High-Level Political Forum #HLPF2018 begins today at the @UN. @IRENA is at this High-Level Political Forum to help bring renewable energy solutions to the forefront of addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs). Details on some of our key events, here: bit.ly/2MkSSe5
Monday, July 9, 2018
High-Level Political Forum #HLPF2018 begins today at the @UN. @IRENA is at this High-Level Political Forum to help bring renewable energy solutions to the forefront of addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs). Details on some of our key events, here: bit.ly/2MkSSe5
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Capitalism is killing the planet warns GMO's Grantham: capitalists need to wake up to climate change reality
Jeremy Grantham, the longtime investor famous for calling the last two major bubbles in the market, is urging capitalists and "mainstream economists" to recognize the looming threat of climate change.
"Capitalism and mainstream economics simply cannot deal with these problems. Mainstream economics largely ignore [them]," Grantham, who co-founded GMO in 1977, said Tuesday in an impassioned speech at the Morningstar Investment Conference in Chicago. "We deforest the land, we degrade our soils, we pollute and overuse our water and we treat air like an open sewer, and we do it all off the balance sheet."
This negligence is due in large part to how short-sighted corporations can be, Grantham said. "Anything that happens to a corporation over 25 years out doesn't exist for them, therefore, as I like to say, grandchildren have no value" to them, he said. Read More
Today, Costa Rica took steps to eclipsing even these amazing countries in terms of sustainability. President Carlos Alvarado announced they would be banning fossil based fuels altogether. This makes Costa Rica the first country in the world to completely decarbonize.
"Getting rid of fossil fuels is a big idea coming from a small country. This is an idea that's starting to gain international support with the rise of new technologies," Costa Rican economist Monica Araya said.
As unlikely as going carbon-free in today's modern world might seem, Costa Rica already derives 99% of its energy from renewable sources. Their biggest hurdle will be in the transportation industry, where there is very little in the way of development in that sector and demand for cars is growing. Read More
Monday, July 2, 2018
Does anyone know what’s going to happen to America? Does America have a future? Or does it just collapse into…wait, what is it collapsing into, anyways?
Let me ask you that another way. Are they authoritarians? Fascists? Nazis? Religious extremists? “Ethno-nationalist nativists”? Which one of these terms, ideas, which are also explanations, would you pick?
I’d pick all of them.
American collapse is more like a megacollapse. A supercollapse. A hypercollapse. It combines elements of all the previous collapses which we know about in modern history — and then some of its own, too — and melds, combines, and blends them together into something like a a titanic, earth-shattering, historic, once in a millennium implosion. Think of it as a supervolcano that’s capable of taking down a whole continent, changing the world’s climate, tilting the globe off its axis, and darkening the sun itself for an age, erupting.
All that is precisely what it really is. Let’s go through all the elements American collapse combines, and why they matter — and if it frightens you to read this, well, the truth is: you should be scared. American continue to underestimate American collapse. They don’t really understand the first thing about it, yet.
Like Irani or Turkish collapse, American collapse is theocratic. It has obvious strands of fundamentalist theocracy woven into it. Regressive movements have sprung up to reverse institutional and legal progress for gays, women, minorities, all in the name of religious piety. American decline has always been driven by a hardcore fundamentalist minority, many of whom seem happy with Taliban style restrictions on basic civic freedoms. Read More
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Dr Cristiana Pașca Palmer, UN assistant secretary general and executive secretary of the convention on biological diversity, discusses Half Earth, a future biodiversity agreement and where to find the money to save life on Earth
In my view, we need to ensure that the entire planet is used sustainably. That is, 100% of the Earth, the “Whole Earth”, has to be managed in a way that will allow continuous healthy functioning of the ecological systems that support life on Earth, including human life.
We can think of biological diversity as the “infrastructure” that supports all life on the planet. When we lose species through extinction the web of life is destroyed and this in turn affects the resilience of the ecosystems and nature’s capacity to provide the services that humans benefit from – ensuring our food, the air we breath, the water we drink, or the moments of peace and serenity we enjoy in nature.
Conservation and protection of nature, ecosystems, and species is one essential pillar of any strategy to ensure fully functional natural systems in the long term. Ecological restoration of degraded lands through natural means should be another key component. Ultimately, the paradigm shift that perhaps is necessary is the wide-understanding that the Earth is one system of interconnected elements, and that humans’ social and economic systems are embedded in the larger nature’s system, and not the other way around. Read More
Thursday, June 28, 2018
27 June 2018
Dr. James E. Hansen’s opinion in the Boston Globe
Source: 1965-2017 BP Statistical Review of World Energy; 1900-1965 Department of Energy Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center (Energy unit: Gt = gigatons = billion tons of oil equivalent)
THIRTY YEARS AGO, while the Midwest withered in massive drought and East Coast temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I testified to the Senate as a senior NASA scientist about climate change. I said that ongoing global warming was outside the range of natural variability and it could be attributed, with high confidence, to human activity — mainly from the spewing of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. “It’s time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” I said.
This clear and strong message about the dangers of carbon emissions was heard. The next day, it led the front pages of newspapers across the country. Climate theory led to political action with remarkable speed. Within four years, almost all nations, including the United States, signed a Framework Convention in Rio de Janeiro, agreeing that the world must avoid dangerous human-made interference with climate.
