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People Without a UN Seat

 
Reporting From the UN Headquarters in New York:
Inner City Press

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE FOLLOWING WAS MAILED OUT BY UN DPI ON “Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 4:38 PM.” Iassume that this is Vienna time which makes it 10:38 AM New York time.

It was supposed to bring attention to an event that day that was being held “10:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Is Anyone still naive enough to hope that anything practical can come out from the hands of this UN Secretariat Staff?

YES  – the UN has some great people in its midth but they are turned impotent by a permanent UN staff that was set up by governments of OIL that have no interest in environment, climate change or the fate of indigenous people that live from the land.

This posting of ours comes to highlight what we were saying for many years – and the fact that even the UN Secretary-General, who we think might harbor the right feelings, and might have surrounded himself with the right people, but not having had the guts to throw out half of the UN staff he inherited has simply turned to zero the chance of having an impact on important matters.  We are very sorry for this.

The Governments of Bolivia and Ecuador and representatives of the North American Indian Nations still believe in Mother Earth and are not ready to give up the fight for changing our behavior to one that allows us no live in harmony with the planet rather then exploiting it. Man ought to be the warden of Planet Earth and not its destroyer – but this is not the religion of MAMMON as represented at the UN by the Oil Barrel.

 

THE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony With Nature Tuesday, 22 April
UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
10:00 am – 1:00 pm

The United Nations will hold the fourth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to discuss and promote ways to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

The Dialogue also commemorates International Mother Earth Day, which highlights the need to move away from a human-centred worldview and focuses on the relationship between the planet and humankind as an equal partnership. The Dialogue will address key characteristics to build an Earth-centred paradigm and strategies for building it.

President of the General Assembly John W. Ashe will open the Dialogue, along with State and civil society representatives.  The statements will be followed by four panels with experts on topics such as nature and politics, farming, and harmony with nature in the post-2015 development agenda.

WHO:

Mr. John W. Ashe, General Assembly President

Representative for Mr. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

Mr. Sacha Llorentty Soliz, Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

Ms. Tonya Gonnella Frichner, American Indian Law Alliance of New York and New Jersey

Chair: Ms. Lorena Tapia, Minister of the Environment, Ecuador

Moderator: Ms. Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of the Earth Law Center

Panelists

Prof. Frank Biermann, Chair, Earth System Governance Project

Prof. Barbara Baudot, Chair, Department of Politics, Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire, USA

Mr. Jim Gerritsen, Co-Owner, Wood Prairie Farms, Bridgewater, Maine, USA

Mr. Fander Falcon? Benitez,  Research Professor, Latin America Social Sciences Institute

The event will be webcast live on UN Web TV. webtv.un.org/

For more information see: www.harmonywithnatureun.org/

 

Hashtag: #PGApost2015

Media contact:
Florencia Soto Nino, sotonino@un.org, 917-367-4833; UN Department of Public Information.

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All right – perhaps someone will try to find out what happened after-the-fact -   surely not having been able to talk to any of the guests that came specially to speak at the event – the likes of the Minister from Ecuador and out-of-towners from academia or members of pro-Earth organizations. Some at the DPI seem to like the role of gate-keepers for the media and keep the media away from information not sanctioned by members of the staff.

 

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

 

The Opinion Page – A New York TimesEditorial

 

Running Out of Time

 

 

 

Next year, in December, delegates from more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to take another shot at completing a new global treaty on climate change. This will be the 21st Conference of the Parties under United Nations auspices since the first summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

For the most part, these meetings have been exercises in futility, producing  {under strong prodding from US Vice President Al Gore and with clear opposition from environmental groups - ST.info comment} just one treaty — in Kyoto in 1997 — that asked little of the big developing countries and was never ratified by the United States Senate.
But if the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report is to be taken seriously, as it should be, the Paris meeting may well be the world’s last, best chance to get a grip on a problem that, absent urgent action over the next decade, could spin out of control.

The I.P.C.C., composed of thousands of the world’s leading climate scientists, has issued three reports in the last seven months, each the product of up to six years of research. The first simply confirmed what has been known since Rio: global warming is caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels by humans and, to a lesser extent, by deforestation. The second, released in Japan three weeks ago, said that profound effects were already being felt around the world, including mounting damage to coral reefs, shrinking glaciers and more persistent droughts, and warned of worse to come — rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields.

The third report, released last week, may be the most ominous of the three.

Despite investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources in the United States, in Europe and in developing countries like China, annual emissions of greenhouse gases have risen almost twice as fast in the first decade of this century as they did in the last decades of the 20th century. This places in serious jeopardy the emissions target agreed upon in Rio to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level. Beyond that increase, the world could face truly alarming consequences.

Avoiding that fate will require a reduction of between 40 percent and 70 percent in greenhouse gases by midcentury, which means embarking on a revolution in the way we produce and consume energy.

That’s daunting enough, but here’s the key finding: The world has only about 15 years left in which to begin to bend the emissions curve downward. Otherwise, the costs of last-minute fixes will be overwhelming. “We cannot afford to lose another decade,” says Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”

 

The report does not tell governments what to do — presumably, that’s for them to decide in Paris — but it lists approaches, mostly familiar, some technologically advanced. The most obvious, and probably the most difficult to negotiate, is to put a global price on carbon, either through a system of tradable permits like that adopted by Europe (and rejected by the United States Senate) or through a carbon tax of some sort, thus driving investments to cleaner fuels.

A more plausible pathway is to get each country to adopt binding emission reduction targets and then allow them to choose how to get there — ramping up nuclear energy, phasing out coal-fired plants in favor of cleaner natural gas (though natural gas itself would have to someday give way to low-carbon alternatives), and vastly increasing renewable sources like wind and solar, which still supply only a small fraction of the world’s energy (less than 5 percent for wind and solar combined in the United States). All this will require a huge shift in investment, both private and public, from fossil fuels.

Governments have an enormous amount of work to do in devising emission reduction strategies by next year. As always, American leadership will be required, meaning leadership from the top. Confronted with a hostile Congress, President Obama has commendably moved on his own to reduce emissions through regulations, first with cars and now with coal-fired power plants. And he has done so without a great deal of public support. However compelling the science, global warming has not generated the kind of public anxiety and bottom-up demand for change that helped win the big fights for cleaner air and water in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This makes his job harder but no less urgent.

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

Fact:  The New York City Transportation was a give away to General Motors that designed the Highway system through their underground partisan Mr. Robert Moses – who did not even have a driver’s license.

 

 

Architecture Critic’s Notebook – A Suggestion For A People Friendly Infrastructure:

Brooklyn to Queens, but Not by Subway!

Imagining a Streetcar Line Along the Waterfront.


By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN – - The New York Times – -  April 20, 2014.

 

The vision of a streetcar route between Red Hook and Astoria would provide much-needed transit to areas where millennials and thousands of less affluent New Yorkers live.

Desire lines, says architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, are marked by economic development and evolving travel patterns. He plots today’s desire line along the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens.

There’s a wonderful term for the dirt trails that people leave behind in parks: desire lines.

Cities also have desire lines, marked by economic development and evolving patterns of travel. In New York, Manhattan was once the destination for nearly all such paths, expressed by subway tracks that linked Midtown with what Manhattanites liked to call the outer boroughs.

But there is a new desire line, which avoids Manhattan altogether.

It hugs the waterfronts of Brooklyn and Queens, stretching from Sunset Park past the piers of Red Hook, to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, through Greenpoint and across Newtown Creek, which separates the two boroughs, running all the way up to the Triborough Bridge in Astoria.

The desire line is now poorly served by public transit, even as millennials are colonizing Astoria, working in Red Hook, then going out in Williamsburg and Bushwick — or working at the Navy Yard, visiting friends in Long Island City and sleeping in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

They have helped drive housing developments approved or built along the Brooklyn waterfront, like the one by Two Trees at the former Domino Sugar Refinery. But this corridor isn’t only for millennials. It’s also home to thousands of less affluent New Yorkers struggling to get to jobs and join the work force.

So here’s an idea: bring back the streetcar.

Some of this route is served — barely — by subway lines like the G, the city’s sorriest little railroad.
In Astoria, stations for the N and Q are nearly a full mile or more from the East River, meaning a vast swath of that neighborhood is virtually disconnected from the subway system. It’s an area ripe for growth — for new housing, start-ups and other small businesses and industries — all the more so with the coming of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, just across the river and linked to Queens via the F. One can imagine another Silicon Alley spanning Cornell, Astoria, Williamsburg and Sunset Park.

Right now, it’s easier by subway to get from Long Island City to Midtown, or from Downtown Brooklyn to Wall Street, than it is to get from housing projects in Fort Greene or Long Island City to jobs in Williamsburg, or from much of Red Hook to — well, almost anywhere.

 

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

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host on 23 September a Climate Summit to catalyze action on climate change prior to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in 2015. The emphasis will be bold pledges that can scale-up and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap and put the global community on track for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process. 

Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) is working with the office to facilitate the contribution of the transport community to the Climate Summit.  It is currently expected that transport will be well represented in the Summit through possible commitments on electric mobility, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), public transport, railways, fuel economy and green freight.

SLoCaT will be represented in the Ascent meeting in Abu Dhabi that brings together ministers, as well as leaders from business, finance and civil society, to develop proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations can increase their participation in initiatives that broaden and deepen partnerships, in order to deliver concrete action at the September Summit.

SLoCaT and UN-DESA together with the International Railway Association expect to be hosting a High Level Event on Transport and Climate Change in New York on 22 September to  showcase the transport commitments to the Climate Summit as well as the specific contribution of railways to sustainable transport.

SLoCaT contribution to ADP Technical Expert Meetings: Energy efficiency

In Warsaw, the ADP requested the UNFCCC secretariat to organize, under the guidance of the ADP Co-Chairs, technical expert meetings at each of the sessions of the ADP in 2014 to share policies, practices and technologies and address the necessary finance, technology and capacity building, with a special focus on actions with high mitigation potential.  SLoCaT was invited to contribute towards the March technical expert meeting that focused on opportunities for action on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Cornie Huizenga in his contribution highlighted 4 key messages on behalf of the SLoCaT Partnership and the Bridging the Gap initiative:

1. With 25% of Energy Related GHG emissions, Transport must become low carbon to realize 2 Degree Scenario

2. Transport and economic growth can, and must be decoupled

3. Technology and system-wide  improvements (e.g. fuel economy) needs to be combined with modal shift and behavioral change

4. This is an opportunity not a constraint – saves money; builds resilience and delivers more than climate benefits but needs to start now. NAMAs can help kick-start change

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Transport Day 2014

Following the success of Transport Day 2013, the SLoCaT Partnership and the Bridging the Gap initiative will be organizing in the context of COP 20, Transport Day 2014 on 7 December in Lima, Peru.  CAF Development Bank of Latin America, the Inter American Development Bank as well as FIA Foundation have indicated their support for this year’s Transport Day. If you are interested in contributing towards Transport Day 2014 please contact hallen@trl.co.uk and cornie.huizenga@slocatpartnership.org.

SPECIAL FOCUS: Road Safety Resolution

UN road safety debate hears call for post-2015 action

Global action to combat a growing worldwide epidemic road deaths and injuries must become part of the UN’s new priorities for global development, the UN General Assembly was told on 10 April as it passed a new Resolution to address the crisis.

Governments, including Brazil, Jamaica and Russia, urged inclusion of road safety in the post-2015 development goals due to be agreed next year. Speakers in the debate, including the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, pledged support for the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The US co-sponsored the Resolution, which was introduced by Russia’s Deputy Interior Minister, Victor Kiryanov.

Governments at the UN have pledged to stabilise and reduce road deaths and injuries in a Decade of Action from 2011-2020, but progress is falling short. The issue must become part of the Post-2015 development goals so that millions of lives can be saved, the UN was told.

