Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

South Africans enjoy getting into hot water and saving money

DURBAN, South Africa (AlertNet) - At the recent U.N. climate conference in Durban, the South African government promoted its solar water heating programme as a way to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. But for poor local families, the benefits are much more personal.

“I am very happy that I can bathe in warm water, like other people,” said Lhle Mbele, 15, whose house has been equipped with a free solar-powered water heater.

Lhle, his 14 siblings and his parents live in a 20 square metre (220 square foot) house in the Kingsburgh district of Durban. Lhle’s father is unemployed and his mother earns a living as a domestic worker in an elite area of the city. Hot water for washing is a luxury the family could not previously afford.

South Africa is responsible for 70 percent of Africa’s carbon emissions. As the host of the two-week U.N. climate talks, which ended on Dec. 11, the country has been eager to demonstrate its commitment to low-carbon technology.

The government has committed to producing 10,000 gigawatt hours of electricity through renewable energy by 2013, and solar power for heating water is slated to account for 23 percent of this.

Since December 2010, more than 75,000 solar water heaters have been installed by the Gauteng-based Solar Academy of Subsaharan Africa (SASSA), a private company working for the government, in neighbourhoods whose residents cannot normally afford hot water. The programme includes cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria. More

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Polly Higgins: Let's stand up for climate justice (and Survival)

Polly Higgins: Let's stand up for climate justice (and Survival)

When David stands up to Goliath it is exciting to watch. And this is exactly what we saw at the Durban climate talks this week when six Canadian youth delegates thumbed their noses at Peter Kent, Canadian Environment Minister. Kent was speaking about Canada’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol when the youths stood up, swiveled, and turned their backs on him.

Their t-shirts read “People before Polluters”, and one of the courageous six said “It’s time to leave Canada behind” – but no words could speak louder than the gesture. The young people received a standing ovation from those who witnessed their protest. 

These youths turned their backs in disgust not only on an intransigent government and a powerful fossil fuel industry lobby, but on the process of the climate talks themselves. The climate talks have created a growing industry of negotiators: 9,000 at Durban. But still they failed to agree any legally binding cuts to emissions that would prevent runaway climate change and benefit those most at risk from its adverse impacts.

Next up – literally – was Abigail Borah. A student at Middlebury College and a youth delegate for the US, she rose in front of the hall of delegates to protest that the US negotiators “cannot speak on behalf of the United States of America.”

What Borah went on to say stopped many in their tracks; not because it was radical but because it rang absolutely true. “The obstructionist Congress has shackled a just agreement and delayed ambition for far too long,” she said, “2020 is too late to wait.”

For stating plainly what the vast majority of negotiators were thinking, and climate scientists have been warning, Borah was unceremoniously marched out and ejected from the process – but not before she received the applause of representatives from around the world. 

Anjali Appaduri, representing youth at COP17, also impressed with her rousing speech, ending “Deep cuts now! Get it done!”

I am full of admiration for these young leaders protesting for what is right at the Durban climate talks. Climate scientists say we need to keep global warming below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels to prevent catastrophic climate change, and emissions need to peak in 2020. But the deal made in Durban is vague about action that must be taken within the next five years. Therefore, we need hundreds, thousands, millions more of us around the world to choose to stand up to our governments and advocate for what is right: climate justice.

It is not right that that some countries are evading their global responsibilities to stop climate change in its tracks, while others are pleading for help. The Environment Minister of the small island nation Tuvalu described at Durban how their entire nation is in danger of flooding. This is sad, but sadder still is that as the law currently stands, no country is legally obliged to help another country in trouble.

Without law to impose a duty of care upon those who run companies and countries, profit will continue to be placed over and above people and planet. To change this we need “bold, courageous and moral leadership” in the words of Previn Gordhan, the Finance Minister of South Africa at the World Business Climate Summit this week.

Earlier this year we staged a mock trial at the Supreme Court in London, England to test one bold, courageous solution. A judge, jury and top QCs tried a new international law of Ecocide - under which heads of corporations would have to take personal responsibility for destruction of the environment. The jury unanimously found the CEOs of fictional energy companies exploiting the tar sands guilty of Ecocide.

An international crime of Ecocide is a way that we can seek climate justice. Making Ecocide law has been advocated at Durban by some of the most important names in environmentalism, including Nnimo Bassey, the chair of Friends of the Earth and Pablo Sólon, the former chief climate negotiator for Bolivia. "This Ecocide law may be the only way to make climate criminals rethink their crimes of commission and omission,” said Bassey.

Ecocide is the big idea that is being discussed as an alternative solution to the failing Kyoto Protocol. An international law of Ecocide would put in place the absent legislative framework that business needs. It may be the only thing that can enable governments, banks and corporations to change course in time.

About Polly Higgins
Polly Higgins is the lawyer who has proposed to the UN the law of Ecocide. During war it is a crime to destroy vast tracts of land, but during peace-time there is no crime against it. This anomaly in the law has allowed the damage and destruction of the planet to reach unprecedented levels which the UN say could trigger ecosystem collapse.

Over the past 7 years Higgins has become an expert in Earth law and has authored the book: "Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet".  Her book was accoladed 'Winner of the Peoples Book Prize 2011' for non-fiction.

Higgins has mounted a global campaign to have Ecocide recognised as the 5th Crime Against Peace at the 2012 Earth Summit.

More information: Eradicating Ecocide

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Energy giants lay out climate resilience plans: Should Cayman do the same?

Defra releases new reports detailing Big Six plans to bolster climate adaptation efforts

Just days after storms swept across the north of Scotland, bringing down power cables and felling two wind turbines, the government will this morning release climate adaptation plans from the UK’s largest energy companies, detailing how they intend to make energy infrastructure more resilient to climatic impacts, including increasingly frequent winter storms.

The reports, which were requested by Defra, confirm that the Big Six energy firms are making “good progress” preparing for rising climate risks such as flooding, heat waves and extreme storms. However, it warns that more investment will be required over the coming years to adapt the UK’s energy infrastructure to cope with inevitable climate change that scientists predict will result in hotter, drier summers and milder, wetter winters.

Speaking on a visit yesterday to an E.ON power station in Enfield, Defra minister Lord Taylor urged utilities to bolster their climate change adaptation plans and take specific steps to improve their resilience. More

New NASA research into Earth's paleoclimate history foreshadows rapid climate change.

New research into the Earth's paleoclimate history by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies director James E. Hansen suggests the potential for rapid climate changes this century, including multiple meters of sea level rise, if global warming is not abated. In the new research, Hansen and co-author Makiko Sato, also of Goddard Institute for Space Studies, compared the climate of today, the Holocene, with previous similar "interglacial" epochs – periods when polar ice caps existed but the world was not dominated by glaciers.