Sadly, the principal follow-ups to Rio were the precatory Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement — wishful thinking, hoping that countries will make plans to reduce emissions and carry them out. In reality, most countries follow their self-interest, and global carbon emissions continue to climb (see graph above).
It’s not rocket science. As long as fossil fuels are cheap, they will be burned and emissions will be high. Fossil fuel use will decline only if the price is made to include costs of pollution and climate change to society. The simplest and most effective way to do this is by collecting a rising carbon fee from fossil fuel companies at domestic mines and ports of entry.
Economists agree: If 100 percent of this fee is distributed uniformly to the public, the economy will be spurred, GNP will rise, and millions of jobs will be created. Our energy infrastructure will be steadily modernized with clean energies and energy efficiency.
The clinching argument for a carbon fee, as opposed to ineffectual cap-and-trade schemes dreamed up by politicians, is that the fee can be imposed almost globally via border duties on products from countries that do not have a fee, based on standard fossil fuel content of the products. This will be a strong incentive for most countries to have their own fee.
Any cap approach, by contrast, leaves the impossible task of negotiating 190 caps on all the world’s nations. Governments of some countries may keep a carbon fee as a tax. However, in democracies uniform 100 percent distribution of the funds will be needed to achieve public support.
A carbon fee is crucial, but not enough. Countries such as India and China need massive amounts of energy to raise living standards. The notion that renewable energies and batteries alone will provide all needed energy is fantastical. It is also a grotesque idea, because of the staggering environmental pollution from mining and material disposal, if all energy was derived from renewables and batteries. Worse, tricking the public to accept the fantasy of 100 percent renewables means that, in reality, fossil fuels reign and climate change grows.
The United States and Europe burned most of the global carbon budget that we are permitted to burn if climate is to be stabilized. As such, we have a moral obligation to the developing world, and a practical problem, because we all live on the same planet.
Young people are puzzled that, 25 years ago, President Clinton terminated R&D on next-generation safe nuclear power, the principal alternative to fossil fuel electricity. It is not too late. My advice to young people is to cast off the old politics and fight for their future on technological, political, and legal fronts.
It will not be easy. Washington is a swamp of special interests and, because of the power of the fossil fuel industry, our political parties are little concerned about the mess they are leaving for young people.
Young people have great potential political power, as they showed in their support of Barack Obama in 2008 and Bernie Sanders in 2016. However, it is not enough to elect a leader who spouts good words. It is necessary to understand needed policies and fight for them.
The best way to fight for the carbon fee and dividend is to join Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which now has more than 90,000 members but needs more, especially young people. CCL members are appropriately polite and respectful as they cajole politicians in Washington. If they were joined by the fire of young people that was demonstrated in 2008 and 2016, even the mighty fossil fuel industry would take notice.
The fossil fuel industry afraid of kids? They might be when they notice who is standing behind the kids: the United States Constitution. Kids are people with constitutional rights to life, liberty and property.
Many lawsuits are being filed, in the United States and around the world, on behalf of young people. They include stopgap efforts, such as a suit to block the Trump administration from opening the Powder River Basin in Montana to coal exploitation (with potential to exceed US emissions of the past 50 years), and the Our Children’s Trust lawsuit, demanding government policies to reduce fossil fuel emissions at a rate that the science indicates is needed to support a healthy climate.
Chances of winning lawsuits grow as incontrovertible evidence of climate change grows. The judiciary is less subject to bribery from the fossil fuel industry than are the other branches of government. Yet in this case, justice delayed may be justice denied. Young people cannot afford the “all deliberate speed” that followed the Brown v. Board of Education decision regarding civil rights in 1954.
Young people and old people must understand the implications of the accompanying graph. The fight to phase down fossil fuel emissions is not yet being won. We all must understand needed energy policies and fight for the future of our young people. We must use all the levers of our democracy to force the fossil fuel industry to become a clean energy industry.
James Hansen, retired director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, directs the Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program in the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
The online version available on Boston Globe: http://bit.ly/2tIKFK7
The PDF version available: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2018/20180627_BostonGlobeOpinion.pdf
Thank you for your support and please LIKE and SHARE my article.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Building back better: achieving resilience through stronger, faster, and more inclusive post-disaster reconstruction
A FOLLOW-UP TO THE UNBREAKABLE REPORT
New publication by @GFDRR "Building back better: achieving resilience through stronger, faster, and more inclusive post-disaster reconstruction" a lot of interesting data and insights to many countries and the private sector Read More
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Is New Hampshire on the verge of battery energy storage history?
The only question left to be settled is a big one: Should utilities own behind-the-meter batteries?
A small investor-owned utility in New Hampshire may be on the verge of regulatory approval for one of the most ambitious U.S. tests yet of utility-owned, customer-sited battery energy storage systems.
In the process, regulators and stakeholders of the DE 17-189 proceeding are wrestling with a question of vital interest to the rest of the 3,000-plus U.S. utilities: Should a utility own customer-sited storage or is it a distributed energy resource (DER) that should be left to private sector providers?
