The Stream, November 20: Greenhouse Gases Record High in 2011

According to the BBC the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, released today, announced that the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide reached a record high at 391 parts per million in 2011. Other greenhouse gases, like methane, also were recorded at an all-time high. According to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin press release, of all the greenhouse gases, total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – was the CO2 equivalent of 473 parts per million in 2011. According to WMO Secretary-General Michel Jerraud, “Future emissions will only compound the situation.”

This climate change news comes on the tails of yesterday’s World Bank report: “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C World Must Be Avoided” which says “A 4°C world would be one of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on ecosystems and associated services.” The report is optimistic that holding global warming at or below 2°C is “likely,” given that climate change mitigation action becomes an urgen priority.

Ethanol Requirements Don’t Affect Food Prices, says U.S. EPA
NPR reports that despite the devastating drought affecting corn yields this summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will maintain the requirement for one-third of crops be dedicated to producing ethanol fuel. Critics argue that upholding this mandate will drive up prices of corn for livestock feed, also increasing the cost of commodities like meat and dairy. According to a report by the EPA, even if the rule was not upheld, gasoline companies would maintain their corn demand because there is no ready replacement for in the ethanol production process and because even at higher drought prices, corn is still affordable for gasoline companies to purchase.

Australia Murray Darling River Basin Plan Treads Water
Despite efforts to move forward with a plan to commit funds and higher returns to the environmental flows of Australia’s Murray Darling River Basin, The Australian reports that the Basin plan bill has been further delayed by the federal government. In order for any action to be taken this year, Environment Minister Tony Burke only has until the end of this week to encourage Parliament to pass the bill, otherwise it will be further delayed into 2013.

South Africa Water Crisis: Limpopo
Water shortages in Limpopo, South Africa threaten patients at hospitals who must rely on their families to deliver water from sparsely seen water trucks, says AllAfrica. The whole city faces a severe water shortage, with many protesting and calling upon government to step up action and rectify the problem. Limpopo has been dealing with a water shortage crisis for the past four months.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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