Reblogged from whip or will.
“Peaty wetlands emit about 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 a year as a result of human activity that drains them and thus exposes them to the oxidative effect of the atmosphere. This figure does not include the effect of fire on dried-up bogs, which can double the amount. That, at least, is the conclusion of a report published by Wetlands International, a lobby group, this week. Drained peat occupies 0.3% of the world’s land surface, but is responsible for 6% of man-made CO2 emissions. Indonesia is the biggest emitter, but richer countries are guilty too. However, the report’s findings contrast with the conclusions of a paper on deforestation also published this week in Nature Geoscience. The conventional figure is that tree-felling causes 20% of man-made CO2 emissions, but the new paper puts that figure at closer to 12%. Together, both studies suggest a change of emphasis may be needed, and that efforts should be made to preserve not just forests, but also bogs. (source)”
Europe’s democracy deficit from The Economist
“Britain and the Netherlands kicked off the four-day process of electing members for the European Parliament on Thursday June 4th. It is one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world, with over 375m voters in 27 countries. But some voters lack enthusiasm. As the European Union has expanded, turnout has dwindled: from 62% at the first election in 1979 to 45% in 2004. Some blame a general decline in democratic engagement but, aside from countries with compulsory voting such as Belgium, the difference in turnout for national and European parliaments is substantial. And worryingly for Europhiles, turnout is worst in many of the newest members of the club, in eastern Europe.”
The government debt of the ten richest countries attending the G20 summits will hit 114% of GDP by 2014, up from 78% in 2007, according to a new IMF study. To measure how much fiscal pain would be required to bring gross debt ratios to a sustainable level, the IMF looked at demographic pressures and assumed that long-term interest rates exceed economic growth rates by a percentage point (the long-term pre-crisis average) and then calculated by how much primary budget balances would have to improve. The economists define this level as 60% or, for Japan, half of today’s figure (ie, 85%). Their results suggest that Ireland and Japan have most to do. Both would need to boost their primary balances by more than 12% of GDP, compared with what is forecast for 2014. Britain would need an improvement of close to 6%. The gap in America is 3.5% and in Germany just under 2%. (The Economist via sabine)