In studying cores drilled from both ice sheets and deep ocean sediments, Hansen found that global mean temperatures during the Eemian period, which began about 130,000 years ago and lasted about 15,000 years, were less than 1 degree Celsius warmer than today. If temperatures were to rise 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, global mean temperature would far exceed that of the Eemian, when sea level was four to six meters higher than today, Hansen said. 

"The paleoclimate record reveals a more sensitive climate than thought, even as of a few years ago. Limiting human-caused warming to 2 degrees is not sufficient," Hansen said. "It would be a prescription for disaster." More

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Water emergencies grip Tuvalu & Tokelau

As governments and aid agencies scramble to deliver desalination plants and bottled water to drought stricken Pacific Island nations of Tuvalu and Tokelau, other Pacific Island nations - Samoa and the Cook Islands - are preparing for a similar fate.
Is this band-aid approach to solving this problem going to be enough?

Redina Auina, spokeswoman for the Tuvalu Faith Based Youth network, who partner with, is in Tuvalu and describes the feelings of people as they face the reality of less than 5 days of drinkable water in the nations capital, Funafuti --
Experts say the past 12 months have been the second driest in Funafuti's 78 years of records. While we do not make any claims to it being solely a climate change related event, the reality is that the line between what is normal climatic variation and what might be extremes resulting from accelerated climate change is being blurred. This is particularly true for the hydrological cycle, which is sensitive to even subtle variations in the global climate and often results in either too much water, or in our case at the moment, too little. With an intense La Nina weather pattern over much of the Pacific, we’re not likely to see rain for months to come. It’s these kind of extremes that we are told will become our new reality for Tuvalu and the Pacific region as a whole. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NASA's top climate scientist: US south could become uninhabitable

Well, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise to see this statement from NASA’s James Hansen, perhaps the top climate scientist in the world. But

it’s a statement we seem to keep ignoring. Here’s the statement I’m referring to:

“Climate change — human-made global warming — is happening. It is already having noticeable impacts…. If we stay on with business as usual, the southern U.S. will become almost uninhabitable.”
Dr. James Hansen has a new paper out on global warming and climate science (and Monarch butterflies), but aside from tackling the science alone, Dr. Hansen also delves into the problems stopping us from addressing these problems. Here’s a piece of that:

There is ample evidence of growing climate disruption. But despite record or near-record heat and drought in the United States this past summer with simultaneous extreme flooding, and despite comparable extremes in China and elsewhere, there has been little public discussion of the connection of these climate extremes with human-made climate forcing.

The media are partly responsible for the silent summer, as they have mainly chosen not to examine connections between climate anomalies and human-made causes. A cynic may ask whether their silent summer is related to increasing right-wing control of media and large advertising revenues from fossil fuel companies. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

World Food Day, 16 October 2011

Food prices - from crisis to stability

Price swings, upswings in particular, represent a major threat to food security in developing countries. Hardest-hit are the poor. According to the

World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.

“FOOD PRICES – FROM CRISIS TO STABILITY” has been chosen as this year’s World Food Day theme to shed some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.

On World Food Day 2011, let us look seriously at what causes swings in food prices, and do what needs to be done to reduce their impact on the weakest members of global society. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pakistan: Another Victim of Climate Change

By Zafar Iqbal ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, September 27, 2011 (ENS) - Environmentalists are blaming climate change for the unprecedented

massive monsoon rains in Pakistan, which so far this year have affected eight million people, claiming 350 lives and damaging 1.3 million homes.
Over the past month, the country's southern region has received the highest monsoon rains ever recorded, local metrological experts confirm.

In August, the southern parts of the country received 270 percent above-normal monsoon rains. And in September, the monsoons rains were 1,170 percent above normal, says Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Adviser Climate Affairs.

The Sindh province, where six million acres of land were inundated in current floods, had experienced severe drought conditions before the monsoon season and had not received any rainfall at all during the past 12 months.

Aid agencies are scrambling to help the multitude of flood victims - more than 1.5 million people are living in temporary camps.

Pakistan has witnessed swift climate change because of rising temperature and flooding downpours in the past two years. Climate experts consider this unexpected change as a part of broader regional climate changes also happening in the neighboring countries. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Film on Climate Refugees Strikes a Chord

During the shooting of his 2010 documentary “Climate Refugees,” the Irish-American filmmaker Michael Nash visited nearly 50 countries in about

18 months, interviewing politicians, scientists, health workers and victims of floods, cyclones, hurricanes and droughts.

Click here for film trailer

His conclusion was that short- and longer-term changes in climate are causing vast numbers of people to abandon their jobs, homes and countries to seek better lives elsewhere, or to simply survive. (Jeffrey Gettleman’s recent coverage of the Somali refugee crisis in The Times has offered some vivid and disturbing examples, although Somalia’s troubles are also inextricably linked to political turmoil.)

Mr. Nash poses a basic question: what will become of the millions of people whose lack of access to food and clean water leads them to take increasingly desperate measures? What type of strains will huge migration put on resources in more developed countries?

Will this dislocation eventually, as the retired Navy vice admiral Lee Gunn told Mr. Nash, pose a threat to Americans’ national security, too?

By focusing on the consequences of climate change rather than its scientific causes, some experts suggest that Mr. Nash succeeded in circumventing a divisive political debate over global warming and the extent to which human activity contributes to it. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, September 30, 2011

Study Uncovers a Predictable Sequence Toward Coral Reef Collapse

ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2011) — Coral reefs that have lots of corals and appear healthy may, in fact, be heading toward collapse, according to a study published by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups.

Using data from coral reef systems across the western Indian Ocean, an international team of researchers identified how overfishing creates a series of at least eight big changes on reefs that precipitate a final collapse. This information can help managers gauge the health of a reef and tell them when to restrict fishing in order to avoid a collapse of the ecosystem and fishery.

The study appears this week in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors of the study include: Tim R. McClanahan and Nyawira A. Muthiga of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Nicholas A.J. Graham and Joshua E. Cinner of James Cook University, Queensland, Australia; M. Aaron MacNeil of the Australian Institute of Marine Science; J. Henrich Bruggemann of Laboratoire d’Ecologie Marine, Université de la Réunion, La Réunion, France; and Shaun K. Wilson of the Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth, Western Australia. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Israel to frack water supply exploiting oil shale

Israel is looking to get in on the oil shale - tar sands act, BBC News reports.

The article, though mentioning environmental concerns about this so-called unconventional source of oil, essentially soft peddles these and instead focuses on how much oil could be extracted: “Israel is sitting on enough shale to produce around four billion barrels of oil, enough at today’s usage to keep the country in oil for more than 40 years.”

Here’s the kicker, the inevitable political and environmental justice flashpoint:

The drilling area [in the Valley of Elah in central Israel, roughly 30 miles from Jerusalem] is also to the site of a vital and politically sensitive water aquifer shared by both Israel and Palestinian areas of the West Bank.
More >>>

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Palau, Marshall Islands to Seek Advice from World Court on GHG Impacts

22 September 2011: The Governments of Palau and the Marshall Islands have called upon the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to seek, on an urgent basis, an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the responsibilities of States under international law to ensure that activities carried out under their jurisdiction of control that emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) do not damage other States.