Utilities have already seen the benefits that large-scale battery energy storage offers in shaving peak demand, providing grid services, and making systems more flexible. There is a clear opportunity to use customer-sited battery storage in the same way. But the question of how far utilities can intrude into markets so far served by private sector vendors must first be answered.
Vermont goes first
The only major U.S. utility-owned, behind-the-meter (BTM) battery storage is the Green Mountain Power (GMP) pilot project, according to GTM Research Energy Storage Analyst Brett Simon. GMP, the dominant Vermont electricity provider, is installing 2,000 behind-the-meter Tesla Powerwalls that will provide dispatchable energy and other grid services to New England’s wholesale electricity markets. Customers pay a one-time $1,300 fee or a monthly $15 fee to participate.
Monday, June 18, 2018
Margaret Klein Salamon States: I am absolutely thrilled by an article that recently appeared in Inside Philanthropy, and wanted to share it with you. It is a deep dive into what “climate mobilization” means, our City by City project, and the $100,000 grant that Climate Mobilization Project recently won from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Shelter Rock.
The first and last paragraphs are below. Please read the entire article and share it widely, especially with anyone you know in the philanthropic world.
A major challenge to organizing and advocacy around climate change is how even to approach a problem so large, complex, and gradually advancing (although it feels less gradual with every year, to be honest).
An advocacy group that launched in 2014 has one answer—we respond like we’re at war.
For the Climate Mobilization Project, the climate crisis demands not incremental changes or gradual reductions in emissions, but an emergency response led by government that is on the scale of the response to World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The group just picked up a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock of $100,000, an amount they say is the “country’s single largest philanthropic investment in emergency climate action.”
The compelling thing about the Climate Mobilization Project is that, while arguably unrealistic in its goals—since there's no political consensus on this issue, as Rockoff's paper notes—it is unflinching in its diagnosis of the level of response that climate change warrants. Much of its goal is to build a movement around how we should collectively think about climate change—mainly that the status quo of the approach to date is unacceptable. And from the standpoint of a funder like UUCSR, it’s a status quo that’s certainly unjust.
Sunday, June 17, 2018
A Caribbean Development Opportunity
At least one-fifth of the population of the Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) remains in poverty; and one out of every 10 persons is considered “food poor” or indigent. Tackling poverty is one of our Region’s biggest challenges.
Caribbean countries have joined other members of the United Nations in adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
The obligations under this global initiative closely align with CDB’s ongoing commitment, embedded in our Strategic Plan 2015-19, to help our BMCs to identify and exploit opportunities for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth and development. Being a catalyst for development resources and targeting the systematic reduction of poverty in our BMCs through social and economic development is the mission of CDB.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
On Tuesday night, Bay Area mobilizers made history.
As a result of local organizers’ tireless work, the Berkeley City Council faced the truth of the climate and ecological crises and committed to protecting its residents and all life on Earth by unanimously declaring a climate emergency and endorsing a just citywide climate mobilization effort to end greenhouse gas emissions emissions as quickly as possible!
The resolution called for Berkeley to become a carbon sink by 2030, which the energy commission will study. It also called on all other governments to address the crisis at the speed and scale required, setting in motion a nine-county Bay Area climate emergency town hall this summer aimed at catalyzing local, regional, state, national and global mass mobilizations to restore a safe climate and a collaborative regional mobilization effort. You can read the full text of the resolution here.
In the same hearing, the council took a critical first step in realizing the mobilization by voting to refer a Fossil Free Fast resolution to the city’s energy commission. Under this resolution, Berkeley would actively oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure, making it the first municipality in California and the second in the nation to move forward such a sweeping block. You can read the full text of the resolution here.
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
|Solar plant in Bavaria, Germany|
Solar is the world’s fastest growing source of new energy, outpacing growth in all other forms of renewable energy, according to research by the International Energy Agency (IEA) published in November. Renewables overall accounted for two thirds of new power added to the world’s grids in 2016, and solar even overtook coal in terms of net growth. This enormous boost has come about thanks in part to the plummeting costs of getting rigged up to wind and solar, as well as massive growth in China and India.
Good times, then, for the Earth’s long-term prospects of continuing to power itself, and taper the consumption of fossil fuels. At the end of April, 85 per cent of German electricity came from renewable sources, establishing a new national record for the country, with breezy, warm and sunny weather combining to create a renewable whammy of unseen proportions.
Last week, solar overtook biomass to become the third source of renewable energy in the US, and renewables in the country now provide 17 per cent of overall electricity, marking good progress, though there is still a way to go with solar only constituting one per cent. Read More
In a little less than three decades, Hawaii plans to be carbon neutral–the most ambitious climate goal in the United States. Governor David Ige signed a bill today committing to make the state fully carbon neutral by 2045, along with a second bill that will use carbon offsets to help fund planting trees throughout Hawaii. A third bill requires new building projects to consider how high sea levels will rise in their engineering decisions.
