http://www.worldbank.org – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said the institution is going through a process of renewal and set a new interim goal to reduce extreme poverty to 9 percent by 2020. Kim, speaking at the start of the Bank’s Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, also addressed concerns about the US’s budget deadlock and how it might negatively impact international development.
World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim today, restated the Bank’s commitment to end extreme poverty by 2030, and boosting shared prosperity in developing countries. At a press conference marking the close of this year’s World Bank Group /IMF Annual Meetings, Kim also warned that a U.S. debt default could have serious consequences for developing countries and could also impact developed economies as well.
Oct. 9, 2013 — The seesaw variability of global temperatures often engenders debate over how seriously we should take climate change. But within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we’ve experienced in the past 150 years, according to a new and massive analysis of all climate models. The tropics will be the first to exceed the limits of historical extremes and experience an unabated heat wave that threatens biodiversity and heavily populated countries with the fewest resources to adapt.
Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift. Camilo Mora and colleagues in the College of Social Sciences’ Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii, Manoa have developed one such time frame. The study, entitled “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability,” will be published in the October 10 issue of Nature and provides an index of the year when the mean climate of any given location on Earth will shift continuously outside the most extreme records experienced in the past 150 years.
The new index shows a surprising result. Areas in the tropics are projected to experience unprecedented climates first — within the next decade. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the index shows the average location on Earth will experience a radically different climate by 2047. Under an alternate scenario with greenhouse gas emissions stabilization, the global mean climate departure will be 2069.
“The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon,” said lead author Camilo Mora. “Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past.”
The scientists calculated the index for additional variables including evaporation, precipitation, and ocean surface temperature and pH. When looking at sea surface pH, the index indicates that we surpassed the limits of historical extremes in 2008. This is consistent with other recent studies, and is explained by the fact that ocean pH has a narrow range of historical variability and because the ocean has absorbed a considerable fraction of human-caused CO2 emissions.
The study found that the overarching global effect of climate change on biodiversity will occur not only as a result of the largest absolute changes at the poles, but also, perhaps more urgently, from small but rapid changes in the tropics.
Tropical species are unaccustomed to climate variability and are therefore more vulnerable to relatively small changes. The tropics hold the world’s greatest diversity of marine and terrestrial species and will experience unprecedented climates some 10 years earlier than anywhere else on Earth. Previous studies have already shown that corals and other tropical species are currently living in areas near their physiological limits. The study suggests that conservation planning could be undermined as protected areas will face unprecedented climates just as early and because most centers of high species diversity are located in developing countries
Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift beyond historical analogues. Here we present a new index of the year when the projected mean climate of a given location moves to a state continuously outside the bounds of historical variability under alternative greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Using 1860 to 2005 as the historical period, this index has a global mean of 2069 (±18 years s.d.) for near-surface air temperature under an emissions stabilization scenario and 2047 (±14 years s.d.) under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario. Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries, highlighting the vulnerability of global biodiversity and the limited governmental capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. Our findings shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions if climates potentially harmful to biodiversity and society are to be prevented.
Russia to Bring Drug Charges Against Detained Greenpeace Activists
The head of Greenpeace International has offered to exchange his own freedom for the release of 28 environmentalists and two journalists facing piracy charges in Russia. The “Arctic 30” were detained in a Greenpeace direct action against Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil rig last month. In an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo offered to live in Russia as a guarantor for the activists’ release on bail.
Kumi Naidoo: “Given that our activists have been denied bail yet again today, I’ve written to President Putin seeking an urgent meeting with him and offering to come to Russia and offering myself as a guarantor in exchange for the release on bail of the activists and to stay in Russia for as long as the trial takes. I recognize that there is a risk in this, given that I had participated in exactly the same action last year; however, given the urgency that the United Nations has just called on us to act on climate change and the fact that we’re running out of time, this is a risk that we are prepared to take.”
Russia now says it plans to bring new charges against the detained activists after claiming to have found illegal drugs and potential military equipment on board the seized Greenpeace ship.
Some statements of those speaking on behalf of institutions are so profoundly troubling that they can only be responded to by pausing to reflect more deeply upon the human condition and our peculiar moment in the trajectory of our species in a complex and evolving ecosystem.
What does the Fossil Fuel Divestment Statement say about the fundamental values of Harvard University? What does it declare about the loyalties of this institution in the face of the younger generation crying out to be heard? What does this statement imply about the prospects for the human enterprise when even our most venerated institutions of learning have become so tragically trapped in the myopic swirl of market based, profit-driven metaphors of valuation and validation?
It is now apparent that the carbon energy bubble is coming to an end both because we are running low on cheaply accessible supplies and, more fundamentally, because civilization cannot survive the consequences of burning those that remain. In either case, shouldn’t we expect that the institutions that have large endowments might adopt a longer view and take the lead in moving us toward an ethic of sustainability? Shouldn’t they be able to help their students — and humankind more broadly — to envision and plan a realistic transition to a post carbon-fueled world, rather than grovel shamefully after the last dollar to be made from the fossilized industries that are effectively accelerating our imminent demise?
