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|Posted by email@example.com on June 17, 2014 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
CBC news, 10 June.
Christine Lagarde says don't wait for new targets, start carbon tax or other measures now.
"While Stephen Harper was congratulating Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott yesterday for ending a carbon tax, the head of the IMF was in Montreal urging energy powerhouses like Canada to come to grips with the economics of climate change.
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde urged economists and central bankers from around the world not to wait for the next round of climate change talks to take action to protect the environment.
All countries need to put mechanisms in place – whether a carbon tax or a cap and trade system – to pay for the effects of pollution, she said at the conference of the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal. She urged countries not to wait for a new round of talks on global warming, but to start building these costs into their economic systems now."
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 2, 2014 at 7:05 PM||comments (0)|
• New EPA rules spur prospects for deal to end climate change
• Climate groups welcome 'momentous development'
• Coal lobbyists say plans will create new US energy crisis
by Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, 2nd June 2014
The new rules represent the first time Obama has moved to regulate carbon pollution from power plants. Photograph: Matt Brown/AP
The Obama administration unveiled historic environment rules cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 30% on Monday, spurring prospects for a global deal to end climate change but setting up an epic battle over the environment in this year's mid-term elections.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 29, 2014 at 3:40 AM||comments (0)|
by Elizabeth Shogren, 2012, NPR
Gaby Petron didn't set out to challenge industry and government assumptions about how much pollution comes from natural gas drilling.
She was just doing what she always does as an air pollution data sleuth for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"I look for a story in the data," says Petron. "You give me a data set, I will study it back and forth and left and right for weeks, and I will find something to tell about it."
Petron saw high levels of methane in readings from a NOAA observation tower north of Denver. And through painstaking, on-the-ground detective work, she tied that pollution to the sprawling oil and gas fields in northeastern Colorado.
The story she stumbled into suggests that government may be far underestimating air pollution from natural gas production. Her measurements, which were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, suggest that methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is leaking at at least twice the rate reported by the industry.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 27, 2014 at 11:40 PM||comments (0)|
by George Monbiot, Guardian
It's the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity's undoing
Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.
Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It's 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.
To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 26, 2014 at 11:05 PM||comments (0)|
by Liz Gallagher, rtcc.org
Few announcements expected, but meeting offers opportunity to build relationships ahead of Ban Ki-moon summit
Coming off the back of the Abu Dhabi Ascent, and the jubilation at the recently announced agreement in the Green Climate Fund (GCF) meeting, Bonn looks to be just another stage post en route to Paris in 2015.
But the Bonn intercessional this June is more than just a normal negotiation. Ministers have no sooner disembarked from their transportation out of the luxury oasis of the desert, to step back in it to reach the not so glamorous Maritim Hotel, Bonn.
The unusual suspects at the intercessional are the result of strong calls by the most vulnerable countries for Ministerial engagement to focus on raising ambition from now until 2020.
What this means in practice is two Ministerials: one for those who already have existing commitments through the Kyoto Protocol to provide details on how they could increase ambition; and one for everyone to demonstrate what actions they are taking pre-2020.
It is unlikely that this short window of opportunity will result in new announcements to increase pledges before 2020.
After all, the Climate Summit hosted by Ban Ki-moon is where Heads of State will come with ‘bold’ pledges; they’re not going to let their subordinates steal their thunder by announcing in June.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 26, 2014 at 9:15 PM||comments (0)|
Press Release No 991, 26 May
Geneva, 26 May 2014 (WMO) - For the first time, monthly concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere topped 400 parts per million (ppm) in April throughout the northern hemisphere. This threshold is of symbolic and scientific significance and reinforces evidence that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are responsible for the continuing increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases warming our planet.
All the northern hemisphere monitoring stations forming the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch network reported record atmospheric CO2 concentrations during the seasonal maximum. This occurs early in the northern hemisphere spring before vegetation growth absorbs CO2.
Whilst the spring maximum values in the northern hemisphere have already crossed the 400 ppm level, the global annual average CO2 concentration is set to cross this threshold in 2015 or 2016.
