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The New Climate:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Environment

 

Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come.

 

 

Photo

Greenland’­s immense ice sheet is melting as a result of climate change. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said.

Photo

Rajendra K. Pachauri, center, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaks during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Credit Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press

 

And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty. In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday.

The report was among the most sobering yet issued by the intergovernmental panel. The group, along with Al Gore, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to clarify the risks of climate change. The report released on Monday in Yokohama is the final work of several hundred authors; details from the drafts of this and of the last report in the series, which will be released next month, leaked in the last few months.

The report attempts to project how the effects will alter human society in coming decades. While the impact of global warming may actually be outweighed by factors like economic or technological change, the report found, the disruptions are nonetheless likely to be profound.

It cited the risk of death or injury on a widespread scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.

“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger,” the report declared.

The report also cites the possibility of violent conflict over land or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just some problem of the distant future, but is happening now. For instance, in much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region, the scientists reported. And the snow that does fall is melting earlier in the year, which means there is less meltwater to ease the parched summers.

In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate.

“Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization.

The experts did find a bright spot, however. Since the group issued its report in 2007, it has found growing evidence that governments and businesses around the world are starting extensive plans to adapt to climate disruptions, even as some conservatives in the United States and a small number of scientists continue to deny that a problem exists.

“I think that dealing effectively with climate change is just going to be something that great nations do,” said Christopher B. Field, co-chairman of the working group that wrote the report, and an earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif.

Talk of adaptation to global warming was once avoided in some quarters, on the grounds that it would distract from the need to cut emissions. But the past few years have seen a shift in thinking, including research from scientists and economists who argue that both strategies must be pursued at once.

Photo

Tracks were flooded at Grand Central Station in Oct. 2012, after Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

 

A striking example of the change occurred recently in the state of New York, where the Public Service Commission ordered Consolidated Edison, the electric utility serving New York City and some suburbs, to spend about $1 billion upgrading its system to prevent future damage from flooding and other weather disruptions.

The plan is a reaction to the blackouts caused by Hurricane Sandy. Con Ed will raise flood walls, bury some vital equipment and launch a study of whether emerging climate risks require even more changes. Other utilities in the state face similar requirements, and utility regulators across the United States are discussing whether to follow New York’s lead.

But with a global failure to limit greenhouse gases, the risk is rising that climatic changes in coming decades could overwhelm such efforts to adapt, the panel found. It cited a particular risk that in a hotter climate, farmers will not be able to keep up with the fast-rising demand for food.

“When supply falls below demand, somebody doesn’t have enough food,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist who helped write the new report. “When some people don’t have food, you get starvation. Yes, I’m worried.”

The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.

The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during a dayslong editing session in Yokohama.

The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations are private.

The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption.

Two decades of international efforts to limit emissions have yielded little result, and it is not clear whether the negotiations in New York this fall will be any different. While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many wealthy countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from rising economic powers like China and India.

For the world’s poorer countries, food is not the only issue, but it may be the most acute. Several times in recent years, climatic disruptions in major growing regions have helped to throw supply and demand out of balance, contributing to price increases that have reversed decades of gains against global hunger, at least temporarily.

The warning about the food supply in the new report is much sharper in tone than any previously issued by the panel. That reflects a growing body of research about how sensitive many crops are to heat waves and water stress.

David B. Lobell, a Stanford University scientist who has published much of that research and helped write the new report, said in an interview that as yet, too little work was being done to understand the risk, much less counter it with improved crop varieties and farming techniques. “It is a surprisingly small amount of effort for the stakes,” he said.

Timothy Gore, an analyst for Oxfam, the anti-hunger charity that sent observers to the proceedings, praised the new report for painting a clear picture. But he warned that without greater efforts to limit global warming and to adapt to the changes that have become inevitable, “the goal we have in Oxfam of ensuring that every person has enough food to eat could be lost forever.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages|Contributing Op-Ed Writer

Days of Desiccation

The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir in San Jose, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The bathtub rings in the reservoirs that hold California’s liquid life have never been more exposed. Shorelines are bare, brown and bony. Much of the Sierra Nevada is naked of snow. And fields in the Central Valley may soon take to the sky. A Dust Bowl? Not yet. Though this drought will surely go down as the worst in the state’s recorded history. Until next year.

But something else is evident in this cloudless winter: when you build a society with a population larger than Canada’s, and do it with one of the world’s most elaborate plumbing systems, it’s a fragile pact. California is an oasis state, a hydraulic construct. Extreme stress brings out the folly of nature-defiance.

The whole fantasy of modern California has long been dependent on an audacious feat of engineering. You could drain the Owens Valley to allow Los Angeles to metastasize. (See “Chinatown.”) You could grab water from Yosemite to keep San Francisco alive. And you could move all that snowmelt up north to the south, and feed the world.

When it works, it’s a marvel. Golden Gate Park is green. Los Angeles has a river (sort of). The fragrance of fruit trees fills Fresno. But what if there is no snow, no rain, and nothing left in the aquifers underground? To date, going back to the start of its water year last July, Los Angeles has received 1.2 inches of rain. Yes, for the year. San Diego will soon notch its driest winter ever. And 80 percent of the state is in extreme drought.

California will get through it, though not without significant pain. And while there will be some reordering of power, nothing will put to lie the old line about the arid West: Water flows uphill to money.

But at the least, these days of desiccation call for some honesty — to look at this state and see, in all its dimensions, the fragility of this kind of pact. And beyond that, to see in California a precursor of what could happen elsewhere if we think we can out-engineer a fevered planet. The drought itself may not be a result of climate change, but it is made worse by all the meteorological complications.

Media myopia tends to feed a one-sided narrative: There’s no global warming because, after all, much of the United States is cold and snowy. The West is the exception, but it’s a long way from Al Roker’s studio at 30 Rock. Even farther is Australia, where the warmest winter on record has been followed by a summer of wildfires and heat waves pushing 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The Millennial Drought, which lasted from 1995 to 2012, now looks like the new normal down under.

No surprise, some of the worst deniers of the obvious come from places where it pays to look the other way. Let me introduce Representative Devin Nunes, Republican from Fresno. Like most elected members of his party, Nunes apparently skipped out of science class.

“Global warming is nonsense,” he said last week, when President Obama visited the Central Valley. “We want water, not welfare.”

They’ve certainly got plenty of welfare. The Central Valley Project is a tangle of aqueducts, pumps, canals and dams, the largest water development project in the United States. Yes, we taxpayers built it, and still subsidize it. Its 20 reservoirs hold enough water to irrigate three million acres.

But Nunes prefers the myth, firmly planting himself with the fact-denial majority of Republican lawmakers. He took to the floor of Congress a few days ago to explain. “Our ancestors in California built an amazing irrigation system that can deliver a reliable water supply even during severe droughts,” he said.

Our ancestors! You know, those long-dead wise ones, the socialists from the New Deal and the bureaucrats of the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Better not to name them.

Then, more explanation: You see, he said, holding up a large sign with a picture of the sun, snow and a droplet of water, “Government doesn’t create water.” Oh, of course not. Then let’s just take government out of the picture and watch what happens to farms in the congressman’s district.

The enemy, he concluded, is nature. Fish in particular — “stupid little fish,” he said. Some pretty smart big fish, Pacific salmon, are in trouble as well. He didn’t mention them. Nunes was referring to the delta smelt, a key link in keeping the hydraulic heart of California healthy, but small and imperiled by the switcheroo of the smelt’s habitat to Nunes’s home. As for stupid, the fish yields its time to the congressman from California.

Following his lead, the Republican House has passed a bill moving precious water from the north to big farmers in the Republican-rich lower Central Valley. Government may not create water, but Congress can dole it out. The bill is dead in the Senate.

California’s big urban areas, after years of smart conservation measures, will get by. But in a state where agriculture consumes 75 percent of the water, farms will go fallow. This drought for the ages should prompt some imaginative thinking on what foods grow best in an arid land.

The congressman from Fresno could take his cue from another ancestor, William Randolph Hearst. Up high on a dry perch overlooking the Pacific, Hearst built his Mediterranean castle. Last month, the keepers of the compound started draining the big Neptune Pool and many of its fountains, a concession to the drought. Fantasy has its limits.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for papers, The legal issues associated with the development and use of Arctic energy resources, Tromsø, September 2014.

from:  Nigel Bankes ndbankes@ucalgary.ca

 February 7, 2014

ENERGY LAW CONFERENCE

25-26 September 2014

Call for Papers

 

The legal issues associated with the development and use of Arctic energy resources

 

 

The Faculty of Law, at the University of Tromsø in conjunction with the K.G. Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea is pleased to announce the call for papers for the energy law conference on “The legal issues associated with the development and use of energy resources in the Arctic”.

 

You are invited to submit proposals to present a paper addressing the conference theme, broadly construed.

Without intending to be prescriptive, examples of topics that would fall within the scope of the conference include legal issues (domestic and international law) related to any of the following in an Arctic context:

the role of strategic and project-specific environmental assessments;

energy markets;

energy security in an Arctic context;

energy relations between the EU and Russia;

the energy relations of Nordic States;

energy relations between the EU and Arctic states;

the role of renewables in the Arctic including wind, geothermal, tidal; non-conventional energy resources such as gas hydrates;

the oil and gas leasing regimes of Arctic states; infrastructure issues (transmission lines and pipelines);

navigation and other law of the sea issues associated with getting Arctic resources to market; liability issues and liability regimes for energy projects; insurance issues; project financing issues;

delimitation of maritime zones and the management of transboundary hydrocarbon resources;

extended continental shelf claims;

energy resource projects on indigenous lands; social licence to operate;

climate change issues (e.g. regulation of black carbon); Arctic energy resources and endangered species;

energy as a human right;

energy efficiency;

regional governance issues (e.g. the role of the Arctic Council, OSPAR etc).

 

Proposals will be considered by the conference convenors on the basis of academic merit and policy significance and fit with the conference theme. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted to the convenors by April 30, 2014. Abstracts should be sent to maria.m.neves@uit.no.

 

We anticipate (depending on numbers) being able to cover the costs of hotel accommodation and meals for those selected to present papers.

 

For more information on the conference please visit our website www.uit.no/lawofthesea or contact christin.skjervold@uit.no.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Colder Winters Caused by a Warmer Planet

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

08 January 14

 

“Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

et’s play a game – it’s called “How long can CNN talk about a freak wave of arctic weather across more than half the country without saying the words ‘climate change?’” I watched for 30 minutes today without hearing one mention of it, but I’m not sure if that means I win or the rest of the world loses as we continue to neglect the one thing that may do us in before anything else.

Not Just a Fluke

As I write this, it’s warmer in Siberia than it is in Chicago. It’s warmer in Anchorage, Alaska, than in Atlanta, Georgia. Sixty-eight percent of the continental US is covered by a wave of arctic temperatures that normally don’t travel below Northern Canada. The official explanation for this is a bizarre “polar vortex” that’s causing arctic temperatures to be pushed south.

The polar vortex is always present in the Arctic, but strengthens in the winter and grows weaker in the summer. The vortex itself is a natural occurrence, but occasionally the jet stream pushes it further south than normal. And as the arctic grows warmer at a rapid rate, cold snaps like the one sweeping half the country will become more frequent. The jet stream pushing the polar vortex south in the winter may be more than just a fluke if rapid climate change continues.

Rapid Arctic Ice Melts

Odd patterns from the jet stream were also responsible for the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan during its already wet monsoon season in 2010, displacing millions of people and requiring a massive global relief effort. That same year, the jet stream was also responsible for the unusually dry conditions in Russia that caused a swath of wildfires to erupt across the country prompting them to temporarily ban grain exports.

In this graphic, the left side shows wind patterns in the Russia/Pakistan area under normal jetstream conditions. From 1968 to 1996, these conditions remained largely the same. There’s a polar jetstream on the northern side, and a tropical jetstream on the southern side. But in the 2010 graph, a very oddly strong polar wind blew north of Russia around Moscow, going directly south into Pakistan. So how did those jetstreams affect weather patterns?

The northern polar jetstream usually brings extratropical lows and cyclones that make up the bulk of the precipitation in that geographical region of the world, and serves as the boundary between cold northern air and hot southern air. When it went suddenly northward as in July of 2010, it left those exposed areas unusally hot and dry and prevented necessary rain, making the area ripe for conditions like the wildfires that ravaged the forests near Moscow. The right side of the graphic showing the 2010 jet stream illustrates what happened to the precipitation that missed Russia. After blowing far northward, the rains suddenly headed southward toward Pakistan, causing heavy rainfall and widespread flooding.

The extreme cold snap covering 68 percent of the country is a direct result of the rapid melting of arctic ice, making the jet stream more unpredictable. In 2012 alone, ice sheets larger than Canada and Texas combined melted, setting an all-time record for the fastest-melting polar ice in recorded history. Just in August of 2012, arctic ice melted at a rate of 35,400 miles per day. If this pattern continues, sea levels are expected to rise by 23 feet by 2020. And such a rapid change in sea levels will not only cause cities built at sea level, like Miami, to be completely uninhabitable, but will cause an exodus of millions of climate refugees from coastal cities all over the world. And freak weather events like Hurricane Sandy rocking New York City will happen even more frequently. If you think this current cold snap is bad, wait until it takes hold for an entire winter and happens every year.

The Wrong Way

Acknowledging climate change is real and threatening isn’t a controversial issue. Even scientists funded by the Koch Brothers to refute the climate science making the case for man-made climate change admit that climate change is real, and that it has been accelerating since the industrial age. The science that showed carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere and channels heat has been around for centuries. The only people who disagree with the scientists studying the climate and telling us that we need to pay attention to climate change are the shills paid by the oil industry to spout nonsense on cable news channels (that depend on ad revenue from ExxonMobil). And 75 percent of Americans agree that climate change is real.

Unfortunately, our government seems to be heading in the opposite direction when it comes to climate policy. Like a true capitalist country, the US government is seeking to help corporations enrich short-term profits rather than thinking about the long-term future of the next generations of citizens. Oil has already begun to flow through the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, the construction of which President Obama fast-tracked.

As investigative journalist Steve Horn has reported, tar sands oil continues to get dredged from Alberta, and trains carrying the toxic substance have been on an alarming path of derailment and explosion, harming the communities surrounding the rail lines. And the recent tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, was a sobering premonition of what would happen if the Keystone XL pipeline were built and ruptured near a crucial water source like the Ogallala Aquifer.

Economic Benefits of Tackling Climate Change

We of course need to be mindful of our economy in this era of high unemployment and record numbers of people living under or on the cusp of the federal poverty line. But the minor economic impact from a few hundred new pipeline construction jobs would be exponentially negated by all the economic damage from climate change-influenced weather events. Hurricane Sandy cost the NYC metro area $50 billion. The impacts from the cold snap enveloping half the continental US are likely to be staggering, given all of the roads, schools, and businesses that have had to be shut down due to the blistering cold temperatures and wind chills.

But we can help our economy while also preserving our planet for future generations. By making massive investments in building a new sustainable energy grid across the country, we could create millions of new jobs in the construction, installation, transportation and maintenance of wind turbines, solar panels, and infrastructure to enable geothermal and biomass-based energy resources. The argument that we don’t have the money is silly – we’ve already spent $392 billion on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program that’s still malfunctioning today. Discontinuing that project and investing in clean energy infrastructure could be the fix to unemployment and climate change that would benefit not just America, but the rest of the world as well. Wall Street is already betting big on renewables, projecting that 69 to 74 percent of new energy development through 2030 will be in green energy.