The state is especially vulnerable to climate change–sea level rise, for example, threatens to cause $19 billion in economic losses–and that’s one of the reasons that the new laws had support. “We’re on the forefront of climate change impacts,” says Scott Glenn, who leads the state’s environmental quality office. “We experience it directly and we’re a small island. People feel the trade wind days becoming less. They notice the changes in rain. They feel it getting hotter. Because we are directly exposed to this, there’s no denying it.” The state’s political leaders, he says, are “unified in acknowledging that climate change is real and that we do need to do something about it.” Read More
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Worst-case climate change scenario could be more extreme than thought, scientists warn | The Independent
Scientists may have to recalibrate their projections of what a “worst case” climate change scenario is, as new studies take into account greater global economic growth than previously forecast.
Climate scientists forecasting how the earth’s climate will change over time examine trends in greenhouse gas emissions, which are largely dependent on how the global economy behaves. As countries get richer, the amount they consume goes up, and so too do greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists use four scenarios called representative concentration pathways (RCPs) that attempt to depict possible futures for our planet.
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Islands are pushing forward with efforts to preserve their natural wealth and protect their people from disasters
Islands comb own shores for solutions to environmental pressures
CALVIA, Spain, April 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Island governments around the world are no longer begging for help to tackle the many problems they face - from too many tourists to devastating storms and rising seas - but are finding their own solutions and sharing them, experts say.
There has been a "huge shift" in the past 10 to 15 years, said Kate Brown, executive director of the Global Island Partnership, an alliance spearheaded by island leaders.
Islands no longer present themselves merely as victims of external pressures, but are blazing a trail in areas such as marine conservation, renewable energy and sustainable tourism.
"There is a real difference in thinking - that it is possible to do something and we don't need to wait for other people to tell us what to do," Brown told the Smart Island World Congress in Calvia on the Spanish island of Mallorca this week.
Islands have had successes at international climate talks, she noted - from winning a lower limit on global temperature rise in the Paris climate deal to convincing the world's shipping industry to curb its planet-warming emissions.
Progress is being made on home shores too, Brown said. Her organisation is working with the Marshall Islands, Palau and Fiji, for instance, to see how global development goals apply to them and uniting business and government to map out an action plan - as has been done in Hawaii.
The conference, attended by representatives of more than 100 islands alongside researchers, businesses and other experts, showcased efforts to preserve the natural wealth of islands and protect them better from worsening extreme weather, plastic pollution, uncontrolled tourism and other stresses.
Friday, April 20, 2018
The most-startling prediction is that a quarter-meter rise in sea levels, less than 10 inches, will swamp 33 buildings in Grand Cayman, among them 17 private homes and two apartment blocks.
Apart from the shock value, the striking thing about the forecasts are that they are nine years old, published in 2009. Yet little has changed. If anything, says Nick Robson, head of climate research organization The Cayman Institute, sea level rise has accelerated.
“The institute’s report on SLR predicted a one-meter rise by 2100,” he said last week. “However, SLR appears to be escalating and may well be more than one meter.”
Pointing to Government Information Services maps, Robson says, the flooding from a sea level rise of only one-quarter meter, 9.94 inches, rapidly becomes “progressively worse from there – and if you model an Ivan-type storm surge on top of the SLR, it quickly becomes frightening.” Read More
Thursday, April 19, 2018
In her opening remarks to the Forum in New York, the chairperson, Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, a medical doctor from Timbuktu, Mali, called the land husbandry of Aboriginal peoples “part of our history and heritage.”
But few countries have acted to defend these peoples’ collective rights, she added.
“Law enforcement is inadequate or non-existent, and other elements of Legislation go against these rights,” she said. Measures necessary to give meaning to land rights, such as tenure delimitation and allocating title deeds, are often not implemented.
Moreover, she continued, those who defend indigenous rights continue to be targeted when they raise their voices – particularly when States or private actors seek their resources for aggressive development such as logging.
“As long as our rights over our lands, territories and resources are not recognized,” she added, indigenous people risk falling far short of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“In the same way,” she said, “the world risks losing the fight against climate change and the destruction of the environment.”
UN for all peoples
General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák reminded everyone “The United Nations is here for people. And that includes indigenous people.”
“But we cannot yet say that this Organization has opened its doors wide enough,” he said. “And so, we need to be more ambitious.”
Mr. Lajčák, of Slovakia painted a grim picture of the situation facing indigenous people today, pointing out that while they make up only five per cent of the world’s population, they comprise 15 per cent of the world’s poorest people.
“That is shocking,” he said, adding that their human rights are being violated, they are being excluded and marginalized and face violence for asserting their basic rights.
Focusing on the theme of indigenous land, territories and resources, he said: “Indigenous people are being dispossessed. They are losing the lands their ancestors called home.”
But with global attention to indigenous rights on the rise, Mr. Lajčák saw reasons for hope, as well.
“The signs do look positive,” he said, noting that the UN teams on the ground are developing stronger partnerships, determined to make these communities stronger.
“We should be hopeful. But we cannot ignore the very real, and very serious, challenges. They cast a shadow over the future of many indigenous communities. And they demand our urgent attention,” he said.
When Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, spoke, he explained how for 500 years the indigenous people of America have waged a resistance campaign to defend their dignity and identity.
“We are all descendants of Mother Earth, so we are all brothers and sisters,” he underscored.
The seventeenth annual Forum opened to a ceremonial cultural performance and a traditional welcome by Todadaho Sid Hill, Chief of the Onondaga Nation from New York State.
