Monday, February 18, 2008
Yesterday's post on ExxonMobil (2/17/08) highlighted that it had
funded the Frontiers of Freedom and its Center for Science and Public Policy (CSPP link ) during 2006, contrary to its claim that it was not
funding global warming denialists. You may wonder about the
context in which ExxonMobil made this claim.
Remember last year when the IPCC 4th Assessment report came out – the Guardian wrote a story about American Enterprise Institute soliciting result-oriented denialist analyses of the IPCC report and that report included information about ExxonMobil’s funding of AEI. Guardian 2/2/07 Report. During conversations in late January and early February, 2007 with me and other bloggers, Maria Surma Manka from Green Options [Giant Part I Post; Giant Part II Post], Jesse Jenkins from Watthead [ExxonMobil Posts], Tom Yulsman from Prometheus [Post on earlier conversations -- I can't recall whether Tom participated in the February call, but I believe he did], Stuart Staniford from The Oil Drum [ExxonMobil AEI Post], Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s Vice President for Public Affairs had assured us that ExxonMobil was no longer funding controversial denialist groups like Competitive Enterprise Institute and it did not fund AEI with the intent that they engage in denialist analyses. The first conference call occurred in late January and the second on the same day that the Guardian story and the IPCC report came out.
Cohen spent considerable time before the IPCC report came out in January 2007 trying to convince us that ExxonMobil was changing its Neanderthal stripes, truly accepted that anthropogenic global warming was a serious problem, and was ready to take a responsible role in the future discussions of how to reduce GHG emissions. Admittedly Cohen did that in the truly diplomatic way of saying that ExxonMobil had not effectively communicated its position that anthropogenic global warming is real and that GHG emissions need to be reduced.
During the February call, Cohen knew that the Guardian’s report about ExxonMobil’s funding of AEI and AEI’s alleged solicitation of result-oriented denialist analyses threatened to undercut public perception of ExxonMobil as a responsible actor. Indeed, those reports ended up on CNN. So, Cohen went out of his way to schedule this call about the Guardian’s allegations.
As Maria recounted that discussion:
“We had no knowledge that this was going on,” insisted Cohen. He explained that Exxon funds a lot of different groups, and “when we fund them, we want good analysis." Exxon does not condone what AEI did, but Cohen confirmed that it does continues to fund AEI, although other groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute are not funded by them anymore.
Cohen assured us that Exxon is “trying to be a constructive player in the policy discussion and not associate [themselves] with those that are marginalized and are not welcome in that discussion.” The IPCC report “is what it is,” and Exxon does not believe in engaging in scientific research that preordains an answer. Cohen:
…that's the issue with AEI: Are they preordaining an answer?…I can understand taking a market approach or a government interventionist approach, but this is not a question of trying to find who’s right or who’s wrong. Let’s let the process work.
But, I asked, how can you grant AEI nearly two million dollars (n.b. slsmith -over the entirety of AEI operations, not annually) and not know what they’re doing with the money? Turns out that Exxon conveniently funds the “general operations” of AEI, not specific programs that would allow them to track how the money is being used. Perhaps Exxon needs to think hard next time before it funds an organization so clearly disinterested in constructive solutions.
Cohen was consistently explicit in Exxon's
position that global warming is happening and mainly caused by human
activities. If that is true, then how will Exxon fight the huge misperception
that it’s still the planet's largest naysayer? Cohen conceded that the company
needed to do a better job of communicating its position on global warming,
rather than allowing a fact sheet or
news release on their website to do the work.
Cohen kept telling us that the 2006 contribution report was coming out, but declined to give us any specifics about ExxonMobil’s contributions to AEI or other groups, but he said Competitive Enterprise Institute was no longer funded. Cohen continued to defend AEI as a responsible, albeit very conservative, think tank doing legitimate policy research. And frankly, I supported him on that score during the calls because at least some of the work done by AEI is just that. And I was not nearly as skeptical as others about ExxonMobil's protestations of innocence. See my post on the AEI matter ELP Blog Post on AEI
Here’s why yesterday I called ExxonMobil’s behavior in early 2007 deliberately misleading. Initial Post on 2006 Funding Report
As the quoted material above indicates, Cohen in early February 2007 led us to believe that ExxonMobil was no longer in the denialist camp and did not condone AEI soliciting denialist analysis (if indeed that’s what they had done). He claimed that ExxonMobil no longer associated with marginalized denialist groups. He suggested that the 2006 report would indicate that ExxonMobily had disassociated itself from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which brought us the classic, sadly humorous “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life!” TV commercials. You tube link to CEI Energy commercial.
From this discussion, it seems clear that Cohen knew precisely which “public information and policy research” organizations that were funded by ExxonMobil during 2006. Yet, while he perhaps sat with the 2006 report in front of him and refused to release its contents, the 2006 contribution report later showed that in 2006 ExxonMobil provided $ 180,000 to Frontiers of Freedom and the CSPP, the policy center it created with ExxonMobil's funding several years ago. P.S. Cohen denied funding CSPP in an e-mail today, but unless my sight is failing: CSPP is reported as the Science and Policy Center under Frontiers of Freedom Download 2006 ExxonMobil's "public information and policy research" contributions If that’s not supporting denialists and associating with marginalized denialist groups, I don’t know what is!