“This should serve as yet another wakeup call about the constantly rising levels of greenhouse gases which are driving climate change. If we are to preserve our planet for future generations, we need urgent action to curb new emissions of these heat trapping gases,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “Time is running out.”
CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Its lifespan in the oceans is even longer. It is the single most important greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. It was responsible for 85% of the increase in radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate - over the decade 2002-2012.
Between 1990 and 2013 there was a 34% increase in radiative forcing because of greenhouse gases, according to the latest figures from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
According to WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 393.1 parts per million in 2012, or 141% of the pre-industrial level of 278 parts per million. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased on average by 2 parts per million per year for the past 10 years.
Since 2012, all monitoring stations in the Arctic have recorded average monthly CO2 concentrations in spring above 400 ppm, according to data received from Global Atmosphere Watch stations in Canada, the United States of America, Norway and Finland.
This trend has now spread to observing stations at lower latitudes. WMO’s global observing stations in Cape Verde, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Spain (Tenerife) and Switzerland all reported monthly mean concentrations above 400 ppm in both March and April.
In April, the monthly mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed 401.3 at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, according to NOAA. In 2013 this threshold was only passed on a couple of days. Mauna Loa is the oldest continuous CO2 atmospheric measurement station in the world (since 1958) and so is widely regarded as a benchmark site in the Global Atmosphere Watch.
The northern hemisphere has more anthropogenic sources of CO2 than the southern hemisphere. The biosphere also controls the seasonal cycle. The seasonal minimum of CO2 is in summer, when substantial uptake by plants takes place. The winter-spring peak is due to the lack of biospheric uptake, and increased sources related to decomposition of organic material, as well as anthropogenic emissions. The most pronounced seasonal cycle is therefore in the far north.
The WMO Global Atmosphere Watch coordinates observations of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases like methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere to ensure that measurements around the world are standardized and can be compared to each other. The network spans more than 50 countries including stations high in the Alps, Andes and Himalayas, as well as in the Arctic, Antarctic and in the far South Pacific. All stations are situated in unpolluted locations, although some are more influenced by the biosphere and anthropogenic sources (linked to human activities) than others.
The monthly mean concentrations are calculated on the basis of continuous measurements. There are about 130 stations that measure CO2 worldwide.
|Posted by email@example.com on May 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM||comments (0)|
Reuters, 26 May
A spreading Alaskan wildfire has forced the evacuation of about 1,000 buildings but firefighters have gained ground by containing about 30 percent of the wind-driven blaze, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said on Monday.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 24, 2014 at 11:30 PM||comments (0)|
Statement of the Joint PAS/PASS Workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility
Stabilizing the Climate and Giving Energy Access to All with an Inclusive Economy
Humanity has entered a new era. Our technological prowess has brought humanity to a crossroads. We are the inheritors of two centuries of remarkable waves of technological change: steam power, railroads, the telegraph, electrification, automotive transport, aviation, industrial chemistry, modern medicine, computing, and now the digital revolution, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. These advances have reshaped the world economy into one that is increasingly urban and globally connected, but also more and more unequal.
However, just as humanity confronted “Revolutionary Change” (Rerum Novarum) in the Age of Industrialization in the 19th century, today we have changed our natural environment to such an extent that scientists are redefining the current period as the Age of the Anthropocene, that is to say an age when human action, through the use of fossil fuels, is having a decisive impact on the planet. If current trends continue, this century will witness unprecedented climate changes and ecosystem destruction that will severely impact us all.
Human action which is not respectful of nature becomes a boomerang for human beings that creates inequality and extends what Pope Francis has termed “the globalization of indifference” and the “economy of exclusion” (Evangelii Gaudium), which themselves endanger solidarity with present and future generations.