The announcement was made by Palau’s President Johnson Toribiong during the general debate of the 66th session of the UNGA. Toribiong said urgent action to combat climate change is vital, and that the ICJ has already “confirmed that customary international law obliges” States to ensure activities within their jurisdiction “respect the environment of other States.” Toriniong underscored it was time to determine what the “international rule of law means in the context of climate change.” More >>>

Location: Cayman islands

IDB, GDF Suez to Support Sustainable Energy Access to Isolated Regions

21 September 2011: The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and GDF Suez signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support social entrepreneurial projects aimed at providing sustainable energy access to disadvantaged populations.

During the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting, IDB and GDF Suez agreed to collaborate in a programme aimed at promoting economic and social development of isolated regions, and at reducing energy insecurity worldwide. GDF SUEZ hopes, through its corporate social responsibility programme, “GDF SUEZ Rassembleurs d’Energies,” to sponsor up to eight significant projects with high social impact by 2013. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

UNITAR is pleased to announce its new online courses

UNITAR is pleased to announce its new online courses on:
Drafting and Adopting United Nations Resolutions (in English), which will take place from 3 to 28 October 2011.

Chairing International Conferences (in English), which will take place from 10 to 21 October 2011.

These courses target members of the diplomatic community as well as government officials, staff of international and non-governmental organizations, professionals from the private sector, and post-graduate students. We would be grateful if you could share this information within your diplomatic academy and with your colleagues who may be interested in taking this course.

More information about the course content, fee, and registration is available at:

Should you need further information, please contact the Multilateral Diplomacy Programme Team at:

Location:Cayman Islands

The Economy, Peak Oil and Permaculture

Richard Heinberg- Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute is a Permaculturist.

His latest book describes The End of Growth- isn't looking for when the recession will end and we'll get back to "normal". He believes our decades-long era of growth was based on aberrant set of conditions- namely cheap oil, but also cheap minerals, cheap food, etc- and that looking ahead, we need to prepare for a "new normal". The problem, according to Heinberg, is our natural resources just aren't so cheap and plentiful anymore, and he's not just talking about Peak Oil, Heinberg believes in Peak Everything (also the title of one of his books). Heinberg thinks for many, adjusting to a life where everything costs a bit more, could be very hard, but he also thinks the transition to a new normal might actually make life better. "Particularly in the Western industrialized countries we've gotten used to levels of consumption that are not only environmentally unsustainable, they also don't make us happy. They've in fact hollowed out our lives. We've given up things that actually do give us satisfaction and pleasure so that we can work more and more hours to get more and more money with which to buy more and more stuff- more flatscreen tvs, bigger SUVs, bigger houses and it's not making us happier. Well, guess what, it's possible to downsize, it's possible to use less, become more self sufficient, grow more of your own food, have chickens in your backyard and be a happier person." This is not all theoretical. In the backyard of the home Heinberg shares with his wife, Janet Barocco, the couple grow most of their food during the summer months (i.e. 25 fruit & nut trees, veggies, potatoes.. they're just lack grains), raise chickens for eggs, capture rainwater, bake with solar cookers and a solar food drier and secure energy with photovoltaic and solar hot water panels. Their backyard reflects Heinberg's vision for our "new normal" and it's full of experiments, like the slightly less than 120-square-foot cottage that was inspired by the Small Home Movement. It was built with the help of some of Heinberg's college students (in one of the nation's first sustainability classes) using recycled and natural materials (like lime plaster). Heinberg admits it's not a real tiny house experiment since they don't actually live in it- his wife uses it as a massage studio, he meditates there and sometimes it's used as a guest house (though that's hush hush due to permitting issues). But their tiny cottage points to the bigger point behind why a transition to a less resource intensive future could equal greater happiness. "Simplify. Pay less attention to all of the stuff in your life and pay more attention to what's really important. Maybe for you it's gardening, maybe for you it's painting or music. You know we all have stuff that gives us real pleasure and most of us find we have less and less time for that because we have to devote so much time to shopping, paying bills and driving from here to there and so on. Well, how about if we cut out some of that stuff and spend more time doing what really feeds us emotionally and spiritually and in some cases even nutritionally."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Our Weatherbeaten Nation

Awakening a week or so ago to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, and to several days of heavy rain, flooding, property damage and a feeling of powerlessness in my small suburban community, my thoughts turned to the debate over climate change in our country.

In a year when the number of tornadoes registered up to the end of June – approximately 1,600 – is already at a record level, 48 percent of Americans believe that the threat of climate change is exaggerated. At a time when eight of the top 10 worst disasters of 2010 (in terms of victims affected) were due to weather-related factors and the scientific consensus on man-made global warming is at 97% and growing, Americans are split on whether climate change is the result of human activities or non-human natural causes. U.S. public opinion on climate change has become increasingly polarized, as partisan think tanks, narrowcast media, chat rooms, divisive politicians and frustrated scientists have framed the discussion to recast an originally scientific topic into a political wedge issue.

Facts and education no longer seem to matter. Early environmental researchers found that level of education was the most consistent predictor of citizen concern over climate change. However, a study published in 2010 found something startling: concern about climate change increased with level of education among Democrats, but decreased with education among Republicans. That’s right: the higher the education level of Democrats, the more they believe in global warming, and the higher the education level of Republicans, the less they believe in it. This tells us that data, research and problem-solving are taking take a back seat to ideology, sentiment and politics. In other words, this divide has less to do with science and more to do with emotions and values. There is a great sense of disdain and suspicion right now for the liberal scientific elite in a significant portion of the U.S. population, and I’m afraid the feeling is often mutual. More >>>

Location:Amman, Jordan

Monday, September 19, 2011

Permaculture Design Course - Jordan 2011

The graduates of the 2011 Permaculture Design Course in Amman, Jordan.
The Permaculture Design Certificate course is an internationally-recognized, seventy-two hour course resulting in a Permaculture Design Certificate. It provides an introduction to permaculture design as set forth by movement founder Bill Mollison.

The PDC serves as foundation for further permaculture work and study and is a prerequisite for the Diploma in Permaculture Design, offered through The Permaculture Institute. Credit for this course is now accepted by a growing number of universities around the world.

To date, thousands of permaculture designers worldwide have been certified through this course, and now comprise a global network of educators, ecological activists who influence major corporations, individuals creating new business alternatives and groups of committed people working together to change the way we view and design into our landscapes.

The course covers sustainable living systems for a wide variety of landscapes and climates. It includes the application of permaculture principles to food production, home design, construction, energy conservation and generation, and explores alternative economic structures and legal strategies supporting permaculture solutions. More >>>

Location:Amman, Jordan

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Remote Island Paradise to Be Powered By Coconuts and Sunshine

In the Malay language, the coconut palm is called “pokok seribu guna,” meaning “the tree of a thousand uses.”