Established in 2000, the forum provides expert advice and recommendations on indigenous issues to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as well as to specialized agencies that work on issues like development, agriculture, environmental protection and human rights. Read More
Source: UN News
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change | | College of Liberal Arts | Oregon State University
In the months leading up to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, Spring Creek Project will present the Bedrock Lectures on Human Rights and Climate Change. You can view the lectures released thus far on the Spring Creek Project YouTube page.
This online series will feature leading scientists, attorneys, writers, community leaders, activists, and artists. Some of the lectures will do the important work of explaining the current state of human rights and climate change—how did we get here and what is happening around the world? Others will be forward-looking and invite listeners to imagine a future in which we have made the great turning toward climate justice for all living beings. Other lectures may focus on a place—the fracking fields next to schools and neighborhoods, Standing Rock, deep sea drilling sites. Together, the lectures will create a chorus of voices and ideas that will invite audiences to imagine how we can build communities and lives in a world where environmental crises are quickly recognized as human rights crises.
We will release a new Bedrock Lecture each Wednesday from January 31 to May 30, 2018. The lectures will be free and publicly available on our website, social media channels, and at a weekly live-screening (details below). Each lecture will span about 20 minutes, and we invite you to watch them from your desk, with a group of friends, or at a community gathering.
Friday, March 30, 2018
Earth’s largest hot desert, the Sahara, is getting bigger, a new study finds. It is advancing south into more tropical terrain in Sudan and Chad, turning green vegetation dry and soil once used for farming into barren ground in areas that can least afford to lose it.
Yet it is not just the spread of the Sahara that is frightening, the researchers say. It’s the timing: It is happening during the African summer, when there is usually more rain. But the precipitation has dried up, allowing the boundaries of the desert to expand.
“If you have a hurricane come suddenly, it gets all the attention from the government and communities galvanize,” said Sumant Nigam, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland and the senior author of the study. “The desert advance over a long period might capture many countries unawares. It’s not announced like a hurricane. It’s sort of creeping up on you.”
The study was published Thursday in the Journal of Climate. The authors said that although their research focused only on the Sahara, it suggests that climate changes also could be causing other hot deserts to expand — with potentially harsh economic and human consequences.
Deserts form in subtropical regions because of a global weather circulation called the Hadley cell. Warm air rises in the tropics near the equator, producing rain and thunderstorms. When the air hits the top of the atmosphere, it spreads north and south toward the poles. It does not sink back down until it is over the subtropics, but as it does, the air warms and dries out, creating deserts and other areas that are nearly devoid of rain. Read More
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Climate is unquestionably linked to armed conflict,” said Halvard Buhaug, a professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, at a recent Wilson Center event marking the end of the three-year Climate Anomalies and Violent Environments (CAVE) research project. But, he stresses that under a changing climate, exactly how and through what pathways is still a subject of much debate in the academic community.
At the same time, practitioners working in fragile states need concrete guidance in order to prevent conflict and improve adaptation. “Conflict is an important cause of vulnerability to climatic changes,” said Buhaug. “Conflict mitigation…is probably the most important thing we can do to reduce environmental vulnerability.”
Climate Linked to Conflict Through Multiple Pathways
Climatic changes can increase the risk of conflict under certain conditions and through certain causal pathways, said Buhaug, citing some common drivers: a history of violence, low levels of development, poor governance, and inequality. In addition, the evidence shows that “climatic changes can affect the dynamics of conflict,” including the conflict’s duration, severity, and likelihood of ending quickly. But there is much less consensus that such changes could cause an outbreak of armed conflict. Read More
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
After three frigid nor’easters in less than two weeks, even the most devout prophet of climate change could be forgiven for echoing the sentiment that President Trump tweeted a few months ago, to much ridicule, shortly before one of the coldest New Year’s Eves on record: “Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” By this point, most people outside the White House understand that climate is not the same as weather—that climate is the forest and weather is the trees. Yet the global climate system is enormously complex, and there is, in fact, a lively scientific debate in progress about the relationship between human-caused climate change (especially in the Arctic) and the increased frequency of extreme cold-weather events across the United States—blizzards, bomb cyclones, and the dreaded wintry mix.
The debate began in late 2011, at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Geophysical Union, when an atmospheric scientist named Jennifer Francis gave a talk that electrified her colleagues. Perhaps, she suggested, the persistent outbreaks of extreme weather that people were experiencing in the Northern Hemisphere were connected to the colossal loss of sea ice in the Arctic—a region that, with increasing greenhouse-gas emissions, has warmed at double the rate of the rest of the planet. Up until that moment, while scientists knew that the Arctic was changing rapidly—since the nineteen-seventies, sea ice, snow cover, and glaciers had all declined dramatically, and the permafrost was starting to thaw—they did not think it had an influence on weather systems in the midlatitudes. Credit for that went entirely to the tropics. Read More
Monday, March 5, 2018
February 13 2018 - The rate of global sea level rise has been accelerating in recent decades, rather than increasing steadily, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data.
This acceleration, driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise projected by 2100 when compared to projections that assume a constant rate of sea level rise, according to lead author Steve Nerem. Nerem is a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, a fellow at Colorado's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and a member of NASA's Sea Level Change team.
