Monday, February 18, 2008

Foreign Affairs - The Candidates in Their Own Words --

During the last year, Foreign Affairs published a series of pieces on the 2008 presidential election, allowing candidates to frame their foreign policy in their own words. Foreign Affairs Election 2008  I am reviewing those pieces for discussions of global environmental issues, including climate change.  I find this a particularly useful approach because it allows candidates to move beyond sound bites and into the substance of what they believe. 

I expect to look at all of the current candidates: Democratic and Republican. The first candidate I am reviewing is Barack Obama.  I chose Obama first in part because I am torn between Clinton and Obama.  Although I respect John McCain's leadership on climate change, I could not vote for a Republican after the 1994 - 2006 Republican congressional legacy and the debacle of Bush's presidency for virtually every freedom and human need.  I also disagree with McCain's position on Iraq.

In his own words, Barack Obama primarily addresses climate change as a matter of global policy.  He ties the US response to global warming to his overall foreign policy in this way:

Strengthened institutions and invigorated alliances and partnerships are especially crucial if we are to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world, including much of the eastern seaboard. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide. That means increased instability in some of the most volatile parts of the world.

As the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, America has the responsibility to lead. While many of our industrial partners are working hard to reduce their emissions, we are increasing ours at a steady clip -- by more than ten percent per decade. As president, I intend to enact a cap-and-trade system that will dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. And I will work to finally free America of its dependence on foreign oil -- by using energy more efficiently in our cars, factories, and homes, relying more on renewable sources of electricity, and harnessing the potential of biofuels.

Getting our own house in order is only a first step. China will soon replace America as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia. I will invest in efficient and clean technologies at home while using our assistance policies and export promotions to help developing countries leapfrog the carbon-energy-intensive stage of development. We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia. This challenge is massive, but rising to it will also bring new benefits to America. By 2050, global demand for low-carbon energy could create an annual market worth $500 billion. Meeting that demand would open new frontiers for American entrepreneurs and workers.

February 18, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Candidates Compete for Green Title

After the Bush administration legacy, it is refreshing to see both Democratic and some Republican candidates competing for the title of Mr. or Ms. Green. See the comparison in Grist.

February 6, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ruth Norton Smith (Nov 27, 1921 - Oct 14, 2007)

Ruth Norton Smith died peacefully in Boulder, Colorado  on Sunday, October 14, 2007 after enjoying her full measure of life. 

Ruth was born in Oklahoma on November 27, 1921 in a tent in Oklahoma.  She was raised during the Depression years, moving frequently as her family farmed and followed the tunneling, mining, and other work available to her father.  Ultimately, her family settled in southern California.  There Ruth met the love of her life, Herbert Frank Smith, a carpenter and union organizer, whom she married on June 4, 1941. 

In WW II, while her husband served in the Navy in the South Pacific, Ruth became a Rosie the Riveter, building bombers, and then joined the Women’s Army Corps, serving as a nurse.  After the war, they settled in the Los Angeles area, where she became a real estate broker and the mom of two children, Greg in 1948 and Susan in 1953.

In 1955, her family moved to Colorado where she worked side by side with her husband to build two of the largest home-building companies in Colorado, Happy Homes and Fireside Homes, and a prominent real estate firm.  When she left real estate and home-building in the late 1960s, Ruth became a political and market researcher for Research Services, Inc. and later became a researcher for the U.S. Census Bureau, from which she retired in 1989.

Ruth was a life-long Democratic political activist with a passion for peace, civil rights, and all aspects of social justice.  She served in every capacity: running political campaigns, serving as a precinct committee woman, county, congressional district, and state delegate, pollwatcher, and election judge.  She worked with Metro Denver Fair Housing center as a realtor, helping the first African-American families in Jefferson County to find housing.  She volunteered with youth mentoring programs in Four Points and with Metro Denver Urban Coalition, Another Mother for Peace, Meals on Wheels, and countless other organizations. 

Ruth was too busy with her family, volunteer work and career for many hobbies.  She thrived on the stimulating conversations born by inviting friends and guests from all over the world and from every walk of life to dinner.  She also found great pleasure in reading, traveling and attending theatre and opera performances.