Make that one thousand and one. In just over a year’s time, the entire chain of the Tokelau islands plans to get 100 percent of their energy from a heavenly mix of coconuts and sunshine, according to United Press International.

It is perhaps incontestably appropriate that an island paradise should power itself with its two most plentiful resources. The new energy policy should also help to make these tiny, vulnerable tropical atolls more self-sufficient, as well as send the world a message about the feasibility of locally sourced renewable energy.

Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, consists of three small atolls located roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. About 1,500 people call Tokelau home. Since the highest point on the islands is only 16 feet, they are particularly vulnerable to the threat of rising sea levels.

Under the new energy plan, most of the islands’ power — 93 percent — is slated to come from solar energy. The coconut power will supply the remaining 7 percent, and will come into play when skies are overcast or when electricity demand exceeds solar supply.
More >>>

Location:Queen Rania Al Abdallah, Amman, Jordan

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Climate change threatens to hike hunger in the Pacific – report

BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Climate change threatens to increase hunger and malnutrition among millions of poor people in the 14 small and geographically remote island nations of the Pacific unless action is taken, a new report by the Asian Development Bank said.

Food Security and Climate Change in the Pacific: Rethinking the Options urged Pacific nations, many of which are in fragile and conflict-affected situations and suffering from slow economic growth rates, to manage natural resources better and increase local food production, particularly of climate-resistant crops such as taro, yam, and cassava.

"Rising temperatures and rising tides due to climate change could reduce food supply in the Pacific,” Mahfuzuddin Ahmed, a senior economist in the Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Department who wrote the report, said in a statement.

“With over 10 million people in developing countries in the region, this is a threat that we cannot ignore," he added.

The region is already seeing a decline in agricultural production per capita and productivity has stagnated, the report said, partly due to an increase in migration from rural to urban areas and also because of fragile ecosystems and a limited natural resource base.

The Pacific is also considered one of the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as natural disasters and sea level rises, which are expected to reduce the agricultural output further. More >>>

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

UN Secretary-General Underlines Threats of Climate Change in the Pacific

5 September 2011: During his official visit to Kiribati, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the President of Kiribati on his active participation in multilateral efforts to address climate change, in particular by promoting dialogue among parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Ban met with the President on 4-5 September 2011, and acknowledged the value of initiatives like the Tarawa Climate Change Conference, organized by Kiribati in November 2010, in preparation of the Cancun Climate Change Conference. Both agreed that climate change represents "an urgent and irreversible threat to the people of this region and the planet," and called for urgent action by all parties. They underscored the specific vulnerability of SIDS to the impacts of climate change, adding that it threatens to undo progress achieved in the Pacific region towards achieving sustainable development goals. They both stressed the need for urgent international action to reduce emissions consistent with the science, and for adaptation financing to enable the implementation of critical adaptation programmes.

They noted the actions that can be taken in the Pacific to address climate change, highlighting the actions of Kiribati such as mangrove forest management, biodiversity conservation initiatives, water resource management and the enhancement of coastal resilience. Ban also visited a mangrove planting site and met with the Minister of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development, as well as with communities that have lost homes, land, and fresh water to rising sea levels. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

The Peak Oil Crisis: Efficiency is the Solution

If there is a way to get through the loss of fossil fuels, it lies in developing new and more efficient ways to generate renewable energy and more efficient ways of utilizing the fossil fuels we have left.

Renewable sources currently provide only 16 percent of our energy in the U.S. and 11 percent of our electric power. Unless the production of these renewables can be increased substantially in the next 50 years and the efficiency with which we use energy increased many fold, then the world is going to become a very dark and stagnant place.
There is running debate going on between people who believe all is lost without copious supplies of fossil fuels to power the global civilization and those who believe that the conservation and efficiency that will come with very high fossil fuel prices will provide a recognizable future for civilization. The great unknowns in all this is whether there will be sufficient financial and other resources available to effect the transition and whether or not the damage wrought by a changing climate will be so serious that a global transition to renewable energy will be difficult if not impossible.

For the immediate future, however, much of what life in the future will be like will depend on the technologies that will enable civilization to continue while using only a fraction of the energy that is consumed today and to develop the technology to produce large quantities of cheaper renewable fuels. The manner in which our fossil fuels are being used is so wasteful of the energy contained in fossil fuels that major reductions can be made with little real impact on the activities that consume energy. The prime examples of this waste is the internal combustion engine which uses only 14 percent of its fuel to turn the wheels while wasting most of the rest. Huge central power plants waste most of the energy that devours coal and natural gas, and produce much waste heat that is dumped into the air or local water bodies or in line losses. Without the massive waste, the fossil fuel age could last a lot longer. More >>>

Location:Amman, Jordan

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Kingdom of Magical Rhinking

In 1935, an oilman visiting the Middle East reported back to his headquarters, "The future leaves them cold. They want money now."

Although the temptation of overspending has repeatedly undermined oil-rich governments from Caracas to Tehran, Saudi Arabia avoided this trap over the last decade through fiscal discipline that has kept its expenditures below its swelling oil receipts.

But in a recent report striking for the candor of its unpalatable conclusions, Saudi investment bank Jadwa laid out the kingdom's inexorable fiscal challenge: how to balance soaring government spending, rapidly rising domestic oil demand, and a world oil market that gives little room for further revenue increases. And that was before the recent economic turmoil knocked $20 per barrel off oil prices.

Saudi Arabia's government spending, flat since the last oil boom in the 1970s, is now rising at 10 percent or more annually. And it will rise faster still: The House of Saud's survival instinct in the wake of the initial Arab revolutions led King Abdullah to announce $130 billion of largesse in February and March. The resulting increases in government employment and salaries can be cut only at the cost of more discontent.

And that's only what the kingdom is spending on its "counterrevolution" at home. Saudi Arabia will pay the lion's share of the pledged $25 billion of Gulf Cooperation Council aid to Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman. With Iraq, Syria, and Yemen likely flashpoints yet to come, the bill will only increase. Already, nearly a third of the Saudi budget goes toward defense, a proportion that could rise in the face of a perceived Iranian threat. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Friday, August 26, 2011

10 Water-Saving or Water-Cleaning Technologies.. & Your Chance to Do Something!

This post is a contribution to Important Media’s celebration of World Water Week.

While most of the technologies we write on here on CleanTechnica – solar power, wind power, energy efficiency, and clean transportation technologies – are focused on addressing our climate and energy crises, another critical crisis facing the world today is the water crisis.

Did you know that 80% of the world’s people face water insecurity and lack of clean water kills more people each year than war?

The clean technologies above do actually go a long way in helping us address the water crisis, but there are others out there focused solely on that goal. Here are 10 water-saving and water-cleaning technologies we’ve written about so far: More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene: Is climate change affecting hurricane formation?

