Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Climate change refugees seek a new international deal

27 Dec 2008 | Millions of people are predicted to become climate refugees as global warming increases. A new international pact will be needed to protect their rights to live.

Global warming caused by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions has been linked to a host of environmental disasters. These include sea-level rise, flooding, spells of droughts and cold and other extreme weather conditions such as frequent hurricanes and cyclones. As such natural catastrophes push inhabitants to flee to safer places, environmental refugees are fast becoming an international security issue.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there will be 150 million environmental refugees by 2050. The Institute for Environment and Human Security, affiliated with United Nations University, estimated the number of environmental refugees at 20 million in 2005 and predicted the number could be 50 million as early as 2010. More >>>

Saturday, December 27, 2008

U.S. Edges Out Germany as World Wind Power Leader

WASHINGTON, DC, December 26, 2008 (ENS) - The national trade association of America's wind industry says in 2008 the industry had another record growth year - the third record year in a row and generated more than $18 billion in revenues.
This year, the United States passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation, said the American Wind Energy Association in its year-end report.

AWEA says that this summer, the U.S. wind industry reached the 20,000-megawatt installed capacity milestone, doubling installed wind power generating capacity since 2006.

By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 megawatts of wind capacity up and running. Germany had 22,300 megawatts, but U.S. windpower developers sprinted to the end of the year while German wind development slowed.

"With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth," AWEA said in its report. More >>>

Sunday, December 21, 2008

President-elect Obama’s Pick for Energy Secretary - Nobel laureate Steven Chu

He will be the first Nobel laureate to serve in a presidential cabinet. By picking Steven Chu — who shared the 1997 prize in physics for his work trapping atoms with lasers — as his candidate for energy secretary, Barack Obama looks to turn the tide on a government bureaucracy that under the Bush Administration often minimized the importance of scientific expertise.

While much of the Department of Energy's attention has previously focused on nuclear weapons and waste, Chu, a firm believer in the dangers of climate change, will try to fulfil Obama's promise to create millions of green collar jobs, develop alternative energy options and make the nation more energy independent. (See Obama's other Cabinet picks.) More >>>

“Climate change of that scale [a 5° C increase] will cause enormous resource wars, over water, arable land, and massive population displacements. We’re not talking about ten thousand people. We’re not talking about ten million people, we’re talking about hundreds of millions to billions of people being flooded out, permanently,” More >>>

Friday, December 19, 2008

NASA Displays Further Ice Melting

18 December 2008 - NASA satellites show that about two trillion tons of ice in Antarctica, Alaska and Greenland have melted in the past 5 years. 

The agency plans to present the facts on Thursday at the American Geophysical Union conference which will be held in San Francisco, Calif. Many scientists state that this phenomenon is a vivid illustration of the effects that global warming has on Earth’s environment and climate.

A NASA geophysicist said that a good part of the melted land ice is located in Greenland, according to the agency’s GRACE satellite. Yet, the scientist pointed out that the ice loss recorded this year is not as severe as in 2007.

Scientists pointed out that the situation in Alaska is getting better because the satellites have recorded a minor increase in land ice throughout 2008. Yet, they are yet worried, as Alaska lost about 400 billion tons of land ice in the past five years.

Previous researches had discovered that melting land ice has little effects on global sea levels, as it adds only half of a millimeter every year. Still, sea level is affected by melting sea ice and by the water expanding as it absorbs more heat. Scientists don’t think that the situation will improve in the following years if the governments don’t take the right measures.

The melting of land ice is a consequence of the global warming. Scientists predict that further rise of global temperatures will lead the sea level to rise and it will also cause dramatic changes in the precipitation patterns. It is believed that the main cause of global warming is the high concentration of greenhouse effects, due to industrial activity of the developed countries
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Singapore’s Foreign Minister‘s Speech on Global Governance

Singapore: December 9 2008 - Minister For Foreign Affairs George Yeo's Attendance of the Opening Gala Dinner of the Inaugural S.T.Lee Project On Global Governance Conference, 5 December 2008

Minister George Yeo attended the Opening Gala Dinner of the Inaugural S.T.Lee Project On Global Governance Conference at The Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore on 5 December 2008 where he spoke on the Sino-US relationship and its significance to global governance.

First let me thank Kishore for inviting me here this evening to join you for a discussion on global governance. I feel very honoured to be paired with Strobe Talbott, whose speech I enjoyed very much. A few weeks ago, Ann Florini sent me his book - The Great Experiment - which I dipped into with pleasure. He had a section on gypsies which I really enjoyed reading. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a Roman Cardinal some years ago when I was in Rome attending the canonisation of the Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá. The cardinal said that John Paul II had not too long before, canonised a gypsy saint; and St Peters square was flooded with gypsies. But this time in a role which most Italians were not used to seeing. The Roman Cardinal said to the gypsy leader: "Now that you have your own saint you have got to behave better." The manner in which he narrated this story to me showed first, recognition of the problem, then a challenge to better behaviour but, most importantly, love, profound love. Reading Strobe Talbott's account of the gypsies in his book, how he sought them out in order to understand better, I thought that this is a man with a heart. I had not met Strobe before and am very proud to be joining him this evening for this discussion on global governance, which must always put human beings at the heart of what we are trying to do.

