Thursday, February 28, 2008

Caribbean governments must prepare for global warming

The Caribbean Climate Change Centre fells regional governments they must prepare for global warming - February 28, 2008

THE CARIBBEAN Community Climate Change Centre (CCCC), the regional body with oversight authority for climate change, headquartered in Guyana, is issuing a stern warning to governments across the region to move swiftly to put measures in place to deal with the increasing risks posed by global warming.

Examining the impact and implications of climate change for the Caribbean and coastal states at a workshop being held in Barbados, hosted jointly by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Dr Ulric Trotz, science adviser to the CCCC, said the impact of climate change and its 'knock-on effects' are being felt here and now.

False perceptions

"We (the Caribbean) are plotting our own destruction on false perceptions. The natural variability of climatic change is being compressed into shorter periods of time as a result of global warming, and we have begun to see those changes," Trotz told senior journalists.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sumatran deforestation driving climate change and species extinction, report warns

February 27 2008.

The destruction of Sumatra's natural forests is accelerating global climate change and pushing endangered species closer to extinction, a new report warned today.

A study from WWF claims that converting the forests and peat swamps of just one Sumatran province into plantations for pulpwood and palm oil is generating more annual greenhouse gas emissions than the Netherlands, and is endangering local elephant and tiger populations. More >>>
[And we are the consumers, we are the ones driving this deforrestation, these extinctions. Editor]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

China to Open a “Coal-to-Oil Plant “Within Weeks”

February 20, 2008 ·

China has beaten the U.S. in getting a coal-to-liquid fuel plant built, thus taking the trophy for “most ingenious and efficient method of hastening global warming”. The resulting fuel could power all manner of vehicles — a technology developed in Nazi Germany during WWII.

It also happens to be one of the dirtiest, most environmentally destructive methods of producing energy yet. Coal-to-liquids essentially doubles CO2 emissions, and this at a time when we desperately need to reduce them. And, like nuclear plants, the coal-to-liquids process consumes vast amounts of water.
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Dubai will be underwater in 50 years, alerts Branson

“The Palm and the World projects will disappear underwater..”
18 November 2007

The Palm and the World projects in Dubai will disappear underwater in 50 years if the issue of climate change fails to be addressed by governments, Sir Richard Branson has warned delegates at day one of Leaders in Dubai.

"Over the next 50 years we will see the Palm projects and the World flooded by water and disappear if the issue of climate change is not addressed by global governments," the Virgin Group chairman said. "We are continuing to create this blanket of carbon that is getting thicker and thicker every year and which will ultimately heat up to such an extent that every fish will die and the earth will become uninhabitable." More >>>
Also see Global warming to change map of region forever

Monday, February 25, 2008

Formal opening of the Doomsday seed vault

Life in the cold store

This week sees the formal opening of a vault designed to protect and preserve samples of valuable seeds. The "Doomsday" vault in Svalbard can store more than four million batches of seeds, including the world's major crop varieties. BBC environment correspondent Sarah Mukherjee is in Svalbard for the opening. The major underground vault that has been under construction the last couple of years in the Arctic and that will preserve crops from all over the world in case of future natural or man-made disasters will officially open Tuesday. Dignitaries such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai will be present as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opens its doors to millions of seeds from almost every countr More >>>

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Global Warming, Up Close and Personal

You think you know climate change. You've seen An Inconvenient Truth. You've noticed the changing and warming weather patterns in your part of the world. You're beginning to suffer from acute ecoanxiety.
But to really see global warming in action, you'd need to travel to the Arctic, where climate change is already kicking into high gear.

Temperatures are increasing faster in the far north than they are in the more temperate zones in the world, and recent studies indicate that the North Pole could be underwater in the summer in less than 10 years. But seeing the Arctic firsthand isn't easy, unless you're handy with a dogsled — so Will Steger is going to take you there. More >>>

In March 2008, six emerging leaders, ages 21–28 from four countries, including the US, Norway, Great Britain and Canada, will join Will Steger on a 1,400 mile dogsled expedition across Ellesmere Island, in collaboration with National Geographic Society, the International Polar Year, Extreme Ice Survey and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

First biofuel flight touches down

The Boeing 747 was partly fuelled by coconut and Brazilian babassu
The first flight by a commercial airline to be powered partly by biofuel has landed in Amsterdam.