We need to get serious about addressing what we’re doing to our climate in our reckless consumption of fossil fuels, or we’ll have many more cold winters, hot summers, and climate-related weather disasters in our future. This cold snap is a harsh, constant lesson taught to us by our planet, and if we fail this test, the next one will be even harder.


Keep up with US Uncut!
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Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

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Ecocentric

Climate Change Might Just Be Driving the Historic Cold Snap

Climate change skeptics are pointing to the record cold weather as evidence that the globe isn’t warming. But it could be that melting Arctic ice is making sudden cold snaps more likely—not less

550 Comments
It’s polar bear weather today for much of the Midwest. Temperatures are in the -20sº F (-28º C) and -30sº F (-35º C) in eastern Montana, North Dakota, northeast South Dakota, Minnesota and northern Iowa. With the stiff wind, it’s even worse—wind chills in the -40sº F (-40º C) and -50sº F (-45º C) are common across Minnesota and North Dakota, cold enough for exposed skin to suffer frostbite in just five minutes. By tonight, the freeze will reach the East Coast, where temperatures from Florida to Maine are expected to be 30º F to 40º F (16º C to 22º C) degrees below normal, extremes that haven’t been seen in decades. The National Weather Service isn’t kidding when it calls the cold “life-threatening.”

Unsurprisingly, the extreme cold has brought out the climate change skeptics, who point to the freeze and the recent snowstorms and say, essentially, “nyah-nyah.” Now this is where I would usually point to the fact that the occasional cold snap—even one as extreme as much of the U.S. is experiencing now—doesn’t change the overall trajectory of a warming planet. Weather is what happens in the atmosphere day to day; climate is how the atmosphere behaves over long periods of time. Winters in the U.S. have been warming steadily over the past century, and even faster in recent decades, so it would take more than a few sub-zero days to cancel that out.

 

(MORE: Arctic Blast: The Northern Air Mass Bringing Record-Breaking Cold to the U.S.)

But not only does the cold spell not disprove climate change, it may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles. Usually the fast winds in the vortex—which can top 100 mph (161 k/h)—keep that cold air locked up in the Arctic. But when the winds weaken, the vortex can begin to wobble like a drunk on his fourth martini, and the Arctic air can escape and spill southward, bringing Arctic weather with it. In this case, nearly the entire polar vortex has tumbled southward, leading to record-breaking cold, as you can see in this weatherbell.com graphic:

Graphic showing a simulation of the polar vortex over the Great Lakes on Monday night (weatherbell.com]

That disruption to the polar vortex may have been triggered by a sudden stratospheric warming event, a phenomenon Rick Grow explained at the Washington Post a few days ago:

Large atmospheric waves move upward from the troposphere — where most weather occurs — into the stratosphere, which is the layer of air above the troposphere. These waves, which are called Rossby waves, transport energy and momentum from the troposphere to the stratosphere. This energy and momentum transfer generates a circulation in the stratosphere, which features sinking air in the polar latitudes and rising air in the lowest latitudes. As air sinks, it warms. If the stratospheric air warms rapidly in the Arctic, it will throw the circulation off balance. This can cause a major disruption to the polar vortex, stretching it and — sometimes — splitting it apart.

(MORE: November Was Cold, But the Climate Keeps Warming)

What does that have to do with climate change? Sea ice is vanishing from the Arctic thanks to climate change, which leaves behind dark open ocean water, which absorbs more of the heat from the sun than reflective ice. That in turn is helping to cause the Arctic to warm faster than the rest of the planet, almost twice the global average. The jet stream—the belt of fast-flowing, westerly winds that essentially serves as the boundary between cold northern air and warmer southern air—is driven by temperature difference between the northerly latitudes and the tropical ones. Some scientists theorize that as that temperature difference narrows, it may weaken the jet stream, which in turns makes it more likely that cold Arctic air will escape the polar vortex and flow southward. Right now, an unusually large kink in the jet stream has that Arctic air flowing much further south than it usually would.

Still, this research is fairly preliminary, in part because extreme Arctic sea ice loss is a fairly recent phenomenon, so scientists don’t have the long data sets they need to draw more robust conclusions about the interaction between Arctic warming and cold snaps. In fact, the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that it was likely that the jet stream would shift towards the north as the climate warmed, and that the polar vortex would actually contract, even as a 2009 study found that sudden stratospheric warming events are becoming more frequent, which in turn seems to be driven by the rapid loss in Arctic sea ice.

And while a muddle like that would seem to make the science less rather than more reliable, it’s actually one more bit of proof that climate change is real. Global warming is sometimes thought of more as “global weirding,” with all manner of complex disruptions occurring over time. This week’s events show that climate change is almost certainly screwing with weather patterns ways that go beyond mere increases in temperature—meaning that you’d be smart to hold onto those winter coats for a while longer.

(MORE: November Was Cold, But the Climate Keeps Warming)

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BUT THEN READ THE FOLLOWING RUBBISH – THE STUFF THAT PURE RIGHT WING AMERICA WANTS TO BELIEVE — READ THIS AND BE SHOCKED!!!

THIS IS A COMMENT BY “

The global warming/climate change grift is a scam by the LEFTISTS to justify and exact massive new controls and taxes over our energy economy in order to put this sector of GIGANTIC economic activity under their control.

The dream of the LEFTISTS (DEMOCRATS) is to gain more and more control, extending to all aspects of society. Witness the Obama Care fiasco, which was designed not so much to better our medical system, than it was to control our medical system. Remember, when the government gains control of  a sector of the economy, or gains regulatory authority over our lives in any way, it gives government and the political left ( it is the leftists who are generally manning the bureaucracy of government agencies) new powers to control money and jobs, all of which are plums for them to pass out to their constituents.

The climate change / global warming scam is intended for government to control all aspects of energy production and distribution. Already we have seen massive amounts of money  WASTED on so called green energy companies which failed. They were given hundreds of millions of dollars of American taxpayer money, and these people who ran these green companies were sympathizers with the leftist democrats, and made big pay outs to the democrats and stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the public. 

The LEFTISTS (DEMOCRATS) don’t like the coal industry, so they shut it down, destroying thousands upon thousands of jobs of hard working people in coal areas. They don’t care about these working Americans, because they want alternative energy, regardless of how much more it costs to produce. Justification for increasing our energy costs AND throwing people out of good paying jobs?…the “threat” of global warming.

The LEFT (DEMOCRATS) are always marching “forward”. The meaning of their battle cry of “forward” simply means that they intend to take more and more control over all of society, economics and all Americans lives. They never stop moving “forward”. There is always more control for them to get over our country.

For those of you Americans who still vote for democrats out of tradition and belief that the democrats are for the little guy, understand that the LEFTISTS so called elites who run that party lock stock and barrel regard you as little bugs, just to be pushed and moved in whatever direction they want. The republicans are meanwhile vilified by the democrats allies, the media, Hollywood, the education establishment, etc. They vilify the republicans as being the party of old white men, who (deservedly) will soon die off, leaving democrats in complete control, as the new immigrants from Latin America, as well as the Blacks, women, gays, etc, all support democrats overwhelmingly. Leftist bloggers all crow about these demographic “facts”, writing with glee about the looming extinction of old white men of the current generation.

However, it is possible that more and more people will wake up to true nature of the democrat party, that they are simply professional leftists, the same type of people that took over Russia in 1917. The true fact that the communist take over of Russia and later, after WWII, of all of Eastern Europe, ended in dismal failure of these economies means nothing to these leftists who run the democrat party. Don’t bother them with the facts that communism has failed everywhere, yet capitalism (free enterprise) and the rule of law, which was developed to it’s greatest degree in the American nation over a span of time which is now approaching 400 years (starting with the Pilgrims), has been the most spectacular success in mankind’s history. The democrats simply ignore this, and cry “forward!”. But they mean forward to a communist type of society, the antithesis of the proven successful, traditional American society.

So, Americans, whether they be Black, Brown, White, etc., still do have the opportunity to join together under the republican banner, and turn the republican party into the BIG TENT party to restore America to it’s vaunted traditions. The republican party is not perfect. However, it DOES respond to the initiatives of sincere Americans who want to turn our nation away from the brink of destruction, and back to the traditional values we have had for centuries (witness the Tea Party wing which works within the republican party to restore America). We Americans of whatever background do not have to be destined to live under a new, leftist democrat totalitarian state where we are TOLD what to do, with little remaining freedom for each of us.”

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

 

 

from IIASA -

Continuing with pledge pathways to 2030 could push climate goals out of reach.

Current pledges for greenhouse gas emission reductions are inadequate and will further increase the challenge to reach internationally agreed climate targets, according to new research from a global consortium of 13 international research teams coordinated by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research (PIK).

In the absence of a global agreement on emission limits, countries instead have made voluntary pledges to reduce their emissions by 2020 with the current negotiations trying to establish international agreements for emissions reductions for the year 2030. The mitigation effort of the 2020 pledges made by countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change would result in significantly higher emissions in 2030 than what would be cost-effective in order to reach the long-term climate targets acknowledged by that treaty, according to a new study by research teams from Europe, Asia and the United States published in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

“The gap between where emissions are and where emissions would need to be in order to keep climate targets within reach is getting bigger and bigger,” says IIASA Energy Program Leader Keywan Riahi, lead author of the paper published today. “Our study brings together the leading research teams in the field to systematically assess the implications of this gap.”

The researchers find that adherence to the pledges would result in global emissions between 53 and 61 GTCO2e for the year 2030. While it could still be possible to meet targets starting from those levels, the options for mitigation then become much more limited and much more expensive. The new research examines the long-term implications of the short-term delay: How much would we need to cut emissions after 2030 in order to meet the 2°C target? How much would it cost? What technologies would be needed?

“This project has explored the interaction between short term climate action and long term climate targets in unprecedented detail. It clearly shows that the more hesitant our actions are today, the more limited our options will be tomorrow.” says Elmar Kriegler, senior scientist at PIK and leader of the AMPERE project.

The study finds that starting from pledge pathway levels in 2030, emissions would need to decline much more quickly after 2030 in order to meet the 2°C target. That means, for example that new coal power plants built in the next few years may need to be shut down before their natural lifetime—at great cost to investors and governments.

The researchers also find difficult implications for technology with a delay in emissions cuts: The speed of deployment for carbon-neutral energy sources would need to be three times as high starting at pledge-pathway levels for 2030. The choices for energy technology also become more limited – while it could currently be possible to meet climate targets without relying on carbon capture technologies to store carbon underground, delaying climate action until 2030 will most likely leave no choice but to apply these technologies at large scale.

“There is not much time to fundamentally change the system, considering that more than half of the energy worldwide would need to come from climate friendly technologies by 2050. Our results indicate that this can be achieved at relatively modest costs if mitigation started today. Delays will not only increase the cost significantly, but would require also a global energy transformation at a pace that will be historically unprecedented” says Riahi.

The new study is an overview of the results from the AMPERE (Assessment of Climate Change Mitigation Pathways and Evaluation of the Robustness of Mitigation Cost Estimates) project funded under the FP7 framework of the European Commission, to be published in a special issue of Technological Forecasting & Social Change. It combines state-of-the-art energy and economics models and so-called integrated assessment models to explore possible pathways for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, along with costs of following those paths.

Reference
Riahi, K., E. Kriegler, N. Johnson, C. Bertram, M. Den Elzen, J. Eom, M. Schaeffer, J. Edmonds, M. Isaac, V. Krey, T. Longden, G. Luderer, A. Mejean, D. McCollum, S. Mima, H. Turton, D. P. van Vuuren, D. Wada, V. Bosetti, P. Capros, P. Criqui, M. Hamdi-Cherif, M. Kainuma, O. Edenhofer. 2013. Locked into Copenhagen pledges – Implications of short-term emission targets for the cost and feasibility of long-term climate goals. Technological Forecasting and Social Change.  www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162513002539

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 OUR ANSWER IS NOT – POUR MORE MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN – BUT WE ADVOCATE A CULTURAL CHANGE OF LIFE-STYLES IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WEST AND IN THE COPY-CAT STATES OF THE EAST AND SOUTH. WE ALSO SEE NO SENSE IN TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE MELTING ICE COVER AT THE POLES IN ORDER TO REACH MORE RESOURCES TO FIRE UP  FURTHER OUR PLANET.

WE THINK THE PHILIPPINES WOULD BE MORE FAVORED IF RATHER THEN STRETCHING OUT A HAND FOR AID – THEY TOOK LEADERSHIP IN CANGING WHAT WE DO NORMALLY INTO SOMETHING THAT DOES LESS HARM TO COUNTRIES LIKE THE PHILIPPINES.

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Philippines blames climate change for monster typhoon.

 

boy at scene of devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan
Reuters/Erik De Castro

 

It’s hard to comprehend the scale of the disaster in the Philippines, where a massive typhoon may have killed more than 10,000 people. But climate delegates who have gathered today in Warsaw, Poland, for a fresh round of U.N. climate talks will need to do just that.

 

The Philippines is a densely populated, low-lying archipelago state that sits in warm Pacific Ocean waters — and warm ocean waters tend to produce vicious tropical storms. The country’s geography puts its islands in the path of frequent typhoons (typhoon is the local word — Americans call such storms hurricanes and others refer to them as cyclones). The Philippines’ low and unequally distributed national wealth, meanwhile, leaves its populace highly vulnerable to them.

 

And in terrible news for Filipinos, climate models show that global warming is making typhoons even more powerful.

 

Meteorologists have blamed a rise in water temperatures of nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit and other weather conditions last week for stirring up Typhoon Haiyan, which grew to become one of the most damaging storms in world history. Here’s a high-level account of the devastation from Reuters:

“The situation is bad, the devastation has been significant. In some cases the devastation has been total,” Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras told a news conference.

The United Nations said officials in Tacloban, which bore the brunt of the storm on Friday, had reported one mass grave of 300-500 bodies. More than 600,000 people were displaced by the storm across the country and some have no access to food, water, or medicine, the U.N. says. …

Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded, is estimated to have destroyed about 70 to 80 percent of structures in its path.

 

Officials from the Philippines are blaming climate change for the ferocity of Typhoon Haiyan, and demanding that climate negotiators get serious in Warsaw.

 

Though climate scientists aren’t ready to attribute the blame quite so directly, there is mounting evidence that climate change is making storms like Haiyan worse.

 As we’ve explained, the oceans are absorbing much of the extra heat that’s being trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases, which is helping to stoke more powerful tropical storms. Ben Adler recently reported on the results of a study in Indonesia, just south of the Philippines, which found that local ocean waters were warming at a historically unprecedented rate.

 

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” said Naderev “Yeb” Saño, lead negotiator for the Philippines at the climate talks. “The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.”

 

Saño told Responding to Climate Change how the storm had affected his family:

 

[Saño] spent much of Friday and Saturday wondering if his family had survived Typhoon Haiyan …

“The first message I got from my brother was short, to say he was alive,” he says. “The second was that he had been burying dead friends, relatives and strangers. He said with his own two hands he had piled up close to 40 dead people.”

Sano’s family hails from the part of the Philippines eastern seaboard where the typhoon made landfall, smashing into his father’s hometown.

“I really fear that a lot of my relatives may have suffered tremendously, if they survived at all,” he adds.

 

This is not the first time Saño has warned the world that it must take action to prevent super-storms from devastating his country and so many others. At the 2012 U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, he broke down in tears during his address, linking climate change to Typhoon Bopha, which killed hundreds of people in his country late last year.

