The news out of the USA yesterday is not good. The US administration has said that there is now not enough time to get a binding agreement through congress - Guardian 05.11.09. This is bad news for us all and a refelction of the uphill battle that still has to be fought to get this through.
”We have to be honest in the process and deal with the realities that we don’t have time in these four weeks to put the language together and flesh out every crossed t and dotted i of a treaty,” said John Kerry, who chairs the Senate foreign relations committee.
In a show of unity that suprised everyone, the African nations staged a mini-coup and demanded immediate action by the Rich Nations to set real targets complaining that rich nations’ carbon cuts were far too small to avoid catastrophic climate change, and refused to participate until more was done. The move forced the UN to abandon several sessions and reschedule others to give rich countries more time to debate emissions cuts. Countries have agreed to devote 60% of the remaining time to those discussions. Link
So it is all happening and the political heat is rising about time too! Let’s hope that we actually get some thing that we can all work towards!
For those of you who do not know it, the BNP is the British National Party and they are a rightwing ploitical party who believe in repatriation of foreign nationals if they do not contribute to society and until very recently did not permit any members who were not white british. Their party leader has previously been on record as a hlocaust denier.You get the picture; a bunch of racists really.
They were given airtime on the BBC QuestionTime on thursday and there has been this almighty debate since the about the rights and wrongs of such a move and whether they have benefited from the showing.
I do beleive that it was right to give them air time, and it was also right that they got a pasting from the audience and fellow members of the panel. The only thing I would have changed was to make the event spefically focussed on multi-culturalism.
But this raises an important and worrying trend, that the BNP is getting popular support - and although the support is a minority, it is still there. In the UK we need to be open and confront these issues. We are a liberal and open society and pluralistic by nature.We should debate and show them up for what they truly are; racists and irrelevant to any future UK government or ploicy making.
But I have noticed that some are suggesting that we should go further and infiltrate their organisation by joining whatever colour we are, black, white, pink and gold.
Great idea, let’s get in there and piss on their party!
I remain bemused and frustrated by US politics. How come your public representatives can openly get paid by and support ‘vested interest’ even though it may not be in the best public interest.
I know that we are going through our own problems over here in the UK, but the issue at stake is Obama’s Climate Bill.
The bill is aimed at giving the USA a cap and trade system. Obama has the majority in both houses and it should be a matter of course (with a few republican defections) getting the bill passed. And yet there are a number of democrats who still may scupper the deal.
The reason why?- well they are paid by the oil industry to lobby against the bill!
Climate change is our biggest challenge, without the US there will be little chance of a climate deal, the evidence is all around us and yet there is still resistance. More importantly these people seem as though they can be bought for short term personal gain!
I list their names and the money they are being paid to turn against the bill (All names and numbers thanks to the Guardian 13th May 2009 pp 15)
· John Dingell, Michigan - $457,100
· Rick Boucher, Virginia - $359,151
· Charles Melancon, Louisiana - $199,600
· Jim Matheson, Utah – $160,197
· Gene Green(!), Texas - $142,449
· Mike Ross, Arkansas - $119,743
· Mike Doyle, Pennsylvania – $110,250
· Charlie Gonzalez, Texas - $98,250
· John Barrow, Georgia – $93,743
· GK Butterfield, North Carolina, $51,050
· Baron Hill, Indiana - $46,100
· Betty Sue Sutton, Ohio - $16,600
If you know them or have access to them, please tell them they need to support the bill as it represents the only way forward, for a better and safer world with more jobs and new opportunities.
Finally, I note from the article that BP is supporting the new anti-climate PR campaign . This is BULLSHIT. How could they pretend to be so green and environmental then do this. BP, I once admired you as a leader in your field. I now know that you are full of horseshit and we can’t trust you!
May 14th 2009
Tuesday 28th April 2009, the Guardian reports that ‘Arctic CO2 has peaked at highest level in 50 million years’ according to Johan Strom, professor of atmospheric physics at the Norwegian Polar Institute.
Apparently CO2 concentration levels are now at 393.7ppm after a 2008 increase of 2.5ppm. Strom goes on to say that ‘It is not the level of CO2 that is the problem’ (although very high!) ‘What is worrying is the speed of change. Never before have CO2 levels increased so fast.
Before the industrial revolution CO2 levels stood at 280ppm, now they are on average standing at 387ppm. We are told that 450ppm is the tipping point where we can expect 1m sea level rises and the plant to move into its own negative feedback loop ( ie. unstoppable climate change such as tundra melting etc). At a rate of 2.8ppm/year, this gives us just 28.5 years! D Day has just shifted to June 2031!
And if you don’t believe me, check out this little footnote I found in the NY Times last week!
I heard yesterday on BBC Radio 4 a report that by a world food organisation that by 2030 the world population will have grown 40% and that by 2050 it will have doubled. In short, this means that we will have to double our food production within 40 years!
Given that land resources are already under pressure (and reducing with global warming!) and that water is already a scare commodity in many parts of the world; How are we going to feed everyone?
The GM Food industry must be clapping their hands and my fear is that we are going to see another decision forced upon us because of our inaction, just as we are now facing with the debate over nuclear power.
If we do nothing we may have no choice but to use GM systems to increase food production and to free up previously unusable land for crop production – bugger the consequences because the down side of not doing anything is mass famine and deaths.
