Daily Archives: June 21, 2013

Opponents Question Proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade Deal

http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/06/opponents-question-proposed-trans-atlantic-trade-deal/
By Jared Metzker

Critics of a potential free trade agreement between the United States and European Union worry that such an agreement could lead to increased exportation of liquified natural gas from the U.S. Credit: Bigstock

WASHINGTON, Jun 19 2013 (IPS) – Controversy is building following the announcement that negotiations will soon begin on a free trade agreement between the United States and European Union, with critics warning that any such agreement could negatively affect a host of regulatory concerns.

On Monday, during the Group of Eight (G8) summit held in Northern Ireland, the United States, European Commission and European Council jointly announced that negotiations will begin on Jul. 8 in Washington for what British Prime Minister David Cameron called “the biggest bilateral trade deal in history”.

Proponents characterise the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), also known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Agreement (TAFTA), as a way to improve the struggling economies of the United States and European Union.

“The whole point,” Cameron stated on Monday, “is to fire up our economies and drive growth and prosperity around the world – to do things that make a real difference to people’s lives. And there is no more powerful way to achieve that than by boosting trade.”

He asserted that the deal could “add as much as a 100 billion pounds to the EU economy, 80 billion pounds to the U.S. economy, and as much as 85 billion pounds to the rest of the world”.

Nevertheless, there is significant opposition to the proposed deal.

“The claims that this deal will somehow be an economic cure-all and generate significant growth are simply not supported by any reliable evidence,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen‘s Global Trade Watch, a public interest watchdog group based in Washington, said Tuesday. …..(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

Another climate change event

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/another-climate-change-event/article4835663.ece

Nagraj Adve

The unexpectedly early and powerful rains over Northwest India have killed over 130 people and left 70,000 pilgrims stranded, damaged temple towns, and washed away roads and 21 bridges in Uttarakhand. And we still don’t know the extent of deaths, injuries and damage because of the impaired connectivity.

In climate literature, rainfall more than 150 mm in a day is termed a very heavy rain event. Dehradun “on Monday morning registered a record rainfall of 340 mm. This amount of rain in June is seen almost after five decades,” said the regional director of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) ( The Hindu , June 18, 2013). The unfolding disaster raises two questions: is this extreme rainfall due to global warming? And what issues does it flag?

A study by scientists at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Tirupati, showed a six per cent increase in the frequency of very heavy rain events in India over 1901-2004. The more recent period 1951-2004 shows a 14.5 per cent rise per decade. They lay this at global warming’s door: the study talked of a “coherent relationship” between the increasing trend of extreme rainfall events in the last five decades and the increasing trend of Indian Ocean sea surface temperature ( M. Rajeevan et al , “Analysis of Variability and Trends of Extreme Rainfall Events Over India Using 104 Years of Gridded Daily Rainfall Data,” Geophysical Research Letters, 35, September 2008). Another school of thought emphasises regional rather than global factors. For instance, Subimal Ghosh et al found an increase in the geographical spread of rainfall extremes in India, but emphasised urbanisation, deforestation and other changes in land use more as causal factors (“Lack of Uniform Trends but Increasing Spatial Variability in Observed Indian Rainfall Extremes,” Nature Climate Change , 18 December 2011).

Single events and climate

Neither argument seeks to connect single rainfall events to global warming. It is in the nature of its methodology that it is not possible to ascribe single rainfall events to climate change. Climate change is a trend over time. However, as extreme events become more frequent in the world, some scientists are trying to grapple with this problem. One group tweaked the question a bit. They have argued that certain recent extreme events — the heatwaves and droughts in Moscow in 2010, and Texas, Oklahoma and northern Mexico in 2011 – were a consequence of global warming “because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small” ( James Hansen et al , ‘Perception of Climate Change’, PNAS, 6 August 2012, pp. 2415-2423). Hansen et al showed that extreme temperatures exceeding 3-sigma (a measure of variability and volatility), which covered only 0.1-0.2 per cent of the Earth’s land area in the 30-year period 1950-1980, occurred in as much as 10 per cent of the planet’s land mass in recent summers. Would the heatwaves they refer to have happened in the absence of this huge spread of extreme warming? No. ….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Yale Food Systems Symposium

http://yalefoodsymposium.org/

Yale Food Systems Symposium

Yale University, October 18-19, 2013

The parallel forces of urbanization and globalization are transforming our planet. They are bringing unprecedented changes to food production and distribution, livelihoods, communities, and the environment. While the pace of this transformation presents significant challenges to the creation of just and sustainable food systems, it may also create powerful opportunities: to support ecological stewardship, promote economic sustainability, cultivate human health, and ensure social justice. Currently, divergent food system paradigms compete for validity. How can these diverse perspectives be negotiated? How can we synchronize the efforts of research, policy, and practice?