Billed by Virgin Atlantic as a green fuel breakthrough, the firm's flight from Heathrow did not carry passengers. Earlier this month, Airbus used the world's largest passenger jet, the A380, to test another alternative fuel - a synthetic mix of gas-to-liquid.
Many environmentalists argue that cultivating biofuel is not sustainable and will lead to reduced land for food. Virgin's Boeing 747 had one of its four engines connected to an independent biofuel tank that it said would provide 20% of the engine's power. More >>>

[I would suggest that the answer lies in the direction of initiatives like Branson’s and curtailing the rampant expansion of the air transport industry. Ed]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

UN: Climate Change, Over Fishing Endangers World Fish Stocks

Fish Perish as Climate Change Disrupts Ocean Systems

MONACO, February 22, 2008 (ENS) - Climate change is threatening the world's fish populations, already stressed by pollution, alien infestations and over-exploitation, warns a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP.

The worst impacts are concentrated in 10 to 15 percent of the oceans, a far greater area than previously believed. These locations are "concurrent with today's most important fishing grounds," the report documents, including the 7.5 percent of the oceans that are the most economically valuable fishing areas of the world.

The findings come in a rapid response report entitled "In Dead Water," which for the first time maps the multiple impacts of these stressors on the seas and oceans. More >>>

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chile government hands out water in major drought

What has happened to Chile's Water?

SANTA ROSA, Chile (Reuters) - Chile is suffering its worst drought in decades, and the government is handing out emergency drinking water along a quarter of the Andean nation's length as wells dry up.

Farmers in small towns in south-central Chile have lost crops and livestock in the drought blamed on the weather phenomenon La Nina.

Rainfall records show the semi-arid region got one of its lowest levels of precipitation in half a century, and some specialists say its been 80 years since the weather got so dry.

"For me this is the worst drought. We've had sort of dry years before, but there was always ground water," said 68-year-old Oscar Cerda, standing beside a dried out 20-foot (6 meter) well in Santa Rosa, a community 60 miles southwest of the capital Santiago. More >>>

Brazil Hosts Climate Change Forum

"Ambitious absolute emission reductions for developed countries" to fight climate change proposed.

February 20 2008

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Encouraged that all major U.S. presidential candidates vow to protect the environment, lawmakers from industrialized nations and big emerging economies met Wednesday to craft solutions to global warming and rising deforestation.
Scores of legislators and officials from China to Cameroon were considering approval of a document demanding "ambitious absolute emission reductions for developed countries" to fight climate change. Proposals in the draft document included a global carbon market in which nations would be able to trade and sell credits, sharp increases in funding for developing countries to reduce emissions and even a worldwide ban on incandescent light bulbs.

The document did not explicitly name the United States — the only major industrial nation to reject the relatively modest cuts of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
But most nations hope Washington will agree to deep and mandatory reductions in greenhouse emissions by a 2009 U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. More >>>

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Executives slow on climate change strategy

Very few senior executives have a strategy in place for dealing with climate change, despite the overwhelming view that it is a serious issue for business, a survey has found.

February 19 2008

Most top executives in the survey were not aware that the government had committed itself to a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The findings also showed half the corporate leaders thought the government was doing too little to educate business on how to tackle climate change.

Carried out by YouGovStone for KPMG, the study also found the number of executives who think climate change a significant issue rose sharply last year, from 52 per cent in May to 85 per cent six months later. More >>>

Saturday, February 16, 2008

China: Rich `culprits' on Climate Change

The whole world must take action to confront climate change

16 February 2008

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Negotiations on a new treaty to fight global warming will fail if rich nations are not treated as "culprits" and developing countries as "victims," China's top climate envoy said.

The whole world must take action to confront climate change, but developed countries have a "historical responsibility" to do much more because their unrestrained emissions in the past century are responsible for global warming, said Ambassador Yu Qingtai.

"The United States and the developed states as a whole are the countries that created the problem, caused the problem of climate change in the first place. In my view, that's what a culprit means," he said in an interview this week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly debate on climate change.

The United States and China are the world's biggest emitters of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Washington has argued it should not have to cut its emissions to a level that would hurt the U.S. economy while countries like China and India are not required to make similar cuts.

Yu disputed that view, calling China "a victim" of climate change and stressing that its economy only started to grow in the last 25 years. More >>>

Friday, February 15, 2008

CO2 sponges could scrub emissions clean

New new sponge-like substances to remove CO2

Sponges that soak up carbon dioxide could provide a new weapon in the battle against global warming. These materials hold promise as filters in power station flues and vehicle exhausts, capturing the gas before it can reach the atmosphere and affect the climate.

Researchers at the University of California synthesised a range of new sponge-like substances with pores just the right size to trap molecules of CO2. The most efficient of them can absorb 83 times its own volume of the gas.