Click here for the full transcript.

[This speech may have been made by George Yeo, Foreign Minister of Singapore, Speaking mainly of China and the United States, however it is relevant to all countries and territories, in both Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs. It is a speech well woth reading. Editor]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Living With a Changing Climate

Climate change is an increasing disaster risk, and preparing for, and reducing the risk of natural hazards is something we all have to do more of. We have to be proactive so that instead of responding to disasters, we mitigate against them.

I was very glad to see Guy Harrison’s article in this weekend’s Cayman Observer, referring to Cayman Brac being devastated by Paloma, as well as to Grand Cayman in hurricane Ivan in 2004. It is imperative that all Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) start to take mitigation measures now to prevent these events from reoccurring. More >>> 101Kb PDF Document

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Too late? Why scientists say we should expect the worst

As ministers and officials gather in Poznan one year ahead of the Copenhagen summit on global warming, the second part of a major series looks at the crucial issue of targets.

At a high-level academic conference on global warming at Exeter University this summer, climate scientist Kevin Anderson stood before his expert audience and contemplated a strange feeling. He wanted to be wrong. Many of those in the room who knew what he was about to say felt the same. His conclusions had already caused a stir in scientific and political circles. Even committed green campaigners said the implications left them terrified.

Anderson, an expert at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, was about to send the gloomiest dispatch yet from the frontline of the war against climate change.

Despite the political rhetoric, the scientific warnings, the media headlines and the corporate promises, he would say, carbon emissions were soaring way out of control - far above even the bleak scenarios considered by last year's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Stern review. The battle against dangerous climate change had been lost, and the world needed to prepare for things to get very, very bad.

"As an academic I wanted to be told that it was a very good piece of work and that the conclusions were sound," Anderson said. "But as a human being I desperately wanted someone to point out a mistake, and to tell me we had got it completely wrong." More >>>

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Implement The Alternative Energy Association’s 3 Point Plan

This plan refers to the United States, however it is applicable to all countries, states and territories, including the Cayman Islands!

Reduce, or eliminate, our need for foreign oil, create millions of jobs and stimulate our economy NOW by following the AEA’s 3 POINT PLAN.

Point One: Transportation. America's most immediate energy problem is a liquid fuels issue affecting the transportation sector. Bail out the Big 3 auto makers only if they agree to stop producing any passenger vehicle that does not get at least 25 mpg and give them greater incentives to build vehicles that get 40+ mpg. 60% of all daily vehicle usage in the U.S. consists of less than 30 miles of travel. Plug in hybrid vehicles use an electric motor for travel up to 40 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in, which reduces gasoline usage so that some vehicles can even get up to 100 mpg. BUT, we are still using foreign oil. By using existing technology, not unproven theory, we can create plug in hybrids that run on electricity and domestic natural gas, not gasoline made from foreign drilled oil. Today we have a supply of 118 years worth of natural gas in America. Follow this plan and there will be enough natural gas for 300 plus years – and no foreign oil will be used. Stop sending $600 billion to $1.5 trillion out of the U.S. every year.

Point Two: Solar. One-half of all solar panels manufactured in the world go to Germany. Why? Because of German feed-in-tariff legislation that makes it financially beneficial for homes and businesses to install solar equipment. Eight U.S. states are contemplating similar legislation, and a local variety of this plan is being implemented in Gainesville, Florida. Make Congress pass federal legislation mandating the same plan and provide financing to new solar panel manufacturers. Widespread use of solar will create millions of jobs in the U.S. in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. Use of solar in federal and state buildings should be mandated NOW, so that government leads the way. Extend the 2008 Economic Stimulus Act provisions that provide tax incentives for commercial solar and implement the financing plan used by some municipalities to help finance solar for residential use. Create government loan guarantees like the ones used by the Small Business Administration to finance solar equipment.

Point Three: Wind Power. The wind corridor from New Mexico/Texas north through the Dakotas can produce enough wind power to generate electricity not only for all of the United States, but for all of Canada and Mexico. Wouldn’t it be nice to export power for a change? Wind power infrastructure will also create millions of jobs in the U.S. and must be built to distribute the power throughout the country. This is the world’s cheapest and fastest-growing new energy source, along with being clean and renewable. Make Congress provide incentives for wind power infrastructure the way it did for the telecommunications infrastructure and the way it provided subsidies to oil companies for decades.

The Alternative Energy Association is in the process of planning the creation of 50 state chapters, along with multiple college-based chapters. These state and college chapters will be charged with the responsibility of working with their state’s members of House and Senate, state legislatures and local governments to create legislation to make this happen on a grassroots basis. More >>>