Hurricane Irene is a large and dangerous storm. In this image, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on August 25, bands of thunderstorms spiral tightly around a dense center, forming the circular shape of a well-developed hurricane.

At the time the image was taken, 11:50 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Irene was moving over the Bahamas with sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour).
Irene has a long reach. The storm is large, spanning nearly 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from east to west in this image. Though the storm is moving north-northwest at a mere 20 km/hr (13 mph), it will be within reach of U.S. shores within 48 hours, warns the National Hurricane Center. At the time the image was taken, a tropical storm watch extended from north of Edisto Beach, South Carolina to Surf City, North Carolina, and a hurricane watch covered the area from Surf City to the Virginia border. This means that tropical storm or hurricane conditions are possible in the next two days. See the National Hurricane Center for current watches and warnings.
Irene was a Category 3 storm when this image was taken, and it could intensify slightly in the next day or two. The storm’s currently forecasted track takes it over the Outer Banks and along the U.S. East Coast before going ashore over New England.
Even as cities throughout the densely populated East Coast prepare for the storm, residents of the Caribbean are beginning to assess the damage caused by the passing storm. Initial damage estimates are at $3.1 billion, said the Associated Press. Floods and mudslides forced 38,000 people from their homes in the Dominican Republic, which received a glancing blow from the storm. More >>>

As Hurricane Irene rumbles through the Atlantic Ocean, it needs fuel to sustain itself. Warm water is the main fuel, and there is plenty of it right now, as there usually is this time of year.

The map above shows sea surface temperatures (SST) in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea on August 23, 2011. The measurements come from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on both the Terra and Aqua satellites. The satellites measure the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean.
Waters typically need to be above 27.8 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) to properly fuel tropical storms with warm, moist air. Red, orange, and yellow colors depict waters above the 27.8 degree mark. The warmer the water, the more intense the storm can grow, if upper level wind patterns cooperate. In the map above, such waters dominate the Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic in late August 2011. They also run up the southeastern coast of the United States, following the Gulf Stream to Cape Hatteras before giving way to slightly cooler waters (shades of blue) in the Middle and North Atlantic.
As of 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 24, 2011, the NOAA National Hurricane Center reported Irene had maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers (120 miles) per hour and was located at 23.1 degrees North and 74.7 degrees West, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) east-southeast of Long Island in the Bahamas. The forecasted path had the hurricane sweeping over nearly all Bahaman islands, then turning toward the North Carolina coast and eventually New England. Forecasts are updated roughly every six hours.
Irene is the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, and potentially the first to make landfall in the United States in several years. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Time to refine energy security

What are we to make of the energy debate? If good public policy is the art of distilling the signal from the noise, the challenge has never been greater.

How to balance the risks of climate change against the costs of doing anything about it? And what, in turn, might these decisions mean for energy security?

For the past six months our national attention has, understandably, been focused on the carbon tax issue. The policy agenda now needs to move in a related, but different direction. The reason is a three-letter word – oil.
While oil producers will be affected by the carbon tax, politics ensures that there will be no tax on petrol.

Yet oil is, arguably, one of Australia’s key energy problems. As a nation, we passed ‘‘peak oil’’ some time ago. Domestic production plateaued more than 20 years ago, and since 2005, has been in decline. The oil that is left is a long way offshore, and a long way down. Extracting it will be costly and risky.

Australian refining capacity is more constrained now than it was a decade ago. South Australia lost its one oil refinery in 2003. A number of the refineries in Queensland, Victoria and NSW are small in scale, and subject to stiff competition from imported, refined products. Further rationalisation of refining capacity seems likely as imports continue to increase, particularly from large-scale refineries in Asia. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tourist island of Zanzibar to host climate change conference in December

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) - Standing among small island states threatened by effects of climate change, the tourist island of Zanzibar has organized a three-day symposium to deliberate the impact of climate change in small island states.

Scheduled from December 12 to 14 this year, the symposium bears the theme of “First International Symposium on Impact and Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in Small Island Developing States.”

Organizers of the event, the State University of Zanzibar, said the symposium is aimed to raise national and international awareness on threats of climate change to small island states, which are leading tourist attraction destinations in the world, including the island of Zanzibar.

Climate change scientists had earlier raised their concern over climate changes in Zanzibar and threats to rising water levels of the Indian Ocean, and predicted dangers ahead, among them, a possible sinking of some islands which make the Zanzibar archipelago.

Experts further warned of a possibility to see key beaches of Zanzibar and a big part of this island totally sinking in the Indian Ocean within the coming 100 years.

According to the State University of Zanzibar, key speakers will be drawn from other island states including Samoa and Japan. Other speakers confirmed to attend will come from Tanzania and South Africa. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Clean energy is path for security, not the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

The August 13 Washington Post editorial (Oil pipeline politics) diagnoses the problems with tar sands and then gets the solution wrong.

The proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will take us in the wrong direction, making global warming worse and bringing additional dangers of oil spills to America’s heartland. The United States is the main market for the bitumen that is strip-mined and drilled from under Canada’s Boreal forest. Despite Canadian claims that they’ll sell tar sands to China if we don’t take it, not only are there no major pipelines to the Canadian coasts, but opposition to these pipeline proposals is fierce. Instead of providing energy security, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will give oil companies a Gulf Coast deepwater port for export and raise gas prices in the Midwest. After a summer of droughts and heat waves, we need to be working harder than ever to reduce our demand for oil. With fuel efficiency standards and cleaner ways to move people around, America can be a leader in clean energy rather than giving into our oil addiction. That is the path of true energy security. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beyond Supply Risks: The Conflict Potential of Natural Resources

While the public debate about resource conflicts focuses on the risk of supply disruptions for developed countries, the potentially more risky types of resource conflict are usually ignored.  

As part of a two-year research project on behalf of the German Federal Environment Agency, adelphi and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy, and Environment have analyzed the risks of international conflict linked to natural resources in a series of reports titled Beyond Supply Risks – The Conflict Potential of Natural Resources.

Resource extraction, transportation, and processing can create considerable crises and increase the risk of conflicts in producing and transit countries. This phenomenon – widely referred to as the “resource curse” – impacts consuming countries only if it leads to shortages and higher prices. However, in the producing and transit countries it can have much wider destabilizing effects – from increasing corruption to large-scale violent conflict. In addition, the extraction, processing, and transportation of resources often create serious environmental risks. Overexploitation, pollution, and the degradation of ecosystems often directly affect the livelihoods of local communities, which can increase the potential for conflict.