“[W]e have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century. And heartbreaking tragedies like this is not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities. …

I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to the leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.”

 

We told you on Friday that climate delegates representing poor and developing countries are begging wealthy countries for financial help — not just for help in reducing their carbon emissions, but also for help in dealing with crazy weather that’s already happening. They say they can’t afford to do it alone, and many of them feel that their countries shouldn’t have to, since the rich nations of the world have pumped so much of the excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

 

Rich countries have pledged to provide $100 billion in annual climate assistance starting in 2020 via the Green Climate Fund, but they’ve contributed very little so far. “We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt,” Saño said. And some delegations in Warsaw are seeking more funding still, to compensate developing countries for the damage caused by climate disasters.

 

If wealthy nations don’t come through with significant funding, hopes of meaningful global climate cooperation could be doomed. And if the world doesn’t cooperate on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions will keep spiraling up, pushing global average temperatures up more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial times. That would not only mean worse typhoons for the developing world — it would mean worse hurricanes, droughts, fires, and floods in the U.S. and across the world.

 

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants: johnupton@gmail.com.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Europe's largest coal-fired utility plant is in Belchatow, Poland.              Poland, Wedded to Coal, Spurns Europe on Clean Energy Targets.

By DANNY HAKIM and MATEUSZ ZURAWIK

A fossil-fuels holdout, Poland has actively worked to block the European Union’s effort to more tightly control greenhouse gas emissions.

WE HOPE THAT POLAND SENDS ITS OFFICIALS TO LISTEN IN TO THE FOLLOWING – Finally we found a reason to hold the upcoming COP19 in Wasrsaw:

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

From: Climate Action registration@climateactionprogramme.

Sustainable Innovation Forum opens with ‘leaders in energy transition’ debate.

Energy transition will be the first issue debated at the Sustainable Innovation Forum in Warsaw on 20 November as a panel of leaders on energy transition explore feasible and practical measures to improve the viability of low carbon infrastructure.
The panel features Dirk Forrister, President and Chief Executive of International Emissions Trading Association; Jochen Flasbarth, President of German Federal Environment Agency; Professor Karl Rose, Senior Director of Policies and Scenarios at World Energy Council; Philippe Joubert, Chairman of EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and Senior Advisor at Alstom; and Kersten-Karl Barth, Chair of ICC Commission on Environment and Energy, and Sustainability Director at Siemens. The panel will be moderated by Jane Burston, Head, Centre for Carbon Measurement, National Physical Laboratory.There is availability for a Corporate Partner to join the distinguished panel. Please submit expressions of interest please click here.Interested in attending the Leaders in Energy Transition discussion? You may also wish to drop in to the Breakfast Workshop hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce, contemplating “The key to scaling-up energy efficiency investments”. The workshop will precede registration at 8.30am.

Breakfast Workshop

A global voice for business, the ICC is hosting our Breakfast Workshop.
Best known for facilitating a platform for businesses and other organisations to digest and explore the major shifts occurring within the world economy, the ICC offers a channel of business leadership to aid governments managing such shifts through collaboration of global benefit.
This opportunity is one not to be missed.
====================
UNEP and  glaciologist, Dr Pfeffer,
will  host an exclusive evening screening of   “Chasing Ice”
following the Sustainable Innovation Forum.
=======================

New Holland

New Holland Agriculture, the acknowledged Clean Energy Leader®, is a key sponsor of the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2013. New Holland’s participation will focus on partnerships and strategic alliances that are aimed at maximising energy production on farms and they will be looking to leverage agriculture’s role in developing a sustainable future.

Read more ->

Reputable Speaker line up

The Sustainable Innovation Forum will bring together more than thirty reputable world leaders from business, government and international NGOs to provide insight and share best practice on issues associated with low carbon infrastructures, clean technology innovation, the green economy and sustainable urban development.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Activists Feel Powerful Wrath as Russia Guards Its Arctic Claims.

Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Alexandra Harris, one of 30 people from a Greenpeace ship who are being detained by Russia.

MOSCOW — Gizem Akhan, 24, was about to begin her final year studying the culinary arts at Yeditepe University in Istanbul. Tomasz Dziemianczuk, 36, took a vacation from his job as a cultural adviser at the University of Gdansk in Poland that has now unexpectedly turned into an unpaid leave of absence.

Related:  Lens Blog: In Russia, Conflating Journalism and ‘Hooliganism’ (October 30, 2013)

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   Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Greenpeace activists with photos of a detained colleague, Gizem Akhan, outside the Russian Consulate in Istanbul.

Alex Von Kleydorff/The Hour Newspapers, via Associated Press

Maggy Willcox’s husband, Peter, a Greenpeace captain, is a prisoner.

Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Alina Giganova, whose husband, Denis Sinyakov, is being held.

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Dmitri Litvinov, 51, is a veteran activist who as a child spent four years in Siberian exile after his father, Pavel, took part in the Red Square protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

“I didn’t expect my son to get in their clutch,” the elder Mr. Litvinov said in a telephone interview from Irvington, N.Y., where he settled to teach physics in nearby Tarrytown after being expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974.

Dmitri Litvinov and the others are just three of the 30 people aboard a Greenpeace International ship, the Arctic Sunrise, who are now confined in separate cells in the far northern city of Murmansk after staging a high-seas protest last month against oil exploration in the Arctic. All face criminal charges that could result in years in prison as a result of having grossly underestimated Russia’s readiness to assert — and even expand — its sovereignty in a region potentially rich with natural resources.

The vigorous legal response by the authorities, including the seizure of the ship itself, appears to have caught Greenpeace off guard and left the crew’s families and friends worried that the consequences of what the activists considered a peaceful protest could prove much graver than any expected when they set out.

“Naturally, every time Gizem sets out on a protest I feel anxious,” Ms. Akhan’s mother, Tulay, said in written responses delivered through Greenpeace. “I’m a mother, and most of the time she doesn’t even tell us she is participating. I’ve known the risks but couldn’t have foreseen that we would come face to face with such injustice.”

Critics of the government of President Vladimir V. Putin have added the crew of the Arctic Sunrise to a catalog of prisoners here who have faced politically motivated or disproportionate punishment for challenging the state. Among them are the former oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the punk performers of Pussy Riot and the protesters awaiting trial more than a year after violence broke out on the day of Mr. Putin’s inauguration last year.

But there is one crucial difference: Most of those who were aboard the Arctic Sunrise are foreigners.

They hail from 18 nations. Two of them, Denis Sinyakov of Russia and Kieron Bryan of Britain, are freelance journalists who joined the crew to chronicle the ship’s voyage, which began in Amsterdam and ended on Sept. 19 when Russian border guards borne by helicopters descended on the ship in the Pechora Sea.

Alexandra Harris of Britain, 27, was on her first trip to the Arctic. Camila Speziale, 21, of Argentina, was on her first trip at sea. Others were veteran Greenpeace activists, including the American captain, Peter Willcox, who was skipper of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 when French secret service agents bombed it at dockside in Auckland, New Zealand, leading to the drowning of a photographer, Fernando Pereira.

The activists knew the protest was risky. Two of them, Sini Saarela of Finland and Marco Weber of Switzerland, tried to scale the offshore oil platform in the Pechora Sea owned by Russia’s state energy giant, Gazprom.

They plunged into the icy waters after guards sprayed water from fire hoses and fired warning shots, and they were plucked from the sea by a Russian coast guard ship and held as “guests.”  The next day, Sept. 19, however, the Arctic Sunrise was seized by border guards in international waters.

Greenpeace staged a similar but more successful protest in the summer of 2012. In that instance, activists, including Greenpeace’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo, scaled the same platform and unfurled a banner. After several hours, they departed, and the Russian authorities did not pursue any charges.

The authorities have shown little sign of leniency since the ship’s seizure, despite an international campaign by Greenpeace to draw attention to the prosecutions and even an appeal from Italy’s oil giant Eni, a partner of Gazprom, to show clemency for the crew, which includes an Italian, Cristian D’Alessandro.

The prosecution of the Arctic Sunrise crew has punctuated Mr. Putin’s warnings that he would not tolerate any infringement on Russia’s development in the Arctic. The region has become a focus of political and economic strategy for the Kremlin as its natural resources have become more accessible because of the warming climate.

When the government of the Netherlands, where Greenpeace International is based, filed an appeal to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to have the ship and crew released, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction, citing the country’s sovereignty. The tribunal has scheduled a hearing on the Dutch claim anyway, but unless Russia seeks a compromise that would free the prisoners, the crew could be detained for months awaiting trial.

Greenpeace’s activists and their cause have not found much sympathy in Russia, their fate shaped in part by hostile coverage on state-owned or state-controlled television. The main state network, Channel One, recently broadcast an analysis that suggested that Greenpeace’s protest had been orchestrated by powerful backers with economic incentives to undermine Gazprom.

After their formal arrest on Sept. 24, the crew members appeared one by one in court and were charged with piracy and ordered held at least until Nov. 24. One by one their appeals for bail were denied. Last week, the regional investigative committee reduced the charges to hooliganism, a crime that nonetheless carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison.

The committee raised the possibility of new charges against some crew members that could result in longer sentences upon conviction.

According to Greenpeace and relatives, the prisoners have not been mistreated in the detention center where they are now held, next to Murmansk’s morgue. They have had access to lawyers and diplomats from their respective countries. They are allowed care packages delivered by Greenpeace, occasional phone calls and sporadic visits from those relatives who can make it to Murmansk. The captain and chief engineer were taken to visit and inspect the Arctic Sunrise, now moored in Murmansk’s port.

Conditions, though, are grim.

In letters or phone calls to their families, they have described small, unheated cells, unappetizing meals and Russian cellmates who smoke relentlessly. They spend 23 hours a day in their cells, with only an hour of exercise a day in an enclosed courtyard and the periodic visits with lawyers or trips to court for a hearing. “It’s very cold now,” Ms. Harris, the activist from Britain on her first Greenpeace operation in the Arctic, wrote in a letter to her parents and brother that was widely cited in the British press: “It snowed last night. The blizzard blew my very poorly insulated window open and I had to sleep wearing my hat.”

She went on to express a measure of resolve, saying she practiced yoga in her cell and tapped on the wall to the music piped in, but she also wrote of uncertainty in a confinement that she compared to slowly dying.

“I heard that from December Murmansk is dark for six weeks,” she wrote. “God, I hope I’m out by then.”

Reporting was contributed by Andrew Roth and Patrick Reevell from Moscow, Ceylan Yeginsu from Istanbul, and Joanna Berendt from Warsaw.

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Also:

Russia Denies Reports It Spied on Group of 20 Officials.

By JIM YARDLEY – same issue of the New York Times.

It rejected an Italian newspaper’s report that Russian spy agencies distributed special USB thumb drives to eavesdrop on participants at last month’s meeting in St. Petersburg.

www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/world/europe/russia-denies-report-it-spied-on-g-20-officials.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131031

“We don’t know the sources of the information,” said Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, according to RIA Novosti, the state news agency. “However, this is undoubtedly nothing but an attempt to shift the focus from issues that truly exist in relations between European capitals and Washington to unsubstantiated, nonexistent issues.”

European leaders have been outraged by reports that the National Security Agency spied on allies in Europe, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. The American spying operation has created a diplomatic crisis for the Obama administration, stirring fury in France, Spain and Germany, while intensifying criticism in Washington about the scope and methods of American espionage.

On Wednesday, the focus shifted to Russia, as Corriere della Sera, a leading Italian newspaper, published allegations that the Group of 20 meeting was the scene of a major effort in Russian espionage. According to the paper, Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, had a debriefing with security officials after returning from St. Petersburg. The report was swiftly picked up by news agencies and newspapers in other countries.

The security team then conducted an examination of the thumb drives, which the Russians distributed as gifts to the 300 foreign delegates, who also received stuffed teddy bears, cups, diaries and cables to connect smartphones with computers, the Italian paper reported. Later, the European Council’s security office sent a report to Group of 20 participants, warning that some of the USB drives, as well as the cables, appeared to have been tampered with, Corriere della Sera said.

The European officials then handed the devices to German intelligence services, which conducted more tests and concluded that the sabotaged electronic equipment could be used to intercept data from computers and mobile phones. Corriere della Sera also reported that Italian secret service agents were still examining some of the devices distributed to Italy’s delegation.

In Brussels, a media official in Mr. Rompuy’s office declined to comment on Wednesday. “There are always measures in place to protect the infrastructure of the council and, as a rule, there is a cooperation with member states,” said the official, Nicolas Kerleroux. “But we won’t comment on any specific matter.”

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.S. Endures Heat Waves, Extended Drought.

WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2013 (ENS) – Heat waves and drought conditions are touching off wildfires, shriveling grasslands across the western states and stressing eastern urban residents, forcing lawmakers and public lands managers alike to rethink their approach to water supplies.

In Washington, the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee is holding a hearing today on the future of the Colorado River. The hearing follows recent deadly wildfires, a record-breaking heat wave and worsening drought conditions in the Southwest that have put the region’s residents, wildlife and natural resources at risk.

The subcommittee is examining the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Demand and Supply study, released last December, which found that there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the basin’s current water demands or future demand increases.

Spanning parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, the Colorado River Basin is one of the most critical sources of water in the West. The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, supply water used to irrigate nearly 5.5 million acres of land, and is also the lifeblood for at least 22 federally recognized tribes, seven National Wildlife Refuges, four National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks.

Climate change will reduce water available from the Colorado River by nine percent, increasing the risk to cities, farms and the environment, the study concludes.

“This study serves as a call to action and underscores the importance of prioritizing innovative conservation solutions rather than resorting to costly pipelines, dams and other diversions,” said Matt Niemerski, water policy director at the nonprofit American Rivers. “We need to step up our efforts and manage our water wisely in order to meet the current and future needs in the basin.”

Across the country, more than 40 percent of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for power plant cooling. These plants also lose several billion gallons of freshwater every day through evaporation.

New research released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists indicates that increasing demand and drought are putting a great strain on water resources. Low water levels and high water temperatures can cause power plants to cut their electricity output in order to avoid overheating or harming local water bodies.

John Rogers, a senior energy analyst with UCS’s Climate and Energy Program, said, “In our water-constrained world, a 20-year delay in tackling the problem leaves the power industry unnecessarily vulnerable to drought and exacerbates competition with other water users. We can bring water use down faster and further, but only by changing how we get our electricity.”

A pathway that includes strong investments in renewables and energy efficiency, according to the UCS study, would greatly reduce power generation’s water use and carbon emissions. Under such a scenario, water withdrawals would drop by 97 percent from current levels by 2050, with most of that drop within the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, hot, dry conditions persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. Wild horses and livestock compete for the same scarce water resources.

Drought conditions are taking a toll on western rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management to provide supplemental water and food for wild horses, reduce grazing, and enact fire restrictions.

In New Mexico, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor. The figure is 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah.

Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.

“Since last fall and winter, we have been working with grazers across the West in anticipation of tough conditions related to drought. In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM worked with permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their alloted forage on BLM-managed lands,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze.

“As drought conditions continue, wild horses, livestock, and wildlife that rely on rangeland forage and water will face extremely challenging conditions that may leave them in very poor condition,” said Kornze. “We are taking action to address these situations as quickly and as effectively as we can, but our options are increasingly limited by conditions on the land.”

