Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson "Let banks go bankrupt"

Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson tells Al Jazeera's Stephen Cole that Europe should let banks that are ran "irresponsibly" go bankrupt.

Speaking at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Grimsson also held his country as a model of economic recovery after its near-collapse four years ago.

"We didn't follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies. And the end result four years later is that Iceland is enjoying progress and recovery."

Source, credit to Aljazeera- http://www.aljazeera.com/video

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ice Swirls off the Coast of Greenland…For Now

Global warming is real. Temperatures are changing, climate is changing, and most importantly, arctic ice is changing, melting.

It is absolutely critical we understand this process better so that we can better understand the implications, and some of the most formidable tools in our possession are Earth-observing satellites. Their keen and unblinking eyes watch the planet below, recording a host of characteristics so that we may record their changes.

NASA’s Aqua satellite is one in this fleet, mapping out the entire surface of the Earth—and in particular the water covering our world—every day or two. On December 30, 2012, it took this incredible picture of the southeast coast of Greenland in the late afternoon:

Isn’t that lovely? But it’s also very useful to climatologists. There are three types of ice visible in this image: land ice, covering the fjords on the coast; freshly fallen snow on the mountaintops, whiter and brighter than the land ice; and sea ice, which is swirling in the East Greenland Current, flowing southward and carrying frigid Arctic ice and water with it.

Right now, in the depth of winter, the ice over Greenland and the Arctic is growing. But come March, when temperatures warm, that ice will start to melt. Over the past few years the melting has been larger nearly every year, with the extent (area covered) and volume (total amount) of the ice decreasing rapidly. In late summer 2007 the historical record for lowest sea ice extent was broken, and then in 2011 that record was shattered again. Last year,Greenland experienced a melting season unlike anything that has been seen in a long time; there were unusual conditions that led to this event, such as a large heat wave, but the overall trend is clearly not good. And the reason is very, very clear; global warming, caused by human activity.

To be frank: there is no scientific controversy over this. None. The only arguing that’s being done is politically and ideologically driven, and we are way, way past the time when the conspiracy theorists and political climate change denial zealots should be taken seriously. They are in the same category as antivaxxers, creationists, and Apollo Moon landing deniers: The evidence is firmly against them, and all they can do is make noise and pollute the discourse.

In the meantime, serious scientists are using data from Aqua and its sister satellites to log just how much damage is being done and where. If we come up with a solution to the mess we made and are still making, it will be through observations, through understanding, and through science. More



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Global warming affects Latin American, Caribbean economies

Losses could reach US$100 billion per year, according to the IDB.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Melting glaciers in the Andes.

Coral bleaching in the Caribbean Sea.

Extreme rains in Colombia and in the basin of the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers, shared by Guatemala and Mexico.

They are all evidence of the impact climate change is having on Latin America and the Caribbean.

A group of researchers from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), sought to quantify the economic impact caused by climate change in the region.

The final report, titled “The Climate and Development Challenge for Latin America and the Caribbean: Options for Climate Resilient Low Carbon Development,” shows that a temperature increase of 2°C relative to the levels seen prior to the industrial revolution could have an annual economic impact of about US$100 billion by 2050.

The study shows the biggest losses will come from the decline in agricultural exports, rising sea levels, reduced hydropower production in Brazil, coral bleaching and the loss of biomass in the Amazon rainforest.

The multibillion-dollar figure does not include the loss of biodiversity in the region, which covers six of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of flora and fauna: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Mexico.

Melting glaciers

Meanwhile, glaciers melting in the Andes could affect the water supply reaching cities and agricultural operations, among other impacts.

In Chile, 70% of the water supplied to the population comes from glaciers, according to a study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

“The tropical glaciers of the Andes are melting at a speed that may compromise glaciers located less than 5,000 meters (16,404 feet) above sea level in the next 20 years,” says Walter Vergara, the head of the Climate Change and Sustainability Division at the IDB and leader of the study. “Over the last two decades, approximately 25% of these remaining glaciers have disappeared.”

The resulting rise in sea levels could threaten mangroves, compromising the birthplace of a variety of species in countries such as Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia.

In addition, the phenomenon would damage roads, ports and housing, according to the IDB.

The United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) has calculated that Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 27% of the 3,351 cities located less than 10 meters (32.8 feet) above sea level.

In the Caribbean region alone, a one-meter rise in sea level would cost US$68.2 billion by 2080 – equivalent to 8.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the period – due to the costs of rebuilding infrastructure, relocation and the loss of territory, according to the report titled “Turn Down the Heat,” published by the World Bank in November.

Climate change is expected to provoke changes in soil characteristics and precipitation levels, affecting the cultivation of wheat and oilseeds, such as soybeans, Vergara says.

				The melting glaciers in the Andes may affect the supply of water reaching cities and agriculture. (Andina/AFP)

The melting glaciers in the Andes may affect the supply of water reaching cities and agriculture. (Andina/AFP)

Annual losses in the region’s agricultural exports are expected to reach between US$32 billion to US$54 billion by 2050, according to the IDB.

Vergara said the impact on the Amazon region is the most important consequence of climate changes in South America.

Known in the international scientific community as the Amazon dieback, the loss of Amazon biomass as a result of climate change could result in a reduction of water for agriculture.

“If the Amazon dieback happens, and there is evidence that it is already happening, the quantity of the water that the forest injects into the atmosphere would be impacted, which could affect agriculture in southern Brazil, northern Argentina and Uruguay,” Vergara says. “The impact on the Amazon basin will have local, regional and global consequences.”

Vulnerability of the region

Climate change will cause a significant impact on the region because its consequences are in addition to other effects from human activities.

“Deforestation, pollution and urban expansion also represent a major threat to the quality of life in Latin America,” says Rodney Martínez, the director of the International Research Center on El Niño (CIIFEN), which is located in Ecuador.

Vulnerability to these impacts does not depend solely on geographical factors.

“The major challenges that make the region so vulnerable are related to governance, social and economic factors, such as poverty levels and the region’s dependence on natural resources,” Martínez says.

The World Bank reports that 149 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean live on less than US$4 per day.

“Poverty and inequality, which are persistent problems in the region despite its economic growth, may be aggravated by the impacts from climate change,” says Mayte Gonzalez, a consultant for the Regional Gateway for Technology Transfer and Climate Change Action in Latin America and the Caribbean (REGATTA), located in Panama. More

Tuesday, January 1, 2013