The eight reports that comprise Beyond Supply Risks explore plausible scenarios over the next two decades, focusing on four case studies: copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo; theNabucco natural gas pipeline project across Southern Europe and Turkey; lithium in Bolivia; and rare earth minerals in China. More >>>

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jamaican Delegation Attends 4th Singapore International Water Week

Permanent Secretaryin the Ministry of Housing, Environment and Water, Genefa Hibbert, and Chairman of the Water Resources Authority of

Jamaica, Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr., recently attended the 4th
Singapore International Water Week, Water Convention and Water Leaders Summit.
The week-long event held in the South- East Asian city-state, was attended by over 2,500 delegates from around the world. Major issues, such as climate change, urbanization and water supply, as well as water security were discussed. High level meetings and discussions were also held with regional and global water ministers, as well as industry and academic leaders.

A session was also held with the Singaporean Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong on the policy and strategic direction for water affairs for the country, as well as providing leadership and sharing expertise with the rest of the world.

The Jamaican delegation met with senior members of Singapore’s Ministry of Environment and Water Resources including the Minister, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan; Junior Minister, Mrs. Grace Fu Hai Yien. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Monday, August 15, 2011

Raging Storms and Rising Seas Swelling the Ranks of Climate Refugees

In late August 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approached the U.S. Gulf Coast, more than 1 million people were evacuated from New Orleans and the small towns and rural communities along the coast.

Once the storm passed, it was assumed that the million or so Katrina evacuees would, as in past cases, return to repair and rebuild their homes. Some 700,000 did return, but close to 300,000 did not. They are no longer evacuees. They are the first large wave of modern climate refugees.

One of the defining characteristics of our time is the swelling flow of environmental refugees, including those displaced as a warmer climate brings more-destructive storms and rising seas. The prospect for this century is a rise in sea level of up to 6 feet. Even a 3-foot rise would inundate parts of many low-lying cities, major river deltas, and island countries. Among the early refugees will be millions of rice-farming families from Asia’s river deltas, those who will watch their fields sink below the rising sea.

The flow of rising-sea refugees will come primarily from coastal cities. Among those most immediately affected are London, New York, Washington, Miami, Shanghai, Kolkata (Calcutta), Cairo, and Tokyo. If the rise in sea level cannot be checked, cities soon will have to start either planning for relocation or building barriers that will block the rising seas.

River deltas contain some of the largest, most vulnerable populations. These include the deltas of the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Niger, Nile, Mississippi, Ganges-Brahmaputra, and Yangtze Rivers. For example, a 6-foot sea level rise would displace 15 million Bangladeshis living in the densely populated Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. The London-based Environmental Justice Foundation reports that “a one meter [3 foot] sea-level rise would affect up to 70 percent of Nigeria’s coastline affecting over 2.7 million hectares. Egypt would lose at least 2 million hectares in the fertile Nile Delta, displacing 8 to 10 million people, including nearly the entire population of Alexandria.”

Low-lying islands will also be hit hard. The 39 members of the Alliance of Small Island States stand to lose part or all of their territories as sea level rises. Among the most immediately threatened are Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Well before total inundation, islanders face salt water intrusion that can contaminate their drinking water and make it impossible for deep-rooted crops to survive. Eventually, all crops will fail. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On thin ice

The Arctic — a mosaic of oceans, glaciers and the northernmost projections of several countries — is a place most of us will never see. We can imagine it, though, and our mental picture is dominated by one feature: ice.

Yet the Arctic sea ice is changing dramatically, and its presence shouldn’t be taken for granted, even over the course of our lifetimes. According to new research from MIT, the most recent global climate report fails to capture trends in Arctic sea-ice thinning and drift, and in some cases substantially underestimates these trends. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007, forecasts an ice-free Arctic summer by the year 2100, among other predictions. But Pierre Rampal, a postdoc in the Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), and colleagues say it may happen several decades earlier. More >>>

Location:Cayman Islands

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SIDS DOCK Launched to Catalyze Renewable Energy

3 August 2011: The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has announced the launch of SIDS DOCK, an international organization intended to catalyze sustainable energy projects in small island developing States (SIDS).

With US$14.5 million in funding from Denmark's parliament, SIDS DOCK will operate as a "docking station," connecting small islands with US and EU technologies, capital and carbon markets. SIDS DOCK is expected to be operational by September 2011.

According to Vince Henderson, Dominica's Ambassador to the UN, and Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, the majority of small islands currently rely on fossil fuel imports and face growing debt as a result. In order to "radically transform" their economies, SIDS DOCK was developed jointly by AOSIS, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). SIDS DOCK will be led by an Executive Director and overseen by a Board of Directors, including AOSIS members, development partner organizations and technical experts. The organization also will partner with the World Bank and UN Development Programme (UNDP).

National Coordinators of SIDS DOCK will be responsible for coordinating the development of national, regional and inter-regional priorities in renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation projects, and for ensuring successful project coordination and outcomes. The first meeting of the SIDS DOCK National Coordinators, held from 27-28 July 2011, served as the launch.

According to AOSIS, SIDS DOCK aims to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy sector in small islands, providing the foundation for low carbon economic growth and adaptation to climate change, with the result of assisting small islands to generate at least 50 percent of their electric power from renewable sources, decrease petroleum use by 20 to 30 percent, and increase energy efficiency by 25 percent (using a 2005 baseline) by 2033.
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Managing Contraction, Redefining Progress

Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend upon the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to
existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.
—Milton Friedman (economist)

Many analysts who focus on the problems of population growth, resource depletion, and climate change foresee gradually tightening constraints on world economic activity. In most cases the prognosis they offer is for worsening environmental problems, more expensive energy and materials, and slowing economic growth.

However, their analyses often fail to factor in the impacts to and from a financial system built on the expectation of further growth—a system that could come unhinged in a non-linear, catastrophic fashion as growth ends. Financial and monetary systems can crash suddenly and completely. This almost happened in September 2008 as the result of a combination of a decline in the housing market, reliance on overly complex and in many cases fraudulent financial instruments, and skyrocketing energy prices. Another sovereign debt crisis in Europe could bring the world to a similar precipice. Indeed, there is a line-up of actors waiting to take center stage in the years ahead, each capable of bringing the curtain down on the global banking system or one of the world’s major currencies. Each derives its destructive potency from its ability to strangle growth, thus setting off chain reactions of default, bankruptcy, and currency failure. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The World Needs a New Language

We know it is dangerous to cross a red light, so we wait until it turns green.

We do not go out sailing when the weather forecast promises a great storm. We accept it when a doctor tells us to take medicine to prevent hypertension.

We do not drink the water if there is sign saying that it is contaminated. We are constantly accepting different potential risks and manoeuvring to limit them.

But when it comes to climate change, our willingness to accept it as a potential great risk is missing - and so is our motivation to respond to it with our normal risk-behaviour.

97 percent of the climate scientists believe global warming is happening, that humans are largely responsible and that we need to take action now. From their perspective there is a mountain of evidence on the reality of climate change; the nearest thing to an open-and-shut case that scientist can produce. They are constantly trying to convince us -- the public -- of this fact.

