Friday, May 25, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Playing in the Major Leagues.
George Town, Cayman Islands - 19 October 2009 - Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s recent speech on climate change catastrophe in the UK applies to the entire world.
Climate change is the most serious peril that has faced humanity in its long history. However, we are faced with more than climate change, there is peak oil and an out of control population, as well as concerns for water and food security in the years to come.
As I said to a colleague earlier today “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
Humanity is today playing in the major leagues. We are in a sink or swim situation. If we can keep the planet habitable by mitigating and adapting to the changing climate, switching to alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave, ocean thermal and nuclear, sequester CO2 and provide the population with adequate supplies of water and food and bring the population under control, humanity may survive .
Warfare and conflict will also need to become a thing of the past as climate change and energy may well exacerbate conflict situations. With a 9.5 billion global population by 2050 ensuring that everyone has adequate food and water could be problematic.
There is however, no ‘Plan B’ if we fail to resolve all the problems facing us.
When playing in the major leagues there is no time out, there is no one that is going to offer help, let alone rescue us. Look around, the neighbourhood is somewhat sparsely populated and there are no other worlds on which humanity can survive. Even if there were other habitable worlds nearby they would in all probability belong to someone else.
There are, in all likelihood, other intelligent races out there somewhere, however in the major leagues one survives on ones own. As a young civilisation it is up to us to solve all our problems, to make peace among ourselves, to bring the population under control, to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). We must solve our own problems. As a young race we are as children, and as such we may not be able to solve our own problems. But solve them we must.
If we are able to solve the situation facing us and make it to adulthood, in the galactic meaning of the world, we may then be introduced to the neighbours.
If we do not make it to adulthood we will be just another minor statistic, a failure, a insignificant footnote in the universal history book.
For all these reasons we have to come together in Copenhagen and produce a new global climate change deal to replace the ageing Kyoto treaty. Unless we can do so, we are ‘planning to fail‘. Editor
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Polly is the author of the award-winning Eradicating Ecocide: laws and governance to prevent the destruction of our planet. She has been voted one of the "World's Top 10 Visionary Thinkers" by the Ecologist and named "the Planet's lawyer" by the 2010 Change Awards.
Find out more at www.eradicatingecocide.com
Video made by: Karine Peloffy, Sally Angel & Francesca Marcolini
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
As some 70 million people in the developing world move to urban areas each year, cities are increasingly stretched to provide urban infrastructure, services, and safe land. One billion people already live in slums, and this is projected to double by 2030.Further exacerbating this challenge are the risks associated with climate-related natural hazards. Cities are particularly vulnerable due to the high concentration of people and economic assets, and in many cases, their hazard-prone locations in coastal areas, along rivers, and in seismic zones. Risks are especially high in low- and middle-income countries where a third to one-half of the population in cities lives in slums. Rising sea levels, storm surges, earthquakes, floods and droughts have enormous impacts in urban areas and are likely to intensify over time. More
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The EU in Durban agreed to accept new emissions targets after 2012, while working to increase the global ambition of greenhouse gas cuts. EU environment ministers on March 12 opted for an eight-year second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that ends in 2020, three years longer than the island nations want. At the same time, the low-lying nations are seeking deeper emissions cuts to contain temperature gains and sea-level rises.
“Regrettably, our shared concerns seemed to have diverged when our planes left South Africa,” Marlene Moses, chairwoman of the alliance and Nauru’s ambassador to the United Nations, said in the statement. “The EU is resisting elements key to the environmental integrity of the climate treaty,” she said, citing the length of Kyoto’s second commitment period and a failure to accept more ambitious mitigation targets. More
Monday, May 14, 2012
I’m writing to let you know of an important new project of ours that has just begun. It is called 'Elders+Youngers' – and we would like you to be part of it.
Over the coming weeks my fellow EldersGro Brundtland, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Mary Robinson and I are hosting an online, global debate with four ‘Youngers’ – Esther, Marvin, Pedro andSara – a fantastic bunch of young activists from Nigeria, China, Brazil and Sweden.
We are debating the very future of our planet. What kind of world do we want for our great-great-grandchildren?
Many of you will remember the first Earth Summit in Rio precisely 20 years ago, when a new idea, ‘sustainable development’, echoed around the world. Like all great moments in history, it carried a simple call: for a new global system that serves both planet and people.
Since that moment, however, too little has changed.
In five weeks’ time world leaders will once again meet in Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
It is, without a doubt, the most important meeting of world leaders this year.
We want to make sure the voices of future generations – those that will inherit this planet – as well as all global citizens, are heard loud and clear.
So, in the weeks preceding the conference, we Elders and 'Youngers' are debating some of the most urgent issues facing humankind today – and looking for possible solutions.
We want to hear from you too. Can we find a way for every one of us to enjoy the fruits of this bountiful world we share – in a way that also guarantees the well-being of the generations to come?
Join us to define a common future:world leaders in Rio must hear that the time has come for change.
