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Earthgauge news for the week of May 16

Record flooding around the world (including Canada) linked to global warming – CBC News
Extreme rainstorms and snowfalls have grown substantially stronger, two studies suggest, with scientists for the first time finding the telltale fingerprints of man-made global warming on downpours that often cause deadly flooding. Two studies in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Nature link heavy rains to increases in greenhouse gases more than ever before.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) paper warned that if the world continues to use fossil fuels, iron ores, wood and other resources at the current rate then supplies will begin to run out. Ultimately it means “de-coupling” economic growth from an increasing use of resources by allowing the economy to grow through more efficient use of fossil fuels and other materials. “Global resource consumption is exploding. It’s not a trend that is in any way sustainable,” said Ernst von Weizsäcker, co-chair of UNEP’s International Resource Panel.

Volkswagen to make electric cars in China – Reuters
Top European automaker Volkswagen AG said on Wednesday that it plans to build electric cars in China under new brand Kaili, becoming the first foreign automaker to announce concrete plans to make electric cars in the country.

Native groups protest Enbridge pipeline – Vancouver Sun
Aboriginal groups in Western Canada have united against a proposed bitumen pipeline to British Columbia’s northern coast, saying the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project has no future without the approval of communities along the route. Meanwhile, Enbridge is reporting yet another leak to their Norman Wells pipeline in the Northwest Territories.

France Moves To Ban Shale Gas Drilling : NPR
Lawmakers in France’s lower house of parliament have voted to ban a controversial gas and oil drilling technique. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is widely used in the United States, but environmentalists say it can pollute ground water.

Shale gas fracking linked to drinking water problems
Scientists at Duke University have found a link between shale gas extraction in Pennsylvania and New York State and contamination of area drinking water with, in some cases, enough methane to make the water flammable.

Renewables could meet global energy needs by 2050 – Economic Times
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power could provide up to 80 percent of the global energy needs by 2050, an intergovernmental panel report on climate has said.

US House Approves Bill Seeking To Speed Up Offshore Drilling Permits – WSJ.com
Only a year after the worst oil spill in U.S. history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to impose deadlines on the Obama administration to issue offshore drilling permits, as Republicans renewed calls for greater amounts of domestic oil production amid rising gasoline prices.

Trees May Grow 500 KM Further North By 2100 – Reuters
Trees in the Arctic region may grow 500 km further north by 2100 as climate change greens the barren tundra and causes sweeping change to wildlife, a leading expert said. “Changes seem to be happening even more rapidly than we had anticipated just 10 years ago,” Aevar Petersen, chair of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), told Reuters from Greenland on Thursday, where foreign ministers of Arctic countries agreed steps to bolster regional cooperation.

Hydropower’s Resurgence and the Controversy Around It – NYTimes.com
Huge, controversial dam projects have recently made headlines in Brazil, Chile and Laos. Many developing countries, hungry for energy to supply their growing economies over the long term, are determined to keep building more modest-sized dams too. A $7 billion project to dam two of the world’s wildest rivers for electricity has won environmental approval from a Chilean government commission despite a groundswell of opposition.

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