From Climate Central:

Dramatically reducing emissions of one of the key contributors to global warming – nitrous oxide – will require farmers to change their ways of growing food, and citizens in the developed world to slash their yearly meat consumption, according to a new study published Friday.

The study by Eric Davidson, the director of the Woods Hole Research Center on Cape Cod, Mass., lays out actions that would be required in order to adhere to emissions scenarios developed by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Specifically, meeting the strictest emissions reduction scenario would mean that, in the developed world, the average person would need to cut their meat consumption in half by the year 2050. This would help ensure there would be enough food to feed the planet’s rising population, with nearly 9 billion people expected to call Earth home by 2050, up from about 7 billion today. Red meat consumption is growing in the developing world and is still on the increase in developed countries, trends that pose formidable obstacles to those seeking to reign in nitrous oxide emissions.

A decline in meat consumption would have two main benefits, Davidson said. It would reduce the demand for nitrogen-based fertilizers, and cut down on manure production and use.

As for whether a 50 percent reduction in average per capita meat consumption is at all feasible by 2050, Davidson pointed to the relatively rapid changes in cigarette smoking habits seen during the past 50 years.

"If you had asked me 30 years ago if smoking would be banned in bars I would have laughed and said that would be impossible in my lifetime, and yet it has come true,” Davidson said in a press release.

“I don’t have an expertise to say how likely it is that people will change habits,” he said in a phone interview, emphasizing that he is not advocating vegetarianism, but rather is pointing out that in order to reach certain emissions reduction goals, cutting meat consumption in the developed world has to be considered as a sensible option.

The study notes that if people were to take an intermediate step and switch some meat consumption from red meat to pork, poultry or shellfish, they would help reduce nitrous oxide emissions. 

Check out the rest of the article here. For some low carbon food ideas check out Anna Lappe’s article, 'Seven Principles of a Climate-Friendly Diet' and the Center for Food Safety’s 'Cool Foods Campaign'.

(Photo credit: Climate Central)

From Reuters:

As catastrophic weather events continue to become more common and more severe due to climate change, the insurance industry will be sorely tested. 2010 insured losses were estimated at between $18 billion and $37 billion - and indicated "a probable link" to climate change, according to insurance giant, Munich Re. In fact, the industry has named climate change its biggest challenge.

But how will the industry respond? The most immediate response we are already seeing are soaring premiums to homeowners and businesses. One 2009 study predicted a doubling of insurance rates due to climate change - and that was before severe weather events doubled in 2010 from 2009 totals. 


Insurance may well become unaffordable for millions in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world as premiums skyrocket. But the problem in the developing world is that many of the world’s most vulnerable victims of climate change are not insured at all. According to Swiss Re, another insurance giant, "the economic effects of current climate impacts can amount to between 2-12 percent of GDP annually. These impacts threaten to undermine national budgets of vulnerable countries for years to come.” They will also undermine the ability of those societies to pay for clean, sustainable development.


In both developed countries and emerging economies, the insurance industry can play a vital role by correctly pricing climate risks, providing quantitative estimates of risk - and, last but not least, investing in adaptation and mitigation strategies. A climate conscious insurance industry is critical to driving policies that lessen the ultimate price tag of climate change - not just the insurance costs, but the costs to economies and ecosystems as a whole.

Check out the rest of the article here. If you want to read more on the intersection of climate and insurance, take a look at Scientific American’s 'Are Insurance Companies the New Climate Ally? and the New Zealand Herald’s 'Insurance industry facing a climate of fear'.

(Image credit: Maplecroft)

From Scientific American:

Poor countries have spent just as much as rich ones — and in the case of China, more — to develop low-carbon energy, according to a study coming out this week. Its conclusions could turn the conventional wisdom about the differences among nations over mitigation efforts on its head.

The report by former World Bank economist David Wheeler, who now leads the climate change division at the think tank Center for Global Development, finds that China spent 94 cents of every $10,000 of average income on clean energy between 1990 and 2008. The United States, by contrast, spent 44 cents of every $10,000.

Meanwhile, all other industrialized countries combined spent only a penny more per year than their less developed counterparts.

"We all had this idea that [climate change] was a rich country problem and that poor countries shouldn’t have to do anything until they get to a certain stage of development, and that rich countries need to make it worth their while. But what I had seen suggested [was] that poor countries were already doing a lot," Wheeler said.

The data bore that out. Wheeler examined International Energy Agency data for 174 countries on investments in six low-carbon power sources (hydro, geothermal, nuclear, biomass, wind and solar) to find the incremental costs of clean power compared to a cheaper, carbon-intensive option like a conventional coal-fired power plant. He then computed the average income share in countries to compare how much people in poor countries are paying for carbon mitigation compared to those in rich nations.

"Lo and behold, you get a world in which the shares that poor countries have been devoting to low-carbon technologies over the past 18 years is really comparable to the rich countries," Wheeler said.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Photo credit: Green Packs)