Ruth was a warm, intelligent, extroverted vibrant woman who loved and was loved by virtually everyone she met.   Her loss will be sorely missed by the many friends and family she has left behind, including her sister Lorene, her brother Fred, her son Greg, her daughter Susan, and her grandchildren Clint Smith, Brent Smith, Nathanial Smith-Tripp and Sarah Smith-Tripp.  Her family and friends will gather at Mt. Vernon Country Club on Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 10:30 am for a celebration of her life.  The family requests that no flowers be sent and suggests donations to Meals on Wheel or a charity of your choice.

October 18, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thank you to Read/Write Web

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Who Owns the Arctic?

With the Russian flag planting last monthn and Canada promising to build military bases, the race for the Arctic has begun in earnest.  Some of the better news articles can be found below.  A most intriguing suggestion by my Energy Law students is that the Arctic Circle indigenous peoples, who currently have six non-voting participants in the Arctic Council, could seek recognition as a sovereign nation -- and assert claims against all of the current claimants.  That would certainly change the terms of debate!

Arctic_claims

Continue reading

September 19, 2007 in Air Quality, Asia, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, International, Law, North America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Question for the Southern Hemisphere

While this blog was recently named as a favorite on Blog Day by the Spanish language blog Bioterra (Bioterra blog day list), I remain concerned that only the Northern hemisphere appears to find the blog useful, judging by the slim usage in terms of visits from south of the equator.  What can I do to provide more relevant information for you?

September 13, 2007 in Africa, Asia, Australia, South America | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Vote for Children's Safe Drinking Water

Welcome, SusanSmithDrinkWaterforLife
Our Money. Your Ideas. Your Decision.
My Current Vote
Children's Safe Drinking Water
Votes this round: 512  |  Send to a Friend

Project ID: 01250
Date Posted: 7/02

Supporting Organization
US Fund for UNICEF

Project Description:
For Two Cents We Can Change the World. Four thousand children die needlessly every day from drinking contaminated water. It's a tragedy that hundreds of millions of people obtain their drinking water from polluted sources such as muddy rivers, ponds, and streams. This public health crisis can be addressed today through an innovative and low-cost technology that effectively purifies and cleans water while removing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Right now millions of people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas are being reached by a not-for-profit project, but millions more are in need. Help us reach a goal of providing 2 billion liters of safe drinking water. For only two pennies a day a child can have safe drinking water. We'd love to hear your thoughts. In fact, Give Us Your Two Cents Worth. Thank you.

Member: gsallgood


About Me:
My mission is to prevent the sickness and death that occur in the developing world from drinking unsafe water. I'm lucky to spend much of my life building partnerships to provide a low-cost technology to purify water. I never get tired of seeing filthy and highly contaminated water miraculously turn into clear and safe water. And, what's most satisfying is to provide children with their first drink of truly clean and purified water. Now we've developed a way for everyone to get involved. We can make, transport, and deliver the technology on a sustainable basis for only pennies per person. In fact, for just two cents we can provide purified drinking water for a person for a day. Two Cents to Change a Life. Please consider joining our project: "Give Your Two Cents Worth.


Hear From The Fulfilling Organization

1.1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean water. As a result, 5,000 children die needlessly every day. In poor, rural communities, the only source of water is often miles away and the grueling task of collecting it often falls to young girls.

In the mountain village of La Horca, Nicaragua, Rosibel Gonzalez, 12, traveled 7.5 miles each day to fetch water for her parents and five siblings. Waking up before dawn, she walked to the creek before school and carried back a bucket of water on her head. She repeated the task after school and again before bed. But because the water she fetched came from the same source used by village livestock, it was dangerous to drink. When Rosibel's little brother, Wilber, was only eight months old, he and other villagers contracted cholera. That's where UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, came in. UNICEF provided a new solar-powered water pump and filtration system to bring clean water directly into La Horca's 35 homes. Now, Rosibel and her entire village have safe water to drink and Rosibel is left with plenty of time to study and play with her little brother.

With a presence in 156 countries, UNICEF is striving to duplicate this success worldwide. By voting for this project, you can help UNICEF save millions of children's lives. We know what needs to be done, we just need your help to do it. Only 2 cents will purchase one water purification tablet to clean 5 liters of water, $48 can purchase a portable latrine and $5,000 can buy a solar water pump, like the one installed in Rosibel's village. UNICEF partners with communities to provide these and other innovative, low-cost and life-saving solutions for the world's most vulnerable children and their families.