Speaking at the UN, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Chair of the Commission for Global Road Safety, called for renewed action to save lives on the roads around the world. The Commission is funded by the FIA Foundation an independent UK charity providing philanthropic support to road safety efforts worldwide.

Lord Robertson who was representing the UK Government during the debate said: “This new Resolution recognises the Commission for Global Road Safety’s call for a target for reducing road deaths to become part of the new development goals. Such a global commitment is vital to save millions of lives around the world.”

He was joined by global road safety ambassador, actress Michelle Yeoh, who also addressed the UN General Assembly. She said: “We need new sources of funding to support road safety campaign. And we need new momentum in support of our shared objective for the Decade of Action, beginning with inclusion of road safety in the post-2015 goals.”

The new Resolution encourages Governments to consider road safety when negotiating the post-2015 development goals. The Commission is calling for a specific global target to reduce road fatalities by 50% to be included in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This would be consistent with the objectives of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

The Commission is joining partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration and SLoCAT to call on Governments at the UN to support the Post-2015 road safety SDG target. Click here for an advocacy pack.

Click here for further information on the UN Resolution A/68/L.40 ‘Improving Global Road Safety’.

Thanks to Avi Silverman, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Fia Foundation, for his contribution to this article.

UPDATE FROM SLoCaT PARTNERSHIP

The most exciting SLoCaT news is that we are now well underway with the transformation of the SLoCaT Secretariat into a formal legal entity.  We believe that this will enable us to serve the SLoCaT Partnership better and will help to strengthen the voice of sustainable, low carbon transport in global policies on sustainable development and climate change.  We are very much pleased with the positive response to the plans to make SLoCaT into a more sustainable entity. It is encouraging to see that new organizations are coming forward who are willing to support the work of SLoCaT.  More details on the changes in the structure of SLoCaT will be reported in the next newsletter. It is planned that the transformation of SLoCaT will be completed by June 2014.  

The first quarter of 2014 was a busy time for SLoCaT. We were able to make good progress with our advocacy to see sustainable transport fully integrated in the post-2015 development agenda.  Linked to that the work of SLoCaT on poverty and sustainable transport really kicked off in the first quarter of 2014 with as first highlight the special event on “Sustainable Transport and Just Cities” at the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia.  

Transport was identified as a key sector in the recent 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. SLoCaT has intensified its work with the UNFCCC Secretariat to better communicate the mitigation potential of land transport. Contracts were signed for Transport Day 2014 in December 2014 in Lima, Peru.  We are working closely with the organizers of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit to ensure that transport will be well represented at this critical event in September 2014.

We would also like to welcome Youth for Road Safety (YOURS) to SLoCaT Partnership as our newest member.  Please visit the member page of YOURS on the SLoCaT Website to learn more about their activities in road safety and sustainable transport.

SLoCaT’s effectiveness as a partnership is determined by the support its partners are willing to give to the organization.  I am confident that based on the interest shown by our members and others that SLoCaT has a strong future as an organization to effectively promote the interests of the sustainable transport community.

Cornie Huizenga, Secretary General, SLoCaT Partnership

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

IPCC’s recently published 5th Assessment Report confirms the importance and potential of mitigation action by the transport sector to reduce dangerous climate change. The Transport Section Mitigation Pathways of the Summary for Policy Maker can be found here. It is encouraging to see that there is increased alignment of the IPCC policy recommendations and the Avoid-Shift-Improve approach, promoted by SLoCaT to reduce GHG emissions from transport.  The detailed chapter (8) on transport, to which several SLoCaT members actively contributed contains a number of additional key messages:

  1. Reducing global transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be challenging since the continuing growth in passenger and freight activity could outweigh all mitigation measures unless transport emissions can be strongly decoupled from GDP growth
  2. High mitigation potential of transport by avoided journeys and modal shifts due to behavioral change, uptake of improved vehicle and engine performance technologies, low?carbon fuels, investments in related infrastructure, and changes in the built environment
  3. Both short? and long?term transport mitigation strategies are essential if deep GHG reduction ambitions are to be achieved
  4. Barriers to de-carbonizing transport for all modes differ across regions, but can be overcome partly by reducing the marginal mitigation costs
  5. There are regional differences in transport mitigation pathways with major opportunities to shape transport systems and infrastructure around low?carbon options, particularly in developing and emerging countries
  6. De-carbonizing of transport sector requires a range of strong and mutually?supportive policies

International Transport Forum 

Transport Outlook 2013: Funding Transport

The ITF Transport Outlook 2013 presents and discusses global scenarios concerning the development of transport volumes through 2050. The analysis highlights the impact of alternative economic growth scenarios on passenger and freight flows and the consequences of rapid urbanisation outside the OECD.

World Bank

Transport for health: the global burden of disease from motorized road transport 

World Bank’s Transport for Health  report summarizes the findings of a long and meticulous journey of data gathering and analysis to quantify the health losses from road deaths and injuries worldwide, as part of the path-finding Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.

Reducing black carbon emissions from diesel vehicles: Impacts, control strategies, and cost-benefit analysis b

The most recent World Bank report Reducing black carbon emissions from diesel vehicles presents a summary of emissions control approaches from developed countries, which face a number of on-the-ground implementation challenges.

EMBARQ

CONNECT Karo 2014 Conference Looks at the Future for India’s Urban Transport

Government, transportation and planning leaders focused on finding practical ways to improve quality of life in India’s cities by improving mobility and accessibility in the second edition of CONNECTKaro, EMBARQ India’s annual conference on sustainable transportation. The conference was held in Bangalore, March 10 and 11, 2014 and opened by Madhav Pai, Director of EMBARQ India, saying that the challenge in India, with its burgeoning urban population “is to connect people to cities.” Over 250 people attended, and over 1,000 joined sessions on-line. More at EMBARQIndia.org.

New Low Emission Development Toolkit for City and Transport Planners
City leaders and planners weigh difficult decisions when choosing transport solutions, for example deciding between developing BRT or light rail, and finding the best way to measure greenhouse gas emissions. The new Transport Toolkit provides a new and very necessary resource to support these leaders as they shape our future cities. The toolkit – developed by the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP) Transport Working Group, led by EMBARQ in partnership with NREL and UNEP – provides a plethora of resources to plan for, implement, and monitor sustainable transport projects across the globe. More here and here.

European Cyclists’ Federation

ECF is building a global network of cyclists through World Cycling Alliance

World Cycling Alliance (WCA) is an initiative from European Cyclists’ Federation to build a global network of non-governmental organizations with a substantial interest in promoting cycling as the cleanest sustainable transport development. ECF will present the initiative for the WCA in Medellin, Colombia, at the World Urban Forum 7 (WUF7) of UN-Habitat, on Thursday, 10th of April 2014 at the Yellow Pavillion, Room 11. For more information about WCA, visit www.ecf.com/world-cycling-alliance or or get in touch with Marcio Deslandes at m.deslandes@ecf.com

Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET)

iCET to release 2013 China Environmentally Friendly Vehicle annual study results in June

China’s vehicle sales are the world’s highest for four consecutive years, accounting for about 60% of the national oil demand. Since 2007, iCET has been developing and updating a China-tailored passenger vehicle fuel-consumption and life-cycle emissions inventory tool promoted through annual reports and a free user-friendly website (www.greencarchina.org). These have been aimed at informing sustainable decision-making at all three pillars of China’s on-road private vehicle market: policy-makers, auto-makers and consumers. iCET’s 2013 green vehicle rating report (coming on Chinese Energy Conservation Week in June) will integrate “real-world” data provided by China’s Vehicle Emissions Control Center for taking China’s vehicle data disclosure one step forward.

Nordic Development Fund

NDF supports climate change adaptation in the transport sector

NDF has recently approved two new transport adaptation projects that will develop adaptive capacity and integration of climate change aspects into planning and design of road transport infrastructure. In Mozambique, NDF, together with the African Development Bank (AfDB), will support the National Road Administration, and other key stakeholders, with capacity-building and additional tools to manage climate impact threats to road development. The NDF support forms part of the Nacala Road Corridor III Project and aims to make resilient road development plans, improve construction methods, and ensure an active and sustainable road infrastructure asset management. Read more…

NDF is co-financing with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) a technical cooperation project to establish a Transport NAMA Support Facility in Asia

NDF is co-financing with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) a technical cooperation project to establish a Transport NAMA Support Facility with the aim of strengthening transport NAMA development in Asia. The EUR 500,000 support will build capacity in ADB and its developing member countries, and deliver tools that eventually will lead to development of at least two transport NAMAs in these countries. Read more…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Willkommen im Akademischen Forum für Außenpolitik – Hochschulliga für die Vereinten Nationen (AFA)

Juni 2013: Einladung des AFA in das Außenministerium

Das AFA ist die überparteiliche Organisation Österreichs für alle an internationalen Fragen interessierten Jugendlichen, Schülerinnen und Schüler, Studierenden und Jungakademiker/innen. In Österreich finden jährlich 400 – 500 Veranstaltungen und Projekte ganz unterschiedlicher Art statt.

 

Das AFA bietet:

 

  • Vorträge mit Persönlichkeiten aus Politik, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft
  • UNO-Simulationen
  • Rhetorik- und Verhandlungstrainings
  • Lehrgänge
  • Exkursionen und Studienreisen
  • Publikationen
  • Social Events

 

Die Aktivitäten sind zumeist in Projekten (wie “VIMUN” oder “GAP”) bzw. als “Clubs” zusammengefasst. Über den Button “Events and Calendar” ist eine chronologische Übersicht aller Termine in ganz Österreich abrufbar. Über den Button “Gallery” kann man sich ein Bild von uns machen.

 

Wir laden sehr herzlich ein, an unseren Aktivitäten teilzunehmen und uns bei Interesse via E-Mail austria@afa.at zu kontaktieren.

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National and International links:

 

Nationale und internationale Vernetzung:

 

Unabhängige Jugend- und Studierendenorganisation der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Außenpolitik und die Vereinten Nationen (ÖGAVN)
Mitglied der Bundes-Jugendvertretung (BJV) der Republik Österreich
Ehrenmitglied des Österreichischen Nationalkomitee Blue Shield (ÖNKBS)
Partner-Organisation der European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) Austria
Gründungsmitglied des United Nations Youth Associations Network (UNYANET)
Jugend-Bindeglied zur World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA)
Assoziiertes NGO-Mitglied beim United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI NGO)

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Report: Ukraine Synagogue Firebombed Just Days After Distribution of Anti-Semitic Flyers (VIDEO)

April 20, 2014 12:00 pm 21 comments
A vandal firebombing the Noklayev Synagogue, in Ukraine, on April 19, 2014, as recorded by closed-circuit security cameras. Photo: Screenshot / Yisroel Gotlieb.

A vandal firebombing the Nikolayev Synagogue, in Ukraine, on April 19, 2014, as recorded by closed-circuit security cameras. Photo: Screenshot / Yisroel Gotlieb.

The Nikolayev Synagogue in Ukraine was reportedly firebombed by vandals at approximate 2 AM on Saturday morning, according to Chabad blog Shturem and closed-circuit footage of the attack, uploaded to YouTube at the weekend.

The footage was posted by Yisroel Gotlieb, son of the city’s chief rabbi, Sholom Gotlieb.

One firebomb was thrown at the door of the synagogue, which was unoccupied at the time, and another was lobbed at a window, according to the blog.

The junior Gotleib told Shturem that “miraculously a person passing by the shul was equipped with a fire extinguisher, and immediately put out the fire that had erupted, preventing massive damage.”

In February, the Giymat Rosa Synagogue, in Zaporizhia, southeast of Kiev, was also firebombed.

Reports of rising anti-Semitism in the Ukraine after Russia’s recent occupation of Crimea were highlighted last week when fliers, reminiscent of the pogroms of a century ago, were distributed outside of a synagogue on Passover. The origin of the fliers is yet unknown, and debate has focused on whether they were from Russian or Ukrainian groups, from officials or designed to appear so, or if they were intended as some kind of a KGB-style subterfuge created to use anti-Semitism as a lever in the conflict.

