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Posted on on April 14th, 2018
by Pincas Jawetz (

This month, the Trump administration gave oil companies the chance to identify spots they’d like to drill in the Beaufort Sea – a region predominantly off-limits to development. This request is another massive step towards new oil and gas drilling in Arctic waters full of beluga and bowhead whales, Arctic seals and walrus.

The good news is, you can speak up too! Please oppose new lease sales in the Arctic Ocean today.

Risky Arctic Ocean drilling isn’t about needing new oil. It is about sacrificing our Arctic Ocean and damaging our climate to bolster a struggling administration shackled to its oil allies. We should not rush forward with new leasing when a single spill would devastate wildlife and local communities, and take us further down a path of climate disaster.

Please speak out against new drilling leases in the wildlife-rich Beaufort Sea.

No lease sales should take place in the Arctic Ocean. Time and time again, millions of people across the country have determined that it’s too risky and dirty to take any chances with these fragile waters.

Thank you,
Arctic Campaign Manager



Posted on on March 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

10th – 11th August 2017: North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management, Montreal, Canada

Climate change is known to impact coastal areas in a variety of ways. According to the 5th Assessment Report produced by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), coastal zones are highly vulnerable to climate change and climate-driven impacts may be further exacerbated by other human-induced pressures.

In North America, multiple pressures – including urbanization and coastal development, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks and natural hazards- affect the coastal ecosystems, hence exacerbating the impacts of climate change in coastal zones. In particular, sea level rise changes the shape of coastlines, contributes to coastal erosion and leads to flooding and salt-water intrusion in aquifers.

Climate change is also associated with other negative impacts to the natural environment and biodiversity, which include damages to important wetlands, and to the habitats that safeguard the overall ecological balance, and consequently the provision of ecosystem services and goods on which the livelihoods of millions of people depend. These impacts are particularly acute in North America, which endeavors to become more resilient to damages caused by hurricanes, floods and other extreme events.

The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change affects coastal areas and communities in North America, and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help the communities in coastal zones to adapt and become more resilient. There is also a perceived need to showcase successful examples of how to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by climate change in coastal regions in North America.

It is against this background that the North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management is being organized by the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) and the Université du Québec à Montréal. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities in North America.

The North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management will focus on “ensuring the resilience of coastal zones” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation in coastal zones and communities, which may be useful or implemented elsewhere.


Posted on on October 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (

Hilton St Petrsburg Bayfront

A Global Convergence of the Ocean Arts & Sciences

November 3 – 9, 2014 / St. Petersburg / Tampa Bay, Florida


Ocean all-stars to converge at 2014 BLUE Ocean Film Festival and Conservation Summit

Once a year, BLUE convenes a diverse ecosystem of ocean all-stars focused on the promotion of the ocean through film and media. Heads of state, celebrities, filmmakers, media scientists and global leaders have turned to BLUE as a platform for collaboration and progress, catalyzed by the dazzling, stunning and provocative films. From all walks of life, and from around the world, they arrive to be inspired by the content, get the scoop on new technology, hear about projects, share ideas and form partnerships that can change the tide.

“Our mission is to inspire people everywhere to connect with ocean conservation, and to serve as a catalyst for important discussions,” said BLUE Co-founder and CEO Debbie Kinder.

BLUE alternates between Tampa Bay and Monaco each year, attracting movie stars, explorers, governments, scientists, and filmmakers like no other ocean event to date. Among the film actors (subject to change) who plan to attend BLUE 2014 in person, or join Google Hangouts or participate by skype this year are Jeremy Irons, Richard Branson, Susan Sarandon and others – just the tip of the ice berg. It’s virtually a BLUE Who’s Who.

If you plan to attend BLUE, rooms are still available (for a limited time) at the BLUE Headquarters located at the Hilton Saint Petersburg Bayfront. Enjoy the surroundings as BLUE 2014 immerses in this vibrant ocean community of oceanographic institutions and museums located on one of the nation’s most strategic coastlines.

If you cannot attend the event, attend online – live broadcast, Google Hangouts and the EXPLOREBLUE2014 App will help you follow BLUE events throughout the week. Download the App for the latest schedule and update on speakers at BLUE.


BLUE – The Film Festival
Screenings of winning films and Q & A with film makers, ocean photography, marine technology and art exhibits.

The Industry Conference
Production and communication skills, underwater filmmaking technical expertise through hands-on master classes. The latest information on ocean issues and film projects, networking among commissioners and other media funding organizations.

The Conservation Summit
Lectures and panels impart the latest science, share insight, debate issues, and challenge audiences to be proactive. Some of the most dramatic and inspiring moments at BLUE.


Posted on on February 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Flag of Marshall Islands
Location of Marshall Islands
Click flag or map to enlarge Opens in New Window
Map of Marshall Islands
Map of Marshall Islands
Map of Pacific

After almost four decades under US administration as the easternmost part of the UN Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Marshall Islands attained independence in 1986 under a Compact of Free Association. Compensation claims continue as a result of US nuclear testing on some of the atolls between 1947 and 1962. The Marshall Islands hosts the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA)
Reagan Missile Test Site, a key installation in the US missile defense network.

constitutional government in free association with the US; the Compact of Free Association entered into force on 21 October 1986 and the Amended Compact entered into force in May 2004

name: Majuro
geographic coordinates: 7 06 N, 171 23 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

33 municipalities; Ailinginae, Ailinglaplap, Ailuk, Arno, Aur, Bikar, Bikini, Bokak, Ebon, Enewetak, Erikub, Jabat, Jaluit, Jemo, Kili, Kwajalein, Lae, Lib, Likiep, Majuro, Maloelap, Mejit, Mili, Namorik, Namu, Rongelap, Rongrik, Toke, Ujae, Ujelang, Utirik, Wotho, Wotje

21 October 1986 (from the US-administered UN trusteeship)

blue with two stripes radiating from the lower hoist-side corner – orange (top) and white; a white star with four large rays and 20 small rays appears on the hoist side above the two stripes; blue represents the Pacific Ocean, the orange stripe signifies the Ralik Chain or sunset and courage, while the white stripe signifies the Ratak Chain or sunrise and peace; the star symbolizes the cross of Christianity, each of the 24 rays designates one of the electoral districts in the country and the four larger rays highlight the principal cultural centers of Majuro, Jaluit, Wotje, and Ebeye; the rising diagonal band can also be interpreted as representing the equator, with the star showing the archipelago’s position just to the north


Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item,’Upcoming Event –
The United Nations Climate Negotiations: Perspectives From a Small Island
Nation’ – our update is after the event and before moving the outcome to the UN Security Council – Friday February 15, 2013.

On Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, the Center for Climate
Change Law will host a discussion with Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to
the President of the Marshall Islands and former Foreign Minister, and Dr.
Radley Horton, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, focused
on the UN Climate Negotiations from […]

Info: The United Nations Climate Negotiations: Perspectives From a Small Island Nation
Date/Time: February 13, 2013 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm EST
Location: Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall room 101, 435 West 116th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue)

You may view the latest post at


The February 13, 2013 event at the Columbia University School of Law – was in effect a dry-run of what will be presented to the UN Security Council on Friday Februaruy 15, 2013 in an Arias format meeting – that is in an information gathering session – a closed meeting of the UNSC that will dash out the issue of climate change endangering the security of the people of the Marshall Islands in particular and of all small island States of the Pacific. Further the problem of climate change caused flooding of coastal areas, tsunamis, and the probable wiping out of whole populations will be on the UN table.

An Araias is not a negotiation that expects an outcome – it is plain information gathering that can later lead to discussions that come before attempts at decision making.

The Ambassador Representing the Republic of the Marshall Islands at the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Amatlain Elizabeth Kabua, was present at the Columbia University’s Center for Climate Change Law event.

Professor Michael B. Gerrard, head of the Center, has already produced several volumes of study of the problems posed by a budding Climate Change impacts legal system dealing with “Threatened Island Nations” and “The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change – US and International Aspects” – both being titles of appropriate volumes.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Prof. Gerrard introduced the general problem of Climate Change, Judge Jack B. Weinstein, US District Court, Eastern District of New York, introduced  legal aspects,  Professor Radley Horton of the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University, spoke of the scientific aspects, with Tony deBrum of the Marshall Islands President’s office and former Foreign Minister describing the legal situation aspects of the Marshall islands and the impact the US had on those islands, and students and others fielding many questions.

Professor Horton showed a graph of sea level rise 1870-2006 by Church & White from UNEP (2006), and material from the US National Climate Assessment (2013) dealing with “Hawaii and Affiliated Lands.”

My eye caught here indication about VERTICAL LAND MOTIONS which a couple of years ago we attributed to the melting of the ice-cover of Antarctica and a release of pressure on the Antarctic plate that reaches to the “Ring of Fire” of volcanoes and earth-quakes on its border with other tectonic plates. We suggested the movement causes earth-quakes that cause the tsunamis that flood coastlines and islands – thus this whole set of events being Climate Change related. The issue explains thus enhanced flooding that impacts countries like Bangladesh. At the end of the meeting I had a chance to talk about this with Mr. deBrum of the Marshall Islands who will be the main presenter at the Arias meeting at the UN Security Council. We will revisit this later.

The case of the Marshall Islands is particularly bad and the responsibility of the United States is particularly great – this going back to the many nuclear experiments that for a couple of years were detonating powerful bombs in the Bikini and other island locations. The destruction of those islands started already at that time – now it is continued with the attacks of climate change greenhouse gas emissions.

As the Marshall Islands is a State with few inhabitants, the answer to move them somewhere else is not acceptable to the islanders. They prefer compensation and the condtruction of physical barriers. They also have suggestions for Renewable energy production using commercial OTEC technology (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion). The first 20 MW floating OTEC electric generation plant will be completed by 2017.

In my discussion with Mr. deBrum I suggested getting States like Bangladesh and other States of large population involved, as the Security Council has to hear about large number of people being affected in order to move them to action – and the mentioned Tsunami-effect ought to be pushed forward.   I mentioned to him the Washington military-people event when a Brigadier-General from Bangladesh asked – “when 10 million people moving to higher ground because of the floods, get to the Indian border, which way am I supposed to shoot,” that was a moment of truth that an Arias meeting at the UNSC can start worrying about.


Posted on on February 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


China, India and climate change.

Take the lead

Emerging markets are a big part of the problem; they are essential to any solution.

Feb 2nd 2013   THE ECONOMIST FRONT PAGE ARTICLE From the print edition

Some tricky turns up ahead

Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change. By Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian.
Centre for Global Development; 150 pages; $17.99

Buy from:

MOST books about the environment take the West as their starting point. This is understandable. For decades America was the world’s biggest polluter, contributing more to the problem than any other country, whereas Europe—at least in its politicians’ minds—has model environmental laws and holds plenty of righteous talks to negotiate new solutions.

But Europe and America are becoming supporting actors in the world’s climate-change drama. The lead players are China and India. China is the world’s largest emitter, contributing nearly a quarter of current global emissions. With India it accounted for 83% of the worldwide increase in carbon emissions in 2000-11. Though global warming began with industrialised countries it must end—if it is to end—through actions in developing ones. All the more reason to welcome “Greenprint”, the first book on climate change to concentrate on this growing part of the problem. Written by Aaditya Mattoo, an economist at the World Bank, and Arvind Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development, the book offers an unflinching look at what one might realistically expect emerging markets to do.

From an environmentalist’s point of view, India and China elicit despair. They are obsessed with growth. To fuel it, they are building ever more coal-fired power stations, a filthy form of energy. Their cities fume. Their rivers catch fire. There is not much anyone can do about it.

But an attractive quality of this book is that it goes beyond such fatalism. The West, the authors argue, has failed to mitigate global warming, so developing countries will have to take over. This is necessary, they say, because global warming will affect developing countries more than rich ones, partly because tropical and subtropical lands are more sensitive to warming than cold or temperate ones, and partly because rich people can afford better flood controls and drought-resistant seeds than poor ones.

One estimate by William Cline, an economist, found that a rise of 2.5% in global temperatures would cut agricultural productivity by 6% in America but by 38% in India. In light of their disproportionate vulnerability, emerging giants will have to push rich countries to make more environmental compromises. To make these demands credible, they themselves will have to make some changes too.

The trouble, as the authors admit, is that emissions cuts will also be costly for China and India. Messrs Mattoo and Subramanian estimate that if the two countries were to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020 (compared with doing nothing), their manufacturing output would fall by 6-7% and their manufactured exports by more than that. As still relatively poor countries, they are less able to bear the pain.

These challenges help to explain why it is so difficult for India and China to take the lead on climate change. After considering different ways to allocate emissions cuts among nations, the authors concede that the fairest approach would be to allow developing countries to consume as much energy as rich ones did during their own industrial revolutions. But if the aim is to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees, which most scientists think necessary, this would allow developing-country emissions to rise by 200% whereas rich-country emissions would have to fall by an amount that is politically inconceivable.

The authors supply more reasonable solutions. They reckon that China and others could and should invest more in new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, in order to boost improvements in clean energy. They also provide a detailed and convincing case for rich countries to put a price on carbon by introducing a modest border tax on imports from developing countries.

