UPDATED: February 13, 2013, at Columbia U. School of Law, The United Nations Climate Negotiations: Perspectives From a Small Island Nation’ with the Marshall Islands made it clear that this is a matter for the UN Security Council. That is why it will be taken up this Friday in an Arria formula type of informative – fast-scheduled meeting.
Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item,’Upcoming Event –
On Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, the Center for Climate
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.
CHINA and INDIA, obsessed with growth, caused during 2000-11 most of the increase in CO2 emissions and a new book – GREENPRINT” – says finally they ought to take over global leadership in Climate Change matters.
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.
Buy from: Amazon.com
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.
A CLIMATE CLIFF in Doha, Qatar, at a time industrialized countries talk of A FISCAL CLIFF – talking only about money transfer from the poor-rich to the rich-poor will not help future generations on planet earth. If the subject of the Doha talks does not revert to building a bridge of SUSTAINABILITY to future generations, even good meaning organizations like Oxfam will have wasted airline-engine-fuel in vain. In the mean-time the Conference opened Monday November 26th with the highest per capita polluter being the host so environmentalists have no hope for results for at least one more year.
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.
2012 UN Climate Talks In Doha, Qatar, Face Multiple Challenges.
AP | By KARL RITTER Posted: 11/25/2012
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.
UN Climate Change Conference Opens In Doha, Qatar.
AP | By KARL RITTER 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.
The New York Times Op-Ed Contributor
We Need to Retreat From the Beach.
By ORRIN H. PILKEY – From Durham, N.C. – Published in the New York Times : November 14, 2012
Related: Weighing Sea Barriers as Protection for New York (November 8, 2012)
THE WORLD WAS NOT READY TO SPEND MONEY AND POLITICAL CAPITAL TO MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE – BUT GLOBAL WARMING WAS NOBODY’S JOKE AND IT KEPT ADVANCING ON US.
THE BILLIONS WE WILL BE SPENDING NOW ON REBUILDING, AND ON BUILDING NEW DEFENSES, ARE MUCH MORE THEN WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SPENT ON AN HONEST EFFORT TO AVOID GLOBAL WARMING BY DECREASING THE USE OF FOSSIL CARBON.
ONE CANDIDATE FOR THE US PRESIDENCY CASTIGATED THE OTHER CANDIDATE AS THE PERSON WHO PROPOSED TO SLOW THE RISE OF THE OCEAN – BUT BY GOD OR NATURE – THAT IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF PRESIDENT THE US AND THE WORLD NEED FOR THE USA.
Opinion in The New York Times
Deciding Where Future Disasters Will Strike.
By McKENZIE FUNK
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.
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 JAMES BARRON, SAM DOLNICK and MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ
Proponents of Shrink-the Government are scary, and after Hurricane Sandy need not apply a Halloween Mask – their face is likened to Dracula and scary enough by itself. We offer here the proposition that the role of Government among other things is to lead on avoiding man-made catastrophes. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer and Professor Michael Oppenheimer spill out the beans in conversation with Christiane Amanpour.
Ready to ship!
WE HAVE HERE TWO LENGTHY ARTICLES WE PICKED UP TODAY – OCTOBER 31, 2012 – HALLOWEEN NIGHT.
WHILE CUTE KIDDIES CAME TO OUR DOOR FOR TRICK OR TREAT I WAS BUSY THINKING OF THE REAL-LIFE MONSTERS THAT SCARE US THESE ELECTION DAYS. LET US HOPE THAT A WEEK FROM NOW THIS NIGHTMARE WILL BE OVER, AND PRESIDENT OBAMA, HAVING SANDY AS A GUIDE-LIGHT, WILL BE ABLE TO BEGIN THE START OF PROGRAMS THAT ARE ON HOLD FOR 20 YEARS.
OUR HOPE: COMING NOVEMBER 8-TH, PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL END CLIMATE SILENCE AND START A RECONSTRUCTION PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS FOR USA LEADERSHIP IN BUILDING THAT MISSING BRIDGE TO THE FUTURE GENERATIONS ON WHICH IS WRITTEN ALL OVER – S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y .
THE US GRANTS ITS PRESIDENT POWERS TO ACT IN CASE OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY – AND FINALLY EVERYONE REALIZES THIS IS A NATIONAL EMERGENCY – AND IF FACED BY A RECALCITRANT CONGRESS, THE PRESIDENTIAL POWERS ARE SUCH THAT MANY DECISIONS CAN BE TAKEN SIMPLY BY PRESIDENTIAL ORDER. THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES MAKE IT CLEAR THAT THIS MIGHT BE ONE WAY OF JUMP-STARTING THE NEEDED ACTIVITY LIKE IT WAS DONE WHEN NEW MINIMUM FUEL EFFICIENCY IN MOTOR VEHICLES WERE RELEASED BY THE ADMINISTRATION.