The advances in measured productivity in all sectors – agriculture, industry and services – enable us to envision the end of poverty, the sharing of prosperity, and the further extensions of life spans. However, unfair social structures (Evangelii Gaudium) have become obstacles to an appropriate and sustainable organization of production and a fair distribution of its fruits, which are both necessary to achieve those goals. Humanity’s relationship with nature is riddled with unaccounted for consequences of the actions each of us take for both present and future generations. Socio-environmental processes are not self-correcting. Market forces alone, bereft of ethics and collective action, cannot solve the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment. However, the failure of the market has been accompanied by the failure of institutions, which have not always aimed at the common good.
Problems have been exacerbated by the fact that economic activity is currently measured solely in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and therefore does not record the degradation of Earth that accompanies it nor the abject inequalities between countries and within each country. The growth in GDP has been accompanied by unacceptable gaps between the rich and the poor, who still have no access to most of the advancement of the Era. For example, about fifty-percent of available energy is accessed by just one billion people, yet the negative impacts on the environment are being felt by the three billion who have no access to that energy. Three billion have so little access to modern energy that they are forced to cook, heat and light their homes with methods dangerous to their health.
The massive fossil fuel use at the heart of the global energy system deeply disrupts the Earth’s climate and acidifies the world’s oceans. The warming and associated extreme weather will reach unprecedented levels in our children’s life times and 40% of the world’s poor, who have a minimal role in generating global pollution, are likely to suffer the most. Industrial-scale agricultural practices are transforming landscapes around the world, disrupting ecosystems and threatening the diversity and survival of species on a planetary scale. Yet even with the unprecedented scale and intensity of land use, food insecurity still stalks the planet, with one billion people suffering from chronic hunger and another billion or so suffering from the hidden hunger of micronutrient deficiencies. Tragically, a third of the produced food is wasted, which as Pope Francis said is “like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry”.
In view of the persistence of poverty, the widening of economic and social inequalities, and the continued destruction of the environment, the world’s governments called for the adoption by 2015 of new universal goals, to be called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to guide planetary-scale actions after 2015. To achieve these goals will require global cooperation, technological innovations that are within reach, and supportive economic and social policies at the national and regional levels, such as the taxation and regulation of environmental abuses, limits to the enormous power of transnational corporations and a fair redistribution of wealth. It has become abundantly clear that Humanity’s relationship with Nature needs to be undertaken by cooperative, collective action at all levels – local, regional, and global.
The technological and operational bases for a true sustainable development are available or within reach. Extreme poverty can be ended through targeted investments in sustainable energy access, education, health, housing, social infrastructure and livelihoods for the poor. Social inequalities can be reduced through the defense of human rights, the rule of law, participatory democracy, universal access to public services, the recognition of personal dignity, a significant improvement in the effectiveness of fiscal and social policies, an ethical finance reform, large scale decent work creation policies, integration of the informal and popular economic sectors, and national and international collaboration to eradicate the new forms of slavery such as forced labor and sexual exploitation. Energy systems can be made much more efficient and much less dependent on coal, petrol and natural gas to avoid climate change, protect the oceans, and clean the air of coal-based pollutants. Food production can be made far more fruitful and less wasteful of land and water, more respectful of peasants and indigenous people and less polluting. Food wastage can be cut significantly, with both social and ecological benefits.
Perhaps the greatest challenge lies in the sphere of human values. The main obstacles to achieving sustainability and human inclusion are inequality, unfairness, corruption and human trafficking. Our economies, our democracies, our societies and our cultures pay a high price for the growing gap between the rich and the poor within and between nations. And perhaps the most deleterious aspect of the widening income and wealth gap in so many countries is that it is deepening inequality of opportunity. Most importantly, inequality, global injustice, and corruption are undermining our ethical values, personal dignity and human rights. We need, above all, to change our convictions and attitudes, and combat the globalization of indifference with its culture of waste and idolatry of money. We should insist upon the preferential option for the poor; strengthen the family and community; and honor and protect Creation as humanity’s imperative responsibility to future generations. We have the innovative and technological capability to be good stewards of Creation. Humanity needs urgently to redirect our relationship with nature by adopting the Sustainable Development Goals so as to promote a sustainable pattern of economic development and social inclusion. A human ecology that is healthy in terms of ethical virtues contributes to the achievement of sustainable nature and a balanced environment. Today we need a relationship of mutual benefit: true values should permeate the economy and respect for Creation should promote human dignity and wellbeing.These are matters on which all religions and individuals of goodwill can agree.
