Credit risks and climate change

A new report offers a window into how specialists view the long-term fiscal risks of climate change.

Bottom line: “The interplay between an issuer’s exposure to climate shocks and its resilience to this vulnerability is an increasingly important part of our credit analysis, and one that will take on even greater significance as climate change continues,” the report states.

“We are always seeking to be as transparent as we possibly can with respect to how we go about reaching our ratings conclusions,” Michael Wertz, a senior analyst with Moody’s, tells Axios.

Source: Behind the credit risks of climate change

Changing sea life beneath Antarctic ice shelf

In dives to the seafloor, scientists have noticed big differences in only a few years.

“Surprisingly big changes in the coastal seafloor communities have occurred in only a few years,” Patrick Degerman of Finland wrote in a dispatch from the research team’s camp on the ice shelf near New Harbour in the Ross Sea.

“Two days ago, [two of the researchers] did the first dive of the year under the ice in crystal clear water, and much to everyone’s surprise, the animal community on the seafloor had changed dramatically since the last visit in 2009,” he wrote in the first week of November on the expedition’s Facebook page, “Science Under the Ice.”

Source: Sea life beneath Antarctic ice shelf is changing, and warming may be why

Cartography of the Commons

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map may be worth a thousand pictures. Since 2010, hundreds of commons mapping projects have sprung to life.

By depicting thousands of innovative social, environmental and economic initiatives, these maps reveal the complex stories of new systems emerging through the cracks of the old, like dandelions through broken concrete.

The maps serve many purposes at once. They help amass new groups of commoners by giving them shared digital platforms. As the maps become dense with user-contributed information, they show the growth of horizontal, participatory power, especially in reclaiming rights to manage shared resources. These resources include everything from valuable urban spaces and lakes to fruit orchards accessible to anyone, environmental projects and hackerspaces.

Source: Patterns of Commoning: Mapping Our Shared Wealth: The Cartography of the Commons | P2P Foundation

Disrupting soils could worsen climate change

Stanford research shows that climate change and certain farming practices could shift the amount of carbon dioxide that is released from soil.

Nearly a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere annually can be traced back to bacteria living in the soil, where they break down plant and animal matter for energy.

For most soil microbes, this transformation requires oxygen. But a new study finds that tiny, scattered populations of bacteria living in soil are oxygen-starved and have an underappreciated effect on the amount of this potent greenhouse gas that is released into the air.

Source: Disrupting sensitive soils could worsen climate change | Stanford News

Rethinking the value of water

Research led by Oxford University, published today in Science, highlights the accelerating pressure on measuring, monitoring and managing water locally and globally. A new four-part framework is proposed to value water for sustainable development to guide better policy and practice.
But there is an increasing need to re-think the value of water for a number of reasons:

Water is not just about sustaining life, it plays a vital role in sustainable development. Water’s value is evident in all of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, from poverty alleviation and ending hunger, where the connection is long recognised – to sustainable cities and peace and justice, where the complex impacts of water are only now being fully appreciated.

Water security is a growing global concern. The negative impacts of water shortages, flooding and pollution have placed water related risks among the top 5 global threats by the World Economic Forum for several years running. In 2015, Oxford-led research on water security quantified expected losses from water shortages, inadequate water supply and sanitation and flooding at approximately $500B USD annually. Last month the World Bank demonstrated the consequences of water scarcity and shocks: the cost of a drought in cities is four times greater than a flood, and a single drought in rural Africa can ignite a chain of deprivation and poverty across generations.

Source: The world needs to rethink the value of water

Better Connected Brains?

A new study reports that certain brain regions interact more closely, while others are less engaged, in people with higher intelligence.

“It is possible that due to their biological predispositions, some individuals develop brain networks that favor intelligent behaviors or more challenging cognitive tasks. However, it is equally as likely that the frequent use of the brain for cognitively challenging tasks may positively influence the development of brain networks. Given what we currently know about intelligence, an interplay of both processes seems most likely.”

Source: Smarter People Have Better Connected Brains

How Corporate Climate Change Goals Deteriorate

An analysis of five major Australian corporations over a 10-year period.

Through a detailed qualitative analysis, we examined company reports, media releases, policy statements, and over 70 interviews conducted with senior managers from these companies. During this period, climate change became a central issue in political and economic debate, leading to a range of regulatory, market, and physical risks and opportunities. Each of these five companies were at the leading edge of corporate engagement with this issue.

Despite operating within different industry contexts (energy, manufacturing, banking, insurance, and media), we found a common pattern of response over time: initial statements of climate leadership degenerated into the more mundane concerns of conventional business activity. In other words, talk of addressing climate change because it was the right thing to do eventually became a conversation about how climate change initiatives affected the bottom line.

Source: How Bold Corporate Climate Change Goals Deteriorate Over Time

Reducing phosphorus runoff

Throughout the United States, toxic algal blooms are wreaking havoc on bodies of water, causing pollution and having harmful effects on people, fish and marine mammals.

One of the main contributors to these algal blooms is excess phosphorus that runs off from agricultural fields and while there has been a lot of efforts in recent years by farmers to improve agricultural management, the problem persists and there is still a lot of work to be done.

Source: Reducing phosphorus runoff