The fliers, distributed in Donetsk, were addressed to “Ukraine nationals of Jewish nationality,” alerting Jews to pay a fee to register their names on a list and to show documentation of property ownership, or face deportation.

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From the 21 Comments

  • If one hair from one Jewish head will fall, the IDF will take good care of those anti-semities Bastards!! They really don’t know who are they dealing with?? What happend 70 years ago will NEVER happen again!!

  • What is it about this you don’t understand? Israel must always be there!

  • chaim yosef levi

    This behavior is expected from Ukrainians. The Breslovers must stop patronizing Ukraine by peregrinating there. Better rremove the remains of Rabbi Nachman and bury him in Israel.
    Stop going there to drink their Vodka and to use the Ukrainian hookers. Other jews must leave that G-d forsaken land.p

  • Many of us regrettably have such short memories. We should ask ourselves why so many concentration camp guards and auxiliary troops were Ukrainian and were often more ruthless than their German compatriots. This part of the world has been a hot bed of anti-semitism for centuries past and anti-Jewish animus remains well entrenched in the psyche of the populace. Not one Jew should have taken up residence in the Ukraine after the Second World War.

  • Adele Mischel MSW

    Those of us who went through the Holocaust, know from personal experience, when the ugly demon of anti-Semitism once again rears its head. The Ukraine is no longer a home for a proud people…the Jewish people.
    It is difficult to leave a homeland, but in this situation, the real homeland is Israel..

  • A message from On High to get out of there.

  • A message from On High to get out of therre.

  • I thought the flyer and all the antisemetic stuff from the Ukraine was fake. Ha–I do not want to say that I told you that those Ukranian bastards were bad, but I told you so.

    This is precisely why I have said from the beginning, that I hope the Ukraine-Russia situation becomes the same as the Iran-Iraq War–for 9 years. If you think this Ukranian firebombing of a synagogue is bad for Jews, you should only know what their hero–Bohdan Chmelnitzky did to the Jews in the 1600?s. A whole lot worse than the Nazis and Hitler–yet that mother f***** Chmelnitzky, is on their $5 bill today; and the Ukranians are obviously proud of him.

    The Russians and the Ukranians should all drop dead–and I will celebrate those events!!!

  • REMEMBER: The sad sacks who perpetrated this sick act were nursed by their mothers’…
    Cowardly perversion by a few with lesser brains. Decency…Respect was never their strong suit..

  • Lucille Kaplan

    Even if these events are sinister contrivances of Russian annexationists wanting to make ethnic Ukrainians look bad, the fact that either side, in this conflict, feels free to resort to anti-Semitism, and that both sides know full well that anti-Semitism catches on like wildfire in this region,confirms what others have already said here: That it is folly for Jews to remain in this part of Eastern Europe. The mass exterminations of Jews in the forests of Volhyn (including 2 of my sisters), often at the hands of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, bespeaks what appears to be nearly a genetically programmed hatred of Jews, in that region. . .I wish it were otherwise. .The time to evacuate is now.

  • It is time to get out of any country were Jews lives are threaten, Israel is the homeland and today there are no excuses for a big tragedy. “Never Again means Never Again.” One more reason for Israel to remain a Jewish State…a Jewish Nation… a Jewish Country.

  • pity we did not have a sniper on place to shoot him down

  • This is precisely why Israel must be the Jewish homeland.

    • Dr. abraham Weizfeld

      Just one fascist and so many frightened chickens? My uncle Meyer Goldsheider did not run away, he fought the Nazi occupation as a partisan.

  • Not a moment too soon for Jews to leave this country that has persecuted Jews for over 100 years. Nothing will change there until the last one is out. Then the Ukrainians will be able to blame us anyway, but can’t hurt anyone. They murdered 100?s of thousands of Jews during WWII, why does anyone think this was a passing fad.

  • NOW IS THE TIME FOR JEWS TO MAKE ALYAH TO ISRAEL BEFORE ITS TO LATE

  • An Easter greeting perhaps?

  • It is time for the Jews to get out of Russia, the Ukraine and any of the countries in the former Soviet Union.

    • You only encourage other mindsets to add to the shame…As you sit smug else wear.  Not helpful in the least.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Ab out OVER THE RAINBOW – From the desk of  Benjamin Zaum.

Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

I KNOW THAT MANY IMMIGRANT JEWS HAVE CHANGED THEIR NAMES TO “MAKE IT IN SHOW BIZZ”, BUT I WASN’T AWARE OF WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ .  WHEN I NEXT WATCH “THE WIZARD OF OZ” (FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME), I WILL REMEMBER THE WORDS THAT ARE WRITTEN BELOW.  PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS IN ITS ENTIRETY AND YOU’LL LEARN SOMETHING YOU NEVER KNEW. 

 

 

 

At the 2014 Oscars, they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the release of the “Wizard of Oz” by having Pink sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, with highlights from the film in the background. But what few people realized, while listening to that incredible performer singing that unforgettable song, is that the music is deeply embedded in the Jewish experience.

 

 

The film came out on January 1, 1939. This was less than two months after the notorious Kristallnacht – night of the crystal – when Jewish businesses were looted, synagogues attacked and Jewish storefronts had their windows smashed by the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria. WWII was exactly 8 months away. In other words, the Holocaust was about to begin. Six million Jews would be murdered, one million of them children, for no other reason other than that they were Jews.

 

In the prelude to this orgy of murder, three great revolutionary movements were incubated in the Jewish towns and villages of Germany and eastern Europe: Communism, Zionism and Americanism.

The Communists tried to avert the impending destruction of European Jewry by doing away with all nationalism and creating a utopian Communist society where Jews would not be persecuted because no one would be persecuted. There would be no nations and no religions. Kind of John Lennon’s utopian “Imagine”.

The Zionists attempted to overcome Jewish powerlessness by empowering Jews. Nations would not disappear right away, they said. Rather, the only way to avert the destruction of world Jewry was for Jews to go back to their ancient homeland and establish themselves as a people. Only that way, when the great melding of humanity would happen, Jews could join the community of nations.

For their part, those Jews that emigrated to America – especially in the great waves at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century – believed that the solution to the “Jewish question” had already been invented – America!

 

Whereas Communists wanted to assimilate in the lands that they lived in, and Zionists wanted to assimilate on a national level i.e., let’s create Israel so we can be a “nation like any other nation”, for millions of imperiled Jews assimilation was possible only in America. In America, they argued, everyone assimilates.

Of course, many came to America to physically survive. They had no desire to give up their identity. But many others saw America not as a land of refuge or opportunity but as a dreamland that exists “somewhere over the rainbow.” In that land, they thought, “skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”

 

When the clouds of anti-Semitism were gathering over Europe – as they are once again gathering now – out of the collective Jewish angst that the immigrants brought to America, a handful of Jews translated their assimilationist fantasies onto a new medium – film.

As Neal Gabler has so remarkably documented in “An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood” all the Hollywood studios were created by Jewish immigrants.

Columbia Pictures was founded by Adolph Zukor from Hungary, Universal was founded by Carl Laemmle from Germany, MGM by Louis B. Mayer from Belarus, Warner Brothers by Polish immigrants Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner (Jack was the only brother born in North America). The list goes on.

The genius of these “moguls” was that they were able to translate shtetl {small town in East Europe} dreams into American feature films. Suddenly, their fantasies of white picket fences, strong fathers, loving neighbours and a society where race and religion didn’t matter became everyone’s fantasies. “Americanism” morphed into “Hollywoodism”, and Hollywoodism replaced the real America with the America of the films. For example, the American army was segregated up to and including WWII. But in Hollywood films, the American army was integrated and that’s how we remember the Second World War – blacks and whites fighting together in platoons that never existed.

Similarly with the Westerns. Bad guys with high boots terrorizing religious townspeople until a new sheriff rode into town didn’t actually happen in the American West.

But the Hollywood Jews managed to take the experience of eastern European Jews terrorized during pogroms by Ukrainian Cossacks and convert it into the classic American Western.

 

The fantasies of immigrant Jews wanting to be “real” Americans were popularized not only by Hollywood producers – there were also the Broadway and Tin Pan Alley Jews.

It is no accident, for example, that the greatest Christmas songs of all time were written by Jews. For example, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was written by Johnny Marks and “White Christmas” was penned by a Jewish liturgical singer’s (cantor) son, Irving Berlin. But perhaps the most poignant song emerging out of the mass exodus from Europe was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

The lyrics were written by Yip Harburg. He was the youngest of four children born to Russian Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg and he grew up in a Yiddish speaking, Orthodox, Jewish home in New York. The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor’s son. His real name was Hyman Arluck and his parents were from Lithuania.

Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which was voted the 20th century’s number one song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness – framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen – and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words. Read the lyrics in their Jewish context, and suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, but about Jewish survival:

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

 

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

 

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

 

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

 

The Jews of Europe could not fly. They could not escape beyond the rainbow. Harburg was almost prescient when he talked about wanting to fly like a bluebird away from the “chimney tops”. In the post-Auschwitz era, chimney tops have taken on a whole different meaning than the one they had at the beginning of 1939.

Pink’s mom is Judith Kugel. She’s Jewish of Lithuanian background. At this year’s Oscars, as Pink was belting the Harburg/Arlen song from the stage at the Academy Awards, I wasn’t thinking about the movie. I was thinking about Europe’s lost Jews and the immigrants to America. I was then struck by the irony that for two thousand years the land that the Jews heard of “once in a lullaby” was not America, but Israel.

The remarkable thing would be that less than ten years after “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was first published in 1939, the exile was over and the State of Israel was reborn. Perhaps the “dreams that you dare to dream” really do come true. 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

International Business

 

China Takes On Big Risks in Its Push for Shale Gas.

 

Continue reading the main story      

Chinese Fireball Mystery – Jonah M. Kessel, The New York Times, Photography.

 

China’s largest energy company has made the country’s first commercially viable shale gas discovery, but the path to energy independence is fraught with risks, as one town has seen first-hand.

 

JIAOSHIZHEN, China — Residents of this isolated mountain valley of terraced cornfields were just going to sleep last April when they were jolted by an enormous roar, followed by a tower of flames. A shock wave rolled across the valley, rattling windows in farmhouses and village shops, and a mysterious, pungent gas swiftly pervaded homes.

“It was so scary — everyone who had a car fled the village and the rest of us without cars just stayed and waited to die,” said Zhang Mengsu, a hardware store owner.

All too quickly, residents realized the source of the midnight fireball: a shale gas drilling rig in their tiny rural hamlet.

This verdant valley represents the latest frontier in the worldwide hunt for shale gas retrievable by the technology of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It is a drilling boom that has upended the energy industry and spurred billions of dollars of investment.

Like the United States and Europe, China wants to wean itself from its dependence on energy imports — and in Jiaoshizhen, the Chinese energy giant Sinopec says it has made the country’s first commercially viable shale gas discovery. Its efforts could also help address another urgent issue, as Beijing looks to curb an overwhelming reliance on coal that has blackened skies and made China the largest contributor to global warming.

Photo

Huge drilling projects can be seen embedded into farm land outside of Fuling, China. Shale gas has been discovered in the region. Credit Jonah M. Kessel for The New York Times

 

But the path to energy independence and a cleaner fossil fuel is fraught with potential pitfalls. Threats to workplace safety, public health and the environment all loom large in the shale gas debate — and the question is whether those short-term risks threaten to undermine China’s long-term goal.

The energy industry around the world has faced criticism about the economic viability of vast shale projects and the environmental impact of the fracking process. But interviews with residents of six hamlets here where drilling is being done, as well as with executives and experts in Beijing, the United States and Europe, suggest that China’s search poses even greater challenges.

In China, companies must drill two to three times as deep as in the United States, making the process significantly more expensive, noisier and potentially more dangerous. Chinese energy giants also operate in strict secrecy; they rarely engage with local communities, and accidents claim a high death toll.

