The following essay is a guest post by Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. ----- The IPCC has warned us that developing nations are poised to bear the most dramatic effects of global warming, and so far we (the world) have done practically nothing to counter or prevent that fact. But the U.N. is trying. This week in Bali, the U.N. announced that it will go carbon neutral by offsetting the operations of over 20 agencies, including the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. With the money collected, the U.N. will invest in an Adaptation Fund to help developing countries combat the consequences of climate change in coming decades. At its start, the fund will be worth no more than $50 million, but advocates hope that number will grow as we see increasing need for a fund of its type.
Here’s a climate-change impact you don’t think about every day: trampled walruses. When walruses get tired of swimming, they clamber onto sea ice to rest. As ice is in increasingly short supply above the Arctic Circle, walruses are huddling on shore in extremely high numbers. And as the tusky animals are liable to stampede at the appearance of a polar bear, hunter, or low-flying airplane, more than 3,000 walruses are estimated to have been trampled to death by their panicky brethren this past year. Let that be a lesson to us all. Or something.
For the last few years, James Hansen, the man who first warned Congress of global warming in testimony last century, and the man considered NASA's "top scientist" on climate questions, has been giving talks around the country asking can we avoid dangerous climate change (PDF)? But Hansen has changed his tune: no longer does he ask if we have passed the tipping points of climate change. In a press conference Thursday morning at the American Geophysical Union, he stated that we have passed several tipping points. He said scientists now know that soon the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer, that huge ice sheets will melt, and the climactic zones will shift towards the poles of the earth, among other consequences.
We've finally found someone willing to debate me: Tim Ball, a retired professor from the University of Winnipeg. The debate will be online Monday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. CST. You will be able to listen online through BlogTalkRadio's service. In fact, you can even call in during the show (see the BlogTalkRadio web site for details). You can also post questions on SciGuy Eric Berger's website. I realize that these types of events don't do much to move the climate debate forward. I'm mainly doing this to test my own ability to answer the skeptic's questions and see how I fare in this type of activity. For those who miss it live, it will be archived in mp3 format.
Kevin Rudd. Photo: AP / Rob Griffith Culturally, politically, and spiritually, what country in the world is most like the United States? It's not Canada and it's sure not Great Britain. The answer is Australia. Ask anyone who's been there. It just feels like America there, from the sprawling suburbs to the cars people drive, from the obsession with sports to their unit of currency: the Australian dollar. Add these factors too: both countries were British colonies, both wiped out indigenous peoples, both have big cities in the east and vast frontiers to the west, both have huge coal deposits and per capita greenhouse-gas emissions that lead most of the world, and, in the last several years, both have had conservative national governments that basically deny the reality of global warming. The Aussies R Us! So how, then, did Australia just complete a national election where the issue of climate change played a central role and may have determined the outcome? How did a country so steeped in America's brand of fierce self-reliance, consumerism, and fossil-fuel addiction throw out a "climate skeptic" prime minister and hand a landslide victory to a Labor candidate who talked persistently about ratifying Kyoto? And most important, if they can do it Down Under, is there still hope for America?
Post by Richard Graves, U.S. youth delegate and editor of It's Getting Hot in Here As I wrote this post, I was listening to Al Gore give his speech at the U.N. Climate Negotiations. It had been a long trip here, and despite the schedule and the heat I was still excited. As we sat in the audience, we spoke with Kevin Knobloch from UCS and watched Kelley trying to talk with U.S. representative Paula Dobriansky ... but we were all here to listen to Al Gore. I was surprised to hear him lead with a reference from the Holocaust, but it hit home. How can we ignore those who are the harbingers of the threat of climate change. People can't ignore stories of people like Claire Antrea, a young nun from Kiribati whose home is being flooded. These threats are coming for us, and the sense of urgency must come from the fact the science is changing so fast that none of us, even in the developed world, can assume we are safe. This is a powerful idea, and one that seems to be coming true.
When the energy bill went before the Senate yesterday morning, it had been stripped of the Renewable Energy Standard, but it still retained the tax package, which would have reversed $13.5 billion in tax breaks to oil and gas companies to help pay for $21 billion worth of investment in renewable energy. Republicans, as always, threatened a filibuster, so majority leader Harry Reid went for a cloture vote, for which he needed 60 votes. He got 59. The final roll call shows that only one Democrat voted Nay: Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. If she had voted Yea, the bill …
Ugh. That was rough. I need a pick-me-up, and the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival can't come soon enough. I've never been, but Nevada City is special and the South Yuba River Citizen's League does great work.
In a letter to the president (PDF), 52 members of Congress expressed their disapproval of the U.S. stance in Bali: The clear implication is that the United States will refuse to agree to any language putting the United States on an established path toward scientifically-based emission limits … We write to express our strong disagreement with these positions and to urge you to direct the U.S. negotiating team to work together with other countries to complete a roadmap with a clear objective sufficient to combat global warming. The United States must adopt negotiating positions at the Bali Conference of the …