Global sea level rise is accelerating incrementally over time rather than increasing at a steady rate, as previously thought, according to a new study based on 25 years of NASA and European satellite data.
If the rate of ocean rise continues to change at this pace, sea level will rise 26 inches (65 centimeters) by 2100 — enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities, according to the new assessment by Nerem and colleagues from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; CU Boulder; the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. The team, driven to understand and better predict Earth's response to a warming world, published their work Feb. 12 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"This is almost certainly a conservative estimate," Nerem said. "Our extrapolation assumes that sea level continues to change in the future as it has over the last 25 years. Given the large changes we are seeing in the ice sheets today, that's not likely."
Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere increase the temperature of air and water, which causes sea level to rise in two ways. First, warmer water expands, and this "thermal expansion" of the ocean has contributed about half of the 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) of global mean sea level rise we've seen over the last 25 years, Nerem said. Second, melting land ice flows into the ocean, also increasing sea level across the globe. Read More
Sunday, March 4, 2018
A new report is out on how the US economy is rigged against the poor. Via TomDispatch
"The 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard and its report, Whose Bad Choices? How Policy Precludes Prosperity and What We Can Do About It, also make the argument that the U.S. economic system and policies of the Trump administration and Congress are stacked against people of color.
Criminalize poverty and start a revolution
“'We’ve heard more rhetoric lately about [low-income] people making ‘bad choices’ or being ‘irresponsible with money’ and that’s been the direction policy has been going,’ said Kasey Wiedrich, director of applied research at Prosperity Now. 'We wanted to attack that.' One example of the rhetoric: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently said lower-income Americans 'are just spending every darn penny they have whether it’s on booze or women or movies.'
"In reality, however, the Prosperity Now report said, 'the dominant narrative about low-wealth people is nothing but a series of myths.' Poor choices, the analysts there say, aren’t why people are poor." https://goo.gl/WkU7AJ
In 2009 a team of Engineering Students from Michigan State University traveled to a workshop organized by the Appropriate Technology Collaborative in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Their task: a refrigerator that can be built from locally available materials almost anywhere and run without power.
Design an adsorption refrigerator capable of maintaining a temperature between 2°C and 8°C that utilizes passive solar energy and can be built in developing countries. The team’s final product will be a clear and comprehensive set of instructions for building the device.
The students built a vaccine refrigerator that does not use electricity. It does not have any moving parts. You simply place it in the sun and it chills or freezes things.
This very remarkable machine runs on pyrolytic carbon. The char does not need to be food grade, as for biochar or activated carbon. It stays inside a closed loop. It could be cascade carbon from a variety of feedstocks. Its essential service is evaporative cooling. The total cost for the prototype was $917.39. Estimated worker cooperative production cost at the scale of three per month, including labor, would be under $300. Their report reads:
Based on the design decision matrices, a solar-powered adsorption refrigerator was selected for the design of the vaccine refrigerator. This refrigerator has no moving parts aside from a few valves. It uses no toxic materials, generally available materials, and should be simple to build and operate. The refrigerator has an intermittent cycle. It will “charge” during the day and remove heat from a cooling volume at night.
Some previously used adsorbent/refrigerant pairs used for solar adsorption refrigeration systems are zeolite and water, silica gel and water, activated carbon and methanol, activated carbon and ammonia, and activated carbon and ethanol. It has been determined that the performance of each pair depends greatly on the climate in which it is tested. Read More
Sunday, February 25, 2018
The Cayman Islands could benefit from a similar initiative as has been implemented in the Seychelles
This is understood to be the first debt swap designed to protect ocean areas in the world.
The Seychelles government agreed the debt swap with the Nature Conservancy, a US charity, and a number of investors back in 2016.
Under the terms of the $21m (£15m) deal, the charity and the investors - including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation - paid for a portion of the Seychelles national debt.
The country will then direct future national debt payments into a new trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
This trust will offer lower interest rates on debt repayments, and any savings will go to fund new projects designed to protect marine life and handle the effects of climate change.
"This is a critical accomplishment in our mission to bring conservation to scale across the globe," said Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek.
"What you see today in Seychelles is what we expect to introduce in the Caribbean and other ocean regions facing the threats of climate change." Read More
#caribbean #cayman #sids #islands
My Tesla Runs on Banana Peels – Albert Bates – Medium
Put biochar in the ground, and regardless who the next farmer is, or what the weather decides to do, the biochar carbon will stay in the ground. That is possibly our strongest asset in relation to other options that are only as good as the management that maintains them. Forests can be bulldozed, soils can be ripped up and oxidized, biochar is stable in soil.