But still the concern shared by almost every scientist is not concurrent with the general public opinion. 44 percent of Americans still believe that global warming is primarily caused by planetary trends, according to a poll from Rasmussen Reports conducted in April. And 36 percent do not believe climate change is a serious problem.

Thus we are currently witnessing an enormous reality gap between science and the public -- with very different perceptions of the risks posed by climate change.

If scientists could solve climate change on their own, the lacking public support wouldn't be a problem. But they can't. Without the endorsement from the general public, the fight against climate change does not stand much of a chance. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

UNGA Debate on Right to Water Highlights Impact of Climate Change

27 July 2011: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a debate on the human right to water and sanitation, during which a number of speakers highlighted that climate change constitutes an obstacle to the enjoyment of this right, stressing the particular situations of small island low-lying States.

The debate took place on 27 July 2011, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. In his opening address, Joseph Deiss, UNGA President, recalled that, in July 2010, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the human right to water and sanitation, which he said was an important first step towards the explicit acknowledgment of that resource as a human right.

Egypt said States must take all necessary measures to extend human rights, including the right to clean water and sanitation. He added that Egypt’s efforts were challenged by funding, climate change, population growth and other factors, and indicated that his Government had adopted an integrated national plan to address these challenges. Senegal stressed the need to address climate change and drought in order to achieve the right to water, calling for increased assistance.

Cuba called for enhanced cooperation in the face of climate change, calling for the creation of mechanisms that are not dependant on the international financial institutions.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines expressed support for the UNGA resolution by which the Assembly had recognized the right to water and sanitation as a human right. He underlined that his country's achievements in terms of ensuring the realization of that right, considering its limited resources, illustrate the importance of political will. He emphasized the urgency of “looming threats” to achieving the right to water, namely climate change and desertification. He added that his country often resorts to transporting water by ship and said sea-level rise would have a disastrous effect. He concluded by calling for mainstreaming the issue in the global agenda.

Maldives explained that her country's main source of water is shallow groundwater, underscoring its extreme vulnerability to water scarcity. She called for considering the legally binding right to water in the context of sea-level rise, climate change, and other critical phenomena. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Scholarships and Bursaries Call for Caribbean Nationals in Graduate Studies in Climate Change

Study areas related to Climate Change that can be considered for these Scholarships and Bursaries are:
Climatology; Environmental Sciences; Coastal Management; Water Resources; Sustainable Tourism; Gender Studies

The CARIBSAVE Partnership, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Waterloo (UW), Canada, announce a joint research project entitled:

Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA)*

Students’ scholarships and bursaries will focus on ParCA; a project that will conduct comparative case study research in Tobago, Jamaica and two Atlantic Canadian provinces. The project will use a community-based vulnerability assessment (CBVA) framework in collaboration with coastal communities and local partners to identify vulnerabilities and exposures, and develop strategies for adaptation to climate change. Under this program, funding is available for Caribbean Nationals to study at the University of the West Indies or the University of Waterloo at Masters and PhD levels.

ELIGIBILITY for Scholarships and Bursaries

Must be a Caribbean National
Must have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at a high level in an area relevant to Climate Change including Climatology, Environmental Sciences, Coastal Management, Water Resources, Sustainable Tourism, Gender Studies.
Must have been accepted and registered in a Masters or PhD Programme at UWI or UW.
Evidence of professional experience in any of the fields indicated above will be an asset.
Applicants for Scholarships and Bursaries will be assessed by a Selection Committee established by the University of the West Indies, the University of Waterloo and The CARIBSAVE Partnership.

Applications should be sent via email to The Office of Research, The University of the West Indies: and must be copied to The CARIBSAVE Partnership: When applying please include ‘ParCA’ as Subject in the email.

The following should be included in your Application: an up to date Curriculum Vitae; a covering letter indicating qualifications; professional experience; preferred study location (UWI Campus or Waterloo); your area of interest for graduate studies and full contact details for three Referees. Closing date for this round of applications is 31 August 2011.

* Funding for this project and its student scholarships and bursaries is kindly provided by the Canadian IDRC and the Tri Council and disseminated through The CARIBSAVE Partnership, The University of Waterloo and The Unversity of the West Indies. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An effective response to climate change

Foreign Secretary William Hague has delivered a speech titled 'The Diplomacy of Climate Change' to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Thank you Governor Whitman. I am most grateful for your generous introduction.

I am delighted to be here at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the modern networked world, diplomacy is no longer the sole preserve of diplomats. Instead, we all have a stake in global affairs. That is why the work of renowned bodies such as this is more valuable than ever.

Today I want to talk about why I believe we, as foreign policy practitioners, need to up our game in building a credible and effective response to climate change. Climate change is perhaps the twenty-first century’s biggest foreign policy challenge along with such challenges as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. A world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the UN will not be met. It is a world in which competition and conflict will win over collaboration.

We are at a crucial point in the global debate on climate change. Many are questioning, in the wake of Copenhagen, whether we should continue to seek a response to climate change through the UN and whether we can ever hope to deal with this enormous challenge.

I will first argue that an effective response to climate change underpins our security and prosperity. Second, our response should be to strive for a binding global deal, whatever the setbacks. And third, I will set out why effective deployment of foreign policy assets is crucial to mobilising the political will needed if we are to shape an effective response. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Monday, July 25, 2011

The scourge of 'peak oil'

Energy derived from oil reaches, quite literally, every aspect of our lives.

From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to how we move ourselves around, without oil, our lives would look very differently.

Yet oil is a finite resource. While there is no argument that it won't last forever, there is debate about how much oil is left and how long it might last.

Tom Whipple, an energy scholar, was a CIA analyst for 30 years - and believes we are likely at, or very near, a point in history when the maximum production capacity for oil is reached, a phenomenon often referred to as "peak oil".

"Peak oil is the time when the world's production reaches the highest point, then starts back down again," Whipple told Al Jazeera. "Oil is a finite resource, and [it] someday will go down, and that is what the peak oil discussion is all about."

There are signs that peak oil may have already arrived.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently increased its forecast for average global oil consumption in 2011 to 89.5 million barrels per day (bpd), an increase of 1.2 million bpd over last year.

For 2012, the IEA is expecting another increase of 1.5 million bpd for a total global oil consumption of 91million bpd, leaving analysts such as Whipple to question how production will be able to keep up with increasing consumption. Whipple's analysis matches IEA data which shows world oil production levels have been relatively flat for six years.

"This is getting very close to the figure that some observers believe is the highest the world will ever produce," Whipple wrote of the IEA estimate in the July 14 issue of Peak Oil Review. He told Al Jazeera that peak oil could be reached at some point in the next month, or at the latest, within "a few years". More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What hope is there for us if America is driven to the brink of meltdown?

When President Obama, the supreme rationalist, says that there are just days to avert Armageddon, everyone should sit up and listen.

