links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter


 
Global Warming issues:
Tiempo

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

  Environment  February 15, 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Shutting Down Climate Trolls.

Next time someone tells you that snowy weather means global warming isn’t real, you’ll know exactly how to respond.

The Southern U.S. has been  paralyzed by a historic ice storm, and the Northeast is  well on its way to another foot-plus of snow. If all that wasn’t bad enough, the climate trolls are coming out.

This time, top honors goes to the  Federalist, which can’t get over the irony of Senate Democrats scheduling a hearing on global warming right as a blizzard is expected to hit D.C. In fact, there’s good reason to believe that  global climate change is linked to extreme weather like this, but arguing that is an advanced move. Demonstrating that cold and snowy weather in no way disproves global warming? Anyone can do that.

Below, three tried-and-true retorts to climate deniers. You can try a fast and simple zinger, back it up with a blunt chart or, if you’re tired of explaining, let one of these smart videos do it for you. Why not try a healthy combination of all three? And, as a last resort, there’s always the  weather report for Australia.

The zingers

– SkepticalScience, a reliable font of detailed information, also breaks it down into this one-sentence explanation:

“A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.”

Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy is something of an evangelist for the cause. He recently tweeted:

In one sentence: “Warming things up means the atmosphere can hold more moisture.” Science!

– Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer  sums up the current reality of climate change:

“Shorter snow season, less snow overall, but the occasional knockout punch. That’s the new world we live in.”

– And, courtesy of the NRDC, a simple analogy:

“The effect of global warming on our climate is not unlike the effect of steroids on an athlete’s performance: It supercharges storms; it causes abnormal conditions like drought and heat and ultimately, it causes damage.”

The charts

Here, data  from the NOAA and NASA clearly shows that global temperatures have been higher than average for the past 37 consecutive years:

This one,  courtesy of Skeptical Science, plots the annual numbers of record high maximum temperatures (the red dots) along with the record lows (the blue dots), averaged over the U.S. That black line — the one that doesn’t line up with what’s plotted — shows where the dots would theoretically lie should no global warming or cooling be taking place. You can see how, over time, we’ve ended up with more record highs than lows:

Heavy precipitation (Oppenheimer’s “occasional knockout punch”) is also becoming more common, as this next map from the  Global Change Research Research program shows:

US Precip Trends p32_Dec11

As to the less overall snow,  SkepticalScience has this nice breakdown of seasonal and annual snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere. It demonstrates how earlier and more extensive melting in the spring and summer more than makes up for the smaller increase in fall and winter precipitation. The total decline in snow extent between 1972 and 2010 was a full 1.3 million square kilometers:

This last one’s actually a comic, courtesy of the fantastic  XKCD, but it’s got a chart drawn in. And it once again makes the  important point that extreme cold is becoming less and less common:

 

The Videos

Chris Hayes, an ironic sparkle in his eyes, asks climate scientist Michael Mann how it’s possible for snow and global warming to be happening at the same time. His reply: “Well, we climate scientists actually have a technical term for this phenomenon. It’s called winter” (you can file that one away with the other zingers):

Peter Sinclair of  ClimateCrocks delves deeper into the science with this 2009 video response to that infallible argument: ”I looked outside, and it was snowing, therefore, there is no climate change”:

The Climate denial crook of the week said that The White House released this  “propaganda” in honor of the infamous polar vortex, which received a fair amount of  trolling. Featuring John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser, it’s notable both for its acknowledgment that man-made climate change could actually be responsible for patterns of extreme cold, and for its reminder that no single weather event can either prove or disprove global warming.

To see the videos go to original - www.alternet.org/environment/ulti…

================================

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Lockheed Martin Signs Contract with Victorian Wave Partners to Develop Wave Energy Project.

Published on February 12, 2014

To advance the availability of alternative energy solutions, Lockheed Martin announced today that it has signed a contract with Victorian Wave Partners Ltd. to begin developing the world’s largest wave energy project announced to date. This is a significant step toward making ocean energy commercially available.

Wave power uses special buoys that use the rising and falling of ocean waves to generate electricity. (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)

The 62.5-megawatt peak power wave energy generation project will be built off the coast of Victoria, Australia, using the PowerBuoy® wave energy converter technology of Ocean Power Technologies (OPT). The project is scheduled to be built up in three stages, with the first stage producing approximately 2.5-megawatt peak power. Once completed, the project is expected to produce enough energy to meet the needs of 10,000 homes. As this project also contributes to Australia’s goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, it has received significant grant support from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency).

Wave power devices extract energy from the surface motion of ocean waves. Unlike wind and solar sources, energy from ocean waves is very predictable and can generate electricity for more hours in the year than wind and solar. In addition, wave power devices are typically quieter and much less visually obtrusive as compared to wind turbines, which typically run more than 130 feet in height. In contrast, a PowerBuoy is only 30 feet in height above the waterline and is barely visible, as it is typically three miles offshore.

“We are applying our design and system integration expertise to commercialize promising, emerging alternative energy technologies, including ocean power,” said Tim Fuhr, director of ocean energy for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “This project extends our established relationship with OPT and Australian industry and enables us to demonstrate a clean, efficient energy source for Australia and the world.”

In this project, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management, assist with the design for manufacturing of the PowerBuoy technology, lead the production of selected PowerBuoy components and perform system integration of the wave energy converters.

“We are pleased to be working with Lockheed Martin in connection with this exciting project in Australia,” said Charles F. Dunleavy, chief executive officer of OPT. “Development of this project draws on core strengths of both our companies and represents an important undertaking for commercialization of the PowerBuoy technology.”

Victorian Wave Partners Ltd. is an Australian special purpose company owned by Ocean Power Technologies Australasia Pty Ltd. OPT is a leader in wave energy technology development. The company’s PowerBuoy wave generation technology uses a “smart,” ocean-going buoy to convert wave energy into low-cost, clean electricity. The buoy moves up and down with the rising and falling of waves. This mechanical energy drives an electrical generator, which transmits power to shore via an underwater cable. The system is electrically tuned on a wave-by-wave basis to maximize the amount of electricity produced.

Lockheed Martin takes a comprehensive approach to solving global energy and climate challenges, delivering solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, smart energy management, alternative power generation and climate monitoring. The company brings high-level capabilities in complex systems integration, project management, information technology, cyber security, and advanced manufacturing techniques to help address these challenges. Today, Lockheed Martin is partnering with customers and investing talent in clean, secure, and smart energy – enabling global security, a strong economic future, and climate protection for future generations.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com/naturalenergy

Source: www.lockheedmartin.com/

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Supported by the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the UN,
The Journalists & Writers Foundation (JWF) – an ECOSOC NGO at the UN – based in Turkey, and
The Peace Islands Institute based in New York City

Chaired by Galymshan Kirbasov, Adjunct Faculty at Columbia University with a pannel :

Mr. Huseyin Hurmali, Vice President JWF,

H.E. Carlos Enrique Garcia Gonzalez, El Salvador Ambassador to the UN,

Prof. Alastair Smith, Dept of Politics at the New York University,

Prof. Severine Autesserre, Barnard College, Columbia University,

Prof. Johannes Urpelainen, Columbia University,

Friday, February 7, 2014 – during the lunch-break time slot at the last day of the 8-th Session of the OWG on the topic of the post-2015 SDGs.

The JWF is active since 1994 in efforts to promote love, tolerance and dialogue in an effort to create common living space based on reconciliation and mutual respect. The strategy is to bring together people from different backgrounds in order to find intellectual capital for social peace. They are active in 146 countries on 5 continents. and are inspired by the philosophy of the Turkish preacher, former imam, writer, and Islamic opinion leader  who lives  in self-imposed exile to Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania – Mr. Fethullah Gulen.

Why is Fethullah Gulen's stance vis-à-vis Mavi Marmara wrong?
Throughout his life and until today, Fethullah Gulen has been greatly influenced by the ideas and writings of many great Muslim scholars, amongst them: Said Nursi, Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi, Abu Hanifa, Ghazali, Imam Rabbani, Yunus Emre.

In line with these great thinkers, Fethullah Gulen’s philosophy and writings embody ideas of altruistic service to one’s community and likewise to humanity in general; harmony between intelligence and heart; sincerity; a holistic view of the human; a profound devotion and love of creation. Throughout his life, Mr. Gulen has been noted for his support of democracy, science, dialogue and non-violence.
In 1994, Mr. Gulen co-founded the “Journalists and Writers Foundation” and was given the title “Honorary President” by the foundation. In March 1999, upon the recommendation of his doctors, Fethullah Gulen moved to the U.S. to receive medical care.

In July 2008, Fethullah Gulen was voted the top public intellectual in the world by Foreign Policy Magazine.
He is serving also as the Honorary President of the Rumi Forum since 1999. He was recently listed by Time 100 of 2013.

Despite the high regard millions hold for him, Mr. Gulen considers himself a volunteering member of the civil society movement he helped found and does not accept any credit of leadership for the Hizmet (Service) Movement.

Fethullah Gulen devotes his time to reading, writing, and religious devotion. He has based his understanding of service upon this guiding principle, ‘living to let others live’ (‘yasatmak icin yasamak’ in Turkish).

The Gülen movement has been described as “having the characteristics of a cult” and its secretiveness and influence in Turkish politics likened to “an Islamic Opus Dei.     In the Turkish context, Gülen appears as a religious conservative.

Gülen is actively involved in the societal debate concerning the future of the Turkish state and Islam in the modern world. Gullen has millions of followers in Turkey and outside Turkey.