EXCUSE US FOR THE SELF-INDULGENCE OF BRINGING UP THE FULL LENGTH OF THESE IMPORTANT ARTICLES.
October 31st, 2012
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.
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.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED, says CNN.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Get used to it. Sandy is the new normal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 —
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.
MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Glad to be here.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
EU Fails To Resolve Dispute Over UN Climate Fund Seats.
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.
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
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).
Editor in chief,
Our having caused Global Warming had as a direct result the death sentence of Pacific Atoll Nations. A working Paper is Presented on “Atoll Island States and Climate Change: Sovereignty Implications over the Sea and Sea-bottom after the Submergence of these Islands.” Is our Industry not just destractive but will the companies also be the beneficiaries?
Working Paper on “Atoll Island States and Climate Change: Sovereignty Implications.”
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:
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.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
We smell in this article Arctic Rat – and NOT of the Rodent kind. The story is about opening up the ice for the shipment of oil during the colder season of the year: it is about State subsidy of Big Oil being handed profits from climate change in the Arctic by producing and moving oil in places where people used to live in harmony with the environment.
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.
A New Race of Mercy to Nome, This Time Without Sled Dogs.
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
HOW AND WHO GOVERNS THE EXTRATERRITORIAL WATERS? This is an old question at www.SustainabiliTank.info PROMPTBOOK ON SUSTAINABILITY. Now 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).
Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) |www.field.org.uk
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.
Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) |www.field.org.uk
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7842 8522| Suite D, 1st Floor | The Merchant Centre | 1 New Street Square | London, EC4A 3BF | United Kingdom
“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.”
PACIFIC ISLAND STATES CALL FOR UN MEASURES TO HELP COUNTRIES FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
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 URGES SPEEDY CREATION OF UN-BACKED CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION FUND
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.
* * *
It is official – 2000s Warmest Decade – Global Warming is Man-made and Cancun will be a bust or – in order to avoid this – the start of the implementation of moves initiated in Copenhagen by a smaller group of representatives. Big Business in Washington guarantees to try to interfere.
WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010
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 –
By GAUTAM NAIK
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 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.
BUT THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS VERY ANEMIC ON CONTENT OF ABOVE NEWS – IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, AS MOSTLY ALMOST – GO TO THE FINANCIAL TIMES. HERE YOU FIND FIONA HARVEY’S FULL ARTICLE – SHE CONTRIBUTES TO THE EDITORIAL SECTION AS WELL. YOU WILL BE IN THE CLEAR ABOUT THE MACHINATIONS IN WASHINGTON AS WELL.
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.
July 28th, 2010 by Fiona Harvey
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 350.org, 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. 350.org 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 350.org, we make sure your voice is heard, and this debate is re-framed in time to make a difference.
350.org 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. 350.org is an independent and not-for-profit project.
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.
Thailand Fights Addiction to Plastic Bags.
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.”
June 8, 2010 – The Second UN Celebration of The World Oceans 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.
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.
THESE DAYS THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHES THE US LOSING THE GOLF OF MEXICO ENVIRONMENT TO THE GREED OF MINING FOR OIL AT UNBELIEVABLE DEPTH WITHOUT HAVING BEEN PREPARED TO AN EVENTUALITY OF A MISHAP.
THIS MINING FOR OIL GOES ON IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS OUTSIDE THE RANGE OF SOVEREIGNTY CLAIMS OF ANYONE – IN EFFECT THIS HAPPENS AKIN TO PIRACY AT HIGH SEA – ROBBERY FROM THE GLOBAL COMMONS AS WE CLAIMED IN OUR PROMPTBOOK TO THE JOHANNEBURG SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WHICH YOU CAN READ RIGHT HERE ON www.SustainabiliTank.info.
THE UN IS CELEBRATING TODAY “THE WORLD OCEAN’S DAY” AND WE WOULD HAVE WANTED TO BE PRESENT AND POSE SOME RELATED QUESTIONS – BUT THE UN Department of Public Information, even now, after the Departure of UN Official Ahmad Fawzi, IS STILL LEARY OF HAVING PRESENT JOURNALISTS THAT ARE NOT UNDER THEIR CONTROL.
WE PROMISE NEVERTHELESS TO FOLLOW THE SUBJECT AND FIND OUT IF THERE WAS ANYTHING BUT PLATITUDES AT THAT PRESS CONFERENCE.
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.
