Environment Forum

Flood drowns Taipei in cinematic wake-up call

American sci-fi blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow warned global audiences about climate change as it showed New York smothered by ice as temperatures plunged worldwide.  But the 2004 movie evidently made little impact on growth-crazy Asia, which has gone ahead spewing pollutants without imagining risks that they might disrupt the climate.

This year a group of filmmakers in newly modernised, consumption-happy Taiwan is going to the densely populated western Pacific island’s public with an hour-long alarmist movie showing the world’s second-tallest building Taipei 101 as an island in a flood that has drowned the capital after a reservoir collapses in a freak super-strength typhoon.

The free film with an obvious mission titled “Plus or Minus 2 Degrees Celsius” began showing in late February, reaching at least 11,000 people so far and with dates to screen for more audiences later in the year.

 It also shows footage from snowstorms, droughts and other real natural disasters around Asia to rub in its point, which has set off critical debate among Taiwan academics.

“A lot of people know about climate change but don’t understand what its impact would be,” said Lu Yu-rou, media specialist with film promoter the Taipei-based Plus or Minus 2 Degrees Campaign Alliance. And after watching the film? “A lot of people actually think it’s pretty shocking. They never expected that such as severe situation could develop.”

from UK News:

Are you losing faith in climate science?

climatechangeWhile attending a meeting of prominent climate sceptics during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (an anti-COP15, if you will), I listened to each of the speakers put forward their theory on why conventional evidence on the primary causes of climate change should be dismissed as, for lack of a better phrase, complete hokum.

Among their denunciations of widely-accepted truths regarding global warming, greenhouse gases, melting glaciers and rising sea levels was the assertion that a change in attitude was afoot; the public may have been duped into believing the mainstream scientific assessment of climate change, but not for long.

There was something in the air, the sceptics said, and soon people would begin to question their trust in the majority view.

from Tales from the Trail:

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it's cold in Washington. It's really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It's hard to recall that long-ago moment -- what was it, six days ago? -- when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it's winter doesn't mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle'," Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There's a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called "Short term cooling on a warming planet." The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

SEC wants climate risks disclosed


– Kathy Nieland is U.S. Sustainability and Climate Change leader for global accounting and advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also serves on the independent, not-for-profit Carbon Disclosure Project. The views expressed are her own. –

If you think the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new interpretative guidance on disclosing the risks of climate change applies only to big polluters, think again.

The guidance is evidence that the SEC views climate change as among the potential business risks that companies should evaluate and disclose.

Delivering coup-de-grace to cap and trade

kempJohn Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own.

President Barack Obama read the last rites for national cap and trade in 2010 on Feb. 2, while senior Democrats in the House of Representatives prepared to put a stake through its heart to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency does not try to resurrect it unilaterally without congressional approval.

Obama finally bowed to the inevitable and admitted cap and trade might need to be separated from a more popular green jobs bill in the Senate, a shift that would effectively end prospects for cap and trade in 2010.

In a question-and-answer session the president commented: “The only thing I would say about it is this: We may be able to separate these things out. And it’s possible that’s where the Senate ends up.”

Climate bill treads on thin ice


Supporters of a climate bill to cap and price greenhouse gases are losing hope that it will make it into law. But for many, the fight is far from over.

Topping the list of supporters of some form of the bill is President Obama. In his first State of the Union address, he focused on the bill’s potential to fuel a domestic clean tech industry lush with jobs, and said he still supported the bipartisan effort on the climate and energy bill, which would incorporate energy policies favored by Republicans.

(See also: Obama sticks to climate before divided Congress and Obama supports climate bill, but how clean will it be? )

Bring on the green energy investment


By Professor Danny Harvey

- Danny Harvey is a geography professor and energy policy expert at the University of Toronto. He is author of A Handbook on Low-Energy Buildings and District Energy Systems: Fundamentals, Techniques and Examples, and  the forthcoming Energy and the New Reality, Volume 2: C-free Energy, now available in preprint form here.

The world is facing the prospect of massive climatic change during the coming decades, and we’re already seeing the beginnings of this all around us and much faster than predicted – dramatic melting of sea ice, thawing of permafrost, increased loss of ice from Greenland, and drier conditions in many parts of the world.

Climate scientists are nearly unanimous in saying that dramatic and strong action is needed to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy as rapidly as possible.

Carbon trading and a new climate deal

(Updates with comments from Karen Alderman Harbert)


A key component of a prospective climate deal coming into Copenhagen has been the targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Targets would help put a “price” on carbon emissions that could then be bought and sold under a cap and trade scheme. (Click here for a related article.)

Proponents of the potentially lucrative market say it provides clear incentives to reach targets or even overshoot them, while opponents say the system would give big polluters a way around any targets.

Packing while Copenhagen burns

Bella1The talks were supposed to be over, “family photo” taken, and slaps on the back given all round.

So all the 193 countries and many RINGOS, BINGOS, YOUNGOS, banks and others who had set up temporary Copenhagen offices had been told to have them packed up by Friday evening.

The rest of the plan has fallen apart, with world leaders crammed into conference rooms desperately trying to salvage something from two weeks of fruitless talks.

from Global News Journal:

Parallel worlds at U.N. climate talks

protesterWhile UN climate talks involving world leaders descended into chaos and farce in the rooms and corridors of this immediately forgettable Copenhagen exhibition centre, a parallel world flourished in its main conference hall.

Meetings of world leaders and environment ministers through Thursday night and Friday yielded a series of draft climate texts, each more toothless and lacking in ambition than the last. NGOs despaired. The assembled media veered between disbelief and boredom. And outside in the snow the vegans, climate activists and other protest groups kept up a steady drumbeat of protest in the snow.

But inside the main conference hall, bureaucrats continued the deliberations they started two years ago to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Unfazed by the chaos around them they worked their way laboriously and methodically through articles, sub-sections and clauses. All beamed live in to the press room but incomprehensible to the media.