Environment Forum

Al Gore’s new book: will you read it?

 When I attended a talk by Al Gore about global warming in Oslo in March 2007, I noticed that one of the people clapping loudest — about two rows in front of me — was the head of the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ole Danbolt Mjoes also joined in a minute-long standing ovation for the former U.S. vice president. “A very important message,” was all Mjoes would tell me of Gore’s speech afterwards when I went up and asked him if Gore had a chance of winning.

Gore of course went on to share the prize in December with the U.N. Climate Panel. The photo above shows Mjoes (left), handing the award to Gore in Oslo City Hall.

Gore said on Tuesday he will write a new book, “Our Choice”, for release on November 3 to follow up from his bestselling ”An Inconvenient Truth”. For a story, click here.

“It is time for a comprehensive global plan that actually solves the climate crisis. ‘Our Choice’ will answer that call,” Gore said.

Climate a new threat for Poland’s wolves-expert


By Piotr Pilat


Climate change worries Professor Andrzej Bereszynski of the Poznan Agriculture Academy, who runs a 30-year-old wolf sanctuary.


He fears that global warming could take a new toll on the elusive predator — almost hunted to death across much of Europe.


“Warming of the fragments of the globe where wolves still survive will surely dramatically influence their life,” said Bereszynski.

U.N. climate talks leave youth out in the cold

There’s plenty of hot air filling the sprawling conference centre that houses the U.N. climate change talks this week and next in Poznan, Poland. But many of the 500 or so youth participants in the conference – who hail from more than 50 countries – feel left out in the political cold.

On Friday morning, six of them created a human installation in the lobby to draw attention to their demand for fair use of the world’s natural resources.

A banner emblazoned with “Equity now: Our future is in the balance” (see photo below) was flanked by two inflatable globes – one crushing an Indian delegate (photo left), representing today’s imbalance in consumption, and the other representing a more just world supported on either side by two young women from India and Sweden.

What hope for U.N. climate talks in Poland?

This week the U.N. leads a new round of global climate talks, in its 14th meeting since the world signed up to the convention on climate change in 1992.

It’s all about replacing the Kyoto Protocol with a more ambitious climate deal from 2013. Kyoto is widely regarded as toothless, but so could be its successor. (For a story, click here)

After all, fighting climate change isn’t easy – it involves limiting emissions of greenhouse gases which are a by-product of everyday essentials from energy to food, from burning fossil fuels and making fertiliser, for example.

Carbon emissions soar, despite curbs

Southern Company's Plant Bowen in Cartersville, Georgia is seen in this aerial photograph in Cartersville in this file photo taken September 4, 2007. One of the biggest coal-fired plants in the country, it generates about 3,300 megawatts of electricity from four coal-fired boilers. Democrats in U.S. Congress are pressing ahead with legislation to limit emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and plants like this are squarely in their cross hairs. Picture taken September 4, 2007. To match feature USA-UTILITIES/SOUTHERN REUTERS/Chris Baltimore (UNITED STATES)Emissions of the main greenhouse gas are rocketing — despite international efforts to slow them down, according to a study today.

Read my colleague David Fogarty’s worrying article about carbon dioxide emissions — China has definitely overtaken the United States as top emitter, India is catching up with third placed Russia.

What’s alarming is that the rate of growth of gases blamed for stoking global warming is quickening. And the fastest growth is in the developing world.   A man looks at 100-metre-tall (328-foot-tall) wind turbines during sunset at the Electric Power Development Co., Ltd's Nunobiki Plateau Wind Farm in Koriyama, north of Tokyo November 8, 2007. Overlooking a mountain lake a few hours drive from Tokyo, dozens of tall wind turbines spin in the breeze creating carbon-free power for the world's fifth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Picture taken November 8, 2007. To match feature JAPAN-WIND/ REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN)

Should climate sinners face World Cup ban?