His teachings differ in emphasis from those of other mainstream Islamic scholars in two respects, both based on his interpretations of particular verses of the Quran. Let us repeat this – He teaches that the Muslim community has a duty of service (Turkish: hizmet) to the “common good” of the community and the nationand to Muslims and non-Muslims all over the world; and also that the Muslim community is obliged to conduct interfaith dialogue with the “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians) – though this does not extend to other religions and it seems he dislikes atheists

His teachings about hizmet (altruistic service to the “common good”) have attracted a large number of supporters in Turkey, Central Asia, and increasingly in other parts of the world.

Gülen has supported Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and has said that neither Turkey nor the EU have anything to fear, but have much to gain, from a future of full Turkish membership in the EU.

Gülen has condemned terrorism. He warns against the phenomenon of arbitrary violence and aggression against civilians and said that it “has no place in Islam”. He wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Post on September 12, 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that “A Muslim can not be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim.” Gülen lamented the “hijacking of Islam” by terrorists.

Gülen criticized the Turkish-led Gaza flotilla for trying to deliver aid without Israel’s consent. He spoke of watching the news coverage of the deadly confrontation between Israeli commandos and multinational aid group members as its flotilla approached Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza. He said, “What I saw was not pretty, it was ugly.” He has since continued his criticism, saying later that the organizers’ failure to seek accord with Israel before attempting to deliver aid was “a sign of defying authority, and will not lead to fruitful matters.

Gülen is strongly against Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War. No doubt in our mind – Gullen is best advised not to return to Turkey or to any Muslim led country these days.

 

Despite Gülen’s and his followers’ claims that the organization is non-political in nature, analysts believe that a number of corruption-related arrests made against allies of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an reflect a growing political power struggle between Gülen and the prime minister. These arrests led to the 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey, which the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s supporters (along with Erdo?an himself) and the opposition parties alike have said was choreographed by Gülen after Erdo?an’s government came to the decision early in December 2013 to shut down many of his movement’s private Islamic schools in Turkey.

The ongoing power struggle between the Erdo?an government and the Gülenists in the police force and the judiciary has allegedly revealed the existence of a well-organized and powerful “parallel state” directed by Gülen himself.The scandals uncovered what the Erdo?an government has said are the long term political agenda of Gülen’s movement to infiltrate security, intelligence, and justice institutions of the Turkish state, a charge almost identical to the charges found against Gülen by the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Turkey in his trial in 2000 before Erdo?an’s party had come into power. Gülen was tried in absentia in 2000, and acquitted in 2008 under Erdo?an’s AKP government from these charges.

In emailed comments to the Wall Street Journal in January 2014, Gülen said that “Turkish people … are upset that in the last two years democratic progress is now being reversed,” but he denied being part of a plot to unseat the government  ] Later, in January 2014, in an interview with BBC World, Gulen said “If I were to say anything to people I may say people should vote for those who are respectful to democracy, rule of law, who get on well with people. Telling or encouraging people to vote for a party would be an insult to peoples’ intellect. Everybody very clearly sees what is going on.

————————————————————–

After this large introduction about one unusual intellectual Muslim living now in the US – let us see now what the Journalists & Writers Foundation and their Panel of Academics  have as advise to the UN?

Professor Alastair Smith, who studied for years hunger in Ethiopia found that foreign aid funds that do-good NGOs funelled to ethiopian government or local NGOs never reached their intended targets for help, but were rather reaching arms dealers to supply the forces involved in the ongoing civil war. The money helped the dictators in order to increase the misery that was providing them with outside funding – a convenient cycle to them. So, the EU gave money through the UN affiliates to support arm exporters? Did I just hear an honest description of how the concept of Sovereignty at the UN makes it hard to do humanitarian work through the UN?

A Democratic Donor feeding money to an Autocratic Recipient is a self defeating procedure – anyone at the UN is honest enough to accept this true fact?

The Democracy helping the authoritarian government to keep the peace for trade and export of commodities, may look as a good deal to the democracy – but guess what – the poor people that were not helped by this will now hate the Democracy even more then their direct oppressors.

Then – if you get elected to the Security Council you get more aid then in the years you are not on the Security Council – that he checked easily by using not only indicators that related to GDP and growth in poor authoritarian countries that rotate in and out of the UN Security Council. He also checked indices of Human Rights and Freedom of the Press – and found that these are connected to aid money as well. When it arrives and when it is lower.

If you are supposed to do preventive work to avoid floods – but you find that aid money arrives after the floods did occur, you find it convenient to have those floods. What now with Climate Change an increasing  factor? The remedy?
Do not give Misery-Money – rather Pay for Success Stories!
Some pearls from Prof. Smith I found on the Internet:The Dictator's Handbook 2011 PublicAffairs.

Quick study: Alastair Smith on political tyranny

How to be a dictator

 

 

ALASTAIR SMITH is professor of politics at New York University. The recipient of three grants from the National Science Foundation and author of three books, he was chosen as the 2005 Karl Deutsch Award winner, given biennially to the best international-relations scholar under the age of 40. He is co-author of “The Dictator's Handbook: How Bad Behaviour is Almost Always Good Politics” (2011).

To whom do your guidelines apply?

Everyone. It doesn't matter whether you are a dictator, a democratic leader, head of a charity or a sports organisation, the same things go on. Firstly, you don't rule by yourself—you need supporters to keep you there, and what determines how you best survive is how many supporters you have and how big a pool you can draw these supporters from.

Do they actually have to support me, or can I just terrify them into supporting me by threatening them with death?

No, they absolutely have to support you on some level. You can't personally go around and terrorise everyone. Our poor old struggling Syrian president is not personally killing people on the streets. He needs the support of his family, senior generals who are willing to go out and kill people on his behalf.  The common misconception is that you need support from the vast majority of the population, but that's typically not true. There is all this protest on Wall Street, but CEOs are keeping the people they need to keep happy happy—the members of the board, senior management and a few key investors—because they are the people who can replace them. Protesters on Wall Street have no ability to remove the CEOs. So in a lot of countries the masses are terrified but the supporters are not.

What about Stalin? Even his inner circle was terrified.

Well, the brilliance of the Soviet regime was not just that you relied on few people, but that there were lots of replacements. In a tsarist system you have to rely only on aristocrats, but in a Soviet system everyone can be your supporter. This puts your core circle on notice that they are easily replaced. That, of course, made them horribly loyal. The Mob are very good at this.

Suggested viewing: "On The Waterfront" (1954)

This sounds typically mammalian to me—just groups of gorillas with a silverback?

It is virtually impossible to find any example where leaders are not acting in their own self interest. If you are a democrat you want to gerrymander districts and have an electoral college. This vastly reduces the number of votes a president needs to win an election.  Then tax very highly. It's much better to decide who gets to eat than to let the people feed themselves. If you lower taxes people will do more work, but then people will get rewards that aren't coming through you. Everything good must come through you. Look at African farm subsidies. The government buys crops at below market price by force. This is a tax on farmers who then can't make a profit. So, how do you reward people? The government subsidises fertilisers and hands it back that way. In Tanzania vouchers for fertilisers are handed out not to the most productive areas but to the party loyalist areas. This is always subject to the constraint that if you tax too highly people won't work. This is the big debate in the US. The Republicans are saying that the Democrats have too many taxes and want to suppress workers. But when they were in power five years ago they had no problem with taxing and spending policies, but now it's taxing their supporters to reward Democrats.

Suggested reading: "Markets and States in Tropical Africa: The Political Basis of Agricultural Policy" by Robert Bates (2005)

Okay. So, I have a small group of rewarded cronies and a highly taxed population. Now what?
Don't pay your supporters too much! You don't want them saving up and forming their own power base. Also, don't be nice to the people at the expense of your coalition. A classic example is natural disasters. Than Shwe was the ruler of Burma when Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, and he did nothing to help the people. The Generals didn't warn anybody; though they knew it was coming, they provided virtually no emergency protection. He sent the army in to prevent the people from leaving the flooded Delta areas. He was the perfect example of a leader who never made the mistake of putting the people's welfare above himself and his coalition.

But what if you really are trying to work for the common good? Is there no way of doing that?

None. If you're working for the common good you didn't come to power in the first place. If you're not willing to cheat, steal, murder and bribe then you don't come to power.

What if you're Lech Walesa?

I'm pretty certain he had his own political power base. He wanted to make society more inclusive. This is always the battle cry of revolutionary leaders. When they get into power they change their tune. The real question is what stops politicians from backsliding once they get in? Typically, it's that the country is broke and the only way you can get people to work is by empowering them socially, but once you do that it becomes hard to take powers back from them. Broke countries are the ones that end up having the political reforms that make them nice places with good economic policy in the long run. Places where there is oil, like Libya, have a very low chance of having democracy. The leaders don't really need the people to pay the bills of their cronies, because they have oil.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

French speaking Professor Severine Autesserre had first hand experience in Congo.

Dr. Autesserre’s current research project examines how everyday elements influence international peacebuilding interventions on the ground. She has conducted extensive fieldwork for this project between 2010 and 2012, with a primary case study on the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and comparative research in Burundi, Cyprus, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste. Findings from this project have appeared in Critique Internationale and African Affairs, and Dr. Autesserre is finalizing a book entitled Peacebuilders: An Ethnography of International Intervention (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2014).

 

Professor Autesserre's previous research project focused on local violence and international intervention in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she has traveled regularly since 2001. It culminated in the book The Trouble with the Congo: Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding (Cambridge University Press, 2010). The book won the 2012 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order and the 2011 Chadwick Alger prize presented by the International Studies Association to the best book on international organizations and multilateralism. Research for this project has also appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Organization, the Review of African Political Economy, the African Studies Review, the African Security Review, the Revista de Relaciones Internationales, and the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs.