The book does not quite provide the promised “greenprint” for developing countries to reduce emissions. But that would be a tall order. As a first stab at analysing one of the world’s most intractable problems, it provides a wealth of analysis and fuel for thought.


Posted on on November 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The following article is written as if nothing was learned from the outcome of the June 2012 meeting in Rio de Janeiro and continues the old line of calls of transfer of funds without calling for joint projects that address increased efficiency in use of energy in order to decrease CO2 emissions.

The Huffington Post on-line today has also articles about New York City and New Jersey State following Hurricane Sandy’s visit, that should have brought home the issue of Climate Change. Those articles, and information about climate events in China, India, Brazil, Mexico, besides common information rolling out for years from Bangladesh and the Island-States, ought to be a joint inter-National starting point to the Doha deliberations.
If the subject does not start from a common basis for all of mankind – the old-rich and the new-rich as well – simply said – New York and New Jersey will just waste their resources in building separation walls from the rest of the world, and nobody will be better off by the end of this century. It is just a pipe-dream that an impoverished EU can carry the world on the shoulders of their fiscal managers.

2012 UN Climate Talks In Doha, Qatar, Face Multiple Challenges.

AP |  By Posted: 11/25/2012     Doha Climate Conference

In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2012 file photo, conference flags are displayed ahead of the Doha Climate Change Conference, in Doha, Qatar that starts 11/26/2012.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — As nearly 200 countries meet in oil-and-gas-rich Qatar for annual talks starting Monday, November 26, 2016, on slowing global warming, one of the main challenges will be raising climate aid for poor countries at a time when budgets are strained by financial turmoil.

Rich countries have delivered nearly $30 billion in grants and loans promised in 2009, but those commitments expire this year. And a Green Climate Fund designed to channel up to $100 billion annually to poor countries has yet to begin operating.

Borrowing a buzzword from the U.S. budget debate, Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam said developing countries, including island nations for whom rising sea levels pose a threat to their existence, stand before a “climate fiscal cliff.”

“So what we need for those countries in the next two weeks are firm commitments from rich countries to keep giving money to help them to adapt to climate change,” he told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Creating a structure for climate financing has so far been one of the few tangible outcomes of the two-decade-old U.N. climate talks, which have failed in their main purpose: reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases that scientists say are warming the planet, melting ice caps, glaciers and permafrost, shifting weather patterns and raising sea levels.

The only binding treaty to limit such emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, expires this year, so agreeing on an extension is seen as the most urgent task by environment ministers and climate officials meeting in the Qatari capital.

However, only the European Union and a few other countries are willing to join a second commitment period with new emissions targets. And the EU’s chief negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, admitted that such a small group is not going to make a big difference in the fight against climate change.

“I think we cover at most 14 percent of global emissions,” he said.

The U.S. rejected Kyoto because it didn’t cover rapidly growing economies such as China and India. Some hope for stronger commitments from U.S. delegates in Doha as work begins on drafting a new global treaty that would also apply to developing countries including China, the world’s top carbon emitter. That treaty is supposed to be adopted in 2015 and take effect five years later.

Climate financing is a side issue but a controversial one that often deepens the rich-poor divide that has hampered the U.N. climate talks since their launch in 1992. Critics of the U.N. process see the climate negotiations as a cover for attempts to redistribute wealth.

Runge-Metzger said the EU is prepared to continue supporting poorer nations in converting to cleaner energy sources and in adapting to a shifting climate, despite the debt crisis roiling Europe. But he couldn’t promise that the EU would present any new pledges in Doha and said developing countries must present detailed “bankable programs” before they can expect any money.

Sometimes, developing countries seem to be saying, “OK give us a blank check,” he told AP.

Climate aid activists bristled at that statement, saying many developing countries have already indicated what type of programs and projects need funding.

“They need the financial and technical support from the EU and others. Yet they continue to promise ‘jam tomorrow’ whilst millions suffer today,” said Meena Raman of the Third World Network, a nonprofit group.

Countries agreed in Copenhagen in 2009 to set up the Green Climate Fund with the aim of raising $100 billion annually by 2020. They also pledged to raise $30 billion in “fast-start” climate financing by 2012.

While that short-term goal has nearly been met by countries including the EU, Japan, Australia and the U.S., Oxfam estimates that only one-third of it was new money; the rest was previously pledged aid money repackaged as climate financing.

Oxfam also found that more than half of the financing was in the form of loans rather than grants, and that financing levels are set to fall in 2013 as rich countries rein in aid budgets amid debt problems and financial instability.

Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keeps going up. It has jumped 20 percent since 2000, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to a U.N. report released last week.

A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are on track to increase by up to 4 degrees C (7.2 F) this century, compared with pre-industrial times, overshooting the 2-degree target on which the U.N. talks are based.


NJ Rebuilding Efforts ‘Throwing Money Out To Sea’?

Will NYC Build A Barrier To Protect From Surges?


UN Climate Change Conference Opens In Doha, Qatar.

AP |  By Posted: 11/26/2012 2:37
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Anticipating an onslaught of criticism from poor nations, the United States claimed “enormous” strides in reducing greenhouse emissions at the opening of U.N. climate talks Monday, despite failing to join other industrialized nations in committing to binding cuts.

The pre-emptive U.S. approach underscores one of the major showdowns expected at the two-week conference as China pushes developed countries to take an even greater role in tackling global warming.

Speaking for a coalition of developing nations known as the G77, China’s delegate, Su Wei, said rich nations should become party to an extended Kyoto Protocol — an emissions deal for some industrialized countries that the Americans long ago rejected — or at least make “comparable mitigation commitments.”

The United States rejected Kyoto because it didn’t impose any binding commitments on major developing countries such as India and China, which is now the world’s No. 1 carbon emitter.

American delegate Jonathan Pershing offered no new sweeteners to the poor countries, only reiterating what the United States has done to tackle global warming: investing heavily in clean energy, doubling fuel efficiency standards and reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants. Pershing also said the United States would not increase its earlier commitment of cutting emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. It is half way to that target.

“I would suggest those who don’t follow what the U.S. is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it’s enormous,” Pershing said.

“It doesn’t mean enough is being done. It’s clear the global community, and that includes us, has to do more if we are going to succeed at avoiding the damages projected in a warming world,” Pershing added. “It is not to say we haven’t acted. We have and we have acted with enormous urgency and singular purpose.”

The battles between rich and poor nations have often undermined talks in the past decade and stymied efforts to reach a deal to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C (3.6 F), compared to pre-industrial times. Efforts taken in the absence of a deal to rein in emissions, reduce deforestation and promote clean technology are not getting the job done. A recent projection by the World Bank showed temperatures are expected to increase by up to 4 degrees C (7.2 F) by 2100.

Countries are hoping to build on the momentum of last year’s talks in Durban, South Africa, where nearly 200 nations agreed to restart stalled negotiations with a deadline of 2015 to adopt a new treaty and extend Kyoto between five and eight years. The problem is that only the European Union and a handful of other nations — which together account for less than 15 percent of global emissions — are willing to commit to that.

Delegates in the Qatari capital of Doha are also hoping to raise billions of dollars to help developing countries adapt to a shifting climate.

“We owe it to our people, the global citizenry. We owe it to our children to give them a safer future than what they are currently facing,” said South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who led last year’s talks in Durban.

Environmentalists fear holding the talks in Qatar — the world’s biggest per capita emitter — could slow progress. They argue that the Persian Gulf emirate has shown little interest in climate talks and has failed to reign in its lavish lifestyle and big-spending ways.

There was hope among activists that Qatar might use Monday’s opening speech to set the tone of the conference. But Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the president of the conference and a former Qatari oil minister, didn’t offer any voluntary emission targets or climate funding for poor nations.

“Some countries, especially the one where we are sitting, have the potential to decrease their carbon emissions. They have the highest per capita emissions, so they can do a lot,” said Wael Hmaidan, a Lebanese activist and director of the Climate Action Network.

“If nations that are poorer than Qatar, like India and Mexico, can make pledges to reduce their carbon emissions, then countries in the region, especially Qatar, should easily be able to do it. … They still haven’t proven they are serious about climate change.”

Al-Attiyah defended Qatar’s environmental record at a later news conference, insisting it was working to reduce emissions from gas flaring and its oil fields. Qatar is already doing plenty to help poor countries with financing, he said, adding that it was unfair to focus on per capita emissions.

“We should not concentrate on per capita. We should concentrate on the amount and quantity that each country produces individually,” al-Attiyah said. “The quantity is the biggest challenge, not per capita.”

The concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide has jumped 20 percent since 2000, according to a U.N. report released last week. The report also showed that there is a growing gap between what governments are doing to curb emissions and what needs to be done to protect the world from potentially dangerous levels of warming.

At the same time, many scientists say extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy’s onslaught on the U.S. East Coast, will become more frequent as the Earth warms, although it is impossible to attribute any individual event to climate change. The rash of violent weather in the U.S., including widespread droughts and a record number of wildfires this summer, has again put climate change on the radar.

“While none of these individual events are necessarily because of climate change, they are certainly consistent with what we anticipate will happen in a warming world,” Pershing said. “The combination of these events is certainly changing minds of Americans and making clear to people at home the consequences of increased growth in emissions.”

In Washington, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., urged the U.S. delegation at the talks to “heed the warnings from Sandy and other extreme weather supercharged by climate change.”

“If the United States does not aggressively pursue sharp reductions in carbon pollution following the droughts, storms and other extreme weather events we have endured, the rest of the world will doubt our sincerity to address climate change,” Markey said. “It’s time to attack the carbon problem head on, and adapt to a climate already changed for the worse.”

Many countries referenced Hurricane Sandy as a rallying cry for tough action to cap emissions, including a group of small island nations that said the monster storm may have jolted the world to recognize “that we are all in this together.”

“When the tragedies occur far away from the media spotlight, they are too often ignored or forgotten,” the island nations said in a statement.


Posted on on November 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The New York Times Op-Ed Contributor

We Need to Retreat From the Beach.

Henning Wagenbreth
By ORRIN H. PILKEY – From Durham, N.C. – Published in the New York Times : November 14, 2012

THE DEBATE – Should New York Build Sea Gates? How can we better protect New York City from flooding?

AS ocean waters warm, the Northeast is likely to face more Sandy-like storms. And as sea levels continue to rise, the surges of these future storms will be higher and even more deadly. We can’t stop these powerful storms. But we can reduce the deaths and damage they cause.

Hurricane Sandy’s immense power, which destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, actually pushed the footprints of the barrier islands along the South Shore of Long Island and the Jersey Shore landward as the storm carried precious beach sand out to deep waters or swept it across the islands. This process of barrier-island migration toward the mainland has gone on for 10,000 years.

Yet there is already a push to rebuild homes close to the beach and bring back the shorelines to where they were. The federal government encourages this: there will be billions available to replace roads, pipelines and other infrastructure and to clean up storm debris, provide security and emergency housing. Claims to the National Flood Insurance Program could reach $7 billion. And the Army Corps of Engineers will be ready to mobilize its sand-pumping dredges, dump trucks and bulldozers to rebuild beaches washed away time and again.

But this “let’s come back stronger and better” attitude, though empowering, is the wrong approach to the increasing hazard of living close to the rising sea. Disaster will strike again. We should not simply replace all lost property and infrastructure. Instead, we need to take account of rising sea levels, intensifying storms and continuing shoreline erosion.

I understand the temptation to rebuild. My parents’ retirement home, built at 13 feet above sea level, five blocks from the shoreline in Waveland, Miss., was flooded to the ceiling during Hurricane Camille in 1969. They rebuilt it, but the house was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (They had died by then.) Even so, rebuilding continued in Waveland.

A year after Katrina, one empty Waveland beachfront lot, on which successive houses had been wiped away by Hurricanes Camille and Katrina, was for sale for $800,000.

That is madness.

We should strongly discourage the reconstruction of destroyed or badly damaged beachfront homes in New Jersey and New York.

Some very valuable property will have to be abandoned to make the community less vulnerable to storm surges. This is tough medicine, to be sure, and taxpayers may be forced to compensate homeowners. But it should save taxpayers money in the long run by ending this cycle of repairing or rebuilding properties in the path of future storms. Surviving buildings and new construction should be elevated on pilings at least two feet above the 100-year flood level to allow future storm overwash to flow underneath. Some buildings should be moved back from the beach.

Respecting the power of these storms is not new. American Indians who occupied barrier islands during the warm months moved to the mainland during the winter storm season. In the early days of European settlement in North America, some communities restricted building to the bay sides of barrier islands to minimize damage.

In Colombia and Nigeria, where some people choose to live next to beaches to reduce exposure to malarial mosquitoes, houses are routinely built to be easily moved.

We should also understand that armoring the shoreline with sea walls will not be successful in holding back major storm surges. As experience in New Jersey and elsewhere has shown, sea walls eventually cause the loss of protective beaches. These beaches can be replaced, but only at enormous cost to taxpayers. The 21-mile stretch of beach between Sandy Hook and Barnegat Inlet in New Jersey was replenished between 1999 and 2001 at a cost of $273 million (in 2011 dollars). Future replenishment will depend on finding suitable sand on the continental shelf, where it is hard to find.

