review also did not include flash floods, which were responsible for much of the damage in late 2016 (DC 17th Sep)


7th Feb 2017 (Damian Carrington): Leeds University and Climate Coalition (a group of 130 organisations including RSPB, National Trust, WWF, WI) reported on damage to historical sites and the white cliffs.

Wordsworth House and Garden, Cockermouth suffered flooding in Nov 2009 and Storm Desmond in 2015. We are experiencing more intense winter rainfall. Record rainfall in December is now 50-75% more likely than a hundred years ago.

Birling Gap, part of Seven Sisters chalk cliffs loses 67cm a year, but during winter storms 2013-14 it lost seven years’ of erosion in two months. Buildings have been lost, and new ones are being designed to be moveable. 


27th Oct 2017 (Michael Slezak)

There could be a sea rise of 1.3 metres this century unless coal-generated electricity is eliminated by 2050, according to a paper by Alexander Nauels, Univ of Melbourne. This would destroy many cities. The extent of the rise depends on whether Antarctic ice melts. The suggested rise is 50% higher than previous estimates.


3rd Nov 2017 (Jonathan Watts): if we are on course for 3C warming then 275m people will see their cities inundated by rising sea waters according to the Climate Central group of scientists. 3C would raise sea levels by about two metres by 2100 according to Colin Summerhayes of the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge.

Asian megacities and industrial hubs are most vulnerable, e.g. Shanghai, Shenzhen, Bangkok, Tokyo – also Alexandria, Rio, Osaka, Miami and the entire bottom third of the US state of Florida.

Many places are saying money needs to be spent on preparing for the worst, rather than on trying to prevent it.


2.6. Reefs


8th June 2016 Great Barrier Reef and other reefs:

(Michael Slezak, The Guardian):

Coral bleaching: coral reefs are inhabited by organisms, polyps (or ‘zooks’ i.e. zooxantheliae] – ‘when coral is stressed by changes... in temperature or light or nutrients, they expel the algae living in their tissues – the coral flesh becomes transparent, revealing the stark white [calcium carbonate] skeleton beneath.’ Because the algae provides the coral with 90% of its energy, the polyps quickly begin to starve – and then they die, disintegrates, and the reef is taken over by seaweed.


When the coral dies, the entire ecosystem is transformed. Fish that feed on the coral or use it as a shelter move away or die. The bigger fish that feed on them disappear too. Birds that eat fish lose their food source, and island plants that thrive on bird dropping can become depleted. And of course people who rely on reefs for food, income, or shelter from waves – some half a billion people worldwide – lose their vital resource.


The Great Barrier Reef is the largest such reef in the world – 1,400 miles long, covering an area about the size of Germany – but 22% is now dead, and 93% is being bleached.

Its biodiversity is fantastic: 1,600 species of fish, 133 types of shark and rays, more than 30 species of whales and dolphins. One of the most complex ecosystems on the planet.

Tourists visit it and bring income to Australia. Indigenous people depend on it...

The problems were first noticed on a large scale in 1979. Then, with extreme El Nino events in 1982 and 1983 spread warm water and affected weather throughout the world. The Smithsonian Institute published a paper in 1990 warning that global warming was to blame, and ‘would probably continue and increase until coral-dominated reefs no longer exist’.

Since 1950 more than 90% of the excess heat our carbon emissions have trapped in the atmosphere went into the oceans. As a result, their surface temperature has risen 1C in 35 years. That puts the water much closer to the temperature limit that coral can bear. Then, when a surge of even warmer water comes through – often as a result of the El Nino cycle – corals over large stretches get stressed, bleach and die.’

Thus changes in temperature, light or nutrients can cause the coral to expel the algae it feeds on and this turns it white. If it stays stressed for more than a couple of weeks it starts to starve, become diseased, and dies.


2nd June 2016 (Michael Slezak): ‘the longest [-lasting] coral bleaching event in history is now devastating reefs in ... the Maldives’ Livelihoods depend on the reefs through tourism, fisheries, and because it is a wave break (some of the land is low-lying and the sea could flood it). The event started in mid 2014 around Hawaii. In early 2016 it spread to the Great Barrier Reef where 93% was hit by bleaching. This is a ‘global bleaching event [that] has already lasted longer than any previous bleaching event and is likely to  last until at least the end of the year.’  It started with an ‘extreme’ El Nino event, spreading warm water across the pacific – extreme El Ninos were not seen before 1982 and have occurred three times since.


10th April 2017: bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 will give the reef – the world’s largest living structure - little time to recover. Some reef scientists say it is in a terminal stage. The government attempted to improve the quality of the water, but without success – run-offs from catchments in the region have contributed, as have pollution from farming and the dumping of maintenance dredge soil.


Stretches of reef that have been damaged need to be connected to healthy sections in order to recover, but they have got cut off.


2.7 Health:


It is likely that diseases and pests will spread in warmer conditions, affecting trees, food crops – though some crops could benefit provided there is no drought (see below) (Damian Carrington, The Guardian).


31st Oct 2017 Guardian: Lancet publishes report, drawn up by researchers at 26 institutions, including many universities, WHO, World Bank, & World Meteorological Organisation. WMO reported highest yet levels of CO2. Latest report focuses on health effects already being felt:


Christina Figueres co-chaired (she negotiated Paris agreement as UN’s climate chief).


40 indicators were examined, including: people over 65 exposed to extreme heat – number rose by 125 million between 2000 and 2016. (2003 heat wave killed 70,000 but long-term trends make this figure small says Prof Peter Cox of Univ of Exeter).