Professor Autesserre's work has been supported by two research awards from the United States Institute of Peace (2004-2005 and 2010-2012), two Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation research grants (2010 and 2011), a Presidential Research Award from Barnard (2010-2011), several grants from Columbia University (2010 – 2012), two Mellon Fellowships in Security and Humanitarian Action (2004-2006), and a Fulbright Fellowship (1999-2000). Her Ph.D. dissertation at New York University was nominated for the award for best dissertation for 2007 in the areas of in international relations, law, and politics. Her paper "Local Violence, National Peace? Post-war 'Settlement' in the Eastern D.R. Congo," was awarded the Graduate Student Paper Prize Award of the African Studies Association in 2006.

Professor Autesserre has extensive experience working with international humanitarian and development agencies in Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, India, and the United States. She has worked for organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Doctors of the World.

Professor Autesserre says that in Congo a main problem was that outside intervention  did very little work with grass-roots - it was rather a top-down story for a top-down solution.

The Trouble with the Congo

Prof. Séverine Autesserre pens op-ed about Congo for The New York Times
Political science professor urges support of local grassroots efforts to establish peace.

among Working papers:

The Responsibility to Protect in the Congo: The Failure of Prevention
Chapter in O’Bannon, Brett; Roth, John; and Bellamy, Alex (eds.) The Evolution of the Responsibility to Protect: Imperfect Duties?, Global Politics and the Responsibility to Protect series, Routledge, accepted for publication, forthcoming 2014

French speaking Prof. Autresserre analyses the local reasons that in times of stress cause peaceful neighbors to turn against each other leading to scale-up, or if you wish a bottom-to-top fight. But she finds also the total lack of preventive work by outsiders that appear is if to help after the fact and address this as a top-to-bottom issue. Sustainable Development as a preventive means is the way to go but she makes it clear that we are in a two-way system - tus the title of our meeting.So in summary - LOCAL CONFLICT HINDERS DEVELOPMENT - MAKE PEACE SUSTAINABLE!

The Congo is her forte - it got disorganized via Belgium colonialism, and a question from the audience was about Mozambique - the former Portuguese colony. How is it that there the same post-colonialism period got its differences tamed down rather early. What else could one infer from this? The answer was not clear - it may be that a better local leadership evolved earlier. Whatever, the conclusion is still that conflict must be resolved from bottom-up and outside funding has to go to local support.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Professor Johannes Urpelainen of the Political Science Department at Columbia is closest to our own themes.

He spoke recently  at Yale Climate& Energy Institute examining the potential for using renewable sources of energy, notably solar power, to combat energy poverty in India where two-thirds of the population relies on traditional biomass for cooking and one-third does not have access to basic household electricity. His presentation argued that solar power holds a lot of promise for providing deprived rural communities with basic electricity services, but power sector reforms are necessary for the provision of larger, productive loads of power.

He also described an experimental research design for identifying the socio-economic effects of solar power on rural communities in Uttar Pradesh.

Also of interest we found his:
Explaining the Schwarzenegger Phenomenon: Local Frontrunners in Climate Policy. 2009. Global Environmental Politics 9 (3): 82-105.

examines the potential for using renewable sources of energy, notably solar power, to combat energy poverty in India where two-thirds of the population relies on traditional biomass for cooking and one-third does not have access to basic household electricity. His presentation argues that solar power holds a lot of promise for providing deprived rural communities with basic electricity services, but power sector reforms are necessary for the provision of larger, productive loads of power.  He also describes an experimental research design for identifying the socio-economic effects of solar power on rural communities in Uttar Pradesh. - See more at: climate.yale.edu/event/can-renewa...

the potential for using renewable sources of energy, notably solar power, to combat energy poverty in India where two-thirds of the population relies on traditional biomass for cooking and one-third does not have access to basic household electricity. His presentation argues that solar power holds a lot of promise for providing deprived rural communities with basic electricity services, but power sector reforms are necessary for the provision of larger, productive loads of power.  He also describes an experimental research design for identifying the socio-economic effects of solar power on rural communities in Uttar Pradesh. - See more at: climate.yale.edu/event/can-renewa...

Can Renewables Address Energy Poverty in India?
Can Renewables Address Energy Poverty in India?

At the meeting at the UN he took for granted that Peace is a precondition for Sustainable Development but raised the question if indeed Sustainable Development is a pre-condition for Peace.  This is more complicated and not so clear. In effect,  just a few years ago it seemed not accepted yet that environmental dgradation leads to violence. This changed now with our awareness of Climate Change and its effects.

Higher temperatures in Africa co-relates  with the starting of wars. He continued by saying:

"WE MUST CONSIDER WHAT WE DO HERE IN AMERICA AS A REASON OF WAR THERE IN AFRICA" - "WE MUST FIND NEW WAYS TO TREAT LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS."     {I did the unusual thing and clapped my hands.}

"Green Growth is important also in the developing countries of the south. This because what happens in India will influence Africa and this will influence us here as well."

If you are a poor country there is little you can do to prepare yourself - you find that misery is transferred to you from the outside via Global Warming.

For SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THE ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSION MUST BE CONSIDERED IN THE SDGs,
he stressed.

---------------------

In the discussion that followed it was stressed from around the table that Congo (and Mozambique) are among the wealthiest countries in the world because of the presence of large natural resources. In Congo the revenue flow to the government lets nothing for the people. This is actually a resource curse that is at the root of problems. AID is negative. The problem is that there are many rich people and their income is not taxed so there is no official money for the poor. This is an outside involvement problem and a lack of governance. It is the pits.

The Peace Islands hosts of the meeting mentioned here Syria where the conflict involves the people versus the government directly. To which Prof Autesserre said that you must have different policies for different dimensions of conflict. This gets us to the issue of how we react to the concept of the Sovereignty of the State. We must approach this in a way we support the local actors without creating the feeling that we take over the State. That was the problem that has led t people hating the US when it acted as a tool to regime change.

Migration was mentioned - also here the issue is internal migration as separate from international migration. Africa has a set of rules for internal migration under the Kampala agreement - but there is nothing in the books about external migration.

------------------------------

In relation to this panel, I will also include an official UN panel that made its work now that same day - actually in parallel - that same time.

Chaired by former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki with a Vice-President from business, Carlos Lopez, as his co-chair,  and other 8 distinguished members, the UN High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows that leave Africa, was established by the UN Secretary-General and the UN General Assembly President. This Panel announced its findings - and they are atrocious - showcasing what our Panel was all about.

As said in the opening speech by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson of Sweden, it is $50 billion per year that leave Africa - the damage to individuals and Africa's development and governance agenda as a whole. This figure is much higher then the official ODA that goes to Africa - so is it not that Africa's poor actually finance the World's rich?
Eliasson continued and said that this is looked at by the Un, not just for Africa, in regard to the post-2015 Development Agenda
that will have to address the illicit flows and tax evasions and help recover some of these stollen assets.

The Panel's findings were that two thirds of the out-flow from Africa came from the two regions - West Africa (38% and North Africa 28%. The other regions were as follows: Southern Africa 13%, Eastern Africa 11%, and Central Africa 10%.

The money came from OIL and  PRECIOUS METALS AND MINERALS - with 3-4% sourced each from categories - ores, machinery, fruits and nuts, copper, iron &steel, cocoa, textiles, fish and crustaceans.
This meaning that about 75% came from the exports of oil, gold, platinum, and diamonds.

Further - Corruption defined as - bribery, embezzlement - accounted only for 5% of the financial flows  - with 35% defined as Criminal activities such as the trade in drugs, weapons, and people.
Astonishingly this leaves 60% as leaving the continent in Commercial transactions through multinational companies.

Under-Secretar-General Eliasson commended the Panel for their research and for reaching out to officials from: "the United States Government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and others in Washington Dc - and looks forward to further insights the distinguished members of the Panel will have on this important issue."

---------------------------------

One last comment about all of this regards the UN Department of Public Information and the official UN Spokesman for the Secretary General.

That office's MEDIA ALERT knew to announce only a 1:15 pm Panel discussion of "Decent Jobs in the Transition to a Sustainable Economy" - totally by-passing any reference to the PRESS about the Peace and Sustainable Development panel - but that is an old story - some at DPI just do not like the Sustainable Development concept - it is too closely related to a future decrease of oil money flows.

On the other hand - they had to make place for a few minutes to President Mbeki - that would have been too much to cut him out - but that same day they did cut out completely the event with the President of the UN General Assembly by first announcing 10 minutes with his spokesperson Ms. Afaf Konja and then pushing her out as it obviously was going to fall to the way-side because of "Stake-Outs" at the Security Council. Oh Well - did we ever believe the UN bureaucracy will help?

 

the potential for using renewable sources of energy, notably solar power, to combat energy poverty in India where two-thirds of the population relies on traditional biomass for cooking and one-third does not have access to basic household electricity. His presentation argues that solar power holds a lot of promise for providing deprived rural communities with basic electricity services, but power sector reforms are necessary for the provision of larger, productive loads of power.  He also describes an experimental research design for identifying the socio-economic effects of solar power on rural communities in Uttar Pradesh. - See more at: climate.yale.edu/event/can-renewa...

Can Renewables Address Energy Poverty in India?

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Shelley Welton to <swelto@law.columbia.edu>
December 6, 2014

Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item,
‘New Columbia
Resource Tracks the President’s Climate Action Plan.’

On June 25, 2013, President Obama delivered a major speech on the topic of
climate change. In it he outlined a broad policy agenda aimed at addressing the
challenges posed by the changing climate. The agenda, detailed in The
President’s Climate Action Plan, relies almost entirely upon executive powers;
Congress is not even mentioned in [...]