And as sea levels rise, replenishment will be required more often. In Wrightsville Beach, N.C., the beach already has been replenished more than 20 times since 1965, at a cost of nearly $543 million (in 2011 dollars). Taxpayers in at least three North Carolina communities — Carteret and Dare Counties and North Topsail Beach — have voted down tax increases to pay for these projects in the last dozen years. The attitude was: we shouldn’t have to pay for the beach. We weren’t the ones irresponsible enough to build next to an eroding shoreline.

This is not the time for a solution based purely on engineering. The Army Corps undoubtedly will be heavily involved. But as New Jersey and New York move forward, officials should seek advice from oceanographers, coastal geologists, coastal and construction engineers and others who understand the future of rising seas and their impact on barrier islands. We need more resilient development, to be sure. But we also need to begin to retreat from the ocean’s edge.

Orrin H. Pilkey is an emeritus professor of earth sciences at Duke University and a co-author of “The Rising Sea.”


Posted on on November 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (




Opinion in The New York Times

Deciding Where Future Disasters Will Strike.

Published: November 3, 2012

WE all have an intuitive sense of how water works: block it, and it flows elsewhere. When a storm surge hits a flood barrier, for instance, the water does not simply dissipate. It does the hydrological equivalent of a bounce, and it lands somewhere else.

Related in Opinion:

Op-Ed Contributor: Our Latest High-Water Mark (November 3, 2012)
Room for Debate: Should New York Build Sea Gates?
(November 1, 2012)

The Dutch, after years of beating back the oceans, have a way of deciding what is worth saving with a dike or sea wall, and what is not. They simply run the numbers, and if something is worth less in terms of pure euros and cents, it is more acceptable to let it be flooded. This seems entirely reasonable. But as New York begins considering coastal defenses, it should also consider the uncomfortable truth that Wall Street is worth vastly more, in dollar terms, than certain low-lying neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens — and that to save Manhattan, planners may decide to flood some other part of the city.

I think I was the only journalist who witnessed the March 2009 unveiling of some of the first proposed sea-wall designs. “Against the Deluge: Storm Surge Barriers to Protect New York City” was a conference held at N.Y.U.’s Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, and it had the sad air of what was then an entirely lost cause. There was a single paying exhibitor — “Please visit our exhibitor,” implored the organizers — whose invention, FloodBreak, was an ingenious, self-deploying floodgate big enough to protect a garage but not at all big enough to protect Manhattan. When we lined up for the included dinner, which consisted of cold spaghetti, the man waved fliers at the passing engineers. But as I look back over my notes, I can see how prescient the conference was. A phrase I frequently scrawled is “Breezy Point.”

One speaker got a sustained ovation. He was an engineer from the Dutch company Arcadis, whose $6.5 billion design is one with which I suspect we will all soon be familiar. It is a modular wall spanning 6,000 feet across the weakest point in New York’s natural defenses, the Narrows, which separates Staten Island and Brooklyn. Its main feature is a giant swinging gate modeled on the one that protects Rotterdam, Europe’s most important port. Consisting of two steel arms, each more than twice as long as the Statue of Liberty is tall, Rotterdam’s gate is among the largest moving structures on earth. And New York’s barrier would stretch across an even larger reach of water — “an extra landmark” for the city, he said triumphantly. That’s when everyone began clapping.

The engineers in the room did not shy away from the hard truth that areas outside a Narrows barrier could see an estimated two feet of extra flooding. If a wave rebounding off the new landmark hits a wave barreling toward it, it could make for a bigger wave of the sort that neighborhoods like Arrochar and Midland Beach on Staten Island and Bath Beach and Gravesend in Brooklyn may want to start fretting about.

I attended the conference not just because I was interested in the fate of New York, my onetime home, but because I was recently back from parts of Bangladesh decimated by a cyclone. By now it is commonplace to point out that climate change is unfair, that it tends to leave the big “emitter countries” in good shape — think Russia or Canada or, until recently, America — while preying on the low-emitting, the poor, the weak, the African, the tropical. But more grossly unfair is the notion that, in lieu of serious carbon cuts, we will all simply adapt to climate change. Manhattan can and increasingly will. Rotterdam can and has. Dhaka or Chittagong or Breezy Point patently cannot. If a system of sea walls is built around New York, its estimated $10 billion price tag would be five times what rich countries have given in aid to help poorer countries prepare for a warmer world.

Whether climate change caused Sandy’s destruction is a question for scientists — and in many ways it’s a stupid question, akin to asking whether gravity is the reason an old house collapsed when it did. The global temperature can rise another 10 degrees, and the answer will always be: sorta. By deciding to adapt to climate change — a decision that has already been partly made, because significant warming is already baked into the system — we have decided to embrace a world of walls.

Some people, inevitably richer people, will be on the right side of these walls. Other people will not be — and that we might find it increasingly convenient to lose all sight of them is the change I fear the most. This is not an argument against saving New York from the next hurricane. It is, however, an argument for a response to this one that is much broader than the Narrows.

McKenzie Funk is a journalist who is writing a book on the business of climate change.


Fractured Recovery Divides the Region.

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Katya Slepak carried donated supplies to her cousins’ home in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island. More Photos »

By , and
Published: November 3, 2012

The patchy recovery from Hurricane Sandy exposed a fractured region on Saturday. The lights flickered on in Manhattan neighborhoods that had been dark for days, and New York’s subways rumbled and screeched through East River tunnels again.

But in shorefront stretches of Staten Island and Queens that were all but demolished, and in broad sections of New Jersey and Long Island, gasoline was still almost impossible to come by, electricity was still lacking, temperatures were dropping and worried homeowners wondered when help would finally arrive.

Drivers in New Jersey faced 1970s-style gasoline rationing imposed by Gov. Chris Christie, while in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that the Defense Department would distribute free fuel from five mobile stations. But that effort backfired when too many people showed up.

It was a weekend of contrasts. Crowds streamed into city parks that reopened on a blindingly bright Saturday morning, while people who had been displaced by the storm said help was not coming fast enough and the desperation was growing.

David O’Connor, 44, had begun to use his living room chairs as firewood in Long Beach, N.Y., where the storm sent water surging down streets. A neighbor, Gina Braddish, a 27-year-old newlywed, was planning to siphon gas from a boat that washed into her front yard. Older people on darkened streets have been shouting for help from second-floor windows, at eye level with the buoys still trapped in trees.

“I’m looking around seeing people really down,” said Joann Bush, a social worker who lives in Coney Island. “They don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring.”

There were other contrasts: The grandstands were still in place for the New York City Marathon, even though Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had canceled the race on Friday for the first time in its 42-year history. But instead of promoting a race, Mr. Bloomberg visited the devastated neighborhoods in the Rockaway section of Queens, where he voiced concern about chilly temperatures and hypothermia. “It’s cold, and it really is critical that people stay warm, especially the elderly,” he said at a City Hall briefing, urging people to go to shelters if they did not have heat. He added, “We are committed to making sure that everybody can have a roof over their head and food in their stomachs and deal with the cold safely.”

In many places that the storm pounded in its relentless push into the Northeast, there was a profound sense of isolation, with whole towns on Long Island still cut off from basic information, supplies and electricity. People in washed-out neighborhoods said they felt increasingly desperate. “Everything involving our lives is a matter of exhaustion,” said Nancy Reardon, 45, who waited for gas for five hours on Saturday in Massapequa.

Vikki Quinn, standing amid ruined belongings in front of her flooded house in Long Beach, said she felt lost. “I just keep waiting for someone with a megaphone and a car to just tell us what to do,” she said.

Hank Arkin, 60, a photographer in Merrick, wondered how much of the damage could have been avoided. “I am screaming mad because this is an inhumane way to live in the highest property-taxed area of the entire state,” he said. “They had days of notice before the storm and nothing was done.”

Officials said they were trying to get help where it was needed. “One of the problems is that when you have lots of different agencies, it takes a while for them to get coordinated,” Mr. Bloomberg said at his briefing, adding that he understood how high the tensions were in the Rockaways. “Somebody this morning screamed at me that they could not get coffee,” he said. “Someone else screamed at me that there is nothing there, but one block away, there was a service.”

Hundreds of thousands of homes on Long Island were still without power Saturday, and frustration with the utilities, particularly Long Island Power Authority, continued to rise. “LIPA, get your act together,” Edward P. Mangano, the Nassau County executive, wrote on his Facebook page Saturday. “This response and lack of communication with customers is shameful.”

Mr. Bloomberg, too, attacked the power authority, which provides electricity to the Rockaways. “LIPA in our view has not acted aggressively enough,” the mayor said. He said the power authority had “no clear timetable” for restoring the power and that it had indicated that some homes and businesses might have to wait two weeks before the lights went back on.

“That is certainly not acceptable,” he said. “When it comes to prioritizing resources,” he said, the Rockaways “should be first in line” because the storm did so much damage there. But so far, he said, “that does not appear to be the case.” Mr. Cuomo also criticized the power authority on Saturday, as he has almost daily since the storm hit.

Mr. Cuomo said there were signs of progress. He said four subway lines that tie Manhattan to Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens — the Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 lines — returned to life completely on Saturday morning, with four others — the D, F, J and M lines — set to begin running between Manhattan and Brooklyn by nightfall. The Q train was also expected back by the end of the day on Saturday, and the Nos. 2 and 3 trains on Sunday. But the L line remained flooded on Saturday — “wall to wall, ceiling to ceiling,” the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Joseph J. Lhota, said.

Mr. Bloomberg said most public schools would reopen on Monday, only to close again on Tuesday for Election Day. He said some 65 schools would not open on Monday, some because they were being used as shelters, some because they had sustained damage in the storm. He said officials hoped that most of those schools could open Wednesday.

He said that building inspectors still had to check some 55,000 buildings in the low-lying areas that he ordered evacuated before the storm struck. He said that 8,500 buildings have been inspected and that more than 7,200 were “safe to inhabit.”

Utility crews from across the country struggled with a power network that had been battered. As they went from town to town and block to block, they trimmed trees and freed cables that had toppled in winds that approached 80 miles an hour.

Despite nonstop work, the numbers were daunting. In New Jersey, Public Service Electric and Gas still had more than 600,000 customers without power on Saturday. Hoboken remained the biggest challenge because of water damage, officials said.

Mr. Cuomo said that in New York, 60 percent of those who lost power in the storm had had it restored, but that 900,000 were still in the dark. On Long Island, where 1.2 million people lost power, about 550,000 had their power back by Saturday morning.

Mr. Cuomo also said 8 million gallons of gas had been unloaded from commercial tankers and an additional 28 million gallons would go to distribution terminals over the weekend.

In Midtown Manhattan, riggers went to work high above West 57th Street, near Carnegie Hall, where the storm broke the boom on a construction crane and left it dangling 74 stories up. They hand-cranked the boom closer to the partially completed building and planned to strap the boom to the structure. Once that was done, the surrounding streets, which had been closed since the boom snapped, could reopen — perhaps by Sunday, the mayor said.

Relief agencies poured into beleaguered neighborhoods, but so did hundreds of volunteers on their own. The narrow lanes of Midland Beach on Staten Island, which the storm slammed with particular fury, were busy. Groups of volunteers carrying brooms, rakes and shovels went from door to door, offering to pitch in with the cleanup. Others circled the blocks in pickup trucks full of food, blankets, clothes and cleaning supplies. Impromptu distribution centers piled high with food and secondhand clothes sprang up on every other corner.

“Anybody need anything?” a man shouted from a truck to a group cleaning out a house on Olympia Boulevard. A few minutes later, two women pulling rolling suitcases paused in front of the house and asked the same question. There appeared to be more volunteers offering help than residents in need.The storm’s toll in the city rose to 41, according to the police, when a 90-year-old man was found dead in his basement in Rockaway Park. He was identified as George Stathis. The police said his body was found when a cousin went to check on him.

Two patients remained in the evacuated Bellevue Hospital Center on the East Side of Manhattan on Saturday because they were too sick to be carried down the stairs, according to several people familiar with the situation. One of the patients was a 500- to 600-pound woman, and the other a man who was scheduled to have heart surgery powered by an emergency generator after the hospital lost power in the storm, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Bellevue employees had received an e-mail threatening them with dismissal if they spoke to reporters.

Ian Michaels, a spokesman for Bellevue, said power had been restored on Saturday. He said officials hoped to transfer out the last two patients as soon as the elevators were back in service.

The authorities estimated that as many as 100,000 homes and businesses on Long Island had been destroyed or badly damaged in the storm. Sand dunes were flattened and rows of beach houses crushed. The storm’s furious flood tide created new inlets that could become permanent parts of the topography.

Redrawing the maps will take time. The cleanup is immediate, and grim. In a grocery on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, men tried to slop out foul-smelling muck as thousands of dollars worth of food and produce lay rotting on the floor.

“Everything is damaged, everything is garbage,” said Boris Yakubov, who said he was the store owner’s brother. He was pushing a mop, trying to help clear out the mess.

Down the street, the pharmacy in the back of a store was open, but the customers had to wade through a tide of mud that remained in the front. Irina Vovnoby got her white tennis shoes dirty and wet dropping off a prescription for her mother-in-law.

“I never saw a situation like this,” she said. “This is a disaster.”

Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

Residents on Michigan Ave. in Long Beach banded together to keep a lookout for looters.  More Photos »


Posted on on October 31st, 2012
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October 31st, 2012

What Sandy says about government

By Edward Alden, CFR

Editor’s Note: Edward Alden is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This entry of Renewing America was originally published here. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, is famously believed to have said that he has no wish to eliminate government, but only to “shrink it to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” Americans up and down the east coast can be grateful in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that he has not yet succeeded, or they might well have drowned in their own homes.

For those who wonder just what it is our tax dollars pay for, consider just a small list of government actions before and during the storm that made it far less catastrophic than it might have been:

– The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for tracking the path of hurricanes and other storms, predicted days in advance – and with astonishing accuracy – both the path and strength of Hurricane Sandy. That gave governments throughout the region time to plan a response.

– New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of nearly 400,000 people from low-lying areas of the city, and set up emergency shelters. That order probably saved countless lives given the heavy flooding in Lower Manhattan that came at the peak of the storm.

– New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shut the city’s subway, rail, and commuter buses. The record storm surge led to severe flooding in seven subway stations, the worst in the system’s 100-year history. But no one was hurt in the empty stations.

– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered the evacuation of Atlantic City and shut the region’s casinos to keep people away from the dangerous coastline.

– In neighborhoods everywhere, like my own in Maryland, county and city governments provided constant updates on road conditions, dangerous wires, downed trees, and other hazards, and advertised available shelters for those who lost power or had storm damage to their homes.

– In the aftermath, the Obama administration quickly declared the hardest hit areas of New York and New Jersey to be disaster areas, freeing up millions of federal dollars for temporary housing and repairs to homes and businesses.

This list could be much longer, but each represents a success born of planning and coordinated action to improve outcomes for large numbers of people – exactly what governments can and should be doing.

More from CNN: Is Sandy a taste of things to come?

The contrast with the failed preparation and response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is striking. In the years prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Army Corps of Engineers had identified some $18 billion in projects necessary to shore up the levees in New Orleans against hurricanes and flooding. Instead, Army Corps funding in the state was cut in half in the four years before the 2005 hurricane, with predictable consequences. Both federal and state governments failed to preposition supplies as the storm barreled in, there was little pressure on local residents to evacuate, and emergency responders took days to get to the scene after the storm to rescue the tens of thousands stranded in the city.

The vastly improved response this time around shows that governments – like private businesses – can learn from past mistakes. Governor Christie of New Jersey praised the federal government’s response to Hurricane Sandy, calling it “outstanding.”

There are some basic lessons in all this. First, we should invest in government services because we want them to be there when we are in a time of need.  Whether it’s a natural disaster that affects millions or a company closure that leaves hundreds out of work, government has the resources to help people get back on their feet and start over. Second, governments – like businesses or individuals – can learn to do things better. The preparations for Hurricane Sandy would likely have been much poorer if not for the lessons from Katrina, from Irene, and from this past summer’s “derecho” storms in Washington. Third, the effort to pit state and local governments against the federal government is mistaken; when a genuine crisis hits, we need all three working effectively and in concert.

As with all such disasters, human memory is short. Most of us will quickly forget Hurricane Sandy, move on with our lives, and grumble about high taxes. But if we keep letting them do their jobs – rather than continuing to cut them down — our governments will be busy preparing for the next time we really need them.



Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; Sandy’s Strength Due to Climate Change?

Aired October 31, 2012 – 16:00:00 ET – On CNN program AMANPOUR.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, welcome to the program. I’m Christiane Amanpour.

The devastating superstorm Sandy has finally cleared the East Coast, but the crisis she left behind is spreading fast. Here in New York City another hospital is right now in the process of being evacuated. It’s Bellevue, the city’s main public hospital. It has no power and its generator isn’t working. Seven hundred patients, including a number in critical condition, are being moved to other hospitals.

This after another major hospital, NYU, also had to evacuate during the early hours of the storm. It had no working generator at all. The city that never sleeps is heavily stressed out. All day it’s been in the grip of an epic traffic snarl.

Approximately 5 million people ride the New York City subway every day, and with that system flooded and closed, most of the people are now driving or forming huge lines for buses and ferries. At least half of New York City has no power and many people won’t get that power back for days.

How bad is it?

The U.S. Navy is now moving three amphibious landing ships toward the coast of New York and New Jersey. The Navy says it’s in case local officials need more assistance.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport remains closed. JFK and Newark have reopened, but very few flights have taken off so far.

And across the river from New York, the National Guard has arrived to help in flooded Hoboken, New Jersey. Rescue efforts have been going on there since yesterday, but there are still people trapped in their homes. President Obama is in New Jersey today. He and the Republican governor of that state, Chris Christie boarded Marine One to tour the devastated areas.

Tonight, we’ll be exploring just how it got this bad. What officials knew or should have known. But first, a look at the other stories we’re covering.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): Get used to it. Sandy is the new normal.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Scientists warn denying climate change is hazardous to your health.

And underwater, the town that gave the world Frank Sinatra, the town that was the setting for Marlon Brando “On the Waterfront.”

“TERRY MALLOY”: I could have been a contender.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Today, Hoboken, New Jersey, fights for its life.



AMANPOUR: We’ll get to that in a bit. But first, for many years, scientists have been warning of just this sort of disaster.

Eliot Spitzer was governor of New York, and he knows as well as anyone the problems associated with taking all the necessary action to prevent this kind of thing.

So, first let me ask you, Governor, you obviously had been briefed; you were prepared in your time.

Did Sandy shape up as bad as you thought? Or was it about what you thought? Was it worse?

ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER NY GOVERNOR: Worse in terms of the aftereffects. I think during the storm itself, people kind of heaved a sigh of relief and said, oh, my goodness; it was not as devastating at the moment.

But then when we could step back and look at the scope of the harm, the magnitude of the damage to the infrastructure, and it has highlighted exactly what you just said, the preparations have not been made, were not made, were not properly — investments that should have been made years ago simply have not occurred.

AMANPOUR: Well, you were governor.

SPITZER: That’s right.

AMANPOUR: Why have these investments not been made? You were warned, presumably, along with all the governors.

SPITZER: Well, there are issues that have a timeframe of one year, five years and then 20 years. And when you are told sometime in the next hundred years we will get a storm of this magnitude, it doesn’t get you to the point of decision that needs to — where you need to get in terms of investing in the infrastructure to protect the subway, the hospitals, the energy system.

We have not had a mass transit investment system in nationally out of Washington for 20 years. And so at so many levels, our politics are failing us; global warming was not mentioned in the presidential debates. And so, at many levels, there’s a crisis. As a governor of a state, should we have done more? Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me get to that. Governor Cuomo, your successor, is being — having his daily briefings. And he has talked about an antiquated infrastructure, the never anticipated this kind of thing, and that needs to be rebuilt faster. But I’m going to play you something he said. And I was struck. And I’ll tell you what struck me. I’ll see if it struck you as well.


ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I’m hopeful that not only we’ll – – we rebuild this city and metropolitan area, but we use this as an opportunity to build it back smarter. There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. Anyone — that’s not a political statement; that is a factual statement. Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality.


AMANPOUR: So, Governor, even in the direst need of New York, the governor is feeling the heat. He feels defensive, even talking about these weather patterns, even talking about this climate shift and swing.


AMANPOUR: I mean, what does that say about the atmosphere here in the United States?

SPITZER: Well, look, let me state a few things that are also facts. There was, as I said, no question about global warming during the presidential debates. There are still people — and I don’t want to make this partisan, but still people in the Republican Party who deny the existence of climate change.

The president, several years ago, President Obama did make a — take a first step in the direction of either a carbon tax or some sort of emissions policy that would have been smart, and yet it went nowhere in Congress. When he went internationally, he could not get the coalition together. We have a long way to go.

Al Gore, whom I respect enormously, he is a colleague of mine now, but where I work, he has done more to galvanize public opinion about that, but still we have so far to go before we can get tax dollars invested in the sorts of measures to save us from these consequences.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, you are the politician. How do you galvanize people? Is it a storm like this? Or will people just forget about it, once the clearup has happened? I mean, it’s not just the carbon tax, which obviously is needed, but this big infrastructure, you know, big storm barrage gates.

SPITZER: Look, we have Mitt Romney. And, again, I don’t want to be partisan, even though it is just a week before the presidential race — Mitt Romney and the Republican Party denying the need for government to invest in infrastructure because government didn’t build that. They want to deny that government is a necessary partner.

Now a storm like this can have sort of — can provide a metastasizing effect in terms of public opinion. So people will say, yes, this is critically necessary. Whether it is the relatively small issue of the subway system — small in the context of global issues we need to think about — or issue of a carbon tax, which is a very conservative idea in terms of economics.

We need to go to both extremes. We need to reinforce our subway system and the hospitals and the energy system and do a global tax, a carbon tax of some sort.

AMANPOUR: You had the balance books in front of you as governor of the state. How painful would it be in terms of dollars and cents, in terms of years spent, in terms of political capital spent, to get this kind of infrastructure done?

SPITZER: Here’s the problem. When I was governor, the imperative — and perhaps rightly so — was our educational system. The educational system ate up every penny of spare cash we had, because we are languishing. Folks overseas should appreciate we in the United States feel that we are not educating our kids properly.

So every spare penny we had went into improving our educational system. If you say to parents, we want to increase your taxes and then use those dollars to deal with the one in 50 possibly of a storm as opposed to putting more teachers in the classrooms; you can see the political — now I’m not justifying it. I’m explaining the dynamic that makes it so hard.

AMANPOUR: Right. But you’re also a communicator and you know that it’s no longer just one in 50. These once-in-a-lifetime, one-in-a-hundred- years storms are coming up every couple of years.

SPITZER: That’s exactly right.

AMANPOUR: And not only that, physically, the water around New York is rising faster than it has ever done.

SPITZER: That’s right.

AMANPOUR: Is there a way of communicating that to people so that they understand it?

Can you survive another one of these?

SPITZER: Unfortunately, the best way to communicate it is this storm. In other words, when you speak of things in hypotheticals, people discount the reality. After this storm, perhaps public opinion will be galvanized. We can only hope so because, you’re right. We cannot survive a succession of these storms without saying to ourselves something (inaudible). (Inaudible) Katrina in New Orleans.

AMANPOUR: And Governor, I know you’ve not wanted to be partisan, but you have blamed the Republicans. But look, even under Democratic presidents, politically it has been very, very difficult to get a sort of tipping point momentum to concentrate people’s minds. And America is the biggest polluter in the world.

Other democracies are actually getting together with climate change and trying to figure out what to do. So again —


AMANPOUR: — (inaudible) take?

SPITZER: (Inaudible) in the first half of your comment, all I can say that you’re right. And you’re right. I want — I want to be able to point the finger at Republicans, but that’s not an answer. That is finger- pointing. The Democratic Party has been better.

I look at Ed Markey, who is a friend of mine, who has crafted the Waxman-Markey bill, very important. I look at President Obama who embraced the issue of global warming. But nobody has yet made it the imperative that it should be, other than Al Gore, back when he was —

AMANPOUR: Explain the Waxman-Markey bill.

SPITZER: It would set limits and it would create a marketplace so that you could sell or buy the right to pollute.

It is the notion of several years back, that at least if you impose a cost upon pollution, then people will either avoid it or somehow transfer the burden to consumers so they will consume fewer products that pollute. It’s sort of an old-fashioned economic concept. But it is not going to happen.

AMANPOUR: Now when you look around, I mean, New York is an international hub, not just for the financial trading, not just for tourism, but also the ports, the ports taking huge amounts of goods and materiel. These ports have been devastated, I mean, cars have been destroyed, 15,000 in one port in New Jersey alone.


AMANPOUR: Can these ports recover to be the economic hub that they need to be?

SPITZER: Look, without any question, the answer for that is yes. The resilience of a city, whether it’s New Orleans or New York in particular, look, we had 9/11, which we should not forget the devastation on 9/11, what was — it’s hard to sort of —

AMANPOUR: (Inaudible).

SPITZER: This is a broader geographic area. That one was emotionally worse, of course, in terms of lives lost. That one was much worse.

But we are resilient. We will bounce back. A month from now, people will say, oh, yes. They will begin to talk about this in the past tense. In most of the city, not in the particular communities that have been utterly destroyed and in New Jersey as well. And I feel for Chris Christie and the folks across the river.

But we will bounce back and I think we will — the question is, the one you’re posing: will we respond wisely and invest so that it does not happen again? And this is an issue for London, New York, San Francisco, any city that is proximate to water.

AMANPOUR: Do you think we will respond wisely?

SPITZER: All I can say is I hope so. And I hope, again — I don’t want to be partisan. I hope that whoever’s elected president — obviously, I’m for Barack Obama — uses this as a catalyst to say to Congress and to the public, this is something we must deal with, both in terms of investment and infrastructure and the megaissue of global warming.

AMANPOUR: Do you think it’ll make a difference if Obama is elected? And you’ve tried not to be partisan. But obviously, this election is coming up. Obama today is touring with one of the most well-known Republican governors and they’re being very nice to each other.


AMANPOUR: Is this a momentum generator for the president as he goes into the election? Or is this a momentum, you know, stopper for Mitt Romney? How does this play?