— Josiah Hunt
The amount of thermal energy or electricity produced during that conversion is variable, depending on the energy potential of the biomass and the process. The types of machines used are typically divided between CHAP (combined heat and power) and CHAB (combined heat and biochar). CHAP is mostly carbon neutral (depending on transportation distances) and CHAB is carbon negative, or net drawdown, as long as the product — biochar — is not reused as a fuel. Read More
Sunday, February 18, 2018
The Great Change: Breathing Highways and Sponge Cities
During the 20th Century, the rate of global warming was twice as fast in Taiwan (1.7°C) as for the world as a whole (0.74°C). Partly as a result, the number of days with rainfall decreased dramatically and typhoons gained strength. In 2009, Typhoon Morakot dropped over 1,000 mm (39.4 inches) in a single day and caused the loss of 699 lives. A massive mudslide wiped out Xiaolin Village and 474 people were buried alive. In 2015, Typhoon Soudelor left similar damage. It took months to repair the roads.
Then Taiwan and East China were struck by Dujuan, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Jenny, a killer storm and the thirteenth typhoon of the 2015 Pacific typhoon season. Eight months later, Nepartak became the third most intense tropical cyclone on record with 114 deaths and more than $1.5 billion damage in Taiwan and East China. September brought Meranti, a super typhoon and the strongest ever to make landfall in China in more than 1000 years of records. Meranti’s peak sustained winds tied the record set by Haiyan in 2013, 195 mph (315 km/h), comparable to a tornado, or a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. In Taiwan, nearly 1 million households lost power and 720,000 lost water supplies. Flooding in Zhejiang took 902 homes and affected 1.5 million people.
Between those punctuations, the erratic weather brought long droughts. New Taipei City had to enforce water restrictions when the Shihmen reservoir went dry in April. All cities along coasts or rivers have engineered means to remove excess water and to prevent flooding. Few have the means to sustain themselves in severe droughts. Read More
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Ibiza and Majorca could be running on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, under plans unveiled by the islands’ government yesterday.
The proposed climate change law would make the islands some of the greenest in the world but could also pave the way for clashes with Madrid.
The Balearics generate less than 3 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources at present, primarily from solar panels. Coal-fired power plants, diesel generators and gas plants account for more than 70 per cent of supply, while most of the rest is imported from the mainland.
The plan would involve a phased shutdown of the islands’ main coal plant, at Alcúdia on Majorca, between 2020 and 2025, a proposal that has been rejected by the Spanish energy ministry. Joan Groizard, the Balearic islands’ energy director, said the target to move to entirely renewable energy would mean the islands needed to achieve “100 per cent renewable electricity long before 2050”.
Large car parks would have to install solar panels by 2025. By 2035, car hire companies would be forced to electrify their entire fleets and new non-electric vehicles would be banned from entering the islands.
Mr Groizard said he hoped that the law would help the islands “be recognised as a low-carbon destination, where the rest of Europe can not only enjoy a holiday but also learn something they can then apply to their own energy transitions”.
Sam Fankhauser, director of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, said: “Going 100 per cent renewable by 2050 is a much more aggressive target for the power sector than most other countries have.”
Britain is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2050.
Friday, February 16, 2018
Climate Reality’s founder, Al Gore, is in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 48th annual meeting, where he discussed extreme weather, climate action, and the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius enshrined in the Paris Agreement.
The three-day annual event is being held January 23-26 with attendance expected from a who’s who of global and business leaders, academics, activists, and more, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will deliver the opening address; French President Emmanuel Macron; British Prime Minister Theresa May; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; and US President Donald Trump, who is set to deliver a keynote address before the close of the meeting.
The Forum engages the foremost political, business, and NGO leaders in hopes of shaping global and industrial agendas to improve the state of the world.
“Convening participants under the theme, Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World, the meeting will focus on finding ways to reaffirm international cooperation on crucial shared interests, such as international security, the environment and the global economy,” WEF writes. Read More
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Interviews - An interview with Dan Cross-Call from the Rocky Mountain Institute - Renewable Energy Magazine, at the heart of clean energy journalism
Over the past year, the adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar PV, has increased tremendously. Alongside escalating concerns around carbon and greenhouse gas mitigation, this has forced an understanding that US utilities need to re-orientate their operating strategy and industry outlook in the face of regulatory, policy, and technological change – or risk losing market share.
The latest report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Reimagining the Utility, aims to help policymakers and industry leaders make this transition by framing the critical choices regulators and utilities must make to best shape the ongoing evolution of a cleaner, more resilient, and more customer-oriented grid.
REM talked to Rocky Mountain Institute’s Dan Cross-Call to discuss these issues in greater depth.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Advisers to government say the schemes have massively reduced plastic litter in the environment and seas. And a ministerial delegation has been to Norway to see if the UK should copy an industry-led scheme that recycles 97% of bottles.
In the UK, figures show that only around half of all plastic bottles get recycled.
Norway claims to offer the most cost-efficient way of tackling plastic litter
The Norwegian government decided the best method would be to put a tax on every bottle that's not recycled - then leave the operating details of the scheme up to business.
It works like this: The consumer pays a deposit on every bottle - the equivalent of 10p to 25p depending on size.
They return it empty and post it into a machine which reads the barcode and produces a coupon for the deposit.
If the careless consumer has left liquid in the bottle, the machine eats it anyway - but hands the deposit to the shopkeeper who'll need to empty the bottle.
Similar schemes are in operation in other Nordic nations, Germany, and some states in the US and Canada.
