New Blogs July/August 2015
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Tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as global warming accelerates over the coming decades, a senior scientist has warned.
Soaring greenhouse gas emissions, driven by a surge in coal use in countries such as China and India, are threatening temperature rises that will turn damp and humid forests into parched tinderboxes, said Dr Chris Field, co-chair of the UN's Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Higher temperatures could see wildfires raging through the tropics and a large scale melting of the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere that will accelerate warming even further, he said.
Global warming is changing the distribution, abundance and diversity of marine life in the polar seas with "profound" implications for creatures further up the food chain, according to scientists involved in the most comprehensive study of life in the oceans ever conducted.
William of Baskerville: My venerable brother, there are many books that speak of comedy. Why does this one fill you with such fear?
Jorge de Burgos: Because it's by Aristotle.
William of Baskerville: But what is so alarming about laughter?
Jorge de Burgos: Laughter kills fear, and without fear there can be no faith because without fear of the Devil, there is no more need of God.
William of Baskerville: But you will not eliminate laughter by eliminating that book.
Jorge de Burgos: No, to be sure, laughter will remain the common man's recreation. But what will happen if, because of this book, learned men were to pronounce it admissable to laugh at everything? Can we laugh at God? The world would relapse into chaos! Therefore, I seal that which was not to be said.
The Tories have admitted a member of staff altered a Wikipedia entry on the artist Titian after a row between Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
During exchanges at prime minister's questions, the Tory leader mocked Mr Brown for talking of Titian at 90, when he said in fact he had died age 86.
Shortly afterwards a Wikipedia user registered at Tory HQ moved Titian's birth date forward by four years.
The party admitted an "over-eager" member of staff had been responsible.
Britain is facing its worst financial crisis for more than a century, surpassing even the Great Depression of the 1930s, one of Gordon Brown's most senior ministers and confidants has admitted.
In an extraordinary admission about the severity of the economic downturn, Ed Balls even predicted that its effects would still be felt 15 years from now. The Schools Secretary's comments carry added weight because he is a former chief economic adviser to the Treasury and regarded as one of the Prime Ministers's closest allies.
Mr Balls said yesterday: "The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I'm sure, over 100 years, as it will turn out."
He warned that events worldwide were moving at a "speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before" and banks were losing cash on a "scale that nobody believed possible".
The minister stunned his audience at a Labour conference in Yorkshire by forecasting that times could be tougher than in the depression of the 1930s, when male unemployment in some cities reached 70 per cent. He also appeared to hint that the recession could play into the hands of the far right.
"The economy is going to define our politics in this region and in Britain in the next year, the next five years, the next 10 and even the next 15 years," Mr Balls said. "These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape. I think this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s, and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy."
Philip Hammond, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said Mr Balls's predictions were "a staggering and very worrying admission from a cabinet minister and Gordon Brown's closest ally in the Treasury over the past 10 years". He added: "We are being told that not only are we facing the worst recession in 100 years, but that it will last for over a decade – far longer than Treasury forecasts predict."
Once the shy academic in the rambling house on the edge of the village published his big book, the flood gates opened: there are accounts of the Downe village postman staggering under the sacks of mail he carried every day to the home of Charles Darwin.
In June 1873 the postman was bringing something special: a gift – on public display for the first time this week – from a fellow author of a book arguably as infamous and influential as On The Origin of Species. The copy of Das Kapital, Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie, was inscribed to Darwin from "his sincere admirer, Karl Marx".
It took Darwin over three months to compose a suitable response. He finally wrote in October: "Though our studies have been so different I believe that we both earnestly desire the extension of knowledge and that this in the long run is sure to add to the happiness of mankind."
The book in its original paper cover, on loan from a Darwin descendant, is part of a £1m exhibition which English Heritage has created at the scientist's home to celebrate the bicentenary this Thursday of his birth, and the 150th anniversary of publication of his theory of natural selection.
Sharp-eyed visitors may spot what Darwin didn't admit to Marx. The ivory paper knife which he used to cut the pages of new books is also on display: the uncut pages prove conclusively that he got less than a third of the way through Das Kapital.