For months, Republicans have used their new majority in the House of Representatives to block any move to lift the artificial cap on the amount the US government can borrow. If by this Friday they still refuse – insisting on up to $4trillion of spending cuts, excluding defence, and no tax increases as the price of their support – then the US will be unable to service its public debts. The biggest economy on Earth will default.

The results will be catastrophic, argues JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon – a warning repeated by Obama. The US government will have to start to wind down: soldiers' wages and public pensions alike will be suspended. But in the financial markets there will be mayhem. Interest rates will shoot up and there will be a flight from the dollar. Banks, uncertain about their expected income from their holdings of US Treasury bonds and bills, will call in their loans, creating a second credit crunch. Some may collapse. Even to get days away from such a prospect, says Obama, will now have costs: every creditor to the US has been shaken to the core by American politicians not taking their responsibilities as borrowers seriously. They will exact a higher price for lending in future, even if a bargain is struck now.

These are politicians who in some respects have more in common with Islamic religious fundamentalists than the Enlightenment tradition which gave birth to western democracy.

But the Democrats cannot agree to the Republicans' absolutist demands, in part because the arithmetic of deficit reduction does not work without tax increases and cuts in defence spending, in part because they passionately believe that with taxes the lowest for 50 years, the US's rich should share in the pain and in part because in any human exchange there is an element of horse-trading. The Republicans want to suspend the rules by which not just Washington but any political system operates. They want to be political winners who take all, risking even the collapse of the US economy to get their way. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dramatic Climate Swings Likely as World Warms: Ancient El Niño Clue to Future Floods

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2011) — Dramatic climate swings behind both last year's Pakistan flooding and this year's Queensland floods in Australia are likely to continue as the world gets warmer, scientists predict.

Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Leeds have discovered that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the sloshing of the warmest waters on the planet from the West Pacific towards the East Pacific every 2-7 years, continued during Earth's last great warm period, the Pliocene.

Their results suggest that swings between the two climatic extremes, known as El Niño and La Niña, may even have occurred more frequently in the warmer past and may increase in frequency in the future. Extreme ENSO events cause droughts, forest fires and floods across much of the world as well as affecting fishery production.

Reporting in the journal Paleoceanography, the team of geochemists and climate modellers use the Pliocene as a past analogue and predictor of the workings of Earth's future climate. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Friday, July 15, 2011

Best Climate Change Remedy? More Trees, Study Says - International Business Times

Forget wind power and extra efficient lightbulbs — trees are an incredibly effective climate change weapon given the amount of greenhouse gases they absorb, according to a new study in the journal Science.

Trees are natural sponges, or “carbon sinks.” The study found that they cumulatively absorbed almost a third of annual fossile fuel emissions, or nearly 2.4 billion tons of carbon. And tropical forests that have been allowed to grow back after deforestation are removing an astounding 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere, co-author Josep Canadell told Agence-France Presse.

“This is the first complete and global evidence of the overwhelming role of forests in removing anthropogenic carbon dioxide,” Canadell said. “If you were to stop deforestation tomorrow, the world’s established and regrowing forests would remove half of fossil fuel emissions.”

An international team of climate scientists compiled data spanning nearly two decades, from 1990 to 2007, to present the findings. The central implication, given the capacity of forests to act as safeguards against rising CO2 emissions, is that “forests are even more at the forefront as a strategy to protect our climate,” Canadell said. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

OAS Member States Approve Draft Declaration on Sustainable Tourism Development in the Americas

The representatives of the Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS), at a meeting in Washington, DC, approved the draft Declaration of San Salvador for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Americas, which will be considered for final approval by the Ministers and High Authorities of Tourism in San Salvador on September 29 and 30, 2011, in the framework of the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress.

The Preparatory Meeting for the 19th Inter-American Travel Congress was held June 23 and 24, 2011, at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, and was presided by El Salvador’s Alternate Representative to the Organization of American States, Agustín Vásquez.

The meeting addressed subject areas of cooperation to be financed by the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI). The delegates identified the following subject areas: competitiveness in the tourism industry, particularly those of micro, small and medium enterprises, and the support for human capabilities development at the public and private levels through training and the use of information and communication technologies; promoting Sustainable Tourism Development, through the mitigation of negative environmental impacts; raising awareness of the importance of maintaining the ecological balance of tourist attractions; the relationship between tourism and other sectors of the economy; and the support for ecotourism and sustainable tourism through dialogue between the public and private sectors.

At the end of the meeting, the Governments of Ecuador and Honduras offered to host the next Inter-American Travel Congress in 2013, a decision that will be made in the upcoming months after consultations among the Member States of the Organization.

Furthermore, a proposal was made to organize a promotional fair for regional tourism to be held during the Congress in San Salvador to further highlight the event and promote tourist attractions in the Americas.

The Inter-American Travel Congress, created in 1939 with the objective of promoting the development of tourism in the Americas, is one of the oldest institutions of the Inter-American System. The last Travel Congress was held in Guatemala in 2003.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Location: Cayman Islands

Cook Islands: 100% Renewable Energy by 2020

5 July 2011, Rarotonga Cook Islands – The Cook Islands has an electricity target of 50% renewable energy by 2015 and 100% by 2020. While this may seem like an extreme target, according to the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Hon. Henry Puna – “it is ambitious but it is not impossible

Plans are already underway to bring this to fruition.

The Cook Islands will be launching their Renewable Energy Chart this year – Te Atamoa O Te Uira Natura, the plan that outlines how they will achieve their renewable energy targets. This chart has undergone consultation with relevant stakeholders and has taken into account input from numerous supporting partners. It is now in the process of being finalised for endorsement.

“It is flexible to take into account possible changes which may happen, as well as addressed the long term concerns – for example the outer island of Aitutaki now has a peak demand for electricity of 900 kilowatts,” said Repeta Puna, the Policy Adviser from the Office of the Prime Minister.

“In Te Atamoa O Te Uira Natura we have planned for a two megawatt solar plant for Aitutaki to take into account the future demand for electricity.”
More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

CCCCC and EU Sign Agreement to Support Caribbean Forum Countries in Meeting Climate Change Challenges

4 July 2011: The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the EU have entered into an agreement to, among other things, support Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) countries in meeting the challenges of climate change.

Under the agreement, the EU has allocated €8 million to support 17 CARIFORUM countries to meet the challenges of climate change. The four-year project will be managed by the CCCCC, with the objective of developing and strengthening the Caribbean region’s efforts in reducing the impacts of climate change on its economic and social development. The overall objective of the project is to support the sustainable development efforts of the Caribbean region and preserve the progress of the countries towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by, inter alia: enhancing national and regional institutional capacity in areas such as climate monitoring, data retrieval and the application of space-based tools for disaster risk reduction (DRR); building regional and national capacity to access carbon financing; and implementing adaptation pilot projects that may be subsequently replicated. [CCCCC Press Release]

Location: Cayman Islands