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June 21 2013

22:05

Video Friday: Climate, Arctic Sea Ice and Weather Whiplash

We have two videos today from Yale Climate Forum exploring the connection between Arctic ice, the jet stream and “weather whiplash.” In the first video, Rutgers University climate researcher Dr.Jennifer Francis and Dr. Jeff Masters discusses this connection in terms of the “mirror image” spring weather over much of North America between 2012 and 2013.

In the second video, climatologist Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research offers some skepticism about the impact between Arctic sea ice and the observed weather with a response to Trenberth’s concerns from Francis. This exchange of ideas serves as an example of top scientists working in their fields to better understand the implications and consequences of global climate change.


The post Video Friday: Climate, Arctic Sea Ice and Weather Whiplash appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

December 27 2011

00:27

Climate Change Mobile App Visualizes BEST Study


In an effort to counter the years of concerted effort to sow doubt and confusion regarding climate science, Novim makes available a new mobile app called “Just Science” giving the user an interactive picture of the world’s changing climate. The app reflects the recently completed Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) scientific analysis of global climate change.

The Just Science app is available for free at the iTunes store.

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November 14 2011

20:20

Enviro News Wrap: Solyndra’s Impact on Nuclear; Renewable Energy’s Advance; IEA’s Warming on Carbon Emissions, and more…


The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

 

June 22 2011

18:02

Corruption Undermines Environmental Protection


Global corruption imdedes resources management and an effective fight against global warmingCorruption is a major global problem that has a direct impact on efforts to manage the world’s resources and combat climate change. Countries in South Asia, northern Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are among the most corrupt places in the world. Other countries are by no means exempt as corruption is pervasive around the world.

The most recent Transparency International report pointed out that corruption risks exist in political decision-making and climate financing and through the mismanagement of public funds. As stated in the report, “”Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is always a risk of corruption.” The report further indicates that total global climate change investments will reach almost $700 billion by 2020.

The countries that are most vulnerable to climate change tend to be the most corrupt. The TI report on global corruption and climate change ranks nations according to their corruption risk, where zero is extremely corrupt and 10 is “very clean.” Not even one of the 20 countries most affected by climate change scored higher than 3.5.

A lack of government transparency is correlated with a country’s failure to provide clean water. Half of the 20 nations with the worst record in TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index are located in sub-Saharan Africa, where 63 percent of the population lacks basic sanitation facilities, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (pdf).

In an article by Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Lisa Elges from Transparency International cites an example of corruption in North African solar panels:

“We’ve studied the installation of solar panels in North Africa and found that weak governments, bureaucracy and corruption could inflate investment costs by 20 percent. The project was supposed to cost 400 billion dollars up to its completion in 2050. However, with the 20 percent inflation every year, it will cost 1600 billions dollars by 2025!”

The same article also quotes Dutch climate envoy Hugo von Meijenfeldt, who confirms the existence of corruption:

“I work closely with corruption fighting experts and embassies, and I require full reports from them. Yes, we’ve had to reclaim our funds in some instances where they went into the pockets of dignitaries rather than in the irrigation project”.

Emissions

As indicated by the TI report, carbon markets have been fraught with fraudulent activity. The European Union’s $134 billion emissions trading scheme has seen the re-sale of used carbon offsets, hacking, theft and continuing value-added tax fraud.

The U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has been criticized because of its lack of transparency and its inability to deliver additional emissions cuts. The project developers responsible for helping poorer nations reduce their emissions under the CDM have also been subject to criticisms for exploiting the system.

“Creative accounting can lead to the double counting of emissions by companies of their own reported mitigation efforts, (…), thus nullifying the environmental integrity of the emissions reductions,” the TI report said. “It is imperative that these lessons be considered in establishing new markets, and used to improve and reform the existing mechanisms.”

Forestry

The TI report also singled out the forestry sector as particularly vulnerable to corruption due to high international demand for timber, weak land ownership rights and marginalized indigenous communities.

According to World Bank estimates, each year, between $10 billion and $23 billion worth of timber is harvested illegally or comes from suspicious origins. The TI report indicated that this will have to be dealt with before the U.N. forest preservation scheme known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) gets the $28 billion a year funding it is expecting as of 2013.