Hot and humid weather makes working outside dangerous, and in 2016 caused a loss of labour equivalent to almost a million people, half of whom were in India.


Spread of dengue fever – getting more rapid: infections have doubled in each decade since 1990 – now 100m infections a year.


3rd August 2017: Damian Carrington. Extreme heat-waves will be a consequence of global warming unless emissions are cut. Combination of heat and humidity (WBT – wet bulb temperature) is dangerous – once it reaches 35C people exposed (even in the shade) will die in 6 hours. In 2015 3,500 people died from heat-wave. In the journal Science Advances – between 2017 and 2100 4% of the population would suffer un-survivable six-hour heat-waves of 35C WBT at least once. In Iran in 2015 the limit was almost reached, with 46C + 50% humidity.


Lancet publishes report, 31st Oct 2017, drawn up by researchers at 26 institutions, including many universities, WHO, World Bank, & World Meteorological Organisation. WMO reported highest yet levels of CO2. Latest report focuses on health effects already being felt by hundreds of millions of people:

Also: 46% increase in weather-related disasters around the world. 125m vulnerable adults over 65 had been exposed to heat-waves.


Transmission of dengue fever increased by 9.4% since 1950.


Christina Figueres co-chaired (she negotiated Paris agreement as UN’s climate chief). 40 indicators were examined, including: people over 65 exposed to extreme heat – number rose by 125 million between 2000 and 2016. (2003 heat wave killed 70,000 but long-term trends make this figure small says Prof Peter Cox of Univ of Exeter).


Hot and humid weather makes working outside dangerous, and in 2016 caused a loss of labour equivalent to almost a million people, half of whom were in India.


Spread of dengue fever – getting more rapid: infections have doubled in each decade since 1990 – now 100m infections a year. Transmission of dengue fever increased by 9.4% since 1950. Other dangers (Damian Carrington 12 July 2016): Asian tiger mosquito which carries the Chikungunya virus, as well as Zika and dengue fever.


Also: 46% increase in weather-related disasters around the world. 125m vulnerable adults over 65 had been exposed to heat-waves.


Note that air pollution is a related problem:

Guardian: Air pollution kills millions, of which 800,000 due solely to coal burning. However, coal burning peaked in 2013. 40,000 a year in UK, 9,000 in London, and costing £22.6bn.  Dr Toby Hillman of Royal College of Physicians says govt needs do more about cycling and walking.  

Independent: air in 44 UK cities and towns is unsafe according to WHO standards for PM2.5 (10 micrograms per cubic metre of air – EU level is 25). Glasgow has 16, London, Southampton and Leeds 15, Cardiff, Birmingham and Oxford 14, Manchester 13.  


 2.8 Food:



12th July 2016: Damian Carrington, Guardian: Loss of crops will lead to millions more undernourished children. Says Prof Hugh Montgomery of UCL.


Some small gains possible: warmer in higher latitudes (though also more cold snaps), some localised short-term increases in food production but overall ‘pattern is negative’. Prof Georgina Mace of UCL.


We could have heat waves up to 48C in London in the worst case scenario. High temperatures would lead to spread of viruses in plants. Benefits could be that we grow more food – but only if the impact on water supplies and soil fertility can be overcome. Already 85% of the rich peat soils of East Anglia has disappeared. We could lose the remaining fertile soil in the next 30 – 60 years.


Global warming would affect our imports of food (we import 40% of our food).


Loss of crops will lead to millions more undernourished children. Says Prof Hugh Montgomery of UCL.


Some small gains possible: warmer in higher latitudes (though also more cold snaps), some localised short-term increases in food production but overall ‘pattern is negative’. Prof Georgina Mace of UCL.


2.9 People and Property:


(17th May 2016), World Bank warning: people and property

Climate change puts 1.3bn people and $158tn (double the total annual output of the global economy) at risk, says World Bank.  The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery said total damages from disasters had ballooned in recent decades but warned that worse could be in store as a result of a combination of global warming, an expanding population and the vulnerability of people crammed into slums in low-lying, fast-growing cities that are already overcrowded.


The annual cost of natural disasters in 136 coastal cities could increase from $6bn in 2010 to $1tn in 2070.


Total annual damage – averaged over a 10-year period – had risen tenfold from 1976–1985 to 2005–2014, from $14bn to more than $140bn. The average number of people affected each year had risen over the same period from around 60 million people to more than 170 million.



11th March 2015: Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, warns that climate change is one of the biggest risks facing the insurance industry. Paul Fisher, a senior ban policymaker, also warned that insurers could take ‘a big hit’ if they invest in fossil fuels, which we may have to leave in the ground. (Guardian Financial).


2.10 Other...


27th May 2016 (Fiona Harvey). A UN-sponsored report says that world cultural heritage sites across the globe are in danger from global warming – Galapagos Islands, Easter Island, Statue of Liberty, Venice... are vulnerable to rising temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, more intense weather, worsening drought and longer wildfire seasons.

Rising temperatures in wildlife parks in Uganda could affect the habitat of endangered mountain gorillas.

Stonehenge is under threat from floods linked to increased rainfall.

A sea defence is being built in Venice that is likely to end up costing more than £4bn.


30th January 2017 (Jonathan Watts, Piotr Kozak, Santiago): Chile’s worst forest fires in recent history have been exacerbated by climate change and large monocultures. Blazes have spread over 145,000 sq miles and killed 11 people. The fire was out of control in January. The fire destroyed 1,200 homes in Santa Olga, and created a haze over Santiago even though it was several hundred kilometres away. Fire chiefs said plantations needed to be further away from where people live, and there should be more fire-breaks.