In Nevada, all BLM Districts have been hauling water to wild horses. There, the BLM is trucking 5,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week to four locations in the Winnemucca District at a cost of $1,000 a day.

In the next few days, a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian will join BLM specialists in assessing horses in Lincoln County, Nev., after BLM employees noted that horses were not drinking water from trucked-in troughs and were not eating supplemental hay. This raised concerns about the health of the animals.

Over the past week in Nevada, average temperatures have been 10 degrees above normal, hovering around 100 degrees. The state has recently had only 0.1 to 0.5 inches of rain, resulting in sparse, poor-quality forage, according to the BLM.

Scarce water sources have put pressure on all users, including wild horses, livestock, and wildlife; causing long-lasting damage to plants, stream channels, spring areas, and water quality.

The heat wave continues across the eastern United States, with highs Tuesday expected to reach the 90s across much of the eastern third of the country, says the National Weather Service. Combined with humidity, this will create heat index values of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

The heat and humidity is here for several more days for the Eastern states, including the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, and spreading into the Midwest and Great Plains. A large upper level ridge and sinking air in the lower atmosphere are causing the hot conditions, says the National Weather Service, which says, “Although this is the hottest weather so far this season, it is less than the extreme heat observed last summer over these areas.”

In New York, Con Edison’s crews, working 12-hour shifts, are pulling cables, replacing fuses and other equipment to bring power back to customers as the heat wave blankets the metropolitan area. The heat wave is expected to extend into Saturday.

Crews have been responding to scattered outages and have restored power to more than 7,600 customers in New York City and Westchester County since the heat settled here on Sunday.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly personally after an intern fainted in the heat and paramedics did not arrive for more than 30 minutes.

“This whole situation is outrageous and I don’t know what happened, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it. It’s inexcusable,” Quinn told the “New York Daily News.”

Across the Great Plains, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski and Head of AccuWeather.com’s Long-Range Forecasting Team Paul Pastelok, say heat will be coming in and out of the Plains over the next 30 days.

For the next two weeks, the Midwest will have temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Meanwhile, temperatures will remain below normal across parts of the southern and southwestern states, mainly from Texas to Arizona, where heavy rain and flash flooding are possible.

The Southwest will catch a break as building monsoon conditions ease the heat down for the Four Corners area, but temperatures will increase over the Great Basin and West, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

All this week, the odds favor above-median precipitation over western Alaska, the southern Rockies, the Northern Great Plains, Western and Central Gulf Coasts, and from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a service of the federal government.

Dry conditions are likely across the Pacific Northwest, eastern Alaska, and the Central Great Plains. Temperatures are likely to be above normal west of the continental divide, and from the Midwest to the Northeast, with below-normal temperatures favored over New Mexico and the Southeast.

AccuWeather predicts the mercury will soar come September when the Southwest region will reach its hottest point of the year.

OUR MAIN COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE IS THAT IT SOMEHOW FORGOT MEXICO WHICH HAS RIGHTS TO THE COLORADO RIVER WATER AS WELL. THE SITUATION IS THUS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THEN MENTIONED HERE. THE ARTICLE ALSO DID NOT MENTION THAT SOME OF THE AGRICULTURE IN ARIZONA IS SIMPLY MISPLACED – GROWING COTTON IN THE DESERT IS JUST NOT THE THING THAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED. OH WELL – YOU CANNOT MAKE SENSE EASILY WHEN YOU TALK CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES!

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

Opinionator
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN

Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

—–

Mark Bittman – July 1, 2013 – The New York Times.
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN
Mark Bittman

According to a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month, we are not running out of fossil fuels anytime soon. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution we’ve used around 1.2 trillion barrels of oil; the report estimates that with current technology we can produce roughly five times that much. With future technologies, it may well be that the suffering sky is the limit.

This reduces the issue of conversion to clean energy to one of ethics and intent. Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency recommends leaving two-thirds of all fossil fuels in the ground. Makes sense to me, but if you’re an oil executive scarcely being charged for the global damage your industry causes (an effective annual subsidy, says the International Monetary Fund, of nearly $2 trillion, money that would be better spent subsidizing nonpolluting energy sources), responsible to your shareholders and making a fortune, would you start erecting windmills?

Here’s the answer: According to Rolling Stone, just this spring, BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”Mining oil, gas and coal is making some people rich while braising the planet for all of us. It’s difficult to think ahead, especially with climate change deniers sowing doubt and unfounded fears of unemployment, but we owe quick and decisive action on greenhouse gas reduction not only to ourselves but to billions of people not yet born. “People give less weight to the future, but that’s a brain bug,” the philosopher Peter Singer told me. “We should have equal concern for everyone wherever and whenever they live.”

There’s reason for optimism thanks to renewable energy standards in most states, California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade law and President Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. But this isn’t nearly enough, and you have to hope that the president is now fully engaged in progressive energy policy and isn’t merely preparing us for disappointment should he approve of Keystone XL.

Three things worth noting: Most politicians prefer adaptation to mitigation — that is, they’d rather build houses on stilts than reduce emissions; energy independence is in no way synonymous with “clean” energy; and the oft-stated notion that “since gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, we should be moving toward gas” puts us on the highway to hell.

Make no mistake: when it comes to climate change gas isn’t “clean,” because undetermined amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — leak into the atmosphere from natural gas production.

The answer is zero emission energy. Even moderate changes can help, but cuts in the use of fossil fuels must be much deeper than the president is directing, and this may not happen unless we rid Congress of friends of Big Energy. (By one count the House’s 125 climate-change deniers have taken $30 million in contributions from energy companies.)

Investments in zero-carbon energy are relatively inexpensive and good for the economy, and the cost of business as usual is higher than the cost of even expensive carbon pricing. But it’s tough — pointless? — to make these arguments to the energy companies and their Congressional lackeys, who will fight as they have been effectively paid to do.

Unless we quickly put a steep and real price on all carbon emissions, our inaction will doom our not-too-distant descendants. “Really,” says Dan Lashof, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, “we need a comprehensive approach to reduce carbon pollution from all sources. What form that takes — caps, taxes, or standards — is far less important than how soon we get it in place.”

Americans and Western Europeans have been the primary beneficiaries of the lifestyle that accelerated climate change, and, of course are among the primary emitters of greenhouse gases. For the first 200-plus years of the fossil fuel age, we could claim ignorance of its lasting harm; we cannot do that now.

With knowledge comes responsibility, and with that responsibility must come action. As the earth’s stewards, our individual changes are important, but this is a bigger deal than replacing light bulbs or riding a bike. Let’s make working to turn emissions around a litmus test for every politician who asks for our vote.

Imagine a democracy across space, time and class, where legislative bodies represented not only those living in the world’s low-lying areas but their great-grandchildren — and ours. Or imagine that our elected representatives were proxies for those people. Imagine those representatives determining our current energy policy. Is there any doubt that things would change more rapidly?

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

Arizona Forestry spokesman says 19 firefighters die battling fast-moving wildfire.

View Photo Gallery — 19 firefighters killed in central Ariz. wildfire:?The firefighters were battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill fire – the photos are front page on New York Times and Washington Post of July 1 and 2 – and all over TV – all over the globe.

By Associated Press, Published: June 30 | Updated: Monday, July 1, 12:57 AM Posted by Washington Post.

YARNELL, Ariz. — Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.

The “hotshot” firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.

Heat wave hits western U.S.:?A heat wave gripping the western United States is one of the worst in years, with desert locations in the Southwest seeing temperatures approach 120 degrees. It is expected to continue through Tuesday.

The flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town, and smoke from the blaze could be smelled for miles.

The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said that the 19 firefighters were a part of the city’s fire department. The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

“By the time they got there, it was moving very quickly,” he said.

He added that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when “something drastic” occurred.

“One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective — kinda looks like a foil type— fire-resistant material — with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it,” Fraijo said.

“Under certain conditions there’s usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive,” he said. “It’s an extreme measure that’s taken under the absolute worst conditions.”

The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

Morrison said several homes in the community of Glenisle burned on Sunday. He said no other injuries or deaths have been reported from that area.

About 200 firefighters are fighting the wildfire, which has also forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. An additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.

Federal help was also being called into to fight the fire, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said.

Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is one of the only cities in the United States that has a hot shot fire crew, Fraijo said. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff’s office said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes Yarnell, shot off a series of tweets Sunday night sending his condolences to those affected. He said his office will remain in contact with emergency responders and would offer help to those who needed it.

Other high profile Arizonans expressed their shock on Twitter, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who called it “absolutely devastating news.” U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that he was “sick with the news.”

——-===================================================——–


Western United States swelters amid deadly heat

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
A dangerous, record-breaking heat wave in the western United States contributed to the death of a Nevada resident and sent scores of people to hospitals with heat-related illnesses.
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
An “atmospheric blast furnace” engulfed the sunbaked U.S. West in dangerous triple-digit temperatures on Friday, forecasters said, raising concerns for homeless people and others unable to escape near record temperatures expected over the weekend.
Photo: Joshua Lott

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

U.S.
Experts See New Normal as a Hotter, Drier West Faces More Huge Fires.

David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press
The Yarnell Hill fire, which on Monday expanded tenfold, covering more than 8,000 acres.
By FELICITY BARRINGER and KENNETH CHANG

One of the deadliest wildfires in a generation vastly expanded Monday to cover more than 8,000 acres, sweeping up sharp slopes through dry scrub and gnarled piñon pines a day after fickle winds and flames killed 19 firefighters.

Multimedia -Interactive Feature – Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters

Video: Raw Footage: Arizona Wildfire Aftermath

Related: Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
*
The Lede: Fallen Firefighters Had Prepared for Worst-Case Scenario (July 1, 2013)

Related in Opinion: Op-Ed Contributor: Living With Fire (July 2, 2013)
*
Dot Earth Blog: 19 Firefighters Fall on the ‘Wildland-Urban Interface’ (July 1, 2013)

The charred remains of an area near Yarnell, Ariz., abutted a strip of fire retardant that kept some houses safe from the wildfire there.
The gusty monsoon winds where the Colorado Plateau begins to drop off into the Sonoran Desert continued to bedevil about 400 firefighters who were defending 500 homes and 200 businesses in the old gold mining villages of Yarnell and Peeples Valley.

Scientists said those blazes and 15 others that remained uncontained from New Mexico to California and Idaho were part of the new normal — an increasingly hot and dry West, resulting in more catastrophic fires.


Since 1970, Arizona has warmed at a rate 0.72 degrees per decade, the fastest among the 50 states, based on an analysis of temperature data by Climate Central, an independent organization that researches and reports on climate. Even as the temperatures have leveled off in many places around the world in the past decade, the Southwest has continued to get hotter.


“The decade of 2001 to 2010 in Arizona was the hottest in both spring and the summer,” said Gregg Garfin, a professor of climate, natural resources and policy at the University of Arizona and the executive editor of a study examining the impact of climate change on the Southwest.

Warmer winters mean less snowfall. More of the winter precipitation falls as rain, which quickly flows away in streams instead of seeping deep underground.

The soils then dry out earlier and more quickly in May and June. “It’s the most arid time of year,” Dr. Garfin said. “It’s windy as well.”
The growing season also starts earlier, so there is more to burn.


“The fire season has lengthened substantially, by two months, over the last 30 years,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist at the United States Geological Survey station at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The fire potential is exacerbated by the past policy, beginning around 1900, of putting out all fires. Fires are a natural way of clearing out the underbrush. With that natural rhythm disrupted, the flammable material piled up, so when it did catch fire, it ignited a giant fire that burned hotter and wider.

This total-suppression policy began to ease as early as the 1950s, when scientists began to see fire’s role in ecosystems. It was completely abandoned nearly two decades ago.

But in the 1970s, the Southwest entered a wet period, part of a climate cycle that repeats every 20 to 30 years. “That wet period helped keep a lid on fires,” Dr. Allen said. “And it also allowed the forests to fluff up.”

Since 1996, the climate pattern, known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, has swung to the dry end of the spectrum, and the region is caught in a long-term drought.

Stephen J. Pyne, one of the nation’s leading fire historians and a professor at Arizona State University, said, “How we live on the land, what we decide we put on public and private lands, how we do things and don’t do things on the land, changes its combustibility.”

In many landscapes, he added, “you’ve enhanced the natural combustibility” by building hundreds of thousands of homes in fire-prone areas, and for years suppressing natural fires, allowing a buildup of combustible materials like the “slash” debris left behind by logging.

“The natural conditions, particularly climate, the land-use changes that interact with it and how we add or subtract fire, those are the three parts of the fire triangle. Almost all of those are pointing in the same direction — bigger, more damaging fires,” he said.


While Yarnell is not a new community, and its population remained basically stable between 2000 and 2010, it is representative of the risk involved in the trend around the West for people to move into fire-prone areas in what social scientists call the “wild land-urban interface.”


Those expanding communities, with rural views but more urban economies, have been the focus of concern among federal and state officials for a decade or more. While such regions are more plentiful in the East, it is in the areas west of the 100th longitude, reaching from West Texas and the Dakotas to the Pacific Ocean, where the natural aridity, increasingly exacerbated by climate change, makes fires a common threat.

In the West in the 1990s, more than 2.2 million housing units were added in these fire-prone areas, according to testimony by Roger B. Hammer, a demographer at Oregon State University and a leading authority on the issue. Speaking to a House subcommittee in 2008, he called this a “wicked problem,” and predicted an additional 12.3 million homes would be built in such areas in Western states — more than double the current numbers.
Government and scientific data show that destructive sweep of wildfires covered an annual average of seven million acres in the 2000s, twice the totals of the 1990s. Michael Kodas, who is writing a book on modern firefighting, wrote in On Earth magazine last year that scientists believe that number will rise 50 percent or more by 2020.

Yet in fiscal 2013, more than $1.7 billion, or 38 percent of the Forest Service’s budget, was to be devoted to firefighting in general, with $537.8 million — a slight reduction from the previous year — specifically allocated for wildland fires. The Interior Department’s appropriation for wildland firefighting was $276.5 million, a slight increase over the previous year.

But the federal budget sequester eliminated $28 million from the Forest Service budget, although Interior’s remained nearly level. This occurred even though both agencies overspent 2012 budgets of similar size, and though federal firefighters are often first responders, working alongside their state colleagues during blazes like the Yarnell Hill fire.

“The Forest Service is being treated as a firefighter of last resort,” Dr. Pyne said. This, he added, “is not what the agency was set up for, and it’s not financed for it.”
Dr. Allen said that what was different in the recent fires — hotter, more enveloping — is that they are killing far more trees. “We’re seeing the size of postfire treeless patches merging into thousands of acres,” he said, “sometimes many thousands of acres.”
That could permanently transform much of the Arizona landscape as grasslands and shrubs fill in the empty space.

Fernanda Santos and John Dougherty contributed reporting from Prescott, Ariz., and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.

—————————————————-

The New York Times Editors’ Picks of July 2, 2013:

U.S.
Interactive Feature: Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting crew, died fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz.

. Related Article – OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor
Living With Fire
By ALAN DEAN FOSTER

It may be a disaster zone, but it’s our disaster zone.

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

header at the time States are literally burning and the US is being asked to lead on Climate Change:


Snooping on Americans’ Phone Records, Benghazi, IRS Scandal… Time to Impeach Obama?

The White House recently confirmed the NSA has been collecting the phone records and web search data of all Americans… and Obama was in on it! Allegations have surfaced that the talking points about the Benghazi terrorist attack were altered by the White House to mislead the general public. And it was found that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative “Tea Party” groups filing for tax exempt status.