Water

Corruption is undermining efforts to bring water to billions of people around the world suffering from scarce water resources. Corruption from petty bribes to corporate manipulation of public water services has slowed progress in solving the world’s water problems. As reported in ENN, Gerard Payen, director of the Aquafed industry group said:

“Corruption increases costs and reduces efficiency and this is a reason why private operators are strongly motivated to overcome corruption.”

The same article cites a World Bank estimate that suggests 20-40 percent of water sector finances were lost to corruption. “That would mean a projected loss of about $20 billion from needed investments in sub-Saharan Africa over the coming decade.”

According to the 2008 Global Corruption Report from TI, when added up, corruption raises the price for water services between 10 and 30 percent worldwide each year. Based on the worst-case scenario, corruption could raise the cost of improving water supply by $48 billion.

A prime example of widely publicized corruption involves Africa’s multi-billion dollar water transfer effort, known as the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. The plan was to supply water to the industrial heartland of South Africa and to generate energy for impoverished Lesotho. The project also presented water officials with opportunities to increase their personal wealth. In 2002, Lesotho courts sentenced the project’s chief executive to prison for accepting bribes from 18 multinational companies that were vying for construction contracts.

Corruption compounds the problems associated with water scarcity. Andrew Hudson, the principal technical adviser to the United Nations Development Programme, said in the WorldWatch Institute:

“Corruption in water can lead to skewed and inequitable water resources allocation, to uncontrolled and illegal pollution, to groundwater over-extraction, and to degraded ecosystems. In many cases, these impacts in turn result in reduced resilience and adaptability to the impacts of climate change.”

China

In China, water is also a serious problem and so is corruption. In 2006, ENN reported that Zhou Shengxian, director of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration, blamed corruption for frustrating environmental protection efforts and worsening the country’s already severely polluted air and waterways, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Zhou said in a report to China’s legislature that some local government leaders directly interfere in environmental law enforcement by threatening to remove, demote and retaliate against environmental officials, Xinhua said. “The failure to abide by the law, lax law enforcement, and allowing lawbreakers to go free are still serious problems in many places,” Zhou was quoted as saying.

US

As reported in ENN, the U.S. also has its own environmental corruption. In one well documented example from 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity led litigation to protect six endangered species from Montana to Alabama. These lawsuits charged high level Bush administration officials with political interference after they stripped protections for 55 endangered species and 8.7 million acres of land.

Before Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald was forced to resign in 2007, she ignored the recommendations of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and slashed critical habitat proposals.

These events prompted Michael Senatore, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity to say, “The depth of corruption within the Department of the Interior goes way beyond Julie MacDonald and eight decisions. It impacts hundreds of endangered species and millions of acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat.”

Conclusion

Corruption adds dramatically to the costs of protecting the environment, and increased costs slow the adoption rate of low carbon technologies. It is abundantly apparent that we will need more transparency, oversight and governance. At a time when governments are stretched beyond their fiscal limits, we cannot allow graft to undermine environmental protection.

——————-
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, a leading sustainable business blog and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

December 10 2010

19:33

Signs of Incremental Progress as COP16 Climate Talks Wind Down in Cancun


The younger generation have the most at stake for progress in climate negotiationsThe Weekly Mulch from the Media Consortium
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
(reposted with permission)

This year’s round of the United Nations-led climate change negotiations, ongoing in Cancun, Mexico, for the past two weeks, end today. No matter what the official outcome, the progress made on dealing with global climate change and carbon emissions will be incremental.

The problem, at base, lies with the incentives, or lack thereof, for the most powerful negotiators at the table. Morally, there are plenty of reasons for every country in the world to commit to drawing down carbon pollution. But economically? Politically? It’s easier to take small steps, make half-hearted commitments.