The still-disputed incident in Jiaoshizhen has raised serious concerns among its residents.

Villagers said that employees at the time told them that eight workers died when the rig exploded that night. Sinopec officials and village leaders then ordered residents not to discuss the event, according to the villagers. Now villagers complain of fouled streams and polluted fields.

“There was a huge ball of fire,” said Liu Jiazhen, a mustard greens farmer with three children who lives a five-minute walk from the site. “The managers here all raced for their lives up the hill.”

Ms. Liu said that the flames rose higher than the pines on a nearby ridge, covering the steel frame of the rig, which is nearly 100 feet high. The flames burned for hours, she said.

Sinopec describes the incident as a controlled flaring of gas and denies that anybody died. While the company would not speak in detail about its shale projects, Sinopec said it ran its operations safely and without harm to the environment.

Li Chunguang, the president of Sinopec, said in an interview in late March that nothing had gone wrong in Jiaoshizhen. “There is no basis for this,” he said.

The bustling activity in Jiaoshizhen indicates a significant find for Sinopec.

Feeder pipes connect some of the dozen or so drilling sites, and 100 more wells are planned. Bright blue, boxy equipment for gas compression is being installed on large, flat lots next to at least two of the drilling rigs. A two-lane road has been paved across a mountain pass from Fuling, the nearest city, to help carry the 1,100 truckloads of steel, cement and other supplies needed for each well.

The valley has been so isolated for centuries that residents of its 16 hamlets still speak a dialect that is distinct even from Fuling, 13 miles away. Jiaoshizhen had only two-story concrete buildings and single-story mud brick farmhouses last August; Sinopec workers lived in trailers while managers rented the upstairs of concrete homes. On a visit six months later, at least 20 tower cranes were erecting high-rises.

The gas field in Jiaoshizhen “is the closest we have in China to a breakthrough project,” said Gavin Thompson, the head of Asia and Pacific gas and power research at Wood Mackenzie, one of the largest energy consulting companies. He noted, however, that Sinopec was providing few details and that he, like most Western experts, had not been able to visit the valley.

Chris Faulkner, the chief executive and president of Breitling Energy, a Dallas company that has advised Sinopec on its drilling in western China for four years, said that the energy giants’ reluctance to have open discussions about health, safety and environmental issues might prompt communities to fear the worst.

“If they think that they’re going to go out and drill 1,000 wells, and no one is going to Google ‘fracking,’ they’re fools,” he said, adding that even in China, “the days of ‘shut up and be quiet’ are gone.”

The Chinese energy giants have plenty of money to fund their efforts. Sinopec has one million employees and is the world’s fourth-largest company by revenue after Royal Dutch Shell, Walmart and Exxon Mobil; the fifth-largest is China National Petroleum. With their deep pockets, the companies have been investing heavily in North American shale businesses; Sinopec paid $2.2 billion in 2012 for a 30 percent stake in Devon Energy’s shale gas and oil operations in the United States.

In China, workplace safety is a significant concern. Thousands die each year in coal mines, according to government statistics that have prompted a successful national crackdown over the last decade.

Scant information is publicly available about the safety and environmental records of the politically powerful, mostly state-owned oil and gas industry. But Sinopec has acknowledged two deadly accidents in the last year, albeit not related to fracking. An oil pipeline explosion in Qingdao killed 62 and injured 136, and a cooking gas explosion in Dongguan killed one.

In Jiaoshizhen, after the blast, worries linger about the impact on the residents’ health and their fields.

Villagers said in interviews in August and February that the fast-spreading gas they encountered last year had been foul-smelling. Sinopec said that it had done air tests and not found any toxic pollution, although it declined to identify the gas.

The gas evoked particular fear here because drilling by China National Petroleum in 2003 about 120 miles to the northeast released toxic gases that killed 243 people and sickened thousands. That accident involved conventional gas exploration, however, not fracking.

Residents here also worry about diesel runoff from the drilling sites, tainting local streams and at least one shallow well. The drilling “makes so much noise and the water that comes down the mountain has become so much dirtier to drink; now it smells of diesel,” said Tian Shiao Yung, a farmer.

Sinopec said that it temporarily provided drinking water to residents after drilling foam surfaced in a nearby cave last spring, and it changed its drilling practice. The company said that subsequent tests had shown the local water to be “drinkable.”

 

Despite her complaints, Ms. Tian, like every other resident interviewed, welcomed the drilling for one reason: money.

Sinopec rents land from farmers for 9,000 renminbi, or $1,475, per acre each year. Farmers earn that much money from growing crops only in the best years, and then after hundreds of hours of labor.

“Farmers don’t mind; now they can buy their rice instead of having to grow it,” Ms. Tian said, adding: “I’m still drinking the water.”

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A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: China Takes On Big Risks in Its Push for Shale Gas.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

IPCC Approves Third Contribution to its Fifth Assessment

ipcc-39            13 April 2014: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) approved the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of its third contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on mitigation of climate change. Human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are continuing to rise to unprecedented levels, according to the report, which underscores the inadequacy of existing levels of effort to curb emissions.

The 12th Session of the IPCC Working Group III (WGIII-12) and 29th Session of the IPCC took place from 7-12 April 2014, in Berlin, Germany. WGIII convened to approve the WGIII SPM line-by-line and to accept the underlying assessment of scientific literature. 

The WGIII report outlines technological and behavioral changes that can limit the increase in global average temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius, the point at which science shows that climate impacts begin to overwhelm human coping efforts. The report further notes that only major institutional and technological change will result in a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold.

After adopting the report, IPCC-39 then convened to discuss, inter alia, future work of the IPCC, admission of observer organizations, and conflict of interest.

The report, titled ‘Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change,’ is the IPCC’s Working Group III report.

The Panel adopted its WGI contribution on the physical science basis of climate change in in September 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Panel adopted the WGII contribution on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in March 2014,
in Yokohama, Japan.

A Synthesis Report of all three WG volumes is expected to be finalized by the IPCC at a meeting that will take place
in October 2014, in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

[UNFCCC Press Release] [IPCC Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [WMO Press Release]

==========================
Photo

President Obama yesterday morning. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The United States needs to enact a major climate change law, such as a tax on carbon pollution, by the end of this decade to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of global warming, according to the authors of a report released this week by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But aggressive efforts to tackle climate change have repeatedly collided with political reality in Washington, where some Republicans question the underlying science of global warming and lawmakers’ ties to the fossil fuel industry have made them resistant to change. The rise of the Tea Party in recent years has also made a tax increase unlikely.

This week’s report makes clear, however, that the window is rapidly narrowing to forge new policies that will protect the globe from a future of serious food and water shortages, a drastic sea level rise, increased poverty and disease and other profound risks.

“What would be required is a nationwide carbon pricing policy,” said Robert Stavins, director of Harvard’s environmental economics program and a lead author of the report. “And that would not be possible without action from Congress.”

Photo

President Obama has used his authority under the Clean Air Act to issue new E.P.A. regulations to slash pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants. Credit Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Democrats have twice pushed serious bills to force greenhouse gas polluters like coal-fired power plants and oil refiners to pay to pollute. Both of those bills — one by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and one by President Obama in 2010 — ultimately failed, contributing to heavy Democratic losses in midterm elections.

Lawmakers who back such efforts, which represent a threat to the bottom lines of the fossil fuel industry, particularly coal, the nation’s top source of carbon pollution, have been criticized by campaigns from Republicans, Tea Party-affiliated “super PACs” like Americans for Prosperity, and the coal and oil industries.

Many members of the Republican Party question the established science that carbon pollution contributes to climate change — and hundreds have also signed on to a pledge promising never to raise taxes.

But there has not been a huge public outcry to endorse new climate change policy. Polls consistently show that while a majority of Americans accept that climate change is real, addressing it ranks at the bottom of voters’ priorities.

In the absence of action from Congress, Mr. Obama has taken controversial measures to counter climate change;
he has already used his executive authority under the Clean Air Act to create Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will slash greenhouse gas pollution from cars and coal-fired power plants.

During this year’s midterm election campaigns, Republicans have used carbon-control policies as a political weapon, calling Mr. Obama’s E.P.A. rules a “war on coal.” The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who is running for re-election in the coal-heavy state of Kentucky, has vowed to use every legislative tactic available to block, repeal or delay those rules if Republicans win control of the Senate this fall.

Within that context, many in the Republican establishment think that talking about climate change — and, particularly, any policy endorsing a tax on fossil fuels — would be political suicide for a Republican seeking to win the party’s nomination in 2016.

The United Nations report says that if the world’s major economies do not enact steep, fast climate policies well before 2030, in order to cut total global emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050, the prospects of avoiding a global atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the point past which scientists say the planet will be locked into a dangerous future, will be far more difficult and expensive.

Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution. While the report makes clear that all major economies must act, the actions of China and the United States, the top two carbon polluters, will be most crucial.

The authors of the report say Mr. Obama’s E.P.A. regulations represent a significant first step to cutting United States carbon pollution — but not enough to avert the worst effects of a warming world.

The next president will have to both carry out Mr. Obama’s climate change rules and quickly push through even more stringent pollution-cutting policies, according to the report’s authors.

“We need to increase the slope and the pace of the change,” said David Victor, one of the report’s authors and an expert on climate and energy policy at the University of California, San Diego. “Accelerating what we’re doing in the U.S. will be very important for the next administration.”

Despite the history of roadblocks to enacting climate change policy, some experts say they do see some potential for a legislative path to cut United States carbon pollution.

One window could open if Congress takes up a comprehensive effort to overhaul the nation’s corporate tax code, which could happen after the 2016 presidential election.

Lawmakers from both parties have pushed tax reform — and in that context, there could be room for a grand bargain incorporating new carbon tax, which Democrats want, paired with a cut in corporate or income taxes, which Republicans want. Prominent conservative economists, like Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who advised Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and Gregory Mankiw, who advised Mitt Romney’s 2012 bid, have endorsed that proposal.

Experts also note that a shift at the national level could come as more states enact climate change policies. Currently California and several Northeastern states, including New York, have enacted state-level programs to force carbon polluters to pay to pollute.

Historically, California’s environmental laws have served as a vanguard and model for national environmental policy. The push for state-level policies could rise, say experts, if there is a significant increase in extreme weather like droughts and flooding, which contribute to higher adaptation costs for state and local governments.

“The question is whether state and local entities want to see action — and if that can then be translated to local action,” said Thomas Peterson, founder of the Center for Climate Strategies, a nonprofit group that works on climate policy with state governments.

This week’s report said the impact of climate change was already being experienced, and it followed on earlier scientific reports that have noted that climate change was exacerbating drought in Texas, rapidly rising sea levels along the Atlantic coast and higher storm surges caused by hurricanes in states like Florida and Louisiana. Among the likely Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential nomination are Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

Of courses, some of those contenders, like Mr. Cruz, Mr. Jindal and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, also hail from states where fossil fuel development is a key part of the economy — and have thus led the way in fighting carbon control policies.

A version of this article appears in print on April 15, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Political Divide Slows U.S. Action on Climate Laws.

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Some Comments

dave commenter

One poster mentioned that since the first Earth Day when the alarms began sounding, not much has changed.
In the 1960′s Vance Packard wrote…

Sten Deadio

Does anyone else find it ironic that Conservatives deny a 97% scientific certainty in Climate Change AND accept with ZERO
PERCENT certainty…

Capt. Penny

As 300+ other comments ahead of mine have noted, politics trumps physics and reality.So what are WE going to do about that?
Take 3 simple…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Is The Latest Climate Report Too Much Of A Downer?

March 31, 2014

According to a new report, unless more is done to combat climate change, extreme weather like the drought now gripping California will only grow more common.

According to a new report, unless more is done to combat climate change, extreme weather like the drought now gripping California will only grow more common.  Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Reading through the from the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it’s hard not to feel despondent about the state of the world.

