Steps to revive  carbon-trading market

Two disparate groups, one representing businesses and one regulators, plan to propose new steps to revive Europe’s carbon-trading market, a system that even supporters admit has fallen short of its goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Carbon trading, also known as cap and trade, was meant to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the European Union by making polluting more expensive for heavy industries, encouraging them to invest in cleaner technology.

Some environmental advocates say it as just another form of financial profiteering with little environmental benefit. Carbon traders, for example, have been arrested for tax fraud; evidence has emerged of lucrative projects that may do nothing to curb climate change; and steel and cement companies have booked huge profits selling surplus permits they received free.

The two groups proposing new measures this week are recommending potentially complementary steps to revive the system.

Their goal also is to promote its adoption in such countries as the United States and Australia, where efforts have stalled amid economic concerns.
NYT News Service

Mice survived ice age warming

The period of global warming linked to the extinction of animal giants such as the woolly mammoth also made its mark on smaller mammals who survived the event.

Adaptable deer mice came to dominate the small furry communities of northern California as the climate warmed at the end of the last ice age, around 11,700 years ago, an excavation of one ancient woodrat nest shows. Overall, the number of small mammalian species in the area declined by about one-third, say Jessica Blois, currently at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and her colleagues.

The study, published in Nature, emphasises that concentrating solely on eye-catching species extinctions fails to capture the full impact of climate change on biodiversity.
“If we focus only on extinction, we’re not getting the whole story,” says Blois. The work also suggests that rapidly reproducing, adaptable species – such as the deer mice – could benefit further from future warming.

The end of the Pleistocene era is famous for its megafauna extinctions, and researchers have been searching for megafaunal remains for at least a century. One of many sites at which such remains have been found is the Samwell Cave along a drainage basin in Shasta County, California the site of the current study.

Blois’s team, however, looked for evidence of diversity in smaller creatures. “We were mainly interested in small mammals, the guys that survived the extinction event,” she says.

The researchers picked through fossilised woodrat nests, called middens, which have been well preserved in caves. Woodrats collect scat and pellets containing, among other things, small mammalian bones, which carnivores such as eagles, owls and foxes have defecated or regurgitated.
Janet Fang, NYT News Service