Going all-in

What would a brave policy stance look like? Something like the position the Maldives—an island archipelago—has taken: “We do not have to wait for everyone else to do this,” as the country’s environment minister, Mohamed Aslam said at the conference this week. As Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard reports:

“Right now the country relies heavily on diesel fuel for much of its energy needs. The government has already conducted an audit of their emissions, much of which comes from the shipping sector, a fact of life in island nations. But Aslam envisions solar, wind, tidal power, and renewable transportation fuels driving the nation in the near future—even if islanders don’t have all the solutions now.”

Aslam notes, Sheppard writes, that it’s in the country’s economic favor to take up these policies. So for the Maldives, at least, it’s not a tough sell.

Bribery?

The real dilemma for island countries like the Maldives, though, is how much wiggle room they should give larger countries, who are bigger emitters, in international agreements. Larger countries have more to lose economically, so they’re less willing to commit to, say, legally binding goals for reduced carbon emissions.

But these larger countries also tend to have more money. And that’s where the problem for countries like the Maldives comes in: they’re going to need financial support to deal with creeping sea level rise and other consequences of climate change. Some of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables, as the Guardian reported, revealed how countries like the United States use those needs to their diplomatic advantage. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman asked U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern to respond to these revelations, but didn’t get much of a response.

I’ve got the power

Ultimately, though, a country like the Maldives is always going to have a weaker negotiating position than bigger countries. Take, for instance, this account from Inter Press Service’s Darryl D’Monte on how to identify an important player at Cancun:

“A rough yardstick for identifying which Asian countries make the biggest ripples in Cancun is the number of journalists who crowd around the spokesperson immediately after a press conference. … Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has certainly come into his own on this score. As the spokesperson for the BASIC group of countries, which includes Brazil, South Africa and China, he is articulate, well-informed and witty. Journalists swarm around him after a press conference, eager to get him make a scathing remark about another country or group of countries.”

This profile of Ramesh is a fascinating window into how one negotiator manages to navigate these complicated talks. But, as D’Monte points out, even for India, financing is a key question: one of the “non-negotiables” for India, Brazil, South Africa and China is speedier delivery of promised mitigation monies.

Moral Highground

There’s one group at Cancun whose incentives line up impeccably with a faultless moral position: young people. They’re the ones most likely to suffer the consequences of a warming world, and they’re advocating for a draw-down of carbon-heavy industries. At Change.org, Jess Leber reports that about 1,000 young people are participating in some way in the conference this year. (Official attendance tallies, for participants inside and outside the building, estimate 22,000 people in total.)

Leber reports that young people did make some progress this year: “The negotiators agreed to ramp up support for climate education and training programs worldwide, but especially in developing countries, and agreed to give the youth delegation are larger official voice in the negotiating process,” she writes.

That’s good news for adults, as well. As the UN’s chief negotiator, Christiana Figueres, demonstrates in this video at Care2, it’s tough to face down the people who are actually going to suffer from your generation’s waffling. “Figueres tears up when speaking of why the talks are important; she also describes the inspiration that keeps her working toward a global agreement,” writes Nancy Roberts.

Figueres’ inspiration? “It’s you,” she tells young activists. “It’s not our planet. It’s yours…You will all take it over very soon…Nothing is going to be perfect…Everything here is going to be one step. But it is the best that this group of people under these circumstances…can do for the time being.”

——————-

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

November 30 2010

16:52

Environmental News Wrap: COP16, Climate Skeptics No More, Emissions Down in 2009, and more…


The latest environmental news GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

The United Nations Climate Negotiations in Cancun, Mexico have begun.
Read about how the US (and the UK) media is covering it:

In other news:

August 12 2010

09:57

Enviro News Wrap: New Rules on Mercury, Nuclear Energy Renaissance, Environmentalism Can't Address Climate Change, and more…


