Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts

22 October 2019

Climate Leadership from Developing Countries

LEE WHITE , TANGUY GAHOUMA

LIBREVILLE – When Gabon ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement, its real work was just beginning. The main challenge was to find ways to conserve the country’s natural environment and address the growing climate crisis, while not limiting economic opportunities for its people. Almost four years later, we have a deeper understanding of the crisis facing us, and the need to reconcile our country’s development with its climate response is greater and more urgent than ever.

Developing countries such as ours cannot follow the same development path that Western economies have taken over the last century and a half. We know the dire consequences of rapid industrialization for the global climate and environment, so we must find a different way to improve living standards.

It is only right, therefore, that advanced economies provide additional technological and financial assistance to the developing world. After all, this is the price of our shared responsibility for the planet. But climate solutions will not come solely from the West. Developing countries – including Gabon – also have an opportunity to lead this transformation.

17 October 2019

Climate Change and Food Security: A Test of U.S. Leadership in a Fragile World


Climate change poses a considerable threat to global food security, with potentially existential economic, political, and social outcomes for humanity. As climate impacts worsen and further stress an already hungry world, the United States should claim the mantle of global leadership in responding to the impacts of climate change, double down on domestic efforts to promote climate-smart agriculture, elevate the issue of climate change and food insecurity in national security circles, and leverage the reorganization of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to further mainstream climate resilience into U.S. global food security programs.

As people around the world increasingly feel the impacts of climate change, the collective call for action grows louder and louder. The effects of climate change on food production—often neglected in favor of stories on melting glaciers, tropical storms, and sea level rise—are receiving more and more mainstream attention. This brief seeks to summarize the relationship between climate change and food insecurity, highlight salient trends and controversies, and comment on U.S. government global policies and programs that tackle this important issue.

THE STATE OF GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY

Dry Hills, Full Ponds: Climate Change, Resilience, and Agriculture in Nepal


It is well understood that climate change is destabilizing agricultural livelihoods throughout the global South. Rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, declining soil moisture, and a rise in the incidence of drought are, increasingly, forcing vulnerable smallholder farming populations to adapt to the new world in which they farm.

In places like Nepal, where two-thirds of the labor force rely on agriculture to earn a living, the impacts of rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and protracted droughts are becoming especially severe. The U.S. government is expanding its investment in programs that build climate resilience, but how can we ensure these investments are inclusive and beneficial to the most vulnerable populations?

This report, by Christian Man, illuminates the challenges stemming from climate change for resilience programming while also exploring how U.S. programs and policies might better achieve inclusivity in these resilience building initiatives. As the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) completes the conversion of its Bureau for Food Security into the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, a window of opportunity exists to further ensure the new emphasis meaningfully addresses very vulnerable populations. This report examines how these opportunities present themselves in USAID Nepal programming.

7 October 2019

Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate


The IPCC approved and accepted Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate at its 51st Session held on 20 – 23 September 2019. The approved Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was presented at a press conference on 25 September 2019.

The World’s Oceans Are in Danger, Major Climate Change Report Warns

By Brad Plumer

WASHINGTON — Climate change is heating the oceans and altering their chemistry so dramatically that it is threatening seafood supplies, fueling cyclones and floods and posing profound risks to the hundreds of millions of people living along the coasts, according to a sweeping United Nations report issued Wednesday.

The report concludes that the world’s oceans and ice sheets are under such severe stress that the fallout could prove difficult for humans to contain without steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Fish populations are already declining in many regions as warming waters throw marine ecosystems into disarray, according to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking.

“The oceans are sending us so many warning signals that we need to get emissions under control,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and a lead author of the report. “Ecosystems are changing, food webs are changing, fish stocks are changing, and this turmoil is affecting humans.”

2 October 2019

Grand Strategy in the Age of Climate Change: A Theory of Emergent Grand Strategy

By Charlotte Hulme

Earlier this year, The Strategy Bridge asked university and professional military education students to participate in our third annual student writing contest by sending us their thoughts on strategy.

Now, we are pleased to present an essay selected for honorable mention by Charlotte Hulme from Yale University.