These are matters that today’s young people around the world will embrace, as a way to shape a better world. Our message is one of urgent warning, for the dangers of the Anthropocene are real and the injustice of globalization of indifference is serious. Yet our message is also one of hope and joy. A healthier, safer, more just, more prosperous, and sustainable world is within reach. The believers among us ask the Lord to give us all our daily bread, which is food for the body and the spirit.
PASS President Prof. Margaret Archer
Prof. Vanderlei S. Bagnato
Prof. Antonio M. Battro
Dr. Lorenzo Borghese
Prof. María Verónica Brasesco
Prof. Joachim von Braun
Prof. Edith Brown Weiss
Dr. Pablo Canziani
Prof. Paul Crutzen
Prof. Sir Partha Dasgupta
Prof. Gretchen Daily
Prof. Pierpaolo Donati
Prof. Gérard-François Dumont
Prof. Ombretta Fumagalli Carulli
Prof. Allen Hertzke
Prof. Vittorio Hösle
Prof. Daniel Kammen
Prof. Charles Kennel
Dr. Anil Kulkarni
Prof. Yuan T. Lee
Prof. Pierre Léna
Prof. M. Ramón Llamas
Prof. Karl-Göran Mäler
Dr. Marcia McNutt
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mittelstrass
Prof. Walter Munk
Prof. Naomi Oreskes
Dr. Janice Perlman
Prof. Vittorio Possenti
Prof. Ingo Potrykus
Prof. V. Ramanathan
Prof. Sir Martin J. Rees
Dr. Daniel Richter
Prof. Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe
Prof. Louis Sabourin
Prof. Jeffrey Sachs
Msgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo
Prof. Bob Scholes
Prof. Hanna Suchocka
Prof. Govind Swarup
Msgr. Mario Toso
Prof. Rafael Vicuña
Prof. Peter Wadhams
Prof. Dr. Hans F. Zacher
Prof. Stefano Zamagni
|Posted by email@example.com on May 24, 2014 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility
Joint Workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 2-6 May 2014
What is the status of the Human Person in a world where science predominates? How should we perceive Nature and what is a good relationship between Humanity and Nature? Should one expect the global economic growth that has been experienced over the past six decades to continue for the foreseeable future? Should we be confident that knowledge and skills will increase in such ways as to lessen Humanity's reliance on Nature despite our increasing economic activity and growing numbers? Is the growing gap between the world's rich and world's poor in their reliance on natural resources a consequence of those growths?
Contemporary discussions on the questions are now several decades old. If they have remained alive and are frequently shrill, it is because two opposing empirical perspectives shape them. On the one hand, if we look at specific examples of what one may call natural capital, there is convincing evidence that at the rates at which we currently exploit them, they are very likely to change character dramatically with little advance notice. The melting of glaciers and sea-ice are recent symptoms. On the other hand, if we study trends in food consumption, life expectancy, and recorded incomes in regions that are currently rich and in those that are on the way to becoming rich, resource scarcities wouldn't appear to have bitten so far.
"Environmental problems" and "future prospects" present themselves in different ways to different people. Some identify environmental problems with population growth, while others identify them with wrong sorts of economic growth. There are those who see environmental problems as urban pollution in emerging economies, while others view them through the spectacle of poverty in the world's poorest countries. Some allude to "sustainable development" only when considering economic development in the global economy, while others see it in terms of the development prospects of villages in sub-Saharan Africa. Each of the visions is correct. We know that what begins as urban pollution becomes layers of atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs), containing black carbon particles and ozone, that annually destroy some 2 million lives and over 100 million tons of crops, disrupts the Monsoon circulation and contribute to the melting of arctic ice and the Himalayan snow. There is no single environmental problem, there is a large collection of interrelated problems. Some are presenting themselves today, while others are threats to the future. Although growth in industrial and agricultural pollutants has accompanied economic development, neither preventive nor curative measures have kept pace with their production in industrialized countries. That neglect is now prominent in the rapidly growing regions in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). Moreover, the scale of the human enterprise has so stretched the capabilities of ecosystems, that Humanity is today Earth's dominant species. During the 20th century world population grew by a factor of four (to more than 6 billion) and world output by 14, industrial output increased by a multiple of 40 and the use of energy by 16, methane-producing cattle population grew in pace with human population, fish catch increased by a multiple of 35, and carbon and sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 10. It is not without cause that our current era has been named the Anthropocene.