You may view the latest post at
blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/2014/01/06/new-columbia-resource-tracks-the-presidents-climate-action-plan/

Best regards,

Shelley Welton
Center for Climate Change Law
Columbia Law School
www.columbiaclimatelaw.com

So indeed we followed the trail:

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Kumi Naidoo | Don’t Bet on Coal and Oil Growth
Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News
Naidoo writes: “A mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. … The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.”
READ MORE

 

How the Coal Industry Impoverishes West Virginia
Omar Ghabra, The Nation
Ghabra writes: “There’s a joke circulating among Syrians who fled the brutal conflict devastating their country to the quiet mountains of West Virginia: ‘We escaped the lethal chemicals in Syria only for them to follow us here.’ Of course, what’s happening in West Virginia right now is no laughing matter.”
READ MORE

———-

By Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News

 

25 January 14

 

mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That’s roughly 10 percent of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.

 

By keeping their money in coal and oil companies, investors are betting a vast amount of wealth, including the pensions and savings of millions of people, on high future demand for dirty fuels. The investment has enabled fossil fuel companies to massively raise their spending on expanding extractable reserves, with oil and gas companies alone (state-owned ones included) spending the combined GDP of Netherlands and Belgium a year, in belief that there will be demand for ever more dirty fuel.

 

This assumption is being challenged by recent developments, which is good news for climate but bad news for anyone who thought investing in fossil fuel industries was a safe bet. Frantic growth in coal consumption seems to be coming to an end much sooner than predicted just a few years ago, with China’s aggressive clean air policies, rapidly dropping coal consumption in the U.S. and upcoming closures of many coal plants in Europe. At the same time the oil industry is also facing slowing demand growth and the financial and share performance of oil majors is disappointing for shareholders.

 

Nevertheless, even faced with weakening demand prospects, outdated investment patterns are driving fossil fuel companies to waste trillions of dollars in developing reserves and infrastructure that will be stranded as the world moves beyond 20th century energy.

 

A good example is coal export developments. The large recent investment in coal export capacity in all key exporter countries was based on the assumption of unlimited growth of Chinese demand. When public outrage over air pollution reached a new level in 2012-2013, the Chinese leadership moved swiftly to mandate absolute reductions in coal consumption, and banned new coal-fired power plants in key economic regions. A growing chorus of financial analysts is now projecting a peak in Chinese coal demand in the near future, which seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago. This new reality has already reduced market capitalization of export focused coal companies. Even in China itself, investment in coal-fired power plants has now outpaced demand growth, leading to drops in capacity utilization.

 

Another example of potentially stranded assets is found in Europe, where large utilities ignored the writing on the wall about EU moves to price carbon and boost renewable energy. Betting on old business models and the fossil-fuel generation, they built a massive 80 gigawatts of new fossil power generation capacity in the last 10 years, much of which is already generating losses and now risk becoming stranded assets.

 

Arctic oil drilling is possibly the ultimate example of fossil companies’ unfounded confidence in high future demand. Any significant production and revenue is unlikely until 2030, and in the meanwhile Arctic drilling faces high and uncertain costs, extremely demanding and risky operations, as well as the prospect of heavy regulation and liabilities when (not if) the first major blowout happens in the region. No wonder the International Energy Agency is skeptical about Arctic oil, assuming hardly any production in the next 20 years. Regardless, Shell has already burnt $5 billion of shareholders’ money on their Arctic gamble.

 

Those investing in coal and oil have perhaps felt secure seeing the global climate negotiations proceed at a disappointing pace. However, the initial carbon crunch is being delivered by increasingly market-driven renewable energy development, and by national level clean energy and energy efficiency policies — such as renewable energy support schemes and emission regulation in Europe, or clean air policies in the U.S. and in China. Global coal demand, and possibly even oil demand, could peak even before a strong climate treaty is agreed.

 

Investors often underestimate their exposure to fossil fuels, particularly indirect exposure through e.g. passively managed pension funds and sovereign debt of strongly fossil fuel dependent states. Assessing exposure, requiring fossil energy companies to disclose and reduce carbon risks, and reducing investments in sunset energy technologies will lead to profitable investment in a world that moves to cleaner and smarter energy systems.

 

Improving competitiveness of renewable energy, growing opposition to destructive fossil fuel projects, concerns on water shortage and the imperative of cutting global CO2 emissions all point in the same direction: Governments, companies and investors should all be planning for a world with declining fossil fuel consumption — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. It is the direction the world will be moving to — faster than many yet anticipate.

================================================================================

Following our original posting, we watched today the Fareed Zakaria show at CNN/GPS and reporting from Davos – from the World Economy dialogues, he pointed out that 85 people own as much wealth as the lowest 3.5 billion people of the World.

Then he also mentioned that the 5 members of the family that owns Walmart own a disproportionate part of the wealth of the US – to be exact – just as much as 42% of all Americans.

He also said that there were no problem if everybody would improve their economic standing and the few at the top just grow more – but the reality is that the Middle class is receding and the explanation is that we moved from the human based Manufacturing Age to a machine based Manufacturing Age that does not need humans in the production line. This is endemic and this spiral is bound to drive us further down.
Now a big company like Apple employs only 50,000 Americans – so he has a true argument.

Because he mentioned Walmart this triggered my Sustainable Development thinking as I know that the Walmart company is in partnership with Mr. Jigar Shah in order to decrease their expenditure on electricity by allowing him the use of the roofs covering their stores to produce with photovoltaics the electricity they need. In effect they just did what the US government ought to campaign for. If they are so smart they indeed deserve being so rich – and they put the rest of us to shame because we do not have the initiative to improve our lives by ourselves.

In the context of this posting – why do we not rebel against those in Washington that insist the government sends dollars overseas to buy oil when there is no compelling reason to continue this man-made dependency on unneeded resources? Just think what array of industries could spring up from alliances like that of Jigar and Walmart? The whole Davos exercise ought to be reorganized – the apple of the economy is rotten not because of high-tech apples but because of the intentional subsidization of the old low-tech industries and the move to a globalized market that does not allow for globalized sustainability. You can bet safely that the Koch Brothers will push the US deeper in the hole of retardiness – this because it benefits their old ways of making money.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

If we refuse to understand environment – let us talk economics:

Rising Sea, Sinking Land.

Tide gauges along the East Coast show a long-term increase in relative sea levels, in part because the ocean is rising and in part because areas of the coast are sinking.

Each unit of those barrels signifies half an inch per decade. The line as function of time signifies the losses for Norfolk, Virginia, and Battery Park, New York City.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Link to Green Prophet

mailed-by: feedburner.bounces.google.com – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 01:44 PM PST

guinness world records, world's largest fireworks display, the palm, world islands, artificial islands dubai, dubai fireworks, NYE Dubai, 2014 fireworks display Dubai

Dubai rang in 2014 with a record-shattering fireworks display. In an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest fireworks extravaganza previously held by Kuwait, the emirate exploded a whopping 400,000 fireworks in less than 10 minutes.

Choreographed by America’s Phil Grucci, Dubai’s fireworks display was spread across 100 kilometers and lasted six full minutes.

The event took 10 months to plan and more than 200 pyrotechnicians arranged around The Palm and The World artificial islands ensured the display went off without a hitch.

Fireworks used were purchased in China, Spain and the United States, according to The National, and were hauled to the launching site by a long series of trucks.

We’re being given the challenge of breaking the world record,” said Grucci, who has worked in Dubai in the past, “so the scale of this is nothing that anybody has had the opportunity to oversee.”

Kuwait’s previous record was shattered by Dubai’s over-the-top performance, where nearly 100,000 fireworks were set off every minute.

“[Kuwait's] firework display stretched over 5 km (3.11 miles) of seafront, started at 8 p.m. and lasted 64 minutes,” according to the Guinness World Record website. “Event organizers Parente Fireworks srl and Filmmaster MEA produced the event, which included the pyrotechnic display and a lights and sound show. Preceding this, an airshow was staged in the afternoon.”

Albeit impressive, the show somehow undoes all of the small steps that Dubai has taken over the last year to become a little less environmentally destructive.

While those that saw the show were extremely impressed and lauded Dubai’s efforts to draw tourists to the city, some commentators expressed regret over the extraordinary expense and extravagance.

“When I see this and remember that Gaza has been without electricity for 40 days,” said Oussama Bargougui on YouTube “I really feel ashamed to be Arabic.”

Screengrab from Dubai Media video

—————————————————————————–

Above reminded me of the Arab UN official supervisor who at 60 years age bragged of just having had a baby.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

fron:Jock Gilchrist & 350.org <350@350.org>
to Pincas

This email was sent by 350.org on behalf of Jock Gilchrist, an activist working on fossil fuel divestment.

Dear friends,

I spent my senior year of college trying to convince the University of Delaware to divest from fossil fuels, and I can tell you one thing for certain: the fossil fuel divestment movement is changing the way young people like me think about climate change, and it’s just getting started.

As much fun as I had being a student activist, now that I’ve graduated I realize I have a new kind of power. Those of us who are college & university graduates are in a unique position to impact the divestment movement, and it’s time for us alumni to step up!

As 2013 draws to a close and the holiday giving season ramps up, we’re asking college & university alumni around the country to take a pledge: this year, don’t give to your alma mater. Don’t donate until they agree to divest from fossil fuels.

Click here to take the alumni divestment pledge.

To college and university administrators, alumni are potential donors first and foremost — so let’s send them a message they can’t ignore. Tell your alma mater that if they’re investing in fossil fuels, you’re NOT investing in them. We need to remind them of the ideals they stand for: the pursuit of truth, the development of a strong moral compass, and the ability to use that compass to stand up for what’s right.

