Copenhagen climate protesters rally

A climate change demonstrator with his face painted blue protests in London.Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Copenhagen today as part of a global protest to demand governments across the world agree a binding new global deal to tackle climate change.

The march and rally in the Danish capital, the world’s largest ever protest about global warming, comes at the halfway point of the United Nations’ climate summit in the city.

“Let’s dance, sing and be happy, because power is in your hands,” Nnimmo Bassey, director of Friends of the Earth International told the crowd, as he kicked off the first part of the march, the Flood, from Halmtorvet.

Official police estimates put the number of protesters at 25,000, but organisers said as many as 100,000 had joined the march from central Copenhagen, waving banners that read “Nature doesn’t compromise” and “Climate Justice Now”.

Although most of the march has been peaceful, a small group threw bricks at police early on. So far there have been 21 arrests, and police are currrently kettling about 200-300 marchers in Amagerbrogade.

Police spokesman Rasmus Bernt Skovsgaard said: “There was some cobblestone-throwing and at the same time people were putting on masks. We decided to go for preventive detentions to give the peaceful demonstration the possibility to move on.”

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Ireland Battles Worst Floods In Decades

More than 100 Irish troops have been drafted in to support the emergency services in battling Ireland’s worst floods in 30 years.

Several days of persistent rainfall has caused severe flooding in the south and west of the republic, with Cork being the city worst affected.

Rivers burst their banks and coastal towns were threatened with sea flooding caused by high tides and storm force winds.

Several major roads have been closed and train services cancelled along Ireland’s western coast.

Prime Minister Brian Cowen has chaired an emergency task force meeting on the crisis, said the immediate priority for the government was to provide shelter and safe drinking water.

Fears of pollution have led to boil notices being issued for water supplies in some areas.

Environment Minister John Gormley told RTE state radio: “We have been told this is a once in 800 years event. We have had no fatalities and that is a blessing.”

In Cork, the River Lee burst its banks and put parts of the city under three feet of water.

Tankers have been delivering water to many parts of the city after a pumping station was damaged.

Thousands of hectares of land have been submerged, leading the Irish Farmers’ Association to warn of severe economic repercussions.

The weather forecasting service Met Eireann said four of its stations have already had more rainfall this month than throughout the entirety of any previous November.

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FRONTLINE | Heat | PBS and pbs.org/frontline


Melting glaciers, rising sea levels, fires, floods and droughts. On the eve of a historic election, award-winning producer and correspondent Martin Smith investigates how the world’s largest corporations and governments are responding to Earth’s looming environmental disaster.

“I have reported on the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the rise of Al Qaeda, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Smith. “But nothing matches climate change in scope and severity.”

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Global Warming Threatens Australia’s Iconic Kangaroos

As concerns about the effects of global warming continue to mount, a new study published in the December issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology finds that an increase in average temperature of only two degrees Celsius could have a devastating effect on populations of Australia’s iconic kangaroos.

“Our study provides evidence that climate change has the capacity to cause large-scale range contractions, and the possible extinction of one macropodid (kangaroo) species in northern Australia,” write study authors Euan G. Ritchie and Elizabeth E. Bolitho of James Cook University in Australia.

Ritchie and Bolitho used computer modeling and three years of field observations to predict how temperature changes that are considered to be likely over the next half-century might affect four species of kangaroos. They found that a temperature increase as small as a half-degree Celsius may shrink kangaroos’ geographic ranges. An increase of two degrees may shrink kangaroos’ ranges by 48 percent. A six-degree increase might shrink ranges by 96 percent.

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Northeast and Northwest Passages Both Free of Ice

For the first time ever, both the Northwest and the Northeast Passages are free of ice. Shipping companies have been waiting for this moment for years, but they will have to wait a little while longer before they can make use of the Arctic shortcut.

Shippers in Bremen are getting impatient. The Beluga Group, a shipping company based in the northern German city, had planned to send a ship through the Northeast Passage — or the Northern Sea Route, as Russians call it — this summer, according to spokeswoman Verena Beckhausen. The route leads from the Russian island Novaya Zemlya, off the northern coast of Siberia, through the Bering Strait between far eastern Russia and Alaska.

This route is radically shorter than the normal trip through the Suez Canal. From Hamburg to the Japanese port city of Yokohama, for example, the trip using the northern route is just 7,400 nautical miles — just 40 percent of the 11,500 nautical mile haul through the Suez. Dangerous ice floes normally block the shorter route, but as of a few days ago the Northeast Passage is ice-free according to Christian Melsheimer of the University of Bremen. Scientists at the university use data from the NASA satellite “Aqua” to cobble together up-to-date maps of sea ice.

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