Much love and blessings,
Join the debate
Desmond Tutu leads the latest discussion:'Is sustainable development a luxury we cannot afford?'
Join Gro and Pedroas they debate:'People, profit, environment – can we balance them all?'
Meet the Youngers
BLOG: Meet the Youngers: Sara
BLOG: Meet the Youngers: Pedro
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Friday, May 11, 2012
In 2005, Emanuel reported that hurricane intensity, which is fed by warmth, had increased some 80 percent during the previous 50 years, a period during which temperatures had increased more dramatically than any time in at least 500 years. Nonetheless, he asserted, that didn’t mean Hurricane Katrina, the sixth strongest Atlantic storm on record, had been brought on by climate change.
Even with a multitude of extreme weather events in recent years — tornadoes in New York City, blizzards in Washington, D.C., 15,000 warm-temperature records shattered across the U.S. in March — each consistent with computer models of a warming world, Emanuel and many other noted scientists have been unwilling to attribute any one event to global warming. There’s just too much variability in the weather, these experts say, and their dedication to data has helped prop open the door for “denialists” to sow doubt about the reality of our warming world.
But Hansen’s shot across the bow this morning indicates that the unwillingness to point fingers may be changing. According to a peer-reviewed paper Hansen has submitted to a leading scientific journal and made available to Time.com prior to publication, scientists can now state “with a high degree of confidence” that some extremely high temperatures are in fact caused by global warming, simply because they occur much more frequently than they used to. (A preliminary draft of the article is available here.) More
Thursday, May 10, 2012
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.
The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change. More
Ecocide is the extensive destruction of ecosystems and environments which has severe consequences for people as well as the environment.
To world leaders:
Life on Earth is under threat. Damage to the Earth is being caused at an alarming rate and there is no legal framework to prevent this. But next month in June, leaders from around the globe will be at the RIO+20 Earth Summit discussing the Earth’s future - we can make them put people and planet above profit.
“As concerned citizens of a fragile planet, we call on you to back an international law of Ecocide at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June this year. We call on you to make ecocide the 5th International Crime Against Peace. Life on Earth as it is now cannot survive if we continue to treat our environment as we are currently doing. Take this opportunity to back strong measures to make ecocide a crime, to protect humanity and the Earth.”
This crucial summit provides us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We can make our leaders listen to our demands for change. Let’s show them that ecocide is a grave crime and that this must be put into international law. Sign this petition and share it with all your friends! More
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
As Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, this film follows him to Greenland and the Antarctic as his research reveals the challenges we all face from climate change.
credit: University of Cambridge
Monday, May 7, 2012
Since the 1950s, parts of the world's ocean became saltier (red) and parts became fresher (blue) as the global water cycle intensified. The color scale refers to the observed change in salinity. The numbers on the scale correspond approximately to grams of salt per kilogram of seawater.
As the atmosphere warms, its capacity to hold water vapor increases. This is quantified by the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, which explains that the atmosphere will hold about about 7% more moisture for every degree Celsius of warming. That means more evaporation in areas that are already dry and increased precipitation in regions that already receive high rainfall. Thus we can expect increasing droughts in dry areas and more floods in regions now prone to flooding.
In the 27 April 2012 issue of SCIENCE, Paul Durack of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and coworkers explored a historical database of the saltiness of the surface ocean waters, or salinity, and found evidence that the global water cycle has intensified over the past half-century. The observed shifts in ocean salinity are consistent with the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship and with the observed warming of the surface ocean by about 0.5°C.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Saturday, May 5, 2012
"Pakistan is making it mandatory for the entire population to be covered against disaster risks. The idea, at the end of the day, is to cover the lives and livelihoods of the population of the entire country," said Zafar Iqbal Qadir, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority.
"Most parts of our country are vulnerable … either to disasters, or to poverty, or to both."
Qadir, who was speaking at a regional conference on "managing the risks of climate extremes and disasters in Asia", said Pakistan's cabinet has approved the plan and his agency was working on a comprehensive risk insurance plan that would hopefully be rolled out by the end of the year.
The country had already received a $500-million World Bank loan to set up a fund to pay for the plan, he said.
Authorities also intend to tap private sector money through their corporate social responsibility schemes as well as local philanthropists, he added.
And he said a meeting held with international insurance companies to discuss the issue in Karachi last month was positive.
Last month, a major report by the United Nations said the world needed to prepare better to deal with extreme weather and rising seas caused by climate change, in order to save lives and limit deepening economic losses. More
According to the study, as sea level rises, so will groundwater levels, and since underground infrastructure — including sewer pipes and utility equipment — was built with historical groundwater levels in mind, this could lead to expensive headaches for coastal communities.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Yale University, looks at the threat to New Haven, CT, Yale’s home city. Sea level rise may indeed raise groundwater levels significantly underneath the city, according to the study, leading to problems not just with pipes and pumps and buried cables but also with the arch-nemesis of many New England homeowners — basement flooding.
"Scenarios for the resulting higher groundwater levels have the potential to inundate underground infrastructure in lowlying coastal cities," the study states. More