But whether or not you’re a college or university alum, there’s something you can do to help the divestment movement.
Click here to watch a great video about all the work we’ve done in just over a year (I promise you’ll be inspired):

 

Watch the video: http://act.350.org/go/4291?t=4&akid=3931.190159.A61jm5

Student divestment campaigners around the country have been doing amazing work. They’ve run petitions, tabled on campus, held educational events, pushed the envelope with marches and sit-ins, and met with dozens of administrations. They’ve had some exciting victories — and received a few (temporary!) rejections that have only made them stronger. Now it’s time for the rest of us to pitch in.

If you’re an alumnus or alumna, we need your voice. Click here to take the pledge.

Onward,

Jock & the team at 350.org

P.S. OK, I’m asking you not to donate to your alma mater (unless they divest). But if you need a good home for those donation dollars, the team at 350.org would like me to add a plug for their year-end fundraising push. You could do a lot worse than helping to fund a bigger, better climate movement in 2014!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

EXIL: BRUCHSTÜCKE UND LEBENSMODELLE

JULYA RABINOWICH IN TEXT UND GESPRÄCH.

 

 

Julya Rabinowich: österreichische Schriftstellerin, Dramatikerin, Malerin und Simultandolmetscherin.

 

Moderation: Isolde Charim, Autorin und Philosophin

Anmeldungen unter:

Tel.: 3188260/20

Fax: 318 82 60/10

e-mail: einladung.kreiskyforum@kreisky.org

Melitta Campostrini
Bruno Kreisky Forum
for International Dialogue
Armbrustergasse 15
www.kreisky-forum.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We wrote about these issues when we participated at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik a month ago – we smelled there rat. Now the issue is hitting main-shore USA. 

We said in Reykjavik that the analogy with the DISCOVERY DAYS of Columbus and Balboa are no  comparison with the UNCOVERY DAYS when our warming sins that melted the ice allow us easy access to oil, gas, minerals, transportation – you name it.  The subject is worthy indeed of a good academic threshing out.

———————————————–

Fueling Our Future: The Geopolitics and Economics of Energy in the 21st Century
The Last Frontier: Security, Resources, and Politics in the Arctic

Thursday, December 5
6.30-7.45pm

RSVP here

With 7 billion people in the world (9 billion projected by 2050), many of whom live in rapidly developing countries, the need for modern technologies with their attendant energy demands is increasing at an exponential rate. Will it be possible to provide sufficient energy for this generation and the next? How will the energy race change global economies and politics? Join CGA Academic Director and Clinical Associate Professor Carolyn Kissane, and experts in the field to discuss the changing landscape of global energy: its potential, challenges, and its impact on how we live today.

Special Event at NYU Washington , D.C.!
Note special location:
The NYU Washington, D.C. Center
1307 L Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Last Frontier: Security, Resources, and Politics in the Arctic

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Diminishing sea ice and melting permafrost are expanding intercontinental shipping, increasing access to energy resources and minerals, and potentially igniting geopolitical and security challenges in what many consider the world’s final frontier.

Emerging from these new realities are increasingly complex challenges to sovereignty and security.

What current and future geopolitical and security issues stem from increased focus on this region, and what are the implications for nations holding territory there as well as other stakeholders?

Join the CGA at the NYU Washington, D.C. Center for a conversation about policy challenges and potential solutions for the future of the Arctic.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 6th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

 

liebe Mitglieder und Interessenten!

 

 

 

Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel

 

Präsident der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Außenpolitik und die Vereinten Nationen (ÖGAVN) 

 

lädt sehr herzlich zur nächsten Veranstaltung im Rahmen des “Internationalen Clubs” ein:

 

 

Mittwoch, 13. November 2013, 12:00 Uhr

 

 

Referent:

 

Dr. Johannes MEIER

 

Direktor der European Climate Foundation

 

 

zum Thema (in deutscher Sprache ohne Übersetzung):

 

“The End of Business-As-Usual?”

 

 

Veranstaltungsort:

 

Hofburg/Stallburg

 

A-1010 Wien, Reitschulgasse 2/2. OG

 

 

Es gilt die “Chatham House Rule”: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed”.

 

 

Der Club ist von 11:00 bis 15:00 Uhr geöffnet. Das Referat beginnt um 12:00 Uhr pünktlich, bitte kommen Sie zeitgerecht.

 

Die Diskussion mit dem Vortragenden ist bis 13:30 Uhr vorgesehen.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

from: Leida Rijnhout

Executive Director
ANPED - Northern Alliance for Sustainability
Fiennesstraat 77, 1070 Brussels

Mob: + 32 (0) 494 89 30 52

Dear Colleagues (please circulate),

As you know, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa, to be preceded by activities related to the conference from 28 to 30 August 2014, also in Apia, Samoa. It will focus the world’s attention on a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.


A Conference website has been prepared by the SIDS 2014 Secretariat, available at
www.sids2014.org

Preparatoryprocess


Several preparatory meetings are taking place throughout 2013, including national preparations and expert group meetings, following three regional meetings and an inter-regional meeting. A special accreditation process for organizations wanting to participate in the Conference and it’s preparation that are not in Consultative Status with ECOSOC. More information will be provided as decisions are made. A Global Intergovernmental Preparatory process will be launched by the President of the General Assembly at the end of 2013, with the first preparatory committee meeting to occur early in 2014. The preparatory process can be followed on the following page:
www.sids2014.org/index.php?menu=1494.

The page available at
www.sids2014.org/index.php?menu=1509  lists various activities undertaken by the UN system, including expert meetings and other relevant events/conferences. If you wish to have a meeting/event included on this page, please send us the details to dsd@un.org.

Partnerships for Small Island Developing States


The modality resolution adopted during the 67th session (
www.sids2014.org/content/documents/186N1249102.pdf) of the General Assembly called for the “strengthening of collaborative partnerships between SIDS and the international community” as one of the important ways and means to address new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  At the SIDS inter-regional preparatory meeting held in Barbados, SIDS decided to recommend that the overarching theme of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States should be “the sustainable development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships.

The SIDS 2014 Conference website provides a “Partnerships Registry” of new and existing partnerships related to the sustainable development of SIDS, including relevant voluntary commitments from the Rio+20 Conference. It is expected that the SIDS Conference will lead to the announcements of new SIDS partnerships.


If you wish to include a Partnership in the Conference Partnerships Registry, please either 1) Register it online (address below), or 2) send us the details to
dsd@un.org for inclusion



Warm regards,

Chantal Line

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Exactly a year ago, a record 9.41 foot storm surge flooded Battery Park, Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Far Rockaway, and Breeze Point, Long Island. New York City tunnels and subways were out of service for weeks, power outages closed schools, hospitals, community centers and whole neighborhoods. Overall there were $64 billion monetary damage, 72 casualties, and more then 6 million displaced.

This was the second deadliest and most destructive hurricane in the history of New York. Though as per NOAA – the Deadliest Hurricanes in the US happened in 1900 – the Great Galveston Hurricane that claimed 8,000-12,000 victims and the 1928 Okeechobee Lake Hurricane that claimed 2,500 – 3,000 lives but seems to have cost $180 Billion in today’s dollars. By comparison, Katrina cost 81 Billion. The overriding question the panel put out for itself was if we learned from past Hurricanes and are better prepared for the future ones? Let me say already here, that by the time of the Q&A it became clear that the preparation must be done in major part by us – that is the communities at large – and not just wait for a Government intervention that if it even comes will be delayed at best.

The panel, organized by Mehmet Kilic, Director of the center for Global Affair of the Institute was led by Ambassador Narinder Kakar (of Turkish Nationality) who after 30 years at UNDP, is now IUCN and the Costa Rica based UN Univercity for Peace representative to the UN. He gave the UN background on climate change.

He was followed by Dr. Thomas Chandler and Ms. Meg Sutton from The Earth Institute of Columbia University; Mr. ndrew Martin who is the Response Coordinator for FEMA in the New York Region, and Mr. Martin Cetiner who is Vice President for International Affairs of a Turkish NGO active in humanitarian aid in 103 countries www.KimSeyoKuu.org.tr

Mr. Kakar gave examples from South East Asia showing how preparation is leading to decreasing numbers of casualties though there was enhanced storm and flooding activity. He kept saying that Climate Change is the defining issue of our times and Adaptation to Climate change is the most imediate move to avoid hazards. Other needed activities are for mitigation.

His examples included the earlier start of seasonal bush fires in Australia’s New South Wales, and the Failin Cyclon of the coast of India where anticipation, food storage and early evacuation of 900,000 people has helped reduced – in the cyclon case the number of casualties from 10,000 to 15.

Dr. Chandler mentioned that Munich Re estimated that the weather risks in America are the highest in the world. He compared these to what happened in Cuba and it cannot be said that the US is well prepared for Climate Change effects. The FEMA manager was then in no position to make the audience feel any better.

The New York City free distribution daily newspaper – amNEWYORK had several pages today “City rebuilds to withstand next superstorm but much still needs to be done.” same for new Jersey where Governor Christie wants to build storm surge barriers and artificial dunes to protect the shores. Until then there is no answer in fact.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

The White House’s senior energy and climate adviser, Heather Zichal, is leaving the administration, officials said Monday, despite the president’s entreaties to stay.

Zichal, who has spent five years in the Obama administration coordinating the work of multiple agencies on issues ranging from air quality to global warming, played an instrumental role in pushing for stricter fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and limits on mercury and other toxic emissions from power plants.

 

In an effort to keep Zichal on board, White House officials raised the possibility of her chairing the Council on Environmental Quality in the event that its chair, Nancy Sutley, would leave, according to people familiar with the decision who demanded anonymity in order to discuss sensitive personnel issues.

Sutley’s departure has not been announced, but the people familiar with the situation said she would step down before the end the year.

In a statement, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough praised Zichal’s work.

“Heather is one of the president’s most trusted policy advisers,” McDonough said.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said Zichal was “tremendously influential,” but that her departure will not affect how the administration’s climate action plan moves forward.

