Environment Forum

from Tales from the Trail:

Boycott Copenhagen, Palin urges Obama

USA/

 If Sarah Palin had her way, President Barack Obama would be staying away from this month's global climate change talks in Copenhagen and "sending a message that the United States will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices."

The summit will hear from scientists like those from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where recently revealed e-mails showed information that raised questions about climate change was suppressed, writes Palin.

"Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference. The president should boycott Copenhagen," she wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

"He plans to fly in at the climax of the conference in hopes of sealing a 'deal.' Whatever deal he gets, it will be no deal for the American people," said the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate.

The biggest U.N. climate talks in history are aimed at working out a new pact to curb global warming, replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.  Obama said last week the United States will aim to reduce its carbon emissions by around 17 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels.

from Mario Di Simine:

Fossil of the Day Award: And the winner is…

carsThe UN Conference on Climate Change is a weighty gathering of serious folks looking for a way to cut carbon emissions. It's also a great place to bring some much-needed humor and along the way hammer a few perceived laggers in the fight against global warming.

Enter the Fossil of the Day Awards, a tongue-in-cheek dishonor first presented in 1999 and given to the countries with the worst performances at the previous day's talks during UN climate conferences.

Three awards, compiled by CAN (Climate Action Network), a coalition of more than 450 NGOs, are presented each day with the country scoring the most points over the course of the conference winning the grand prize.

from Mario Di Simine:

Copenhagen Climate Conference: Who is right?

CANADA/Ask anyone about climate change and you likely will get the kind of emotional response not seen since George W Bush left office. People on both sides of the debate – from politicians and scientists to your regular Joe on the street – are often adamantly in one camp or the other, with little wriggle room in between.

The majority of the camp believes that Mother Nature is indeed terribly sick, and that humankind is the virus that caused the disease. The symptoms are a climate that is warming to such a degree we are faced with certain calamity if we don’t do something about it.

Sounds alarming, doesn’t it?

On the other side, are the folks who say the climate is not warming at all or that, if it is, it is a natural phenomenon that will correct itself. In other words, Mother Nature can heal herself, if she’s even sick. To spend billions trying to do what Earth can do itself is folly, pure and simple, and will lead to economic ruin for many developing nations.

What will they say in 2100 about what (didn’t) happen in 2009?

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber can speak eloquently and at length in English, German, French or Spanish about the perils of climate change. But the cold language of science in any of those languages melts away when the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, 59, mentions his 18-month-old son and the impact that global warming will have on  the toddler’s life. 

“I’ve got a young son,” Schellnhuber says, pictured at the right with the boy, his wife and Britain’s Prince Charles on a visit to Potsdam in April. “I hope this all turns out to be wrong. I would be delighted if it turns out that we haven’t understood the system as well as we think we do, and that we might get a 20- to 30-year ‘breathing period’ when global warming slows or is even halted,” Schellnhuber said in an interview.

“I hope my son can live in a world where there won’t be massive conflicts because the sea level rises by a metre in his life time. I hope he’ll be able to have a happy life. But I’m growing increasingly worried.” 

Global warming accelerates; Climategate rumbles on

A report by a group of leading scientists that global warming is accelerating and that world sea levels could rise at worst by 2 metres by 2100* is grim reading.

But sceptics are using a flood of leaked e-mails from a British University — dubbed “Climategate” – to question the findings.

You can read the Copenhagen Diagnosis here, by 26 researchers worldwide.  It says a thaw of summer sea ice around the North Pole, for instance, has far outpaced projections in a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) two years ago. They say world emissions must peak by 2020 to avoid the worst of climate change.

Could denying bedroom privileges save the planet?

There will be a record number of side events at the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen next month, but one woman’s one-woman show could give the delegates, most of whom will be men, the incentive they really need to agree a new global warming treaty.

In “The Boycott“, Kathryn Blume plays Lyssa, First Lady of the United States and climate crusader.  Loosely borrowing from a play from ancient Greece, Lyssa launches a nationwide sex strike to fight global warming. As the play unfolds, Lyssa is forced to take on her indifferent husband, a hostile press and a romantic rival who’s not only in bed with the President, but with the oil industry as well.