We must Act Now, otherwise we may have no choice!
It’s been a while since we last spoke and so much has happened in the news that I am unsure where to start; from Copenhagen to geo-engineering and Obama.
I shall start with the shocking news that has eminated from Copenhagen where scientist are reporting that we are on-track for at least a 2degC temperature rise by the end of the century.
Apparaently we are together releasing over 50bn tons CO2e into the atmosphere every year, 2-3% more than predicted. This will likely lead to a minimum 1m rise in sea levels as well as their acidification as they abosorb more CO2 leading to destruction of more eco-systems not to mention the widespread droughts predicted across Australia and Equatorial regions. If this goes above + 3degC we will see the end of the ski industry and above +4 the rainforests will begin to die. Of course it is the poorer nations that will suffer most because they do not have the funds to change..I will not go on as it gets too depressing.
In response to this there has been increasing chatter about finding geo-engineering solutions that operate on a global scale to capture, reflect or absorb CO2. Such solutions as 1500 salt spraying ships in the pacific, or giant sun shades in Space to reflect sunlight!
All pretty depressing and fanciful, but if we are now considering the nuclear option, perhaps we have to go even further to save our skins?
Then on the way to work today picked up a news bulletin that Obama is looking to pass legislation that claws back 90% of all bonuses that have been paid out to companies that have received US tax payer money. He is quoted as saying that individuals must understand that they are the cause of the financial meltdown and that thay must now take responsibility for their actions.
Wow, Cause and Effect, about time some politician got it! If only he could start talking in the same urgent terms about climate change. Could we suggest that he claws back all of the carbon profits from industries that have been polluting our climate with no thought for the consequences for so long?
Seems only fair to me; how about it Obama and Gordon?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Yesterday The Independent reported that one-time opponents of nuclear power, who include the former head of Greenpeace, have said that they have now changed their minds over atomic energy because of the urgent need to curb emissions of carbon dioxide.
They all take the view that the building of nuclear power stations is now imperative and that to delay the process with time-consuming public inquiries and legal challenges would seriously undermine Britain’s promise to cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
This news comes on top of a call by the famous environmentalist James Lovelock who has been saying the same for over a year now.
So what, I ask myself, does this all mean?
I knew the threat was bad but for these 5 guys who have been arch opponents to nuclear for decades to suddenly turn around, well it must be serious! Indeed one of them has even put his job on the line (Independent 24.02.09).
I guess the answer is that desperate times do call for desperate measures and whilst I have been morally against nuclear for many years, perhaps now is the time to reconsider.
But once one sacred cow has gone, what about the next? Should we now be reconsidering GM crops to feed all of those who will surely die from starvation as climate change takes a grip, and what about allowing more wind turbines on our ‘sacred hills’?
It seems that the gloves are off and nothing now should be ruled out
See latest news from Antartica at the Sietch Blog 22nd January 2009. This is more evidence of clear and present danger.
Three pieces of news over the weekend
- The World Glacier Monitoring Service announces that most glaciers will vanish by 2050 ‘Many Glaciers’
- David Cameron and the Conservative party launch their new vision for a ‘Low Carbon Economy’
- Delhi, India bans the plastic bag as reported in The Guardian 17 January 2009
All significant in their own way.
Firstly, the Guardian reports that Figures released by the WGMS for 2005-06 showed the biggest loss of ice in a single year since those records began, and based on historic reconstructions, it was thought to be the worst year for 5,000 years.
The latest data for 2006-07 shows that 22 of the 27 reference glaciers for which data has been supplied lost mass, as did 55 of a longer list of 74 glaciers. The total losses were half that of the previous year, but still the third largest on record. In Europe it is thought glaciers have lost one quarter of their mass in the last eight years alone, said Haeberli.
Professor Haerbli the director of the WGMS said “If you have a realistic, mid-warming scenario, then there’s no hope for the small glaciers - in the Pyrenees, in Africa, in the Andes or Rocky mountains. The large glaciers in Alaska and the Himalayas will take longer, but even those very large glaciers will change completely; they will be much, much smaller, and many of them will disintegrate, forming lakes in many cases. - “This means many will simply be lost in the next decades - 10, 20, 30, 40 years.
This is sobering news and re-empasises the massive task ahead of us!
The second piece of news is that The Conservative Party have released their vision for a low carbon economy. It is well crafted document that proposes some very interesting strategies although at present it is devoid of specific targets other than saying that their strategy WILL meet the 80% reduction set by the present government. But despite this, the party deserves real congratulations, making it quite clear that this issue cannot be ignored just because the economy is failing.
Of course this does beg the question ‘What the hell is Labour playing at, not least with their decision over heathrow’. It does strike me that since the departure of David Milliband from the scene ( departed to foreign huts in India) that the department has lost its bite.
The final piece of news is from India; Delhi is banning the plastic bag for reasons of pollution. For me this is the most significant of all of the latest news I have read. Perhaps the 5 year potential jail sentence is a bit steep but the sentiment is absolutely correct. If we wait for change of culture, then we could be waiting at least 2 generations. Governments need to take the bull by the horn, take the hard decisions that they all talk about and drive change through legislation.
So my question is - do we really need to wit for the legislators or is it possible to influence and change in a single generation?
20 January 2009