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Climate vulnerable developing countries were quietly jubilant today as COP27 in Egypt concluded with a landmark agreement to set up a new fund to address the ‘loss and damage’ being caused to their countries by the climate crisis.

The decision is in particular a win for the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), an informal group of 58 developing country parties representing the interests of 1.5 billion people, which has pushed for years – in the teeth of bitter resistance from developed countries like the US and those in Europe – to have a fund established to provide redress for the impacts of climate change in the most vulnerable developing countries.

For more, see the whole post on the Alliance for Science.

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Abstract: Misinformation is a serious problem in scientific debates ranging from climate change to vaccines to nuclear power. In this study we quantitatively assess the phenomenon of misinformation – defined as information which is at variance with widely-accepted scientific consensus – on genetically modified crops and food (“GMOs”) in the mainstream and online news media over a two-year period. We found an overall falsehood rate of 9% with a potential readership of 256 million. None of the misinformation was positive in sentiment; most was negative. About a fifth of Africa’s media coverage on GMOs contained misinformation, a worrying finding given the potential for genetic engineering to deliver improved nutrition and food security in the continent. We conclude that misinformation about GMOs in the mainstream media is still a significant problem, and outranks the proportion of misinformation in other comparable debates such as COVID-19 and vaccines.

For the full scientific paper, see the journal GM Crops & Food.

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“We love wild nature, but we hate poverty. We believe in democracy, in freedom, and in progress. We follow the science, and will change our minds again when science demands it. We are animal-lovers, geeks and empiricists, we are vegans and queers, we are everyone who believes we can have a better future and wants to help build it.”

Transcript of my speech to the RePlanet annual gathering, in Warsaw, Poland on 2 October 2022.

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As the Ukraine war grinds on, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has turned to a new tactic — trying to blackmail the world with food.

By blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and thereby stopping the export of the country’s prodigious grain harvest to world markets, Putin is using the threat of starvation in import-dependent developing nations as a tactic to demand the easing of sanctions.

The only way to face down this blackmail without starving the Global South — in the absence of successful measures to lift the blockade — is to spare food resources from elsewhere. In a new report for the pro-science environmental group RePlanet, I list the top 5 ways to free up food and face down Putin.

For the full report, see RePlanet’s Switch Off Putin campaign, coverage in the Guardian or my summary at the Alliance for Science.

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The brutality of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has shocked the world. The Russian dictator is now formally accused of war crimes by the United States, and sanctions have been imposed by democratic countries across the world. In Europe, however, these sanctions have not included oil and gas – instead we have continued to send half a billion euros per day to the Kremlin in payments for Russian fossil fuels.

In his arrogance, Putin thinks we will lack the courage and strength to stand up to him. He thought the same about the Ukrainians. With their unity and bravery, they proved him wrong – and so can we.

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The world is therefore arguably now closer to nuclear conflict than at any time since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. So what would a full-scale nuclear exchange look like in reality? Is it truly global Armageddon, or would it be survivable for some people and places?

Full post.

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If any single illustration best highlights our climate predicament, it is probably the Keeling Curve. Now scientists are warning that time is running out to reverse its steep upward trend.

Named after Dr. Charles David Keeling, the atmospheric scientist who began measuring CO2 in the air atop Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii way back in 1958, the iconic Keeling Curve graph shows an accelerating upwards saw-tooth curve as human emissions of carbon dioxide accumulate relentlessly in our atmosphere.

There was no slow-down in CO2 rises after the Earth Summit in 1992, nor with the Copenhagen meeting in 2009 nor even with the much-heralded Paris Agreement of 2015. As far as the Keeling Curve is concerned, humans have so far achieved more or less nothing in the battle to stabilize the Earth’s climate.

For the full post, see the Alliance for Science.

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It’s the last chance for the climate. Of course, this is said before every annual COP, but for COP26, which starts this weekend in Glasgow, it really is the case. Scientists are clear that to meet the 1.5-degree goal set by the Paris Agreement, global emissions of carbon need to be cut by half by the end of this decade. That won’t happen if COP26 fails, momentum is lost and climate targets are watered down.

For the full post, see the Alliance for Science.

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It has become something of a cliché, in advance of each annual climate summit, to say that it represents the “last chance to save the climate” or somesuch.

For COP26 this is actually true in a very specific sense. The meeting in Glasgow really is the last chance for the world to embark on the drastic cuts in emissions required to achieve the Paris goal of keeping global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

For the whole article, see The Scotsman

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The scientific consensus that humans are altering the climate has reached 99.9%, according to a paper of which I was lead author, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Here’s Cornell University’s news story, and coverage from the Guardian.

Link to the full paper (open access).