SPITZER: It’s more the latter. I think the past several weeks, the politics of this has been that Mitt Romney, for reasons that are hard to get my arms around, has been on a roll since the first debate, which he clearly won. He has captured the public’s imagination and bizarrely has been the positive, affirmative voice of change and hope. How bizarre and quixotic is that?

And Barack Obama has been playing defense. This storm, I think, stopped that and got people to focus, again, the meme in the Republican Party at their convention was mocking the notion that government had built anything that mattered. I think now the public appreciates government matters.

When you see the folks showing up to rescue the elderly, when you see the policemen going down to save people at the subway system, government matters. So I think that helps Barack Obama.

But he needs to build on that in a second term. I still think he’ll win. I still think Ohio is his firewall. He will win, but he needs to use this to say to the Republican leadership, to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, guys, we must find a common ground.

AMANPOUR: He tried that the first time around. It didn’t work, not just because of the Republicans, but his techniques as well weren’t thoroughly successful.

SPITZER: I would go beyond that.


SPITZER: He caved on too many issues, but that’s OK. One learns as one goes forward.

AMANPOUR: All right. Will it be different in a second term?

SPITZER: Yes. He will be freed of some of the constraints. He won’t worry about reelection. He will be — he’s galvanized the public that is his base. He is firmer in his beliefs. I think November 7, when he wakes up a reelected president, he says, I’ve got four years now to stand up for the principles I believe in. And I think he will be a fundamentally stronger.

AMANPOUR: And do you believe — because he did try it in his first term, and he regretted not going for it, that he will do climate change in his second term?

SPITZER: I do indeed. I think he wants to be the historic president. He’s done health care. He will bring us back economically. There’s a slow, painful grind, but I think he sees climate change as something he can do.

AMANPOUR: Well, I think all our lives depend on it. And our children’s and our grandchildren’s.

SPITZER: I agree.

AMANPOUR: Governor, thank you very much for being with us.

SPITZER: Thank you for inviting me.

AMANPOUR: And despite Sandy, as we’ve been saying, there are people out there who still deny climate change. We’ve just been discussing it. And when we come back, we’ll meet a scientist who said those skeptics are literally whistling past the graveyard — their own.

But before we go to a break, another glimpse of this superstorm. Take a look at this view from Brooklyn looking towards Manhattan as the lights went out. We’ll be right back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Superstorm Sandy is just a taste of things to come, both here in the United States and around the world. That is according to my next guest, climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer. He’s been studying climate change for three decades, and is currently a geoscientist professor at Princeton University.

Welcome, thank you.


AMANPOUR: Also one of the authors of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

OPPENHEIMER: Right. That’s the U.N. agency that puts out assessments of this problem periodically.

AMANPOUR: So are you stunned by what happened? Did you, in your wildest dreams, believe that this is — this would be the result?

OPPENHEIMER: Well, sort of professionally, I knew it could happen. But until it happens to you, and hits you on the head, you don’t really fully appreciate what it’s like to be in a situation like this. I live in the area of Manhattan that’s blocked out, that’s blacked out.

I went down to the coast before the storm peaked to watch the seas rising. And even though we’ve predicted stuff like this in the past, it was a shock to me to see it.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it is a little third world, if you don’t mind me saying that, about this great city, it’s half in the dark, hundreds of thousands of people don’t have power. Did you expect that to happen?

OPPENHEIMER: Before the storm hit in its full fury, my wife asked me if we needed to worry about the electricity going out. I said, nah, you know, we don’t live in the flood zone. We’re a little higher than that. It’s not going to affect us.

Little did I realize that the utility had so many transformers and some of their substations right in the area that could be flooded. Why it’s like that, I’m not sure; possibly because the system was designed 100 years ago. That was before sea level rose by a foot, which now threatens a lot more of the city. And that’s the heart of the problem.

AMANPOUR: Well, let’s talk about this. You heard my conversation with the former governor, Eliot Spitzer, talking about what needs to be done and this sort of antiquated system, and the political will needing to be corralled to fix it and to move forward. You, though, and your fellow scientists, have been briefing and warning all sorts of officials.

OPPENHEIMER: That’s right.

AMANPOUR: What do you tell them? And then what do they tell you?

OPPENHEIMER: Well, the officials, particularly in this city, know. They’ve been hearing it for at least 20 years. We had one of these hundred-year storms in 1992, and since then, they’ve know the subway system could flood. They’ve known the power could go out.

And they — and actually laid plans for the future, which are sensitive to global warming and the threat, but they don’t have the political will to actually start moving very fast and putting anything into effect.

So they raised some of the subway station and (inaudible). But in order to make them less difficult, more difficult to flood, they made a few changes here and there, but really grappling with it, they haven’t done. But you know, in this city, we have, in the past, built infrastructure with the future in mind.

We have a glorious water supply system, which we built over the course of 150 years. People thought ahead. We can still do it.

AMANPOUR: So what does need to happen? What are the big things, big ticket items that are vital?

OPPENHEIMER: We need to make it more difficult for people to situate infrastructure right on the coast. Actually, we shouldn’t allow it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

AMANPOUR: So ban it, bring everything in from the coast?

OPPENHEIMER: (Inaudible) all new buildings should be in.

Second of all, we need to take the easy steps to prevent things like subways from getting flooded. We need to raise the entrances. We need to protect roadways and change the gratings so water doesn’t automatically go down to a low point. We need to raise the highways that are right along the coastline.

And then we need to consider the more long-term and more difficult, more expensive measures, like the possibility of doing what London did, which is build a storm barrier, which is lowered when there’s a big storm coming up and protects London from a Thames tidal surge. We got to start thinking for the long term.

AMANPOUR: How much would that cost, do you think, and how long would that take?

OPPENHEIMER: It would costs tens of billions of dollars. It would take decades to complete. But if you don’t start now, as the world warms and these storms become more frequent, we’re going to be caught out again.

So if we want to avoid having this, more of these devastating surges and having nothing to do to deal with them except run for our lives, we have to start thinking, planning and even spending right now.

AMANPOUR: Well, look at this, in our desk; we have this Arctic ice mass. This is 1980, big. It’s there still.


AMANPOUR: And now the latest picture shows, look, 2012. I mean, half if not more is gone.

OPPENHEIMER: The Arctic ice pack is very vulnerable to warming because the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the average of the planet. So this has gradually been shrinking for the last 30 years. And now it looks like Arctic ice in summer. It’ll always be there in winter, but in summer, it’s probably going to disappear during this century.

AMANPOUR: During the century?

OPPENHEIMER: During the century, maybe even during the first half of this century.

AMANPOUR: Well, so let me ask you, New York City has 520 miles of coastline. And from what I read, the sea level is rising exponentially faster.

OPPENHEIMER: Right. It’s not the Arctic ice as a whole that affects sea level, it’s just the Greenland ice sheet, this part over here. Land- based ice, as it melts, goes into the sea; it causes sea level to rise. If that happens, if this whole ice sheet goes — which we project would happen if warming exceeded a few degrees — then sea level would rise globally by about 23 feet.

This is — there’s also another chunk in Antarctica, which could contribute about 17 feet. That’s 40 feet of sea level rise. The only way New York City or many other coastal cities survive in a sea level 40 feet higher globally is if they built sea walls. That might have to happen. But this doesn’t have to necessarily occur.

We can still slow the warming and eventually stop it if we start reducing emissions today. We can prevent such catastrophes.

AMANPOUR: But we’re behind the curve.

OPPENHEIMER: We’re behind the curve. Other countries, particularly some countries in northern Europe are moving quicker than the U.S. is. But the U.S. has gradually, even quietly, starting introducing measures to cut emissions by introducing more fuel, cars with higher fuel economy and reducing, mandating reductions in emissions of the greenhouses gases from its power plants.

We need a new future, which is not based on coal and oil, but which is based on renewable energy. We have a potential bridge to that future from natural gas, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions in the short term.

AMANPOUR: I want to see if we can get that picture. It’s an animation that was actually in Al Gore’s film, in “An Inconvenient Truth,” about the worst-case scenario, Lower Manhattan being flooded.

Is that science fiction? I mean, we’ve seen the floods.


AMANPOUR: But is it science fiction to think that it will disappear? And try to tell me, try to sort of compare it to what happened in Bangladesh.

OPPENHEIMER: OK. Well, Bangladesh is kind of a worst case, because the highest point in Bangladesh at all, I think, is something like 60 feet. And most of the country is very close to sea level; storms come up there; they submerge a third of the country.

It used to be that a million people would die in a cyclone. That doesn’t happen anymore, by the way, because they’ve gotten very good at the sort of inexpensive near-term measures that we should be paying attention to.

Here in Bangladesh, they built concrete — they built concrete bunkers and they have a good early warning system. So now when a cyclone comes by that would have killed a million people, instead, it’s still terrible; a few thousands. But it’s a hundredth as many people. We can do that kind of thing here, too, and we’re not.

AMANPOUR: And does it trouble you that even the forecasting is behind the curve? I mean, they’re saying that this European model, for instance, is way more accurate than the newest forecasting. Is that true?

OPPENHEIMER: Let’s be careful. The forecasters did an amazing job on this storm. This storm followed a weird an unusual S-curve trajectory instead of the usual, from your side, coming near the coast and going out that way, it went like this. That’s very hard to predict. And the fact that the models got it almost perfectly right within a few days shows us what our science can do when we have a chance.

The problem now is that our satellites, our satellite system hasn’t been well maintained. So the models don’t have the data being input into them that they should. And we’re going to have a gap of a few years.

So the first thing that government needs to do is pay for the science, because the science (inaudible) dividends, start reducing emissions, start preparing plans to save people from these kind of disasters that are going to happen, to some extent, in any event.

AMANPOUR: Professor Oppenheimer, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

OPPENHEIMER: A pleasure to be here.

AMANPOUR: And we’ll be right back after a break.



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, as we mentioned, directly across the river from New York City, just a short drive through the Lincoln Tunnel, Hoboken, New Jersey, is struggling to keep its head above water — literally. The National Guard has been called in to rescue thousands of residents trapped in their homes by rising waters for the past few days.

But half a century ago, this riverfront town helped shape American popular country — culture, rather. Imagine a world without Frank Sinatra.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): The iconic crooner was born in Hoboken in 1915. He dropped out of the local high school and he started singing with a group called The Hoboken Four. The rest, as we know, is history.


AMANPOUR: And now imagine that same world without Marlon Brando or his memorable performance in “On the Waterfront.” The movie was shot on the docks of Hoboken back in the 1950s.

That’s it. Thank you for joining us. Goodbye from New York.


Posted on on April 2nd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

EU Fails To Resolve Dispute Over UN Climate Fund Seats.

Date: 02-Apr-12
Author: Nina Chestney and Charlie Dunmore from Reuters.

European Union ambassadors failed to resolve a dispute over the allocation of seats on the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF) board on Friday, possibly undermining the bloc’s credibility in international climate talks.

The EU envoys were meeting for the second time in a week to decide which European nations will be represented on the governing board. This has 12 seats for developing countries and another 12 for developed countries.

“Despite willingness to compromise and adequately share board seats, it has, unfortunately, not been possible to come to an agreement within the EU,” the EU’s Danish presidency said in a statement.

As a result, the EU will miss a March 31 deadline for making a joint proposal on board membership, and EU governments and the bloc’s executive will now have to negotiate directly with other developed countries over who gets the seats.

“For this reason, respective nominations from the group of developed country parties will be withheld until these discussions have taken place,” delaying the entire process, the Danish presidency said.

U.N. climate talks in Durban last year agreed on the design of the fund, which is aimed at channelling up to $100 billion a year to help developing countries adapt to climate change.

Disputes of this kind could both slow the process towards the launch of the fund in 2013 and give other countries the impression that the EU is stalling on climate finance. “It shows that the EU unity we had in Durban has been eroded and that could damage Europe’s image in global climate change talks,” Danish presidency spokesman Jakob Alvi said.

The fund’s first board meeting is due on April 25 to 27, a U.N. spokesman said, subject to confirmation next week.

Despite the EU’s failure to reach an agreement, it should not affect the number of seats it will be allocated on the GCF board, he added.


Thirteen of the 27 EU countries had requested a board seat, to ensure they had a say in funding decisions.

A draft EU document, seen by Reuters this week, shows that EU member states and Switzerland might together be able to obtain seven full seats plus associated alternating seats between them. Denmark had proposed that Britain, Germany and France, as the likely biggest financial contributors, should hold a full seat each and share three further alternating seats with another EU country.

But an EU source involved in the discussions said Germany – backed by France – refused to share its seat with any other EU country and insisted on a permanent position on the board, ending any chance of an EU compromise.

Poland also insisted on having a full seat, and told the meeting that in the absence of a joint proposal it would put itself forward to the U.N. in a separate bid outside the EU, sources said under condition of anonymity.

Poland, which relies heavily on coal production for its energy needs, says its economy would develop much more quickly if it wasn’t for the EU’s climate policy, which aims to make coal power generation more expensive.

“(The Commission) has tried to rob us so many times before. This time around we want to wear a second jacket – just in case – and let nothing we are eligible for miss us,” a Polish government source told Reuters.


