Global environmental challenges
from Tales from the Trail:
The new U.S. nuclear weapons doctrine released on Tuesday had stern warnings for Iran and North Korea, with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explaining that it left "all options on the table" for dealing with atomic renegades despite its broader goal of restricting the U.S. use of its nuclear stockpile.
But Gates also let slip a bit of information that may give pause to environmentalists: most U.S. nuclear missiles are now targeted at the world's oceans.
"Our ICBMs are all targeted right now on the oceans, so that if, God forbid and for the first time in 60 years, there were an accidental launch or a problem ...it would put a missile right into the middle of the ocean, rather than targeted on any country," Gates told a news briefing.
The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright explained the details of "open ocean targeting", part of a broader package of measures the United States has undertaken for some time to reduce the threat of nuclear war by mistake.
from Russell Boyce:
One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to residents of a housing block in Jakarta. The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.
Hoses used to supply residences with water are seen hanging across a street at the Penjaringan subdistrict in Jakarta March 22, 2010. Residents in the area say that they have had to construct makeshift water supplies for their homes by attaching hoses to pumps bought with their own money, as the government has yet to repair the original water supply which was damaged. March 22 is World Water Day. REUTERS/Beawiharta
from Mario Di Simine:
You go for walks, maybe stretch out on an open couch, perhaps stand in long lines for a luke-warm bite to eat. You make numerous trips to the vending machines, munch on biscuits, chat with colleagues. Life in the fast lane of the COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen has slowed down to a crawl, and the waiting is most certainly the hardest part.
On the final day of the conference, the media -- and everyone else -- is looking forward to an outcome, any outcome of a two-week marathon that was supposed to lead to cuts in greenhouse gas emisions and a 2010 deadline for a legally binding treaty.
Last year, when G8 leaders agreed a “vision” of halving world greenhouse gases by 2050 at a summit in Tokyo, Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked around the table and wondered aloud if any of them would still be around to ensure the plan worked — or held to account if it didn’t.
“Probably only Dmitry”, one of the leaders said, referring to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to a G8 source. At the time, Medvedev was 42 and will be 84 in 2050.
The feds are taking on California’s plan to limit tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases and discussing the idea of low carbon fuel, but California has one other major idea to curb vehicle pollution, says the state senator who pushed through the tailpipe emissions law, Fran Pavley. The idea: drive less.
“No matter what we do on the clean car regs, with the gross of the state… and the sprawl out into the suburbs and the rural areas, we are going to be going in the wrong direction. And that’s something the federal government hopefully will eventually look at — land use,” she said by phone, when asked about next steps for vehicle pollution.
The Obama administration’s move to declare climate-warming carbon pollution a danger to human health was quickly hailed by environmental groups and leading liberals as a long-overdue shift from the Bush era and a historic first step toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
In making the announcement, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said that solving the problem would not only clean up the air but also “create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”
A scientist at the University of California, Riverside has named a newly discovered lichen after President Obama, a gesture he clearly intends as an honor.
Kerry Knudsen, lichen curator at UCR’s Herbarium, says he discovered the hardy orange organism on Santa Rosa Island, off the California coast, and “named it Caloplaca obamae to show my appreciation for the president’s support of science and science education.”
California wasted no time asking incoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson to reconsider a request to let the state impose stiff targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars.
The state’s top air quality regulator sent a letter to Jackson on Wednesday, the Obama administration’s first full day at work. Jackson hasn’t even been confirmed as the new EPA administrator yet, but California isn’t beating around the bush.
New York state gave Big Sue, LLC, which has about 3,500 square feet of solar panels on its roof, the OK to sell any extra power it generates from the panels back to the grid.
A carbon fund named “Obama, future” could invest in increased forest coverage in another country and Obama himself could plant a tree there, Lin Hui said in an open letter, published on www.ditan360.com. Lin hopes that country will be China.