“We’re into implementation,” McCarthy said. “We’ll miss Heather being there, but it’s not going to slow us at all.”

A former aide to then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Zichal worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign and has served at the White House since the president took office in 2009. She served under climate czar Carol M. Browner until 2011, when she took over the portfolio.

Reuters first reported Zichal’s departure Monday.

Joshua Freed, vice president for clean energy at the centrist think tank Third Way, said that since “one year in any administration should be measured in dog years, Heather has spent the equivalent of 35 years working at the White House. That’s a long time. At a certain time, everyone feels the need to have a change of scenery.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We Just discovered a reference to our website that we want to bring to our readers’ attention:
 blog.maskil.info/2008/06/altneula…

That link leads to a lot of ALTNEULAND blog’s own information, but to toot our own horn we mention something they posted about us:

You can search for all Altneuland’s featured articles by clicking on the following search link:
 www.sustainabilitank.info/?s=Altn…

The SustainabiliTank website includes substantial coverage of sustainable development and other green issues concerning Israel, which you can find here:

from SustainabiliTank: Israel

According to Pincas Jawetz, the publisher of SustainabiliTank ,

Israel is the country that stands most to gain from the world’s decreased dependence on oil. We always looked upon the Israelis as the potential natural leaders in developing alternate fuels. Israel has the manpower, scientific institutions, and the private enterprise needed for such an endeavor. In effect, going back to the 1950?s, it had people aware of the problems that come from being dependent on oil when living in an unfriendly neighborhood. Israelis worked on oil shales first, then on solar, biomass, and geothermal technologies; the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) has even created a “Commission for Future Generations” when it became obvious that for environmental reasons, as well as for sustainable development reasons, the world will have to switch to non-fossil fuels. Nevertheless, Israel itself did not implement these technologies, it also did not give away for free the technologies it did develop, perhaps because of political reasons resulting from the government’s close relation to the US. In effect the Environment Ministry became a repository for politicians with other aspirations. In its own interest, as journalist Thomas Friedman said – “petrolism” is the main reason for lack of peace in the Middle East – the Israeli government should have taken a more aggressive position on this subject, one seriously wonders why this did not happen.

We launched this Israel section on SustainabiliTank.info because we realized that above may change, if not through the leadership of the government, then at least through the push of NGOs and perhaps with the help of aggregates of local government.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Gold Standard Conference 2014
10th – 11th March 2014

Europe – exact location TBC

Theme: Addressing the food, water, energy and climate nexus

More information will be provided in due course

If you would like to be involved in this event, please contact  info at cdmgoldstandard.org to discuss potential opportunities and the best way you can help support and participate in this conference.

  Permalink | | Email This Article Email This Article
Posted in Archives, Future Events, Futurism, Global Warming issues

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Extreme heatwaves are predicted as the new normal for British summers by 2040.
Report calls for dramatic curbs in greenhouse gas emissions and warns of threat to human society.

Tom Bawden, The Independent, Thursday 15 August 2013

for graphics – go please to –  www.independent.co.uk/environment…

Global temperatures are climbing so rapidly that by 2040 Britain will spend up to a fifth of its summer months in an extreme heatwave, a new report warns.

Unless something dramatic is done to curb the volume of greenhouse gas emissions widely regarded as responsible for climate change, then conditions currently regarded as “extreme” will become the “new normal” in the UK and most of the world by the end of the Century, the findings say.

Under this scenario, by the end of the century Spain and France are likely to be experiencing extreme temperatures during 80 per cent of their summer – across much of June, July and August – with the UK slightly lower at between 50 and 60 per cent, according to Dim Coumou, the lead author of the study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

For Britain, this would mean the July 2006 heatwave – the hottest month since records began in 1659 with an average temperature of 36.5C – or higher by 17.8C from the average since then would become normal. (The United Kingdom’s all-time temperature high till now was 38.5 °C (101.3 °F) attained at Faversham, Kent, on 10 August 2003.)

“The tropics, the Mediterranean and the Middle East will be worst affected, but in the UK you will definitely see a very strong increase in heat extremes as well,” Mr Coumou said, adding that this would be hugely damaging to agriculture and health.

“Heat extremes can be very damaging to society and ecosystems, often causing heat related deaths, forest fires or losses to agricultural production. So an increase in frequency is likely to pose serious challenges to society,” Mr Coumous said.

The extreme heatwaves referred to in the report are known as “3-sigma” events. These are categorised by a hugely complex formula, which compares the average temperature over the course of a month with the average for that time and place for every year since the beginning of the 20th Century.

Technically, the chance of experiencing a 3-sigma event is roughly one in a hundred. However, given the impact of human-emitted greenhouse gases in recent decades, such events have gone from being virtually unheard of in 1950s to becoming increasingly common in the past decade, Mr Coumou said.

“A good example of a recent three-sigma event is the 2010 heat wave in Russia. In the Moscow region the average temperature for the whole of July was around 7C warmer than normal,” said Mr Coumou.

Other examples include the European heatwave of 2003, which was the hottest summer on record for the continent as a whole since at least 1540.

Last month, while cooler than July 2006, may also qualify as a 3-sigma heatwave, said Mr Coumou, who cannot confirm this because he has not finished analysing the data.

The report predicts that by 2020, a tenth of the world’s land surface will be on the receiving end of a 3-sigma heatwave at any one time during the summer months – a figure that will double to a fifth by 2040. At the moment, 5 per cent of the world’s land surface is affected in this way, compared to just 1 per cent in the 1960s.

The changes between now and 2040 will happen regardless of the amount of carbon dioxide that is pumped into the atmosphere over that period because there is typically a ten to 20 year time lag between greenhouse gases being emitted and the resulting warming of the planet, Mr Coumous says.

However, beyond 2040 the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere in the coming decades will have a huge bearing on the frequency and intensity of heatwaves as they exacerbate climate change, he says.

If carbon emissions keep on growing then by the end of the century, 85 per cent of the global land area will be subject to extreme heatwaves during the summer months, the research found.

However, if emissions are severely curtailed, the frequency and severity of heatwaves would stable at 2040 levels, Mr Coumous said. This makes it extremely urgent to take decision action to curb climate change, he said.

The Potsdam report comes shortly after research linking a warmer world with droughts with a substantial increase in violent conflict between both individuals and entire societies. A review of 61 detailed accounts of violence published in the journal Science concluded that personal disputes and wider civil conflicts increase significantly with significant changes to weather patterns, such as increases in temperature and lack of rain.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from Sébastien Duyck  sebastien.duyck at tcktcktck.org
Network Engagement Coordinator
Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) - tcktcktck.org

Ten Young People of 18 to 30 years of age can get Climate Action Fellowships to Participate at the Warsaw Cop 19 of the UNFCCC (from November 8th to November 24th, 2013) if they know their Governments’ Climate Policy and are ready to be active in influencing their Governments to take more active positions.

This Fellowship is a volunteer opportunity. However, support for participation in the Warsaw Climate Change Conference (transportation, accommodation and per diems) as well as continuous support and capacity building is provided by the Global Call for Climate Action.

Here are some of the qualities we are looking for:

* You understand the landscape. Our Fellows should not only understand climate change, they are also familiar with their country’s national and international climate politics; preferably with the UNFCCC itself – its history, its inner workings, and its roles in addressing climate change.

* You are an excellent communicator. Our Fellows can quickly translate the complex and hard to communicate developments that happen during climate negotiations and other key moments into compelling, accessible, creative, actionable communications across multiple channels and mediums. Our primary tool is blogging – Fellows must be skilled bloggers – but the ability to leverage other communications tools and channels with strategic and/or large audiences via new and traditional media is also key to their success.

* You have informed empathy. Our Fellows seek out a deep understanding of how climate change affects people in different situations, in different ways, all over the world – security, health, livelihood, values, politics, business, etc – and can tap into that understanding to help them connect with with various audiences (including their negotiators).

* You are brave. In a short amount of time, each Fellow has to build relationships with experts in our partner network, members of the media, their country’s negotiators and other decision makers. Fellows need to quickly absorb and synthesize new information; take public stands on complicated issues; get their ideas and opinions out to fellow activists and media in their home country in meaningful ways.

* You are fast. Our Fellows are able to rapidly respond to events and opportunities inside climate negotiations and out.

* You are dedicated. Our Fellows understand the stakes involved in responding to climate change, and are dedicated to helping push for progress in spite of the many setbacks, challenges and complications we face along the way. While we expect to count on our Fellows’ full-time participation during the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, they also actively participate in the project throughout their Fellowship’s duration.

Are you looking for an incredible experience on the front lines of an essential fight in the effort to address climate change? Do you think you can excel in the Fellowship role? If so, we want to meet you. Apply here:

LEARN MORE & APPLY FOR TO BECOME AN ADOPT A NEGOTIATOR 2013/2014 FELLOW.

————

*** The Opportunity ***

The Global Campaign for Climate Action is awarding Adopt a Negotiator (AaN) Fellowships to exceptional young people that we think possess the ability to effectively push their countries toward unlocking climate solutions nationally and internationally. AaN Fellows will have an opportunity to help shape their government’s role in solving climate change. They’ll join a team of passionate, dedicated and talented activists from around the world; participating in moments that will shape if and how the governments respond adequately to the climate challenge. Their efforts will build on a proud legacy of past ‘Negotiator Trackers,’ and make important contributions to the climate movement in a creative, challenging and exciting role.

Applicants must be 18 to 30 years of age; available to attend the Warsaw Climate Change Conference in Poland (from November 8th to November 24th, 2013); and able to actively contribute to the Adopt a Negotiator project as an activist and blogger from mid-September of this year through May of 2014.