The Yale Food Systems Symposium will bring emerging and established scholars and practitioners to work together in action-oriented sessions that address the complex ecological and socio-economic processes of food production, consumption, climate change and rapid urbanization. A variety of session formats will encourage transdisciplinary dialogue and an active exchange of ideas. We seek a diversity of proposal formats: panels, working groups, roundtables, poster presentations, and papers. We welcome perspectives from the natural and social sciences, from applied disciplines, and from community practitioners. Proposals that bring scholars and practitioners together, work across disciplines, or partner emerging and established researchers are especially encouraged.  (read more)

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Cyprus International Institute (CII) (Harvard School of Public Health) http://Cyprus-Institute.us
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

BBC News – New pollution high as haze chokes Singapore

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22998592
21 June 2013 Last updated at 05:03 GMT

The BBC’s Ashleigh Nghiem in Singapore: “This is the fourth day of choking smoke”

Related Stories

Pollution levels reached a new record high for a third day in a row in Singapore, as smoky haze from fires in Indonesia shrouded the city state.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit 401 at 12:00 on Friday (04:00 GMT) – the highest in the country’s history.

The haze is also affecting Malaysia, with another 100 schools closed in the south of the country.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong warned on Thursday that the haze could remain in place for weeks.
….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

BBC News – Online news is becoming easier to sell, suggests study

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22961025
19 June 2013 Last updated at 23:13 GMT

By Leo Kelion Technology reporter
The Sun’s online site is to follow stable-mate the Times’s lead by erecting a paywall
Related Stories

Consumers are becoming more willing to pay for online news, although most still choose not to, a study suggests.

The percentage of UK-based web users who read paid-for content had more than doubled to 9% during the past 10 months, it said.

Gains were also seen in the US, France and Germany, although Denmark bucked the trend.

Those aged 25 to 34 appeared most prepared to pay, and men were more willing than women, the study suggests.

The research will be of particular interest to newspapers, including the Sun, Daily Telegraph, Bild and Washington Post, which are all constructing paywalls this year.    ….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

In the Heat of Berlin, Obama Signals He’s Finally Ready to Act on Climate Change

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/06/obama-climate-change-berlin-speech/66393/

Reuters
Philip Bump Jun 19, 2013

For those waiting for the president to do something on climate change, Obama has offered two signs that action is imminent. The public sign came during his speech today in Berlin. The more subtle signal came in conversation with groups about to sue him for his inaction.

Today’s Berlin speech drew intentional and obvious comparisons to then-candidate Obama’s Berlin appearance in July 2008. And he echoed some of the same themes, including on climate change. In 2008, he said that “all nations — including my own — will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere.”

Today, in 91-degree heat, he rightly argued that his nation has done exactly that.

In the United States, we have recently doubled our renewable energy from clean sources like wind and solar power. We’re doubling fuel efficiency on our cars. Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down. But we know we have to do more — and we will do more.

“Our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late,” a sweat-covered Obama concluded — a line that the official White House Twitter account immediately sent out.

While the country has made progress on curbing carbon dioxide emissions, a leading contributor to global warming, that’s something of an economic accident. As articulated by David Roberts at Grist, those reductions stem largely from the slower economy and the correlated drop in electricity demand, and the glut of cheap natural gas that has resulted from improved hydraulic fracturing systems. After all, coal-powered electricity generation is the leading cause of U.S. CO2 emissions. Using less power and less coal power has kept those emissions down.

But the president has repeatedly failed to enact new rules limiting emissions from those coal plants, first hoping that Congress would create a carbon dioxide market (it didn’t), and then presumably out of concern that an executive mandate might hurt his re-election chances. A court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant which the EPA must regulate, after all, meaning that the president is legally obligated to have that agency take action by April, something that hasn’t yet been done. ….(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Cyprus International Institute (CII) (Harvard School of Public Health) http://Cyprus-Institute.us

Climate change could impact food output: World Bank report

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/climate-change-could-impact-food-output-world-bank-report/articleshow/20674212.cms

NEW DELHI: The government’s attempts to push through the Food Security Bill may earn it political brownie points, but failure to counter and stem climate change is likely to blunt the impact of the legislation.