The report’s colorful charts and tables tell of droughts and fires; depleted fisheries and strained cropland; a world in which heat-related disease is on the rise and freshwater is growing scarce.

“It’s risk, risk, risk, risk, risk,” says , a climate economist at the University of Sussex. “Climate change is dangerous, and we’re all going to die, and we’re all going to starve.”

Tol is a coordinating lead author on about the economic impacts of climate change, but he doesn’t believe climate change will be as destructive as the report might lead some to believe. He took his name off the dire because he felt it didn’t accurately account for human ingenuity.

Take crop yields, for example. The report says climate change will cause them to fall by a few percent per decade. But Tol says technological innovation will likely raise crop yields by 10 percent or more each decade.

“So it’s not that crop yields are going to fall, but they’re going to rise more slowly because of climate change,” he says. “And then of course it doesn’t sound as alarming.”

Tol adds, “Sea-level rise may be quite dramatic, if it weren’t for the fact that somebody in China invented the dike 3,000 years ago.” The Netherlands has been able to hold off the sea for more than a century, and others could do the same with proven technology.

Now to be clear: Tol still believes in climate change, and he still thinks it’s a serious problem. In fact, that’s why he’s speaking out — he thinks this report will split believers and deniers at just the time there needs to be a consensus on how to keep the world from getting even warmer.

“I think there is a real risk of this draft further polarizing the climate debate,” he says. And if people don’t work together to lower carbon emissions, he says, things will get even worse in the long term.

The report’s other authors say its gloomy tone is entirely justified. “Richard’s a great guy; I love him. But he’s not in the center of the scientific community,” says , who co-chaired the full report. He says Tol is one of more than 300 lead authors.

Field thinks the report appropriately warns of some difficult times ahead. The world’s poorest will be especially vulnerable, he says.

But Field acknowledges that predicting exactly what will happen is difficult, because people aren’t like melting glaciers. They don’t just sit there; they adapt.

“People have a tendency of changing what they do when they realize they have a problem; that’s the core essence of adaptation,” he says.

The new report does say adaptation could make climate change much less damaging to society. For instance, most projections point to a rise in global temperature of at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. But Field thinks improved transportation infrastructure, better disaster response and health care could all help lessen the rise’s impact.

And adapting won’t necessarily cost a lot, adds , director of based in Bangladesh.

Preparing for extreme weather like floods and cyclones doesn’t always mean building huge barriers against the ocean. “In most cases, it’s just societal preparedness,” Huq says. “It’s people having shelters to go to.”

“The rich don’t have any particular advantage here. It’s not technology that makes a difference,” Huq adds.

Tol, Huq and Field all agree: Climate change is happening. Humans aren’t helpless; they can adapt. But society will also need to make changes to avoid further warming.

Otherwise, things will get even more depressing.

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

U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

“The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans,” and the world is mostly “ill-prepared” for the risks that the sweeping changes present, .

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report.

The report also wastes no time in pointing a finger toward who is responsible: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring,” reads the first sentence .

As NPR’s tells our Newscast Desk, the panel “includes hundreds of scientists from around the world. Its past reports have made gloomy predictions about the impact of climate on humans. This time around, they’re also trying to prepare us. Chris Field, the co-chair of the new report, says improving health systems, making transportation more efficient, and beefing up disaster response can make a difference.”

“Things we should be doing to build a better world are also things we should be doing to protect against climate change,” Field says.

In the summary of its findings and recommendations, for instance, the panel suggests that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, switch to cleaner energy sources, make cities “greener” and reduce water consumption will make life better today and could help reduce mankind’s effect on climate change in the future. While all people will continue to feel the effects of climate change, the report concludes that the world’s poorest populations will suffer the most from rising temperatures and rising seas unless action is taken.

Still, the report concludes that climate change is “already having effects in real time — melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.”

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The BBC calls the Report:
“the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.”

 

###

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

UN Climate Change Secretariat to Showcase Worldwide Climate

Action: Momentum for Change Call for Applications Now Open

Read the release on our website:
unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/pr20143103_momentum_callforapps.pdf

(Bonn, 31 March 2014) – Starting today, communities, cities, businesses and
governments that are taking the lead on tackling climate change can apply
to have their game-changing initiatives recognized by the UN Climate Change
secretariat.

The secretariat officially opened the call for applications for its 2014
Lighthouse Activities today as part of wider efforts to mobilize action and
ambition as national governments work toward a new universal climate
agreement in 2015.

“This year, we are looking to do things a little differently,” said UNFCCC
Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “We will still shine a light on
small, entrepreneurial solutions that are changing communities, as well as
large initiatives that are transforming cities, businesses and governments.
But we’re also looking to highlight initiatives with a bigger impact than
ever before. Effectively addressing climate change requires action from all
levels of society and from every sector, with efforts that are both small
and large.”

The 2014 Lighthouse Activities will be selected by an 18-member,
international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for
Change initiative. Launched in 2011, Momentum for Change shines a light on
the groundswell of activities underway across the globe to address climate
change. This provides a positive context for international climate
negotiations, showing that action on climate change is not only possible
but that it is already happening – in the hopes of inspiring others to do
the same.

Winning activities will be announced in November 2014 and officially
recognized and celebrated during a series of special events in December at
the UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru.

The high visibility of the annual UN climate change negotiations creates a
prominent platform on which the Lighthouse Activities are showcased and
publicized – resulting in spin-off benefits that help the activities expand
even further. For example, 2013 Lighthouse Activity winner Bernice Dapaah,
whose organization builds bamboo bicycles in Ghana, was recently named a
2014 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Demand for her bamboo
bicycles has spiked so dramatically she can barely keep up with orders
pouring in from across the globe.

“Seeing these activities scale up and replicate is the really exciting
part,” said Ms. Figueres. “It shows that climate action is increasing and
picking up momentum as it goes.”

Applications for the 2014 Lighthouse Activities are being accepted until 23
May 2014 at www.momentum4change.org

Please note that UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres will host a
Google Hangout today (31 March) from 15:00 to 15:30 (CEST) to talk about
the call for applications with previous Lighthouse Activity winners. Watch
live at www.momentum4change.org

For more information, please contact:
Sarah Marchildon, Communications Officer, United Nations Climate Change
Secretariat, at:     smarchildon@unfccc.int | +49 228 815 1065

Learn more:  unfccc.int    momentum4change.org
Momentum for Change on Facebook: facebook.com/ unfcccmomentum
Momentum for Change on Twitter: @Momentum_UNFCCC
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Twitter: @CFigueres

Digital assets:
High-resolution images of the 2013 Lighthouse Activities are available at:
www.dropbox.com/sh/md77sbijzm5f3jz/metZ3E8kvO

Short videos of the 2013 Lighthouse Activities are available at:   vimeo.com/user14800810

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Palestinian students visit Auschwitz in first organized visit.

Visit is part of program that aims to teach Israeli and Palestinian students
about the other side’s suffering in effort to study how empathy could
facilitate reconciliation.

By Matthew Kalman | Mar. 28, 2014

A group of 30 Palestinian students arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on
Thursday (yesterday), in what is believed to be the first organized visit by Palestinian
students to a Nazi death camp.

The students are spending several days in Kraków and O?wi?cim guided by two
Jewish Holocaust survivors.

A news blackout on the trip was requested by the organizers. The presence of
the Palestinian group at Auschwitz-Birkenau is being reported here for the
first time.

The students from Al-Quds University and Birzeit University, near Ramallah,
are participating in a joint program on Reconciliation and Conflict
Resolution with the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The program’s aim is for Israeli and Palestinian students to learn about the
suffering that has helped shape the historical consciousness of the other
side.

Last week, a group of Israeli students visited the Dheisheh refugee camp,
located south of Bethlehem,  to learn about the Palestinian experience of
suffering during the founding of Israel in 1948 ­­– known to Palestinians as
the Nakba (“the catastrophe”).

The reactions of each group will be studied by a group of PhD psychology
students to see whether exposure to the conflicting historical narrative
helps the students to understand their enemy, and facilitates efforts toward
reconciliation and coexistence.

The Palestinian side of the program is directed by Mohammed S. Dajani,
professor of American Studies at Al-Quds. Because of the Palestinian freeze
on joint projects with Israeli universities, the Palestinian students are
participating under the banner of Prof. Dajani’s Wasatia movement of
moderate Islam.

Israeli groups regularly visit refugee camps in the West Bank searching for
cross-border understanding, but the Palestinian visit to Auschwitz is
unprecedented. It grew out of a visit by Prof. Dajani as part of a large
Jewish-Muslim-Christian delegation in 2011, after which he coauthored a New
York Times op-ed entitled “Why Palestinians Should Learn About the
Holocaust.”

Since then, Prof. Dajani has written what he believes to be the first
objective introduction to the Holocaust for Palestinian students in Arabic,
which he hopes will become a textbook used in Palestinian schools and
universities.

“Basically, we want to study how empathy with the Other could help in the
process of reconciliation,” Prof. Dajani says. “I feel I would like
Palestinians to explore the unexplored, and to meet these challenges where
you might find that within their community there will be a lot of pressure
on them not to do it or questioning why they are doing it, or that this is
propaganda. I feel that’s nonsense.”

Prof. Dajani says more than 70 students applied for the 30 places on the
Poland trip, but five later dropped out because of peer pressure.
He says the choice of Dheisheh for the Israeli students was not meant to
suggest there was an equivalence or even a direct link between the Holocaust
and the Nakba. They were chosen as the symbolic events that have deeply
affected the psyche on both sides of the conflict.

“We are seeking knowledge,” he says. “We are seeking to know what has
happened; why did it happen; how can it be prevented from happening again? I
believe it is very important to break this wall of bigotry, ignorance and
racism that has separated us from crossing over to this new realm.”

“One of my students asked me why we should learn about the Holocaust when
the Israelis want to ban even the use of the word ‘Nakba,’” he adds. “My
response was: ‘Because in doing so, you will be doing the right thing. If
they are not doing the right thing, that’s their problem.’”

Prof. Dajani, who was banned from Israel for 25 years for his activities for
Fatah in Lebanon in the 1970s and ’80s, says the student program is a
practical expression of his belief that Israelis and Palestinians can settle
their differences through compromise, moderation and human contact. He says
his own visit to the Nazi death camp had a profound effect that he wishes to
share with his students.

“I was also raised in the culture of denial, so for me, to go and see and
look and be on the ground – it was a very sad experience for me.
It had a lot of impact,” he admits. “I was shocked about the inhumanity of
man to man. How can this happen? Why did it happen? Why would man be this
cruel?

“It was shocking for me, because it showed me the deep, deep, dark side of
human evil,” he adds.

Prof. Dajani has a track record of espousing views that are unpopular with
the Palestinian academic mainstream. He is one of the few Palestinian
professors to openly oppose the call for Palestinians and others to boycott
Israeli universities.

Hanna Siniora, a veteran campaigner for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation,
says Prof. Dajani’s initiative should be welcomed.

“It’s very important for people to see the viciousness of such acts,”
he says. “It should touch them in their humanity, in their sense of
understanding that human beings don’t do evil things like that. This has
caused a major problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because the
psyche of the Israelis is so tormented by what happened to the Jewish people
that they cannot trust anybody.

“This is an educational trip. It opens the eyes and minds,” he adds.
“If there is an empty place, I’d like to come along,” he says.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

A worker at a hydraulic fracturing operation in Rifle, Colo. Natural gas production releases methane, which contributes to greenhouse gas pollution. Credit Brennan Linsley/Associated Press

 

 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.

The methane strategy is the latest step in a series of White House actions aimed at addressing climate change without legislation from Congress. Individually, most of the steps will not be enough to drastically reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming. But the Obama administration hopes that collectively they will build political support for more substantive domestic actions while signaling to other countries that the United States is serious about tackling global warming.

