Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chu: Climate change 'very, very scary'

April 18, 2009 -PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, April 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Saturday the prospect of more severe hurricanes and rising sea levels in the Caribbean is "very, very scary."

Chu, who met with government officials from other Western hemisphere nations at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, said it is "a demonstrable fact" that the climate is changing and "very, very convincing evidence -- very high probability it was caused predominantly by greenhouse gas emissions."
Referring to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Chu said there is a reasonable probability that Earth's temperature will rise between 2 and 4 degrees Centigrade or more by the end of this century. More >>>

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Obama Calls for Thaw in U.S. Relations With Cuba

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago - April 18, 2009— President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues.

Mr. Obama’s remarks, during the opening ceremony at the Summit of the Americas, are the clearest signal in decades that the United States is willing to change direction in its dealings with Cuba. They capped a dizzying series of developments this week, including surprisingly warm words between Raúl Castro, Cuba’s leader, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. More >>>

Friday, April 17, 2009

Clinton admits Cuba policy failed

Friday, 17 April 2 - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that US policy towards Cuba has failed, welcoming an offer to talk from the Cuban president.

She said the US was "taking a serious look" at how to respond to President Raul Castro's comments, which she called an "overture".
Mr Castro had said he was ready for discussions covering human rights, political prisoners and press freedom.
The US passed a law this week easing restrictions on Cuban Americans.
The move will allow Cuban Americans to visit relatives in Cuba and send money home more easily.

Veto threat
Correspondents say a series of exchanges between the US and Cuba suggest that both sides appear to be making efforts to find a way to end their 50-year stalemate. More >>>

Monday, April 13, 2009

Climate Change Explained

Climate change explained - the impact of temperature rises

Mark Lynas - The Guardian, Tuesday 14 April 2009

Less than 2C

Arctic sea icecap disappears, leaving polar bears homeless and changing the Earth's energy balance dramatically as reflective ice is replaced during summer months by darker sea surface. Now expected by 2030 or even earlier.

Tropical coral reefs suffer severe and repeated bleaching episodes due to hotter ocean waters, killing off most coral and delivering a hammer blow to marine biodiversity.

Droughts spread through the sub-tropics, accompanied by heatwaves and intense wildfires. Worst-hit are the Mediterranean, the south-west United States, southern Africa and Australia.


Summer heatwaves such as that in Europe in 2003, which killed 30,000 people, become annual events. Extreme heat sees temperatures reaching the low 40s Celsius in southern England.

Amazon rainforest crosses a "tipping point" where extreme heat and lower rainfall makes the forest unviable - much of it burns and is replaced by desert and savannah.

Dissolved CO2 turns the oceans increasingly acidic, destroying remaining coral reefs and wiping out many species of plankton which are the basis of the marine food chain. Several metres of sea level rise is now inevitable as the Greenland ice sheet disappears.


Glacier and snow-melt in the world's mountain chains depletes freshwater flows to downstream cities and agricultural land. Most affected are California, Peru, Pakistan and China. Global food production is under threat as key breadbaskets in Europe, Asia and the United States suffer drought, and heatwaves outstrip the tolerance of crops.

The Gulf Stream current declines significantly. Cooling in Europe is unlikely due to global warming, but oceanic changes alter weather patterns and lead to higher than average sea level rise in the eastern US and UK.


Another tipping point sees massive amounts of methane - a potent greenhouse gas - released by melting Siberian permafrost, further boosting global warming. Much human habitation in southern Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and other sub-tropical areas is rendered unviable due to excessive heat and drought. The focus of civilisation moves towards the poles, where temperatures remain cool enough for crops, and rainfall - albeit with severe floods - persists. All sea ice is gone from both poles; mountain glaciers are gone from the Andes, Alps and Rockies.


Global average temperatures are now hotter than for 50m years. The Arctic region sees temperatures rise much higher than average - up to 20C - meaning the entire Arctic is now ice-free all year round. Most of the topics, sub-tropics and even lower mid-latitudes are too hot to be inhabitable. Sea level rise is now sufficiently rapid that coastal cities across the world are largely abandoned.

6C and above

Danger of "runaway warming", perhaps spurred by release of oceanic methane hydrates. Could the surface of the Earth become like Venus, entirely uninhabitable? Most sea life is dead. Human refuges now confined entirely to highland areas and the polar regions. Human population is drastically reduced. Perhaps 90% of species become extinct, rivalling the worst mass extinctions in the Earth's 4.5 billion-year history.

• Mark Lynas is the author of Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

World will not meet 2C warming target, climate change experts agree

14 April 2009 - Almost nine out of 10 climate scientists do not believe political efforts to restrict global warming to 2C will succeed, a Guardian poll reveals today. An average rise of 4-5C by the end of this century is more likely, they say, given soaring carbon emissions and political constraints.

Such a change would disrupt food and water supplies, exterminate thousands of species of plants and animals and trigger massive sea level rises that would swamp the homes of hundreds of millions of people.

The poll of those who follow global warming most closely exposes a widening gulf between political rhetoric and scientific opinions on climate change. While policymakers and campaigners focus on the 2C target, 86% of the experts told the survey they did not think it would be achieved. A continued focus on an unrealistic 2C rise, which the EU defines as dangerous, could even undermine essential efforts to adapt to inevitable higher temperature rises in the coming decades, they warned.

The survey follows a scientific conference last month in Copenhagen, where a series of studies were presented that suggested global warming could strike harder and faster than realised. More >>>

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cayman Institute Representative Attends Arctic SIDS Conference

Arctic, Island & Advocate Voices Highlight Climate Impacts, Call for Stronger Targets.
Urge Climate Negotiators, Members of Congress, and the Obama Administration to Adopt 'Bolder' Ambitious Emission Reduction Targets

WASHINGTON, April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Voices from the frontlines of climate change and leading advocates today called for the climate negotiators currently in Bonn, Members of Congress, and the Obama Administration to commit to ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are threatening the existence of vulnerable communities in the Arctic, small island developing States (SIDS), and other places around the world.

At a briefing organized by the Climate Law & Policy Project (CLPP) and Many Strong Voices (MSV), a panel of experts expressed frustration with the sizable gap between the urgent and bold action that climate science and real-world observations indicate is necessary and the proposed commitments put forth in domestic and international political forums.

Arctic and island peoples are already experiencing significant climate impacts due to a rise in global average temperatures of about .75ºC (about 1.3ºF) since pre-industrial times, corresponding to an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations from around 280 ppm to over 380 ppm. Yet the goal espoused by many in domestic and international policy processes is to limit warming to 2ºC (3.6ºF) - almost triple the amount of warming that has already occurred. More >>>