July 6, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Zoellick becomes World Bank president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank yesterday unanimously selected Robert Zoellick as the 11th President of the bank for a five-year term.

The President of the bank is ex-officio President of the International Development Association (IDA) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

This announcement affects every aspect of environmental, energy, and resources law, of course, due to the Bank's pivotal role in financing development -- and thereby setting development policy throughout the world.  So, who is this masked man?

Here's the Bank's bio:

Professional History of Mr. Robert B. Zoellick

Mr. Zoellick, a U.S. national, is currently Vice Chairman, International, of Goldman Sachs Group, and a Managing Director and Chairman of Goldman Sach’s Board of International Advisors. He has served in a number of senior positions in successive US administrations, including as Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of State, and as U.S. Trade Representative (2001-05). He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy, US Department of Treasury, and Undersecretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs and Counselor in the U.S. State Department. He was Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae (1993-1997), the large U.S. mortgage finance corporation, as well as Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman and CEO. In addition, he served as Olin Visiting Professor, U.S. Naval Academy, as Senior Advisor, Goldman Sachs, as Research Scholar, Belfer Center, Harvard University, and previously on three corporate boards, as well as numerous research and non-profit boards.

Mr. Zoellick has a J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, and a M.P.P. (in public management and international issues) from the Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Mr. Zoellick has received numerous distinguished service awards.

Read between the lines: Zoellick is a Bush loyalist and true believer in globalization for the benefit of corporate interests and the wealthy.  Wouldn't it be refreshing sometime for the World Bank to be led by someone who is committed to reducing international poverty and who has on the ground development experience -- rather than ideological theorizing and strategizing experience.

Unfortunately, and I say this as an alumna of both, Zoellick's Kennedy School and HLS credentials just mean he's smart, not moral or committed to the public he is supposed to serve.

June 26, 2007 in Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 2, 2007

It's Too Damned Hot!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Spirit of the Eagle

This blog is devoted principally to the professional or academic aspects of environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.  But like any blogger, I do have a life.  Anyone interested in the slightly less academic side of me is welcome to visit Spirit of the Eagle, my personal blog.

February 26, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

2007 Drink Water for Life

Drink Water for Life Challenge

As readers know, the royalties of this blog are now devoted to international NGOs providing safe, clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

The 7th Millennium Development Goal seeks to cut in half the number of people without those essentials by 2015. Current estimates are that it will cost about $16 billion additional per year until 2015 to accomplish that goal.  I find it unbelievable that we cannot globally achieve that goal, especially when unnecessary deaths from water-borne diseases exceed 2 million, mostly children, each year.  That's one child every 15 seconds.

For those of you who are members of faith-based communities, I suggest that you sponsor a DRINK WATER FOR LIFE challenge associated with your congregation.  Drink water instead of lattes (sodas, bottled water, coffee, alcohol).  Do it for Lent (or your appropriate analogous spiritual break).  Get your friends, your synagogue or church, school or workplace to do the same.  Collect the money you save, gather it together on  Easter (or whatever date makes sense in your faith tradition), put it in a Water Fund, and send it to one of the organizations that do this work.  With just $5000, an entire village of 200 - 500 people can be supplied with safe, clean, sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. 

If you need addresses of faith-based organization who do this work, or secular charitable organizations who do this work, let me know.  If you need flyers explaining the problem, let me know.  Together we can make a difference.

February 6, 2007 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Real Climate commentary on arctic sea ice

Real Climate published a guest commentary today by Cecilia Bitz, one of the authors on the paper suggesting that the Arctic sea ice may disappear by 2040. 1-12-07 Real Climate Post  Arctic Sea Ice in the 21st Century  Bitz answers a number of the questions that she was asked by the media in greater detail than the media was able to report.  She offers hope that we haven't reached the point of no return -- especially if we can stabilize emissions at 2000 levels by 2020.

Continue reading

January 12, 2007 in Asia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, International, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Economics of Global Warming

The world would have to give up only one year's economic growth over the next four decades to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to  stave off the threat of global warming. Consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers offer a "green growth plus" strategy, combining energy efficiency, greater use of renewables and carbon capture to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 from the level reached by doing nothing. Nuclear energy, it says, can play a role, but it is not crucial.