 

In a 2009 United Nations climate change accord, President Obama pledged that by 2020 the United States would lower its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. “This methane strategy is one component, one set of actions to get there,” Dan Utech, the president’s special assistant for energy and climate change, said on Friday in a phone call with reporters.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have campaigned against the boom in natural gas production, warning that it could lead to dangerous levels of methane pollution, undercutting the climate benefits of gas. The oil and gas industry has resisted pushes to regulate methane leaks from production, saying it could slow that down.

A White House official said on Friday that this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency would assess several potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, and that by this fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the E.P.A. decides to develop additional regulations, it would complete them by the end of 2016 — just before Mr. Obama leaves office.

 

Among the steps the administration announced on Friday to address methane pollution:

-  The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.

-  In April, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will begin to gather public comment on the development of a program for the capture and sale of methane produced by coal mines on lands leased by the ederal government.

-  This summer, the E.P.A. will propose updated standards to reduce methane emissions from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills.

-  In June, the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the E.P.A. will release a joint “biogas road map” aimed at accelerating adoption of methane digesters, machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle, in order to cut dairy-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

Advocates of climate action generally praised the plan. “Cutting methane emissions will be especially critical to climate protection as the U.S. develops its huge shale gas reserves, gaining the full greenhouse gas benefit from the switch away from coal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate change aide under President Bill Clinton, now with the German Marshall Fund.

Howard J. Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil and gas companies, said he hoped the steps would not lead to new regulations on his industry. “We think regulation is not necessary at this time,” he said. “People are using a lot more natural gas in the country, and that’s reducing greenhouse gas.”

Since cattle flatulence and manure are a significant source of methane, farmers have long been worried that a federal methane control strategy could place a burden on them. But Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that his group was pleased that, for now, the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle were voluntary.

“All indications are that it’s voluntary,” he said, “but we do see increased potential for scrutiny for us down the line, which would cause concern.”

—————————

Related Coverage:

slideshow

Photographs: Rising Seas,

==============================================================================================—————————————————————————————————————————————————

 

Asia Pacific

Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land:

Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change

Bangladesh, with its low elevation and severe tropical storms, is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, though it has contributed little to the emissions that are driving it. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

DAKOPE, Bangladesh — When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more.

Ms. Khatun now lives in a bamboo shack that sits below sea level about 50 yards from a sagging berm. She spends her days collecting cow dung for fuel and struggling to grow vegetables in soil poisoned by salt water. Climate scientists predict that this area will be inundated as sea levels rise and storm surges increase, and a cyclone or another disaster could easily wipe away her rebuilt life. But Ms. Khatun is trying to hold out at least for a while — one of millions living on borrowed time in this vast landscape of river islands, bamboo huts, heartbreaking choices and impossible hopes.

Play Video
Video|0:35

Home in the Delta — Like many of her neighbors, Nasrin Khatun, unrelated to Jahanara Khatun, navigates daily life in a disappearing landscape.

As the world’s top scientists meet in Yokohama, Japan, this week, at the top of the agenda is the prediction that global sea levels could rise as much as three feet by 2100. Higher seas and warmer weather will cause profound changes.

Climate scientists have concluded that widespread burning of fossil fuels is releasing heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet. While this will produce a host of effects, the most worrisome may be the melting of much of the earth’s ice, which is likely to raise sea levels and flood coastal regions.

Such a rise will be uneven because of gravitational effects and human intervention, so predicting its outcome in any one place is difficult. But island nations like the Maldives, Kiribati and Fiji may lose much of their land area, and millions of Bangladeshis will be displaced.

“There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody’s list,” said Rafael Reuveny, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington. “And the world is not ready to cope with the problems.”

The effects of climate change have led to a growing sense of outrage in developing nations, many of which have contributed little to the pollution that is linked to rising temperatures and sea levels but will suffer the most from the consequences.

A woman stood where her house was before Cyclone Aila destroyed it in 2009. Scientists expect rising sea levels to submerge 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace 18 million people in the next 40 years. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

At a climate conference in Warsaw in November, there was an emotional outpouring from countries that face existential threats, among them Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change. Some leaders have demanded that rich countries compensate poor countries for polluting the atmosphere. A few have even said that developed countries should open their borders to climate migrants.

“It’s a matter of global justice,” said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies and the nation’s leading climate scientist. “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.”

River deltas around the globe are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, and wealthier cities like London, Venice and New Orleans also face uncertain futures. But it is the poorest countries with the biggest populations that will be hit hardest, and none more so than Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated nations in the world. In this delta, made up of 230 major rivers and streams, 160 million people live in a place one-fifth the size of France and as flat as chapati, the bread served at almost every meal.

A Perilous Position

Though Bangladesh has contributed little to industrial air pollution, other kinds of environmental degradation have left it especially vulnerable.

Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.

The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.

Bangladeshis have already started to move away from the lowest-lying villages in the river deltas of the Bay of Bengal, scientists in Bangladesh say. People move for many reasons, and urbanization is increasing across South Asia, but rising tides are a big factor. Dr. Rahman’s research group has made a rough estimate from small surveys that as many as 1.5 million of the five million slum inhabitants in Dhaka, the capital, moved from villages near the Bay of Bengal.

The slums that greet them in Dhaka are also built on low-lying land, making them almost as vulnerable to being inundated as the land villagers left behind.

Ms. Khatun and her neighbors have lived through deadly cyclones — a synonym here for hurricane — and have seen the salty rivers chew through villages and poison fields. Rising seas are increasingly intruding into rivers, turning fresh water brackish. Even routine flooding then leaves behind salt deposits that can render land barren.

Making matters worse, much of what the Bangladeshi government is doing to stave off the coming deluge — raising levees, dredging canals, pumping water — deepens the threat of inundation in the long term, said John Pethick, a former professor of coastal science at Newcastle University in England who has spent much of his retirement studying Bangladesh’s predicament. Rich nations are not the only ones to blame, he said.

In an analysis of decades of tidal records published in October, Dr. Pethick found that high tides in Bangladesh were rising 10 times faster than the global average. He predicted that seas in Bangladesh could rise as much as 13 feet by 2100, four times the global average. In an area where land is often a thin brown line between sky and river — nearly a quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level — such an increase would have dire consequences, Dr. Pethick said.

“The reaction among Bangladeshi government officials has been to tell me that I must be wrong,” he said. “That’s completely understandable, but it also means they have no hope of preparing themselves.”

Dr. Rahman said that he did not disagree with Mr. Pethick’s findings, but that no estimate was definitive. Other scientists have predicted more modest rises. For example, Robert E. Kopp, an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute at Rutgers University, said that data from nearby Kolkata, India, suggested that seas in the region could rise five to six feet by 2100.

“There is no doubt that preparations within Bangladesh have been utterly inadequate, but any such preparations are bound to fail because the problem is far too big for any single government,” said Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India. “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.”

Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rose as expected.

Continue reading the main story
Disappearing Land

Losing Everything

Already, signs of erosion are everywhere in the Ganges Delta — the world’s largest delta, which empties much of the water coming from the Himalayas. There are brick foundations torn in half, palm trees growing out of rivers and rangy cattle grazing on island pastures the size of putting greens. Fields are dusted white with salt.

Even without climate change, Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable places in the world to bad weather: The V-shaped Bay of Bengal funnels cyclones straight into the country’s fan-shaped coastline.

Some scientists believe that rising temperatures will lead to more extreme weather worldwide, including stronger and more frequent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. And rising seas will make any storm more dangerous because flooding will become more likely.

Bangladesh has done much to protect its population by creating an early-warning system and building at least 2,500 concrete storm shelters. The result has been a vast reduction in storm-related deaths. While Cyclone Bhola in 1970 killed as many as 550,000 people, Cyclone Aila in 2009 killed 300. The deadliest part of the storm was the nearly 10-foot wall of water that roared through villages in the middle of the afternoon.

The poverty of people like Ms. Khatun makes them particularly vulnerable to storms. When Aila hit, Ms. Khatun was home with her husband, parents and four children. A nearby berm collapsed, and their mud and bamboo hut washed away in minutes. Unable to save her belongings, Ms. Khatun put her youngest child on her back and, with her husband, fought through surging waters to a high road. Her parents were swept away.

“After about a kilometer, I managed to grab a tree,” said Abddus Satter, Ms. Khatun’s father. “And I was able to help my wife grab on as well. We stayed on that tree for hours.”

The couple eventually shifted to the roof of a nearby hut. The family reunited on the road the next day after the children spent a harrowing night avoiding snakes that had sought higher ground, too. They drank rainwater until rescuers arrived a day or two later with bottled water, food and other supplies.

The ordeal took a severe toll on Ms. Khatun’s husband, whose health soon deteriorated. To pay for his treatment and the cost of rebuilding their hut, the family borrowed money from a loan shark. In return, Ms. Khatun and her three older children, then 10, 12 and 15, promised to work for seven months in a nearby brickmaking factory. She later sold her 11- and 13-year-old children to the owner of another brick factory, this one in Dhaka, for $450 to pay more debts. Her husband died four years after the storm.

In an interview, one of her sons, Mamun Sardar, now 14, said he worked from dawn to dusk carrying newly made bricks to the factory oven.

He said he missed his mother, “but she lives far away.”


Play Video
Video|0:35

A Day’s Work:  At a brickmaking factory in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, Mamun Sardar works long hours to pay his family’s debts.

Impossible Hopes

Discussions about the effects of climate change in the Ganges Delta often become community events. In the village of Choto Jaliakhali, where Ms. Khatun lives, dozens of people said they could see that the river was rising. Several said they had been impoverished by erosion, which has cost many villagers their land.

Muhammad Moktar Ali said he could not think about the next storm because all he had in the world was his hut and village. “We don’t know how to support ourselves if we lost this,” he said, gesturing to his gathered neighbors. “It is God who will help us survive.”

Surveys show that residents of the delta do not want to migrate, Dr. Rahman said. Moving to slums in already-crowded cities is their least preferred option.

But cities have become the center of Bangladesh’s textile industry, which is now the source of 80 percent of the country’s exports, 45 percent of its industrial employment and 15 percent of its gross domestic product.

Photographs

Rising Seas

Some areas of the globe are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and inhabitants are being forced to make stark changes in their lives.

OPEN Photographs

In the weeks after the storm, the women of Dakope found firewood by wading into the raging river and pushing their toes into the muddy bottom. They walked hours to buy drinking water. After rebuilding the village’s berm and their own hut, Shirin Aktar and her husband, Bablu Gazi, managed to get just enough of a harvest to survive from their land, which has become increasingly infertile from salt water. Some plots that once sustained three harvests can now support just one; others are entirely barren.

After two hungry years, the couple gave up on farming and moved to the Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second-largest city, leaving their two children behind with Mr. Gazi’s mother.

Mr. Gazi found work immediately as a day laborer, mostly digging foundations. Ms. Aktar searched for a job as a seamstress, but headaches and other slum-induced health problems have so incapacitated her that the couple is desperate to return to Dakope.

“I don’t want to stay here for too long,” Mr. Gazi said. “If we can save some money, then we’ll go back. I’ll work on a piece of land and try to make it fertile again.”

But the chances of finding fertile land in his home village, where the salty rivers have eaten away acre upon acre, are almost zero.

Dozens of people gathered in the narrow mud alley outside Mr. Gazi’s room as he spoke. Some told similar stories of storms, loss and hope, and many nodded as Mr. Gazi spoke of his dreams of returning to his doomed village.

“All of us came here because of erosions and cyclones,” said Noakhali, a hollow-eyed 30-year-old with a single name who was wearing the traditional skirt of the delta. “Not one of us actually wants to live here.”

——————————————

Produced by Catherine Spangler, David Furst, Hannah Fairfield, Jacqueline Myint, Jeremy White and Shreeya Sinha.

A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: As Seas Rise, Millions Cling to Borrowed Time and Dying Land.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

A Stanford Social Innovation Review on Beyond Aid.