Smoke billows from a power plant as an aircraft flies by in Qingdao, Shandong province, January 12, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA)Among suggestions for slowing global warming it may be the most radical — countries failing to keep promises to curb emissions should not be allowed to send a soccer team to the World Cup.

June 2-13 talks in Bonn on a new deal to widen the Kyoto Protocol after  a first period ends in 2012 are ending on Friday with few agreements and many criticisms about a lack of progress.

But how do you focus delegations’ minds and get countries to do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions? U.N. reports last year warning the world of rising temperatures, droughts, rising seas and other risks in coming decades have not fully done the trick.

Planet sick; do the doctors care?

Children run on a dried lakebed in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad June 5, 2008. The United Nations urged the world on Thursday to kick an all-consuming addiction to carbon dioxide and said everyone must take steps to fight climate change. World Environment Day, conceived in 1972, is the United Nation’s principal day to mark global green issues and aims to give a human face to environmental problems and solutions. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder (INDIA)    The UN’s climate surgery opening hours this week in Bonn, Germany, are 10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm.

    Several times they’ve finished early — lack of demand?

    “That’s good. Often they just go on and on. Next week it may be a bit later,” a UN spokesperson told me.

    Welcome to a new round of talks to find a successor to the UN-administered Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Bonn is the second of eight meetings of 190 countries and 2,000 people or so to agree a new climate pact by December 2009.

Is Germany’s Merkel full of hot air?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a speech at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn May 28, 2008. The UN is holding the conference in Germany’s former capital Bonn from May 19 to 30, to develop strategies to ensure the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY)At the U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Bonn, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being hailed as something of a hero. In what could be seen as an attempt to salvage both the talks and her own reputation as a champion of the environment, she announced millions of euros in handouts to help save the planet’s forests.

 Campaigners fell over themselves praising her for setting an example. The physicist and former environment minister won credit last year for helping to broker EU and G8 deals to tackle climate change and some close to her insist the subject is close to her heart.

But there is a different story. 

Merkel is backpeddling on a wide range of green issues at home as political reality bites. She is robustly defending the powerful German car industry — responsible for one in five jobs in Europe’s biggest economy – against the EU’s planned CO2 caps and her government this week all but dropped plans to change a tax regime on cars that would have encouraged lower emissions.

So what happened to global warming?

An enormous iceberg (R) breaks off the Knox Coast in the Australian Antarctic Territory, January 11, 2008. Australia’s CSIRO’s atmospheric research unit has found the world is warming faster than predicted by the United Nations’ top climate change body, with harmful emissions exceeding worst-case estimates. Picture taken January 11, 2008. REUTERS/Torsten Blackwood/Pool (ANTARCTICA)So what happened to global warming?

It’s not just that it’s disappeared from media headlines this year – shoved off by the credit crunch and natural disasters, for example. It can’t be ignored that 2007 came and went as another very warm year – the 7th hottest on record since 1850 according to the World Meteorological Organization.

But it wasn’t a record. In fact that was 1998, a full 10 years ago — the year of an exceptional El Nino, a Pacific weather pattern which heats the whole globe. So is global warming not living up to the hype?

Two weeks ago Leibniz Institute’s Noel Keenlyside stirred an academic hornet’s
nest by saying that we may have to wait longer – a decade or more – for another
peak year, because a natural weakening in ocean currents may be cooling sea

Bush’s climate plan: good sense, “Neanderthal”, or both?

A member of Germany’s Alternative Party dressed as a Neanderthal man from 50,000 years ago at an anti-nuclear demonstration in 1996A plan by President George W. Bush to set a distant 2025 ceiling for rising U.S. greenhouse gases has triggered criticisms by Germany that he is coming up with a “Neanderthal” solution to the problem – too little too late.

Most other delegates at 17-nation U.S.-led climate talks in Paris on Thursday and Friday have been far less damning, welcoming the fact that Bush is setting a ceiling for emissions, albeit one that will be a generation after most other rich nations.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s office called it a plan for losers rather than leaders and denounced it as ”Neanderthal”.