More striking than the lack of consensus over how to define grand strategy is that for over a century, scholars, regardless of their definitional approach, have considered grand strategy as the exclusive province of states and national policymakers.[1] For example, Kennedy defines grand strategy in terms of policy, or “the capacity of the nation’s leaders to bring together all of the elements of power, both military and non-military, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation’s long-term…best interests.”[2] On the other hand, Earle treated it as the highest type of strategy, one that “so integrates the policies and armaments of the nation that the resort to war is either rendered unnecessary or is undertaken with the maximum chance of victory.”[3] Brands defines it in terms of ideas, writing that grand strategy is “a purposeful and coherent set of ideas about what a nation seeks to accomplish in the world, and how it should go about doing so.”[4] 
J.F.C. Fuller and B.H. Liddell Hart (Wikimedia)

30 September 2019

‘We’re all in big trouble’: Climate panel sees a dire future

By SETH BORENSTEIN
Source Link

FILE - This early Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 file photo shows an aerial view of large Icebergs floating as the sun rises near Kulusuk, Greenland. Greenland has been melting faster in the last decade, and this summer, it has seen two of the biggest melts on record since 2012. A special United Nations-affiliated oceans and ice report released on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2019 projects three feet of rising seas by the end of the century, much fewer fish, weakening ocean currents, even less snow and ice, and nastier hurricanes, caused by climate change. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

NEW YORK (AP) — Earth is in more hot water than ever before, and so are we, an expert United Nations climate panel warned in a grim new report Wednesday.

Sea levels are rising at an ever-faster rate as ice and snow shrink, and oceans are getting more acidic and losing oxygen, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report issued as world leaders met at the United Nations.

26 September 2019

The United Nations is trying to pressure the world into faster action on climate change

By Umair Irfan 
Source Link

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

In the run up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit this Monday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly warned countries that they need more than empty promises to fight climate change. “Don’t come to the summit with beautiful speeches,” Guterres said at a press conference last month. “Come with concrete plans ... and strategies for carbon neutrality by 2050.”

Guterres has convened the gathering of world leaders ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, which begins Tuesday, to secure more ambitious commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions than those made in 2015 during the signing of the Paris climate agreement. Already, several countries have said they will increase those commitments, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, according to the 2020 NDC Tracker, just released by the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington, DC.

18 September 2019

The Amazon and You

RICHARD N. HAASS

NEW YORK – Nearly everyone has seen the dramatic images of the Amazon ablaze. Tens of thousands of fires – intentionally started or caused by logging, farming, mining, and other human activities – have broken out over the past year alone.

This matters a great deal, because forests absorb gases that increase global warming if released into the atmosphere. Reduction of the Amazon rainforest by fire adds to the problem of climate change in two ways: the fires themselves release gases and particles that accelerate the earth’s warming, and the elimination of the trees by definition means they cannot absorb carbon dioxide.

The issue gripped last month’s G7 meeting in France. The leaders of many of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged just over $22 million to help Brazil, home to the bulk of the Amazon rainforest and nearly half of the world’s tropical forests, combat the fires. Brazil angrily rejected the offer.

Brazil’s populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, stated that his country would not allow the G7 countries to treat it as if it were a colony. “Our sovereignty is nonnegotiable,” the government spokesman declared. In the end, Brazil did accept some $12 million in assistance from the United Kingdom, but it did not reach a compromise with the G7 or with France, which hosted the meeting.

14 September 2019

There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis

By Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Lack of progress towards decarbonization of world energy systems has created justifiable panic about the climate crisis. This has led to an intensified interest in technological climate interventions that involve increasing the reflection of sunlight to space by injecting substances into the stratosphere which lead to the formation of highly reflective particles. When first suggested, such albedo modification schemes were introduced as a “Plan B,” in case the world economy fails to decarbonize, and this scenario has dominated much of the public perception of albedo modification as a savior waiting in the wings to protect the world against massive climate change arising from a failure to decarbonize. But because of the mismatch between the millennial persistence time of carbon dioxide and the sub-decadal persistence of stratospheric particles, albedo modification can never safely play more than a very minor role in the portfolio of solutions. There is simply no substitute for decarbonization. This article is free-access through October 31, 2019.

10 September 2019

There is no Plan B for dealing with the climate crisis

By Raymond T. Pierrehumbert

Lack of progress towards decarbonization of world energy systems has created justifiable panic about the climate crisis. This has led to an intensified interest in technological climate interventions that involve increasing the reflection of sunlight to space by injecting substances into the stratosphere which lead to the formation of highly reflective particles. When first suggested, such albedo modification schemes were introduced as a “Plan B,” in case the world economy fails to decarbonize, and this scenario has dominated much of the public perception of albedo modification as a savior waiting in the wings to protect the world against massive climate change arising from a failure to decarbonize. But because of the mismatch between the millennial persistence time of carbon dioxide and the sub-decadal persistence of stratospheric particles, albedo modification can never safely play more than a very minor role in the portfolio of solutions. There is simply no substitute for decarbonization. This article is free-access through October 31, 2019.