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”
– Prof. Robert Beckman, Director, Centre for International Law, National
– Ms. Emma Romano Sarne, Second Secretary, Permanent Mission of
– Prof. Lucia Fanning, Director of Marine Affairs Programme, Dalhousie
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
UN DAILY NEWS from the
UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
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 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 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.
— — —
SustainabiliTank.info 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.
From SEEM – The Indian Society of Energy Engineers and Managers – a definition of the ROSENFELD. One Rosenfeld equals the output of a 500 megawatt coal-fired power plant. A new unit for what we called the Nega-Watts. Energy saved is also the most economic way of growth. Since 1973 Professor Arthur H. Rosenfeld has saved the US $900 Billion.
“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.
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.
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.
Which parts of the Atlantic seaboard will be swallowed by rising seas? This EPA scientist can tell you. Too bad no one’s listening.
Buh-bye East Coast Beaches
— Photo by Kate Sheppard
For most of the 20th century, Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, was known for its boardwalk, amusement park, and wide, sandy beaches, popular with daytrippers from Washington, DC. “The bathing beach has a frontage of three miles,” boasted a tourist brochure from about 1900, “and is equal, if not superior, to any beach on the Atlantic Coast.”
Today, on a cloudless spring afternoon, the resort town’s sweeping view of Chesapeake Bay is no less stunning. But there’s no longer any beach in Chesapeake Beach. Where there once was sand, water now laps against a seven-foot-high wall of boulders protecting a strip of pricey homes marked with “No Trespassing” signs.
Surveying the armored shoreline, Jim Titus explains how the natural sinking of the shoreline and slow but steady sea-level rise, mostly due to climate change, have driven the bay’s water more than a foot higher over the past century. Reinforcing the eroding shore with a sea wall held the water back, but it also choked off the natural supply of sand that had replenished the beach. What sand remained gradually sank beneath the rising water.
Titus, the Environmental Protection Agency’s resident expert on sea-level rise, first happened upon Maryland’s disappearing beaches 15 years ago while looking for a place to windsurf. “Having the name ‘beach,'” he discovered, “is not a very good predictor of having a beach.” Since then, he’s kept an eye out for other beach towns that have lost their namesakes—Maryland’s Masons Beach and Tolchester Beach, North Carolina’s Pamlico Beach, and many more. (See a map of Maryland’s phantom beach towns here.) A 54-year old with a thick shock of hair and sturdy build, Titus could pass for a vacationer in his Panama hat, khakis, and polo shirt. But as he picks his way over the rocky shore, he’s anything but relaxed.
For nearly 30 years, Titus has been sounding the alarm about our rising oceans. Global warming is melting polar ice, adding to the volume of the oceans, as well as warming up seawater, causing it to expand. Most climatologists expect oceans around the world to rise between 1.5 and 5 feet this century. Some of the hardest-hit areas could be in our own backyard: Erosion and a shift in ocean currents could cause water to rise four feet or more along much of the East Coast. Titus, who contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Nobel Prize-winning reports, has done more than anyone to determine how those rising seas will affect us and what can be done about them.
Like his occasional collaborator, NASA climatologist James Hansen, Titus has decided to speak out. He’s crisscrossed the country to meet with state and local officials in coastal areas, urging them to start planning now for the slow-motion flood. Yet his warnings have mostly fallen on deaf ears. “We were often told by mid-level officials that their bosses did not want to plan for anything past the next election,” he says.
Neither, it seems, does the federal government. Over the past decade, Titus and a team of contractors combined reams of data to construct a remarkably detailed model of how sea-level rise will impact the eastern seaboard. It was the largest such study ever undertaken, and its findings were alarming: Over the next 90 years, 1,000 square miles of inhabited land on the East Coast could be flooded, and most of the wetlands between Massachusetts and Florida could be lost. The favorably peer-reviewed study was scheduled for publication in early 2008 as part of a Bush Administration report on sea-level rise, but it never saw the light of day—an omission criticized by the EPA’s own scientific advisory committee. Titus has urged the more science-friendly Obama administration to publish his work, but so far, it hasn’t—and won’t say why.
So Titus recently launched a personal website, risingsea.net, to publish his work. “I decided to do my best to prevent the taxpayer investment from being wasted,” he says. The site includes “When the North Pole Melts,” a prescient holiday ditty recorded by his musical alter ego, Captain Sea Level, in the late ’80s.
Titus gazes at Chesapeake Beach’s jagged shoreline, where two children scramble over the barrier of large grey boulders known as a revetment. “The children of 21st Century Chesapeake Beach, what do they do?” he asks. “They play on revetments.” A generation ago, these kids might have been skipping through the waves. A generation from now, many of the rocks they’re playing on will almost certainly be underwater.