Once the sponge is full, the gas could be stripped out for disposal in large, natural caverns deep underground or beneath the seabed. The sponge can be filled and emptied indefinitely, simply by varying the overhead pressure. More >>>

Thursday, February 14, 2008

General Assembly climate change debate ends with call for global cooperation

The three-day General Assembly debate on climate changed wrapped up yesterday with the body’s President issuing a call for increased global partnerships to tackle the issue.

14 February 2008 –
The event – entitled “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work” – was held at UN Headquarters in New York and included addresses by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; panels featuring media, government and business leaders; and plenary meetings featuring 115 delegates.
What is evident is “that the actions necessary to address climate change are so intertwined that they can only be tackled through combined efforts,” Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said in his closing remarks to the debate.

But despite the importance of partnerships, he underscored that individuals can also make a difference in the battle against global warming.
“Small contributions add up,” Mr. Kerim pointed out. “Many of our speakers made the case that we can all make a difference through simple changes to our daily behaviour.” More >>>

U.S. Moving Toward Ban on New Coal-Fired Power Plants

Coal plant licenses refused.

14 February 2008

In a report compiled in early 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy listed 151 coal-fired power plants in the planning stages and talked about a resurgence in coal-fired electricity. But during 2007, 59 proposed U.S. coal-fired power plants were either refused licenses by state governments or quietly abandoned. In addition to the 59 plants that were dropped, close to 50 more coal plants are being contested in the courts, and the remaining plants will likely be challenged as they reach the permitting stage.
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Florida's Largest Solar Power Array Dedicated in Sarasota

"The economic future of our state is linked to our maintaining its natural beauty," said the governor,"

, February 13, 2008 (ENS) - The newest and largest solar power facility in sunny Florida was switched on Monday at Rothenbach Park in Sarasota County. The site is located on a former landfill that was closed in 1998 and is owned by the county.

Governor Charlie Crist joined Florida Power & Light president Armando Olivera for the dedication ceremony of FPL's Sunshine Energy Solar Array.
"I am thankful for the leadership of the Sarasota County government and Florida Power and Light in partnering to provide alternative methods of powering our homes and businesses," Governor Crist said.

"The economic future of our state is linked to our maintaining its natural beauty," said the governor," and this solar power facility is an excellent example that other communities can work to achieve."

The array, the second-largest in the Southeast, consists of 1,200 solar photovoltaic panels mounted at ground level, covering more than 28,000 square feet, or about half the size of a football field.
The solar panels convert sunlight into electricity, producing 250 kilowatts of clean energy, enough energy to power 55 average homes. Operating them prevents the release of more than 654,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, says FPL. More >>>

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tiny Nations Seek Climate Help at UN

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The day's first word went to a tiny island nation with a big sinking feeling.

Leading off the U.N. General Assembly's second day of talks on climate change, Tuvalu issued a cry for help Tuesday on dealing with the impact of global warming on its 10,000 people, who live on nine low-lying coral atolls in the South Pacific being lapped at by rising seas.

"Adaptation is undoubtedly a crucial issue for an extremely vulnerable small, island nation like Tuvalu," said Tavau Teii, the deputy prime minister and environment chief.

"I only need to highlight the fact that our highest point above sea level is only four meters (a little over 13 feet) to emphasize our vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise," he said. "It is very clear that financial resources for adaptation are completely inadequate." More >>>

Monday, February 11, 2008

Farming Carbon as a Cash Crop

Plants conjure food out of thin air with help from water and sunshine …”

February 11 2008

Like most city dwellers, my knowledge of farming is embarrassingly limited. But a conference on agriculture and global warming has inspired me to dig deeper (pun intended) into things rural.

The speaker who grabbed my urban-oriented attention was American-born, U.K.-based Craig Sams, co-founder of Green and Black’s organic chocolate bars. His message was, well, grounding.

“When we talk about food and farming we are talking about carbon,” Sams pointed out. “The process by which food is made starts with carbon dioxide and nitrogen from the atmosphere and turns it into protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Plants conjure food out of thin air with help from water and sunshine …” More >>>

Saturday, February 9, 2008

California proposes a global-warming fee on businesses


In the first such program in California, and perhaps the United States, Bay Area air pollution regulators are proposing to charge an annual fee to thousands of businesses based on the amount of greenhouse gases they emit.

The fee - 4.2 cents per metric ton of carbon dioxide - would affect everything from oil refineries to power plants, and landfills, factories and small businesses like restaurants and bakeries.

The largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the Bay Area, the Shell oil refinery in Martinez, would pay $186,475 a year for its 4.4 million annual metric tons of emissions. The largest emitter in Santa Clara County, the Hanson Permanente Cement Plant in Cupertino, would pay $44,507 a year for its 1.05 million tons.

After years of voluntary measures, the fees, proposed this week by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, set a precedent as the first time that businesses and government agencies would face financial consequences for contributing to global warming. If successful, the fees could be copied all over the state and country, perhaps ultimately at much higher prices.

"The climate is changing, and we think that everybody needs to help with the solution and pay their fair share to reduce greenhouse gases," said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in San Francisco. More >>>

The quiet revolution: energy futures in Iran, the Gulf, and Israel

A transformation in energy policy will reshape the middle east's profile as a region defined by oil, says James Howarth.

7 - 02 - 2008

The middle east's ownership of two-thirds of the world's proven oil reserves means that its status as the world's leading energy supplier is hardly in doubt. Buta paradigm shift in how it fulfils this role may be around the corner. Don't be surprised if the region pioneers the switch from oil and gas to renewable energies.

From the outside, the middle east is often seen as an undifferentiated collection of greedy, unrepresentative governments conspiring to exploit powerless consumers with their lucrative energy reserves. The stereotype has had another boost in January 2008, when oil finally hit the symbolic $100-per-barrel mark. Even if the price has retreated since then, the strong and rising demand (particularly across Asia) means that the region's energy leverage is only going to get stronger.

Whatever the reasons for oil-price inflation - demand outpacing supply, refining capacity shortages, speculative investors and concerns over Gulf security being just some - the arrival of three-figure oil in 2008 may prove a watershed not only for global consumption but also for the middle east's role in solving humanity's addiction to fossil-fuels. More >>>

Friday, February 8, 2008

Trans-boundary cooperation on climate change urged

NEW DELHI, Feb 7: Pakistan’s Environment Minister Syed Wajid Hussain Bokhari, attending an international environment meeting here, invited India and the global community on Thursday to trans-boundary cooperation to fight climate change.

Speaking at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, Mr Bukhari said it offered a historical opportunity for the Asian and global leadership to take account of the efforts to identify bottlenecks and show a way forward.

“Pakistan also considers this an opportunity to get insight in looking at trans-boundary environment related issues all over the globe,” Mr Bukhari said. “We all carry the responsibility to make decisions which will ensure effective mitigation and adaptation of climate change while ensuring continued and sustainable development of all nations particularly that of the developing countries.”
He said Pakistan contributes 0.43% of the world emissions, but belongs to the category of regions that would be the worst hit by climate change.
He quoted Pakistani studies as saying the country will experience severe direct and indirect negative impacts of climate change.
“Climate change is causing irrevocable damages like glacier melting, reduction in crop yields; shortening of growing cycle of crops; increased evapo-transpiration; surge in insects, pests and disease among other consequences.” The indirect adverse effects may include water logging, salinity and desertification. More >>>

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

UN supports India's position on climate change

February 6 2008

NEW DELHI: The United Nations on Wednesday supported India's position on climate change and pulled up the United States for its failure to do enough to curb the green house gas (GHG) emissions.

"No, I don't think that the US is doing enough on either front to curb emissions. In that manner, not a single industrialised country is doing sufficient to tackle the climate change," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters in New Delhi.

He said that with only two years left for negotiations that will end in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 as decided by the recent Bali summit, there was a need for enhanced global cooperation particularly between developed and developing countries in tackling climate change.
More >>>

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Childhood‘s End: Watching our own destruction

Childhood’s End was the name of a novel by Arthur C. Clarke the great British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist and inventor of the geo-stationary communications satellite. I now feel that this is an appropiate name for the era we are now in. We are standing by like children watching the destruction of our home world. Editor.

Rain Forests Fall at ‘Alarming’ Rate
by Edward Harris

ABO EBAM, Nigeria — In the gloomy shade deep in Africa’s rain forest, the noontime silence was pierced by the whine of a far-off chain saw. It was the sound of destruction, echoed from wood to wood, continent to continent, in the tropical belt that circles the globe.0203 01From Brazil to central Africa to once-lush islands in Asia’s archipelagos, human encroachment is shrinking the world’s rain forests.

The alarm was sounded decades ago by environmentalists - and was little heeded. The picture, meanwhile, has changed: Africa is now a leader in destructiveness. The numbers have changed: U.N. specialists estimate 60 acres of tropical forest are felled worldwide every minute, up from 50 a generation back. And the fears have changed.