These three events have thrown the Obama Administration and the White House into “damage control.”

And the mailing asks for your opnion.

1) Given the circumstances surrounding NSA snooping, Benghazi and the IRS scandal do you think the Obama administration is lying to the American public?
Yes, they are clearly lying about the events.
No, they are telling the truth.
Not Sure.

2) Do you still trust President Barack Obama?
I still trust Obama.
I trust Obama less than I used to.
I no longer trust Obama.
I never trusted Obama.
Not Sure.

3) Based on your understanding of all three events, do you think Obama should be impeached?
Yes, he should be impeached.
No, he should not be impeached.
Not Sure.

4) Which political party do you most closely align with philosophically?
Democrat
Republican
Libertarian
Tea Party
Independent
Other

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

Conclusion – THE NUTS IN THE US WANT TO START AN IMPEACH OBAMA CAMPAIGN NOW in order to avoid facing real world realities.

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

List of Crew Members Killed in Arizona Fire

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM ET

Related:

* Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
* Experts See a New Normal: A Tinderbox West, With More Huge Fires (July 2, 2013)


PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The city of Prescott has released the names of the 19 firefighters who were killed in a wildfire. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

— Andrew Ashcraft, 29

— Kevin Woyjeck, 21

— Anthony Rose, 23

— Eric Marsh, 43

— Christopher MacKenzie, 30

— Robert Caldwell, 23

— Clayton Whitted , 28

— Scott Norris, 28

— Dustin Deford, 24

— Sean Misner, 26

— Garret Zuppiger, 27

— Travis Carter, 31

— Grant McKee, 21

— Travis Turbyfill, 27

— Jesse Steed, 36

— Wade Parker, 22

— Joe Thurston, 32

— William Warneke, 25

— John Percin, 24

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Op-Ed Columnist

 

Without Water, Revolution.

 

Ed Kashi/VII

 

 

 

TEL ABYAD, Syria — I just spent a day in this northeast Syrian town. It was terrifying — much more so than I anticipated — but not because we were threatened in any way by the Free Syrian Army soldiers who took us around or by the Islamist Jabhet al-Nusra fighters who stayed hidden in the shadows. It was the local school that shook me up.

 

  Thomas L. Friedman by Josh Haner/The New York Times

As we were driving back to the Turkish border, I noticed a school and asked the driver to turn around so I could explore it. It was empty — of students. But war refugees had occupied the classrooms and little kids’ shirts and pants were drying on a line strung across the playground. The basketball backboard was rusted, and a local parent volunteered to give me a tour of the bathrooms, which he described as disgusting. Classes had not been held in two years. And that is what terrified me. Men with guns I’m used to. But kids without books, teachers or classes for a long time — that’s trouble. Big trouble.

They grow up to be teenagers with too many guns and too much free time, and I saw a lot of them in Tel Abyad. They are the law of the land here now, but no two of them wear the same uniform, and many are just in jeans. These boys bravely joined the adults of their town to liberate it from the murderous tyranny of Bashar al-Assad, but now the war has ground to a stalemate, so here, as in so many towns across Syria, life is frozen in a no-man’s land between order and chaos. There is just enough patched-up order for people to live — some families have even rigged up bootleg stills that refine crude oil into gasoline to keep cars running — but not enough order to really rebuild, to send kids to school or to start businesses.

So Syria as a whole is slowly bleeding to death of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. You can’t help but ask whether it will ever be a unified country again and what kind of human disaster will play out here if a whole generation grows up without school.

“Syria is becoming Somalia,” said Zakaria Zakaria, a 28-year-old Syrian who graduated from college with a major in English and who acted as our guide. “Students have now lost two years of school, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and if this goes on for two more years it will be like Somalia, a failed country. But Somalia is off somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Syria is the heart of the Middle East. I don’t want this to happen to my country. But the more it goes on, the worse it will be.”

This is the agony of Syria today. You can’t imagine the war here continuing for another year, let alone five. But when you feel the depth of the rage against the Assad government and contemplate the sporadic but barbaric sect-on-sect violence, you can’t imagine any peace deal happening or holding — not without international peacekeepers on the ground to enforce it. Eventually, we will all have to have that conversation, because this is no ordinary war.

THIS Syrian disaster is like a superstorm. It’s what happens when an extreme weather event, the worst drought in Syria’s modern history, combines with a fast-growing population and a repressive and corrupt regime and unleashes extreme sectarian and religious passions, fueled by money from rival outside powers — Iran and Hezbollah on one side, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar on the other, each of which have an extreme interest in its Syrian allies’ defeating the other’s allies — all at a time when America, in its post-Iraq/Afghanistan phase, is extremely wary of getting involved.

I came here to write my column and work on a film for the Showtime series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” about the “Jafaf,” or drought, one of the key drivers of the Syrian war. In an age of climate change, we’re likely to see many more such conflicts.

“The drought did not cause Syria’s civil war,” said the Syrian economist Samir Aita, but, he added, the failure of the government to respond to the drought played a huge role in fueling the uprising. What happened, Aita explained, was that after Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated agricultural sector in Syria for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy up land and drill as much water as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the water table. This began driving small farmers off the land into towns, where they had to scrounge for work.

Because of the population explosion that started here in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to better health care, those leaving the countryside came with huge families and settled in towns around cities like Aleppo. Some of those small towns swelled from 2,000 people to 400,000 in a decade or so. The government failed to provide proper schools, jobs or services for this youth bulge, which hit its teens and 20s right when the revolution erupted.

  Associated Press

Rebels in Tel Abyad, in northeast Syria, in 2012. Life in the town has ground to a halt, with children not in school, and no solution in sight.

Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the land” for urban areas during the last decade, said Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized. “State and government was invented in this part of the world, in ancient Mesopotamia, precisely to manage irrigation and crop growing,” said Aita, “and Assad failed in that basic task.”

Young people and farmers starved for jobs — and land starved for water — were a prescription for revolution. Just ask those who were here, starting with Faten, whom I met in her simple flat in Sanliurfa, a Turkish city near the Syrian border. Faten, 38, a Sunni, fled there with her son Mohammed, 19, a member of the Free Syrian Army, who was badly wounded in a firefight a few months ago. Raised in the northeastern Syrian farming village of Mohasen, Faten, who asked me not to use her last name, told me her story.

She and her husband “used to own farmland,” said Faten. “We tended annual crops. We had wheat, barley and everyday food — vegetables, cucumbers, anything we could plant instead of buying in the market. Thank God there were rains, and the harvests were very good before. And then suddenly, the drought happened.”

What did it look like? “To see the land made us very sad,” she said. “The land became like a desert, like salt.” Everything turned yellow.

Did Assad’s government help? “They didn’t do anything,” she said. “We asked for help, but they didn’t care. They didn’t care about this subject. Never, never. We had to solve our problems ourselves.”

So what did you do? “When the drought happened, we could handle it for two years, and then we said, ‘It’s enough.’ So we decided to move to the city. I got a government job as a nurse, and my husband opened a shop. It was hard. The majority of people left the village and went to the city to find jobs, anything to make a living to eat.” The drought was particularly hard on young men who wanted to study or marry but could no longer afford either, she added. Families married off daughters at earlier ages because they couldn’t support them.

Faten, her head conservatively covered in a black scarf, said the drought and the government’s total lack of response radicalized her. So when the first spark of revolutionary protest was ignited in the small southern Syrian town of Dara’a, in March 2011, Faten and other drought refugees couldn’t wait to sign on. “Since the first cry of ‘Allahu akbar,’ we all joined the revolution. Right away.” Was this about the drought? “Of course,” she said, “the drought and unemployment were important in pushing people toward revolution.”

ZAKARIA ZAKARIA was a teenager in nearby Hasakah Province when the drought hit and he recalled the way it turned proud farmers, masters of their own little plots of land, into humiliated day laborers, working for meager wages in the towns “just to get some money to eat.” What was most galling to many, said Zakaria, was that if you wanted a steady government job you had to bribe a bureaucrat or know someone in the state intelligence agency.

The best jobs in Hasakah Province, Syria’s oil-producing region, were with the oil companies. But drought refugees, virtually all of whom were Sunni Muslims, could only dream of getting hired there. “Most of those jobs went to Alawites from Tartous and Latakia,” said Zakaria, referring to the minority sect to which President Assad belongs and which is concentrated in these coastal cities. “It made people even more angry. The best jobs on our lands in our province were not for us, but for people who come from outside.”

Only in the spring of 2011, after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, did the Assad government start to worry about the drought refugees, said Zakaria, because on March 11 — a few days before the Syrian uprising would start in Dara’a — Assad visited Hasakah, a very rare event. “So I posted on my Facebook page, ‘Let him see how people are living,’ ” recalled Zakaria. “My friends said I should delete it right away, because it was dangerous. I wouldn’t. They didn’t care how people lived.”

 

Abu Khalil, 48, is one of those who didn’t just protest. A former cotton farmer who had to become a smuggler to make ends meet for his 16 children after the drought wiped out their farm, he is now the Free Syrian Army commander in the Tel Abyad area. We met at a crushed Syrian Army checkpoint. After being introduced by our Syrian go-between, Abu Khalil, who was built like a tough little boxer, introduced me to his fighting unit. He did not introduce them by rank but by blood, pointing to each of the armed men around him and saying: “My nephew, my cousin, my brother, my cousin, my nephew, my son, my cousin …”

Free Syrian Army units are often family affairs. In a country where the government for decades wanted no one to trust anyone else, it’s no surprise.

“We could accept the drought because it was from Allah,” said Abu Khalil, “but we could not accept that the government would do nothing.”

Before we parted, he pulled me aside to say that all that his men needed were anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons and they could finish Assad off. “Couldn’t Obama just let the Mafia send them to us?” he asked. “Don’t worry, we won’t use them against Israel.”

As part of our film we’ve been following a Syrian woman who is a political activist, Farah Nasif, a 27-year-old Damascus University graduate from Deir-az-Zour, whose family’s farm was also wiped out in the drought.

Nasif typifies the secular, connected, newly urbanized young people who spearheaded the democracy uprisings here and in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. They all have two things in common: they no longer fear their governments or their parents, and they want to live like citizens, with equal rights — not as sects with equal fears.

If this new generation had a motto, noted Aita, the Syrian economist, it would actually be the same one Syrians used in their 1925 war of independence from France: “Religion is for God, and the country is for everyone.”

But Nasif is torn right now. She wants Assad gone and all political prisoners released, but she knows that more war “will only destroy the rest of the country.” And her gut tells her that even once Assad is gone, there is no agreement on who or what should come next. So every option worries her — more war, a cease-fire, the present and the future. This is the agony of Syria today — and why the closer you get to it, the less certain you are how to fix it.

###

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

Observed concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have exceeded the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold at several stations of the World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch network. This is a wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of this greenhouse gas, which is released into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and other human activities and is the main driver of climate change. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years, trapping heat and causing our planet to warm further, impacting on all aspects of life on earth.

 

 

 

On May 9, 2013, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, recorded a reading of 400.03 ppm, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mauna Loa is the oldest continuous atmospheric measurement station in the world and so is widely regarded as a benchmark site in the Global Atmosphere Watch.

 

 

Several other Global Atmosphere Watch stations have also reported CO2 concentrations exceeding the 400 ppm threshold during the seasonal maximum. This occurs early in the northern hemisphere spring before vegetation growth absorbs CO 2.

 

 

The threshold was first crossed at stations in the Arctic. A monthly average value exceeding 400 ppm was registered at Barrow, Alaska, USA (71.3N) for the first time in April 2012, as well as at Alert, in Canada (82.5N). From the beginning of 2013, measured CO 2. values at another GAW Global station, in Ny-Ålesund, Norway, (at 78.9N) also exceeded 400 ppm. This threshold has now also been crossed at stations closer to the Equator. Izaña, (Canary Islands, Spain), reported daily mean values exceeding 400 ppm at the end of April 2013. This was followed by Mauna Loa, which has been carrying out measurements since 1958.

 

 

The Global Atmosphere Watch coordinates observations of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases like methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere to ensure that measurements around the world are standardized and can be compared to each other. The network spans more than 50 countries including stations high in the Alps, Andes and Himalayas, as well as in the Arctic, Antarctic and in the far South Pacific.

 

 

Carbon dioxide is the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. It is responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – over the past decade. Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing because of greenhouse gases. Radiative forcing is calculated relative to the pre-industrial level of key greenhouse gases.

 

 

According to WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 390.9 parts per million in 2011, or 140% of the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million. The pre-industrial era level represented a balance of CO2 fluxes between the atmosphere, the oceans and the biosphere. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by 2 parts per million per year for the past 10 years.

 

At the current rate of increase, the global annual average CO2 concentration is set to cross the 400 ppm threshold in 2015 or 2016. www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html.-

Full WMO news release, including charts and links, is available at www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/news/documents/400ppm.final.pdf

 

WMO  Communications and Public Affairs

 

 


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

 

 

A parched Syria turned to war, scholar says, and Egypt may be next.

Prof. Arnon Sofer sets out the link between drought, Assad’s civil war, and the wider strains in the Middle East; Jordan and Gaza are also in deep trouble, he warns.

May 9, 2013, The Times of Israel

One quarter of the 3000 km.-long Euphrates River runs through Syria but Turkey, situated upriver, has drastically reduced the flow of water (Photo credit: CC BY Verity Cridland, Flickr)

 

Some look at the upheaval in Syria through a religious lens. The Sunni and Shia factions, battling for supremacy in the Middle East, have locked horns in the heart of the Levant, where the Shia-affiliated Alawite sect has ruled a majority Sunni nation for decades.

Some see it through a social prism. As they did in Tunis with Muhammad Bouazizi — an honest man who couldn’t make an honest living in this corruption-ridden part of the world — the social protests that sparked the war in Syria started in the poor and disenfranchised parts of the country.

Others look at the eroding boundaries of state in Syria and other parts of the Middle East as a direct result of the sins of Western hubris and Colonialism.

Professor Arnon Sofer has no qualms with any of these claims and interpretations. But the upheaval in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, he says, cannot be fully understood without also taking two environmental truths into account: soaring birthrates and dwindling water supply.

Over the past 60 years, the population in the Middle East has twice doubled itself, said Sofer, the head of the Chaikin geo-strategy group and a longtime lecturer at the IDF’s top defense college, where today he heads the National Defense College Research Center. “There is no example of this anywhere else on earth,” he said of the population increase. Couple that with Syria’s water scarcity, he said, “and as a geographer it was clear to me that a conflict would erupt.”

The Pentagon cautiously agrees with this thesis. In February the Department of Defense released a “climate-change adaptation roadmap.” While the effects of climate change alone do not cause conflict, the report states, “they may act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world.” Predominantly the paper is concerned with the effects of rising seas and melting arctic permafrost on US military installations. The Middle East is not mentioned by name.

But Sofer and Anton Berkovsky, who together compiled the research work of students at the National Defense College and released a geo-strategic paper on Syria earlier in the year, believe that water scarcity played a significant role in the onset of the Syrian civil war and the Arab Spring, and that it may help re-shape the strategic bonds and interests of the region as regimes teeter and borders blur. Sofer also believes that a “Pax Climactica” is within reach if regional leaders would only, for a short while, forsake their natural inclinations to wake up in the morning and seek to do harm.

