The world’s greatest, highest snow-capped Asian peaks have lost no ice over the last decade, The Guardian cited new US research in Nature as showing. Lower-altitude glaciers in the Himalayan watersheds – dubbed the “third pole” – are definitely melting, however. The study, using satellite data, is the first to survey all the planet’s icecaps and glaciers. Researchers also said a vast amount of water was being lost into the oceans each year, primarily from Greenland and Antarctica, increasing sea levels.
Disclosing new global-warming estimates, French scientists said the figure of 2° Celsius enshrined by the UN was “the most optimistic” scenario left for greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change, Agence France-Presse reported. By 2100, they said, warming over pre-industrial times would range from 2° to 5° Celsius. The estimates will be given to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for consideration in its next overview, due in 2013 and 2014.
Now that Russian scientists have drilled through nearly 4,000 metres of solid ice to reach the freshwater Lake Vostok in Antarctica, the race is on to discover life in Earth’s most remote and extreme environment, according to Reuters. US and European scientists are working at two other subglacial lakes, where they hope that water analysis will yield life that has adapted to the extremely cold, sunless climate.
US nuclear regulators gave permission for two new atomic-energy reactors to be built in the state of Georgia, in the strongest signal yet that a three-decade construction hiatus is ending, the Los Angeles Times said.
Despite advances against hunger around the world, 450 million children are at risk of permanent damage over the next 15 years because of chronic malnutrition, the Associated Press cited a report by Save the Children as finding. The charity said chronic malnutrition affects one in four children globally and kills about two million annually whose deaths could be prevented.
In Rome, leaders of UN aid agencies, humanitarian organisations and donor governments were meeting on February 15 to discuss how to urgently increase assistance in Africa’s Sahel region, where drought and food shortages are threatening millions of lives, the UN News Service said.
Slash-and-burn agricultural practices, banned by many governments, provide better growing conditions for commercially valuable new trees than do more modern methods of forest clearance, SciDev.net reported a study conducted in Mexico by Biodiversity International researchers and others as suggesting.
Rwanda has raised the price of a permit to see mountain gorillas in the wild to US$750 a day beginning in June, according to mongabay.com. The fee – up from US$500 – helps to raise millions of dollars yearly for the country’s gorilla conservation programme. Mountain gorilla populations have been steadily increasing in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while the more numerous lowland gorillas are in decline in the Congo basin due to poaching, habitat loss and disease.
By pressing ahead with plans to develop the river basin, the two countries are inviting calamity