8 September 2019

Rising to the Climate Challenge, One Step at a Time


For the first time, democratic presidential candidates will engage with a live and televised audience organized for the sole purpose of discussing climate change. It is not the official debate that many in the climate community hoped for, but it is perhaps the most in-depth coverage of the issue in a presidential campaign to date. Each candidate will have to thread an impossibly small needle—illustrating a serious-enough plan to garner support from the progressive base while also achieving a level of practicality to assuage the fears of moderate voters. In truth, some candidates will not try to accomplish this feat. The progressive wing will simply suggest that the urgency of the problem requires more drastic solutions and that the consequences of not doing so are so great that there is no other choice than to act. They have a very valid point. The moderate wing will suggest that yes, bold action must be taken, but that it must be realistic and achievable lest more time be wasted. They are probably right, too.

The entire democratic field of contenders have put out plans to address climate change. They fall along spectrums of expense and ambition and involve different mixes of government and private-sector action, including by federal or local entities at the national or international levels. The campaign cycle has re-energized the broader public dialogue about climate change but oftentimes in the same old divisive ways (Do you support a carbon tax? Will you ban fracking? How much will you spend on the issue?). Here are four themes that deserve time and attention during this campaign cycle and our public policy debate on climate change more broadly:

3 September 2019

Environmental Disaster In The Amazon – Analysis

By Claudia Ribeiro Pereira Nunes and Pedro D. Peralta*

With fire destroying the Amazon, Brazil is caught between global desires – protecting wilderness versus developing its emerging economy.

Brazil’s withdrawal from leadership in climate change is under a spotlight. As fire raged over large areas of the Amazon region, G7 leaders held urgent consultation on how to protect the rainforest that represents up to 25 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and contributes to cooling the planet. Brazil, the world’s eighth largest economy and sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is caught between global forces – the efforts to protect some of the most sensitive and pristine wilderness versus the desire to develop critical commodities.

More than 70,000 fires rage out of control in the Amazon – many deliberately set to expand farmland – setting off global alarm and underscoring expectations for responsibility by countries not to exacerbate climate change.

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry notified the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in late 2018 that Brazil was withdrawing its candidacy to host the 25th Session of the Conference of the Parties, or COP 25, of the UN Climate Change Convention. The conference, scheduled November 11 to 22 of this year, is dedicated to negotiating implementation of commitments achieved with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015, also known as COP 21.

31 August 2019

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change


Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. The latest blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in early May, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement immediately undermined the pact but has also had long-term implications. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were never eager to participate in the first place, now have cover to back away from their commitments.

The Positives Of Climate Change? Research Shows Agricultural, Economic Possibilities


Depending on your side of the aisle, climate change either elicits doomsday anxiety or unabashed skepticism.

Jason Hubbart, director of Institute of Water Security and Science at West Virginia University, takes a more centered approach.

He’s studied the undisputable changing patterns in West Virginia’s climate. And, believe it or not, there is at least one silver lining stemming from changing climate, he insists: The growing season is getting longer.

“Our future climates in West Virginia are likely to be more conducive to agricultural production,” said Hubbart, a professor of hydrology and water quality in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. “We should plan for that now.”

In research published in Regional Environmental Change, and the journals Water and Climate, Hubbart found that, between 1900 and 2016, maximum temperatures in West Virginia trended downward, average minimum temperatures ascended and annual precipitation increased. Specifically, precipitation increased about an inch each of the last few decades.

29 August 2019

The Amazon Fires Reveal the Dysfunction of the Global Community

BY FRANKLIN FOER

The case for territorial incursion in the Amazon is far stronger than the justifications for most war.

When Jair Bolosonaro won Brazil’s presidential election last year, having run on a platform of deforestation, David Wallace-Wells asked, “How much damage can one person do to the planet?” Bolsonaro didn’t pour lighter fluid to ignite the flames now ravishing the Amazon, but with his policies and rhetoric, he might as well have. The destruction he inspired—and allowed to rage with his days of stubborn unwillingness to douse the flames—has placed the planet at a hinge moment in its ecological history. Unfortunately, the planet doesn’t have a clue about how it should respond.

