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Matt McGrath

Matt McGrath Environment correspondent

Welcome to my reflections and insight into what's really affecting the world all around us

The IPCC, Elvis and the elephant in the room

13 April 2014
The IPCC presents the last of three highly anticipated reports in Berlin on Sunday
The IPCC presented the last of three highly anticipated reports in Berlin on Sunday

Everywhere you go in Berlin there are nostalgic echoes of the past - in the shadow of the wall's remnants, old Trabants take tourists on nostalgic car rides to times long gone.

And at the conference centre where IPCC delegates have been ensconced for a week deliberating on how to save the world from dangerous climate change, other ghostly voices have been making their presence felt.

Every night at the Estrel, Elvis lives. And so does Marilyn Monroe.

For the location is best known as the home of musical impersonators, the walls festooned with posters showing the capes, medallions and curled lips of the men who would be King.

In this slightly surreal atmosphere, the more sober suited ladies and gentlemen of the IPCC finalised a plan to end the world's addiction to carbon.

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Climate report: Creating a sense of urgency or alarm?

31 March 2014
Coral
Corals are particularly vulnerable to the effects of ocean acidification

The cool blue cover of the latest IPCC report on the impacts of climate change belies the rather hot stuff within.

Perhaps taking inspiration from their neon loving Japanese hosts, the report is heavy with reds, greens and yellows.

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Climate report aims to blossom in Japan

25 March 2014
Springtime in Japan
It's springtime in Japan and the blossoms are spectacular as usual

Haiku, high towers and the scent of cherry blossom all come into play as government officials and scientists discuss the global impacts of climate change.

"There are no strangers under the cherry blossoms," said Mr Nobuteru Ishihara, Japan's minister for the environment, as he welcomed members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to what's likely to be a fractious session here in Yokohama.

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Taking the war out of global warming

7 March 2014
floods
The widespread flooding in parts of England and Wales has encouraged debate about climate change

I once had a dream (or was it a dram?) in which the things we thought we knew for certain about the world were suddenly turned upside down.

In this strange universe, the cold war seemed to suddenly return, Ireland began to perform consistently at rugby, and arch-climate sceptics began to believe in dangerous levels of global warming.

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Frolick and Yap to solve climate change?

28 February 2014
coal station
President Obama is using executive authority to impose emission limits on coal fired power stations like this one

Tackling the causes of climate change has worn the patience of some of the world's biggest brains.

Attempts to put together a comprehensive global treaty have stumbled like drunks, somehow remaining on their feet but struggling to gain any forward momentum.

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Blue lagoons and higher roads to curb flood threat?

25 February 2014
Floods
The floods have spread across thousands of acres of Somerset

Would a large lagoon the size of 12,000 football fields have prevented the flooding of the Somerset Levels?

According to Roger Falconer, professor of water engineering at Cardiff University, the Bridgewater Bay Lagoon proposal would have helped the waters flow away from the flat lands of the county.

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Dabbling ducks struggling in floods

17 February 2014
Ducks feeding
Pintails feed by dabbling

Wildlife organisations are being very careful in assessing the impacts of the recent flooding on species and the environment.

"We are not saying this is a disaster or this is something where wildlife has really suffered," Grahame Madge from the RSPB told me, keenly aware that when people's lives and homes are being threatened by rising waters, concerns about animal life comes a distant second.

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Emissions impossible: Did spies sink key climate deal?

4 February 2014
Fort Meade
The headquarters of the NSA in Maryland, where information gleaned from intercepts was processed

The revelations of the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, are an ongoing embarrassment for the US government.

From Angry Birds to the mobile phone of Angela Merkel to the banal conversations of millions of people, the scale of the National Secutiry Agency's spying activities knew few boundaries.

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'Lame duck versus laggards' in battle for EU climate future

23 January 2014
Wind farm in Germany
The EU has stuck with a solid 40% target for emissions reduction by 2030

The actions of a lame duck, said one critic. "Burnt out", said another.

The EU commissioners, who leave office in November, were never going to please everyone with their new goals on climate and energy policy unveiled in Brussels this week.

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Floods not the only worry for Defra

7 January 2014
tide
Storm surges and high tides have caused flooding problems across the UK

Given the furious storms and relentless flooding that Britain has endured over the past two months, it is little wonder that reports about MPs criticisms of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) should focus on budget cuts and their impact on flood defences.

But the Departmental Annual Report 2012-13 covers much more than just soggy ground and surging tides, and it deserves some attention.

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About Matt

Originally from Tipperary in Ireland, Matt edited computer magazines for several years before joining BBC Radio 5 live at its launch in 1994. Following stints as producer and reporter, Matt became the station's science specialist in 1997. He joined the BBC World Service in 2006 as environment reporter.

He has reported on some of the major issues in science and environment in that period including BSE, foot and mouth disease, cloning, global warming and GM food.

Highlights include reporting from the solar eclipse in Alderney in 1999 and travelling to the Arctic in 2007. Matt tested the temperatures in Copenhagen by jumping into the icy harbour waters during the UN summit in 2009.

Over the years Matt has also reported extensively on the scientific impacts of doping in sport.

He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010-11.

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