This lost opportunity for leadership is what has disappointed students so thoroughly at Harvard. They feel betrayed by an institution which they had once greatly respected and to which they are already in debt for thousands of dollars. Any parent learns that when it comes to teaching ethical norms to their children it is not so much what they say that counts but rather what they do. It is through what Harvard has now done that students feel it has failed them. As they put it:
In August we learned from some of the most currently informed scientists that the point of no return is foreseeable. This should give us pause. No matter how profitable burning carbon may appear to university endowment officers in short-term financial returns, this strategy for the pursuit of profit is suicidal. Climate chaos, the collapse of global food supplies and rising sea levels mean that civilization as we know it is at stake. Speculating on scarcity in a time of increasing constraint may seem profitable in the short run, but it appears morally bankrupt to many.
Moreover, many more will suffer the consequences of system-wide collapse as the full consequences of burning fossil fuels become inescapable in country after country across a wasted world. Bill McKibben has phrased it quite clearly: “If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” Systemic collapse will undermine all of our most venerable educational institutions and their impressive portfolios. Their exceptional endowments will not make them exceptions to the laws of physics. There will be no second chance. Do the math now, and get it right. The final exam is already underway, and it will not be given over again.
If there is a way forward, perhaps it lies not in argument but through art. Artistic work can speak powerfully across centuries to our momentary confusions — if we but learn to listen. Sometimes the most meaningful response to unsettling statements from institutional spokespersons is to seek solace and insight from the transcendent declarations of creative artists like Chopin and performing artists like Rubenstein. Perhaps it is time to pause for a while, to listen attentively, to reflect deeply…. and then to reorient ourselves and redirect our institutions.
Since the “default mode” of our institutions is leading toward system-wide destruction, surely we must redirect this default mode. If we do not change direction, we are bound to end up where we are headed. The logic is simple; the results will be disastrous. We need now to stop and rethink things from square one in a world that we did not create, cannot control and must not destroy.
The fossil fuel industry is looking to half-baked and unproven technologies that will allow it to keep meddling with our atmosphere, regardless of the risks.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com / yotrak October 8, 2013 |
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the most authoritative scientific study on our climate to date, confirmed what we all knew: that global warming is happening, yet we continue to pump carbon into the air regardless. For a short spell, the report prompted some hand-wringing over society’s failure to heed scientists’ warnings. Very few commentators, however, pointed to the dangerous possibility that the failure of political and business leaders may be due to calculation rather than cowardice.
The evidence that, behind the political platitudes, the policy focus is shifting from tackling the causes to controlling the impacts of climate change is becoming more visible. In fact, the final conclusions of the IPCC report ended up at the last minute including a paragraph that suggested geoengineering could offset temperature increases. While the report pointed to some potential “side effects,” it nevertheless opened a door to countries that want to avoid any action that constrain their extractive industries and that are seeking to further meddle with our atmosphere regardless of the risks and human and environmental costs.
As Neth Daño of the watchdog group ETC noted, “The report doesn’t discuss solar power or electric cars; it doesn’t discuss public transport, carbon markets or any other actual or potential policy response to the climate crisis, so why have the authors chosen to devote the concluding paragraph to this highly speculative and dangerous technofix?”
People like Michele Bachmann and Pat Robertson seem to yearn for the apocalypse.
October 11, 2013 |
While there’s much about the Christian right that’s difficult for the rest of us to understand, the preoccupation with the “end times” is close to the top of the list. The situation in Syria seems to be having the odd effect of amplifying this already strange tendency of fundamentalist Christians to cast around looking for evidence that they will be witness to the apocalypse. One-third of Americans believes that the Syrian conflict portends the end of the world.
What makes this even weirder is how many of them want this to be true. While speaking to Jan Markell on the radio show, “Understanding the Times,” Rep. Michele Bachmann predicted that the conflict in Syria was a sign that the world was going to end, because the President was arming rebels in that country: “This happened and as of today the United States is willingly, knowingly, intentionally sending arms to terrorists, now what this says to me, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the end times scripture, this says to me that the leaf is on the fig tree and we are to understand the signs of the times, which is your ministry, we are to understand where we are in God’s end times history.”
While she didn’t come out and say it, the implication was crystal clear to the audience: President Obama is the Antichrist and his actions are going to kickstart the final battle between good and evil that will bring the end of the world. While most of us would be alarmed if we thought we were facing down the apocalypse and a worldwide war that will kill millions, Bachmann can’t wait: “Rather than seeing this as a negative, we need to rejoice, Maranatha Come Lord Jesus, His day is at hand.”
Companies are unprepared for the risks posed by climate change and are failing to properly engage their supply chain when it comes to managing their environmental impact, according to a new report.
CDP’s FTSE 350 Climate Change Report attempts to shine a spotlight on companies’ preparations for the global impact of climate change. Of the 350 companies surveyed, the majority report on climate-change risks and opportunities – although a worrying 13% don’t. Furthermore, of those that do report, only a small number (14%) are taking a long-term view and planning for the next 10 years or more.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
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