The latest environmental news headlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency will soon enforce new rules on the industrial use of mercury. This will greatly reduce the amount of mercury being spewed into our environment. This is an environmental and public health victory, but some are unhappy with the negative financial impact it will have on the cement and coal industry.
  • Portugal has transformed its energy infrastructure by investing in hydro, solar and wind power. Residential power in Portugal is more expensive than in the US because of this heavy focus on green energy. But, paying the costs of energy production upfront is a less environmental destructive way to operate an economy.
  • When vast fields of GMO crops are created they infiltrate the environment. Monsanto Canola is flourishing in the wild and near agricultural lands in some US states. GMO Canola will affect the environment just as any invasive species does by pushing out native species and changing local ecological cycles.
  • The Guardian provides a short article about how some people are housing themselves with alternatives to our normal wood frame and brick houses.
  • The Christian Science Monitor reports that this US hurricane season may be among the most extreme in recent history. Some argue that global climate change is causing more severe and frequent hurricanes, and some disagree. No matter how the argument plays out, we still have to respond to real and occurring events, like an increase in the severity of hurricane seasons around the world.
  • The nuclear industry in the US is jumping on the environmental inertia against coal and gas power generation. Before deciding that you are against nuclear energy, please research the facts about modern nuclear energy, it has come a long way since the 1970s.
  • A Grist contributor explores the claim that the movement known as “‘environmentalism’ can never address climate change.” He makes the argument that revamping our energy and resource infrastructure in the US is too large of an undertaking for environmental do-gooders. Only a full movement of the entire US public could bring about an adequate response to the challenges created by climate change.
  • Another advancement in solar energy allows a solar module to create energy from heat as well as light, greatly increasing the efficiency of a solar module. Technology Review reports.
  • A new process decreases the financial and time cost of testing certain newly developed batteries for longevity and performance. This is greatly needed for renewable energy as batteries are an essential component of some green energy industries like solar and electric cars. Technology Review reports.
  • The New York Times reports on making butter into fuel. Many possibilities are available to us besides conventional fuels.

August 11 2010

14:15

Lowering Expectations for UN Climate Negotiations


Lowered expectations result from latest round of UN climate talks in BonnConflicting positions are undermining efforts to find agreement on greenhouse gas reductions. Delegates at the recent climate talks in Bonn made no progress on binding targets to reduce carbon emissions, nor were they able to agree on a deal to replace the soon to expire Kyoto Protocol.

The climate change talks began with a document called "A Shared Vision for Long-Term Cooperative Action." The problem is, there is no shared vision and insufficient cooperative action. Delegates at the Bonn conference now have to contend with a wide range of competing provisions.

Some less developed nations want to see developed nations assume their share of the carbon space. They argue that industrial countries have 16 percent of the world's population, but they occupy 74 percent of the carbon space. They further argue that each country’s historical carbon emissions should be taken into account. Although this would allow poorer countries with large populations to build their economies, wealthier nations have already dismissed the idea. A global deal to limit GHGs is also being impeded by China’s resistance to compliance monitoring.

As the world's largest economy and biggest producer of emissions, the lack of legislation in the US is another major impediment to progress on a climate change treaty. Although the recession and the vote for change inspired unprecedented international cooperation last year, the collaborative international mood was short-lived and has subsequently subsided.

Politically motivated misinformation has eroded American support for comprehensive climate and energy legislation and this has also dampened efforts to find agreement on a global climate change treaty.

Although last year’s Copenhagen Accord made some progress reducing emissions, the accord was never formally adopted and as such, it is non-binding. Developing nations appear to be reversing their positions by suggesting that their Copenhagen carbon reduction commitments were voluntary, while emissions targets for industrial countries are binding.

Tianjin, China will host a final preparatory meeting in October before the summit in Cancun, Mexico at the end of the year. Although we are unlikely to see a global treaty before the 2012 climate summit in South Africa, we can still see agreements on financial assistance and technology transfer.

The Kyoto Protocol is due to expire in 2012 and international disagreements obscure the urgency of binding agreements to manage climate change. Although some delegates have begun considering the possibility of extending the Kyoto Protocol until a replacement can be developed, we also need a binding agreement that addresses the rapidly growing emissions of developing countries.

For three years the world has unsuccessfully pursued an elusive formula that could pave the way for an international climate change treaty. Last year there were high expectations, this year, already low expectations have been lowered further still.
——————–

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, sustainable investor and writer. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. He is also the author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, green investing, enviro-politics and eco-economics.