Syria is 85 percent desert or semi-arid country. But it has several significant waterways. The Euphrates runs in a south-easterly direction through the center of the country to Iraq. The Tigris runs southeast, tracing a short part along Syria’s border with Turkey before flowing into Iraq. And, aside from several lesser rivers that flow southwest through Lebanon to the Mediterranean, Syria has an estimated four to five billion cubic meters of water in its underground aquifers.

From 2007-2008, over 160 villages in Syria were abandoned and some 250,000 farmers relocated to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities. The capital, like many of its peer cities in the Middle East, was unable to handle that influx of people. Residents dug 25,000 illegal wells in and around Damascus, pushing the water table ever lower and the salinity of the water ever higher.

For these reasons the heart of the country was once an oasis. For 5,000 years, Damascus was famous for its agriculture and its dried fruit. Since 1950, however, the population has increased sevenfold in Syria, to 22 million, and Turkey, in an age of scarcity, has seized much of the water that once flowed south into Syria.

“They’ve been choking them,” Sofer said, noting that Turkey annually takes half of the available 30 billion cubic meters of water in the Euphrates. This limits Syria’s water supply and hinders its ability to generate hydroelectricity.

In 2007, after years of population growth and institutional economic stagnation, several dry years descended on Syria. Farmers began to leave their villages and head toward the capital. From 2007-2008, Sofer said, over 160 villages in Syria were abandoned and some 250,000 farmers – Sofer calls them “climate refugees” – relocated to Damascus, Aleppo and other cities.

The capital, like many of its peer cities in the Middle East, was unable to handle that influx of people. Residents dug 25,000 illegal wells in and around Damascus, pushing the water table ever lower and the salinity of the water ever higher.

This, along with over one million refugees from the Iraq war and, among other challenges, borders that contain a dizzying array of religions and ethnicities, set the stage for the civil war.

Tellingly, it broke out in the regions most parched — “in Daraa [in the south] and in Kamishli in the northeast,” Sofer said. “Those are two of the driest places in the country.”

Professor Eyal Zisser, one of Israel’s top scholars of Syria, agreed that the drought played a significant role in the onset of the war. “Without doubt it is part of the issue,” he said. Zisser did not believe that water was the central issue that inflamed Syria but rather “the match that set the field of thorns on fire.”

Rebel troops transporting two women to safety along the Orontes River, which has shrunk in recent years and grown increasingly saline (Photo credit: CC BY FreedomHouse)

Rebel troops transporting two women to safety along the Orontes River, which has shrunk in recent years and grown increasingly saline (Photo credit: CC BY FreedomHouse)

Since that fire began to rage in March 2011, the course of the battles has been partially dictated by a different sort of logic, not environmental in nature. “Assad is butchering his way west,” Sofer said. He believes the president will eventually have to retreat from the capital and therefore has focused his efforts on Homs and other cities and towns that lie between Damascus and the Alawite regions near the coast, cutting himself an escape route.

Sofer and Berkovsky envision several scenarios for Syria. Among them: Assad puts down the rebellion and remains in power; Assad abdicates and a Sunni majority seizes control; Assad abdicates and no central power is able to assert control. The most likely scenario, Sofer said, was that the Syrian dictator would eventually flee to Tehran. But he preferred to avoid that sort of micro-conjecture and to focus on the regional effects of population growth and water scarcity and the manner in which that ominous mix might shape the future of the region.

Writing in the New York Times from Yemen on Thursday, Thomas Friedman embraced a similar thesis, noting that the heart of the al-Qaeda activity in the region corresponded with the areas most stricken by drought. Sofer published a paper in July where he laid out the grim environmental reality of the region and argued that, as in Syria, the conflicts bedeviling the region were not about climate issues but were deeply influenced by them.

Egypt, Sofer wrote, faces severe repercussions from climate change. Even a slight rise in the level of the sea – just half a meter – would salinize the Nile Delta aquifers and force three million people out of the city of Alexandria. In the more distant future, as the North Sea melts, the Suez Canal could decline in importance. More immediately, and of greater significance to Israel, he wrote that Egypt, faced with a water shortage, would likely grow more militant over the coming years. But he felt the militancy would be directed south, toward South Sudan and Ethiopia and other nations competing for the waters of the Nile, and not north toward the Levant.

The NIle River, the lifeblood of Egypt's 82 million people (Photo credit: CC BY Simona Scolari, Flickr)

The Nile River, the lifeblood of Egypt’s 82 million people (Photo credit: CC BY Simona Scolari, Flickr)

As proof that this pivot has already begun, Sofer pointed to Abu-Simbel, near the border with Sudan. There the state has converted a civilian airport into a military one. “The conclusion to be drawn from this is simple and unequivocal,” he wrote. “Egypt today represents a military threat to the southern nations of the Nile and not the Zionist state to the east.”

The Sinai Peninsula, already quite lawless, will only get worse, perhaps to the point of secession, he and Berkovsky wrote. Local Bedouin will have difficulty raising animals in the region and will turn, to an even greater degree, to smuggling material and people along a route established in the Bronze Age, through Sinai to Asia and Europe.

Syria, even if the war were swiftly resolved, is “on the cusp of catastrophe.” Jordan, too, is in dire need of water. And Gaza, like Syria, has been battered by unchecked drilling. The day after Israel left under the Oslo Accords, he said, the Palestinian Authority and other actors began digging 500 wells along the coastal aquifer even though Israel had warned them of the dangers. “Today there are around 4,000 of them and no more ground water. It’s over. There’s no fooling around with this stuff,” he said.

Only the two most stable states in the region – Israel and Turkey – have ample water.

Turkey is the sole Middle Eastern nation blessed with plentiful water sources. Ankara’s control of the Tigris and the Euphrates, among other rivers, means that Iraq and Syria, both downriver, are to a large extent dependent on Turkey for food, water and electricity. That strategic advantage, along with Turkey’s position as the bridge between the Middle East and Europe, “further serves its neo-Ottoman agenda,” Sofer said.

He envisioned an increased role for Turkey both in the Levant and, eventually, in central Asia and along the oil crossroads of the Persian Gulf, pitting it against Iran. Climate change, he conceded, has only a minor role in that future struggle for power but it is “an accelerant.”

Israel no longer suffers from drought. Desalination, conservation and sewage treatment have alleviated much of the natural scarcity. In February, the head of the Israel Water Authority, Alexander Kushnir, told the Times of Israel that the country’s water crisis has come to an end. Half of Israel’s two billion cubic meters of annual water use is generated artificially, he said, through desalination and sewage purification.

For Sofer, this self-sufficiency is an immense regional advantage. Israel could pump water east to Jenin in the West Bank and farther along to Jordan and north to Syria. International organizations could follow Israel’s example and fund regional desalination plants, which, he noted, cost less than a single day of modern full-scale war.

Instead, rather than an increase in cooperation, he feared, the region would likely witness ever more desperate competition. Sofer said his friends see him as a sort of Jeremiah. But the Middle East, he cautioned, is a region where “leaders wake up every morning and ask what can I do today to make matters worse.”

Arnon Sofer, a longtime professor at the IDF's National Defense College, sees a link between the war in Syria and the water shortages there (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/ Flash 90)

Arnon Sofer, a longtime professor at the IDF’s National Defense College, sees a link between the war in Syria and the water shortages there (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/ Flash 90)

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

YAHOO NEWS: Europe’s Freezing Easter a Global Warming Outcome.

By KARL RITTER | Associated Press – Fri, Mar 29, 2013

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Is it Easter or Christmas? Many Europeans would be forgiven for being confused by winter’s icy grip on lands that should be thawing in springtime temperatures by now.

Britain is on track for the coldest March since 1962, according to national weather service the Met Office, which also says daily low temperatures in London are going to remain below freezing through the Easter holiday. The mean temperature in Britain from March 1-26 was 2.5 C (36.5 F) — three degrees below the long-term average.

In Berlin, Good Friday saw a new round of snowfall and temperatures just above freezing. The city’s popular lakeside beach opened for the season as planned, though it wasn’t exactly beach weather. Some visitors built a snowman and few ventured into the freezing water.

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What’s going on?

As always when you talk about weather, natural variability is a big factor. But an increasing body of research suggests that cold spells like the one that has lingered in northern and central Europe for much of March could become more common as a result of global warming melting the Arctic ice cap.

Q: Why is it so cold in much of Europe right now?

A: Normally, European winters are kept relatively mild by wet, westerly winds from the Atlantic. But in March, the wind has been blowing mostly from the northeast, bringing freezing Arctic air down over much of Europe.

Q: So why are the winds coming from the northeast?

A: The winds are driven by atmospheric circulation patterns which in turn are affected by differences in air pressure between northern and southern latitudes. For much of March this circulation has been in a negative state, meaning the pressure difference is small. That weakens the westerly Atlantic winds and paves the way for cold air to sweep down over Europe from the Arctic and Siberia.

Q: What does that have to do with Arctic sea ice?

A: Global warming is melting the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean. Last September, it reached its lowest extent on record. Climate models show that the loss of sea ice — which acts as a lid on the ocean, preventing it from giving off heat — triggers feedback mechanisms that shake up the climate system further. A series of studies in recent years have shown that one such effect could be changes in atmospheric circulation, resulting in more frequent cold snaps in Europe.

Q: How would melting Arctic ice lead to cold snaps?

A: The theory is the loss of sea ice means more heat is released from the open ocean, warming the layer of polar air over the water. That reduces the temperature and air pressure differentials with more southern latitudes, increasing the likelihood of a negative state in the atmospheric circulation. Experts stress that winter weather is affected by many other factors, but several studies have shown the Arctic melt loads the dice in favor of colder and snowier winters in Europe. One study by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany showed European cold snaps could become three times more likely because of shrinking sea ice.

Q: What’s the impact on the jet stream?

A: Some studies suggest that the shrinking sea ice also shifts the polar jet stream, a high-altitude air current that flows from west to east. Bigger waves in the meandering jet stream allow frigid air to spill southward from the Arctic, they say. Other climate experts are uncertain about this effect, saying more research is needed. {This effect is important for US climate conditions – lower temperatures and storms. our addition}

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Associated Press writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this story.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 17th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Op-Ed Columnist

It’s Lose-Lose vs. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win

by Thomas L. Friedman

Published by New York Times on-line: March 16, 2013
    Oliver Munday

 This Painted Graph catches our attention but we wonder what it means – given content, potentially some new shape, and potentially new colors, it could be the publicity weapon for new campaigns.   A majority of Americans, we are sure, by now understand that the good life in the future will be a life based on sustainability, and will be paid for by the citizenry as a whole.

 

ONE of my favorite quotes, writes Thomas Friedman, about the state of U.S. politics was offered a couple years ago by Gerald Seib, a Wall Street Journal columnist, when he observed that “America and its political leaders, after two decades of failing to come together to solve big problems, seem to have lost faith in their ability to do so. A political system that expects failure doesn’t try very hard to produce anything else.” That’s us today — our entire political system is guilty of the “soft bigotry of low expectations” for ourselves.

Readers shared their thoughts on this article. —— Read All Comments (7) »

I raise this now because it strikes me as crazy that one of the obvious solutions to our budget, energy and environmental problems — the one that would be the least painful and have the best long-term impact (a carbon tax) — is off the table. Meanwhile, the solution that is as dumb as the day is long — a budget sequester that slashes spending indiscriminately — is on the table.

Shrinking the tax deduction for charity is on the table. Shrinking Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for the poor are on the table. But a carbon tax that could close the deficit and clean the air, weaken petro-dictators, strengthen the dollar, drive clean-tech innovation and still leave some money to lower corporate and income taxes is off the table. So the solutions that are lose-lose and divisive are on the table, while the solution that is win-win-win-win-win — and has both liberal and conservative supporters — is off the table.

Writing in this newspaper in support of a carbon tax back in 2007, N. Gregory Mankiw, the Harvard economist, who was a senior adviser to President George W. Bush and to Mitt Romney, argued that “the idea of using taxes to fix problems, rather than merely raise government revenue, has a long history.

The British economist Arthur Pigou advocated such corrective taxes to deal with pollution in the early 20th century. In his honor, economics textbooks now call them ‘Pigovian taxes.’ Using a Pigovian tax to address global warming is also an old idea.
It was proposed as far back as 1992 by Martin S. Feldstein on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

… Those vying for elected office, however, are reluctant to sign on to this agenda. Their political consultants are no fans of taxes, Pigovian or otherwise.

Republican consultants advise using the word ‘tax’ only if followed immediately by the word ‘cut.’

Democratic consultants recommend the word ‘tax’ be followed by ‘on the rich.’ ”

Yes, to win passage of any carbon tax, Republicans would insist that it be revenue neutral — to be offset entirely by cuts in corporate taxes and taxes on personal income. But maybe they could be persuaded otherwise.

In an ideal world, you would have 45 percent go to pay down the deficit so that we don’t have to cut entitlements as much — appealing to liberals and greens — and have 45 percent go to reducing corporate and income taxes — to encourage work and investment and appeal to conservatives. The remaining 10 percent could be rebated to low-income households for whom such a tax would be a burden.

According to the Center for Climate and Electricity Policy at the nonpartisan Resources for the Future, a tax of $25 per ton of carbon-dioxide emitted — through the combustion of fossil fuels used in electricity production, commercial and residential heating and transportation — “would raise approximately $125 billion annually.” This $125 billion “could allow federal personal income tax reductions of about 15 percent or corporate income tax reductions of about 70 percent, if all carbon tax revenues were used to replace current tax revenues. Alternatively, the federal deficit could be reduced by approximately $1.25 trillion over 10 years” — roughly what we are trying to do through the foolish sequester. Such a tax would add about 21 cents per gallon of gasoline and about 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. It could be phased in gradually as the economy improves.

Experts believe that the mere signal of a carbon tax would get companies to become more energy efficient. And that’s the point. As part of any grand bargain — which will have to include spending cuts and tax increases — introducing a carbon tax into the mix makes all kinds of options easier and smarter.

Alas, right now both sides are trying to inflict maximum pain on the other, rather than framing the debate as: “Here’s the world we’re living in; here’s what we need to thrive; and, if we cut and tax here, we can invest in these 21st-century growth engines over here.” Our goal is not to balance the budget. It’s to make America great.

SO how come the best ideas are off the table? (Blessedly, Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat of California, is now working to get some kind of carbon tax on the table.) Several reasons, argues Adam Garfinkle, editor of The American Interest and author of a smart new e-book, “Broken: American Political Dysfunction and What to Do About It.”

First, because our democracy today is perverted more than ever by deep-pocketed lobbies and oligopolies. So, “in order to get and stay elected today, you have to raise huge sums of money from corporations, wealthy individuals and dues-laden unions,” Garfinkle notes, and all that money leads to “twisted decision-making at the high-politics level” and “regulatory capture” at the bureaucratic-administrative level.

The fossil fuel, auto and power companies have bought a lot of politicians to block a carbon tax.

The only way around them, argues Garfinkle, would be for leaders to galvanize the public, but that requires building “governing coalitions” in the center rather than “political coalitions” that can get you elected but little else after that. Obama is belatedly trying to do that; the Republican Party hasn’t even tried. “This is what real leaders do,” said Garfinkle. “They change the conversation.” They don’t just read the polls; they shape the polls.

But we can’t put this all on lobbyists. It’s also our generation. “We’re the most self-indulgent generation in American history,” argues Garfinkle, always demanding more services than we’re ready to pay for. “Too many of us want to be unbound by broader social obligations, but the network of those obligations creates the moral ballast that makes good governance possible.” 