Blume is co-founder of the Lysistrata Project, named after the Aristophanean comedy on which The Boycott is based.  Originally performed in ancient Athens in 411 BC, Lysistrata tells the tale of one woman’s attempt to end the Peloponnesian War by convincing all women to withhold bedroom privileges from their husbands.

The view from the Arctic: on Sarah Palin and caribou soup

While the world gets ready for December’s climate meeting in Copenhagen, a group of native Arctic women traveled to Washington this week to talk about what climate change is doing right now in places like Arctic Village, Alaska, and Whitehorse, in Canada’s Yukon.******Five of the women talked emotionally about how much harder it is to hunt for traditional game animals like caribou in a time of global warming, and how important these traditional foods are to their culture and health. They also took aim at some of Sarah Palin’s statements, especially her push for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic.******Watch below as Norma Kassi, a member of the Gwich’in nation — sometimes translated as “People of the Caribou” — talks about her practices as a hunter, and her take on Palin and her “drill baby drill” strategy. (It’s a fairly long video; her comments on Palin start about halfway through):************Now watch Sarah James, of Arctic Village, talk about the plain fact that “Western” fare like pizza, meatloaf and fast food simply can’t satisfy her son like a soothing caribou soup:************Kassi, James and other members of the Arctic delegation are telling their story on Capitol Hill and to members of the Obama administration. Some are planning to attend the Copenhagen conference, despite dampening hopes of a major agreement from that gathering.******They have an invitation for President Barack Obama: they’d like him to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge next year, the 50th anniversary of this far-north protected area where caribou herds have their calves and where some energy companies have hoped to drill.******Video credits: REUTERS/Deborah Zabarenko (Washington, November 11, 2009) ******Photo credit: REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder (Sarah Palin outside the Mocha Moose Espresso after voting in Wasilla, Alaska, November 4, 2008)

The golden, melting, re-freezing and ultimately disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro

Papa Hemingway probably didn’t see this coming.

When he wrote “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” in the 1930s, Ernest Hemingway described the summit of that African mountain as “wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun.”

It’s still wide, but may not be white much longer, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that says the remaining ice fields atop Kilimanjaro in Tanzania could be gone in 20 years or less, a casualty of climate change. Changes in clouds and precipitation play a minor role but the scientists say it’s mostly due to global warming.

Here’s the trail of data released by the National Science Foundation, which helped fund the research:

Panic at 2 a.m. — the search for multiyear Arctic ice

    When you’re looking for shrinking packs of multiyear ice in the Arctic Ocean, bizarre things tend to happen. Top Canadian scientist David Barber knows this first hand, as he explained in a presentation in Parliament on Wednesday. Barber said that to all extents and purposes the multiyear ice in the Arctic had already vanished, which could open up the region to shipping and mineral exploitation.

    Barber, who holds Canada’s Research Chair in Arctic System Science at the University of Manitoba, boarded the icebreaker Amundsen last month and steamed north from the Arctic port of Tuktoyaktuk to look for the Beaufort Sea pack ice, the “thickest, hardest, meanest, multi year sea we have left in the northern hemisphere”.

    According to up-to-date satellite maps provided by the Canadian Ice Service, the Amundsen should have started ploughing into progressively thicker ice almost from the start. Soon after the ship set sail Barber went to bed, and then woke up at 2 am in a panic.

Taiwan seeks to participate in U.N. climate convention

Taiwan, hit by its worst typhoon in 50 years in August, has found a culprit for the disaster that killed about 770 people and begun using it to get precious attention overseas where the island is usually overlooked in favour of its giant political rival China.

Global warming is taking blame for Morakot, which was freakish as Taiwan’s only major typhoon of the year and because it lingered instead of blowing straight through. The island’s foreign ministry says that as global warming’s victim it should get to participate in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change  in time for its December talks in Copenhagen. Sixteen countries have already voiced support.

“We are a victim of this problem. It’s closely related to the public’s economic interests,” said Yang Kuo-tung, director general of the foreign ministry’s treaties and legal affairs. Morakot’s incessant rain caused agricultural losses of T$16.47 billion ($510 million).  ”It’s no laughing matter.”

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