This scenario, which involves little real sacrifice in terms of economic growth, could be achieved only if embarked upon without delay.  "If countries adopt a 'business as usual' approach, the result could be a more than doubling of global carbon emissions by 2050," said John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC.  "Our analysis suggests that there are technologically feasible and relatively low cost options for controlling carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Estimates suggest that the level of GDP might be reduced by no more than 2-3% in 2050 if this strategy is followed."

PwC envisages the Group of Seven leading economies taking the initiative, cutting their emissions by about half by 2050, while the fast-growing E7 countries - China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey - could still increase their emissions by 30% over the period.   The PwC projections see China overtaking the United States as the world's biggest emitter of CO2 by 2010 while total E7 emissions would be more than double G7 emissions by 2050, with the "big three" - China, the US and India - accounting for just over half, up from 45% today.  The European Union could cut its share of global emissions to under 9% by 2050 from 15% now, while Britain's should fall to 1% from 2%.

A shift to a much less carbon-intensive fuel mix would more than double the current non-fossil fuel primary energy share to about 30% by 2050. That alone would be sufficient to reduce carbon emissions by 25%. PwC's view that renewables could do the job without having to use nuclear technology could undermine Tony Blair's argument that atomic power is crucial.  Increasing energy efficiency gains to 2.6% a year from today's 1.6% would reduce emissions by a third, while carbon capture and storage - pumping power station emissions into disused gas fields underground - could achieve a further 20%.  The report says a combination of all these measures will be necessary to stabilise global CO2 levels at 450 parts per million, the figure scientific opinion judges to be broadly acceptable.

http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange
/story0,,1883753,00.html


September 29, 2006 in Africa, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, South America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 8, 2006

Dynamite Quick Reference for Students

Tomorrow the Economist will publish its survey on climate change  "The Heat is On." Economist link  I heartily recommend it for anyone who wants to bring their students or themselves quickly up to speed regarding the science, technology, economics, and law of climate change  -- about 15 pages, incorporating much of the climate research I have blogged this year.   As of yesterday, you can buy a PDF for $5 (or read/print each article in the online version if you have an Economist online subscription). 

September 8, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Law, Legislation, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Clean Development Mechanism Funds Chinese Reductions of HFC-23

Reuters reports:

The World Bank put together on Tuesday the largest greenhouse gas deal ever, where European and Asian companies and others will pay two Chinese chemical companies US$1.02 billion to reduce output of gases believed to cause global warming.  In the deal, European and Asian companies bound by the UN's Kyoto Protocol to tackle climate change, will pay the Chinese chemical companies to reduce and destroy emissions of HFC23, a heat-trapping gas 11,700 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

The deal will reduce emissions by about 19 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, according to the World Bank.  About 75 percent of the money to purchase the reductions came from private capital. Additional participants included entities in World Bank managed funds including the Danish Carbon Fund, the Italian Carbon Fund, Deutsche Bank, Mitsui & Co and two entities of Natsource LLC, which calls itself the world's largest greenhouse gas asset manager.

As a developing country, China, the world's No. 2 producer of greenhouse gases, is not required to reduce emissions of heat trapping gases in the first phase of the international global warming pact the Kyoto Protocol, which runs from 2008 to 2012. Tuesday's deal was done under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism(CDM), which allows allows rich countries to meet some of their greenhouse gas reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by investing in reductions in developing countries.  "The resources came together from lots of different directions. Therewas pooling and deployment of capital in a large scale which was good to see that the CDM could do that," Jack Cogen, president of New York-based Natsource, said in a telephone interview.  The Chinese government will recoup 65 percent of the money from the deal though taxes on the two chemical companies and use it cut greenhouse gases and expand the use of renewable energy.  In addition, the technology to burn and destroy HFC23, a waste gas formed in making refrigerants, can be put in place quickly. "The beauty of industrial gas projects is that both of these projects will start generating greenhouse gas emission reductions later this year, one in October and one in December," said Anita Gordon, a World Bank spokeswoman.