Posted on on February 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Eric Duchemin  –

Dear colleagues,

I am please to announce the publication of a new paper in [VertigO] on adaptation to climate

Migration and cliamte change in South America : issues
Kaenzig Raoul et Piguet Étienne

This literature overview aims to review the relationship between climate change and migration with a special focus on the Latin American continent. After a brief history of the debate raised by the relationship between the environment and migration, we identify the main environmental consequences of climate change. Aspects related to hurricanes, floods, droughts, sea level rise and melting glaciers are most specifically studied. The paper then uses historical analogies : a synthesis of the past migratory consequences of these environmental degradations allows underlining the main migratory issues related to climate change. (paper in French).


Eric Duchemin

Editor in chief,
[VertigO] – la revue électronique en sciences de l’environnement
Adjunct professor, Environmental Sciences Institute, University of Québec at Montréal


Posted on on January 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Working Paper on “Atoll Island States and Climate Change: Sovereignty Implications.”

Miguel Esteban ,
January 13 , 2012.

Dear Climate Change Readers,

The United Nations Institute of Advanced Studies has just released a new Working Paper titled “Atoll Island States and Climate Change:
Sovereignty Implications”, available for download at:

The paper  examines some of the possible legal effects of the re-location of the

citizens of low-lying Atoll Island States.
It will discuss the issue of sovereignty, which would determine the
ability of the people of the islands to keep long-term control over their current natural
resources. Key to this would be the status of a submerged  Atoll Island State, and if
sovereignty could be preserved through civil engineering defence works.

The possibility of having a government-in-exile is also discussed, which would centre
upon the idea that these islands could re-emerge one day in the distant future, where the
descendants of the current inhabitants could re-claim these lands. The scientific basis for this
will also be discussed, highlighting the complex physical and socio-political problems and
uncertainty associated to the status of these countries.
Miguel Esteban
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
Tel: 00-81-(0)3-5286-2358


Posted on on January 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Russian tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to remote Alaska.

The New York Times
January 10, 2012
The New York Times

The Renda and the Healy are about 140 miles south of Nome.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally/U.S. Coast Guard, via Associated Press

The Healy, left, a Coast Guard icebreaker, carves a path in the frozen Bering Sea for the Renda, a Russian tanker carrying 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel for Alaska. Shipping delays and a major storm prevented Nome’s winter supply of fuel from arriving in early fall.

A New Race of Mercy to Nome, This Time Without Sled Dogs.

By Published via New York Times on-line January 9, 2012.

NOME, Alaska — In the winter of 1925, long after this Gold Rush boomtown on the Bering Sea had gone bust, diphtheria swept through its population of 1,400. Medicine ran dangerously low, and there was no easy way to get more. No roads led here, flight was ruled out and Norton Sound was frozen solid.

Parents still read books to their children about what happened next: Balto, Togo, Fritz and dozens more sled dogs sprinted through subzero temperatures across 674 miles of sea ice and tundra in what became known as the Great Race of Mercy. The medicine made it, Nome was saved and the Siberian huskies became American heroes.

Eighty-seven years later, Nome is again locked in a dark and frigid winter — a record cold spell has pushed temperatures to minus 40 degrees, cracked hotel pipes and even reduced turnout at the Mighty Musk Oxen’s pickup hockey games. And now another historic rescue effort is under way across the frozen sea.

Yet while the dogs needed only five and a half days, Renda the Russian tanker has been en route for nearly a month — and it is unclear whether she will ever arrive. The tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring not medicine but another commodity increasingly precious in remote parts of Alaska: fuel, 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to heat snow-cloaked homes and power the growing number of trucks, sport utility vehicles and snow machines that have long since replaced dogsleds.

For the moment, this latest tale appears less likely to produce a warm children’s book than an embarrassing memo, and maybe a few lawsuits, about how it all could have been avoided.

“People need to get fired over this,” said David Tunley, one of the few Musk Oxen at the outdoor rink on an evening when the temperature was minus 23. “The litigation of whose fault it is will probably go on forever.”

How Nome ended up short on fuel this winter is a complicated issue unto itself, but trying to get the Renda here to help has become a sub-Arctic odyssey — and perhaps a clunky practice run for a future in which climate change and commercial interests make shipping through Arctic routes more common.

“There is a lot of good knowledge that is coming out of this,” said Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, the officer in charge of the Coast Guard in Alaska.

The learning curve has been steep. Since leaving Vladivostok, Russia, on Dec. 17, the 370-foot Renda has encountered a fuel mix-up in South Korea and storms that prevented it from going to Japan; it has received a waiver of the Jones Act in the United States (to allow the foreign vessel to finally pick up gasoline in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, before transporting it to Nome) and broad support for its mission from Alaska’s Congressional delegation; it has been joined by the Coast Guard’s only operative icebreaker built for the Arctic, the Healy. It has had to alter its route to avoid the world’s most substantial population of a federally protected sea duck called the spectacled eider.

As of Monday, the Renda and the Healy were about 140 miles south of Nome, having made little progress from the night before. Wind, current and the brutal cold are causing complications with breaking what is known as first-year ice — the kind that forms each winter and melts in the summer as opposed to lasting year-round. As soon as the Healy breaks open a channel, ice closes in behind it, squeezing the Renda.

The Coast Guard has been among the most vocal government agencies in asking for more money and better equipment to deal with increased commercial activity in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Admiral Ostebo said the Healy, a medium-duty icebreaker, was fully capable of making the trip to Nome but that using a heavy-duty polar icebreaker — the Coast Guard owns two: one is retired, the other under repair until at least 2014 — might have made a difference.

He said the Coast Guard had thought that having the Healy lead the Renda would have been easier, “but it turns out that the pressure that ice is under quite frankly makes it hard to move through for the Renda.” He said these were “conditions I think we’re going to see a lot in the future.”

If the Renda reaches Nome, it would be making the first maritime fuel delivery through sea ice in Alaska history. The effort comes as many interested parties are anticipating business that could develop as Shell plans to conduct new exploratory offshore oil drilling just north of here as early as this summer.

“These are not cowboys out here trying to do crazy things,” said Mark Smith, the chief executive of Vitus Marine, the Alaska company that proposed using the Renda to representatives for Nome. “All of the stakeholders involved in this mission look at it as a learning experience as they consider further development.”

Nome usually receives its winter supply of fuel in early fall, before ice hardens over the Bering. But last fall, multiple shipping delays and then a major storm prevented the fall shipment from arriving. Many people here blame Bonanza Fuel, one of two local companies that barge in fuel and the one that failed to ensure its fall delivery made it. But the fuel company’s owner blamed the barge company for delaying shipments.

“Certainly we’ll evaluate how this situation came together,” said Jason Evans, the chairman of the Sitnasuak Native Corporation, which owns Bonanza, “so that we’re not put in this situation and the community of Nome’s not put in this situation again.”

Officials say Nome could run out of heating oil by March. A normal fuel barge cannot make the trip until ice melts in June or July.

Dogs still pull sleds to Nome, in the annual Iditarod race each March, but there are still no roads here from outside. There are, however, more modern means of transportation. Mr. Evans said Nome could resort to flying in fuel through hundreds of small shipments but that shipping costs alone would be more than $3 per gallon. Fuel here already approaches $6. Conservation can only go so far.

“You have to heat your home when it’s 36 below,” he said.

The effort has prompted observers far and wide to comment on what it all means as the United States tries to figure out how to navigate the increasingly important Arctic. One question not to ask here: Regardless of how it came to this, is tiny Nome worth all the effort?

“Why should we be treated any differently than the Lower 48?” said Mayor Denise L. Michels, noting that the Coast Guard also escorts commercial shipments through ice and difficult conditions in the Great Lakes and off the East Coast. “We keep saying that we are an Arctic nation.”

A version of this article appeared in print on January 10, 2012, on page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Race of Mercy To Icy Nome, But This Time No Sled Dogs.


Posted on on January 3rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) |
A FIELD roundtable discussion on “A new governance body for the oceans? Focus on MPAs”  will be held at FIELD’s offices in London on 12 January 2012 (2.30pm – 5pm).

The FIELD roundtable “A new governance body for the oceans? Focus on MPAs” follows from a previous roundtable on “new rules for the oceans” held in July 2011 where the subject was the recent work of the UN Working Group on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

This second roundtable will be an opportunity to continue discussions on UN developments, with a particular focus on the potential for a new global governing body dealing with marine protected areas in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This includes the role that a new global body may play in relation to the identification, designation and management of marine protected areas. These issues will be very relevant to continued discussions of the Working Group.

The event will be informal and it will be held under the Chatham House Rule of non-attribution. A more detailed agenda will follow nearer the time.

Please let or Steve Cole ( know if you can make it.

Best wishes,

Joy Hyvarinen
Executive Director

Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) |

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7842 8522| Suite D, 1st Floor | The Merchant Centre | 1 New Street Square | London, EC4A 3BF | United Kingdom


Posted on on September 24th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

“First, the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security to analyze the projected security impacts of climate change so that the Council and Member States can better understand what lies ahead.

“Second, the Secretary-General should assess the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to the likely security impacts of climate change, so that vulnerable countries can be assured that it is up to the task. These two proposals are the absolute minimum necessary to prepare for the greatest threat to international security of our generation.”



The leaders of three Pacific Island countries called on the United Nations today to take a series of measures to help them and other small island nations combat the effects of climate change.

“Climate change threatens to undo all of our recent development gains if the major biggest polluters continue down the path of business as usual,” Nauru’s President Marcus Stephen told the General Assembly annual general debate.

He stressed that it is essential that the international community recognizes climate change as a peace and security issue, not just an environmental one, and called for further measures to ensure the issue was addressed by the Security Council.

“First, the Secretary-General should appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security to analyze the projected security impacts of climate change so that the Council and Member States can better understand what lies ahead.

“Second, the Secretary-General should assess the capacity of the United Nations system to respond to the likely security impacts of climate change, so that vulnerable countries can be assured that it is up to the task. These two proposals are the absolute minimum necessary to prepare for the greatest threat to international security of our generation.”

Mr. Stephen also urged Member States to honour their commitments made in existing environmental accords such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Cancún Agreements so that further progress can be made on sustainable development goals.

Micronesian President Emanuel Mori echoed Mr. Stephen’s remarks by saying that a special category for Small Island Developing Countries (SIDS) is imperative if the UN is to improve the lives of people who live in these states.

He also remarked that climate change as a security threat is not new, but should be taken even more seriously now by Member States.

“We cannot help but notice the persistent failure and reluctance by some countries to address the security aspect of climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

“We believe that those who opposed the debate in the Council and those who doubted the security implications of climate change simply ignored the obvious,” he said.

President of Kiribati Anote Tong noted that climate change is a threat that his country faces every day and this will be true for other countries in the future.

“In Kiribati, many young people go to sleep each night fearing what will happen to their homes overnight especially during the high tides,” he said.

“Accelerated and continued erosion of our shorelines is destroying settlements and as I speak some communities are relocating elsewhere on the island. I was glad that the Secretary-General was able to understand and feel for himself the sense of threat which our people and those of similarly vulnerable countries experience on a daily basis,” he said, referring to the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Kiribati earlier this month, which marked the first time ever that a Secretary-General visited the country.

* * *


Suriname has urged the international community to move quickly to create the United Nations-backed climate change adaptation fund to support vulnerable developing countries that risk losing their peoples’ livelihoods to the effects of climate change.

“Our understanding of the climate change suggests that our planet will undergo considerable changes over the next 50 years, impacting all areas of society,” President Desiré Delano Bouterse told the General Assembly.

“For Suriname and its low-lying coastline, this means a vulnerable exposure to a rising sea level, risking inundation of our fertile soil and fresh water reservoirs.” An estimated 80 per cent of the South American country’s population lives in coastal areas.

The climate change adaptation fund was established by the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries.

Mr. Bouterse also stressed that the upcoming Conference of Parties to UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, must reach concrete agreement on limiting emissions of the harmful greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

“We owe this to our present and future generations. We call upon parties concerned to reach agreement,” he said.

* * *


Posted on on July 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010…
Climate report shows Earth has heated up over 50 years.

Which in the printed Wall Street version was rechristened – “CLIMATE STUDY CITES 2000 as WARMEST DECADE.” This appropriate to the US inward look of New York, while the above title is clear better positioned for the world at large –


A new assessment concludes that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and the past decade was the warmest on record.

The State of the Climate 2009 report, published Wednesday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 300 scientists from 48 countries and drew on measures of 10 crucial climate indicators.

Seven of the indicators were rising, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. Three indicators were declining, including Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Each indicator is changing as we’d expect in a warming world,” said Peter Thorne, senior researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, a research consortium based in College Park, Md., who was involved in compiling the report.

The report’s conclusions broadly match those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, which published its last set of findings in 2007. The IPCC report contained some errors, which further stoked the debate about the existence, causes and effects of global warming.

The new report incorporates data from the past few years that weren’t included in the last IPCC assessment. While the IPCC report concluded that evidence for human-caused global warming was “unequivocal” and was linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, the latest report didn’t seek to address the issue.

The report “doesn’t try to make the link” between climate change and what might be causing it, said Tom Karl, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration involved in the new assessment.

The report said, “Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000-09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record.” The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere.

The scientists reported that they were surprised to find Greenland’s glaciers were losing ice at an accelerating rate. They also concluded that 90% of planetary warming over the past 50 years has gone into the oceans. Most of it had accumulated in near-surface layers, home to phytoplankton, tiny plants crucial to virtually all life in the sea.

