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:: International team of researchers finds a link between cold European winters and solar activity

Studies of Germany's largest river reveal a correlation between periods of low activity of the sun and regional cooling. Scientists have long suspected that the Sun's 11-year cycle influences climate of certain regions on Earth. Yet records of average, seasonal temperatures do not date back far enough to confirm any patterns. Now, armed with a unique proxy, an international team of researchers show that unusually cold winters in Central Europe are related to low solar activity - when sunspot numbers are minimal. The freezing of Germany's largest river, the Rhine, is the key.

:: Food Price Volatility a Growing Concern, World Bank Stands Ready to Respond

"We cannot allow short-term food-price spikes to have damaging long-term consequences for the world's most poor and vulnerable”  – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim | Given the exceptional drought in the US, current crop conditions in other grain producing regions, and the resulting increase in international food prices, the World Bank today expressed concern for the impacts of this volatility on the world's poor, who are highly vulnerable to increases in food prices.

:: Global CO2 emissions continue to increase in 2011, with per capita emissions in China reaching European levels

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main cause of global warming – increased by 3% last year, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes in 2011. In China, the world’s most populous country, average emissions of CO2 increased by 9% to 7.2 tonnes per capita. China is now within the range of 6 to 19 tonnes per capita emissions of the major industrialised countries. In the European Union, CO2 emissions dropped by 3% to 7.5 tonnes per capita. The United States remain one of the largest emitters of CO2, with 17.3 tonnes per capita, despite a decline due to the recession in 2008-2009, high oil prices and an increased share of natural gas. These are the main findings of the annual report ‘Trends in global CO2 emissions’, released today by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

:: Japan's Strategic Energy Plan under Review after 2011 Nuclear Disaster

The Japanese government launched a review of its energy policies after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. I am engaged in the review process representing JFS and the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society. In this article, I would like to provide some background on the current situation and the future outlook of the review.

:: World meets goal of boosting access to clean water but lags on better sanitation – UN

The goal of reducing by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water has been achieved, well ahead of the 2015 deadline for reaching the globally agreed development targets aimed at ridding the world of extreme poverty, hunger and preventable diseases, the United Nations said.

:: Cities are failing children, UNICEF warns

Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World. Greater urbanization is inevitable. In a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population.

:: Statement by Kalon Tripa Dr. Lobsang Sangay on the recent killings of Tibetans by the P. R. China’s government

As Chinese everywhere were celebrating the first couple of days of the Year of Dragon on January 23rd and 24th, 2012. Chinese police fired indiscriminately on hundreds of Tibetans who had gathered peacefully to claim their basic rights in Drakgo, Serthar, Ngaba, Gyarong, and other neighboring Tibetan areas. Six Tibetans were reportedly killed and around sixty injured, some critically.

:: Tackling hunger and climate change: from farm to fork

On the third annual Agriculture and Rural Development Day taking place in Durban, South Africa on December 3rd, governments will be grappling with an apparently unsolvable conundrum; how to feed a world that recently crossed the seven billion population mark, while reducing the contribution of agriculture to global climate change?

:: Growing world trade makes food production cheaper – at the expense of the environment

Further opening of the markets for agricultural products leads to lower production costs for food. This will happen at the expense of the environment though, if for example forests are turned into cropland. The conflict of interests between food production and climate protection is now shown by scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in calculations for the years 2005 to 2045. For the first time, the effects of an advancing liberalization of agricultural trade were comprehensively analyzed through computer simulations, focusing both on the economic impacts and on those on land use and nature. This is one of the important issues to be discussed at the UN summit in Durban next week.

:: World hunger report 2011: High, volatile prices set to continue

Heads of Rome-based UN food agencies call for forceful action. Food price volatility featuring high prices is likely to continue and possibly increase, making poor farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity, the United Nations' three Rome-based agencies said in the global hunger report published.

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