Deep CO2 Cuts May Be Last Hope for Acid Oceans

(Report from the World Oceans Conference in Indonesia)

gbr cap mushroom death4By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 15 (IPS) –

Ocean acidification offers the clearest evidence of dangers of climate change.

And yet the indisputable fact that burning fossil fuels is slowly turning the oceans into an acid bath has been largely ignored by industrialised countries and their climate treaty negotiators, concluded delegates from 76 countries at the World Oceans Conference in Manado, Indonesia.

Oceans and coastal areas must be on the agenda at the crucial climate talks in Copenhagen in December, they wrote in a declaration. “We must come to the rescue of the oceans,” declared Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening of high-level government talks on Thursday in the northern city of Manado.

It is fair to say most international climate negotiators aren’t aware of the impacts of climate change on the oceans, said Carl Gustaf Lundin, head of the IUCN’s Global Marine Programme.

“Very few people understand that carbon emissions are making the oceans acidic,” Lundin told IPS.

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Bring Back Glass – Ban BPA (bisphenol A) Plastic Containers Now

(This is an important subject but I don’t have time to write a full article  on this so here’s my quick take on two new studies — Steve)

carbon neutral pub77 lucky Harvard student volunteers experienced a nearly 70 percent increase in urinary levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a plastics component and synthetic estrogen linked to cancer, after drinking cold beverages from baby bottles for ONE WEEK.  — Research by Harvard University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published May 13.

The bottles were made of made of polycarbonate, a common hard plastic often used to make reusable bottles/containers among other things. BPA is used to make most polycarbonate and evidently leaches into the water or whatever is in the container.

Another study published May 12 shows that very small amounts of BPA affects the growth of tadpoles: “Bisphenol A stifles thyroid hormone and slows frog development” — this is an easy to read summary from Environmental Health News.

Bottom Line : “The study confirms past research showing BPA interferes with thyroid hormone (Goto et al. 2006, Iwamuro et al. 2006). It is also consistent with studies that show BPA slows and alters development.”

What you can do:

1. Use Glass or Steel Containers – all liquids taste much better in these

2. Insist that plastic containers for water-pop-soda are banned in your workplace, community, district.

3. Lobby for bottle return deposit systems — These are still in place in much of the world and they work fine.

Other research on this:

Plastic chemical linked to female aggression

Plastic Bottles Leach Estrogen – ‘Healthy’ Mineral Water Contaminated by Plastic

Heading for +2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) Carbon Use Must Peak by 2015 Scientists Warn

Carbon overload - have to stop expanding
Carbon overload – have to stop expanding

By Stephen Leahy

“We shouldn’t forget that a 2-degree C global mean warming would take us far beyond the natural temperature variations that life on Earth has experienced since we humans have been around.”

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Apr 30 (IPS)

Climate scientists are calling for a phase-out of fossil fuels because humans are now pumping so much carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere that the ‘2-degree-C climate balloon’ will burst otherwise, new studies show.

That 2-degree C climate balloon has a maximum capacity of less than 1,400 gigatonnes of CO2 total emissions from the year 2000 to 2050, Malte Meinshausen and colleagues report in the current issue of Nature. The European Union and others consider a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees C as dangerous and potentially catastrophic. Temperatures are already 0.8 C warmer than the pre-industrial period.

UPDATE Nov 2009 Prospect of a four-degree Celsius rise in global average temperatures in 50 years is alarming – but not alarmist, climate scientists now believe. Four Degrees of Devastation

The reality is that global emissions for the last seven years amounted to almost 250 gigatonnes of these long-lived greenhouse gases, meaning that the current and growing rates of fossil fuel emissions would burst the balloon in about 20 years – or less. Even if emissions are held to 1,400 gigatonnes maximum for the next 40 years, there is still a 50-percent probability of exceeding 2 degrees C, said Meinshausen, lead author of the study and climate researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Indigenous peoples from around the world also called for a phase-out of fossil fuels at the conclusion of the first Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change in Anchorage, Alaska, that concluded last week.

“That call is well-supported by the evidence in this study,” Meinshausen told IPS.

Is this article of interest? It exists thanks to contributions from readers. Please click here to learn more about Community Supported Journalism.