This as leaders across sectors convene at the UN in NewYork to discuss the new post-2015 global agenda – the opportunity to collaborate on a new breed of large-scale development projects known as innovative financing has never been brighter.

 

Imagine you have the opportunity to define how the world develops for the next 15 years. All government projects, nonprofit work, and foundation funding would cater to your agenda. If you are one of the representatives of the 193 United Nations member states currently discussing the new global agenda, your job entails exactly that.

By 2015, when the current development agenda expires, the international community must determine a new set of goals, and how to achieve and fund them. Based on early recommendations from the UN Secretary General’s office, this next-generation agenda will probably be more ambitious in scope and cost than the present Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While the current MDGs focus on a narrowly defined set of eight goals, the new global agenda will likely aim to both end poverty and increase sustainable development across many dimensions.

Relying on aid to fund the next development agenda will leave a gap of over 600 billion dollars, even if aid levels increase.


The proposed new, more ambitious agenda—depending on its scope—will cost approximately $1 trillion annually. This far exceeds current international aid, or overseas development assistance (ODA), which typically hovers around $150 million per year. Even if aid rises to the levels that rich countries pledged they would give per several international agreements—0.7 percent of developed countries’ gross national income (GNI)—aid would add up to only about $330 billion annually. Relying purely on current funding channels has proven insufficient (see chart). Rich country government assistance lags far behind the needs of poor and middle-income countries. Even with increased private-sector spending to these countries, funding will not flow to the right areas; the goal of private sector investments is not to reduce poverty and increase development. Left alone, the amount of funding reaching the new development agenda will leave a significant gap; thus, we must look for new, unconventional channels to finance the next round of development funding. As leaders across sectors convene to discuss the new agenda they have a clear opportunity to collaborate on a new breed of large-scale development projects.

Unlocking More Money Through Innovative Financing

Development projects known as “innovative financing” reflect a new way of filling this funding gap. The term, coined in 2002 at a UN conference, refers to projects that raise money for development in new ways and spend money more effectively.

Given a variety of creative names, in truth innovative financing programs take just three different forms: pay only for results, make funding of the development agenda a safer investment, and find new funders.

Variations of innovative financing programs include known mechanisms such as social impact bonds or pay-for-success programs, which are used more and more frequently—research by Dalberg suggests at least a half dozen new initiatives have launched annually, on average, since 2002. To date, these programs have been initiated independently and for an array of causes on an ad-hoc basis.

Development leaders now have the opportunity to apply innovative finance tools on a major scale and in a systematic way; they also have new information on where and how to apply them. The most promising element of innovative financing is its ability to unlock pools of funds from the private sector, which typically finds development projects too risky and the results too uncertain to warrant investment. Funders of these development programs do not need to be impact investors looking for social returns; instead, programs can generate high returns or reduce risk for traditional investors. Innovative financing can also tap into additional public funds by providing opportunities for global coordination and public-private partnerships.

Pay only for results:

Spending money more effectively by paying for results rather than promises has two benefits: It reduces the total size of the fund needed to achieve the next-generation agenda and also ensures a greater impact from every dollar spent. For example, when the development community learned that Western pharmaceuticals were holding back from developing a cheap pneumonia vaccine for Africa because of a legitimate fear that there would be no money to buy these vaccines after they invested in building capacity, they designed an innovative financing program. The resulting program, known as the Pneumococcal Advance Market Commitment, guaranteed a minimum market size to any pharmaceutical company that could develop an appropriate vaccine. This enabled Pfizer and others to scale facilities that have since vaccinated more than 10 million children; it also enabled them to sell vaccines at less than 10 percent of their usual cost. Another results-based innovative financing mechanism, the Haiti Mobile Money prize, rewarded mobile operators in Haiti with $6 million to build out mobile banking. If applied to initiatives in the next development agenda, such cost-effective programs would reduce the total dollars needed.

Make funding development safe:

Innovative financing mechanisms include a whole suite of creative funding vehicles that shift risk away from funders, making development projects a safer investment. This includes social impact bonds and insurance for funders, who can then invest in projects that would otherwise be too risky—for example, global health clinics, rural energy, and agriculture equipment. The recently launched HUGinsure provides up to $400 million in insurance backed by Lloyd’s, making it safe for private sector banks to fund unproven social impact projects. A potential new malaria bond will draw on public-private funders who will pay program implementers only if malaria eradication is successful. Such social impact bonds allow third-party backers like governments to take on risk instead of the private sector funder. Without these mechanisms, private funders tend to invest in sectors such as natural resource extraction, which offer immediate returns. But with them, private funders can benefit from sectors with more diffuse value, such as health and infrastructure.

Find new funders

Innovative mechanisms for raising new funds broaden the funding toolkit beyond simple grants and equity. Such mechanisms include ongoing programs such as social taxes and voluntary solidarity contributions, which raise small amounts of funds over time. A solidarity tax on airline tickets in France, for example, charges travelers a few dollars each time they leave French soil, and has raised nearly $2 billion since 2006 for the global health initiative UNITAID. This can also include large programs such as carbon emissions trading, which has raised more than $30 billion since 2002.

The Private Sector Potential:

Compared to international aid—which represents less than 1 percent of available funding for development—harnessing private sector funding presents a significant new opportunity for backing the new development agenda. Private sector spending within and flowing to low- and middle-income countries represents a rapidly growing pool –more than $20 trillion (see chart). Tapping into even a small portion of that through innovative financing would draw immense new resources. And more effectively allocating this funding means fewer dollars will be needed.

Private sector funds available for international development represent a pool more than one hundred times larger than aid dollars.


Innovative financing has been limited in size because setting up global mechanisms requires convening major decision-makers and alignment around agenda items. In the past, innovative financing mechanisms have raised only about $1 billion to $3 billion in new funds annually. But as heads of state, foundation CEOs, and international development leaders come together to discuss development priorities over the next year, the development community has a unique opportunity to set up new innovative financing mechanisms on a much bigger scale.

Though this funding would bridge only a small portion of the $1 trillion required for the next-generation development agenda, without it, many areas with benefits beyond financial returns will remain underfunded—private sector investors will continue to fund only clearly profitable projects such as mining. With increased coordination and fresh lessons from past experiments, development leaders can effectively wield innovative financing for greater impact.

 
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Angela Rastegar Campbell (@angelarastegar) is a Project Leader at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where she has worked with the Gates Foundation, the UN Foundation, and GAVI on projects related to the new development agenda and innovative financing. Angela holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

United Nations, Nations Unies

 

UN to Observe Earth Hour to Focus Global Attention on Need for Climate Action.

New York, 27 March – The UN will participate in the 2014 edition of Earth Hour on Saturday 29 March. Coming in the lead-up to the Climate Summit this September, this global initiative aims to focus attention on the need for climate action.
 
Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Earth Hour encourages individuals, companies, organizations and governments throughout the world to switch off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m., local time worldwide.
 
The initiative started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage over 150 countries and hundreds of millions of people last year.
 
The date traditionally coincides with the Spring and Autumn equinoxes in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively, which allows for near coincidental sunset times in both hemispheres, thereby ensuring the greatest visual impact for a global “lights out” event.
 
All UN staff members around the world have been invited to take part both in their office and home in order to demonstrate the UN’s commitment to support action on climate change, one of the top priorities of the Organization.
 
For the last few years, the UN Headquarters in New York and many other UN offices around the world have been part of the many international landmarks participating in this initiative.
 
This year the UN is going the extra mile and turning off all non-essential lights within the UN complex in New York for three hours from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Geneva and many other UN offices worldwide will also participate.
 
Earth Hour recognizes that everyone’s involvement is needed in order to make a collective impact and take accountability for their ecological footprint.
 
For more information please visit: www.un.org/climatechange

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Why ‘Moderate Islam’ is an Oxymoron.

 

by Raymond Ibrahim
CBN News
March 24, 2014

 

www.meforum.org/3802/moderate-islam

 

At a time when terrorism committed in the name of Islam is rampant, we are continuously being assured—especially by three major institutions that play a dominant role in forming the Western mindset, namely, mainstream media, academia, and government — that the sort of Islam embraced by “radicals,” “jihadis,” and so forth, has nothing to do with “real” Islam.

“True” Islam, so the narrative goes, is intrinsically free of anything “bad.” It’s the nut-jobs who hijack it for their own agenda that are to blame.

 

More specifically, we are told that there exists a “moderate” Islam and an “extremist” Islam—the former good and true, embraced by a Muslim majority, the latter a perverse sacrilege practiced by an exploitative minority.

 

But what do these dual adjectives—”moderate” and “extremist”—ultimately mean in the context of Islam? Are they both equal and viable alternatives insofar as to how Islam is understood? Are they both theologically legitimate? This last question is particularly important, since Islam is first and foremost a religious way of life centered around the words of a deity (Allah) and his prophet (Muhammad)—the significance of which is admittedly unappreciated by secular societies.

 

Both terms—”moderate” and “extremist”—have to do with degree, or less mathematically,zeal: how much, or to what extent, a thing is practiced or implemented. As Webster‘s puts it, “moderate” means “observing reasonable limits”; “extremist” means “going to great or exaggerated lengths.”

 

It’s a question, then, of doing either too much or too little.

 

The problem, however, is that mainstream Islam offers a crystal-clear way of life, based on the teachings of the Koran and Hadith—the former, containing what purport to be the sacred words of Allah, the latter, the example (or sunna, hence “Sunnis”) of his prophet, also known as the most “perfect man” (al-insan al-kamil). Indeed, based on these two primary sources and according to normative Islamic teaching, all human actions fall into five categories: forbidden actions, discouraged actions, neutral actions recommended actions, and obligatory actions.

 

In this context, how does a believer go about “moderating” what the deity and his spokesman have commanded? One can either try to observe Islam’s commandments or one can ignore them: any more or less is not Islam—a word which means “submit” (to the laws, or sharia, of Allah).

 

The real question, then, is what do Allah and his prophet command Muslims (“they who submit”) to do? Are radicals “exaggerating” their orders? Or are moderate Muslims simply “observing reasonable limits”—a euphemism for negligence? — when it comes to fulfilling their commandments?

 

In our highly secularized era, where we are told that religious truths are flexible or simply non-existent, and that any and all interpretations and exegeses are valid, the all-important question of  “What does Islam command?”  loses all relevance.

 

Hence why the modern West is incapable of understanding Islam.

 

Indeed, only recently, a Kenyan mosque leader said that the Westgate massacre, where Islamic gunmen slaughtered some 67 people, “was justified. As per the Koran, as per the religion of Islam, Westgate was 100 percent justified.” Then he said: “Radical Islam is a creation of people who do not believe in Islam. We don’t have radical Islam, we don’t have moderates, we don’t have extremists. Islam is one religion following the Koran and the Sunna [emphasis added].

 

Note his point that “Radical Islam is a creation of people who do not believe in Islam,” a clear reference to the West which coined the phrase “radical Islam.” Ironically, the secular West, which relegates religious truths to the realm of “personal experience,” feels qualified to decide what is and is not “radical” about Islam.

 

 

Consider one example: Allah commands Muslims to “Fight those among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth [i.e., Islam], until they pay the jizya [tribute] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” [Koran 9:29].

 

How can one interpret this verse to mean anything other than what it plainly says? Wherein lies the ambiguity, the room for interpretation? Of course there are other teachings and allusions in the Koran that by necessity lend themselves over to the fine arts of interpretation, or ijtihad. But surely the commands of Koran 9:29 are completely straightforward?

 

In fact, Muhammad’s 7th century followers literally acted on this and similar verses (e.g., 9:5), launching the first Muslim conquests, which saw the subjugation of millions of Christians, Jews, and others, and the creation of the “Muslim world.” Such jihadi expansion continued until Islam was beaten on the battlefield by a resurgent West some two or three centuries ago.