LEARN MORE & APPLY FOR TO BECOME AN ADOPT A NEGOTIATOR 2013/2014 FELLOW

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 10th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Michael T. Klare does it again. He warns us that we are worshiping the old Golden Calf set up there by the Fossil Fuels Establishment.

———————-

How to fry a planet.
Michael T.Klare and Tom Engelhardt 9 August 2013

Don’t for a second imagine we are heading for an era of renewable energy.

Look at it any way you want, and if you’re not a booster of fossil fuels on this overheating planet of ours, it doesn’t look good. Hardly a month passes, it seems, without news about the development of some previously unimaginable way to extract fossil fuels from some thoroughly unexpected place. The latest bit of “good” news: the Japanese government’s announcement that natural gas has been successfully extracted from undersea methane hydrates. (Yippee!) Natural gas is gleefully touted as the “clean” fossil-fuel path to a green future, but evidence is mounting that the newest process for producing it also leaks unexpected amounts of methane, a devastating greenhouse gas. The U.S. cheers and is cheered because the amount of carbon dioxide it is putting into the atmosphere is actually falling. Then Duncan Clark at the British Guardian does the figures and discovers that “there has been no decline in the amount of carbon the U.S. is taking out of the ground. In fact, the trend is upwards. The latest year for which full data is available – 2011 – is the highest level on record.” It’s just that some of it (coal, in particular) was exported abroad to be burned elsewhere.

In the meantime, the next set of articles come out of scientific circles suggesting that the results of all this are far from cheery. An example: a recent paper in the prestigious journal Scienceindicates that “climate change is now set to occur at a pace ‘orders of magnitude more rapid’ than at any other time in the last 65 million years,” and we should prepare for a wave of species extinctions. In other words, the much-ballyhooed coming of North American energy “independence” is an upbeat way of saying that we will continue to heat the planet till hell boils over. Of course, those who run the giant energy companies, the politicians in their pay, and their lobbyists and associated think tanks — the real global “terrarists” for their urge to make historic profits off the heating of the planet — will, of course, continue to cheer. Though it is notoriously hard to claim climate change as the author of any specific weather event, in theever-hotter continental U.S., the experience of what’s being called “extreme weather” — fromdrought to record wildfires, record heat waves to devastating tornadoes — is increasingly part of the warp and woof of everyday life.

In this context, the latest TomDispatch post by Michael Klare, author of The Race for What’s Left, is singularly important, if also singularly unnerving. Klare, who has long been ahead of the curve in his work on energy and resources, offers a clear-eyed look at the energy road chosen, and the view to the horizon is anything but pretty.
Tom Engelhardt

—————

The original article we got and was intended to disillusion us from belief that Washington is ready for switching to Renewables, was:

 www.truth-out.org/news/item/18060…

—————


The third carbon age.


By Michael T.Klare

When it comes to energy and economics in the climate-change era, nothing is what it seems. Most of us believe (or want to believe) that the second carbon era, the Age of Oil, will soon be superseded by the Age of Renewables, just as oil had long since superseded the Age of Coal. President Obama offered exactly this vision in a much-praised June address on climate change. True, fossil fuels will be needed a little bit longer, he indicated, but soon enough they will be overtaken by renewable forms of energy.

Many other experts share this view, assuring us that increased reliance on “clean” natural gas combined with expanded investments in wind and solar power will permit a smooth transition to a green energy future in which humanity will no longer be pouring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. All this sounds promising indeed. There is only one fly in the ointment: it is not, in fact, the path we are presently headed down. The energy industry is not investing in any significant way in renewables. Instead, it is pouring its historic profits into new fossil-fuel projects, mainly involving the exploitation of what are called “unconventional” oil and gas reserves.

The result is indisputable: humanity is not entering a period that will be dominated by renewables. Instead, it is pioneering the third great carbon era, the Age of Unconventional Oil and Gas.

That we are embarking on a new carbon era is increasingly evident and should unnerve us all. Hydro-fracking – the use of high-pressure water columns to shatter underground shale formations and liberate the oil and natural gas supplies trapped within them -is being undertaken in ever more regions of the United States and in a growing number of foreign countries. In the meantime, the exploitation of carbon-dirty heavy oil and tar sands formations is accelerating in Canada, Venezuela, and elsewhere.

It’s true that ever more wind farms and solar arrays are being built, but here’s the kicker: investment in unconventional fossil-fuel extraction and distribution is now expected to outpace spending on renewables by a ratio of at least three-to-one in the decades ahead.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an inter-governmental research organization based in Paris, cumulative worldwide investment in new fossil-fuel extraction and processing will total an estimated $22.87 trillion between 2012 and 2035, while investment in renewables, hydropower, and nuclear energy will amount to only $7.32 trillion. In these years, investment in oil alone, at an estimated $10.32 trillion, is expected to exceed spending on wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, hydro, nuclear, and every other form of renewable energy combined.

In addition, as the IEA explains, an ever-increasing share of that staggering investment in fossil fuels will be devoted to unconventional forms of oil and gas: Canadian tar sands, Venezuelan extra-heavy crude, shale oil and gas, Arctic and deep-offshore energy deposits, and other hydrocarbons derived from previously inaccessible reserves of energy. The explanation for this is simple enough. The world’s supply of conventional oil and gas – fuels derived from easily accessible reservoirs and requiring a minimum of processing — is rapidly disappearing. With global demand for fossil fuels expected to rise by 26% between now and 2035, more and more of the world’s energy supply will have to be provided by unconventional fuels.

In such a world, one thing is guaranteed: global carbon emissions will soar far beyond our current worst-case assumptions, meaning intense heat waves will become commonplace and our few remaining wilderness areas will be eviscerated. Planet Earth will be a far – possibly unimaginably – harsher and more blistering place. In that light, it’s worth exploring in greater depth just how we ended up in such a predicament, one carbon age at a time.

The first carbon era

The first carbon era began in the late eighteenth century, with the introduction of coal-powered steam engines and their widespread application to all manner of industrial enterprises. Initially used to power textile mills and industrial plants, coal was also employed in transportation (steam-powered ships and railroads), mining, and the large-scale production of iron. Indeed, what we now call the Industrial Revolution was largely comprised of the widening application of coal and steam power to productive activities. Eventually, coal would also be used to generate electricity, a field in which it remains dominant today.

This was the era in which vast armies of hard-pressed workers built continent-spanning railroads and mammoth textile mills as factory towns proliferated and cities grew. It was the era, above all, of the expansion of the British Empire. For a time, Great Britain was the biggest producer and consumer of coal, the world’s leading manufacturer, its top industrial innovator, and its dominant power – and all of these attributes were inextricably connected. By mastering the technology of coal, a small island off the coast of Europe was able to accumulate vast wealth, develop the world’s most advanced weaponry, and control the global sea-lanes.

The same coal technology that gave Britain such global advantages also brought great misery in its wake. As noted by energy analyst Paul Roberts in The End of Oil, the coal then being consumed in England was of the brown lignite variety, “chock full of sulfur and other impurities.” When burned, “it produced an acrid, choking smoke that stung the eyes and lungs and blackened walls and clothes.” By the end of the nineteenth century, the air in London and other coal-powered cities was so polluted that “trees died, marble facades dissolved, and respiratory ailments became epidemic.”

For Great Britain and other early industrial powers, the substitution of oil and gas for coal was a godsend, allowing improved air quality, the restoration of cities, and a reduction in respiratory ailments. In many parts of the world, of course, the Age of Coal is not over. In China and India, among other places, coal remains the principal source of energy, condemning their cities and populations to a twenty-first-century version of nineteenth-century London and Manchester.

The second carbon era

The Age of Oil got its start in 1859 when commercial production began in western Pennsylvania, but only truly took off after World War II, with the explosive growth of automobile ownership. Before 1940, oil played an important role in illumination and lubrication, among other applications, but remained subordinate to coal; after the war, oil became the world’s principal source of energy. From 10 million barrels per day in 1950, global consumption soared to 77 million in 2000, a half-century bacchanalia of fossil fuel burning.

Driving the global ascendancy of petroleum was its close association with the internal combustion engine (ICE). Due to oil’s superior portability and energy intensity (that is, the amount of energy it releases per unit of volume), it makes the ideal fuel for mobile, versatile ICEs. Just as coal rose to prominence by fueling steam engines, so oil came to prominence by fueling the world’s growing fleets of cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships. Today, petroleum supplies about 97% of all energy used in transportation worldwide.

Oil’s prominence was also assured by its growing utilization in agriculture and warfare. In a relatively short period of time, oil-powered tractors and other agricultural machines replaced animals as the primary source of power on farms around the world. A similar transition occurred on the modern battlefield, with oil-powered tanks and planes replacing the cavalry as the main source of offensive power.

These were the years of mass automobile ownership, continent-spanning highways, endless suburbs, giant malls, cheap flights, mechanized agriculture, artificial fibers, and – above all else – the global expansion of American power. Because the United States possessed mammoth reserves of oil, was the first to master the technology of oil extraction and refining, and the most successful at utilizing petroleum in transportation, manufacturing, agriculture, and war, it emerged as the richest and most powerful country of the twenty-first century, a saga told with great relish by energy historian Daniel Yergin in The Prize. Thanks to the technology of oil, the US was able to accumulate staggering levels of wealth, deploy armies and military bases to every continent, and control the global air and sea-lanes – extending its power to every corner of the planet.

However, just as Britain experienced negative consequences from its excessive reliance on coal, so the United States – and the rest of the world – has suffered in various ways from its reliance on oil. To ensure the safety of its overseas sources of supply, Washington has established tortuous relationships with foreign oil suppliers and has fought several costly, debilitating wars in the Persian Gulf region, a sordid history I recount in Blood and Oil. Overreliance on motor vehicles for personal and commercial transportation has left the country ill-equipped to deal with periodic supply disruptions and price spikes. Most of all, the vast increase in oil consumption — here and elsewhere — has produced a corresponding increase in carbon dioxide emissions, accelerating planetary warming (a process begun during the first carbon era) and exposing the country to the ever more devastating effects of climate change.