On the other hand, economic growth has brought with it improvements in the quality of a number of environmental resources. The large-scale availability of potable water and the increased protection of human populations against both water- and air-borne diseases in advanced industrial countries have come allied to the economic growth those countries have enjoyed over the past 200 years. Increases in scientific knowledge, investment in public infrastructure, and universal education in advanced industrial countries have meant that citizens there have far greater knowledge of environmental hazards than their counterparts in poor regions. They also have resources to avoid them.
Many people are convinced that scientific and technological advances, the accumulation of reproducible capital, growth in human capital, and improvements in the economy's institutions can overcome diminutions in natural capital. Otherwise it is hard to explain why so much of the social sciences in the 20th century has been detached from the environmental sciences. Nature is all too often seen as a backdrop from which resources and services can be drawn in isolation. Macroeconomic forecasts routinely exclude natural capital. Accounting for Nature, if it comes into the calculus at all, is usually an afterthought. The rhetoric has been so successful, that if someone exclaims, "Economic growth!", one does not need to ask, "Growth in what?" – we all know they mean growth in gross domestic product (GDP). The rogue word in GDP is "gross". GDP, being the market value of all final goods and services, ignores the degradation of natural capital. If fish harvests rise, GDP increases even if the stock declines. If logging intensifies, GDP increases even if the forests are denuded. And so on. The moral is significant though banal: GDP is impervious to Nature's constraints. There should be no question that Humanity needs urgently to redirect our relationship with Nature so as to promote a sustainable pattern of economic and social development.A Proposal
Rio+20 Summit on biodiversity preservation was convened to provide a resolution to the problems Humanity faces in our interchanges with Nature. In practical terms though, it is widely acknowledged to have been a failure.
Looking through its programme it is hard to detect an overarching intellectual framework that was used to identify Nature's constraints. The lacuna was inevitable. There was no collective endeavour among natural and social scientists. That is why we are proposing a joint PAS-PASS workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature.
Our idea is not to catalogue environmental problems. We propose instead to view Humanity's interchanges with Nature through a triplet of fundamental, but inter-related Human needs – Food, Health, and Energy – and ask our respective Academies to work together to invite experts from the natural and the social sciences to speak of the various pathways that both serve those needs and reveal constraints on Nature's ability to meet them.
P.S. Dasgupta, V. Ramanathan, R. Minnerath
Margaret S. Archer
Joachim von Braun
Edith Brown Weiss
Paul J. Crutzen
Partha S. Dasgupta
Mary Ann Glendon
Yuan Tse Lee
Juan J. Llach
Source: Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences - http://www.casinapioiv.va/content/accademia/en/events/2014/sustainable.html
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 24, 2014 at 11:10 PM||comments (0)|
Jane C. Timm, MNSBC, 22 May 2014
Pope Francis made the biblical case for mitigating the effects of climate change, speaking to a massive crowd in Rome.
In his brief speech, Francis issued a dire warning about the effects of climate change.
“Safeguard Creation,” he said, according to Think Progress, “because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said.
In the address, the Pope said destroying the Earth is a sin.
“But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”
The remarks come at the end of a six-day conference on climate change and sustainability at the Vatican, where scientists, economists, philosophers, and legal scholars met to discuss what the Church could do to address the issues caused by climate change. The Catholic Church has a long history of activism on behalf of the environment and Francis appears to be upping those efforts.
The remarks are the latest in a stream of liberal statements by Francis, who famously said “who am I to judge?” about a gay priest and recently argued for wealth redistribution.