Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, with his vice president and 11 cabinet ministers ventured 4 meters below to hold the world's first underwater cabinet meeting, pushing for stronger climate change agreements ahead of Copenhagen talks. (Photo via AP)

As the presses spent months tracking the path to Denmark, the story sparkled, then faded, then sort of turned into a pessimistic non-story, but now that it’s arrived there’s lots to tune into so to hell with it! Towering and wide, the to-do list in Copenhagen is overwhelming the news, and making the world’s cheers and jeers, both loud, sound like silence in this waiting game for climate change.

This week world leaders gathered to kick off the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, to catalyze what some have called “a historic turning point in the fight against climate change.” The goals: a global consensus on a binding economic treaty designed to circle back on the Kyoto Protocol, slashing levels of hazardous emissions, protecting forests, and taking more steps toward drastically slowing the effects of global warming over the next 50 years.  Still, with 100 national leaders converging under the roof of Copenhagen’s Bella Center, tensions over the permanence of the treaty, various histories of “environmental abuse,” politics, time, and the magnitude of the Great Threat are growing ever palpable.

Talks surrounding this summit have called for a myriad issues to be addressed. A bloc of 43 smaller nations are congruent in their demands for binding legal climate agreements among the UN. Much of the developing world is calling on rich states to help them finance cleaner energy, which is more expensive than the cheap stuff that built the West. The global market for carbon credits, attempting to hold individual countries responsible for emissions regulation, is another major issue. China has been the chief beneficiary of the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), built under the Kyoto Protocol to set up a system of credits which can be sold and traded, and used by companies to offset their emissions. But its leaders now render the system an impractical means to a deadline-based end.

Time constraints have the potential to dilute the crafting of a careful, tactical, cohesive plan. The already thick Conference docket was thrown a curve-ball a few weeks ago, as an unknown individual surfaced controversial e-mails from a hacked server at the Climactic Research Center in Norwich, England. The e-mails, written by global warming experts, and now widely published on the internet, could easily indicate “that data was inaccurate or fudged, and some seemed to imply collusion about who and what was posted about global warming in peer-reviewed journals.”  Since the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change depends on temperature information from the CRC, the UN announced last week that their climate change scientists will investigate and address the e-mails, in a fiasco that got dubbed “Climategate” at the Climate Change Conference.

Then, Obama decided to show up for the part of the summit that’s actually important, and China had to go and shame the world’s other rapidly developing economies with that impossible! proposal to cut its 2005 carbon emissions almost in half by 2020.

Leave it to the presses. They’re waiting, too.

As are we. Latest find:

Reuters’ Environment forum — a question a day answered by climate experts.

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crippling-sign

Addressing coal mining's crippling effects

This month has seen arrests and demonstrations across the country in protest of mountain top removal. From zombie protests in San Francisco to peaceful sit-ins in DC, groups are applying pressure to the Obama administration to end a practice that has eaten away at the fabric of Appalachian life.

Mountaintop removal is the coal mining practice of removing the tops of mountains to reveal coal seams within. The remaining sludge is dumped into valleys- “valley fills.”

The Environmental Protection Agency admits that this practice causes considerable environmental damage, especially to water supplies, which become polluted with toxic minerals or can be covered entirely. Ingesting this tainted water damages internal organs. Other effects include the destruction of flora and fauna and “social, economic and heritage issues,” according to the EPA.

In Quarrier, West Virginia, 8 activists with the group Climate Ground Zero chained themselves outside a coal mine in protest. They are currently being held on $16,000 cash bail. In New York, protestors demonstrated outside of JPMorgan Chase, the largest Wall Street financer of coal company Massey Energy, in an effort to stop Massey from destroying Coal River Mountain, possibly the last preserved swathes of land in West Virginia.

In the last year the EPA has halted permits for mountaintop removal, or put them under review. Coal companies claim the technique has not proven harmful, that the EPA has not been transparent, and that the loss of permits could cut thousands of jobs. A special report from Clean Skies News takes a look.

Expect there to be more demonstrations as coal state politicians like West Virginia Senators Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller work to decide the fate of climate change in America. Today, climate legislation passed through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Democrats used their majority to break through a Republican boycott. The legislation  requires U.S. industry to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro ice fields are melting at an extraordinary rate, cites a report released in the  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.  The summit, which draws nearly 40,000 tourists to Tanzania each year, is projected to be iceless by 2020.  Researchers debate the cause of rapid rises in temperature, although global warming and deforestation at the mountain base are likely culprits.

CSM excavates the possibilities in its overview. Or, dig into the full study.