Experts still warn of extinction of animal and plant life, of the loss of forest peoples’ livelihoods, of soil erosion and other damage. But scientists today worry urgently about something else: the fateful feedback link of trees and climate.

Global warming is expected to dry up and kill off vast tracts of rain forest, and dying forests will feed global warming.

“If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change,” declared more than 300 scientists, conservation groups, religious leaders and others in an appeal for action at December’s climate conference in Bali, Indonesia. More >>>

Monday, February 4, 2008

Scientists identify 'tipping points' of climate change

5 February 2008

A major international investigation by dozens of leading climate scientists has found that the "tipping points" for all nine scenarios – such as the melting of the Arctic sea ice or the disappearance of the Amazon rainforest – could occur within the next 100 years.

The scientists warn that climate change is likely to result in sudden and dramatic changes to some of the major geophysical elements of the Earth if global average temperatures continue to rise as a result of the predicted increase in emissions of man-made greenhouse gases.

"Society may be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change. Our synthesis of present knowledge suggests that a variety of tipping elements could reach their critical point within this century under anthropogenic [man-made] climate change," they report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More >>>

UN: Mangrove Forests Vanishing at an "Alarming" Rate

ROME, Italy, February 3, 2008 (ENS) - The world has lost about 20 percent of its wetland mangrove forests since 1980, the United Nations said Thursday in a new report to mark World Wetlands Day, February 2. Mangroves are salt tolerant evergreen forests found along coastlines, lagoons, rivers or deltas in 124 tropical and subtropical countries and areas.

Environmental and economic damages caused by the "alarming" loss of mangroves in many countries should be urgently addressed, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, calling for better mangrove protection and management programs.
Heron rests in a mangrove forest in South Florida. (Photo courtesy USGS)
"Mangroves are important forested wetlands," said Wulf Killmann, director of FAO's Forest Products and Industry Division. "If deforestation of mangroves continues, it can lead to severe losses of biodiversity and livelihoods, in addition to salt intrusion in coastal areas and siltation of coral reefs, ports and shipping lanes. Tourism would also suffer."

"Countries need to engage in a more effective conservation and sustainable management of the world's mangroves and other wetland ecosystems," Killmann said. More >>>

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Former oil company exec takes on global warming

His message was simple: It's happening.

Friday February 01, 2008,

ANN ARBOR -- For the first 10 years or so that Steve Percy traveled around the country talking about climate change issues, his message was simple: It's happening.

Now, the former CEO of the oil company BP America has a slightly different message: Those people and companies who aren't working to combat climate change will be left behind.

"It's starting to manifest itself in what customers are asking for," he said. "If you're a business and not thinking about these things, likely your competitors are and (they) are going to beat you."

Percy was on a panel of politicians, scientists and business owners who gathered at the University of Michigan's Rackham Auditorium for a climate change solutions discussion. Several hundred community members and college students turned out for event.

It was hosted by Focus the Nation as one of over 1,600 events taking place across the country Thursday night to educate citizens about global warming and possible solutions. Founded in 2006 by Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., the grassroots, nonpartisan organization fosters discussion about how to mitigate climate change. More >>>

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Lord Turner to head UK climate change committee

Lord Turner to head UK climate change committee
29 January 2008

Lord Jonathan Adair Turner has been named as the first chairman of the new Committee on Climate Change, which will provide the UK government with independent, expert advice on how the country can best meet its climate change goals.

Lord Turner is a former director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and was vice chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe. He is currently chairman to the Economic and Social Research Council and is also currently a non-executive director of a number of business groups.

The committee is being established as a high-profile independent statutory body under the Climate Change Bill. It will be the first of its kind, bringing together different strands of expertise from the fields of climate science and policy, economic, business competitiveness and financial management. In addition to the chairman, five to eight committee members will be appointed. The committee will also review the UK's target to reduce Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by at least 60% by 2050 to determine whether the target should be increased up to 80%, as announced by the prime minister in 2007. More >>>

Friday, February 1, 2008

U.S. Lawmakers Urged to Lead Global Warming Battle

WASHINGTON, DC, February 1, 2008 (ENS) - The head of the United Nations scientific climate panel spoke with U.S. lawmakers Wednesday, encouraging them lead the world in cooling the overheated planet. "We really don't have a moment to lose," said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC.

The massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to avoid serious disruptions to Earth's climate system are impossible without U.S. leadership, Dr. Pachauri told members of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

"It is essential for the U.S. to take action," said Pachauri, who also spoke at a public briefing Wednesday afternoon convened by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

More >>>