The managers of the Norway operation say it could easily be applied to the UK. Read More
Sunday, February 4, 2018
It’s nothing much to look at, but the tangle of pipes, pumps, tanks, reactors, chimneys and ducts on a messy industrial estate outside the logging town of Squamish in western Canada could just provide the fix to stop the world tipping into runaway climate change and substitute dwindling supplies of conventional fuel.
It’s a simple idea: strip CO2 from the air and use it to produce carbon-neutral fuel. But can it work on an industrial scale?
It could also make Harvard superstar physicist David Keith, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and oil sands magnate Norman Murray Edwards more money than they could ever dream of.
The idea is grandiose yet simple: decarbonise the global economy by extracting global-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) straight from the air, using arrays of giant fans and patented chemical whizzery; and then use the gas to make clean, carbon-neutral synthetic diesel and petrol to drive the world’s ships, planes and trucks. Read More
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Welcome to the Young Water Leaders Berlin Event which connects current leaders with future leaders to ensure a water-secure world for today’s and future generations.
Young Water Leaders was launched in September 2017 to connect current leaders with future leaders.
Young Water Leaders Berlin is the first major event to bring current and future leaders together to build a water-secure world.
~Robert Brears, Author of Urban Water Security (Wiley), Founder of Mitidaption, Mark and Focus, and Young Water Leaders . Read More
Friday, January 19, 2018
News about vanishing coral reefs was part of the story of 2017. Every time I dive a reef, my breath is taken away by the incredible beauty and bewildering diversity of life in the tropical seas. But around the world, corals are now sadly sentinels of ocean change.
Since the 1970s, more than 93 per cent of the extra heat from greenhouse gases has been absorbed by the ocean. To understand how much heat that is, researchers who worked on the amazing Netflix documentary Chasing Coral have suggested that we think of it this way: If the ocean wasn’t absorbing it, average global temperatures on land would be far higher—around 122°F (50 Celsius). Global average surface temperature right now is about 59°F (15 Celsius). A 122°F world, would be unlivable.
So more than 93 per cent of climate change is out of sight and out of mind for most of us, but as the ocean continues to take on all of this heat, it is becoming a real hazard for the majority of life on Earth. Their home, the world’s ocean, is becoming too hot and too acidic to live in. In turn, the risks we are exposing ourselves to as a result, are terrifying.
Chasing Coral is a must-watch documentary for everyone. It is the story of a band of scientists, film-makers and concerned individuals who set out to tell us one story and end up documenting the heart-wrenching death of parts of the Great Barrier Reef. It is a powerful story of the importance of science, the wonders and pitfalls of technology, the opportunities of innovation, and the stories and experiences of each of the people involved. Read More
Sunday, January 14, 2018
North America fell into a pocket in 2017 but it was not the pocket of banksters. It fell into that in 2008.
In 2017 it found itself niftily enveloped by the ingenious pincer movements of three generals. First, the Southern attack by General Poseidon, God of the Oceans, striking at Houston before making amphibious landings on the coasts of Florida after devastating aerial attacks on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Next, the Western attack of General Hephaestus, God of Fire, reducing Santa Rosa and much of the Los Angeles foothills to ashes. Finally, the cyclone bombing invasion of the North by Moroz-Voevoda (General Winter).
Four decades of climate data now show that the jet stream — usually referred to as the polar vortex this time of year — is weakening. Normally a freight train circling the Arctic, it has slowed to more resemble a curious python, poking its nose below the Great Lakes more frequently and for longer looks. Just as the cold air that precedes the arrival of Nosferatu, a deep and foreboding chill is being felt at ever lower latitudes. Read More
Friday, January 12, 2018
When we think of climate catastrophes, flooding is pretty high on the list of nightmare scenarios. But it's not just rising sea levels that are threatening communities with inundation: New research shows that ever more of us are at risk from rivers bursting their banks.
As the global temperature rises, water evaporates into the air, humidity increases, clouds form — and what goes up must come down. It's among the laws of physics: Warmer air holds more moisture, meaning bigger clouds that can travel further, resulting in even more extreme storms.
Since the mid-1980s, climate scientists have recorded a 20 percent increase in record-breaking rainfall around the world — with devastating consequences.
In 2017, flooding across India, Bangladesh and Nepal affected 40 million people, and more than 1,200 died. In flooding in Sierra Leone, more than 1,100 people perished. As Peru recorded 10 times the normal level of rainfall, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced and at least 70 killed.
To round out the inventory of flooding's impact for last year, lives were also lost to flooding in China, the Philippines, Italy, and Vietnam, among other locations.
And 2018 has carried the trend forward. This week, at least 17 people were killed as dramatic storms swept California. Roads looked like rivers and homes were destroyed.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CMC) — Member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), have been urged to tackle climate change with courage and realism to prevent total annihilation of their economies.
The plea was made by Opposition People's National Party (PNP) foreign affairs spokesperson, Lisa Hanna, as she addressed patrons at the 18th annual New Year's Gala hosted by former St Kitts Prime Minister Dr Denzil L Douglas.
According to Hanna, climate change “is real and potentially destructive and a destructive issue for all who call the Caribbean home.”
“Climate change has serious implications for small island developing states in CARICOM and must be tackled with courage and realism. All of us could face a total annihilation of our economies if we do not tackle this fight,” she said