Take a good look at the high quality analysis of global warming that CSPP provides:
(1) the amicus curiae brief filed in Mass. v. EPA by lawyers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute
(2) Dr. Ball's The Science Isn't Settled powerpoint presentation - Dr. Ball is the Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project which describes its first project on understanding climate change as "a proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes." NRSP describes Dr. Ball as the "lead participant in a number of recent made-for-TV climate change videos, The Great Global Warming Swindle."
(3) Joe Daleo's Congressional Seminar on global warming in March 2007 devoted to disputing the IPCC's report and arguing that anthropogenic global warming from greenhouse gas emissions are not a real problem.
(4) CSPP's May 2007 rebuttal of Al Gore's testimony, which suggests there is no scientific consensus that CO2 emissions are causing global warming
(5) a nonsensical piece on "Gore's Guru," positing that because Dr. Revelle, who died in 1991, had cautioned in 1988 and 1991 against drawing rash conclusions about global warming might still take that position. I call it nonsensical because Dr. Revelle suggested that we wait 10-20 years to see if the trends continued. We've waited and now we've answered that question: between 1998 and 2008 we witnessed incredibly dramatic global warming and the scientific community has spent the last 10-20 years studying whether indeed human-caused GHG emissions are responsible for much of that warming. We and ExxonMobil know its answer to that question.
Obviously, the blogosphere is not the only group worried about ExxonMobil's funding choices. Britain's national academy of scientists, The Royal Society, in September 2006 took ExxonMobil to task about its funding of denialist groups. Royal Society letter
Well, maybe ExxonMobil finally pulled the plug on FF and its “Science and Policy” center in 2007 (and so Cohen was just tap-dancing around the embarrassing, but not on-going, reality of funding denialists). Although, FF's CSPP might survive: it apparently does have funding from two major tobacco companies!
Maybe ExxonMobil has rethought its policy on funding organizations whose primary contribution to the climate change discussion is to distribute continued attacks on those who conclude that the current state of climate science supports an effective policy to reduce GHG emissions. I’d like to think so – but we won’t know until ExxonMobil releases its 2007 contributions report. I requested that Cohen release it to me; he declined.
However, even if it had
defunded FF and CSPP (and other denialist groups), I’m not sure I’d believe that ExxonMobil hadn’t found new denialist outlets to fund.
If the Guardian and other media or the blogosphere produce a big enough stir on this story, perhaps it will. But I am astonished that, just as it was selling itself as a responsible player on global warming, ExxonMobil would act so irresponsibly and so deceptively. And I am deeply embarrassed at my naievete in believing what Ken Cohen and ExxonMobil were selling about ExxonMobil’s born again conversion to a responsible position on anthropogenic global warming.
Watch out, though, ExxonMobil knows that the question is no
longer whether global warming is real, but what to do about it. You can bet it
is smart enough and devious enough to fund a lot of “public information and
policy research” that will muddle policy discussions about global warming
legislation and may assure that not much is done to regulate GHG emissions from oil and gas and that what is done doesn’t cut hardly at all
into ExxonMobil’s astounding profits: $41 billion for 2007 and almost $ 12 billion in the 4th quarter of 2007 alone. ExxonMobil profits post
I have a modest suggestion for ExxonMobil: do not fund organizations whose published information, analysis, and research on global warming or climate change has primarily sought to undercut the conclusions reached by the joint statement published in 2005 by 11 national academies of science, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, India, Brazil and China . That statement is linked here: Joint Science Academies' Statement: Global Response to Climate Change
Unless and until ExxonMobil stops funding the sort of stuff that Center for Science and Public Policy is peddling, I hope that the new President and Congress will not believe a single word that is said about global warming policy by ExxonMobil or any of denialist and anti-regulatory "public information and policy research" organizations it funds.
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 (1) | TrackBack (0)
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
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 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
Read/Write Web has listed Environmental Law Prof Blog prominently in its list of the 35 best environmental blogs. [35 best environmental blogs] Thanks!
October 16, 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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
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!
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
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?
Friday, July 6, 2007
Project ID: 01250
Date Posted: 7/02
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.
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.
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
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
Planet Ark link reports that Shanghai, China's largest city, experienced its warmest winter since records began in 1873. The average temperature over the past three months was 8.1 degrees Celsius (46.6 Fahrenheit), 2.6 degrees warmer than the previous average. Director of Shanghai's climate centre, attributed the record temperatures to global warming.
France also recorded its warmest autumn and winter for several centuries. Meteo France said average temperatures from December to February were 2.1 degrees Celsius (35.78 Fahrenheit) above average -- the highest since it began collating "full and reliable" data from 22 French cities in 1950.
"This remarkably mild winter follows an exceptionally hot 2006 autumn, which has not been seen before in the 1950-2006 period and without doubt even for several centuries," Meteo France said in a statement.
Monday, February 26, 2007
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
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
Friday, September 29, 2006
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.
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
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
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.
Friday, August 18, 2006
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
Friday, August 11, 2006
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.
Friday, August 4, 2006
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.
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
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.