Existing projections on the impact of higher temperature on agricultural production vary. However, there is empirical evidence that higher temperatures, and the resulting higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are expected to lower protein levels of crops such as wheat and rice.

A World Bank report stresses that the impact of climate change on food production could be severe, especially given that the benefits of carbon dioxide fertilisation, which is an increase in rate of plant growth due to increasing carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, are still uncertain. The lower nutritional value of foodgrain would have “strong repercussions on food security and are likely to negatively influence economic growth and poverty reduction in the impacted regions”, the report, titled “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience”, has said.

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Cyprus International Institute (CII) (Harvard School of Public Health) http://Cyprus-Institute.us
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

Global warming to dry up rivers, inundate cities

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130620/news-current-affairs/article/global-warming-dry-rivers-inundate-cities

New Delhi: India’s summer monsoon will become highly unpredictable if the world’s average temperature rises by 2ºC in the next two-three decades, a scientific report commissioned by the World Bank says.

The report released in the national capital on Wednesday focuses on the likely impacts of warming between 2ºC and 4ºC on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

The report titled Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and Case for Resilience warns that by the 2040s, India will see a significant reduction in crop yields because of extreme heat.

“An extreme wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century,” the report says. The report also predicts substantial reduction in the flow of the Indus and the Brahmaputra in late spring and summer.

It is estimated that by the 2050s, with a temperature increase of 2ºC-2.5ºC, water for agricultural production in the river basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra will reduce further and may impact food adequacy for 63 million people.

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide, says the consequences for South Asia are even worse if global temperatures increased by an average of 4ºC by 2090.

In this scenario, seen as likely unless action is taken now to limit carbon emissions, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

Many of the worst climate impacts could still be avoided by holding warming below 2ºC, but the window for action is narrowing rapidly, the report says. “In order to minimise the impacts of a changing climate, we need to ensure that our cities become climate resilient, that we develop climate-smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies,” Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director in India, says in the report.

World Bank: Poverty to be fought through ‘climate lens’

The World Bank says it will increasingly view its efforts to help developing countries fight poverty through a “climate lens.”

“Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate change and weather extremes,” World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said adding, “We are stepping up our mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work, and will increasingly look at all our business through a ‘climate lens’.”

Bank vice-president Rachel Kyte said the World Bank doubled its lending aimed at adaptation efforts to $4.6 billion in 2012. The developed countries have pledged to ramp that financing up to $100 billion annually by 2020.

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

Obama commits to tough push on global warming

http://www.boston.com/2013/06/20/obama-commits-tough-push-global-warming/nPitESO4CRmf8aeFB2EpyM/story.html

The Associated Press President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. “We know we have to do more — and we will do more,” Obama said in Berlin. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) By DINA CAPPIELLO and JOSH LEDERMAN / Associated Press / June 20, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. ‘‘We know we have to do more — and we will do more,’’ Obama said Wednesday in Berlin.

Obama’s senior energy and climate adviser, Heather Zichal, said the plan would boost energy efficiency of appliances and buildings, plus expand renewable energy. She also said the Environmental Protection Agency was preparing to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants.

‘‘The EPA has been working very hard on rules that focus specifically on greenhouse gases from the coal sector,’’ Zichal said.

Zichal, speaking at a forum hosted by The New Republic in Washington, said that none of the proposals would require new funding or action from Congress. It has shown no appetite for legislation that would put a price on carbon dioxide after a White House-backed bill to set up a market-based system died in Obama’s first term with Democrats in charge.

The plan, with details expected to be made public in coming weeks, comes as Obama has been under increasing pressure from environmental groups and lawmakers from states harmed by Superstorm Sandy to cut pollution from existing power plants, the largest source of climate-altering gases. Several major environmental groups and states have threatened to sue the administration to force cuts to power plant emissions. And just last week, former Vice President Al Gore, a prominent climate activist and fellow Democrat, pointedly called on Obama to go beyond ‘‘great words’’ to ‘‘great actions.’’…..(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120