Continue reading

August 30, 2006 in Asia, Climate Change, EU, Governance/Management, International, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Collapse of Easter Island

In the Journal of Developing Societies, Nagarajan discusses simulation studies of the ecological suicide of Easter Island -- reminding us of the lessons of Easter Island about the consequences of unsustainable resource use. Easter Island

August 18, 2006 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Class 5 Typhoon Heads to China

Lest we believe that North America is the only continent blessed with extreme weather events, here is Planet Ark's report on Saomai, which is a Class 5 typhoon that made landfall on Thursday Early reports of deaths from typhoon :

BEIJING - More than 1.3 million Chinese have fled their homes in the path of a super typhoon, the strongest to threaten the country in 50 years, as it churned relentlessly towards the southeast coast on Thursday.   

Saomai, one of three storms to have hit East Asia in the past few days, has already dumped heavy rain on Taiwan and was just hours from an expected landfall between Hong Kong and Shanghai, just south of the booming city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang province.  Storm tracker Tropical Storm Risk (www.tropicalstormrisk.com) graded Saomai a category five "super" typhoon -- its highest category. Chinese state media said it was the most powerful storm system to threaten the country since August 1956, when a typhoon hit Zhejiang, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 3,000. "Some meteorologists said that the typhoon might grow stronger," the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that it could be fuelled by remnants of the weakening, west-headed tropical storm Bopha. "Saomai is packing winds of 216 km per hour (134 mph) and has outpaced forecasts," Xinhua quoted Li Yuzhu, head of the Zhejiang provincial observatory, as saying. The centre of Saomai was 120 km (75 miles) southeast of Wenzhou at 0600 GMT and was less than 100 km from the nearest coastline, moving northwest at 20 kph.  

Continue reading

August 11, 2006 in Asia, Climate Change, Governance/Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 4, 2006

Oil Spill Threatens Mediterranean Coast

 
Sometimes its hard to keep things in perspective.  The rumor is flying around the blogosphere that the environmental situation in Lebanon is as serious as the Exxon Valdez spill.  Although Exxon Valdez taught us a lot about how long-lasting the natural resources damages from oil spills can be, I would not analogize a 110,000 barrel spill to an 11 million barrel spill.  As the graphic below illustrates the  Exxon Valdez spill extended about 470 miles --  which my metrically challenged brain thinks is roughly 750 kilometers -- greater than the length of this slick by a factor of 10.Exxon_valdez_spill
AP report:
Environmental Disaster Looms;  Oil spill threatens Mediterranean after power plant hit;  Cleanup along Lebanon's coast can't begin until fighting ends

BEIRUT — Endangered turtles die shortly after hatching from their eggs. Fish float dead off the coast. Flaming oil sends waves of black smoke toward the city.

In this country of Mediterranean beaches and snow-capped mountains, Israeli bombing that caused an oil spill has created an environmental disaster. And cleanup can't start until the
fighting stops, the United Nations said.

Pools of oil disfigure a beach in the bay of Byblos, 42 kms north of Beirut. Lebanon's greens launched an international appeal for help to combat an environmental crisis caused by a huge oil spill south of Beirut, more than two weeks into an Israeli air war.(AFP/File/Nicolas Asfouri)
World attention has focused on the hundreds of people who have died in the three-week-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The environmental damage has attracted little attention but experts warn the long-term effects could be devastating. Some 110,000 barrels of oil poured into the Mediterranean two weeks ago after Israeli warplanes hit a coastal power plant. One tank is still burning, sending clouds of thick black smoke across Lebanon. Compounding the problem is an Israeli naval blockade and continuing military operations that have made any cleanup impossible. "The immediate impact  can be severe but we have not been able to  do an assessment," said Achim Steiner, executive director
of United Nations Environment Program, in Geneva. "But the longer the spill is left untreated, the harder it will be to clean up." The oil has slicked  about one third of Lebanon's coast, an 80-kilometre stretch centred on the Jiyeh plant, about 20 kilometres south of Beirut, Lebanese Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf said. It has also drifted out into the Mediterranean, already hitting neighbouring Syria. Experts warn that Cyprus, Turkey and even Greece could be affected.

Continue reading

August 4, 2006 in Asia, Biodiversity, Economics, Energy, EU, Physical Science, Water Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sometimes its hard to keep things in perspective.  The rumor is flying around the blogosphere that the environmental situation in Lebanon is as serious as the Exxon Valdez spill.  Although Exxon Valdez taught us a lot about how long-lasting the natural resources damages from oil spills can be, I would not analogize a 110,000 barrel spill to an 11 million barrel spill.  As the graphic below illustrates the  Exxon Valdez spill extended about 470 miles --  which my metrically challenged brain thinks is roughly 750 kilometers -- greater than the length of this slick by a factor of 10.