As Nathan Gardels and Nicolas Berggruen note in their insightful book, “Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century: A Middle Way Between West and East,” we prefer a “Diet Coke culture — sweetness without calories, consumption without savings and safety nets without taxes.” No wonder anything hard or smart is off the table. We pushed it there.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

15 February 2013

Press Conference held inside the UN with access to the room available only to those the UN calls PRESS, and allows in by means of a stranglehold on the process of Media Accreditation. As such, the many websites belonging to environmental media are not part of this process. No wonder that the outside world is hardly provided information on subjects like this one. Non Member-State government-backed media does not stand a chance under such scrutiny.

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Marshall Islands.

The Security Council should consider climate change as a threat to international peace and security, particularly for such low-lying nations as the Marshall Islands whose “very existence” was at risk, a Government minister from that country said at a Headquarters press conference today.

“This organization [the Council] that we put faith in to provide the security of our country is saying that that is not a security matter,” said Tony deBrum, Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, as he briefed journalists on today’s so-called “Arria Formula” meeting on security implications of climate change.

Initiated in 1992 by Ambassador Diego Arria, the representative of Venezuela on the Security Council, such informal gatherings do not constitute an activity of the Council and are convened at the initiative of a member or members of the Council.

Mr. deBrum said he had participated as a panelist and reminded the Council that 35 years ago, he had come to the United Nations to petition for the independence of the Marshall Islands.  Between 1976 and 1986, his delegation had annually visited the United Nations.  In 1986, the Security Council finally approved the termination of the trusteeship and the establishment of an independent Government for the Marshall Islands, he added.

“We are very grateful for that, but it is hard to be excited about the independent Government seeking prosperity, progress and good life for its people to be faced with the situation where its very existence is threatened through climate change,” he said.

“It seems ironic that the very same agency whose approval was needed for my country to become a country again would consider my coming back to ask for help […] is not relevant to their work,” he said.  There was no outcome document or a running record from that meeting, but he expected that his appeal had convinced some or more of the participants that climate change “is in fact a security issue, not just an economic/social/political issue”.

When asked which countries opposed treating climate change as the Council’s prerogative, he said China, Russian Federation and Guatemala were among them.  “Surprisingly”, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, of which the Marshall Islands was a member, had taken a position that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was the appropriate venue for deliberations on that issue.  That revealed that “many of our own friends throughout the world do not realize the urgency of the problem,” he said.

Describing the situation, he said rising tides had started severely impacting the islands, with roads inundated every 14 days in keeping with the moon cycle.  In southern parts of the nation, where there used to be a military base in the Second World War, ordnances were being exposed by the tides, presenting a clear danger to the life and welfare of people there.  Even the nation’s capital was required to ration water.  In the northern part, emergency kits for making drinking water were being distributed as well water was inundated with salt.

“It became unsuitable for human consumption, and dangerous even to our staple food and citrus,” he said. He said he was not predicting a looming crisis — it was already happening, affecting not just his own country but also Kiribati, Tuvalu and some of the other low-lying islands of the Pacific.
He hoped that “logic will prevail and people see it as a just cause”.

In September, there will be a Pacific Islands Forum meeting to be held in his country, he said.  He wished to invite the most significant players in the politics of climate change to visit the Marshall Islands to see the situation first hand.  “We are not just sitting under coconut trees and waiting for coconuts to fall,” he said, stressing the need for proactive measures.

To an inquiry about Palau’s bid to bring the climate change issue before the International Court of Justice as a security and human rights violation, he said it was an interesting effort, but was not moving anywhere.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


You may view the latest post at
blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatechange/2013/02/10/upcoming-event-the-united-nations-climate-negotiations-perspectives-from-a-small-island-nation/

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

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.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.economist.com/news/books-and-…

China, India and climate change.

Take the lead

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

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

Some tricky turns up ahead

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

Buy from: 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.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 7th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

please see the link:

For more information or to unsubscribe from the distribution list for WPP publications, please contact wpp@worldbank.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Quote of the day

Climate change was predicted to arrive tomorrow but it is happening today. For this reason, the moment for climate justice has arrived.

Edward Cameron, World Resources Institute and Tara Shine, Mary Robinson Foundation.

SOUTHNEWS
No. 20,         10 December 2012
SOUTHNEWS is a service of the South Centre to provide information and news on topical issues from a South perspective.
Visit the South Centre’s website: www.southcentre.org.

Green thinking takes root in midst of desert in Doha climate talks

Are oil-rich Gulf states, once a byword for waste and excess, really now leading the world on sustainable development?

COP18 Doha : Qatar environmental policy , partnership with the Potsdam Institute

The signing of a partnership between the Qatar Foundation and the Postdam Institute for a new climate change research institute in Qatar. (Photograph: IISD)

One of the great surprises for the 15,000 negotiators and others here in Doha for the climate talks is not the breakneck speed of development in the gas-rich emirate, or the displays of wealth and the giant construction projects, but the possible dawn of reality.

Until recently, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states were the epicentre of unsustainable global development, a byword for waste, excess and ecological irresponsibility. Their huge consumption of natural resources and flouting of nature on the back of oil and gas production shocked even hard-nosed observers of global oil wealth.

Well, we may have to change our views. From my hotel window, I can see 14 monster buildings being built, each to a much higher energy standard than the law demands in the US or most of Europe. Down the road is a new $70m (£43m) test-bed for carbon capture, the beginnings of a 200 megawatt solar power station, a $1bn photovoltaic manufacturing plant, new waste treatment plants, a pilot project to grow food in the desert with saltwater, and a fledgling construction industry with waste plastic.

Green baubles for the super-rich perhaps, but there is evidence that a real change of thinking is taking place. Schools, local authorities and mosques are now teaching about water and energy saving, and Gulf state governments are committing themselves to deeper cuts in emissions than the US or much of Europe.

Britain hopes to generate 20% of its electricity with renewables by 2030. But the Qataris will do that by 2020. Britain, with a population of more than 60 million, built about 100,000 new homes last year. Qatar, with 1.4 million people, will build a whole city to the highest green specifications for 200,000 people in not much more time.

And it’s not just Qatar. Other Gulf states are racing each other to rethink their development paths. The renewable energy world is moving to Abu Dhabi. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has invested billions of dollars in projects there, as well as in Europe and north Africa. Even Dubai, which has indulged in a 20-year construction frenzy, is aiming at 7% renewables in 12 years – similar to Belgium. Even more remarkably, Saudi Arabia, fearful of its own escalating domestic electricity needs, will meet one-third of its electricity demand from solar by 2032.

None of this would have been conceivable even a few years ago. So what has changed? One senior adviser to the Qatari government put it like this: “There is a new direction. The GCC countries all move together like a herd. A desperate search is going on to find new ways of doing things. They need to find the answer for when the oil and gas is not there. They have seen the future and now they have fire in their arse.

“But they also know that the Arab spring countries all neglected people during development. They are learning. Education, health and welfare were all neglected. Environment has risen up the agenda. In the past, it was of no interest. Now it is a global necessity. Money is not the problem.”

The thirst for what Qatar, Abu Dhabi and other oil-rich states call a new “knowledge economy” would partly explain why Qatar on Wednesday committed to set up a global climate change centre in Doha with the German Potsdam Institute. It will employ around 200 researchers and sit beside a dozen other prestigious US, British and other academic centres, including Imperial College, which is now at Doha.

The founder of the institute, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, spelled out what was at stake: “Qatar is the only true desert state in the world with no surface water and 500km of flat coastline, where temperatures are already 45C in summer. With sea level rise expected to be up to 90cm by 2100 in the Gulf region and temperatures expected to rise [by] 5-8C, this place will be unlivable [if climate change is not brought under control].”

The Gulf states’ change of direction, he suggested, is being undertaken not out of any desire to be green but sheer pragmatism. What happens here could shape all our futures, says the adviser. “The next stage of modern civilization can be blueprinted here. Qatar can be a role model for the region and the whole planet.”

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Last-minute scramble for climate deal at UN talks

Negotiations continued through the night Thursday at United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar, with envoys trying to mesh procedure with political will. A key proposal is the annual delivery of $100 billion in aid by 2020 to pay for projects to cope with the effects of global warming. The lead negotiator from the Philippines, Naderev Saño, broke down in tears in the hall, saying, “I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. … It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.”

Above tells us that the location and hosts had no effect on the negotiators that still attempted a North-South wrangle. A waste of time so far as we are concerned.

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he faithful IISD Report titled -

Doha Climate Change Conference Adopts Doha Climate Gateway -

spills out for us to see the best diplomatic slippery beans:

8 December 2012: The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, took place from 26 November-8 December 2012, focused on ensuring the implementation of agreements reached at previous conferences. Following two weeks of negotiations, delegates adopted the package of “Doha Climate Gateway” decisions on the evening of Saturday, 8 December. The outcome includes amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to establish its second commitment period.The Doha Climate Change Conference included: the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); the eighth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 8); the 37th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 37) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 37); the second part of the 17th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 17); the second part of the 15th session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC (AWG-LCA 15); and the second part of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 1).

The DOHA conference drew approximately 9,000 participants, including 4, 356 government officials, 3, 956 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 683 members of the media. {much lower figures then the above upbeat report}

Having been launched at CMP 1, the AWG-KP terminated its work in Doha. The parties also agreed to terminate the AWG-LCA and negotiations under the Bali Action Plan. Key elements of the outcome also included agreement to consider loss and damage, “such as” an institutional mechanism to address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Other outcomes of the Conference include the adoption of: a decision on gender and climate change; and the Doha Work Programme on Convention Article 6 (education and awareness raising).

While developing countries and observers expressed disappointment with the lack of ambition in outcomes on Annex I countries’ mitigation and finance, most agreed that the conference had paved the way for a new phase, focusing on the implementation of the outcomes from negotiations under the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA, and advancing negotiations under the ADP.

[IISD RS Coverage of the Conference] [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General's Statement on COP 18] [UNFCCC Press Release]

For IISD FULL REPORT - please see - mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1…

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FOLLOWED BY THE UNUSUAL SHORT AND VERY MISLEADING UNSG BAN KI-MOON PRESS RELEASE THAT IN A FEW LINES DECLARES THE SECRETARIAT”S BANKRUPTCY  IN ALL MATTERS OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

10 December 2012

THE UNITED NATIONS
Secretary-GeneralSG/SM/14708
ENV/DEV/1333

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General Welcomes Doha Climate Change Conference Outcome, But Stresses Need for Accelerated Action to Limit Rise in Global Temperature.

SO WE ASK – WHAT DID THE MEETING ACTUALLY ACHIEVE? DIPLOMACY ASIDE _ WHO PAID AND WHO GAINED FROM THIS MIGRATION OF CLOSE TO 10,000 PEOPLE TO THE ISLAND OF QATAR, IN A CORNER OF THE SAUDI PENINSULA OF THE GREAT ARAB DESERT?

The following statement was issued on 8 December by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference that concluded today in Doha, and he congratulates Qatar for a job well done in hosting the Conference.

Doha successfully concluded the previous round of climate negotiations, paving the way to a comprehensive, legally binding agreement by 2015.

The Secretary-General believes that far more needs to be done and he calls on Governments, along with businesses, civil society and citizens, to accelerate action on the ground so that the global temperature rise can be limited to 2° C.

He said he will increase his personal involvement in efforts to raise ambition, scale-up climate financing and engage world leaders as we now move towards the global agreement in 2015.
* *** *

Will the UN Secretary General show now rhe decency to cancel the 2013 – 2014 meetings and advise the Member States to act in quiet diplomacy in preparations for a 2015 outcome?

Meeting before 2015 like the Cancun, Durban and Doha meetings – the last three yearly meetings that came after the Copenhagen COP 15 of the UNFCCC of 2009 – were nothing more then large exercises in migration that enhanced income from tourism in the host countries. Our own website has stopped listing the meetings after the Copenhagen meeting and we preferred to call them Copenhagen +1, Copenhagen +2, And now for Doha we reserved Copenhagen +3. That was because the last real step in the UNFCCC evolution happened on the way to Copenhagen when President Obama went first to Beijing and managed for the first time to get China to declare that they are indeed part of these negotiations. China then brought in India, Brazil, South Africa as well.


We are afraid that if nothing is done before the 2013 Warsaw meeting that meeting will be a waste as well. What has to happen is that the Obama II Administration steps forward with direct proposals to the other major emitters – specifically – China, India and Brazil – with or without South Africa – and seals direct agreements with them that can then become the base for multilateral negotiations. Indeed, there is no reason why one must have all nations on board.

In the past it was mainly the oil States of the Middle East that were the hindrance to an agreement – this even before one could tackle the large emerging emitters and the United States. Perhaps the Doha meeting provided the needed Climate Change education to the oil States, and thus a strong decision of President Obama and rolling over the climate deniers of the Republican oil-Lobby, could return the issue to multilateral diplomacy.

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Kyoto Protocol extended in climate compromise.

Is the title of the UN Foundation’s UN WIRE of December 10, 2012.

Delegates at the United Nations climate talks that ended Saturday in Doha, Qatar, agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol through 2020 and create a road map by 2015 to replace the pact. The world’s governments remained divided over who should pay the costs for helping the most vulnerable countries cope with the effects of climate change through 2020, when industrial nations are slated to contribute $100 billion annually from public and private sources.         Reuters (12/9), The New York Times (12/8), IRINNews.org (12/9)

THE REUTERS REPORTS  FROM DOHA ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Despair after climate conference, but UN still offers hope

Sunday, December  9, 2012 final report:

* U.N. process has to accelerate before 2015

* Many leave Doha conference in despair

By Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle

DOHA, Dec 9 (Reuters) – At the end of another lavishly-funded U.N. conference that yielded no progress on curbing greenhouse emissions, many of those most concerned about climate change are close to despair.

As thousands of delegates checked out of their air-conditioned hotel rooms in Doha to board their jets for home, some asked whether the U.N. system even made matters worse by providing cover for leaders to take no meaningful action.

Supporters say the U.N. process is still the only framework for global action. The United Nations also plays an essential role as the “central bank” for carbon trading schemes, such as the one set up by the European Union.

But unless rich and poor countries can inject urgency into their negotiations, they are heading for a diplomatic fiasco in 2015 – their next deadline for a new global deal.

“Much much more is needed if we are to save this process from being simply a process for the sake of process, a process that simply provides for talk and no action, a process that locks in the death of our nations, our people, and our children,” said Kieren Keke, foreign minister of Nauru, who fears his Pacific island state could become uninhabitable.

The conference held in Qatar – the country that produces the largest per-capita volume of greenhouse gases in the world – agreed to extend the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol, which would have run out within weeks.

But Canada, Russia and Japan – where the protocol was signed 15 years ago – all abandoned the agreement. The United States never ratified it in the first place, and it excludes developing countries where emissions are growing most quickly.

Delegates flew home from Doha without securing a single new pledge to cut pollution from a major emitter.

So far, U.N. climate talks have missed just about every deadline. The rich nations of the world promised two decades ago to halt their rise in greenhouse gases. They failed. Next, they promised a sequel to Kyoto by 2009. They failed again.

Now they have a 2015 deadline to get a new global, binding deal in place, to enter into force after the extension of Kyoto expires in 2020. For the first time, it would apply to rich and poor countries alike. But with the world’s nations divided over who must pay the cost, the task of reaching accord seems beyond the capabilities of the vast corps of international delegates.

Meanwhile, the world’s weather is only getting more unstable. As the Doha talks dragged on, Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines left nearly 1,000 people dead or missing.