In part, the problem is that so much of the world is now governed by leaders who share Bolsonaro’s sensibility. Even before Bolsonaro presided over the incineration of the world’s storehouse of oxygen, he led a dubious regime. His path to power began with the corrupt impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, followed by the arrest of his higher-polling electoral rival.

In part, the problem is the dismal state of international institutions, which haven’t been so tattered since World War II. In the face of global critics begging Bolsonaro to stop the destruction of the Amazon, he shouts about the threats to Brazil’s sovereignty. For that complaint to land, he would need democratic legitimacy, and this revanchist has none; yet those critics do nothing more than sputter inconsequential rage.

Greenland Is the Center of the World

By Laurie Garrett

The Arctic island offers a harrowing reminder of the environmental damage, and political dangers, already imposed by climate change.

A Greenland ice melt lake atop the sheet, seen from 5,000 feet above, in August. Across Greenland’s massive ice sheet, blue pools of melted water, forming icy lakes, dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Laurie Garrett for Foreign Policy

NUUK, Greenland—U.S. President Donald Trump’s open interest in purchasing Greenland was almost universally acknowledged as undiplomatic and “absurd,” to cite Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. But the kerfuffle has brought long overdue attention to the Arctic island that’s roughly half size of Western Europe (more than 836,000 square miles), 80 percent covered in a layer of ice that is up to 2 miles thick, and enveloped in frigid darkness for about six months every year.

Although Greenland is unassuming, it has quietly moved ever closer to the center of geopolitics. Trump probably didn’t know or particularly care about the island’s status as a leading indicator and object of climate change. But the American people should pay close attention. It’s not enough to merely laugh at Trump’s audacity. His advisors were likely aware of China’s and Russia’s growing assertiveness in the region and the way its shipping lanes and mineral deposits are becoming more accessible through global warming. The melting of the Arctic is being treated by many countries as an opportunity—and by the region’s indigenous peoples as an existential risk.

28 August 2019

Why Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are bad for the climate

By Dawn Stover

Earlier this year, the video-sharing website YouTube updated its systems “to begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways”—for example, videos claiming the Earth is flat. More recently, YouTube, which is one of the two most widely used online platforms in the United States, announced in a blog post that it would remove “content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.” It’s all part of YouTube’s efforts to eliminate hate speech and “denialism.”

Climate denialism, however, appears to be unaffected by this house-cleaning. A recent study analyzing the content of 200 randomly selected YouTube videos related to climate change found that a majority of the videos either propagated conspiracy theories about climate change and climate engineering (such as the notion that the government is using “chemtrails” to manipulate the weather), or denied the scientific consensus that human activities are the primary cause of climate change. One conspiracy video alone had been viewed more than 5.3 million times.

The false promise of nuclear power in an age of climate change

By Robert Jay Lifton, Naomi Oreskes

Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 & 2 cooling towers and containment buildings.

Commentators from Greenpeace to the World Bank agree that climate change is an emergency, threatening civilization and life on our planet. Any solution must involve the control of greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out fossil fuels and switching to alternative technologies that do not impair the human habitat while providing the energy we require to function as a species.

This sobering reality has led some prominent observers to re-embrace nuclear energy. Advocates declare it clean, efficient, economical, and safe. In actuality it is none of these. It is expensive and poses grave dangers to our physical and psychological well-being. According to the US Energy Information Agency, the average nuclear power generating cost is about $100 per megawatt-hour. Compare this with $50 per megawatt-hour for solar and $30 to $40 per megawatt-hour for onshore wind. The financial group Lazard recently said that renewable energy costs are now “at or below the marginal cost of conventional generation”—that is, fossil fuels—and much lower than nuclear.

27 August 2019

Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

By Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, Dale Jamieson

Recently, the U.K. Met Office announced a revision to the Hadley Center historical analysis of sea surface temperatures (SST), suggesting that the oceans have warmed about 0.1 degree Celsius more than previously thought. The need for revision arises from the long-recognized problem that in the past sea surface temperatures were measured using a variety of error-prone methods such as using open buckets, lamb’s wool–wrapped thermometers, and canvas bags. It was not until the 1990s that oceanographers developed a network of consistent and reliable measurement buoys.

Then, to develop a consistent picture of long-term trends, techniques had to be developed to compensate for the errors in the older measurements and reconcile them with the newer ones. The Hadley Centre has led this effort, and the new data set—dubbed HadSST4—is a welcome advance in our understanding of global climate change.