A new study has found that rising sea temperature may have had a harmful effect on global concentrations of phytoplankton over the past century.



You will also see there the Washington rot as in the following: Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, formerly in charge of energy with the powerful CSIS, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

You will find that there was no doubt about the implication that it is humans who did it except in the words of that outspoken minority of industry lobbyists that hold power over Washington.


NOAA finds “human fingerprints” on climate

July 28th, 2010  by Fiona Harvey

A report from the NOAA in the US has found that data from ten key climate indicators all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.

It is the first major piece of new research since the “Climategate” scandals.

It found that, relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Read the full report here:…

Research says climate change undeniable

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent

Published: July 28 2010 – print and on-line.

International scientists have injected fresh evidence into the debate over global warming, saying that climate change is “undeniable” and shows clear signs of “human fingerprints” in the first major piece of research since the “Climategate” controversy.

The research, headed by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is based on new data not available for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, the target of attacks by sceptics in recent years.

The NOAA study drew on up to 11 different indicators of climate, and found that each one pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the agencies participating.

Seven indicators were rising, he said. These were: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Four indicators were declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers, spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere, and stratospheric temperatures.

Mr Stott said: “The whole of the climate system is acting in a way consistent with the effects of greenhouse gases.” “The fingerprints are clear,” he said. “The glaringly obvious explanation for this is warming from greenhouse gases.”

Environment ThumbnailSome scientists hailed the study as a refutation of the claims made by climate sceptics during the “Climategate” saga. Those scandals involved accusations – some since proven correct – of flaws in the IPCC’s landmark 2007 report, and the release of hundreds of emails from climate scientists that appeared to show them distorting certain data.

“This confirms that while all of this [Climategate] was going on, the earth was continuing to warm. It shows that Climategate was a distraction, because it took the focus off what the science actually says,” said Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics.

But the report nonetheless remained the target of scorn for sceptics.

Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

Pat Michaels, a prominent climate sceptic, ex-professor of environmental sciences and fellow of the Cato Institute in the US, said the NOAA study and other evidence suggested that the computerised climate models had overestimated the sensitivity of the earth’s temperature to carbon dioxide. This would mean that the earth could warm a little under the influence of greenhouse gases, but not by as much as the IPCC and others have predicted.

“I think it is the lack of frankness about this that emerged with Climategate, and that seems to continue [that make people doubt the findings],” he said.

Steve Goddard, a blogger, said the conclusion that the first half of 2010 showed a record high temperature was “based on incorrect, fabricated data” because the researchers involved did not have access to much information on Arctic temperatures.

David Herro, the financier, who follows climate science as a hobby, said NOAA also “lacks credibility”.

But Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA, said the study found that the average temperature in the world had increased by 0.56° C (1° F) over the past 50 years. The rise “may seem small, but it has already altered our planet … Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying, and heat waves are more common.”


Developing Nations See Cancun Climate Deal Tough.

Date: 29-Jul-10
Country: MEXICO
Author: Brian Ellsworth

Reaching a binding climate deal at the upcoming U.N. conference in Mexico will likely be difficult, delegates from a group of developing nations said on Monday, spurring further doubts about a global climate accord this year.

Environment ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China — known as the BASIC group — meeting in Rio de Janeiro said developed nations have not done enough to cut their own emissions or help poor countries reduce theirs.

Delays by the United States and Australia in implementing schemes to cut carbon emissions has added to gloomy sentiment about possible results from the Cancun meeting.

“If by the time we get to Cancun (U.S. senators) still have not completed the legislation then clearly we will get less than a legally binding outcome,” said Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s Water and Environment Affairs minister.

“For us that is a concern, and we’re very realistic about the fact that we may not” complete a legally binding accord, she said.

BASIC nations held deliberations on Sunday and Monday about upcoming climate talks, but the representatives said those talks did not yield a specific proposal on emissions reductions to be presented at the Cancun meeting.

“I think we’re all a bit wiser after Copenhagen, our expectations for Cancun are realistic — we cannot expect any miracles,” said Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

He added that countries have failed to make good on promises for $30 billion in “fast track” financing for emissions reduction programs in poor countries.

“The single most important reason why it is going to be difficult is the inability of the developed countries to bring clarity on the financial commitments which they have undertaken in the Copenhagen Accord,” he said.

Hopes for a global treaty on cutting carbon emissions to slow global warming were dealt a heavy blow last year when rich and poor nations were unable to agree on a legally binding mechanism to reduce global carbon emissions.

More than 100 countries backed a nonbinding accord agreed in Copenhagen last year to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, but it did not spell out how this should be achieved.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday postponed an effort to pass broad legislation to combat climate change until September at the earliest, vastly reducing the possibility of such legislation being ready before the Cancun conference begins in December.

Australia has delayed a carbon emissions trading scheme until 2012 under heavy political pressure on from industries that rely heavily on coal for their energy.

The U.N.’s climate agency has detailed contingency options if the world cannot agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose present round expires in 2012 with no new deal in sight. {But the article does not spell them out and we wonder if they are any different from what we suggested – moving the deliberations away from the UNFCCC – to a much smaller group of Nations modeled along the lines on the evolving G20 with a united EU and a representation of AOSIS/SIDS and Highest suffering countries like Bangladesh on-board,}

Kyoto placed carbon emissions caps on nearly 40 developed countries from 2008-2012. {But Left out any responsibilities for the remaining countries including the above BRICS. Copenhagen was a success in the sense that it made it clear that the BRICS must be part of any agreement if it is going to happen – so, in this trspect, at Copenhagen there was progress – the first time since the beginning of the negotiations within UNFCCC.}


The comments in green are those made by us – the editor of

From the Wikipedia: Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen (born August 7, 1956) was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 17 May 2010, succeeding Yvo de Boer[1] [2]. She had been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team since 1995, involved in both UNFCCC[3] and Kyoto Protocol[4] negotiations. She has contributed to the design of key climate change instruments.[5] She is a prime promoter of Latin America’s active participation in the Convention,[6] a frequent public speaker,[7] and a widely published author.[8] She won the Hero for the Planet award in 2001.[9]

For Latin America, in the BASIC group, speaks Brazil which has created for itself the image of an oil-rich country. This might create further difficulties for Ms. Figueres and we do not yet say that Brazil steaked out a final position for Cancun. In effect, the October 3, 2010 elections will have brought to the fore-front a new President for Brazil and we are yet to see his or her position.


Posted on on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

What does the number 350 mean?

350 is the most important number in the world—it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million.

Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now the trick is getting our leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350.

Is 350 scientifically possible?

Right now, mostly because we’ve burned so much fossil fuel, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 390 ppm—that’s way too high, and it’s why ice is melting, drought is spreading, forests are dying. To bring that number down, the first task is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere. That means a very fast transition to sun and wind and other renewable forms of power. If we can stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, then forests and oceans will slowly suck some of it out of the air and return us to safe levels.

Is 350 politically possible?

It’s very hard. It means switching off fossil fuel much more quickly than governments and corporations have been planning. But we can change that–if we mobilize the world to swift and bold climate action, and shift the world to a clean energy future.

What was the day of action in 2009?

On October 24, the International Day of Climate Action covered almost every country on earth, the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history.

There were be big rallies in big cities, and incredible creative actions across the globe: mountain climbers on our highest peaks with banners, underwater demonstrations in island nations threatened by sea level rise, churches and mosques and synagogues and ashrams engaged in symbolic action, star athletes organizing mass bike rides–and hundreds upon hundreds of community events to raise awareness of the need for urgent action.

Every event highlighted the number 350–and people gathered at some point for a big group photo depicting that all important message. At, we assembled all the photos for a gigantic, global, visual petition.

The thousands of events on October 24 will drive 350 and all that it represents into the human imagination, and helped shift the political climate around climate change. Countries on the front lines of climate change are no longer willing to settle for weak efforts and half-measures. All the actions on October 24 will help our leaders realize we need a real solution that pays attention to the science.

How did this make a difference?

October 24 has finally put the focus where it needs to be: on the science and the citizens, not the special interests and the backroom deals.

People have sent in thousands of images of citizens gathering at important places around the world—from the melting peaks of Mt. Everest to the sinking beaches of the Maldives—displaying the number 350 in a creative way. staff will display these photos on the big screens in Times Square and projecting them at the UN headquarters. Those photos are appearing in newspapers large and small—the same newspapers that politicians all over the world use as a barometer of public opinion. We’re also delivering copies of the images—and the stories that go with them—to national delegates, environment ministers, and heads of state the world over.

Grassroots global action will be useful to put pressure on world leaders. Together we can remind our leaders that they need to take physical reality—and not political expediency—into account when they’re making decisions about our collective future. 350 is a clear and specific goal (unlike vague demands to “stop global warming”) that helps move politics n the direction science and justice demand. At, we make sure your voice is heard, and this debate is re-framed in time to make a difference. is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy, we will ensure that the world creates bold and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. is an independent and not-for-profit project.

What is 350?
350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in “parts per million” (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a “people powered movement” that is made of people like you in every corner of the planet.


10/10/10 Global Work Party

Dear World,

It’s been a tough year: in North America, oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico; in Asia some of the highest temperatures ever recorded; in the Arctic, the fastest melting of sea ice ever seen; in Latin America, record rainfalls washing away whole mountainsides.

So we’re having a party.

Circle 10/10/10 on your calendar. That’s the date. The place is wherever you live. And the point is to do something that will help deal with global warming in your city or community. We’re calling it a Global Work Party.


Posted on on June 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Thailand Fights Addiction to Plastic Bags.
Lynette Lee Corporal…

BANGKOK, June 28 (IPS) – Buy a hairpin and the sales clerk has a microscopic plastic bag for it. A soda purchase from a corner store may end up having the liquid poured into a plastic bag, and then topped off with a plastic straw. There is no plastic bag yet that could fit a car, but if there was one country that could come up with one, Thailand would probably be it.

But here in the capital, local authorities have restarted a campaign to wean the residents of the Thai capital from their plastic bag ‘addiction’. For the second year in a row, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is holding its 45-day ‘No Bag, No Baht’ project, which offers consumers a one-baht (three U.S. cents) discount for every 100 baht (nearly three dollars) purchase if they use their own cloth bags when shopping in several local markets. Meanwhile, each plastic bag will cost them one baht.

This year’s BMA campaign was launched on Jun. 5, World Environment Day. Last year, the campaign targeted a cutback of 4.4 million plastic bags among Bangkok consumers. This year, BMA authorities want a cutback that is three times that figure. BMA figures show that every day, more than 600,000 plastic bags are used in this city of nine million people.

Their annual disposal cost reaches more than 600 million baht (18.4 million dollars), city officials have said. Local media have quoted BMA deputy governor Porntep Techapaibul as saying that of the city’s daily 10,000 tonnes of trash, about 1,800 tonnes are plastic bags, a number projected to increase by about 20 percent each year.

By now, many Bangkok residents have heard of the health and environmental hazards posed by plastic bags. Made from a non-renewable natural resource, petroleum, the bags have for their main ingredient polyethylene – or polythene – which is said to take 1,000 years to decompose on land and 450 years in water.

But even green-minded residents have problems avoiding the use of plastic bags. Thai Fund Foundation coordinator Chomphu Rammuang says that although she brings a big cloth bag to the supermarket and a lunch pack to work, she can still wind up with a plastic bag in hand by day’s end.

Thailand, after all, is a major manufacturer of plastic. That could help explain why even micro-entrepreneurs here think nothing of shoving their merchandise in plastic bags.

For instance, Yakult health drink vendor Suprathit says that a 100-piece pack of small plastic bags costs her only five baht (15 cents). Pusadee, who sells office lunches in clear plastic bags, also says she buys a kilo of these for 70 baht (two dollars). She says a kilo’s supply lasts her two days.

Thailand produces other plastic products. According to Greenpeace South- east Asia-Thailand country representative Tara Buakamsri, the country is among South-east Asia’s biggest manufacturers of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is the third most widely produced plastic after polythylene and polypropylene.

Cheap, durable and easy to assemble, it is often used to make pipes, water bottles, credit cards. It is also non-biodegradable.

In April, the English-language daily ‘Bangkok Post’ reported that domestic demand for PVC is about 450,000 tonnes per year.

A study presented in 2009 by Wuthichai Wongthatsanekorn at the World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology in Dubai, says that the recovery rate of plastic waste in Thailand in 2000 was only 23 percent.

It also says that only about 35 percent of the solid wastes collected from parts of Thailand outside of Bangkok are properly managed, while the rest of the waste products are “piled up in open dumping areas waiting to be dissolved.”

For a campaign to be effective, Tara says, consumers have to be aware of the importance and the long-term effect of the scheme.

“We need to study what economic mechanism will work if plastic bags are banned in Thailand,” he says. “What would be the reaction of the huge plastic industry in the country? What will be the economic incentive for people to follow this campaign?”

The good news, though, is that many establishments like supermarket chain Tesco Lotus and furniture store Home Pro are open to taking part in the BMA project. In fact, even before the ‘No Bag, No Baht’ project was relaunched, Tesco Lotus already had its very own ‘Green Bag Green Point’ campaign. For each bag saved, a customer can earn one Green Clubcard point.