Exxon_valdez_spill

AP report:
Environmental Disaster Looms;  Oil spill threatens Mediterranean after power plant hit;  Cleanup along Lebanon's coast can't begin until fighting ends
BEIRUT — Endangered turtles die shortly after hatching from their eggs. Fish float dead off the coast. Flaming oil sends waves of black smoke toward the city.

In this country of Mediterranean beaches and snow-capped mountains, Israeli bombing that caused an oil spill has created an environmental disaster. And cleanup can't start until the
fighting stops, the United Nations said.


Pools of oil disfigure a beach in the bay of Byblos, 42 kms north of Beirut. Lebanon's greens launched an international appeal for help to combat an environmental crisis caused by a huge oil spill south of Beirut, more than two weeks into an Israeli air war.(AFP/File/Nicolas Asfouri)

World attention has focused on the hundreds of people who have died in the three-week-old conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. The environmental damage has attracted little attention but experts warn the long-term effects could be devastating. Some 110,000 barrels of oil poured into the Mediterranean two weeks ago after Israeli warplanes hit a coastal power plant. One tank is still burning, sending clouds of thick black smoke across Lebanon. Compounding the problem is an Israeli naval blockade and continuing military operations that have made any cleanup impossible. "The immediate impact  can be severe but we have not been able to  do an assessment," said Achim Steiner, executive director
of United Nations Environment Program, in Geneva. "But the longer the spill is left untreated, the harder it will be to clean up." The oil has slicked  about one third of Lebanon's coast, an 80-kilometre stretch centred on the Jiyeh plant, about 20 kilometres south of Beirut, Lebanese Environment Minister Yaacoub Sarraf said. It has also drifted out into the Mediterranean, already hitting neighbouring Syria. Experts warn that Cyprus, Turkey and even Greece could be affected.


Continue reading

August 4, 2006 in Africa, Asia, Biodiversity, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, Sustainability, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Movie Review: The Great Warming

Here's another entry in the world's best global warming films contest!  The current contestants are Brokaw's Global Warming, Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and now The Great Warming.  For my earlier review of the former two, see 7/2/06 Movie Review: Brokaw and Gore.  I reviewed Brokaw based on a screening copy: now everyone wants to know where to get one.

The Great Warming is a film documentary, produced by Stonehenge, sponsored by Swiss Re, narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, and aired this spring in Canada by the Discovery Channel.  It was screened in Salem today at First Congregational Church, U.C.C.

The Great Warming is a relatively comprehensive look at global warming science, with plenty of experts.  It documents the impacts of far more modest El Nino events on Peruvian fishing villages, the incredible difficulties facing nations like Bangladesh that lie 80% within the flood plain, the impact that adding another 4 billion people will have on energy use, and the pressing need for China, India, Brazil and other developing countries to adopt a better energy path than the disasterous fossil fuel path that developed countries have followed.  It provides plenty of scenic photography, discussion of innovative technologies, and practical solutions. 

The Great Warming also has a particularly interesting slant.  It highlights, in particular, the growing concern in the American Evangelical community about global warming.  It has received endorsements from Rev. Richard Cizik for the National Association of Evangelicals [Rev. Richard Cizik ], Paul de Vries, Dean, New York Divinity School [New York Divinity School], Fr. Jon-Stephen Hedges [St. Athanasius Orthodox Church], the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Environmental Network and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life.

The film contains frank, hard-hitting comments from scientists, health providers, and other opinion-makers taking America’s  leadership to task for failing to address what is certainly the most critical environmental issue of the 21st century.  The film analogizes the current era of Great Warming to the era of the Great Depression.  And reminds us that our children and grandchildren will ask why we didn't do something about it.

This film does discuss the faith perspective, which may not be satisfactory for all students.  But, it is a great primer on global warming science, the impacts of climate change, and possible solutions.

THE GREAT WARMING
www.thegreatwarming.com

So, what is the bottom line.  Except for the evangelical angle, I'd chose the Great Warming over the other two.  But, given law student reaction to anything that smacks of spirituality or religion, I still think Gore did the best job with the science.

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)