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China, Korea, Saudi Arabia Lead Global Land Rush To Buy Farmland In Other Countries

By Stephen Leahy*

conversion of US grasslandANCHORAGE, Alaska, USA, May 5 (Tierramérica)

More than 20 million hectares of farmland in Africa and Latin America are now in the hands of foreign governments and companies, a sign of a global “land grab” that got a boost from last year’s food crisis.

Rich countries that are short on land or water at home are looking to secure food-producing lands elsewhere as a way to ensure food security for their populations, said Joachim von Braun, director of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

“There is a major lack of transparency in these land deals,” von Braun said in a telephone press conference from Washington.

The IFPRI study, “‘Land Grabbing’ by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries,” by von Braun and Ruth Meinzen-Dick, which was presented last week, estimates that 15 to 20 million hectares have been acquired or are in the process of being sold.

Von Braun pointed out that this is equivalent to about 25 percent of all the farmland in Europe.

Because hard data is difficult to come by – the study was based primarily on information from press reports – IFPRI conservatively estimates that the deals represent 20 to 30 billion dollars being invested by China, South Korea, India and the Gulf States, mainly in Africa.

“About one-quarter of these investments are for biofuel plantations,” von Braun said. Continue reading

Ethanol and Biofuels: Almost Everything You Need to Know

“The U.S. has led the fight to stem global hunger, now we are creating hunger,” said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute.

Series of the latest articles that provide almost everything you need to know about why ethanol and biofuels will not reduce global warming but simply drive up fuel and food costs.

maize - mexicoEthanol Worse Than Gasoline

Only Green Part of Most Biofuels is the Wealth (Subsidies) They Generate

Ethanol: The Great Big Green Fraud

International Enviro Standards Needed for Biofuels

Six Experts On Why Ethanol is a Dumb Idea

Food & Fuel: Can Sorghum Be The New Magic Bullet Biofuel??

Biofuels: Another Good Reason to Hate American Policy

(Cellulosic) Greenest Ethanol Still Unproven

Massive subsidies to oil companies continue – Podcast

redeyePodcast from REDEYE RADIO:

Oil companies are some of the most profitable corporations in the world. Yet they receive between 20 and 40 billion dollars a year in subsidies, according to a report produced for the OECD by Earth Track, an independent energy information research organisation in Boston, Massachusetts.

LORRAINE CHISHOLM interviews Stephen Leahy an environmental journalist who documented these facts in a recent article. Listen to podcast

Read article: ‘Bailout’ for Oil Companies $20-40 Billion (and maybe more) every year

Speaking of subsidies, here’s my articles on ethanol and biofuels :

Quotes From Six Experts On Ethanol

Biofuels: Another Good Reason to Hate American Policy

Ethanol: The Great Big Green Fraud

Record $Financing For Biofuels, Not Food

Do Incinerators Kill Goal of Zero Waste?

zero-waste-conceptby Stephen Leahy

The Uxbridge Cosmos Apr 30 2009

Shawn Williamson took out 2.4 bags of trash last year. Williamson hopes to trim that to 1.6 bags of garbage this year from his family of three living in a typical newer home in nearby Brooklin.

“It’s easy,” says Williamson, a consultant and Director at Durham Sustain Ability, who also uses his home as an office. The secret is buying in bulk and “not buying crap”. The family buys 50lb bags of rice, uses glass jars for storage of other bulk food items and does its own backyard composting. [living zero waste – you tube video]

“It makes more sense to compost food waste in your backyard than transport it all over the Region.”

Uxbridge and Durham Region residents may not realize there is a looming garbage crisis. Virtually all of the Region’s more than 100,000 tonnes of trash goes to Michigan. But those landfills will be closed to Ontario’s garbage in 2010. In response Durham Region Council voted last year to build an estimated $230 million incinerator, or energy-from-waste (EFW) facility in Clarington near Lake Ontario.

“No incinerator is clean. Why let the Region blow toxic smoke into your lungs?” Dr. Sean Godfrey, Chief of Pediatrics, Lakeridge Health Oshawa asked about 80 people attending an information session in Whitby in early April. The event was part of a series of sessions organized by a group of Durham residents called ZeroWaste4ZeroBurning who oppose Durham’s proposed incinerator. Continue reading