The age of unconventional oil and gas

The explosive growth of automotive and aviation travel, the suburbanization of significant parts of the planet, the mechanization of agriculture and warfare, the global supremacy of the United States, and the onset of climate change: these were the hallmarks of the exploitation of conventional petroleum. At present, most of the world’s oil is still obtained from a few hundred giant onshore fields in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Venezuela, among other countries; some additional oil is acquired from offshore fields in the North Sea, the Gulf of Guinea, and the Gulf of Mexico. This oil comes out of the ground in liquid form and requires relatively little processing before being refined into commercial fuels.

But such conventional oil is disappearing. According to the IEA, the major fields that currently provide the lion’s share of global petroleum will lose two-thirds of their production over the next 25 years, with their net output plunging from 68 million barrels per day in 2009 to a mere 26 million barrels in 2035. The IEA assures us that new oil will be found to replace those lost supplies, but most of this will be of an unconventional nature. In the coming decades, unconventional oils will account for a growing share of the global petroleum inventory, eventually becoming our main source of supply.

The same is true for natural gas, the second most important source of world energy. The global supply of conventional gas, like conventional oil, is shrinking, and we are becoming increasingly dependent on unconventional sources of supply — especially from the Arctic, the deep oceans, and shale rock via hydraulic fracturing.

In certain ways, unconventional hydrocarbons are akin to conventional fuels. Both are largely composed of hydrogen and carbon, and can be burned to produce heat and energy. But in time the differences between them will make an ever-greater difference to us. Unconventional fuels – especially heavy oils and tar sands – tend to possess a higher proportion of carbon to hydrogen than conventional oil, and so release more carbon dioxide when burned. Arctic and deep-offshore oil require more energy to extract, and so produce higher carbon emissions in their very production.

“Many new breeds of petroleum fuels are nothing like conventional oil,” Deborah Gordon, a specialist on the topic at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in 2012. “Unconventional oils tend to be heavy, complex, carbon laden, and locked up deep in the earth, tightly trapped between or bound to sand, tar, and rock.”

By far the most worrisome consequence of the distinctive nature of unconventional fuels is their extreme impact on the environment. Because they are often characterized by higher ratios of carbon to hydrogen, and generally require more energy to extract and be converted into usable materials, they produce more carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy released. In addition, the process that produces shale gas, hailed as a “clean” fossil fuel, is believed by many scientists to cause widespread releases of methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas.

All of this means that, as the consumption of fossil fuels grows, increasing, not decreasing, amounts of CO2 and methane will be released into the atmosphere and, instead of slowing, global warming will speed up.

And here’s another problem associated with the third carbon age: the production of unconventional oil and gas turns out to require vast amounts of water – for fracking operations, to extract tar sands and extra-heavy oil, and to facilitate the transport and refining of such fuels. This is producing a growing threat of water contamination, especially in areas of intense fracking and tar sands production, along with competition over access to water supplies among drillers, farmers, municipal water authorities, and others. As climate change intensifies, drought will become the norm in many areas and so this competition will only grow fiercer.

Along with these and other environmental impacts, the transition from conventional to unconventional fuels will have economic and geopolitical consequences hard to fully assess at this moment. As a start, the exploitation of unconventional oil and gas reserves from previously inaccessible regions involves the introduction of novel production technologies, including deep-sea and Arctic drilling, hydro-fracking, and tar-sands upgrading. One result has been a shakeup in the global energy industry, with the emergence of innovative companies possessing the skills and determination to exploit the new unconventional resources — much as occurred during the early years of the petroleum era when new firms arose to exploit the world’s oil reserves.

This has been especially evident in the development of shale oil and gas. In many cases, the breakthrough technologies in this field were devised and deployed by smaller, risk-taking firms like Cabot Oil and Gas, Devon Energy Corporation, Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation, and XTO Energy. These and similar companies pioneered the use of hydro-fracking to extract oil and gas from shale formations in Arkansas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas, and later sparked a stampede by larger energy firms to obtain stakes of their own in these areas. To augment those stakes, the giant firms are gobbling up many of the smaller and mid-sized ones. Among the most conspicuous takeovers was ExxonMobil’s 2009 purchase of XTO for $41 billion.

That deal highlights an especially worrisome feature of this new era: the deployment of massive funds by giant energy firms and their financial backers to acquire stakes in the production of unconventional forms of oil and gas — in amounts far exceeding comparable investments in either conventional hydrocarbons or renewable energy. It’s clear that, for these companies, unconventional energy is the next big thing and, as among the most profitable firms in history, they are prepared to spend astronomical sums to ensure that they continue to be so. If this means investment in renewable energy is shortchanged, so be it. “Without a concerted policymaking effort” to favor the development of renewables, Carnegie’s Gordon warns, future investments in the energy field “will likely continue to flow disproportionately toward unconventional oil.”

In other words, there will be an increasingly entrenched institutional bias among energy firms, banks, lending agencies, and governments toward next-generation fossil-fuel production, only increasing the difficulty of establishing national and international curbs on carbon emissions. This is evident, for example, in the Obama administration’s undiminished support for deep-offshore drilling and shale gas development, despite its purported commitment to reduce carbon emissions. It is likewise evident in the growing international interest in the development of shale and heavy-oil reserves, even as fresh investment in green energy is being cut back.

As in the environmental and economic fields, the transition from conventional to unconventional oil and gas will have a substantial, if still largely undefined, impact on political and military affairs.

US and Canadian companies are playing a decisive role in the development of many of the vital new unconventional fossil-fuel technologies; in addition, some of the world’s largest unconventional oil and gas reserves are located in North America. The effect of this is to bolster US global power at the expense of rival energy producers like Russia and Venezuela, which face rising competition from North American companies, and energy-importing states like China and India, which lack the resources and technology to produce unconventional fuels.

At the same time, Washington appears more inclined to counter the rise of China by seeking to dominate the global sea lanes and bolster its military ties with regional allies like Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea. Many factors are contributing to this strategic shift, but from their statements it is clear enough that top American officials see it as stemming in significant part from America’s growing self-sufficiency in energy production and its early mastery of the latest production technologies.

“America’s new energy posture allows us to engage [the world] from a position of greater strength,” National Security Advisor Tom Donilon asserted in an April speech at Columbia University. “Increasing US energy supplies act as a cushion that helps reduce our vulnerability to global supply disruptions [and] affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our international security goals.”

For the time being, the US leaders can afford to boast of their “stronger hand” in world affairs, as no other country possesses the capabilities to exploit unconventional resources on such a large scale. By seeking to extract geopolitical benefits from a growing world reliance on such fuels, however, Washington inevitably invites countermoves of various sorts. Rival powers, fearful and resentful of its geopolitical assertiveness, will bolster their capacity to resist American power – a trend already evident in China’s accelerating naval and missile buildup.

At the same time, other states will seek to develop their own capacity to exploit unconventional resources in what might be considered a fossil-fuels version of an arms race. This will require considerable effort, but such resources are widely distributed across the planet and in time other major producers of unconventional fuels are bound to emerge, challenging America’s advantage in this realm (even as they increase the staying power and global destructiveness of the third age of carbon). Sooner or later, much of international relations will revolve around these issues.

Surviving the third carbon era

Barring unforeseen shifts in global policies and behavior, the world will become increasingly dependent on the exploitation of unconventional energy. This, in turn, means an increase in the buildup of greenhouse gases with little possibility of averting the onset of catastrophic climate effects. Yes, we will also witness progress in the development and installation of renewable forms of energy, but these will play a subordinate role to the development of unconventional oil and gas.

Life in the third carbon era will not be without its benefits. Those who rely on fossil fuels for transportation, heating, and the like can perhaps take comfort from the fact that oil and natural gas will not run out soon, as was predicted by many energy analysts in the early years of this century. Banks, the energy corporations, and other economic interests will undoubtedly amass staggering profits from the explosive expansion of the unconventional oil business and global increases in the consumption of these fuels. But most of us won’t be rewarded. Quite the opposite. Instead, we’ll experience the discomfort and suffering accompanying the heating of the planet, the scarcity of contested water supplies in many regions, and the evisceration of the natural landscape.

What can be done to cut short the third carbon era and avert the worst of these outcomes? Calling for greater investment in green energy is essential but insufficient at a moment when the powers that be are emphasizing the development of unconventional fuels. Campaigning for curbs on carbon emissions is necessary, but will undoubtedly prove problematic, given an increasingly deeply embedded institutional bias toward unconventional energy.

Needed, in addition to such efforts, is a drive to expose the distinctiveness and the dangers of unconventional energy and to demonize those who choose to invest in these fuels rather than their green alternatives. Some efforts of this sort are already underway, including student-initiated campaigns to persuade or compel college and university trustees to divest from any investments in fossil-fuel companies. These, however, still fall short of a systemic drive to identify and resist those responsible for our growing reliance on unconventional fuels.

For all President Obama’s talk of a green technology revolution, we remain deeply entrenched in a world dominated by fossil fuels, with the only true revolution now underway involving the shift from one class of such fuels to another. Without a doubt, this is a formula for global catastrophe. To survive this era, humanity must become much smarter about this new kind of energy and then take the steps necessary to compress the third carbon era and hasten in the Age of Renewables before we burn ourselves off this planet.

This piece, including a new Tom Engelhardt introduction, is reposted on UK’s OpenDemocracy.net from TomDispatch.com with the original site’s permission.

###