July 06 2010

16:04

Environmental News Wrap: June 29-July 5


GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

Solar Power:

May 26 2010

00:56

UN Chief Urges Industrialized Nations to Release Promised Funds To Poor Nations For Climate Change Aid

Outgoing United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer sent an urgent message to wealthy industrialized nations on Tuesday reminding them about previous promises to help the world’s poorer nations to adapt to a changing world due to global warming.  Without a firm show of funds, he said the pursuit of a global climate agreement would remain a question mark for many as the December COP-16 talks in Cancun grow closer.

de Boer urged the industrialized nations to quickly present the $30 billion in aid they have pledged to deliver over the 2010-2012 period to help poor nations fight climate change impacts such as increasingly severe droughts and floods.

"Times are harsh, especially in Europe, but $10 billion a year for three years from all industrialized countries is not an impossible call," he said.
<!--break-->World leaders failed to deliver a legally binding agreement to address global warming at the COP-15 talks in Copenhagen last year, coming up with only a nonbinding political document called the Copenhagen Accord.

"Cancun can deliver if promises of help are kept and if promises to compromise are honored in the negotiations," de Boer said.

de Boer reiterated today that negotiators need to focus on a "concrete and realistic goal" for the Cancun climate summit in December, noting that "higher political guidance is required to find ways forward."

While he does not expect a global treaty to emerge out of COP-16, de Boer strongly believes "a full, operational architecture to implement effective, collective climate action" can be put in place to ensure a global agreement is forged in 2011.

But, in order to build trust needed between rich and poor nations, the first installments of promised adaptation and mitigation assistance funds should be delivered as soon as possible.

"If developing countries are given the ways and means to act on all aspects of mitigation and adaptation, it will establish firm ground for bigger ambition," de Boer said according to the Associated Press.

Aid to poor nations is expected to rise from the initial $10 billion a year to an annual $100 billion by 2020, although industrialized nations have not detailed how they would generate that level of funding.

Negotiators will meet in Bonn starting May 31 for two weeks of talks to continue work on draft text for a new international climate treaty that would take effect after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

de Boer, who resigns his post by July 1, will be replaced by Costa Rican climate expert Christiana Figueres, who was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to succeed him.

April 06 2010

08:51

Obama Administration Finalizes Move To Limit Climate Change Caused by Autos

EARTHJUSTICE.org Standards will make cars cleaner, cut dependence on foreign oil April 1, 2010 Washington, DC — Today marked the concluding step in the Obama administration’s historic process of setting new fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and some trucks. The final rule on these tailpipe emissions standards, released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [...]

February 24 2010

22:29

NEW NASA WEB PAGE SHEDS LIGHT ON SCIENCE OF A WARMING WORLD

View Interactive Release: http://pitch.pe/48374 WASHINGTON — Will 2010 be the warmest year on record? How do the recent U.S. “Snowmageddon” winter storms and record low temperatures in Europe fit into the bigger picture of long-term global warming? NASA has launched a new web page to help people better understand the causes and effects of Earth’s changing [...]

February 11 2010

17:30

Animals Cope With Climate Change at the Dinner Table: Birds, Foxes and Small Mammals Adapt Their Diets to Global Warming

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209152235.htmScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2010) — Some animals, it seems, are going on a diet, while others have expanding waistlines.It’s likely these are reactions to rapidly rising temperatures due to global climate change, speculates Prof. Yoram Yom-Tov of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Zoology, who has been measuring the evolving body sizes of birds and animals [...]

January 17 2010

09:13

From the Ancient Amazonian Indians: ‘Biochar’ as a Modern Weapon Against Global Warming

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113172252.htm ScienceDaily (Jan. 14, 2010) — Scientists are reporting that “biochar” — a material that the Amazonian Indians used to enhance soil fertility centuries ago — has potential in the modern world to help slow global climate change. Mass production of biochar could capture and sock away carbon that otherwise would wind up in the atmosphere [...]

December 28 2009

18:17

Its time to award those blogs we feel are making a positive change to our Climate

We at the new and improved Climate of Our Future (COOF) believe in blogging with a purpose. Our particular mission is no small task — changing the world we live in for the better — but we take great comfort in the fact that we’re not struggling alone to achieve this. There are a wide range [...]
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