Archive for April 2008
Think about everything that nature provides – air, water, plants and animals that sustain us. Such gifts should not be taken lightly for they can vanish or be contaminated. In our numbers and powerful technologies we are ‘the bull in nature’s china shop’. We need to take great care.
May you always cherish this Earth and share in her joys.
[Check out this excellent site]
By Stephen Leahy
JOHANNESBURG, Apr 6 (IPS) – As food prices soar and hundreds of millions go hungry, experts from around the world will this week present a new approach for ensuring food security, at the intergovernmental plenary for the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The Apr. 7-12 conference is taking place in South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg, and will be attended by representatives of an estimated 60 governments.
In the past year the price of corn has risen by 31 percent, soybeans by 87 percent and wheat by 130 percent. Global grain stores are currently at their lowest levels ever, with reserves of just 40 days left in the silos. Meanwhile, food production must double in the next 25 to 50 years to feed the additional three billion people expected on the planet by 2050.
“The question of how to feed the world could hardly be more urgent,” said Robert Watson, director of the IAASTD and chief scientist at the British environment and agriculture department. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Leahy*
BROOKLIN, Canada, Apr 4 (IPS) – The evidence is piling up that climate change threatens to bring a chaotic future unlike anything ever known. Taking collective action in time to avert the worst means rewarding climate-safe behaviour, punishing climate transgressors and publicly praising those who are trying to protect the environment, a new study suggests.
The nations of the world will come together to set a target and timeframe for reducing emissions from burning fossil fuels at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Scientists have repeatedly stated the 2020 target must be 25 to 40 percent emission reductions from the 1990 emission baseline. Can the global community reach this collective target through individual efforts when everyone suffers individually if the target is missed?
The short answer: No.
At least that’s the result of an elegant experiment to examine people’s ability to deal with this kind of situation. “People do not act rationally, even to protect their own interest,” observed Manfred Milinski of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Plon, Germany.
[ *This story is part four of a four-part examination of the psychological and behavioural changes needed to dial down the temperature on our global greenhouse. Part one: Climate Change Reshaping Civilization Part two: Climate River in Full Flood Part three: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Vision Worth Fighting For ]
By Stephen Leahy*
BROOKLIN, Canada, Apr 3 (IPS) – Sweeping societal change is a slow and erratic business. The civil rights movement in the United States went nowhere for decades and then exploded in the 1960s. Not long ago, smokers could light up anywhere they pleased in Canada and the U.S. Now they are mostly confined to a few outdoor areas and as a consequence, far fewer people smoke.
“There’s been a major shift in values regarding smoking,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change at Yale University.
Anti-smoking laws, higher taxes, and knowledge about the health impacts of second-hand smoke were all factors driving the shift, Leiserowitz told IPS.
While most people are concerned about climate change, they view it as a largely abstract problem, and fail to equate it with devastating weather events such as Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, he said.
[ *This story is part three of a four-part examination of the psychological and behavioural changes needed to dial down the temperature on our global greenhouse. Part one: Climate Change Reshaping Civilization Part two: Climate River in Full Flood Part four: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Game With Too Many Free Riders ]
However, that might be changing. Australians suffering record droughts made more intense by climate change elected a new prime minister in 2007 in part because the incumbent refused to act on carbon dioxide emissions.
“Arguably, John Howard (the former prime minister) was the first national leader to lose their job over climate,” Leiserowitz said. Read the rest of this entry »
Analysis by Stephen Leahy*
Apr 2 (IPS) – Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere can be compared to a flooding river, swamping low areas at first but inevitably bursting its banks.
But unlike normal seasonal flooding, humanity is largely responsible for the crisis by burning fossil fuels.
[ *This story is part two of a four-part examination of the psychological and behavioural changes needed to dial down the temperature on our global greenhouse. Part one: Climate Change Reshaping Civilization Part three: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Vision Worth Fighting For Part four: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Game With Too Many Free Riders ]
Today, a routine drive to the supermarket adds another fraction to the CO2 in the atmosphere, trapping a little more heat. And not just for today but the next 5,000 years. That is how long it takes before the carbon dioxide we release today is finally absorbed and safely tucked away. But for 5,000 years, that carbon will trap additional heat.
If climate change were a rising river near our street, we’d all be at the dikes, filling and carting sandbags with neighbours and strangers. We’d share our food, enjoy the camaraderie and remember forever our individual and collective effort with pride and satisfaction. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Leahy*
Apr 1 (IPS) -Our fingers are glued to the global thermostat, pushing it ever higher, and climate catastrophe has already begun to reshape human civilisation.
Drought. Flood. Heat wave. Tornado and hurricane. Once sole products of natural forces, all are now amplified by the massive amounts of additional heat trapped in the atmosphere because of burning fossil fuels, scientists warn.
[ *This story is part one of a four-part examination of the psychological and behavioural changes needed to dial down the temperature on our global greenhouse. Part two: Climate River in Full Flood Part three: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Vision Worth Fighting For Part four: CLIMATE CHANGE: A Game With Too Many Free Riders ]
Such calamities are no longer distant in time or space. Tens of millions have already been impacted by unnaturally extreme and violent weather for at least the past two decades.
Annual emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) are three times higher today than in the 1990s. Even if the impossible could be done — cease all CO2 emissions today — the average global temperature will continue to increase from the present 0.8 degrees C above normal to 1.6 – 1.8C, data shows. And that new global average temperature would remain higher than normal for the next 500 years because of the time it will take for the warming oceans to cool.
To prevent Earth from heating further than 2.0 C, a potentially catastrophic tipping point, carbon dioxide emissions would need to be completely eliminated and soon, say researchers in a new study published in March in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Read the rest of this entry »