Hurricane Sandy last month was a reminder that even rich countries are not safe from extreme weather, which scientists say will become ever more common as the world heats up.

PROGRESS AT GROUND LEVEL

A series of reports released during the Doha talks said the world faced the prospect of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2F) of warming, rather than the 2 degree (3.6F) limit that nations adopted in 2010 as a maximum to avoid dangerous changes.

// BUT UN SERETARY GENERAL BAN KI_MOON STILL DREAMS AT A 2degrees LIMIT?!//

According to the World Bank, that would mean food and water shortages, habitats wiped out, coastal communities wrecked by rising seas, deserts spreading, and droughts both more frequent and severe. Most impact would be borne by the world’s poorest.

“The alarm bells are going off all over the place,” Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said. “We are in a crisis and treating it like a process where we can dither away for ever.”

Action at ground level has had a positive impact, even as the U.N. dithers. Investment in carbon-free renewable energy hit a record $260 billion in 2011.

In the United States, the discovery of techniques to produce natural gas from shale has cut the cost of gas, which has reduced emissions from the world’s biggest polluter by replacing coal, a bigger carbon emitter, for power generation.

But although U.S. emissions – nearly a quarter of the world’s total – have fallen, for the world as a whole this year they are expected to rise by 2.6 percent, up by 58 percent since 1990. Emerging economies led by China and India account for most of the growth.

Although frustrated by days and nights of haggling, ministers still back the United Nations as part of the solution.

“It’s clear to me that this process is the only global framework we have and since this is a global problem, it has to be addressed globally,” Denmark’s Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard told Reuters.

“But obviously, this can’t stand alone. Nations can’t continue to hide behind the process. There’s a direct link between what we deliver at home and here. We desperately need to combine action by regions, municipalities, citizens with this global approach. That is becoming more and more evident.”

Negotiators say ultimately politicians – distracted by other events – need to become engaged.

“It (the environment) is no longer on the front page with the political and financial crisis. That is the reason why heads of state have to turn to this,” the European Union’s chief negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger said.

CONVERTS

The conference is an easy target for cynics – not least because it was held in Qatar, a desert kingdom that exports carbon-producing fossil fuel and uses the proceeds to fund a lavish lifestyle for many of its 2.5 million people.

A country that burns fuel to desalinate water and build golf courses in the desert seems like an odd place to talk about curtailing consumption. But supporters say bringing producers like Qatar into the consensus for change is a step forward.

Business leaders are also getting involved.

“A lot of CEOs from the region have turned up. A lot of them are talking about sustainability and resource efficiency. That’s no longer a dirty word,” said Russel Mills, global director for energy and climate policy at Dow Chemical Co.

Dow, like many other big industrial firms, keeps a close eye on U.N. carbon policy because of the United Nations’ role as “a kind of central bank” for pollution allowances.

The most developed carbon trading scheme is the European Union’s, which has lurched from crisis to crisis. The value of EU Emissions Trading Scheme permits sank to a record low this month under the burden of surplus allowances during a recession.

But other jurisdictions such as Australia, California, South Korea and even China believe they can learn from Europe’s mistakes and are developing their own emissions trading. Such schemes could be the planet’s best hope of survival, and the United Nations is likely to play a role.

“Economy-wide carbon pricing, whether carbon taxes or cap and trade, is the only approach that can conceivably achieve the targets scientists advocate,” Robert Stavins, a professor of business and government at Harvard in the United States, said.

“Also, it will be most the cost-effective and therefore in the long run the most politically-viable approach.”

Still, even with the best of intentions, U.N. diplomats are unlikely ever to deliver change at the pace scientists seek.

“Science is demanding immediate and drastic action,” Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters. “Policy, economics and financing cannot move in drastic fashion.”

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and the IRIN NEWS  Report:

IRIN – standing for Integrated Regional Information Networks – has its head office in Nairobi, Kenya, with regional desks in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Dakar, Dubai and Bangkok, covering some 70 countries. The bureaus are supported by a network of local correspondents, an increasing rarity in mainstream newsgathering today.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Snapshot of wins and losses at the Doha talks.

Talks in Doha at the futuristic Qatar National Convention Centre dragged on overtime

JOHANNESBURG, 9 December 2012 (IRIN) – Like last year’s UN climate change talks, this year’s conference in Doha culminated in an all-night session to hammer out a deal on preventing further global warming and protecting people from the effects of climate change. While some promising compromises were made, the absence of a strong commitment to slash greenhouse gas emissions and help vulnerable populations adapt to climate change was evident in the conference’s 39 decisions.

IRIN provides a snapshot of the three overarching themes of the decisions that came out of the 18th session of the Conference of Parties (COP18) to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and what these decisions mean for humanitarian actors.

Loss and damage

Tweeting out of the conference, one of Argentina’s negotiators said the decisions don’t feel “ground-breaking” but are “more likely saving face”. “What we got for it, only loss and damage and nothing else”, he said.

''[The] decisions don’t feel ground-breaking but are more likely saving face. What we got for it, only loss and damage and nothing else''

Poor countries, including small island states and the least developed countries, were looking for a decision to create an international mechanism to address losses and damages caused by climate change. The mechanism would open the door to possible compensation from affluent countries for poor countries facing the mounting costs of extreme climate events. It would consider both their economic and non-economic losses, and possibly explore technological interventions.

In the end, they had to settle for the possibility of this happening in the COP19 talks taking place in Poland next year. Still, the fact that the possibility of such a mechanism was mentioned in the decision at all was considered a breakthrough.

Additionally, a work programme collecting data on loss and damage caused by slow-onset disasters – such as droughts – received an extension. The programme will also consider climate change’s impact on migration patterns and displacement, as well as efforts to reduce risk.

The decisions on loss and damage echoes much of a framework proposed by a group of NGOs earlier in the conference, which had recommended focusing on the international mechanism, the work programme, and consideration of non-economic losses. But ultimately, the decisions are subject to money being made available for development of the work programme.

What it means: With the extension of the work programme, more information on possible policy approaches will be forthcoming. This will help humanitarian organizations better scale-up responses to extreme climate events, which are increasing in frequency and intensity.

But NGOs and the civil society will likely have to wait a long time for affluent countries to make firm commitments on funding, risk transfer mechanisms such as insurance, and technology to help poor countries improve their resilience to climate change. Given that money to help vulnerable populations adapt has been ad hoc and insufficient, there is little optimism for funds being made available for compensation.

Adaptation finance

In 2009, developed countries promised to provide US$30 billion by 2012 to help poor countries adapt to climate change. They also promised to provide $100 billion a year from 2020 onwards.
Developed countries reported in Doha that they had reached the $30 billion target, but this was disputed by academics and civil society.

“It is very difficult to know where that finance went and how,” said scientist Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development. “We need to come up with procedures for monitoring, reporting and verification of these finance figures. We need to agree on some format so that money can be tracked effectively. It hasn’t been tracked previously.”

The developed countries further indicated that, with the global recession, they are unable to make firm commitments to finance poor nations’ efforts to adapt. Instead, a decision was made to set up a work programme in 2013 to help developed countries identify ways to raise this money.

What it means: No global funding pledge has been for the interim period between 2013 and 2020. Individual pledges by five European countries – including the UK, France and Germany – have been made, but cumulatively, these fall far short of the $60 billion that developing countries had requested for the interim.

It is also not clear if the five pledges are specifically for climate change adaptation or if they are part of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) that developed countries provide to the developing world. The UNFCC requires that developed countries provide money for climate change adaptation that is additional to their ODA.

Emission cuts

The good news to emerge from the talks is that the Kyoto Protocol – a global agreement to cut emissions that was set to expire in 2012 – has been extended to 2020.

They also agreed that a roadmap to create a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol should be ready in 2015.

But meanwhile, there are no firm commitments to take on deeper emissions cuts. And with Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the US opting out of the Kyoto Protocol, the protocol applies to only 15 percent of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

What it means: Scientific organization, including the UN Environment Programme have warned that failing to further cut emissions could increase global temperatures by over four degrees Celius by the turn of the century. The internationally embraced goal is to limit this warming to two degrees Celsius, but the International Energy Agency has shown that achieving this goal grows more difficult and expensive with every passing year. This means poor countries and aid agencies will have to contend with the possibility of more frequent and intense climatic events and the mounting costs associated with prevention, relief and recovery.

jk/rz

see also -

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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A ‘low ambition’ outcome at Doha climate change conference

By Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, Doha, 9 December 2012

The annual UN climate conference concluded in Doha last Saturday (8 December) with “low ambition” both in emission cuts by developed countries and funding for developing countries.

Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted many decisions, including on the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period in which developed countries committed to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases.

Many delegates left the conference quite relieved that they had reached agreement after days of wrangling over many issues and an anxious last 24 hours that were so contentious that most people felt a collapse was imminent.

The relief was that the multilateral climate change regime has survived yet again, although there are such deep differences and distrust among developed and developing countries.

The conflict in paradigms between these two groups of countries was very evident throughout the two weeks of the Doha negotiations, and it was only papered over superficially in the final hours to avoid an open failure.  But the differences will surface again when negotiations resume next year.

Avoidance of collapse was a poor measure of success.  In terms of progress towards real actions to tackle the climate change crisis, the Doha conference was another lost opportunity and grossly inadequate.

The conference was held at the end of a year of record extreme events.  News of typhoon in the Philippines which killed 500 and made 300,000 homeless reminded the conference participants of the reality of the climate crisis.

However, the dictates of economic competition and commercial interests unfortunately were of higher priority, especially among developed countries, which explains their low ambition in emission reduction.  They also broke their promises in the legally binding UNFCCC to provide funds and transfer technology to developing countries.

The most important result in Doha was the formal adoption of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period (2013 to 2020) to follow immediately after the first period expires on 31 December 2012.

However, the elements are weak.  With original Kyoto Protocol Parties Russia, Japan and New Zealand having decided not to join in a second commitment period, and and Canada have left the Protocol altogether, only Europe, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and a few others (totalling 35 developed countries and countries with economies in transition) are left to make legally binding commitments in the second period.

Also, the emission cuts these countries agreed to commit to are in aggregate only 18% by 2020 below the 1990 level, compared to the 25-40% required to restrict global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

A saving factor in the Kyoto Protocol decision is the “ambition mechanism” put in by developing countries, that the countries will “revisit” their original target and increase their commitments by 2014, in line with the aggregate 25-40% reduction goal.

Also, the decision severely limited the amount of credits or surplus allowances that can be used during the second period.  These credits were accumulated in the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period by countries that cut their emissions more than the targeted level.

According to the decision, these countries cannot use or trade most of the surplus allowances as a means to avoid current emission cuts.

The most important country affected is Russia, and on Saturday it strongly objected to the way the President of the Conference, Abdullah Hamad al-Attiyah of Qatar, bulldozed through the Kyoto Protocol decision even though it and two other countries tried to object.

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// DO YOU REMEMBER THOSE KYOTO HOT AIR CLOUDS RELEASED BY THE COLLAPSE OF THE ANTIQUATED SOVIET BLOC INDUSTRY?//

Just look at what happened at Doha – here something we heartily applaud:

The final “wrangling” took place in the closing plenary on Saturday afternoon between those wanting to limit the use of excess AAUs to ensure the “environmental integrity” of the emission reduction commitments put forward and those arguing that “overachievement” of commitments should not be punished by a limitation in the use of AAUs. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus attempted to block the adoption of the AWG-KP outcome during the CMP closing plenary, but the nimble COP President gaveled its adoption before appearing to notice Russia’s raised flag. A round of applause welcomed the adoption of the decision, which limits the amount of surplus AAUs that can be used and provides that only parties taking on second commitment period QELRCs can use them. Russia objected to what he said was a breach of procedure by the President, while the COP President responded he would do no more than reflect his view in the final report. This action on the part of the COP President brought back echoes of the events of Cancun when Bolivia’s objections to the adoption of the Cancun Agreement were overruled/ignored in much the same way. It also made many wonder whether this was becoming a trend in the climate negotiations; as many have repeated, consensus does not mean the right of one party to block progress.

The information comes from the IISD final analysis – www.iisd.ca/climate/cop18/enb/

NOW – IF THIS KILLED SOME HOT-AIR BALLOONS – POWER TO QATAR – WE LOVE THEM.

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A second major criticism of the Doha decisions is the lack of funds to be provided to developing countries to take climate actions.

In 2010, the Conference of Parties in Cancun decided that developed countries would mobilize climate finance of US$100 billion a year starting in 2020; and that US$30 billion of fast track finance would be given in 2010-2012.

But there is a gap between 2013 and 2020.  Despite the demand by developing countries that there be US$60 billion by 2015, the decision adopted on Saturday does not specify any number as a commitment.  It only “encourages” countries to provide at least as much as they had in the 2010-2012 period.

The lack of a credible finance commitment led to an outcry by developing countries on the plenary floor.  This lack of funds curtails their ability to undertake actions to combat climate change, especially since they have agreed in the 2010 Cancun and 2011 Durban Conferences to take on more mitigation efforts.

The Doha conference also adopted a set of decisions under its working group on long-term cooperative action under the UNFCCC.  The developing countries were pleased with paragraphs on equity, unilateral trade measures, technology assessment and a vague reference to the effects of intellectual property.

However these decisions were very weak.  Even then the United States registered its disagreement or reservations to these decisions, after the adoption of the text, giving a foretaste of how they will continue to object to future discussions on these issues.

A positive decision made in Doha was to prepare for the setting up by next year’s Conference of an “international mechanism”  to help developing countries deal with loss and damage caused by climate change. This also resulted from intense negotiations.

Activities meanwhile will include an expert meeting and preparing technical papers on this issue.  Developing countries hope that this programme will lead to new funds being channelled to those countries suffering from flooding, drought, sea level rise and other forms of damage linked to climate change.

The Doha conference also adopted a work plan for the new working group on the Durban Platform that was set up in December 2011.  There were major fights in Doha over this, with many  developing countries insisting that mention be made that the Durban Platform will operate on the basis of equity and common and differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), the operating principle of the UNFCCC.

The final text did not mention this principle, and even the reference to the June 2012 Rio Plus 20 Summit which endorsed the equity and CBDR principle was removed at the insistence of the United States.

What remained in the text was a reference that the Durban Platform’s work will be guided by the principles of the Convention.  Even then, the United States in the final plenary placed a reservation that they reject the use of this phrase in the negotiations in the Durban Platform group. (The phrase is in the 2011 decision that established the working group – after the United States rejected any reference to explicit inclusion of “equity” or “CBDR” the final compromise was “under the Convention”.)

This reveals how much lacking in the spirit of international cooperation that the United States and some other developed countries have become.

They are no longer willing to assist the developing countries, and incredibly are even objecting to the principles of the Convention being applied to negotiations to set up a new agreement that will be under the Convention.

More than anything else, this shows the tragic paradox of the Doha conference. It succeeded in adopting many decisions and kept the functioning of the multilateral climate regime alive, but the actual substance of actions to save the planet from climate change was absent, as was a genuine commitment to support the developing countries.

Author: Marin Khor is Executive Director of the South Centre. Contact: director@southcentre.org.

An earlier version of this article was published in The Star of 10 December 2012.

To view other articles in SouthNews, please click here.
For more information, please contact Vicente Paolo Yu of the South Centre:
Email yu@southcentre.org, or telephone +41 22 791 80 50.
The list of the Climate Change Convention Conferences of the Parties held todate:

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