APTOPIX Pakistan Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chats with Pakistani tribal people during her meeting with them in Islamabad, Pakistan on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. Clinton came face-to-face Friday with Pakistani anger over U.S. aerial drone attacks in tribal areas along the Afghan border, a strategy that U.S. officials say has succeeded in killing key terrorist leaders. (AP Photo/Irfan Mahmood)

Finally, European leaders passed an agreement in Brussels making it possible for Czech leaders to sign the Lisbon Treaty, which aims to widen the power bloc’s presence on the world stage. They passed a measure that would allow the Czech Republic to opt out of the EUs Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Czechs, along with the Irish and Poles, were some of the final holdouts in terms of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. Now that the EU will officially expand, the debate on who will lead it is intensifying. Tony Blair was considered a shoo-in for president, but as time passes that no longer seems so clear. French and German leaders believe the EU President should be from a center-right coalition, which would reflect most of the governments in the EU. Others are concerned he’s too close to the past.

“Now in the United States, Obama is the president, it is no more Mr Bush. We have a new treaty, we have to reset Europe and we need to start with some new ideas. There is and will remain a link for the next generation between Iraq, Bush and Tony Blair.”  — Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn [Bloomberg]

Also at the Brussels summit, EU leaders set a target for funding climate change, agreeing it would cost 100 billion euros a year to fight global warming. The deal has drawn some criticism, but leaders seem hopeful. The U.K’s Gordon Brown said “We were aware that if the European Union did not come together to solve some of the impasses, the possibility of a deal at the Copenhagen summit would be a lot less likely…The EU is leading the way with bold proposals – do not allow years to go by without action.” Poorer countries, especially East Europe’s former communist bloc, insist that the financial burden be proportional with what each country can bear, while environmental groups insist the deal does not do enough. “[The EU] failed to use this opportunity to put its money where its mouth is,” said Joris den Blanken of Greenpeace.  There were also few specifics attached to the agreement, other than the 5-7 billion euros richer countries have pledged to begin taking action. Other details are to be worked out in an EU committee.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that the U.S. economy has the capacity to weather the storm blowing in the commercial real estate market: “You can say now with confidence that the financial system is stable, the economy is stabilized,” Geithner said. “You can see the first signs of growth here and around the world.” The numbers, however, are daunting. In the third quarter the cost of leasing space dropped 8.5% last year, which is the most dramatic drop since the 90s. Companies have also let go of 20 million square feet of space in the third quarter.

Wednesday’s bombings in a Peshawar Pakistan marketplace left more than 100 dead. While the U.S. and Paskistani governments looked to the usual suspects to take the blame, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has fingered private security firm Blackwater as the culprit. In an interview with BBC Urdu, Mehsud and his spokesman claimed the U.S. was attempting to “defame” the Taliban, who he says is successfully defeating the Paskistani army in South Waziristan.

A recent poll showed that former French Prime Minister Jacque Chirac is the most famous politician in the country, but that may not stop him from facing prosecution for corruption during his tenure as Mayor of Paris. Specifically, Chirac is alleged to have paid over 20 employees in his administration for doing jobs that did not exist. Xaviere Simeoni, the investigating magistrate, also dropped charges that Chirac had forged government documents. There are nine other individuals charged in this suit, including Jean de Gaulle, grandson of former president Charles de Gaulle.  (Al Jazeera ENG)

The Hondurans have a deal. Ousted President Manuel Zalaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti have signed an agreement to share power until November 29th when Presidential elections will take place. The election date included in the deal, as well as the forming of a “Truth Commission” to investigate this ordeal, were suggested in the first round of peace talks headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and the Organization of American States. However, those talks fell through, and on October 23rd Zelaya still opposed elections.

“To have an electoral process under these circumstances is almost the same as elections in Afghanistan under blood and fire…

The Hondurans, the Central American people and Americas do not want a democracy with violence.”

Blood, fire, mañana. Conditions changed because Micheletti agreed to allow Zelaya to return to power, pending a decision by the Honduran Supreme Court, in the interim between now and the Presidential election.

Don’t get too comfortable. After yesterday’s impressive rally on the news of the U.S.’s expanding GDP, the stock market has taken a tumble in response to a drop in consumer spending and confidence. Continued job losses and idle incomes kept Americans away from the mall as spending decreased 0.5% in September after a 1.4% jump in August.

“The stock market got a little tired after a rally of that magnitude yesterday,” said Malcolm Polley, chief investment officer at Stewart Capital Advisors in Indiana, Pennsylvania, which manages $1 billion. “Third-quarter GDP numbers were good, the worst is behind us, but consumer spending is not sustainable yet. Valuations are probably ahead of where they should be.”

Meanwhile, the dollar and yen have risen. Analysts fear this may be because other countries are beginning to scale back on recession efforts to stimulate their economies.

ICANN — the org that coordinates the world’s internet traffic — approved plans to let web domains be written in non-Latin characters, the “biggest technical change” to the web since its invention four decades ago. The change would further globalize the ever-expanding internet landscape, allowing regions around the globe to use their own local alphabet characters to surf more… fairly?

Staff

use this opportunity to put its money where its mouth is

Economist coverage of East Africa’s looming flood catastrophe. As of now, the region has too little rain. It will soon have too much. On all fronts.

Global warming — a really, really bad climate for development.

Chicago out of the running for 2016 Olympics. Honestly though, wouldn’t you rather go to Rio? [Guardian]

Rio wins bid, Tweeters freak.

Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg tells those with crackberry addictions to “get a life.” (video) [NY Daily News]

Talks between Iran and European officials went well yesterday. Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, stated that Iran will never give up “absolute rights” to proceed with its atomic program, but that it would allow inspectors into Qom, their second nuclear site, in the next two weeks. [AlJazeera ENG]

GE and Comcast are discussing splitting NBC Universal. GE owns 80% of NBCU but would cede a controlling interest of 51% to Comcast in the merger. The motivation here? Besides the fact that NBCU is fourth among major TV networks, GE also wants to raise capital to expand into emerging markets. [Reuters]

Today Irish voters will go to polls to decide on the Lisbon Treaty, which would streamline and strengthen the European Union. Irish voters have rejected the Treaty once before and remain the only EU holdouts along with the Czech Republic and Poland. [France24]

The U.S. Unemployment rate jumped to 9.8% in September, the highest its been in 26 years.  [NPR]

The NY Post reports that former Merrill Lynch head John Thain feels vindicated by Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis’ resignation. Thain helped to orchestrate the sale of ML to BofA but has since been taken off center stage.  [NY Post]

Gregor Robertson, the Mayor of Vancouver, is negotiating with California Governor Arnold Schwazenegger to create “low-carbon economic development zones” to create a market for green energy technology.  [Vancouver Sun]
Chicago out of the running for 2016 Olympics. Honestly though, wouldn’t you rather go to Rio? [Guardian]

Rio wins bid, Tweeters freak.

Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg tells those with crackberry addictions to “get a life.” (video) [NY Daily News]

Talks between Iran and European officials went well yesterday. Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, stated that Iran will never give up “absolute rights” to proceed with its atomic program, but that it would allow inspectors into Qom, their second nuclear site, in the next two weeks. [AlJazeera ENG]

GE and Comcast are discussing splitting NBC Universal. GE owns 80% of NBCU but would cede a controlling interest of 51% to Comcast in the merger. The motivation here? Besides the fact that NBCU is fourth among major TV networks, GE also wants to raise capital to expand into emerging markets. [Reuters]

Today Irish voters will go to polls to decide on the Lisbon Treaty, which would streamline and strengthen the European Union. Irish voters have rejected the Treaty once before and remain the only EU holdouts along with the Czech Republic and Poland. [France24]

The U.S. Unemployment rate jumped to 9.8% in September, the highest its been in 26 years.  [NPR]

The NY Post reports that former Merrill Lynch head John Thain feels vindicated by Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis’ resignation. Thain helped to orchestrate the sale of ML to BofA but has since been taken off center stage.  [NY Post]

Gregor Robertson, the Mayor of Vancouver, is negotiating with California Governor Arnold Schwazenegger to create “low-carbon economic development zones” to create a market for green energy technology.  [Vancouver Sun]

Iran says it has a new nuclear enrichment facility. Whoop-dee-doo. (Al Jazeera)

And to be clear, peep the world’s official nuclear powers: U.S., Russia, France, Britain and China. Then there are those other (self?-) declared ones: North Korea, India, Pakistan. Then the stealthily unofficial: Israel, and Iran. (Reuters)

Hamas has been having problems consolidating its power in Gaza since the most recent Israeli Invasion. What does this mean for Palestinians? (Foreign Affairs)

Somali pirates took another ship off the coast of Mogadishu. (BBC)

India’s first lunar mission data uncovers water in moon soils. For shame, NASA. (Bloomberg)

The Economist is not impressed with world leaders at New York’s climate change meeting. (Economist)

Yesterday, Eric Cantor (R-VA) defended his callous treatment of a constituent with a sick relative. I mean, telling her to find a charity or like, “an existing government program” is totally sympathetic or whatever, right? (TPM)

US Ambasador to Russia says the “heavily edited video” of his second secretary with Russian prostitutes is a fake effort to “smear him in the eyes of his contacts.”  The old Russian editing tactic is nothing new… (Moscow Times)

Thanks Hipsters! Brooklyn’s economy is fairing better than the rest of New York City’s. (Crain’s)

Staff

U.S. military says more troops needed in Afghanistan, or “failure.” (WaPo)

Shadowed by the West’s presence in the country, Afghan women see tougher times ahead — even with a fallen Taliban. (Al Jazeera)

Obama will switch gears from healthcare to climate change before the U.N. today, and at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh later in the week. Deep breath. (Los Angeles Times)

Meanwhile, the president tackles another ambitious front: deep cuts in the U.S.’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. (Guardian)

New York Governor Paterson plans to run in 2010, despite popularity concerns from the White House and, erm, everyone else. (Bloomberg)

CLIMATE WATCH: Scientists warn that most of the world’s river deltas — like the Colorado, Nile, Pearl, Rhone and Yangtze — are seen sinking over the next 40 years, threatening millions of lives. (BBC)

To further complicate things, oil giant Total warns that the economic downturn may lead to global oil shortages due to a lack of investment in reserves. (BBC)