Tesco Lotus senior corporate affairs manager Saofang Ekaluckrujee told IPS in an email interview, “We are very pleased to see policymakers such as the BMA making this issue a national priority. Our Green Bag Green Point scheme’s initial target is to reduce plastic bag usage by 9.8 million bags in 2010.” Other huge shopping malls like Siam Paragon and Central also give incentives like bonus shopper points for not using their bags – plastic or paper ones for that matter – or a 5 percent discount at certain times of the month.

Even small businesses are joining in. During the BMA campaign’s soft relaunch in May, than 5,000 stores in Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak weekend market participated.

Chomphu also reports that her monthly visits to the Chatuchak weekend market have become a pleasant experience, plastic bag-wise. “The vegetarian store near Chatuchak that I go to is actively participating in the project,” she says. “Buyers are encouraged to bring their own bags.”


Posted on on June 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

June 8, 2010 – The Second UN Celebration of The World Ocean’s Day and a Look At The UN Law Of The Sea. Was There A Review of the Effects of Stealing From The Global Commons and The Rape of the Environment as We Witness Now Perpetually on our TV Screens? There Is A UN Law Of The Sea They Say! In 2001 Our “Promptbook” was Published on These Topics.





8 JUNE 2010, 11:00 am    Dag. Ham. Auditorium

Press Conference: by the Department of Public Information about World Ocean’s Day.

Participants: Professor David Freestone, Lobingier Visiting Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence, George Washington University;

Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Georgraphic Explorer-in-Residence and Adviser to Disneynature on the film “Ocean”;

and H.E. Mrs. Isabelle Picco, Permanent Representative of the Principality of Monaco to the United Nations.

Related Link:…

8 June –  World Oceans Day

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as from 2009, 8 June would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day” (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171).  Many countries have celebrated World Oceans Day following the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The oceans are essential to food security and the health and survival of all life, power our climate and are a critical part of the biosphere. The official designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.


8 June 2009 – The first observance of World Oceans Day allows us to highlight the many ways in which oceans contribute to society. The UN Secretary General declared:  “It is also an opportunity to recognize the considerable challenges we face in maintaining their capacity to regulate the global climate, supply essential ecosystem services and provide sustainable livelihoods and safe recreation.”

Indeed, human activities are taking a terrible toll on the world’s oceans and seas.

Vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as corals, and important fisheries are being damaged by over-exploitation, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, invasive alien species and marine pollution, especially from land-based sources. Increased sea temperatures, sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change pose a further threat to marine life, coastal and island communities and national economies.

Oceans are also affected by criminal activity.  Piracy and armed robbery against ships threaten the lives of seafarers and the safety of international shipping, which transports 90 per cent of the world’s goods.  Smuggling of illegal drugs and the trafficking of persons by sea are further examples of how criminal activities threaten lives and the peace and security of the oceans.

Several international instruments drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations address these numerous challenges.  At their centre lies the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It provides the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and is the basis for international cooperation at all levels.  In addition to aiming at universal participation, the world must do more to implement this Convention and to uphold the rule of law on the seas and oceans.

The theme of World Oceans Day, “Our oceans, our responsibility”, emphasizes our individual and collective duty to protect the marine environment and carefully manage its resources.  Safe, healthy and productive seas and oceans are integral to human well-being, economic security and sustainable development.


8 June 2010 – Programme Second observance of World Oceans Day

“Our oceans: opportunities and challenges”
Observance at United Nations Headquarters:
i. Message by the Secretary-General
ii. Press Conference
(DH Auditorium at 11:00) with:
-Prof. David Freestone, Lobingier Visiting Professor of Comparative Law and
Jurisprudence, George Washington University;
-H.E. Mrs. Isabelle PICCO, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the
Principality of Monaco to the United Nations; and
-Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Adviser to
Disneynature on the film “Oceans”
iii. Roundtable discussion on “UNCLOS 15 years after its entry into force”,
sponsored by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of
Legal Affairs (Conference Room 1 at NLB, 15:00 – 17:30)
1. How effectively is UNCLOS operating, as the legal framework for the
oceans and seas?
Focusing on:
The right of States to establish Maritime Zones under UNCLOS
– Prof. Bernard H. Oxman, Richard A. Hausler Professor of Law,
University of Miami
Combating piracy, in particular the case of piracy off the coast of Somalia

–  Prof. Robert Beckman, Director, Centre for International Law, National
University of Singapore
The conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, including MGRs

–  Ms. Emma Romano Sarne, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of
the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
2. UNCLOS into the 21st century
Focusing on:
How to enhance the implementation of UNCLOS at the national level
– Professor Ted L. McDorman, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria
Is regional cooperation a way to enhance ocean governance?

–  Prof. Lucia Fanning, Director of Marine Affairs Programme, Dalhousie

– Prof. David Freestone, Lobingier Visiting Professor of Comparative Law
and Jurisprudence, George Washington University

iv. Screening of the Disneynature feature “Oceans”, co-sponsored by the
Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, and
the Permanent Mission of Monaco to the United Nations (18:00 – 20:00)
(General Assembly Hall)

Observance outside United Nations Headquarters:

v. Empire State Building in New York City (Lighting, from white, blue to purple to
signify the entirety of the oceans from the shallows to the darker depths, to
mark the observance of World Oceans Day by the United Nations)

That is a time we will spend rather at the:

Oil Spill Forum, Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Responses to the Oil Spill:
a Panel and Public Forum
Tuesday, June 8, 7 – 9 PM

Wollman Hall, 5th Floor
The New School
65 West 11th, NY 10011

The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico opens up many questions: What should BP’s role be in the cleanup?
What is BP’s legal liability?  Is greater regulation of offshore drilling enough, or should there be a complete moratorium?

How do we eliminate fossil fuel dependence and embrace renewable energy?  Should NYC act now to reduce our consumption of oil?  How do we make this change happen–public education, or street protests?    To succeed, we must answer these questions at the national, state, city, and personal levels.

Public brainstorming, starting with brief remarks from representatives of sponsoring organizations, moving into discussion groups to formulate possible actions, and finishing with feedback from all attendees.    This is your chance to learn how New Yorkers can get involved and make a difference!

Sponsors: Sierra Club NYC, MoveOn, Greater NYC for Change, and Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School

For further information please contact


UN DAILY NEWS from the

8 June, 2010 =========================================================================

UN GETS SET FOR WORLD CUP KICK-OFF AND RENEWED PUSH ON ANTI-POVERTY TARGETS.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived today in Johannesburg ahead of Friday’s World Cup opening ceremony in the same city, beginning a five-nation African tour that will also take the UN chief to Burundi, Cameroon, Benin and Sierra Leone.

Mr. Ban held talks with South African President Jacob Zuma and later addressed the “Sports for Peace” gala dinner tonight alongside Wilfried Lemke, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace. In his speech Mr. Ban highlighted the unifying power of sport and underscored the importance of the MDGs.

As part of the UN-wide effort, agencies that include the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have started promoting 8 Goals for Africa, a song recorded by eight artists from across the continent. A video recorded for the song will be shown in public viewing areas in South Africa throughout the World Cup.

The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) is holding community events in slum neighbourhoods that aim to promote sustainable urbanization; UNICEF is staging football festivals to raise awareness about the fight against child trafficking and exploitation; and the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is screening TV programmes about racism and tolerance.

Numerous other events and campaigns involving UN agencies, including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), will also be held.

The renewed push on the MDGs is taking place just three months before world leaders are scheduled to gather at UN Headquarters in New York in September to chart the progress so far towards achieving the eight MDGs and discuss the ways forward.

At the Millennium Summit in 2000, world leaders agreed to try to attain the MDGs – which include halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, tackling environmental degradation, and slashing maternal mortality – by 2015.

— —

But the UN Secretary-General also found the time to leave a message for the meeting on the seas:

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged governments and citizens across the global to acknowledge the enormous value of the world’s oceans to humanity and ensure that pollution of the bodies of water by human activity is brought under control.

“The diversity of life in the oceans is under ever-increasing strain. Over-exploitation of marine living resources, climate change, and pollution from hazardous materials and activities all pose a grave threat to the marine environment.

“So does the growth of criminal activities, including piracy, which have serious implications for the security of navigation and the safety of seafarers,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark the World Oceans Day.

He said oceans played a key role in people’s daily lives and were crucial to sustainable development, and an important frontier for research, with scientists exploring them at greater depths than ever before to discover new forms of marine life, which had the potential to advance human well-being.

“But, if we are to fully benefit from what oceans have to offer, we must address the damaging impacts of human activities,” the Secretary-General said on the second annual commemoration of the Day.

He said that much action had been taken within the framework of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the so-called “constitution for the oceans.”

“But if we are to safeguard the capacity of the oceans to service society’s many and varied needs, we need to do much more,” he added.

The UN Scientific, Education and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also sent out a message to highlight the importance of oceans to mankind and galvanize the world to act to stop damaging them.

“The wastes of our society, flowing from the land, and through the atmosphere, from agriculture, industry and a growing urban population can be seen in the fragile coastal waters and measured even in the centre of the water masses,” the message said.

“We must collectively and unambiguously acknowledge the importance of the oceans to our existence on the planet. The ocean cleanses the air we breathe; it influences our weather, climate, and the water on which we depend.”

The message was accompanied by an “Ocean Call,” which appeals for priority to be given to programmes in coastal and ocean management, ocean sciences and ocean technologies.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), a programme of UNESCO, chose the World Oceans Day to kick off events to mark its 50th anniversary.

“IOC, in partnership with other UN agencies and hundreds of associated oceanographic and marine research laboratories, is playing a vital role in addressing some of the major challenges facing the world,” said UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova.

The challenges include identifying and protecting marine biodiversity, monitoring global climate change and coordinating tsunami warning systems.

— — — honors UNESCO for their statement, but is appalled by the message attributed to Mr. Ban.

That message regards the ocean and all there is in the oceans as a function of what it can do for man. The Law of the Sea is hardly a “Constitution” it really does not even regulate the rights of the human species so it has “fully benefit from what oceans have to offer.” From his perspective, Mr. Ban’s message concludes nevertheless: “But if we are to safeguard the capacity of the oceans to service society’s many and varied needs, we need to do much more,” he added. And as the good diplomat he is, he made no mention of the miseries which are the order of the day – these days.


Posted on on June 8th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

fromMRM <>

“Conserving energy is cheaper and smarter than building power plants” (Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld).

The watt. The volt. The ohm. All electrical terms are named after famous engineers and physicists from the 18th and 19th century. Now, an acclaimed 20th century scientist is lending his name to a new unit of energy savings – the ‘Rosenfeld.’

The proposed term – a ‘Rosenfeld’ – would represent the electricity savings of 3 billion kilowatt-hours per year — the annual output of an existing 500 megawatt coal-fired power plant – and avoid generating three million metric tons of CO2 emissions. The new energy-savings measurement term was authored by 54 scientists from 26 research institutions and announced in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters.

For your leisure time reading – a clean energy monthly E-zine from India          E_mag_June_2010.pdf

MRM says:  We shall be pleased if you could send us your views/comments/suggestions to make our publication more informative and useful.


“The Rosenfeld” Named After California’s Godfather of Energy Efficiency.

With a decades-long career in energy analysis and standards, Rosenfeld is often credited with being personally responsible for billions of dollars in energy savings.

How to cut energy use, carbon? Do it – One “Rosenfeld” at a time.

Arthur Rosenfeld, who recently retired at the age of 83 after two five-year terms on the California Energy Commission, led the way in helping the state set its first-ever energy standards for household appliances and buildings. His mission as an energy-efficiency evangelist was launched in 1973 during the OPEC oil embargo … rather than rail on the oil producers, he reasoned, wouldn’t it be better if the US could find ways to stop wasting so much energy?

His impact on California’s per capita electricity consumption, which has remained flat since the mid-’70s, has long been dubbed the “Rosenfeld effect.” And he himself coined “Rosenfeld’s Law,” which asserts that the amount of energy required to produce one dollar of economic output has decreased by about 1 per cent per year since 1845.

Eighty Year Old Saved Us $800 Billion – 

Ode to Arthur H. Rosenfeld, Doctor Efficiency – Courtesy California Energy Commission

Arthur H. Rosenfeld, Ph.D. was originally appointed to the California Energy Commission by Governor Gray Davis in April 2000. The Commissioner was reappointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger January 26, 2005. The five members of the Energy Commission are appointed by the Governor to staggered five-year terms and requires Senate confirmation. By law, four of the five members of the Energy Commission have professional training in specific areas – engineering or physical science, environmental protection, economics, law, and one commissioner from the public-at-large. Commissioner Rosenfeld filled the physical science position until his retirement in January 2010.

Commissioner Rosenfeld was presiding member of the Research, Development and Demonstration Committee and the Dynamic Pricing Committee (Ad Hoc Committee); and was the second member of the Energy Efficiency Committee.

Art Rosenfeld received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1954 at the University of Chicago under Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, and then joined the Department of Physics at the University of California at Berkeley. There he joined, and eventually oversaw, the Nobel prize-winning particle physics group of Luis Alvarez at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) until 1974. At that time, he changed his research focus to the efficient use of energy, formed the Center for Building Science at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and led it until 1994.…………