 

Western scholarly works, before the age of relativism and political correctness set in, did not equivocate the meaning of jihad. Thus the authoritative Encyclopaedia of Islam‘s entry for “jihad” states that the “spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam … Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad [warfare to spread Islam] can be eliminated. Islamic law expert and U.S. professor Majid Khadduri (1909-2007), after defining jihad as warfare, wrote that “jihad … is regarded by all jurists, with almost no exception, as a collective obligation of the whole Muslim community.”

 

(As for the argument that the Bible contains similar war verses, yet Jews and Christians are not out to conquer the world—so why say Muslims are?—see “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam” for a detailed breakdown of the similarities and differences. Also see “Islamic Jihad and the Doctrine of Abrogation” to understand how the Koran’s more tolerant verses have been abrogated by its more militant ones, such as 9:29.)

 

In short, how can a sincere Muslim—by definition, one who has submitted to the teachings of Allah—”moderate” verses like 9:29? How can he “observe reasonable limits” vis-à-vis these plain commands to combat and subjugate non-Muslims?

 

Must Muslims not, at the very least, admit that such teachings are true and should be striven for—even if they do not personally engage in the jihad, at least not directly (but they are encouraged to support it indirectly, including monetarily or through propaganda)?

 

Just recently, reports appeared telling of how Islamic groups in Syria were following Koran 9:29 to a tee—forcing Christian minorities to pay them jizya, i.e., extortion money, in exchange for their lives. In fact, all around the Islamic world, Christians and other minorities are regularly plundered by Muslims who justify their actions by referring to the aforementioned verse.

 

Are all such Muslims being “extreme” in light of the commands of Koran 9:29—which specifically calls for the taking of money from Christians and Jews—or are they simply upholding the unambiguous teachings of Islam?

 

One may argue that, if Muslims are to take Koran 9:29 literally, why are Muslim nations the world over not declaring an all-out jihad on all non-Muslim nations, including America? The ultimate reason, of course, is that they simply can’t; they do not have the capability to uphold that verse (and Islamic teaching allows Muslims to postpone their obligations until circumstances are more opportune).

 

It would obviously be silly, if not suicidal, for, say, Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam, to issue a statement to the West saying either accept Islam, pay jizya/tribute, or die by the sword. But just because Muslim nations do not currently have the capacity to actualize Koran 9:29, does not mean that they do not acknowledge its veracity and try to actualize it in other places when they can.

 

A quick survey of history before the meteoric rise of Western military might put Islam in check makes this especially clear.

 

Bottom line: If Islam teaches X and a Muslim upholds X—how is he being “extreme”? Seems more logical to say that it is Islam itself that is being “extreme.” Similarly, if a self-professed Muslim does not uphold Islamic teachings—including prayer, fasting, paying zakat, etc. — how is he being a “moderate”?   Seems more logical to say that he is not much of a Muslim at all—that is, he is not submitting to Allah, the very definition of “Muslim.”

 

It’s time to acknowledge that dichotomized notions like “moderate” and “extreme” are culturally induced and loaded standards of the modern, secular West—hardly applicable to the teachings of Islam—and not universal absolutes recognized by all mankind.

———————————–

 

Raymond Ibrahim, author of   Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, April, 2013)  is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Take Action: Urge U.S. & EU to Oppose Imminent U.N. Appointment of Richard Falk’s Wife.

 

 

 

As Richard Falk ends his despicable 6-year UN term this Friday, his wife, co-author and closest collaborator Dr. Hilal Elver (above) is about to be named to her own 6-year UN term, as expert on the right to food.

 

This Cuban-created position was for years held by Jean Ziegler – founder and recipient of the “Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize” — which he abused to attack America, Israel and the West.

 

Given her shameful record of extremist politics, there is no doubt that Falk’s wife intends to do the same. And that essentially Falk will retain his U.N. influence after all.

 

The only way to stop Elver’s appointment to this 6-year global post is if the U.S. and EU make clear they will vote NO if her name is moved forward.

 

 Stop this from happening on Friday.

 

FALK FINALLY LEAVES UNHRC

Richard Falk

FALK’S WIFE JOINS UNHRC

Hilal Elver

Promotes writings of 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, who in turn thanked him in his book “The New Pearl Harbor” Promotes writings of 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, who in turn thanked her in his book “The New Pearl Harbor”
Accuses Israel of “genocide” Accuses Israel of “genocide”
Accuses Israel of “Apartheid” in latest and final UN report Accuses Israel of “Water Apartheid” in latest Qatar lecture
Says criticism of Turkish demagogue Erdogan is “exaggerated” Says criticism of Turkish demagogue Erdogan is “exaggerated”
Targets America and the West in his articles, books and lectures Targets America & the West in her articles, books & Facebook page

 

 Urge world leaders to oppose the
outrageous nomination
of Hilal Elver.

Say No to the Abuse of Human Rights!  

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

 

Jews Shouldn’t Accept Suffering.

 

March 26, 2014, The Algemeiner

 

Author:

avatar Shmuley Boteach

 

Elie Wiesel with former President George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama. Photo: wiki commons.

 

 

The movie Noah is generating global controversy even before its release. Bill Maher set the blogosphere alight when he ranted that the movie was “about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and his name is God. What kind of tyrant punishes everyone just to get back at the few he’s mad at?”

 

 

The question of why God allows the innocent to suffer is the most challenging in all religion. But while the Bible offers examples, like the flood, where sin is expressly identified as the cause of suffering, it is both foolhardy and blasphemous for humans to ever claim to know why people suffer or to hold them accountable for their own agony.

The man-is-sinful-God-is-just response is arrogant and sanctimonious and provides small comfort for a parent who, say, God forbid, loses a seven-year-old child who was obviously without sin. After suffering some uncontrollable tragedy, rabbis and priests would inflict the final indignity against the victim by telling him that either his suffering is in reality something good – but he is too blind to see it – or that he must be cleansed of wrongdoing. Rubbing people’s noses in their pain and misery is hardly a just response to tragedy.

 

 

One of the books that most changed my life was Elie Wiesel’s The Town Beyond the Wall. Wiesel, whom I have been privileged to know for 25 years, is a man haunted by heartbreak, having lost most of his family in Auschwitz and survived that hell when he was only a teenager. In his novel he introduces Elisha, a character thinly modeled on Wiesel himself, who wishes to return from France to Poland after the war in order to confront his Gentile neighbor who silently watched as the Jews of his town were herded together like sheep for the gas-chambers. But it is clear in the book that the neighbor is a metaphor for G-d Himself, who stood by watching silently as the Jews of Europe went to the crematoria. Elisha rails and thunders against a creator who can allow such cruelty. But far from blaspheming or storming against G-d from a point of sacrilege, Elisha does so as a religious man within a framework of faith. Where other religions advocate total submission to the divine will, the word “Israel” translates literally as “he who wrestles with G-d” and Wiesel has spent his life demanding accountability from a God who seemingly watches passively as evil triumphs.

 

Man need not bow his head in humble obedience in the face of seeming divine miscarriages of justice. The authentic response to suffering is not to bow our heads in submission but to protest to G-d when He allows cruelty to dominate the earth. This is fully in the tradition of Abraham at Sodom and Gomorrah and Moses at the Golden Calf, both of whom demand that God grant clemency even after the Almighty has declared a sinful party to be deserving of destruction.

 

In The Town Beyond the Wall, Wiesel introduces an astonishing literary character named Varady. This challenge to the Divine is perhaps best contained in this haunting figure, a former scholar who has become a recluse and emerges after many years of seclusion to preach a sermon to the town. “He emphasized the strength of man, who could bring the Messiah to obedience. He claimed that liberation from Time would be accomplished at the signal of man, and not of his Creator… ‘Each of you, the men and women who hear me, have G?d in his power, for each of you is capable of achieving a thing of which G?d is incapable!… [man] will conquer heaven, earth, sickness, and death if he will only raze the walls that imprison the Will! And I who speak to you announce my decision to deny death, to repel it, to ridicule it! He who stands before you will never die!’”

 

It is a mark of our distance from authentic Judaism today that many spiritual leaders teach us to succumb to circumstance and find meaning in suffering rather than challenge God to make things betters.

 

I remember so vividly how the Lubavitcher Rebbe used to pound the table in front of thousands of people when he would hear of the deaths of Israelis soldiers, demanding of God, “Ad Masai?” How much longer, Lord? How long will you be silent and when will you send the Messiah and push death from the earth?” The Rebbe was never compliant and was always defiant.

 

What G-d wishes of us is not to make peace with disease and death but to work strenuously toward a blessed, Messianic future. As another of Wiesel’s characters, Pedro, declares, “The dialogue ? or… duel… between man and his G?d doesn’t end in nothingness. Man may not have the last word, but he has the last cry.” Redemption from suffering is discovered only when we protest against it to G?d, and the most effective way of dealing with suffering is to extend ourselves to other humans in friendship and compassion. This includes never allowing another to suffer in silence, and never to blame people for the misfortune that may befall them. G-d is omnipotent. He does not need mankind’s defense. But humans are vulnerable and we must all run to each other’s rescue.

 

Approximately a year ago, I listened to a renowned Rabbi lecture on Saturday afternoon in Englewood to a crowd of educated, modern orthodox Jews about the Holocaust. He spoke of how the genocide of the Jews was punishment for Jewish abandonment of God and tradition. He said that the Jews of Europe had become corrupt and secular, materialistic and self-centered. God sent the Nazis to punish them. He then hit his high note. The proof of this truth, he said, was the Jewish women who were forced to take off their clothes before going into the crematoria. Many paraded around in front of the German guards uninhibited and unashamed. That’s how far from the Jewish laws of modesty they had strayed.

 

Jewish women, condemned to death, were being defamed by a man who had never met them. And rather than protest, we all sat in blissful silence.

 

It’s time to make some noise.

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of  “The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering.”    Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

 

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

 

ENVIRONMENT: TOP STORIES THIS WEEK – March 26, 2014

Disturbing New Report: Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012—Or About 1 in 8 Premature Deaths

Aaron Cantú, AlterNet

The World Health Organization calls for major policy changes to counter the trend. READ MORE»


Nasa-funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for ‘Irreversible Collapse’ Due to Inequality, Exploitation

Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system READ MORE»


Why Electricity Costs Are Major Cause of Poverty In the South

Tom Cormons, Appalachian Voices

Families in the Southeast pay a higher percentage of their income for electricity compared to the national average, spending as much as 20% of their income on electricity. READ MORE»


The 25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez: Have We Learned Anything From Our Mistakes?

By Dr. Martin Robards, The Guardian

It’s been 25 years since the oil tanker spilled millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Alaska, but we remain callously unprepared to mitigate a future oil spill. READ MORE»


Fox Uses Galveston Bay Oil Spill to Push for Keystone XL

By Craig Harrington, Media Matters for America

Fox Business talkers lament that the spill provides ammunition for environmentalists, but says that accidents are bound to happen. READ MORE»


There Are Crazy Conspiracy Theories About Light Bulbs, and Then There Are Some Real Dangers

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

LEDs are very energy efficient, but they’re also a threat to our health. READ MORE»


World Water Day: Getting More Crop Per Drop During an Epic Drought

By Danielle Nierenberg, The Huffington Post

America’s breadbasket is facing its worst drought since records began and must rethink irrigation and crop production to help conserve water. READ MORE»


New UN Report Is Cautious On Making Climate Predictions

By Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360

A new study warns that the world faces serious risks from warming and that the poor are most vulnerable, but it avoids the kinds of specific forecasts that have sparked controversy in the past. READ MORE»


Deadly Influence: Powerful Oil Companies Force EPA to Undercount Methane Emissions

By Aaron Cantú, AlterNet

New study shows EPA has missed as much as 50 percent because it must get permission from the very companies that pollute. READ MORE»


Scientific Sleuth Gets the Call When Communities are Contaminated

By Alison Rose Levy, AlterNet

Wilma Subra solves chemical puzzles when people become ill from industrial toxins. READ MORE»

 

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